The coronavirus outbreak has left Thailand’s hotels empty, its tour guides without work and its markets unusually quiet. The country’s wildlife may also now be noticing the lack of visitors.
A video filmed this week in Lopburi, north-east of Bangkok, showed large crowds of monkeys brawling in the streets, apparently fighting over a yoghurt pot. Residents in the city, which is famed for its monkey population, say the fall in tourist numbers means there are far fewer people offering food.
“It’s the summer, so usually we see a lot of tourists, but now because of the outbreak there’s so few that the markets are very quiet. Not enough tourists come to leave food for the monkeys at Prang Sam Yod [temple],” Sasaluk Rattanachai, who posted a video of the brawl online, told Khaosod English.
AdvertisementThe monkeys are known for marauding the streets and stealing food from residents and unsuspecting tourists. Scraps between the monkeys are not uncommon, but a brawl of this size is rare, prompting one Thai reporter to attempt a vox pop with the local monkeys.
Each troop has at least 500 members, according to Manad Vimuktipune of the Lopburi Monkey Foundation. They’ll steal anything, he said: “Colourful ornaments, caps, sunglasses.” There are fewer tourists in the city, he added, and there is not enough food being offered.
The coronavirus outbreak is a severe blow to Thailand’s tourism industry, which is crucial to the country’s already struggling economy. This week, the country’s tourism authority warned that the number of foreign visitors may fall to 30 million this year from last year’s 39.8 million, according to the Bangkok Post.
The government has been criticised for a lack of clarity over its guidance to potential visitors, including over the quarantine measures that are likely to be imposed on tourists from affected countries.
It was announced this week that passengers who have travelled from or transited through several destinations – mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Korea, Italy and Iran – in the 14 days prior to their arrival may be subject to quarantine. Travellers from these destinations must also provide a health certificate, issued within 48 hours of their departure, certifying that they are free of Covid-19
Britain's famous tourist attractions, including palaces and castles galleries and zoos, have closed their doors to visitors because of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, millions of people from around the world are now taking virtual tours of tourism hotspots across Britain, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) said Thursday in a new report.
ALVA said said that millions of people may discover the diversity of Britain's tourist attractions through websites and digital galleries, science podcasts, virtual tours of the Houses of Parliament, web-cams of zoos and safari parks, as well as being able to take part in church and cathedral services and watching opera and theater, China.org reported.
"In the last week or so there has been an explosion in the number of people, here in Britain and around the world, virtually visiting the UK's top visitor attractions," ALVA Director Bernard Donoghue said in the report.
ALVA said that the British Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum and National Gallery have all seen a substantial increase in visitors to their websites.
The number of visitors to the British Museum's website has doubled in the past two and a half weeks, while visits to the National Gallery's virtual tour pages are up almost 800 per cent compared to last week, and 1,144 per cent up over last year.
Britain's best-known cathedrals, from Durham to Canterbury are also streaming church services.
Zoo cams have also become popular sites for virtual visitors.
Even William Shakespeare is proving to be a website hit more than 400 years after his death. Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon is offering a video tour of the five Shakespeare family homes.
Visitors can travel even further back in time to the early days of the Roman occupation of Britain around 2,000 years ago, by paying a virtual visit to the Roman Baths in the city of Bath.
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Are you one of those who hates to go through the process of applying for a visa to an exotic holiday destination? Fret not, as an Indian national, you can visit 17 countries ‘visa on arrival’. Your holiday could not get smoother than this. According to local tour operators, the destinations include a good mix for water, adventure and nature lovers from India
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Sri Lanka. According to Sophia Tamang, Head of Business Strategy, AFC Holidays, "We have noticed the overall trend in Indian guests has been either to "travel for FOMO" or "travel for passion" but travel for sure and this has brought a surge to even exploring many of the visa-on-arrival destinations. Egypt, Jordan, Africa (especially Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda), even places like Uzbekistan and much easily accessible places like Kyrgyzstan are on our list this year because we've seen a growing demand for these destinations,
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Maldives: Maldives is one of the most astounding places for Indians to visit without the hassle of arranging a prior visa. You just have to be a water lover and you will love every bit of your stay here. White sands, pristine clear water, you could not ask for more. What are you waiting head straight away for your holiday. Places to see in the country: Male, Addu City, Lhaviyani, Kaafu etc. Key attractions: Scuba diving, Snorkelling, Water Skiing, Wind Surfing etc. Recommended duration of stay in the country: 5 to 6 days. Best time to visit: All year round. Cost Minimum Dh3,700 or Rs 70,000 excluding airfare, sightseeing.
