WTTC Welcomes UK Government Budget Statement

WTTC Welcomes UK Government Budget Statement

London, United Kingdom, July 9, 2020 / TRAVELINDEX / Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO said: “Thousands of tourism businesses large and small across the country will be breathing a collective sigh of relief now that the Chancellor has announced a VAT holiday of 15% for the hospitality industry from next Wednesday.

WTTC warmly welcomes this measure, which will save struggling companies millions of pounds and provide a much-needed boost to a sector which has been on the verge of collapse.

“We have congratulated the UK Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston for the move in a call today with WTTC Members, which will go some way to restoring consumer confidence in a sector which last year generated nearly £200 billion GDP, or 9% to the UK economy, supporting four million jobs.

“This shows the commitment the UK government has to the industry and we hope to see these examples of continued support for Travel & Tourism around the world.”

Post-COVID-19 Green Recovery Must Embrace Sustainable Aviation Fuels

Post-COVID-19 Green Recovery Must Embrace Sustainable Aviation Fuels

Geneva, Switzerland, July 10, 2020 / TRAVELINDEX / The International Air Transport Association (IATA) emphasized the aviation industry’s commitment to its emissions reduction goals and called for the International Energy Agency (IEA) to prioritize investment in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to help power aviation’s contribution to the post-COVID-19 recovery.

IATA’s call comes on the eve of the IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit which will meet virtually to debate moves toward a low-carbon future. The IEA is well placed to promote SAF production with its stakeholders both in government and in the fuel industry.

The world must “build back better” from the COVID-19 crisis with attention focused on investment in carbon reduction technologies and in SAF, which will create jobs at this critical time and boost aviation’s progress towards its goal to cut aviation emissions to half 2005 levels by 2050.

Current SAF production rates are too low for aviation to reach this goal despite SAF’s proven potential and airline efforts to date:

  • SAF can cut CO2 lifecycle emissions up to 80% compared with conventional jet fuel
  • SAF uses sustainable fuel sources which do not compete with food or water, or damage biodiversity.
  • Due to extensive testing and investment from airlines, SAF are certified as safe, sustainable, and ready-to-use.
  • Over 250,000 flights have already taken off with a blend of SAF.

“The enormous amounts of money that governments are investing in the economic recovery from COVID-19 are an opportunity to create a legacy of energy transition for the aviation industry. To achieve this, governments, the finance community and the fuel producers—both large and small—must work together with the goal of rapidly increasing production of affordable sustainable aviation fuel,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

IATA estimates that current SAF production is 50 million litres annually. To reach a tipping point where the scale of production will see SAF costs drop to levels competitive with jet fuel, production needs to reach 7 billion litres or 2% of 2019 consumption.

“As much as airlines want to use SAF, production is well below the scale needed for prices to fall to competitive levels. Attaining the right price point is even more crucial as industry losses and debt levels rise. But if governments can use this unique time to combine a safe fiscal and regulatory framework supporting SAF production with the direct allocation of stimulus funds to SAF production, it is possible to reach the 2% tipping point in 2025. That would power greener flight, create jobs and fuel the economic recovery together,” said de Juniac.

IATA and the wider aviation community are ready to work with the IEA, governments and fuel companies to cut aviation’s emissions with SAF. “SAF is our biggest emissions reduction opportunity. The time is right to push it forward so that, together, we can achieve major carbon reductions on the way towards fossil fuel-free flight,” said de Juniac.

Kew Green Hotels Expands to South East Asia with Seven Properties in Bangkok

Kew Green Hotels Expands to South East Asia with Seven Properties in Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand, July 10, 2020 / TRAVELINDEX / Kew Green Hotels, one of the UK’s leading hotel management companies with over 55 hotels in its portfolio, is expanding into the South East Asia market through a joint venture with Siamese Asset. The new entity, Siamese and Kew Green Management Company Thailand, are launching seven properties in the capital city of Bangkok, four of which are under the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts brand umbrella. Alongside the launch of these seven properties, Kew Green Hotels will also be launching a Commercial Hub for South East Asia to support the region, based in Bangkok.

