March 2021

March 2021
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A different side of Tokyo

Tokyo is a city of incredible contrasts, that defies all the stereotypes as much as it blows your mind, writes Rob Goss


Think of Tokyo and you conjure up images of a busy and ultra-modern city, where neon-lit futuristic skylines seem copied and pasted straight out of Blade Runner. It is all of these things, but there’s so much more to Japan’s capital. In the 23 special wards that make up the city’s urban core – that between them are home to nine million Tokyoites – visitors also find traditional gardens and quiet temples. For every busy main street, there’s a warren of becalmed side streets waiting to be explored. For every skyscraper, there’s a low-rise and low-key residential area, where even elementary schoolers can safely walk to school without their parents.

Go beyond the city centre into the Tama region and you’ll find more differences between real Tokyo and the capital’s stereotypes – it is nothing like the world of Lost In Translation. There are mountain ranges for a start, with trails for all levels of hiker. There are ancient temples deep in nature. There are sprawling parks and laidback suburbs. Farmland as well. Look south and Tokyo has an island chain, too, stretching hundreds of kilometres into the Pacific and offering travellers the chance to dive, surf and even trek around active volcanoes. In Tokyo.

One thing often said about Tokyo that is true – the trains do tend to run on time. And they are clean. Another that holds up is that the food is on a different level. It’s not just that Tokyo has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in the world – 226 at the latest count, including 11 with three stars – it’s the dedication chefs from every culinary walk of life seem to give their craft, whether they are perfecting a ramen stock or crafting kaiseki-ryori, the artistically arranged haute cuisine of Japan with its focus on seasonal produce and techniques that enhance natural flavours. And just as there’s far more to Tokyo than concrete and crowds, there’s also an incredible depth and breadth of flavours on menus to discover – not only sushi, noodles, tempura and wagyu.

It’s become a cliché to say that old meets new, but that’s true at times, too. Sometimes its striking – like the skyscrapers of Shiodome rising above the traditional garden of Hama-rikyu. Sometimes its subtle – like the traditional approach to hospitality even in the most contemporary of galleries, bars or restaurants. The takeaway is that, with Tokyo, there’s always something new to learn, something that’ll surprise and go beyond the expectations. First visit or fifteenth, it’s a city that keeps on blowing minds.

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Explore more: Tama

Rob Goss explores the Tama region, which covers the western area of Tokyo, and boasts everything from mountains and ancient temples to clamping


If the 23 special wards that make up the heart of modern Tokyo defy stereotypes with their diversity, then the Tama region goes even further: covering 1,160 square kilometres and home to just over four million of Tokyo’s almost 14 million residents, it blows the concrete jungle stereotypes out of the water.

Exploring Tama from central Tokyo, the region begins with suburbs before becoming gradually more rural and even remote, providing a varied range of experiences and attractions. Almost bordering the 23 special wards, Kichijoji has a hip reputation because of its independent cafes, cool bars and street fashions, as well as being one of the neighbourhoods connected to the chilled out Inokashira Park – a lovely spot to picnic, watch street performers or have a paddle in a rowboat. Going ever so slightly further into Tama, but still easy to access because of Tokyo’s extensive rail network, you also find the superb Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum and its collection of 30 historic structures in Koganei Park.

In Chofu, other Tama standouts often overlooked by travellers are the Jindai Botanical Gardens and neighbouring Jindaiji Temple. The 105-acre gardens mix roses, cherry blossoms, azaleas and other seasonal blooms, as well as a greenhouse full of orchids and aquatic plants. In a lovely, wooded grove next door, Jindaiji Temple is said to have first been built in the 800s and still has some structures dating as far back as the 1600s. It’s easy to while away an hour or two here in the old stores and restaurants by the temple’s main gateway, and it’s worth planning a lunch stop at one of the rustic restaurants serving handmade soba noodles.

Going further west, it doesn’t take long for the Tama region to transition from suburbs to scenic. Just an hour by train from central Tokyo, the 599m Mount Takao has trails (or a cable car) that lead to the mountainside Yakuoin Temple – first built in the 700s – and then to a summit that delivers a distant glimpse of Mount Fuji. More challenging and more tranquil are peaks such as Mount Otake, Mount Hinode and Mount Mitake, the latter of which is home to a shrine as well as traditional lodgings. For a bit of the outdoors with a bit of style, glamping has also taken off in Tama in recent years, with options including the luxurious Keikoku Glamping Tent in Hinohara.

Editor’s letter

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As Mark Tanzer writes in the introduction to ABTA’s Tourism for Good report, the world’s unexpected standstill has given us a unique chance to reflect on the type of industry we want to rebuild. “Future prosperity depends on putting sustainability at the heart of tourism’s recovery,” he writes. “This can only be achieved by operators, governments, destination managers, partners and communities working together.”

In this special edition of ABTA Magazine, we’re taking this chance – while the short-term return of travel is yet to be fully planned out – to explore the topic of sustainability in more depth, considering the obstacles the industry must overcome, the successes it has already achieved and the opportunities it has to effect change. As Kasia Morgan, head of sustainability and community at Exodus Travels, tells us in this issue: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call for all of us as to the vulnerability of our society and systems to global crises, and the huge impact they can have on our health, communities, economies and ecosystems.” Although the challenges the Covid-19 and climate breakdown each pose differ greatly, the global disruption the former has caused has made many of us focus our minds on the even greater challenges of the latter.

Even after the vaccination process helps us to return to some semblance of normality, governments will have to remember the lessons from the pandemic, while we as individuals and organisations must continue to consider how the choices we make impact the wider world. Like the Tourism for Good report, in this issue, we’re considering different areas of the question around sustainability: community tourism and destination management, decarbonisation and waste reduction – speaking to a range of operators, experts and tourist boards. As Tanzer says: “This is an opportunity to purposefully build back better for a responsible and resilient tourism industry, fit for the challenges we face and a contributor to the global good.”

We hope you enjoy reading.

Contact

Get in touch with the team

ABTA Magazine is produced by Waterfront Publishing on behalf of ABTA, The Travel Association.


Contacts

Editorial
Anthony Pearce, director
anthony@waterfront-publishing.com

info@abtamag.com
020 3865 9360

Design
DJMWeb, The Studio

Sub-editor
Nathaniel Cramp, Emily Eastman

Sales and partnerships

Sam Ballard, director
sam@waterfront-publishing.com

Bryan Johnson, senior sales manager
bryan@waterfront-publishing.com
0203 865 9338
075 3270 9734


About ABTA

Waterfront Publishing is an independent publisher based in central London. It has an in-house magazines, Cruise Adviser, which is aimed at the travel trade. It has also produced magazines on behalf of ABTATravelzoo; and Emerald Waterways. Its design agency The Studio by Waterfront offers copywriting, proofreading and design for print, digital, advertising and branding.

Get in touch

Waterfront Publishing
Hop Exchange,
Southwark Street,
London, SE1 1TY
info@waterfront-publishing.com
020 3865 9360
News

Older travellers lead recovery of travel

The Covid-19 vaccines have restored confidence in older travellers to book and travel again in the next six months


Seventy-seven per cent of older travellers say that receiving the Covid-19 vaccine will provide them with the confidence to book and travel again within the next six months, according to a new survey.

The Advantage Travel Partnership and Silver Travel Advisor found that 46 per cent of respondents said that they planned to make the most of their re-established freedom and travel as much as possible once they have been vaccinated.