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Mauritus: Mauritius has white sandy beaches, cobalt-blue seas, and luxury hotels. The island country has plenty tourist spots too - such as Port Louis, Hindu Temple, Waterfalls, Moonscape valleys and mountains, Champ de Mars, Mahebourg, Naval Museum, Pamplemousses Garden, Natural reserves and wildlife parks and beaches. With sapphire waters, powder-white beaches and luxury resorts, Mauritius is a fairyland made before heaven. Places to see here : Grand Baie, Rodrigues, Flic en Flac, Mahebourg, Tamarin Riviere Noire etc. Famous for: Beaches, Water Sports, Multi-Ethnic Culture, Backpack Trips, Honeymoon. Ideal Duration: 7 to 8 days. Best time to visit: From April to June, September to December. Cost: Minimum budget, Dh3,600 or Rs. 120,000.
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Seychelles: Spellbinding beaches are the main attraction of this island, along with the delectable cuisines and serene staycations. Seychelles is a group of 115 islands located in the Indian Ocean. The capital city Victoria has a number of tourist spots including the Victoria Botanical Garden, Museum of Natural History, Le Jardin du Roi, St. Anne Marine Park, Aldabra, Bird Island, Cousin Island, Mahe Island, Beau Vallon Beach, Morne Seychellois National Park, Praslin Island, La Digue Island, etc are the main destinations to cover. You can engage in a number of land and water sports when you are in Seychelles. The Island is having an active nightlife. Place to see here Victoria, La Digue, Denis, Frigate etc. Key things to do : Water Sports, Beaches, and Luxury Resorts in Seychelles etc. Ideal Duration: 6 to 7 days. Best time to visit: October to March, May to September. Cost: Minimum budget: Rs. 65,000, Dh3,350.
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Sri Lanka: Adam’s Peak. Sri Lanka is a country known for its islands, beaches, mountains, and aromatic tea. Sri Lanka makes traveling easy for all Indians what with the visa on arrival facility. Sri Lanka issues an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) which gives permission to stay in the country for 30 days. Places to see here : Colombo, Nuwara Eliya, Horton’s National Park. Key things to do here: Sightseeing like Tooth Relic, shopping, food, beaches, spiritual and religious centres, historical places to see. Recommended number of stay in the country : 5 to 6 days. Best time to visit: October to March. Cost: Minimum budget: Dh3,865, Rs.75,000 excluding air fare.
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Bhutan: Another destination that offers visa on arrival to Indians free of cost is that of the Land of the Thunder Dragon – Bhutan. While the citizens of Maldives, India, and Bangladesh do not need any visa to reach and getting around the country, other international travelers can also attain the visa on arrival either from the Paro airport, or from Phuentsholing, Samdrup Jongkhar, and Gelephu in case they are traveling by road. Places to see here : Thimpu, Paro, Phuntsholing, Jakar, Wangdue, Phodrang etc. Famous for: Dechen Phodrang and other ancient Buddhist Monasteries, Adventure Tourism, Culture, Spirituality and Wellness, food Recommended duration of stay in the country : 4 to 5 days. Best time to travel: All through the year. Cost : Minimum budget: Dh1,546, Rs30,000
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Nepal: Kathmandu, Nepal. This is by far one of the cheapest countries Indians can visit visa on arrival. It is the land of mighty mountains, trekkers for the Everest Base Camp. The visa ranges for 15, 30 and 90 days that may cost around $25, $40, and $100 respectively per person for single-entry. Places to see: Kathmandu, Lumbini, Mount Everest, The Himalayan range. Things to do here: Adventure sports like trekking, mountaineering, rafting etc., learning Buddhist culture. Recommended duration of stay in the country: 5 to 6 days. Best time to visit: October to April. Cost : Minimum budget: Dh1,288, Rs. 25,000 (excluding airfare).
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Fiji Islands: Did you know that Indians can travel visa on arrival to Fiji Islands? A land where the time seems stagnant, the Fiji Islands is an archipelago of exquisite islands, lush-greenery and abundant underwater marine life which can be witnessed closely. And just in case you’re craving for a beach vacation without a visa then these islands will be a splendid retreat. The Fiji islands offers a Visa-on-arrival to the Indian citizens for up to four months which can be further extended to six months after applying for an extension. Places to see here: Suva, Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Beqa, Lautoka etc. Key things to do here: Enjoy resorts, the pristine islands, food and more. Recommended duration of stay in the country : 4 to 5 days. Visa on Arrival: Free, up to 4 months. Best time to visit: November to February. Cost : Minimum budget: Dh4,123, Rs.80,000.
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Madagascar: The island is all about exotic landscapes and variety of food. The island country has abundant flora and fauna. For Indian citizens, it is easier to plan a vacation at this island nation, as they can avail a visa for up to 30 days for free. Places to see here, Nosy Be, Antsiranana, Toamasina, Ranomafana National Park, Isalo National Park etc. Key things to do here: Wildlife, Reefs and Rainforests, Trekking, Diving, Deserts. Recommended duration of stay in the country: 4 to 5 days. Cost of Visa: Free for 30 days, $75 for 90 days. Best Time to Visit: May to October. Cost: Minimum budget: Dh3,350, Rs.65,000.