Confident in Thailand’s position as a world-class tourism destination, Siamese and Kew Green Management Company Thailand will launch four hotel and branded residences in the heart of Bangkok in early 2021: The Wyndham Queen Convention Centre, Wyndham Garden Sukhumvit 42, Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Sukhumvit 48 and Ramada by Wyndham Sukhumvit 87, with an additional three properties in the pipeline. Guests staying at each of the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts will benefit from access to Wyndham Rewards, the global award-winning hotel loyalty rewards program.

As hospitality experts, Kew Green Hotels set themselves apart by combining years of experience with innovative ideas to deliver outstanding hotel services and by delivering exceptional returns for hotel owners. Combining market-leading technology with expert talent, the Commercial Hub will integrate proactive and reactive sales, marketing, analytics and revenue management, to support their increasing hotel portfolio in the region, providing a consolidated approach to deliver growth.

Chris Dexter, Chief Executive Officer of Kew Green Hotels, said “We are delighted to be expanding into South East Asia and form Siamese and Kew Green Management Company Thailand, a joint venture, in partnership with Siamese Asset, one of Thailand’s most prominent property developers. We look forward to delivering world-renowned Thai hospitality in these seven properties, supported by our state-of-the-art commercial hub. As a growing company, this milestone reflects Kew Green Hotels’ broadening expertise in the international hotel market and reputation for operational excellence, strong commercial awareness and industry leading profit delivery.”

James Kim, President of Siamese and Kew Green Management Company Thailand, remarked “We are thrilled to form this new joint venture company with Siamese Asset, the winner of Thailand’s Best Developer in the 2019 Thailand Property Awards. Along with the excellent track record of Kew Green Hotels, we look forward to bringing together our collective expertise to deliver on our commitment to launch these exceptional properties.”

The Wyndham Queen Convention Centre Hotel & Residences, with 120 rooms and suites, is conveniently located just 50m from Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre MRT station, yet close to the greenery of Benjakitti and Lumpini parks. The hotel and residences offer panoramic views of the city, the bustling Port of Bangkok and outstanding surroundings. Amenities include rooftop gardens, a sky lounge, infinity pool, restaurant, executive lounge and an expansive fitness room, all with spectacular panoramic cityscape views. The hotel is a home away from home for leisure and business guests, just five minutes from contemporary shopping centres within the vibrant Central Business District of Bangkok.

Wyndham Garden Sukhumvit 42 sits in the heart of Ekkamai, known for its lively collection of popular cafés, bars and restaurants and just 300m from Ekkamai BTS station and five minutes from the Ramindra-Art-Narong Expressway. The hotel offers 120 rooms with city views, a roof-top garden, a restaurant, a Kafeology coffee bar on the terrace, swimming pool, spa and gym.

Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Sukhumvit 48 offers 100 rooms together with a sky bar, restaurant, bar lounge and spa with far reaching views across the city plus a swimming pool and gardens. The hotel is less than 10 minutes’ walk from Phra Khanong BTS station with easy connectivity to world-class shopping, dining and nightlife.

Ramada by Wyndham Sukhumvit 87 is located between BTS Bang Chak and BTS Onnut at 430m and 550m respectively, with convenient access to shopping malls and entertainment in the Ekkamai area. With 85 rooms, the hotel offers a dedicated yoga room and roof-top gardens, a swimming pool, garden and Kafeology coffee bar.

About Siamese and Kew Green Management Company
Siamese and Kew Green Management Company was founded in February 2020 as a Joint Venture Company between Kew Green Hotels UK and Siamese Asset in Thailand. It is a third-party management company cooperating with IHG, Hilton and other global brand companies under a Brand Franchise Agreement. Currently it has signed management agreements for four hotels under Wyndham Hotels & Resorts brands and is negotiating the brand franchise agreement for three upcoming hotels and branded residences in the Bangkok area.

About Kew Green Hotels
Kew Green Hotels was founded in 2001 with a single hotel. It is now one of the UK’s leading hotel management companies with over 55 hotels in the portfolio and over 3000 employees. Working across the spectrum of hotel operations, from limited service through to luxury full service, Kew Green Hotels is set apart from the competition by owning and developing hotels, as well as managing assets on behalf of others.

About Siamese Asset Public Company Limited
Siamese Asset, founded in 2010 by the management group of Ritta Co.Ltd., is a multi-award-winning construction company in Thailand, bringing expertise in real estate to create quality residences and provide investment opportunities with sustainable value growth to shareholders.

About Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: WH) is the world’s largest hotel franchising company by the number of properties, with 9,300 hotels across approximately 90 countries on six continents. Through its network of over 828,000 rooms appealing to the everyday traveller, Wyndham commands a leading presence in the economy and midscale segments of the lodging industry. The Company operates a portfolio of 20 hotel brands, including Super 8®, Days Inn®, Ramada®, Microtel Inn & Suites®, La Quinta®, Baymont®, Wingate®, AmericInn®, Hawthorn Suites®, The Trademark Collection® and Wyndham®. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is also a leading provider of hotel management services. The Company’s award-winning Wyndham Rewards loyalty program offers 83 million enrolled members the opportunity to redeem points at thousands of hotels, vacation club resorts and vacation rentals globally.

Sabre Announces New Synxis Platform Agreement with Resorttrust Japan

Sabre Announces New Synxis Platform Agreement with Resorttrust Japan

Nagoya, Japan, July 10, 2020 / TRAVELINDEX / Sabre Corporation, the leading software and technology company that powers the global travel industry, today announced a new agreement with Japan’s Resorttrust, Inc. to provide industry-leading technology solutions to enable the luxury chain to fine-tune its distribution strategies, grow geographic reach, increase booking conversions, boost revenue-per-room and deliver improved guest experiences. Under the new deal, advanced technology solutions from Sabre’s SynXis Platform will enable Resorttrust hotels to update operations and grow footprint while maximizing revenue opportunities through direct and indirect channels.

Membership-based hotel chain Resorttrust, Inc. has selected Sabre’s SynXis Booking Engine to increase conversion of website traffic into bookings, improve visibility, and provide guests with enhanced customer experience, resulting in future revenue-generating opportunities. Resorttrust, Inc. will also gain a greater global presence through the SynXis platform which will connect the chain to nearly 900,000 travel agents across multiple GDSes and over 600 online channels across the world, while also providing further opportunities to increase valuable corporate travel bookings by connecting with major corporations and streamlining RFP contracting.

The chain, which has an extensive network of iconic properties across Japan as well as the Kahala Hotel and Resort in Hawaii, will be able to leverage the highly-flexible and scalable SynXis Booking Engine to increase engagement, trigger conversions and drive direct revenue to convert website visitors into guests The SynXis Booking Engine provides real-time rates, offers, and availability to the website shoppers with a streamlined booking path and modern e-commerce features to boost direct bookings on the hotel websites.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Sabre to boost direct and indirect bookings to our resorts. We’re already seeing the first green shoots of recovery in the Japanese tourism industry, and we needed robust and scalable solutions to support us in our plans to grow our reach and revenue as well as further improving the guest experience for domestic and international visitors.” , said Kiyoshi Aruga, Department Manager, Hotel Trusty Department, Hotels & Tourism Division, Resorttrust, Inc.

“Sabre is proud of our already strong, and valued, relationships with travel partners in Japan. This new agreement with Resorttrust, Inc. further strengthens Sabre’s existing presence in the Japanese market, and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the recovery and continued success of Japan’s tourism industry,” said Frank Trampert, Managing Director and Chief Commercial Officer, EMEA & APAC, Sabre Hospitality Solutions. “This new partnerships will enable some of Japan’s best-loved hotels and resorts to refine their distribution strategies, reach new markets, improve the conversion rates of web browsers to bookings and deliver an improved guest experience. We are thrilled to be able to play our part in enabling more travellers to discover Japan’s already renowned, and lesser-known destinations as we partner with our hotels and hospitality partners to make travel happen.

About Sabre Corporation
Sabre Corporation is the leading technology provider to the global travel industry. Sabre’s software, data, mobile and distribution solutions are used by hundreds of airlines and thousands of hotel properties to manage critical operations, including passenger and guest reservations, revenue management, flight, network and crew management. Sabre also operates a leading global travel marketplace, which processes more than US$120 billion of global travel spend annually by connecting travel buyers and suppliers. Headquartered in Southlake, Texas, USA, Sabre serves customers in more than 160 countries around the world.

