Thursday 27 June 2019

FRANCE: Mirazur Named Worlds Best Restaurant

Mirazur is a restaurant in Menton, France rated with three stars by the Michelin Guide.

The restaurant is run by Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco, who previously worked with Bernard Loiseau, Alain Passard, Alain Ducasse and Guy Martin.

He opened Mirazur in 2006, aged 29. He was awarded his first Michelin star within a year, followed by the second star in 2012. In 2019, Colagreco became the first chef not born in France to be awarded three stars in the French edition of the Guide Michelin.

The restaurant was voted 35th best in the world in 2009's Restaurant (magazine) Top 50, 24th in 2012, 28th in 2013.

In 2014, a second Michelin Star was awarded to Mirazur improving its standing significantly from 28th to 11th, subsequently to 6th in 2016.

The restaurant took 4th place in 2017 World's 50 Best Restaurants list and in 2018 took a top 3 spot by being awarder 3rd place.

In 2019, Mirazur was named "Best restaurant in the world"

The Test Kitchen in Cape Town has been named as the 44th best restaurant in the world by British trade magazine ‘Restaurant’ following an awards ceremony in Singapore that was graded by a panel of experts including chefs, restaurant owners and food critics.

The eatery, situated at The Biscuit Mill in Cape Town’s popular Woodstock district, opened in 2010 and has been collecting national and international food critic awards since then.

Owned by restauranteur Luke Dale-Roberts, the menu is a blend of eclectic South African fusion dishes that see the bookings piling up weeks – and even months – in advance.

The full top fifty restaurant list is

1: Mirazur (Menton, France)

2: Noma (Copenhagen, Denmark)

3: Asador Etxebarri (Axpe, Spain)

4: Gaggan (Bankok, Thailand)

5: Geranium (Copenhagen, Denmark)

6: Central (Lima, Peru)

7: Mugaritz (San Sebastian, Spain)

8: Arpege (Paris, France)

9: Disfrutar (Barcelona, Spain)

10: Maido (Lima, Peru)

11: Den (Tokyo, Japan)

12: Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico)

13: White Rabbit (Moscow, Russia)

14: Azurmendi (Larrabetzu, Spain)

15: Septime (Paris, France)

16: Alain Ducasse Au Plaza Athénée (Paris, France)

SOUTH AFRICA: Cape Town Is Most Biologically Diverse City On Earth

Cape Town was recently named the most biologically diverse city on Earth, but its natural beauty is under threat according to a new study.

Cape Town was named the most biologically diverse city on Earth in the first ever City Nature Challenge.

The challenge, which began in the US in 2016, is an international effort to get citizens to record plant and animal species, and to see which city can make the most observations and record the most creatures.

It started out as a battle between San Francisco and Los Angeles, but went global in 2018.

In 2019, Cape Town won by a long margin. We did not just win the challenge, Tony Rebelo, a senior scientist at the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi) said. We totally outperformed all other cities when it came to species.

The city boasts 53 763 observations by 1 141 people and recorded 4 588 different species. Its closest competition, La Paz in Bolivia, saw 46 931 observations and 3 006 species recorded – even though it had more people (1 500) trying to observe species.

San Diego County in the US came third, with 38 241 observations of 3 019 species.

The Cape is home to the smallest of the planet’s six floral kingdoms. The Cape Floral Kingdom has a high number of unique species that are found nowhere else on the planet.

In the meantime, the Cape’s natural treasure seems to be under threat according to a new study published in the scientific journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

According to the study the Cape has experienced the second highest plant species extinction rate since 1900 at 37, after Hawaii which has lost 79 species.

Rebelo estimates that 13 plant species are already extinct in the city, and this is having a knock-on effect on insects, amphibians and other animals. “Cape Town has a huge responsibility for conservation of our biodiversity.”

Tourism Observer

Wednesday 26 June 2019

PHILIPPINES: Cebu Is A Great City That Rises Daily

Waving a small bunch of unlit candles, the saffron-frocked woman hops from foot to foot, muttering prayers at the dark timber cross towering above her.

The prayers are different for each candle – red for love, green for success, yellow for health and blue for travel – and here at the Magellan pavilion in Cebu, pilgrims and tourists flock to have their names and custom prayers "danced" like this, at only 10 pesos (25¢) a candle.

We are in Cebu, the Philippines, and the woman, known as a heritage keeper, is praying under the original Magellan's Cross, which arrived here with Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, in 1521.

But the dance itself goes back even further, having been adapted by Christianity from pre-existing pagan rituals designed to appease local river gods.

Cebu is the Philippines' oldest city and, situated in the 7000-island archipelago's geographical centre, it's also regarded as the nation's cultural heart.

It's home to the Philippines' oldest Roman Catholic church, the Basilica del Santo Nino, and the oldest Spanish settlement, Fort San Pedro.

It's also known for lechon (roast pork), mangoes, handmade guitars and, every January, the Sinulog Festival, a religious street party that attracts revellers in the millions.

But something new is happening to this old city.

With the median Filipino age at just 23.5, young people are beginning to transform Cebu, riding a technological wave and breathing a youthful spark into city life.

According to our knowledgeable, if dad-joke-fuelled guide, Al Cuizon ("the lechon in Cebu is 'cholesterol free' … cholesterol comes free with your meal," he quips), after tourism, IT is now the biggest industry in Cebu and it's getting bigger.

Already home to 50 call centres that employ 100,000 people Telstra is among their clients, tech start-ups and business hubs are popping up everywhere. And, following closely behind, is a new wave of Cebuano restaurants and bars, like the Isla Ora Pizza Co.

Its co-owner, American Joseph Ferrisa, arrived here in 2013 planning a diving trip. It coincided with one of the deadliest Filipino typhoons on record, so Ferris decided to help the local community in nearby Bantayan island instead.

He helped raise US$30,000 and formed NGO Young Pioneer Disaster Response, hauling trash, repairing schools and rebuilding homes.

Since then he married a Filipina, became a dad and now co-owns Isla Ora, a chain of three new wave thin-crust Italian pizza restaurants.

The food scene is developing quite quickly, which is interesting, says Ferris, over local Cebruery craft beers at his bamboo-clad headquarters in Kasambagan.

You have that younger vibe starting here, centred around technology. In a way, I think it's the city of the future of the Philippines. So, it's exciting to be here as that starts up and while that energy is here."

Closer to the centre of town, is Casa Gorordo, a two-storey house built in the 1850s and transformed into a fascinating museum of antiquities that affords a glimpse into well-heeled Spanish colonial Cebuano life.

Downstairs you learn about the complex blending of cultures here: indigenous Filipino, Chinese, Spanish and, later, American.

Then, chanting oro, plata, mata "gold, silver, death" we walk up the timber stairs, auspiciously and by design landing at the top on oro. Our uni-student-volunteer-guide, Hannah Librando, 21, tells us to make a wish. We do. And what does she wish for? To graduate and get a decent job, she says.

Casa Gorordo, built in the 1850s, was home to four generations of Spanish merchant Isidro Gorordo's family and survived two revolutions and the Second World War before being acquired by a cultural organisation and restored.

Its immaculately presented rooms and authentic furniture and fittings were opened to the public as a museum in 1983.

While Cebu has an international airport, there are no direct flights from Australia, so most fly via Manila; Cebu is just over an hour from Manila.

Qantas, Philippine Airlines (PAL) and budget airline Cebu Pacific can all get you there. PAL flies frequently from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin to Manila.

Accommodation is plentiful in this domestic tourism hub. Mactan Island, just a few kilometres from Cebu city and connected to it by two bridges, is a popular resort destination.

For example, Plantation Bay Resort & Spa offers several restaurants, artificial lagoon swimming and beach activities, including coral snorkelling.

Beach and lagoon view rooms start in low season from US$190 to US$1100 for a Quantum Villa, which includes four detached private bedrooms with a private villa.

CEBU City is P1.23 billion richer than it was in 2016 and is still the fourth richest city in the country in terms of total assets, according to the Commission on Audit (COA).

From P32.62 billion in 2016, the City's assets rose to P33.86 billion the following year, based on the COA's 2017 annual financial report.

Cebu City, though, also ranked first in terms of liabilities at P24.72 billion, leaving it with a net worth of P9.14 billion.

