MADRID/LONDON (Reuters) – Spain is safe for tourists and Spaniards, the government insisted on Sunday after Britain abruptly imposed a two-week coronavirus quarantine on travellers returning from there, a decision that filled holidaymakers with dismay.
Last year, Britons made up over a fifth of foreign visitors to Spain, which relies on heavily on tourism revenues, meaning the UK move could deal a hard blow to efforts to restart the Mediterranean country’s economy after months of lockdown.
“Spain is safe, it is safe for Spaniards, it is safe for tourists,” Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told reporters.
The Spanish government will focus its efforts on trying to persuade Britain to exclude the Balearic and Canary islands from the quarantine measure, she said, adding that the prevalence of the virus in those popular travel destinations was much lower than in the United Kingdom.
Spain has seen COVID-19 cases rise in the last few weeks, and Britain announced late on Saturday it was taking the country off a safe-travel list. The quarantine took effect hours later.
The measure upset the plans of many people either on holiday or planning to take one and caused more disruption for airlines and tour companies.
While Gonzalez Laya avoided directly criticising the UK move, British tourists traveling in Spain were more blunt.
“It’s a bit crazy considering the restrictions in place in Spain already are really good, with the masks, with disinfecting everything, with hand wash in the shops. That’s better than what we have in London,” Rich Lambert, a communications officer, said at Barcelona’s airport.
Britain has also advised against all but essential travel to mainland Spain, leaving the islands out of the advice but including them in the quarantine measure.
TUI UK, part of the TUI (TUIGn.DE), holiday company, said it would cancel all holidays to mainland Spain up to Aug. 9, while maintaining flights to the Balearic and Canary islands.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab defended the quarantine decision on Sunday, as a “real-time response” to a jump in infections in Spain. “We can’t make apologies … we must be able to take swift, decisive action,” he said on Sky News.
The opposition Labour Party’s health policy chief, Jonathan Ashworth, slammed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government for its “frankly shambolic” handling of the measure.
Spain’s rise in COVID-19 cases has prompted most regions to impose rules for masks to be worn everywhere and, in several areas including Barcelona, calls for people to stay at home.
Most new cases have been concentrated in the northeastern region of Catalonia and neighboring regions, so a lot of the criticism focused on the fact that the quarantine also applies to areas which have been spared the brunt of the pandemic.
“This is ridiculous. There are almost no cases here and there’s a far higher chance of contracting it when I get back to Britain,” said John Snelling, 50, from Stratford-upon-Avon, who was on holiday in Menorca.
Britain has been the hardest-hit country in Europe by the pandemic. Spain was also badly affected, with more than 290,000 cases and over 28,000 deaths. It imposed very strict lockdown measures, gradually easing them earlier in the summer.
Norway last week reimposed a 10-day quarantine requirement for people arriving from Spain, while France advised people not to travel to Catalonia.
But a collapse of tourism from Britain would have far more of an impact on Spain, where tourism accounts for 12% of economic output. Britons make up the largest group of foreign visitors by nationality.
“This decision is an absolute disaster for the recovery, there’s no other way to see this,” Angel Tavares, head of European Economics at Oxford Economics consulting, said on Twitter, referring to the quarantine measure.
Maria Frontera, head of Mallorca’s FEHM hotel association said she was shocked by the UK move “just like the British citizens who were enjoying their holidays here in Spain.”
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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