Resilience and Growth: Elcia Grandcourt Insights on African Tourism

Resilience and Growth Elcia Grandcourt Insights on African Tourism - TOURISMAFRICA.orgMaputo, Mozambique, December 6, 2023 / TRAVELINDEX / At the opening of the 9th FIKANI International Tourism Fair in Maputo, Elcia Grandcourt, UNWTO Regional Director for Africa, delivered a keynote speech addressing the current state and promising future of tourism on the continent.

In her opening remarks, Mrs Grandcourt expressed immense honour and pleasure in joining the festivities, extending appreciation to Mozambique for its warm hospitality. She expressed eagerness to explore the wonders of the country, remarking, “It is indeed an immense honour to discuss current challenges, future perspectives and trends of our industry in the African continent with key stakeholders gathered for this important event.”

Elcia painted a vivid picture of the global tourism landscape, emphasising its resilience despite the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Tourism, one of the fastest-growing socio-economic sectors, faced unprecedented consequences, transforming the worldwide landscape. However, after a period of economic decline and standstill, tourism has demonstrated its resilience, building back stronger.”

Turning her attention to Africa, Mrs Grandcourt revealed encouraging statistics, stating, “Africa confirmed the positive trend by regaining 92% of pre-crisis visitors, demonstrating resilience and sustained recovery.” She spotlighted nations like Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Morocco, exceeding pre-pandemic levels in January-July 2023, signaling stability and growth.

Mozambique emerged as a beacon of success within the region. The Regional Director commended the country for its innovative marketing strategies, leveraging digital platforms to boost tourism arrivals, earnings, and receipts. “Mozambique stands out as a successful example, demonstrating the resilience of its tourism sector to adapt and face new challenges.”

Grandcourt applauded Mozambique’s proactive visa facilitation policies, exempting nationals of 29 countries from visa requirements since May 2023. The introduction of the innovative e-Visa system, part of Mozambique’s ‘Economic Acceleration Stimulus Package,’ aims to attract tourism, business, and investment to the country.

Connectivity challenges in Africa were not overlooked. Grandcourt emphasised UNWTO’s collaboration with key partners, including the African Union, ICAO, IATA, AFRAA and AFCAC, to address these issues. “The collaborative approach with national administrations, airlines, and organisations is critical to pursue the ambitious ‘open skies project.’”

Grandcourt underscored the importance of attracting investments and fostering private-public partnerships for sustainable tourism development. She introduced UNWTO’s investment guidelines and, in collaboration with Mozambique, launched the “Invest in Mozambique” guidebook.

Digitalization and innovation took centre stage as Grandcourt highlighted UNWTO’s Digital Futures Programme, aiming to support SMEs in the tourism value chain through mentorship and online training. “Harnessing innovation and digital advances provide tourism with opportunities to improve inclusiveness, local commYU8unity empowerment, and efficient resource management.”

Education and human capital development were identified as key to Africa’s tourism evolution. Grandcourt emphasised UNWTO’s initiatives, including Tourism Education Guidelines, Education Toolkit, and the UNWTO – HSLU Bachelor of Science in International Sustainable Tourism.

Mrs Grandcourt announced upcoming key events, including the 2nd UNWTO Regional Conference on Brand Africa in Zambia and the 67th UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa in Algeria. She thanked participants for their commitment, stating, “A more sustainable development for our sector is possible only if we join our forces and work together to shape the future of Africa’s tourism.”

First published at VoyagesAfriq

Royal Participation Highlights Final Day of 35th Phuket King’s Cup Regatta

Royal Participation Highlights Final Day of 35th Phuket King's Cup Regatta - VISITPHUKET.orgPhuket, Thailand, December 11, 2023 / TRAVELINDEX / Her Majesty Queen Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalaksh sailed on Vayu THA 72 in the prestigious IRC Zero class in the final day of racing at the 35th Phuket King’s Cup regatta. Her presence indeed proved fortuitius as the TP52 won both races today in the eleven-race series.

Ray Roberts TP52 Team Hollywood, which placed second in both races, won the class and the overall King’s Cup title for the fourth straight year. James & Kate Murray’s Callisto, a Pac 52, placed third in the four-boat IRC Zero class with Steve McConaghy’s Aftershock Syndicate, a Davidson 55, finishing fourth in the class.

And what a week of racing it was: fair sailing conditions, close competition, and world-class sailors combined with great weather and fabulous onshore parties to create a great atmosphere topped off by Her Majesty’s presence on Vayu THA 72. She also handed out the trophies at the Royal Awards Ceremony.

