PRESS RELEASE: WTM London partners with ITIC Virtual Summit

WTM London partners with ITIC Virtual Summit

WTM London partners with ITIC Virtual Summit

A virtual conference called “The Future Of Travel & Tourism – Financial Strategies for Recovery” takes place on Wednesday June 10th from 9:15am to 2:15pm (BST).

Organised by the International Tourism and Investment Conference (ITIC) in partnership with WTM London, the virtual summit considers how this vital economic sector will emerge from COVID-19 and what is needed to ensure growth.

Travel, tourism and hospitality are at the centre of an unprecedented business collapse as the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world forever in 2020.

Businesses that depend on tourism and travel are desperate to reopen and begin to operate under the “new normal”.

Under the chairmanship of Dr Taleb Rifai, former Secretary General of UNWTO, the virtual summit will feature prominent and inspirational speakers.

It will bring together experts from the health sector, tourism ministers, policy-makers and leaders from the travel and tourism sector – connecting them with investors, investment bankers and private equity firms to discuss financial solutions and preparedness to reopen the tourism industry for a better future.

WTM London’s Senior Exhibition Director, Simon Press, says:

“WTM London is honoured to partner with ITIC and is committed to support the travel industry as it adapts to the unique challenges of COVID and prepares for recovery – providing platforms for the global travel and tourism industry to share insights.

“Annually, WTM London connects travel industry professionals from 182 countries, offering unrivalled commercial opportunities and business insights and ITIC Virtual Summit will carry on our conversation on how to reopen the tourism industry.

“In 2019, our show contributed to a total of £3.75 billion worth of travel industry business deals being signed. This year, the recovery of the travel industry starts at WTM London.

“Our conversation on June 10 will gather great minds discussing the trends that will determine the future of the tourism industry.”

ITIC Virtual Summit focuses on three themes:

  • Health: dealing with Covid-19, and how we restore travellers’ confidence and rebuild business.
  • Investment: understanding the financial mechanisms that allow you to survive and rebuild.
  • Future: This may not be the last crisis, how can you prepare for any future global catastrophe

The current status of tourism will be discussed, unravelling how the responses of governments and the tourism industry in different countries have been effective and analysing the intricacies of the financial support plans already introduced.

Leading health experts have been invited to participate in the panel discussions to shed new light about the latest vaccine research that could accelerate the recovery of the travel and tourism industry by restoring business confidence.

The thought-provoking themes on the agenda are geared towards the future paradigm shift. Enriching panel discussions will debate how destinations can secure sustainable investment and how businesses should reposition for recovery when the pandemic comes under control.

Former Secretary General of UNWTO, Dr. Taleb Rifai says:

“We live today in unusual and difficult times. Who would have imagined just three months ago that we would only be able to hold an event like this online?

“We are living in a world where uncertainty has prompted so much fear and panic that no one knows what tomorrow will bring.

“As the pandemic threat became clear, governments intervened aggressively – though to varying degrees. Initially the focus was on containment and healthcare for the infected.

“But as the long-term threat became clear, the focus moved to life after containment which, without a cure, is also a vital part of living.

“As we emerge from this initial phase we must aim for life with dignity, prosperity and hope. So, there is a great need to support economic recovery as a matter of urgency and also to implement measures that restore confidence and trust in the hearts and minds of people.

“This conference is, therefore, very timely and ITIC and WTM London have joined hands to bring this Virtual Summit to you. We must start planning for tomorrow and we must introduce ways and means of bringing back a sense of normality to the world in which we live.

“This is an important summit not just because of the subject matters but more significantly, its timing.

“I am sure we are all going to come out of this summit a little more confident about the direction in which we are headed.”

Join us and register – EVENTBRITE.

For more information contact [email protected] or visit our conference website

Why Germans are optimistic about foreign holidays this year

Industry News: 27th May 2020

Germany is planning to lift a travel warning for its 26 fellow EU countries plus Britain, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein from June 15 providing infection rates remain under control, according to a government source in Berlin speaking to Reuters 

Under the new proposal, the general travel warning that has been in place since March 17 would be replaced by individual advice tailored to the spread of the pandemic in each country, potentially allowing Germans to holiday abroad this summer.

