News: Vilnius Airport reopens after €19 million reconstruction project

News: Vilnius Airport reopens after €19 million reconstruction project

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The Lithuanian department of tourism is celebrating the completion of a €19 million reconstruction project, and the re-opening of the capital’s airport, Vilnius. 

The newly renovated runway and airport re-opened to flights after 35 days of work, with an official ceremony on the tarmac.

The Vilnius Airport reconstruction project has seen the replacement of old pavements, the reinforcement of foundations, the installation of new drainage and rainwater collection systems, and the reconstruction of the lighting control system.

Final restoration works, which will not affect passengers to the airport, will continue until autumn. 

During the works, flights to Vilnius were redirected to Kaunas Airport, which had begun preparations to cope with the increase in passenger numbers earlier this year with the building of additional terminals, expansion of the parking area and recruitment of additional staff from Vilnius Airport.

Kaunas Airport served nearly 4,000 flights, and 360,000 passengers during this 35 day period. 

Monika Počikovskytė, chief specialist at Lithuania department of tourism commented: “We’re delighted with the Vilnius Airport renovation works which have been completed within such a short space of time.

“This not only demonstrates our ongoing commitment to investing in our tourism industry, but also demonstrates the rise in visitor numbers we have experienced over the past few years, showing that Lithuania is the destination to visit this year and beyond.” 

Lithuania is more accessible than ever with direct flights offered from London Luton by Wizz Air, and from London Stansted by Ryanair.

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August 23, 2017 at 09:47AM

News: Russian visitors boost tourism figures in Cologne, Germany

News: Russian visitors boost tourism figures in Cologne, Germany

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Russian visitors boost tourism figures in Cologne, Germany

Cologne is more popular than ever as a leisure and business destination, as shown by the strong growth of its visitor numbers in the first half of this year.

From January to June 2017, 1,756,377 visitors came to Cologne (an increase of 11.3 per cent) and generated 3,051,072 overnight stays in this city (an increase of 13.1 per cent).

“This very positive development shows that the visitor figures in Cologne have recovered after a relatively weak 2016 and are even continuing to increase.

“One attractive travel incentive in the first half of this year was the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship 2017, which brought a large number of visitors from abroad to Cologne.

“Numerous events, as well as strong trade fairs and congresses, were also important influencing factors,” said Josef Sommer, chief executive, Cologne Tourist Board.

Thanks to the broad range of events it is offering in 2017, Cologne is well positioned as a tourist destination.

In the first half of the year, Cologne experienced a considerable upswing of visitors from abroad, with increases of 14.6 per cent in arrivals and 15 per cent in overnight stays.

Important source markets abroad have shown strong growth, including Russia, which has seen visitors increase their overnight stays by 97.5 per cent.

For Chinese visitors, the increase was 17.9 per cent.

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August 23, 2017 at 09:46AM

Cool dad in London

Cool dad in London

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Radio interview

I recently did a Radio Interview on KOMF 104.7 FM in Denver. We talked about weird stuff! Enjoy!

Daily Photo – Cool dad in London

We took a little driving tour around London. I’m always taking photos like a crazy person. I never quite know what I’ll grab, but here’s a fun one. A dad was walking along with his kids after shopping and there was all kinds of random family behavior happening. I have no idea who these people are, but they seem like a pretty awesome and British family. I can’t imagine going out shopping with my kids and wearing a blazer with a kerchief in the pocket. But after studying this photo, I might try it. And I gotta get my kids some cool clothes like that. I could never be that cool of a dad, but I can dream.

Cool dad in London

Photo Information


  • Date Taken2017-05-13 18:54:19
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/800
  • Aperture5
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length66.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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August 23, 2017 at 09:33AM

News: citizenM Taipei North Gate takes brand in Asia for first time

News: citizenM Taipei North Gate takes brand in Asia for first time

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Artyzen Hospitality Group has welcomed the opening of the inaugural citizenM hotel in Asia.

