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Brexit negotiations: What is in the withdrawal agreement and the proposals on travel

The European Commission and the United Kingdom's negotiators have reached an agreement on the entirety of the Withdrawal Agreement of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, as provided for under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. The Withdrawal Agreement establishes the terms of the UK's withdrawal from the EU. It ensures that the withdrawal will happen in an orderly manner, and offers legal certainty once the Treaties and EU law will cease to apply to the UK. The Withdrawal Agreement covers the following areas:  Common provisions, setting out standard clauses for the proper understanding and operation of the Withdrawal Agreement. Citizens' rights, protecting the life choices of over 3 million EU citizens in the UK, and over 1 million UK nationals in EU countries, safeguarding their right to stay and ensuring that they can continue to contribute to their communities. Separation issues, ensuring a smooth winding-down of current arrangements and providing for an orderly withdrawal (for example, to allow for goods placed on the market before the end of the transition to continue to their destination, for the protection of existing intellectual property rights including geographical indications, the winding down of ongoing police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters and other administrative and judicial procedures, the use of data and information exchanged before the end of the transition period, issues related to Euratom, and other matters). A transition period, during which the EU will treat the UK as if it were a Member State, with the exception of participation in the EU institutions and governance structures. The transition period will help in particular administrations, businesses and citizens to adapt to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom. The financial settlement, ensuring that the UK and the EU will honour all financial obligations undertaken while the UK was a member of the Union. The overall governance structure of the Withdrawal Agreement,ensuring the effective management, implementation and enforcement of the agreement, including appropriate dispute settlement mechanisms. The terms of a legally operational backstop to ensure that there will be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland also contains UK commitments not to diminish rights set out in the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement 1998, and to protect North-South cooperation. It provides for the possibility to continue the Common Travel Area arrangements between Ireland and the UK, and preserves the Single Electricity Market on the island of Ireland. A protocol on the Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) in Cyprus, protecting the interests of Cypriots who live and work in the Sovereign Base Areas following the UK's withdrawal from the Union. A Protocol on Gibraltar, which provides for close cooperation between Spain and the UK in respect of Gibraltar on the implementation of citizens' rights provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, and concerns administrative cooperation between competent authorities in a number of policy areas. More specifically, regarding travel and tourism, the European Union has proposed visa-free travel for Britons after Brexit: “The European Commission has proposed to grant UK citizens visa-free travel to the EU after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. It would mean that UK citizens would not need a visa when traveling to the Schengen area for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period,” the European Commission noted in a statement, adding that in the case of a no-deal Brexit, “this would apply as of 30 March 2019. If a deal is reached, however, it would apply as of the end of the transition period, as outlined in the withdrawal agreement”. “This proposal is entirely conditional upon the UK also granting reciprocal and non-discriminatory visa-free travel for all EU member states, in line with the principle of visa reciprocity,” it continued. The UK has declared its intention not to require a visa from citizens of the European Union 27 member states for shorts stays for the purposes of tourism and business. “For UK nationals, once EU law no longer applies to the United Kingdom, visa-free travel will be possible in the 22 EU countries which are members of the Schengen area and in the four Schengen-associated States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). It will also apply to Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus which are not yet full members of the Schengen area,” the statement specified. Read more at europa.eu RELATED TOPICS: Greece, Greek tourism news, Tourism in Greece, Greek islands, Hotels in Greece, Travel to Greece, Greek destinations , Greek travel market, Greek tourism statistics, Greek tourism report Photo Source: pixabay.com Let's block ads! (Why?)