According to the COA, this is mainly due to the City's other deferred credits or unearned income of P15.72 billion, which represents 63.59 percent of its total liabilities.

Deferred credit or unearned income refers to money received in advance before it is earned. It usually stems from complicated transactions where a credit amount arises, but the amount is not revenue.

In layman's terms, kwarta na nato nga nadawat, pero wa pa nato na-realize ang income. Dili na utang. It's just an accounting term. Mga kwarta na nato nga na-receive pero wala na-realize. Ang uban sad ana, mga dues nga wa pa na-bayaran or na-claim, said Cebu City Treasurer Veronica Morelos.

That's money we received, but has not been realized as income. That's not debt. The others are dues that haven't been paid or claimed

She attributed this to supplies that had yet to be paid, or claims of City Hall employees that had yet to be settled, among others.

"Na-obligate na nato, pero wala mabayari kay basin naay problema sa papers," she added. (Those are liabilities legally incurred and committed to be paid for, but haven't been paid for yet because there may have been problems with the papers.)

The development drew contrasting views from reelectionist Councilor Joel Garganera and Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan vice mayoral bet Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos.

I think it's a misnomer when we call ourselves as one of the richest cities when we have that much liabilities. We should get rid of that title. What determines the overall state of our city is reflected in what's going on around us, Garganera said.

For de los Santos, the findings in the financial report show a positive development.

This goes to show that two years into Mayor (Tomas) Osmeña's leadership, the City is on the right track. We have a robust city economy.

Also, note that we still have billions of unearned income. Giving Mayor Osmena another three years with his team is simply the right thing to do, she said.

Osmena himself, asked to comment on the matter on Tuesday, Nov. 6, replied, No comment.

City Treasurer Morelos stressed that the only loan the City Government has is the one it contracted for the South Road Properties (SRP) project.

Based on the COA's report, Cebu City had a loan amounting to 12.315 billion yen with the Land Bank of the Philippines and Japan International Cooperation Agency to finance the SRP project which started in 1995.

At that time, it was equivalent to P4.65 billion. It is payable within 30 years or until 2025.

In a privilege speech last September, opposition Councilor Joy Pesquera said records from the City Accounting Office as of Feb. 20 show that the City Government had already paid a total of P6.56 billion.

This includes payment of principal amounting to P3.56 billion, interest of P2.8 billion, P26 million in documentary stamps and P51,968 in bank charges. Some P1.03 billion was incurred in foreign exchange (forex) losses.

The forex loss was attributed to the City Government still needing to buy US dollars to be exchanged to Japanese yen to pay off the loan. (The US dollar-Philippine peso exchange rate in 1995 was US$1=P37. The exchange rate as of Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, was US1=P53.269.

As of calendar year 2017, the COA said the City Government had an outstanding balance of P1.09 billion on the SRP loan.

City Hall paid its loan amortization last Aug. 20. The City has been paying for its loan twice a year, on Feb. 20 and Aug. 20. The City began paying for the SRP loan in August 2005.

The executive department has also allocated P448.9 million for the amortization of the SRP loan in the proposed 2019 annual budget.

Of the amount, P347.9 million is for foreign loan payments, P97.6 million for interest expenses and P3.5 million for documentary stamp and other charges.

For Garganera, one of the mayor's critics, it would have been wise if the City Government used the payment, made by a consortium of three developers that bought 45 hectares of land in the SRP in 2015, to settle its 23-year-old loan.

I'm very much alarmed by the fact that the administration failed to understand the urgency of paying our debts. All the more with the increasing amount of interest and the fluctuating rates of foreign exchange.

We're at the losing end here with all these liabilities and increasing interest. We should put our effort in faithfully settling our dues as soon as possible, he said.

The mayor, though, has been firm in his stand to recover the property, saying the sale was illegal because Michael Rama, who was mayor then, was not authorized to dispose of the lots.

Earlier, Osmena lamented that while the City has P12 billion in cash, his administration will not touch it "because it came from an illegal sale."

Meanwhile, with total assets of P196.6 billion, Makati is still the richest city in the country, followed by Quezon City with P68.33 billion and Manila with P38.68 billion.

Other cities with the biggest amount of assets include Pasig with P33.7 billion, Taguig with P19.64 billion, Caloocan with P17 billion, Pasay with P16.66 billion, Davao with P13.18 billion and Calamba with P12.41 billion.

Aside from cities, the COA also classified the provinces with the biggest amount of assets in the same report.

From P32.43 billion in 2016, Cebu Province's assets rose to P34.14 billion the following year, making it the richest province in the country by assets for four consecutive years.

In terms of liabilities, Cebu Province ranked fifth with P2.94 billion, leaving it with a net worth of P31.2 billion.

But being number one isn't enough for gubernatorial candidate Gwen Garcia.

In a text message, the third district representative said Cebu, even during her stint as governor, was always rich above all other provinces.

But she questioned if the progress during the current administration of Gov. Hilario Davide III was felt in all parts of the Province.

“Ang pangutana mao: kini ba natagamtam sa mga Sugbuanon? Titles are empty if these do not translate to real and meaningful benefits for the people of Cebu. Buhat ang pasulti-on (Let your actions speak for themselves),” Garcia said.

But for Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, who will be running against Garcia in next year's gubernatorial race, the recent accolade proved that Cebu, as a whole, enjoyed total progress through the programs and projects they introduced.

We may not have big ticket projects like the almost a billion-peso Cebu International Convention Center (CICC), but we have introduced projects that would be felt by all of our constituents, even the poorest of the poor, Magpale said.

The programs include the Paglaum Scholarship for poor college students in the province and crop insurance for affected farmers.

In a separate interview, Davide said the COA report only showed that his administration’s good governance, prudent spending and observing procurement laws paid off.

Unlike in her (Garcia) time, we would not push through with a project without going through the proper process,” Davide said, referring to Garcia’s graft charge for the anomalous procurement of the CICC back in 2006 and the illegal backfilling of the controversial Balili property in 2012.

Wala tay Balili, wala tay CICC, pero dato gihapon ta (We don't have Balili, we don't have CICC, but the Province is still rich, Davide added.

Negros Occidental is the province with the highest amount of liabilities at P5.18 billion.

Based on the COA's 2017 list of loans or credit lines availed of by local government units, Cebu Province had a transaction with Land Bank for the acquisition of light and heavy equipment at P51.3 million and another P29.7 million from the same institution.

Meanwhile, the second richest province in the country is Compostela Valley with P18.9 billion in assets, followed by Batangas with P15.6 billion.

Also included in the top 10 provinces in terms of assets is Rizal with P14 billion, Negros Occidental (P12.9 billion), Zambales (P10.4 billion), Bulacan (P10.4 billion), Palawan (P10.1 billion), Iloilo (P10 billion) and Pampanga (P9.5 billion). (With JKV)

Tourism Observer

Tuesday 25 June 2019

RWANDA: RwandAir Goes To Tel Aviv

All is set for RwandAir’s inaugural direct flight to the Israeli city of Tel Aviv scheduled for later today, marking the carrier’s 29th destination.

While announcing the scheduled flight, the national airline last month said the flight is expected to connect tourists and business travelers between Tel Aviv and Kigali.

“Adding Tel Aviv to our network is part of our long term plan to link Rwanda to the rest of the world. Tel Aviv is one of the world’s leading tech hubs and we look forward to flying business travelers as well as pilgrims visiting the Holy Land, to and from our network on this new route,” RwandAir’s CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo said.

“It will also be a great opportunity to ease travel and strengthen diplomatic ties between the two countries” she said.

The launch of the Kigali-Tel Aviv direct flights come barely a week after RwandAir launched direct Kigali-Guangzhou flights, the carrier’s longest flight.

The launch of the new routes falls in line with RwandAir’s aim to become a regional and continental aviation leader.

The growth of the Airline comes even as other African airlines struggle with operations and experience losses.

The airline now serves East, Central, West and Southern Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

RwandAir is also reported to be ready to launch a new direct flight to New York, aiming for a stake in the American aviation market.

Rwanda’s national carrier RwandAir on Monday night made its inaugural direct flight to Tel Aviv in Israel, barely a week after launching its maiden flight to the Chinese city of Guangzhou.

It will make three flights out of Kigali International Airport to the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, a development that is set to increase traffic between Rwanda and the Middle East.

