Sustainability

WHY EVs ARE THE FUTURE?

From the thick smog that blanketed Los Angeles in the 1950s to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, the fact is that we’ve known about the damaging effects of automobile pollution for perhaps longer than we would care to admit. Yet over the years, manufacturers thought little about the clear challenges for the environment, continuing to mass-produce cars on an enormous scale. But as the facts of climate change become ever clearer in the 21st century, it’s a relic from the past that is now leading the charge for a cleaner planet. And though it was first invented over 100 years ago, the electric car has now become one of the most unmistakable solutions in the fight against devastating climate change. 

Just a Passing Fad?

Once thought of as a fad or objects of amusement, electric vehicles have been part of the public consciousness ever since Toyota introduced the Prius in 1997. The revolutionary hybrid was often the butt of jokes, thanks to its slow acceleration speed and tree-hugging image. Yet it was clean, quiet and fuel-efficient. Still in production almost 25 years later, it proved that electric-hybrid cars could be successful, blazing a trail for future EV’s to follow.

But the legacy of cars powered by electricity goes deeper still. In fact, at the turn of the 20th century electric cars accounted for around a third of all vehicles on the road in the US. Praised for their lack of noise in a time period dominated by deafening industry, designs and models were crafted by some of the most famous luminaries of the era, including Ferdinand Porsche’s P1 and a 1912 design by American electricity pioneer Thomas Edison. Unfortunately for Edison however, it was his friend Henry Ford’s widely available and affordable gasoline-powered Model T that contributed to the eventual decline of the electric car’s golden era. For the next century, the auto industry would be dominated by vehicles run on gasoline petrol with little thought for the environment. But that eventually changed.

The Truth About Climate Change

Like a spinning wind vane in a violent storm, attitudes and public opinion are constantly changing on any number of issues across every political spectrum. But, if there’s one issue that may be reaching a relatively irrefutable position of consensus, then climate change could be it. Although it’s been part of many agendas for the last thirty years, it’s only really in the last decade that stances have started to converge into one direction.

According to a 2018 report from the World Meteorological Association, the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years. If that wasn’t worrying enough, then the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also warned in 2018 that the effects of global warming could be irreversible by 2030.

It’s therefore unsurprising to find that vehicles account for around one third of all US air pollution. Similar figures can be found in the UK and the EU. And it’s not just the environment that suffers either – it’s humans themselves. Unlike other notorious polluters such as factories, industrial smokestacks and airplanes, the smog, carbon monoxide and other toxins emitted by vehicles go straight out at street level and into the lungs. If we want to improve the air quality of our cities and towns and enjoy a brighter and cleaner future, then our attitude to cars must change. Thankfully, it seems that moment has already dawned.    

A Brighter Future

Greener, cleaner and better for the environment than petrol or diesel cars, it’s clear that electrification is the central force for the decarbonisation of road transport. Technology has come a long way in recent years and, with countries like the UK banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, manufacturers have been forced to innovate and rise to the challenge. Batteries are one area which have seen some of the most rapid development, with many EV’s now able to achieve 200 miles on a single charge. Without compromising on style and performance, some of those leading the way for 2021 include the Tesla Model S and the Jaguar I-Pace.

But regardless of who is making the car, the facts are clear. By avoiding fossil fuels altogether and offering a 40% reduction in co2 emissions, EV’s are here to stay if we want a healthier world and cleaner cities. There are still some challenges – most greenhouse gases produced by EVs come from the manufacturing process – but those will be overcome on the drive towards a sustainable future.

Electric Vehicles are the future and ROLZO will be there every step of the way. So, whether it’s through a soothing ride with a professional chauffeur or taking the wheel of one of our stylish EV’s yourself, you’ll be able to enjoy a clean electric future with ROLZO in more than 100 cities around the world.

Sustainability

ROLZO ELECTRIC

ROLZO launches the world’s largest fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) available on-demand in more than 100 cities around the world.

Starting today, Travel, Hospitality, Lifestyle Management, and Private Aviation professionals using ROLZO Business can help counteract climate change by booking all-electric vehicles for their clients in just a few clicks.

Climate change and the burdens placed on air quality are among the key challenges we face. ROLZO strives to reduce emissions of CO2 and pollutants by making more and more electric vehicles (EVs) available on its ground transportation and car rental booking platform. 

Whether travellers want to be driven in an all-electric vehicle and enjoy a peaceful environment, or drive an emissions-free vehicle which combines design innovation, cutting-edge technology and pure electrified power, ROLZO allows industry professionals to book from a range of EVs including the Tesla Model S, Tesla Model X, Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model Y, Porsche Taycan, BMW i8 Coupé, BMW i8 Roadster, Smart EQ ForTwo Cabrio, and more.

Sustainability is not just a trend for ROLZO, it is a call to action spurred on by our world changing at a pace faster than ever and with the recognition that earth’s resources are not endless. No single company can remove carbon footprint on its own but the hundreds of companies using ROLZO Business, collectively, can help reduce the environmental impact.

“We are all in, dedicated to our ambition, to guide the industry forward and change the way the world moves” said Thomas Dashwood, Operations Manager at ROLZO. 

ROLZO Electric is currently available in more than 100 cities around the world and will roll out to more cities soon. Read more about ROLZO Electric at www.rolzo.com/electric.

