Iran Adopts Visa Waivers for Chinese Nationals to Boost Tourism Revenue

Breitbart News Network | July 01, 2019

Iran over the weekend adopted a policy to allow the entry of Chinese nationals into the Islamic Republic without visas in a bid to boost travel and tourism as punishing U.S. sanctions take a heavy toll on the Shiite countrys economy.The state-run Press TV outlet in Iran acknowledged that the visa waiver for Chinese nationals is linked to Irans decision this month to refrain from stamping the passports of foreign tourists entering the Islamic Republic to help Tehran withstand the U.S. sanctions’ negative impact on the country’s tourism sector.

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INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

Backroads Announces 2022 Travel Trends and Gears Up for Busiest Year Ever

Backroads | December 28, 2021

Backroads, the leader in active travel, announced their forecast for top travel destinations in 2022 based on advance bookings and inquiries. Europe is at the top of many travelers’ lists next year, with huge demand for trips in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Greece and Iceland. Many newcomers to active travel are booking adventures already, especially easygoing Dolce Tempo tours, and e-bikes are continuing to become more popular with guests of all ages. Backroads is anticipating that most of their North American trips will sell out once again, in line with the 2021 trend of strong interest in US National Parks and luxurious domestic adventures. As this eventful year comes to a close, Backroads is finishing strong and poised to have their biggest year ever in 2022. Backroads’ 2021 year-end highlights include: Backroads had its best year of all time in the US in 2021. Domestic bookings were up 45% compared to 2019, the last pre-pandemic benchmark year, and virtually all US departures sold out. The number of first-time travelers with Backroads nearly doubled over 2019, as people incorporated their newfound passions for walking, hiking and biking into their vacations. Top-selling trips in 2021 included Canyonlands, Yellowstone, Maine, San Juan Islands, Alaska, California Wine Country, Hawaii, Santa Barbara & Ojai, Crater Lake, Vermont and Yosemite in the US, and Croatia, Iceland, Greece, France, Portugal and Spain in Europe. Luxury experiences close to home saw a surge in popularity. Backroads' new Aspen tour (which includes three nights at the iconic Hotel Jerome) sold out immediately, as did the company’s Newfoundland adventure, which features lodging at the famed Fogo Island Inn, and its California Wine Country Walking trip with lodging at luxurious hideaways Montage and Solage. Popular with travelers around the world were Backroads' Dolce Tempo tours. These easygoing walking, multi-adventure and e-biking trips completely sold out in 2021 and are booking quickly in 2022. Adventure travel featuring invigorating activity in wide-open, natural spaces was hugely popular with travelers of all types, including families, couples and solo travelers. Based on advance guest booking and inquiries, Backroads is anticipating the following trends for 2022: More than 30% of guests on multi-adventure and biking trips will opt for e-bikes, which are custom-built for Backroads and included in the trip price. Europe will continue to see pent-up demand manifesting in sky-high bookings, with all the European countries that opened early and were popular in 2021 seeing strong traveler interest. Top-selling countries include Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Greece and Iceland. North America, which had its biggest year ever in 2021, will continue to be popular with travelers looking to stick close to home. US National Park trips will again completely sell out. Demand for travel in all parts of Canada from Banff to Newfoundland is skyrocketing. Family travel is up across all family segments: Teens & Kids, Older Teens & 20s and 20s & Beyond. Bookings for easygoing Dolce Tempo adventures will maintain their threefold increase compared to 2021, as travelers of all fitness levels look to spend active time outdoors. Active River Cruises will book up quickly with Bordeaux, Danube and Portugal’s Douro leading the way. Working in active, outdoor travel continues to appeal, with more than 450 Backroads Trip Leaders and Field Staff returning next season for a 90% retention rate. The company expects to hire close to another 350 additional Trip Leaders from 6,000 applicants for jobs in 2022. “If there’s one thing we’ve learned during our two years of operating trips during the pandemic, it’s that things change rapidly, Spring, summer, and fall are a long time away when it comes to COVID-19. We’re monitoring government responses to the latest surge and keeping a close eye on border reopenings and local policies.” -Tom Hale, Backroads Founder and President. Regardless of what happens this winter, 2022 is shaping up to be an incredible year for adventure travel. Based on what we saw in the summer 2021 season, we expect travel in Europe to come back strong, with France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Croatia topping the list of travelers everywhere,” said Hale. “People are eager to get back out exploring, and active travel is the way they want to go. Whether it’s on a bike or an e-bike, hiking or walking, with family, friends or solo, we anticipate next year to be Backroads' biggest year ever.”     About Backroads      Backroads was founded in 1979 by Tom Hale and has been a leading innovator in active and adventure travel for over 40 years. The company offers biking, walking & hiking and multi-adventure tours, small ship active cruises, private trips and family trips designed for three distinct age groups: Teens & Kids (typically 9-16), Older Teens & 20s (17+) and 20s & Beyond (adult kids through their late 20s). Backroads hosts thousands of guests each year—75% of whom are repeat guests or referrals from past guests—in hundreds of locations across the globe. For more information, please visit backroads.com, or call 800-462-2848.For more Backroads information, visit: backroads.com

