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Air Seychelles celebrate at the World Travel Awards

Air Seychelles celebrate at the World Travel Awards

Winners at the World Travel Awards (WTA) Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony 2015 have been unveiled at the Kempsinki Seychelles Resort Baie Lazare at an event which took place, Saturday, June 20, in the Indian Ocean country of Seychelles.

Air Seychelles was among the biggest winners on the night, taking the titles of Indian Ocean’s Leading Airline and Indian Ocean’s Leading Airline – Business Class.

In front of an audience of more than 150 industry leaders from 20 countries, Maldives was recognised as Indian Ocean’s Leading Beach Destination, while host Seychelles took the title of Indian Ocean’s Leading Destination.

For Nigeria, the list of winners included: Nigeria’s Leading Boutique Hotel-Hotel Bon Voyage; Nigeria’s Leading Business Hotel-Transcorp Hilton Abuja; Nigeria’s Leading Car Rental Company-Avis; Nigeria’s Leading Hotel-Transcorp Hilton Abuja; Nigeria’s Leading Hotel Suite-Presidential Suite @ Transcorp Hilton Abuja; Nigeria’s Leading MICE Hotel-Transcorp Hilton Abuja; Nigeria’s Leading Serviced Apartments-Amara Suites; and Nigeria’s Leading Travel Management Company-HRG Nigeria.

Kenya took the coveted trophy for Africa’s Leading Tourist Board, as the Transcorp Hilton Abuja took home a total of five awards.

World Travel Awards President Graham Cooke said: “Tonight has been a fantastic showcase of hospitality brands from across Africa and the Indian Ocean. We have recognised some industry leading brands and it is a pleasure to honour our winners here at Kempinski Seychelles Resort.”

He added: “This evening’s winners will now move forward to the Grand Final in Morocco later in the year, and I look forward to welcoming them there.”

Also taking home prizes were Hilton Hurghada Plaza, taking the title of Africa’s Leading All Inclusive Resort, while La Cigale Hôtel Tabarka in Tunisia walked away with the trophy for Africa’s Leading New Hotel.

Transcorp Hilton Abuja was also among the big winners, taking a total of five awards.

The luxury property took the trophies for Nigeria’s Leading Hotel and Africa’s Leading Business Hotel among a clutch of prizes.

The event was hosted by the glamorous former Miss Seychelles, Sherlyn Furneau, and leading presenter Galen Bresson, while guests were entertained by The Breeze Band and the National Cultural Dance Troup of Seychelles.

World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry.

Today, the WTA brand is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality, with winners setting the benchmark to which all others aspire.

Each year WTA covers the globe with a series of regional gala ceremonies staged to recognise and celebrate individual and collective successes within each key geographical region.

Seychelles Minister of Tourism & Culture Alain St Ange added: “Tonight we welcomed the best of the best to our shores.

“My many travels in Africa and throughout the Indian Ocean have, time and again, revealed to me that our tourism products possess great diversity, authenticity and vibrancy and are able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the best on the planet.

“We have today among us the crème-de-la-crème of African and Indian Ocean tourism. This is such a great opportunity, not only to celebrate, honour and reward the success stories of today, but also to network and explore new synergies and strategies for tomorrow.

“We know we are today visible as a country as never before.”

World Travel Awards celebrates its 22nd anniversary this year and is acknowledged across the globe as the ultimate travel accolade. The brand aims to celebrate those organisations that are pushing the boundaries of industry excellence.

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St. Regis Hotels & Resorts has announced the highly anticipated opening of The St. Regis Venice San Clemente Palace in April 2015 following an extensive restoration. Idyllically situated atop a private island in the heart of the Venice lagoon, the enchanting Venetian retreat will join Starwood’s impressive portfolio of nine luxury hotels in Italy. Owned by the Turkish Permak Group, The St. Regis Venice San Clemente Palace will also join The St Regis Rome and The St Regis Florence as the luxury brand’s third hotel in Italy.

“We look forward to building a long-term relationship with Permak Group, who recognises the strength of the St. Regis brand and our deep operating experience in Venice,” said Michael Wale, President, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa & Middle East. “We look forward to unveiling the renovated The St. Regis Venice San Clemente Palace this spring, as the most desirable address in this remarkable destination.”