Journeys

DRIVING JOURNEYS: Miami To Key WEST

Key West is the Southernmost city in the United States and just a 4-hour drive from Miami on the scenic coastal Overseas Highway. The only way to experience this epic drive is behind the wheel of a convertible, be it a rugged Jeep Wrangler, a sleek Ferrari Portofino or a sophisticated Rolls-Royce Dawn. Drop the top and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime coastal drive. ROLZO has a full fleet of convertibles in Miami that will thrill all kinds of drivers.

The Atlantic Ocean on one side, the Gulf of Mexico on the other 

The drive from Miami to Key West is a little over 150 miles with 42 bridges connecting  34 islands. The road takes you through a wonderland of mangrove trees, coral reefs, tropical savanna, quaint islands and historical sites. You’ll have the unique sensation of literally driving on water as you cruise over the bridges, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. Many stretches of the highway are only two lanes wide, so you feel like you only have to stretch your hand out the window to touch the ocean. 

As you drive on, watch out for the Shell Shack, a typical Florida conch house. It overflows with the most colorful Florida kitsch, which is made of  shells, wood, beads, and much more. Everything’s for sale – a prime opportunity to bring an exotic souvenir or two back home.

Key Largo, Marathon and every keys in between

Starting your trip in Miami, the most popular stops along the way are Key Largo and Marathon, however time permitting, explore the lesser-known keys along the way ( there are 34!), each picturesque and unique. To name a few, just south of Key Largo lies charming Islamorada where you can get your first taste of hogfish and Key Lime Pie in the Morada Way Arts and Cultural District. Nearly halfway to Key West and just before driving over the famous Seven Mile Bridge, make a stop in the relaxed and lesser-known Duck Key and enjoy lush tropical vegetation and beaches. 

The Seven Mile Bridge, driving over water for miles and miles

The Seven Mile Bridge connects Marathon with Little Duck Key. It’s actually two parallel bridges, the older one built in 1919 as part of the Flagler Railroad and the new one, which you’ll drive over. The highlight of this section and possibly of the entire drive is the experience of literally driving for miles on end across two tremendous bodies of water: the Atlantic on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. 

Almost there, 30 miles to Key West

Just after crossing the Seven Mile Bridge and only about 30 miles from your final destination, make a little detour to visit Big Pine Key. It’s rumored to have the best seafood in Florida. Make a final stop in Sugarloaf Key, the U-shaped island wraps around Sugarloaf Sound; a calm paradise for snorkelling, swimming, and fishing; it is also home to the American Shoal Lighthouse, one in a string of lighthouses erected to help ships navigate through the dangerous shoal, the distinctive red structure is visible with good binoculars from Sugarloaf Key.

If you take one selfie on this trip it has to be with the famous mile marker ”0 Mile”. 

You will want to spend at least one night and one day in Key West to enjoy some of the many attractions in and around the hub of the city, Duval Street; head out for the daily sunset celebration in Mallory Square and adjust to Key West lifestyle. 

The entire trip can be made in about four hours if you drive non-stop. But, what would be the point, you may ask? It is to fully experience this journey, taking on the local laid-back attitude, putting the top down and making plenty of stops along the way for an adventure of a lifetime.

Due to changing advisories and local COVID-19 regulations, please check local travel guidelines before visiting. The best time to go is between February and May. The temperatures are on average in the 70s Fahrenheit or 20s Celcius with little risk of rain. The hurricane season starting in September is to be avoided.

Newsroom

Your global travel news digest

With the abruptly elevated lockdown measures in the UK, many nations in Europe and outside the continent are fostering their spirit of resilience in face of hardship. It may look like that the spirit of Christmas cannot go out in full display publicly, however many are eager to stay positive in their outlook for next year.

Americas

Best places to finally say goodbye to 2020!

Main cities like New York, Miami and Los Angeles are typical places that come to mind to bring in the new year with fireworks and parties, but this year has been nothing but typical. We are suggesting a more subdued approach with intimate experiences, nature, and wellness. Make sure to check local regulations for restaurants, attractions and accommodations as they are updated constantly amid the pandemic. Below are our top 4 choices to bring in 2021, there is something for everyone whether in the snow or in the sun:

Sedona, Arizona for a refreshed and rejuvenated holiday in a stunning setting of red rock formations; Jackson Hole, Wyoming when you can hit the slopes and cross off two of the United States best national parks during one epic trip; Maui, Hawaii to start the new year on what most agree is the best Hawaiian island (bypass the state’s 14-day quarantine with negative COVID-19 test results); Las Vegas, Nevada because it is Las Vegas and what better place say goodbye to 2020 all decked out to see some 80,000 fireworks ignite from the rooftops of seven casinos.

Exploring Mexico’s most luxurious gem: Los Cabos

Los Cabos, situated in the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, continues to reign as the nation’s number-one destination for international private flights. One of Latin America’s most cherished luxury spots, the region is widely known for its extreme clustering of top-of-the-range hospitality brands, offering endless opportunities for enjoyment and indulgence. Los Cabos’s beneficial connectivity and frequent air service from the United States marks the spot as an American traveller’s favorite.

Furthermore, Los Cabos Tourism Board is committed to keeping travellers safe. With its recently launched program named Los Cabos With Care, tourists are provided with quality hygiene standards at hotels, airports, restaurants, and etcetera. The brilliant Baja California Peninsula is the world of mystical and ethereal beauty; covered with bountiful marine life, Los Cabos belongs to the host of the region’s enduring elegance. 

Europe

COVID-19 mutant strain causes Europe to ban travel from the UK

European nations including France, Germany, Italy, and Portugal said they will stop flights arriving from the UK. A mutant strain of coronavirus has raised the UK’s alert level and severity of lockdown measures. Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister said the new strain could be up to 70% more transmissible than the old one. 

