77% of travelers want to travel in the next year, with Europe reigning as top destination, according to new traveler research commissioned by Amadeus


LONDON–()–The survey of 9,074 consumers across France, Germany, India, Spain, Russia, Singapore, the UAE, the UK, and the US shows the appetite to travel is high. At the same time, it reveals that greater clarity on restrictions and guidelines will be key to unlocking increased traveler confidence. Over a third (35%) of travelers said the current international guidelines around where and how to travel are confusing, making them less likely to book business and/or leisure travel.

At the same time, travelers are exhibiting increased openness to embrace technology and a willingness to share health data so they can start traveling again.

When asked about the receptiveness to share personal health data, the survey results show:

  • 93% of travelers would be willing to provide personal data for the effective use of digital health passports or certificates, a slight increase from 91% in February 2021
  • Almost half (48%) of business travelers would be willing to provide their health data to visit a conference or event, while 36% of leisure travelers would be willing to for an excursion or activity at destination.

When asked which technology would increase confidence to travel in the next 12 months, mobile solutions continue to be the most popular, with the top technologies including:

  • Mobile applications that provide on-trip notifications and alerts (44%)
  • Self-service check-in (41%)
  • Contactless mobile payments (e.g., Apple or Google Pay, Paypal, Venmo) (41%)
  • Automated and flexible cancellation policies (40%)

Mobile applications and contactless technology have remained top technologies across all three studies, with the addition of automated and flexible cancellation policies in this final instalment.

The research is the third in a series of traveler sentiment surveys, where Amadeus takes a regular checkpoint on traveler sentiment and concerns to help the industry rebuild travel in the most effective way. Both the 2020 Rethink Travel survey (Sept 2020) and Rebuild Travel Digital Health (Feb 2021) survey revealed how technology can help to increase traveler confidence and Amadeus revisited this question to see how traveler confidence has changed since September 2020. 97% of travelers now say that technology will increase their confidence to travel, up from 91% in February 2021 and 84% in September 2020, showing a growing sense of traveler confidence in technology.

When considering the future of travel and sustainability, the survey highlighted what solutions travelers believe might help the industry to become more sustainable long-term. The results showed:

  • Nearly half (46%) of travelers said greater availability of green modes of transport, e.g., electric planes or trains
  • A similar percentage (44%) believe making sustainable travel more cost effective would be beneficial
  • 41% say transparency around travel companies’ sustainability policies would help.

Although receptiveness to travel in the next year is high, the travel industry needs to consider how to respond to changing traveler concerns as the travel environment continues to adapt. The three main concerns travelers have, are:

  • Fears of catching COVID-19 while traveling (41%)
  • Self-isolation or quarantine before and after travel (41%)
  • Changing restrictions resulting in last minute cancellations (37%)

In comparison to the previous studies, fears of catching the virus maintain a top concern for travelers, alongside self-isolation, or quarantine.

Decius Valmorbida, President, Travel, Amadeus, says, “The travel industry still faces many challenges in light of COVID-19, but we are seeing positive steps taken as restrictions lift and developments in digital health certificates continue around the world. This research demonstrates the appetite to travel continues to grow, and that travelers are looking forward to advancements in areas such as touchless technology, digital health and sustainable travel. Now is the time to listen even more closely to travelers’ needs so we can rebuild our industry in a way that is more traveler focused, resilient and sustainable.”

Francisco Pérez-Lozao Rüter, President, Hospitality, Amadeus, comments, “This three-part series of research has highlighted the essential role that both technology and data have to play in the recovery of our industry and increasing traveler confidence. In hospitality specifically we are seeing how our hotel customers are implementing solutions that complement and streamline experiences without losing the human touch while using data to better prepare for guest demands. At Amadeus we are committed to rebuilding a better industry and working closely with our customers to provide the tools to achieve this.”