The companies said the response demonstrated that it’s clearly this demographic which will be leading the recovery of travel this year.

The research, which was completed by respondents over the age of 50 from across the UK, found that 94 per cent of people planned to have the Covid-19 vaccine once they have been contacted by the NHS for their appointment.

The survey also examined spending habits for future trips, to see what impact the pandemic may have had on travellers’ budgets.

Sixty per cent of respondents said that their budget would remain unchanged, while 26 per cent of people intend to spend more to make up for holidays that have been missed while travel restrictions have been in place.

When consumers were asked about the reasons why they use a travel agent, almost half (49 per cent) of respondents said that they booked with an agent because of the advice and expertise that they offer. Another contributing factor was having the reassurance of someone who could help if needed (42 per cent), and 38 per cent of those surveyed referenced that financial security was another key reason. When asked what type of travel agent they were more likely to book with, 46 per cent answered that they would opt for an independent travel agent.

Debbie Marshall, managing director at Silver Travel Advisor, said, “We are really pleased to see from the survey that the Covid-19 vaccine is creating confidence among the 50-plus market to plan and book future travel, both in the UK and abroad. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, even the savviest silver traveller may be more hesitant when it comes to travel and, now more than ever, it’s clear that the advice and reassurance a travel agent can bring is invaluable. Through our partnership with Advantage, their members have exclusive access to the Silver Travel Advisor accreditation training which will help agents understand the mature market and the different segments. Upon completion of the course, accredited agents will be featured on the Silver Travel Advisor website, which is a great opportunity for agents to promote their services and grow its customer base.”

Kelly Cookes, leisure director at Advantage Travel Partnership said, “We know that consumer confidence has been severely affected throughout the pandemic, so it’s reassuring that the vaccine is giving three-quarters of mature travellers the hope that they can and will travel again. To ensure our members have all the tools available to convert enquiries from into bookings, our agent members also have access to our own digital version of the customer magazine The Silver Traveller, to help them market effectively to the over 50s [the next issue is out mid-February].”

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News

ABTA calls on the government for clarity

The problems facing the industry have been compounded by the introduction of ‘red list’ countries and quarantine hotels


The introduction of quarantine hotels for ‘red list’ countries builds on a “mountain of existing measures for travel”, ABTA has said.

The travel association said that the industry needs to “see a clear plan for how [restrictions] will be lifted” after the government said it was attempting to stop mutant Covid strains from reaching the UK.

“In order to reduce the risk posed by UK nationals and residents returning home from these countries, I can announce that we will require all such arrivals who cannot be refused entry to isolate in government provided accommodation, such as hotels, for 10 days without exception,” the prime minister Boris Johnson said.

He said the government would “enforce this at ports and airports by asking people why they are leaving and instructing them to return home if they do not have a valid reason to travel”. There are 30 countries on the “red list”, including all of South America, as well as large parts of Southern Africa and Portugal.

An ABTA spokesperson said: “We understand the government’s need to introduce temporary additional restrictions in response to emerging new strains of the virus, but this needs to come with support for the jobs and businesses affected and a clear roadmap forward for travel.

“It is now 12 months since the travel industry started to be affected by coronavirus, yet the government has still not provided any tailored financial support to the sector. Jobs are being lost at an alarming rate and longstanding businesses have gone to the wall.

“The lack of financial support targeted at addressing the consequences for businesses of international travel restrictions needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The government needs to work with the industry to develop a route forward for reopening travel, reviewing all of the existing measures and coordinating with overseas governments.

“While the vaccine rollout is positive, the industry cannot wait for the whole UK adult population to be vaccinated before travel restarts – and businesses cannot afford to lose another summer.

“We also know that many people have a desire to get back to experiences that they value highly and have missed dearly, including travel to visit family and friends abroad.”

Zina Bencheikh, managing director EMEA at Intrepid Travel, said: “It’s absolutely right that the government does what’s necessary for public safety in light of the global pandemic. However, further restrictions on international travel will of course have an impact on how confident people feel to book holidays for this summer and beyond.

“We need more clarity on an end date and pathway out of the current restrictions to give customers and the industry a chance to plan ahead. The impact of this on the travel industry means that it’s now essential that bespoke financial support is provided – not just for aviation, but for the wider industry which is directly impacted by these measures.”

Interview

Mark Tanzer, CEO of ABTA

We speak to Mark Tanzer about why the future of travel remains positive, but the government needs to do a lot more to help the industry see out the pandemic


ABTA Magazine: The Save Future Travel Coalition has said that the government must ensure that travel can operate in a risk-controlled manner. Can you tell me a bit more about that?
Mark Tanzer: Last month, we saw the further tightening of travel restrictions. With the introduction of ‘red’ countries, the hotel quarantine [plan] and the home secretary standing up saying ‘holidays are illegal’, we have this extraordinary situation. It’s the latest level of restrictions added to those the travel industry has been facing since last March. It affects the here and now, but also potentially the desire to book holidays for later in the year.

So, we’re saying that we understand the priority the government is giving to getting the infection rate down and preventing variants of the virus coming into the country until we’re further advanced with the vaccination programme, but we need a clear way out. Does vaccination, testing, plus more selective quarantine requirements for countries add up to allowing people to travel again? We are working together to put something together that allows that to happen.

Obviously, we want people back travelling in the summer, by which stage not everyone in all countries will have been vaccinated, but people who have been vaccinated will want to travel. If you open up the borders then there is an increased risk that someone could come into the country with [Covid], but if we don’t want anyone coming in, then you’re not going to get the travel industry moving. So, we have to move away from a categorical shutdown, which is where we are at the moment, to easing those restrictions and finding a certain risk level we are able to tolerate.

How has the travel industry had to change its messaging in light of recent developments?
The vaccine program is obviously further advanced, which is good news. But what we need to know is do the vaccines work against different variants? [The most recent reports] seem to be saying they do. That’s important, because it becomes a question of whether or not you’ve been successfully vaccinated [against all strains], and that can change the attitudes about letting people into the country. So, there are medical and testing developments that need to be decided upon in order to get us moving.

Do Matt Hancock’s comments about having a “great British summer” suggest to you that it’s going to be a difficult summer ahead for the travel industry?
Those comments don’t help at all. No politician knows exactly when people will be able to travel internationally again, so to say you shouldn’t be booking a summer holiday, that’s the wrong thing to say. If people don’t book holidays companies will struggle, but also, it’s too early to say [something like that], because they don’t know the answer to those medical questions. So, I think we’re very keen that the entire travel industry – and that includes domestic holidays as well – is able to have a good summer, and we’re going to be pushing to get a plan in place from the government as quickly as possible.

If the government does extend or expand support, as the Save Future Travel Coalition is pushing for, but waits until the Budget to do it, would that be too late for a lot of travel companies?Certainly [travel companies] have been living off thin air for a year now, in terms of sales and having to make refunds and so forth. So, the industry is in a cash crunch. Some of the things that the government has done, like furlough, has been positive, but of course for travel businesses, they’ve got to have staff in the office because they’re doing bookings and refunds and so, although they’re not generating revenue they’re also not eligible for furlough. So, we’re not only calling for the scheme to be extended beyond March, but for it to be more flexible and recognise that kind of pattern of work.

