Thursday, January 25, 2007

Florida: Airline defends stance on removing 3-year-old and family

A couple and their daughter were removed from an AirTran Airways flight when the girl refused to take her seat before takeoff, airline officials said Tuesday. But the parents said they just needed a little more time to calm her down. She was removed because “she was climbing under the seat and hitting the parents and wouldn’t get in her seat” during boarding, AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver said. AirTran officials say they were only following Federal Aviation Administration rules that children age 2 and above must have their own seat and be wearing a seatbelt upon takeoff. The flight was already delayed 15 minutes and in fairness to the other 112 passengers on the plane, the crew made an operational decision to remove the family.
The mother said she asked the attendants if the girl could sit on her lap, but they said no. The family flew home the next day. The Orlando-based carrier reimbursed the family the cost of the three tickets, and offered them three roundtrip tickets anywhere the airline flies.

Read the full story here.

Tourism for Tomorrow Awards finalists are announced

The World Travel & Tourism Council is honoured to present the finalists of the 2007 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. 12 candidates have been selected from more than 130 applications from over 40 different countries representing all 7 continents. Their alphabetical order in each of the four categories is:

Destination Award
Great Barrier Reef - Australia
Greenbox Trading - Ireland - USA

Conservation Award
Aqua-Trek - Fiji islands and USA
Aspen Skiing Company - USA
Caiman Ecological Refuge - Brazil

Investor in People Award
10 Knots Development Corporation - Philippines
Nihiwatu Resort - Indonesia
Sunderbans Jungle Camp - India

Global Tourism Business Award
Lindblad Expeditions - USA and Global
Six Senses Resorts & Spas - Thailand and Global
Wilderness Safaris - South Africa

Winners will be invited to a prestigious awards ceremony at the Global Travel & Tourism Summit in Lisbon, Portugal on 11 May, 2007 and will have the opportunity to present their business or destination to more than 600 tourism industry, government and media leaders.

"Common safety standards for air travel to be guaranteed by the European Aviation Safety Agency"

As stated by te Press Service of the European Parliament, "MEPs in the Transport Committee voted on Tuesday to give the European Aviation Safety Agency the power to impose fines on airlines or other aviation players if safety standards are not correctly implemented. This came as they gave the go-ahead for an expansion of the Agency's role to help establish common, and properly enforced, safety standards for all airlines flying in Europe, whether EU-based or not.
The Committee adopted its first reading report on proposals to give the European Aviation Safety Agency new roles across the whole field of aviation and airline behaviour - including the conditions for operating aircraft and issuing, maintaining, limiting or suspending an operator's certificate. The EASA will also have competence over pilots' licences, to ensure they meet standards of knowledge, skill and language proficiency.
Jörg Leichtfried (PES, AT), the rapporteur, said, 'Uniform safety standards at the highest possible level are our objective.' He said the EASA therefore needs 'not only the theoretical, but also real, practical powers to carry out the tasks it is entrusted with.'
Following this line, the committee voted to change the Commission proposal and give the EASA the power to impose fines and periodic payment penalties if safety standards are not implemented correctly. Sources of information on abuses or non-compliance, notably including whistleblowers, should be given adequate protection, according to another amendment adopted by MEPs, with the aim of encouraging reporting of such events and reducing the number of accidents.
The EASA was set up in 2002 to help provide a high and uniform level of aviation safety across Europe, by drawing up common standards, overseeing their application in the EU and promoting them at world level. Previously, each Member State had adopted its own national legislation, based on the minimum international standards."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The European "Commission proposes a landmark regulatory package for airports"

According to the EU Press Room, "The European Commission has today adopted an 'airport package' consisting of three key initiatives: a proposal for a directive on airport charges, a communication on airport capacity, efficiency and safety in Europe and a report on the implementation of the groundhandling directive. The package focuses on the role of airports in the further development and competitiveness of the European internal aviation market and will mark the future of airport regulation in Europe by ensuring regulatory convergence between Member States.
Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot, in charge of transport said: 'In compliance with the Lisbon agenda objectives, Europe's airports have a vital role to play as a key driver for ensuring the economic and social competitiveness of Europe. Until now European airports have been faced with diverse regulatory, commercial and external challenges regarding issues such as capacity, financing and the environment. The aim of these new measures is to offer a common set of rules to be applied and enforced uniformly throughout Europe.' 'Much deliberation, thought and consultation has gone into preparing this package and I truly believe that it represents a milestone in the formation of a pan-European regulatory framework for European airports', he added."