About Resorttrust, Inc.
Resorttrust, Inc. engages in the construction and operation of membership-based hotels, sale of hotel membership rights, and golf and medical businesses. It operates through the following segments: Membership, Hotel and Restaurant, Medical, and Others. The Membership segment handles the sale of hotel membership rights and provides loans to hotel membership purchasers. The Hotel and Restaurant segment involves in the operation of hotels and restaurants, cleaning services, inter-facility access service of the member hotels, non-life insurance agency, manufacture and sale of hair accessories, total beauty services, and telemarketing business. The company was founded by Yoshiro Ito on April 2, 1973 and is headquartered in Nagoya, Japan.

PATA and Asian Development Bank to Expand Crisis Resource Center

PATA and Asian Development Bank to Expand Crisis Resource Center

Bangkok, Thailand, July 9, 2020 / TRAVELINDEX / The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is collaborating with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to expand its Crisis Resource Center (CRC) to provide further aid in the rapid, robust and responsible renewal of the Asia Pacific travel and tourism industry.

“Timely, accurate, and useful information is the need of the moment for our members as they manage their recovery from COVID-19,” said Trevor Weltman, PATA Chief of Staff. “The generous support we received from ADB has allowed us to invest in bringing these essential tools to our region at this critical time. As 65% of PATA members polled had no crisis plans pre-COVID, the CRC will be a permanent offer from PATA going forward to continue meeting their evolving needs for crisis preparedness, management and recovery from this crisis, and beyond.”

The PATA Crisis Resource Center and Tourism Recover Monitor was launched in April 2020, to provide reliable and up-to-date policy statements, authoritative information, and tourism indicators from around the globe. The new CRC will officially be launched on Tuesday, July 14, 2020.

The ultimate vision of the CRC is to lead, coordinate and sustain a comprehensive world-class digital resource for crisis response, management, and recovery for the Asia Pacific Travel Industry. In the immediate term, PATA believe Asia Pacific will be the leading force of tourism’s global recovery from COVID-19, as both an inbound destination as well as a robust source market.

“The tourism industry accounts for a substantial amount of private sector employment and investment in the Asia Pacific, especially within the Greater Mekong Subregion. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the industry’s vulnerability to crisis. Through the Crisis Resource Center, PATA is building much-needed infrastructure to make the Asia Pacific tourism sector more resilient,” said Dominic Mellor, ADB Senior Investment Specialist and head of the Mekong Business Initiative, which supported the CRC through technical assistance.

As part of the expansion, the Association has formed a CRC advisory team to help provide further content and development of online toolkits and resources for industry stakeholders to navigate their way through the challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Destination marketing and crisis management expert Damian Cook will provide resource and recommendation kits for destinations, airlines and airports, hospitality, tours operators and SMEs; while crisis communications and communication strategy expert, John Bailey, will draft best practice guidance documents on how to develop and implement a holistic communication strategy to support a destination recovery campaign.

John Bailey, Managing Consultant at Global Communications Consulting, has spent more than 25 years helping companies around the world to prepare for, and respond to, reputation challenges and crises. He is the author of the Best Practice Guidelines on Crisis Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age, published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). He has been involved in the response to numerous crises, including several airline accidents and the December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. More recently, he was part of the team advising the senior management of Malaysia Airlines on their response to the disappearance of flight MH370, a crisis unprecedented in aviation history.

The CRC Advisory Team also includes PATA Immediate Past Chair Sarah Mathews, who led the pilot Expert Task Force (ETF) that originally created the online resource in order to accumulate knowledge, generate support, and help members and industry stakeholders across the globe access solutions by governments, while also assisting governments in understanding the challenges through the travel impact survey.

About PATA
Founded in 1951, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a not-for-profit membership association that acts as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region. The Association provides aligned advocacy, insightful research and innovative events to its more than 800 member organisations, including 95 government, state and city tourism bodies, 20 international airlines and airports, 102 hospitality organisations and 70 educational institutions, as well as thousands of young tourism professional (YTP) members across the world. The PATA network also embraces the grassroots activism the PATA Chapters and Student Chapters, who organise numerous travel industry training programmes and business development events across the world. Thousands of travel professionals belong to the 35 local PATA Chapters worldwide, while hundreds of students are members of the 22 PATA Student Chapters globally. The PATA mPOWER platform delivers unrivalled data, forecasts and insights to members’ desktops and mobile devices anywhere in the world. PATA’s Head Office has been in Bangkok since 1998. The Association also has official offices or representation in Beijing and London. PATA’s Annual Theme for the 2020 calendar year is ‘Partnerships for Tomorrow’.