The travel industry has not received the same level of direct support that others have – hospitality, for instance. I think the government saw [things through the prism of] the physical inability of people to go into premises because of social distancing. What we’ve been arguing, and now it’s even more the case, is that it’s stopping bookings and demand and therefore travel businesses should be, and must be, supported by the government [with targeted measures]. The government needs to look at all aspects of the industry, including operations and travel agents, as well airlines and airports.

We’ve gone from having travel corridors opening and closing to a new ‘red’ list, with Test to Release and the plan for hotel quarantine in the background. Will these confusing and overlapping measures have a residual impact on people’s appetite for travel even after restrictions are lifted?
Our customer research has found that people are 20 per cent more likely to use travel advisers than before Covid, and that’s for a number of reasons, but partially so they can tread their way through this very complicated set restrictions. It’s a moving target. What we have at the moment is belts and braces, but they are actually quite distinct non-pharmaceutical interventions. What we need is to really organise things so it’s much easier for a customer to understand what the deal is: whether they need to get tested before they travel, when they come back, how that’s going work and where they’re going to get it done. And, if they’ve been vaccinated, how does that change the picture? But, at the moment, we haven’t got the ability to put that clear proposition to customers. Clearly, that affects confidence.

Ultimately, was the travel corridor system worth it, with many changes that ultimately led to refunds being needed?
Anything that that allows us to travel, I think, without quarantine restrictions is good. You don’t want the chopping and changing, and the way you’re having to react to what happens with the virus. But any mechanism that means once infection rates drop in a particular place, and that destination represents a lower risk and therefore people can travel with fewer obstacles, I think that should be welcomed.

In a parallel world where the government embraced Covid Zero, totally closed borders and banned travel for the entire year, but said they would provide the necessary support, would the travel industry would have supported it?
It’s hard to say. I think when we started out, we didn’t know how long it would last, or whether we’d have a summer 2020, or summer 2021. Some countries – New Zealand, France, Italy among them – have had packages specifically for tour operators and the travel industry. We look at them with envy, because their governments have seen them as being significant and put in the infrastructure. However, the UK is a global economy on a different scale to the likes of New Zealand and locking everything down early was a big political decision to make. According to the current medical view, it seems going harder earlier would have helped us not be in this situation now.

Have you been surprised by the unwillingness of the government to properly engage with the industry and its demands, given how important travel and tourism is to the UK economy?
I’m disappointed, not surprised. They haven’t really shown much interest to engage in the past. We’re split between so many different government departments, because of [tourism’s] very nature. So, we’re dealing with the Treasury and dealing with the Department for Transport, we’re dealing with BEIS [Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy], the Foreign Office, all of which have a piece of the picture, but not all of it. And I think maybe that is one of the reasons why no particular department feels, from a budget or policy point of view, that it owns the problem.

We’ve be trying to join the dots and get other departments to talk to each other; organising the roundtables and workshops, bringing the government departments together with the industry, to be able to put that picture across. I think, stepping back, they’ve got a lot of competing claims – we’re not the only sector saying we need support – and there’s a limited amount of money to go around. I don’t think we should be given it by right, but by the strength of the arguments, and I think we’ve made those.

What gives you confidence in the future of travel?

There is big pent-up demand. When we conducted research at the turn of the year, before the last restrictions were introduced, we found that 60 per cent of people said that they are hopeful they would be able to take a European holiday this year. The whole experience of lockdown has reminded people of how important travel is, and their desire is still very strong – to go to places they might not have gone to before or return to places that they’re familiar with. What gives me confidence is there is a lot of demand for when [restrictions] are eased and the industry is able to move again.

Another point is that it’s given us time to think about how we want to balance tourism with the interests of [the environment]. Although I would never wish the pandemic on anyone, let alone the travel industry, I think there are some good things that we can take from it and build on as we go forward. I have absolutely no doubt that the underlying demand is strong – and that it may even been stronger than before.

News

Italy offers trip for agents

ENIT is offering a getaway along with hampers filled with Italian goodies to agents who complete its online training programme 


The National Italian Tourist Office in London (ENIT) is offering travel agents the chance to win prizes, including a trip to Italy.

Agents who complete the Italy online training programme can win a getaway to one of its famous art cities, or hampers filled with Italian goodies and Apple tablets.

To be in with a chance of winning, agents must simply complete all four training modules and download their Italy Specialist Certificate by May 31, 2021.

The Italy online training course provides agents with the knowledge and confidence to sell and up-sell their clients trips to the country.

Below are the four modules agents can complete:

  1. What Makes Italy a Unique Destination
  2. Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  3. Italy’s Art Cities
  4. Food and Wine

For more information, agents can visit: italyonlinetraining.co.uk

News

Midcounties appoints Sara Dunham as chief officer for travel and leisure services

The former British Airways executive will be responsible for growing the Co-op Travel and Co-op Holidays businesses


The Midcounties Co-operative has appointed former British Airways executive Sara Dunham as its chief officer for travel and leisure services.

Dunham joins the executive team at Midcounties and takes responsibility for the Co-operative Travel business, including Co-op Holidays.

The business operates 78 branches, has a strong digital presence, and covers 165 Personal Travel Agents as well as more than 140 members of the Co-operative Travel Consortium.

Dunham joins Midcounties with close to 20 years’ experience in the travel industry. She spent almost 15 years in a variety of senior roles at British Airways, across the airline and tour operating divisions.

In her new role, Dunham will be responsible for further growing the Co-op Travel and Co-op Holidays businesses. Phil Ponsonby, chief executive at The Midcounties Co-operative said: “Travel and leisure services are an important part of our long-term strategy and we are thrilled to be welcoming Sara to drive the next stage of growth across our travel and leisure offering. In these particularly challenging times for the sector, delivering the best possible customer experience will be crucial and Sara’s experience will help us to further develop our offering across all channels and in particular to strengthen the relationship with our 700,000 members and support their needs across a broader range of travel and leisure services.”

Sara Dunham said: “Co-operative Travel has an incredibly strong reputation in the market and I am delighted to be joining such a purpose-led organisation. Being member-owned provides a unique point of difference for the Society and I look forward to working with the board and Phil, as well as the Executive team, to deepen the experience we offer to members and customers. I am really excited to meet what I know are brilliant Co-op travel and Co-op Holidays teams in addition to our really important consortium partners and personal travel agents.”

Dunham replaces Alistair Rowland, who left Midcounties last year to head up Blue Bay travel, which continues to be a member of the Co-operative Travel Consortium.

News

UAE, Burundi and Rwanda added to ‘red list’

Passengers who have been in or transited through the countries in the last 10 days will no longer be granted access to the UK


Visitors from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Burundi and Rwanda have been banned from entering the UK as the government extended its ‘red list’.

Passengers who have been in or transited through the countries in the last 10 days will no longer be granted access to the UK. The measure came into force at 1pm on January 29, but British, Irish and third-country nationals with residence rights in the UK are still allowed to enter.

However, they are required to self-isolate for 10 days at home, along with their household. Passengers returning from these countries cannot be released from self-isolation through Test to Release.

There will also be a flight ban on direct passenger flights from the UAE, which includes the popular winter sun destination, Dubai. The decision to ban travel from these destinations follows the discovery of a new coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa that may have spread to other countries, the government said. Any exemptions usually in place will not apply, including for business travel.

It follows new measures announced by the government to minimise travel across international borders, including managed isolation in hotels and the need to declare a reason for travel.

