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Dubai hotel occupancy drops amid COVID-19 outbreak: STR

STR a leading global data benchmarking and analytics provider, shared preliminary data for Dubai’s hotel performance worsening, as concern around the COVID-19 pandemic broadens. Dubai hotel occupancy fell 9.4 per cent to 77.1 per cent in February, ADR decreased 14.4 per cent to 567.63 Emirati dirhams ($154.56) and RevPAR declined 22.5 per cent to 437.41 dirhams ($119.10). STR analysts noted that Dubai’s occupancy, ADR and RevPAR decreased for 37 consecutive days (February 1 through March 8) in year-over-year comparisons. The steepest declines occurred in the most recent of those days. Of note, the market was already experiencing some declines in the metrics during the last two weeks of January, and the more significant decreases started on January 26.While Dubai has seen negative performance comparisons like most other major cities around the globe, STR analysts highlight the market’s ability to sell six of every 10 rooms on average during the first week of March. STR provides clients from multiple market sectors with premium, global data benchmarking, analytics and marketplace insights.

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IATA urge G20 to act quickly to prevent irrecoverable damage to intl connectivity

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged G20 leaders to act quickly to support the aviation industry in order to prevent irrecoverable damage to international connectivity arising from the impact of COVID-19. In an open letter to the G20 Presidency, Alexandre de Juniac Director General and CEO, IATA emphasised the essential role that air transport will play in facilitating the recovery of the global economy. Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting government-mandated border closings and travel restrictions have led to the destruction of global air travel demand, de Juniac made a plea to governments to urgently provide, or facilitate the provision of financial support. He noted that some G20 members already have acted, including Australia, Brazil and China. De Juniac also pointed out that without the global connectivity provided by aviation, sustaining global supply chains, as well as developing country industries such as perishable horticulture and tourism would be impossible. By value, 35 per cent of international trade flown by air, 57 per cent of international tourists travel by air and each airline job contributes to 24 more in the wider economy.

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Dubai-Colombo flight suspension continues until April 9, 2020

Sri Lankan Airlines announced further suspension of Dubai-Colombo flight operations until April 9, 2020 as part of the precautionary measures being implemented in response to COVID-19. Following the announcement from the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management (NCEMA) and the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) in the UAE. All passengers who are booked during this period are permitted one free charge to travel up to May 31, 2020 for original routing. The airfare and taxes paid for the SriLankan airlines’ ticket can be transferred to a voucher which can be redeemed for your future travel SriLankan Airlines. This voucher shall be valid for 364 days from the date of issue. If you are uncertain as to when you will be travelling next due to the prevailing crisis situation, the ideal solution will be to obtain this voucher, thus securing the opportunity to travel in the future when circumstances become more favourable. The airline will not be charging any change/reissue penalties for the issuance of voucher. You may obtain this voucher any time before the expiry (364 days from the air ticket issuance) of the ticket that you are currently holding.

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Sojern release Middle Eastern travel trends around COVID-19

Sojern to share current travel trends at the forefront of marketers’ minds. These insights are based on data collected on March 25, 2020. The data will be reviewed on a weekly basis in order to provide a regular view of trends and patterns in consumer behaviour. This blog series, includes the data in order to aid travel marketers in their assessment of this worldwide event. They can use these trends to inform their marketing strategies during this period and be prepared for the recovery once the situation stabilises. Whilst no-one can anticipate the full impact of these exceptional circumstances, the data can provide some insight into how travellers are responding to the current situation, the more long-term impact that COVID-19 will have on destinations, and when the first signs of recovery start to appear. Global flight bookings to the Middle East are dramatically down – as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, there are further border closures, travel restrictions and lockdowns put into place across the globe. Additionally, major airlines in the region including emirates and Saudi have grounded their fleets and countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have enforced strict measures in order to contain the virus including dawn to dusk curfews. It is inevitable that we see global flight bookings to the Middle East drastically drop with global flight bookings to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) down 72 per cent year-over-year. Oman sees the least pessimistic outlook with global flight bookings down 38 per cent year-over-year. This is still significantly down but less so than the likes of Kuwait which has seen a 91 per cent drop in global flight bookings.

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flydubai suspends all flight operations from March 26 to April 9

flydubai will suspend its operations with effect from March 26, 2020 at 23:59 (UAE time) until April 9, 2020 at 23:59 (UAE Time) as part of the precautionary measures being implemented in response to COVID-19, following the announcement from the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) and the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). The NCEMA contingency plan, benchmarking of industry best-practice and international guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHP) and Dubai Health Authority (DHA) provided the framework for flydubai’s own response plans to COVID-19. A number of working groups have been set up across the airline to support its operations for both its passengers and employees. Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer of flydubai, said, “Our operational focus may be changing in the short term but the work continues. We have reallocated internal resources to critical business needs, including the highest levels of customer support and care of our fleet, which has seen the activation of a large-scale maintenance and care programme to ensure that all our grounded aircraft are attended to at the highest international standards. We are seeing this period as an opportunity to recalibrate our business and our unrelenting focus is now on laying the groundwork, together, for a smooth full return to service in due course.” He added, “Since the beginning of March, we have received more than 80,000 customer enquiries. Our customer engagement team is working hard to respond to this unprecedented number of enquiries that we have received. They are supported by members of staff from different teams who have been deployed to ensure that all our customers receive a reply. My thoughts are particularly …

