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In Hawaii, reinventing tourism for a post-pandemic world

After the outbreak of the pandemic, Governor David Ige issued an executive order ending the disbursement of hotel taxes and other transitional accommodation taxes paid by visitors to the agency. These funds have, since last year, been used to support other government operations.

Many are hopeful that John De Fries, who became chief executive of the Tourism Board in September, will be able to lead the islands into an era where tourism is more regenerative than extractive. Mr. De Fries is the first Native Hawaiian to lead the organization and business owners who rely on tourism rely on him to represent their interests as he reflects on how to market the islands in a post world. -pandemic.

“We are at a time when our very survival is at stake,” said De Fries. “We understand that there are currencies other than cash that we need to reconcile. Some of these other mottos are the natural environment, a sense of well-being in the community. It is important to ensure that Hawaiian cultural traditions are and should be protected. “

In January 2020, the Tourism Authority created a 2020-2025 strategic plan with four pillars or areas of focus – natural resources, Hawaiian culture, community and brand marketing – to manage tourism responsibly in the future. When the pandemic hit, the agency decided to continue working on the plan. In particular, he continued to consult residents on their views on tourism.

Mr De Fries, who grew up in Waikiki and has seen tourism turn to overtourism for the past three decades, said his approach moving forward will emphasize the regenerative journey through the Hawaiian ancestral idea of malama which means “to feed”. The four pillars, he said, will be a guiding force.

“Everyone I talk to – hotel owners, seniors, even people who don’t like tourism – agree that we all want future generations to have a better natural resource base than today.” hui, so we have to take care of it. and anyone with any aloha for this place will understand that.

That’s a lesson other over-frequented destinations could learn from.


Paige McClanahan contributed reporting from Europe.

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Tahiti’s tourism closure is expected to be very temporary

January had been a good month for Tahiti Tourisme.

The Destination Marketing Organization for French Polynesia (which markets itself as The Islands of Tahiti) had a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to. After a complete shutdown of North American air traffic at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in the spring of 2020, French Polynesia reopened to visitors on July 15 with contact tracing and testing protocols, easily the standard of gold for safe pandemic tourism. .

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The resorts reopened and visitors began to slowly return. Even when the United States Centers for Disease Control announced that travelers returning from international destinations would have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, French Polynesia set up rapid test stations at the airport and made plans to cover quarantine expenses of travelers who tested positive. before your return flights.

Then he lowered the hammer. On January 31, French Overseas Minister Sebastian Lecornu appeared on Tahitian television with the news that the ministry had closed the borders of France to all but travelers with specific imperatives; economic support through tourism is not among them. The directive also applies to travel between metropolitan France and French Polynesia, which is part of the French Republic but has a separate customs union.

The announcement came as a surprise in Tahiti, where new infections had slowed since the late fall peaks. The testing program implemented at the reopening had proven to be so effective that there was debate in local government about whether the expense justified its continuation. Of the 51,000 tests returned by incoming travelers on their fourth day after arrival (which had a return rate of over 90 percent), only 275 were positive, leading government ministers to question whether the capabilities of country test were being deployed effectively.

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

The message also landed on the country’s tourism industry with the frustration of an edict from afar. French Polynesia is a semi-autonomous region of France with its own assembly; the ordinances here are often promoted by local government and jointly announced by the President of French Polynesia and the French High Commissioner, who is a representative of the French Republic (similar to a regional prefect in metropolitan France).

This time, the announcement came directly from Paris, nearly 10,000 miles from Tahiti.

“Today, the threat is great for French Polynesia: if one of the [new virus] If variants were detected, we could face an explosion of cases and a complete embolism of your hospital system. [in Tahiti]”Lecornu told viewers, in French with Tahitian subtitles.

“If the variants were actively circulating in France and in some overseas territories at the same time, we may not be able to support French Polynesia as we did before.”

The policy went into effect on February 3. Visitors already in French Polynesia were not necessarily required to end their visits earlier, but the vast majority of tourist hotels in the country were closed the following week. Only a handful of hotels and guesthouses (mainly on islands where they are the only lodging option) and the InterContinental in Tahiti remain open for the handful of travelers needed, such as government workers, students, healthcare workers, and airline crews who they operate with “territorial continuity”. ”Flights from Paris.

Frustratingly for many tour operators, the Overseas Minister did not mention any threshold for when the country could reopen to tourism and only made vague promises of financial support. Financial support for tourism and related industries came in the following days, with direct payments and loan guarantees planned for tourism industry businesses and their displaced employees.

