SUMMIT REVIEW: Traveller trust and unified standards are vital for recovery of travel and tourism

Summit Review June 10, 2020

By Gary Wright

The Future of Travel & Tourism: Financial Strategies for the Recovery 

YOU CAN WATCH THE FULL CONFERENCE BY CLICKING HERE

As the world slowly emerges from the worst of the pandemic, moves to resurrect travel and tourism faces hundreds of hurdles across the world in the pursuit of recovery.

Conference speakers and guests presented varying paths that the sector could pursue: from a completely new foundation that incorporates a closer relationship with green campaigners, to some who believed business travel is a key. Many speakers found comfort in the fact governments have now fully accepted the vital role travel and tourism play in the world economy.

But all speakers and guests were united in the belief that trust is vital if they are ever going to return to the levels of guests and travellers seen in 2019.

The Future of Travel & Tourism: Financial Strategies for the Recovery was the second virtual conference organised by ITIC, this time in partnership with WTM London.

It presented an ambitious five-hour programme and attracted delegates from around the world. Utilising a video conference system that promised delegates, simple log-in and the ability to watch not only from the ITIC web presentation but also live on YouTube or Facebook.

Key takeaways were:

  • Technology and digitisation incorporation needs to be stepped up
  • Securing the trust of travellers was essential
  • Governments have now recognised the vital economic contribution of travel & tourism
  • Now is a great time to invest, but chose you business carefully
  • Vaccine or no vaccine, business must go on and it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure safety
  • Countries that have isolated themselves since the pandemic broke need to cooperate
  • Big companies need to cooperate with the small
  • Information and experience must be shared across the world
  • No one supported quarantines, most supported improved testing
  • Support differed over the idea of bubbles or corridors between nations
  • Travel protocol and hygiene standards need to be the same worldwide
  • Sustainability can be part of the post-pandemic sector

The summit opened with an introductory session led by the day’s main moderator Rajan Datar, BBC, BST, who introduced Dr Taleb Rifai, Chairman ITIC and former Secretary-General UNWTO; Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, WTM London and Ibrahim Ayoub, Group CEO & MD, ITIC LTD.

“Opportunity comes from all crisis and today is an opportunity to consider what the new world looks like,” said Dr Rifai. “Investment is very important and we have not realised how important. Psychologically the effect of investment is important and you can not underestimate its impact and sign of confidence.”

Jordanian and former UN World Trade Organisation Secretary-General Dr Rifai said – as he would repeat at the conclusion of the conference – that the world was lacking leadership in the restoration of confidence, that countries had become isolated while fighting the virus and the UN, the EU and even the USA had become less active on the world stage. He repeated his view that the November G20 conference may give opportunity to Saudi Arabia to offer the world a leadership in tourism direction. “The world after Covid will not be the same.” 

Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director at WTM London said the role of his organisation was to help rebuild by carrying on the connection it offers for business around the world. “WTM will continue to play a pivotal role,” he said.

ITIC’s Ibrahim Ayoub, CEO of the organisation said the future of travel and tourism is “all about getting investment”. “We have 1,250 people from 103 countries with us today,” he said. “ITIC has transferred its conference into this virtual format to respond to the new normal.”

Introduced by Rajan Datar, Mr Ayoub was described as “the brains behind the conferences, inspired by Dr Rifai, who is his mentor”.

The introductory session was titled Covid-19 has transformed our future. Where the travel and tourism sector stands now? with Gloria Guevara, President and CEO of WTTC.

“What’s important is a coordinated approach between the private sector and governments,” said Ms Guevara. “The WTTC asked governments for three things: 1. Protect workers, 2. Help businesses in terms of liquidity and 3. Ensure fiscal benefits, so that businesses could pay workers, not be burdened by taxes.”

The WTTC is at the forefront of introducing the standards of safety and practices that will aid the recovery by inspiring trust in travellers and has already consulted with 150 governments. “We are no working towards the recovery,” she said. “Something like 9/11 took years to recover because each country worked in silos, with their own restriction – now 18 years later, protocols remain different. At some airports, do I take my shoes off or not?”

What she wants to see is ensure governments work together and “learn from each other”. “Protocols for travel need to be the same, all hotels have to be the same.” She says 80 countries have already agreed to the ‘Safe Stamp’ introduced by the WTTC so travellers will know and understand the procedures. She separated the future into two: before the vaccine and after the vaccine and said that during the ‘before’ people can not afford not to travel.

The WTTC is opposed to medical passports, which she fears will make travel more complicated. Testing is key but, referring to Ebola, SARS and MERS, she said that the sick were identified quickly and isolated – there has never been a vaccine for any of those viruses.

On Apps, she described them as “OK”. “But there may be documentation and we don’t want to see personal details online,” she said. 

Domestic tourism would become a strong theme of the conference and Ms Guevara was full supportive saying it helps the recovery, preserves jobs and inspires trust. She was in favour of “bubbles” to allow tourism to thrive between selected countries – she highlighted New Zealand and Australia and the way European countries are looking cross border. “Every country will not recover at the same rate.”

Her view was not shared in some of the later session during the day, where the risk of excluding certain nations could cause long-term damage to individual countries.

And on the question of investment, Ms Guevara was sure there was no better time because recovery will definitely happen and “when it recovers, it will grow fast,” she said.