First Raffles Hotel in Indonesia Opens in Bali

First Raffles Hotel in Indonesia Opens in Bali

Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia, July 9, 2020 / TRAVELINDEX / Raffles Hotels & Resorts is pleased to announce its 15th Raffles Hotel in the world, with the launch of the lavish Raffles Bali, which offers unparalleled views over the Indian Ocean and the famous Jimbaran Bay sunsets. With just 32 private pool villas, Raffles Bali epitomises distinguished charm for well-travelled connoisseurs seeking elegant spaces, privacy and cultural discovery.

The private limousine transfer from Ngurah Rai International Airport to the luxurious Balinese resort takes less than half an hour; yet despite its brevity, the journey has the power to transport you from one world to another. As the crowded streets of Jimbaran give way to sun-spangled gardens, a sense of tranquility descends. The winding road takes you deep into the heart of nature, to a hidden corner of the island that is steeped in local legend and defined by beliefs and customs that have remained unchanged for hundreds of years.

“Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway or an intimate oasis of emotional wellbeing, Raffles Bali offers unparalleled panoramic ocean views and captivating sunsets from every villa,” says Katya Herting, General Manager, Raffles Bali. “Our beachfront resort is surrounded by lush tropical gardens, providing utmost relaxation due to its generosity of space.”

From each of the exquisite Pool Villas – the largest and most private in Jimbaran – abundant sunlight streams in through the patio doors to gleam off rich hardwood floors. The soft batik tapestry hanging behind the king bed is a tribute to the skill of Bali’s local craftsmen, while rustic rattan furniture complements sweeping views of your private garden and the ocean beyond. Step outside into Bali’s restorative warmth for a morning spent lounging at your private pool or reading on the gazebo’s shaded daybed, enjoying the gentle breeze. When you feel like exploring the rest of the resort, your Raffles Wellbeing Butler will gracefully take you on a journey of discovery to wherever you want to go. All villas include indoor and outdoor showers, yoga mats and bespoke beach accessories, in addition to an indulgent soaking tub.

Located at the resort’s highest point, Rumari restaurant is caressed by cooling breezes, which carry the tantalising scent of Balinese cooking from the kitchen, unveiling a culinary journey on a sunset terrace overlooking the ocean. Loloan Beach Bar and Grill is located on the resort’s secluded beach, overlooking a 25-metre infinity pool. Enjoy a sumptuous seafood feast beneath the shade of the Balinese-style ceilings. As twilight falls, the atmosphere shifts from laid-back fun to casual elegance.

For unforgettable romance, elegant and intimate dining experiences can be arranged at The Secret Cave, illuminated with flickering torches and candlelight, or at the Purnama Honeymoon Bale, built on the rocks at the edge of the resort’s ocean front.

Connoisseurs will also enjoy the brand’s iconic Writers Bar and the adjoining Library, a relaxing haven to savour classic or whimsically spiced cocktails, a glass of Champagne, or an after-dinner digestif. Set in the heart of the resort, this intimate bar brings the Raffles heritage to Bali, with the bespoke Raffles Bali Sling, especially curated by our expert mixologist.

With an extensive and genuine knowledge of the island, our Raffles Wellbeing Butlers will enrich your time with an insider’s perspective on local customs. They can also arrange unique cultural experiences, from temple dance ceremonies to traditional cooking classes. Any wish is only a request away.

Relaxation comes easily at Raffles Bali, where the sound of tropical birds calling through the flora and the scent of the sea soothe the soul. Unwind beneath the hands of an expert therapist at Raffles Spa. There are two treatment suites, with their own soaking tub and sliding doors that lead to a hill-view terrace or experience our remote hillside treatment suite, The Sanctuary, hidden in nature.

“We are delighted to introduce our most iconic hotel brand to the beautiful island of Bali,” says Michael Issenberg, Chairman & CEO Accor Asia Pacific. “The highly-anticipated Raffles Bali will be the brand’s second hotel in Indonesia, joining the stunning Raffles Jakarta, and is set to become a special retreat for guests to feel pampered, through meaningful experiences and service that is both gracious and intuitive.”