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Jamaica: The Caribbean country offers not only an exotic holiday experience amidst the nature’s finest views but also poses as one of the best visa on arrival destinations for Indians. A perfect escape for the travelers who are looking for a relaxing vacation. Apart from that this country is one of the places which offers a visa on arrival for Indian travelers. A traveler can enter and spend 30 days in the country without a visa. Places to see here: Montego Bay, Negril, Kingston, Falmouth etc. Famous for: Rastafarian Culture, Bob Marley Museum, Beaches and Caribbean Lifestyle. Recommended duration of stay: 6 to 7 days. Best time to visit: December to April. Cost: Minimum Budget: Dh4,639, Rs. 90,000 excluding airfare.
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Kenya: It is a paradise for wildlife admirers who want to capture the beauty of the rugged topography and abundant wild beasts residing on it. The country offers a visa on arrival to Indian citizens at a cost of $50 for 3 months. Travelers can avail the service of visa on arrival online through E Visa. Place to see here: Nairobi, Maasai Mara, Nairobi National Park, Tsavo National Park, Ngong Hills, Lake Nakuru. Key things to do: Wildlife Safaris, African Tribes and Culture. Recommended stay in the country : 5 to 6 days. Best time to visit: August to October. Cost : Minimum Budget: Dh.3,608, Rs.70,00
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Laos : Laos is a little South Eastern retreat which despite being small in area offers a magnificent tour of the enchanting landscapes, lush-green and dense forests sheltering abundant wildlife and sublime temples. Indians can get a free visa for a maximum stay of 30 days. All they need to do is provide a valid passport and onward tickets. Places to see here: Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Phakse. Key things to do here : Visit historical places, Archaeology, and Buddhist Culture. Recommended duration of stay in the country : 3 to 4 days. Best time to visit: October to March Cost : Minimum budget: Dh 2,061, Rs. 40,000 excluding air fare.
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Bolivia: This is a country known as a complete roller coaster ride for its dangerous roads, lip-smacking delicacies, coffee, flora and fauna. Indians can avail the benefit of visa on arrival if they are willing to visit these adventure’s paradise. They can enjoy a stay for 90 days without a visa at a cost of $100. Places to see: La Paz, Sucre, Beni, Cochabamba, Oruro, Santa Cruz. Key things to do: Experience the multi-ethnic culture, visit Carnival de Oruro, The Andes, World Heritage site Potosi, Ruins of Inca civilization and other historical places. Recommended duration of stay in the country: 5 to 6 days Best time to visit: April to October. Cost: Minimum Budget: Dh.4,123, Rs.80,000 excluding air fare.
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El Salvador: It is an offbeat destination in Central America. El Salvador has beautiful and peaceful locations to see. The country is known for its abundant coffee plantations and splendid national parks. Indians can get a visa for up to 3 months at a cost of just $10. Places to see here: San Salvador, Santa Ana, San Miguel, Acajutla, Puerto Cutuco. Key things to do: Surfing, Volcano Hiking, visit the Intipuca Beach, visit historical and cultural places. Recommended duration of stay: 3 to 4 days. Best time to visit: November to April. Cost : Minimum budget, Dh4,123, Rs. 80,000 excluding airfareImage
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Nicaragua: The country has volcanic landscapes and guess what Indians can get a visa on arrival to Nicaragua easily at a cost of just $50 per person. All they need is a valid Schengen, US or Canadian visa. What to see here: Corn Islands Volcano, Islets of Granada, Volcano Boarding, Natural Reserves, Cathedrals, Spanish architecture, and beaches. Recommended duration of stay in the country: 5 to 6 days. Best time to visit: December to March. Cost: Minimum Budget, Dh4,123, Rs.80,000.
