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Where historic meets modern and perfect for your next meeting

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Buenos Aires, Argentina


To find success in the travel sector, industry players must be able to define their identity, as well as that of their customers. One location struggling with this challenge is Buenos Aires (p.32): the vibrant Argentine capital has long been plagued by an erratic economy, which has seen it engaged in a cycle of boom and bust. The city is regaining command of its finances by attempting to transform into a tech hub, but challenges such as high inflation and regulatory hurdles are slowing progress. While Buenos Aires struggles with its identity crisis, other locations are enlisting the help of external experts. Tourism hotspots such as New York and Amsterdam have found success by using ‘place branding’ to market themselves (p.142), and other destinations are now following suit. However, these places are people’s homes and come with a history too multifaceted to be reduced to a clever slogan. A pushback from residents shows that identity is not just a marketing ploy. Understanding the identity of people, as well as places, is essential to finding success in the travel industry. For decades, those identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) have found that their identity could make travelling difficult, and even unsafe. But as society becomes less prejudiced towards this community, the LGBTQ tourism sector is booming (p.86). The providers that are not just tolerant, but welcoming, of LGBTQ travellers will reap the rewards of a growing market. But change cannot be skin deep; genuine acceptance of LGBTQ people is crucial. One group refusing to be easily definable is digital nomads (p.66). Instead of hitting life’s usual milestones, these workers are establishing their own identity. However, for the economies that rely on their residents working and spending in a predictable way, digital nomads are rocking the boat. Locations must accommodate this new way of life if they are to benefit from it, rather than be thrown off balance. Identity is always changing, and change brings new opportunities. The travel sector stands to profit if it can keep up. .


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Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre Kimihurura Roundabout, P.O. Box 6629, Kigali, Rwanda T: +250 252252252 E: info.kigali@radissonblu.com




32 Buenos Aires’ balancing act The economy of the Argentine capital has long been a changeable one, taking its residents from poverty to prosperity and back again. The city has turned to the tech sector for a much-needed stable source of income



Ashton Wenborn

66 Home is where you lay your laptop



John Hodgson Max Tomlin

Wanderlust is gripping younger generations, meaning more workers are adopting an itinerant lifestyle and becoming digital nomads. But by choosing to work from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection, they are also refusing to hit life’s usual milestones


Barclay Ballard Courtney Goldsmith Michael Newell Sophie Perryer DESIGNER:


Robin Sloan





Ben Debski Scott Rouse VIDEO PRODUCER:



Simon Caplan Terry Johnson James Watson Malcolm Gade Julia King HEAD OF FINANCE:

Richard Willcox PUBLISHED BY

Tower Business Media Ltd 40 Compton Street London EC1V 0BD Tel: +44 (0) 207 253 5100 68

FOLLOW US ON: facebook.com/businessdestinations

86 Chasing the rainbow


With legal and social changes making the world increasingly accepting of diversity, there has been a rise in tourism services designed for the LGBTQ community. Businesses that are truly welcoming of this emerging market stand to profit


The information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources the proprietors believe to be correct. However, no legal liability can be accepted for any errors. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior consent of the publisher. ISSN 1755-2192

142 The promised brand IN ASSOCIATION WITH


Destinations are investing in marketing campaigns to attract visitors, but they must be careful not to reduce their identities to the point of characterlessness and drive residents away in the process

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10 TOP DESTINATIONS Turn to page 114, where we take a look at some of the most exciting destinations to visit in 2019 10 TOP CONFERENCE DESTINATIONS

On page 138, we review some of the best conference destinations in the MICE industry






South America






Cycling Tourism For cyclists, Girona’s beautiful scenery and dependable infrastructure make it the location of choice

44 46 48

Executive Car Hire


The Abbey and Central Hotels

Cross-Border Collaboration The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is encouraging African nations to collaborate in a bid to amplify their economic success





Guyana Tourism





Che Guevara


Landscape Hotels




Genealogy Tours US

Boston Tourism






The fire that incinerated 90 percent of Brazil’s National Museum has shined a light on chronic underfunding within the arts and culture sectors




Rwanda Tourism


California is a surfer’s paradise, but will the rise of artificial waves drive away the professionals or bring the sport to the masses?


Underfunding Art


North America 52


Hawaii Convention Centre Hawaii Tourism CUBA

US–Cuba Relations


The exploitative tribal tourism sector is putting the lives of tourists and, more importantly, previously uncontacted communities at risk

Middle East 94


Virtual Reality Instead of taking the time to travel to destinations, some tourists are using virtual reality to see the world’s greatest sights

96 98


Tribal Tourism

130 132


The Lalit RUSSIA

Caspian Sea


Adventure Tourism





Istanbul Airport


Oman Tourism

Medical Tourism

100 D U B A I


Australasia 150


Alex Schoelcher Alex Schoelcher’s World Portrait Archive captures the everyday lives of people around the world, challenging preconceived ideas of other cultures

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In the pink

At the start of each year, the Vietnamese village of Quang Phu Cau in Hanoi is filled with fuchsia incense sticks, earning it the nickname ‘incense village’. Bamboo bark is dried, dyed and whittled down to form the vibrant sticks that are used in the annual Lunar New Year celebrations. In 2018, Hanoi welcomed 375,000 tourists over the week-long celebrations.

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CRUISE CONTROL Venice is a city that is both underpopulated and plagued by waves of tourists and day-trippers arriving on mega-sized cruise ships. Having announced in 2017 that by 2021 ocean liners over 55,000 tonnes will no longer be able to dock in the city, the Italian budget for 2019 will enable Venice to impose a fee on those visiting the city for just a day. The charge, starting at ¤2.50 ($2.85) per person during offpeak periods, will rise to ¤10 ($11.40) during the busy summer months. In the summer of 2017, 2,000 Venetians marched in protest against the tourism industry, asserting that it had eroded residents’ quality of life. Mayor of Venice Luigi Brugnaro claimed the ‘landing tax’ would generate the necessary funds to keep the city clean. How the tax is implemented remains unclear, however: cruise passengers are easily identifiable, but day-trippers arriving by air, road or rail may prove more challenging to charge.






Melbourne Food & Wine Festival

Antwerpen Proeft

Sweet Korea Goyang

MARC H 8 –24

MAY 1 , 3 , 4 , 5

MAY 1 6 –1 9

Melbourne, Australia

Antwerp, Belgium

Goyang, South Korea

Billed as one of the world’s top food and wine events, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival celebrates its 27th year in 2019 after commencing in 1993 with a modest programme of only 12 events. This year, to celebrate International Women’s Day, an all-female lineup of chefs will prepare a number of exquisite dishes for 1,600 lucky diners gathered at a 500-metre-long table in Victoria Gardens – an event being dubbed the ‘world’s longest lunch’. Various ticket prices www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au

A blend of international and local cuisine, cooking demonstrations and interactive workshops, the Antwerpen Proeft (or ‘Taste of Antwerp’) gives visitors the opportunity to try signature dishes from world-famous chefs at a fraction of the usual restaurant price. Author Luc Hoornaert will present an exclusive ‘dish of the day’, while craft-beermakers and a range of food trucks will also be serving Antwerp’s finest food and drink throughout the festival. Prices start at ¤5 www.proeft.be

Last year, 43,412 visitors flocked to Goyang to attend Sweet Korea, an event where 330 exhibitors present an overview of the latest trends within the dessert industry. With a focus not only on the food but also the machinery, equipment and tools used for production, visitors can learn about the manufacturing and decorative methods that are essential to the construction of the sweets and drinks on show. Price to be announced www.sweetkorea.kr


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Kaikōura’s comeback

Hit by a major earthquake in 2016, the coastal town of Kaikōura, located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, saw its tourism rates slashed by half in 2017. Last year, however, the city staged a profound resurgence with a 295 percent increase in Airbnb bookings, a performance that saw it named one of Airbnb’s trending destinations of 2019. Local tourism operators worked tirelessly to rebrand the destination, including promoting the age-old Alpine Pacific Triangle touring route, which snakes through Christchurch, Waipara and Kaikōura. Whale watchers continue to favour Kaikōura, with the sea around the town supporting an abundance of sea life. Yet, despite the positive news, locals are concerned over whether Kaikoura can cope with its newfound popularity.

TRAVEL gadget

Pocketalk Voice Translator www.pocketalk.net, $299

Travelling to a country where you don’t speak the language, or can’t even read the characters, can be intimidating even for the most seasoned traveller. That’s where Pocketalk, a sleek two-way voice translator, comes in. Although it only works when connected to the internet, the device comes with a two-year, all-you-can-use mobile data plan at no extra cost, so it will still prove useful even if there’s no Wi-Fi hotspot nearby. Currently, the translator can provide a text translation using the audio input of 74 different languages, from Arabic to Zulu, with more on the way. Pocketalk can also provide audio output for 49 languages, including Mandarin, Hindi and Japanese.

“I take my share of this responsibility, I may have hurt some of you with my words.” French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the nation following months of protests by the gilet jaunes











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EXPERIENCE MOSELEBAUER Get in touch now moselebauer@moselebauer.at www.moselebauer.com

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CITY guide PA R I S









Hôtel Lutetia is typically Parisian. Situated within an Art-Nouveaustyle building constructed in 1910 and offering stunning views of the city’s most revered landmarks, the hotel has played

In defiance of the 2015 Paris terrorist attack, during which three diners at Le Petit Cambodge were killed and another 13 deaths were recorded in Le Carillon across the road, Le Petit Cambodge has remained one of the most popular restaurants in the chic Canal Saint-Martin area. It specialises in South-East Asian cuisine, from bao buns to phô,

In Morocco, making tea is an art form. Within the elegant grounds of La Mosquée de Paris, the leafy courtyard of Aux Portes de l’Orient is home to Paris’ best Moroccan mint tea – a perfect blend of the

Amid the eastern suburbs of Paris, Noisy-le-Grand is a utopian-style neighbourhood dominated by experimental buildings. The most

host to some illustrious guests, including former French President Charles de Gaulle. A four-year, €200m refurbishment, overseen by renowned architect JeanMichel Wilmotte, incorporated contemporary features while retaining the hotel’s traditional charm and spirit.

offering colourful and flavoursome dishes fragrant with fresh herbs and spices. The restaurant is also friendly to those unacquainted with the French language.

cool relief of menthol and the sweetness of sugar. Also available is a range of delicious and intricate Middle Eastern sweets. Of course, France is best known for its wine; for a quintessentially French wine experience, look no further than Le Baron Rouge in the 12th arrondissement.

striking, Les Espaces d’Abraxas, was designed by Ricardo Bofill; its 16 floors of Brutalist concrete and stone were used as a location in the second instalment of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. Additionally, the Palais de Tokyo, which is the largest museum in France dedicated to temporary exhibitions of contemporary art, is certainly worth a visit. SPRING 2019 BD |





S TAT I S T I C S The lighter side of travel











Nima Peanut Sensor

www.nimasensor.com, $289

The Nima Peanut Sensor gives peanut-allergy sufferers the confidence to try local cuisine when travelling without having to worry about unfamiliar languages or mistranslations damaging their health. Designed with ease of use in mind, the user simply places a piece of their food into a disposable test capsule and, in less than five minutes, the sensor will confirm whether it is peanut-free. While it is not intended to replace traditional safeguards such as an EpiPen – it is recommended that allergy sufferers keep their EpiPens on them at all times – it will help address anxiety, one of the most overlooked symptoms of a peanut allergy. The device has shown up to 98.8 percent accuracy when detecting as little as 10 parts per million of peanut protein.

“Reunification is a historical trend and it is the right path. Taiwan independence is an adverse current of history and is a dead end.” Xi Jinping’s speech marking 40 years since a key policy document opened the door for rapprochement between Beijing and Taipei

A sporting first Saudi Arabia has issued visas that allow international visitors to attend sporting and cultural events for the first time, following the inaugural 2018 SAUDIA Ad Diriyah E-Prix. The milestone event took place on December 15 and saw António Félix da Costa claim the first victory of the season for BMW i Andretti Motorsport in front of a crowd of 40,000 people. The


event took place alongside a three-day music festival featuring David Guetta, Enrique Iglesias and the Black Eyed Peas – another first for the conservative Gulf state. It is estimated that 1,000 foreigners from 80 countries made use of the new ‘Sharek’ e-visa in December, with the largest number of registered visitors arriving from Europe and North America.

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Spring 2019


LendIt Fintech USA, 2018

LendIt Fintech USA


International Conference on

IBanking, Finance and Business

APRIL 24–25



Each year, more than 5,000 people from the world’s most influential companies flock to San Francisco for what is described as “the world’s leading event in financial services innovation”. Hosted by the Moscone Centre, LendIt Fintech USA offers a wide range of speakers, 50 percent of whom are first-time presenters and thereby able to provide “fresh perspectives”. The event also offers attendees special room rates on local hotels as listed on their websites.

Organised by the College of Banking and Financial Studies in partnership with the National Institute of Securities Markets, the International Conference on Banking, Finance and Business focuses on the opportunities, challenges and existing global practices within the banking and financial sector. Aiming to help academic experts share their knowledge and research, the event provides an in-depth overview of the health of the finance industry in 2019 and beyond.


International Scientific Conference on

G Economic and Social Development


MAY 10–11


Designed to aid entrepreneurship in today’s turbulent climate, the 40th International Scientific Conference on Economic and Social Development takes place in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires. A broad range of perspectives will offer insight into numerous subjects centring on the topics of globalisation, enterprise, entrepreneurship and bureaucracy. Admission for the two-day event – hosted at the Universidad de Buenos Aires – includes lunch, dinner and coffee breaks. www.esd-conference.com

Challenges of Europe

MAY 22–24


As European countries struggle to find ways to cooperate and manage their current economic difficulties, the Challenges of Europe conference, taking place in Bol on the Croatian island of Brâc, shines a spotlight on the factors that will help boost competitiveness, innovation and growth. Attendees will offer strategic analysis to countries, cities and regions hoping to overcome the obstacles hampering their economic development, with a particular focus on Croatia and the EU. www.conference.efst.hr

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The Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) provides empowering settings for every event to thrive. We pride ourselves in knowing that there is no meeting too small or event too big to find a home. Our endless features and offerings reflect our ambition to be your venue of choice. At QNCC, we go beyond convention to get the best out of your event. + 974 4470 7000



Flooded engine

In September 2018, Hurricane Florence ripped through the East Coast of the US. Moody’s Analytics estimated that the damage caused by the hurricane reached $45bn for property alone, with South Carolina (pictured) suffering $5.5bn in flood losses. Even after Florence had passed through the state, flooding from the Waccamaw River continued to wreak havoc.

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Hotel St George As one of Europe’s smaller capital cities, navigating the main sites of Helsinki is doable in just a few hours. The city offers a sleek blend of stylish modern architecture – a legacy of Helsinki’s reign as the World Design Capital in 2012 – and elegant classical design. Furthermore, being part of the Oneworld airline alliance – which includes British Airways – Finnair offers stopovers of up to five days

in Helsinki for round trips between Europe and Asia. Located in the heart of the city, Hotel St George – a newly opened, five-star establishment – is set within the walls of the 19th-century former home of the Finnish Literature Society, and boasts a trademark design created by the celebrated Finnish architect Onni Tarjanne. In typical Nordic fashion, Hotel St George offers guests

understated luxury; minimalist, spacious, airy rooms create a moment of tranquillity before the chaos of travelling resumes. With three restaurants, the hotel appeals to all taste buds. Restaurant Andrea and Wintergarden source all their ingredients locally, guaranteeing an authentic Finnish culinary experience, while St George Bakery serves freshly made bread and

pastries for a perfect start to the day. Unwind in the Roman-style spa featuring a pool and sauna. Guests at Hotel St George can also book skin treatments and massages, or make use of the 24-hour gym. The hotel’s prime location means you are never further than a short walk from Helsinki’s most famous sights – the city’s cathedral, for example, is just a 12-minute walk away.



King Gustavus Vasa of Sweden established Helsingfors, a new trading post in Southern Finland known today as Helsinki 22

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Russia captured Helsingfors during the Finnish War, leading Sweden to transfer its sovereignty over Finland to Russia


The Government Palace was built, operating as the administrative centre of the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland


Trading opened on the Helsinki Stock Exchange for the first time. It has been part of the Nasdaq Nordic subsidiary since September 2003


Finland declared independence from Russia on December 6. A bitter threemonth civil war ensued the following year


Helsinki Airport opened in time for the 1952 Summer Olympics, which were hosted in the city. Finland won 22 medals, landing it in eighth place


With a theme of ‘embedded design’, the city was named World Design Capital for the attention it paid to its citizens’ needs

Spring 2019



Art Basel, Hong Kong



While Hong Kong’s art scene has traditionally lagged behind those of New York and London, since launching in 2008, Art Basel has certainly boosted the city’s cultural cachet. By acting as a platform to showcase previously overlooked Hong Kong artists, Art Basel has helped diversify the region’s creative output, supporting the launch of new galleries around the city and making art more accessible for the typical Hongkonger. www.artbasel.com/hong-kong

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro



Qingming Festival



New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

25 APRIL – 5 MAY



N E W O R LE A N S , U S

Touted as ‘the biggest show on Earth’, Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival is one of Latin America’s most recognisable events. People travel from across the world to witness the week-long party, which sees more than two million revellers take to the street each day. Dating back to the 1640s, when feasts were organised to honour Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, the carnival’s unique style – a legacy of African slaves brought to the continent – established one of the world’s most lively dance styles: Samba. www.rio-carnival.net

The origins of the Qingming, or Pure Brightness, Festival can be traced all the way back to the period between 700 BC and 500 BC, but it remains important to a number of China’s many ethnic groups, particularly the Han majority. Filial piety is one of the festival’s most important traditions, with many visiting the tombs of their ancestors to clean their gravesites and make ritual offerings. In English, the festival is sometimes referred to as Tomb Sweeping Day. www.publicholidays.cn/ching-ming-festival

Located in the city that gave the world Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival celebrates the city’s rich musical history while championing other aspects of Louisiana culture, from crafts to cuisine. Now in its 49th edition, in its early years the festival welcomed performances from the likes of Mahalia Jackson and Duke Ellington. Last year, 450,000 people attended the event, making it one of the largest music festivals in the US. www.nojazzfest.com

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everything seems simpler at a distance, like your new strategy.



View from the top

Densely packed apartment blocks in North Korea’s capital city, Pyongyang. The country is one of the most isolated in the world, although ongoing international talks aim to ease tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world. In fact, the country is working on a plan to boost its tourism sector, with a beach resort set to open in 2019.

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Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is one of a series of national parks that make up the Wulingyuan scenic and historical site. The area is noted for its 3,000 quartzite sandstone pillars that reach heights of more than 200m.




Located on New Zealand’s south-west coast, dense forests cling to the sweeping valleys of Fiordland National Park, hiding the vast glaciers and lakes nestled within. In 1908, The Spectator magazine described it as the “finest walk in the world”. 26


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Located in Southern Chilean Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park’s spectacular rugged terrain entices around 252,000 visitors each year. A cluster of mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers make the park a setting like no other.

Buried in the rolling hills of the somewhat misleadingly named Saxon Switzerland region in East Germany, the Saxon Switzerland National Park presents a rough, forest-strewn mountain landscape that is rarely found in Central Europe.


Göreme National Park’s distinctive volcanic landscape, sculpted entirely by erosion, has long attracted backpackers and archaeology enthusiasts. Villages carved from rock sit alongside Byzantine art and evidence of fourth-century human habitation.



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AIR TRAVEL ACCIDENTS SOAR Airliner accidents killed 556 people in 2018, compared with just 44 deaths in 2017, according to data from the Aviation Safety Network. In 2017, the only recorded deaths occurred on cargo planes and turboprop aircraft, making it the safest year on record for commercial aviation. In October 2018, 189 people were killed when Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea 13 minutes after take-off from Jakarta – the worst

accident of the year. It followed fatal crashes in Russia, Iran, Nepal and Cuba. An accident in April involving an Algerian Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 transport plane, which killed 257 people, was not included in the record, as it was classed as a military incident. Despite the number of fatalities, 2018 was still the ninth-safest year on record for air travel, with an accident rate of one fatal accident per 2.52 million flights.





“Dear Mr. President @realDonalTrump, I truly appreciate your words of encouragement. Together, under God’s protection, we shall bring prosperity and progress to our people!” Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s tweet to Donald Trump following his inauguration – though he misspelt the US president’s Twitter handle

Islands of discovery The Philippines Department of Tourism has reached out to the Middle East’s outbound travel industry in the hope of capitalising on the boom of tourists from the Middle East visiting the Philippines. The department of tourism hopes to create holiday packages that promote the archipelago’s cultural heritage, focusing on the local community, folklore, traditions, culinary heritage and traditional crafts. The packages will allow tourists to gain first-hand experience of the diverse culture that the Philippines offers across its 7,107 islands and more than 175 ethnolinguistic groups native to the country. The ancient communities that continue to thrive within the Philippines often reside among some of the country’s most serene settings, giving visitors the opportunity to combine cultural activities with tours celebrating the natural landscape – one of the factors that makes the Philippines such an attractive option for tourists.

TRAVEL gadget


Free, www.airhelp.com

Sometimes delays, cancellations and diversions are an unavoidable part of travelling, no matter how much preparation goes into your trip. To ease the pain of these travel disruptions, the AirHelp app provides a stress-free way for tourists to gain access to the compensation they are entitled to. The app filters through the necessary emails, checks any booking information against effective take-off and landing times over the past three years, and – where applicable – sends compensation requests to the relevant authorities. The simple process takes just seconds and has already helped more than seven million customers receive compensation. If claims are successful, AirHelp pledges to pick up all administrative and legal bills in exchange for a 25 percent cut. SPRING 2019 BD |



Amar Bhidé Professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Treating immigration like trade Immigration can be just as economically advantageous as trade, but it must be carefully managed if it is to be a fair process that benefits all involved Despite the current backlash against free trade, exemplified most prominently by US President Donald Tr ump’s protectionist ‘America First’ agenda, the economic case for easing the movement of goods and services across borders is strong and straightforward. The case for immigration – that is, the movement of labour across borders – is no less compelling, though it is far more complicated. For a libertarian like me, the advantages of free trade are obvious: transactions between willing buyers and sellers, within an economy or across borders, almost always benefit both sides. While restrictions may be worthwhile to ensure, say, the safety of goods entering a market, barriers should be kept to a minimum. On the other hand, it is not worth limiting trade to punish countries that supposedly unfairly subsidise their exports or allow employers to exploit their workers. Limiting imports from countries with low wages and poor working conditions may seem justified; in reality, it deprives these countries’ low-wage workers of what little they can earn. At the same time, it imposes an unwarranted and frequently regressive tax on consumers. 28

Importing labour At first glance, immigration appears to be little different from free trade: instead of importing the goods that labour produced elsewhere, countries are simply importing the labour itself. In some ways, the potential gains of immigration may be even greater than those of free trade. The immigrants themselves benefit from higher wages, as well as greater safety and individual freedom. The native-born population w ins, too, because the new labour performs menial or unpleasant tasks, broadens the tax base and expands domestic markets. More importantly, immigrants can bring considerable entrepreneurial energy and enrich the local community with their culture, food and traditions. Supporting immigration also has an added moral appeal. Hard-nosed free traders can find it hard to persuade tenderhearted sceptics that allowing faraway sweatshops to operate is kinder than eliminating the low-wage jobs they provide. Sheltering immigrants who would face torture or starvation in their homelands aligns more easily with our humanitarian instincts. There is no better illustration of the benefits of immigration than the US.

Successive generations of immigrants turned the young country, with its industrially backwards agrarian economy, into the world’s leading technological and military power. Immigrants made New York City a cultural mecca and Los Angeles a centre of the global film industry. And welcoming the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” long gave the country an uplifting purpose.

The costs of immigration But not even an immigrant like me can ignore the risks that immigration carries. Unlike free trade, immigration is often a unilateral choice, rather than a voluntary, two-sided exchange. And, while immigration can bring advantages to the native-born, that is not guaranteed. A n ex treme example of this is colonisation. The ‘New World’ that European explorers ‘discovered’ wasn’t new to those already living there. European immigrants, often escaping persecution or hunger, usurped the indigenous peoples’ lands and hunting grounds, forced them to sign treaties that would not be honoured, corralled them into reservations and slaughtered those who resisted. Similarly, European settlers in Australia declared the continent terra

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© Project Syndicate, 2019

nullius, or free for the taking, butchered Aboriginal people and forced their children into foster care to advance their cultural assimilation. Of course, today’s immigrants are not going to ransack and usurp the US or destination countries in Europe. But that does not mean that welcoming them is cost-free. While many find productive employment and pay taxes, some do not, straining social safety nets at a time of large public debts and rapid population ageing. These risks are compounded when large numbers of migrants or refugees arrive unexpectedly, overwhelming education and healthcare systems and exceeding housing capacity.

Exaggerated risks Security risks also must be considered. To be sure, nativ ist and populist political forces grossly exaggerate the links between immigration and crime, including terrorism. But that does not mean that no such links exist. It is

entirely possible, for example, that some members of the criminal gangs whose activities drove a ‘caravan’ of thousands of Central American migrants to walk to the US–Mexico border to apply for asylum would try to slip into the US with that caravan. Likewise, an Islamic State warrior could well try to get into Europe amid the hordes of desperate asylum seekers from Syria. Moreover, illegal immigrants may remain connected to or even controlled by the criminal organisations that smuggled and resettled them. As for legal immigrants, ethnic enclaves insulated from effective policing in the US have historically created space for the local expansion of home-country mafias. The risks extend beyond new arrivals. In recent years, terrorist attacks have been carried out by second-generation immigrants who reject the menial jobs their immigrant parents were forced to take, but lack the education and social acceptance needed to ascend the

economic ladder. Salman Abedi, the British-born son of Libyan immigrants who carried out a suicide bombing following a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande in Manchester in May 2017, is a case in point. Such cases are exceedingly rare. And yet, the increasing frequency of such events in recent years underscores the importance of managing immigration effectively – including investing the relevant resources – in the short and long term. Some argue that, to mitigate the risks of immigration, countries should use a kind of points system based on credentials such as education, because the highly educated are presumably less likely to be unemployed or to commit crimes. But a person does not need an advanced degree to make invaluable entrepreneurial, technological or artistic contributions, and it would be unjust to reject asylum seekers for not having PhDs. Race-based selection is, of course, also unconscionable. A better approach would begin with an assessment of everything from public infrastructure (how many immigrants can it reasonably support?) to the efficacy of background checks (what happens to immigrants whose histories cannot be reliably confirmed?). Nativism should have no place in such discussions, but nor should unrealistic idealism. The key to mutually beneficial immigration is clear-eyed pragmatism. The best way to minimise fear is to manage risks. BD

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Maxwell Gomera Director of the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Branch of the United Nations Environment Programme

Nature vs infrastructure

As the world continues to develop at an astonishing rate, infrastructure must be built to cater to our growing needs. However, it is vital that the environment doesn’t become a casualty of human progress

Protecting natural capital And yet, environmentally reckless growth is not preordained; it is possible to make smart, sustainable choices. To do so, we must recognise the true value of nature and make environmental ethics and costbenefit analyses part of every project. At the moment, this is not happening; most infrastructure is planned and constructed on the basis of market assessments that fail to account for nature. As a result, the world is facing a growing crisis: the weakening of ecosystem 30

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services (such as clean water, f lood defence and bee pollination) that protect biodiversity and form the foundation on which human welfare depends. To change the status quo, we must make an ethical choice not to expose critical habitats and ‘natural capital’ to greater danger, regardless of the possible economic returns. Just as most of the world has rejected the use of slave or child labour, the permanent destruction of nature must be repudiated.

Proof of value Some economists have recognised this by building environmental costs into their arguments. The Amazon rainforest is a case in point: there, deforestation has reduced the production of vapour clouds that are essential to transporting rain across South America. The drought that parched São Paulo between 2014 and 2017 is believed to have been caused, at least in part, by the absence of these ‘flying rivers’. As the Brazilian climate scientist Antonio Donato Nobre has noted, if these aerial water pumps are permanently turned off, an area that accounts for 70 percent of South America’s gross national product would be turned into desert. Of course, identifying critical natural capital is challenging, especially at smaller scales. While many can agree on the importance of protecting the Amazon, it is harder to demonstrate the value of preserving orangutans in Indonesia. But, over time, loss of the Tapanuli orangutans’ habitat would profoundly change the composition of the rainforest

© Project Syndicate, 2019

In November 2017, scientists working in Sumatra, Indonesia, made an exciting announcement: they had discovered a new species of orangutan, bringing the number of great ape species globally to seven. But one year later, the only home of the 800 wild Tapanuli orangutans is being cleared for a $1.6bn dam and hydroelectric power plant. Although the project will contribute less than one percent of the country’s planned generating capacity, scientists say it will lead to the extinction of this rare species. This raises a key question: what is nature worth? Indonesia is not alone in making environmentally detrimental tradeoffs. The 21st century will be a period of unprecedented infrastructure expansion, and a staggering $90trn will be spent over the next 15 years to build or replace dams, power plants and other facilities. In fact, more infrastructure will be built over the next decade and a half than currently exists. Naturally, habitats will be disrupted in the process.


MOST INFRASTRUCTURE IS PLANNED AND CONSTRUCTED ON THE BASIS OF MARKET ASSESSMENTS THAT FAIL TO ACCOUNT FOR NATURE and disrupt its ecological services. At the same time, the elimination of a species of great ape – our closest kin – would erase an opportunity to better understand our own evolution and genetics.

Long-term thinking In the developed world, some governments and businesses are making the ethical choice by applying the ‘precautionary principle’ to growth. Adopted in 1992 as part of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the principle embodies the conclusion that it is wiser – and ultimately cheaper – to avoid environmental degradation in the first place. The real challenge is to instil this ethos in developing economies, where the bulk of future infrastructure spending will occur. Consider highway development: by 2050, there will be 15.5 million miles of new paved roads, enough to circle the Earth more than 600 times. Over 90 percent of this fresh pavement will be laid in developing countries, which already face huge environmental pressure. In the Amazon region, for example, there are nearly 53,000 mining leases encompassing 21 percent of the basin’s landmass. In Guinea, a WorldBank-supported dam is reportedly threatening a key chimpanzee sanctuary. And in Tanzania, the government has approved a dam and hydroelectric plant in the Selous Game Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With human needs increasing as populations and incomes grow, there are legitimate reasons to build more infrastructure. But if current trends continue, short-term interests will strip away the natural assets on which all life depends. To plan for smart development, governments and businesses must recognise nature’s role in supporting economic activity and ensuring ecological and human health. After all, we do not – and cannot – live in a world where nature has no value. BD

SPRING 2019 BD |




Buenos Aires’

BALANCING ACT Argentina’s volatile financial market has long been an enigma to economists. As Buenos Aires cultivates a generation of entrepreneurs, Courtney Goldsmith looks at what is holding the city back from international success »


Boom and bust in BUENOS AIRES

century ago, Argentina was one of the world’s most prosperous economies. Today, about a third of the country’s population lives in poverty. As inflation rockets higher, living standards are worsening: over the decades since Argentina’s Belle Époque, periods of robust growth have been scattered among deep recessions, political upheaval and public unrest. Throughout the twists and turns of Argentina’s economic history, Buenos Aires has remained something of a bright spot for the country. In recent years, the city’s burgeoning design scene and its status as the birthplace of some of Latin America’s most vibrant tech start-ups have amplified that effect. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, four companies were founded in Buenos Aires that reached a valuation of over $1bn. Today, these companies remain four of just six tech unicorns in Latin America: they include e-commerce platform MercadoLibre; leading travel site Despegar; software development company Globant; and OLX, a marketplace platform for the region. With a fresh generation of entrepreneurs creating innovative start-ups, Buenos Aires could be on the cusp of a new golden area. But as Argentina grapples with yet another economic downturn, the city’s ambition of becoming a global tech hub hangs in the balance.

