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.


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. 


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. 


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.

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