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Cook Islands: Did you know Indians do not need prior visa to travel to Cook Islands? Well you know now. The country is renowned for its snorkeling and diving sites. Cook Islands is one of the offbeat island countries located in the heart of South Pacific. Indian travelers can explore the country here without a visa for upto 31 days. It is one of the most exquisite places for Indians to go to at zero visa cost. Places to see here: Rarotonga & Aitutaki. Key things to do here : Enjoy the beaches, kite-surfing, fishing, play rugby, lagoon diving, snorkeling. Recommended duration of stay: 6 to 7 days. Best time to visit: May to August. Cost: Minimum Budget: Dh6,185, Rs.120,000 excluding airfareImage
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Cape Verde: Set off the northwestern coast in Africa, Cape Verde is a stunning destination famous for its culture and exotic beaches. Indian nationals can explore this beautiful town for just a cost of 25 Euros. Places to see here : Boa Vista & Praia. Things to do here : Wind-surfing, safari, visit cathedrals, do hikes, Pico do Fogo, do a turtle safari, visit art galleries. Recommended duration of stay: 4 to 5 days. Best time to visit: October to March. Cost: Minimum budget: Dh5,154, Rs.100,000
The Oman Ministry of Tourism recently revealed that significant investments will be poured in to transform ancient houses into heritage inns and guest houses in an aim to boost tourism efforts promoting the Sultanate’s vibrant local heritage. As one of the Ministry’s top priorities, the preservation of ancient houses - which are considered architectural treasures that show Oman’s archaeological character – are central to national initiatives showcasing the unique heritage and rich history and civilization of the Sultanate.Ancient local neighborhoods have already been restored using innovative engineering and architectural techniques to turn them into an attractive tourist destination. The Ministry said that tourists can visit these communities, among others, to get a glimpse of the Omani way of life during the ancient times as well as gain a rich cultural experience by immersing themselves into activities that define authentic local traditions. Heritage inns, green cabins, and guest houses will serve as a unique style of accommodation for the growing number of travelers arriving to the Sultanate.
The Ministry’s announcement is expected to result in higher tourist arrivals to meet the government’s goal of attracting 11 million local and international visitors by 2040. Boosting domestic tourism will also lead to new job opportunities for citizens and a diversified national economy.
Saleh bin Ali Al Khaifi, Director of Promotion and Marketing Department, Oman Ministry of Tourism, said that preserving heritage houses and building green houses are also aligned with the Sultanate’s intensified tourism initiatives that are responsive to the rapidly changing global tourism community and to the international environmental sustainability calls. Oman also aimed to sustain its top position on the list of the best cultural and heritage tourist destinations for 2019.
Al Khaifi added: “Investing in heritage homes is a step in the right direction amid our continued efforts to entice more tourists from all over the world to come visit Oman. Therefore, we are moving forward with our mega tourism projects aimed at transforming old traditional homes into heritage inns with the best services, while preserving and protecting the old structures and the atmosphere of the neighborhoods in our ancient areas. We will observe the highest standards in these projects, keeping sustainability and the finest hospitality in mind. We look forward to bringing the Oman experience of all tourists to new heights in conjunction with us promoting sustainability and heritage tourism, a sector that is fundamental to the Sultanate’s development and global positioning.”
Global demand for heritage inns is growing, with more and more tourists preferring to experience nature. Oman, which is accompanied with a pleasant climate throughout the year and is known for its hospitality, is celebrated for its unique cultural heritage, among others. The Sultanate has been taking proactive steps to meet the unique and ever-evolving requirements of its visitors.
As the novel coronavirus outbreak in China becomes more subdued, the country is trying to get tourism back on its feet, with more scenic attractions and museums reopening and travel restrictions being loosened.
The National Health Commission received reports of 34 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Wednesday, all of which were imported cases. No new domestically transmitted cases were reported.
A total of eight museums including Shenyang Palace Museum, the imperial palace of several Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) emperors, reopened to the public on Tuesday in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, after months of being shutdown.
However, with the threat of cross-infection still a danger, visitors must have their temperature checked on arrival, maintain a distance of no less than 1.5 meters among each other in queues and wear masks during their stay.
The museum authorities also took measures including requiring real-time reservations, controlling visitor numbers and limiting opening hours to avoid overcrowding. Daily visitor numbers have been capped at 4,000 for the Shenyang Palace Museum.
"I'm quite assured of the preventive measures taken by the museum. My family canceled our travel plans during the Spring Festival holiday. When the outbreak is over, we want to travel and relax," said Zhao Yan, a Shenyang resident.
In northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, more than 100 tourist spots have resumed normal operation. Many ski resorts exempted or halved the entrance fees to attract visitors.
"The tourists coded green can make reservations online and enjoy free skiing if they live in certain hotels," said Liang Jing, manager of Jiangjunshan ski resort. Many provincial-level regions have introduced a health code monitoring system to control people's movements.
Liang said the resort is temporarily not open to tourists who came from the virus-hit areas or returned from abroad over the previous two weeks.
The majority of Shanghai's top-graded tourist attractions and all of its libraries have resumed business as of Wednesday. In early March, Shanghai Disney Resort partially resumed operations, with each of the reopened resort locations running under limited capacity and reduced hours of operation.
On Wednesday, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region issued a guideline allowing package tour businesses between low-risk cities and counties within the region to return to normal and outdoor cultural venues including tourist attractions and stadiums to reopen, while indoor theaters, ballrooms and internet bars must remain shuttered.