Many passengers aboard the inaugural non-stop flight on the 737-800 Next Generation aircraft expressed their joy for the cheaper and direct flight to the city of Tel Aviv.

Betty Mahugu who is a travel consultant called the development ‘a phenomenal experience” to be on the direct flight to Tel Aviv.

“I have been travelling to Israel since 1995 and we have been taking long hours to reach our destination as there were always stopovers which meant long hours to reach our final destination.

But the short time taken now will be one of the best experiences,” she said before boarding.

She also noted that since there is a lot of religious tourism in Israel and also the wild animals and sceneries in Rwanda and East Africa as a whole, the direct flights between Kigali and Tel Aviv will boost a two-way traffic.

Another passenger who made it on the maiden flight to Tel Aviv, a lady who only identified herself as Kimberly from South Africa, recounted how she ended up on the flight.

She said that she was browsing for a convenient flight to Israel when the one of RwandAir popped up and it turned out to be a cheaper option.

I am going to Israel to visit a friend and from what I have heard about the airline, it is really amazing and I can’t wait to get on that flight and be in Tel Aviv in just 6 hours and 10 minutes, she said.

Speaking at the launch, the CEO of RwandAir Yvonne Makolo expressed her delight for yet another milestone by the airline and said that the direct flight is going to strengthen ties between the two nations, bridge the gap between the different cultures and promote tourism.

“It is going to solidify our cooperation and it is going to benefit Rwanda through tourism, especially cultural tourism and it is great for our diplomacy; so having people come visit Rwanda and more Rwandans going to Israel is just great for the two nations,’’ she said.

She also attributed the growth of the airline to continued government support.

Also on board the maiden flight was the Israeli Ambassador to Rwanda, Ron Adam, who stressed the significance of the development to the ties between the peoples of the two countries.

“It signifies that the relationships are tightening and we need to look for more passengers coming from both sides, incoming and outbound tourism and also imports, exports and people are going to get more connected,’” he said.

He also noted that right now, Rwandans are going to start getting Israel visas as his embassy had already started issuing visas to Israel, adding that more Israel would be coming to Rwanda because of the accessibility that has been afforded by the direct flight.

The route becomes the airline’s 29th destination all over the world.

Tourism Observer

Best World Airlines 2019 At Skytrax Awards

Qatar Airways has been named the world's best airline for 2019 at the annual World Airline Awards, announced at the Paris Air Show on Tuesday.

It's the fifth time the Middle East carrier has taken out the top gong at the awards run by research firm Skytrax, the first airline to win the world's best award five times since the rankings began in 1999.

As usual, the top 10 was dominated by Asian and Middle Eastern airlines.

Last year's winner, Singapore Airlines, dropped to second place, with Japan's All Nippon Airways remaining in third. Cathay Pacific climbed from sixth position to fourth, while Emirates dropped one spot to fifth.

Qantas continued to climb in the rankings, hitting eighth spot after climbing from 13th to 11th last year. However, Virgin Australia continued to drop on the list, falling to 25th position from 22nd last year. In 2017 the airline was ranked 13th.

Qantas dominated the regional awards, taking out best airline, first and business class for the Australia/Pacific, while Air New Zealand won best premium economy and best cabin cleanliness. Jetstar won best low-cost airline in the region.

It was a big year for Qatar Airways with the airline also winning for World's Best Business Class, Best Business Class Seat and best Middle Eastern Airline.

The airline unveiled its revolutionary new business class seats, the "QSuite" in 2017. The seats featured the world's first double-bed in business class, as well a face-to-face "party of four" configuration. Qatar Airways introduced the class on Australian routes in June last year.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker described the results as a proud moment.

Becoming the first airline to be named as 'Airline of the Year' for the fifth time is a landmark achievement, he said.

Edward Plaisted of Skytrax said: To be named as the World's Best Airline is a great recognition of Qatar Airways high standards, and recognises the hard work and dedication from every member of staff to satisfy customers.

In other key awards, Singapore Airlines took out the award for best cabin crew and best first class, Japan Airlines won best economy class, Emirates best inflight entertainment and AirAsia was named best low-cost carrier,

The World Airlines Awards are based on customer surveys conducted by Skytrax. According to Skytrax, more than 20 million survey entries were recorded between September 2018 and May 2019 for this year's awards, with voters coming from more than 100 different countries.

The World's Top 10 Airlines of 2019.

01 - Qatar Airways

02 - Singapore Airlines

03 - ANA All Nippon Airways

04 - Cathay Pacific

05 - Emirates

06 - EVA Air

07 - Hainan Airlines

08 - Qantas Airways

09 - Lufthansa

10- Thai Airways

World's Best Cabin Staff 2019

01 - Singapore Airlines

02 - Garuda Indonesia

03 - ANA All Nippon Airways

04 - Thai Airways

05 - EVA Air

06 - Cathay Pacific

07 - Hainan Airlines

08 - Japan Airlines

09 - Qatar Airways

10 - China Airlines

Best economy class

01 - Japan Airlines

02 - Singapore Airlines

03 - Qatar Airways

04 - Thai Airways

05 - ANA All Nippon Airways

06 - Emirates

07 - Cathay Pacific Airways

08 - Hainan Airlines

09 - Lufthansa

10 - EVA Air

Best business class

01 - Qatar Airways

02 - ANA All Nippon Airways

03 - Singapore Airlines

04 - Emirates

05 - Qantas

06 - Hainan Airlines

07 - Thai Airways

08 - Etihad Airways

09 - Cathay Pacific Airways

10 - Garuda Indonesia

Best premium economy

01 - Virgin Atlantic

02 - Singapore Airlines

03 - Air New Zealand

04 - Austrian Airlines

05 - Air Canada

06 - Qantas Airways

07 - Lufthansa

08 - Virgin Australia

09 - Aeroflot

10 - Air France

World's Best Low-Cost Airlines 2019

01 - AirAsia

02 - easyJet

03 - Norwegian

04 - Southwest Airlines

05 - AirAsiaX

06 - Jetstar Airways

07 - WestJet

08 - Indigo

09 - Ryanair

10 - Eurowings

The World's Cleanest Airlines

01 - EVA Air

02 - Japan Airlines

03 - ANA All Nippon Airways

04 - Singapore Airlines

05 - Asiana Airlines

06 - Hainan Airlines/

07 - Swiss Int'l Air Lines

08 - Cathay Pacific

09 - Qatar Airways

10 - Lufthansa

Best inflight entertainment

01 - Emirates

02 - Qatar Airways

03 - Singapore Airlines

04 - Virgin Atlantic

05 - Delta Air Lines

06 - Qantas Airways

07 - United Airlines

08 - Lufthansa

09 - Turkish Airlines

10 - American Airlines

Tourism Observer

Monday 24 June 2019

AFRICA: Busiest Airports In Africa

Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) has been ranked as one of the busiest airports in Africa.

The latest report by Airports Council International has ranked the Nairobi facility as the fourth busiest airport in the continent.

Johannesburg International Airport (South Africa) has been named the busiest airport in Africa, handling at least 281 passenger flights on average per day.

Cairo International Airport (Egypt) and Bole International Airport in Ethiopia are ranked second and third busiest airports in the region.

Nairobi's JKIA and South Africa's Cape Town International Airport close the list of top five airports with highest operations.

Airports Council International used the total number of passenger flights and direct-transit passengers to rank the facilities.

JKIA is the largest airport in Kenya and currently handles around 126 passenger flights daily, the report shows.

The national carrier, Kenya Airways is the largest airline at the airport with about 462 scheduled take-offs every week.

The airport was granted Category One status in 2017 and attained the Last Point of Departure status in 2018, allowing Kenya Airways and other airlines to fly directly to the United States.