More details on these measures will be set out soon. There were an initial 30 countries on the ‘red list’, which include all those in South America, as well as large parts of southern Africa and Portugal.

ABTA said it added to a “mountain of existing measures for travel”.

Read more

The ABTA Magazine Guide to Sapporo

A closer look at the Japanese city that mixes the metropolitan with the great outdoors


A major city rich in culture, first-class cuisine and multifunctional facilities that is also a stone’s throw from lush nature where a myriad of activities are possible all year long – you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere that balances the metropolitan and the great outdoors the way Sapporo does.

In Japan’s northern capital, you do not have to choose between urban excitement and a relaxing natural getaway on your holiday.

Read the guide in full here.

News

£4.6bn relief package for businesses

The latest government bailout explicitly references travel agents, following lobbying by ABTA


The government has published amended regulations that explicitly reference retail travel agents as businesses that are required to legally close in Tier 4 areas within England.

ABTA says that this confirmation from government is a welcome step in ensuring agents in England are eligible for grant support under the Localised Restrictions Support Grants (closed) regime.

The previous exclusion of travel agents from the regulations had resulted in them being denied much needed funding from local authorities under the LRSG scheme.

Following lobbying from ABTA, the devolved nations had already clarified that support for businesses in the highest levels of restrictions would be extended to retail travel agents, but the government had previously failed to provide this clarity for businesses in England.

The chancellor announced a £4.6bn relief package for retail, leisure and hospitality sectors in the UK after new lockdowns were announced in England and Scotland.

Rishi Sunak said that UK businesses in these sectors are to be given one-off grants worth up to £9,000, and expected to support 600,000 business properties across the UK.

A further £594m will be made available to councils and devolved nations to support businesses not covered by the new grants.

Sunak said: “The new strain of the virus presents us all with a huge challenge – and, while the vaccine is being rolled out, we have needed to tighten restrictions further.

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve taken swift action to protect lives and livelihoods and today we’re announcing a further cash injection to support businesses and jobs until the spring.

“This will help businesses to get through the months ahead – and crucially it will help sustain jobs, so workers can be ready to return when they are able to reopen.”

ABTA has been having ongoing discussions with officials in Westminster to argue that this approach must be matched in England. As part of this effort, they recently surveyed travel agent members, working with their partners in the Save Future Travel Coalition, to produce the evidence required to demonstrate that retail travel agents are dependent on in-person trade.

Luke Petherbridge, ABTA’s director of public affairs, said: “Securing grant funding for travel businesses has been a key focus of ABTA’s work in recent months. The confirmation from the UK government today builds on actions by the Devolved Administrations on this matter and should bring an end to the postcode lottery of grants experienced by agents. We are pleased to see the government has listened to our calls for clarification and acted on it today. We also believe it should mean that travel agents are eligible for the retail, hospitality and leisure businesses grants, although we are still awaiting the specific government guidance on this.

“While accessing the grant schemes will provide some help to struggling businesses, these are related to the lockdown and stay at home orders. We have not yet seen sector-specific support to take account of the unique challenges that the travel industry has faced throughout the last 10 months, including frequent changes to travel corridors, and restrictions on many destinations across the globe through FCDO Travel Advice, which have seriously affected the ability of businesses to trade. ABTA will continue to push for tailored support, including the urgency of getting financial help to those who have not been able to access existing support mechanisms, such as directors of limited companies, and the many travel businesses that do not have rateable values.”

Feature

Linda Reynolds, a Personal Travel Agent at Co-operative Travel,  enjoyed a fabulous self-drive river boat holiday on The Thames in 2020. This is her snapshot of some of the areas you can visit whilst “messing about on the river”: 

Leisurely and Lovely
Imagine having your own river boat cruiser and regally sailing along the River Thames. Bliss! Cruising from Benson in Oxfordshire showcases the best of the great British countryside. This UK break will bring tranquillity, pretty stretches of water, acres of open fields, hills and farmland.

Boating holidays offer families, multi generations, groups and couples the opportunity to enjoy the UK’s beautiful riverbanks, as the ever-changing views continuously glide past. Activities to enjoy along the way include swimming, fishing, bird watching, riverside pubs and historic sights, as well as the relaxing experience of being on the river. Dogs are welcome too. This really is a holiday for ALL the family.

Le Boat
The staff of Le Boat are excellent. As well as explaining the steering and safety manuals, they provide maps, lock information, tips and pub recommendations! Many of the locks are electronically operated – help is available, during summer months from lock keepers, and fellow cruisers are happy to advise.  You will get the hang of it in no time.

Groups and families can hire a self-drive cruiser to accommodate 2-10 people, which features  en-suite cabins, galley kitchen, seating and upper steering and seating deck, plus areas to sunbathe and view the river.

The three-night route would allow you to cruise and easily stop at four of the following areas – Benson, Wallingford, Moulsford, Goring, Pangbourne-on-Thames, Reading, Sonning and Henley-on-Thames.

 

You can also pick a seven-night boating holiday to take in the Royal Palaces of Windsor and Hampton Court, or pick up a boat at Chertsey depot.

Benson
While near the village of Benson, I recommend enjoying a long lunch at the pretty riverside Waterfront Café. From Benson you can also visit the Aston Martin Heritage Museum.

Wallingford
This historic market town has independent shops, cafes, restaurants and a market. The Castle Gardens are a great place for a picnic. Wallingford is perhaps most famous for being the home of Agatha Christie and the setting of many of her stories.

Pangbourne
The Swan Pub can be found riverside and offers a sunny terrace overlooking the Thames, with a dock for boats, it’s a perfect location to enjoy drinks and all-day food menu. There are local shops and the village to explore, and Beale Park is a must visit for children, offering paddling pools, play areas, train rides and wildlife including monkeys and meerkats.

Caversham and Reading

It’s easy to find a dock in this area to visit one of the UK’s largest retail shopping centres. Cycling makes this area accessible along tow paths – you may bring your own bikes or hire from Le Boat. The village of Caversham was voted one of the best places to live in the UK in 2020. I recommend checking out the local family bakery Warings, they do a marvellous selection of savouries and takeaway afternoon teas.

Henley on Thames
Henley is synonymous with the Henley Royal Regatta, an annual four-day series of rowing races, normally held in the first week of July. Visit the Henley River and Rowing Museum and find the time to explore the picturesque town’s many pubs and eateries.

Linda uses her 32 years of experience and expertise to create the perfect holidays for her clients. She works to take away all the stress when it comes to travel booking, and the service provided is personal, tailored and complimentary. See  thepersonaltravelagents.co.uk/?pta=linda-reynolds 

News

Refund Credit Note regime extended

ABTA has announced that its RCNs will be valid until September 30, 2021 to help ease the pressure on members


ABTA has announced an extension to its current Refund Credit Note (RCN) regime, recognising the continuing impact of Covid-19 on the travel sector.

It said that the aim is to ensure that members have the option of issuing further ABTA-protected RCNs at a time when significant travel restrictions are still in place and member income is minimal.

ABTA-backed RCNs which have already been issued are valid only until the expiry date shown on them, which can be no later than March 31, 2021. The new RCNs will be valid up to and including September 30, 2021 at the latest. The deadline for issuing these RCNs is March 31 this year.