“With its exceptional heritage and unique identity, The St. Regis Venice San Clemente Palace is poised to be a hospitality landmark,” said Emir Uyar, Vice President of Permak Group. “We are delighted to have this exceptional hotel in our portfolio and work with St. Regis to present a luxurious and personalised experience like no other in Venice.”

Led by award-winning international designers Hirsch Bedner Associates and GA Design, the hotel’s renovation will feature 191 luxurious guest rooms and suites overlooking the lagoon and lush gardens. Guest rooms and suites will feature a harmonious blend of contemporary decor with distinct Venetian craftsmanship, including heritage terrazzo floors and brocades. Among the hotel’s exquisite 48 suites, a majestic Royal Suite and an impressive Presidential Suite will set a new standard in Venice.

This storied building which once served as a monastery, military outpost and guest home for Venetian nobility at different times from the 12th through 17th centuries, has retained its charming historic character through the meticulous year-long renovation, now debuting as The St. Regis Venice San Clemente Palace.

The St. Regis Venice San Clemente Palace is a private oasis just minutes by the hotel’s private boat service from Venice’s city centre with easy access to museums, galleries, performing arts and shopping. The grounds that surround the hotel include spectacular gardens, a signature spa, an outdoor swimming pool with cabanas, a tennis court and a children’s club.   The hotel will also offer its discerning global guests the unparalleled bespoke experience for which the St. Regis brand is known, including the brand’s signature St. Regis Butler Service.

Adjacent to the hotel and overlooking the historic centre of Venice is the consecrated San Clemente Church, which was built in the 12th century and remains a landmark in the city. The church and its historic artwork have been meticulously restored as part of the overall renovation, providing an enchanting and unique venue ideal for marital blessings and vow renewals.

True to the idyllic nature of this private island retreat, The St. Regis Venice San Clemente Palace will offer memorable epicurean experiences ranging from relaxed poolside-dining to fine-dining in a sophisticated resort ambiance. Under the guidance of Executive Chef, Roberto Dal Seno, the hotel’s signature Acquerello Restaurant will feature a Mediterranean-inspired menu focused on locally sourced ingredients coupled with seafood and indigenous ingredients from the Adriatic coast. These will be best savoured from the restaurant’s atmospheric terrace, overlooking the lagoon and the historic city centre.

The hotel will feature an exquisitely curated wine cellar as well as The St. Regis Bar, which will follow the tradition of the St. Regis brand’s iconic King Cole Bar in New York where the first Bloody Mary cocktail was concocted over 80 years ago. The St. Regis Venice San Clemente Palace will have its own signature Bloody Mary cocktail inspired by the destination, created with local ingredients.

Starwood has 21 hotels in Italy operating under five of its nine lifestyle brands – St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Sheraton, Westin and Four Points by Sheraton. In Venice, Starwood operates three hotels along the Grand Canal, including the recently restored Gritti Palace and historic Hotel Danieli under the Luxury Collection brand, as well as The Westin Europa & Regina.

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Cape Town has scored highly in an African Green City Index released by Siemens. Earlier in 2014, the Mother City was named Global Earth Hour Capital 2014, following the WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge.

The Siemens report looks at 15 African cities that have committed to improving their environmental footprint and scores each city on factors such as land use, transport, waste, water, sanitation and air quality.

Cape Town was ‘well above average’ in the category of land use and was the top-performing African city in this regard. The report states: ‘Home to multiple nature reserves containing some of the world’s rarest plant species, Cape Town has the most green space in the index. The city boasts an estimated 289 square metres of green space per person, about four times the index average of 74 square metres.’

Much effort has gone into improving Cape Town’s public transport in recent years and this, too, has been recognised. ‘Cape Town has invested US$5.8-billion over the last six years in developing a new bus-rapid transit (BRT) network. As a result, it is among the top cities in the index for the length of superior forms of transport, such as metro, tram or BRT lines. The city’s superior public transport system measures 0.11km per square kilometre, compared with the Index average of 0.07km.’

Other South African cities to feature in the report were Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria, which all scored ‘above average’ for transport, air quality and environmental governance.

Recall in March 2014, Cape Town was named Global Earth Hour Capital 2014 as part of a challenge run by the WWF. ‘Cape Town stood out as a role model for the global South with a showcase of green programmes and actions other cities can replicate,’ says the Earth Hour website. ‘Cape Town also demonstrates how city strategies to reduce carbon development and battle climate change can also help tackle other development priorities such as food, energy and water security.’