To learn more about the results of the survey, read our global report here: https://amadeus.com/en/insights/themes/rebuild-travel



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Expedia Names Allentown A Trending Destination For Holiday Travel – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and the Best of Pittsburgh


Expedia Names Allentown A Trending Destination For Holiday TravelA city in Pennsylvania is one of the hottest destinations for the holidays, according to a travel site.

Real Estate Listing In Allegheny County Goes Viral For Spooky PicturesA real estate listing in Allegheny County is going viral for its spooky pictures.

KDKA News Update PM: September 30, 2021KDKA News Update PM: September 30, 2021

New Exhibit Opens This Weekend At Carnegie Science CenterPompeii: The Exhibition opens this Saturday.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Hosting Community Event On Southern BeltwayThe Pennsylvania Turnpike is hosting a free community event on the Southern Beltway.

Community Health Workers Bridge The Gap Between Doctors And PatientsOfficials want more community health workers out in local communities; KDKA’s Meghan Schiller reports.

Sec. Of State Full Interview With KDKA TV’s Jon DelanoSec. Of State Full Interview With KDKA TV’s Jon Delano

Pittsburgh Public Schools Interim Superintendent Wants To Restore Confidence And TrustPittsburgh Public Schools’ interim superintendent already has a set of goals; KDKA’s Andy Sheehan reports.

Departments Say Funding From American Rescue Plan Is A Much-Needed Shot In The ArmAllegheny County has approved how to spend almost $100 million from American Rescue Plan; KDKA’s Chris Hoffman reports.

KDKA-TV Evening Forecast (9/30)Stay on top of local weather with meteorologist Ray Petelin’s forecast!

Secretary Of State Antony Blinken Visits PittsburghU.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded his two-day visit to Pittsburgh with an exclusive interview with Jon Delano.

Allegheny Co. Sheriff’s Deputies Arrest Man Accused Of Shooting Pregnant GirlfriendAllegheny County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested a 20-year-old man accused of shooting his pregnant girlfriend earlier this month.

School Van Crashes Into Eat’n Park In Murrysville, 3 Students InjuredThree Franklin Regional High School students were injured when their school van crashed into an Eat’n Park.

Reporter Update: Man Accused Of Shooting Pregnant Girlfriend ArrestedAfter 15 days on the run, Aundrai Russell is in jail; KDKA’s Amy Wadas reports.

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Held For Newly-Replaced Kenmawr BridgeA ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Thursday morning for the recently replaced Kenmawr Bridge; KDKA’s Chris Hoffman reports.

West Virginia University To Ring Bell For Students Who Died Since February 2020The bell will toll in honor of several West Virginia University students who have lost their lives since February 2020. Katie Johnston reports.

Former Steeler Antonio Brown Activated From Reserve/COVID-19 List For The Tampa Bay BuccaneersThe Tampa Bay Buccaneers have activated wide receiver Antonio Brown from the Reserve/COVID-19 List. Katie Johnston reports.

Allegheny Co. Sheriff’s Deputies Arrest Man, 20, Accused Of Shooting Pregnant GirlfriendAllegheny County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested a 20-year-old man accused of shooting his pregnant girlfriend earlier this month. Katie Johnston reports.

Reporter Update: American Rescue Plan Money Plans In Allegheny Co.KDKA’s Chris Hoffman is looking at how the American Rescue Plan funds coming to Allegheny County will be used.

Reporter Update: School Van Crashes Into Murrysville Eat ‘N ParkKDKA’s Ross Guidotti reports from Murrysville where three students were injured when a school van slammed into an Eat ‘n Park restaurant.

KDKA-TV Afternoon Forecast (9/30)Stay on top of local weather with meteorologist Ron Smiley’s 7-day forecast!

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Held For Kenmawr BridgeA ribbon-cutting ceremony was held today for the opening of the Kenmawr Bridge in Swissvale and Rankin.

Allegheny County Reports 361 New Coronavirus CasesThe Allegheny County Health Department is reporting 361 new coronavirus cases and one additional death.