Refund Credit Notes work because customers are prepared to accept them as an alternative to an immediate refund and have confidence they will not ‘lose out’ in the long run. Maintaining the financial protection which backs RCNs is critical to keeping consumer confidence in them, and so that financial protection must be in place for the duration of an RCN’s validity.

John de Vial, ABTA’s director of membership and financial services said: “We have been speaking with the CAA about the importance of travel businesses having the option to offer customers a Refund Credit Note beyond the end of January, so we’re pleased they have responded to our calls and extended the deadline this week.

“At the same time, we have also been looking at our own Refund Credit Notes, which were valid until the end of January or March this year. Members will now have the option to issue Refund Credit Notes until the end of March with an expiry date of September 30, 2021. Full details, along with the criteria, can be found in the ABTA MemberZone. Hopefully this will help to ease some of the pressure on members at this very difficult time, and will help to support consumer confidence.”

News

ABTA encourages members to write to MPs

ABTA continues to press government for support for travel sector


ABTA is encouraging members and the wider trade to write to their MPs again about the extreme challenges facing the sector and the urgent need for tailored financial support.

It follows a recent letter from ABTA to the prime minister Boris Johnson, ahead of further discussions about possible travel restrictions, to reiterate calls for financial help and a recovery roadmap for the whole sector, delivered in consultation with industry experts and public health authorities.

Last month the Save Future Travel Coalition wrote to secretary of state for transport, Grant Shapps, outlining considerations for reopening travel. The template letter calls on MPs to reach out to both Shapps and the chancellor of the exchequer ahead of the Budget on March 3, to urge them to consider providing tailored financial support to the sector and a roadmap out of the crisis by:

• Expanding existing grants schemes, in recognition of the unique regulatory restrictions placed on the travel sector. Targeted grants support will see many travel businesses through the crisis and into recovery.

• Extending other financial support mechanisms, such as furlough, VAT deferrals, business rates relief, loan re-payments, to avoid the impending financial cliff-edge facing many companies that have little or no revenue for approaching a year.

• Enabling travel businesses to trade our way out of the crisis, by setting out a plan to build consumer confidence while putting in place mitigation measures to ensure travel can operate in a risk-controlled manner.

The templates are available to download from abta.com/savefuturetravel for use by ABTA members and wider industry.

ABTA’s director of public affairs, Luke Petherbridge, said: “It is one year since the start of travel restrictions, which started with restrictions on Wuhan (China), but then spread quickly to cover all destinations by March. Travel was the first industry in the UK to be affected by this pandemic, and ONS data shows travel agents and tour operators are the hardest hit businesses.

“However, unlike other sectors such as hospitality, there hasn’t been any tailored financial support for the sector. While the vaccine rollout is positive, the industry cannot wait for the whole UK adult population to be vaccinated before travel restarts – and businesses cannot afford to lose another summer. We also know that many people have a desire to get back to experiences that they value highly and have missed dearly, including travel to visit family and friends abroad. ABTA will continue to press government for a roadmap out of the crisis and I urge members to do the same by getting in touch with their local MP.”

 

ABTA

Coalition urges travel support

Coalition of travel organisations urge Chancellor to deliver tailored financial support in the Budget


In a letter sent to the Chancellor, organisations from every part of the UK outbound and inbound travel industry stressed the urgent need for government to provide tailored financial support for the UK travel industry in next month’s Budget.

The Save Future Travel Coalition – which is made of up 12 travel organisations – argues that the need for support is becoming even more critical as businesses head towards 12 months of lost income, and deadlines for government-backed loans and the end of furlough looming in April.

The travel industry has had little opportunity to operate or generate income over the last year, with coronavirus starting to affect travel as early as the end of January 2020 and a mounting number of restrictions preventing trade since then.

Between March 2020 and January 2021, there was just one three-week period when people could travel to the whole of Spain, the UK’s favourite holiday destination. Writing in the letter, the Coalition says, “As you prepare for the Budget, we urge the government to consider the following priorities to Save Future Travel to expand the grant schemes available to support all travel businesses; extend other financial support mechanisms, such as furlough, VAT deferrals, business rates relief, loan repayments, into the next financial year; enable travel businesses to trade their way out of the crisis in the coming months.”

The Save Future Travel Coalition – formed of ABTA, Advantage Travel Partnership, AITO, ANITA, ATAS, the BTA, CLIA, Keep Travel Alive, the SPAA, SBiT, the Travel Network Group and UKinbound – also says that the travel industry cannot wait for a full rollout of the vaccine before people start travelling again. Not only would another summer season lost to the pandemic be a seismic blow to the industry, it would also threaten the industry’s and UK’s recovery.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, said: “Government policies to curtail international travel have had a devastating impact on the industry. Despite its significance to the UK economy and its recovery, travel has become the forgotten sector, and businesses are running on empty due to a lack of tailored financial support from the UK government. The chancellor has an opportunity to address this in his Budget. Supporting the sector through this time of crisis will payoff for the taxpayer and the wider economy.”

Julia Lo Bue Said, CEO, Advantage Travel Partnership said: “While the policy measures introduced, such as quarantine, travel corridors, testing and localised restrictions on travel, are understandable from a public health perspective, they also diminish consumer confidence and damage trade. Yet, to date, these measures have not been combined with tailored financial support targeted at addressing the consequences of these policies for the businesses affected – as a result our members are under enormous pressure. We need government to address this as a matter of urgency and work with the industry to develop a roadmap to reopen travel.”

Joss Croft, CEO, UKinbound said: “Many businesses are stuck between a rock and a hard place – they can’t trade to generate income, but they’re also shut out of support. Businesses in the travel sector, including destination management companies, coach operators and tour operators, as well as many others, are entirely excluded from existing grants and support packages. The UK government needs to show they value the UK’s world-class travel and tourism industry.”

Clive Wratten, chief executive, The Business Travel Association said: “The business travel community has been almost entirely forgotten. Alongside our colleagues in the leisure industry, we are asking the chancellor to set out targeted support for our industry in his Budget. If we are to be a global Britain, business travel must commence at the earliest safe date and there needs to be an industry to support this vital economic contributor. Without targeted support, many businesses will rapidly collapse and thousands of jobs will be lost.”

ABTA

Meet the team

Each issue we speak to a different ABTA employee about their work. This time: Angela Hills, head of destinations


I am ABTA’s head of destinations, with responsibility for destination operations, health, safety and security, crisis management and incident management, a role that is extremely varied and involves myself and my team supporting ABTA members in this arena.

I joined the travel industry in the late-’80s, working for an agency at Gatwick Airport, who provided the customer support ground services for a large number of tour operators including Redwing Holidays – those of a certain age will remember them! As a result of those hectic days running around the airport making sure travellers safely made their flights and supporting those that didn’t, my passion for travel and the travel industry was ignited and it became my career. Here we are, over 30 years later, and I still have that love and passion for travel and the travel industry.

My career so far has provided many opportunities, including working in various junior and senior management roles both overseas and in the UK for a major UK tour operator. In September 1998 I was appointed as the head of health and safety and operational support for the Federation of Tour Operators, which merged with ABTA in 2008. The merger of the two trade associations provided the perfect opportunity to expand the reach of our work in destination operations, health, safety and security, crisis management and incident management.