The elegance of the four-boat Premier class certainly turned heads during the regatta but the class belonged to Ithinai Yingsiri’s Thai vessel Pine Pacific, an X-Yacht 55, who won all seven races. Peter Cremers’ Shatoosh, a Warwick 75, finished second five times, and took second in the class. Hans Rahmann’s JV 72 custom-built Yasooda chances were hurt with a DNF in race three and had to settkle for third overall. Bernard Huybens’ Aphrodite, a Vitters 92, was fourth in the class and did not sail on the final day.

Nick Burns’ Witchcraft, edged out Rolf Heemskerk’s The Next Factor in the seven-boat IRC One class, just as it did two weeks ago at the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta. Witchcraft won seven of the ten races sailed in this class. Craig Douglas/Gordon Kettleby’s Ramrod, finished third in the class.

Craig Nichols Alright nosed out Susurnu Kurose’s Char Chan by one point to take fourth spot in IRC One. Robert Carr & Sandy Farquharson’s Aquarii was hurt by a DNS in race eight and had to settle for sixth overall. Clayton Craigie’s Anjo had a challenging regatta with four DNFs & one DNS and finished last in the class.

The six-boat Bareboat Charter Class saw Dean Peng’s & Tiffany Khoo’s Gragonborn win five of the seven races sailed in this class. Mike Downard’s Piccolo narrowly edged out Toshihiko Iijima’s Hippocrates by one point to take second in the class. Moonshine featuring the ASA Sailing Dream Asia, was fourth while Team Hayato took fifth in the class. Alan Anderson’s Judy did not start the last three races in this class and as such was relegated to sixth position.

The five-boat Monohull Cruising class was the tightest class going into the final day with three boats tied with nine points. But when it was all sailed and done, Philippe Dallee’s Swan II won edging out Steve Maine’ Enavigo by two points and Jianhao Yang’s Isabella by three points which was disqualified in the third race for carrying an anchor on the bow. Thomas Veltin’s Brisk was fourth in this class with Mo Yiwei’s Sumalee, fifth.

The two-boat Multihull Racing class saw Dan Fidock’s Kata Rocks Parabellum zip around the course winning seven of the nine races sailed in its class. John Newnham’s Kata Rocks 2, aka Twin Sharks was the only boat competing in this class. The flashy Parabellum won overall line in evey race in the regatta.

Andrew McDermott’s Trident has won all five races in the Multihull Cruising class after having to sit out day one because of a dismasting. It won out over Frank Kastelein’s Team No Escape (Pooichat), the only other yacht competing in this class.

The regatta’s International Dinghy Classes this year competed in a three-day competition off of Kata Beach. The event was divided into four classes: Monohull Dinghy Handicap (12 boats); ILCA 4 (15 boats); Open Skiff (17 boats); and Optimist (79 boats).

The overall Optimist winner was Patcharaphan Ongkaloy, continuing on her gold-medal performance from the Southeast Asian Games. Pailin Jaroenpon was second followed by Karit Phrammanee, all Thais.

The Open Skiff class was won by India’s Anandi Chandavarkar – no surprise as she won the class each day. Dom Kaewpradab of Thailand placed second each day capturing that position and India’s Ayaan Nath was third.

The ILCA4 class was swept by Thailand with Nanvatorn Supaamphonwit capturing top spot each day, Ton Rattana finishing second overall and Thanaphat Sirichaoren placing third.

The Monohull Dinghy Class (Handicap) was won by Claudia Nazarov with Voravong Racharattanaruk coming in second and Morten Jakobsen in third.

By the way, sailing with Her Majesty on Vayu THA 72 today was Noppakao Poonpat, the 2010 World Optimist champion.

In closing, Kevin Whitcraft, the President of the 35th Phuket King’s Cup Regatta Committee said, “The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta is considered an important international sailing competition in Asia. The event is organized in line with Phuket’s Development Plan which wants to develop Phuket as a leisure marine hub making it a world-class yachting destination. This will help spur on the country’s tourism industry, which is one of the ten industries targeted to drive Thailand’s future economy. Phuket generates the most tourism income from any of the southern provinces on the Andaman coast, which combined generate the highest tourism numbers in the country.

“This year, the 35th Phuket King’s Cup Regatta achieved its objectives as expected. More than 200 million baht was circulated throughout the week of sailing. The regatta is also an excellent platform for young Thai sailors who want to improve their sailing skills pitted against some outstanding international sailors.”