International train and ferry links are also affected; however, some trains from Paris to London will still be operative, we recommend checking with Eurostar for up to date schedule. People living in one of the newly designated tier 4 zones, which mostly comprises of south-east and east of England, are advised not to travel abroad. For those living in tier 1, 2, and 3 areas, they are advised to carefully consider whether they wish to travel abroad.

Keep up-to-date with latest travel restrictions and live updates at Reopen EU.

‘Wyndham’s Key Focus is Supporting its Hotel Partners’

Vassilis Themelidis, who has been recently appointed as the regional director of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, commented that Wyndham’s goal is to act at the right time and with vigour to help its hotel partners in this challenging time. Responsible for overseeing operations and directives for south and east Europe, Vassilis expressed that when travel resumes, he expects Greece to be one of the most desirable destinations, shedding light on the nation’s remarkable recovery in 2019.

“As history has shown, the hospitality industry is notoriously resilient and while these are extraordinary times, we remain confident in the strength of our industry in the south and east Europe region and beyond,” he said. In his interview with GTP Headlines, Vassilis offered a wide range of expert opinion on the hospitality industry. His underlying message has been very cautious and optimistic.

Middle East

Oman introduces a new 10-day tourist visa

Oman, in a bid to revive the country’s tourism market, has revealed a 10-day visa scheme to attract fresh visitors. These listed countries may be permitted entry on the basis that the visitors have a Schengen visa already in their passports, or entry visas to the US, Australia, Canada, UK, or Japan. Residents from these nations must be able to prove their passport’s validity of no less than six months and go through specific steps to enter the Sultanate. 

Oman’s tourism industry came to a pause in March when passenger flights were grounded and visa issuance was put on hold. Since then, the Sultanate has taken action to slowly re-open the sector, alongside a brief lockdown period. Tourism is one of Oman’s main leading industries, regularly witnessing roughly 2.5 million tourists a year. 

Hamad International Airport awarded best airport in the ME of the year fourth time in a row

Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Qatar has been voted as Best Airport in the Middle East for the fourth consecutive year by Global Traveler’s GT Tested Reader Survey Awards. HIA’s dedication to improving the passenger’s wellbeing and overall experience has been one of its key driving factors for winning the award. In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the airport implemented several safety and security measures, along with brand-new lifestyle offerings that support reducing stress. 

Hamad International Airport Chief Operating Officer Engr. Badr Mohammad Al Meer said: “To be recognised for our efforts in ensuring the comfort and peace of mind of our passengers, especially during this unprecedented time, is an honour that bolsters us to continue improving our passengers’ airport experience.” The airport has also implemented the latest technologies such as autonomous disinfectant robots and advanced thermal screening systems; as well installing a program which utilises self-service and biometric technology to provide passengers with a contact-free check-in and bag-drop experience.

Asia Pacific

Asia’s top airlines still impacted by COVID-19 quarantines and border closures

Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines continued to be affected by border closures and quarantines due to the pandemic. In the first 11 months of 2020, the number of passengers carried by Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines saw decreases of over 80% compared to the previous year. 

Cathay Pacific Group Chief Customer and Commerical Officer Ronald Lam said: “ We are still not seeing any meaningful improvement in our passenger business. On average, we carried just 1,261 passengers per day and load factor remained low at 18.5 percent – both marginal increases over October. While we saw reasonably good traffic coming back to Hong Kong from Canada and Australia, this was prior to the implementation of new government quarantine requirements in the middle of November. Meanwhile, overall demand on long-haul routes, particularly the UK and continental Europe, remained weak owing to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 in many European countries.”

Thai restaurants awarded Michelin stars despite decline of travel economy

Upscale Bangkok restaurants including Blue by Alain Ducasse and Cadence by Dan Bark were awarded one-star Michelin ratings while Chef’s Table, located in Bangkok and well known for its alluring French cuisine, was upgraded to a two-star rating. The fourth edition of the Thai guide which provides coverage and reviews of Bangkok’s finest culinary spots was recently published in midst of the troubling pandemic. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has commented that the goal is to cover the whole country by 2021 under a five-year agreement with Michelin.

Michelin also awarded winners in three new categories, which includes sustainable practices and best service. Pru, an eco-friendly restaurant located in the beach province of Phuket, earned Michelin Green Star for its sustainable operations. 

Africa

South Africa set to face travel bans due to an emerging COVID-19 mutant strain

Nations including Israel, Turkey, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland have all paused air travel to and from South Africa. A new more infectious COVID-19 mutation was confirmed in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and along the Garden Route. Additionally, it may have properties that boost its transmissibility. A similar variant has also been identified in the UK, causing the UK government to take swift action, announcing tougher lockdown measures. 

Egypt receives first tourist delegation from Berlin since travel resumption

The Tourist Office of the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board in Egypt’s Red Sea coastal city of Hurghada reported that on Sunday, a first tourist group from Berlin has arrived, since the travel resumption in early July. Hurghada International Airport welcomed the first flight from the German capital, with 125 passengers on board, after a pause of nearly 10 months due to the pandemic.

Eman Mahmoud, leader of the domestic tourism sector at the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board, expressed that Germany is one of the key tourist-exporting markets to Egypt. Similarly, Khaled Al-Anani, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, visited Berlin last September to hold official meetings to discuss the resumption of the German tourism  to Egypt. On Saturday, Hurghada also received the first tourist group from the Slovakian capital, Bratislava.