Economic roller coaster Argentina’s economy swelled following the election of President Mauricio Macri in 2015 as investors warmed to the first liberal government in decades. Macri had plans to open Argentina’s economy back up to the global market, and foreign investors showed their confidence in this mission by increasingly allocating capital to Argentina-based companies. More local funds began to emerge, too, according to Sebastián Aldasoro, Chief Marketing Officer at NXTP Labs, one of the region’s largest investors. Foreign direct investment in Argentina had dropped to just $5bn in 2014 from highs of $15.3bn in 2012, according to figures from the UN Conference on Trade and Development. However, between the end of 2015 and August 34

2018, a total of 674 companies had announced $115bn worth of investment across 925 projects, the Argentine Agency of Investment and International Trade’s figures show. The US and Spain were among those fuelling record international investment figures in Argentina, Jaime Pérez-Seoane de Zunzunegui, Oxford Business Group’s Managing Editor in the Americas, told Business Destinations. This much-needed progress was threatened in 2018, however, as one more economic boom went bust. The peso plunged against the dollar, losing about half its value over concerns that the government would not be able to rein in inflation while the country’s dollar-denominated debts soared. At the same time, the worst drought in 50 years caused Argentina’s key agricultural sector to contract by half. In June, the country was forced to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $50bn bailout package, and in September the IMF approved another $7.1bn, making it the biggest programme ever approved by the fund.

While the weaker peso has hindered Argentina’s progress in many ways, one positive side effect is the growing number of international tourists to the country


Boom and bust in BUENOS AIRES

Argentine President Mauricio Macri

This shock to the market scared off some of the foreign investors Buenos Aires needs for the continued development of its tech sector, but Aldasoro is confident they will return in the longer term: “Argentina is facing some complications, so [growth] has slowed a bit. But we are positive that the trend should change and interest [from foreign investors] should arise again.” Several underlying factors – such as marketfriendly policies and the country’s large internal market – remain promising. The IMF predicts Argentina’s economic growth will recover over the medium term under the steady implementation of reforms and returning confidence. Inflation is set to gradually decline in 2019, and in the first three months of the year, the IMF said the recession would bottom out. By the second quarter, Argentina should enter recovery mode. While the IMF loan proves Argentina is still far from achieving the stability that investors crave, de Zunzunegui said the country is now on the right path: “On the capital markets side, this was shown

by [Argentina’s upgrade to] emerging market status by MSCI back in the summer.” The country had dropped to frontier status in 2009, but it was promoted in 2018 after MSCI said international institutional investors “expressed their confidence in the country’s ability to maintain current equity market accessibility conditions”.

Artful recovery While the weaker peso has hindered Argentina’s progress in many ways, one positive side effect is the growing number of international tourists to the country. Of all the countries in South America, Argentina received the most international visitors in 2017, with 6.7 million tourists, up from 5.6 million in 2010, according to the UN’s World Tourism Organisation. This number was expected to reach seven million in 2018. In Buenos Aires, tourism has been particularly sustained – by February 2018, the city had seen 16 consecutive months of increased tourist numbers. Additionally, government statistics based on

flight bookings to Buenos Aires showed air travel reservations for the period of July to December 2018 increased by a quarter. One of the city’s major draws for international tourists is its emerging design scene. Between 2004 and 2012, the government said the city’s creative sector grew by over 89 percent in real terms. Today, Buenos Aires is dotted with highquality museums, galleries and design districts, and once a year it hosts Latin America’s biggest art festival, arteBA. Buenos Aires’ status as an international design destination has been a long time coming. The city became the first to ever earn UNESCO’s City of Design title in 2005, a designation that was created to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. In 2018, Buenos Aires became the first participant in the Art Basel Cities programme, an international project bringing together the art world and nascent art capitals. Through this multiyear » 35


Boom and bust in BUENOS AIRES

Right and below: ArteBA

programme, Art Basel will work to bridge the gap between the city’s local art community and the art world’s elite to amplify Buenos Aires’ position as a cultural destination of choice. Increasingly, tourism is accounting for a larger proportion of Argentina’s GDP. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the total contribution of travel and tourism to Argentina’s GDP in 2016 was $53bn, or 9.6 percent of total GDP. This was larger than the impact of the banking and mining sectors and five times the size of the automotive manufacturing industry’s contribution.

Trailblazing technolatinas Buenos Aires has distinguished itself as a city for design, but something else that sets it apart from other destinations is its booming tech start-up sector – the second biggest in the region behind Brazil’s São Paulo. The tech sector across Latin America is thriving with the rise of disruptive ‘technolatinas’, which the 2017 Tecnolatinas Radar Report defines as technology-based private companies created in the region. “Latin America is witnessing the emergence and growth of a new species of companies that is transforming our business landscape,” the report said. 36

Of the more than 5,000 technolatinas worth $38bn across Latin America, 82 percent of the value comes from Argentina and Brazil alone. An estimated 20 technolatinas, or 16 percent of the total, are located in Buenos Aires, including nine companies with an estimated valuation of more than $100m each. Over the past decade, the city has become more accommodating to start-ups. Under Macri, who was the mayor of Buenos Aires from 2007 to 2015 before becoming president, the city prioritised entrepreneurship and innovation. In 2008, in the hope of developing innovation, technology and knowledge in the city, Macri established an area of Buenos Aires called Distrito Tecnológico, or the Technological District, in Parque Patricios. Before its transformation into a technology hub, the area lacked vital transport links and commercial activity. Now, the district is home to the Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires, a prestigious engineering university, and more than 200 local and global businesses. Boosted by focused public investment efforts, such as commercial tax relief, a subway station and a bikesharing scheme, the neighbourhood exhibits a new life and vibrancy.

The government has also invested more than ARS 15m ($400,905) into accelerator projects such as the Aceleradora BA Emprende, which offers seed capital to start-ups. In 2018, the city launched a programme called IncuBAte, a government-funded accelerator that provides mentorship, equity-free funding and coworking spaces. These programmes create opportunities for Argentina’s entrepreneurs, who Aldasoro said have remained resilient despite structural issues. Incubator and accelerator services financed by the city government and through public-private investment schemes have supported more than 30,000 entrepreneurs since 2008, helping to generate a further 10,000 jobs.

Accelerating innovation Even amid ongoing political and economic issues, the talent pool in Buenos Aires has remained strong due to the city’s solid base of students. Estate agent Savills’ Tech Cities 2017 report said Buenos Aires’ talent pool was above average due to the city’s youthfulness, level of tech education and ability to attract talent. Buenos Aires is a “magnet for talent in [its] region”, the report said, and it “has the potential to become a major world player”. »


© Laura Macías

Where to eat




Guatemala 4699 | +54 11 4832 6058 www.parrilladonjulio.com Argentina is renowned for its steak. The country has the world’s second-highest consumption rate of beef and is the third-largest exporter of the meat. Those looking to taste local, grass-fed beef when visiting Buenos Aires should head to Don Julio: this Palermo classic is always packed with locals and travellers alike, all chowing down on steak or short ribs masterfully grilled by renowned chef Pepe Sotelo. With welcoming service and an excellent selection of wines from Argentina and further afield, this popular establishment manages to blend upscale dining with a down-toearth experience.

Murillo 725 | +54 11 4857 9095 www.ilatinabuenosaires.com I Latina promises to take customers on a culinary journey from Mexico to Patagonia with its Latin American cuisine. Led by Chef Santiago Macias, who moved from Colombia to Buenos Aires at the age of 17, the restaurant offers visitors a range of diverse flavours and fresh ingredients from Central and South America. Try the tasting menu, where each course is paired with a wine from a different region of Argentina. Since i Latina opened in 2008, it has accepted numerous awards and heaps of praise. In 2017, customers voted it the best restaurant in Argentina and second best in South America. Be sure to book ahead.

Cavia 2985 | +54 11 4809 8600 www.casacavia.com Located in one of Buenos Aires’ most exclusive neighbourhoods, Casa Cavia is the place to go for a chic, upscale meal. The restaurant is housed in a beautiful mansion that dates back to 1927 and doubles as a publishing house and florist. The restaurant recently opened under the management of Julieta Caruso, who was previously head chef at the celebrated Spanish restaurant Mugaritz. Enjoy the elegant food – fresh takes on local favourites – indoors or lounge in the stunning garden with a coffee or a cocktail. As it is the venue where Argentina’s first lady Juliana Awada hosted Michelle Obama, you know you can’t go wrong.

© The Family Coppola Hideaways

Where to stay




Avenida Alvear 1891 | + 54 11 4808 2100 www.alvearpalace.com Located in Recoleta, one of the most sophisticated neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires, Alvear Palace Hotel is surrounded by beautiful parks and tree-lined avenues. The building, which first opened in 1932, was constructed as a luxury hotel to accommodate the spike in the number of European tourists visiting the city, and it is safe to say the grand building is still fulfilling that purpose today. The hotel’s opulent interior is filled with plush furnishings and golden antiques. Treat yourself to an evening on the rooftop, complete with a pool, bar and stunning views over the city.

Gorriti 4746 | +54 11 4834 6166 www.thefamilycoppolahideaways.com/en/ jardin-escondido The cosy oasis that is Jardin Escondido is situated in the heart of the buzzing Palermo Soho neighbourhood. The area, which is filled with hip cafes, fashion boutiques and restaurants, all within walking distance of the hotel, is as vibrant and full of character as the Jardin Escondido itself. The Italianate building is a former home of American director Francis Ford Coppola, and each of the seven rooms is named after a different member of the family. Make sure to spend some time on the patio, which is brimming with greenery, and relax by the solar-heated pool and outdoor kitchen.

Avenida Alvear 1661 | +54 11 5171 1234 www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/argentina/palacio-duhau-park-hyatt-buenos-aires/bueph Palacio Duhau is one of the most luxurious hotels in Buenos Aires. The Neoclassical palace is dotted with crystal chandeliers and ornate details, offering an unmatched level of refinement. Enjoy the palace’s gorgeous gardens and lavish spa, or take a walk through its art collection. Take your pick from one of the hotel’s many restaurants and bars, which include everything from modern Italian delicacies with a view to intimate drinks in the discreet Oak Bar. Palacio Duhau has all of the charm of a local establishment, but as a Park Hyatt brand, guests can expect seamless, hassle-free service. 37


Boom and bust in BUENOS AIRES

Where to meet

Technolatinas IN NUMBERS


Across Latin America


of value comes from Argentina and Brazil



Value across Latin America

Martha Salotti 445 | +54 11 4010 9000 www.faena.com Faena ranks among the best hotels in Buenos Aires, but beyond its excellent accommodation offering, it is also one of the top spaces for oneof-a-kind meetings and events. From 20 guests to 900, the hotel offers numerous venues including its coveted ballroom, a stunning space of more than 3,500sq ft that connects to an open-air terrace. Other unique rooms include the velvetdrenched Library Lounge, which is lined with antique books, and Sala Molinos, a bright, open space with shining marble floors. Private dinners or wine tastings can be held in La Cava, a stylish room surrounded by a sample of Faena’s collection of 4,000 fine wines.


© Juan Hitters

Located in Buenos Aires

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL BUENOS AIRES 1086/88 Posadas | +54 11 4321 1200 www.fourseasons.com/buenosaires Situated in the exclusive Recoleta neighbourhood, the Four Seasons Buenos Aires is set in a stunning mansion built during Argentina’s Belle Époque period. With a total event space of 11,528sq ft, the hotel is perfect for meetings and events of any shape or size. Sophisticated, formal meetings can be held in one of the hotel’s many flexible function rooms. Otherwise, guests can go in a different direction with a fashionable pool party for up to 250 people. A team of Four Seasons meeting specialists and event planners will help make any event a success. 38

Government figures show that around 150,000 people in Buenos Aires work at entrepreneurial companies. However, starting a business in Argentina is still complicated. Despite the fact that Argentina has made reforms to its business registration process, it still ranked low on the World Bank’s latest Doing Business index, in 119th position out of 190 countries. Comparatively, Brazil took 109th place and Chile was 56th. As the OECD’s 2017 economic survey of Argentina explained: “Argentina has one of the highest barriers to market entry of new firms in Latin America. Regulatory procedures are complex and long, especially those related to obtaining licences and permits.” Business innovation in Argentina was also uneven and below regional peers such as Chile, but the OECD report said a “general weak performance” in terms of innovation “contrasts with remarkable success cases”. The report added: “For example, Argentina is a top world performer in the aerospace sector, being at the vanguard in the satellite industry and in drone development. The agriculture sector is also at the innovation frontier in terms of farming techniques and use of biotechnology… These examples are suggestive of high potential to become a top innovation performer.”

Yet spending on research and innovation was still relatively low, amounting to just 0.61 percent of GDP – about half of what Brazil spent and a fourth of the OECD’s average of 2.4 percent. This gap is something the government has acknowledged; it plans to increase spending to 1.5 percent of GDP. “The country has now realised the importance of working on knowledge-based services and wants to make use of the strong pool of talent it counts on with the [IT] sector,” de Zunzunegui said. “With all the talent in the country, I see a huge dynamic there.” Since he began covering Argentina, de Zunzunegui said he has realised the huge potential of the country’s talent pool. “Funding and opportunities for private ventures are coming with the liberal government, and the country just needs enough stability to keep the interest from investors outside.”

Momentum fuels maturity Between 2013 and 2017, international investment in Latin American start-ups more than doubled, with 25 new investors entering the region in 2017 alone, including SoftBank, Didi Chuxing and TPG’s global impact fund, the Rise Fund. Venture capital investments in Latin America reached an all-time high of $1.1bn in 2017 after having remained steady at around $500m in the


Boom and bust in BUENOS AIRES

previous five years. The boom in investment in 2017 was fuelled by later-stage deals, according to the report. In an article for TechCrunch, NXTP founder Gonzalo Costa wrote: “We’re currently going through the maturity phase of the internet technological revolution [in Latin America].” In Argentina, $71m was invested across 19 deals in 2017, compared with $23m across 26 deals the previous year. Foreign investors in the country include the Rise Fund in coding school Digital House and Tencent Holdings in satellite company Satellogic. Top investors George Soros and Steve Cohen have also jumped into Argentine investments with the Buenos-Aires-based mobile banking start-up Ualá. Even UNICEF got involved in 2018 by investing in software development firm Atix Labs through its Innovation Fund, which aims to finance early-stage and open-source technology that could benefit children.

Incubator and accelerator services financed by the city government and through publicprivate investment schemes have supported more than 30,000 entrepreneurs since 2008

The question remains, however, whether the country’s tech sector can continue to grow in the face of Argentina’s economic pressures and regulatory hurdles. For instance, while incubator programmes focus on the city’s smaller start-ups, the real challenge comes when a business attempts to make the leap to become a medium or largersized company. “Big tech companies there face the same problems as all the other big companies there, which are burdensome labour laws, burdensome taxes and labour taxes,” said Kevin Garrahan, a consultant at Deloitte who studied Argentina’s tech sector as part of a graduate programme at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. The Macri administration has made efforts to make it easier for entrepreneurs to register new businesses and create new channels of financing. For instance, the Entrepreneurship Law of 2017 sped up the approval process for financing procedures that, under an older law, took nearly a year to complete. Under the new law, founders can undertake all relevant procedures online. New avenues were also opened up for investors and venture capitalists through the creation of the Fiduciary Fund for the Development of Venture Capital, through which public funding can be allocated to co-invest with private funding.

However, it remains difficult for companies to grow past the start-up stage. Argentina’s labour market regulations are one hurdle: the OECD report said labour rules must strike a balance between protecting workers’ rights and avoiding excessive rigidities that can hamper the functioning of the labour market. “To not be able to grow past 50 or 100 employees in Buenos Aires seems like you’re prohibiting the impact that the industry could have on the economy as a whole,” Garrahan said. “Something like an incubate programme is a great start, but it’s not big enough.” Overall, Garrahan believes that while technology is not the biggest driver of the country’s economic success, it should not be ignored. “The impact of the tech sector on Argentina’s economy is currently limited, but there is greater potential there that is untapped at the moment because of some of these barriers.” Further growth of Buenos Aires’ tech sector will be vital for attracting international investors who are still wary of Argentina’s past economic performance. This is key, as the city is ripe for innovation with a robust pool of entrepreneurs and disruptive start-ups. Buenos Aires is already a regional success story, but officials must ensure that barriers to innovation and business creation are reformed if local companies are to make the leap onto the world stage. BD 39



DIARY Tattoo Show Buenos Aires LA RURAL March 8–10 For the 15th time, national and international tattoo artists will flock to Buenos Aires in March for one of the largest professional tattoo shows in the country. Over the course of three days, thousands of ink lovers will attend exhibitions and contests to learn more about the ancient art form.

CITA ABASTO HOTEL March 10–16 When in Rome, do as the Romans do – and when in Argentina, do the tango. Widely regarded as one of the most important tango events in the world, CITA, the International Argentine Tango Congress, brings the best dances together for milonga sessions as well as lectures, tutorials and professional workshops.

Lollapalooza Argentina HIPÓDROMO DE SAN ISIDRO March 29–31 This American music festival originated in Chicago in 2003, but has since spread around the world. In 2014, Lollapalooza held its first festival in Argentina, and it was a roaring success. This year, the annual event will feature artists including Arctic Monkeys, Kendrick Lamar and Lenny Kravitz.

Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema VARIOUS LOCATIONS April 3–24 Buenos Aires’ annual film festival celebrates the filmmakers from across Latin America who are creating innovative, avant-garde feature films or shorts. The internationally recognised festival offers premiers, screenings, talks and presentations throughout the city.

ArteBA VARIOUS LOCATIONS April 11–14 The 28th annual Buenos Aires art fair, arteBA, will take place in the city this April, bringing together around 100,000 people to celebrate local artists. The four-day festival – arguably the most important contemporary art fair in Latin America – exhibited the works of more than 500 artists in 2018.

Buenos Aires International Book Fair LA RURAL April 25–May 13 More than a million readers from all over Latin America will gather in Buenos Aires for the top annual literary event in the Spanish-speaking world. The event will include more than 1,000 literary events, featuring activities targeted at professional audiences such as teachers, librarians and translators.

Boca Juniors LA BOMBONERA March–May Argentina is one of the best footballing nations in the world, and watching the Buenos Aires’ Boca Juniors play in La Bombonera is an unbeatable experience. The team will play the group stages of the 2019 Copa Libertadores, South America’s premier club football tournament, throughout March, April and May.

Feria de Mataderos DE LA TORRE Sundays, March–December The Mataderos fair brings traditional Argentine food, crafts and gauchos (the cowboys of Argentina) from the countryside into the city. Every weekend around 15,000 people flock to the market to visit up to 700 stands selling gaucho crafts and leather goods, and to watch dance and horse-riding performances.



GERMANY’S BEST TRADE FAIR PERSPECTIVES Munich—both an international business metropolis and a city with a unique quality of life. Which makes it the perfect location for one of the world’s leading trade-fair corporations: Welcome to Messe München International.


140805 MMI-WELCOME-215x275-BusinessDestinations_E.indd 1

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Tour de Girona Offering varied terrain and an ideal climate all year round, Girona is a cyclist’s dream. As further services emerge to cater to cycling tourists specifically, more people are riding through this Catalonian gem, writes Elizabeth Matsangou Cycling tourism has been on the rise for some time now. In fact, back in 2014, World Travel Market’s Global Trends Report revealed that golfing tourism had been overtaken by its much speedier cousin. This once-niche type of vacation has well and truly entered the mainstream, with more novices getting in gear each year. The trend corresponds with a much broader social change, which sees individuals paying far greater attention to their health and fitness. The fact that cycling is approachable for even the most sport-averse traveller adds to its appeal. “It’s quite easy to start out – you don’t have to be in great shape,” said Christian Meier, a retired professional cyclist. “The other 42 | BD SPRING 2019

big part is that it’s quite social from day one… and it’s got a nice lifestyle component. Riding in a group, stopping in cafes and then continuing to ride – it’s quite a beautiful sport.” For some time, Majorca has been one of the most popular destinations for cycling holidays worldwide. But now there’s another contender in the race to be Europe’s best cycling destination: Girona. A small, picturesque city in Spain’s NorthEastern Catalonia region, Girona draws in cycling tourists from around the globe. With a unique combination of flat terrain, gentle slopes and challenging climbs, together with an enviable climate all year round, some say that Girona is the perfect

place to cycle. So perfect, in fact, that it is home to a disproportionately high number of professional and retired cyclists.

Usurping the competition With its luxury beach-fronted hotels and wide array of all-inclusive packages, Majorca has been a tourist hotspot for decades and a well-known cycling destination for a number of years. Arguably, Majorca has been a victim of its own success: droves of beach-loving holidaymakers descend on the island each year, leading some cyclists to search for a change of scenery. But where Majorca falls short, Girona excels. Home to fewer than 100,000 people, the city is relatively small and is located some 40km from the Costa Brava and around 100km from Barcelona, saving it from the annual influx of sun-seeking tourists. With a history dating back to medieval times and a repertoire of imposing fortresses, winding alleyways and cobblestone streets, Girona operates at a differ-



Cycling Tourism

The widening demographic of cycling holidays is thanks, in large part, to e-bikes, which have played an important role in making the sport more accessible

“We also have generally quiet roads and very courteous drivers,” said Meier, who has been living in Girona for around 10 years. Comerford agreed: “Traffic levels in the Girona region are low and when vehicles do encounter cyclists, the drivers are respectful of their place on the road and pass wide and slow – this is a crucial piece of the puzzle, which makes Girona a cycling gem of the world.” With a local airport that offers seasonal flights within the region, and Barcelona but a 30-minute drive away, accessing the city is also a breeze. “It really [is] just a perfect storm of everything we need to be comfortable and train well,” said Meier.

Peddling tourism

ent pace of life to Majorca. Known for its friendly local community and family-run hotels, Girona offers a far more personal touch, too. Lee Comerford, co-founder of Eat Sleep Cycle, a cycling tour company based in the city, said: “Food is also a central part of the Girona cycling experience, with Michelin star restaurants (such as the world-famous El Celler de Can Roca), country restaurants and great options all over the city centre.” Perhaps most importantly, the city’s cycling routes are superior to its island rival’s. “Both destinations offer great cycling with smooth roads, iconic climbs and understanding traffic, but for me, Girona has the edge in terms of variety and quantity of routes – even without factoring in the huge network of gravel roads and mountain bike trails,” said Comerford. “The Pyrenees are to the north of the city and the Costa Brava is to the south, offering cyclists flat, rolling and mountainous rides.”

Though Girona has long been a popular tourist destination, as indicated by its high-end restaurant scene, its cycling component is a growing focus for residents. “The local Catalan community is welcoming to cyclists, embracing both cycling tourism, professional cyclists and expats who are relocating to Girona to enjoy a better quality of life,” Comerford told Business Destinations. Tourist infrastructure in Girona, as such, is increasingly tailored towards cyclists. Many hotels and rental apartments now have bike-hanging facilities, while the city is also adding more cycling paths to its already-brimming selection. As well as a rising number of cafes, shops offering cycling equipment and services are also emerging. For instance, along with his wife Amber, Meier runs the Service Course, a shop that offers tourists anything they could possibly need to cycle in Girona. Since starting in early 2017, Meier’s business has already expanded to include La Fabrica and Espresso Mafia, two upmarket coffee shops in the area. Comerford’s Eat Sleep Cycle, meanwhile, also offers bicycle hire, as well as a growing range of tours in the area and beyond. In line with this expanding cohort of cycling tours and services, the area receives a more varied mix of tourists with each passing year. “Our Girona guests are from all over the world and tend to be aged 30 upwards,” said Comerford. “We have a great balance of men and women renting bikes, and are doing everything we can to get ourselves to a 50-50 split of male and female guests.” To do so, the com-

pany provides women-only camps and carries a range of smaller bikes. And in a bid to welcome younger cyclists, Eat Sleep Cycle will offer more family-orientated trips this year, too. The widening demographic of cycling holidays is thanks, in large part, to e-bikes, which have played an important role in making the sport more accessible. With an electric motor and battery taking a lot of the hard work out of cycling – particularly on challenging climbs – e-bikes offer pressure-free riding. This means older people, as well as those new to cycling, can enjoy the sport and even ride alongside seasoned cyclists. Mixed-ability groups, as made possible by e-bikes, have significant market potential. “Companies like us have seen [a] huge increase in tour sales when they introduced e-bikes as an option,” said Comerford. “E-bikes are great fun and ultimately help to bring people together and enjoy shared cycling experiences… The improvement in e-bike technology also makes a cycling holiday a viable option for people that wouldn’t otherwise have thought about it.”

Business by bike Interestingly, the social aspect of cycling is also becoming a big draw for business travellers. “It’s a networking junket for them; they invite their clients from all different industries and backgrounds and they bring them down and do three days of riding. They meet people and connect – it’s quite a big thing now,” Meier told Business Destinations. The Service Course receives more and more business travellers each year. Among his clients is software giant Adobe, for which Meier organises two or three trips a year in Girona. This type of visitor underpins the direction in which Girona’s cycling holiday industry is headed. Given the city’s relatively small size, rather than expansion, market development will focus on the quality of services offered. Meier explained: “We’re not really fighting for those rock-bottom prices. I think that’s what also differentiates us a little from Majorca.” Considering the quality of its restaurants, cycling tours and paths, as well as other supporting infrastructure, Girona is swiftly accelerating to become a high-end cycling destination like no other. BD

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Executive Car Hire

Limo Plus has made significant strides to become a chauffeur business renowned for its professional and reliable services around the world, from Hong Kong to the US to Australia. With a fleet of luxury cars and an experienced and dedicated operations team in London, we deliver a highly personalised and private service. Clients can expect comfort and class away from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets in our fleet of premier vehicles, which include Mercedes-Benz, Range Rover and Bentley models, as well as our luxurious minibuses and coaches for large parties.

THE ROAD TO SUCCESS With business and private travellers busier than ever, a reliable and personalised luxury chauffeur service can be the difference between a successful business trip and one that falls short, writes David Ramos, Managing Director of Limo Plus In the world of travel, time is precious. Unfortunately, many business travellers find themselves watching the clock tick by as they wait for unreliable and unprofessional chauffeurs to ferry them between airports or corporate events. From late arrivals to dirty vehicles, chauffeur services often fall short on delivering a reliable, personalised and stress-free service. These companies were able to survive for years because they were the only option available. In 1997, David Ramos saw a gap in the industry for a company that put reliability first and so he created Limo Plus. By offering a personalised, reliable service, the company very quickly distinguished itself from the crowd by exceeding its clients’ expectations. London-headquartered Limo Plus recognises that time is valuable for its clients and meeting each and every request with unparalleled service and reliability is what has brought the company its success. Limo Plus has fielded a range of unusual requests from clients. These have included driving a pet eagle from one country estate to another and even lending a client a pair of trousers so they could get into an exclusive private members’ club. 44

Driving business Since it was established in 1997, Limo Plus has made significant strides to become a chauffeur business renowned for its professional and reliable services. We built the company from the ground up, starting with just one vehicle and a handful of high-net-worth clients. Hotelier Ken McCulloch, of the Malmaison and Dakota Hotels chains, was the company’s first client. Like many of the clients we secured early on, he remains a Limo Plus user today. McCulloch has seen Limo Plus go from strength to strength, and he even gave us guidance and support during difficult times. From that first client, Limo Plus has flourished, transforming into a company with chauffeurs in 115 cities

Making it personal The success of Limo Plus has largely come from our unshakable focus on delivering a high-quality, personalised service. Our operations team, which includes project managers and event coordinators, is highly experienced in handling unplanned eventualities. This helps us provide clients with a confident and reliable service designed around the needs of the individual passenger and their business. Each chauffeur goes through a multistage cross-referencing process before they join the company. Our drivers are the most skilled and experienced in the industry, and have transported some of the most influential and important people in the world. A rigorous interview process ensures that every driver will meet the demands and service levels required. We also use a state-of-the-art IT system and track every commercial and private flight by global radar to guarantee each trip is smooth and seamless. By providing a straightforward service to commercial and private jet airport transfers, financial roadshows, special events and corporate dinners, we ensure that business travellers have one less thing to consider when they’re on the move. Looking to the future, we aim to introduce jet and yacht charters to Limo Plus’ services. Having provided this in the past as a one-off for certain clients, we hope to make this part of our regular chauffeur service to continue developing our business into one that can meet the needs of any corporate traveller. BD FURTHER INFORMATION:


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The Abbey and Central Hotels

Ireland’s coolest town County Donegal in Ireland has long been overshadowed by larger regions like Dublin and Cork, but travellers are now discovering it as one of the country’s best-kept secrets, writes Elaine McInaw, Sales and Marketing Manager at the Abbey and Central Hotels, Donegal Town Tucked in the mouth of Donegal Bay in the north-western corner of Ireland is the charming harbour town of Donegal. County Donegal is home to the best of Ireland’s natural beauty, with its sprawling wilderness and rugged coastline, including the renowned Wild Atlantic Way coastal route along the west side of the country. Throughout the county, travellers will find serene beaches, dramatic views and remains of centuries past, including those of the 15th-century Donegal Abbey and Donegal Castle on the banks of the River Eske. But the former market town also has a lively, friendly buzz; you can often catch locals sharing their stories in the pub. Despite its many charms, tourists have long overlooked this remote slice of Ireland, but it is safe to say the secret of County Donegal is now out. In fact, National Geographic named Donegal the coolest place to visit on the planet in 2017.