The Regatta’s sponsors, including Host Sponsor Kata Group, RMA Group, Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul, Ford Motor Company (Thailand), Ricoh (Thailand) Limited, Haad Thip PCL, Pine Pacific Corporation Limited, Singha Corporation Co., Ltd., and National Telecom Public Company Limited.

About the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta – Asia’s legendary yacht race under Royal Patronage
Under Royal Patronage, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta is organized by the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta Organizing Committee under the auspices of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, in conjunction with the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, the Royal Thai Navy and the Province of Phuket.

Mozambique PM Challenges Tourism Industry to Embrace Innovative Solutions

Mozambique PM Challenges Tourism Industry to Embrace Innovative Solutions - TRAVELINDEXMaputo, Mozambique, December 9, 2023 / TRAVELINDEX / Prime Minister Adriano Maleiane spearheaded the official opening ceremony of the 9th edition of the International Tourism Fair (FIKANI), emphasizing the crucial role of innovative solutions in fostering the development and sustainability of the tourism sector in the country. Maleiane underscored the need for a comprehensive approach that considers socio-cultural factors in promoting tourism.

During the ceremony, Prime Minister Maleiane issued a challenge to all stakeholders in the sector, urging entrepreneurs, investors, and local communities to actively implement sustainable tourism measures. He emphasized that the growth of national tourism should be guided by responsible environmental resource exploitation, ensuring the preservation of natural ecosystems and providing tangible benefits to local communities.

In her opening speech, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Eldevina Materula, highlighted the event as an opportunity to rethink the country’s tourism strategy. She stressed the importance of offering new and innovative solutions, aligning with the overarching theme of the ninth edition: “FIKANI for Sustainable Tourism.”

A major highlight of the event was the launch of an Investment guidebook ”Tourism doing Business Investing in Mozambique” prepared by the UNWTO in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. UNWTO African Department Head, Elcia Grandcourt who did the launch in conjunction with the Prime Minister said the document highlights key areas of investment in the tourism sector in Mozambique.

The book, she added, is part of a series of guidebooks that UNWTO launched since last year. For the African region, the guidebook has been launched in Tanzania and Mauritius. The book contains an extensive information on the economic outlook, FDIs into the country as well existing opportunities for investment and doing business in Mozambique’s tourism.

The International Tourism Fair of Mozambique- Fikani, hosted 215 exhibitors, including representatives from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Namibia, and eSwatini. The event showcased diverse offerings and fostering collaborations within the international tourism community.

First published at VoyagesAfriq Magazine

ADB Supports Environmental Improvements in Luang Prabang

ADB Supports Environmental Improvements in Luang Prabang - - TOURISMMEKONG.comLuang Prabang, Lao PDR, December 8, 2023 / TRAVELINDEX / The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $35 million concessional loan and a $10 million grant for the Urban Environment Improvement Investment Project to help support sustainable, inclusive, and resilient urban development in Luang Prabang City in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR).

Luang Prabang City is northern Lao PDR’s major transport and tourism hub with a fast-growing urban core, situated at the junction of the Mekong and Khan Rivers. Its compact historic precinct and surrounding landscape were included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List in 1995. Since then, the development of much-needed solid waste management and wastewater treatment facilities, urban roads and footpaths, and public greenspace has not kept pace with skyrocketing demand—causing environmental degradation and diminishing livability.

“Luang Prabang’s precious heritage and the livelihoods it supports are increasingly threatened by unplanned urban development, climate change, and disasters that disproportionately affect women and vulnerable groups,” said ADB Country Director for the Lao PDR Sonomi Tanaka. “Better urban infrastructure, environmental management, and tourism services together with gender-responsive integrated urban planning and management are needed to help raise the quality of life in Luang Prabang and make it more resilient to shocks.”

Innovative project components include home-, community-, and training facility-based childcare pilots for recipients of higher education and vocational training scholarships that will be offered to female officials employed in the water supply, sanitation, public works, and tourism sectors. The project will establish a women-led creative industries business development network and prepare the Lao PDR’s first creative city strategy and action plan. Women will also be trained to manage smart infrastructure solutions following the Luang Prabang Integrated and Smart Urban Strategy, prepared under the ADB-administered ASEAN–Australia Smart Cities Trust Fund.

Capacity development to support tariff reforms, strengthen financial management, facilitate private sector investment, and improve disaster preparedness and response will complement the project’s infrastructure investments.

