British Airways to debut new Club Suite on first A350 in July 2019

British Airways has unveiled its new business class seat - Club Suite - and confirmed it will arrive on the first of its A350 aircraft in July.

The newly-branded Club Suite offers direct-aisle access, a suite door for greater privacy and flat-bed seats in a one-two-one configuration.

Boasting 40 per cent more storage, the product also includes a vanity unit and mirror, Wi-Fi, 18.5-inch in-flight entertainment screens, high definition gate-to-gate programming, and PC/USB power.

The A350 aircraft itself will also promote a feeling of well-being, space and calm due to its reduced noise levels, high ceilings and ambient lighting which is intended to compliment the time of day and outside light.

Customers will leave their flight feeling rested thanks to higher levels of humidity and refreshed air as the cabin pressure is equivalent to an altitude of just 6,000 feet.

As well as a new 56-seat Club World cabin, the three-cabin A350 will feature the latest World Traveller Plus cabin (56 seats) with new furnishings including a plush new pillow and warm quilt, new amenity kits and an enhanced service and an improved dining experience.

The World Traveller (economy) cabin offers 219 seats. Customers will also benefit from high-speed Wi-Fi, allowing travellers to browse the internet on their personal electronic devices.

The airline, which is marking its centenary this year, will roll out the new suites in a carefully managed programme designed to minimise disruption to customers.

During phase one, the first A350 aircraft will start some short-haul flying between London and Madrid to allow the airline's teams to perfect their customer service delivery and familiarise cabin crew with the aircraft layout.

In phase two, from October 1st, the aircraft will begin long-haul flying. During this period another three A350 aircraft will join the British Airways fleet and two Boeing 777 aircraft will also be retrofitted with the new cabin.

At the start of 2020 phase three will begin which will see British Airways rolling out its Club Suite on further long-haul aircraft across the network.

Alex Cruz, British Airways chairman, said: “The arrival of our first A350 featuring our new Club Suite is one of the most exciting developments in our £6.5 billion investment programme.

“At British Airways we have one of Europe's largest long-haul fleets and most far-reaching global networks, so it will take some time to make the cabin available to everybody.

“We hope that as more customers have the chance to experience it, they'll enjoy travelling in it as much as we've enjoyed designing it.”

Ctrip.com signs distribution partnership with Millennium Hotels & Resorts

Jim Chung, director, global hotel chains at Ctrip; Ray Chen, chief executive, accommodation business unit at Ctrip; David Zhou, chief business officer, accommodation business unit for Ctrip; Nayan Peshka, senior vice president, digital, distribution and revenue strategy at Millennium Hotels & Resorts; Jun Lai, general manager, international market and hotel chains at Ctrip; and Hana Chlebna, global online distribution manager for Millennium Hotels & Resorts, sign the deal in Germany

Ctrip.com International has signed an agreement with upscale global hoteliers Millennium Hotels & Resorts to develop a global distribution strategy.

The strategy will work to promote Millennium Hotels' properties to Ctrip's 300 million strong customer base.

The agreement was announced by David Zhou, chief business officer for the accommodation business unit of Ctrip, and Nayan Peshkar, Millennium Hotels & Resorts senior vice president for digital, distribution and revenue strategy.

It marks the start of an alliance enabling Ctrip to offer Millennium Hotels & Resorts portfolio of hotels in the USA, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia to its China based business and leisure travel clients.

Through the aegis of a strategic collaboration agreement, Millennium Hotels & Resorts will partner with Ctrip's membership program, which will certify its properties as Chinese friendly hotels and enable them to benefit from Ctrip's influential ranking system.

Millennium Hotels & Resorts and Ctrip will also work towards customer initiatives such as the launching of a flagship store on Ctrip's digital platforms, joint marketing campaigns as well as knowledge sharing and cross exposure programmes for team members.

Peshkar said: “We are delighted to be joining forces with Ctrip and thus raising the profile of our hotel offering in the large and fast-growing China travel market.

“Asia is our second biggest region of operations, so we already have a deep and embedded experience of what it takes to meet the high demands of business and leisure travellers from China.

“With hotels located in some of the world's most attractive destinations, we look forward to welcoming more of Ctrip's customers in the coming year.”

Ctrip is the number one platform for Chinese nationals travelling overseas.

About one in four Chinese citizens use Ctrip to book and search for outbound flight tickets, making it the world's largest outbound travel platform.

Millennium Hotels & Resorts company, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1996.

At the end of 2018, it operated or branded a portfolio of 139 properties with over 40,000 rooms.

Its respected brands are present in 28 nations around the world, including China where it owns and operates the Grand Millennium Hotel Beijing, as well as operating properties in Hong Kong, Xiamen and other major Chinese destinations.