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Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., Friday announced it opened 74 new hotels in 2014, representing approximately 15,000 rooms in 26 countries.

The company also signed 175 new hotel management and franchise agreements in 2014, a 15% increase over the prior year, marking the fifth consecutive year of increased signings and the most new deals in one year since 2007. Starwood anticipates another year of solid growth in both mature and emerging markets in 2015, fueled by hotel openings and high-quality deal signings.

“With more than 1,200 hotels in 100 countries, we’re on the frontlines of global change and continue to see increasing demand for innovative, design-led brands, playing to Starwood’s strength,” said Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. “Our nine lifestyle brands continue to attract owners as does our loyalty program, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), which brings high-value guests to our hotels from around the world, driving more than half of our occupancy on any given night.”

Building on its strong signing year, Starwood continues to grow in all corners of the world across all of the segments where it operates with plans to reach the following milestones in 2015:

300th hotel in Asia Pacific and China; 150th hotel in China (with all nine brands represented); 90th hotel in Africa and the Middle East; 175th Luxury hotel; 750th Upper Upscale hotel; and 300th Mid-Market hotel.

“Our balanced growth approach continued in 2014 with consistent, organic signings across all nine of our brands,” said Simon Turner, President of Global Development for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. “Looking ahead, emerging markets remain a focus for us, but recovering economic conditions and increased availability of financing have also led to strong growth in North America and Europe.”

Turner continued: “North America accounted for more than one third of our signings last year, and the availability of new construction lending resulted in a more than 50% increase in new-build hotel signings over the previous year. Globally, we renewed or extended 76 of our existing agreements with owners in 2014, underscoring the strength of our brands, loyalty program, operating teams, and systems. We remain focused on working with the right partners, on the right properties, in the right places, and our agile development approach allows us to adapt our growth strategies based on specific geographies and brand needs for both new development and conversion projects either managed or franchised.”

With one of the fastest growing luxury portfolios under its St. Regis, The Luxury Collection and W brands, Starwood is lengthening its lead in luxury hospitality. Building on its base of more than 170 of the world’s most beautiful and iconic hotel experiences, Starwood expects to open more than 25 luxury hotels over the next two years adding to the 12 new luxury hotels which debuted last year. This pace continues to accelerate to meet increasing demand for luxury in all corners of the world.

In 2014, W Bogota marked the brand’s entry into Colombia, while The Luxury Collection brand added seven new hotels to its portfolio including La Posada de Santa Fe in New Mexico, Excelsior Hotel Gallia in Milan and The Castle Hotel in Dalian, China. In 2015, Starwood is on track to add more than 10 luxury hotels to its portfolio, including St. Regis hotels in Istanbul, Macao, Dubai and Mumbai, The Luxury Collection properties in Nanjing, China; San Antonio, Texas; and Broumana, Lebanon, and W openings in Amsterdam, Netherlands and Goa, India.

Starwood opened 27 hotels across its Sheraton, Le Méridien and Westin brands last year, with over 150 under active development. The iconic Sheraton brand, on track to open its 500th hotel in 2016, continues to serve as a growth leader for Starwood and pave the way for the further development of all of Starwood’s brands in fast growing markets. This year, the brand will debut in Samoa and Romania and re-enter Iraq, following last year’s launch in Tajikistan. Sheraton accounts for nearly 40% of all Starwood hotels in Asia Pacific and is leading Starwood’s growth in Africa, where the brand will open six more hotels by 2018.

Le Méridien opened flagship hotels in Chicago – Oakbrook, Bahrain, and Bangkok in 2014, and signed 18 new deals, a meaningful increase over the previous year. Building on this momentum, in 2015, the brand will open more new hotels than in any other year since Starwood acquired Le Méridien in 2005. The brand continues to expand in established markets primarily through conversions, while also extending its reach in emerging markets, with openings planned for India, Bangladesh and Bhutan this year.

Westin opened its 200th hotel worldwide in 2014 and demand continues to rise driven in part by the phenomenal success of its distinctive wellness positioning. In 2015, Westin will open its 125th hotel in North America and its 50th hotel in Asia. The brand will also debut in Qatar with the opening of The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa – the brand’s fourth hotel in the Middle East.

