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#DTTT Blog

 ⚠️This will be updated daily at 2pm ⚠️

Update: 27/03/2020

  • The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has sent an open letter to G20 leaders to support aviation. It states that air transport services are going to play an essential part in the recovery of the global economy from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Tour operators are set to lose $25 billion over the next 9 months, with research highlighting that travel cancelled due to the spread of COVID-19 is unlikely to be rebooked.
  • Visit Portugal's message, “it’s time to stop” directly addresses travel bans and social distancing in its inspiring video "Can’t Skip Hope." 
  • "We can't wait to welcome you again soon" is Visit Britain's message to the world. Showcasing British culture in its feeds and inviting followers to explore famous British film locations.
  • St Lucia is inviting followers to experience the destination via Instagram Live, with its “7 Minutes in St Lucia” campaign. It is offering online activities that people can do at home, such as yoga, cooking, meditation and dancing.
  • Puerto Rico is changing its approach from “visit now” to “visit later” by offering a virtual, cultural getaway. Its goal is to keep the destination top of mind for future visitors.

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Update: 26/03/2020

  • The Four Seasons in New York is offering rooms to frontline health care workers during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Lufthansa is leading the way in social responsibility by running special flights with medical equipment.
  • South Korea is requesting that new arrivals download an app to track potential symptoms of Coronavirus.
  • Egypt is using tourism downtime to deep clean pyramids, carry out maintenance and sanitise the entire area for when its ready to accept visitors again.
  • Go Vilnius is featuring their local community and local creative initiatives in social posts during the COVID-19 crisis. Combining creativity with the safe message of social distancing.

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Update: 25/03/2020

  • In order to connect with self-isolating consumers. travel agents are using local media to get their message out. In front of local news cameras they have been discussing the virus, its impact on the travel industry and the benefits consumers get when they book with an advisor.
  • Cloudbeds, the hotel technology company, has created an online portal to connect hotels with health care providers and local governments. The initiative is called “HospitalityHelps” and will enable hotels to offer their properties for use as field hospitals, for healthcare workers that need a place to stay, for family members of patients and for other virus-related needs.
  • The International Air Transport Association (IATA) now estimates that industry passenger revenues could plummet by $252 billion, 44% below 2019’s figure.
  • With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping visitors away, elephant parks in Thailand are closing, and the industry fears the animals could be forced back onto the streets and into illegal logging.
  • A small section of the Great Wall of China has reopened to visitors as of March 24. Visitors must have a Health Code that shows as green for entry. This is a clear sign that life in China is slowly returning to normal following the COVID-19 epidemic.
  • "Stay home now. Dream online. Visit us later!" is the latest awareness campaign by Visit Madeira. It has been launched on social networks and appeals to all to stay at home.

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Update: 24/03/2020

  • Hotels in Asia that are struggling with low occupancy have found a solution by offering quarantine packages for travellers who want to self-isolate, as the need for quarantine facilities continues.
  • Japan is beginning to reopen outdoor attractions as much of the world begins to close down.
  • China’s online travel sites Qunar and Ctrip expect a surge in domestic tourism as the country recorded its lowest number of deaths since the outbreak, with no new infections for the second day in a row. Bookings have resumed for travel packages and attractions.
  • Indigenous Tourism was a 1.9 billion dollar a year industry, eclipsing mainstream tourism with a growth of roughly 20% per year. However, the COVID-19 epidemic has had a devastating impact on indigenous communities who rely on tourism.
  • Discover Kodiak has reported no confirmed COVID-19 cases, but is joining in the global effort by promoting social distancing and staying at home in its creative post.
  • Switzerland Tourism has created a movement with social media colleagues across the world with the hashtag