Dollar Tree To Add Products Costing More Than A DollarDollar Tree for decades has sold most of its products for a dollar. Now it’s adding products for higher prices at thousands of stores.



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Ron Chase: Damariscove Island is a remarkable kayak destination


I consider a sea kayak trip to Damariscove Island to be one of the most unique destinations on the Maine coast. The southern terminus of the rugged rockbound island is located about five miles off the shore of Ocean Point situated on the far end of Linekin Neck in East Boothbay.

The now uninhabited island has a rich and tumultuous history. Native Americans used primitive canoes to travel there long before European settlers arrived. Prior to the founding of Jamestown and Plymouth Colonies, English fishermen began occupying the island in 1604. During the King Philip’s War in 1676, survivors from nearby coastal settlements fled there for safety from attacking Native Americans. A cluster of offshore ledges, The Motions, have been the scene of numerous shipwrecks which prompted the construction of a lifesaving station late in the 19th Century.

For me, kayaking to Damariscove is a very stimulating endeavor. It entails ten miles of paddling including navigation through the potentially treacherous Motions. An additional benefit is a visit to one of Maine’s most historic islands with phenomenal coastal landscapes.

Since a voyage to the “cove” involves significant exposure to open seas with little opportunity to land, careful planning is essential for a safe trip. Forecasts for tides, wind, seas, fog, and weather are factors to be considered. I recently identified what appeared to be a quality Damariscove day with light winds, calm seas, and summer-like conditions predicted. The tides were not helpful but winds normally trump tides.

When I announced a Penobscot Paddle and Chowder Society trip, four frequent kayaking companions enthusiastically agreed to join me. The day before the scheduled excursion, a forecast for dense fog threatened our plans. Particularly concerning was the prospect of negotiating The Motions in fog. Following several communications, a decision was made to meet late morning speculating that would provide sufficient time for the fog to lift.

Our strategy was confirmed when we met at the boat landing on Ocean Point the following day. Only a foggy haze remained and the northern end of distant Damariscove Island was visible. Seas were calm and winds light. The trip was on!

After confirming a compass bearing for nearby Ram Island, five of us departed tranquil Grimes Cove in solo kayaks. Approximately a mile away, tiny Ram Island and its prominent lighthouse was our first objective. Completing an uneventful channel crossing, we passed adjacent to the inactive light station now under the purview of Grand Banks Schooner Museum Trust.

Close by, Fisherman Island was next. A distinctive stone house was observed situated high on the mile-long otherwise barren atoll. Light winds and seas continued as we proceeded along the west side. Two lobster boats were hauling traps a little farther offshore. Another larger vessel was maneuvering north dragging an unfamiliar device, possibly related to a scientific study. We were part of the diversity that personifies the Maine coast.

A southwest breeze increased as we concluded the one-mile traverse to the northern tip of Damariscove Island. Massive granite ledges dominated the western shoreline as our tenacious band progressed south. A narrow rock-strewn isthmus separates the northern and southern half of the island. The northern sector is a bird sanctuary where landing is prohibited.

As we approached the southwestern end of the island, cascading surf from The Motions could be discerned ahead. The capricious conditions that constitute The Motions were relatively benign on that fine day and passage was accomplished with minimal risk.

Entrance into the serene cove was in stark contrast to the rolling swells just outside in The Motions. We paddled past the decommissioned Coast Guard Life Saving Station to a gravel beach at the top of the inlet and secured our kayaks.

Boothbay Region Land Trust (BRLT) is conservator of the island and maintains an elaborate trail system. We chose a short hike sidestepping patches of poison ivy to high ledges on the east side for lunch. The panoramic view from the precipitous location was exceptional. From the expansive overlook, seas appeared turbulent on the southeastern tip of the island so the consensus was to backtrack through The Motions and return to Ocean Point on the west side of the islands. Before departing, we enjoyed a friendly chat with the BRLT caretakers.