French Polynesian President Edouard Fritch has asked the Overseas Ministry to limit the closure to three months, as French Polynesia’s economy is overwhelmingly dependent on open borders and inbound international tourism. Almost fortunately, the announcement came in the middle of French Polynesia’s off-season, which spans the first three months of the year.

Air Tahiti Nui, the national carrier of French Polynesia, had seen improvements in booking trends prior to the announcement, noted the airline’s vice president for the Americas, Nick Panza: “[we] They have enjoyed a good period of travel from the US market since July 2020, when the destination reopened. There was a new spike in bookings starting in January this year. Agents and consumers trusted the destination and its testing protocol. “

Air Tahiti Nui, which primarily attracts leisure visitors among US-origin passengers, suspends service to Los Angeles from February 14 through the end of March, reflecting the current resort closures. United Airlines also suspended service from San Francisco to Papeete.

Both Air Tahiti Nui and Air France typically operate services to Paris via Los Angeles and will continue to operate their Paris flights via Vancouver as the US does not allow EU citizens to transit the country en route from Paris to Tahiti. In addition to passengers, the flights also carry vital cargo, including vaccines.

As for travelers planning to visit French Polynesia in 2021, Tahiti Tourisme expects the closure to be “as temporary as possible to allow further adaptations to ensure the safety of our local population.”

Travelers who have already booked with plans for the affected dates can rebook for later in 2021 using common cancellation policies agreed between all operators in the Islands of Tahiti, and most importantly, those who plan to visit later in the year you can rely on those cancellation policies to reserve with confidence.

Panza also has a positive outlook: “There is good demand for the islands of Tahiti. From May, June onwards, we have an increase in reserves and April remains stable. “

To plan a visit to the islands of Tahiti later in 2021, visit the Tahiti Tourisme website.

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The importance of travel and tourism to boost the global economy

Restoring international travel and tourism will be vital to enhancing social progress and boosting the global economy after the pandemic, according to a new Social Impact Report released by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in collaboration with the non-profit organization. for profit Social Progress Imperative (SPI).

The research paper shows significant correlations between data from the WTTC Economic Impact Report and SPI’s Social Progress Index scores over the past decade, with China, Cambodia, Rwanda and Sri Lanka among the largest beneficiaries.

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

According to research, travel and tourism enrich communities at a faster rate than the overall economy. For example, between 2011 and 2019, Southeast Asia recorded the fastest annual growth rate in per capita GDP for travel and tourism at 6.7% compared to 3.7% overall economic growth for the region. What’s more, the Middle East saw travel and tourism GDP per capita growth of 3 percent compared to just 0.3 percent for the region’s economy overall.

The data also puts into perspective the impact of the travel and tourism industry on employment. Globally, one job is created for every 34 international visitors to a destination. But the impact is much greater in regions like Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, where only 11, 13 and 24 international visitors are needed, respectively, to create new work. For every direct job created globally, nearly two new jobs are created indirectly or induced, the document shows. This means that a direct job in the travel and tourism sector creates a total of three jobs.

The latest WTTC economic model estimates that up to 174 million travel and tourism-related jobs were affected globally in 2020. However, the pandemic has affected some countries more than others.

The latest research from WTTC and SPI also reveals that for every $ 1 generated in direct global travel and tourism GDP, more than $ 2 is generated indirectly.

“WTTC is proud to publish this important research that focuses on social impact, highlighting how critical travel and tourism is to our world,” said WTTC President and CEO Gloria Guevara in a statement. “Travel and tourism is one of the most diverse sectors, employing people of all socioeconomic backgrounds regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, with nearly 54 percent of whom are women and up to 30 percent youths”.

“After almost a full year of insecurity and hardship that has come from the COVID-19 pandemic, the moment could not be more appropriate to celebrate the importance of the sector,” he concluded.

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Travel to the Dominican Republic: New data show a rebound in tourism on the Caribbean island

The Dominican Republic appears to be emerging from the shackles of the coronavirus pandemic as air ticket data shows an increase in travelers, according to ForwardKeys, a leading travel analytics firm.

Data shows that the Dominican Republic’s international tourism, which fell more than 90 percent at one point in July 2020 compared to the same period last year, has risen again to 36.3 percent less year-over-year. .

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Not only is the nearly 55 percent gain extraordinary, the Dominican Republic has a higher rate of return visitors than the rest of its Caribbean neighbors, which are also attracting tourists again and have gone down from 80 percent in July. 2020 at 48.9 percent.

Obviously not ideal for any tourist destination, but it is a sign that tourism is slowly receding. That is particularly true for the Dominican Republic after its government developed a comprehensive “Plan for the Responsible Recovery of Tourism”.