The 10am session was another scene setting presentation The current Global Economic Outlook and future investment perspectives, by Nicolas Mayer, PWC Industry Leader Hospitality and Tourism EMEA & Managing Partner Global Centre of Excellence Tourism & Hospitality. 

He explained the pandemic was worse than any previous crisis as it had hit both the value chain and demand. “Different markets have been affected differently,” he said. He looked at China as an example saying it’s tourism sector had seen a V shaped dip in demand. “It’s recovery has been driven by a huge domestic market. But island destination are reliant on visitors – they are doomed to an either U-,or even, L-shaped recovery.

“Demand will come back very strongly, there is no reduction in the desire for travel ad no evidence of a drop,” he told the summit. “Finance needs to help companies ramp up to survive the valley of death when they reopen. The valley of death is the time they must survive when there’s a need to see cash out and the wait for cash to come in. In the hotel business this can be up to 150 days.”

He said very few have that sort of resource and he would like to see governments give support to businesses through that ‘valley of death’. But he said the burden and decision must be taken by the businesses themselves but also travellers should be expected to help – maybe pay up front, take some of the risk too in the short term so that that destination will survive for the future.

Mr Mayer agreed with Ms Guevara that despite the devastation to the sector caused by the virus, there are opportunities.

Following his presentation came the first panel discussion of the summit Why health protection is the key to recovery of the Travel & Tourism sector.

Tom Jones, Senior Partner, Healthcare, Finn Partners, talked about the necessity for collaboration to reduce anxiety, not only in guests and travellers but in the staff working in the industry as well. He praised the actions of governments in Mauritius and Jamaica, both island destinations with tourism at their heart, and both represented at the conference. He supported travel bubbles and said: “We need a vaccine and herd immunity.

He said health can be part of marketing: “Wellness is very important and consumers are aware of their own immune systems – so how do destinations make this an offering?”

Jordan has escaped the worst of the virus with only nine recorded deaths but it relies heavily on tourism and 2019 saw double digit growth according to Hon Majd Mohammad Shweikeh, Minister Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan.

She told the conference: “Initially all the tourism sector was in panic. But now we are having meetings to ensure survival and we will focus on niche tourism. We have green zones in the south, unaffected by the virus and while she agreed with moderator Mr Datar that somewhere like Petra, which is normally crowded, will have to change the way it operates. “But we will enhance the infrastructure and revise and reshape the journey for the customer. “That means a focus on health: hygiene, social distancing and masks.”

Emirates Airline has been a standard setter in the air travel market already. “Our programme is in place for the health and safety of staff and passengers in cooperation with the WTTC, said Rob Broere, VP-Industry Change, Emirates Airline & Chairman, IATA – Travel Standards Board. “We disinfect the aircraft every journey but we still provide gloves, masks and wipes to travellers. We have screens at check-in desks, waiting passengers can use only one in every three seats and hand baggage must be small to allow speedy boarding.”

On every Boeing 777 there is one person responsible for the toilet and it’s cleaned after every use.

He was strongly opposed to quarantine. “It makes no sense it will kill the business,” he said. “Consider a flight between Dubai and New Zealand. If there is no infection there is no point in imposing 14-day quarantine. The panel was largely dismissive of the UK’s proposal for 14-day quarantine, one member saying he’d be more worried about people from London than people arriving by aircraft. The UK has a higher daily-death rate than the whole of Europe currently with an estimated one in ten of all deaths occurring in the UK.

No matter what the risks remain, vaccine or no vaccine, people will travel said Prof Dimitrios Buhalis, Bournemouth University who is Director of the eTourism Lab and Deputy Director of the International Centre for Tourism & Hospitality Research. “They want to see places, they like going to nice places.”

But the success of the tourism industry was down to every single employee, he believes. “They will have to be responsible, we need to work together as well – the big operators Marriot, Emirates, IHG need to share and care, so that we all move forward together.”

As he had done before at the ATM-ITIC conference the previous week, he broke the leisure traveller market into four: “There is 25 per cent who are just away from things, the second 25 per cent lost money or income and can’t travel, then. Another quarter who are the smart travellers who will wait and see. And the fourth group I call the kamikaze, they will travel anywhere.”

Ashwin Seetaram is Director of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism, Mauritius, a country that has “been applauded for its response to the virus and success is eradicating it. But the Indian Ocean island has its own issues now with reintroducing tourism and travel. “We have lost 15 billion Mauritian rupees since our first case on March 19, compared to the same period last year,” he said.

But Mauritius has become the first island in the region to obtain a 100 per cent certificate for its protocols and health protections.

There was some consideration of the risks from smaller hotel and restaurant businesses, whether they would apply safety protocols as well as their chain counterparts and Prof Buhalis believed they would be safer. “Very often these family-run concerns also live on the premises. I worry about a five-star hotel waiter who then goes out. Small businesses will need better and accessible advice on operation.”

He has been advising Rhodes and Corfu on post-virus preparation and he would like to see big companies and operators ‘adopting’ small ones to ensure protocols are operated the same everywhere.

Jordan’s tourism minister though had some experience and they had seen small restaurant open and within a couple of days were behaving as they had before.

The panel was divided on the attractiveness of remote destinations. Some believed they could easily be promoted as safe and easy to visit. But Prof Buhalis said ‘safe’ is easy to say but he felt many visitors would see remote as “isolated from medical resource”. “It’s all about safety and everyone is responsible.”

The next session was titled Planning for the future: Understanding globalisation in the post Covid-19 world and the investment measures needed to boost recovery of the global travel and tourism industry.

