—TUI Shutting Down Tour Operator Activities in Italy: Company employees were notified last week that, starting March 15, 2020, TUI Italy will cease its activities. “The traditional activity of tour operators is proving to be volatile for the entire sector and in the future, the activities of TUI Group tour operators in the various markets will have to be more harmonized and standardized,” said the letter sent to employees. “In this context,” the letter added, “the TUI group considered that there were no prerequisites for a positive and sustainable development of TUI Italia and therefore decided to voluntarily liquidate the company.” The company had been known as I Viaggi del Turchese before it was purchased by TUI in 2016, and was folded into a common TUI brand. The business employs about 50 people and had a turnover of €55 million ($61 million).
—Excite Holidays Ceases Trading: An Australia-based global wholesaler that was established in 2002 and grew large enough to have offices in Sydney, New Zealand, the U.S., Thailand, Singapore, Greece and the UK, the company suspended operations last week after two of the companies it operated, Global Travel Specialists Pty Limited and Global Travel Holdings Pty Limited, were placed into administration. KPMG has been appointed as administrator. A clue that something was going wrong came when Excite Holidays Europe posted on its Facebook page on December 30 that it was “experiencing system issues which have affected a number of our bookings and calls.” On its website, the company claimed to have an inventory of more than 400,000 hotels and apartments, 100,000+ activities worldwide, and 100+ countries with transfers.
—In Brazil, Turnet Tries to Stave off Talk of its Closure: It’s hard to determine how it all happened, but rumors of the shutdown of Turnet, a tour operator in business since 1999, spread wildly heading into the second week of January. As of the time we file this item, it is still difficult to determine whether the company is closing or not. What we do know is that it has closed two of its three locations—one in Campinas and another in Rio de Janerio—conducting operations from its São Paulo location.
The Brazilian travel trade publication PANROTAS reported that, since Friday, January 10, its newsroom had been receiving calls, messages and emails from its readers asking if Turnet had closed. Through texts and other communications, Turnet’s CEO, Renato Carone, told the publication that, after making adjustments to the staff and deactivating the branches of Campinas and Rio de Janeiro, a series of “fake news took over the market.”
Early last week, Carone told PANROTAS, via e-mail, that he doesn’t know the size of the “consequences and impact on our image and reputation” now, so he had decided to suspend sales and operations until he resolves the whole situation, which includes serving traveling passengers and travel agents.
This episode makes for some interesting reading. Visit the Carone’s LinkedIn page, and you will see a Biblical passage right under his name: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” (Psalm 23). And, currently on Turner’s website is a statement explaining the current situation that concludes with “Lord, deliver me from lying lips and deceitful language.” (Psalm 120.2)
—Page & Moy Brand to be Re-launched. According to a report in Travel Weekly UK, the relaunch of Page & Moy is “imminent,” says owner Bruce Poon-Tip, who acquired the brand in a 2018 auction. Poon-Tip, owner of G Touring brands—besides Page & Moy, it also owns Travelsphere and Just You—told the publication: “We have been ready to go for some time and we’re excited about what we have. It’s not going to resemble anything Page & Moy was doing previously, other than in terms of quality and service.” G Touring research showed that awareness of the Page & Moy brand was still high and many thought it was still operating, even though the All Leisure Group, which owned the Page & Moy brand, shut down in January 2017.
—Operators Act on Global Climate: Launched on January 14, the Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency Initiative has so far attracted support from 23 operators, including Explore, Intrepid and Responsible Travel, and six individuals. All of them have pledged to produce a plan within the next 12 months to cut their carbon emissions and those of their guests to try to arrest the damage caused by global warming within the next 10 years. The announcement follows the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit that was held this past September at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York City.
On the same day, Explore, an adventure travel tour operator, became the first UK tour operator to offset all components of its trips, including flights. The cost of offsetting will be reflected in a slight increase in the cost of holidays.
The introduction of offsetting through its Climate Care initiative is part of a sustainability strategy that will see “look at everything we do overseas,” deputy managing director John Telfer told the Guardian, adding, “offsetting is a not a band-aid solution but there is a climate emergency and we wanted to look at what can we do in the short to medium term as the industry moves towards net-zero territory.”
Telfer explained calculations are based on a “worst-case scenario” for each trip, to ensure the amount offset is always over-calculated rather than under. For example, flight distances are based on an indirect flight to the furthest point in 15 geographic regions; all trips will be rounded up to seven or 14 days (a four-night trip will be counted as a week; 11 days as two weeks).