Located in Taiwan’s cosmopolitan capital directly opposite the city’s historical site, North Gate, citizenM Taipei North Gate is within short walking distance of both Taipei Main Station and the Airport Express terminal, which offers an efficient 35-minute direct train to Taoyuan International Airport.

Near to the popular shopping and tourist area of Ximending, the 267-room property boasts stunning Tamsui River views, contemporary design, efficient service and cutting-edge technology – all at a smart price.

A significant milestone for the young and innovative Dutch hotel brand, the debut Asian property in Taipei is the eleventh citizenM hotel to open worldwide since its 2008 launch.

A concept brought to life by award-winning Dutch designers, Concrete, citizenM Taipei North Gate breaks the rules of traditional hospitality, with just one room category ingeniously designed around sleeping and lounging on the comfy, XL size bed.

An intuitive and handy in-room tablet moodpad controls everything from the television and themed wake up alarms, to room temperature, blinds, and ambient lighting – leaving guests in charge to tailor their experience.

All citizenM properties celebrate local culture – at citizenM Taipei North Gate, the exterior entrance wall presents a vibrant anime and pop culture art piece by Taipei’s up and coming local graffiti talent, ANO.

Other brand hallmarks featured in citizenM Taipei North Gate include a dynamic dining and cocktail space, canteenM, available 24-hours a day for hotel guests.

Located on the first floor with outstanding city views through a large glazed façade, the bar is the lively heart of the hotel with beer on tap and Champagne and cocktails to order. 

The large open kitchen with kitchen island, high and low seating and tables, is located behind, serving fresh fare throughout the day in a laidback dining environment.

Allan Yip, vice president of marketing, distribution and brands at Artyzen Hospitality Group, said: “Taipei is a very exciting city for us to launch the first citizenM in Asia.

“North Gate is a central and vibrant location full of good food, retail and culture, a perfect playground for the modern traveller and citizen of the world.

“We look forward to further regional expansion in 2018 – our next citizenM hotels will open in key gateway cities including Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur in summer next year.”

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August 23, 2017 at 09:35AM

News: Tang appointed resort manager at Four Seasons Langkawi

News: Tang appointed resort manager at Four Seasons Langkawi

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Tang appointed resort manager at Four Seasons Langkawi

Four Seasons Hotels & Resort has appointed Melissa Tang to the role of resort manager at its property in Langkawi, Malaysia. 

Tang has been with the 344-unit Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou since 2013, starting out as director of human resources before being promoted to director of rooms in the same property through the Four Seasons global Women Operations Leaders program.

With over 20 years of experience under her belt, she started her career in hospitality with Victory river cruises in 1994.

Over the next few years, she advanced to director of human resources at Hotel Nikko Dalian and then moved to Shangri-La Hotel in Guangzhou and Zhongshan before joining Four Seasons. 

Now as resort manager, Tang will continue to lead the formulation and implementation of strategies to deliver product and service excellence, so as to enhance the property’s reputation as a leading accommodation of choice in the jewel of Kedah, an archipelago of 104 islands in the Andaman Sea, some 30km off the mainland coast of north-western Malaysia.

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August 23, 2017 at 09:26AM

News: Busiest ever month for Dubai International in July

News: Busiest ever month for Dubai International in July

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Dubai International recorded its busiest month on record for passenger traffic in July, with over eight million passengers, according to the monthly traffic report issued by operator Dubai Airports.

Passenger numbers in July totalled 8,065,789 compared to 7,616,792 handled in July 2016, a robust growth of 5.9 per cent.

DXB welcomed 51,120,057 passengers during the first seven months of the year, up 6.2 per cent compared to 48,124,043 passengers, recorded during the same period last year.

South America was the fastest growing region in July with traffic surging 59 per cent, followed by Asia at 20 per cent – with China and Thailand as top contributors to traffic from the region, eastern Europe at 16.3 per cent and Africa which grew by 9.1 per cent.

India retained its position as the top destination country with 1,028,508 passengers, followed by the UK (610,151 passengers), and Saudi Arabia (573,170 passengers).