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INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

Aggressor Adventures Dives into the New Year with Optimism Following a Successful 2021

Aggressor Adventures | December 23, 2021

Aggressor Adventures® is celebrating the end of a successful 2021 and looking back on the past 12 months with pride while looking forward with optimism and excitement. In 2021, the company launched its Consumer Travel Index, won numerous awards, reopened its Sri Lanka Safari Lodge and announced plans to offer new adventures to customers in 2022. Return to Travel Aggressor saw an increase in bookings for operating destinations of 123% in 2021 over 2020. “I am incredibly proud of how our staff has persevered through the many changes in requirements from governments worldwide, updating protocols, destination reopenings, and more. The quality of our service never wavered; in fact, I’d say the past few years have made us even better than we were before Even through it all, we still saw tremendous growth this year compared to last. I believe that people were ready to make up for lost time and rebook the trips they had to cancel in 2020.” -Wayne Brown, CEO of Aggressor Adventures. Aggressor provided an adventure of a lifetime to more than 12,000 guests in 2021. The company’s top three most popular destinations were Socorro, which saw 240% growth in bookings, Red Sea RE, which saw 230% growth in bookings and Belize, which saw 182% growth in bookings. Exciting for Aggressor, the future looks just as bright: “We are confident we can plan double digit growth in 2022,” Brown added. Consumer Travel Index Aggressor’s Consumer Travel Index provided insightful findings from a series of national surveys to track consumer sentiments. Topics from 2021 included interest and comfortability in traveling, motivations for traveling, how long consumers are planning trips for, what their budgets are, how remote working has impacted travel plans, and much more. Award Wins In 2021 Aggressor earned many awards, including Top Liveaboard Company in the World with 69 Readers Choice Awards from Scuba Diving Magazine, a Gold Travel Weekly Magellan Award for Cruise Safety for the company’s industry-leading Clean, Refresh, Sanitize program, and a Silver Travel Weekly Magellan Award for Cruise Podcast for the company’s Inspired by Adventure podcast. New Adventures 2021 saw the reopening of the Aggressor Safari Lodge in Sri Lanka® and the announcement of a new liveaboard, the Red Sea Royal Evolution (RE) Aggressor, which will set sail in February 2022. In addition to these new destinations and reopenings, the brand also has major plans for several exciting new destinations for customers in 2022. Brown and his team have visited numerous adventure sites and are actively exploring new trips in Belize, the British Virgin Islands and several other exciting destinations. About Aggressor Adventures Since 1984, Aggressor Adventures® has offered travelers liveaboard scuba and snorkeling charters, luxury river cruises and exotic wildlife safaris. Worldwide locations the company explores include Bahamas, Belize, Cayman Islands, Cocos Island, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Galapagos, Hawaii, Indonesia, Maldives, Mexico, Philippines, Palau, Red Sea, Roatan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Turks and Caicos. The company’s Clean, Refresh, Sanitize safety standards are industry leading. For more information, visit www.aggressor.com

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INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