In another positive move, people living in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Germany can now visit partners in Denmark by signing a simple declaration rather than having to provide photos, phone records and other proof of a relationship, the Danish justice minister, Nick Hækkerup, said.

The premiers of Germany’s 16 states are due to discuss with the chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Wednesday how to further relax restrictions aimed at containing Covid-19 after its initial relaxation, two weeks ago, showed no significant impact on infections.

More German federal states have announced unilateral steps to loosen restrictions, creating a patchwork of wildly varying rules on physical distancing within Germany and moving control away from Chancellor Merkel.

Winfried Kretschmann, the premier of Baden-Württemberg, said on Tuesday his state would allow seated public events with up to 100 people from 1 June. Other states
made similar announcements, with the mayor of Hamburg saying the the city state would soon reopen cinemas, open-air swimming pools and gyms.

According to The Guardian in the UK, there was no official confirmation of a report, citing a draft document, in the Bild tabloid that Merkel, under pressure from state premiers, had already agreed to ease some remaining rules – including on the numbers of visitors allowed in people’s homes – by June 29 instead of July 5, as originally planned.









Saudi Arabia begins releasing lockdown with end in four weeks

Industry News: 26th May 2020

Saudi Arabia will begin easing its coronavirus curfew from Thursday, it has been announced.

Health Minister Tawfiq Al Rabiah said the easing of restrictions will be undertaken in phases and will depend on how the spread of the virus pans out this week. 

The first phase will begin with expanding capacity to serve “critical patients” and the second will include intensifying Covid-19 tests and early detection.

Speaking a a press conference on Monday, the health minister said the Saudi people had displayed a “high amount of responsibility in practising social distancing.” 

“After five months since this pandemic started, where the global health systems faced great difficulties in dealing with it, our society has become today more aware of this virus and implementing the measures of the social distancing, as it is a new experience for all of us,” he said in remarks quoted by the Saudi Press Agency

Restrictions in place due to coronavirus, including bans on domestic travel, holding prayers in mosques, and workplace attendance in both government and private sector will be lifted, starting May 31, the statement added.

The Kingdom will reopen all mosques outside Mecca from May 31 until June 20 in one of a number of measures announced by the SPA.

From June 21, the Kingdom expects to lift the lockdown entirely and return to normal life, according to SPA.

Al Rabiah said that people should continue taking precautionary measures while leaving their homes by using face masks and hand gloves.

The Health Ministry recorded nine new deaths and 2,235 new cases of coronavirus in the Kingdom on Monday.

The new deaths have increased the Covid-19-related toll in Saudi Arabia to 399 and the total number of confirmed cases to 74,795. 

The number of recoveries has risen to 2,148, taking the total number of recovered cases to 45,668.

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely damaged the Kingdom’s plan to boost its tourism income and create new jobs. In October 2019, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia revealed its 2030 plan aiming for 10 per cent of GDP to come from tourism within 10 years, up from 3 per cent, building on its enormous annual religious pilgrimage visitors. The Kingdom also set a target of international and domestic visits of 100 million a year by 2030, attracting significant foreign and domestic investment and creating a million jobs.









Africa escapes worst of first Covid-19 wave by acting quickly, says United Nations