As the epidemic control situation is improving in China, a total of 3,714 tourist sites in 28 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities on the Chinese mainland had reopened as of Monday, accounting for over 30 percent of the total. In addition, over 180 museums had reopened as of Sunday, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Tourism is among the industries hit hardest by the unexpected epidemic. The China Tourism Academy estimated that domestic visits will see a reduction of 932 million in 2020 while the number will plummet in the first quarter -- a negative growth of 56 percent compared with that in 2019. Tourism-driven revenues will drop by 1.18 trillion yuan (about 166 billion U.S. dollars) this year.
Known for its picturesque karst mountains and beautiful rivers, Yangshuo County in southern China Wednesday launched six measures to help local tourism pick up, such as exempting or reducing rent for tourism enterprises, providing subsidies for reopened tourist sites and cutting tax and fees for small and medium-sized firms.
Shanghai has provided financial aid for culture and tourism industries hit by the outbreak, including refunding deposits for travel agencies, allocating special funds for cultural and tourism development and providing aid for loans.
Companies and individuals in the tourism sector also took measures to save themselves. Livestreaming platforms and travel agencies have teamed up with tourist sites to make online sightseeing more accessible.
China's largest online travel agency Trip.com in March launched presell products including more than 1,000 travel routes and tickets to over 300 tourist attractions. It also started a revival plan involving 1 billion yuan for the tourism industry with its partners from home and abroad.
Xu Zihui, owner of a homestay near Huangshan Mountain, a UNESCO world heritage site in eastern China's Anhui Province, allowed customers to book rooms for a period before June next year with discounted price. She has received over 100 orders so far.
Industry experts said domestic tourism will take the lead in recovering despite the fact that the epidemic has not ended and the global tourism market is reeling from the coronavirus shock.
Dai Bin, president of China Tourism Academy, said the general management and emergency capacity of China's tourism sector have been better enhanced during the epidemic prevention and control.
"The cultural and tourism industry is trying to take the chance of the upcoming holidays with preferential policies. Travelers will be gradually coming back, and the tourism market in China will usher in a new phase of development when the epidemic is over," said Jin Jianping, deputy general manager of Liaoning Tourism Investment Group.
Embracing the era of the staycation as cross-border travel plummetsWith holidaymakers now worried about travelling abroad, the tourism industry should target stay-at-home vacationers in order to survive.
As holidaymakers become increasingly worried about the difficulties and dangers of international travel in the age of the coronavirus, the global tourism industry is scrambling to embrace the era of the “staycation” – the stay-at-home vacation.
Some of those who are staying in their own countries are even taking things a step further by seeking isolated destinations and stand-alone accommodation. The theory is that the more you can distance yourself from population centres, the less likely you are to be exposed to carriers of Covid-19.
Increased demand for isolated properties and off-the-grid placesHost Unusual, a UK accommodation website, reports a 45% increase in searches for isolated properties and a 38% rise in interest for off-grid locations.
“It appears that staycations are evolving, with a tendency towards more remote settings and standalone accommodation. The key words here are isolation and exclusivity, away from crowds,” Host Unusual director Alex Wilson told the Guardian newspaper.
AlsoRead‘Couch-surf’ and travel the world without leaving your homeBanish cabin fever with these ideas to keep the kids happy at homeHere’s how the coronavirus impacts on Airbnb industryCoronavirus flight cancellations: Information on refunds, changes and moreCornwall, one of England’s rural counties, thinks it could be a beneficiary of the trend, although it isn’t marketing itself as a “safer” destination at this point.
“It will be interesting to see how the British react,” said Malcom Bell of tourism body Visit Cornwall. “[They may view] coming down and walking on a Cornish beach as safer than going shopping in a town centre.”
Domestic travel enquiries in the UK rise by 40% versus 2019Overall, UK tourism businesses are seeing a rise of up to 40% in traffic to their websites – almost all of it coming from locals, the Guardian reports.
“For the period 1 January to 24 February 2020, we are, on average, 40% up on web visitors compared with the same period in the previous year,” said Steve Jarvis, owner of Independent Cottages, a business that rents out independently owned holiday homes. “Initial analysis of the most recent enquiries is that they appear to all be domestic – overseas enquiries have reduced significantly.”
In Singapore, tourism businesses are offering large discounts in an effort to attract staycationing locals and fill the void left by stay away foreign tourists. There are 50% discounts at indoor playgrounds, two-for-one entry deals at popular attractions, free admission for parents at kids’ destinations, and a water park has even reduced a $32 day pass to only $9.
People want to go on holiday, but feel the safest place is homeHotelier Middle East quotes Nick Wyatt, head of travel and tourism at analytics company GlobalData, as saying that people still want to go on holiday, but are asking themselves where it’s safe to do so.
“There is a very good chance that they might actually land on their own country as the answer to that question,” he said.