It was moderated by the man who predicted the economic devastation of this pandemic, five years ago in a book: Prof Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalisation and Development at the University of Oxford and the Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Technological and Economics.

“Governments are only just realising the effects that the devastation to travel & tourism has on the wider economy,” said Hon. Najib Balala, Minister of Tourism, Kenya, which has seen fewer than 100 deaths in a population of 53 million. “After July we will start opening up but we do not have the resources of some nations.”

Keith Barr, is CEO InterContinental Hotel Group which has 5,600 said his operation had focused on how its 450 hotels in China had performed as a way of understanding how the rest of the world may emerge from the lockdown.

“We’ve focused on recovery and how we support our hotel owners and drive demand and that’s hygiene and cleanliness,” he said. “People want to travel but how do we make it safe?”

He revealed that some IHG resorts are ‘sold out’ – resorts in Vietnam and Florida. But he said that while they may be 100 per cent booked but social distancing and safety regulation put huge pressure on public spaces, bars, restaurants.

One of the United Arab Emirates smallest emirates is Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), 45 minutes from its glamorous sister emirate Dubai. But it has embraced domestic tourism, attracting guests from the other six emirates for short breaks and staycations. “The UAE relies heavily on tourism, worth 12 per cent of GDP and employing 750,000,” he said. “RAK’s two Ritz Carltons have been steadily bust since the pandemic. Cashflow is the big problem buy our staycation campaign aimed at domestic visitors for three nights, has resulted in 60 per cent occupancy at our hotels. We’re lucky, we have the space to ensure social distancing.”

Dinky Puri, CEO Eagle Wing Group, an integrated hospitality & real estate company located in UAE said the sector must not be “the policeman for governments…as costs will become problematic”. He forecast that it would be mid-2021 to 2022 before occupancy was back up: “So that we can ensure demand balances supply and we have the to retrain employees.”

And he was firm that 14-day quarantines “have to be reconsidered” to bring confidence back.

But his belief that business would drive the return of travel was disputed by moderator Prof Goldin who said: “I’ve been observing trends and I’m optimistic about travel & tourism, no two much about business but I agree with your 2022 recovery date.”

The panel as a whole were pretty much agreed that quarantine did nothing to help recovery and may actually achieve very little about tackling the spread which testing could achieve.

They also nodded agreement that continued restrictions may actually lead to greater problems. “In Africa I’m sure more people will died of hunger than Covid,” said Prof Goldin.

IHG’s CEO Mr Barr talked about technology and the way businesses use it to interact with customers. “How do we let customers know we’re open and safe?” He asked. “We need to take the costs out of operations for our owners. We need to more digitally interactive. We need to look at the stuff in rooms and remember our customers are digitally savvy.”

His call for cutting costs, “removing the fat”, was supported by Mr Puri who also said hotels should look at staff. “Empower people, if you work in the kitchen, would you like to step into the restaurant? Front office colleagues, perhaps you may manage the lounge – upgrade employees, empower people.”

This was followed by a 15-minute session Investment prospects in travel and tourism sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. His Royal Highness Prince Dr Abdulaziz Bin Nasser Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Chairman of Baseera Group and Mr Raed Habiss, Vice Chairman of Baseera group, CEO of RHH Consultancy and former Director of Tourism Investment of OIC in conversation with Dr. Taleb Rifai, Chairman of ITIC and former Secretary-General of UNWTO.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia began ambitious plans last October to earn 10 per cent of GDP and one million jobs by 2030. “KSA offers heritage and a civilisation going back 4,000 years said “ HRH Dr Abdulaziz Bin Nasser. His country has been transformed legacy in the past five years, visas are easier to obtain and it has declared itself open for foreign investment.

“We have reformed laws and regulation to attract investments, specifically allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership and set aside $450 billion to attract tourism investment.”

He was accompanied by “friend and business ally” Raed Habiss who reiterated the investment potential of his country and explained that far from being desert as many people imagine, it has green hills and mountains in the south where temperature can be in the 20s, compared with the summer highs of 55 degrees in the desert.

The next session dealt with preparation for any future pandemic or crisis Rethinking investments for better preparedness against potential future catastrophes moderated by Peter Greenberg of CBS News who opened with: “As a society we we want to travel – we need to travel. Cruise ships are at anchored there is a deep-seated fear. There’s a world recession, tourism could be in depression with 38 per cent job losses last month.”

Nicolas Mayer, PWC Industry Leader Hospitality and Tourism EMEA & Managing Partner Global Centre of Excellence Tourism & Hospitality, who had presented earlier this time confirmed that there is no indication among surveys that people will not travel.

“But there is a need for government, finance and industry to get going again. But as an industry, we have not honed our skills in cashflow management, we’ve used to cut cost.”

He presented an optimistic view of the hospitality to those who fear widespread closures saying that the number of hotels that would survive the pandemic was “More than we might think”. Dealing with the insurance sector he said like finance, it will change and there will be a necessary sharing of risk among everyone as the sector moves forward. “There is no such thing as a risk-free ride.”

Hon Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism Jamaica, admitted in his country the resource was “not there” to cushion events like this pandemic and he doubted that the industry could, as some call for, provide a protective fund of sufficient size.

“We need to build response mechanisms,” he said but appeared to agree with moderator Greenberg’s assertion that there was insufficient global leadership and that every country had had to “act on its own”.