Coastal views Donegal Town is the perfect place from which to explore the coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way, which crosses nine counties from the top of Donegal to the bottom of Cork. While the full route stretches 46

2,500km, Donegal alone is home to 26 discovery points and three iconic visitor attractions along 1,134km of coast, including some of the most remote areas in the country. Adventure enthusiasts should not miss the towering granite walls of the Sliabh Liag (Slieve League) – one of the highest sea cliff edges in Europe – or the famous Killybegs fishing port, which is among the most prolific in Ireland. Take some time to explore the Gaeltacht area of Kilcar, a traditional Irish town and the country’s largest Gaelic-speaking location. The Abbey and Central Hotels in Donegal Town make great bases for experiencing all the area has to offer. Both hotels enjoy panoramic views overlooking Donegal Bay, where visitors can hop on the water bus to discover the area, including the Bluestack Mountains and a seal colony that lives on nearby Seal Island. Travellers can also hear all about the Great Famine and the families who departed the country for pastures new. The town centre is home to a variety of beautiful signature goods, including hand-woven Donegal tweed from Irish House and Magee of Donegal. A visit to the iconic Hanna Hats factory is essential.

Both the Abbey and Central Hotels offer lively bars with nightly entertainment, ranging from traditional Irish folk music to modern country tunes

Guaranteed good craic As expected from a coastal town, locally sourced seafood is a speciality, and the town’s hotels will spoil visitors with culinary options. The Market House Restaurant at the Abbey Hotel is famous for its fresh fish and ‘steak on the stone’ – an 8oz Irish prime fillet steak served with a trio of sauces and a side order of twicecooked homemade chips and onion rings. Chapman’s Restaurant at the Central Hotel is also a must-visit; its afternoon tea is served overlooking the main square in Donegal Town, the Diamond. Both the Abbey and Central Hotels offer lively bars with nightly entertainment, ranging from traditional Irish folk music to modern country tunes, which draw crowds from far and wide. These and other bars and pubs in the Diamond offer a lively atmosphere and guaranteed good craic. At the end of a day of sightseeing, take a stroll around the Bank Walk, a flat trail along the west bank of the River Eske and Donegal Bay, or enjoy a hot Irish whiskey and a massage in Central Hotel’s Sabai Treatment Room. Whether you end the day in the bar or the leisure centre, your stay in Donegal is sure to be packed with adventure and comfort. BD FURTHER INFORMATION:


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Landscape Hotels

PA RT O F T H E S C E N E RY Elizabeth Matsangou explores six hotels that don’t interrupt the landscape but integrate with it, allowing guests to enjoy the tranquillity of nature’s architecture Sometimes, it’s better to stand out for blending in. This less-is-more approach is the name of the game for ‘landscape hotels’, the term for accommodation that is harmoniously integrated with its surroundings. Such hotels highlight the natural beauty of the area in which they are situated, allowing guests to revel in the wonders around them. They offer a fresh perspective on how structures can fit into their environments, using natural materials and sustainable building methods to adapt to the landscape, rather than disrupt it.

With a more eco-friendly approach in mind, landscape hotels are often minimal and organic in terms of their interior design, too. They are usually located in remote places – areas in which nature is free to reign uninhibited. Such hotels give guests the rare opportunity to really immerse themselves in their surroundings. Here, we list six of the most unique and aweinspiring hotels that weren’t built to stand out from the crowd, but rather to let nature do the talking.

The Mirrorcube, Harads, Sweden When it comes to blending in with the background, the Mirrorcube is unlike any other hotel in this series. The double suite – one of seven unique offerings by Swedish trendsetter Treehotel – is set inside a hanging aluminium cube cloaked in reflective glass. Measuring four metres cubed, the Mirrorcube offers a marvellous treetop hideout, camouf laged by its mirrored exterior and integrating perfectly into the surrounding forest. The interior is a masterclass in minimalism: the clean design, featuring birch wood throughout, will leave guests with a feeling of serenity that can only be achieved when one is surrounded by nature. With a double bed, toilet, lounge and rooftop terrace, the Mirrorcube offers low-key luxury; showers and a sauna are located in separate buildings, but a short walk away. Advertised as “the landscape hotel where nature and imagination run wild”, the Treehotel, which also offers the whimsical bird’s nest tree house (a suite camouflaged by a giant bird’s nest), gives guests a rare opportunity to disappear into Sweden’s spectacular woodlands. 48

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Landscape Hotels

Icehotel, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden When listing hotels built into their natural environment, it would be remiss not to mention perhaps the most famous: Sweden’s Icehotel. The first hotel to ever be made entirely from ice and snow, since 1989, the Icehotel has been rebuilt and reborn with a new design each year. To achieve this stunning feat, around 40 artists from across the globe are invited to create new art and structures from the snow and ice, which then come together in each unique instalment of the Icehotel. Only existing for a few months of the year, it’s a bittersweet exhibition. Set in the tiny, charming village of Jukkasjärvi, some 200km north of the Arctic Circle, the Icehotel offers guests a magical escape into its dream-like surroundings. Visitors have the choice of staying in a cold or warm room – the former boasts a distinct aesthetic appeal, while the latter appeals to guests who want to explore the nearby wilderness during the day. A mixture of the two over the course of a stay is recommended. The Icehotel is a magnificent exercise in creativity and ingenuity that offers guests a rare glimpse into the wonders of nature in this winter wonderland. © Sextantio

Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, Matera, Italy

© Asaf Kliger

Located in the Sassi di Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy’s southern region of Basilicata, Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita offers a unique insight into the area’s fascinating history. Matera is world-famous thanks to its ancient cave dwellings, known as sassi, in which people have been living for some 9,000 years. It is believed the sassi are the oldest continuously inhabited caves in the world. While many citizens were forced to leave in the 1950s, being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 gave the area a new lease of life, with boutique hotels and restaurants emerging as a result. Of particular note is the Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, which has converted ancient stone dwellings into 18 boutique bedrooms, all simply furnished and illuminated by candlelight. Each room has been conserved carefully, boasting both their original shape and materials. The hotel’s clever use of its cavernous walls and minimalist design hark back to the simplicity of ancient times. At this achingly romantic hotel, guests are transported back in time and confronted by nature’s permanence. »

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Landscape Hotels

InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland, Shanghai, China Scoring top marks for creativity is the recently unveiled InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland, a mammoth hotel set within a former quarry in China’s financial hub. Taking an incredible 10 years to construct, the enormous structure features a balcony for each of its 336 rooms, enabling guests to take in spectacular views of the surrounding cliffs and the waterfall that cascades from the top of the quarry to a pool at the bottom. At 18 storeys high, this architectural masterpiece with its waveform design has just two floors above ground level, with the rest below and two that are underwater. These underwater levels include public areas, guest rooms, sport facilities, an aquarium and conference facilities for up to 1,000 people. The hotel’s unconventional design makes ingenious use of an otherwise disused space. Upon its opening in November 2018, UNESCO representative Michael Croft described the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland as a template for sustainable development “that has been inspired by a vision of a better future, and a present that looks to its past for answers”.

Amangiri, Utah, US While landscape hotels such as the Mirrorcube choose to assimilate with the landscape on a small scale, the Amangiri takes a very different approach. Situated in a 600-acre plot in Canyon Point, Southern Utah, this expansive hotel manages to cleverly integrate itself into one of North America’s most dramatic desert landscapes, despite its size. Framed by dunes and mountain ridges, the hotel keeps in tune with the area’s raw aesthetic throughout. Its striking design and use of clean lines and natural materials invites the surrounding desert inside. In addition to being spacious, every suite at the Amangiri features an outdoor lounge area with a fireplace, offering stunning views of thousands of miles of untouched scenery. Its four-bedroom offering, the Mesa Home, provides even greater seclusion and was designed to complement the untamed splendour of the Grand Circle region. For guests keen to explore the stunning local scenery, the hotel has easy access to the many nearby national parks and Lake Powell. It also neighbours the biggest Native American reservation in the US, the sprawling Navajo. Offering options for hiking and climbing, the Amangiri ensures every guest can take advantage of being on nature’s doorstep. 50

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Aris Caves, Santorini, Greece When it comes to intermeshing with the landscape, the iconic image of the whitewashed houses of Santorini, peppered with sea-blue rooftops and vivid-pink bougainvillea, is renowned and beloved the world over. Instead of jutting out or digging in, buildings on the island follow the rippling pattern of the mountainside, organic in their placement and deeply evocative as a result. Santorini’s ethos of integrating with the landscape is evident throughout the island, so it’s unsurprising that cave hotels have become particularly popular among tourists. One fine example is Aris Caves, a luxury hotel that offers eight exquisite suites – each unique and carefully crafted from the natural curves of the cliffside into which they are built. Rooms at Aris Caves are decorated simply with arching doorways and accents of soft blue, meaning they are perfectly in keeping with the traditional style of the island. Featuring views of Santorini’s famous caldera and volcano, together with the awesome sight of the Aegean Sea, the panorama is nothing short of magical. BD

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Surfin’ USA The decision to use artificial wave machines on the professional surfing circuit has divided opinion. While controversial, this technology could give the niche sport greater mainstream appeal, writes Barclay Ballard


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In September 2018, the world’s foremost surfers came together to see who could perform the best ‘alley-oops’, ‘rodeo flips’ and ‘tube rides’ at the Surf Ranch Pro event in California. So far, so ordinary: the West Coast has long been considered one of the world’s prime locations for waves and, as such, is a hotbed for surfing culture. Interestingly, however, the competition took place more than 100 miles from the Pacific Ocean, in the landlocked city of Lemoore. In order to stage a professional surf event surrounded by farmland, Kelly Slater, an 11-time World Surf League men’s champion, created an artif icial wave machine capable of producing competition-standard waves with unerring regularity. Apparently, there is no longer any need to submit to the whims of the ocean.

But the predictability of Slater’s new machine has divided opinion. Some believe the ability to produce uniform waves at the press of a button detracts from the sport, whereas proponents claim naysayers are swimming against the tide of progress. One thing is hard to argue with: as more artificial wave machines are developed, the niche sport will be capable of reaching a far wider audience.

Hardly a shore thing The debate surrounding the use of artificial waves at the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch is not purely a philosophical one between purists and modernisers: there are practical implications for surfers to consider as well. In conventional competitions, choosing a wave is almost as important as what the surfer does with it. With a wave machine, however, uniformity can more





or less be guaranteed. The World Surf League has claimed that subtle differences ensure every artificial wave is unique, but these variations do not replicate the unpredictability of natural waves – nor do they intend to. While this can make for a fairer competition, Arran Strong, a professional surfer from the UK, told Business Destinations that it also takes something away from the sport. “It’s a different experience as there are not so many variables that need to be controlled at the same time, so it reduces the level of thought going into each wave,” Strong said. “You can more or less predict what the wave will do. Each surfer may set up with a different strategy but, in terms of a playing field, it’s overall a pretty fair one for all the competitors. There will always be a wave and they are all basically the same.”



Creating such uniformity is no easy feat – it’s something Slater and his team have been working on for some time. In fact, Adam Fincham, the lead engineer at the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch, first heard about Slater’s proposal for an artificial wave machine in 2006. For a number of years, the pair worked on trying to build a circular wave pool before technical challenges proved too much. Eventually, Fincham and Slater settled on a linear wave pool and, in 2014, purchased 20 acres of land in Lemoore with the intention of turning their idea into reality. The following year, the wave pool was switched on for the first time. Since then, the Kelly Slater Wave Company (including the ranch) has been purchased by WSL Holdings, the World Surf League’s parent company. It was this acquisition that paved the way for artificial waves to

be used on the professional circuit for the first time in September 2018. Even after the purchase was completed, there was plenty of work to do before the ranch could be deemed competitionready. Creating any wave in a 700-yardlong freshwater lagoon is difficult enough; creating waves reliably and to different specifications takes years of technical tweaking. It also requires a lot of water. The method employed at the Surf Ranch uses hydrofoils to generate the waves – put simply, a metal blade is dragged through the water by cables. The bottom of the pool is equally important: scientists employed supercomputers to run weeks of simulations in order to precisely contour the shape needed to deliver high-quality waves. Given the technical sophistication required, everything is monitored »

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constantly to find areas for improvement. Reducing waste is a key focus for Fincham: if he can produce a wave with less spray, the water lost to evaporation can be reduced significantly. Currently, when temperatures are high, the lagoon can lose as much as 250,000 gallons of water in a single day.

Getting everyone on board While the Surf Ranch may have proven itself worthy of a place on the professional circuit, its detractors remain. Removing the uncontrollable properties of natural waves may make things fairer, but it comes at a cost. “There’s no doubt that it takes away from the whole idea of being in the ocean, searching for the right wave and being there at exactly the right time and place,” Strong said. “Surfing is a unique sport that can’t be replicated. I don’t think the 54

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Surf Ranch should be a stop on the tour. It is too artificial in comparison to the rest of the events.” It is quite possible that more artificial wave machines will join the ranch on the professional circuit in the future. After all, it’s far from the only venue offering man-made surfing thrills: wave pools have been around for decades and recent technological developments have greatly improved the product on offer. As a result, more venues are popping up all the time. “Hopefully [Slater’s] wave pool will be the only one used on the professional tour, but it already feels like it is getting more and more popular by the minute,” Strong said. “Investors will want to put money into these types of events, which will spoil the true spirit of surfing.” The commercial opportunities presented by artificial wave machines are certainly not going unnoticed. Although

The Kelly Slater Surf Ranch





Slater’s ranch isn’t open to the public, it still hopes to monetise its technology. Outside of professional competition, WSL Holdings harbours aspirations to build holiday parks that offer hotels, shops and attractions, as well as on-demand waves. While WSL Holdings appears unwilling to divulge how much it costs to run the Surf Ranch, its profitability has already been questioned. According to Tom Lochtefeld, the founder of wave technology firm Wave Loch, the ranch would need to produce a wave every 10 seconds to make money. Similar venues that have opened their doors to the public claim they can produce waves every four seconds. Given the Surf Ranch is only being used for professional events, though, its wave production is likely to be much slower. The Surf Ranch remains a work in progress. Given time, it’s plausible that costs will fall; even if they don’t, the World Surf




League may be happy to take a shortterm loss in exchange for the long-term growth of the sport. A 2017 study conducted by academics at the University of Oxford found that good waves are worth as much as $50bn annually. If artificial waves allow inland towns and cities to tap into this market, then the surfing world as a whole stands to benefit.

Open ocean At present, only a small proportion of people can realistically get involved in surfing. Not only must they live near the sea, but the coastline must also experience the right wind speeds, have a predictable seabed and clean water. Even then, surffriendly conditions may not be present throughout the year. With this in mind, Strong conceded that artificial waves will encourage more people to take up the sport: “The devel-

opment of artificial waves is happening gradually, but already people are starting [to surf] in artificial pools before the ocean, which is sad. But it is part of the sport’s evolution and it will give an opportunity to kids who don’t live close to the sea to experience a new sport.” Many of the world’s best surfers currently hail from Australia, the US (particularly Hawaii) and Brazil, where optimum conditions can be found for long periods throughout the year. Artificial wave machines would broaden the field, opening the sport to new audiences. And while some professional surfers have criticised their experiences at the Surf Ranch, others have been more positive. “It’s all new,” said Sage Erickson, an American surfer who finished eighth in the World Surf League’s 2017 Women’s Championship Tour rankings. “I never thought I’d love it this much.”

Surfing will also make its Olympic debut in Tokyo next year, with organisers insisting that events will take place in the ocean. If the sport becomes a permanent fixture at the Games, however, artificial wave machines are likely to become a part of any host city’s winning bid – especially if they are based in a country without access to high-quality natural waves. It’s unlikely artificial wave machines will ever replace the thrill of being in the ocean and waiting patiently for the perfect wave. In December 2018, British surfer Tom Butler rode a swell estimated to be more than 100ft tall in Nazaré, Portugal, potentially breaking the world record for the highest wave ever surfed. Looking at the breathtaking footage of Butler’s ride, it’s easy to see why many surfers prefer real waves to artificial ones. But in the world of professional surfing, it looks as if there will be room for both. BD

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Genealogy Tours

Home away from home

Following an explosion in the popularity of home DNA testing kits, corporate brands are finding new ways to capitalise on our search for identity, writes Courtney Goldsmith In a 2015 advertisement for leading genealogy company Ancestry, Kyle Merker described how he had grown up proud of his German heritage. For 50 years, he had eaten schnitzel and dressed in lederhosen, believing his ancestors to have immigrated to the US from Germany. But after taking a DNA test, he discovered that the majority of his lineage actually led back to Scotland and Ireland. “So I traded in my lederhosen for a kilt,” Merker concluded. The search for identity in one’s roots is nothing new, but this modern fascination with ancestry research began in 1977 with the TV adaptation of Alex Haley’s novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family, in which a family is followed through the generations, from abduction in Africa to enslavement and liberation in the US. As a 2010 study by Rafał Prinke in the Journal of the Polish Genealogical Society of America put it: “[A] genuine explosion of interest in genealogy as a hobby ensued.” In the age of direct-to-consumer DNA testing kits, ancestry tracking is having something of a renaissance, especially among Americans. The convergence of accessible DNA tests, an enduring interest in heritage research and the increasing desire for more meaningful travel experiences is set to take the genealogy tourism market to new heights. 56

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Unlocking the genome In the decade to 2014, interest in online family history research grew 14-fold, according to a study commissioned by Ancestry. It was not until around 2014 itself, however, that direct-to-consumer DNA testing really kicked off – due, in large, to the drop in the cost of sequencing individuals’ genomes. Thanks to the arrival of 23andMe, AncestryDNA, the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project and many other personal genomics companies, those curious about their family’s origins no longer have to go digging through old photographs or records. A simple cheek swab can now reveal detailed information about one’s genetic makeup. Consequently, interest in DNA testing kits is thriving: the number of people to have had their DNA analysed with direct-toconsumer genealogy tests passed 12 million in 2017. That year, more individuals had their DNA analysed than in all previous years combined. According to Dallen Timothy, a professor at Arizona State University and editor of the Journal of Heritage Tourism, this trend is likely broadening the genealogy tourism market by attracting younger generations: “[Home DNA tests are] much more approachable to the younger generation than sitting in front of a com-

puter screen or [microfilm reader] trying to do family history.” While data has not yet been collected to prove Timothy’s suspicions, he said: “I have a sense that it is starting to stimulate growth among young people to visit the homes of their ancestors.”

Testing the water A significant proportion of heritage tourism occurs organically, but some countries have attempted to reel their respective diasporas back to the homeland through promotional campaigns. Scotland, Ireland and Wales are currently regarded as the standard-bearers for this trend. Scotland, for example, declared 2009 as the ‘year of homecoming’, rolling out a series of events that, according to VisitScotland, attracted an estimated 70,000 additional visitors to the country. Further research conducted by the tourism board in 2015 and 2016 revealed that 23 percent of long-haul visitors were travelling to Scotland to explore their ancestry. Similarly, Ireland attempted to target the 33 million US citizens who identify as Irish by dubbing 2013 ‘family history year’. Over the past few years in particular, the number of American tourists visiting the country has boomed, rising by 15 percent in 2016 and nearly 17 percent in 2017.


Genealogy Tours

With a growing number of people having their DNA analysed, there are more opportunities than ever for corporations to tap into the genealogy tourism market

number of local companies, including My Ireland Tour and Irish Emigrant Trails, offer bespoke trips for genealogy tourists. Although these countries’ efforts have only been moderately successful, Timothy believes a lot of other nations still look to them as a model of how to attract heritage tourists. Tourism boards from India to Poland are now jumping on the trend. West African nations, such as Ghana and Senegal, have also worked hard to bring the African diaspora back to the continent.

Tailored tours In the past, travellers who were interested in shedding light on their heritage had to create their own makeshift tours with the help of local genealogists. These professionals would act as guides, preparing documents or helping individuals to make contact with distant relatives. With a growing number of people having their DNA analysed, however, there are more opportunities than ever for corporations to tap into the genealogy tourism market. Ancestry, for instance, has partnered with Go Ahead Tours to launch guided trips to Ireland, Scotland, Italy and Germany. Alongside accommodation, food and sightseeing trips, tour packages include an AncestryDNA kit, access to an Ancestry genealogist guide for the duration of the excursion and a pre-trip family




history review. The tours range between 10 and 12 days, costing upwards of $3,500 per person excluding airfare. In 2018, Ancestry took its travel offering a step further with a cruise from the UK to New York’s Ellis Island on the RMS Queen Mary 2. Together with cruise line Cunard, Ancestry promises customers the chance to walk – or sail, as it so happens – in their ancestors’ footsteps on a sevennight transatlantic trek. The journey also includes expert advice from four on-board Ancestry genealogists. Likewise, US-based travel company Travel Services Unlimited launched DNA Journeys in 2015. This service provides customers with a DNA testing kit and a personalised itinerary specific to their heritage, budget and desired length of travel. Timothy predicts that more crossovers between travel companies and genetics firms will crop up in the future.

Shaping a narrative As with anything, tourism trends evolve over time; currently, ‘authenticity’ and ‘experience’ are the industry’s go-to buzzwords. As Prinke wrote: “At one time, tourism was simply tourism.” But to travel today means to search for one’s place in a larger historical context. The advent of genealogical tourism “gives a convincing (even obvious) answer to treating tourism as a search for authentic self-identity”, Prinke explained. Almost every country has a diaspora – whether large or small – but genealogy tourists typically come from former colonial societies. Americans, Canadians, Australians and others that fall into this category share a subliminal pull towards

their ancestral homes. Timothy said: “I don’t think it’s a conscious thing, but I think it has something to do with a deep sense of rootlessness.” A 2009 examination of genealogical tourism by Carla Almeida Santos and Grace Yan, published in the Journal of Travel Research, described this type of travel as a “reflexive response to a sense of loss that underpins modern society, assisting in reaffirming both a generational sense of the self and self-recognition that one has one’s own perspective on the world”. The umbrella term ‘heritage tourism’ contains a variety of subcategories – roots tourism, return travel and DNA tourism, to name a few – but they all meet at a common point, which Timothy described as “people travelling to discover who they are; to discover their rootedness in place”. The importance of searching for identity should not be underestimated. Santos and Yan believe the idea of self-identity plays into a larger sense of familial legacy: “Much like a nation needs its national cultural identity recognised to unite its citizens, a family needs its identity and emotional bonding. For those interviewed, their genealogical tourism experiences meant the ability to assert their family’s identity and, in the process, build a stronger emotional connection with their family while contributing to its legacy.” As Merker showed in his testimonial for Ancestry, our sense of self-identity can have a profound impact on our lives. Swapping lederhosen for a kilt may seem like a simple change in clothing, but rewriting the narrative of our life is no mean feat. BD

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DO BUSINESS IN BOSTON The city of Boston deftly combines New England’s charm with a thriving business scene, making it a well-rounded destination for business travellers, writes David O’Donnell, Senior Manager of Media Relations at Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau From its bustling urban centre to the beautiful surrounding neighbourhoods, Boston is primed to welcome visitors of all kinds. Often referred to as the capital of New England, the city boasts an ideal combination of colonial charm and urban sophistication. Boston is a dynamic destination for business travellers, mixing a rich history with eclectic dining, vibrant culture, extraordinary shopping, frenzied sports fandom and world-class museums. The city is a hub of innovation, recognised across the globe as an unparalleled centre for education, technology 58

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and life sciences. Known as the ‘Athens of America’, the prestigious medical and educational institutions across Boston and Cambridge cultivate an ecosystem of creativity and intellectualism. The metropolitan area’s 35 hospitals and more than 60 colleges and universities are a vast resource for business meetings and event organisers. Groups that meet in Boston and Cambridge have access to the ever-expanding network of world-renowned f inancial and biotech institutions located in the Greater Boston area.

Where to stay and play Boston and Cambridge feature a diverse assortment of accommodation options, designed to suit the needs of any traveller. From five-star boutique hotels and independent properties to all the major domestic and international brands, everyone can find the perfect home away from home in Boston. There are dozens of hotel projects in Greater Boston’s pipeline, with more than 4,000 new hotel rooms coming to the market by 2022. These comprise a mixture of full-service hotels, boutique properties and extended-stay facilities that range from new builds to repurposed spaces within historic buildings. As well as an extensive range of accommodation options, visitors to Boston will find something to excite their taste buds. The city offers upscale, international and


Boston Tourism








and comfort. The expansive drinks menu features reimagined classics, rediscovered gems and new creations. Around the corner at the Prudential Centre, Italian marketplace Eataly offers 45,000sq ft of authentic Italian food, wine, eateries and more. A vast emporium spanning three floors, Eataly is the perfect spot to grab a pastry, sandwich or coffee, or to enjoy a more extensive sit-down meal at one of the four onsite restaurants. From nationally known brands to locally owned and operated restaurants, Boston has it all covered.

Time to explore

contemporary cuisine, as well as its signature chowder and seafood menus. Each neighbourhood brings its own unique flavour to Boston’s restaurant scene, and new establishments regularly join the mix to keep things fresh. Whether they’re looking for a venue to host a lunch or somewhere to unwind at the end of the working day, business travellers will find a spot that suits them. The One Seaport development is an emerging hotspot where business travellers can enjoy a drink before heading out for dinner. One Seaport features an array of new restaurants serving craft cocktails and locally brewed beer. At the other end of town, in the Mandarin Oriental hotel, Bar Boulud is a chic spot that showcases the finest elements of the craft cocktail movement without forgetting its focus on hospitality

Whether they’re looking for a venue to host a lunch or somewhere to unwind at the end of the working day, business travellers will find a spot that suits them

Those with a little free time between meetings don’t have to travel far to experience Boston’s great shopping and attractions, as each neighbourhood has something to offer. From picking up a keepsake to purchasing clothing, art or electronics, visitors to Boston should take advantage of Massachusetts’ tax-free shopping for apparel under $175. Independent boutiques can be found in the North End and South End neighbourhoods, while Newbury Street mixes independent and nationally known shops. The malls at the Prudential Centre, Copley Place and CambridgeSide, meanwhile, offer a host of well-known brands, while designer outlets are located just seven minutes from Downtown Boston by subway at Assembly Row in Somerville. At the new Boston Public Market, just around the corner from Faneuil Hall, shoppers can find fresh, locally produced goods. Boston Public Market is an indoor, year-round, 28,000sq ft market with 45 permanent vendors, which can also accommodate up to 20 additional vendors on the plaza outside. All items are locally sourced and include seafood, dairy, fruits and vegetables, craft beer and spirits. Sports fans can enjoy a variety of attractions, including a behind-the-scenes tour of America’s most beloved ballpark, Fenway Park, home of World Series champions the Boston Red Sox. Alternatively, visitors can wander around the Museum of Fine Arts, which is one of the largest art museums in the US and contains more than 450,000 works of art. Other signature museums include the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, the historic Old

North Church, and the Museum of African American History and Culture. Visitors who venture out to Cambridge should take a tour of Harvard University. This 383-year-old Ivy League establishment offers private guided tours of the scenic Harvard area, including an outdoor walk through Harvard Yard, where guests will enjoy hearing about the four centuries of Harvard history. The recently renovated Harvard Art Museums are an architectural masterpiece, while the nearby MIT Museum showcases the incredible innovation that has occurred in Boston and Cambridge.

Getting around The number of international visitors to Boston is growing, largely driven by the increase in international flights arriving at the newly modernised Logan International Airport. International, nonstop flights to Boston have nearly doubled since 2012, and the airport now serves 56 destinations across North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. As the largest airport in New England, Logan services nearly 40 million passengers a year and will add several new international flights in 2019. To help facilitate the increase in passenger traffic, which is projected to reach 10 million international passengers by 2022, the Massachusetts Port Authority is planning a massive expansion of the international terminal. This will include new gates, an expanded customs area and a covered pedestrian walkway to the subway station. Logan International Airport is just three miles from the city, making it easily accessible by subway, bus, taxi or water taxi. Boston may have been nicknamed ‘America’s Walking City’, but it is also extremely well connected by public transport, making each journey simple and stress-free. What’s more, planners and delegates find that Boston is a very safe destination. Boston offers visitors everything they could want for an authentic East Coast experience. From seafood and shopping to sports and sightseeing, the cutting-edge and traditional are in constant conversation in this vibrant city. BD FURTHER INFORMATION:


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Hawaii Convention Centre

Celebrating Hawaii’s aloha spirit The Hawaii Convention Centre has 20 years of experience hosting business events. Over the decades, it has developed a number of programmes to cater to its guests and care for the environment simultaneously, writes Teri Orton, General Manager of the Hawaii Convention Centre With 20 years of success under its belt, the Hawaii Convention Centre is a stunning marriage of form and function. The venue’s striking design features a range of outdoor spaces and an abundance of natural light; its seamless integration of indoor and outdoor spaces is a centrepiece of its appeal. World-renowned architects Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo and LMN Architects collaborated to create the Hawaii Convention Centre, which is Hawaii’s largest meetings facility, with 1.1 million square feet of meeting space. The centre has been designed to encourage networking and allow delegates to be open and receptive to sharing new ideas, leading to increased productivity, synergy and successful events. “A comment we frequently receive from meeting planners is that their attendees feel more relaxed in Hawaii and in our beautiful, open building. They are in an environment that inspires networking and collaboration,” according to Teri Orton, the general manager of the centre. The centre is driven by a set of values that reflect a deep respect for all guests. Among these values is aloha, a Hawaiian greeting that represents our mission 60

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to extend an unconditional hand of friendship to a stranger. The aloha spirit inspires people to be genuinely caring and respectful, resulting in a hospitable environment that is ideal for cultivating ideas, strengthening existing relationships and building new ones. Guests from around the world feel comfortable doing business at the centre. “The aloha spirit pretty much permeates everything in Hawaii,” said David Martin, CEO of the Society for Critical Care Medicine. “When you first arrive, you think it’s maybe a little bit gimmicky; everyone you meet says ‘aloha’ and puts a lei around your neck. But in time you find that it really is the spirit of the place.”

Programmes for success As well as being a beautiful destination, Hawaii’s medicine, technology, business and science industries are growing, making it a relevant venue for any number of conventions. What’s more, its strategic mid-Pacific location means businesspeople from the Asia-Pacific region and further can attend conferences held there. Through its Meet Hawaii programme – a collaboration between the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Hawaii Visitors

and Convention Bureau and the Hawaii Convention Centre – the centre is working to reinforce Hawaii’s reputation as a world-class destination for business meetings. The Elele Programme is part of Meet Hawaii’s efforts. The programme enlists the support of community leaders who have ties to professional organisations both on the island and internationally. These volunteers offer local insight and personal relationships that help the Meet Hawaii team craft thoughtful events and reach key decision-makers throughout the Pacific Rim. In 2017, after investing $1.1m, the centre unveiled its new athletic courts, including 28 volleyball, 18 basketball and 11 futsal courts, which have attracted large sporting tournaments to Hawaii. This includes the 2018 Pacific Rim Futsal Cup that took place in November and December. More than 40 teams participated across five specially assembled courts in one of the centre’s three spacious exhibition halls. “These courts are allowing us to diversify our development of group business opportunities for Hawaii and help fill hotel rooms by offering a first-class venue to accommodate events with participants


Hawaii Convention Centre





1.1m sq ft


THE ALOHA SPIRIT INSPIRES PEOPLE TO BE GENUINELY CARING AND RESPECTFUL, RESULTING IN A HOSPITABLE ENVIRONMENT THAT IS IDEAL FOR CULTIVATING NEW IDEAS from around the world,” Orton said. “The response from tournament organisers has been very positive, and these new agreements to host futsal, basketball and volleyball tournaments in the coming years will help us to attract more events and teams from domestic and international markets.”

in the building and light-use Wi-Fi is available in all public spaces. As well as providing practical facilities, the centre also has its visitors’ comfort in mind. The 1801 Café and Bar offers a large selection of high-quality, freshly made snacks, lunch items, beverages, local treats and gift items. And when guests need a moment to relax, they can make their way to one of the centre’s 12 massage chairs. With so many amenities available to its visitors, the Hawaii Convention Centre has created an online interactive map and 3D floor plans to ensure that every visitor to the site can make full use of its extensive facilities.