Zhou of Ctrip said: “We are so grateful to be enhancing our relationship with Millennium Hotels & Resorts.

“Chinese outbound tourists reached nearly 150 million in 2018, and the growth for this year remains strong.

“By signing this China–focused distribution agreement with MHR, we are continuing to offer 300 million members the best hotel experience worldwide whilst enhancing Millennium Hotels & Resorts' presence and boosting new business opportunities for them in the China market.”

South Africa is Africa's Largest Tourist Economy

South Africa continues to be home to the African continent's leading tourist economy.

New data from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) shows that the industry is the source of 1.5 million jobs in South Africa and generates 425.8 billion ZAR for the country's economy. That figure represents 8.6 percent of all economic activity in South Africa .

The country's tourism economy is driven primarily by leisure travelers who make up 64 percent of visitors. Business travelers, by contrast, amount to about 36 percent of inbound arrivals.

“Travel and tourism contributes more to the South Africa economy than in any other African country,” said Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and CEO, who described the industry as a “formidable part” of the South African economy.

“South Africa has long grasped the potential of travel and tourism to drive economic growth, create jobs and promote social development,” Guevara added.

The industry continues to thrive despite widespread panic last year that Cape Town, one of the most popular destinations in the country, might run out of water due to climate change and prolonged drought. The crisis has since eased somewhat. At the beginning of December, the city relaxed restrictions on water use by residents and businesses, according to Quartz Africa .

Meanwhile, South African Tourism, the country's national tourism marketing body, has said that the drought-related water challenges might actually help position the country as a global leader in sustainable tourism practices, including the judicious use of water, Africa Renewal Online reported.

In its new data release, the WTTC praised the leadership of South Africa's Minister of Tourism, H.E. Derek Hanekom and applauded President Ramaphosa's ambition to double the number of people directly employed in the South African travel and tourism industry.

“Looking to the future, I believe that travel and tourism is South Africa's greatest resource and the country's strategy for expansion, which priorities regional integration, environment sustainability and putting the community at the heart of decisions will make for a successful combination,” said Guevara.

Swiss to introduce premium economy class in 2021

Swiss International Air Lines will introduce a new premium economy class on its long-haul aircraft fleet in the spring of 2021.

The new class will initially be available in a 24-seat section of the carrier's Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Moving forward, the product will be extended to the entire Swiss long-haul fleet.

Swiss will be investing some CHF40 million (US$39 million) on installing the new seating class on its Boeing 777 fleet.

“The travel class will feature a newly developed seat providing extensive legroom and movement.

“All in all, our premium economy class travellers will enjoy a substantially stronger sense of personal space,” confirmed Tamur Goudarzi Pour, Swiss chief commercial officer.

By introducing the new travel class, Swiss is responding to a growing demand for an air travel product between economy and business class.

The decision to offer the new seating class was also encouraged by the positive experiences with a similar product on Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines, Swiss' sister companies within the Lufthansa Group.

India Among Top 10 Destinations For Young Chinese Travellers In Asia

India ranks among the top 10 popular destinations for Chinese travellers in Asia, especially for social media-influenced millennials, according to a report.

As per the India Tourism Statistics 2017, the country had welcomed over 2 lakh Chinese tourists in 2017.

In India, Mumbai (69 per cent) and Delhi (51 per cent) emerged as the top visited cities, as per the Hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor 2018.

For this report, Hotels.com engaged market research firm Ipsos to conduct interviews during May 2018 with 3,047 Chinese residents, aged 18-58 years, who had travelled overseas in the past 12 months.

It said, star-struck by global pop-culture, film and television (62 per cent) are now the main sources of inspiration for Chinese millennial travellers, it said.

Out of the 59 per cent of Chinese travellers who expressed interest in visiting the timeless monument of love, Taj Mahal, when they visit India - 38 per cent said the desire to do so because of it being a favourite television series or film location as well, it said.

Interestingly, 26 per cent added Taj Mahal to their bucket-list after seeing their favourite celebrity visit it, it added.

"While millennials were at the helm of social media influence and trends, the report found no generation was free from social networking's undeniable draw," Hotels.com brand general manager, Asia Pacific, Nelson Allen said.

About 52 per cent of Chinese travellers were wooed by the news feed, and a third of the older generation reported their travel decisions and behaviour were influenced by their digitally-connected children, he added.

Travel brag moments and selfies were a huge part of the Chinese millennial travel experience in 2017, with 63 per cent using the reverse camera angle to boost those likes and build their social brand.

India's picturesque towns with natural beauty about 62 per cent, indigenous local food about 49 per cent and vibrant local culture about 40 per cent were popular for selfie-worthy moments for Chinese travellers when exploring India.

 

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