“The Dominican Republic is a very good example of how governments should handle this current Covid-19 crisis,” said Olivier Ponti, Vice President of Insights for ForwardKeys, in a statement. “The other important point worth mentioning is keeping the borders open. Like Mexico and other Caribbean destinations, intra-regional travel greatly benefited travelers eager to escape the US. “

The top three cities from which travelers flew to the Dominican Republic were New York, Miami, and Boston. And the data also pointed to an interesting trend that many visitors were single or traveling alone.

“There are a few reasons why the Dominican Republic attracts individual travelers. First, solo travelers tend to be more active, so they are drawn to the hiking, kayaking, surfing, wildlife, and bird watching that abound in the destination, ”says David Collado, Minister of Tourism of the Dominican Republic. “As people return to travel, these socially distant activities that take place in our beautiful large open National Parks and long beaches are particularly attractive. It is also a very safe and welcoming country, which is always a key consideration for individual travelers. “

To that end, the Dominican Republic has launched a new commercial to help attract more tourists.

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COVID-19 related tourism industry losses in 2020 exceeded $ 750 billion

New research suggests that the top 50 countries supporting the global tourism industry have lost an estimated $ 753.6 billion due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Overall, the numbers are likely to be “much higher.”

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According to hotel room deals platform Hoo, international tourism revenue fell to $ 548.9 billion in 2020, a 57.9 percent drop from $ 1.302.5 billion the previous year. In total, the data shows that the industry lost $ 753.6 billion in tourism revenue last year.

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

In the United States, the combination of widespread COVID-19 cases and political unrest resulted in the largest decline in international tourism revenue, going from $ 125 billion in 2019 to just $ 89.1 billion in 2020.

“We are now beginning to get a sense of the extent of the pandemic’s impact on global tourism over the past year and it is quite staggering, to say the least,” said Hoo co-founder Adrian Murdock. “It is fair to say that the industry has been decimated due to COVID-19, with widespread travel restrictions causing drastic drops in tourism revenue almost across the board.”

“Unfortunately as we are, it looks like things will get worse before they get better, with 2021 still not seeing a return to normal and with even tighter restrictions, if at all,” continued Murdock. “There is no question that once these restrictions are lifted, there will be an almost insatiable appetite for travel and this will bring an immediate boost to the industry. The question is, how long will companies have to wait to see those better days? “

To collect the data, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) provided information for the top 50 tourist destinations, including pre-coronavirus levels, the estimated decline as a result of the pandemic, and financial data for the industry.

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Tahiti closes tourism to combat COVID-19

French Polynesian government officials announced that tourists would be temporarily banned as part of an effort to curb the impact of COVID-19.

According to France Info, France has suspended all travel to and from destinations outside the European Union, except for urgent cases, which include the closure of the popular island destination Tahiti as of February 3.

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

The French High Commission in Tahiti revealed that the second closure procedure does not offer any exceptions for the tourism industry. Travelers currently on the island could leave at the end of their trip, as returning home would be considered an exception.

Other reasons the local government would issue an exception to reach the country include the death of a family member, an administrative or judicial summons, medical emergencies, a healthcare professional working to stop COVID-19, and more.

After closing its borders at the start of the coronavirus outbreak, French Polynesia reopened to tourism and removed mandatory quarantine requirements in July 2020. Following the decision, the territory has registered a total of 18,000 coronavirus cases.

Before reopening last year, the islands recorded 62 cases and cleared the virus.

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The World Tourism Organization asks for a passport for vaccines

The Global Tourism Crisis Committee, at a meeting in Madrid last week hosted by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), is asking for a vaccine passport, saying it should become an essential travel document to help to restart international tourism.

“The launch of the vaccines is a step in the right direction, but the restart in tourism cannot wait,” said UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili, according to the British newspaper The Guardian. “Vaccines should be part of a broader and coordinated approach that includes certificates and passes for safe cross-border travel.”

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

The growing number of COVID-19 cases has forced the UK to close all travel corridors, require all arrivals to be quarantined and a total ban on arrivals from South America and Portugal, The Guardian noted.

But getting that passport has its problems. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), for example, has already labeled them discriminatory.

“We are in the initial stage of launching the vaccine. If you make vaccines mandatory, it will mean that many people will not be able to fly, even if they do not have COVID, “a WTTC spokesperson told The Guardian. “It is much better to have a test and launch scheme where travelers test before they travel to prove they do not have COVID.”

But Dr Richard Dawood, a travel medicine specialist at the Fleet Street Clinic in London, said proof of travel vaccination is unavoidable.