Insights

How is art shaping car design

The language of art is a language in its own right; art evokes a wide range of emotions and opinions. Being unutterable, art is a means to convey what is beyond verbal limits. As one of the most thriving components in the process of car design and manufacturing, visual creativity is an essential part of conveying the car’s unique personality and its synergy with onlookers and drivers. 

The intimate bond between art and car design

“For me, a car is art on wheels” said Land Rover’s Design Director Gerry McGovern in his 2018 interview. Since taking over the reins of design direction in 2006, Gerry has sought to infuse the British sense of roughness and class in his work, demonstrating his Modernist vision. Gerry is a recurring example of the automotive industry’s stride to bring out the glory of the car’s special makeup. Historically, the evolution of art and car design has been based on the visual philosophy of aesthetics and speed. 

Factors such as technology, lifestyle, and culture have played a vital role in automobile design, starting from 1885 through present day. The automobile industry’s mapped eras such as Invention, Manufacturing, Innovation, and Capsule oversaw rippling changes by society like how the American designers in the Integration era (~1940s-1970s) borrowed art concepts from prevailing fashion, make-up, colour trends, and personal products. 1959’s Chevrolets came to life with their avant-garde form reflecting high fashion trends. David Gartman’s survey explored American automobile design in the 1950’s, identifying foreign ideas which impacted the sphere of culture and mass opinion such as the art European modernism – promoting minimalism and modesty. Since then and up to now, many centres of art all around the world are merging core ideas into a novel framework and exporting them into culture, determining the creative outlook of car design.

The design process has been successful in producing cutting-edge vehicles. Daimler provides an insight into a typical operation –  it’s regarded as an integral part of the development among the industrial circles. Usually, the designers work together with individuals and teams from research, development, and production areas. They aim to fine-tune and organize vehicle dimensions, material concepts and production processes in effort to flesh out the final product. The process is usually conducted on a step-by-step basis: from drawing/rendering, packaging, virtual modelling to data control modelling. As mechanistic as it may seem, the art flow is vigorous and parallels the operational direction.

For example, at the heart of Mercedes-Benz’s design world, designers work through a stream of creative progression, from brainstorming during the ideation stage to realistic visual assessment of the car’s physical dimensions at the 1:4 clay modelling stage. Speaking of the art of luxury, Gordon Wagener, chief design officer for Daimler AG, remarked that the meaning of opulence is ever-changing and praises the aesthetic soul; that is, the hunger for beauty and sensual purity, reflecting the prevalent modern attitude’s taste for sophistication, enjoyment and technological admiration. He said: “With our design idiom of Sensual Purity, we encapsulate an essential aspect of our brands – the bipolarity of intelligence and emotion. It is the core of our brand DNA, our aesthetic soul. It always remains constant and yet will constantly change. Currently, it is in the process of becoming more diverse. Our society and our mobility are changing. We pick up trends such as fully automated or automated driving, the Internet of Things, electric mobility or artificial intelligence and assimilate them in our concept of luxury.”

Elevating customer experience

Danny Whitfield, a car designer who has done commissions for Ford, General Motors, and National Corvette Museum, said in his 2016 interview with Autoblog that it is incredibly important to study the consumer’s point of view. This involves breaking-down prevalent attitudes, their likes and dislikes. In the same vein, “car design has been able to showcase the culture and the country in which it is manufactured, adapting to the needs and taste of the local population.” remarked by Diego García, Industrial Designer at Mormedi. 

But then, how do art and culture in car design determine consumer experience? The wide scope of artistic movements and philosophies gets mirrored in all corners of the design world including automotive design – a Ferrari enthusiast might seek to melt away in the car’s emblematic reflection of Italian culture and fine art; or an American suburban family would do good with a robust and functional 4×4 vehicle. Interestingly, philosophy can dissect the meaningful interaction between the customer and the vehicle – unearthing “just what it is a car that provokes an aesthetic experience” and “what the nature of that experience might be”. To elevate the customer experience, the designer must seek a sort of harmony of the driver’s and the car’s personality. 

Sustainability

Is luxury travel catching up on sustainability?

Luxury travel and sustainability pose a curious combination – the former is often grand and elegant but it is contrasted with the minimal and careful philosophy of the latter. As the world fosters more concern and interest in ecological issues, the challenge of the luxury travel industry is to respond to current trends and to innovate new means of extracting the best possible benefits for individuals and the planet.

Can eco-travel be luxurious?

Luxury travel is commonly held to be an idea of indulging in the finest of all things: elegant hotels, elite services, and premium restaurant dishes. Many were content to relish in the grandest of materials and cherish precious moments. In history, sustainability wasn’t considered as a force to be reckoned with. Until then, the art of luxury is becoming more centred on cultivating experiences than possessing materials.

The issue of climate crisis and its host of potential consequences rippled through the travel sector; many travellers are encouraged to be conscious of the impact of travel on the environment along with various other factors. Climate scientists feared that rising temperatures could cause more extreme weather events, which then could lead to the erosion of natural habitats. Venice of Italy and the Maldives are among many of the conversations on the problem of rising sea levels.  

The impact of sustainable luxury travel

However, eco-travel is not completely contrary to the world of extravagances. The new synergy of luxury travel and sustainable tourism has the potential to flourish together. Alex Tsuk of Beach Meter proposes four main areas that can benefit from the chemistry: local economy, community development, infrastructure, and wildlife and environmental protection.