Conditions were ideal for the return trip. Ours had been a most pleasurable undertaking to one of Maine’s most remarkable locations.

The author of “The Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery” and “Mountains for Mortals – New England,” Ron Chase resides in Topsham. His latest book, “The Fifty Finest Outdoor Adventures in Maine” is scheduled to be released by North Country Press later this year. Visit his website at www.ronchaseoutdoors.com or he can be reached at [email protected]


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Damariscove Island is a remarkable kayak destination


I consider a sea kayak trip to Damariscove Island to be one of the most unique destinations on the Maine coast. The southern terminus of the rugged rockbound island is located about 5 miles off the shore of Ocean Point situated on the far end of Linekin Neck in East Boothbay.

The now uninhabited island has a rich and tumultuous history. Native Americans used primitive canoes to travel there long before European settlers arrived. Prior to the founding of Jamestown and Plymouth colonies, English fishermen began occupying the island in 1604. During the King Philip’s War in 1676, survivors from nearby coastal settlements fled there for safety from attacking Native Americans. A cluster of offshore ledges, The Motions, have been the scene of numerous shipwrecks which prompted construction of a lifesaving station late in the 19th century.  

For me, kayaking to Damariscove is a very stimulating endeavor. It requires 10 miles of paddling, including navigation through the potentially treacherous Motions. An additional benefit is a visit to one of Maine’s most historic islands with phenomenal coastal landscapes.



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San Antonio is one of the best destination cities in the US, travel magazine says


SAN ANTONIO – The city of San Antonio is becoming a top tourist destination, especially after being named one of the top 15 U.S. cities by Travel + Leisure magazine.

The magazine’s World’s Best Awards 2021 compiled readers’ choices for the best cities, hotels, cruise lines, airports, and more this year, allowing readers to “reflect on their travel experiences over a three-year period.”

The voting for the awards was open from Jan. 11 through May 10 of this year, and readers dubbed San Antonio as the sixth-best U.S. city, based on their experiences both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The magazine said readers cast their votes based on sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value of these cities.

Ad

San Antonio ranked ahead of Chicago and followed close behind New York City.

Charleston, South Carolina, came in at the top U.S. city for the ninth year in a row, according to the magazine.

Hotel Emma was also recognized by the travel magazine as the 7th Best City Hotel in the Continental U.S. This was the only Texas city that made the list.

And, in the magazine’s list of the top 10 resorts in Texas, La Cantera Resort & Spa ranked number 5, followed close behind by JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, coming in at number 7.

The Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa capped off the list at number 10.

You can read more on these rankings in San Antonio at the magazine’s website here.

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More on KSAT:

Schlitterbahn New Braunfels named world’s best water park for 23rd consecutive year

Copyright 2021 by KSAT – All rights reserved.



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Ron Chase: Damariscove Island is a remarkable kayak destination


A Kayaker approaches Ram Island en route to Damariscove Island. Contributed photo

I consider a sea kayak trip to Damariscove Island to be one of the most unique destinations on the Maine coast. The southern terminus of the rugged rockbound island is located about five miles off the shore of Ocean Point situated on the far end of Linekin Neck in East Boothbay.

The now uninhabited island has a rich and tumultuous history. Native Americans used primitive canoes to travel there long before European settlers arrived. Prior to the founding of Jamestown and Plymouth Colonies, English fishermen began occupying the island in 1604. During the King Philip’s War in 1676, survivors from nearby coastal settlements fled there for safety from attacking Native Americans. A cluster of offshore ledges, The Motions, have been the scene of numerous shipwrecks which prompted the construction of a lifesaving station late in the 19th Century.

For me, kayaking to Damariscove is a very stimulating endeavor. It entails ten miles of paddling including navigation through the potentially treacherous Motions. An additional benefit is a visit to one of Maine’s most historic islands with phenomenal coastal landscapes.

