Wednesday, November 29, 2006

British Airways: debate on religious emblems continued

British Prime Minister Tony Blair delivered an astonishing put-down to the head of British Airways in the row over staff wearing personal religious symbols.
The issue came up at a conference of business leaders in the Confederation of British Industry. BA chairman Martin Broughton sought Tony Blair's support for the airline's robust ban on religious emblems worn by uniformed staff on duty, given that the police, the Army and other government uniformed staff have an identical policy in relation to crosses outside of the uniform.

However, Blair's responded that there were battles really not worth fighting. Being a a fan of BA and its management, his advice was "just to do the sensible thing".

Read more here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

British Airways to review its policy on crucifixes

British Airways will review its uniforms policy following a row over a check-in worker told to stop wearing a crucifix.
Ms Nadia Eweida, 55, has refused to return to work at Heathrow Airport since bosses told her last month she could not wear a necklace bearing a small cross over her uniform. She said she did not want to hide the cross because "Jesus has to be glorified". She lost an appeal against the decision last week, although she has the right to a second appeal. Ms Eweida said the airline's decision was good news, and she hoped it would help her win her case.
Leading figures in the Church of England had appealed to the airline to reconsider its stand. British Airways announced the review hours after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said talks had begun on a possible sale of the Church of England's £10.25 million ($25 million) worth of shares in the airline.


UNWTO Executive Council: fighting poverty and improving cultural understanding

The importance of tourism and its contribution to the process of economic and social development, within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations, was underscored during the Executive Council of the UNWTO, meeting in Algiers for its 79th session on November 20th and 21st.

The Executive Council decided specifically to strengthen a number of key programmes:
  • To support, the fight against poverty – most notably by rationalizing technical assistance programs and projects within the framework of its Sustainable Tourism for the Elimination of Poverty(ST-EP).
  • To ensure effective response to emergencies – endorsing action within the UN System to prepare for a possible avian flu pandemic, to extend this approach to other crisis situations and to provide a web based portal for effective support and communications to stakeholders in crisis situations.
  • To encourage stronger security while enhancing facilitation (SAFE) and to explore new legal and technology processes, with a clear emphasis on ensuring that poor countries have the necessary technology.
  • To strengthen public-private partnerships - supporting a new focus for its Affiliate Members, including an initiative to develop a UNWTO Centre of Excellence for Destinations in Montreal, Canada.
Read more here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

USA: Breastfeeding moms protest discrimination by airline

After a nursing mother was removed from a Delta commuter flight operated by Freedom Airlines from Burlington, Vermont, to New York last month, breastfeeding mothers today will conduct "nurse-ins" against Delta Air Lines at more than a dozen U.S. airports.


"Commission allows Malta to aid the creation of new air routes"

According to the EU Press Room, "The European Commission has decided today to allow Malta to grant start-up aid for new air routes from Malta International Airport. The measure will last until September 2011 and provides for a total of Lm25 million (€58 million) to airlines in order to finance new routes. The primary objective of the aid is to improve connectivity by enhancing access to air transport services which are of basic importance for the economic and social development of Malta."

This Press Release is available in full text.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Italy Scraps Tourist Tax Proposal

A proposal to introduce a levy on tourists visiting Italy has been scrapped by the coalition government, much to the relief of the country's tourism industry. The draft government budget for 2007 had originally contained a measure that would have allowed local authorities to put in place an EUR5 (US$6.40) charge per tourist per day to help them meet the growing costs of maintaining historic monuments. However, the measure received widespread opposition from parties within the governing coalition, including from the Prime Minister's own governing centre-left party, which acknowledged the tourist industry's fears that the tax would deter people from spending holidays in Italy.


UNWTO Executive Council: Tourism Fosters Trade and Development

The UNWTO Executive Council meeting in Algiers for its 79th session, with the attendance of 38 Ministerial Delegations from around the world, welcomed the estimated 4.6% growth of international arrivals in 2006. This market strength is forecast to continue through 2007, at around 4% - the fourth year of sustained growth in international tourism and in line with UNWTO’s long-term vision.
UNWTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli, particularly underscored Africa 's strong 2006 forecast, where tourism arrivals are expected to increase by 10.6% through this year. Sub-Saharan Africa with a forecast 2006 increase of 12.6% is a key driver of the success. North Africa is also expected to grow well above the world average.
The Executive Council, will review the state of the tourism industry against the evolving global geopolitical and social dynamics, with an emphasis on tourism's role as a key element of trade and development and in the context of the organization's role as the specialized agency of the UN family dealing with this important service sector.

Read more here.