Busiest airports in Africa:

- South Africa, O. R. Tambo International Airport - Johannesburg

- Egypt, Cairo International Airport - Cairo

- Ethiopia, Bole International Airport - Addis Ababa

- South Africa, Cape Town International Airport - Cape Town

- Morocco, Mohammed V International Airport - Casablanca

- Algeria, Houari Boumediene Airport - Algiers

- Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport - Nairobi

- Egypt, Hurghada International Airport - Hurghada

- Nigeria, Murtala Muhammed International Airport - Lagos

- Tunisia, Tunis Carthage Airport - Tunis

- South Africa, King Shaka International Airport - Durban

- Morocco, Marrakesh Menara Airport - Marrakesh

- Mauritius, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport - Port Louis

- Egypt, Sharm El Sheikh International Airport - Sharm El Sheikh

- Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport - Abuja

Tourism Observer

World’s Top 10 Airlines of 2019

The World’s Top 10 Airlines of 2019

1. Qatar Airways

2. Singapore Airlines

3. ANA All Nippon Airways

4. Cathay Pacific

5. Emirates

6. EVA Air

7. Hainan Airlines

8. Qantas Airways

9. Lufthansa

10. Thai Airways

Singapore Airlines has lost its “Best in the World” gong with Qatar Airways back on top after nabbing the coveted title at the prestigious 2019 Skytrax Awards.

Qatar also walked away with World’s Best Business Class, World’s Best Business Class Seat and Best Airline in the Middle East. It’s the fifth time the Middle East carrier has taken out the top gong at the awards, after losing the top spot in 2018 to Singapore.

Singapore Airlines slipped into second place, while Japanese airline ANA All Nippon Airways received the bronze medal.

Known as the Oscars of the aviation world, the World Airline Awards are handed out annually by Skytrax, the leading global authority on airline and airport service quality.

In its 19th year, the ratings are based on the world’s largest passenger satisfaction survey, which took place from September 2018 to May 2019 with online voting in English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Russian.

This year passengers from over 100 countries voted on 300 airlines from around the globe, while Skytrax said there were 21.65 million eligible entries.

Australian airline Qantas made a return to the top 10 list for the first time in three years, after coming in at 11th spot in 2018 and slipping to 15th position in 2017.

Virgin Australia came in at 25th, down from their 22nd ranking in 2018.

In a statement, Skytrax CEO Edward Plaisted admitted not everyone would agree with the rankings’ assessment.

We operate the survey and awards in a 100 per cent independent and impartial format according to the commitment we gave back in 1999, he said during the awards ceremony at the Paris Air Show.

While every winner may not be the favourite of everyone, those that disagree should understand that these are the Passenger’s Choice Awards.

Jetstar came in at 53rd overall, dropping from 46th position in 2018, while Air New Zealand was ranked 16th.

Jetstar however ranked third in the ‘World’s Best Long Haul Low-Cost Airlines’ and sixth in the ‘World’s Best Low-Cost Airlines’ for 2019.

Fiji Airways was awarded first place in the “Best Airline Staff in Australia Pacific” category, which recognises the combined airline staff service for both on-board and ground staff, in the Australia Pacific region through passenger feedback and Skytrax evaluation.

Tourism Observer

RWANDA: RwandAir Goes To Guangzhou

RwandAir Monday launched its long-awaited flights to the Chinese city of Guangzhou.

It was ecstasy as the Rwandan national carrier’s Airbus A330 took off from the Kigali International Airport at exactly 00:52a.m, embarking on a 15-hour flight to China’s third largest city.

The inaugural flight on the new Kigali-Guangzhou route had been fully booked by mid-day Monday.

It had 234 passengers onboard, including State Minister for Transport Eng. Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye and RwandAir’s chief executive Yvone Makolo.

RwandAir will be operating three flights to what is now its third Asian destination – after Dubai and Mumbai.

The flights will be making stopovers in India’s commercial capital of Mumbai before making their way to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in Guangdong province.

Guangzhou becomes RwandAir’s 28th destination and comes after the airline launched flights between Kigali and DR Congo’s capital of Kinshasa in April.

A 29th route to Israel’s city of Tel Aviv is on the horizon with the national carrier expected to open that route next week.

Guangzhou, known as the Canton City, is a port city northwest of Hong Kong on the Pearl River.

It is one of the major shopping destinations for merchants, is known for popular tourist attractions such as the iconic Canton Tower and Guangzhou Chimelong Tourist Resort.

Zhang Wenping, the director of the political section at the Chinese Embassy in Rwanda, said the flights will make travel between the two countries shorter and more convenient.

It has been taking up to 24 hours to travel from Kigali to Guangzhou, but the new route will reduce this time, she said.

She added that RwandAir’s flights will make it easier for Chinese and Rwandan businesses and tourists to travel either direction, thus boosting economic activity between the two countries.

I think this will be a catalyst for stronger tourism relations between China and Rwanda, she said. We have noted that more and more Chinese are coming to Rwanda and can only expect more to come in the future especially now the new route makes travel easier.”

In July last year Rwanda signed a raft of agreements with Beijing during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Rwanda – the first visit to the central African nation by any Chinese Head of State – to step up bilateral ties across various sectors, including civil aviation transport.

Later in November, the country also signed three deals with China’s leading e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group to help scale up trade and tourism ties between the two countries.

The development is expected to boost Rwanda’s reputation as a top investment destination, with Chinese companies initiating more than 21 projects, worth US$420 million, between 2006 and 2008, according to Rwandan government official figures.

In Rwanda, most Chinese investors are involved in tourism, mining, hospitality and construction, among other sectors.

Guangzhou, a major source of merchandise for the African market, including Rwanda, is regarded as China’s transport, industrial and commercial hub.

Benjamin Gasamagera, a Rwandan businessman and former head of the country’s private sector umbrella body, is one of the many Rwandan traders who deal in goods imported from China.

He says the Kigali-Guangzhou flights will make it easier for people like him to travel and do business between the two countries.

This is exciting for us because some of the biggest problems we have been facing recently are delays and cancellation of flights. There was no predictability of our travels and this was hurting business, he said.

With RwandAir, it will be easier to be certain about when to travel and when to reach to the final destination. Even if there are delays and cancellation, it is easier to find out than using a foreign airline, he added.

Figures show that Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport was China's third-busiest and world's 13th-busiest airport by passenger traffic in 2017, handling 65,806,977 passengers that year alone.

Tourism Observer

ICELAND: Tourist Numbers Decline

The collapse in March of Wow Air is sending ripples through the tiny north Atlantic island, whose spectacular recovery from financial collapse a decade ago was built to a large extent on attracting foreign visitors, thanks in part to its location for the filming of popular television series like Game of Thrones.

Last year, Iceland was named the world's second-worst country for overtourism, based on the number of visitors for every local.

But the latest numbers look dire. Visitors plunged 24 per cent in May from the same period last year and the all-important summer season is looking shaky.

The central bank last month pulled the emergency lever to cushion the blow and delivered a half a point rate cut, while the government has pledged to boost stimulus if needed.

We are prepared for the possibility of a deeper recession, and the numbers we are getting on tourist arrivals seem to indicate that that may happen, central bank Governor Mar Gudmundsson said in an interview in Dubrovnik.

After 20 quarters of uninterrupted growth the longest upswing in its recent history Iceland is bracing itself for a sharp downturn.

Forecasts for 2019 vary widely, with Arion Bank predicting a slump as deep as 1.9 per cent, but there's a general consensus that the nation is facing its worst contraction since the financial crisis.

Unemployment, while still low in an international context, has risen to 3.6 per cent. It was below 3 per cent at the start of the year.

For all of 2019, the number of visitors could drop 17 per cent, according to forecasts from the Keflavik Airport's operator.

Hotel owners are already feeling the pinch, with overnight stays falling an annual 5% in April and the total number of employees in tourism-related sectors decreasing by a similar percentage in May.

May's drop in tourist numbers is larger than what we were expecting, said Skapti Orn Olafsson, a spokesman for the Icelandic Travel Industry Association.

Despite those concerns, the country is now better positioned to weather the storm.

Almost a decade of solid growth has replenished the state's coffers; the central bank has ample margins to cut rates - the benchmark rate now stands at 4 per cent; and the capital controls that were introduced in the wake of the financial crisis have now all but been removed.

We have never been as well prepared in our history to deal with adverse situations as we are now, Gudmundsson said. We have policy space, with a lot of scope to cut rates if necessary. Sedlabanki is due to announce its latest rate decision next week.

Investors are also so far bullish that Iceland will come out okay. The country last week sold 500 million euros ($818 million) in five-year bonds, in a deal that was almost five times oversubscribed.

The government hasn't yet announced any specific plans for the tourism sector, but parliament is currently discussing how to spend a 1 per cent budget surplus dividend originally penciled in for 2019.

Still, the impact can be clearly felt on the ground.

