ISTANBUL (Reuters) – At a luxury hotel in Istanbul, staff in gloves and masks space out and disinfect tables as they prepare for a scheme which Turkey hopes will rescue part of its $35 billion tourism industry from the ravages of coronavirus.
The “healthy tourism certificate” programme aims to convince travellers that despite the global pandemic, Turkey’s beaches and historic treasures will be safe to visit this year, with rigorous checks on airlines, local transport and hotels.
“The more transparent and detailed information we give, the more we will earn the confidence of tourists,” Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy told Reuters, setting out plans to open at least half of Turkey’s hotels this year.
Turkey ranks sixth globally in tourist arrivals and tourism accounts for 12% of an economy now facing its second recession in two years. Figures released on Friday showed the pandemic slashed foreign arrivals by 99% last month.
With so much at stake, the government is intensively lobbying 70 countries to convince them that Turkey will be a safe destination as it gradually eases its domestic lockdown.
The new certificates set criteria for health and hygiene in airlines, airports and other transport, as well as hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes. They will be awarded by international institutions and information will be sent to tour operators and will be accessible to tourists.
At Istanbul’s Four Seasons hotel, general manager Tarek Mourad said the scheme would help reassure visitors, adding that Turkey’s robust healthcare infrastructure, major new airport and far-reaching flag carrier Turkish Airlines were also assets.
“If you put all these together we create a better chance for Turkey to recover faster,” Mourad said on a terrace overlooking Hagia Sophia, once Christendom’s foremost cathedral and then a mosque before becoming a leading tourist attraction as a museum.
Travel company TUI said it had offers for travel from June 15. Leisure airline Corendon hopes to launch a summer package in late June, whereby Dutch holidaymakers will be tested for the virus before flying and will remain restricted to hotel grounds.
Ersoy said COVID-19 testing centres were being set up at airports.
“Those guests who come without having been tested in the last 72 hours will all be tested,” he said.
Passengers in terminals will be required to wear masks, and temperatures will be taken with forehead thermometers.
The project has drawn support from the tourism sector but there are worries about the level of international interest.
“We have to be realistic, this will be a slow process. The opening of 50% (of hotels) in July would be a big success in my opinion,” said Erkan Yagci, chairman of the Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers and Investors Association.
Turkish Travel Agents Association Chairman Firuz Baglikaya said the main foreign arrivals would not be until September-October, and Russia, the leading market, which sent seven million tourists last year, would start later than others.
Foreign currency earnings from tourism may fall 60-70% this year, with the domestic market halving in size, he said.
The initial test from the end of this month will be the resumption of domestic tourism, but the real prize in terms of visitor numbers and revenues is foreign tourists.
In the Mediterranean tourism hub of Antalya, domestic tourists made up less than 20% of some 100 million annual overnight stays, according to the owner of a holiday complex in the region who declined to be named.
“The rest is … foreign visitors. Without them, there is no point in opening,” he said.
Reporting and photo: Reuters
Emirates undertakes largest known fleet retrofit project
Emirates has kick-started its plans to upgrade the entire interior cabins of 120 Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft – two of the largest commercial aircraft types in service today.
This ambitious project, representing a multi-billion dollar investment to ensure Emirates’ customers “fly better” for the coming years, officially commences in November and is managed entirely by Emirates’ Engineering team.
The target is to completely retrofit four Emirates aircraft from start to finish every month, continuously for over 2 years. Once the 67 earmarked A380s are refreshed and back in service, 53 777s will undergo their facelift. This will see nearly 4,000 brand new Premium Economy seats installed, 728 First Class suites refurbished and over 5,000 Business Class seats upgraded to a new style and design when the project is complete in April 2025.
In addition, carpets and stairs will be upgraded, and cabin interior panels refreshed with new tones and design motifs including the iconic ghaf trees which are native to the UAE.
No other airline has handled a retrofit of this magnitude in-house, and there’s no blueprint for such an undertaking. Therefore Emirates Engineering teams have been planning and testing extensively, to establish and streamline processes, and identify and address any possible snags.
Trials began on an A380 in July, where experienced engineers literally took each cabin apart piece-by-piece and logged every step. From removing seats and panelling to bolts and screws, every action was tested, timed and mapped out. Potential impediments to completing the installation of Emirates’ new Premium Economy Class or the retrofit of the remaining three cabins in just 16 days were flagged and documented for expert teams to review and address.
As part of the programme, new purpose-built workshops will be set up at Emirates Engineering to repaint, re-trim and re-upholster Business and Economy Class seats with new covers and cushioning. First Class suites will be carefully disassembled and sent to a specialised company to replace the leather, arm rests and other materials.