“Staycations are likely to make travellers feel more comfortable as they are familiar with the location, they can potentially avoid flying, and they know the health service and health structure, as well as other benefits of staying within your own country – such as reduced travel time and no language barrier.”
SA tourism industry must redirect its marketing to local travellersThe staycation theme ties in with the appeal by SA Tourism for the local industry to redirect its marketing efforts into attracting South African travellers.
“While a drop in international tourists and outbound travellers is a serious concern, it presents an opportunity for creating sustainable incentives to help boost the domestic market and encouraging South Africans to travel to regional tourist destinations around the country. Price-sensitive local travellers will be looking for add-on packages and exclusive experiences that will make their rands stretch further,” SA Tourism said.
“Although the impact of the virus is catastrophic, not all is lost. This presents the industry with a challenge to redirect all cancelled outbound travel to domestic travel opportunities. This is a means by which the sector can help mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus, by boosting domestic tourism.”
LONDON, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Britain's famous tourist attractions, from palaces and castles to galleries and zoos, have closed their doors to visitors because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, millions of people from around the world are taking virtual tours of tourism hotspots across Britain, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) said Thursday in a new report.
ALVA said millions of people are discovering the breadth, depth and diversity of Britain's visitor attractions through websites and digital galleries, science podcasts, virtual tours of the Houses of Parliament, through to web-cams of zoos and safari parks, as well as being able to take part in church and cathedral services and watching opera and theater.
ALVA Director Bernard Donoghue said: "In the last week or so there has been an explosion in the number of people, here in Britain and around the world, virtually visiting the UK's top visitor attractions."
ALVA had been scheduled this week to reveal its top tourism attractions of the year, but the announcement has been postponed because of the health crisis.
ALVA said the British Museum, Natural History Museum, V&A, Science Museum and National Gallery have all seen a substantial increase in visitors to their websites.
The number of visitors to the British Museum's website has doubled in the past two and a half weeks, while visits to the National Gallery's virtual tour pages are up almost 800 percent compared to last week, and 1,144 percent up over last year.
The V&A's blog is up 147 percent week on week, while the Science Museum has seen a threefold increase in views for its games section.
Britain's best-known cathedrals, from Durham to Canterbury are streaming church services.
Zoo cams have also become popular sites for virtual visitors.
Even William Shakespeare is proving to be a website hit more than 400 years after his death. Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon is offering a video tour of the five Shakespeare family homes.
Visitors can travel even further back in time to the early days of the Roman occupation of Britain around 2,000 years ago, by paying a virtual visit to the Roman Baths in the City of Bath.
Emma Martin, senior curator at National Museum Liverpool's World Museum said: "Staying at home doesn't mean you miss out on visiting our museum. Thanks to public feedback on what people would like to see while our doors are temporarily closed, we've created a virtual tour of the World Cultures gallery with our friends at John Moores University."
Science Director Dr Roger Highfield from the Science Museum in London has even published an in-depth look at the science of the coronavirus, exploring what we know and don't know about the virus and examining its ongoing impact.
His work brings into sharp focus the biggest ever shutdown since World War II of Britain's famous tourist sites. Enditem
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced Turkey to close its borders, affecting the country's vital tourism industry.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced Turkey to close its borders, affecting the country's vital tourism industry.Turkey's tourism industry has been growing at an unprecedented speed for the last three years. With the border closure and the grounding of all outgoing and incoming flights to tackle the coronavirus threat, tourist arrivals have come to a near standstill.
The country's tourist hotspots and cultural destinations are almost empty, with a majority of 80 million Turks staying indoors and following the government's home-quarantine advisory.
Prior to coronavirus, most Turkish cities were teeming with locals and visitors in the streets. Almost all squares and historic and natural tourist spots are now deserted.
A drone photo shows an aerial view of empty Galata Bridge and its surroundings, after authorities urging people to stay home as part of coronavirus (COVID-19) precautions on March 24, 2020 in Istanbul, Turkey. (AA)Following the growth trend experienced in previous years, in 2019 the number of incoming tourists in Turkey increased by 13.7 percent, reaching 51.8 million people and setting an all-time record.
A drone photo shows nearly empty Sultanahmet Square while people stay at their homes as a precautions against coronavirus (Covid-19) in Istanbul, Turkey on March 18, 2020. (AA)Before the coronavirus pandemic’s catastrophic impact on all kinds of economic activities, Turkey had set the goal of reaching the target of hosting 75 million guests by 2023.
A worker sprays disinfectant outside Ortakoy Mosque, to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Istanbul, Turkey, March 23, 2020. (Reuters)According to recent data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK), Turkey's tourism sector continues to experience a positive trend and, together with the rising number of incoming tourists, the country is likely to earn $34.5 billion from the tourism industry alone, marking a historic milestone.