MSCI relegation for three Greek banks impacts Athens Stock exchange

MSCI has confirmed the worst-case scenario by deciding to strike the stocks of three out of the country’s four systemic banks – National, Piraeus and Eurobank – from the MSCI Standard Greece index and relegate them to the MSCI Small Cap Index during the biannual revision of its indexes, with an immediate impact on the Athens stock exchange’s banks index, which dropped 7.1 percent on Wednesday, Kathimerini reports. The rationale for the exit of the three banks, announced at midnight on Tuesday, is related to the reduction of their capitalization below the $1 billion level set by MSCI as a criterion, in the cases of Piraeus and National, and to the rebalancing of the index, in Eurobank’s case. The local market had generally priced in Piraeus’s relegation, but the news that Eurobank and National will also be ejected from the Standard index took many portfolios by surprise, even though Societe Generale had raised the possibility in a report earlier this month. Analysts warn that this shift will remove the three lenders’ stocks from numerous investors’ radars. Alex Boulougouris, co-head of research at Wood & Company investment bank, tells Kathimerini that exclusion from the MSCI Standard index means the three banks could be left off the options palette of certain traders who follow the MSCI indexes. Now the MSCI Standard Greece index only consists of six stocks, those of OTE telecom, the OPAP gaming company, Alpha Bank, homeware and toy retailer Jumbo, Motor Oil and Titan Cement, whose weighting has risen because of the three lenders’ ejection. The share of the MSCI Greece index in the entire MSCI Emerging Markets index will be reduced from 0.27 percent to 0.22 percent. As the shift will apply after December 1, more turbulence is expected by the end of the month on the three banks’ stock prices, especially on November 30. RELATED TOPICS: Greece, Greek tourism news, Tourism in Greece, Greek islands, Hotels in Greece, Travel to Greece, Greek destinations , Greek travel market, Greek tourism statistics, Greek tourism report Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons Copyright: Dimorsitanos License: CC-BY-SA  Let's block ads! (Why?)

Three Athens metro stations close on Saturday due to Polytechnic uprising feast

Three Athens metro station will close on Saturday due to the events celebrating the Athens Polytechnic uprising and following Greek police's orders, ANA reports. Megaro Moussikis station (blue line) will close at 15:00 followed by Evangelismos and Syntagma stations that will close at 16:30. All stations will re-open after the end of the events and the march to American Embassy and after police's order. RELATED TOPICS: Greece, Greek tourism news, Tourism in Greece, Greek islands, Hotels in Greece, Travel to Greece, Greek destinations , Greek travel market, Greek tourism statistics, Greek tourism report Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons Copyright: athenswalk License: CC-BY-SA  Let's block ads! (Why?)

MIG negotiations with Fortress fund over Attica Group sale close without deal

Negotiations during the past year between the MIG investment fund and Fortress over the sale of a controlling stake in Attica Group, a major coastal shipping operator in Greece owned by the former, have concluded without an agreement, Greek newspaper Naftemporiki reports. By all accounts, MIG will proceed with a tender process to sell the ferry boat operator, similar to the one employed to sell-off the Hygeia hospital and affiliated facilities in Athens, a transaction that yielded 204.4 million euros for MIG. The sale's proceeds will reportedly be used to reduce MIG's bank borrowing. RELATED TOPICS: Greece, Greek tourism news, Tourism in Greece, Greek islands, Hotels in Greece, Travel to Greece, Greek destinations , Greek travel market, Greek tourism statistics, Greek tourism report Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons Copyright: Jebulon License: CC-BY-SA  Let's block ads! (Why?)

Euro Working Group approves measure to leave Greek pensions uncut

The Euro Working Group has given the green light over the Greek government’s decision to not slash pensions, according to sources cited by protothema.gr The same sources noted that there was no objection to the recommendation that Greece will be able to meet its fiscal target for a primary surplus of 3.5% of GDP even without the pension cuts. According to media reports by the Athens News Agency, the Eurozone finance ministry officials were “overall positive” to the current Euro Working Group over the Greek budget and the European Commission’s suggestion that Greece will achieve the primary surplus of 3.5% in 2019, without the need to cut pensions. According to the well-informed source, the positive measures included in the Greek budget are in their nature growth-oriented. According to the same source, the ultimate decision will be taken at the December Eurogroup, where all the budgets of the Eurozone member states will be discussed together with the official recommendations of the Commission scheduled to be published on November 21st. RELATED TOPICS: Greece, Greek tourism news, Tourism in Greece, Greek islands, Hotels in Greece, Travel to Greece, Greek destinations , Greek travel market, Greek tourism statistics, Greek tourism report Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons Copyright: User:Verdy p License: CC-BY-SA  Let's block ads! (Why?)