Starwood’s mid-market segment continues to gain considerable momentum, with 35 openings and 100 new deals signed in 2014 across the Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element brands. The segment accounts for approximately 40% of Starwood’s global growth pipeline and will comprise nearly half of the company’s new hotel openings in 2015, amid rising demand for strong global brands at an affordable price point in both major metro and secondary markets around the world.

Four Points by Sheraton signed 50 new hotel deals in 2014, the most in company history, and will surpass 200 hotels in 2015, with more than 25 planned hotel openings this year. The ‘best for business’ Four Points brand boasts Starwood’s second largest and fastest growing development pipeline, fueled by its widespread, global appeal to guests and flexible development options.

Aloft Hotels signed 31 new deals in 2014, the most signings in one year since 2008. Designed for the next generation of travelers, Aloft will cross the 100th hotel milestone in 2015 and expand its portfolio in Greater China to ten hotels by year end. Aloft will also enter numerous new markets this year, including both Munich and Stuttgart, Germany.

Starwood’s eco brand, Element Hotels, signed 19 deals in 2014 and is on track to triple its portfolio by 2017. On the heels of opening its first hotel outside of North America in Frankfurt, Germany, Element will open its first hotel in China in 2015 followed by new hotels in London, Amsterdam, Boston and Philadelphia, signifying the global appeal of this brand.

wpid-fascinating-nigeria.jpgThe United States Embassy in Abuja and the Consulate in Lagos received more than 220,000 non-immigrant visa applications between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014 with approval for 143, 000 of them.

The Consular Chief of the embassy, Ms Stacie Hankins, disclosed this while responding to questions from newsmen on the new visa procedures, Tuesday in Abuja.

Hankins said that the figure represented an increase of about 38,000 visa applications when compared with the 182,000 applications in the previous year.

“Between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013, the embassy in Abuja and consulate in Lagos received more than 182,000 non-immigrant visa applications, the majority of which were approved.

“Between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014, we received more than 220,000 applications.

“Again, the majority of those applications were approved.

“We hope that Nigerians’ desire to visit our beautiful country will continue to grow.

“And we look forward to working with our partners to allow qualified tourists and business travellers to do so,” she said.

According to her, the Consulate in Lagos received 15, 500 immigrant visa applications between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2014, out of which 4, 900 applications were approved.

Hankins said that there had been increase in the visa application received by the embassy over the last five years.

She added that there was no limit to the visa application the embassy could receive and approve.

Hankins also announced the opening of the new DHL Document Collection Centre in Port Harcourt.

According to her, the embassy believes that the change will make application processing faster and more efficient.

“Passport collection via the centre in Port Harcourt will take one additional day. Individuals whose visa applications are approved can expect their passports within four days. Drop box applicants can expect their passports within seven to 10 days,” she said.

ecowasThe Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has adopted the biometric identity card to replace the resident permit as from 2016.

This formed part of the decision made at the just-concluded 46th ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, last Monday in Abuja.

While briefing newsmen at the end of the closed-door session, Amb. Kadre Ouedraogo, said that the decision taken would facilitate the free movement of persons and goods within the sub-region.

Ouedraogo also said that the adoption of the biometric identity cards would facilitate the implementation of the Common External Tariff (CET), expected to come into effect on January 1, 2015.

Also addressing newsmen, Ghanaian President John Mahama, who is the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government, said the CET would make the region a customs union.

“We have a common customs union; so it means if you are bringing goods and services into the ECOWAS sub-region they attract the same tariffs.

“Normally a customs union is a precursor to a free trade area or a common market. So we have taken an important first step to harmonising our tariffs.’’

He added that the summit had directed the commission to take necessary measures to create appropriate “arbitration channels” to ensure the implementation of the CET.

Mahama also pointed out that the bloc was committed to ensuring enhanced security measures to achieve integration and ensure an enabling environment for investment.

The summit came with a communiqué that reiterated the commitment of the bloc to ensuring the implementation of strategies to achieve the ECOWAS vision 2020.

The heads of state and government reiterated the urgent need to strengthen and improve the efficiency of national health systems and urged member states to take necessary measures to that effect.

The Authority welcomed the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement and instructed the West African Chief Negotiators to expedite actions to organise the signing and ratification of the EPA by member states.

It also urged member states to be involved in the ratification process of the agreement.

The Authority welcomed the progress made in the implementation of joint border posts, adding that it would facilitate transportation within the sub-region and enhance trade flows.