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Update: 23/03/2020

  • Mobile app technology could be used to help contain global epidemics. China has managed to effectively contain the virus and allow citizens to travel freely throughout the country through a mobile app. The mobile app generates a “Health Code" which allows individuals to declare their movements. It has been crucial in the fight against the epidemic, which would ordinarily demand stricter measures, like lockdowns and travel bans.
  • ADARA, the travel data provider has seen an increase in searches and bookings for flights to and within China, the first country impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. This turnaround is mainly for business travel and suggests that people are eager to get back to work and normality.
  •  The American government advised that there are no plans to halt travel within the U.S, amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The administration will impose restrictions if required.
  • Asia-Pacific Airlines are taking social distancing to the skies and distancing passengers to boost confidence in travel. Measures include introducing in-flight social distancing, mandatory temperature checks and requiring passengers to wear masks as COVID-19  impacts the globe.
  • Singapore Tourism implements social distancing for local tourists by spacing out queues, seating people apart at dining establishments and offering hand sanitisers. Other tourism boards, post peak-phase of COVID-19 in can learn from this example.
  • Thailand Tourism is promoting social distancing in its logo, as it urges potential visitors to stay safe and take social distancing seriously in its positive message.

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Update: 20/03/2020

  • The Travel Technology Association has requested government support to help the under pressure sector.
  • Africa's biggest and busiest airport  Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, will not allow foreigners to disembark in response to the growing number of Coronavirus cases in the region.
  • American Airlines will now operate cargo-only long-haul flights to keep revenue flowing as passenger demand plummets.
  • The American government has now advised its citizen's not to travel. President Trump has been in talks with the Carnival Corporation about using its cruise ships as medical ships, as as part of the federal COVID-19 pandemic response.
  • Spain orders the closure of all tourist hotels and accommodation as part of its containment measures.
  • Tasmania is cutting itself off from Australia to stop the spread of COVID-19. All new entrants, even from elsewhere in the country, will have to spend 14 days in isolation. These strict conditions have worried the Tasmanian tourism and hospitality sectors who are looking for solutions.

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Update: 19/03/2020

  • Malaysia has cancelled its 2020 Tourism Marketing Campaign, as the country begins its two-week nationwide lockdown.
  • The Tourism Authority of Thailand has cancelled its 60th anniversary celebrations. Instead it has produced a one-minute video to express its appreciation to all friends and partners of Thailand.
  • Australia has raised restrictions to the highest level and placed an "indefinite ban" on foreign travel.
  • Within the Chinese market, hotel bookings are beginning to recover. It is seen as a sign of hope for other countries suffering from the crisis.
  • A new study released by asset management company HotelAVE, estimates that it will take 5 years for Hotels to reach pre-virus occupancy revenues.
  • “When the time is right, we’ll be there for you. Till then #staysafe” is Marketing Greece’s message of hope and optimism to the world, on behalf of Greek tourism.

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Update: 18/03/2020

  • Air Tahiti Nui breaks the record for the world's longest passenger flight due to US Coronavirus travel restrictions. The journey from Papeete in Tahiti to Paris in France, covered 15,715 km and took 15 hours and 45 minutes.
  • China is monitoring its urban domestic travellers through a mix of smartphone tools and checkpoints to discourage the spread of Coronavirus.
  • JetBlue Technology Ventures, one of the largest corporate venture capital practices in travel, has compiled a list of insights and resources to help inform and support its portfolio companies during the Coronavirus crisis.
  • EasyJet puts entire winter 2020/2021 schedule on sale, allowing customers with an existing booking to change their flights up until February 2021.
  • Trans States Airlines becomes the first U.S carrier to cease operations due to the Coronavirus.
  • Delta Air Lines has found an innovative way to socially. distance work force by converting the space at the Delta Flight Museum into a Reservations Engagement Centre.

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Update: 17/03/2020

  • The Italian government is to bail out Alitalia as COVID-19 scares off prospective buyers.
  • Tourism Ireland urges global landmarks to still go green, despite the COVID-19 crisis as part of its Global Greening Project.
  • Coronavirus cancellations are overwhelming OTAs who are struggling to keep up with demand.
  • The ACI Europe airport lobbying group says the European Union should address emergency funding issues amid a 54% cull in air traffic in the last week.
  • Airlines For America demand a $54 billion bailout plan from the U.S. government.
  • The world’s three largest  airline alliances have called on governments and stakeholders to provide support to the global airline industry amid the COVID-19 crisis.

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Update: 16/03/2020

  • Ryanair grounds "majority of aircraft fleet" in response to the spread of COVID-19.
  • TUI  announces temporary suspension of the vast majority of all travel operations until further notice due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • United Airlines announces a 50% cut in capacity and a reduction in payroll expenses.
  • Cathay Pacific is offering its customers flexibility to make free and and unlimited changes to all new tickets issued between 9 March and 20 April 2020.
  • Tourist Boards such as Visit Estonia are recommending that visitors stay at home and stay safe.
  • Visit Denmark are advising visitors that its boarders are closed.