This Press Release is available in full text.

Monday, January 22, 2007

4th IIPT African Conference on Peace through Tourism

4th IIPT African Conference on Peace through Tourism
20-25 May 2007, Kampala, Uganda

Conference Goals:
Develop public and government appreciation of the central role of tourism in sustainable wealth creation, cultural enrichment, and preservation of biodiversity on the African Continent;
Enhance international public appreciation of Africa’s positive attributes including its rich mosaic of peoples, cultures, and biodiversity;
Identify and develop strategies for expanding market opportunities in Asia, Europe, North America, and domestic markets, and continue building the ‘Asia – Africa Bridge of Tourism, Friendship and Collaboration';
Encourage and facilitate collaborative public – private sector – donor – NGO and civil society strategies for new product development; and
Foster initiatives that contribute to reconciliation, peace and sustainable wealth creation in regions that have experienced conflict.

Find more information here.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

UK MetOffice: 2007 forecast to be the warmest year yet

2007 is likely to be the warmest year on record globally, beating the current record set in 1998, say climate-change experts at the Met Office.
Each January the Met Office, in conjunction with the University of East Anglia, issues a forecast of the global surface temperature for the coming year. The forecast takes into account known contributing factors, such as solar effects, El Niño, greenhouse gases concentrations and other multi-decadal influences. Over the previous seven years, the Met Office forecast of annual global temperature has proved remarkably accurate, with a mean forecast error size of just 0.06 °C.
The potential for a record 2007 arises partly from a moderate-strength El Niño already established in the Pacific, which is expected to persist through the first few months of 2007. The lag between El Niño and the full global surface temperature response means that the warming effect of El Niño is extended and therefore has a greater influence the global temperatures during the year.

More informattion here.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Russian Duma adopts law for financial protection of tourists

The State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament on Wednesday adopted a government-proposed law ensuring financial protection of Russian tourists from unscrupulous tourist firms. The document provides for bank guarantees to redeem losses or insurance of civil responsibilities. Dishonest firms that fail to meet their commitments regarding the level and quality of services offered, will be fined. A novelty in the law is the size of the liability sum fixed in the contract of insurance of tourist operator’s responsibility, or in a bank guarantee. It cannot be less than five million roubles for international tourist operators, 500,000 roubles for domestic tourist operators, and five million roubles for operators carrying out activities in the domestic and international markets.

Read more here.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Commisson's information on air passenger rights incorrect

The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has called on the European Commission to correct inaccurate and misleading information contained in leaflets, posters and a video presentation on air passenger rights. This follows a complaint to the Ombudsman from two airline associations. They criticised the information provided by the Commission on the rights of travellers to compensation and assistance in the event of denied boarding, cancellation of flights or long delays. Although the Ombudsman did not find all the complainants’ allegations to be justified, he identified certain inaccurate and misleading statements in the information material and asked the Commission to correct them. One of the statements in the leaflets and posters reads: "If you are denied boarding or your flight is cancelled, the airline operating your flight must offer you financial compensation and assistance". The Ombudsman considers that this sentence wrongly suggests that compensation has to be paid in every case where a flight is cancelled. The Ombudsman also agrees with the complainants that a statement in the video that "Immediate and automatic compensation will be paid for delays, cancellations and overbooking" is inaccurate as compensation never has to be paid in respect of delay, and where compensation is payable for cancellation and overbooking, it does not have to be paid immediately. The Ombudsman accepts that the information material provided by the Commission could not be expected to be complete, but considers that the information given must be accurate. The Ombudsman therefore asks the Commission to correct as soon as possible the inaccurate and misleading statements identified in his inquiry.