The Authority reiterated their commitment to promoting peace, security, good governance and the rule of law in line with ECOWAS protocols.

The summit reaffirmed its commitment to achieve political transition and constitutional reforms in Guinea Bissau and Burkina Faso.

The summit also agreed on the need to review legal texts in force ahead of the 40th anniversary of the sub-regional bloc.

The presidents of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Togo attended the meeting. However, the presidents of Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Senegal and Sierra Leone were represented at the meeting.

The World Committee on Tourism Ethics has lauded United Nations efforts to promote ethical behaviour in the travel industry, including initiatives on accessible tourism, trafficking and illegal trading.

During a conference in Rome, Italy, last week, the Italian Minister for Culture and Tourism, Dario Franceschini, said, “In these difficult times, characterised by economic and financial instability, natural disasters and unpredictable socio-political events, we are well aware that development can only be addressed with a shared ethical framework.”

Pascal Lamy chairman of the committee also noted that tourism can make a great contribution to economies but added that on occasions it can be damaging at a local level.

The World Committee on Tourism Ethics is an impartial body responsible for interpreting, application and evaluating the provisions of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Global Code of Ethics Tourism. The code consists of ten principles including that tourism should be a beneficial activity for host countries and communities and a vehicle for individual and collective fulfilment.

During the two-day event the committee also voiced its support for a UN campaigns to end human trafficking, illegal trade in wildlife artefacts and drugs and a forthcoming study on the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism.

At the meeting it was also noted that more companies and trade associations are adhering to the private sector commitment to the code. As of November some 356 industry players from 51 countries have committed to promoting and implementing the code in their business operations

wpid-fascinating-nigeria.jpgMinistry of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has mandated VFS TasHeel International with managing and administrating the Saudi Arabian visa application process from Nigeria, which will also combine mandatory enrolment process of fingerprint collection and photo capture for all applicants.

VFS TasHeel said it will begin processing Saudi visas of various categories except for Hajj and Umrah. However, pilgrims who have applied for Saudi visas are required to do biometric enrolment at the VFS TasHeel centre.

VFS TasHeel is a joint venture between the global visa processing leader, VFS Global (A division of Kuoni Travel Group, Switzerland) and TasHeel, Saudi Arabia.

Chargee D’affairs of the Embassy of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Nigeria, Sa’ad Abdallah Alnofeai, stated, “The newly inaugurated Visa Services Centers in Nigeria will serve people who desire to visit the KSA in addition to providing them with vital information about the Kingdom.”

Services include the dissemination of visa information, application guidance, application processing, biometric enrolment and passport delivery. The Centre is open for extended hours during peak season for speeding up the visa procedures.

“The new Visa Services Centers is packed with convenience and comes with dedicated service counters and a reception area, all to enhance the experience and add value to the process of visa application. We are pleased to be fulfilling the role assigned to us by the Saudi MoFA, which is to facilitate a smooth, streamlined visa application process for travellers to the kingdom. We at VFS TasHeel seek to provide these services through our efficient, customer-friendly approach, acting as a trusted mediator between visa applicants and the Saudi mission.” said Madhan Gopalakrishnan, CEO, VFS TASHEEL International.”

Visa Services Centre in Nigeria is now operational and located at three places, namely in CBD, Abuja, Ikeja, Lagos as well as the Kano Golf Course Club, in Kano.

VFS TasHeel is a joint venture between the global visa processing leader, VFS Global (A division of Kuoni Travel Group, Switzerland) and TasHeel, Saudi Arabia. The collaborative enterprise is tasked with managing and administrating the Saudi Arabia visa application process as mandated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Saudi Arabia in 33 countries.

unwtoTourism has vast potential to transform lives, mainly in terms of job creation and human development. The African continent welcomed 65 million visitors, in 2013 alone. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) projects that Africa’s international tourist arrivals will increase to 134 million, an increase of 106 per cent by 2030.

In the recent issue of the Africa Tourism Monitor, a joint publication produced annually by the African Development Bank (AfDB), New York University’s Africa House and the Africa Travel Association (ATA), the focus is on Africa’s greatest asset: its people.

According to the World Bank between 1990 and 2012, the number of visitors to the African continent increased by 300 per cent. The top five African countries for international arrivals in 2013 were, in descending order: Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia and Zimbabwe. Most international tourist arrivals come from Europe, with Asia and the Pacific in second place, and North American tourists ranking third.