Haukur Einarsson, the owner of the 10-room Alfholl guest house in the center of the capital, says he has had to cut prices by as much as 30 per cent in the face of a sharp drop in demand.

One silver lining is the currency's recent swoon. After rallying sharply since 2015, it has weakened about 20 per cent against the dollar.

If the krona was as strong as last summer it would be very bad, said Einarsson.

And being used to years of booms and busts, Icelander's are resilient.

Even though we are going through a slump, we will regain our former strength, said Olafsson at the travel industry lobby. In 18 to 24 months we will hopefully be back on track.

Tourism Observer

CANADA: Air Canada Crew Forget Sleeping Passenger In Parked Plane

Air Canada said Sunday it's looking into how crew members could have disembarked from a plane without noticing a sleeping passenger who was left behind.

The airline was responding to an incident involving a woman who described waking up "all alone" on a "cold dark" aircraft after a flight to Toronto earlier this month.

"I think I'm having a bad dream bc like seriously how is this happening? Tiffani Adams recounted in a June 19 Facebook post sent by her friend, Deanna Noel-Dale.

"I fell asleep probably less than halfway through my short 1.5 hour flight.. I wake up around midnight, a few hours after flight landed freezing cold still strapped in my seat in complete darkness (I'm talking pitch black) as someone with and anxiety disorder as is I can tell you how terrifying this was."

The airline confirmed the incident took place but declined to comment on its disembarking procedures or how the passenger may have been overlooked.

"We are still reviewing this matter so we have no additional details to share, but we have followed up with the customer and remain in contact with her," Air Canada said.

Adams wrote that after she woke up, she called Noel-Dale to try to explain what happened, but her phone died and she couldn't charge it because power to the plane was off.

She said she was "full on panicking" by the time she found the "walky talky thingys in the cockpit," which also didn't work.

After no one saw the "sos signals" she made by shining a flashlight out the window, she unbolted a cabin door. Facing a steep drop to the tarmac, she leaned out of the aircraft and called over a ground crew, who got her out.

The passenger wrote that Air Canada personnel asked if she was OK and whether she would like a limo and hotel, but she declined the offer.

She said airline representatives apologised and said they would investigate.

"I haven't got much sleep since the reoccurring night terrors and waking up anxious and afraid I'm alone locked up someplace dark," she wrote.

Air Canada said in a Facebook response to the post that it was surprised to hear the story and "very concerned," asking Adams to send a private message with her flight details.

"We'll take a look into it," the airline wrote.

Tourism Observer

Friday 21 June 2019

SOUTH AFRICA: Safair Deplaned After Foetus Is Found In Toilet

A ZULULAND family reported from King Shaka International Airport in Durban this morning that their daughter’s FlySafair flight was cancelled after airline cleaning staff found a fetus in a toilet cistern on board the aircraft.

Their daughter was traveling alone from Durban to Johannesburg’s OR Thambo Airport on the 6.10am flight.

We saw her off safely and she boarded the plane, after which we left her gate to check in to our flight, said Wayne Viviers of Mtunzini.

While we were checking in to our international flight we saw her walking back towards the FlySafair offices.

She explained that shortly before take-off the pilot came over the intercom to announce that a foetus had been found in the toilet cistern, and that the plane was now a crime scene,.

All the passengers deplaned and were rerouted onto other flights.

She said that the passengers were all very shocked at the news

FlySafair is a low-cost airline based in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Safair.

The airline was established in August 2013 and was granted approval by the South African Air Service Licensing Council to launch operations with ten daily services between Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport and Cape Town International Airport.

The airline had plans to begin operations in October 2013.

However, on 8 October 2013, the High Court of South Africa granted an interim court order preventing the airline from starting operations, following an application by rival carriers, on the basis that it did not meet the legal requirement of 75% local ownership.

Substantial restructuring of ownership took place and FlySafair's inaugural flight eventually took place on 16 October 2014

On 29 March 2017, the airline announced its new partnership with the South African Rugby Union (SARU) making it the official domestic carrier for the Springboks and SA Rugby.

FlySafair serves the following domestic destinations:

Cape Town – Cape Town International Airport

Durban – King Shaka International Airport

East London – East London Airport

George – George Airport

Johannesburg – OR Tambo International Airport

Johannesburg – Lanseria International Airport

Port Elizabeth – Port Elizabeth Airport

FlySafair Interlines with the following airlines:

Air France
Condor Flugdienst
Thomas Cook Airlines

FlySafair offers food and drinks as a buy-on-board programme. FlySafair also offers a monthly magazine on board named In Flight. The airline was also the first airline in South Africa to offer card payments aboard their flights.

In April 2017 FlySafair was awarded for being the number one most punctual airline globally, with a 96% on-time performance (OTP) by OAG, an air travel intelligence company.

FlySafair qualified as they were able to provide flight status information for a minimum of 80%, which are calculated over a 12-month period and include airlines and airports with a minimum of 600 operations a month.

On 16 October 2017, it was announced that the airline had won the award for The World's Most On Time Airline by OAG for the second year.

On 16 November 2018, The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) named FlySafair the Aircraft Operator of the Year in its South African Civil Aviation Excellence Awards. At the same ceremony, FlySafair also took second place in the Aviation Customer Services category, and was a finalist in the Aviation Safety category.

As of March 2019, the FlySafair fleet consists of the following all Boeing aircraft:

8 Boeing 737–400

6 Boeing 737–800

Total 14

Tourism Observer

IRAN: Airlines Avoid Flying In Iran Air Space After US Ban

Qantas will re-route flight paths to avoid parts of Iran after the United States aviation regulator issued an emergency order banning US airlines from certain areas amid escalating tensions between the two countries.

The US Federal Aviation Administration on Friday banned US carriers from flying in Iran-controlled airspace over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman, after Iran shot down an American surveillance drone.

The FAA said there were numerous civilian aircraft operating in the area when the drone was shot down and that it was concerned about the escalation of tension and ministry activity close to high-volume aircraft routes.

The US carrier United Airlines has also suspended its flights from Newark in New Jersey and Mumbai, India, which goes through Iranian airspace following a thorough safety and security review.

Qantas flights to and from London, both via Singapore and non-stop from Perth, frequently fly over Iran.

A spokesman for the airline said it was adjusting our flight paths over the Middle East to avoid the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf
of Oman until further notice.

The airline also often flies through Iraq as an alternative passage through the Gulf region, and expects the impact on flying time to be negligible.

Other carriers such as Singapore Airlines commonly used by Australians flying to Europe fly the same route over Iran.

Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways flights in the area prohibited for US carriers at 1pm on Friday.

The FAA’s directive does not apply to Australian-flagged carriers, and Australia’s aviation regulator does not have the power to tell airlines where they can or cannot fly.

Australian airlines use their own safety management systems to decide whether to avoid flying in certain areas. Those systems consider safety advice from numerous sources, including bodies like the FAA.

The FAA's announcement came over an Iranian surface-to-air missile on Thursday bringing down the US Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk, an unmanned aircraft with a wingspan larger than a Boeing 737 jetliner and costing over $US100 million ($144 million).

The US said it made plans for limited strikes on Iran in response, but then called them off.

The downing of the drone was the latest of a series of incidents in the Gulf region, a critical artery for global oil supplies, that included explosive strikes on six oil tankers.

The FAA previously warned commercial aircraft of the possibility of Iranian anti-aircraft gunners mistaking them for military aircraft.

In July 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down by a missile over Ukraine, killing all 298 on board, prompting carriers to take more steps to uncover threats to their planes.

Tourism Observer

SOUTH AFRICA: Protea Hotels by Marriott Is Coolest Hotel Brand In South Africa.

For the ninth consecutive year, Protea Hotels by Marriott has been named South Africa’s Coolest Hotel Brand in the Sunday Times Generation Next Survey for 2019.

This coveted recognition further re-enforces the brand’s deep understanding of a rapidly evolving market and its growing traction in South Africa.
Designed for the progressive yet pragmatic traveler seeking a high-quality travel experience, Protea Hotels by Marriott has been redefining and leading the evolution of travel in a highly competitive and dynamic market exceeding guest expectations consistently, said Neal Jones, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International.

We are delighted to be recognized for our efforts and win this coveted accolade for the ninth consecutive year, gaining the confidence of the next generation of travelers in a strategically important market. This award is a testament to the hard work and commitment of our teams.