Since a voyage to the “cove” involves significant exposure to open seas with little opportunity to land, careful planning is essential for a safe trip. Forecasts for tides, wind, seas, fog, and weather are factors to be considered. I recently identified what appeared to be a quality Damariscove day with light winds, calm seas, and summer-like conditions predicted. The tides were not helpful but winds normally trump tides.

When I announced a Penobscot Paddle and Chowder Society trip, four frequent kayaking companions enthusiastically agreed to join me. The day before the scheduled excursion, a forecast for dense fog threatened our plans. Particularly concerning was the prospect of negotiating The Motions in fog. Following several communications, a decision was made to meet late morning speculating that would provide sufficient time for the fog to lift.

Our strategy was confirmed when we met at the boat landing on Ocean Point the following day. Only a foggy haze remained and the northern end of distant Damariscove Island was visible. Seas were calm and winds light. The trip was on!

After confirming a compass bearing for nearby Ram Island, five of us departed tranquil Grimes Cove in solo kayaks. Approximately a mile away, tiny Ram Island and its prominent lighthouse was our first objective. Completing an uneventful channel crossing, we passed adjacent to the inactive light station now under the purview of Grand Banks Schooner Museum Trust.

Close by, Fisherman Island was next. A distinctive stone house was observed situated high on the mile-long otherwise barren atoll. Light winds and seas continued as we proceeded along the west side. Two lobster boats were hauling traps a little farther offshore. Another larger vessel was maneuvering north dragging an unfamiliar device, possibly related to a scientific study. We were part of the diversity that personifies the Maine coast.

A southwest breeze increased as we concluded the one-mile traverse to the northern tip of Damariscove Island. Massive granite ledges dominated the western shoreline as our tenacious band progressed south. A narrow rock-strewn isthmus separates the northern and southern half of the island. The northern sector is a bird sanctuary where landing is prohibited.

As we approached the southwestern end of the island, cascading surf from The Motions could be discerned ahead. The capricious conditions that constitute The Motions were relatively benign on that fine day and passage was accomplished with minimal risk.

Entrance into the serene cove was in stark contrast to the rolling swells just outside in The Motions. We paddled past the decommissioned Coast Guard Life Saving Station to a gravel beach at the top of the inlet and secured our kayaks.

Boothbay Region Land Trust (BRLT) is the conservator of the island and maintains an elaborate trail system. We chose a short hike sidestepping patches of poison ivy to high ledges on the east side for lunch. The panoramic view from the precipitous location was exceptional. From the expansive overlook, seas appeared turbulent on the southeastern tip of the island so the consensus was to backtrack through The Motions and return to Ocean Point on the west side of the islands. Before departing, we enjoyed a friendly chat with the BRLT caretakers.

Conditions were ideal for the return trip. Ours had been a most pleasurable undertaking to one of Maine’s most remarkable locations.

The author of “The Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery” and “Mountains for Mortals – New England,” Ron Chase resides in Topsham. His latest book, “The Fifty Finest Outdoor Adventures in Maine” is scheduled to be released by North Country Press later this year. Visit his website at www.ronchaseoutdoors.com or he can be reached at [email protected]


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Ron Chase: Damariscove Island is a remarkable kayak destination


A Kayaker approaches Ram Island en route to Damariscove Island. Contributed photo

I consider a sea kayak trip to Damariscove Island to be one of the most unique destinations on the Maine coast. The southern terminus of the rugged rockbound island is located about five miles off the shore of Ocean Point situated on the far end of Linekin Neck in East Boothbay.

The now uninhabited island has a rich and tumultuous history. Native Americans used primitive canoes to travel there long before European settlers arrived. Prior to the founding of Jamestown and Plymouth Colonies, English fishermen began occupying the island in 1604. During the King Philip’s War in 1676, survivors from nearby coastal settlements fled there for safety from attacking Native Americans. A cluster of offshore ledges, The Motions, have been the scene of numerous shipwrecks which prompted the construction of a lifesaving station late in the 19th Century.