Working with members, destination governments and associated stakeholders, we are able to support them to make changes and improvements to the components that form holiday and travel arrangements, such as transport, excursions and accommodations. As well as provide assistance when incidents and issues occur – this is an integral part of my work. I am proud of my work and the work of my team, and we have published a number of guidance books and manuals, such as the Health & Safety Technical Guide and An Introduction To Crisis Management, which have been distributed globally and form the part of many organisations’ and stakeholders’ risk management systems.

The ABTA safety campaigns help highlight some of the key issues that travellers should consider to keep themselves safe, and in our government and stakeholder training initiatives we bring people together to consider how small but significant changes can really make all the difference in risk and safety management, as well as promote the benefits of an environment where travellers and staff have confidence that safety and wellbeing is at the heart of travel.

As one of ABTA’s key points of contact for government representatives and tourist boards on destination-related issues and projects, we have a very close working relationship with many decision-makers in destinations and have an excellent relationship with the FCDO, which means we are in a great position to highlight issues and seek assistance to investigate, and where possible resolve, issues quickly and efficiently. A lot of this work goes on behind the scenes, which is as it should be.

My role at ABTA is incredibly varied; over the years I have been at the heart of dealing with a wide range of incidents and crises, assisting ABTA members and their customers. However, it is fair to say that the current pandemic and the impacts on our industry has been shattering and, while some of the work of myself and my team has had to be put hold, we have diversified our  approach to support the industry, producing new material including the Post Pandemic Recovery guide, this is aimed at members and their stakeholders, to support them in taking steps to prepare for when travel restarts.

We continue to publish information on countries’ recovery plans, send daily operational bulletins to highlight the latest information, and summarise through a situational update and country ‘grid’ the restrictions that are in currently in place – this is done in real time and often ‘after hours’ ensuring our members have all the latest information they need. The support ABTA offers to members is more important than ever and my colleagues and I have been arranging regular virtual meetings to discuss members’ concerns and update them on the work ABTA is doing to support them through and beyond the pandemic. Over the last very difficult 12 months I have become even more conscious of how important it is to encourage collaboration and come together to share common experiences and knowledge to support the Industry and ABTA and its members, and this work will continue to be at the heart of building a future for the industry post-pandemic.

As a speaker on behalf of the tourism industry at UK and international conferences, delivering health and safety, crisis and operational training to suppliers and governments in destinations I am really looking forward to a time when we can get travel restarted and reintroduce programmes of work in destinations and go on holiday! As travel restarts this may raise challenges for the industry to manage, but I know we are ready to tackle them head on and it will be a pleasure to support our members, destination governments and associated stakeholders so that we can make changes as appropriate to help build an industry that has a sustainable future and inspire customer confidence.

To be honest, while this article was meant to be an insight into my role at ABTA, it really is just as much about my colleagues, whose dedication, expertise and good nature makes my job so much easier to do. They are an exceptional bunch of people.

ABTA’s virtual conferences and training

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, ABTA has postponed its normal events schedule and is running a series of practical one-day events in key areas, including customer service and complaints handling, travel finance, travel marketing and PR and health and safety.

These events will be brought to you virtually, streamed live via a custom digital platform. Content will be made up of thought-provoking conference sessions and practical workshops.

Visit abta.com/abtaevents to find out more and register.


Early bird and team discounts
ABTA’s new business rate allows you to train your whole team digitally in a cost effective manner. It includes five digital log-ins and on-demand content can be shared among your team. Early bird discounts are also available.

Redefining Customer Service in Travel

February 10
9.30-17.00
There is still time to register for ABTA’s virtual customer service and complaints handling conference taking place next week. Designed for customer service teams of all levels, get practical guidance from the experts to implement successful customer service strategies for 2021 and be ready for the restart of travel.
Find out more

Travel Finance Conference

February 24
09.45-17.00
This year’s virtual conference will bring together senior finance professionals and business leaders from across the travel industry, along with regulators, suppliers and experts, to discuss the key updates in travel finance, along with strategies and tools to help businesses manage in the short term and prepare for recovery in 2021.
Find out more

Travel Marketing and PR Conference

March 10
09.30-17.00
It is vital that you have the right marketing and communication strategies in place to proactively engage customers and convert bookings as travel restarts. Learn how to flex and adapt your marketing and PR plans to react to changing trends and circumstances in travel. Equip your teams with the practical skills and knowledge they need to react fast and adapt to changes in the travel market.
Find out more

Health, Safety and Security in Travel

March 24
09.45-17.00
Traveller safety will be key to restoring customer confidence and industry recovery. This one-day event will combine conference sessions with practical and interactive workshops in key areas of health and safety, equipping you and your teams with the knowledge and skills you need in preparation for travel restarting.
Find out more

ABTA webinars – free for ABTA members

ABTA is running a series of online webinars to provide guidance for travel businesses through the coronavirus crisis. Focusing on business resilience, the webinars are delivered in collaboration with trusted ABTA partners and are free of charge for ABTA Members. Upcoming webinars are listed on abta.com/abtaevents. You can also access the webinars on demand at abta.com/webinarsondemand.

Feature

Feature: Decarbonisation

By Anthony Pearce
Standfirst about this article. Needs a better headline, too. Maybe it could even be the opening para? it looks much better when longer

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It’s easy to imagine Covid-19 as a dress rehearsal for climate change. The ways in which the pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives will echo in the impacts of climate breakdown, if emissions are not adequately reduced and global temperatures continue to rise. While many scientists, writers and activists argue that there remains a widespread tendency to consider climate change a distant concern – putting it as odds with broad support for lockdowns and other measures to tackle Covid – what we have seen is how societal change can be embraced and how governmental intervention can be wide-ranging, when considered necessary.

Over the last year, the priority of all of us has been simply keeping afloat, but this unexpected ‘down time’ has undoubtedly given us time to reflect. “The devastating impact of the pandemic, both on our sector and for destination communities across the world, has prompted us to further prioritise the development of sustainability and long-term resilience strategies,” says Kasia Morgan, head of sustainability and community at Exodus Travels. “This inevitably leads many of us to think even more seriously about how we play our part in building a sector that both protects our destinations and supply chains against the impacts of climate change, but also helps proactively support recovery and regeneration in the face of these impacts.”

“Our lives have been turned upside down by Covid-19, but sadly, as terrible as the health and economic impacts of the pandemic are, the long-term effects of climate change will prove to be far worse for the travel industry,” says Dr Susanne Etti, Intrepid’s environmental impact specialist. “The good news is that we already have the knowledge, tools and skills required to limit climate change and avert another global disaster – we just need the will to act – and we must do it quickly. There is no vaccine for climate change – we must act now.”

The reality
It’s always worth repeating the facts and figures. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) is seen as offering the gold standard assessment on climate change; as David Wallace-Wells, author of Inhabitable Earth, writes, this is in part because it is cautious, only using new data that passes the “threshold of unarguability.” Its current advice is that global carbon emissions must be cut by 55 per cent to below 2017 levels by 2030 to keep the planet within 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming. Similarly, the Paris Agreement, which was adopted by 196 countries in December 2015, aims to limit global warming to well below two, preferably to 1.5 degrees, compared to pre-industrial levels. Wallace-Wells describes a two-degree rise as “the tipping point for collapse” – noting that the melting of the planet’s ice sheets would “eventually flood not just Miami and Dhaka but Shanghai and Hong Kong and a hundred other cities around the world”.