The project is expected to benefit 104,500 residents and 1.3 million annual visitors by 2031.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

A Season of Joy and Extravagance at The Sukhothai Bangkok

A Season of Joy and Extravagance at The Sukhothai Bangkok - TRAVELINDEXBangkok, Thailand, December 7, 2023 / TRAVELINDEX / In the spirit of the holiday season, The Sukhothai Bangkok warmly welcomes you to partake in a memorable festive experience featuring enticing room packages, spa promotions, exquisite cuisine, delightful entertainment, and enchanting moments for the entire family.

Christmas Escapade
Celebrate the joy of the season with the “Christmas Escapade” room package at the Sukhothai Bangkok. Enjoy daily breakfast, indulge in exclusive Club benefits, and savor a scrumptious Christmas Brunch for two.

Book now for an unforgettable Christmas getaway, limited availability!

New Year’s Spectacular
Ring in the New Year with the exclusive “New Year’s Spectacular” room package at the Sukhothai Bangkok! Embrace the excitement and luxury of the season with daily breakfast, indulgent Club benefits, and a lavish Gala Dinner & Firework extravaganza for two.
Book now for an extraordinary New Year’s getaway, limited availability!

Advance booking is required.
For more information, please contact us at
02-344-8888 |

Food & Beverage:
Sunday 24 December 2023
Christmas Brunch
12.00 – 15.00 hrs.
THB 4,500++ Per Person (Food Only)
Beverage package options:
• Soft Drink Package THB 450++ Per Person
• Premium Beverage Package THB 1,650++ Per Person
Entertainment: Live Band

Dinner: 17.00 – 23.00 hrs.
A La Carte Menu and Tasting Menu
• Part of The Trail 7 Dishes THB 2,600++ Per Person
• Full Experience 9 Dishes THB 2,800++ Per Person

Lunch & Dinner
A La Carte Menu, Set Menu and Sharing Menu

Monday 25 December 2023
Dinner: 17.00 – 23.00 hrs.
A La Carte Menu and Tasting Menu
• Part of The Trail 7 Dishes THB 2,600++ Per Person
• Full Experience 9 Dishes THB 2,800++ Per Person

Lunch & Dinner
A La Carte Menu, Set Menu and Sharing Menu

Christmas Chocolate Buffet
22 – 24 December 2023 | 14.00 – 17.00 hrs.
THB 2,200++ Per Person (Food only)
Festive Chocolate Buffet
29 – 31 December 2023 | 14.00 – 17.00 hrs.
THB 2,200++ Per Person (Food only)

Sunday 31 December 2023
Dinner: 17.00 – 23.00 hrs.
A La Carte Menu and Tasting Menu
• Part of The Trail 7 Dishes THB 2,600++ Per Person
• Full Experience 9 Dishes THB 2,800++ Per Person

Lunch & Dinner
A La Carte Menu, Set Menu and Sharing Menu

*All restaurant guests will receive free entry to Countdown Party & New Year’s Eve Fireworks in The Sukhothai Garden.

Gala Dinner in The Sukhothai Garden
New Year’s Eve Buffet Dinner
19.00 – 23.00 hrs.
Adult: THB 6,500 ++ Per Person (Food only) include countdown party
Child: THB 3,500 ++ Per Person (Food only) include countdown party
Beverage package options:
• Soft Drink Package THB 950++ Per Person
• Premium Beverage Package THB 2,450++ Per Person
Entertainment: Live band

Countdown Party & New Year’s Eve Fireworks in The Sukhothai Garden
22.00 – 1.00 hrs.
Ticket: THB 1,500 Net Per Person
Entertainment: Live band & DJ and New Year’s Lucky Draw Prizes!

Advance booking is required.

Bespoke to Your Christmas
120-min Dawn of Happiness at THB 6,000++
Retail voucher THB 1,000 for Moringa Project product

My Own Kind-A Christmas
90-min LIFT C.V.S. and Booster VipO2 | THB 7,000++
Receive facial consultation by SIL machine,
4-set of 15-ml facial products and mini mirror

1. Available daily 10.00 – 23.00 hrs.
2. Selling date 18 December 2023 to 14 January 2024
3. Any promotion is non-conjunction to other promotion

For more information or reservations, please contact us at
+66 (0)2-344-8676


First Movers Coalition to Create up to $20 Billion Value Chain for Sustainable Farming

First Movers Coalition to Create up to $20 Billion Value Chain for Sustainable Farming - TRAVELINDEX.comDubai, United Arab Emirates, December 1, 2023 / TRAVELINDEX / The World Economic Forum, with support from the Government of the United Arab Emirates, along with more than 20 corporate and research partners in the food sector, launched today the First Movers Coalition for Food. The initiative uses the combined procurement power for sustainably produced farming products to speed up the adoption of sustainable farming, innovations and transitional funding.