EU Brexit divorce agreement in peril after two UK cabinet ministers quit

Associated Press reports from London Two British Cabinet ministers, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, resigned Thursday in opposition to the divorce deal struck by Prime Minister Theresa May with the EU — a major blow to her authority and her ability to get the deal through Parliament. A defiant May insisted Brexit meant making “the right choices, not the easy ones” and called for lawmakers to support the deal “in the national interest.” “The choice is clear,” she told them. “We can choose to leave with no deal. We can risk no Brexit at all. Or we can choose to unite and support the best deal that can be negotiated — this deal.” But the resignations, less than a day after the Cabinet collectively backed the draft divorce deal, weaken May and are likely to embolden her rivals within her Conservative Party. A leadership challenge is being openly discussed. The departures — several junior ministers have also quit — are a further sign that many supporters of Brexit won’t back May in a vote in Parliament on the deal. That’s prompted a big drop in the value of the pound, which was trading 1.5 percent lower at $1.28. Pro-Brexit politicians argue that the agreement, which calls for close trade ties between the U.K. and the bloc, would leave Britain a vassal state, bound to EU rules that it has no say in making. Before Parliament votes on the deal — the culmination of a year and a half of negotiations between the two sides — EU leaders have to give their backing. On Thursday, EU chief Donald Tusk called for a summit of leaders to be held on November 25 so they can rubber-stamp the draft deal reached by officials earlier this week. May has supporters in her party, and they insisted on Thursday that the alternatives — leaving the trading bloc without a deal or a second vote on Brexit — were not realistic options. But May’s chances of getting her deal through Parliament appeared to be shrinking. Her Conservative government doesn’t have enough lawmakers of its own to get a majority, and relies on the support of the Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland, which says it will not support the deal. Read more at thenationalherald.com RELATED TOPICS: Greece, Greek tourism news, Tourism in Greece, Greek islands, Hotels in Greece, Travel to Greece, Greek destinations , Greek travel market, Greek tourism statistics, Greek tourism report Photo Source: pixabay.com Let's block ads! (Why?)

ΑΒΤΑ: Five key principles for selling travel products to the over 50s

Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) notes in a recent report that today’s over 50s are typically wealthier than their counterparts in previous generations. They may have already retired and often have bigger budgets to explore the world. “It has never been as cheap or as easy to travel as it is now” says Sara Grady, Head of Tourism at GlobalData “and this is something that can be leveraged when reaching out to an older consumer.” Understanding how to reach the over 50s and how to adapt your product will increase your engagement with this lucrative market. Don’t forget these key principles when selling to the over 50s: Understand your target market – avoid grouping the over 50s together and remember the importance of segmenting the market when selling. Beware of stereotypes – the over 50s want to be defined by activities, attitudes, desires, interests, lifestyle and needs – not age. They refuse to look, think, feel, behave or accept chronological age. Make it personal – understand your client’s attitude towards life and ensure you have a clear strategy to find out their needs before selling them the perfect solution. Train your team – you must ensure you hire the right people who are able to deliver personal service and offer the correct training. Do you have ways of motivating your team to understand the customer and tailor their service towards them? Keep up with the latest trends – understand where the over 50s want to travel to and how they want to travel. Ensure you’re in tune with the new digital trends – the over 50s are tech savvy and you should adapt your selling strategy to make sure you're using the best sales channels. Whether you already have a large over 50s base and want to hear about new and innovative ways to connect with your customers, or you would like to hear how to increase your reach and engagement with the over 50s market, don’t miss ABTA’s third annual Over 50s Holiday Market conference on 29 November in London. RELATED TOPICS: Greece, Greek tourism news, Tourism in Greece, Greek islands, Hotels in Greece, Travel to Greece, Greek destinations , Greek travel market, Greek tourism statistics, Greek tourism report Let's block ads! (Why?)