Walter Mzembi, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry and ATA President (2012-2014) writes, in the 2014 publication, “If you look at the heart of Africa, the continent’s greatest tourism assets are its people, its humanity, and its warm hospitality. The African tradition of hospitality, eagerness to learn and share knowledge, zeal to contribute, desire for peace, and enthusiasm to relate meaningfully to other cultures, are all positive attributes which indicate deep humaneness.”

According to ATA, a vast land mass covering 30.2 million square kilometres, made up of 54 countries, “Africa is one of the world’s most dynamic travel destinations for tourists seeking adventure, exceptional cultural exchange and heritage tours, diverse culinary experiences, unparalleled safari and wildlife opportunities, first-class beaches and a wealth of investment opportunities.”

“Tourism, as one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic sectors, has tremendous potential to boost inclusive economic growth across the continent and reduce poverty. The tourism sector has a vital role to play, opening up lesser developed rural areas, creating job opportunities, and engaging local communities to enlist their participation,” Charles Leyeka Lufumpa, Director of the Statistics Department at the AfDB, writes in the foreword.

At present, Africa’s tourism industry directly employs about 8.2 million people, representing 5.3 per cent of the workforce in North Africa and 2.4% in Sub-Saharan Africa. World Bank estimates, the tourism industry could increase 3.8 million jobs over the next 10 years. With the number of youths in Africa set to double by 2045, tourism has the potential to create much-needed stable jobs.

However, challenges to developing the tourism sector remain. Tourism infrastructure is still lacking, making travel within the continent a challenge. In addition, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has had a remarkable impact on travel and tourism across the continent. The Africa tourism industry is experiencing severe consequences across the continent in the form of economic losses, cancelled flights and hotel bookings, closed borders and negative perceptions.

unwtoThe fourteenth meeting of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics meeting in Rome, Italy (17-18 November 2014) commended the efforts of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and its partners to advance Accessible Tourism for All. The Committee firmly supported the “Montreal Declaration – A World for All”, the outcome document of the recent World Summit on Destinations for All, and participated actively in the 1st Conference on Accessible Tourism in Europe held in San Marino on 19-20 November.

Besides the issue of accessibility, the Committee also debated the ethical implications of the promotion of fair models of all-inclusive holidays, the impact on tourism of unfounded ratings on travel portals and the effect of the rise of sharing economy in tourism.

“Tourism makes a great contribution to economy, although in occasions it can be damaging at a local level, our Committee pays special attention to this. The tourism sector is undergoing great changes (online booking systems, user generated ratings, the use of ICT and social networks in tourism); topics which we have to understand and reflect in our initiatives”, said Pascal Lamy, chair of the Committee.

Welcoming the Members of the Committee, the Minister for Culture and Tourism of Italy, Dario Franceschini, said “In these difficult times, characterized by economic and financial instability, natural disasters and unpredictable socio-political events, we are all aware that development can only be addressed with a shared ethical framework”.

“I would like to thank the outstanding support received from the Italian Government in advancing the important agenda of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics. It is the fourth time that the Committee meets in Rome thanks to the excellent cooperation established with Italy and to the support of the Rome Centre for the Promotion and Dissemination of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. This collaboration shows the commitment of Italy to promote a more sustainable and responsible tourism development”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

The Committee further backed the “Be a Responsible Traveler” anti-trafficking campaign by UNWTO, UNODC and UNESCO in cooperation with the private sector, to stand against human trafficking and illegal trade in wildlife, cultural artifacts and drugs. In the sphere of Child protection, the Committee acclaimed the participation of UNWTO in the forthcoming Global Study on the Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism and will follow up with attention the progress of this research.

As the organ responsible for promoting and monitoring the implementation of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, the Committee applauded the growing number of companies and trade associations that have adhered to the Private Sector Commitment to the Code. By November 2014, a total of 356 signatories from 51 countries had committed to promote and implement the Code in their business operations.

The World Committee on Tourism Ethics is the independent body responsible for promoting and monitoring the implementation of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. Its 14th Meeting was held in Rome, host city of the Centre for the Promotion of the Global Code of Ethics in Tourism, under the chairmanship of Pascal Lamy.

The next meeting of the Committee will take place in Istria, Croatia, on the occasion of the 100th Session of the UNWTO Executive Council.