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Update: 13/03/2020

  • The World Travel &Tourism Council warns up to 50 million jobs at risk and the sector could shrink by 25%.
  • Norwegian is to suspend more than 4,000 flights and temporarily layoff up to 50 percent of their employees.
  • The global business travel sector is expected to take a revenue hit of about $820 billion, with China accounting for nearly half of the losses.
  • Sports tourism hit as the Champions League and Europa League matches, the Cricket Test Series, the PGA Golf Tour and the Formula 1 season are all to be postponed.
  • Nepal has closed Mount Everest and all its Himalayan peaks this spring climbing season because of Coronavirus fears.
  • Tourist Boards such as Visit Faroe Islands are advising travellers to refrain from visiting during the crisis. Others such as Visit Norway are temporarily closing.

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Update: 12/03/2020

  • President Trump announced that all travel to the U.S from Europe would be suspended for the next 30 days. The UK, Ireland and other non-Schengen countries are unaffected. Exemptions are also being made for U.S citizens.
  • India has barred the entry of all foreign tourists for one month, starting tomorrow, in a bid to contain the Coronavirus.
  • IMEX Frankfurt 2020, the largest annual trade exhibition for the meetings, conventions, events and incentive travel has been cancelled.
  • Luxury cruise operator Viking has suspended its cruises until the end of April over fears about the spread of Coronavirus.
  • Bookings for overseas flights from the U.S. has reached a new low with more cancellations than bookings being made last week. The Caribbean is down 38%, Central America down 44%, North America down 55% and South America down 62% in the week of 2nd March compared to the same week last year.
  • Kuwait International Airport will close for passenger service indefinitely, meaning commercial flights to and from the airport are cancelled.
  • BA has announced enhanced aircraft cleaning for its fleet.

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Update: 11/03/2020

  • The European Commission relaxes its "use it or lose it" slot rules for airlines to end empty "ghost flights."
  • Online travel marketplace Fliggy has seen signs of increased interest in travel from the Chinese market. Searches for the May holiday period have increased by 40% compared to the week before.
  • Coronavirus prompts Delta to enhance sanitation measures. They have introduced fogging, a method of deep cleaning that disinfects surfaces passengers may come in close contact with in the aircraft.
  • The World Travel & Tourism Council have postponed their annual summit until the autumn.
  • Beijing is enforcing a 14-day quarantine on all international arrivals. China has reported an increase in imported Coronavirus cases, threatening its progress against the epidemic.

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Update: 10/03/2020

  • Qantas announced it was grounding most of its Airbus A380 fleet as the airline cuts back international flights in response to the coronavirus epidemic.
  • Austria will deny entry to people arriving from Italy in a bid to slow the spread of the Coronavirus.
  • BA has cancelled all flights to and from Italy as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.
  • Moldova bans foreigners on all flights from countries with Coronavirus.
  • Norwegian axes all flights to and from Italy and cancels 3000 flights between mid-March and mid-June.

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Update: 09/03/2020

  • The World Tourism Organisation says international tourist arrivals to Asia are now projected to fall by 1-3% in 2020, with losses of up to £38 billion.
  • EasyJet cancels UK flights to Italy following the additional restrictions put in place by the Italian government at the weekend.
  • Vietnam suspends visas for European nations, after the number of confirmed infections in Vietnam rose to 30.  The nations affected are: Italy Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain.
  • India bans foreign cruise ships from its ports because of the Coronavirus.
  • World ATM Congress 2020 is cancelled as a result of the Coronavirus.

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Update: 06/03/2020

  • Bhutan has banned tourists for 2 weeks after it confirmed its first Coronavirus case.
  • The Australian tourism industry has called for coronavirus support in addition to the bushfire package and economy package that the Australian government is implementing.
  • Canada's tourism industry is bracing itself for the impact of Coronavirus, as they are already seeing a big drop in visitor numbers with bookings from China down 70 percent.