  • Local economy: luxury travellers value uniqueness and authenticity of cultures, experiences and customs. This opens a new stream of jobs for local community members and establishes a blossoming supply and demand system.
  • Community development: Sustainable luxury suppliers can train and educate their staff who come from local backgrounds. This in order empowers them to have confidence in their skills and pursue their passions. Furthermore, luxury firms can dedicate to supporting the community by partaking in projects such as building local schools and streamlining organic farming.
  • Infrastructure: Initiatives that aim to equip local venues with amenities such as solar-powered energy, internet connectivity, and sanitation can meet the demands of luxury travellers for clean and efficient facilities. This propels for heightened sustainable management which in turn benefit native communities.
  • Wildlife and environmental protection: Tourism can boost profits that contribute to the nourishment and maintenance of wild natural landscapes and wildlife. Luxury travel market that harnesses authentic experiences can pay for national park fees and extra premiums to keep natural sites of importance afloat.

In parallel, regenerative travel is gaining traction in the luxury sector. The main principle behind regenerative travel is to emphasise values in connection to making the most of your vacation. This involves hoteliers and travellers actively initiating a positive environmental impact via facilities and community engagement. In a way, this merges luxury and sustainability for the purpose of nourishing nature and authentic experiences.

Demand for sustainable tourism post-COVID

TTG Asia argues that luxury travellers are placing a high priority on sustainable tourism. Meryam Schneider, who recently spoke at the virtual ILTM World Tour Asia Pacific as Vice President of Marketing and Partnerships at ALTIANT, said the pandemic has identified the urgency of climate change. She also added that the issue could be pushed to the forefront of “affluent traveller’s minds”.

“While Covid-19 has impacted most of our lives, improved air quality and thriving wildlife have been two of the few upsides. This has raised concern for some luxury consumers, and as such, there are more demands being made for brands to acknowledge and act to alleviate climate concerns.”

said Schneider

Research carried out by ALTIANT discovered that on the scale of one to five, 56% of overall respondents, consisting of HNWIs (high-net-worth-individuals), rated sustainability as four or five in terms of importance. A report from Japan’s two prominent experience providers analysed an emerging trend amongst travellers which revealed that they generally seem more concerned about the ecological impact on tourism; as well as supporting local businesses. 

The future of luxury travel and sustainable tourism remains a hot topic in major corners of the travel sector. The effect of COVID-19 has marshalled a new demand in the minds of many adventure-seekers i.e. the appetite for locally-sourced experiences which nourishes natural ecosystems. Perhaps, the dark clouds have brought a silver lining to eco-focused luxury travel providers severely affected by the pandemic. After all, the pandemic has taught a deeper lesson of the shifting consumer landscape.

Newsroom

Your global travel news digest

Christmas nears. Wintertime joys are settling in – many are looking forward to concluding the end of the year with high and low notes. The pandemic might have forced people to put on hold their wanderlust and travelling plans this year. However, with the advent of 2021 and vaccination, the following months maybe more than just a glimmer of recovery.

Americas

US to control international access to vaccine

The current US administration is set to sign a COVID executive order preventing international vaccine assistance until Americans have received the shots. This occurred before the convention by the Food and Drug Administration to consider Pfizer and BioNTech’s application for urgent approval of their vaccine. Alex Azar, Health and Human Services Secretary, quipped that the average American can expect to be vaccinated by the second quarter of 2021. More specifically, the executive order will help organize international efforts and resources to deal with the demand. An administration official commented: “The priority is to make sure we distribute these vaccines to Americans before we start shipping them around the world to get international access.”

United Airlines launches virtual airport customer service

Passengers of United Airlines will now enjoy a unique virtual, on-demand customer service. The platform provides accessible and contact-free real-time information. Passengers can simply dial an “Agent on Demand” on any mobile device, or text an agent to get crucial details such as seating assignments and boarding times. Currently, the system is available at Chicago O’Hare and Houston’s George Bush International Airport.  Linda Jojo, United’s Executive Vice President for Technology and Chief Digital Officer, remarked: “Agent on Demand allows customers to bypass waiting in line at the gate and seamlessly connect with customer service agents from their mobile device, ensuring they continue to receive the highest levels of service while also prioritizing their health and safety.” United Airlines is the only airline to have deployed this technology so far; agents will be primarily working on responding to inquiries and completing pre-departure tasks.

Europe

Co-working camps: the most anticipated trend of 2021

Co-working camps are a digital nomad’s paradise. They are being set up by entrepreneurs who spot a hot demand for exotic workplaces in the market – venues which usually lie outside conventional hotels and accommodation. Asia, Europe, and Latin America have already established co-working camps; Desa Potato Head in Bali operates as a work hub with access to a wide range of facilities such as a music studio, exhibition space, and events programme; in Mexico, Ethos Remote Habitat offers digital nomads a unique working environment in gorgeous locations such as Tulum. Janko Milunovic, CEO and co-founder of Ethos Remote Habitat remarked: “Unlike just renting your own Airbnb or staying in a hotel, with us, you get to live in a community alongside inspiring individuals and revitalise your mind and body through nourishing and organic food, transformational workshops, group activities and learning immersions.”

Europe is the most sought-after destination in 2021

According to a study conducted by ITB Berlin and IPK International, Europeans demonstrated a vested interest in travelling to the continent. More specifically, Germans, Swiss, Dutch and Austrians showed an above-average desire in travelling abroad in the next 12 months. However, the vast majority of the survey respondents placed a high priority on health standards in wake of post-COVID-19 recovery.  The survey also unearthed that increased security standards are incredibly important for potential visitors. A couple of the main driving factors for travel security include strict safety protocols and a positive safety image regarding places. Additionally, key findings summed up interesting travel attitudes such as increased confidence in air travel, high satisfaction with international travel amidst the pandemic, and a substantial number of German travellers.