Former Greek Minister of Tourism Elena Kountoura, now a Member of the European Parliament, said the way ahead was testing and ensure business stay alive to continue providing employment.

“I do worry how things will develop where its health provision versus restarting of the economy,” she said. “But it’s a good thing that the EU now takes travel and tourism much more seriously.”

In the isolated Seychelles its star was built on foreign tourists. But it has banned any ship from docking that has not been at sea for 14-days and it has banned lucrative cruise liners until 2022. Alain Saint Ange, President, Africa Tourism Board, tipped as a presidential candidate for the Seychelles, said it was an economic decision by the island. “The Seychelles is carrying out work on the port to improve cruise facilities and this was an opportune time,” he said. He also agreed that preparing for something of this size happening again was very difficult to finance.

Dr Peter Tarlow, President, Safer Tourism, poured cold water on expectations of a vaccine. “We have 12 different forms already, each would probably need a separate vaccine ,” he said. “Testing, in the same way, is not a panacea.

“We are at war and this is very important, like 1929, the Great Depression, there were good moves and bad. We can not use the public sector to buy ourselves out of this crisis through the redistribution of private money – this will cause an economic crisis to payback.”

PwC’s Mr Mayer also cautioned about the way travellers will pay and there will be fewer so it is up to the sector to work out ways to earn extra money, but offer more. “How do I get an extra five bucks? Can people stay an extra five days? At the top level, like the Seychelles, businesses are very good at this, but make customers ask how they can get better value.”

After a short break the conclusive session looked to summarise the day The Way Forward: ‘Foresights, initiatives and changing paradigms’.

Gerald Lawless, WTTC Ambassador, Director ITIC & Advisory Board Member Dubai Expo 2020, took up the case for sustainable travel & tourism to be part of the solution.

“We have to convince the environmentalist that our industry does so much good for developing countries and we must understand the threats of climate change,” said Mr Lawless. “Aviation gets a bad press but creates less than 3 per cent of the pollution.

“Hotel groups did so well to get rid of single use plastics and Covid has brought them back.” He referred to the Republic of Ireland’s 2,100km West Coast project and how that had taken tourism to a region that benefited. On testing he was a huge supporter, praising the UAE where he has worked much of his life for its 2m tests out of a population of 9m. 

And he singled out Germany with its attitude to ensuring tourism should be limited only within Europe for its people. “Why not the UAE?” asked Mr Lawless.

There were two presentations within the session, the first by Margaux Constantin, Partner at McKinsey Company looking at travellers intentions and travel searches online. She said travellers will spend money as soon as they are able this year, because they have the money, but as the recession bites in 2021 bookings will fall off and it may take until 2026 for recovery. She had used China’s domestic tourism recovery as an indicator for the rest of the world claiming there’s cause for optimism but it’s still 58 per cent down. “Mid-scale hotels are coming back the fastest but luxury is struggling,” she said.

Digitisation is vital, to cope with the increased number of bookings with a very short run in, as people do not want to book months in advance. And she argued urban centres will be the biggest losers, because of social distancing fears, and visitors will choose “outdoor locales”.

Gut even then she said people often say one thing and do another. In Las Vegas bookings are up 200 per cent. And cruises for 2021 are at 75 per cent as people have opted for rebooking rather than refunds on cruises this year.

The bed is the biggest cause for concern among travellers, not social distancing or queues but they want to know positively that it is safe.

The second presentation by Ben Lock, a PR professional and Senior Director, Edelman, focused on his company’s Trust Barometer – now in its 20th year. This year the focus has been different because of the pandemic but while people’s trust in government, media had been low, they had increased under Covid – especially the traditional media. He concluded companies must be “credible” and offer constant information to travellers in a “two-way” conversation with customers.

Christopher Rodrigues WTTC Ambassador said: “You will not take a love of tourism away. “ But he said prices should stay stable,” there is no evidence of price discounting yet, dumping product doesn’t work for them. Discount may get money but what people need is trust.”

When he was asked where he would invest his $1bn he said he’d invest in the suppliers to tourism. “I’d look at eco-tourism – I would not add to Costa hotels.”

Ambassador Dho Young-Shim, won praise for the reaction of her country South Korea, but she suggested it was down to the cultural mentality of the people being prepared to make sacrifice for the good of the greater public. That was why she said there was no law, just an instruction to wear masks and socially distance. She also suggested it was why contact app tracing did not provoke the resistance found in Europe.

“South Korean visitors are told if they have a medical problem of concern while visiting to dial 119, which brings an immediate hospital response,” she said.

Haitham Mattar, Middle East Tourism Expert and CEO Beyond Tourism who advises Saudi Arabia, took a pragmatic view to the suggestion that the Middle East had coped well with the virus and was well set to move forward. “The Middle East has big ambitions, but it has faced a crisis every year,” he said. “If something bad happens in Egypt, the UAE benefits, if Jordan is negatively affected, Lebanon benefits.” But ultimately he too agreed that trust was the key to future recovery.

The Bulgarian Minister of Tourism was taken ill on the day but her place was taken admirably by Todor Le, an advisor to the Ministry of Tourism in Bulgaria. “Tourism make up 20 per cent of GDP and we are focused on domestic first, which is 30 per cent of that, and Europe next year. Our beaches are open and we are working with neighbouring markets of Turkey, Greece and Croatia.”