UN chief calls on the international community on Wednesday to show solidarity with Africa in the face of the threat of the coronavirus.
As Covid-19 spreads to Africa, countries on the continent have responded quickly to the pandemic, according to
“To date, the number of reported cases is lower than we feared – espite this, the stakes remain high, ”warned the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres , in the presentation of a report on the impact of the coronavirus in Africa.
The pandemic is already threatening the progress made in Africa, at the risk of worsening existing inequalities and increasing hunger, malnutrition and vulnerability to the disease. 
As proof, the demand for basic African products, tourism and remittances is declining. The opening of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ZLECA) has been postponed and millions of people could fall into extreme poverty. To date, the virus has killed more than 2,500 people in Africa.
In this context, “vigilance and preparation are essential,” said Mr Guterres who congratulated the countries of Africa, as well as the African Union (AU), for the measures they have already undertaken. 
“Most have been quick to act to strengthen regional coordination, deploy health workers and establish quarantines, containments and closed borders,” he said. The UN is also mobilized alongside Africans in the face of threats from the coronavirus. United Nations agencies, country teams, peacekeeping operations and humanitarian actors are fully supporting these efforts. 
“The UN solidarity flights have made it possible to transport millions of screening kits, masks and other equipment, across almost the entire continent,” said the Secretary-General.The United Nations released a briefing note on Wednesday (May 20, 2020) that highlights a series of pressing coronavirus problems in Africa.
“We call for international mobilization to strengthen health systems in Africa, maintain food supply chains, avoid a financial crisis, support education, protect jobs, keep households and businesses afloat and protect the continent from lost revenue and export earnings,” said Guterres, noting that African countries must have the same rapid, fair and affordable access to all future vaccines and treatments, which should be seen as goods.
The Secretary-General has called for a global recovery plan that represents at least 10 per cent of global gross domestic product. 
“For Africa, this means more than US$200 billion in additional support from the international community,” he said. On the security side, the UN believes that it will also be essential for African countries to continue their action to silence arms and confront violent extremism. Mr. Guterres welcomed support across the continent for his call for a global ceasefire. 
“The political processes and the elections represent in the months to come so many opportunities to take important steps in terms of stability and peace,” he said.




Italy opens its borders to European tourists next month

Victor Emmanuel II Monument, Rome, Italy

Italy will reopen its borders on 3 June, following a decision taken over the weekend by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the Council of Ministers.

From this date, EU citizens and people living in the Schengen area will be able to travel to Italy, without being placed in quarantine for two weeks.

According to an Italian government press release, the decision could however change based on how the “epidemiological risk” evolves.




Until now, travel to Italy has been restricted to Italians living abroad or foreigners who live in the country wanting to return, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A border reopening in early summer is good news for the country’s tourism sector, one of the most important sectors in the country.

With 32,000 deaths Italy has been severely affected by the coronavirus, the third highest figure behind the US and UK.



Qatar Airways has warned today (May 6) of “substantial” redundancies as it struggles with a collapse in demand.

Its chief executive Akbar Al Baker wrote to staff warning of the job losses, although the airline has not revealed the numbers.

Qatar Airways said it needed to “act decisively to protect the future of the business”.

Worldwide it employs 45,000 people and runs a fleet of 240 aircraft – described as one of ‘the world’s youngest airline fleets’.

“The truth is, we simply cannot sustain the current staff numbers and will need to make a substantial number of jobs redundant – inclusive of cabin crew,” Mr Al Baker wrote in an internal memo.

The state airline of the wealthy, gas-rich Gulf country was considered less vulnerable than many Europen and US airlines but today’s news indicates the depth of damage Covid 19 is causing to the sector.

Qatar Airways increased its stake in British Airways owner IAG to 25% as part of its strategy to invest in other carriers.

BA revealed this week it would cut 12,000 jobs from its 42,000 employees. See our story HERE

“The unparalleled impact on our industry has caused significant challenges for all airlines and we must act decisively to protect the future of our business,” a Qatar Airways spokesman said.

“As a result, Qatar Airways can confirm that the airline will make a number of roles redundant due to the impact of Covid-19.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), warned last month that air traffic in the Middle East and North Africa was forecast to fall by more than half.

IATA also warned that most airlines would struggle to make a profit if social distancing measures were introduced, such as keeping middle seats empty.

On Tuesday, Virgin Atlantic said it would be cutting 3,000 jobs and quitting its operations at Gatwick airport.



Dubai Expo 2020 delayed for 12 months amid cronavirus fears

Dubai Expo 2020 becomes Expo 2021 today after it was officially postponed for a year

World Expo 2020 in Dubai will be delayed by a year it was confirmed today (May 4), after weeks of speculation.The United Arab Emirates’ city has invested millions of dollars preparing for Expo 2020 with more than 100 hotels under construction.