The most popular destinations served from DXB by traffic volume were London, followed by Kuwait, Mumbai, Bangkok and Riyadh.

Flight movements during July reached 34,181, down 4.7 per cent compared to 35,886 movements recorded during July 2016.

Year to date flight movements totalled 240,179 compared to 243,832 movements recorded during the same period last year, a contraction of 1.5 per cent.

With DXB’s ratio of wide-bodied aircraft continuing to drive airport efficiency, passengers per movement peaked to a record high of 243 during July, up 10.1 per cent compared to 220 in July 2016. 

“We have started the second half of the year on a very positive note and with the Islamic festival of Eid Al Adha coinciding with the summer rush later this month, the upward trend is expected to remain strong in the third quarter,” said Paul Griffiths, chief executive, Dubai Airports.

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August 23, 2017 at 09:15AM

Interview: WTTC’s New CEO Knows Overtourism Will Top Her Agenda

Interview: WTTC’s New CEO Knows Overtourism Will Top Her Agenda

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World Travel & Tourism Council

Gloria Guevara Manzo, pictured here, said WTTC will work with destinations to help them develop plans to manage overtourism. World Travel & Tourism Council

Skift Take: It’s not that the travel industry doesn’t understand that overtourism is a problem. It’s an issue that at times might conflict with their bottom lines, and there is a lack of thoughtful and effective plans on how to deal with it. Guevara is already working on the topic — and we’ll be watching to see how creative she and the WTTC can be.

— Dan Peltier

In a sign that overtourism is becoming an unavoidable issue for the global travel industry, the World Travel & Tourism Council is planning to release a report on recommendations for travel brands on how to tackle the question.

Although many residents of destinations confronting the problem in their daily lives may not agree, the WTTC report would also communicate the benefits of tourism in cities like Venice and Barcelona, which both have been focal points for headlines about overtourism.

That’s the word from Gloria Guevara after her first week as the WTTC’s new CEO. During that initial week, she watched anti-tourism protests take root in European destinations such as Barcelona and sadly had to issue a statement condemning the August 17 terrorist attacks in Spain.

Diversifying destinations’ offerings are key to managing tourism growth no matter how their residents feel about visitors, Guevara told Skift August 22. “The governments don’t create jobs,” she said. “The private sector creates the jobs but we need to work with the government to create those jobs. The government wants to reduce poverty for their citizens and we want the same. We need to both have the same priorities to succeed.”

The WTTC isn’t known as an activist can-do organization so it remains to be seen what the contents of its upcoming recommendations on overtourism might be and whether they balance the needs of the tourism industry and local residents. After all, the WTTC has a stake in the outcome.

Still, the fact that one of the world’s largest travel industry organizations, which represents more than 150 travel brands across an array of sectors such as airlines, hotels and tourism boards, is working with some destinations experiencing overtourism to address the issues highlights how the complications of the trend have come to the fore.

Guevara said she understands the frustrations that residents in Barcelona, for example, are feeling as tourists crowd streets and restaurants once unknown to visitors. “Before tourism was so popular there, the activities in places like Barcelona were very different and residents are still adjusting to these new activities,” said Guevara.

In recent weeks, before the terrorist attacks and subsequent deaths of residents and tourists, Barcelona protesters had resorted to sabotaging rental bikes while city officials tried to curb the growth of sharing economy platforms such as Airbnb that often bring tourists to areas unequipped to handle mass tourism.

In Italy, Venice’s tourism industry is also in a crisis mode of sorts as a substantial number of residents fled tourists hotspots and moved away. The city last month launched a campaign to teach tourists how to respect, responsibility enjoy, and move about Venice.

So far neither city — and many others experiencing a crush of tourists — has come up with an effective plan to curtail or responsibly manage tourism growth.

But that may change if WTTC and more travel brands propose recommendations to destinations to help them define such a plan and if destinations and politicians listen.

Is WTTC Equipped to Play a Role In Remedying the Problem?

Guevara said her time as Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism (2010-2012) helped prepare her for moving to her new leadership position at WTTC.