Concluding Dr Rifai said it had been a great day. “Things will get worse before they get better but governments recognise travel and tourism is very important,” he said. “Countries have been left on their own to make bilateral agreements towards a new world order.

“Domestic tourism keeps the sector open preserving jobs and I believe that by travelling within their country, they will love it more. I believe a country should be enjoyed by its people first.”

WTM London Exhibition Director Mr Press thanked ITIC and pledged that November 2-4 2020 would be about getting back to business.

Mr Ayoub of ITIC congratulated and thanked all panelists and looked forward to October 30-31, Sustainable Investment Conference in London, and the Sustainable Conference in Bulgaria, September 2-4 .

MORE NEWS HERE

SPEAKERS JUNE 10 2020

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CEO of hotel giant IHG reveals post-Covid standards for its 5,600 properties

Keith Barr CEO IHG

SUMMIT NEWS June 8, 2020

One of the world’s biggest hotel chains has laid out the standards that will ensure post-pandemic safety for guests at its 5,600 hotels across 100 countries.

‘We’re making sure that we provide a safe environment so customers can enjoy themselves because they do want to travel,’ InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) CEO Keith Barr.

That means no more than three people will be allowed into an elevator at the same time,  buffets and restaurants will be eliminated in favor of grab-and-go dining, and room service will be contactless.

Mr Barr is a guest panellist at a special virtual summit The Future of Travel & Tourism on Wednesday June 10, 2020.

He will be part of a session titled ‘Planning for the future: Understanding globalisation in the post Covid-19 world and the investment measures needed to boost recovery of the global travel and tourism industry’ from 11am (UK time).

Barr, who stepped in the CEO role at IHG three years ago heads a chain, which includes popular brands like Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, and Regent Hotels and Resorts, also said that swimming pools in his hotels will be socially distanced.

THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL & TOURISM VIRTUAL CONFERENCE June 10, 2020 DETAILS & REGISTRATION

There will be temperature screening at the front desks, hand sanitizer stations positioned throughout the facility, social distancing markers in public areas, and decluttering rooms in the public spaces to make sure that high-touch items are no longer present.

Barrtold ABC News in an interview that he expects demand for hotel rooms to pick up toward the summer as travelers will be getting into their cars rather than flying in planes to take vacations.

‘We think we are going to have a lot of domestic travel and not a lot of international travel, and it will be drive because people feel comfortable getting in their cars and driving to stay at a Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express,’ he said.

‘That’s going to be the travel trend, with fewer people wanting to get on flights.’

Earlier this month, InterContinental Hotels said it expects revenue per available room to plunge 80 per cent in April compared with last year and that the coronavirus crisis was the biggest challenge the hotel industry ever faced.

InterContinental Hotels Group has also introduced a new global standard of hotel cleanliness and hygiene following a major collaboration with internal and external specialists in operations, health, safety and guest experience.

The experts, collectively known as the IHG Global Cleanliness Board, liaised heavily with Cleveland Clinic Chief Clinical Transformation Officer, James Merlino, to design the company’s new best practices and implementation processes.

Building on IHG’s ‘Way of Clean’ program – which launched in 2015 in partnership with hygiene and cleaning technology brands Ecolab and Diversey – guests can expect to see enhanced and more visible cleaning practices in effect. These may include a reduction of high-touch in-room furnishings, new laundry protocols and visual verification of sanitised items such as glassware and the television remote control.

Underpinning the new hygiene regime is a ‘Clean Promise’ from IHG which states that if a guest is unsatisfied with the standard of cleanliness in their room, the property will immediately rectify the situation. The new policy took effect from June 1, 2020.

More visible charts informing guests when an area was last cleaned will pop up around hotel public spaces and facilities including fitness centres, swimming pools, lounges, restaurants and bars. Along with social distancing measures, new practices at hotel buffets, room services, catering and banquets are likely to be introduced in line with local health requirements.

Register Free to be part of the virtual summit on June 10, 2020, begins 9.15am (GMT+1) HERE

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SPEAKERS JUNE 10 2020

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theFuture of Travel June 10

REGISTER The ITIC-WTM virtual conference is FREE to attend online.

It focuses on three themes:

1. Health: dealing with Covid-19, and how we restore travellers’ confidence and rebuild business.

2. Investment: understanding the financial mechanisms that allow you to survive and rebuild.

3. Future: This may not be the last crisis, how can you prepare for any future global catastrophe

This virtual summit uses the latest video technology, viewable on your browser, will bring together more than 2,000 attendees in an interactive environment.

Virtual summit guest says governments must enforce social distancing to ensure tourism can start

Summit News 7th June 2020

Global hospitality will be more competitive than ever as the world reopens, with destinations urged to prepare now for the return of guests.

And for those nations that have Covid-19 under control tourism will return and it’ll happen fast, says Haitham Mattar, senior advisor at the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Tourism, who will be making his third conference appears in eight days pressing for tourism to reopen.

Mr Mattar is a guest panellist at a special virtual summit The Future of Travel & Tourism on Wednesday June 10, 2020.

He will be part of a session titled ‘The way forward: Foresights, initiatives and changing paradigms.’

Mattar has been speaking at two virtual conference last week during ATM’s three-days of virtual webinars and conferences considering the future of travel.

He told conference delegates: “Consumers, travellers, they want to book – live data from Google, Amadeus and others shows this.

“Small numbers for now, certainly, but it is happening – from July forward we will see a return in demand for destinations that have shown they have Covid-19 under control.”