For me, kayaking to Damariscove is a very stimulating endeavor. It entails ten miles of paddling including navigation through the potentially treacherous Motions. An additional benefit is a visit to one of Maine’s most historic islands with phenomenal coastal landscapes.

Since a voyage to the “cove” involves significant exposure to open seas with little opportunity to land, careful planning is essential for a safe trip. Forecasts for tides, wind, seas, fog, and weather are factors to be considered. I recently identified what appeared to be a quality Damariscove day with light winds, calm seas, and summer-like conditions predicted. The tides were not helpful but winds normally trump tides.

When I announced a Penobscot Paddle and Chowder Society trip, four frequent kayaking companions enthusiastically agreed to join me. The day before the scheduled excursion, a forecast for dense fog threatened our plans. Particularly concerning was the prospect of negotiating The Motions in fog. Following several communications, a decision was made to meet late morning speculating that would provide sufficient time for the fog to lift.

Our strategy was confirmed when we met at the boat landing on Ocean Point the following day. Only a foggy haze remained and the northern end of distant Damariscove Island was visible. Seas were calm and winds light. The trip was on!

After confirming a compass bearing for nearby Ram Island, five of us departed tranquil Grimes Cove in solo kayaks. Approximately a mile away, tiny Ram Island and its prominent lighthouse was our first objective. Completing an uneventful channel crossing, we passed adjacent to the inactive light station now under the purview of Grand Banks Schooner Museum Trust.

Close by, Fisherman Island was next. A distinctive stone house was observed situated high on the mile-long otherwise barren atoll. Light winds and seas continued as we proceeded along the west side. Two lobster boats were hauling traps a little farther offshore. Another larger vessel was maneuvering north dragging an unfamiliar device, possibly related to a scientific study. We were part of the diversity that personifies the Maine coast.

A southwest breeze increased as we concluded the one-mile traverse to the northern tip of Damariscove Island. Massive granite ledges dominated the western shoreline as our tenacious band progressed south. A narrow rock-strewn isthmus separates the northern and southern half of the island. The northern sector is a bird sanctuary where landing is prohibited.

As we approached the southwestern end of the island, cascading surf from The Motions could be discerned ahead. The capricious conditions that constitute The Motions were relatively benign on that fine day and passage was accomplished with minimal risk.

Entrance into the serene cove was in stark contrast to the rolling swells just outside in The Motions. We paddled past the decommissioned Coast Guard Life Saving Station to a gravel beach at the top of the inlet and secured our kayaks.

Boothbay Region Land Trust (BRLT) is the conservator of the island and maintains an elaborate trail system. We chose a short hike sidestepping patches of poison ivy to high ledges on the east side for lunch. The panoramic view from the precipitous location was exceptional. From the expansive overlook, seas appeared turbulent on the southeastern tip of the island so the consensus was to backtrack through The Motions and return to Ocean Point on the west side of the islands. Before departing, we enjoyed a friendly chat with the BRLT caretakers.

Conditions were ideal for the return trip. Ours had been a most pleasurable undertaking to one of Maine’s most remarkable locations.

The author of “The Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery” and “Mountains for Mortals – New England,” Ron Chase resides in Topsham. His latest book, “The Fifty Finest Outdoor Adventures in Maine” is scheduled to be released by North Country Press later this year. Visit his website at www.ronchaseoutdoors.com or he can be reached at [email protected]


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Florida named top travel destination this Labor Day weekend


TAMPA, Fla. — This Labor Day weekend, half the country is planning to travel in some capacity, according to a study by finance website Value Penguin, and Florida is the top destination.

Tampa International Airport is expecting 48,000 travelers over the weekend. That’s down from 65,000 in 2019, but double what they saw last year.