(Originally posted by Michael Wukoschitz)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The European "Commission proposes to open aviation negotiations with Canada"

As stated by the EU Press Room, "The European Commission has proposed today to open negotiations with Canada on a comprehensive aviation agreement. The aim is to establish an open aviation area between the EU and Canada, to open market restrictions and to achieve a high level of regulatory convergence.
Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot, in charge of transport said: 'Canada is a key partner of the European Union. This agreement will facilitate the travel of people and goods between the EU and Canada and will establish a high level of regulatory standards, in particular in the fields of safety and security.'"

This Press Release is available in full text.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

India: Airline sues man for opening door

Low-cost airline Air Deccan filed a case against a passenger who opened the emergency-exit door of the aircraft, reacting to the diversion of the Delhi-bound plane after over a day's delay due to fog. The aircraft had to be brought back to Mumbai as it could not land at Delhi due to poor weather conditions. When passengers were not allowed to deplane, a young passenger was noticed trying to open the emergency door, an airline spokesperson said. The airlines has registered a case against the passenger with the airport police station for damaging its property.

Read more here.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Year message from UNTWO: "Increase tourism to fight poverty"

According to UNTWO, 2007 should be a critical year to consolidate tourism as a key agent in the fight against poverty and a primary tool for sustainable development. Against a projection of continuing worldwide growth in international tourism of more than 4% for international arrivals and revenues, Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli called for renewed effort to include sustainable tourism in the international development agenda, as a key tool to advance the Millennium Development Goals.
The Secretary-General said that the organization would intensify its actions to support the sector, advance the MDGs and promote the Global Code of Ethics in the years ahead. In this context and in order to help respond to the immediate challenges and opportunities he announced that in 2007, UNWTO as the UN Agency for Tourism would :
  • Convene a World Summit on “Tourism and Religion”, hosted by the Government of Spain, which will explore ways to strengthen the interrelationship between tourism and the world's great religions so as to further encourage peaceful development and intercultural dialogue.
  • Organize a second Summit on “Tourism and Climate Change” hosted by the Government of the United Kingdom and in collaboration with World Travel Market. The Summit, which will consider new international developments like the UK Stern Report and President Chirac's call for a post-2012 international climate change policy, would be preceded by a technical conference and would build on the foundation of the 2003 UNWTO Djerba Declaration.
  • Hold a Global Conference for Parliamentarians and Local Authorities , hosted by the Government of Tunisia, to explore how tourism can more effectively encourage understanding between nations and how its benefits can be more readily spread to the community level. It will also explore how to enhance decision making between different levels of government.
  • Celebrate the role of women in tourism , linking its UN World Tourism Day theme of “Tourism opening doors to Women” with MDG 3 promoting gender equality. Host of the 2007 World Tourism Day on September 27 th will be the Government of Sri Lanka.
  • Strengthen its ST-EP Program (Sustainable Tourism - Eliminating Poverty) by consolidating funding partnerships with government / private sector sources, by boosting the activity of the Foundation established in Seoul, Korea and by launching new projects – particularly in Africa.
  • Intensify its eTourism initiatives, together with Microsoft, to introduce an Emergency Response System; operationalize the Windows on Africa Portal for Distribution and Destination Management; explore ways and means to use technology to increase Security and simultaneously reduce hassle for travellers: coordinate action on tourism across the UN system.
  • Launch its Centre of Excellence for Destinations in Montreal , supported by the Federal Government of Canada and the Provincial Government of Quebec to promote and support sustainable quality tourism at the community level.
  • Consolidate its organization to respond to changing times, through its new management leadership: restructured secretariat and by more active private sector involvement, with a strengthened Affiliate program and expanded PPP network.
Read the full message here.

Hawaii: no-smoking law to affect tourism?

Hawaii's no-smoking law, which went into effect on November 16, has raised fears Japanese tourists, one of the state s biggest markets, will give the island a miss. The law prohibits smoking in all public areas including airports, restaurants, bowling alleys and malls. It is also now illegal to light up in partially enclosed areas, bars and less than 20 feet from doorways and windows. Thirteen other US states and hundreds of cities are now complying with the comprehensive no-smoking laws.

Yujiro Kuwabara from the Japan Travel Bureau predicts the toughest challenge will be explaining the new rules, especially the small percentage of hotel rooms where smoking is allowed.

Read more here.