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UNWTO convenes Global Tourism Crisis Committee

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) hosted a high-level virtual meeting, bringing together key UN agencies, the chairs of its executive council and regional commissions, and private sector leaders. Tourism is the economic sector that has been hardest hit by COVID-19 and all participants accepted an invitation from the UNWTO Secretary-General to become part of a Global Tourism Crisis Committee, formed as UNWTO prepares to launch a global guide for recovery. The UNWTO-led committee will hold regular virtual meetings, reflecting the need for coordinated and efficient action by the private and public sectors, governments, international financing institutions, and the United Nations. The participants accepted UNWTO’s invitation to be part a global coordination committee which will hold regular virtual meetings to evaluate and advance recommendations as the situation evolves. The UN’s key tourism related agencies will all be participating, along with WHO and the main representatives of the airline and maritime transportation sectors, as well as the private sector. UNWTO members are a critical part of this committee, represented through the regional chairs and the chair of the Executive Council. “This unprecedented public health emergency has already become an economic crisis which will come at a social cost. We are the hardest hit sector and all our best estimates have been overtaken by the changing reality. The livelihoods of millions of people and their families are at stake, be it in urban centres or in remote communities where tourism is sometimes the main income generator and a vehicle for social inclusion, protecting heritage and kickstarting development,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, UNWTO.

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Etihad suspends all flights from March 24

Etihad Airways to suspend all inbound, outbound, and transit passenger flights in the UAE from March 24, 2020. The airline will suspend all departures from Abu Dhabi International Airport immediately for an initial 14 days, subject to further directives by the relevant authorities. This directive is brought forward by the UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, and the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). This decision has been made to limit the spread of the COVID-19 and to protect citizens, residents, and international travellers. All Etihad Airways aircraft currently outside the UAE on Tuesday 24 March, will continue to operate to Abu Dhabi as planned, with the final arrival on 25 March, carrying passengers permitted to enter the UAE under current government imposed restrictions. The airline continues to follow UAE and international government and regulatory authority directives and is applying a contingency plan to assist affected customers. The airline will announce the resumption of services through its usual channels once restrictions are lifted.

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IBTM Events launches online resource hub IBTM Connect

IBTM Events recently launched a new online platform, IBTM Connect. The launch is part of a three-step plan to keep exhibitors, hosted buyers and the wider industry connected as collectively we navigate the impact of COVID-19. IBTM Connect will host regularly updated content, including insightful webinars and videos from key industry professionals, ways to virtually network with industry peers and news and updates to prepare for recovery. Commenting on the launch, Shane Hannam, Portfolio Director, IBTM Events, said, “Our connections and industry partnerships mean that we are uniquely positioned to create and curate high quality content from around the globe that can serve to provide insights and tangible benefits during this time. By keeping conversations going and sharing learnings, together we can weather the storm and emerge in the strongest possible position to rebuild and recover.” Content will be refreshed regularly, including with weekly webinars from industry experts covering topics, including motivational keynote speaker Gary Bradt delivering a session on ‘how to cope during times of unprecedented change’ and Helen Moon, Founder and MD of EventWell, talking about ‘mental health and wellbeing’. The latest content on IBTM Connect covers everything from mental health and wellness, to managing a crisis and tips for working from home.

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UAE suspends all inbound, outbound passenger flights for two weeks

As per WAM- The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, NCEMA, and the General Civil Aviation Authority, GCAA, have suspended all inbound and outbound passenger flights and the transit of airline passengers in the UAE for two weeks as part of the precautionary measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19. The decision, which is subject to re-assessment, will take effect in 48 hours. In a statement today, the GCAA said cargo and emergency evacuation flights would be exempted, taking into consideration all the precautionary measures adopted as per the recommendations of the Ministry of Health and Prevention. Additional examination and isolation arrangements will be taken later should flights resume in order to ensure the safety of passengers, air crews, and airport personnel and their protection from infection risks.

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Millennium Hotels & Resorts MEA pledges support to the UAE

Millennium Hotels and Resorts – Middle East & Africa pledged to provide all its rooms and facilities to support the nation overcoming the difficulties during the current situation. Ali HamadLakhraim Al Zaabi, President Millennium Hotels & Resorts – Middle East & Africa, announced on his official social media channel to make all the resources at Millennium Hotels and Resorts MEA available for the benefit of the UAE. Millennium Hotels & Resorts MEA currently operates 45 hotels with almost 15,000 keys in addition to 32 hotels in the pipeline across the region. From a single property in Abu Dhabi, Millennium Hotels & Resorts, Middle East & Africa has expanded into various neighbouring destinations and is now recognised as one of the fastest-growing regional hotel management companies in the Middle East & Africa according to October 2019 report issued by STR. Along the way, the company has cultivated partnerships with reputable and respected owners.

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