In her new role she’ll help facilitate relationships between governments and the private sector – two sides that must come together to solve overtourism issues, she said.

“The global recession was just starting to hit Mexico when I became Secretary of Tourism and we needed to figure out how to diversify our tourism industry,” said Guevara. “Mexico was mostly known for its beaches in the past and our beaches are still popular but many travelers also know Mexico for many other cultural offerings now and know more destinations.”

Guevara believes she can help bridge the gap among various competing interests.

“I speak the language of the government, academia and private sector,” Guevara said. “My vision is to move this organization forward and take it to the next level. What I mean by that is that this is a sector that for many years has been taken for granted. When you ask other industries they don’t have a good understanding of the travel industry sometimes. My job is to work more closely with other industries and governments so that we can facilitate travel and growth at the same time.”

WTTC, which was founded in 1990, was encouraging destinations to manage tourism growth long before Guevara arrived at the helm. In 2015, the organization called on travel brands to adopt environmental, social and governance reporting practices, for example, and has run its annual Tourism For Tomorrow Awards since 2004. They recognize destinations and brands already working on projects and initiatives promoting sustainable tourism growth.

The organization has also met with more than 80 heads of state and presented them with an Open Letter on tourism to help them explain the value of tourism to their populations. WTTC also launched its “Is it too much to ask?” campaign earlier this year that encourages travel brands to pledge to practice and promote sustainable and eco-friendly tourism.

It’s unclear in what new way WTTC’s upcoming recommendations — Guevara was vague on the timing of their release — would differ from prior action plans.

Guevara said WTTC works with 184 governments around the world. “I think we’ve done a great job at communicating the value of tourism and making sure that governments understand the jobs that we create but I think there’s still an opportunity to work with other governments and try to find those synergies,” said Guevara.

Much of WTTC’s message about responsible tourism growth and practices likely hasn’t trickled down from travel businesses to their customers,  who often need to hear it the most.

But helping more brands educate their customers on how to properly behave when they travel, and suggesting less congested yet exciting destinations to visit seems to be one of the top priorities Guevara plans to address as she settles in.

Lessons From Latin America

Guevara is WTTC’s first female and Latin American CEO — one of the only female and Latin American CEOs in such a capacity in the travel industry.

Guevara is a Mexican national who spent much of her early career in that country working for travel companies such as Sabre. She said the travel industry can learn a lot from consumer trends in Latin America and the region’s hospitality tradition.

“I would suggest taking a look at service in Latin America,” said Guevara. “In many places in Latin America it’s that service that is part of the DNA and culture. We have a saying throughout the region ‘mi casa tu casa’ [‘my home is your home’]. For travel companies that this is standard and that this is expected in the region. When Latin Americans travel, they are expecting this level of service and that’s also going on to some extent in places like China, too.”

“Adoption of social media and technology in Latin America and booking online and making comments and how travelers are using technology is also fascinating in Latin America,” she said.

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August 23, 2017 at 06:35AM

Hostelworld Has Ambitions to Complement Bookings With a Sense of Community

Hostelworld Has Ambitions to Complement Bookings With a Sense of Community

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Hostelworld Group

Actor Charlie Sheen appears in one of Hostelworld’s commercials. The company wants to make itself indispensable to its users when they are traveling. Hostelworld Group

Skift Take: Now that Hostelworld has largely finished integrating Hostelbookers, it can turn its attention to developing features that would make it more relevant to users during their travels. None of the initiatives are exactly game-changing, but what the company is hoping is that it will make travelers more likely to click on its app rather than that of a competitor.

— Patrick Whyte

Budget accommodation specialist Hostelworld Group doesn’t just want to be an online travel agent. Like Airbnb and social networks, Hostelworld is doubling down on building a sense of community among its customers.

Along these lines, the company is developing a series of tools that show how it is trying to differentiate its offering to keep it ahead of others in the hostel market.

Last year, Hostelworld partnered with Trip.com for its MyTrips local recommendation platform and the product has now been expanded to include a noticeboard function, which allows users to find out what is going on at places they are staying. More recently it added Speak the World, which offers a translation service powered by Google.