Middle East

Oman reopens its doors to visitors 

Travellers are required to brandish two negative COVID-19 PCR tests before entering Oman. The decision to continue approving and issuing tourist visas by the Supreme Committee allowed a breath of fresh air for the Sultanate to operate its tourism sector. Because of the decision, travellers to Oman can only visit if they have a hotel booking or sponsorship from a local travel agency. Visitors are required to partake in a period of one week quarantine on arrival and quarantine for seven days once they have arrived at their original destination. Oman News Agency reported: “The Supreme committee decided to allow the issuance of tourist visas to enter the Sultanate, provided that the arrival of tourists is within the framework of tourist groups organised by hotels and tourism companies,”

Abraham Accords: Israelis enjoy UAE’s hospitality

Since the historic and ground-breaking Abraham Accords agreement between Israel and UAE, Israelis are already relishing the new-found opportunities for travel in the Gulf kingdom. The israeli-Emirati activity has rocketed to one of its highest points; many visitors touched upon the land of UAE for business and leisure purposes. A large number of Israelis came for the GITEX Technology Week conference in Dubai; others merely travelled to get away from Israel’s partial lockdown. The government-owned airline Flydubai added a third daily Tel Aviv-Dubai today. Besides, business and academic interest and activity blossomed as a result of the agreement. Corsight, a facial-recognition business part of the Cortica autonomous AI company, is said to be in talks with UAE police forces. Nir Tsuk who is a professor of innovation at New York University’s Tel Aviv campus, came to Dubai to offer training for the Dubai chapter of the Young Presidents Organization – a non-profit conglomeration that connects business leaders.  

Asia Pacific

Aerion develops supersonic business jet 

Supersonic aircraft company Aerion and Avion Pacific have announced a strategic partnership to develop Aerion’s Asia-Pacific presence and provide ultra-luxury supersonic flight to customers in the region. The new collaboration means that Aerion’s reach is augmented to a higher global degree and ushers in a new path to the market in Asia. Avion Pacific, which provides general aviation services in Asia, has placed an order for the AS2 supersonic jet, expected to start production in 2023. According to Tom Vice, Chairman and CEO of Aerion, the partnership marks another major milestone as they look to establish Aerion as a global leader in supersonic travel. He said: “We are delighted to welcome Avion Pacific to our ever-expanding global team and look forward to our future collaboration as we bring a new era in sustainable supersonic travel, encapsulated in a unique luxury user experience to customers around the world.” Avion Pacific will be helping Aerion with expert intel in the Asian market and streamline its sales and marketing operations.

Singapore to introduce flying taxis by 2023

Germany’s Volocopter GmBH plans to have Singapore hosting its electric air taxi service as soon as 2023. The services will offer travellers the chance to partake on an exhilarating 15-minute trip, particularly over Singapore’s Marina Bay. CB Insights, a business analytics platform, reported that venture capitalists have invested $140 million per year in flying cars since 2016. The recent interest in the flying taxi industry is factored to unearthing developments in technology and business models. The market has attracted global automotive manufacturers such as Toyota, which put in roughly $400 million in aerospace firm Joby to create an all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.  Due to Singapore’s lenient regulatory environment, technological firms are attracted to the nation’s wide range of grounding for projects and experiments. Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter, said: “Singapore is renowned for its leading role in adapting and living new technologies,”

Africa

South Africa lifts international travel restrictions 

South Africa is now open to all international and business travel visitors from all over the world. Visitors to South Africa would need to submit a negative PCR COVID-19 test not older than 3 days from the date of departure from their original country. This follows the positive atmosphere set by the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa who said that South Africa would be shifting the nations threat level to 1 – therefore allowing borders to be open for international flights starting from November 11. Sisa Ntshon, CEO of South Africa Tourism, remarked: “We are excited by the full opening of our international borders because this is a strong testament of the fact that we are open for both business and leisure travel. This opening brings certainty for South Africa, as a travel destination putting us back on the map and on the radar for many travellers who want to come explore our beautiful country,”

AndBeyond launches virtual safaris

Due to the effect of the pandemic on tourism in Africa, the wildlife reserves struggled with the downturn of travellers. Tour operator AndBeyond has launched private virtual safaris to contribute to conservation initiatives. The firm has been hosting live twice-daily safaris during the pandemic and is now offering armchair travellers the opportunity to participate in privately guided tours managed by expert staff. The spokesperson of AndBeyond asserted: “Across Africa, there are far fewer vehicles moving through the reserves meaning an increased threat of poaching. Over the long term the lack of movement in larger state reserves, compounded with a lack of staff and monitoring, can result in an increased threat for wildlife, simply because there are fewer eyes on the ground.” A group of six can book AndBeyond’s “My Wildwatch Online” private virtual safari which lasts 1.5 hours and costs US $250. Spectators have the chance to watch a recorded real-life safari in the company of a professional guide, who provides commentary on the sightings. There are options for kids too; children can indulge in a session which teaches them key skills that AndBeyond’s rangers use in their day-to-day lives and entice them to complete challenges in their homes.

Insights

How millennials are changing business travel

The notion of having the freedom to traverse across the globe is prevalent amongst the young generation. With changing tides to the average daily lifestyle, people are finding new avenues to make the most of their travelling experience. Specifically, due to the rise of millennials, their impact on the travel world is unprecedented. The generational shift on perspective and attitude caused many to intrigue on its meaning.