Food systems account for more than 30% of global emissions and are critical in achieving the Paris Agreement and limiting global warming to below 1.5C. Aggregating demand for sustainably produced and low-emission agricultural commodities, therefore, can accelerate the transition to net-zero, nature-positive transitions in food systems.

“Through the First Movers Coalition for Food, leading global companies will send demand signals to catalyse the acceleration and adoption of environmentally friendly farming methods and green innovations. This collective public-private partnership will help de-risk upfront investments into more sustainable food production systems,” said Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum.

The First Movers Coalition for Food comprises corporate champions from multinational and regional companies with significant purchasing power, value chain partners, farmer organizations and research partners alongside governments to improve existing food systems.

The new initiative aims to accelerate sustainable farming and production methods and technologies by leveraging collective demand for low-carbon agricultural commodities. It will do so through the power of aggregated demand, aiming for a combined procurement value for low-carbon commodities of $10-$20 billion from coalition members. Corporate partners currently participating in the coalition account for a combined revenue of $2.1 trillion, with operations globally.

Founding members of the First Mover Coalition for Food are leading companies that recognize the need for more sustainable practices and innovation in food production systems. Starting mid-December 2023, the World Economic Forum and participating companies and governments will work jointly to identify the demand commitments and pathways to support and mobilize the ecosystem to enable such transformation. The coalition is expected to publish its initial results of the collaborative work in the summer of 2024.

“The way we produce and eat food causes 30% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, uses over 70% of the world’s freshwater, and is responsible for 80% of deforestation and habitat loss in tropical areas,” said Mariam Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates. “If we don’t quickly find new, sustainable ways to produce and consume food, these problems will worsen in only a couple of decades. Showing clear demand for improvements in sustainable agriculture production methods is crucial for reaching our global climate goals, and we need to act now.”

Ahmed Galal Ismail, Chief Executive of Majid Al Futtaim, added: “We recognize how our role in reducing emissions across our value chains has an impact on the long-term sustainable health of people and the planet. As an increasing number of customers make the everyday choice to shop sustainably, we as a retailer have the responsibility to deliver more responsibly sourced and produced products. By joining the First Movers Coalition for Food initiative, we aim to amplify the demand for low-emission products and partner with those promoting nature-positive practices, fostering resilient agricultural systems with improved biodiversity and reduced water usage.”

Manny Maceda, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Bain & Company said the coalition will transform how companies procure agricultural commodities, enabling a shift toward eco-friendly production. “This will decrease the risks associated with required investments in low-emissions agri-food production, make it easier to expand to net-zero and nature-positive technologies, and help farmers adopt greener practices such as regenerative agriculture.”

About the First Movers Coalition
The First Movers Coalition for Food builds on the success of the First Movers Coalition for Industry, launched at COP26 in Glasgow by US President Joe Biden and the World Economic Forum in 2021.

The First Movers Coalition for Industry aggregates purchasing demand to create early markets for innovative clean technologies across eight hard-to-abate industry sectors: aviation, shipping, trucking, steel, aluminium, concrete and cement, and chemicals.

To date, the coalition has garnered the support of more than 13 government partners and 90 companies with purchasing commitments of more than $15 billion. This is the most significant demand signal for clean technologies for industrial sectors that the world has ever seen.

First Movers Coalition for Food members
Initial partners working jointly on shaping and accelerating significant demand signals and green procurement commitments include Bayer AG, Cargill, Danone, Louis Dreyfus Company, Majid Al Futtaim Holding Llc, Nestlé, NR Instant Produce PCL, Olam Agri, PepsiCo Inc., Sekem Group, UPL Ltd, Tyson Foods Inc., JBS S.A., and Yara International ASA. More companies will be announced in the coming months. Expert organizations supporting the process include Bain & Company, Ginko Bioworks, Grow Asia, IDH, Indigo Ag, International Rice Research Institute, Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, Tropical Forest Alliance, and University of Tokyo. The initiative is endorsed by the Government of the United Arab Emirates.