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Update: 05/03/2020

  • The airline Flybe has collapsed as a result of the Coronavirus, with a loss of 2,000 jobs.
  • Singapore Tourism Board has initiated a scheme that supports the third-party cost of professional cleaning services incurred by Singapore-licensed hotels that have provided accommodation to suspected and confirmed COVID-19 case(s).
  • As a result of the Coronavirus, the ITB 2020 event has now gone digital.
  • After seeing the fall in customer demand due to the Coronavirus, Virgin Atlantic has delayed the launch of its new Sao Paulo route from March 29 to October 5.
  • A report by Forward Keys has reported that the outbreak has caused cancellations to Italy has exceeded new bookings and Europe is 79.0% down.
  • California has declared a state of emergency after the first Coronavirus death.
  • A large number of airlines are now relaxing their cancellation fees and amendment policies.  These flexible change policies are something which DMOs can learn from and advise their industry about.
  • IATA has announced that it now sees 2020 global revenue losses for the air transport industry of between $63 billion and $113 billion.

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How do we stay safe? How long will it take to recover from this crisis? These are the key questions that are facing the industry as it feels the heavy impact of the Coronavirus. At the #DTTT, we raise the question as to what is the best approach to reduce the impact that is putting the industry in crisis? We look closely at the reactions to the outbreak from various perspectives.

Reaction from a Traveller's Perspective

The travel industry is crucial for the global economy. The reaction to the crisis from travellers, has been a steep drop in travel, the largest decline since 9/11. Travellers are reacting by staying away from airports and not booking any travel product. The Chinese market, who are now the most frequent global travellers in the world, have all but stopped travelling. However the drop in travel has now expanded beyond the Chinese market. In the past, the industry has proved to be resilient, with people’s desire to travel outweighing their concerns. The main concern for travellers is not the travel itself, but the thought of being stuck and quarantined in a destination.

Reaction from an Industry Perspective

From a business perspective, it has been a catastrophe. The impact due to lack of demand is huge and causing a massive loss in industry revenue. Globally, hundreds of businesses are reacting by suspending travel to countries with outbreaks of the virus and have imposed quarantines on any returning from those regions. Others have cancelled all international travel for at least a month.  

As a reaction to the outbreak, there has been widespread cancellation of industry conferences, (Mobile World Conference, Facebook, ITB) events and corporate travel. A solution for many has been to go digital, to work from home and attend conferences and events in a digital capacity. It is no surprise that Videoconferencing is now booming. 

Airlines have been hit extremely hard with the lack of bookings and demand, resulting in empty planes. The International Airline Trade body has warned that global air travel demand could fall for the first time in more than 10 years, reducing the industry’s revenues by almost 30 billion dollars. Many of the big airlines (Cathay Pacific, Emirates etc) have been affected and their reaction has been to cancel flights. Here are some examples:

  • Lufthansa - Cancelling 25% of short-haul flights
  • BA - Cancellations across Europe and internationally
  • Ryanair - Cancelling 25% of flights

It is not just airlines that suffer, but also a destination’s ground product. In an industry that supports 1 in 10 jobs, tour operators, local businesses, restaurants, hotels, are all affected with potential job losses as tourists stay away and choose not to travel. The reaction on the ground is for some in the industry, is to follow a business as usual model, while others face the imminent closure of their businesses.

Reaction from a DMOs Perspective

With governments introducing travel restrictions, DMOs face a huge challenge. There have been various responses to the outbreak, with some DMOs posting Coronavirus updates on their websites, to others operating a business as usual approach and requesting that travellers check the local conditions with them directly. 

In a shift in trend, others such as Alaska Tourism, see the crisis as an opportunity to divert traveller traffic to Alaska instead of Asia. Visit Anchorage plan to increase their travel services and offer Alaska as a travel solution. Asia’s close proximity to Alaska makes it easy for them to consider diverting airline services.

Alaska is not the only destination trying to lure tourists, Japan’s “Empty Kyoto” campaign by Kyoto Tourism promises visitors that they will have prime access to normally busy locations. At this current moment, there is a requirement for responsibility and sensibility from DMOs. Therefore an approach that continues to put visitors and their safety first is essential.

In this ever-changing climate of uncertainty, we have seen varied reactions to the crisis from the industry and beyond.  How is your destination coping and what is your strategy?  We would be interested to hear your thoughts.

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