Who are millennials?

Millennials (or Generation Y) are commonly referred to the group of people specifically born between 1981 and 1994/6. Because of their substantial role in society, millennials pose a distinctive nebula of patterns. Bloomberg asserts that millennials make up the largest generation to date, amounting to 31.5% of the world’s population at 7.7 billion. Goldman Sachs identifies Gen Y as a tremendous agent for driving the change of the economy with their unique behaviours and mentalities. They are typically tech-savvy and social media-driven; they often own smartphones and other mobile devices. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation reports that millennials already spend roughly $200 billion a year on goods and services. Their financial competency and diverse backgrounds demonstrate their ability to reshape how travel works by emphasising more on experiences and cultures. Millennials’ sense of travel is largely derived from social media or user-generated content. According to Condor Ferries, millennials took 5.6 trips per year compared with 4.4 (Gen Z), 4.0 (Gen X), and 3.5 (Boomers). Data also shows that 86% of Gen Y partake on adventures for culture and personal enjoyment – 78% of them wanting their visit to be educational.

The relationship with business travel

Forbes reported back in 2017 that millennials are seeking to harmonise business and pleasure balance. Due to technological advancements and accommodation availability, employed millennials can better stay in touch with colleagues, family and friends. MMGY’s survey shows a wide difference of attitude between generations towards leisure time on business, 73% of Gen Y consider it more important than to Boomers at 46% or Gen X at 56%. Furthermore, millennials rely on apps to book deals and online check-ins. They also tend to wait off marriage later and space out their business travel to pursue it as a lifestyle experience.

Fast forward to 2020, millennials are now making up more than half of the workforce. They account for the largest segment of business travellers. Being a techno-centric generation, millennials commonly book flights and accommodation on mobile. The rise of Airbnb and Uber can be attributed to the large-scale preference by the same group.

“Business travel is constantly evolving, and particularly as millennials join the business travel landscape in droves, their preferences are having a major impact on how business and travel suppliers approach corporate travel,”.

Mike Volpe, CEO of Lola.com

Future travel trends post-COVID-19

Travel industry experts are hopeful that millennials kick-start the travel economy after COVID-19. Alastair Newport of Travel Daily Media argues that travel is a part of the Gen Y’s core identity;  Suzanne Sangiovese at Risk & Insurance expects to see an overwhelming demand by the generation once the environment returns to normality. Millennials will probably quiz the health and safety capacity of travelling and their insurance issues.

In the same vein, Gen Y is likely to lead the international travel recovery, with 38% of millennials desiring their wish to travel in 2021. They are also predicted to be the biggest buyers of travel insurance in 2021. As such, a glimmer of optimism shines brightly and vigorously among the sector.

Journeys

ROLZO’s travel guide for Christmas

The itch for winter travel grows day by day, particularly when we head towards Christmas and the New Year. But with COVID-19, the atmosphere has changed – compromises had to be made in the name of health and safety. However, the spirit of Christmas prevails, as it did for countless years. The time of a warm family gathering, opening presents together, gorging scrumptious meals and enjoying winter resorts all around the world. Christmas is everywhere this winter even in the heart of travel.

Will we be able to travel for Christmas?

According to Conde Nast, the UK government have arranged a new set of post-lockdown restrictions and areas of the country which will be divided into a tiered system. Households now are permitted to mix between 23rd and 27th December – a Christmas bubble of up to three households. In addition, people are allowed to travel freely between different countries on those dates. Such countries included in the current UK corridor travel list are the United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Malaysia and Hong Kong. The United States are planning to lift travel restrictions on visitors from 28 European countries and Brazil, although the situation there is more serious. France and Italy will also lift restrictions in the Christmas period, but with tight regulations to control crowds.

Our service is still operative globally – as well abiding by regional COVID-19 regulations. ROLZO’s COVID-19 safe travelling environment balances comfort and stability with thrill and adventure. 

Recommended destination in Europe: Zagreb, Croatia

COVID-19 status [subject to change]: Restrictions are on-going and health protocols are still operative. Travellers from countries not on Croatia’s exempt list must provide a negative PCR test result when entering the country. 

Why travel to Zagreb: Zagreb is the heart of Croatia’s vibrancy. The capital city is an attractive destination all-year-round, however, it gets particularly merry around Christmas time. Deeply established in rich tradition and history, Zagreb’s wintertime joy consistently ranks as one of the best destinations to visit in Europe.

What you can do: Visit Zagreb’s Advent in Ban Josip Jelacic with its score of Christmas ornaments. Indulge in the city’s Christmas program, revelling in its markets, entertainment events and fresh local produce and souvenirs. Gaze at the beautiful frozen waterfalls at Plitvice. Go ice-skating in King Tomislav Square.

Recommended destination in North America: Aspen, Colorado

COVID-19 status [subject to change]: Visitors are required to bring a negative COVID-19 test result. Personal gatherings are limited to 5 people in all public and private settings.

Why travel to Aspen: Famous for its ski resorts and outdoor adventures, Aspen of Colorado remains a sweet heartfelt place for many American vacationers all year-round. The beloved Rocky Mountains mark the town as a must-visit destination for the holiday season.

What you can do: Partake in 12 Days of Aspen, a special program for families and couples that covers a wide range of activities such as art workshops and eating fine food. Ski at the esteemed ski areas of Aspen – Snowmass, Buttermilk and Highlands. Admire the town’s illustrious Christmas tree lightings including the 93-foot tree in front of Aspen’s Sardy House.