Today, the Raffles brand continues to set the standard for luxury hospitality with a carefully curated list of distinguished addresses in leading markets around the world. Raffles Bali will be the first Raffles to launch the brand’s new wellbeing programme, Emotional Wellbeing by Raffles, which is based on the understanding that true luxury is not about what you own, but what you feel.

“Indulge in our Bespoke Opening Offer of two nights’ stay at our private pool villa, inclusive of return limousine transfer, daily a la carte breakfast as well as selections of Wellbeing and Cultural Experiences. Starting from USD $2,660++ for three days and two nights.”

About Raffles Bali
Raffles Bali is an intimate oasis of emotional well-being. Located in beautiful Jimbaran Bay within Jimbaran Hijau development area, the resort is perched on a hill offering unparalleled views of the ocean and its own secluded beach. With just 32 well appointed pool villas providing utmost relaxation due to its generosity of space, each featuring their own outdoor terrace and private pool, Raffles Bali is one of the most exclusive hotels in Jimbaran and boasts stunning sunsets, lush tropical gardens and exquisite dining. Guests can indulge in a signature Jimbaran Sling in the iconic Writers Bar, enjoy a romantic dinner in The Secret Cave or rejuvenate at the indulgent Raffles Spa. Raffles Wellbeing Butlers can arrange a variety of bespoke treatments, cultural immersions and activities to deliver the ultimate in Emotional Wellbeing in the Island of the Gods.

About Raffles
Raffles Hotels & Resorts boasts an illustrious history and some of the  most prestigious hotel addresses worldwide. In 1887, Raffles Singapore set the standard for luxury hospitality, introducting the world to private butlers, the Singapore Sling and its enduring, legendary service. Today, Raffles continues its tradition in leading cities and lavish resort locales, enchanting travellers with meaningful experiences and service that is both gracious and intuitive. Connoisseurs of life choose Raffles, not merely for its aura of culture, beauty and gentility, but for the extrraordinary weay they feel when in residence with Raffles. Each Raffles, be it Paris, Istanbul, Warsaw, Jakarta or the Seychelles, serves as a venerated oasis where travellers arrive as guests, leave as friends and return as family. Raffles is part of Accor a world-leading augmented hospitality group offering unique experiences in 5000 hotels and residences across 110 countries.

Lebua Bangkok Donates First Day Earnings to Charity

Lebua Bangkok Donates First Day Earnings to Charity

Bangkok, Thailand, July 7, 2020 / TRAVELINDEX / by Mewati Sitaram – Charity begins at home and it is the motto of Lebua Group. On 3rd July, 2020, when the hotel announced its reopening post lockdown, it got completely sold out within no time. There was a phenomenal response from the guests. All four restaurants were completely booked in advance. The Lebua Dome has four globally acclaimed restaurants namely Mezzaluna, Chef’s Table, Sirocco and Breeze. The opening day set protocol was followed with enhanced safety and sanitation, along with the thoughtful and guest first service standards.

As the guest enjoyed the sumptuous meal, they were pleasantly surprised when the bill was presented. Instead of bill, the guests were requested to pay what they deemed fit for their meal, as the hotel would donate the entire earning of the evening to the charities in Thailand.

Indian hotelier Deepak Ohri created the The World’s First Vertical Destination epitomizing luxury at the Lebua in Bangkok. World’s Second Vertical Destination is Hudson’s Yard built in New York City.

Deepak Ohri, CEO of Lebua hotels and Resorts says “It was truly emotional to see that none of our patrons who came to dine with us paid less than the standard menu prices, but in fact they paid 30 percent more. Many of them were moved to tears by the intended gesture and promised to be back soon again, with some of them rebooking again to dine with us in the coming days”

Keeping the sombre mood in mind and to thank the Almighty, for the team who has stayed united together through this crisis. The Lebua management decided that all proceeds of the opening night be donated to 5 locally selected charities.

Ohri added “On 3rd July our food had a divine aroma—so precious, its price was beyond comparison. For our patrons, chose not to care for the bill but for our five chosen charities. They paid as they wished—with boundless love and generosity. And that, dear friends, is priceless! It was indeed heartening that all the restaurants were booked to full capacity on the opening night which overwhelmed and humbled the team leading to increased self-belief”.