International Tourism to End 2023 Close to Pre-Pandemic Levels

International Tourism to End 2023 Close to Pre-Pandemic Levels - TRAVELINDEXMadrid, Spain, December 5, 2023 / TRAVELINDEX / International tourism is on track to recover almost 90% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year. According to the latest data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), an estimated 975 million tourists travelled internationally between January and September 2023, an increase of 38% on the same months of 2022.

The newest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer also shows:

  • World destinations welcomed 22% more international tourists in the third quarter of 2023 compared to the same period last year, reflecting a strong Northern Hemisphere summer season.
  • International tourist arrivals hit 91% of pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter, reaching 92% in July, the best month so far since the start of pandemic.
  • Overall, tourism recovered 87% of pre-pandemic levels in January-September 2023. That puts the sector on course to recover almost 90% by the end of the year.
  • International tourism receipts could reach USD 1.4 trillion in 2023, about 93% of the USD 1.5 trillion earned by destinations in 2019.

The latest UNWTO data shows that international tourism has almost completely recovered from the unprecedented crisis of COVID-19 with many destinations reaching or even exceeding pre-pandemic arrivals and receipts

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The latest UNWTO data shows that international tourism has almost completely recovered from the unprecedented crisis of COVID-19 with many destinations reaching or even exceeding pre-pandemic arrivals and receipts. This is critical for destinations, businesses, and communities where the sector is a major lifeline. ”

The Middle East, Europe and Africa lead recovery

  • The Middle East continues to lead the recovery by regions in relative terms, with arrivals 20% above pre-pandemic levels in the nine months through September 2023. The Middle East remains the only world region to surpass 2019 levels this period. Visa facilitation measures, the development of new destinations, investments in new tourism-related projects and the hosting of large events, help underpin this remarkable performance.
  • Europe, the world’s largest destination region, welcomed 550 million international tourists over the period, 56% of the global total. That represents 94% of pre-pandemic levels. The rebound was supported by robust intra-regional demand as well as strong demand from the United States.
  • Africa recovered 92% of pre-pandemic visitors this nine-month period,  and arrivals in the Americas reached 88% of 2019 numbers this period, as the region benefitted from strong US demand, in particular to Caribbean destinations.
  • Asia and the Pacific reached 62% of pre-pandemic levels this period due to slower reopening to international travel. However, performance among subregions is mixed, with South Asia recovering 95% of pre-pandemic levels but North-East Asia only about 50%.

The World Tourism Barometer includes more focused data on regions, as well as sub-regions and individual destinations.

Tourism spending strong

Strong demand for outbound travel was reported by several large source markets this period, with many exceeding 2019 levels. Germany and the United States spent 13% and 11% more respectively on outbound travel than in the same nine months of 2019, while Italy spent 16% more through August.

The sustained recovery is also reflected in the performance of industry indicators. Drawing on data from IATA (the International Air Transport Association) and STR, the UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker details a strong recovery in air passenger numbers and tourist accommodation occupancy levels.

Against this backdrop, international tourism is well on track to fully recover pre-pandemic levels in 2024 despite economic challenges such as high inflation and weaker global output, as well as important geopolitical tensions and conflicts.

Thailand’s Finest Young Sailing Talent on Display

Thailand’s Finest Young Sailing Talent on Display - VISITPHUKET - TRAVELINDEXPhuket, Thailand, December 4, 2023 / TRAVELINDEX / The 35th Phuket King’s Cup Regatta officially got underway today in the waters off of Phuket’s Kata Beach. Many of Thailand’s best young sailors are competing in the international dinghy class. Rising nautical stars gracing Kata Bay included Patcharaphan “Stam” Ongkaloy who captured a gold medal in the Optimist Class in the recent Southeast Asia Games in Cambodia. Thanaphat “Poom” Siricharoen, who won a silver medal in the ILCA 4 class of the same competition, is also sailing; as is Ton Rattana, the current ILCA 4 class district champion.

Much of the focus on the King’s Cup is on the foreign racers that travel far and wide to compete in Asia’s most prestigious regatta. But the event is also a platform for young Thai and Asia sailors to showcase their talents and jumpstart their racing careers.

The International Dinghy Classes race from 3-5 December at Kata Beach, divided into four starts today, as follows: Monohull Dinghy Handicap (12 boats); ILCA 4 (15 boats); Open Skiff (17 boats); and Optimist (79 boats).

One hundred and twenty-three dinghies from ten nations including, Canada, China, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, St. Christopher & Nevis, Taiwan, Thailand, the Russian Federation and the USA are competing in the regatta.