Conservation efforts Enhancing the meeting experience Over the past year, the centre has launched a variety of initiatives to augment the guest experience and continue to provide excellent amenities and services. This includes the addition of an accessible business centre on the venue’s third floor that hosts a comprehensive array of business services, including copiers, printers, computers, office tools and desk space. Two complimentary charging stations offering secure charging lockers are located at key points

To celebrate its two decades in operation, the centre is strengthening its connection to Hawaii’s environment with a groundbreaking new conservation programme. The centre launched its Ho‘omaluō Programme in October 2018 (the word ho‘omaluō meaning to conserve, use or manage wisely in the Hawaiian language) in conjunction with the American Dental Association’s (ADA) annual meeting, which drew more than 16,000 registrants from nearly 50 countries. In 2018,

the ADA meeting, as well as other major conventions, paid real attention to environmental concerns, responsible food and beverage options, energy-efficient meeting spaces and new recycling initiatives. “At the Hawaii Convention Centre, our guests, planners, staff and communities have come together for more than two decades to preserve, protect and enhance the natural beauty of the Hawaiian Islands,” Orton said. “Since our opening 20 years ago, the Hawaii Convention Centre has been deeply committed to a multifaceted approach to environmental conservation that inspires everything we do and touches everyone we serve.” For its conservation efforts, the Hawaii Convention Centre has received Gold certification in operations and management from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – the certification is officially titled v4 O+M. The centre is the first and only public assembly convention centre to earn a Gold v4 O+M LEED certification in the US and is the only Gold v4 O+M LEED project in Hawaii. This certification places the centre among a select group of buildings that have completed an extensive review of their sustainability and conservation practices. Through the Ho‘omaluō Programme, the centre works to conserve and reuse its resources, maintain a high quality of operations and pay careful attention to reducing waste at every stage of the event process. The centre incorporates guest education and participation through the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative, which supports the reforestation of trees that are endemic to Hawaii. In 2018, the ADA committed to reforesting 100 native trees. “As contributing members of our community, both professional and personal, we are always working to give back to the public,” said ADA President Jeffrey M Cole. “Our organisation’s vision is helping the public achieve optimal health, so it made sense to participate in this effort. The Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative and Hawaii Convention Centre offer a unique opportunity to offset our carbon footprint in travelling here and to help keep the islands that we love pristine and picturesque for years to come.” BD FURTHER INFORMATION:


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Last year, images of violent volcanic eruptions in Hawaii were beamed across the globe. Almost 12 months later, the state’s tourism sector is still struggling to recover, writes Barclay Ballard In early December 2018, residents from Puna, the easternmost district of the Island of Hawaii, gathered to celebrate the reopening of Isaac Hale Beach Park. Those assembled on the volcanic sands offered blessings and ceremonial gifts – known locally as ho’okupu – in thanks for being able to use the beach once again. It was a sign things were returning to normality after a difficult few months in the US’ 50th state. Volcanic eruptions are a fact of life in Hawaii – the archipelago owes its existence to volcanic activity – but last spring brought unexpected destruction. On May 3, 2018, following more than 250 earthquakes in the space of 24 hours, the Kı̄lauea volcano erupted. While volcanoes in Hawaii don’t really stop erupting – some experts are reluctant to describe the events of May 2018 as a new eruption at all, viewing it as 62

the latest stage of a larger eruption that began in 1983 – commentators tentatively declared the Kı̄lauea eruptive event to be over in December, after seismic activity and emissions reached a suitably low level. Unfortunately, the community’s recovery will take longer still. In total, 13.7 square miles of the island were covered by lava – some by as much as 80 feet of molten rock. There were 716 homes destroyed and 324 hectares of new land created. Miles of roads were blocked and, as with Isaac Hale Beach Park, access to much-loved parts of the country was prohibited. Tourism, a fundamental part of the Hawaiian economy, was negatively impacted as a result. Images of roads being torn apart and lava flowing relentlessly across the land were broadcast around the world – hardly the sort of thing that encourages people to book flights. So,

while Kı̄lauea may have stopped erupting, long-term damage to Hawaii’s reputation as a holiday destination is proving more difficult to overcome.

A violent setback Even though Hawaiians have learned to live with the threat of volcanic events, the eruption in May last year was unusually catastrophic. Kı̄lauea is the most active volcano in the world, with data collected from sensors installed around the crater and the surrounding area showing that the events leading up to the eruption were unprecedented; still, such an impact had rarely been witnessed before. “At the present moment, the United States Geological Survey [is] still citing Kı̄ lauea as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the US,” Hollie Bailey, a freelance PR representative for travel firm Health and Fitness Travel, told

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Hawaii Tourism

While Kīlauea may have stopped erupting, longerterm damage to Hawaii’s reputation as a holiday destination is proving more difficult to overcome

Despite the island reopening its attractions, visitors are taking their time in deciding whether to return. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the average number of daily visitor arrivals to the Island of Hawaii in October 2018 was down 15.7 percent compared with the previous year. Visitor spending, meanwhile, fell by 11.4 percent. Local businesses have felt the pinch, with hospitality firms and other companies that rely on tourism for income reporting a fall in customer numbers. Smaller businesses in particular can struggle to rebuild momentum after an enforced period of closure. But despite its destructive nature, volcanic activity is also one of the archipelago’s principal tourist attractions.

Stemming the flow

Business Destinations. “Similar to the [Mount] Agung eruption in Bali during late 2017, thousands of people were evacuated out of the ‘red zone’ and tourists were warned to stay away. “Tourism in Bali did fall for a couple of months after the release of the Agung gas cloud, but not to the same extent as Hawaii, where a drop of 50 percent occurred. Rivers of lava are definitely a scarier prospect than a vertically emitting gas cloud, which caused more of a panic and resulted in holidays cancelled.” Although it is difficult to quantify the total financial impact, some estimates indicate the Kı̄lauea eruption may result in losses of over $200m in terms of visitor spending. One of the state’s biggest attractions, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, had to close between May and September 2018, and a full restoration of damaged areas is likely to take years.

Kı̄lauea eruption

13.7sq mi








The worry for tourism officials is that the Kı̄ lauea eruption will accelerate a longer-term decline in vistors. One of the main issues is that the now-solidified lava f lows have permanently changed the volcano. Prior to the eruption last May, the inside of the Kı̄ lauea crater – known as Halema’uma’u – was home to a flowing, active pool of lava. A significant number of the 5,500 daily tourists who visited Hawaii Volcanoes National Park came to see the lake of molten rock at Kı̄lauea’s summit. It was a particular draw for night-time visitors, with the glow from the lava proving spectacular against the night sky. Currently, it is difficult to determine when – or if – Halema’uma’u’s lava lake will return. The last time the lake drained was in 1924, and it was not visible for another 85 years. “It will not be the same park that it has been in the past,” Mike Nelson, Executive Director of the Volcano Art Centre, told local news broadcaster KITV. “Nor do we anticipate that the volume and revenues will be the same [as] in the past... but we’re not losing hope.” Just as too much volcanic activity can keep tourists away, too little can detract from the archipelago’s allure. “The challenge for Hawaiian authorities is to balance curiosity with the safety of people on the island,” Bailey said. “Many of the tourists are families with children, and these groups are the most likely to stay away as a result of the current damage. However, another big chunk of this sector is adventure-seeking people in their 20s

and 30s who would actually be attracted to this situation.” Volcano tourism certainly contributes significant revenues for Hawaiian businesses, but there are obvious risks involved. This is the dilemma faced by the Hawaiian tourism industry.

Tourists take the mantle While it would be unfair to blame tourist officials for the economic devastation wrought by natural disasters, there are other problems emerging within the domestic tourism sector. Although visitor numbers were steadily increasing before last year’s eruption, this had not resulted in the kind of industry growth many would expect. “It’s been almost 30 years since tourism actually had a record year, by constant dollar tourism receipts,” said Paul Brewbaker, president of Hawaiibased consultancy firm TZ Economics. “Tourism today is the same economic size as it was in 1989.” Part of the reason for such disappointing revenue figures is that tourist behaviour is changing. In 1955, the average stay in Hawaii was 25 days; today, the most popular vacation length is between six and eight days. Simply increasing visitor numbers, therefore, is not enough to boost Hawaii’s tourism industry: tourists need to be encouraged to stay longer and spend more. The development of ecotourism could be one way of encouraging visitors to spend more money on the islands, while also helping to protect the state’s natural environment. Social media, which helped spread frightening images of Kı̄ lauea’s destructive powers, should now be used by local businesses to reassure prospective visitors. Internal issues at the Hawaii Tourism Authority, which has experienced a high turnover of staff since 2015, also need to be resolved. Tourism is absolutely vital to Hawaii’s economy. Despite the damage caused by last year’s eruption, there remains much for visitors to enjoy. If the Halema’uma’u lava glow doesn’t return, then the local tourism authorities will need to adapt their marketing efforts to focus on other areas of interest. The state cannot afford to suffer a long-term decline in its tourism sector; it must do more to manage its response to natural disasters. After all, volcanic eruptions are part of Hawaii’s past, present and future. BD

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US–Cuba Relations

Cuban thaw goes cold

The US’ reversal of the Cuban thaw was denounced as a step backwards for the pair’s frosty relationship. While it may have allowed the island nation to retain its character, it has also hugely restrained the Cuban economy, writes Sophie Perryer When then-President Barack Obama announced the gradual re-establishment of US–Cuba relations in December 2014, it was heralded as a historic breakthrough in the two countries’ icy affiliation. Dubbed the ‘Cuban thaw’, the agreement relaxed a number of trade and travel restrictions on US citizens travelling to or investing in Cuba. The thaw had an immediate effect on tourism in the small island nation: between January and May 2015, the number of Americans visiting Cuba for leisure was 36 percent higher than figures for the previous year. Dr Stephen Wilkinson, an expert on US–Cuba relations and a lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Buckingham, noted that, at the time, “the number of American visitors became the largest of any national group to the island”. This progress, however, was short-lived. In November 2017, at the end of his first year in office, President Trump announced an abrogation of Obama’s normalisation policy, calling it “terrible and misguided”. 64

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Trade and tourism restrictions were once again tightened to prevent individual US citizens from travelling to Cuba, while restrictions were also placed on US firms seeking to invest on the island. Trump’s policy has divided opinion, with some arguing that it is a petulant, politically motivated protest against Obama that deepens the restrictions placed on Cuba’s already struggling economy. Others, however, have suggested that it could be a blessing in disguise, as it allows the island nation to retain the vibrant culture for which it is so well known.

Step back in time Take a stroll around Havana, Cuba’s capital, today and you could be forgiven for thinking that you’ve travelled back to 1950s America. The streets are lined with vintage cars, the Art Nouveau buildings constructed in the 1930s have lost none of their picturesque charm, and the cabaret dancers of the city’s famous Tropicana club still put on an exuberant show six nights a week.

Many were concerned that the Cuban thaw would destroy some of the island’s retro appeal, with more than 50 years of American capitalist culture suddenly imposed in a flurry of McDonald’s restaurants and Coca-Cola adverts. The World Travel and Tourism Council wrote in 2016: “Images of Cuba evoke nostalgia for a bygone era. Crumbling architecture and classic cars combine with lively Afro-Cuban music and miles of whitesand beaches. Talk to a traveller after their Cuba trip, and their mantra often centres on one key refrain: ‘Go, now. Go before it changes.’” After all, Obama’s shift in foreign policy did not just give US citizens the right to travel there – it also opened the door for businesses to move in and take advantage of the growing tourism opportunities on the island. For example, in March 2016, the hotel chain Starwood became the first US company to sign a deal with Cuba since the 1959 revolution by agreeing to manage two hotels in Havana that had previously been under the control of the Cuban Government. In August of the same year, JetBlue became the first US commercial airline in more than 50 years to land a flight carrying American passengers on the island. As such, the concerns surrounding corruption were rooted not in an inf lux of American tourists, but in an inf lux of American businesses on the island.



US–Cuba Relations

Right: Former US President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raúl Castro meet in March 2016, the first time a US president had visited Cuba since 1928

Wilkinson, however, believes these concerns were overstated. “Cubans are Americanised already to some degree – they still drive around lovingly in their 1950s American cars, they play American music, they watch American films, they play and follow American sports.” Regardless of the legitimacy of these apprehensions, they never came to fruition due to Trump’s rescindment of bilateral relations in November 2017, which closed the doors to Cuba for American businesses and tourists. While it may not have been Trump’s intention, the policy had the effect of safeguarding Cuba from further American inf luence, allowing its unique national identity to endure. There’s huge touristic value in Cuba’s reputation as an untainted destination, predominantly in its total opposition to other increasingly homogenised locations across the globe. Many modern cities are filled with a familiar handful of big brands, leaving little space for local independent traders.

Win-win situation Cuba’s isolation from the rest of the world may have a clear cultural benefit, but the economic picture is far less rosy. The US embargo has hugely restricted the Cuban economy since its application in 1959 – Wilkinson told Business Destinations that “it amounts to something like 10 to 15 percent of GDP per year, or $260bn since 1959, accord-






Concerns surrounding corruption were rooted not in an influx of American tourists, but in an influx of American businesses

ing to the Cuban estimate”. Unable to trade with the US, Cuba has turned to nearby countries such as Venezuela for subsidies, which currently account for around 20 percent of its GDP. In recent years, however, Venezuela’s economy has been plagued by hyperinflation and oil price fluctuations, leaving Cuba with an unstable primary benefactor. Without the embargo, “Cuba would fly economically, there’s no doubt about that”, according to Wilkinson. The country has a highly educated population, with more graduates per capita than any other nation in the Western Hemisphere, said Wilkinson, along with a world-class healthcare system and biotechnology sector. It also benefits from a range of valuable raw materials, including oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico and strategic minerals such as nickel and cobalt. By lifting the restrictions, the US could take advantage of all of the factors that make Cuba a prosperous trading partner, as well as a lucrative destination for American businesses to set up shop. At the moment, the US is cut off from those possibilities.

Realising its potential Of course, Cuba itself would see huge benefits if the embargo was lifted, as it would be able to seek investment from US sources to boost its national infrastructure. “It’s a developing country, it suffers from capital shortage, and it needs capital investment,” said Wilkinson. Under

the embargo, it’s illegal for Cuba to use US dollars, which not only cuts it off from US investors but also from lending institutions like the IMF and the World Bank due to the US’ powerful influence on those bodies. As such, Cuba is forced to turn to private banks to borrow money for development projects – but, according to Wilkinson, “private banks are so scared of the embargo that they won’t lend [to Cuba], or if they will, they want to charge very high rates of interest, so it means that Cuba can’t afford to borrow the money”. Occasionally, the island will turn to other governments such as China or Vietnam, but the stars don’t always align with regards to the availability of funds or a willingness to lend. While there are certain political complications surrounding the relaxation of the embargo, there’s no doubt that the reopening of relations would economically transform Cuba and would be a boon for US business, too. It would also allow Cuba to realise its potential by reinforcing key sectors such as agriculture while building an economy that better serves both citizens and visitors. As for Cuba’s iconic cultural identity, maintaining that is certainly possible in the face of an influx of American business. However, for better or for worse, under the current US administration’s obstructive foreign policy, no such US– Cuba relationship seems likely to develop any time soon. BD

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HOME LAPTOP is where you lay your

With the world of work now more flexible than ever, many young people are upping sticks and packing their businesses into their backpacks. It may be the trip of a lifetime, but it can pose issues for the cities they’re leaving behind, writes Sophie Perryer 




he days of nine to five are fading fast. As international operations become the modus operandi for modern businesses, many employers are recognising the value of moving to a more flexible working model, allowing them to connect with clients and customers round the clock. With the need to be chained to a desk diminishing rapidly, beady-eyed Millennials have spied an opportunity: they have packed up their working lives and set out on adventures across the globe. These digital nomads, as they’ve come to be known, are eschewing dingy offices and instant coffee in favour of a wholly flexible working life, entirely on their own terms, that allows them to visit a new city every week if they so wish. It’s certainly a tempting prospect: total control over the hours you work and the projects you take on; a significantly lower cost of living; and the choice of working from a beachfront hammock. But by jetting off with their businesses in their backpacks, digital nomads are disrupting the typical chain of career progression, along with the urban economies they are eschewing in favour of a more flexible lifestyle.

For the many, not the few The term ‘digital nomad’ was coined in 1997 by authors Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners when the duo published a book of the same title. The rise of digital nomadism was precipitated by the increasing ubiquity of the internet, which has facilitated an altogether more flexible working model over the past 20 years. Technological developments such as laptops, mobile phones, wireless internet and cloud-based applications have allowed workers to become ‘location independent’, meaning there’s no longer a need to be present in a fixed office location from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Digital nomads have taken that independence to the next level, figuring that if you can work for your Paris-based employer from your Paris-based kitchen table, why not from a co-working space in Bali? Of course, this lifestyle is not accessible to everyone. Although its scope is growing, it’s generally reserved for those who don’t have customer-facing jobs, aren’t required to be physically present for meetings with colleagues, and need nothing more than access to the internet and a mobile phone to work. Becky Freeth is one such example: she left her job as assistant entertainment editor at a British national newspaper last year to pursue life as a digital nomad, writing freelance to support herself on her travels. She credits the newspaper industry’s rapid shift towards digital content with facilitating this transition: “In almost a decade in journalism, I’ve seen a dramatic shift to online publishing. Print magazines 68

have rapidly been superseded by digital publications. Fewer writers are permanent – they’re freelance, and even when they’re office-based, they generally hot desk, meaning that they’re required to be adaptable.” Ross Cox, owner of co-working platform Dispace, added: “Actually, there are much fewer limitations these days – it’s not necessarily about what you do, it’s more about whether your industry can adapt to operating outside of a single fixed location.” He argued that the number of businesses that are able to embrace this style of working is much larger than you might think. As such, it’s the corporate mindset that’s in need of an update.

Live like the locals For those choosing this lifestyle, the perks are clear: it’s a chance to satisfy their wanderlust in an economically viable way. “The reality is that you don’t need to take a career break to go exploring anymore,” Freeth said. It’s also a great way to develop an understanding of other cultures – something that is difficult to achieve during a two-week holiday. Katie Silcox, a freelance journalist, photo editor and owner of online travel magazine Contemporary Class, told Business Destinations: “As a digital nomad, you’re still having to work, you’re still having to do your shopping, get your hair cut, or whatever it might be – you’re doing the local things rather than drink cocktails poolside.” This, she said, has allowed her to gain a deeper understanding of destinations across the globe, by experiencing first-hand the quotidian practicalities of other cultures. Silcox also credits her lifestyle for allowing her to share elements of her own culture. Last year, for example, she wasn’t able to return to her home in the UK for Christmas. Instead, she told Business Destinations: “I hosted Christmas at my house in India, for about five expats and five Indian people who had never experienced a British Christmas.” Digital nomadism, as Silcox’s experience proves, is not solely about garnering personal experience of other cultures, but giving others a chance to share in nomads’ own cultural traditions. This lifestyle can also prove transformative for nomads’ careers, allowing them to achieve a better work-life balance. “By working online in an environment where [the] cost of living is so much lower, we take on as much work as we actually need to, not feel pressured to,” Freeth said. “Instead, we have the benefit of accepting the work that will help us progress in our fields and when we do it, we set our own agendas and time frames.” Silcox even found that additional work came flooding in once news of her nomadism spread. “Once they found out that I was freelance, companies [started] approaching me, and I was able to accumulate new projects.”



folio of skills and knowledge also makes nomads a valuable commodity for businesses, particularly those looking to expand into new markets. By having a multitalented freelancer on the ground within their target market, companies can give themselves a head start against competitors by taking advantage of a nomad’s specialised local knowledge. “At the end of the day,” Freeth said, “the digital nomad community shares ambition at its core. Whether it’s from a financial, professional or a personal perspective, each person you meet has sacrificed a lot to be here to create a better future for themselves.” That ambition, and the lengths that nomads are going to in order to achieve a better future while improving their present, is key to this lifestyle. There’s a common misconception that digital nomads are escaping reality, or hanging onto the last clutches of youth by embarking on an ill-advised gap year. It’s a reductive assumption that undermines the resilience it takes to be one of these workers.

Left behind

Importance of connecting Some locations are much better equipped to host a community of digital nomads than others, due to factors such as the availability of co-working spaces, the cost of living and how agreeable the weather is. Great Wi-Fi is one of the most essential requirements, Freeth said: “Nomads depend on fast, instant and reliable connections. Suddenly, Wi-Fi is essential for business calls, emails and, in my industry, news bulletins, when you can no longer rely on mobile data to supplement the connection.” Co-working spaces are also vital, not only for attracting new nomads but also for supporting existing communities, giving them a place both to work and network. Nomads often share projects among their communities – for example, if one receives an offer of work that they are unable to take on, they’ll recommend another nomad with the requisite skills. Without co-working spaces, it would be much more difficult to establish an understanding of the various skills of different nomads, and – just as importantly – it would be a far lonelier lifestyle. Freeth explained the double-edged sword of developing personal relationships as a roaming worker: “Digital nomads come and go, so you quickly accept that the connections you make are transient, but the greatest thing about it is that you learn something new from every person you meet – whether it’s a new coffee shop to work from, a restaurant recommendation or some practical life advice.” This ever-evolving port-










While those pursuing an itinerant lifestyle are off having the time of their lives, however, the families, friends and cities they have left behind must adjust to their absence. For those who have been nomadic for some time, their families and friends are accustomed to time differences and holidays spent apart, but the same cannot be said for the urban economies that digital nomads abandon. In a survey conducted by Katherine Conaway, co-author of The Digital Nomad Survival Guide, more than 65 percent of respondents were aged between 24 and 34, the age range in which most people step onto the housing ladder, get married or have children. Those pursuing the ultra-flexible, locationundefined lifestyle are not hitting those traditional life markers at the same time – if at all – and that’s having a knock-on effect on all sorts of other social and economic markers, from the number of first-time buyers in a given area and primary school admissions to progression up the career ladder. It’s a particularly significant issue for urban economies, which rely on spending from permanent and temporary residents to ensure that all kinds of businesses are supported. But in cities like London, which digital nomads often leave due to the high cost of living, the ratio of leavers to permanent residents is steadily becoming more skewed. For example, the city’s permanent property market stalled from Q1 to Q4 2018, with properties remaining on the market for an average of 201 days, a 15 percent increase from the end of 2017. Meanwhile, short-term rentals are booming: data released by Inside Airbnb shows that the number of London listings on the home rentals platform rose by 292 percent between April 2015 and July 2018. » 69














Belfast is rapidly becoming a booming business hub – it was found to be the UK’s fastest-growing urban economy in a recent study. The abundance of co-working spaces means you’ll never be short of somewhere to set up a temporary office, while the city scored 10 out of 10 for internet speed in Spotahome’s survey. Moreover, Belfast’s resident community of start-ups, which collectively raised £18.2m ($23m) in capital last year, provides plenty of networking and potential freelance opportunities.

Lisbon has seen an influx in digital nomads over the past year thanks to its balmy temperatures, affordable rent and excellent transport options. The Portuguese city also boasts an abundance of cultural attractions, including museums, galleries and music halls. The biggest pull, though, is the thriving community of flexible workers that have already temporarily settled in the city. Regular meet-ups, mentoring workshops and friendly faces in co-working spots all over the city make it easier for new nomads to settle in.




Similarly to Lisbon, Barcelona benefits from an attractive climate where temperatures rarely dip into single figures, as well as a low cost of living. The start-up scene has exploded in the Spanish city in recent years and it now boasts more than 100 co-working spaces, so digital nomads certainly won’t be short of partnership opportunities. There’s free, high-speed public Wi-Fi in most locations – even the city’s 5km stretch of beach. Additionally, the digital nomad collective CODINO regularly hosts meet-ups and events in the city.

Queensland’s capital is a great choice for European nomads wanting a taste of life on the other side of the world. The city is famed for its friendly community of freelancers, who populate the many cafes and co-working spaces that have launched in recent years. Brisbane is also in the midst of a business revolution, so there are lots of work opportunities to be picked up. Beware, though, of Australia’s notoriously strict visa system, which can make it difficult for digital nomads to secure entry in the first place.

Luxembourg is a multilingual country, making it an attractive destination for digital nomads from all across the globe. The Central European city has bolstered its digital infrastructure in recent years and has aspirations to become the continent’s leading IT hub. Its high quality of living, safe environment and ease of access to other European cities bring a steady stream of businesspeople, some of whom use the city as a base before travelling elsewhere. The cost of living for longer periods, however, is relatively high.








While this may not entirely be the result of a rise in digital nomad culture, there’s a clear causality. Instead of opting to purchase highly priced permanent homes, London residents are exploring short-term rental options using platforms such as Airbnb, which are more accommodating for flexible, nomadic lifestyles. The phenomenon is not limited to London, either – Airbnb has more than four million listings for variable stays worldwide, with many in popular digital nomad destinations such as Lisbon (20,493) and Barcelona (17,221). Cox, however, believes the rise in location-independent workers could help revive regional economies. As a direct result of their flexible lifestyles, digital nomads can work anywhere – so he believes there’s no reason they couldn’t work in smaller towns and cities and help to boost those smaller urban economies. “Digital nomadism means that a business can have an office in the capital, but it can hire people all around a country,” he told Business Destinations. “Those people can live in other towns and cities, and those cities will profit because people are buying houses there, eating out there and buying things from other businesses there.” However, this relies on economies having all the tools necessary for digital nomads to be able to work effectively, such as fast Wi-Fi and co-working spaces. Across Europe, this simply isn’t the case; according to broadband mapping from the European Commission, in countries such as Norway, Sweden, Germany and the UK, between 60 and 75 percent of citizens have access to 30 megabits per second (Mbps) broadband, which is fast enough to send email but too slow to stream much video content or download large

files. Some countries such as France, Italy and Poland fare worse, with around 10 percent of French citizens having 30Mbps broadband access in some areas. If economies in these regions hope to benefit from digital nomads, they will have to seriously bolster their digital capabilities.

Where the heart is The rise in digital nomadism is symptomatic of a greater shift in society, towards a more flexible way of working, facilitated by the ongoing progression of technology. More than that, though, it’s an indication that the way we value ‘home’ is changing. Once upon a time, we put a fixed abode as the centre of our world – it held the bed where we laid our head every evening and the window that displayed the same view each morning. Work, too, conformed to the pattern of everydayness: we undertook the same commute, sat at the same desk, and drank the same coffee from the same cafe on the corner. Now, in an era where work can be wherever we lay our laptops, it’s logical that our definition of home is becoming less fixed too. Digital nomads have taken ownership of this flexibility and utilised it as a tool to further their careers while expanding their awareness of the world we live in. For them, travel is no longer a two-week (or even one-year) excursion – it’s a way of life. This, too, is creating a larger shift in the world of work, one that will open up new opportunities for businesses large and small. With more and more people choosing nomadism year on year, it’s time for economic markers to catch up with the lives we’re living now. BD 73



Underfunding Art

UP IN FLAMES When a fire destroyed Brazil’s oldest historical institution in 2018, the loss was felt around the world. This preventable tragedy underscored the global issue of underfunding cultural organisations, writes Courtney Goldsmith On the night of September 2, 2018, a fire ripped through the 200-year-old halls of Brazil’s Museu Nacional, or National Museum, in Rio de Janeiro. With no sprinkler system in place, there was nothing to stop the blaze from spreading, and when firefighters arrived on the scene they found that the nearby hydrants were dry. The fire raged for hours, destroying around 90 percent of the 20 million items held in the museum and reducing much of the historic building – the former Imperial Palace – to an empty carcass. Researchers from the museum helped break down doors to salvage what they could of the work. Out of the debris, some prized items were recovered, albeit damaged, including the 11,500-year-old remains of Luzia, the oldest human fossil found in the Americas. But for the most part, centuries of knowledge and decades of work were lost forever. 74

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This destruction was not inevitable, but it was somewhat expected. For more than a decade, experts had been warning that exposed electrical wires and a lack of modern equipment meant the building was a serious fire risk. But the fire in Brazil was not an isolated incident. The International Council of Museums (ICOM) said in a statement following the disaster: “The ongoing trend of reduction in public expenditure on cultural heritage threatens the very existence of museums in many parts of the world.”

History of neglect Brazil’s National Museum had long been underfunded. In fact, in 2018, the museum only received around BRL 98,000 ($25,400) from the government, and the year before it was forced to crowdfund in order to reopen a dinosaur exhibit that had been infested with termites. Meanwhile, the British Museum, which has a collec-





tion half the size, received a government grant-in-aid totalling £53.6m ($69m) for the year to March 2018. Speaking on Canadian radio show As It Happens, Luiz Fernando Dias Duarte, the museum’s deputy director, claimed the museum would have survived the fire if it had received just a quarter of the funds the government put towards building a single stadium for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. “The loss is huge. It’s difficult to describe exactly the richness and the variety of the collections that were turned into ashes,” he said. Marcus Guidoti, an entomologist who recently completed his PhD, studies lace bugs, or Tingidae, in Brazil. The National Museum held one of the most important collections of this insect family. When Guidoti spoke with Business Destinations, he said that, as far as he knew, essentially the entire insect collection in the main building of the museum



Underfunding Art


had been lost. Although one employee had saved a hard drive with some photos of the museum’s collection of Tingidae, photographs are a far cry from the actual specimens. “The loss remains irreplaceable,” he said. “The fact that this tragedy only happened because of the negligent behaviour of our authorities and the lack of interest and knowledge from the general public make everything even more hurtful.”