Orlando International Airport is expecting more travelers than this weekend in 2019, they are expecting more than 303,000 departures, a 7% increase.

The Tampa airport has been exceptionally busy in recent months, but a spokesperson tells ABC Action News it’s slowed down a bit as more people head back to school.

For a short holiday weekend, many will opt to drive. AAA said that could be pricey with the lingering effects of Hurricane Ida.

The storm shut down about 13% of refineries, and many are still shut down or running at reduced rates and slowed pipeline transports. This is resulting in the highest gas prices for Labor Day weekend since 2014.

In Florida, gas is averaging about $3.19 as of Friday morning.

“With a category four storm that typically takes three-plus weeks for refineries to get started again and get back to normal operations. We don’t have a timeline from those refineries that when they’ll be operating again,” Jeanette Casselano, the Director of AAA External Communications said.

If you’re flying this weekend, the airport suggests you arrive at least two hours early and there is still a mask mandate in place.

If you are traveling, the CDC recommends you wear a mask wherever you go, vaccinated or not.

If you’re not vaccinated, the CDC recommends you do not travel.

Florida is one of five states with less than 10% of ICU beds available, doctors are also asking people who are unvaccinated to stay home.





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When to expect the next travel list update – will your holiday destination make the cut? | Travel News | Travel


“But having said that, the levels of vaccination and what we now know about the virus and what our scientists have been able to work out in the last year means that people should be able to go away, enjoy their holidays without looking over their shoulders the whole time and as I say, the next set of changes are not for another three weeks.”

What happens in travel reviews?

In travel reviews countries are moved between lists according to how much risk they face of bringing Covid back to the UK.

Red list countries are deemed to pose the highest risk for travellers.

In these countries, cases could be spiking or high levels of the population might be unvaccinated.





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How does a UNESCO World Heritage rating affect a tourist destination?


(CNN) — This week, all eyes have been on UNESCO, the France-based body that bestows the ranking of “World Heritage Site” on some of the world’s most beautiful, historic and otherwise important places.

In many years, the announcement of new additions to the UNESCO list is a cause for some excitement, at least in the travel world. But 2021’s announcement season has been significantly more dramatic.
First, the will-they-or-won’t-they tug of war between Australia and UNESCO over the latter’s discussion of whether to add the Great Barrier Reef to the official list of “sites in danger” turned into a full-on soap opera, complete with ambassadors going on a press junket.
Ultimately the Barrier Reef escaped the “in danger” designation, while the city of Liverpool had its status revoked completely, which UNESCO said was “due to the irreversible loss of attributes conveying the outstanding universal value of the property.”

With all the fuss around who will make the cut and who won’t, there’s one question that hasn’t been answered: Does UNESCO designation really make a difference with travelers?

How to define heritage

With 1,153 World Heritage sites on the list, travelers shouldn’t expect a one-size-fits-all approach.

“Heritage” can be defined in a lot of ways, and UNESCO splits sites into three categories: cultural significance, environmental significance, or a combination of both. Among the thousand-plus names on the list are some of the most beloved places on the planet: Machu Picchu, Venice’s canals, the Grand Canyon, Angkor Wat.

The nomination process is painstaking, time-consuming and expensive. Many developing countries have sites that can and should be recognized for global importance, but they can’t afford the time and money it takes to put together a campaign.

“The minimum duration between nomination and inscription is two years, but it usually takes much longer,” a UNESCO rep explains to CNN. “Countries must first inscribe a site they intend to nominate on the Tentative List, which is submitted to UNESCO. They then have to complete a nomination file which must contain information about the site’s attributes and the management and protection mechanisms put in place for the site.”

And just because a nomination has been submitted doesn’t mean the journey is over. Plenty of destinations don’t get inscribed on their first try. UNESCO can send back notes or suggestions on how to improve a nomination. Some languish in the “under consideration” file for years.