Ohri further added “We were truly blessed by the rain God’s as the skies opened up in the evening. The downpour did not dampen anyone’s spirits- whether it was our guests or our teams… In fact it was an evening of positivity and blessings as we look forward to happy times again! Many guests sat under the umbrella and stayed till last to enjoy the downpour of the day”.

Who would’ve ever imagined that our very own Indian hotelier Deepak Ohri could have created the The World’s First Vertical Destination epitomizing luxury at the Lebua that too in Bangkok. Interestingly, Hudson’s Yard built at a cost of USD 28 billion dollars in New York City is the World’s Second Vertical Destination!!

It may be noted that when the Zodiac Grill Restaurant at Iconic Taj Mahal hotel was opened in Mumbai in 1989, for the first one month no bills were presented to guests. The guests were told by the chefs and service associates that we have put our heart and soul into preparing these dishes, you can pay as per your wish. And, surprisingly, all the guests paid much more than it’s pricing. The Zodiac Grill was a unique concept introduced in Mumbai which was going house full for a long period right from its inception day. There were no walk-in guests but booked through telephone. This information was shared to Mumbai Messenger Newspaper by then Culinary Director, Celebrity Grand Master Chef Satish Arora.

It must be noted that the Lebua group has decided to retain its staff throughout the crisis, and this move of them is well appreciated across the globe.

First published at MumbaiMessenger

Finalists for the 2020 Experience Mekong Showcases Announced

Finalists for the 2020 Experience Mekong Showcases Announced

Bangkok, Thailand, July 7, 2020 / TRAVELINDEX / The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office is announcing the 18 Finalists of the Experience Mekong Showcases 2020. 4,200 eligible votes determined three Experience Mekong Collection members from each of the six member countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion for the next round of voting for this prestigious recognition. Now open for public vote until August 15th, the six Experience Mekong Showcases will be announced on August 25th, at the 2020 Destination Mekong Summit.

The 18 finalists – 3 from each of the 6 member countries of the Mekong Region are:

The Experience Mekong Collection was created three years ago to both recognize and encourage sustainable and responsible tourism development in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

In order to be appointed as member of the Experience Mekong Collection, all small travel businesses in the Mekong Region need to fulfill the following requirements:

1. Make a significant social impact to its community
2. Provide an authentically local experience positioning the GMS as a
responsible, inclusive, and experiential tourism destination.
3. Have an innovative concept and sustainable business model.

Members of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG) selected the 60 shortlisted Experience Mekong Collection (EMC) member businesses – ten from each of the six GMS member countries from the 350+ members of the Experience Mekong Collection.

“In recognizing the most innovative best practice businesses as the Experience Mekong Showcases, this sets several benchmarks to further improve travel experiences in the Greater Mekong Subregion. We hope this motivates other operators to become more involved and do their part for responsible tourism,” said HE Mr. Htay Aung, former Minister of Hotels and Tourism of Myanmar, and a member of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG).

The 2018 Experience Mekong Collection Showcases included Phare Cambodian Circus (Cambodia), Longji Rice Terraces Guangxi (PR China), Ock Pop Tok (Lao PDR), Inle Heritage Place (Myanmar), Local Alike (Thailand), and Koto (Viet Nam). The 2019 Experience Mekong Collection included Soksabike (Cambodia), Linden Centre (PR China), Elephant Conservation Centre (Lao PDR), Hla Day (Myanmar), Sampran Riverside (Thailand), and Streets International (Viet Nam). Please see:

All members of the Experience Mekong Collection get exposure via channels of Mekong Tourism and Destination Mekong as well as the dedicated Experience Mekong Collection Facebook and Instagram accounts. Experience Mekong Collection members also have priority access to marketing campaigns and have their own dedicated online member-only community to connect with each other.

In order to help struggling members of the Experience Mekong Collection to survive these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, a support page has been created at to list businesses asking for donations or selling gift certificates.