"Study: Perceived Treatment of Foreign Travelers Driving Away Visitors, Damaging America’s Image Abroad"

As stated by the Discover America Partnership, "The U.S. entry process has created a climate of fear and frustration that is turning away foreign business and leisure travelers from visiting the United States – and damaging America’s image abroad. But, according to a new global study conducted by the Discover America Partnership, minor improvements in welcoming travelers could yield substantial diplomatic and economic gains.
The study, conducted by independent polling firm RT Strategies and based upon a survey of more than 2,000 travelers worldwide, sought to gauge traveler perceptions of the U.S. visa and entry process, and how opinions of America differ among those that have and have not visited the U.S. The study revealed that, by deterring visitors, the U.S. is missing an enormous economic and diplomatic opportunity. Those that have visited the U.S. and interacted with the American people are 74 percent more likely to have an extremely favorable opinion of the U.S.
'This study should be a wake-up call for the U.S. government,' said Geoff Freeman, Executive Director of the Discover America Partnership. 'Visiting the United States and interacting with the American people can have a powerful, positive effect on how non-U.S. residents see our country. Unfortunately, perceptions of a 'rude' and 'arrogant’ entry process are turning away travelers and harming America's image.'."
This Press Release is available here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

"Vice-President Barrot leads high-level delegation to EU-India Aviation Summit"

According to the EU Press Room, "The European Union-India Aviation Summit, jointly organised by the European Commission and the Ministry of Civil Aviation of India, will take place in New Delhi on 23-24 November 2006. The Summit aims to enhance political and industrial co-operation between India and the EU in the aviation sector. India is one of the world’s fastest growing aviation markets and of strategic importance to the EU and its industry. India is also taking a lead in market opening in Asia.
'The EU and its industry have much to offer India in facing the significant challenges of unprecedented growth in air traffic”, said Vice-President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner for Transport before leaving for India. 'The EU-India Aviation Summit is an excellent opportunity for bringing together top-level policy makers and industry executives to identify priority areas for enhanced co-operation.'

This Press Release is available in full text.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Scottish tourism going 'green'

Officials for the Scottish tourism industry have said that the sector must pay greater attention to 'green' issues.
The Scottish Tourism Forum (STF) has called for a reduction in the number of short-haul flights that service the country's airports and has warned that visitor numbers could fall if areas of beauty are littered with electricity pylons and wind farms, reports the Herald. The forum proposes the introduction of tourism-fragile zones, which would prohibit the installation of wind farms in the area as well as ensure that power lines ran along the seabed rather than overhead.

More information here.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Out of shape" hostesses to fight Indian airline

Indian air hostesses embroiled in a legal battle with their employer after they were grounded for being out of shape said the move was unconstitutional and have vowed to win back lost wages. Eleven women say they have suffered from low self-esteem after being grounded by state-run Indian airline for being between a few hundred grams and 3 kg over the firm's specified weight limit. Lawyers for the company, known as Indian Airlines until last year, say the women are contractually obliged to meet weight guidelines for health reasons. The restrictions also apply to the 200 male stewards working for the airline, 20 of whom were also barred from work. The women will take their case to Delhi's High Court in March, demanding the company pay their salaries for the time they were grounded.

(Originally posted by Michael Wukoschitz)

"Lawyer disputes plane sex activity case"

"RALEIGH, N.C. - A man arrested for allegedly engaging in 'overt sexual activity' with his girlfriend on an airliner was lying with his head on her lap because he wasn't feeling well, his attorney said.
That gesture was misinterpreted by a flight attendant, who humiliated and harassed the couple, said attorney Deb Newton, who represents Carl Persing.
Persing and Dawn Sewell, both of Lakewood, Calif., face federal charges of interfering with flight crew members, allegedly by disobeying a flight attendant's request that they stop their public displays of affection.
They were arrested on Sept. 15 when they arrived at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on a Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles.
'The one witness I've talked to and the defendant dispute almost everything in the government's affidavit as to what happened on that airplane,' Newton said.
She said Persing suffers from a chronic disease requiring medication that makes him drowsy, dizzy and irritable. She would not identify the disease to protect her client's privacy.
Newton said she will ask that the charges be dismissed.
Sewell's lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment."

Source: Associated Press.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Austrian Airlines becomes first European airline to fly to Iraq

Austrian Airlines will become the first European airline to fly to Iraq, commencing its flights to the northern Iraqi city of Erbil on December 11. Erbil is Iraq’s fourth largest city and a burgeoning industrial center -- providing rapid and safe access to the cities of Mosul, Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah. Austrian Airlines sees the route to Erbil in the tradition of pioneering that has made Austrian the airline with one of the most comprehensive route networks not only in the Middle East, but also in Eastern and Central Europe and in the new republics that were formerly part of the USSR.
Further information here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

New National Park in Tanzania

Tanzania plans to establish a new tourist wildlife park in the bustling northern tourist circuit and bring the number of national parks currently holding the country's tourism up to 15.