“It really won’t be our choice – [vaccine passports] it will be de facto a requirement for individual countries to demonstrate immunity, “he said. “The groundwork has been put in. At the moment, people in the UK are given a piece of paper once they have been vaccinated. It is not exactly safe. There should be a fair consideration at some point as to how we will keep immunization records without burdening the National Health Service. [For health passports to work] we need a way to authenticate vaccines. “

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WTTC predicts the return of more than 100 million jobs in global tourism in 2021

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) announced that more than 100 million jobs could return to the industry in 2021 as the world begins to reopen thanks to the latest coronavirus vaccination and testing efforts.

The latest economic forecast from the WTTC shows that a solid summer of travel is expected, as many major travel companies have reported a significant increase in advance bookings.

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

The tourism council warned that 174 million jobs in the tourism sector around the world were at risk at the height of the pandemic, but officials said the most optimistic scenario predicts that up to 111 million jobs could be reactivated.

“We are looking forward to a strong summer of travel, thanks to a combination of mask use, the launch of global vaccination and exit testing, opening the door to international travel once again,” said the WTTC President, Gloria Guevara.

“This projected result will be a great relief and will be welcomed as the beginning of the long-awaited recovery, for a sector that for so long has suffered the brunt of hugely damaging travel restrictions.” Guevara continued.

Despite the increase in travel jobs, the numbers would still be 17 percent below the 2019 figures, representing 54 million fewer jobs.

The WTTC’s best-case scenario includes a travel recovery beginning in late March and factors in vaccination schedules and the rapid adoption of test and trace regulations. A more conservative result would still see a return of 84 million jobs, but this would be 25 percent below 2019 levels.

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Why medical tourism attracts patients, even in a pandemic

“Our market has always been what I call the ‘working poor’ and they keep getting poorer,” said Josef Woodman, CEO of Patients Without Borders. “The pandemic has ravaged low-income and middle-class people around the world and for many of them the reality is that they have to travel to access affordable health care.

In April, following the initial global lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, medical travel bookings fell by more than 89% in the most popular destinations, including Mexico, Thailand, Turkey and South Korea , according to Medical Departures, a Bangkok- based medical travel agency. Since August, the numbers have slowly rebounded, but bookings in Mexico, which has seen a surge in American travelers in recent months, are still down 32% from the same August-December period in 2019.

“Covid-19 has devastated the entire medical tourism ecosystem due to all the uncertainty over travel restrictions and quarantine measures that keep changing around the world,” said Paul McTaggart, founder of the ‘agency.

“Despite this, we are still seeing an increasing number of people traveling and booking trips to meet their urgent health needs, especially between the United States and the Mexican border where patients can travel safely by car,” he said. Mr. McTaggart said. The Center for Medical Tourism Research found that Google searches in the United States for the terms “medical tourism to Mexico” had increased 64% since July, compared to pre-pandemic levels before travel restrictions were cut. be imposed in March.

“Google searches are almost directly correlated with consumer behavior when it comes to traveling across borders,” said Vequist.

Prior to the winter coronavirus resurgence, Ms Jackson had started planning and saving for a trip to Mexicali, a border town in northern Mexico, where she can undergo a hysterectomy for $ 4,000, a fifth of the cost of the proposed procedure in New Jersey. Her best friend had offered to drive her there and pay for gas and accommodation.

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The World Travel and Tourism Council is against mandatory COVID-19 vaccines

The executive director of the World Travel and Tourism Council says she is against the global mandate to require a COVID-19 vaccine in order to travel.

“We should never require vaccination to get a job or travel,” Gloria Guevara said in remarks at the upcoming Reuters conference. “If you need the vaccine before you travel, that leads to discrimination.”

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

The mandate for a vaccine has been a key topic of discussion in the travel industry since the launch of two coronavirus vaccines, one from Pfizer and one from Moderna, about a month ago. Many believe that providing proof that a client has received the vaccine would create a greater sense of security and trust among those who are reluctant to travel.

Australia’s Qantas Airways has said it plans to introduce such a requirement.

Several health experts said during the upcoming Reuters conference that the mass deployment of coronavirus vaccines would not result in enough people having immunity to be able to effectively stop the spread of COVID-19. Those same health experts say the vaccine will only work and create a kind of herd immunity if 70 to 75 percent of people are vaccinated.

Dale Fisher, president of the World Health Organization (WHO) Outbreak Alert and Response Network, said: “We will not get back to normal quickly. We know we have to get to herd immunity and we need it in most countries, so we won’t see that in 2021. There may be some countries that will get there, but even then that won’t create a ‘normal’ situation especially in terms of border controls “.

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