From the trials, Engineers discovered several unexpected solutions for instance: that existing food catering trucks could be easily repurposed to move parts destined for refurbishment from the aircraft to the workshop for their refresh, as these vehicles had doors of the right width and offer sufficient space.
Until the retrofit programme starts in earnest in November, a cross-disciplinary team has been assembled to regularly review the planning process, address any issues, and track updates on various aspects of the project such as procurement, staffing, and training.
Emirates’ new Premium Economy cabin class, which offers luxurious seats, more legroom, and a service to rival many airlines’ business offering, is currently available to Emirates customers travelling on popular A380 routes to London, Paris, Sydney. More customers will be able to experience the airline’s new Premium Economy cabins starting from year end, as the retrofit programme picks up momentum.
Eleanor helps over 30 Maldives hotels elevate guest services
Eleanor has been named as one of the top 10 concierge software providers globally.
Based on accurate, timely reviews from real users, the HotelTechAwards rank the world’s best hotel software firms and products and it also provides hoteliers direct access to a growing network of hotel technology professionals and decision-makers.
“The guest experience is the cornerstone of our platform. Our unified resort wide solution, Eleanor, has been built for resorts off the back of many years working in the industry and addresses the needs of both Sales and Marketing departments and perhaps just as importantly, the operational requirements of the team on the ground at the property. The days of resorts working with disjointed systems are now behind us,” says Darren Caple, co-founder and CEO.
“We are on a mission to make the guest’s resort experience as easy and as frictionless as possible. Whereas traditional providers in the market have come at this purely from a guest communication perspective, our background in resorts has allowed us to combine this basic requirement with the streamlining of operational processes. The result is truly a resort wide solution that removes the need for countless different systems to be deployed.
Eleanor allows resorts to deliver consistent, superior service levels to guests across all stages of their journey with contactless features helping to alleviate sensitive touch-points in the post pandemic period. More than 30 properties in the Maldives use our Eleanor platform to help butlers and guest services elevate the guest experience. These properties are seeing an increase in incremental revenue by over 30% and operational efficiencies of 600+ man hours per month. We are also beginning to roll out the platform in some Caribbean properties!”
Eleanor is making waves in the hospitality industry by pushing the conventional limits of what a resort guest app can achieve through its unique ability to facilitate direct bookings for services and activities. The traditional ‘request to book’ feature that is common amongst almost all other hotel apps is removed by a power booking and operational platform sitting at the heart of the solution that covers all the resorts’ departments. It’s this module which realises enormous operational benefits and insights for the resort.
“We, at Eleanor, are humbled and honoured that our clients have provided such positive reviews. Feedback from our clients, partners and hoteliers are incredibly valuable for us and we will continue to improve our offering and services”, said Caple.
To celebrate this success, Eleanor is currently offering resorts a free one month trial, together with free setup and training and discounted monthly fees.
Eleanor, founded in 2018 and has its headquarters in the United Kingdom. Created from over 15 years of hands-on expertise, Eleanor allows resorts to deliver consistent, superior service levels to its guests across all stages of their journey with contactless features helping to alleviate sensitive touch-points in the post pandemic period. Eleanor also helps to unlock operational efficiencies and boost incremental revenue and guest loyalty.
Hotel Tech Report’s Best Concierge Software 2022 Runner Up, reviewed as a preferred and reliable hotel software product by the global hotelier community.
For more information, visit www.eleanorapp.com.
Emirates’ recruiters scour the world for cabin crew talent with 30 city stops
Emirates, the world’s most global airline, is seeking talented people with a passion for service to join its award-winning cabin crew team.
As air travel returns with a vengeance, the airline’s recruiters are busy meeting and hiring candidates in 30 cities from now until the end of June. In this latest drive, Emirates’ teams will travel from Australia to the UK, and dozens of European cities in between, as well as Cairo, Algiers, Tunis and Bahrain.
Abdulaziz Al Ali, Emirates Group’s Executive Vice President for Human Resources said: “There’s no more exciting airline than Emirates for anyone interested in a flying career, and we’ve received tremendous interest since we began our recruitment drive for cabin crew in November.”
“While parts of the application process are done online, we always make the effort to meet our candidates in person whenever we can, and that is why our Talent Acquisition team is doing a whirlwind 30-city tour over the next 6 weeks to assess prospective candidates.”
Emirates’ truly global cabin crew team represent 160 nationalities, reflecting its customer mix and international operations in over 130 cities on six continents.
All Emirates crew are based in the exciting cosmopolitan city of Dubai, with company-provided accommodation, tax-free salary and more benefits.
Interested candidates can read more about the Emirates cabin crew role, and apply online at: https://www.emiratesgroupcareers.com/cabin-crew/
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