The company prides itself with an associate complement that is diverse in age, ethnicity and backgrounds, a talent strategy that it believes contributes to its success.

Delivering a highly personalized experience that caters to the demands of a forever young demographic has been at the core of everything we do, added Danny Bryer, Area Director for Sales & Marketing, Protea Hotels by Marriott.

We know it is important to stay ahead of the game and we constantly challenge ourselves to go above and beyond. Being part of Marriott International’s global brand portfolio gives us access to global trends and best practices and allows us to translhate these into unique locally relevant experiences.

This helps us to connect with forward-thinking travelers including the next generation and build loyalty with them.

Now in its 13th year, Generation Next polls the opinions of 5,675 of South Africa’s youth ages 8 to 22 in urban and peri-urban environments in six provinces.

The lifestyle and consumer behavior questionnaire is boosted by a further 4622 face-to-face interviews.

Tourism Observer

SOUTH AFRICA: Starts In South Africa

Online travel agency Travelcheck has launched in South Africa. The new company is a privately funded venture and offers flight and hotel bundles, online booking for all major airlines, and more than 300 000 hotels around the world. differentiates from other online booking websites with a dynamic packages feature which enables travellers to custom create holidays.

Pre-defined packages are available to book should travellers desire recommendations.

“We are excited to launch Travelcheck in South Africa,” said CEO, Odette Faling. “Travellers can save up to 25 per cent by booking flights and hotels in a bundle rather than reserving these components separately, and features such as dynamic packages will give South Africans more choices when booking travel online.”

The flight search engine features ‘Quick Share’ to facilitate seamless itinerary and price sharing to third-party messaging apps such as WhatsApp directly from the search results page.

Mix & Match allows travellers to book more than one airline in the same ticket – for example, travellers can choose to fly from Cape Town to London on British Airways and return on Turkish Airlines without booking separate segments.

Travelcheck has partnered with third parties to offer useful ancillaries which can be added during the online booking, including: lost luggage insurance, a cancellation and refund policy and flight ticket amendments.

The website takes EFT and credit card payments (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club), and customers can also complete payment over the phone. Travelcheck customer service agents are active from Monday to Sunday inside business hours, and after-hours support is available around-the-clock to assist with urgent reservations.

Dynamic packages and bundled bookings have helped travellers in more developed markets save time and money. We’re enthusiastic about being the first to bring this technology to South Africa, said Faling.

Travelcheck is a proudly South African online travel agency that offers innovative international technology to simplify the travel planning and booking process, for you, our valuable client.

Travelcheck, provides you with the convenience of comparing and booking flights and hotels that are perfectly suited to your travel needs.

Thanks to a smart search engine, you now have a travel gateway right at your fingertips and can search, customize and build your very own holiday package. There are multiple accommodation and flight options to choose from; you will be spoilt for choice.

Travelcheck allows you to tailor your accommodation and flights to suit your individual needs perfectly.

The price range of the trip, the type of flight, the flight duration, the location of the flight layover, the flight departure and arrival time, luggage allowance, meal preference and so much more can all be arranged, in one single place, our website.

Once your trip has been selected, you can simply complete the reservation process, by proceeding with payment, which is simple, straightforward, and safe. Payment at is secured by the most reliable security and is fully Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant.

We at Travelcheck aim to bring South Africans a seamless experience by dynamically packaging their travel needs in an affordable and convenient way.

You will have complete control over selecting exactly what you want. The ticket reservation process at is simple and fast, giving users an enjoyable, hassle-free purchasing experience.

We look forward to delivering a dream holiday to you and yours. Your next vacation is as close as a click of a button.

Tourism Observer

TANZANIA: Marriott International Proud To Announce Four Points by Sheraton Dar es Salaam

Marriott International, Inc. has announced the opening of its second Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Tanzania, Four Points by Sheraton Dar es Salaam, New Africa Hotel.

The original New Africa Hotel was built as the official residence of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1896. It was used as a hospital during World War I before being converted into a hotel during the British Empire.

Sitting at the heart of the central business district of the city, overlooking the Harbor the hotel has since emerged as a landmark and an integral part of the burgeoning city.

With the renovation and the rebrand the hotel continues to retain its unique charm, while delivering on the brand’s promise to provide what matters most to today’s independent travelers.

Four Points by Sheraton Dar es Salaam, New Africa Hotel, is a great addition to our rapidly growing footprint in Africa and further consolidates the brands presence in Tanzania.

We are confident that with its blend of stylish comfort and genuine service at a great value, the hotel will meet the rising demand for high-caliber lodging in this fast-growing market and soon emerge as a leading choice among business and leisure travelers, said Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International.

Designed for the modern traveler with an emphasis on approachable design, the 174 room Four Points by Sheraton Dar es Salaam, New Africa Hotel, features spacious and contemporary rooms including suites.

It also offers an all-day dining, a coffee shop and a lounge-bar where guests can experience the brand’s signature Best Brews program and watch their favorite sports matches.

The hotel also features The Spice Route, a signature restaurant overlooking the Harbor showcasing Pan Asian fine dining.

Other facilities include an outdoor pool and a state-of-the-art fitness center. With 1000 square feet of indoor meeting and banquet space spread across 12 flexible meeting rooms, the hotel is an ideal venue for gatherings of any size including elaborate social events and weddings.

The hotel offers the brand’s defining touches, including the Four Comfort Bed, complimentary bottled water in all rooms, fast and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and an energizing breakfast with freshly brewed coffee that helps guests start the day right.

Our vision is to offer an uncomplicated travel experience for both business and leisure. Perfectly situated in the heart of the city, the hotel is at the epicenter, steeped in history and surrounded by local attractions, said Siddharth Chaudhry General Manager, Four Points by Sheraton Dar es Salaam, New Africa Hotel. “We look forward to welcoming our guests with the brand’s signature warm and uncomplicated yet comfortable service.”

Four Points has proven to be a global hit with its distinctive identity and ability to meet the increasing demands of the modern, everyday traveler.

The brand is experiencing incredible growth momentum having surpassed the 250th hotel milestone globally.

Over the past two years in East Africa alone, the brand has opened Four Points by Sheraton Hurlingham, Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport and Four Points by Sheraton Arusha with Four Points by Sheraton Dar es Salaam becoming the fourth property to open in the region.

Tourism Observer

INDIA: Hyatt Hotels Corp To Expand In India With 14 More Properties

Hyatt Hotels Corp will accelerate expansion in India over the next two years, opening at least 14 new properties.

It plans to add more than 2,100 guestrooms with new hotels in major and second tier cities across the country.

It will enter eight new markets giving it a presence in a total of 27 cities within the next two years.

It began with the brand launch of Hyatt Centric in Goa and the Hyatt Regency brand will launch new hotels in Kochi, as well as the Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort, its first in the Himalayan region, and Hyatt Regency Thrissur.

Grand Hyatt Gurgaon will also open in the final quarter of 2019.

For Hyatt, India has a high growth potential and remains a market where we can expand our brand representation. Being focused on intentional growth gives us a unique edge, said Sunjae Sharma, vice president of India operations.

For 2020, new openings include Hyatt Place properties in Jaipur and Vadodara plus Hyatt Regency brand hotels in Dehradun, Udaipur and Trivandrum.

Hyatt Hotels Corporation has announced its plans to open more than 14 new properties in India over the next 24 months. The new properties will include hotels and resorts in Bengaluru, Dehradun, Udaipur, Gurgaon, Jaipur, and Trivandrum.

The Chicago-headquartered Hyatt Hotels said 2019 would mark record growth for Hyatt in India. “Expansion plans foresee the addition of over 2,100 guest rooms through the opening of more than 14 new properties over the next 24 months,” a press release from the hotel major said.

Aside from growth in the larger capital cities, the emphasis will be on leisure and cultural destinations, with a focus on emerging cities within India.

This expansion includes hotels in eight new markets in the country which will establish Hyatt brand presence across 27 cities in India.

“As a result of an increasingly favourable business climate and heightened tourism spend, encouraged by relaxed visa rules and a growing upper middle class, there is a general demand for growth in the hospitality industry in India,” said the statement.

This year’s expansion began with the introduction of the Hyatt Centric brand through the opening of Hyatt Centric Candolim Goa.