UNWTO: Communities needed in Cultural Tourism’s digital transformation

Madrid, Spain, 13 November 2018 – The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)’s International Seminar on Harnessing Cultural Tourism through Innovation and Technology and 40th Affiliate Members Plenary Session concluded with a renewed call for community participation in development of cultural tourism using cutting-edge technologies (12-14 November 2018, Hamedan, Islamic Republic of Iran). Cultural and heritage attractions are key to tourism development in many countries around the world, and innovation and technology can make these attractions more accessible while preserving their essence, the seminar concluded. It also stressed that innovation and technology should empower, rather than disenfranchise, host populations and communities and can assist them in retaining their authenticity, while cultural heritage development and preservation should be a part of local and national plans for socioeconomic development through tourism and technology. “Technology and innovation, including ICT, can improve the quality of the tourist experience. It can improve governance, profits and the wellbeing of residents. And it can preserve intangible and tangible heritage resources for the sustainable development of cultural tourism,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili opening the event. “The world’s diverse range of culture and heritage form the best means and ways to connect peoples of the world – but only if the rights and privileges of both host and guest populations are respected and responded to. And innovation and technology can help”, added Iranian Vice-President Ali Asghar Mounesan, who also heads the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handcraft and Tourism Organization (ICHTO). The seminar agreed that informed governance and policies surrounding uptake of new technologies and innovative practices can guide tourism development and open doors for the sector, with conservation and revitalization of cultural heritage one of its main benefits. It also highlighted that for tourism authorities, participation of, and collaboration with, the host community should be a driver for technology-driven change. It was urged that tourism development not only maximize benefits and minimize costs for greater competitiveness, but also respond to the expectations and needs of hosts and guests alike. The seminar was organized by UNWTO, ICHTO and Alisadr Tourism Company. Alongside it, Hamedan played host to the UNWTO Affiliate Members’ 40th plenary, in which active discussions were held as UNWTO’s Affiliate Members voiced their opinions and suggestions on the Affiliate Members Department’s Programme of Work for 2019. RELATED TOPICS: Greece, Greek tourism news, Tourism in Greece, Greek islands, Hotels in Greece, Travel to Greece, Greek destinations , Greek travel market, Greek tourism statistics, Greek tourism report Photo Source: unwto.org Let's block ads! (Why?)

IATA: “Spirit of change” needed from governments to boost European competitiveness

Madrid – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for a spirit of change from governments to capture the social and economic benefits of air connectivity, by enabling a more competitive air transport sector.  Today 8.5 million flights touch Europe each year. That activity supports 12.2 million jobs and $823 billion of European GDP. Those benefits have the potential to increase with the expected 50% growth in demand for air connectivity over the next two decades. To fully realize this potential Europe must address deep-rooted issues which hamper the competitiveness of Europe’s aviation sector. Chief among the concerns are the onerous regulation, high taxes, inefficient air traffic management, and a lack of sufficient infrastructure capacity. “In 2037, 1.9 billion passengers should be traveling to, from and within this continent. That growth will create jobs and drive a modern economy. But these economic and societal benefits will only materialize if Europe provides a playing field on which its airline industry can be competitive. Governments must embrace a spirit of change in their policies and ambitions for aviation. If governments make the right decisions for aviation—effective regulations, fair taxes and efficient infrastructure—the competitiveness of the entire European economy will improve,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, in a keynote address to the inaugural IATA Wings of Change Europe conference in Madrid, Spain. IATA also announced that it is developing a Competitiveness Toolkit, which will provide governments with an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of their air connectivity. The analysis will be updated regularly, to enable stakeholders to measure progress. The first country report, for Spain, was published at Wings of Change, with key European states to follow in the coming weeks. IATA identified three key areas of action to enhance European competitiveness: improving air traffic management, enhancing aviation infrastructure, and reducing the cost and regulatory burden. Air Traffic Management A four-point plan for improvements should be adopted without delay by the European Commission, States, Air Navigation Service Providers and their staff, comprising: Reforms to outdated work practices Modernization of the ATM infrastructure Empowering the European Network Manager, and Strengthening the Performance and Charging Scheme regulation. “This year’s ATM performance has seen delays at record levels. Passengers deserve better, and airlines cannot wait for the benefits of the Single European Sky program to materialize. Urgent action is needed today to ensure improvements are in place for next summer,” said de Juniac. IATA and PANSA (the ANSP for Poland) jointly announced the publication of the Airspace Strategy for Poland, the first of the National Airspace Strategies that Poland, France, Spain, Bulgaria and Italy have undertaken to develop. Airport Capacity There is an urgent need to build more airport capacity, but IATA urged caution with the involvement of the private sector in running airports. And existing capacity must be handled with care. The European Slot Regulation, which is aligned with the Worldwide Slots Guidelines, has worked well to manage constrained airports in a way which ensures stable schedules while creating openings for new competition. Smarter Regulations IATA encouraged European regulators to focus on two key regulatory reforms: The EU261 compensation scheme is complicated for airlines and passengers, and wholesale reform is urgently needed. The Airport Charges Directive has failed to keep airport charges competitive. Over the last decade, passenger charges have doubled as a proportion of the ticket price. Those airports which have strong market power must be effectively regulated. “The key is to agree the principles for establishing which airports need regulating, and a way to make that regulation effective, quickly,” said de Juniac. RELATED TOPICS: Greece, Greek tourism news, Tourism in Greece, Greek islands, Hotels in Greece, Travel to Greece, Greek destinations , Greek travel market, Greek tourism statistics, Greek tourism report Let's block ads! (Why?)