Burning anger The fire at the National Museum has ignited a wave of anger from Brazilians who feel the situation reflects the larger political issues facing the country. The day after the fire, protesters gathered outside the museum and, as some fought to get inside the grounds, police in riot gear shot tear gas into the crowd. One person at the site was Rosana Hollanda, a 35-year-old high school history teacher who told the Associated Press (AP): “This fire is what

Left: A fire started at Brazil’s National Museum on September 2, 2018 Above: Brazil’s National Museum after the fire Right: A firefighter emerges from Brazil’s National Museum

Brazilian politicians are doing to the people. They’re burning our history, and they’re burning our dreams.” In an article for CityLab, Tarcyla Fidalgo, a doctoral candidate at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, which owns the National Museum, wrote: “We may now be shocked at the destruction, but no Brazilian could truly claim to be surprised by this disaster… What was once a source of local and national pride has now become a symbol of Brazil’s failing infrastructure and ineffective local and national government.” While mismanagement and corruption played a part in the loss of the museum, Fidalgo argued that blame also falls on a general carelessness the nation’s citizens and politicians have for their heritage: “In Brazil today, producing science and culture is increasingly a political act, and an act of resistance.” For Guidoti, the loss was both personal and

professional: crucial data for current and future research projects was destroyed, but he also lost a place where he could explore his connection to Brazil’s history. He told Business Destinations: “I remember being always happy to step [on] the wooden floors and walk around those old walls, thinking about all the history that took place in there. So watching the palace basically burning to the ground was very, very sad. It felt like part of the country was burning as well.”

Global concerns In Brazil, the lack of government funding provided for the arts and sciences is a chronic problem. Gudioti said that from what he has seen when visiting the country’s most important biological collections, no one is really prepared for a disaster like the National Museum fire. In fact, another fire wiped out huge collections of biological specimens at the Instituto »

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Underfunding Art


Butantan in São Paulo in 2010, and in 2015, the Museum of the Portuguese Language was also destroyed in a blaze. Museums around the world are also dealing with similar issues. For instance, India’s National Museum of Natural History in New Delhi was engulfed in f lames in 2016, leading to the loss of large collections of rare flora and fauna. At the start of 2018, about 60 percent of Indonesia’s Maritime Museum in Jakarta was lost to fire caused by a short circuit. In 2017, hundreds of artefacts were ruined at the Tatihou Maritime Museum in France, including three paintings on loan from the Louvre, after a lightning storm started a fire. It is clear, therefore, that the problem is not unique to Brazil. “With some notable exceptions, the cultural sector globally is underfunded,” said Eric Dorfman, the president of ICOM’s subgroup for natural history museums (NATHIST) and director of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He added: “Looking after the safety of the collections from disasters like that has got to be a priority for funders.” ICOM NATHIST released a statement in November that read: “ICOM NATHIST would like to express its deep concern regarding the preservation of natural history collections worldwide. These collections face unique and mounting risks regarding their preservation and care. ICOM NATHIST urges those entrusted with resourcing the stewardship of these treasures to recognise their value and ensure their ongoing protection”.

Above: A protest against the Brazilian Government following the National Museum fire Left: The 11,500-yearold Luzia fossils recovered from the National Museum

Canary in the coal mine Soon after the fire at Brazil’s National Museum was extinguished, officials said the federal government would put 76

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Underfunding Art

BRL 15m ($4.03m) towards restoring it. But there are worries that the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage will not remain a priority, due in part to the 2018 election of Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right populist. While campaigning, Bolsonaro expressed little support for the museum after the fire, telling AP: “It caught fire already. What do you want me to do?” “Museums really are vitally important,” Dorfman said, citing the wellknown warning attributed to philosopher George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Like the canary in the coal mine, Dorfman said discoveries made from the artefacts of natural history museums act as warning signs that point us towards a better future: “These collections must be viewed as windows into the past and tools for the future, and while they’re beautiful, that’s not their sole purpose.” Consequently, the destruc-

Above: The remains of Indonesia’s Maritime Museum

tion of the National Museum was not only a significant loss to Brazil’s heritage, but to the world’s as well. Brazilian historian Gunter Axt told The New Yorker the fire was one of the “greatest cultural disasters of our age”. But in an open letter to the museum’s staff on behalf of ICOM NATHIST, Dorfman struck a note of optimism, saying the museum’s remaining objects represent a “strong foundation” from which to rebuild. “The world is facing a significant biological crisis and never has your collection, and your expertise, been more relevant to the global community,” he wrote. About a million artefacts survived the fire, and the museum still has its world-class staff, Dorfman said. He also told Business Destinations: “I hope what is left can be considered important enough to start that process of rebuilding and launch them into something, once again, really special.”

Good museums do not exist in a vacuum; they are integral fixtures in the communities and cultures in which they operate. At a time when cultural institutions are doing more than ever for the public – from education to community outreach – the importance of protecting their mission cannot be overstated. Governments and funders need to understand what museums and other cultural organisations do and the value they provide, Dorfman said. For that to happen, institutions must get better at telling their own stories. As devastating as the fire at Brazil’s National Museum was, there is a lot to learn from the disaster. Most obvious is the fact that, by undervaluing museums and art institutions, we run the risk of losing millennia of cultural heritage to preventable destruction. However, the fire also demonstrated just how hard those who do understand the true value of museums will fight for a better future. BD

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revolution A personal

In his early 20s, Che Guevara was just another aspiring medical student, eager to see the world. Barclay Ballard explores how a nine-month journey across South America helped foment the revolutionary ideas that would turn him into a global icon




“I now know, by an almost fatalistic conformity with the facts, that my destiny is to travel,” wrote Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara in his book, The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey, published in 1993. His trip, which took him from Argentina to Miami, covering more than 5,000 miles through eight countries, would have a profound effect on his world view and future life. Before hopping onto his 1939 Norton 500cc motorbike, nick na med L a Poderosa or ‘the Mighty One’, with his close friend Alberto Granado, he was certainly sympathetic to the concerns of the working classes, but he also had other things on his mind. At the start of his journey, Guevara’s thoughts centred on upcoming exams, maintaining his current relationship and how best to keep control of their unwieldy ride. As he made his way across South America, the changes in Guevara were clearly evident. Just as he was amazed by the kindness of those he met, he was also moved by their suffering. During his travels, he came across exploited workers, political repression and widespread poverty. These were the injustices that would set his revolutionary spirit ablaze.

Life on the road Before setting off on his travels around South America, there was little to suggest that Guevara would go on to become one of the most recognisable figures of the 20th century. He grew up as part of a middle-class Argentine family with left-wing sympathies, but it seemed he would be content to live a fairly standard bourgeois life. In 1948, Guevara enrolled at the University of Buenos Aires to study medicine, but his desire to see the world soon got in the way. In 1950, he set out to

explore Northern Argentina using an old bike modified with an Italian Cucciolo engine. This trip may have taken Guevara some 2,800 miles from home, but it couldn’t completely satisfy his wanderlust. Three years later, putting his degree on hold, Guevara set off again, this time with his friend and fellow medical student Granado beside him. They planned to spend nine months exploring what life was really like for most people in South America, aiming to stretch their meagre resources by making the most of the local hospitality. In his diary’s preface, Guevara makes it clear that his journal is not meant to be read as a political manifesto nor as a photographic depiction of life in South America. Rather it is a document of what he sees, thinks and feels. While it certainly touches on some of the issues that would inform his later life as a revolutionary figure, it also concerns many more trivial matters. “This is not a story of heroic feats, or merely the narrative of a cynic; at least I do not mean it to be,” Guevara wrote. “It is a glimpse of two lives running parallel for a time, with similar hopes and convergent dreams. In nine months of a man’s life he can think a lot of things, from the loftiest meditations on philosophy to the most desperate longing for a bowl of soup – in total accord with the state of his stomach.” Although Guevara didn’t set out on his tour in search of social injustice, it is not surprising that he found it. Many of the indigenous communities living in South America at that time existed in extreme poverty, shut out from the domestic economy. Life expectancy across Latin America averaged just 44 years. Guevara’s decision to end his trip in the US is also telling, particularly given that his anti-American sentiment becomes more prevalent as his journey progresses.

In 1960, just a few years after Guevara finished his trip, the average income in Latin America remained just 12 percent of that in the US.

Finding solidarity Unsurprisingly, given Guevara’s relatively privileged upbringing, his travels proved particularly enlightening regarding poverty in Latin America. While in Valparaíso, Chile, the young medical student came across an elderly woman struggling with asthma, a condition he also suffered from, as well as a heart disorder. Her living conditions were pitiful and there was little he could do to help her. “It is at times like this, when a doctor is conscious of his complete powerlessness, that he longs for change: a change to prevent the injustice of a system in which only a month ago this poor woman was still earning her living as a waitress, wheezing and panting but facing life with dignity,” Guevara wrote. “In circumstances like this, individuals in poor families who can’t pay their way become surrounded by an atmosphere of barely disguised acrimony; they stop being father, mother, sister or brother and become a purely negative factor in the struggle for life.” Guevara’s trip was full of moments like this: brief encounters with strangers whom he would never see again, but nevertheless had a profound impact on him. Whether struck by people’s generosity or appalled by the poverty inflicted upon them, Guevara realised that any help he offered would merely treat the symptoms, not the cause of the disease that plagued Latin America. Looking at the elderly woman, he saw not only individual suffering but also “the profound tragedy circumscribing the life of the proletariat the world over”. »

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Another part of the journey that had a significant impact on Guevara was the time he spent at the leper colony in Huambo, Peru. There, he found 31 patients relying on inadequate medical treatments to ease their suffering while they awaited death. The two travellers’ later visits to other hospitals and leper colonies were equally formative: despite the fact that neither Guevara nor Granado could offer much in terms of medical assistance, the patients were nonetheless grateful to be treated “as normal human beings instead of animals”.

Just the beginning As Guevara made his way across the South A mer ican continent , there were many moments of levity – the kind you might expect from a 20-something student enjoying time away from his books and lectures. He played football with locals, was chased away after dancing a bit too closely with a mechanic’s wife, and shared 80

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many glasses of wine with people he met along the way. In between these moments, though, were times where the tone became much more earnest. At the end of The Motorcycle Diaries, after witnessing the suffering of the poor, diseased and disenfranchised, Guevara appeared to have found his calling. Although he would go back to complete his medical studies shortly after returning to Argentina, his life would never be the same again. “I knew that when the great guiding spirit cleaves humanity into two antagonistic halves, I would be with the people,” Guevara wrote. “I know this, I see it printed in the night sky that I, eclectic dissembler of doctrine and psychoanalyst of dogma, howling like one possessed, will assault the barricades or the trenches, will take my bloodstained weapon and, consumed with fury, slaughter any enemy who falls into my hands.” Following a key role in the Cuban Revolution, Che Guevara became a

figurehead for left-wing radicals and a symbol of anti-imperialism across the globe. But before he was a revolutionary, a political leader or, to many, an icon, he was an intrepid explorer, keen to see as much of the world as possible. “Perhaps one day, tired of circling the world, I'll return to Argentina and settle in the Andean lakes, if not indefinitely then at least for a pause while I shift from one understanding of the world to another,” he wrote. Guevara’s desire to continue travelling did come true – as part of Fidel Castro’s government he visited countries across Europe, Africa and Asia – but he did not get a chance to enjoy a quiet retirement in his home country. On October 9, 1967, the US-backed Bolivian army executed Guevara, shooting him nine times, before burying him in an unmarked grave. His ideology and beliefs, however – the ones shaped so much by the 5,000-mile journey he took with his friend – continue to inspire people to this day. BD


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Guyana Tourism

Unknown pleasures Despite its many wonders, Guyana is not as well known as its larger South American neighbours. But efforts to market the country to North American tourists mean that visitor numbers are set to rise, writes Barclay Ballard Among the least well known of all the countries in South America, Guyana covers just 215,000sq km and has a population of little over 770,000. Its cultural ties mean the country is often considered part of the Caribbean, even though it is located on the continental mainland, bordered by Venezuela, Suriname and Brazil. Perhaps the only time the country could claim to have been in the international spotlight is one it would rather forget: the 1978 Jonestown massacre. Despite its relative obscurity, Guyana has plenty to offer visitors. The country has certainly earned the right to call itself the ‘land of the giants’, boasting the world’s largest species of snake, spider and rodent. Kaieteur Falls, the planet’s tallest single-drop waterfall, is a must-see, as is the rest of the national park surrounding it. Annual visitor numbers currently hover around the quarter of a million mark, but efforts are underway to drive greater footfall. In particular, Guyana is looking to target North America by launching new marketing campaigns and partnering with airlines in the US and Canada. If these proposals have the desired impact, then Guyana may not remain undiscovered for much longer.

On the rise Guyana may not top many people’s list of places to visit, but its tourism industry is experiencing a robust period of growth. The sector expanded 18.3 percent yearon-year during the first six months of 2018, the fastest growth seen in the Caribbean region. Although it still has a long way to go before it is thought of as an 82

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alternative to South America’s most popular destinations, the country’s progress is commendable. Brian Mullis, Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), told Business Destinations that because Guyana doesn’t attract the same number of visitors as, say, Brazil or Argentina, it offers different pleasures to the intrepid few who make the journey there. “Guyana’s tourism product boasts authentic nature, adventure and cultural experiences that are virtually unheard of today,” Mullis said. “It provides an opportunity to travel great distances without seeing another human – or any sign of one – the opportunity to have a national icon like Kaieteur Falls all to yourself and the chance to interact with indigenous people in their villages without an interpreter. Here, every traveller feels like a pioneer.” Although last year’s figures may have been boosted somewhat by the Guyana Jubilee celebrations – visitor numbers were up 102 percent during the festivities – this cannot explain the longer-term upward trend witnessed in the country since 2013. Much of the credit for this should be given to local tourism organisations, which have launched a number of strategic marketing efforts in recent years. Full-time representation in target markets and a robust digital strategy have both proven effective. As media interest in the country has grown, more travellers have become aware of Guyana’s many draws. This is providing benefits for local people and domestic businesses. Tourism is already worth eight percent of Guyana’s GDP, but this figure is sure to grow in the coming years.

Northern neighbours In November 2018, American Airlines launched its first service to Guyana, flying passengers from Miami to Georgetown. As the inaugural flight landed, a small ceremony attended by officials from both the US and Guyana demonstrated the significance of the new route. Convincing American Airlines to serve the Guyanese market is not the only approach tourism officials have taken to target North American visitors: last year, the GTA partnered with Emerging Destinations, a marketing agency specialising in the travel sector, and Green Team Global, a strategy and communications agency, to improve Guyana’s presence in Canada and the US. “The North American market [and] the UK are Guyana’s key source markets, and Germany and the Netherlands are priorit y investment markets,” explained Nicola Balram, Senior Officer of Marketing at the GTA. “Our focus as an agency has always been on our key markets. However, in 2018, Destination



Guyana Tourism

Guyana in numbers:

215,000sq km 770,000+ 250,000 8% AREA




Guyana has taken a big step in strengthening that connection by appointing market representation in these places for the first time. This is beginning to yield better marketing outcomes through increased awareness of Destination Guyana and increased market demand for our unique product offering.” One of the ways in which Guyana is boosting its appeal overseas is by focusing on the niche areas where it excels. With more than 900 different species of bird, for example, the country is a haven for birdwatchers. Its populations of jaguar, giant anteater, giant otter, black caiman, anaconda and arapaima, meanwhile, ensure it appeals to wildlife spotters in general. Sport fishing in the country’s Rewa and Rupununi rivers will also attract anglers looking for a more exotic catch. While it may be small in size, Guyana has a distinct advantage over its neighbours: as the only state in South America to have English as its official language, visitors from the US and Canada need not worry about brushing up on their

Spanish or Portuguese. This is also a unique selling point for the Guyanese tourism authorities when attending major consumer trade shows or launching new marketing materials.

Green agenda

Targeting too much growth too quickly risks making Guyana overly commercialised

Although tourism is more commonly thought of as having a damaging impact on an area’s environment, a sustainable ecotourism programme can form part of a broader strategy to protect the natural landscape. The GTA has been careful to ensure that its activities align with the government’s Green State Development Strategy. “Poorly managed tourism contributes to environmental degradation,” Mullis said. “Conversely, well-managed tourism is renowned for its potential to contribute to conservation and the preservation of the natural heritage upon which it depends. This reality prompted the GTA’s vision, which is to be recognised locally and internationally as a premier destination for protecting its natural

and cultural heritage, providing authentic experiences and maximising local economic benefits.” Incorporating sustainable tourism best practices has been a priority for tourist enterprises in the small South American country for some time now; a fact that is demonstrated by a number of ecotourism initiatives. Kaieteur National Park, for example, was one of the first protected areas in all of South America, while the Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society has been managing the fragile ecosystem of the Shell Beach area for almost 30 years. Of course, the GTA’s desire to increase visitor numbers – both from North America and elsewhere – will create added risk for the natural environment. The indigenous groups that call Guayana home, such as the Macushi, will also need added protection. Fortunately, the GTA is collaborating with the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, as well as individual tribes, to ensure these communities are heard. The GTA currently has a difficult job on its hands. Targeting too much growth too quickly risks making Guyana overly commercialised. After all, the country’s obscurity and undiscovered nature is one of its main selling points. Existing efforts to gradually open the country up to the North American market suggest tourism officials have sustainability in mind, even as they pursue greater growth. Hopefully, this approach will continue to be prioritised, ensuring the country’s rich biodiversity and stunning natural landmarks can be enjoyed by both locals and travellers for years to come. BD

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SITTING ON A GOLD MINE The Ecuadoran Government has grand plans for its mining industry, hoping to make the most of the country’s rich natural resources. In order to do so sustainably, it will need to consider the rights of its indigenous communities, writes Barclay Ballard Developing countries are often faced with a dilemma that more advanced nations never had to contend with. Without mature service sectors to propel their economies forward, they are left with little choice but to exploit their natural resources in order to improve the lives of their citizens. However, they must also do so at a time of heightened awareness of environmental issues. In Ecuador, this conundrum has become more pronounced over the past year. Just like Colombia and Peru, the country has significant mineral deposits – notably copper, iron ore, gold and silver. Unlike its Andean neighbours, however, the mining industry in Ecuador remains underdeveloped. Although this partly stems from geographical factors – the locations of some mineral deposits present logistical and financial difficulties – government policy has also played a key role. In 2008, a new mining mandate passed by the Ecuadoran Constituent Assembly removed or diminished many of the incentives for foreign firms to invest in the country’s mining sector. By 2012, Ecuador was receiving less foreign direct investment (FDI) per person than any other South American nation. Mining may threaten Ecuador’s natural beauty, but it has the potential to improve the economic fortunes of a country where more than 20 percent of the population lives in poverty. The difficult 84

task facing the Ecuadoran Government, therefore, is developing its mining sector sustainably, while also balancing the interests of foreign companies, environmental groups and indigenous communities.

Ecuadoran mining as a proportion of GDP:

Making ground


Although Ecuador has some catching up to do before its mining industry can rival those of other South American nations, recent progress has been impressive. Since 2013, the government has been actively trying to restore the country’s reputation among mineral investors. Between 2016 and 2018, mining grew from 0.8 percent to 1.55 percent of GDP, and the aim is for this figure to hit four percent by 2021. The Ecuadoran Government awarded 300 mining concessions to private companies in December 2017, up from 237 in September. Overseas conglomerates are obviously eager to take advantage of Ecuador’s more open policies, but local people will benefit too: the decision to open 33 mining sites in the province of Azuay is expected to create 1,800 new jobs. One of the international firms poised to gain from Ecuador’s mining boom is Lumina Gold. Last year, the Vancouverbased firm responded to the government’s reforms by announcing it would ramp up exploration at its Cangrejos gold-copper project. In particular, regulatory changes made it economically viable for Lumina to begin drilling on the west side of the

0.8% 1.55% 4% 2018

2021 (TARGET)

Cangrejos mine, the Gran Bestia satellite deposit and the Orquideas area. “This represents a crucial first step in demonstrating the value of the Cangrejos project to both Lumina shareholders and Ecuador,” explained Marshall Koval, President and CEO of Lumina Gold. “The preliminary economic assessment establishes that Cangrejos is one of the top 15 [underdeveloped] gold projects in the world based on its average annual production potential. Our team is confident that with further drilling, engineering and study, we will continue to increase the scale of the project and improve its economics.” Many other mining projects in Ecuador are also being driven by FDI. SolGold, an Australian company, is looking to further develop its Cascabel copper-gold deposit in the north-west of the country, while two Chinese firms – Junefield Mineral Resources and the CRCC-Tongguan consortium – are also active. This is only the beginning: by 2021, the Ecuadoran Government expects to receive $4bn in mining investment.

Digging a hole Many of Ecuador’s new mining developments are currently at the exploration stage, and it will be a number of years before the government and local people reap the full rewards of the deals being struck. The time it takes for mining projects to get underway also provides

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If the Ecuadoran Government wishes to avoid further conflict with indigenous people, it must be more prudent when expanding the mining industry into new areas

Left: In 2014, Huaorani natives marched through Quito in an effort to ban oil drilling in Yasuni National Park

an opportunity for certain groups to challenge their legitimacy. Indigenous people in particular have long held deep concerns about the damage mining activities have on their communities and the natural resources they rely on for survival. Last year, they were given hope that Ecuador’s economic development would not be allowed to come at the expense of their own rights. On October 22, 2018, Ecuador’s provincial court ruled that the government’s decision to award mining concessions close to the Aguarico River violated the indigenous Cofán people of Sinangoe’s rights to water, food and a healthy environment. The decision nullified 52 concessions and prevents future development across more than 32,000 hectares of rainforest. “This is a great victory for our community, for our people and for all indigenous

peoples,” said Sinangoe President Mario Criollo. “We are not just fighting for our people, but for everyone who depends on clean water and clean air. This victory is a huge step forward for our children and for future generations. We will remain vigilant in our territory and will continue fighting until we have legal title over our entire ancestral homeland.” The victory is part of a growing number of legal battles facing the industry. Last November, another setback arose after regional political administrators from the Cotacachi Canton brought a landmark court case against the Ecuadoran Government. They argued that by failing to consult the local people or authorities before giving over large swathes of the Intag Valley for mining concessions, the government was in violation of the national constitution. Earlier in 2018, a similar case emerged in the Sucumbíos province. According to Sam Leung, Vice President of Corporate Development at exploration firm Adventus Zinc, “community relations” is one of the biggest risks facing mining investment in Ecuador. If the government wishes to avoid further conflict with indigenous people – and the possibility of more defeats – it must be more prudent when expanding the industry into new areas.

Showing mettle The Yasuni Biosphere Reserve and National Park covers 9,820sq km, stretching across the eastern foothills of the Andes mountain range. It is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, home to a multitude of mammals, reptiles

and birds, and perhaps as many as 100 different species of tree per acre of land. The tranquillity offered by such a location, as well as the opportunity to interact with indigenous people, is one of the main draws for visitors, but both are under threat as a result of Ecuador’s resource extraction policy. Underneath the national park lies as many as 1.67 billion barrels of oil. In 2013, an initiative looking to raise $3.6bn in order to leave the oil reserves untouched failed, with the international community unable to raise even 10 percent of the target figure. As a result, exploration is now underway, and criticism from local groups and environmentalists may not be enough to rein it in. In 2018, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a UN expert on indigenous people’s rights, declared that Ecuador’s current development plans made indigenous communities “invisible”. Instead of damaging this unique natural habitat with oil drilling, Ecuador could instead ramp up its ecotourism efforts to boost government revenues. In other parts of the country where mining projects are being explored, the thoughts of all stakeholders must be considered before drilling begins. Ecuador’s economic development should not come at the cost of the country’s environment or culture. If politicians will not listen to petitions or protests, then perhaps the courts will make them take notice. Going up against the national government and multibilliondollar companies is daunting, and the people of Ecuador may not always win, but recent victories suggest it is a battle worth fighting. BD

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The LGBTQ travel sector has been growing since the 1970s. Industry players can stand to gain from becoming more inclusive, but the social implications of such a shift are even more critical, writes Elizabeth Matsangou Âť




o be lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual or queer (LGBTQ) isn’t merely about sexual preference – it plays an integral role in one’s self-identification. It doesn’t simply switch on and off depending on where you are or whom you’re with, though this ‘closeting’ or ‘passing’ does still occur. Fortunately, LGBTQ individuals are increasingly being met with acceptance across the globe, making being ‘out’ easier – and safer – than ever before. While homophobia and ignorance still exist, never in modern history have LGBTQ people been as visible as they are today. This is evidenced by the group’s increasingly powerful voice in the media, as well as the growing number of countries that have legalised same-sex marriage. Starting with the Netherlands in 2001, today gay marriage is legal in 27 countries. In line with this change is an uptick in the LGBTQ travel market, which, according to the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), “refers to the development and marketing of tourism products and services to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people”. While LGBTQfriendly travel has been around for some time, it is now growing and broadening its offerings, with more industry players developing their marketing strategies to target the LGBTQ segment specifically. Unsurprisingly, it’s not just social equality that drives these companies to offer more inclusive services – it’s also the ‘pink dollar’, the name given to money spent by members of the LGBTQ community. 88

According to research by Out Now Consulting, LGBTQ residents of the US spent $63.1bn on travel in 2018, representing a 1.9 percent average annual growth rate. In Brazil, the total spend was $26.8bn, while the UK’s LGBTQ community spent $11.7bn last year. These figures are set to grow further: according to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), LGBTQ travel is one of the fastest-growing markets in the worldwide travel industry.

From Mykonos, with love LGBTQ travel arguably landed in 1973 when the first gay-only tour of the Grand Canyon was offered by US-based company He Travel. The segment grew during the 1970s and 1980s with the rise of gay resorts. One example is Fort Lauderdale’s Marlin Beach Hotel, which was advertised as ‘America’s premier gay resort’ in a trailblazing campaign in national gay magazines. Meanwhile, in Europe, the Greek island of Mykonos became a firm favourite with the gay community, known for its liberal attitudes, wild parties and celebrity clientele. Another pivotal moment came in 1983 when the IGLTA (then called the IGTA) was created. Among its influential founding members was Kevin Mossier, who created the first gay cruise company, RSVP Vacations. Since then, the industry has only continued to grow. “Fortunately, in recent years many countries have taken effective measures to combat discrimination,” said Juan Juliá, founder and president of Axel Hotels, the world’s first chain of hotels designed with



Axel Hotel Berlin


Axel Hotel Barcelona

Juan Juliá, founder and president of Axel Hotels








Entire market






LGBTQ guests in mind. “These include removing criminal sanctions for consensual same-sex conduct, legal prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status, [and the] legal recognition of the gender identity of transgender persons without abusive requirements”. Jeff Guaracino, co-author of Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing and CEO of Visit Philadelphia, explained how such legal changes have affected the travel market: “Focusing on Europe, most of North America [and] some countries in [Asia], you are seeing more and more people who are out travellers, people who are coming out of the closet and either getting married, serving openly in the military, or also showing up

to Pride events.” What’s more, with samesex marriage now more widely available, there has been a surge in wedding-related travel. With couples having waited years, or even decades, to tie the knot, the past three years have seen a flurry in destination weddings and honeymoons in particular. Guaracino added: “Part of it is generational… Millennials tend to be more out anyway.” Sadly, he noted, this is not true of all countries, with many places around the world still repressing LGBTQ rights, and in some cases persecuting members of the community.

Power of the pink dollar As stated in the UNWTO’s Second Global Report on LGBT Tourism, “[LGBTQ] travellers have become recognised as a segment that travels with greater frequency and demonstrates higher-than-average patterns of spending”. Various studies, including one by the Southern Economic Journal, give weight to the argument, showing that lesbian women and gay men often out-earn their straight peers. In correlation with this trend, greater visibility of LGBTQ consumers makes them easier to identify as a customer » 89



segment, the UNWTO’s report explains. As such, more products are designed specifically with LGBTQ travellers in mind, such as honeymoons for same-sex couples or tours for groups of lesbian women or gay men. Meanwhile, a growing number of destinations and service providers worldwide are now diversifying their offerings to better welcome LGBTQ consumers. When asked what advice he offers to hotels reaching out to the market, Guaracino said: “I always think it’s a really good first step to continue to evaluate how the property... treats [its] own LGBTQ employees: are they supported? Are they trained? Are they treated [as] equally as other members of the community?” A selfaudit can assess these aspects and ensure that the venue offers an inclusive environment. Then there is educating desk and concierge staff about local LGBTQ neighbourhoods and businesses – particularly shops, bars and restaurants. “Just having that information readily available sounds 90

very basic, but ensuring [it’s] there is also a good sign,” he told Business Destinations. Guaracino also recommends targeted marketing during peak and off-peak periods, which will help put “heads in beds” all year round, as research shows that LGBTQ travellers tend to travel during low seasons. Hotels that have information on their website about local events, as well as advice on the relevant legislation and cultural attitudes in the area, are more likely to attract LGBTQ customers. Simply adding a rainbow flag to a reception desk might look good, but it is by no means the only effort needed to capture this burgeoning market – it takes a far more inclusive, all-encompassing approach. For example, when asked how his hotels welcome LGBTQ guests, Juliá said: “The Axel Hotels chain is known for promoting connections between guests who stay at our hotels and the local community in each destination. It’s not just a question of sightseeing or visiting, but also a question of

living and feeling. In that regard, we act as hosts of the city and we propose attending events, parties and activities that best favour the scene and the interaction between the LGBTQ community.”

Let’s get digital Technological developments have gone a long way towards making travel easy, safe and enjoyable for the LGBTQ community. Guaracino told Business Destinations: “Through connectivity with the internet and through apps, you can connect people worldwide who share a similar history, culture or orientation.” Advertising has evolved in line with a more digitally focused world, “following where gay travellers are, which is increasingly online”, Guaracino added. Though print is still effective for destination branding, we’re seeing more online travel magazines, such as ManAboutWorld, which can only be read on an iPad or smartphone, or travel site Spartacus,



which offers an abundance of travel information for the gay community. Reviews from every type of traveller and from every corner of the planet are also a boon for LGBTQ consumers. Instead of relying on PR promises and carefully crafted marketing spins, consumers can gain genuine insight into a hotel, airline or tour operator, and gauge just how welcoming they really are. This is key, particularly as safety remains a top concern for LGBTQ travellers. According to a 2017 survey by the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, more than half of LGBTQ people have been subjected to offensive comments or abuse as a result of their sexuality. Growing up with a different sexual or gender identity from their peers can incite negative reactions ranging from slurs to violence; for some, it continues through to adulthood. “For this reason, those places or businesses [that] celebrate diversity and make an extra effort to demonstrate that

all are welcome are frequently rewarded with the loyalty of [LGBTQ] customers,” according to the UNWTO report. A 2011 study by Harris Interactive found that in 2007, 66 percent of LGBTQ adults were “likely to remain loyal to a brand they believe to be very friendly and supportive to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community”, even when others offered lower prices or were more convenient. In 2011, the number had risen to 71 percent; this support of LGBTQ-friendly brands is likely to increase in the coming years. Some hotel brands are now going the extra mile to make LGBTQ people feel more welcome, with Hilton, Carlton, Marriott and Wynn being good examples. Ranging from promoting LGBTQ-owned businesses to supporting local events, these brands show that being connected to LGBTQ communities is key. Engaging with community-run enterprises can provide hotels with invaluable insight, as well as precious authenticity. » 91



ENGAGING WITH COMMUNITY-RUN ENTERPRISES CAN PROVIDE HOTELS WITH INVALUABLE INSIGHT, AS WELL AS PRECIOUS AUTHENTICITY Big-ticket events At the heart of the LGBTQ events segment is Pride, an annual international celebration of the LGBTQ community that takes place in cities across the globe. “It is a proven destination event,” Guaracino noted, explaining that the event’s appeal lies in meeting other LGBTQ people from the area and around the world, in addition to knowing the entertainment will be of a very high calibre. Pride’s appeal goes much deeper, too. “Pride events can serve… a very important role in introducing a part of a destination that people might not have known,” said Guaracino. He cites Manchester in the UK as a city that has used its 10-day Pride festival to demonstrate what a modern, gay-friendly city it is. With Pride, Manchester has emerged from London’s overwhelming shadow as a popular LGBTQ destination in the UK. “Gay Pride events also are a nice introduction to the LGBTQ travel market – so, 92

for example, Louisville, Kentucky in the US, or other smaller destinations… [It] gives a signal to people that there is a local community… that’s well supported and something that might be of interest,” Guaracino told Business Destinations. The Gay Games, first held in San Francisco in 1982, is another massive LGBTQ event that draws in crowds from around the globe. The next instalment will take place in Hong Kong in 2022, the first time an Asian destination has hosted the world’s biggest sporting event led by LGBTQ athletes. As such, it will act as an important signal to the market, promoting Hong Kong as a gay-friendly travel destination and bringing in new visitors from across the world. Another example is Sitges in Spain, a town that has built a very strong LGBTQ following that reaches far beyond Europe. An hour outside of Barcelona by train, Sitges runs themed events targeted at

the gay community. These week-long events help the town extend its busy seasons, while also allowing this otherwise unknown destination to take a leading position in the LGBTQ travel market.