New to the Hyatt portfolio as part of the Two Roads Hospitality acquisition in November 2018, the Alila brand also added two new properties in India, located in Diwa Goa and Fort Bishangarh.

Later in 2019, Hyatt plans to expand its brand footprint in Kerala with the opening of Hyatt Regency Kochi Malayattoor, a resort property on the banks of the Periyar river, and Hyatt Regency Thrissur, providing travellers with the first premium hotel in Thrissur.

Hyatt also plans to add its first resort in the foothills of the Himalayas with the anticipated opening of Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort in the second half of 2019. Gurgaon will also be in focus later in 2019, with the scheduled opening of Grand Hyatt Gurgaon.

“These hotels will add over 1,000 guest rooms to Hyatt’s existing offering in India and will establish its brand presence in four new markets,” it said.

In the next year, Hyatt Place Bangalore Urbana, Hyatt Regency Jaipur Mansarovar, Hyatt Regency Dehradun, Hyatt Place Vadodara, Hyatt Regency Trivandrum, Hyatt Place Jaipur Malviya Nagar and Hyatt Regency Udaipur will be opened.

“Hyatt is one of the longest-running international hotel management brands in India, the first Hyatt hotels in India opened over 30 years ago. Our heritage and experience in this complex market, paired with the strong relationships we hold with local developers and owners has helped make India one of the top-three growth markets for Hyatt globally, said Dhruva Rathore, vice-president development (India), Hyatt.

“India has high growth potential and remains a market where Hyatt can expand its brand representation. Being focused on intentional growth gives us a unique edge as Hyatt can differentiate by having the right assets in its portfolio,” said Sunjae Sharma, vice-president operations (India), Hyatt.

Tourism Observer

Thursday 20 June 2019

EUROPE: Hyatt Takes Alila To Europe

Hyatt is to bring its newly-acquired Alila brand to Europe, with a new hotel in La Gruyere, western Switzerland.

The brand currently operates 20 properties in Indonesia, India, China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Oman and the US.

Alila La Gruyere is due to open in 2023, overlooking a lake in Pont-La-Ville and forming part of the Golf Resort La Gruyere development.

It will have 85 hotel rooms alongside spa, conference and meetings facilities, restaurants, and a world class 18 hole golf course.

Hyatt took over Alila last year as part of its acquisition of lifestyle hotel management group Two Roads Hospitality.

Guido Fredrich, Hyatt regional vice president of development for Europe, said: "The Alila brand offers tremendous potential for growth in Europe by responding to the increasing trend of eco-tourism and wellness travel.

"We also know that well-travelled guests are looking to make impactful connections, and the Alila brand caters to this demand by crafting rare and intimate experiences."

Alila Hotels and Resorts is a hotel management company that operates in Indonesia, India, Oman and China, with their headquarters located in Singapore. Alila Hotels and Resorts is part of the Global Hotel Alliance.

Alila Hotels and Resorts was founded in May 2001 when their first property, "Alila Jakarta", opened its doors in Indonesia’s capital city. The brand was founded primarily by Mark Edleson, Alila operates 11 properties in Asia.

At present Alila Hotels and Resorts has a portfolio of 11 properties located in Indonesia, India and Oman. These hotels and resorts are also members of Design Hotels, which features properties that showcase modern design.
In December 2012, Alila Hotels and Resorts added a liveaboard Phinisi sailing ship to their portfolio named the Alila Purnama.

It was the brand’s first luxury liveaboard ship. At present, the ship sails over the Indonesian waters of Raja Ampat and the Komodo area.

In May 2014, Alila Hotels and Resorts and Commune Hotels & Resorts announced their new partnership. Commune Hotels & Resorts owns Joie de Vivre Hotels, Thompson Hotels and tommie.RAlila was awarded The Best Foreign Hotel Brand 2010 by Condé Nast Traveller.

Tourism Observer

UNITED KINGDOM: Travel Agent Banned For Seven Years

A travel agency director has been banned from running a business for seven years.

The unexplained payments, worth close to £400,000, included £193,000 paid to Jacobs' own account and more than £186,000 in debit card transactions.

Jacobs, aged 32, from Chatham, had set up the agency in November 2015.

It entered into Creditors Voluntary Liquidation in March 2018 after it couldn't pay debts of more than £127,000.

Insolvency Practitioners were appointed to wind-up the company and their report to the Insolvency Service triggered an investigation into Jacobs' conduct.

The investigation established that from December 2015 she failed to maintain ICharter's books and records.

She has been banned from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company for seven years.

Martin Gitner, deputy head of insolvent investigations at the Insolvency Service, said: "Helen Jacobs had a vast amount of experience in the travel industry and should have known that directors have a duty to maintain and preserve a record of financial transactions.

This seven-year ban should reinforce to company directors the importance of maintaining accurate accounts.

Tourism Observer

EUROPE: Ryanair Not Greenest Airline In Europe Says Founder And CEO Of Responsible Travel

The founder and CEO of Responsible Travel has dismissed claims by Ryanair that it is the greenest airline in Europe.

Ryanair issued figures today claiming it delivers the lowest CO2 per passenger/km in the EU airline industry, thanks to it having the highest passenger load factor (96%) and one of the youngest fleets.

It said its CO2 per pax/km of 67g p.a is substantially lower than its EU competitors said it was committed to reducing this further to under 60g per pax/km by 2030.

It claimed competitors such as Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France KLM currently generate over 120g per pax/km.

But the claims have been dismissed by Justin Francis, founder of Responsible Travel, a travel company which is campaigning for a Green Flying Duty.

Ryanair claims to be the greenest airline are false, said Francis.

In fact it's now the 10th biggest carbon polluting business, of any kind, in Europe.

Ryanair is correct in saying that its CO2 emissions per passenger km is far lower than competitors, however its vast scale and growth outweigh these efficiencies.

It's very interesting to see them comment on anticipated aviation taxes, which is a very hot topic right now. One might applaud their desire to see a consistent and fair scheme or see it as another stalling tactic, and one that will probably fail now that President Macron has advocated an EU wide aviation fuel tax.
We propose a Green Flying Duty, with revenues ring fenced for R&D into electric aviation - something Ryanair should welcome as it will both reduce emissions now reduction in demand and ultimately the cost of running an airline. Good for business, good for the environment.

Tourism Observer

Understanding Hotel Maids,Their Work And What They Pass Through

A hotel chambermaid has revealed the one thing she wishes guests wouldn't do, despite the fact they think they're being helpful.

When you finish your stay in a hotel, do you attempt to tidy the room while packing up your things?

Do you straighten out the curtains, clean up marks in the bathroom and attempt to make the bed perfectly?

Well a chambermaid has revealed they wish you wouldn't attempt the latter, because they're going to have to change the sheets anyway.

A housekeeper says if you've slept in your bed, you don't need to make it when you leave. If we think you haven't used the bed at all, we may not change the sheet. So it's better if it looks slept in.

When you head on your summer holidays this year, it's worth keeping this information in mind - especially if you combine it with the useful thing you can do to help hotel staff.

It's not necessary or expected, but it's really sweet when a guest takes apart their bed before they leave because you have to clean so many rooms in a certain amount of time.

It helps a lot. Also, put all your used towels in a pile together on the floor.

Essentially, stripping the bed is the perfect way to make life easier when you leave, as opposed to making it.

Hotel maids get little respect or money for their physically demanding work. We wanted to learn what their job is really like, apart from making beds and placing flowers on pillows.
Aecrets about their duties, including the constant time crunch, the bizarre and horrifying things they have encountered in guest rooms, and the reason they suggest you don’t use the hotel cups.

Hotels have different housekeeping policies, but most maids are allotted 28 to 40 minutes to clean each standard room and up to an hour for a suite.

Depending on the hotel, maids may be assigned a list of rooms to clean or choose rooms to meet their daily quota, which typically ranges from 10 to 16 rooms.

Maids often feel pressure from their supervisors to clean rooms quickly. I find it annoying when a guest has made too much mess to fix in the given time.

To be honest though, management is more annoying. Sometimes they have high expectations, but they don’t give you enough time. Because of the time crunch, most maids are not able to clean each room as thoroughly as they'd like, and they skip tasks such as vacuuming, scrubbing the bathtub, and cleaning under the bed.