Dubai was forecasting 25 million visits over the six months – 145,000 visits for every one of the 173 days the site is open. They expected 11 million visits by people living in the UAE and 14 million from overseas visitors.


The delay confirmation came today after a two-thirds majority of Bureau International des Expositions, BIE, Member States has already voted in favour of postponing until 2021.

The event will now run from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, a delay that “allows all participants to safely navigate the impact of COVID-19”. It also allows the World Expo to focus on a collective desire for new thinking to identify solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time, said a report from the UAE state news agency WAM this morning.

H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman and CEO of Emirates Group, and Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee, said: “We welcome the decision of BIE Member States to support the delay of Expo 2020 Dubai by one year. We are thankful to Member States for their continued commitment to contributing to a World Expo in Dubai that will play a pivotal role in shaping our post-pandemic world at a time when it will be most needed.

“We have sought to build over the last 50 years bridges, connections, and partnerships around the world because we believe in genuine collaboration to safeguard the future of all. This swift and overwhelming vote reflects the strength of our international partnerships and truly reflects the positive role the UAE and Dubai play with all countries around the world.

“This affirmation by the international community of Dubai’s offering and its ability to deliver, further strengthens our commitment to matching ambition with achievement to hosting an event that will capture the world’s imagination, when the time is right.”

With a BIE General Assembly impossible to stage due to COVID-19 restrictions, Member States voted remotely on the BIE Executive Committee’s recommendation for a delay as proposed by the UAE Government at the beginning of April and recommended by the BIE Executive Committee on 21 April. While the vote remains open until 29 May, the two-thirds threshold was surpassed within a week of voting opening on 24 April.

Dimitri S. Kerkentzes, Secretary General of the BIE, said: “I applaud the swift response by BIE Member States. Their support for the postponement of Expo 2020 Dubai – which will be formally approved on 29 May – is a renewed sign of solidarity and demonstrates the shared will to work together in ‘creating the future’.”

“In their support for the one-year postponement of Expo 2020 Dubai, Member States of the BIE are giving the world the opportunity to reconvene in 2021, when together, we can address the challenges facing humanity and celebrate the unity and solidarity that strengthen us. With its theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, Expo 2020 Dubai will offer the world a unique platform to share the lessons, solutions and ideas for a better tomorrow.”

Expo 2020 Dubai retains its name and remains committed to hosting an exceptional event that will celebrate humanity’s resilience, creativity, culture and innovation – including major technological advances in the fields of medicine and science.

The first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region, and largest ever event to take place in the Arab world, Expo 2020 will welcome 192 countries, plus businesses, multilateral organisations and educational establishments.



Poland government allows hotels to begin operating again next week

Polish hotels will reopen on May 4 along with the country’s shopping malls becoming the second European country to relax hospitality restrictions. 

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Wednesday, part of efforts to ease restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus (continues below picture)

Hotel Polonia, Warsaw, Poland (file picture) CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Polonia Palace Hotel fasada.jpg

The country of 39 million people implemented lockdown restrictions a month ago and 644 people have died from Covid-19, one of the lowest rates in Europe. 

Austria had annouced this week that hotels and larger shops can reopen in mid-May as part of its continued lifting of restrictions.

Poland, the largest economy in the European Union’s eastern wing, started relaxing some of its curbs on public life earlier in April, alongside other countries keen to prop up industry damaged by the pandemic.

Morawiecki also reaffirmed the government’s plan to hold a presidential election as scheduled on May 10, despite calls from opposition parties and others for a much longer delay. They fear the relaxtion will lead to a second wave of infections

Further steps to unfreeze the economy, including a reopening of restaurants, will be announced at a later date, Morawiecki said. Poles are still required to wear masks in public and schools will remain closed until May 24.

The restrictions caused huge problems for the thousands of Polish workers who crossed the border into Germany to work each day as the border was closed.