He believes it is the responsility of individual governments to ensure safe, social distancing was enforced if safe travel was to be provided: “We need governments to rigorously enforce physical distancing and other measures to rebuild confidence – but guests will return.

THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL & TOURISM VIRTUAL CONFERENCE June 10, 2020 DETAILS & REGISTRATION

“This is going to be a great opportunity for countries to get back into the market.

“Destinations must have a plan, must have a recovery strategy and must start negotiations with online travel agencies to speak to consumers who are ready to travel.”

His remarks come as countries across the world began to relax strict lockdowns introdcued earlier this year in an effort to save lives and slow the spread of the virus.

Mattar says destinations must be ready for the gradual return of hospitality he shares the belief that domestic tourism is the initial key to unlocking the hospitality sector, ensuring jobs are not lost and facilities can survive.

“We will see a three-phase approach,” he said, “beginning with domestic travel.

“Where you have scale, such as the USA, Germany and others, domestic travellers will be the first to return to market.

“Then regional travel, before going global.”

He continued: “We need to take action today to get people arriving in three months’ time.

“Every destination will reopen, and it will be very competitive once the reopening does start, and people need to prepare today.”

His thoughts were echoed by WTTC ambassador, Gerald Lawless, at the conference on the first day of ATM 2020.

Register Free to be part of the virtual summit on June 10, 2020, begins 9.15am (GMT+1) HERE

Follow ITIC on Facebook
Follow ITIC on LinkedIn

theFuture of Travel June 10

REGISTER The ITIC-WTM virtual conference is FREE to attend online.

It focuses on three themes:

1. Health: dealing with Covid-19, and how we restore travellers’ confidence and rebuild business.

2. Investment: understanding the financial mechanisms that allow you to survive and rebuild.

3. Future: This may not be the last crisis, how can you prepare for any future global catastrophe

This virtual summit uses the latest video technology, viewable on your browser, will bring together more than 2,000 attendees in an interactive environment.

Meet the Professor who predicted the pandemic FIVE years ago. But what do we do now?

Professor Ian Goldin, Oxford Martin School.jpg By Oxford Martin School – http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/people/1, CC BY 4.0, Link

Summit News 5th June 2020

The man who accurately forecast the global pandemic five years ago says he hopes his predictions are wrong and that the world “learns from this and that it’s a wake up call for future prevention.”

Professor Ian Goldin is Professor of Globalisation and Development at the University of Oxford and the Director of the Oxford Martin Programme. He has agreed to be a guest and moderator at The Future of Travel & Tourism on Wednesday June 10, 2020

“A pandemic was inevitable as we connect more, we live in bigger cities, we live near airports, whch are not only the spreader of the goods of globalisation but also the bads and contagion would cascade.”

As far back as February his year the Professor was warning the world’s governments of the dangers, not only to people’s health but to the potential collapse of the international economy. That included the need to protect businesses from bankrupcy, stop travel and work, internationally to prevent a catastrophe.

His book The Butterfly Defect, published in 2015, clearly warned of the global consequence of a pandemic.

“Pandemics are the biggest killers of humanity and I believed that this continued to be a major threat that was being ignored,” he said.

He said globalisation and interconnectivity is to blame ‘Spanish flu spread slowly – today a virus can be anywhere in the world within 36 hours’.

But he is not against globalisation saying: “A consequence has been better things for more people, that’s why two billion people have been lifted out of poverty.” But the fast spread of Covid-19 proves that the world needs to prepare and manage more effectively, he says, repeatedly saying governments – especially in the West – must learn lessons from something they all knew was a real danger but chose to ignore.

“I felt very strongly, and still do, a pandemic, like this one, is the biggest threat to our financial systems and economies. In an interview with the BBC Hardtalk programme on March 13 – as Italy’s crisis became clear but Western nations including he UK where he is based were weeks away from lockdown- he foresaw much of what we have lived through this past 10 weeks.

“This is about their (risks from pandemics) management and I think we’re on a cliff’s edge,” he told BBC Hardtalk on March 13.

In March Prof Goldin warned those first financial commitments made by governments  were not enough. For example, the UK had pledged £30bn and Prof Goldin warned “that was not enough”, comparing it with the UK’s £500bn war-chest made available following the 2008 crash.

He was 100 per cent correct and the UK has increased that initial figure three fold, just to cover the half of British workers now effectively on the government payroll. From April 1 to May 19 the UK Debt Management Office (DMO) issued a staggering £90.2billion of gilt-edged stock – Government bonds, or IOUs – to help finance Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak’s vastly expensive jobs furlough scheme, and to compensate for the loss of tax revenues.

Professor Goldin takes no pleasure from his predictions coming true. In fact he admitted he sincerely hoped he was wrong.

In March he defended the WHO – much criticised subsequently by under pressure US President Donald Trump – as ‘starved of resource and legitimacy’ saying it will need far more financial support to stop the next pandemic. He says the WHO is far weaker than it was in 2008 when the world came together to plan recovery, when US President Bush sat with his opposite number in China to plan a recovery.  Since then the world is more fragmented and international relations between countries have plummeted – compare China-USA relations with 2008.

“This is reinforced by the weakness of the World Health Organization – because their shareholders won’t give the capital and mandate they require,” Goldin told Spearwms.com. “There are positive signs at national level, but at the international level there’s a very worrying, almost deafening silence.”