All together now While there are certain actions that companies can take to welcome LGBTQ consumers, it is likewise vital to remember that the LGBTQ community is not a homogenous group and therefore each individual will not have the same preferences. For example, one person may identify as LGBTQ when travelling, while others may choose to pass as straight or cisgender, particularly if they are visiting countries that have anti-gay laws in place. Many choose not to visit them at all, in protest and solidarity with LGBTQ individuals living in those locations. For some, engaging with the local LGBTQ community is a key part of their trip, while others



Left: Castro District, San Francisco Below: The 2014 Gay Games opening ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio

prefer activities that are unique to the area they are visiting. Bearing this diversity in mind while creating marketing campaigns is crucial. It’s also important to note that Millennials tend to be more open about their sexuality and that they expect the same from travel providers. As such, they are more likely to prefer mainstream advertising campaigns, as opposed to marketing offshoots that treat them as a separate group. For example, if a website contains information about weddings, alternating images between heterosexual and homosexual couples getting married at the property can have a significant impact on potential LGBTQ guests. Guaracino also recommends rotating through key events and local attractions and “including if there is a well-defined ‘gaybourhood’ – San Francisco’s Castro [District], for example”. He added: “I think that more inclusive words and pictures in the overall web-

site, especially through imagery… would be more current and more effective.” LGBTQ families are another growing segment that would benefit from more inclusive marketing. While it has long been assumed that LGBTQ people do not tend to have children (which is credited as one of the reasons their spending power is often higher than average), we are now seeing a marked shift in this incorrect perception. As a result, LGBTQ family travel has become a fast-growing segment in the market. Gregg Kaminsky and Kelli Carpenter put LGBTQ family travel on the map when they launched R Family Vacations, the world’s first LGBTQ family-orientated cruise company, in 2004. “They really… highlighted the issue, not only of same-sex marriage between women but also family travel,” said Guaracino. “That issue... came to the forefront in people’s minds who never really thought about gay couples having families as a viable market segment.”

LGBTQ tourism isn’t just growing at an incredible pace – it’s expanding outwards, too. There are now more options available to LGBTQ travellers than ever before. This is key for several reasons, as Juliá told Business Destinations: “This segment can be a powerful vehicle for economic development, social inclusion and the competitiveness of tourism destinations.” Industry players have a lot to gain by catering to the LGBTQ community. Aside from the economic advantages of the pink dollar, creating a more inclusive tourism sector has broader social benefits. Mark Twain famously said: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” With LGBTQ individuals finding greater acceptance across the globe, the community is becoming more visible than ever. LGBTQ tourism isn’t just a growing sub-sector of the vast travel industry; it’s a huge leap in the progression of cultural attitudes worldwide. BD 93



Virtual Reality


Augmented and virtual reality technologies are emerging as disruptive forces in the travel industry. Courtney Goldsmith asks whether the United Arab Emirates could be a testing ground for these immersive attractions Imagine that, while dreaming up your next big travel adventure, you could slip on a pair of glasses and test out the views at a few different destinations. Or, while scrolling through a list of flights or hotels, you could take a virtual tour before making your purchase. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies were selected by Lonely Planet as one of the trends expected to take the industry by storm in 2019. Whether igniting the travel bug with a 360-degree view or enhancing a historic trip with augmented re-enactments, this technology has the potential to completely overhaul the travel experience. One country that is already becoming a hotbed of activity for VR and AR is the UAE. The market for these technologies is expected to grow at an annual rate of 55 percent from 2017 to 2023, according to market research firm 6Wresearch. Meanwhile, International Data Corporation has predicted that the market for VR and AR in the Middle East and Africa region will reach a value of $6bn by 2020.

A game-changer Dubai has been positioned as the tourism hub of the Gulf region. The emirate – one of seven that make up the country – is well on its way to becoming one of the most visited cities in the world. According to 94

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the latest Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index, Dubai was the fourth-most visited city in the world in 2017, with 15.79 million travellers. The index predicted that tourism would grow by a further 5.5 percent in 2018. Tourism has become an economic boon for Dubai, generating $7.6trn in 2016, or more than 10 percent of GDP, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. The industry also supported 292 million jobs globally, equal to one in 10 jobs. At the same time, the UAE has demonstrated its regional leadership in emerging technologies. Throughout the country, companies in retail, real estate and events drive innovation by embracing advances in technology, such as VR and AR. For instance, in 2018, the world’s biggest ever VR park was introduced in Dubai, offering numerous virtual experiences and games. The 7,000sq m VR Park Dubai, which is located in the Dubai Mall, was a first-ofits-kind attraction in the Middle East. Shujat Mirza is a consultant and the Dubai Chapter President of the VR/AR Association, which aims to foster collaboration between innovative companies and people in the VR and AR sectors. Mirza told Business Destinations that these technologies have grown rapidly in the UAE, especially over the last 18 months. “I remember in 2015–16, very

few people or brands knew about the technology, let alone [had] experience with it,” Mirza said. “But now we have VR/AR forums, we have conferences, we have locally generated content and, more importantly, major players like HTC Vive taking a keen interest in the market and initiating a lot of encouraging campaigns to enhance the VR/AR ecosystem and create sustainable growth.” Mirza was first inspired by the possibilities of virtual and augmented technologies when he saw Nike using AR to enhance the shopping experience for its customers. From that moment, he saw just how widespread the disruption caused by VR and AR would be. “VR [and] AR are game changers,” Mirza said. “[They are] changing how we collaborate, how we communicate and how we work or even shop.” But not only are these technologies changing the way we consume content and entertain ourselves, they are also transforming the way we interact with the world.



Virtual Reality

VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY HAS THE POTENTIAL TO COMPLETELY OVERHAUL THE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE zipline to the UK by equipping Brits with a VR headset that would transport them to the UAE with 360-degree-views of the mountainous landscape. At the time, Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, explained: “One of our key areas of focus is growing our global reputation as the adventure tourism hub of the Middle East, and we wanted to do something innovative to showcase the world’s longest zipline to thrillseekers in London.”

Closing the gap

Virtual disruption There is almost no segment of the travel industry that VR or AR could not disrupt. One simple way companies are bringing the tech into the mainstream is by slotting virtual or augmented attractions into popular tourist hotspots. For instance, in the Dubai Mall, virtual and augmented technologies are not only being used in the VR Park, but also in the VRZOO at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. This immersive experience allows consumers to take in 360-degree views of threatened species in their natural habitats, from gorillas in the Ugandan forests to whale sharks in the Maldives. The Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world – is another prime example. AR and VR services company ARküb installed interactive telescopes in the building in 2014 to enhance the consumer experience of identifying landmarks from the 124th and 125th floors of the 828m-tall building.

Visitors can also take a VR adventure in the Burj Khalifa in which they climb to the top of the building before free-falling all the way down to the ground. The ride was borne out of a partnership between HTC Vive Pro and real estate company Emaar. There are many ways in which virtual and augmented technologies could be implemented to personalise services and make them more immersive and helpful for consumers. Mirza explained: “In my opinion, not only can VR/AR enhance a passenger’s travel in terms of entertainment, but they can also be used as an efficient sales tool to showcase premium services and encourage them to upgrade, as seeing is believing.” Major airlines such as Emirates and Etihad Airways have introduced VR services that allow flyers to preview the look and feel of an aircraft before stepping inside. The emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has used VR to promote one of its top tourist spots: the world’s longest zipline. The emirate’s tourism department brought the

With an increasing number of companies finding success in VR and AR technologies, Mirza said that now anyone with a decent 360-degree camera could create their own virtual worlds. Hassan Kiyany, a visual storyteller from the UAE and the founder of immersive video production agency Kiyany, has become a leader in the creation of VR experiences. In 2015, Forbes Middle East named Kiyany as one of the leading media storytellers in the UAE, and he has won multiple awards for his films. Speaking to The National, Kiyany said he hopes his VR films will open the UAE up to more of the world. “People want an authentic experience of a place,” he said. “We know the UAE has so much culture – it is all around us – and it’s up to us to tell this story of real people and real places so people want to visit and meet these people who inspire others and me.” By inspiring people around the world to take a look inside a city they might not have ever considered visiting, Kiyany said virtual films could have a big impact on travel and tourism. “We can bridge a gap to make it easier for people to explore another culture. It can be eye-opening and very powerful,” he said. The UAE has developed a modern approach to tourism that could soon pay dividends. If it continues to find innovative ways for VR and AR technologies to transform its tourism sector, it may one day achieve its dream of making Dubai the most visited city in the world. BD

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Adventure Tourism

TEAM-BUILDING GETS AN ADRENALINE FIX With a culture as unique as its landscape, Oman is a stunning destination for MICE activities, writes Nataly Fedchenko, General Manager of twenty3 extreme Forget everything you know about the Middle East. Oman is like no other country in the region – it is a gem nestled amid sand dunes, mountains and the deep blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The country is just a 40-minute flight from Dubai, but the difference between the two destinations is striking. Instead of the skyscrapers that characterise Dubai, Oman’s skyline is made up of low, traditionally built houses and rocky mountain ranges. Hospitality in Oman comes from the heart. Visitors should be ready to try a selection of local kahwa, meaning ‘coffee’ in Arabic, which are offered as a welcome gesture in homes, hotels and restaurants. Tradition and heritage are important for Oman, so even the most luxurious hotels are carefully designed to blend into the landscape and integrate with Omani hospitality and culture. With its stunning and varied landscape, Oman offers vast potential for adventure, from challenging trekking routes to a 400m-deep cave system that you can explore with professional support. The leading adventure operator in Oman, twenty3 extreme, offers adventurous travel experiences. Locally owned and managed by an international team, 96

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make a perfect playground for quests, giving visitors a real taste of Oman. Those seeking an adrenaline fix will also find they are catered for in Oman. The raw, unspoilt nature is the perfect setting for beginners to explore canyons and caves, while hardcore adventurers can traverse high ropes and climb sheer rock faces.

twenty3 extreme upholds world-class service and international safety standards. Customers will experience the spirit of Oman on adventures led by a team of qualified Omani and UK instructors. The team manages extreme activities such as multi-day treks, but also offers a range of MICE activities and team-building programmes, from glamping in the wilderness to cross-country quests.

Explore like a local

Extreme adventures With diverse topography and culture, Oman has something for everyone and makes a perfect destination for a group or team-building session. You can take part in a kayaking tour one day, and then sleep in a tent 2,000m above sea level and trek across the desert with a Bedouin guide the day after. All adventures are connected by highways, making transport simple. As well as showcasing Oman’s landscape, twenty3 extreme’s activities introduce travellers to the country’s unique culture. Customers can go fishing, watch a traditional dhow boat being made or trek through local villages, exploring their terraced farms and rose gardens. Multiple ancient forts and local markets

With diverse topography and culture, Oman has something for everyone and makes a perfect destination for a group or teambuilding session

Twenty3 extreme knows that the best locations are off the beaten track, in places familiar only to those with an intimate knowledge of the area. Local experts at twenty3 extreme will help visitors navigate the country’s breathtaking topography while managing the logistics, transportation, accommodation, visas and any other special requirements, from helicopter rides to dinners inside caves. Each guest is unique and each itinerary is designed with that customer in mind. You can spend the day trekking along the edge of Oman’s Grand Canyon, with a 2,000m drop just behind you, or challenge yourself and your teammates to a 200m protected climb up the cliffs of Jebel Shams. In the evening, guests can rewind at one of the luxury hotels trusted by twenty3 extreme. BD FURTHER INFORMATION:



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Oman Tourism

the hotel’s team of highly trained and experienced banqueting staff, can turn any event into a success.

Luxury leader

Omani opulence

Oman’s popularity as a destination for business travellers and tourists is fast increasing. Leading the industry’s evolution is the Hormuz Grand Muscat, a Radisson Collection Hotel, writes Panos Panagis, General Manager and District Director at the hotel As a blossoming tourist destination, Oman has plenty to offer visitors from all over the world. Incredible attractions can be found across its cities, villages and towns. Between natural beauty, authentic Middle Eastern architecture and a unique culture, Oman is a great destination for all kinds of visitors. The country is undergoing a period of significant development, both in its infrastructure and economically, which has prompted a surge in business and leisure tourism. Opened in September 2014, the Hormuz Grand Muscat, a Radisson Collection hotel, has kept pace with Oman’s evolution, earning itself a reputation as a prime destination for travellers looking to explore the region. The Hormuz Grand Muscat is enviably positioned between the Al Hajar Mountains and the Gulf of Oman, meaning it is perfectly in tune with Oman’s stunning natural surroundings, while near enough to the city for visitors to explore Muscat’s more energetic side. Additionally, it is located near the central business district, the new Muscat International Airport and the Madinat 98

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Al Irfan development, which houses the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, making it particularly popular with business travellers. The hotel’s proximity to important landmarks in the capital and its engagement in the country’s evolving cultural and business environment have helped shape its growing popularity as a destination that showcases Omani hospitality.

The best there is According to the 2018 GCC Hospitality Industry report, international tourist visits to Oman are expected to increase in the coming year. The hotel takes pride in its position as a key player in the country’s growing reputation as a world-class business and leisure tourism destination. Despite the influx of new hotels opening in and around the capital as a result of its growing popularity, the Hormuz Grand Muscat has held onto its position as a preferred destination. The Hormuz Grand Muscat has 231 elegantly designed rooms and suites and 1,478sq m of exceptional event and business space, which, when combined with


2014 231 1,478sq m OPENED



Spontaneous gestures and thoughtful surprises will create memorable moments for guests, whether they stay at the hotel for a week or just a meal

The Hormuz Grand Muscat, which was a winner in the luxury hospitality category of the 2018 Oman’s Most Trusted Brand Awards, believes in the winning combination of luxury and exceptional experiences. Bringing local charm to its lavish interiors, the Hormuz Grand Muscat is structured to present guests with a snapshot of Oman’s art, culture, heritage and tradition. The prime destination features locally curated art and sustainability programmes, in addition to a host of traditional food and drinks. The hotel offers many added extras to make each guest’s stay memorable. Free Wi-Fi will help business travellers be productive, while the spectacular pool, well-equipped gym, leisure facilities and spa provide much-needed space in which to relax. Guests can also enjoy a meal at one of the three onsite restaurants. The Straits serves buffet-style international fare, while Qureshi Bab-Al-Hind specialises in North Indian cuisine. For a more relaxed atmosphere, OMNY Brasserie serves New York-style food with a subtle Omani twist. Staff are always on hand to assist guests in any way they can. Spontaneous gestures and thoughtful surprises will create memorable moments for guests, whether they stay at the hotel for a week or just a meal. With Oman continuing to develop its capacity as a business and leisure destination, the Hormuz Grand Muscat is set to hold its position as one of the region’s most successful venues. BD FURTHER INFORMATION:

www.radissoncollection.com/ hormuz-grand-hotel



Vitoria-Gasteiz, capital of the Basque Country and 2012 European Green Capital is a modern, green, friendly, medieval, and surprising city with a special charm. The Europa Congress Palace, awarded the LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, is a modern example of “green architecture”, ideal for events dealing with environmental issues. We look forward to welcoming you very soon!


Shopping around So-called ‘supermalls’ have exploded in popularity in recent years, even becoming destinations in themselves. However, as consumers increasingly shift towards e-commerce, their survival is in serious jeopardy, writes Sophie Perryer Sprawling across the desert terrain, the Dubai Mall is a sight to behold. This behemothian construction covers 13 million square feet and boasts more than 1,200 stores, along with an indoor theme park, cinema complex and an aquarium and underwater zoo. The mall’s glittering facade hides its true fortunes, though. Footfall has stalled entirely in recent years, remaining stubbornly at 80 million annual visitors since 2014 despite ongoing expansion of the mall and its surrounding area. This stagnation is not limited to the Dubai Mall, either: across the globe, so-called ‘supermalls’ are struggling in the face of changing retail habits and a shift to online commerce, which is robbing them of millions of customers.

Rising popularity Clusters of retailers have existed since the Roman era in the form of bazaars and market squares, but have always grown organically with the infiltration of new traders and products. Modern supermalls 100

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are markedly different in that they are a planned destination for commerce, with a fixed number of retailers all vying for prized consumer attention. Over the course of the 20th century, as businesses realised the value of a concentrated pool of customers, malls began to swell in size. North America and Asia emerged as the top two players in the commercial fight; from 1986 to 2004, the largest enclosed shopping mall in the world was the 3.8 million square foot West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada. It was superseded in 2005 by the current world leader in terms of gross leasable area, the New South China Mall, which boasts just under 7.1 billion square feet of retail space – enough for 2,350 stores. There’s no denying that supermalls’ popularity persists today. The US’ largest mall, Mall of America, welcomes more than 40 million people annually – more than the combined populations of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Canada. Including revenue taken in retail stores, attractions and hotels within the mall, it

generates nearly $2bn in economic activity every year and employs more than 11,000 people from the surrounding area.

Escalating costs





In recent years, however, an e-commerce nor’easter has ripped across the globe, threatening to eradicate the valued consumer base of supermalls. As retail architect Carlos Virgile told Business Destinations: “The role of stores is going through a period of uncertainty and potential transformation; [they are] having to reconsider their formula under the pressure from online shopping affecting profitability and sales.” Supermalls are particularly at risk due to their exorbitant running costs. For example, it cost more than $650m to build Mall of America in 1992 – in comparison, an e-commerce site can be built for a few hundred dollars. The mall’s management team is currently in the process of expanding it further too, adding a $250m water park. That’s just the initial charge, without factoring in maintenance costs of both the water park and the building itself, which, along with electricity, gas and water, could amount to millions of dollars on an annual basis. Security at Mall of America alone costs a staggering $1.1bn every year. This financial drain becomes particularly problematic if it is not offset by




much more financially viable than keeping a supermall alive, especially when its customer base is dwindling every year. Even Amazon, the largest e-commerce site in the world, spent $61.8bn on operating expenses in the 2017 financial year, which, although a substantial figure, pales in comparison to its $177bn total revenue. No physical retail space could offer that kind of profit margin.

Changing the model

consumer spending. Ironically, the New South China Mall, located in Dongguan, is an example of this: when it was constructed in 2005, it was originally intended to attract over 100,000 visitors per day, but for the first 10 years of its existence, it was dubbed a ‘ghost mall’, with just one percent of the retail units leased and very few visitors. This severe underuse was predominantly due to its location: Dongguan is home to around eight million migrant workers, who do not have the disposable income to spend in the New South China Mall’s high-end stores.

The online alternative Given the current decline in brick-andmortar shopping, it’s unclear how long the world’s supermalls will be able to hold out. Black Friday 2018 marked the first time in the holiday’s history that e-commerce sales surpassed those taken in physical stores – US consumers spent $6.2bn online, an increase of 23.6 percent from the previous year, according to data from Adobe Analytics, which tracks transactions for the top 80 internet retailers. Sales made on smartphones accounted for $2bn of that figure. From a pragmatic point of view, running an e-commerce site, even when you factor in the cost of delivering products, is

Across the globe, supermalls are struggling in the face of changing retail habits and a shift to online commerce

In an attempt to guard against the rising e-commerce tide, the solution for many supermalls has been to become a destination in their own right. While malls have long included restaurants and cinemas, many have opted to take the concept further in recent years, adding features such as theme parks, zoos and even fishing lakes in a bid to draw consumers’ attention away from their screens. This transformation doesn’t solely help to attract consumers, but businesses too. Adam Walford, a partner at commercial law firm Howard Kennedy, told Business Destinations: “Malls and shopping centres need to be more than just buildings with shops in them... You can’t just build retail space and hope that commercial tenants will come.” The most successful developments, he argued, create a “community feel – somewhere people can live their lives and are happy to spend their leisure time in.” In this way, they’re more like “villages in a city than shopping malls, creating all sorts of footfall that the retail tenants can benefit from”, Walford added. But, as in so many other areas where supermalls are hopping on the experiential bandwagon, e-commerce is already forging ahead. On Singles Day 2018, China’s one-day mega shopping event,

online marketplace Alibaba hosted a ‘gala shopping event’ at the Mercedes Benz arena in Shanghai, which included performances from Cirque de Soleil and American singer Mariah Carey. A consumerist message was evident in every performance, with some acts even pushing around shopping carts and singing songs with the lyrics “buy, buy, buy”. Other brands, while not going to quite the same extreme as Alibaba, have worked to meld e-commerce into physical shopping events. In 2018, Burberry became one of the first luxury fashion labels to introduce ‘see-now-buy-now’, whereby consumers can purchase items from the designers’ collection via social media as it is being shown on the catwalk. “Digital presence and physical interaction are integral to the shopping experience, often starting before the shopping visit and continuing afterwards,” said Virgile. Where once they might have queued for hours outside the physical store to get their hands on the latest design, shoppers are now able to complete the entire transaction from their sofa – and yet still feel as if they’ve shared in the catwalk experience.

A collective experience Try as they might, brands will never be able to change the fundamental truth of online shopping: that it is predominantly a solo exercise. Beneath all the smoke and mirrors, e-commerce evolved as a solution for a time-strapped world, by alleviating the need for shoppers to visit a specific location, try items on and spend hours queuing to spend their cash. Many people simply do not have the time or inclination to visit brick-and-mortar stores any more, and e-commerce has evolved to satisfy the shopping needs of those consumers. By attempting to integrate timeconsuming social experiences into the online model, brands are demonstrating a lack of understanding of the model that they have created. Nevertheless, as Virgile explained: “As online shopping inevitably increases, the technology-loving customers of today will still need to socialise in person, share experiences and hopefully respect the creativity of a human touch.” Supermalls are poised to jump on that opportunity with their newly minted, experience-driven model that fosters a sense of community, while incorporating the retail aspect. BD

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Making travel


The travel sector has diversified significantly over the past decade, with travel start-ups founded between 2008 and 2018 receiving more than $19bn through funding and acquisitions. This has introduced more competition within the sector, particularly with regards to the ground transportation market, which has seen several extremely large funding rounds in the past 12 months. In August, automotive giant Toyota invested $500m in Uber, while car-sharing service Getaround snagged $300m in the same month. Larger travel brands have also increased their offerings to expand their already substantial market shares. In April last year, hotel and home rentals site Booking.com announced it was “trying to create a [holistic] system” by incorporating restaurant, rental car and flight booking options into its existing site. Airbnb has taken this model even further: in 2017, it launched Airbnb Experiences, or activities that allow customers to take advantage of residents’ knowledge and experience local culture. After seeing 2,500 percent growth in experience bookings in 2017, the home rentals platform announced plans to expand the model to more than 1,000 cities in 2018.

Originality is key Airbnb’s offering taps into a larger trend seen in 2018: the search for authentic, original travel. Filip Boyen, CEO of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, told the Independent: “We’re all aware of the ‘experience economy’, with consumers increasingly opting to indulge in memorable experiences in favour of investing in luxury items. In 2018… travellers [were] looking to get their hands dirty with hands-on luxury experiences, allowing them to create enriching, evocative memories for themselves.”

Affluent customers are increasingly expecting a customisable experience, which hotels have been able to deliver by providing a personalised service based on guests’ interests. Instagram has proved a particularly productive way for hotels to publicise this aspect of their services, with many businesses working with industry influencers to promote options such as personalised dining choices or having their initials monogrammed onto hotel amenities.

Time and space Flight operators are also tapping into this customisable model, with many adopting a ‘pay

AFFLUENT CUSTOMERS ARE INCREASINGLY EXPECTING A CUSTOMISABLE EXPERIENCE, WHICH HOTELS HAVE DELIVERED BY PROVIDING A PERSONALISED SERVICE BASED ON GUESTS’ INTERESTS for what you use’ approach to both long and short-haul air travel. In April, airline alliance SkyTeam, which includes KLM, Air France and Delta, was the first group of operators to introduce lower-cost tickets for long-haul flights that did not include catering or checked baggage. Meanwhile, in November, Ryanair – Europe’s largest airline – made it compulsory for passengers to pay separately to bring a second item of luggage into the cabin, where previously this had been included in the cost of a ticket. The airline said the policy would reduce delays as a result of people struggling to find space in overhead lock-

ers on busy flights – however, the move sparked outcry from passengers. From low budget to high end, some airline operators are introducing long-haul flights with no stopovers on popular routes, for which customers pay a premium. In March, Qantas introduced a non-stop flight from London to Perth, covering a distance of 14,529km. Singapore Airlines followed in its footsteps in October by re-introducing its Singapore to New York route, which takes 18 hours and 45 minutes and covers 16,700km. The Airbus A350-900 ULR aircraft that flies this route has no economy-class seats, which the airline said was in order to “market [itself] as a premium service provider”. These routes have proved particularly popular with corporate travellers, as it has allowed many to streamline the amount of time spent travelling between international commercial partners or offices.