It was a great day for women’s racing. Patcharaphan “Stam” Ongkaloy (Yacht Racing Association of Thailand) continued her winning ways capturing the Optimist Girl’s Class today with fellow YRAT sailor Pailin Jaroenpon placing second and Royal Varuna’s Pinchanok Klaysomboon coming in third. All three finished before their first male counterpart crossed the line.

Jirathip Muthiphan then won the Optimist Boy’s Class, followed by Nattakorn Jitsuwan and Panudat Polpool with all three sailors representing YRAT.

The ILCA4 class was won by YRAT’s Nanvatorn Supaamphonwit with clubmate and the top female finisher Paranee Muangngam placing second. RVYC’s Ton Rattana came third in this class.

Open Skiff was won by another woman India’s Anandi Chandavarkar, followed by UWC’s Don Kaewpradab of Thailand in second with Indian Eashaan Mehta, placing third.

The Open Skiff class has a devout following at the nearby Phuket Yacht Club in Ao Chalong under the astute leadership of former Australian national junior champion Scott Duncanson. The popularity of these boats has grown substantially since they were introduced to Phuket a few years back.

The regatta runs from December 2nd to 9th with Beyond Kata hosting the event and the Royal Awards Ceremony.

For more information and result, please visit

The Regatta’s sponsors, including Host Sponsor Kata Group, Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul, RMA Group, Ford Motor Company (Thailand), Ricoh (Thailand) Limited, Haad Thip PCL, Pine Pacific Corporation Limited, Singha Corporation Co., Ltd., and National Telecom Public Company Limited.

About the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta – Asia’s legendary yacht race under Royal Patronage
Under Royal Patronage, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta is organized by the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta Organizing Committee under the auspices of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, in conjunction with the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, the Royal Thai Navy and the Province of Phuket.

Telefonica and UNWTO to Promote Digital and Sustainable Tourism

Telefonica and UNWTO to Promote Digital and Sustainable Tourism - TRAVELINDEXMadrid, Spain, November 30, 2023 / TAVELINDEX / The collaboration agreement will run until 2026 and will focus on digital entrepreneurship, innovation, application of new technologies (big data, artificial intelligence, etc.) and talent development.

Telefónica and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) have followed through on their commitment to cooperate by signing a new collaboration framework, valid until 2026, with the aim of promoting tourism development that is more digital, sustainable and inclusive.

The United Nations’ specialized agency for tourism and Telefónica will continue to work together at the global level and will focus on three strategic axes of digital transformation: nurturing global and regional innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems; boosting technological adoption in tourism; and promoting capacity building for a more digital, sustainable and competitive tourism sector that leaves no one behind.

New projects, new scopes

In this regard, Telefónica Tech, the telecom operator’s strategic digital business unit, and the UNWTO will promote the ‘Digital Futures’ programme, which seeks to accelerate the tourism sector’s economic recovery by scaling up small and medium-sized enterprises with the incorporation of new technologies such as big data, IoT, AI, blockchain, cybersecurity and cloud-based solutions. These digital tools have the ability to transform companies and make them more competitive, sustainable and resilient, as they help them make better business decisions based on exhaustively analysed data. Such technologies also allow them to offer more personalized and competitive products and services, optimize resources, and increase the profitability of the tourism sector.

As part of an effort to identify disruptive projects that help enhance the sustainability of the sector, Wayra Hispam, Telefónica’s open innovation area that connects the entrepreneurial ecosystem around the world, is collaborating in the development of the World Tourism Organization’s Community Tourism Innovation Challenge in Colombia, with the support of the Vice-Ministry of Tourism of Colombia. Its mentoring support generates connections with the business and venture capital ecosystem, which is essential for all entrepreneurs who are working to offer innovative solutions and promote development, taking into account local communities as well as natural and cultural heritage.

Furthermore, training processes (reskilling and upskilling) will be addressed so that employees can develop and take advantage of all the potential that digitalization brings to an industry that is so important to the economy of many countries.

To this end, training cycles will be carried out on the application of technologies to tourism. These will be offered by reference stakeholders that aim to help those who are beginning to take their first steps or wish to evolve their projects. For their part, Telefónica and UNWTO will collaborate in learning initiatives through accessible content as the Tourism, Gastronomy and Hospitality 4.0 Nanodegree developed by Fundación Telefónica and CEOE through the UNWTO Digital Futures programme, focused on accelerating the economic recovery of the tourism sector through the growth of innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

About Telefónica

Telefónica is one of the world’s leading telecommunications service providers. The company offers fixed and mobile connectivity services, as well as a wide range of digital services for individuals and businesses. It is present in Europe and Latin America, where it has more than 383 million customers. Telefónica is a fully private company whose shares are listed on the continuous market of the Spanish stock exchanges and on the New York and Lima stock exchanges.