He also says that the breaking of global supply chains, which were already being slowly broken because of increased robotics and technology, will increase. Countries will move away from reliance and there will be reassessment of China’s central production role.

When the BBC interviewer in early March suggested his dark prediction may be “scaremongering” Prof Goldin said he was merely ‘raising the red flag’. “I want governments to act and learn for the future,” he said.

Now 10 weeks later he is recognised as one of the world’s top authorities. This week he was the first port of call for Spearswms.com when it tried to predict what the world will be like in 2025.

“By 2025 we will have a vaccine, hopefully well before that,” he told Spears WMS. “We will all have our vaccination cards and be showing them at airports. An optimistic picture is that all our phones will have pathogen sensors in them and will be an early surveillance system globally and we’ll have a Nato-equivalent for pandemics in all the regions that can respond and will be responding to threats.

“By 2025 we’ll have a ‘global vaccination capability with DNA sequencing that will reduce the threat.”

He told Spears that the battle against coronavirus will have some unexpected benefits, too: “When people look back at this period, they’re going to say: ‘Yes, we woke up. We reformed the system, we now have a much safer world and in learning to deal with coronavirus in 2020 we’ve also learned to cooperate with climate change and financial crises and cyber threats and antibiotic resistance and the world is a safer, better place’.”

Professor Ian Goldin is a guest and moderator at a ‘The Future of Travel & Tourism” on Wednesday, June 10, 2020, overseeing the session ‘Planning for the future: Understanding globalisation in the post Covid-19 world and the investment measures needed to boost recovery of the global travel and tourism industry’.

“We are honoured to have Professor Golden join us for our summit and recognise his insight into pandemics and the financial effects will be hugely beneficial to our global audience,” said Ibrahim Ayoub, CEO of organiser ITIC in parneship with WTM.

Hear Professor Goldin’s BBC interview with Hardtalk HERE

Read Professor Goldin’s interview with Spear WMS cover story HERE

Register Free to be part of the virtual summit on June 10, 2020, begins 9.15am (GMT+1) HERE

 
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theFuture of Travel June 10 REGISTER The ITIC-WTM virtual conference is FREE to attend online. It focuses on three themes: 1. Health: dealing with Covid-19, and how we restore travellers’ confidence and rebuild business. 2. Investment: understanding the financial mechanisms that allow you to survive and rebuild. 3. Future: This may not be the last crisis, how can you prepare for any future global catastrophe This virtual summit uses the latest video technology, viewable on your browser, will bring together more than 2,000 attendees in an interactive environment.

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 info@itic.uk or visit our conference website https://itic.uk/investment-summit-home/.

‘Anyone in travel & tourism should be part of ITIC’s June 10 Virtual Summit’

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INDUSTRY NEWS: 2nd June 2020

“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?” says Dr Taleb Rifai, Former Secretary General, United Nations World Tourism Organization.

Dr Rifai is also a member of the advisory board behind the Virtual Summit on June 10, 2020, The Future of Travel & Tourism, Fiancial Strategies for Recovery. It takes place onine in partnership with WTM London, starting at 9.15am UK time.

He said: “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”.

 
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Final list of speakers revealed for the future of travel & tourism Middle East conference

Industry News 29th May, 2020

This week HE Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce, has confirmed his attendance at a conference considering the future of travel and tourism in the Middle East.

The event – part of Arabian Travel Market’s three-days of webinars and conferences – will discuss sustainable investment measures for the region’s travel & tourism sector alongside strategies to restore travellers’ confidence and move forward post-pandemic.

He will talk about his vision for Dubai’s success alongside leaders from across the region:

Panel Discussion: Initiatives to revive the travel and tourism industry and secure sustainable investment in the region?

Moderator: Rajan Datar, Presenter and Broadcaster BBC

Speakers

  • HE Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman Sharjah Investment and Development Authority
  • His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA)
  • HE Saleh Al Gezeiry, Director General for Ajman Tourism
  • Mr. Majed M. Alghanim Tourism & Quality of Life Managing Director, Ministry of Investment, Saudi Arabia 
  • Mr. Nicolas Mayer, PWC Industry Leader Hospitality and Tourism EMEA & Managing Partner Global Center of Excellence Tourism & Hospitality

This is one of three sessions on the day and you can be part of the event with free registration.

Restructuring to Attract Sustainable Investment and Customers in the New World Order.

Register HERE

READ MORE ABOUT OUR CONFERENCE HERE

READ MORE ABOUT Arabian Travel Market’s Virtual Programme 1 – 3 June , 2020 HERE

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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.

 
 

 

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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.

 
 

 

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Dubai tourism leaders meet key stakeholders to plan for the future

Industry News: 26th May 2020

ABU DHABI, 25th May 2020 (WAM): Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) held a virtual meeting with key aviation and hospitality partners to discuss current and post-pandemic strategies and joint initiatives aimed at ensuring the tourism industry’s gradual return to normalcy.

The meeting also discussed global efforts to minimise the transmission of COVID-19 and precautionary measures deployed to safeguard the health of communities across the UAE.

On the same day the UAE Government announced that the number of COVID-19 tests has broken the two million mark, reaching 2,044,493 screenings as part of the national plan to intensify coronavirus detection. Three deaths on Sunday due to COVID-19 complications, took the total number of deaths to 248, and 601 individuals have fully recovered from the virus, bringing the total number of recoveries to 15,657. There are 14,402 patients from different nationalities are currently receiving the necessary treatment.