Shops are closed up and shuttered as Turkey's Istanbul goes through quiet times following the warnings to stay at home due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on March 24, 2020. (AA)Istanbul is the cultural and historic capital of Turkey and the most populated city in the country with 15.5 million.
Few citizens are at the world-famous Konyaaltı beach, in Antalya, which is preferred by millions of people to swim every year. Those who want to sunbathe also paid attention to the distance between them. (AA)Istanbul and Antalya were at the top of the most visited destinations. Both of these cities hosted nearly 30 million tourists last year.
Antalya has become a brand renowned around the world in recent years. It has more than 1,700 attractions together with a 600,000 bed capacity when it comes to accommodation.
A drone photo shows empty Konak Square after precautions against coronavirus (Covid-19), including call for "stay home" and the curfew to people over 65, are taken in Izmir, Turkey on March 23, 2020. (AA)The combination of breathtaking natural beauty along with great food makes Turkey one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
The coastal city Izmir offers separate alternatives not only with sea, sand, sun but also with its historical and natural beauty.
The famous beaches and roads were remained empty in Marmaris, Mugla, Turkey. (AA)Mugla’s popular resort towns on the Aegean shore, Bodrum and Marmaris, attract tourists from all over the world with their unique landscape, white summer houses and local hospitality. However, at this time all these beaches are empty.
The picture shows gathered seats of a cafeteria at the beach next to historic Bodrum Castle on 23 March, 2020, Bodrum district of Mugla, Turkey. (AA)In order to support the vital industry, the government has approved loans specific to the tourism sector will be restructured with a grace period of up to 12 months.
By Jamie Jackson
No plane ticket and no time off? You can still go surfing in Tahiti or wander the archaeology of Petra thanks to a new wave of VR players that are bringing the world to your phone.
New virtual reality experiences are taking travelers to unseen places at the speed of light. (©Betto Rodrigues/Shutterstock)Traveling without leaving home? No-cost exploration of new destinations? It sounds like a thing of the far-off future, right?
This kind of travel is actually accessible right now with virtual reality (VR) roaring into the market. Abi Mandelbaum, CEO of VR app YouVisit, said the technology holds the promise of transporting the general public to far away lands, and he notes that true VR experiences isn't just about watching videos.
“An actual VR experience not only requires a 360-degree immersive video … but also offers the opportunity for viewers to engage and connect with that content” Mandelbaum said. “An experience’s interactivity is the key to true success, differentiating it from watching 2-D content. VR shouldn’t be viewed; it should be explored.”
While participating in a virtual reality experience, users will typically need special gear to interact with the content. There are a few companies making headgear and goggles for public use: Check out Google Cardboard, OculusRift, PlayStation VR by Sony, Samsung Gear VR or Homido MINI apparatus to buy a consumer-level headset. Not ready to buy the tech but still want to explore? Google Cardboard has instructions for a DIY Cardboard headset.
Virtual reality headsets range from full-blown units with integrated screens to DIY models that use your phone as the screen. (©Barone Firenze/Shutterstock)
While at-home systems like Google Cardboard may be more 2-D viewing than 3-D interaction (and a lot of what is billed as VR isn't technically VR), travel companies and media sources are pushing to create fully immersive, interactive content for virtual reality experiences.
Marriott Hotels jumped into the virtual reality ring, offering in-room VR headsets to guests with travel content. The service, called "VRoom Service," launched in 2015 after a two-week trial at hotels in New York and London.
Matthew Carroll, vice president of Marriott hotels, said the technology was imagined for a new generation of travelers. “Travel expands our minds and helps push our imagination,” said Carroll in a press release touting the launch of the service. “Our guests want to be in inventive spaces that help foster their creativity and thinking."
Marriott also developed its "VR Postcards"—virtual reality videos hosted on Samsung Milk VR for users at Marriott hotels or at home. The first three videos in the Postcards app were shot in Rwanda, Chile and Beijing to chronicle three different travelers' takes on why travel matters.
If virtual reality (or more accurately, immersive and augmented reality) travel is starting to sound intriguing, jump in eyes first with these apps.
10 VIRTUAL REALITY TRAVEL APPSAccorHotels for Cardboard: Who doesn't want to browse around in luxury hotels across the globe? Hotel group AccorHotels made a quick browse possible with VR experiences of its hotels in London, Paris, Sao Paulo and more. App available on iOS and Android.
Ascape Virtual Travel & 360 Video: Ascape's VR videos are called “trips” and they range from Petra, Jordan, to the 9-11 Memorial in New York City. Each trip has to be downloaded individually but after you download the file you can explore locations like Chernobyl, Hawaii's Turtle Island (Kaohikaipu Island), Bratislava, Slovakia, and more. Official app available on iOS and Android.
To enter Ascape, travelers must "teleport" into trips like diving near LIttle Cayman Island.