“We have launched a number of features that are partly related to building the community, partly related to differentiating our offering, because we’re launching functionality that is very relevant to our target audience that generalist OTAs [online travel agencies] are unlikely to offer,” Chief Executive Feargal Mooney said in a telephone interview.

The next phase of development, allowing guests to communicate with one another pre-trip, will begin testing later this year, he said.

“We’ll become much more than just a booking platform. We’ll become effectively the [hostel] noticeboard in the pocket and give our customers reasons to download our app at the beginning of their trip and to engage users throughour their trip because what we are seeing is our customers are increasingly booking night by night as they travel,” Mooney said

Mooney acknowledged that both Expedia and Booking.com could easily build this type of functionality if they wanted to but probably wouldn’t because of their wider audiences.

“I think a lot of the things we’re doing or are focused on are things that absolutely Expedia could do, Booking.com could do, but they’re the sort of things that are probably unlikely to be relevant to 99 percent of their customer audience,” he said.

Updating Payment Options

Attempting to interact more with users is practical next step for a company that has spent most of the last few years working through the integration of its largest competitor, Hostelbookers.

Hostelworld is now finding the time to also work on developing new payment options for customers, which will also likely please hostel owners.

Customers still have to pay a deposit to secure their stay and then pay the remainder of the balance at the hostel, but Hostelworld plans to soon expand its recent rollout of non- refundable rates.

“What this means is that a hostel can have a particular bed or a private room for sale at two different price points depending on the model and if somebody is prepared to commit [to] a non-refundable rate then the hostel would typically offer 10 percent discount. So there’s a benefit to the customer — a 10 percent discount for a non-refundable rate — and the way that operates then is we continue to take our piece of it as we do with the deposit but it means that the hostels can charge their piece straight away rather than waiting for the arrival date,” Mooney said.

First-Half Results

Hostelworld Group’s results for the first half of its current financial year were an improvement on its 2016 numbers. Net revenue increased by 16 percent to $54.9 million (€46.6 million) and it swung from a pre-tax loss of $6.5 million (€5.5 million) to a profit of $6.1 million (€5.2 million).

“The group has returned to growth, reflecting the strength of the core Hostelworld brand, which now represents 92 percent of total group bookings and the success of our continuing product, marketing and operational initiatives. The strong trading seen in the second half of 2016 continued throughout the early months of 2017, with growth in bookings across all geographies,” Mooney said in the company’s stock market update.

Meanwhile, the company also announced the appointment of HomeAway co-founder Carl Shepherd as a non-executive director. Shepherd left HomeAway in 2015.

“Part of the HomeAway business was built through acquisitions… I think they did about 30 acquisitions of smaller businesses all round the world. What that means is that Carl understands online travel businesses, he understands the difference in online travel businesses in Asia versus Europe versus North America,” Mooney said.

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August 23, 2017 at 06:07AM

News: Rosewood Sanya takes brand in China for first time

News: Rosewood Sanya takes brand in China for first time

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Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has opened its first mainland Chinese resort, Rosewood Sanya.

All 246 guestrooms at Rosewood Sanya are ocean facing and 45 guestrooms include balcony plunge pools.

Rosewood Sanya is part of an integrated resort set within 40 acres of landscaped gardens surrounding the Sanya Forum, the largest convention centre in Haitang Bay.

The hotel’s 3,425 square meters of meeting space include a 1,500 square-meter pillar less grand ballroom and six function spaces.

It also offers The Pavilion, a sophisticated residential-style venue with a spacious outdoor terrace offering full sea views.

State-of-the-art facilities and impeccable service supports a range of personal and business events from exclusive board meetings, to product launches, to red carpet galas and legendary weddings.

Rosewood Sanya’s thoughtful art curations are a journey into the realms of nature, creativity and inspiration.

In the arrival lobby, guests are greeted by several striking pieces of art work, the first is a seven-meter-high abstract floral oil painting on canvas by Argentine-based artist Carlos Arnaiz, who is renowned for his poetic representations that celebrate the natural growth and evolution of plants. 