TRAVEL LEADERS CORPORATE ANTICIPATES STRONGER BUSINESS MARKET IN 2022

Travel Leaders Corporate | December 21, 2021

While the demand for business travel is growing, and should continue to recover in 2022, changes brought on by the pandemic will affect many aspects of trip planning, according to Travel Leaders Corporate's leadership team. Travel Leaders Corporate is an innovative business travel solutions firm with a focus on customized Travel Fulfillment, Meetings Management and Data & Analytics. Business travelers will face reduced airline schedules, fewer options for hotel rooms and higher prices. Border closures and lockdowns around the world will slow international travel. And there is still much uncertainty regarding the impact of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. "Traveling amid a constantly changing environment will continue to challenge even the most experienced road warriors,Travelers will place a premium on the expertise of seasoned travel consultants to help them plan, execute and navigate through each business trip. This is especially true for international travel, where regulations evolve on an almost dynamic basis." -Michael Boult, president of Travel Leaders Corporate. Despite those challenges, Boult said, "Getting business travelers back on the road is critical for both company health and economic prosperity." Here are some of the Travel Leaders Corporate insights for 2022: Consolidation is coming for travel management companies and travel suppliers. Many of the vulnerable players will fall prey to stronger players or potentially exit the marketplace entirely. Inflation caused by ongoing labor shortages will result in higher prices for airline tickets and hotel rooms. All suppliers will seek to recapture lost market share, revenue and profit as they look to a full recovery in 2023. With leisure travel returning at a faster pace, airlines are focusing on "fun and sun" markets, leading to fewer flights between predominantly business routes. And with real estate prices at record levels, some hotel owners may be tempted to convert their properties to condominiums. Senior-level travelers will make increasing use of VIP services. Corporations will move toward implementing employee vaccine mandates, speeding the process of returning workers to physical offices. This is a critical step for business travelers, whose success depends on being willing and able to visit colleagues, clients and potential clients. Stricter vaccine requirements are anticipated for non-remote workers, business travelers and office/facility visitors, as well as safety protocols for employees attending physical meetings and events. Travel requests and policy compliance will face increased scrutiny as companies continue to closely manage costs. To ensure maximum spend visibility and heightened employee duty of care, employees will no longer have the flexibility to book travel outside of their organization's preferred vendors. Sustainability and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will be key drivers in travel policy and the selection of suppliers. Organizations must be prepared to measure their impact on society and the environment. Corporations are eager to return to live or hybrid events in 2022. More than three-quarters of event planners say that they will hold their next face-to-face event late in the first quarter of the year. Planners still strongly consider face-to-face meetings as vital. Many event sponsors say that their companies value in-person meetings more than before the pandemic. Many companies are moving to smaller regional events with less than 200 attendees. Planners have found a lack of availability of large meeting venues in the first two quarters of 2022, as many first-tier cities are already booked. Uneven rates of COVID cases, border closures, changes in the airline market and potential lockdowns will combine to limit the recovery of international travel in 2022. As we enter a third year of pandemic disruption, companies have begun to adapt and normalize their activities through virtual meetings and the use of local staff and partners. While international business travel will return, it is possible that some activity will be permanently eliminated. For more information or to take advantage of Travel Leaders Corporate's personalized service and cutting-edge corporate business travel solutions that provide a complete travel enrichment experience, email sales@tlcorporate.com or call 844.485.2677. About Travel Leaders Corporate Travel Leaders Corporate is an innovative business travel solutions firm with a focus on customized Travel Fulfillment, Meetings Management and Data & Analytics. Travel Leaders Corporate, founded in 2008, is born out of the digital age and shaped around the three technology trends impacting every industry: mobile, data, and the cloud. This enables Travel Leaders Corporate to offer a flexible suite of services customized to a client's needs. Travel Leaders Corporate is part of Internova Travel Group, which is the highest-ranking American corporate travel management company, according to Business Travel News. About Internova Travel Group Internova Travel Group is one of the largest travel services companies in the world with a collection of leading brands delivering high-touch, personal travel expertise to leisure and corporate clients. Internova manages leisure, business and franchise firms through a portfolio of distinctive divisions. Internova represents more than 62,000 travel advisors in over 6,000 company-owned and affiliated locations predominantly in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, with a presence in more than 80 countries.