Attendees the meeting hosted by the Director General of Dubai Tourism, included key executives of hospitality groups including Jumeirah, Emaar Hospitality Group, Marriott International, Millennium, Accor, JA Resorts and Hotels, Kerzner International, Al Habtoor Group, Wasl and Rotana, in addition to aviation sector players like Emirates, Flydubai and Dubai International Airport.

The report released by state newsagency WAM said partners were briefed on the phased approach being adopted to reopen the tourism sector in Dubai, and the marketing communications and activities in progress across key markets to reinforce Dubai’s high global profile including the ongoing #TillWeMeetAgain digital activation.

With the hospitality sector being a key pillar of Dubai’s economy, the discussions between Dubai Tourism and partners focused on the steps being taken to pave the way for the reopening of hotels and other tourism facilities across the city, while ensuring adherence to the strictest guidelines and providing opportunities to revive domestic market demand.

As part of overall efforts to create a positive perception and a conducive environment aimed at instilling confidence among travellers who plan to visit Dubai, the meeting also looked at precautionary measures that have been implemented, both at a citywide level and across specific sectors including tourism, which represent critical touchpoints for visitors and residents during their stay.

One of the key priorities from a marketing perspective, the meeting heard, is to emphasise the safety and security that Dubai provides, and the clear stringent health and safety protocols issued by the Dubai Health Authority based on international standards and best practices aimed at containing the contagion. The meeting also discussed the mechanism to ensure adherence to the guidelines, practical solutions to scan and monitor passengers at Dubai International Airport and the effective management of contact tracing in compliance with privacy standards, following the resumption of air travel.

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All participants at the meeting expressed their appreciation for the way in which government – both at the Dubai and UAE level – have dealt with the threat of COVID-19 including the rational policy decisions that have allowed robust management of the health crisis and mitigation of the economic repercussions by allowing for the gradual reopening of vital sectors like tourism.

Industry executives at the meeting also agreed that the postponement of Expo 2020 was prudent and well-received. It provides the opportunity to hold the event in a more normalised global environment where all countries can actively participate, making it a more representative Expo for the world in 2021. The businesses also reiterated their support to Dubai Tourism to kick-start the sector with collaborative development of promotional programmes and strong customised packages that take into account the current realities of the global market. The stakeholders were unanimous that there was positive sentiment surrounding Dubai as a key destination in the international circuit thanks to the city’s world class health infrastructure, and protocols and processes deployed during the management of this pandemic.

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai Tourism, said: “It must be emphasised that the health and safety of our residents and guests will always remain our top priority as we continue to work with the industry and our government partners not just during this critical period but beyond, to develop innovative approaches, real-time responses, and proactive yet prudent initiatives to ensure that Dubai remains at the forefront of the world’s leading destinations in line with our strategy.

“As we look ahead to a gradual reopening of tourism, we will focus on the key elements that have ensured the industry’s success over the past decade – creating unique value and delivering an uncompromised guest experience. To achieve this, we rely on the solidarity of our stakeholders who have always played a pivotal role. We hope they will continue to lead from the front in positioning Dubai as a must-visit destination.”

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, said: “Dubai International Airport is prepared to welcome visitors as soon as airports around the word start reopening and pave the way for a phased resumption of air services. As health and hygiene standards will play an influential role in encouraging people to travel, we have put in place a set of health and safety protocols at our airports including all necessary quarantine arrangements and the implementation of sanitisation and disinfection measures to reassure tourists that Dubai is one of the safest destinations to visit. We will also continue to receive incoming flights from select destinations, operate cargo flights, as well as flights to repatriate expatriates and guests to their home destinations.”

Adnan Kazim, Chief Commercial Officer at Emirates Airline, said: “The health and safety of our customers and employees remain our top priorities across our operations, and Emirates has implemented comprehensive measures at every step of the customer journey. This includes thermal temperature scanning before check-in, the mandatory use of masks and gloves for everyone at the airport, protective suits for our crew and ground employees, physical distancing protocols, modified services to reduce contact, enhanced cleaning of all our touch points, and much more.”

Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai, said: “Since the flight restrictions came into effect, we have operated more than 100 repatriation flights to 19 different countries enabling 14,000 citizens to return home. flydubai will continue to work closely with its strategic partners to ensure that all safety measures are in place in line with international standards when flight restrictions are lifted.”

Mohammed Al Habtoor, Vice Chairman and CEO, Al Habtoor Group, said: “Dubai with its wide experience in successfully dealing with challenging situations is capable of restoring tourism momentum and paving the way for the hospitality sector to returns to its previous state. This is also a view shared by our international hospitality partners who have placed great faith in Dubai’s resilience during tough times, as well as in its world-class healthcare system and the range of preventive measures taken across the city such as the effective and regular sanitisation and sterilisation programmes, that will help highlight Dubai as one of the world’s safest destinations.”

Mark Willis, CEO Middle East and Africa at Accor, praised the government’s efforts in reopening the markets and supporting the tourism sector: “Accor is committed to coordinating with Dubai Tourism and all related entities, from both government and private sectors, to ensure we are aligned in making the safety and well-being of our guests and team members our key priority”

Neal Jones, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Marriott International, said: “As an international chain that enjoys a longstanding relationship with Dubai, Marriott is committed to supporting the industry’s efforts to regain momentum by rolling out our own initiatives and packages to attract visitors to Dubai when the time is safe for travel.”