About the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office
The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), located in Bangkok, was set up with funding from the governments of the six Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) countries – Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. The MTCO, which operates on annual financial contributions from each GMS country, acts as the secretariat for the GMS Tourism Working Group, comprising of senior officials of the six GMS countries’ National Tourism Organizations, to coordinate and facilitate sustainable tourism development of the GMS, and promotion of the Mekong region as a single travel and tourism destination, in collaboration with the public and private sectors. The MTCO manages its award-winning MekongTourism digital platform as a one-stop platform to promote responsible and sustainable tourism in the region, as well as the annual Mekong Tourism Forum, whose hosting is rotated among GMS countries.

Hotelintel Acquires E-Global Travel Media, Destination Thailand News

Hotelintel Acquires E-Global Travel Media, Destination Thailand News

Bangkok, Thailand, July 8, 2020 / TRAVELINDEX / Publisher of the Thailand hospitality portal, Hotelintel, have acquired the Australian-based eGlobal Travel publication along with Destination Thailand from Stephen Morton’s Global Travel Media Company. The acquisitions will create a formidable travel industry publishing group positioned to take advantage of the international tourism growth expected after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

Ms. Wimintra Raj, managing director of Hotelintel, said the online publications had a long history of success and enjoyed strong global travel and hospitality industry readership.

“The titles are very complementary to our Hotelintel.co publication. Combined, we can now offer advertisers greater penetration into the local and international tourism markets and provide readers with stronger content focusing on Asia-Pacific, China, the United States, and beyond.”

She explained that the value of the eGlobal Travel and Destination Thailand publications was in their strategic potential, with the COVID-19 issues having little impact on the sale price. While traditional media outlets with high overheads face challenges in maintaining a sustainable business model, Hotelintel applies a lean, data-driven, and audience-relevant approach from the ground up, ensuring well-researched and insightful content from knowledgeable industry sources.

“Tourism will play a crucial part in the economic recovery. Our expanded online publishing group will now have the resources to achieve leadership roles in the travel and hospitality sector,” she said.

Stephen Morton said he was delighted by the potential of the merged group. “All our employees will be retained, and new jobs and roles are expected for our editorial staff in Thailand and around the world,” he said. Destination Thailand and eGlobal Travel will continue to be published Monday through Friday and the websites, including all travel industry sections, will also be updated daily.

UNWTO Shared Determination to Restart Tourism at Ministerial Meetings

UNWTO Shared Determination to Restart Tourism at Ministerial Meetings

Madrid, Spain, July 8, 2020 / TRAVELINDEX / Over the past month, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) was able to hold virtually meetings of its five Regional Commissions to share responses to the challenge of COVID-19 and their plans for the restart of tourism in the wake of the pandemic.

For the first time ever, the five regional bodies of Member States of the United Nations specialized agency, met virtually rather than in person. The annual series of meetings got underway with the Regional Commission for Africa, and this was followed by meetings of the Regional Commissions for the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific and finally the Middle East region. In all instances, representatives of Member States, including Ministers of Tourism, were joined UNWTO Affiliate Members, including leaders from across the private sector.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The meetings of the UNWTO Regional Commissions has shown the universal determination to restart tourism, and to do so with an emphasis on sustainability and on ensuring the benefits are shared as widely as possible. At the same time, the insights of UNWTO Member States from around the world make clear that, while some destinations are re-opening to tourists, this crisis is not yet over in many places, and that the tourism sector continues to require strong political and economic support if we are to safeguard livelihoods and protect whole economies in these challenging times.”

The meetings of the UNWTO Regional Commissions has shown the universal determination to restart tourism, and to do so with an emphasis on sustainability and on ensuring the benefits are shared as widely as possible.

In the final meeting of this round, the Regional Commission for the Middle East featured nine Ministers of Tourism, as well as representatives from the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, the Arab Tourism Organization, the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Islamic Development Board.

Chaired by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the virtual meeting focused on ensuring all destinations are ready to welcome tourists back, with enhanced hygiene protocols in place so as to make tourists feel safe and confident. Discussions also centred on the important role innovation and digital transformation will play in the future of tourism across the Middle East region.

In all cases, UNWTO’s leadership used the occasion of the meetings of the Regional Commissions to share the practical and technical support made available to both governments and the private sector. The UNWTO Guidelines for Restarting Tourism provide a clear action plan for growing back stronger and better, and the Tourism Recovery Technical Assistance Package outlines the support available to all Member States, including assistance in devising new marketing strategies.