Thick skin The next 12 months are likely to be characterised by upheaval, particularly in Europe. The UK’s impending exit from the EU is likely to have a major impact on continental travel, with the initial transition period set to be marked by significant uncertainty with regards to freedom of movement and travel visas. The travel providers that react quickly and continue to deliver a valuebased offering to business and leisure consumers are the most likely to emerge unscathed from this challenging period. With this in mind, Business Destinations has assembled a list of the most innovative and adaptable travel facilitators across the world. Take a look at our awards list, which includes everything from the best business class airlines to the top boutique hotels. Congratulations to all the winners. » SPRING 2019 BD |



T R AV E L AWA R D S 2 0 1 8







Smart Room by AccorHotels


Croatian National Tourist Board

Swiss International Air Lines





Tel: +33 871 663 0624 www.accorhotels.com

Tel: +1 212 858 7690 www.oanda.com

Tel: +385 1 4699 333 www.htz.hr

Tel: +41 848 700 700 www.swiss.com








Eccelsa Aviation





Tel: +1 415 684 7258 www.tripit.com

Tel: +49 893 8000 www.allianz.com

Tel: +372 645 7777 www.visittallinn.ee

Tel: +39 078 956 3480 www.eccelsa.com





Virgin Holidays

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Square Brussels Meeting Centre






Tel: +44 344 739 0063 www.virginholidays.co.uk

Tel: +1 800 819 5053 www.fourseasons.com

Tel: +32 2 515 1300 www.square-brussels.com

Tel: +358 9818 0800 www.finnair.com





John Paul


Congress Centre Messe Frankfurt

Munich Airport





Tel: +33 14 289 8500 www.johnpaul.com

Tel: +44 20 7084 6500 www.trailfinders.com

Tel: +49 69 7575 3411 www.congressfrankfurt.messefrankfurt.com

Tel: +49 899 7500 www.munich-airport.com





Strata Club


Egerton House Hotel

Grand Hotel Tremezzo





Tel: +64 9275 0789 www.aucklandairport.co.nz/strata-club

Tel: +27 11 809 4300 www.andbeyond.com

Tel: +44 20 7589 2412 www.egertonhousehotel.com

Tel: +39 0 3444 2491 www.grandhoteltremezzo.com






Celebrity Cruises

Corinthia Hotel Budapest

Ganimede Hotel





Tel: +49 89 2018 0280 www.drive-now.com/de

Tel: +1 800 722 5934 www.celebritycruises.com

Tel: +36 1479 4000 www.corinthia.com/hotels/budapest

Tel: +30 22 6504 1328 www.ganimede.gr


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Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Delta Air Lines

The Greater Medellin Convention and Visitors Bureau



US Tel: +1 617 536 4100


Tel: +1 800 221 1212 www.delta.com


OCV León


COLOMBIA Tel: +574 261 6060


Tel: +57 5330 2030 www.avianca.com/co




1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

Centro de Exposiciones Quito

Tropical Hotel Manaus





Tel: +52 477 763 4401 www.ocvleon.com

Tel: +1 347 696 2500 www.1hotels.com/brooklyn-bridge

Tel: +593 2244 7751 www.expoceq.ec

Tel: +55 92 3305 7999 www.tropicalmanaus.com.br





South San Francisco Conference Centre

Air Canada

Reboucas Convention Centre

Azul Airlines





Tel: +1 65 0877 8787 www.ssfconf.com

Tel: +1 514 393 3333 www.aircanada.com

Tel: +55 11 3898 7850 www.convencoesreboucas.com.br

Tel: +55 11 4003 3255 www.voeazul.com.br





Hawaii Convention Centre

Portland International Airport

Carrasco International Airport



Tel: +1 808 943 3500 www.meethawaii.com/convention-center/

Tel: +1 503 460 4234 www.flypdx.com

Sheraton Santiago Hotel and Convention Centre


The Langham, Chicago


CHILE Tel: +56 2 2233 5000


Tel: +598 2604 0329 www.aeropuertodecarrasco.com.uy




The Resort at Pedregal

Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel

Charming Luxury Lodge and Private Spa




www.langhamhotels.com/en/ the-langham/chicago/

Tel: +52 624 163 4300 www.theresortatpedregal.com

Tel: +51 8421 1059 www.machupicchuhotels-sumaq.com

Tel: +54 29 4446 2889 www.charming-bariloche.com





Ritz-Carlton, Montréal

Microtel Inn & Suites

Radisson Hotel Colonia del Sacramento

Hotel Torre Dorada





Tel: +598 4523 0460 www.radissoncolonia.com

Tel: +51 8424 1698 www.torredorada.com

US Tel: +1 312 923 9988

Tel: +1 51 4842 4212 Tel: +1 888 222 2142 www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/canada/montreal www.wyndhamhotels.com/microtel

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Visit Dubai

Oman Air

South Africa Tourism




Tel: +971 6 0055 5559 www.visitdubai.com

Tel: +968 2453 1111 www.omanair.com

Tel: +27 118 953 000 www.southafrica.net

Radisson Blu Hotel and Conference Centre, Kigali

RWANDA Tel: +250 252 252 252 www.radissonblu.com/en/hotel-kigali





Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority

Zubarah Hotel Doha

Serengeti National Park

Ethiopian Airlines




ABU DHABI Tel: +97 1 6556 6777


Tel: +974 4447 0000 www.zubarahhotels.com

Tel: +255 272 503 471 www.serengeti.com

Tel: +251 116 656 666 www.ethiopianairlines.com





Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre


Air Seychelles



Tel: +971 0 2444 6900 www.adnec.ae

Tel: +971 6 0055 5555 www.emirates.com

Kenyatta International Convention Centre KENYA Tel: +254 203 261 000


Tel: +248 439 1000 www.airseychelles.com





Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Centre

Hamad International Airport

Radisson Blu Hotel and Conference Centre, Kigali

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport



SAUDI ARABIA Tel: +966 1 1200 6677 www.ricec.com.sa

Tel: +974 4010 6666 www.dohahamadairport.com

RWANDA Tel: +250 252 252 252 www.kigalicc.com





Hormuz Grand Muscat

Al Areen Palace and Spa

Elsa’s Kopje Lodge

Camelot Spa at the Grand Palm



www.radissoncollection.com/en/ hormuz-grand-hotel

Tel: +973 1784 5000 www.alareenpalace.com

Tel: +254 730 127 000 www.elsaskopje.com

BOTSWANA Tel: +267 363 7777 www.grandpalm.bw/things-to-do/ camelot-spa





Sheraton Oman Hotel

Al Futtaim Travel

Radisson Blu Hotel, Dakar Sea Plaza

Le Riad Berbère





Tel: +968 2237 7777 www.sheratonoman.com

Tel: +971 800 2382 www.alfuttaimtravel.com

Tel: +221 338 693 333 www.radissonblu.com/en/hotel-dakar

Tel: + 212 524 381 910 www.leriadberbere.com

OMAN Tel: +968 2435 0500


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MAURITIUS Tel: +230 603 8000



T R AV E L AWA R D S 2 0 1 8







Jeju Convention and Visitors Bureau

Japan Airlines

The Timber Yard






Tel: +82 6473 9220 610 www.jejucvb.or.kr

Tel: +81 570 025 121 www.jal.co.jp

Tel: +61 390 703 470 www.thetimberyard.com.au

Tel: +61 2 9691 3636 www.qantas.com





Tourism Luang Prabang

Hanging Gardens of Bali

Sydney Opera House

Limes Hotel





Tel: +856 7121 2487 www.tourismluangprabang.org

Tel: +62 361 982 700 www.hanginggardensofbali.com

Tel: +61 292 507 111 www.sydneyoperahouse.com

Tel: +61 738 529 000 www.limeshotel.com.au





Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi


Pullman Auckland

Air New Zealand





Tel: +84 243 826 6919 www.sofitel-legend-metropole-hanoi.com

Tel: +886 225 011 999 www.evaair.com

Tel: +64 9353 1000 www.pullmanauckland.co.nz

Tel: +64 93 573 000 www.airnewzealand.co.nz





Pattaya Exhibition and Convention Hall

Seoul Incheon Airport

Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre

Sydney Airport





Tel: +66 3825 0421 www.peachthailand.com

Tel: +82 215 772 600 www.airport.kr

Tel: +61 392 358 000 www.mcec.com.au

Tel: +61 29 667 6111 www.sydneyairport.com.au





Taj Exotica Resort and Spa, Maldives

Meeru Island Resort & Spa

Lamana Hotel

Gaia Retreat and Spa




www.tajhotels.com/en-in/taj/ taj-exotica-maldives

Tel: +960 664 3157 www.meeru.com

Tel: +675 323 2333 www.lamanahotel.com.pg

Tel: +61 26 6871 216 www.gaiaretreat.com.au





The Peninsula Hong Kong

Red Planet

The Warwick Fiji

The Wheelhouse Inn





Tel: +852 2920 2888 www.peninsula.com/en/hong-kong

Tel: +66 2613 5888 www.redplanethotels.com/country/thailand

Tel: +679 653 0555 www.warwickhotels.com/fiji-resort

Tel: +64 35 468 391 www.wheelhouse.co.nz

MALDIVES Tel: +960 400 6000

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Business without borders The African Continental Free Trade Agreement seeks to create an economic alliance between African nations. One area that’s particularly ripe for collaboration is tourism, writes Sophie Perryer On March 21 last year, representatives from 44 African nations came together in Kigali, Rwanda, to sign the momentous African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA). The treaty will create the largest free-trade area in the world, with a single market, currency union and freedom of movement – an economic triumph for the continent. The details of the AfCTA are currently under consideration, with the final draft due to be submitted to the Assembly of the African Union for ratification in January 2020. Once passed, it will change the lives of an estimated 1.2 billion Africans by boosting commerce, growth and employment. The AfCTA is designed to increase 108

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cross-border collaboration between African nations, which is currently hampered by a lack of infrastructure and regulatory hold-ups that have dissuaded Africans from partnering with their closest neighbours. One area that could particularly benefit from new alliances is the tourism sector. Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), told Business Destinations: “The removal of regulations and tariffs would create an enabling business environment, optimal for an increase of investments to tourism infrastructures and projects.” It could also help transform Africa’s international image from that of a

once-in-a-lifetime holiday destination to a source of lucrative business opportunities.

Unexploited opportunities There are currently a number of key barriers that are hindering touristic collaboration in Africa, a significant one being the unequal distribution of funding across the continent. While there’s certainly no shortage of cash available – in October 2018, the World Bank announced it would invest $45bn in Africa over the next three years – some countries are set to benefit far more than others. According to a report by the UN Economic Commission for Africa, of the $3.2bn invested in East Africa’s tourism sector in 2017, 66.4 percent was distributed among just three countries: Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia. These three countries already have much more advanced tourism sectors than other African countries, contributing a collective $6.88bn towards their GDPs in 2017. By contrast, countries such as the Republic of Congo, in which travel and tourism generated a


Cross-Border Collaboration


mere $114m, would see much greater benefit from increased investment. The second crucial issue is international interest in African tourism, which could trigger new trade opportunities. According to data from the WTO, just 63 million of the 1.3 billion people who travelled internationally in 2017 visited Africa. Although this figure is nine percent higher than the previous year, it is still well below Asia’s 324 million and Europe’s 671 million arrivals. Tourism, trade and investment go hand in hand: increased international touristic interest attracts prospective business partners who could invest in SMEs with growth potential. This would boost regional trade and increase employment in a sustainable way. When it comes to attracting international travellers and investors, though, Africa has an image problem to contend with. The continent is often presented to European and American travellers as a unique, experience-driven destination, rather than a source of profitable business. From a





tourist perspective, Professor Dimitrios Buhalis, head of the eTourism Lab at Bournemouth University, noted: “Africa is mainly promoted as one destination, rather than as a continent with a range of destinations, resources, cultures and experiences… African countries and businesses have suffered from that, especially when peace is disrupted or when there are health crises.” As a result, international travellers have been dissuaded from visiting, due to the misconception that the entire continent is off-limits. Pololikashvili added: “It is paramount for each African country to take ownership of its narrative and to reinforce its branding through its strengths and uniqueness in order to collectively contribute to a more positive and diverse image of Africa… For many years, visiting or doing business in Africa was often synonymous with risk and instability.” As a result, African entrepreneurs did not have the opportunity to present themselves as viable business partners for international investors, as

the continent’s reputation staved off any significant interest. But things are now changing. “Initiatives such as the AfCTA prove that African governments are more than ever looking at doing business together, and to improve intra-regional trade,” added Pololikashvili. The economies of subSaharan Africa are making particularly good progress in this area; in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report, subSaharan African economies registered a new record for a third consecutive year, carrying out 107 reforms in 2018 to make the lives of domestic SMEs simpler.

Collective effort Africa is not only working to increase the number of international visitors it receives, but also to encourage intra-African travel. Currently, a lack of direct air routes between different African destinations is inhibiting travellers from visiting their closest neighbours. Buhalis noted: “There are very few connections between African capitals, and quite often people »

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Cross-Border Collaboration

need to travel via Europe between African destinations.” This, he added, is an area that will be particularly improved by the introduction of AfCTA and the emerging African Tourism Board, both of which will “support increased connectivity and accessibility for the continent”. Pololikashvili singled out the creation of the Single African Air Transport Market – a scheme proposed as part of AfCTA – as a key tool to “open up Africa’s skies and improve intra-African air connectivity”. This liberalisation would lead to “increased air service levels and lower fares” through increased competition, which “could lower the cost of service, and bring new business opportunities such as new routes”. To supplement air reforms, a number of nations have implemented bureaucratic changes to make it easier for close neighbours to visit. Both Kenya and South Africa have made long-term visas available for South African academics and businesspeople visiting Kenya, and vice versa. At a press conference announcing the policy, Kenyan Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i said: “This is intended to improve trade between the two countries… and to sup110

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port people engaging in various economic activities of mutual benefit.” In a similar policy, Ethiopia has announced the launch of a new visa-on-arrival service for all African travellers, which has been supported by Ethiopian Airlines. The company’s CEO, Tewolde GebreMariam, said the service will “greatly boost cross-border tourism, trade and investment, further deepening African integration”.

Positive change Other African nations have taken the need to collaborate even further, seeking to establish partnerships to provide a mutual boost to tourism. Speaking at an event in Marrakech at the end of November 2018, the Africa Director of the Moroccan National Tourism Office, Jalal Imani, said the country was actively pursuing a partnership with Nigeria to promote tourism, particularly for other African tourists: “Tourism is a tool for peace and regional unity and integration, and for Africa to develop as a global tourism destination, it has to discover itself, because Africa is first for Africans.” When it comes to tourism, Morocco is Africa’s real success story – its tourism

Above: African leaders at the African Union Summit for the establishment of AfCTA

industry generates eight percent of the nation’s GDP, with 600,000 people permanently employed in the sector. Now, Morocco is seeking to share its touristic know-how with other nations, as it is well aware of the economic and sociopolitical benefits, from promoting regional peace and unity to sharing cultural heritage. While obstacles to collaboration remain, these nations are taking a step in the right direction by pursuing alliances now. The good news is that forming and maintaining these partnerships will become significantly easier once AfCTA is ratified. Pololikashvili noted: “Even though this agreement has not been implemented yet, the signing marks the beginning of promising exchanges within the region.” As Imani’s affirmation that “Africa is first for Africans” shows, the key to economic prosperity can be found within the continent through partnerships with neighbouring countries, rather than reliance on external contributions. With AfCTA easing some of the logistical barriers to these alliances, African nations will be free to work together across many sectors, boosting the continental economy to a competitive global level. BD



Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean I. M. Pei Architect Design Photo by Carlo Hommel


.lu w w w.lc b Your partner on site Luxembourg Convention Bureau Tel.: (+352) 22 75 65 convention.bureau@lcto.lu


The land of a thousand hills Rwanda has undergone an astonishing transformation to become one of Africa’s top destinations for business events, writes Hanna Moges, PR and Marketing Manager at the Radisson Blu Hotel and Convention Centre, Kigali In the decades since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which left more than a million dead, much has changed. The country has unified to pursue a dynamic agenda that features a new universal healthcare policy, a strong education system and gender equality – Rwanda has more women in its parliament than any other country. The country has emerged as one of the safest not only in Africa, but also the world. On top of all this, tourism is thriving. In 2017, Rwanda’s tourism revenues amounted to $438m, making up almost half of all services exports, and in 2016, tourism overtook the country’s prosperous coffee industry to become the top foreign exchange earner. In the coming years, the sector is expected to continue to grow at an annual rate of 10 percent. Rwanda’s beautiful national parks are some of its tourism industry’s best assets. For example, visits to national parks alone generated $18.7m in revenue in 2017. Within the bustling capital city of Kigali, Rwanda has carved out a niche as a regional and international conference hub with the world-class Kigali Convention Centre (KCC), part of the Radisson Hotel Group. 112

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Purpose-built space The Int er nat iona l C ong re ss a nd Convention Association (ICCA) ranked Rwanda as Africa’s number three tourism destination for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions. Over the last decade, revenue generated by MICE grew by 180 percent, and the number of delegates visiting Rwanda for such events jumped from 15,000 to 28,300. The country’s f lagship conference space, the KCC, is one of East Africa’s newest and most comprehensively designed facilities. It opened its doors in 2016, a year in which a number of four and five-star international hotel brands also launched in the region, including Radisson Blu, Park Inn by Radisson and Marriott Hotel. In the two-to-five-star bracket, Kigali boasts around 3,500 rooms. Despite all this competition, the KCC stands out as a venue in Kigali. The centre is a tremendously flexible conference space with three floors, four purpose-built function halls and more than 14 meeting, banquet and special event spaces spanning 32,610sq m. The venue’s size makes it suitable for everything from large-scale con-

In 2016, tourism overtook Rwanda’s prosperous coffee industry to become the top foreign exchange earner

ventions to small and medium-sized meetings, social events such as weddings and concerts, and exhibitions or trade shows. Together with first-rate in-house catering, security and cleaning services, state-ofthe-art audiovisual and onsite car parking, the KCC goes above and beyond to ensure the needs of its occupants are met. Over the past few years, a number of high-profile events have taken place at the KCC, including the 27th African Union Summit in 2016, the African Hotel Investment Forum in 2016 and 2017, the Next Einstein Forum Global Gathering in 2018, and the African Green Revolution Forum in 2018. Through the success of these events, Rwanda has demonstrated that it is increasingly the destination of choice for international conferences in Africa. In 2020, the convention centre will take its place on the world stage once again when it plays host to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, a gathering of the leaders of 53 countries mostly made up of former British colonies.

Boosting connectivity Rwanda’s MICE sector is supported by excellent business infrastructure and good air connectivity, thanks in part to the rapid expansion of RwandAir, the country’s national carrier. While RwandAir has enhanced connectivity in the region,


Rwanda Tourism

six other international airlines from Africa, Europe and Asia have flights into Kigali, including Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, KLM and Brussels Airlines. Kigali’s new Bugesera International Airport is also currently under construction to expand passenger capacity and routes to help Rwanda meet its growing tourism targets. Construction began in 2017, and the first phase is expected to be completed in 2019, at which time it should be able to support a million passengers each year. Entering Rwanda is now easier than ever, as travellers can purchase a visa on arrival, without prior application. High-speed 4G LTE wireless broadband is also available throughout the country to support an increasing number of business travellers. Rwanda’s international reputation received another boost when the World Economic Forum ranked it as the second safest country in Africa and the ninth safest in the world in 2017. The country has a zero-tolerance policy for corruption and was named the third least corrupt country in Africa in the 2017 Corruption Perception Index.

Local support The Rwanda Convention Bureau (RCB), which is a member of the ICCA African Chapter, plays a vital role in promoting

Rwanda’s tourism sector in numbers:

$438m 10% REVENUE IN 2017






the country as the premier destination for MICE activities. The bureau is a one-stop service for information, assistance and unbiased advice on hosting and organising business events in the country. For international event planners and buyers, the RCB delivers comprehensive services through every stage of the planning and implementation of an event, from international conventions to general assemblies, conferences and incentive trips. The RCB has also put together a local directory to connect event planners with the right venues, hotels, professional conference organisers and destination marketing companies, along with all the support services they might need. The bureau is always ready to support organisers with event bid preparation and presentation, event budgets, the provision of promotional material and much more.

Natural beauty While business travellers may come to Rwanda for its premier event space, they will stay for the plethora of natural attractions, such as Volcanoes National Park, which is home to a third of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. Although Rwanda is a small landlocked country – it is only a 10th of the size of the UK – it is home to a host of flora and fauna. At the top of the country’s highest

volcano, the 4,507m Mount Karisimbi, live 14 species of primates, including chimpanzees and golden monkeys. There are said to be more than 700 bird species in the country and over 100 different species of orchids, plus more than 4,000 hectares of bamboo forest. Rwanda is also known as the ‘land of a thousand hills’ for the stunning rolling green hills that fill its landscape. Aside from gorilla trekking, popular attractions include the Congo Nile Trail, coffee and tea experiences, communitybased festivals and so-called ‘big five’ safaris, where travellers can hope to catch a glimpse of lions, leopards, rhinoceroses, elephants and buffalo. Rwanda’s small size means it is easily traversed, allowing tourists to enjoy its range of stunning landscapes – from rainforests to savannahs to cities – all within a couple of hours’ drive from the capital. The country is often praised for its cleanliness and the warmth of its people, and has big plans to diversify its tourism offerings in the coming years in a bid to boost revenue. In less than a quarter of a century, Rwanda has made strides to overcome its fraught past. With a prospering tourism sector and a leading event space, the country’s future looks promising. BD FURTHER INFORMATION:


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A FIVE-STAR KINGDOM Set among 52 acres of beautifully maintained gardens, the Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh is the venue of choice for many travellers visiting Saudi Arabia, writes Jebb Cabriana, E-commerce and Marketing Manager at the hotel Travellers to Saudi Arabia certainly have plenty of high-class accommodation options to choose from. Both local and international hotel groups have launched branches in the country in recent years, looking to take advantage of the growing number of tourists flocking to the kingdom’s major cities. Riyadh, the Saudi capital, has a number of luxury hotel offerings, but even so, the Ritz-Carlton stands out from the crowd. With its 52 acres of landscaped gardens, 62,000sq ft of event space and an assortment of dining options that are capable of standing alongside some of the very best restaurants in the world, the hotel attracts visitors from across the globe.

methods of preparation are always evolving to adapt to the market and pioneer new trends. We also possess the most innovative and sophisticated beverage programme in the kingdom. We use both creative and scientific approaches when producing our signature non-alcoholic drinks, and currently offer more than 75 options, combining a variety of tastes and flavours. All ingredients are made in our own mixology lab, focusing on local products. Looking at hot drinks, the Ritz-Carlton takes coffee-making very seriously – in fact, we see it as an art. We start by carefully selecting the coffee beans, which are specially roasted for us by a local roasting house. Then we use four different brewing methods to add scents and flavours to our coffee. We aim to be a unique beverage destination Mixing it up At the Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh, we make sure that in the kingdom. Innovation, quality and adaptability are our food and beverage offerings are in a constant state of reinvention. Our dishes, drinks and even what make food and drink stand out at the Ritz-



Innovation, quality and adaptability are what make food and drink stand out at the Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh

Carlton, Riyadh. We are proud to say that two of our restaurants are ranked number one in their respective cuisines on TripAdvisor. In addition, our restaurants have garnered a number of awards over the years. So far, we have received great feedback on our food and beverage options. As the kingdom’s hub for major countrywide events, having the highest standard of food and beverage offerings is extremely important. It is one of the reasons why guests keep returning to the Ritz-Carlton.

may lead the hotel in the near future. Third, we support female empowerment and believe that women should play a crucial role in diversifying and enriching the hotel’s services. Another way that Saudi Arabia is moving away from its historical oil dependency is by becoming a popular MICE destination. The RitzCarlton, Riyadh makes an ideal conference venue and boasts a friendly and professionally trained team that is experienced in hosting major exhibitions and events. The Ritz-Carlton’s spacious landscape is truly unique and offers a number of meeting rooms, two grand ballrooms and many Diverse offerings The Saudi Vision 2030 initiative aims to devel- categories of guest room to accommodate a variop and diversify the country’s economy; the ety of visitors. Its distinctive location away from Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh supports this programme the traffic of Riyadh’s downtown area is another in a multitude of ways. First, we aim to be the major selling point. The hotel has four different restaurants, a cigar hub of all major countrywide conferences, such as the Future Investment Initiative. By lounge and an in-room dining menu. For confercontinually enhancing the services we offer to ence guests or travellers simply looking to enjoy major events and delivering the highest-qual- the sights of one of Saudi Arabia’s most vibrant citity amenities, we can help grow this part of the ies, the Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh has plenty to offer. BD kingdom’s economy. Second, we focus on localising the hospitality FURTHER INFORMATION: industry by coaching and training talented young www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/ Saudis in different areas and departments so they saudi-arabia/riyadh SPRING 2019 BD |




BERLIN’S BAUHAUS CENTENARY Throughout 2019, Germany is celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the influential Bauhaus art movement. In Berlin, travellers can feast their eyes on the birthplace of modern urban architecture, writes Magali Bauschat, PR and Marketing Manager at the Ellington Hotel Berlin Germany’s Bauhaus art school emerged in 1919. features of Germany’s Golden 20s to give guests a While it only existed for 14 years, it became one sense of the building’s noteworthy past. While the hotel’s 285 rooms have been redeof the most influential modernist art schools of the century. Scholars of Bauhaus, which trans- signed in a minimalist style, eye-catching elements lates literally to ‘architecture house’, were guided of New Objectivity’s emphasis of pure architecby the idea of democratic design for all; the fun- tural features are apparent even before entering damental premise was to create a link between the hotel. The travertine-clad facade, with its oriel windows and strong horizontal lines, is a tribute to art and craftsmanship. The influence of the Bauhaus movement has the modernism of Bauhaus and New Objectivity. The building’s original entry hall is been far-reaching. Not only did it pave lined with cream and green ceramic the way for avant-garde art and modtiles. The striking brass frames of the ern architecture, but its style is recog- The hotel has large glass entrance door, high winnised around the world, explained a retained many dows and solid stone staircase, with an spokesperson from visitBerlin. features of extravagantly shaped ceramic handrail, Germany will celebrate 100 years of Germany’s are all reminiscent of New Objectivity. the transformational school of thought Golden 20s to give Throughout the restoration of the in 2019. Travellers in Berlin can go guests a sense Ellington Hotel, there was a strong beyond the numerous exhibitions, of the building’s focus on keeping the magic of the events and workshops with a stay at noteworthy past building’s vibrant past alive. Some of the carefully preserved Ellington Hotel the most famous nightclubs in Berlin Berlin, which contains striking elements of the Bauhaus architectural style – particularly the were once held in the Ellington Hotel’s building New Objectivity movement, which was a realist on Nürnberger Strasse. It was here that Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington reaction against Expressionism. performed in the legendary nightclub Badewanne. Frank Zappa, Carlos Santana, Iggy Pop and Barbra Preserving the past The Ellington Hotel, which lies behind one of the Streisand, among countless others, also danced the most impressive Bauhaus facades in Berlin, has pre- night away in the legendary nightclub Dschungel. Today, the Ellington Hotel continues to uphold served the charm of the late 1920s and early 1930s in its entrance rooms, staircases and halls. Although it the legacy of its location with its core brand and was remodelled in 2007, the hotel has retained many marketing strategy. Each room of the hotel dis116

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plays unique works from Susanne Shapowalov, a jazz photographer whose work offers an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the most famous jazz artists of the era.

Down to business The number of business travellers in Berlin grows each year, and the Ellington Hotel’s premier location makes it an attractive option for a jam-packed business trip. Its proximity to Berlin’s legendary Kurfürstendamm shopping boulevard means the Ellington Hotel is convenient for any meeting in the surrounding business districts. Furthermore, the Ellington Hotel’s DUKE Bar and Lounge, with its business lunch menu, is a great venue for meetings, which is why many business travellers choose to host their meetings inhouse. For larger events, the Ellington Hotel offers 10 unique conference rooms that provide space for up to 800 people. The hotel has three unique executive suites that offer space to work and host business meetings, in addition to all the usual amenities. Members of the hotel’s business partner programme benefit from personalised booking assistance, best price guarantees, cancellation flexibility and much more. With a dazzling history and plenty of business perks, the Ellington Hotel is sure to impress. BD FURTHER INFORMATION:




PRAGUE’S INVENTIVE INCENTIVES Business travellers can make the most of the wealth of activities on offer in the historic city of Prague by taking part in a unique incentive event, writes Roman Muška, Managing Director at Prague Convention Bureau Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is one of the most attractive tourist and meeting destinations in the country. The City of a Hundred Spires, which is bisected by the Vltava River, is renowned for being one of the most beautiful capitals in Europe. Prague is never off-season, and with direct routes from 165 destinations, nearly 800 hotels and 92,000 hotel beds, the city can accommodate even the most demanding events. Prague has inspired many notable artists and scientists. The city’s mysterious atmosphere is reflected in the works of Prague’s native son Franz Kafka. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who famously claimed “the people of Prague understand me”, completed and first performed his best-known opera Don Giovanni in the city 230 years ago, in a theatre that still stands today. But visitors to Prague will find more than just culture, as the city is an up-and-coming business destination that offers a wealth of incentive ideas.

Artistic flair For businesses hosting incentive events, it can be difficult to produce an event that keeps all attendees engaged. In Prague, however, the availability of a number of unusual sites means business trips are always interesting. The unique memorial to Beatles co-founder John Lennon – the Lennon Wall – is one such location. Once an ordinary whitewashed wall, it has been covered with graffiti inspired by the musician since his death in

1980. The wall changes every day as visitors and Castle aboard one of these charming vehicles is locals alike paint their messages on it. The graf- a great way to showcase the city’s most popular fiti workshops offered by local destination man- sights to clients. Recently, Prague’s public transagement companies are an excellent activity for port company re-introduced another tram to the groups and offer an interesting look at Prague’s city’s streets: the iconic T3 model from the 1960s, history while letting clients get in touch with their adapted to modern use with the addition of a glass creative side. roof, bar and dance floor. The Czech lands have been famous An important part of Prague’s for their glass industry for centuries, identity is its breweries, which visiwith luxury glassmakers such as In Prague, the tors to the capital should be sure to Moser, Crystal Bohemia and Jablonex availability of a visit. Incentive organisers can take Bijouterie all operating in the city. number of unusual a tour of the best pubs in the city, Since the 18th century, Czech glass sites means including the oldest in Prague, and masters have been known all around business trips are soak up the atmosphere of a city with the world for their work with crystal. always interesting a long tradition of beer brewing – and Business travellers can visit any of drinking. One of the first breweries the several glass galleries in Prague, in the Czech lands was located at where they can admire works of art the Břevnov Monastery in Prague and paint their own piece of glass as a souvenir in the first century; you can still sip a glass of from their trip. local beer there today. Those who are more musically minded can folAnyone looking to organise a business trip in low in the footsteps of the many conductors and Prague should not hesitate to contact the Prague composers that the city has produced at a team- Convention Bureau, the key representative of building violin class. Experienced lecturers will Prague’s meetings industry. Established in 2008, introduce the class to the basics and help attend- the bureau can provide impartial support, inforees become a musical virtuoso for just a moment. mation and incentive ideas to companies, associations or ambassadors looking for an ideal destination for their next event. BD Travel through history As well as experiencing the city’s artistic heritage, visitors to Prague can enjoy a historic tram FURTHER INFORMATION: ride. Travelling through the city centre to Prague www.pragueconvention.cz SPRING 2019 BD |



A HAVEN IN THE HEART OF SINGAPORE Located in the centre of the fast-paced, pioneering city of Singapore, the Fullerton Hotel is a luxurious retreat for business travellers Singapore boasts a year-round tropical cli- sine to reflect Singapore’s multicultural popumate, a thriving arts scene and a plethora of lation: the Town Restaurant serves traditional outdoor attractions, including the spectacu- Singaporean dishes on a terrace right beside lar Gardens by the Bay. Spanning 1.01sq km of the sparkling Singapore River; Jade’s illustrireclaimed land beside the Marina Reservoir, the ous head chef Leong Chee Yeng provides guests trio of gardens boast two conservatories – the with authentic Cantonese cuisine; and dinFlower Dome and Cloud Forest – and the verti- ers at Lighthouse Restaurant and Rooftop Bar cal Supertree Grove, which includes can enjoy Chef Carlo Marengoni’s a unique mid-air walkway. Sardinian specialities. Despite the city-state’s relatively Singapore has For light relief between meals, short existence, there’s plenty of history made an impressive the Fullerton’s spa is internationally to explore, and there’s no better place to transition from renowned for its decadent 90-minbegin than at the Fullerton Hotel. The developing nation ute treatments. The spa was named magnificent Neoclassical building has to economic the best luxury business hotel spa in a varied history: built in 1928, it was powerhouse in a South-East Asia at the World Luxury once home to Singapore’s General Post single generation Spa Awards in 2017 and 2018. It delivOffice. In 2015, it was designated as a ers a range of relaxing and effective national monument, and has since been therapies, using natural, paraben-free reimagined as a luxurious 400-room hotel. products. It also boasts a 25m outdoor infinity All of the Fullerton’s expansive bedrooms ben- pool, a sauna and a steam room. efit from free Wi-Fi, making them perfect for travIf you are one of Singapore’s many corporate ellers working on the move. They each have their travellers, the Fullerton has a host of businessown unique character, and are steeped in history friendly facilities to make your trip as stressGrowing popularity While Singapore’s business credentials are – the Presidential Suite, for example, was formerly free as possible. Featuring six different function well documented across the globe, its tour- the card room of the elite Singapore Club, and is rooms, including an opulent ballroom that can ist industry is less renowned – but things are furnished with a baby grand piano and private accommodate up to 600 guests, the hotel caters to all kinds of functions, from large corporate events set to change. The city-state saw a 7.14 percent elevator for discreet access. to small private meetings. BD increase in visitors in 2018 compared with the previous year, thanks in part to films like The lap of luxury Crazy Rich Asians, which brought it into the Guests are spoiled for choice in the hotel’s six FURTHER INFORMATION: international spotlight. inclusive eateries, each featuring a different cui- www.fullertonhotels.com/the-fullerton-hotel It’s little wonder that Singapore is known as the top Asian Tiger economy. The city-state has seen exponential growth over the past century – since gaining independence from the UK and subsequently Malaysia in 1965, Singapore has excelled in every sector, from education and entertainment to technology and tourism. Under the leadership of its founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, the country has made an impressive transition from developing nation to economic powerhouse in a single generation. Over the past decade, Singapore’s success has been recognised by many well-respected institutions. In 2016, the World Economic Forum ranked it in first place on its Networked Readiness Index, while the Eden Strategy Institute named it one of the world’s smartest cities and the Union of International Associations listed it as a top international meetings city. It also has the third-highest GDP per capita in the world, thanks in part to its thriving financial district.


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FROM GOLD RUSH TO BOOM TOWN Seattle’s tech sector is booming and business is thriving, but the city is also responsible for some of the most important cultural developments of the 20th century, writes Bernie Watt, Creative Manager for Marriott International Some destinations just have an atmosphere that relaxes you, refreshes you and leaves you inspired; Seattle is one of those places. The city, located in Washington State, is creative and not afraid to take things at its own pace – which is ironic, considering it’s the fastest-growing major city in America. Dubbed the Emerald City for the wealth of green spaces that surround it, Seattle is set between Elliott Bay, Puget Sound and Lake Washington. The wilderness of Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier is within easy reach for energetic visitors in search of outdoor activities and escapes. It could be due to this close connection to nature that the city prides itself on being ecoconscious, healthy and progressive, making for a relaxed atmosphere, even in the heart of energetic Downtown Seattle. Balancing technology and sustainability is an ethos shared by Fortune 500 leaders like Amazon and Microsoft, as well as the start-ups that have made Seattle a hub for innovation.