As if diving into the floor, Mahogany Whale Tail by West Virginia US-based artist Thomas Givens displays a powerful force connecting the space between the majestic 14th floor reception with the elevator foyer. 

The dramatic full sea view of the 14th floor reception area at such a high level, is unlike any other luxury resort, and surely captivates our guests with a stunning full view of the South China Sea.

The hotel’s five restaurants and lounges feature a variety of local and international cuisines.

Set atop the thirteenth floor against a full sea view and stunning backdrop, East Kitchen is a sophisticated modern restaurant that offers simple yet delicious comfort foods.

Guests are also able to enjoy light bites and a stellar line-up of specialty cocktails, rare wines and carefully sourced craft beers in The Lounge.

HAI infinity pool bar is a vertiginous bar with a panoramic ocean view that offers standard classics and signature drinks crafted by a resident mixologist, the beauty of the South China Sea is a perfect backdrop for guests to photograph to their hearts delight.

The Fishmonger, opening in end September, is a market-style restaurant with open kitchens that entertain and provide a feast for the senses.

Guests will be able to enjoy the day’s freshest catch.

The Chop House is seaside dining at its most elegant, with the freshest produce grilled to perfection, a perfect evening for a culinary delight enjoyed under the stars.

There are a multitude of activities for all to enjoy, from families, to water sports enthusiasts, to golfing aficionados. 

Hotel recreational options include Sense, A Rosewood Spa offering two double treatment rooms, four single treatment rooms and one VIP treatment room. 

A fully equipped fitness studio, and an indoor yoga studio and outdoor yoga platform are also available for those who wish to exercise and unwind in privacy.

A dramatic 110-meter infinity-edge sky pool on the 13th floor offers sweeping South China Sea views.

An additional outdoor swimming pool and Breakers kids’ club further complements, the family recreation room designed to be fun and educational, and to be enjoyed by all ages.

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August 23, 2017 at 05:33AM

Skift Global Forum Opening Event Venue Revealed

Skift Global Forum Opening Event Venue Revealed

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Skift Take: We’ll provide the venue, you bring the fun. Today, we are pleased to announce our Skift Global Forum Pre-Evening Opening Event venue.

— Rafat Ali

One of the best parts about attending our flagship event, Skift Global Forum, is getting to explore the greatest city in the world for two and half days.

While you’re in New York City, you’ll have the chance to check out all that Columbus Circle has to offer since our venue is at the iconic Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall, Time Warner Center, NY.

We didn’t want that to be the only neighborhood you explored though. That’s why we are beyond excited to announce that Skift Global Forum’s Pre-Evening Opening Event will be held at the brand new membership club, Spring Place.

Register for Skift Global Forum and Attend Our Opening Event

On September 25th, the night before our conference begins, we’re kicking off the party in style in TriBeCa with drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and plenty of mingling with our event attendees from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.

Located along a narrow cobblestone street, Spring Place is an exclusive membership club where inspiring minds in fashion, art, business, and entertainment come to work, host, and create. This chic space has breathtaking views of the city and promises to provide one of the trendiest nights out on the town for our elite audience.

The only way to get in to our Opening Event is to be a registered attendee for Skift Global Forum. By purchasing a ticket not only will you get the opportunity to network with all of our guests at one of the hippest spots in NYC, you’ll also gain full access to all of our speaker sessions along with everything else that this year’s Global Forum holds.

So what are you waiting for?

Secure Your Spot

We couldn’t bring our event to life every year without the support of our incredible sponsors: AccentureAdobeAIGAmadeus AirlinesAmerican Express, Away Luggage, ButtonCriteoFareportal, Hobo Bags, HotelTonightITP, KDS, Luggage HeroMapboxProColombia, SimulmediaSmartlingSojern, TastemadeThe Points GuyTravelsify and Visit Jordan.

To become a sponsor or for any other questions you may have, email forum@skift.com.

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August 23, 2017 at 05:32AM