Research: New ranking method could help hotels to maximise their revenue

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth have devised a new method to rank hotels more precisely. The new method will assist hotel operators to maximise their revenue by providing more information on the areas that customers care about while customers also benefit from a more accurate and trusted rating of a hotel’s performance. Online customer reviews have become increasingly significant for people when booking hotel rooms. Online review platforms typically provide an overall rating by combining customer ratings of several individual criteria and then computing an average of these scores. The way they aggregate individual ratings into the overall rating is actually very simplistic, some platforms just do an arithmetic average of individual ratings. The problem is that it provides an equal weighting to each individual criteria and doesn’t differentiate between important and non-important hotel characteristics. Also a hotel could compensate a low score in one aspect with a high score in another. The new model relaxes some of the assumptions made by the abovementioned average approach and reflects a customer’s decision process more accurately by providing different weighting to attributes that are more important to customers. The results found the roles of staff and location as the most crucial criteria for hotels to maximise their revenue. The higher up the rankings a hotel appears, the more bookings they get and in turn, increase their revenue. The findings also showed that, contrary to previous research, location is not particularly critical when it comes to ranking a hotel’s performance. This could be because customers already know the location of a hotel when booking so their evaluation might refer to more intangible aspects of the location, such as street noise, that are more difficult to assess prior to booking. Co-author of the study Dr Marta Nieto-García, Lecturer in the Marketing and Sales Subject Group at the University of Portsmouth,  noted: “Our new model is an innovative approach that prioritises attributes and overcomes the simplistic use of an overall average. “From a managerial perspective, this approach helps operators to better understand the attributes that play a leading role in terms of revenue maximisation. Improving those aspects that are important to customers will be beneficial to hotels as long as the improvements are cost-efficient. For instance, improving facilities, which appears to be essential for increasing revenue, might be costlier than improving cleanliness. After considering which dimensions customers rank higher, each hotel should conduct careful cost benefit evaluations to decide on which attributes it should invest resources and how best those attributes could be improved. The researchers combined two independent data sources, online ratings from Booking.com (overall and individual ratings against six criteria – cleanliness, comfort, facilities, location, staff and value for money) and RevPAR (revenue per available room) data from the global data company STR. Data was taken from 709 hotels across 14 European cities. They then used Preference Ranking Organisation METHod for Enrichment of Evaluations (PROMETHEE), a multi-criteria decision analysis system that identifies the pros and the cons of several criteria and provides a ranking of them. This revealed important correlation between ratings and RevPAR in cleanliness, comfort, facilities, location, staff, with facilities the most significant, followed by staff. Dr Nieto-García commented: “Individual ratings reflect the attributes that customers consider relevant for their hotel choice. Through the use of our new model it is possible to offer a more accurate overall rating that accounts for the importance of the single individual attributes. This would result in more informed decision for customers and improved RevPAR for hotels.” The study, co-authored by Marta Nieto-Garcia, Giampaolo Viglia and Alessio Ishizaka from the Faculty of Business and Law at the University of Portsmouth, is published in the International Journal of Hospitality Management. It also involved Giuliano Resce from the Università degli Studi Roma in Italy and Nicoletta Occhiocupo from the IQS School of Management in Spain. Dr Nieto-García added: “However, we recognise that the study looked at just one platform (Booking.com) and could be expanded to validate the findings across different platforms (such as Tripadvisor). Also, the results are from European cities only and collected at a single point in time, so we could look whether this is relevant to other continents as well as enrich the current contributions with longitudinal data.” RELATED TOPICS: Greece, Greek tourism news, Tourism in Greece, Greek islands, Hotels in Greece, Travel to Greece, Greek destinations , Greek travel market, Greek tourism statistics, Greek tourism report Let's block ads! (Why?)