Not everyone considers these designations, or large-scale investments in tourism infrastructure, to be a priority. Some governments don’t see the value in trying to nominate their sites, while others seek UNESCO listings the way they might chase Olympic gold medals.

The Cordouan lighthouse, off the coast of Le Verdon-sur-Mer, France, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2021.

The Cordouan lighthouse, off the coast of Le Verdon-sur-Mer, France, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2021.

Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

Although UNESCO considers itself an apolitical organization, its headquarters is in Paris, meaning that some critics accuse the organization of being too European-centric.

Together, Europe and North America have 545 inscribed sites, which comprises more than half the total list. Italy has 58 by itself, while the entire continent of Africa only has 98.

For every already-iconic Stonehenge, there’s a less famous Joya de Ceren in El Salvador. Fiji’s first and only UNESCO site, the port town of Levuka, didn’t come until 2013.

The value of free PR

It’s called “The UNESCO effect.” Maria Gravari-Barbas is the coordinator of the UNESCO Chair “Tourism, Culture, Development” program at the Sorbonne in Paris, and she knows better than nearly anyone how the power of the UNESCO brand can skyrocket a lesser-known destination to a different level.

With a UNESCO announcement comes free global advertising. With the free global advertising come thousands of people who might hear of a place for the first time and make an effort to seek it out or add it to their next itinerary. And with those tourists come money.

“Yes, there’s clearly a difference,” she says. “UNESCO is very well known among tourists.” Having an international “brand name” endorsement can be the deciding factor in why a traveler chooses one potential vacation spot over another. “People search the list.”

One of those people who searches the list is Michael Turtle, an Australian travel blogger who has visited 322 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

“if you were bringing together a museum or a gallery that was trying to tell the history of the world and you could go and collect all these places that told the story, World Heritage Sites are those places,” he says.

Turtle, whose book “Great World Wonders: 100 Remarkable World Heritage Sites” comes out in August, admits to being a bit of a “compulsive list-crosser.” But more than just having bragging rights, he counts on UNESCO to point him toward the most important places in a given country or city.

“What happens is you end up going to a few places that you probably have never heard of before. But by going to them, you discover this whole part of a country, its heritage, its culture that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.”

Gravari-Barbas points out that with a UNESCO designation comes a deeper tourism infrastructure investment — all those new visitors will need beds to sleep in, restaurants to eat in, and souvenirs to buy. Considering how much work goes into a nomination bid, none of this happens by accident.

At its best, UNESCO World Heritage designation can bring much-needed money, support, and global recognition to a deserving destination. At its worst, it could be the first step toward overtourism.

Madrid's historic Paseo del Prado boulevard and Retiro Park (pictured) are also members of the World Heritage List class of 2021.

Madrid’s historic Paseo del Prado boulevard and Retiro Park (pictured) are also members of the World Heritage List class of 2021.

Juan Medina/Reuters

An ancient rock and a modern hard place

The mercantile city of Liverpool was added to the UNESCO list in 2004 and removed this year. UNESCO cited upcoming development projects like a new stadium for the Everton football team in its decision, saying that such projects would destroy what made the city special.

For the city’s mayor, it was an impossible decision.

“We are proud of our history and do not shy away from it,” Liverpool Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham wrote in an op-ed on the UK website iNews. “It is on full display in some of our world-class museums and visitor attractions. That does not mean that we should sit by and allow the city itself to become a museum.”

Rotherham called UNESCO’s ruling “retrograde” and mentioned other World Heritage Sites that could also be considered guilty of the same “crime” of modernizing around an ancient landmark — the fast food restaurants across the street from the Pyramids of Giza being an oft-cited example.

“Places like Liverpool should not be faced with the binary choice between maintaining heritage status or regenerating communities that have been left behind — and restoring the jobs and opportunities that come with it,” he adds.

UNESCO maintains that any site dropped from the heritage list can re-apply and that cancellations are not permanent. That said, no one has ever managed to get back on the list after being removed.



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