Mkomazi Game Reserve in northern Tanzanian border with Kenya will have its status elevated to a national park then marketed globally as one among Africa s wildlife destination sites.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Australia offers a mix of breast implant and tourism as a package to the US

Australia is keenly promoting the concept of breast implant together with a holiday Down Under, especially to the travelers from the US.
Australia's newly appointed breast enlargement ambassador is reportedly encouraging American women to consider traveling to Australia for breast enhancement surgery. The initiative comes at a stage when the nation is counting on exposure in the huge US market resulting on big bucks for Australian tourism. Read more here.

Remark: an interesting combination indeed, especially in terms of tour organizer's liability...


The UN family and the Tourism Industry celebrates World Tourism Day each 27th of September, reflecting the social and economic relevance of Tourism. Now in a first extension, World Travel Market launched Responsible Tourism Day with UNWTO as its major partner, focusing on practical action by the industry and other stakeholders in this critically important area.
The need for a more responsible attitude in tourism, especially towards host communities, has become evident in recent years. Responsible Tourism is an important consumer and corporate component of triple bottom line sustainability - economic, social and environmental.
Further information here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"High-level group set up to advise Commission on the future of aviation regulation"

As stated by the EU Press Room, "Two years after the adoption of the Single European Sky regulations the Commission wishes to further pursue the simplification of the organisation of the sector. In September the European Commission invited representatives of the national civil aviation administrations, aviation industry and Eurocontrol to a conference in Brussels to find ways to improve the efficiency and performance of the system, while ensuring the highest safety standards. The conference made some radical conclusions, which are now being followed-up by the creation of a 'high-level group'.
Vice-President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner in charge of Transport stated: 'I have called this group together to advise the Commission how the conclusions of the conference can be realised and the current fragmented regulatory field be unified under the Community framework. It is evident that some organisations will have to evolve and enable to reform the current organisation of ATM and safety; it is the task of this group to advise us strategically how to reach those goals'.
The group is composed of selected high level representatives of the European states, air navigation service providers, airspace users, airports and aviation industry. Both European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Eurocontrol are also represented. Work will start on 8 November 2006 and the group aims to report back to the Commission mid-2007, with proposals on the public sector functions in European aviation.
The group will concentrate on developing answers to the questions of simplifying the regulatory framework, reforming the related organisations and ensuring the successful participation of the private sector. It will also have to address the implementation of the Community method with a view to the 'total system approach' to aviation safety. The terms of reference and list of members for this group can be found on the web page
which also includes information on the September 20 conference on future of aviation regulation."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

2007 to be fourth year of sustained growtn in tourism

World tourism demand continues to exceed expectations, showing resilience against extraneous factors. According to the latest issue of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, in the first eight months of 2006 international tourist arrivals totalled 578 million worldwide (+4.5%), up from 553 million in the same period of 2005, a year which saw an all-time record of 806 million people travelling internationally and growth is expected to continue in 2007 at a pace of around 4% worldwide.

The expected 4% growth for 2007 is much in line with the UNWTO long-term forecast growth rate of 4.1% a year through 2020.

Read more here.

Australia considers cooling down Geat Barrier Reef

Australian marine scientists have proposed to protect the corals from being damaged as a result of climate change.
Speaking at the recent Ecotourism Australia Conference, Andrew Skeat, executive director of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, said the proposal involves watering the ocean surface at peak heat times to avoid coral bleaching, which is caused by higher than average water temperatures linked with global climate change, and when organisms which make up corals die leaving behind white limestone skeleton. A fine spray of seawater will be pumped onto the reef to break up the ocean water, cooling the corals. It also considered permanently placing sunshades over some areas of the reef. The UNESCO World Heritage listed reef, stretching over more than 345,000 sq kilometers (133,000 sq miles) off the coast of Queensland, is the world's largest coral system.
For Details look here.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tourism pionneer jailed in Iran

Hamid Reza Talebi, CEO of the International Tourist Organization and head of the International Council of Tourism Partners in Iran, was thrown behind bars last week by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government. Charges against him include spreading lies and inciting the old regime to challenge the current government. Talebi was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of $15,000.
Read more here.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Iceland: whaling trade puts tourists off

Tourists are turning their backs on Iceland because the country is resuming commercial whaling, a tour operator claims. Whale watching is one of Iceland’s main tourist attractions, but bookings have fallen 25 per cent in the two weeks since it has resumed hunting.
Read more here.

China to protect its cultural and natural heritage

The drive to protect its famous monuments and nature reserves continues to get stronger and stronger in China. Following a recent decision to pass its first set of laws against vandalizing the country s legendary Great Wall, China has now stepped up protection of its state-level nature reserves to crack down on activities such as film shooting and unauthorized tourism, according to a new regulation.
Source: eTurboNews.