Housekeepers dislike leaving a room not fully cleaned, but there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

At most hotels, maids must report any items they find left behind in a room after a guest checks out. If the items go unclaimed for a set period of time, perhaps 45 to 90 days, some hotels allow maids to keep the items they've found.

They're supposed to go back to the person who found them and anything they don't want is donated to charity, but usually the supervisors go through and take the good stuff first, a maid who has worked in several five-stars hotels says.

I’ve gotten a ghd hair straightener and a designer jacket.

Although most hotels forbid maids from napping or using the toilet in guest rooms, some maids break the rules.

Exhausted maids who have more time than usual to clean a large suite may secretly catch a few minutes of shut-eye in a guest’s bed.

Something else we do sometimes is that we use the toilets in the guest’s bathroom, but only if we are super busy and don’t have enough time to go to the staff toilets, a maid says. It is something we are not supposed to do, but many do it anyway.

While some hotels pair up maids to clean larger rooms, most maids work solo, and interact only on a very superficial level with guests and coworkers.

The best part of her job is the peace and quiet it affords: I probably spend about 20 minutes of my work day interacting with other people. For an introvert its ideal.

But if the alone time ever makes them feel lonely, maids may sing and talk to themselves as they clean, entertaining and distracting themselves from the monotony.

Horror stories abound among hotel maids. Most have seen or have coworkers who have seen drugs, blood, vomit, sexually explicit materials, fecal matter, and even dead bodies.

Evidence of illegal activity in a room necessitates a call to the local police, who remove drugs and process a crime scene. But many hotels still make maids clean up the bodily fluids and excrement that remain in a room where criminal activity has occurred.

Although maids are usually given extra time to deal with this type of extreme mess, it's never a pleasant part of the job.

For all the disgusting scenes they encounter, most hotel maids also stumble upon some comical and downright weird stuff.

A hotel maid says that she encountered an amusingly bizarre scene in a room that a guest had recently checked out of.

It smelled a little funky, but I couldn't find the source of the stench. I went to strip the bed, pulled the sheets back, and the bed was filled with coleslaw, she says. Coleslaw! I had no idea why, and I do not want to know why!

She says she once found an abandoned baby lying on the bed and promptly carried it to the hotel’s management. It turned out to be a robot or fake baby that would make noises just like a real one, she says. It was left by guests attending a medical or science convention or something.

Besides feeling pressure from their supervisors to clean rooms quickly, some hotel maids also vie with their coworkers. The more senior housekeeping staff can sometimes make it stressful.

They fight for the more expensive rooms or suites because better items are left behind for the taking if nobody claims them.

They also fight to take the better trolleys, leaving others with old ones that don’t have the right products or supplies, meaning a lot more running around.

Although you’ve probably heard warnings about the bacteria teeming on your hotel room’s remote control, hotel maids reveal that there’s another item in your room that's rarely cleaned as well as it should be.

Not using the cups is my number one rule that I tell everyone,says a maid. I’ve definitely seen other maids polishing glasses with the same cloth they just used to dust the room. I’ve never seen the toilet brush used but knowing some of the people I work with, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.

The minibar glasses need to be spotless, but maids don’t have dish soap in their housekeeping carts. So some housekeepers will wash the glasses in the sink with hot water and shampoo.

But many of them use furniture polish because it leaves the glasses spot-free.

Some hotel maids study to become Certified Guestroom Attendants at the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI).

This certification prepares maids with the knowledge and skills they need to clean and maintain rooms. The AHLEI offers a variety of classes, workshops, online education, and on-the-job training to aspiring hotel maids who hope to enter the hospitality industry.

After completing their courses and passing a 30-question multiple-choice Guestroom Attendant exam, maids can get certified. While some hotels require their maids to be certified, many maids use their certification to find higher-paying housekeeping jobs.

Tipping customs vary around the world, but no matter what country they work in, most maids rely on tips to survive. In the U.S., where maids’ median annual salary is just $21,820, many hotel maids can go days without receiving a single tip.

A hotel maid who works at a four-star hotel estimates that only 40 percent of guests leave a tip. She emphasizes, though, that tipping can vary greatly:. Some people tip, some don't as a rule, some don't realize they can. I have gone days with no tips at all then in one day I made $40.

Maids suggest that guests leave a dollar or two each day rather than a larger tip at the end of their stay. That way, the maid who cleans your room on any given day, rather than just the day you check out receives a tip.

And if you’ve ever wondered if your hotel maid would appreciate food and drink as part of their tip, the answer is yes! Many hotel maids enjoy receiving unopened snacks and beverages.

Because hotel policies vary, though, make sure to leave a note indicating that the food and drinks are for the housekeeping staff.

Besides being exposed to a variety of strange bodily fluids, hotel maids—the majority of whom are female—face the potential threat of being assaulted every time they enter a room.

While movies such as Maid in Manhattan (2002) romanticize relationships between hotel maids and guests, the reality is that maids are vulnerable to abuse.

People frequently open their doors naked or just in a towel or underwear. Some male guests as well as male members of the hotel staff make advances, grope, or try to intimidate maids into having sex with them.

Hotel maids sing the praises of guests who are tidy and considerate. We have a lot of business people that come in to have a quick sleep, take a shower and leave, a Hotel maid says.

A handful of times I've had to check if the guest had actually checked in because they've left the room so tidy.

To make a hotel maid’s job easier, you can make sure you put your trash in the bin, leave used towels in a pile in the tub or on the floor, and flush the toilet.

At least 1 in 3 people don’t flush.

Tourism Observer

Wednesday 19 June 2019

USA:Delta Air Lines Flight Diverted After Crazy And Erratic Passenger Slaps Flight CrewThen Vomits

Passengers on a flight from Paris were in for a wild ride when a man snapped on the plane and set off a chain of very bad behaviour.

A Paris-bound Delta Air Lines flight was diverted after an unruly passenger caused a sky-high commotion and violently lashed out at a flight attendant.

In a dramatic outburst, the man allegedly yelled, slapped a flight attendant and vomited, pushing flight crew to land early at Detroit Metropolitan Airport to remove the erratic passenger.

Delta flight 500 left Indianapolis for the French capital on Thursday. About 40 minutes into the trip, passenger Ian Robert James Morin began yelling and acting erratically, and the flight crew’s attempts to calm him down proved unsuccessful.

Moments later, the irate passenger became violent.

Morin hit one of the flight attendants with an open hand to the left side of her throat near her carotid artery, an FBI special agent later detailed.

He continued to yell and attempted to hit the flight attendant again. During the altercation, Morin threw up on the aircraft.

Passengers and crew members proceeded to restrain and handcuff Morin. The plane diverted to Detroit, where the 21-year-old Indiana man was taken into custody by law enforcement officials.

The remaining passengers were then removed from the plane and put up in hotels overnight.

Assigned a new flight the next morning, the customers arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris on Friday morning — about 15 hours past schedule.

We apologise for the delay and inconvenience of our customers on Flight 500. As a matter of safety, the flight was diverted to Detroit to remove an unruly passenger, the spokesperson said.

Mr Morin appeared in Detroit Federal Court on June 14 and was released on bond.

A spokesperson for the Wayne County Airport Authority of Michigan further confirmed to the outlet the investigation had been turned over to the FBI.

Tourism Observer

KENYA: KQ Pilot Saves 95 Passengers Flying From Mombasa ToNairobi

A Kenya Airways pilot on Monday saved 95 passengers and 5 crew members who were headed to Nairobi from Mombasa.

The captain was forced to take precautionary measures after the aircraft's warning system raised a false mechanical alarm.

The flight KQ605 departed Mombasa at 1754 hours and was airborne at 1807hours. However, it was forced to land back in Mombasa at 1834hours.

In a press statement by Kenya Airways, engineers declared the aircraft grounded after they assessed it.

Other passengers with connections beyond Nairobi have been given accommodation in Mombasa to travel tomorrow to their final destinations, part of the statement read.

The airline apologized for the inconvenience and further advised its clients to contact customer care for any queries.

In yet another incident that occurred on March 28, 2019, the pilot of a Kisumu-bound plane saved the lives of over 70 passengers after the plane was unable to land at the Kisumu International Airport.

Upon reaching Kisumu, the pilot observed that the weather conditions were not optimal for landing.

After circling above Lake Victoria for some time to wait for the weather to clear up, he decided to fly back to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Tourism Observer