How the travel industry accelerates decarbonisation, then, is a matter of pressing concern. As ABTA’s Tourism for Good report notes, aviation is responsible for approximately 40 per cent of global tourism’s CO2 emissions, while more than 80 per cent of British holidaymakers depart the UK by plane; 7 per cent of the UK’s total CO2 emissions. The report also notes that accommodation emissions make up a further 21 per cent of tourism’s greenhouse gas emissions, while a holidaymaker’s ‘foodprint’ can be significant: “In some cases the carbon emissions of food consumed on holiday – taking into account those produced by agriculture, packaging, transport, food miles and wastage – can be even greater than those of the transport and accommodation elements,” it states.

Consumer pressure
The Swedish phrase “flygskam” – meaning “flight shame”– was coined in 2018 and is used to describe the conflict environmentally conscious travellers feel about air travel. There does appear to be some data, anecdotal and otherwise, to suggest consumers are more likely to think twice before flying than before. After surveying more than 6,000 people in the US, Germany, France and the UK, UBS found that 21 per cent had reduced the number of flights they took over the last year – although, in reality, air traffic has been growing by about 4 per cent a year. However, various studies demonstrate that consumers – particularly millennials and Generation Z – want brands, in all sectors, to be more sustainable, while GlobalWebindex has reported that, post-Covid, more than half of European travellers believe it’s now more important for them to reduce their own carbon footprint when travelling. “This presents us with both a greater mandate and opportunity to engage travellers through offering them sustainable travel opportunities,” says Morgan, adding that “consumers’ ‘carbon literacy’ and understanding of the carbon footprint of their holidays will grow over the coming decade.” ABTA’s 2020 Holiday Habits research also revealed that half of customers consider sustainability credentials to be important or essential when choosing a company to book their holiday with, which has risen from only a fifth back in 2011. Concerns include animal welfare, waste and plastic reduction and protection of culture and heritage, as well as climate change.

“Individuals are also starting to personally feel the effects of global warming, through extreme weather events, and they can see the impact of climate change on popular tourism destinations, such the recent devastating wildfires in the US and Australia,” says Dr Etti. “Consumers will increasingly expect their travel company to have a carbon management program and to take action on decarbonising their business. The industry will have to respond.”

Costa Rica has introduced a national decarbonisation plan

What is being done
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a number of operators adopt targets to reduce carbon footprints, as well as the emergence of organisations such as Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency and Future Tourism. Last year, Intrepid became the first to adopt science-based targets, which, as Dr Etti explains, will see emissions reduced across Intrepid operations and supply chains, including moving to lower carbon alternatives on trips and adopting renewable energy in global offices by 2025. “Intrepid’s approach has an impact on every aspect of our business, including our trips, offices, and supply chain. In our offices, it impacts on how we recycle waste to which energy providers we use. Our office in Toronto has already achieved 100 per cent renewable energy,” she says. “On our trips, we minimise our impact by using public transport where possible, switching internal flights to highspeed trains where possible, staying in locally owned accommodation and eating where food has been locally sourced. We also stay in accommodation that uses 100 per cent renewable energy where possible.”

For destinations, plans to reduce emissions are usually tied to wider government pledges. As well as its pioneering Certification for Sustainable Tourism plan, Costa Rica aims to achieve zero emissions by 2050 under The National Decarbonisation Plan, which breaks the process down into four key sectors: transport and sustainable mobility, energy, green building and industry. Closer to home, Visit Scotland recently became the first national tourism organisation in the world to sign up to the Tourism Declares initiative, in line with the Scottish Government’s targets to become net-zero by 2045. In Scotland, there’s plenty to admire, from the Isle of Eigg, which is self-sufficient for its energy needs – relying almost entirely on renewable sources – to Glasgow, where its Avenues programme, the biggest project of its type in the UK, will aim to increase active travel, reduce congestion and improve air quality, greening open spaces through features such as trees and rain gardens, and introduce intelligent street lighting to reduce energy consumption. Indeed, it is no longer about simply visiting green destinations, but taking inspiration from the pioneers leading the way.

Sky’s the limit?
Of course, the greatest challenge in reducing emissions is for aviation, which must innovate greatly to meet the challenges outlined above. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has set a target for the international aviation sector to cap its net aviation CO2 emissions from 2020 (carbon-neutral growth) and to reduce net aviation CO2 emissions by 50 per cent by 2050, relative to 2005 levels. Meanwhile, Sustainable Aviation, an alliance of UK airlines, airports, manufacturers and air navigation service providers, is working to achieve a sustainable future for the sector: its Decarbonisation Roadmap sets out actions in five areas, including aircraft and engine efficiency improvements, such as more efficient gas-turbine engines, hybrid electric and fully electric aircraft, which should save up to 23.5 million tonnes of CO2 annually, as well as more efficient operations and airspace modernisation, which it is estimated could deliver an annual saving of 3.1 million tonnes of CO2 and a 10 per cent carbon saving by 2050. In the short to medium term is the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Aside from the good that carbon-reduction does for the planet, in 2018, TUI Group identified some €6 million of cost savings as a result of carbon-related efficiencies across its business, including in its airlines and cruise operations.

 

Roald Amundsen is the first hybrid cruise ship

Electric dreams
So does all this mean we will travel less in the future? Morgan says we don’t necessarily need to reduce the amount we travel in order to reduce the negative impacts that can be associated with tourism, rather that we need to change the way we travel. “We’ll see more consumers choosing to fly less by opting for other modes of transport, travelling more locally, taking longer holidays or making flight choices based on the increasingly visible carbon efficiency of different airlines,” she says. “We’ll see a trend among tour operators and OTAs for ‘carbon labelling’ of holidays, and a trend towards itineraries and trips with a major focus on local – versus imported – food and accommodation with less of an environmental impact.”

Covid has accelerated a move towards domestic or closer to home travel, Dr Etti says, noting that “consumers will be looking to switch to lower-carbon alternatives – such as travelling by train within Europe.” It’s true that many of the societal changes that we will see – such as the move towards electrification of transport – will as be part of the wider picture.

Hurtigruten, the Norwegian shipping company, has spent several years investing in various technologies to help lower emissions and was among the first to ban single-use plastic on board ships. The line also recently launched MS Roald Amundsen, the world’s first hybrid cruise ship. “Emissions are cut by sailing with electrical propulsion and our innovative sustainable technology has reduced fuel consumption and CO2-emissions by 20 percent onboard our hybrid ships,” says Anthony Daniels, general manager UK & Ireland. “Electricity is a key way for our industry to create change for good and move away from harmful fuels that are damaging the natural world. We are also pioneers in shore power usage within the cruise industry, which allows a ship to plug into the national grid immediately upon docking which eliminates the emissions from its engines while also recharging the batteries for hybrid batteries. In Norway, wind and hydropower are the primary generators of its national grids’ electricity meaning shore power eliminates emissions throughout the supply chain.”

The line has also looked at ways to reduce emission beyond just electricity including introducing biodiesel as fuel alternative across a number of its ships. According to the line, biodiesel reduces C02 emissions by up to 80 per cent – with its environmentally certified biodiesel is produced from waste from the fisheries and agriculture industries.

We’ll start to see the increasing integration of electric vehicles into itineraries and trips, as infrastructure increasingly allows,” Morgan agrees. “In addition, we’ll hopefully see more of the travel sector proactively engaged in building a more regenerative sector, looking at ways to help their destinations adapt, flourish and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change going forward.”