Recommended destination in South America: San José, Costa Rica

COVID-19 status [subject to change]: Majority of San José’s regions are in Yellow Alert (moderate risk). Travel health insurance is required to enter the borders. Visitors are also required to complete a health pass. A negative COVID-19 PCR test result is not required.

Why travel to San José: The capital of vibrant Costa Rica, San José is a medley of natural and urban fascinations. Built on coffee trade and “golden bean” plantations, the city has grown to be a Latin American gem. Christmas in San José are quite warm and tend to be extremely colourful.

What you can do: Venture on exciting eco-adventures. Surround yourself with San José’s potpourri of Christmas lights during Festival de la Luz. Melt away in the city’s stunning parades including the Tope Nacional de Caballos (national horse parade). Gorge in Costa Rica’s traditional Christmas meals.

ROLZO’s premier service for the winter holiday 

ROLZO’s cutting-edge transportation creates meaningful experiences with extraordinary service all year round. Whether it is Christmas season or summertime, ROLZO adjusts its service to harmonize with the season – so when you travel in an exclusive car rental or via a chauffeur-driven vehicle, your adventure memories are made more precious and individualized. Operative in over 60 countries, 300 cities, and 500 airports around the world – and holding strong through COVID-19 difficulties – our mindset prevails and so is our guardianship of transformative travel experiences.

Insights

How does an interconnected life affect your journeys?

The information age is in full swing. If you name any product, chances are that someone is selling a version of it that can connect to the internet and offers a wealth of different features that complement its original function. From televisions to refrigerators, a person’s entire house can be connected to a single, unified network – and their car is no exception.

It wasn’t much more than a decade ago – if that – that Bluetooth was a curious new addition to a driver’s experience on the road. Now, every consumer model of car comes equipped with a vast array of digital features as standard. Updated in real-time, maps will direct you around traffic and other potential sources of delays during the course of your journey, calculating alternate routes in moments. Endless amounts of music can accompany your travels, while passengers might stream more visual forms of media at will, or charge their own devices from the car’s USB ports. Even autopilot – once seen as the musings of Sci-Fi authors – has cemented itself as a realistic prospect, with numerous manufacturers pouring resources and funds into the development of this fascinating new frontier of technology.

Every minute counts

Indeed, having your entire life connected in such a way presents a number of immediate advantages that seem quite appealing to most. Devices once thought to have simple, singular functions can be given new ones, upgrading them and integrating them more fully into someone’s daily routine. One’s car can be synced up to their alarm clock, starting it up at a certain time when they are ready to embark on the daily commute, with the temperature already adjusted to their liking. The time and effort saved might seem minuscule to outside observers – after all, it doesn’t take much beyond the initial setup and installation to flick a switch and have the car running and ready for the day. But it adds up.

All throughout the day, little things can be tweaked and optimised, tailored to you by highly intelligent AIs. A few minutes saved by slight changes to your morning routine, ten minutes here and there as delays in traffic are circumvented, even an hour or two at the weekend where your weekly groceries are delivered instead of needing to be gathered. In a world as hectic as ours, those extra minutes can be invaluable moments of rest and respite, and the convenience offered by a series of interconnected amenities can provide peace of mind and changes to a daily routine that aren’t appreciated until they are really thought about. 

Incorporating the internet more and more into your life can seem an appealing idea with so many benefits at the tips of your fingers. Data and automation are but a few taps away with interconnectivity on such a level – and with technology such as Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, voice commands can be used instead, further streamlining your life and helping to organise and optimise your time. 

The illusion of being in control

Even with the myriad benefits available to users with interconnected technology, there still exist drawbacks that many would consider being deal-breakers, despite the apparent advantages. For example, control. If a device is disconnected from any outside influences, you have complete control over it. A coffee maker might have to be operated manually, but it will only ever do what you tell it to. A car will need regular servicing and maintenance to perform at peak condition, but it will do what you ‘tell’ it to. In regards to vehicles, every feature that is present on it is under your control and is yours to do with as you please.

However, the same rules don’t apply for interconnected devices. Although each device operates under your command and to your preferences, its functionality is far removed from your control. This is most visible every time a software update changes the experience of using an interconnected device. Most of the time, an update adds new features or simply streamlines the experience of existing ones. But it can prove wildly unpopular as well, with some removing functionality that users were fond of, or implementing new features that don’t work or are simply considered inferior or unnecessary. With a disconnected vehicle, this is hardly an issue, but Tesla owners were forced to confront this reality.

Despite not having asked for it at the point of purchase, numerous buyers of Tesla Model S found that they were able to use the autopilot and full self-driving functionality free-of-charge – functions that would normally cost a significant amount of money. Once Tesla began to catch on to what was happening, an audit was performed on cars that were affected by this, and – despite customers having purchased the vehicles under the assumption that they were paying for those functions – premium features were shut off. Tesla did offer to sell the features back to consumers, but by that point, it was too late. Months of public outcry later, Tesla reinstated the features. Regardless of who is in the right regarding that matter – and to what degree – it raises an important point. Manufacturers could, at any time they choose, change how their devices function, or even stop them from functioning entirely.

Overall, interconnectivity between devices offers a great deal of convenience, that much cannot be denied, but it could be argued that the price a customer pays when buying such an item is the control that they might have over a less connected version. Ultimately, the decision on what type of device to buy rests with the individual. Is convenience valued over control? Or is ownership more valuable to the consumer than the benefits that a network of devices might bring?