Blue Elephant Master Chef Nooror Pays Tribute to WWF Healthy Rivers Series

Blue Elephant Master Chef Nooror Pays Tribute to WWF Healthy Rivers Series - TOP25 RESTAURANTS BANGKOK BEST RESTAURANTSBangkok, Thailand, November 30, 2023 / TRAVELINDEX / In her recent appearance on Episode 2 of the Healthy Rivers Series “River of Inspiration” by WWF, Master Chef Nooror Somany Steppe, co-founder and director of the Blue Elephant Group, spoke about the linkages of a healthy river and one of Thailand’s most famous “Tom Yum Goong”. This collaboration has inspired Master Chef Nooror to craft a “Magical Rivers New Year’s Eve Menu” comprising Thai Rivers treasures amongst other Blue Elephant culinary gems, on New Year’s Eve for the Blue Elephant Cooking School & Restaurant, Bangkok and Phuket.

“Only 3% of the water on our planet is fresh. Yet these precious waters are rich with surprise. All life on land is ultimately dependent on fresh water.”
– Sir David Attenborough, WWF Ambassador –

“Human food comes from nature, from rivers and canals. Because of this, we humans must preserve rivers and canals. I’m a chef who’s proud of ingredients from rivers and canals.”
– Master Chef Nooror Somany Steppe –

On Sunday, 31st December 2023 from 5.30 pm, diners are invited to join Master Chef Nooror on a magical night of exquisite flavours and rich bounties of the river and show a commitment to sustainable luxury.

Some of the highlights of the “Magical Rivers New Year’s Eve Menu” comprise ‘Duo Jaeng Lon’ made from fresh pink organic lotus petals filled with Banana Prawn; ‘Auspicious Duck Laab’; ‘Foie Gras Tomato Dip’; ‘River Prawn Tom Yum Bisque’, a specially created recipe of creamy soup made from Ayutthaya River Prawn; “Ravioli Kao Soy’; ‘Hor Mok Blue Crab Curry’; and ‘Thai Wagyu Beef Salad & Grape’; and the legendary ‘Bespoken Massaman Lamb’; “Khao Yum’ amongst other flavourful selections.

The ”Magical Rivers New Year’s Eve Set Menu to be served on Sunday, 31st December 2023 from 5.30 pm to 11.00 pm is @Baht 6,800 plus plus per person.

For bookings or more information please call tel. 02 673 9353-8

About Blue Elephant
The story of Blue Elephant began as a result of the great passion for Thai food of Master Chef Nooror Somany Steppe, founding chef and director of the Blue Elephant Group.

Blue Elephant opened its first restaurant in Brussels, Belgium in 1980 with Master Chef Nooror Somany Steppe, her husband Karl Steppe, who has always been passionate about Thai culture and Thai cuisine, and their good friends and partners Chai Wayno & Somboon Insusri. Initially extremely popular among the citizens and expatriate members of Brussels, Master Chef Nooror’s Thai food soon gained its reputation in other parts of Europe, the Middle East and other countries in Asia.

From her love of cooking and of Thai cuisine and culture, Master Chef Nooror has become a staunch advocate and ambassador by promoting Thai cuisine and culture to the rest of the world. Sourcing from only the finest and premium produce from the Royal Project and from all over Thailand with emphasis on products with health benefits, Master Chef Nooror has created the most palatable, authentic and, most important of all, healthy Thai menus.

In 2002, Master Chef Nooror returned to Thailand to further explore her heritage and bring back to life forgotten recipes from bygone eras as well as to share her precious heirloom recipes handed down from generation to generation. Blue Elephant Cooking School and Restaurant Bangkok opened its doors in 2002; and the Phuket branch in 2010.

In 2006, Blue Spice Company Limited was established to manufacture and export premium spices, curry pastes and sauces amongst others under the Blue Elephant brand. Today, Blue Elephant products are available in almost 45 countries worldwide as well as in leading supermarkets throughout Thailand.

In 2020, the Blue Elephant Group celebrated 40 years of continuously achieving milestones in the culinary world both locally and overseas.