Feature

Feature: Destination management

By Anthony Pearce
Standfirst about this article. Needs a better headline, too. Maybe it could even be the opening para? it looks much better when longer

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Images of the deserted streets of Venice and Rome, taken after Italy entered Europe’s first lockdown, were both eerie and beautiful – our first glimpses at a world of tourist-free city centres. Venetians – whose numbers have dwindled down to just 53,000 in recent years – were unsurprisingly conflicted: for the first time, they had the city to themselves, but none of the revenue on which many livelihoods depend. By large, of course, the people of Venice will be desperate for visitors return – but hoping for this pause can usher in a new kind of tourism in a city that has long struggled with crowding.

How these eternally popular destinations manage demand is a complicated but increasingly posed question; the phrase ‘overtourism’ has entered popular parlance, but remains insufficient in addressing the complexity of the issue. As ABTA notes in its Tourism for Good report, destination authorities are increasingly investing in tourism management and marketing methods in order to sustainably balance the benefits of tourism with protecting natural and cultural assets, safeguarding local traditions and delivering visitor satisfaction. In essence: we need to make sure tourism works for all of us.

Taking to time to reflect
Covid has clearly wrought havoc on communities the travel industry, but it has provided opportunity to reflect and plan – both in terms of tourism strategy and wider regional and national projects. Perhaps the most striking example of time well spent is in Barcelona, which is now beginning to imagine a radical, greener future. Its a 10-year plan for the restructuring of the city will prioritise pedestrians and cyclists over drivers, creating so-called “superblocks”, or superilles, with increased cycle lanes and 10km speed limits. The logic behind it is clear: as it stands, Barcelona has the EU’s highest density of cars, with 6,000 per square kilometre, according to the Guardian – with many of the journeys made in the city made by daytrippers. Plans to overhaul the city’s transport systems had long been muted, but the dark days of Covid have provided impetus to actually do it.

In the Czech Republic, in addition to a new promotional focus on the city’s green experiences, Prague is looking to create what it calls “harmonious and stable balance between tourists, locals and the city itself”. The city’s mayor has become the latest to announce the intent to limit Airbnb’s presence, as well as regulations for cafés to move to the side streets of the Royal Route, to more promotion of events held outside the city centre or in the off-season.

Prague is looking at ways to spread out tourists in the city

 

 

 

Serving the community
Undeniably, there are negative impacts of tourism, but it remains in many respects a force for good, contributing more than 10 per cent of global GDP and supporting an estimated one in every ten worldwide jobs. Criticisms of tourism also too often fail to consider the cultural exchange that takes place between the traveller and those living and working in the destination. Mark Twain’s words, written more than 150 years ago, still ring true: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”. But that doesn’t mean that we, as an industry, should be rest on our laurels: we must constantly ask, who is benefiting from travel and are the communities we visit properly served by it?

Much of the efforts to ensure this balance have been grouped under the catch-all term, ‘community tourism’ – a simple concept, but something that requires careful execution. In fact, it’s part of a wider mission, which can be grouped under destination management. ABTA defines this as ensuring local people benefit; tourism infrastructure planning and management; and safeguarding local culture and the natural environment.

In its most successful Iterations, it involves collaboration. One recent example is the PACT partnership between the Panama government, the Panamanian Foundation for Sustainable Tourism (APTSO), Fundación Natura and Planeterra, a non-profit organisation that works with G Adventures. “The aim of PACT is to significantly increase the amount of communities directly benefiting from tourism in Panama,” says Jamie Sweeting, president of Planeterra. “The country is pioneering a new national strategy, designed to increase the number of jobs and revenue opportunities for communities through community tourism enterprises. As travel returns, Panama is seeking to demonstrate how this form of tourism can support rural community development, celebrate its diverse culture and history and support the conservation of its rich biodiversity.”

In essence it means that travellers see a more authentic of the country they visit, and that money is kept in the destination. “We envisage that experiences will range from community home-stay programmes to having a lunch hosted by local women’s co-operatives; tours of the local ecosystem led by Indigenous guides and youth-led cultural activities. Essentially, travellers will be better able to see Panama through the eyes and experiences of local people, increasing their enjoyment and knowledge of what makes Panama so special,” says Sweeting.

We live in unequal societies in an unequal world, and it is true that much tourism involves comparatively wealthy travellers visiting destinations in poorer parts of the world – but we must not see community tourism as something that should only exist in developing parts of the world. There are many fine European examples – from the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership in Scotland to the many community-led, eco trails in Slovenia, a pioneer of green travel. A new product in the small southern European country, for example, offers travellers a map and a list of suggested accommodations, restaurants, and activities, with the route only stopping in cities, towns, and villages certified through the Slovenia Green brand and tourism strategy.

Tui and Tralfagar quotes to come

In Ireland, the Burren Ecotourism Network in Co Clare has been highlighted by Lonely Planet as one of the best community tourism projects in the world, describing it as “an impressive community collaboration of local enterprises which has transformed Ireland’s Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark into a global leader for sustainable tourism”. The network includes a Code of Practice with 10 key areas of good practice that must be achieved by each member, with a training programme providing enterprises with the tools to establish baseline information and benchmark standards in the areas of energy, water, waste-water and waste management.

The Balearic Islands Tourist Board aims to complete the underwater cartography of the Posidonia Oceanica with a new app

 

 

Travelife, a Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)-recognised label, which is owned by ABTA, has specific requirements around community support and engagement when it comes to accommodation. These include ensuring that information is provided to guests about the local culture and how to experience it respectfully, consultation with community groups on any developments, protecting and respecting heritage, culture and natural areas of importance that could be impacted by their operations. Claims are verified through an onsite audit every two years, and have included examples ranging from joining together hotel guests and locals on voluntary beach cleans through to setting up programmes to provide food to local people in need.

Wider goals
Tourism doesn’t have to be badged as green to provide great benefit. One great example is that of the Balearic Islands. It is now five years since the sustainable tourism tax, which applies to all stays in tourist accommodation, was launched and, since then, 170 sustainable tourism projects have been initiated to promote ecotourism, protect the environment, and restore cultural heritage sites in Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. These are far-reaching and hugely impressive – recent projects include a new app to help protect the marine biology of the islands and a new eco hut In Mallorca’s Serra De Tramuntana, which will offer hikers 52 beds divided between 12 rooms.

The tourism industry accounts for around 35 per cent of our islands’ GDP and it is essential that we bring visitors back,” says Iago Negueruel, the minister of tourism. “However, our ambition is that we do so in a sustainable way, continuing to roll out sustainable initiatives to counteract any negative environmental impacts. Our visitors have directly helped us have fund a huge number of initiatives to promote ecotourism, help preserve the environment and restore our cultural heritage. Behind the scenes, we continue to work intensely with the private sector; including businesses and trade unions to restart the tourism season and its activities as soon as restrictions are relaxed.”

These examples are also proof that sustainable on community-led tourism doesn’t simply mean luxury eco-lodges or high-end holidays – they’re evidence that all tourism can benefit communities in the host destination. “Travelling responsibly doesn’t have to mean it’s less affordable,” says Dr Susanne Etti of Intrepid Travel. “Sustainable travel can often be linked to high-end eco-travel [and] people think it means far-flung, expensive holidays, but the reality is that travelling responsibly does not mean breaking the bank. A lot of responsible options are actually more affordable, such as taking public transport, eating local or staying in locally owned accommodation.”