Discovery VR: In this app, users can dive underwater with sharks and spelunk through giant caves in Texas, just to name a few experiences. The content corresponds with Discovery Channel’s programming and focuses on exploration of remote locations. Some of the content is 360-degree video for VR headsets; other content can be viewed as a regular video when you're ready to ditch the goggles. Official app available on iOS and Android.
DiscoveryVR gives users access to 360-degree content in locations domestic and abroad.
Google Cardboard: While the world of VR travel apps is vast, Google's own offerings are a good place to start. Download the Cardboard app for a list of VR apps to explore in addition to VR experiences that Google has curated. Official app available on iOS and Android.
Google Cardboard Camera: This app lets users take 360-degree images through their camera's phone while using the Cardboard headset. Use the app to take panoramic photos in 3-D that include the sounds of the environment, then save those experiences in the app. In effect, you're empowered to create your own VR travel experiences. Official app available on Android.
Through Google Cardboard, users can experience new travel destinations and create content for other users to explore. (©Maurizio Pesce/Flickr, Creative Commons)
Google Cardboard Street View: The Street View app works using Google Map technology with 360-degree videos of iconic attractions and locations. Users can also create their own "photo spheres" of their surroundings to add to the app. Be on the look out within this app for curated collections of photo spheres that Google publishes at regular intervals. Official App available on iOS and Android.
GoProVR: The creators of the market-dominating extreme sports cameras have stepped up to the virtual reality plate. Tapping in to adventures of contributors, the company launched the apps to give free access to 360-degree videos and adventure experiences. Users can view the videos in a normal viewing mode or in a headset-optimized, 3-D view. App available on iOS and Android.
Jaunt VR: Jaunt handles high-impact concerts and performances while exposing users to their favorite celebrities and entertainers. Aside from the entertainment, users can follow treks through remote locations around the globe. All videos in the Jaunt library are free, and new content is uploaded regularly. Official app available on iOS and Android.
Sites in VR allows travel videos to been seen as a normal video or through a VR headset. (©WhereTraveler.com)
Sites in VR: Travel through more than 12 countries—and outer space—with this app. Users can download the VR images in high-res with the ability to take a guided video tour. See what the sun looks like from the moon or Mars with astronaut correspondence audio overlaid on the view. More down-to-Earth tours include exploring sites like tombs, religious sites, palaces and natural preserves. Official app available on iOS and Android.
YouVisit VR: This app not only documents historic sites and breathtaking natural wonders, but also allows travel in little-seen VR settings. Users can follow adventure travelers through helicopter rides, surfing in remote locations and more. The app also explores big-name festivals and events like the TomorrowWorld festival and the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City. Official app avaliable on iOS and Android.
China to lift travel restrictions in Hubei after months of coronavirus lockdownMillions will be able to move around the region after weeks of stringent measures to stem the spread of Covid-19
Tens of millions of Chinese residents living near the centre of the coronavirus outbreak will be able to resume travel from Wednesday, after authorities announced restrictions would be lifted in Hubei province, except in the city of Wuhan.
The move comes as China claims to have largely brought their outbreak under control, reporting only imported cases of the virus and few or no new domestic cases in recent days. However the claims have been questioned by residents and analysts, who note reported refusals to test for the virus by some hospitals, and allegations of manipulated numbers, and rumours of unreported cases. .
On Tuesday the Hubei provincial government said it would lift the control order on residents of the region, not including the city of Wuhan, after midnight, and “outbound traffic will be restored in an orderly manner”. The change will allow people to travel to other places within and outside Hubei province.
Life after lockdown: has China really beaten coronavirus?
Read moreThe control orders on outbound traffic in Wuhan, home to 11m people and the wet market where the virus is believed to have originated, will lift on 8 April.
All residents will still need the “Green Code” in order to travel. The code is a health classification designated by a controversial monitoring system using the AliPay app.
The lifting of travel orders follows an easing of lockdown restrictions in the region in recent days. On Monday, small groups of Wuhan residents were allowed to leave their residential compounds, going to shops and walking along the streets, for the first time in weeks. On the weekend, more than 1,000 workers from elsewhere in the province arrived on a train back to the city for work.
Wuhan and some neighbouring cities were put under strict lockdown on 23 January, weeks after the emergence of Covid-19, information about which was suppressed by the Chinese government and officials.
It was the largest lockdown in human history, and drew scepticism and praise from health bodies. Now, as other countries across the world deal with their own massive outbreaks, many governments have announced lockdowns of their own. On Tuesday, around one fifth of the world’s population was under some kind of order to stay inside their home.
Few appear as aggressive as China’s, which saw officials go door-to-door for health checks, forcing sick people into isolation, including the family of a disabled boy who was reportedly left alone and died.
AdvertisementWith additional reporting by Pei Lin Wu.