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AIRLINES AND AIRPORTS

Oman Air transforms staff travel with IBS Software partnership

Oman Air & IBS Software | May 16, 2022

Oman Air has partnered with IBS Software to fully digitalize its staff travel program, delivering a highly configurable, self-service platform for employees to book and manage complex leisure travel, annual leave travel and duty travel policies.Award-winning Oman Air overhauled its on-premise legacy system with IBS Software's SaaS-based iFly Staff platform to enable self-service for its employees to easily manage their travel needs. The system has also significantly extended usability, allowing users access via any browser or any Android or iOS device, replacing the legacy desktop-only service. iFly Staff now handles all Oman Air active and retired employee's ID travel, supplementary ticketing, and annual leave ticketing, as well as the staff ticketing of partner companies TRANSOM Catering, TRANSOM Handling and TRANSOM SATS Cargo. The platform's highly configurable business rules engine means Oman Air gains the ability to dynamically update its policies, create and roll out new policies and processes, thus reducing the lead-time to implement policy changes. This has resulted in significant gains on operational efficiency over the last six months since the system went live. "Our partnership with IBS Software has transformed the staff travel experience, simplifying processes to make it far easier for our employees to manage their personal and corporate travel, Navigating the intricacies of constantly updating travel policies represents a major win for the whole airline – from both an employee satisfaction and operational efficiency perspective." -Dr. Khalid Al Zadjali, Senior Vice President Digital, Oman Air The new staff travel system comes as part of Oman Air's ongoing efforts to enhance the benefits and facilities presented to employees, said Hilal Al Siyabi, Senior Vice President, People, Oman Air. "Self-service and mobile capabilities have significantly improved our employees' travel experience while reducing the workload associated with providing facilities. "It has been a privilege to work with the teams at Oman Air, who are constantly striving to deliver new, innovative services to staff and passengers alike, Fully digitalizing processes has allowed them the ability to not only provide superior staff travel functionality and ease of use for users, but also considerably improve Oman Air's internal operations. We're also proud that the deployment of iFly Staff was managed remotely due to Covid-19 travel restrictions." -Vijay Chakravarthy, Vice President and Head of Staff Travel, IBS Software About IBS Software IBS Software is a leading SaaS solutions provider to the travel industry globally, managing mission-critical operations for customers in the aviation, tour & cruise and hospitality industries. IBS Software's solutions for the aviation industry cover fleet & crew operations, aircraft maintenance, passenger services, loyalty programs, staff travel and air-cargo management. IBS Software also runs a real time B2B and B2C distribution platform providing hotel room inventory, rates and availability to a global network of hospitality companies and channels. For the tour and cruise industry, IBS provides a comprehensive, customer-centric, digital platform that covers onshore, online and on-board solutions. IBS Software is a Blackstone portfolio company and operates from 15 offices across the world. Further information can be found at https://www.ibsplc.com/. About Oman Air Oman Air (WY), the national airline of the Sultanate of Oman, began its operations in 1993. Initially founded to serve key domestic routes, it has since undergone rapid growth and is today recognized as a major international carrier connecting cities around the world to Oman's spectacular natural beauty, captivating charm and genuine openness. A Five-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating from Skytrax and two consecutive (2021 and 2022) Five-Star Major Airline Ratings from the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) are among its many industry accolades. The airline has played a vital role in transforming Muscat into an important traffic hub in the Middle East, supporting adjacent commercial, industrial and tourism activities. With a fleet comprising ultra-modern, fuel-efficient aircraft that feature luxuriously appointed interiors, Oman Air is renowned for its exceptional products and services, both in the air and on the ground, and for the signature Omani hospitality available to guests on every flight. Ongoing investments in new technologies, innovative products and enhanced guest services have solidified its position as a premium, multi-award-winning airline of outstanding repute. Both Oman Air and Oman Air Holidays proudly display the Safe Travels stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) for best practices relating to standardized global health and hygiene protocols.

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