Cultural icons Seattle has experienced significant growth in the last decade, but the city has always been groundbreaking. The city’s music scene has spawned legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and today it continues to support up-and-comers in the small bars that can be found across Seattle.

Visitors can start their day with a coffee from the original Starbucks at Pike Place Market – a haven for foodies where organic produce comes farm-fresh. Culinary delights can be found at any one of the exceptional restaurants in the surrounding streets. For families, the Seattle Aquarium and Seattle Great Wheel are worthy detours. Visitors should also be sure to make their way to the top of the iconic Space Needle, the site of the 1962 World Fair, with its sweeping 360-degree views. Marking the centre of the city’s creative energy are the Museum of Pop Culture and Chihuly Garden and Glass, the latter of which celebrates the work of Dale Chihuly, the renowned Washington glass sculptor.

Hotel, designed by the same architects behind the Space Needle. It officially opened in 1969 and was combined with the historic Benjamin Franklin Hotel as the world’s first Westin hotel (a portmanteau of Western International Hotels). In 2019, the Westin Seattle celebrates its 50th year of offering stylish, innovative accommodation and collaborative meeting spaces, which include 29 meeting rooms and 69,000sq ft of event space. A recent redesign inspired by the region’s natural beauty reflects the tones of the Pacific NorthWest. The 1900 Fifth bar and lounge, a carefully curated wine and cocktail experience, pays homage to the site, which was once the heart of the city’s entertainment district. Health-conscious guests will appreciate the WestinWORKOUT cenMoving with the times For a glimpse into the past, the Klondike Gold tre, which is equipped with Peloton virtual trainer Rush National Historical Park commemorates the bikes. Meanwhile, RunWESTIN, a collaboration 1893 boom that transformed the city from a log- between the hotel group and New Balance, proging centre into the North-West’s major port and, vides guided runs and route maps. The Westin Seattle’s location places guests now, a leading tech centre. With this growth came Seattle’s first luxury hotel, the Benjamin Franklin, in the heart of Seattle, just a few blocks from in 1929. With the landmark Orpheum Theatre Washington State Convention Centre and iconic next door, 1900 Fifth Avenue became the centre attractions such as Pike Place Market and the for social activity in Seattle. A year later, Frank Space Needle. Whatever draws you here, Seattle is Dupar and S W Thurston formed the Western a place that leaves visitors feeling enriched, enerInternational Hotels Company, headquartered gised and excited to return. BD on the same block. After the 1962 World Fair, the Orpheum FURTHER INFORMATION: Theatre made way for the Washington Plaza www.marriott.com/seawi SPRING 2019 BD |



GEORGIA’S UP-ANDCOMING CAPITAL Nestled in the midst of downtown Tbilisi, the Stamba Hotel is a symbol of the city’s rich history and burgeoning cool credentials pitality company Adjara Group, the retreat is for the hotel’s rooftop pool. Stamba also plays host located within a former Soviet publishing house. to the Tbilisi Photo and Multimedia Museum, feaIt has retained all of its industrial, Brutalist edge, turing photography from local and international with original features receiving a fresh, biophilic artists. The space is managed by a team of women update. The building’s original print-drying beam who seek to highlight the work of female photoghas kept its place in the hotel’s expansive atrium, raphers in the South Caucasus through their conbut is now surrounded by tropical folitemporary exhibitions. age and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves Stamba boasts two eateries celfilled with thousands of fiction and Each of the hotel’s ebrating the best of Georgian cuinon-fiction titles. The Art-Deco- expansive rooms sine in a contemporary setting, as era paintings and furniture dotted gaze down upon well as its very own chocolaterie and throughout Stamba also lend a sense the leafy central coffee roastery. Cafe Stamba works of old-world glamour and remind atrium, almost in collaboration with the Georgian Architectural artistry Farmers Association to support Myriad cultural inf luences are evident in guests of the hotel’s – and, indeed, the allowing guests to national agriculture, and uses local Tbilisi’s architecture, which incorporates clas- city’s – intriguing heritage. forget that they are ingredients in its range of traditional sical Byzantine, Neoclassical and Art Nouveau in the centre of a styles, as well as modern Middle Eastern and Cultural happenings bustling capital city dishes. The ultra-Instagrammable Pink Bar, meanwhile, serves up Soviet design. The Old Town, with its cobbled Each of the hotel’s expansive rooms innovative cocktails into the early streets and topsy-turvy wooden houses, is home gazes down upon the leafy central to many of the city’s cultural attractions, including atrium, almost allowing guests to forget that hours. Come Saturday morning, the great and the ancient Narikala fortress, sulphur baths and they are in the centre of a bustling capital city. the good of Tbilisi descend on both restaurants stunning National Botanical Garden of Georgia. The chic industrial design continues in each of for a long, leisurely brunch. The jewel in Stamba’s crown is its partnership Across the Bridge of Peace, which is designed the suites, too, where exposed brick walls offset to resemble a marine animal and has an interac- decadent freestanding bathtubs, clad in gold for a with Aviator Helicopters, which provides an exclusive flight service for hotel guests. Tbilisi, with its tive light display embedded in its canopy roof, is truly opulent soak. Tbilisi’s modern downtown district. This area is Aside from being a stylish retreat, Stamba is sweeping hills and fast-flowing Kura River, is the home to a growing crowd of artists, designers and also a cultural hub in itself, boasting an open-air perfect city to explore from the air, whether you’re creatives, who can often be found in Tbilisi’s eclec- amphitheatre crowned by a decorative voltage visiting with friends, family or colleagues. BD tic mix of cafes and galleries. tower built in the 1970s. The dramatic beamed In the heart of this ultra-modern district lies archway leading to the tower is made from FURTHER INFORMATION: the Stamba Hotel. Developed by emerging hos- reclaimed wood that was removed to make space www.stambahotel.com Georgia’s picturesque capital city, Tbilisi, has a varied and colourful history. Thanks to its proximity to the lucrative Silk Road trade route, it was once the home of Georgia’s prosperous textiles industry and was a key trade point for European and Asian merchants hoping to sell their wares. The country was occupied by the Soviet Union for much of the 20th century, and was plunged into a period of civil war and economic depression when the USSR fell in 1991. Georgia has since regained its creative roots and begun to rebuild its legacy.


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A colonial outpost located in the heart of the US’ Deep South, Wentworth Mansion is now more accessible than ever balustraded facade and a magnificent wrought menu. Locally caught lobster, shrimp, scallops iron staircase. Some of the Wentworth’s rooms and salmon appear alongside traditional Southern also feature original marble gas fireplaces, sun- dishes such as rice-flour pancakes and Anson rooms and private porches. Mills grits. For a truly exceptional Today, the hotel prides itself on culinary experience, take your meal maintaining the highest standards With Charleston on the rooftop cupola and revel in of gracious hospitality, for which being a port city, far-reaching views across the harCharleston and the South are so coastal influences can bour and the picturesque city. renowned. All guests receive com- be found throughout There’s no better way to see plimentary breakfast, a turndown Wentworth Mansion, what the city has to offer than service complete with artisan choc- particularly on the in a horse-drawn carriage ride olates, and an evening nightcap. In hotel’s extensive menu along the cobbled streets. Take the evening, the hotel serves wine in the grandiose mansions, the and hors d’oeuvres for its guests. city’s supposedly haunted graveyard and stop off at the City Market, the hub of Charleston’s sweetgrass basket-weaving indusMaritime heritage With Charleston being a port city, coastal influ- try. If you’d rather take to the seas, board a boat ences can be found throughout Wentworth to Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil Mansion, particularly on the hotel’s extensive War were fired, or take a sunset sail on an 18thHistorical tapestry century coastal trading schooner. Nowhere is that heritage celebrated more than Thanks to the launch of a new British Airways at Wentworth Mansion. The decadent 21-room flight, it’s now much easier for European travelretreat was designed in 1865 in the Second lers to visit Charleston. The airline is launchEmpire style by architect Daniel G Wayne and ing a direct route from London Heathrow to occupied by a wealthy cotton merchant and Charleston, operating twice a week, from April his family for the following 50 years. After a 4 this year. For a true taste of the Deep South’s period of corporate ownership, the building famous hospitality, Wentworth Mansion is a great was purchased in 1997 by Richard Widman, place to start. BD who embarked upon a $7m renovation to reinvigorate the mansion and preserve its historic features. These include ornate stained glass FURTHER INFORMATION: windows above the doorframes, an intricate www.wentworthmansion.com ‘Take a step back in time’ is an overused catchphrase often seen on the cover of tourist brochures, but there’s really no other way to describe a visit to Charleston. A petite city nestled in the middle of South Carolina’s coastline, Charleston is one of the few places left on Earth where you can catch a glimpse of days gone by, from cobbled streets and 18th-century mansions to horse-drawn carriages and an ancient port. Charleston’s varied, although troubled, history is palpable. Founded in 1670 by a group of British lords, the small city rose to prominence as the location where the American Civil War began in 1861. It has since grown to become a thriving culinary and design hub while maintaining its unique cultural history, which blends English, French, Southern US and West African influences.

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GREECE’S HOLY ISLAND With a site of immense religious significance and an upmarket retail scene, Patmos is one of Greece’s most underrated islands

Though a few well-known favourites dominate is believed to be the location in which Saint John popular perceptions of the Greek archipelago – the Theologian wrote the Book of Revelation. Santorini, Corfu and Mykonos spring to mind – According to Christian tradition, it was within there are thousands of islands to explore, each of the Holy Cave that Saint John spoke with God, them with their own style, creating a menagerie of who recited to him the final book of the Bible. The book, which is a prophecy of the end of the world, paradisiacal destinations to choose from. Patmos is a fine example of one of the country’s has great significance to Christians, and the site is many stunning destinations. Located in the north one of only two places in which Christians believe of Greece’s Dodecanese island group, Patmos is a the voice of God has been heard. To d ay, t he Hol y classic Greek isle, complete with iconCave has become a ic whitewashed walls and ancient casplace of worship, tles. Of course, when visiting one of Instead of the where visitors can the Aegean’s beautiful islands, a trip wild partying that to the beach is a must; on the south some Greek islands see where Saint John’s account of side of the island, visitors will find have become the apoca ly pse the sandy Petra Beach. A favourite known for, in was w ritten, as with tourists, Petra is well served by Patmos you’ll find a well as the abode in a host of amenities and hotels. For a more chic crowd which he took refuge less crowded seaside spot, the island’s upon his exile to Patmos northern beaches offer explorers the chance to discover the many caves and pools that in AD 95. In 1999, UNESCO declared pepper the coastline. The water might be a little the cave, together with the adjacent Monastery colder, but swimmers will soon warm up under of Saint John the Theologian, a World Heritage Site. As such, visitors of every faith – or those of the Mediterranean sun. none – can be inspired by the serenity of the place and its historical significance. Religious significance Remarkably, this small volcanic island is Patmos is perhaps best known for its importance to the Christian faith. As home to the Holy home to around 500 churches and monasterCave of the Apocalypse, Patmos is a site that has ies, from recently uncovered hidden crypts to drawn religious pilgrims for millennia. Situated architectural wonders featuring impressive colabout halfway up the island’s mountain, the cave lections of Baroque artefacts. Easter is an espe122

cially lively time in Patmos, with celebrations and traditions that hark back centuries taking place throughout the island.

Laid-back chic As well as being home to many religious sites, Patmos has an upmarket side to it. With trendy boutique shops and sophisticated bars, not to mention an abundance of restaurants boasting fresh and healthy Greek cuisine, Patmos offers a pleasant balance between tranquillity and vibrancy. Adding to this is the fact that, while it has bars that are open until the early hours, clubs and beach parties are limited. Instead of the wild partying that some Greek islands have become known for, in Patmos you'll find a more chic crowd. This, together with a wide range of upscale hotels and traditional lodgings, makes Patmos an ideal destination for business travellers. And, being a Greek island, there are of course numerous excellent beaches and phenomenal views to enjoy. It may be one of many, but the island of Patmos is certainly one of a kind. BD FURTHER INFORMATION:


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COSMOPOLITAN CAPE TOWN With the imposing Table Mountain as a backdrop, a refined coastline and thoughtprovoking history, Cape Town is a well-rounded destination that any traveller will enjoy The city of Cape Town is seriously overachieving. Boasting dramatic mountain ranges, the Cape Floral Region (the smallest yet richest floral kingdom on the planet), pristine white beaches and a bustling city centre, it’s little wonder it’s been named the best destination in Africa at the World Tourism Awards seven times in the past 20 years. The city has a noteworthy but problematic history, from its origins as a Dutch colony to its fight to end apartheid, which culminated in Nelson Mandela’s iconic speech from the balcony of City Hall in 1990. Cape Town has emerged from this upheaval as a diverse and trendy destination for visitors from across the globe. Table Mountain remains one of the region’s most popular attractions, welcoming more than one million visitors every year. The remarkable flat-topped mountain is home to an estimated 1,500 species of plants that are unique to the Cape Floral Region, as well as animals such as zebra and wildebeest.

Cape Town’s urban tourist economy has exploded in recent years, with new galleries, bars, restaurants, artisan markets and designsavvy shops springing up across the city. The Neighbourgoods Market in the Old Biscuit Mill offers a snapshot of the local cuisine, while the vibrant Kloof Street is lined with the city’s coolest bars and restaurants.

and other liberation fighters, is a short boat ride from the city’s coastline. Uniquely, many of the prison’s guides are former inmates who offer harrowing accounts of the conditions they suffered while jailed there. A little further down the coast, on the way to Cape Point, lies the penguin colony at Boulders Beach, where visitors can swim among penguins in the admittedly chilly Atlantic waters. Further along the peninsula is Kalk Bay, a History beckons picturesque fishing village complete For visitors looking to stray a little with bright wooden houses lining further afield, there’s a huge amount Table Mountain the streets and several natural tidal to experience in Cape Town’s surremains one of pools for swimming on the seafront. rounding areas. For those keen to the region’s most Further still, beyond the city’s explore the city’s complex history, popular attractions, dramatic mountainous confines, is there’s the District Six Museum, welcoming more the famed Stellenbosch Valley, part which educates visitors on how than one million of the Cape Winelands district, apartheid affected one of Cape visitors every year where the majority of South Africa’s Town’s most diverse suburbs. wine is produced. There are more District Six was originally home to a richly varied community of freed slaves, than 150 viticulture estates in the Stellenbosch migrants, workers and merchants, but in the region alone, all of which offer tasting sessions early 20th century, people of colour were for- for guests to sample a range of vintages. Travel On trend Cape Town’s city centre is located within what’s cibly removed from the area and forced to live company Camino organises wine tours around known as the City Bowl, a natural amphitheatre- on the scorching Cape Flats on the outskirts the Winelands, allowing guests to experience shaped area bordered by four mountains: Signal of the city. The museum draws upon photo- off-the-beaten-track estates, meet with local Hill, Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and Devil’s graphs and first-hand accounts of the period to viticulturists and enjoy the best wine the region Peak. Cape Town’s central business district, har- detail the destructive effect that apartheid had has to offer. BD bour and the Company’s Garden park are also on the community. Likewise, Robben Island, the notorious loca- FURTHER INFORMATION: located in the bowl, which is home to almost tion of the prison that held Nelson Mandela www.capetown.travel 4.5 million people. SPRING 2019 BD |




FISHING TOWN TURNED ECO-CITY From its thriving community of tech start-ups to its serene coastal setting, Malmö is a low-key city with a lot to love

Despite being Sweden’s third-largest city, behind Stockholm and Gothenburg, Malmö has remained a well-kept seaside secret among Swedes, beloved for its chocolate-box cottages and family-friendly atmosphere. Located on the country’s southern coast, what Malmö lacks in Gothenburg’s dramatism or Stockholm’s style it makes up for with serenity and natural beauty. It’s in the summer, though, that the city really comes alive: Sweden’s chilly winter weather fades away and is replaced by brilliant sunshine and temperatures of up to 30 degrees Celsius. Malmö was chartered in the 13th century and, for much of its history, was known for its flourishing herring-fishing industry. During the Industrial Revolution, it housed one of the largest shipyards in the world, but when the shipbuilding industry began to decline in the 1980s, Malmö reinvented itself as an eco-city with a thriving biotech sector. Since the turn of the century, it has built a reputation as a centre of culture and knowledge, balancing its traditional roots with innovative new architectural and educational developments.

Making connections On the western side of town, the former industrial Västra Hamnen area has been reimagined as a tech start-up hub, filled with ultra-modern, glass-fronted developments and the world’s first twisted skyscraper, the Turning Torso. Malmö’s small business sector has brought an influx of 124

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young people to the city, with almost half of the and piece of cake. For a more indulgent treat, registered population aged under 35. This lends book a table at one of Malmö’s 14 Michelin-starred it a buzzing, ever-changing vibe. restaurants: two-starred Vollmers boasts a menu Västra Hamnen is bordered by Malmö’s string filled with fresh, refined dishes that marry local of beaches in the Ribersborg area, which are par- produce with modern cooking techniques. ticularly popular with young families thanks to The city is also packed with cultural attractions, the shallow, calm waters. You’ll also from the design museum housed in a find the city’s 200-year-old wooden 17th-century grain store to the bright bathhouse there, which is complete To experience orange contemporary art gallery. Don’t with an open-air saltwater pool and Malmö at its miss Malmö Castle, which is nestled a traditional wood-fired sauna. in the heart of Slottsmöllan, one of the vibrant best, visit At the westernmost point of the during one of the city’s many ‘green lungs’. city is the Øresund Bridge, a five- city’s two famed To experience Malmö at its vibrant mile-long feat of engineering that summer festivals best, visit during one of the city’s two connects Malmö with the Danish famed summer festivals. Sommarscen capital, Copenhagen. Not only is it is a three-month-long free arts festival, technologically impressive – the bridge carries a running from June to August, which includes music cable that facilitates internet data transmission concerts and performance art across 44 different between Sweden and Central Europe – but it’s open-air venues. Malmöfestivalen, meanwhile, also a testament to both countries’ commitment lasts for a week in August and features music and to maintaining a close political and economic dance performances, food markets and interactive partnership. workshops, including one that offers the chance to duel with lightsabers. Getting to Malmö couldn’t be easier, with daily The art of deceleration In the city centre, charming cottages in pastel flights from many major European hubs. For a colours line Malmö’s cobbled streets, opening out more dramatic entrance, fly to Copenhagen and to medieval market squares such as Lilla Torg. take the train across the Øresund Bridge, relishing Choose one of the many cafes there to indulge in the sweeping views across the ocean. BD the Swedish art of fika, which roughly translates as a moment to slow down and take stock of life’s FURTHER INFORMATION: little pleasures, accompanied by a cup of coffee www.malmotown.com




Tribal Tourism

The untouchables In 2018, attempts to reach the isolated Sentinelese tribe reignited criticism of tribal tourism, a destructive practice that threatens the survival of indigenous communities, writes Sophie Perryer On November 16, American missionary John Allen Chau embarked upon an illegal and extremely dangerous journey that would bring his life to an abrupt end. In a bid to take his religious beliefs to a group that has long rejected outsiders, Chau attempted to visit North Sentinel, a restricted part of the Andaman Islands located in the Bay of Bengal. North Sentinel is home to the Sentinelese, a 55,000-year-old tribe believed to be the closest living incarnation of prehistoric man. Scarcely anything is known about them, as the tribe has very little contact with the outside world and has been known to meet visitors to its tribal territory with hostility and sometimes violence. The tribe is protected under the Andaman and Nicobar (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation, passed by the Indian Government in 1956. The legislation was extended in 1991 to include a five-kilometre exclusion zone around the island, and in 2005, the Andaman administration said it would “minimise unnecessary and inappropriate contact” with the Sentinelese as far as possible. Chau’s mission marks the first time in more than a decade that anyone has 126

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attempted to reach North Sentinel. It has also reignited a debate on the ethical implications of tribal tourism, which sees travellers attempt to visit indigenous tribes in a bid to observe their way of life. While some visitors have made efforts to maintain a degree of respect for the community they are intruding on, others – notably some tour operators – have disrupted the tribe’s delicate social and environmental balance in the name of economic gain.

Risky business Chau is not the first person to attempt to visit North Sentinel. Since the island was happened upon by British explorer John Ritchie in 1771, a number of anthropologists, dignitaries and local fishermen have tried to make contact with the Sentinelese. These include Indian anthropologist Trilok Nath Pandit, who made the first peaceful contact with the tribe in January 1991. Prior to Chau, the last people to visit North Sentinel were two men illegally fishing for crabs in the island’s restricted waters in 2006. Both were captured and killed by the tribespeople.

These curiosity-driven missions have proved to be highly treacherous; the Sentinelese people have made it clear that they do not welcome outsiders, and rightfully so. Yet outsiders continue to journey to North Sentinel. Jerome Lewis, a reader in social anthropology at University College London, explained of Chau’s mission: “The risks that he presented to those people were very serious and were on a much greater scale than the risk to his own life.” Making contact with a previously disconnected tribe “should be treated as a medical emergency for the tribespeople”, said Lewis. “It’s quite common for between 70 and 80 percent of a tribal population to die within the first decade of contact due to introduced illnesses,” he added. Remote tribes have no immunity to diseases from the rest of the world – even something as simple as the common cold could devastate an entire population. “Measles is also a very common killer right across the world for these uncontacted groups, but tuberculosis and many of the other endemic illnesses, ones that we have means for dealing with, are also very problematic,” Lewis explained.



Tribal Tourism

Timeline of the Sentinelese tribe:











Destructive holidaymakers Despite the many known dangers, interest in reaching the Sentinelese and other similarly isolated tribes has not waned. Over the years, the type of intruder has shifted from anthropologists with research goals to prying tourists keen for a first-hand look at what they view to be an ‘alien’ culture. “Most visitors that arrive in these places are uneducated about the culture and practices of the people they visit – they view it as a sort of exotic tourism,” said Lewis. At best, this lack of understanding disrupts local economies and environments. Often, the land chosen for building luxury resorts on was also the most fertile for hunting and gathering. When access to that land is revoked, tribespeople are forced to turn to other, less fruitful locations. Simultaneously, added Lewis, tourism drives up prices of consumer goods, so “local people can no longer afford to buy fish or basic necessities because tourists pay such a premium on those items”. Increased tourism also leads to a host of environmental issues, from improper sewage treatment to water shortages. This is particularly problematic for island

Tribal tourism is a symptom of the mistaken belief that we are somehow ‘bettering’ indigenous communities through the imposition of monetary systems

communities, as “they don’t have unlimited water supply and when tourists start arriving in large quantities they consume the groundwater very rapidly”, said Lewis. That’s the best-case scenario, too – the worst case is far more damaging.

Abuse abounds One of the Sentinelese’s Andaman neighbours, the Jarawa tribe, has been the victim of the most nefarious perils of tribal tourism. Until the 1970s, like the Sentinelese, the Jarawa had very little contact with the outside world and were known to be hostile towards visitors. The construction of the Andaman Trunk Road changed that, cutting through the middle of tribal land to provide access for freight drivers, poachers and, later, tourists by allowing the construction of nearby settlements. In the late 1990s, the Indian authorities revealed plans to relocate the Jarawa to two specially constructed villages, developing an economy for them based on fishing, hunting and gathering. The plan was dropped following strong opposition by a number of human rights organisations, and in 2002, the Indian Government announced that the Trunk

Road would be closed to minimise further contact with the tribe. Despite this promise, the road remains open today, putting the Jarawa’s future in jeopardy. Tour operators in the region illegally use the road to access the tribe, bringing up to 500 visitors every day in socalled ‘human safaris’. Tourists have been known to give large quantities of alcohol and money to the Jarawa, causing significant issues with addiction. In societies whose economy is based on the sharing of provisions rather than financial exchange, introducing money is extremely disruptive. Tribespeople don’t have the same relationship with money as those from capitalist systems – by giving them money, tourists are ascribing a system of values that has no place within that ecosystem. Visitors that behave in this way “are the perpetrators of structural violence”, said Lewis. Even more disturbingly, tourists visiting the Jarawa have been known to engage in voyeuristic sexual tourism practices. “One of the very big motivations [for certain tourists] visiting the Jarawa is that they wear very few clothes, and that’s something that’s seen as rather »

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Tribal Tourism

exciting and attractive,” said Lewis, adding that “cynical, manipulative sex tourism is also very widespread”. In 2012, a video emerged in which an off-camera policeman can be heard bribing Jarawa women with food to dance for tourists. Allegations of sexual abuse are rife, with one Jarawa tribesman telling Survival International in 2014: “The girls say that the outside boys pressure them to do a lot. They pressure them with their hands and fingernails… They chase them under the influence of alcohol. They have sex with the girls.”

Insidious colonialism In 2018, in an effort to boost tourist revenue, the Indian Government relaxed regulations that limit tourist access to tribes in the Andaman Islands. The move is set to further threaten these fragile populations. As of November 2018, foreign nationals were no longer required to obtain restricted-area permits to access 29 islands in the peninsula, to the delight of groups such as the Andaman Association of Tour 128

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Operators, which has been campaigning for several years for the rules to be relaxed. M Vinod, the association’s president, told the BBC that it was a “good move for tourism”. However, many other regional and international figures, including human rights groups, academics and local businesspeople, have raised concerns that this policy will endanger tribal communities and pave the way for more destructive tourism practices in future. “There are respectful ways of engaging with tribal peoples,” said Lewis. “The simplest way would be to support the various organisations that try and fight for the rights of indigenous people. [Tribespeople are] currently undergoing some of the most aggressive attacks by people emanating from capitalist systems… such as land-grabbing, various forms of aggressive expansion of industrial agriculture, [and] the aggressive poaching and commercialisation of key species on which they may depend, all of which are impacting hugely on the ability for indigenous people to maintain their ways of life.”

Above: The Jarawa tribe has suffered visits from a host of intruders since the Great Andaman Trunk Road was built in the 1970s

These attacks are a testament to a pervasive belief, particularly throughout capitalist society, that as ‘civilised’ humans, we have the right to tread every corner of the planet and ‘develop’ societies in our own image. “We’re trying to turn everybody into people like us, in the false belief that we are somehow improved or superior, when in fact what we are is currently parasitic on the systems which sustain life on this planet,” said Lewis. Tribal tourism is a symptom of the mistaken belief that we are somehow ‘bettering’ indigenous communities through the imposition of monetary systems and introduction of western commodities. Even the act of voyeurism has an implicit suggestion of our supposed right to observe those different to us, which has the effect of denigrating these tribes and treating them as a lower level of humanity. Some things are best left alone, and by leaving indigenous communities uncontacted, we ensure they remain unthreatened by the often-corrupting influence of western society. BD

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The Lalit

Everyone is welcome at the Lalit

dedicated to the philosophy of creating destinations, not just hotels. The initiative shines a light on local communities to bring the region’s craft, culture and cuisine into focus.

visit nightclub in India by INCA and the best nightclub in Delhi at the Times Food and Nightlife Awards. It has also been featured in DJ Mag’s Top 100 Clubs list. The club is an important space in India’s drag scene and has welcomed internationally renowned drag artists such as RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni Milk, Thorgy Thor and Violet Chachki. The club has also honed Indian talents such as Rani Ko-He-Nur, Maya the Drag Queen and Betta Naan Stop, as well as the resident DJ Aamish, a differently abled DJ.

All-inclusive vision

Working with the land

Not only does the group provide excellent service to all its guests, it also ensures that each one of its employees feels supported and safe. The group is an advocate of inclusive workplaces and welcomes everyone without discriminating on the basis of gender, sexual preference, religion or disability through its #PureLove campaign. The group empowers marginalised members of society and is particularly involved in projects with the LGBTQ community, differently abled individuals and acid attack survivors. A notable aspect of Lalit’s success is its commitment to moving with the times. The Kitty Su nightclub is one way in which the brand has achieved this. The brainchild of Keshav Suri, Executive Director of the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, the club has been named a must-

The hotel group’s strengths lie not only in its luxurious, modern facilities, but also in its commitment to harnessing the power of nature, local communities and young hoteliers. Its ‘we serve what we grow’ initiative means every property uses organic, locally grown produce, thereby reducing the group’s carbon footprint and bringing high-quality, fresh food to each guest. The organic waste produced in the hotels’ kitchens is processed and used as fertiliser by the farms that produce their food. The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group stands true to its mission of being traditionally modern, subtly luxurious and distinctly Lalit. BD

The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group has found international success. Now, the group is working to ensure every guest has an unforgettable stay and each employee benefits from its ethos of inclusivity, writes Dr Jyotsna Suri, Chairperson and Managing Director of the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group With 30 years of operations and a host of accolades under its belt, the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group’s brand is closely tied to notions of luxury and traditional Indian hospitality. Headquartered in New Delhi, the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group encompasses 13 luxury hotels, palaces and resorts, as well as two mid-market hotels under the banner of the Lalit Traveller. The brand runs properties w ithin world-famous business destinations – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Jaipur and London – as well as leisurely havens in offbeat locations – Udaipur, Goa, Srinagar, Bekal, Khajuraho and Mangar. No matter the location, the spirit of founder Lalit Suri shines through. Suri placed great importance on authenticity, undertaking extensive restoration work on all the group’s properties and including tributes to local culture through artwork to ensure each hotel exists in harmony with its surroundings. Taking the founder’s vision forward, the Lalit Hospitality Group’s employees are 130

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Caspian Sea

More than just sea-mantics

For decades, the question of how to delimit the Caspian Sea among its five surrounding states has proven unanswerable. Last year’s landmark convention, however, has provided a breakthrough that may deliver commercial and security benefits, writes Barclay Ballard On August 12, 2018, Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, a landmark agreement that had been some 22 years in the making. Strangely, discussions largely centred on whether to treat the world’s largest inland body of water as a sea or a lake. Prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR), the decision – which has significant legal, political and business implications – was something of an irrelevance. Until 1991, Iran and the USSR treated the Caspian Sea as a lake with a maritime international border between the two countries. Resources, which at the time were thought to consist mainly of fish, were shared. That approach worked just f ine until the establishment of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and K azakhstan as independent nation states complicated matters. They, too, now had territorial claims over the Caspian Sea and its huge oil reserves. Today, both domestic and international corporations are lurking in the background, eager to exploit the commercial opportunities presented by last year’s historic agreement.

As old as the sea At first glance, the long-running debate over whether the Caspian Sea is a sea or a lake may seem trivial. Legally, however, the distinction is important. If the body of water is considered a sea, it is subject to the United Nations 132

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Convention on the Law of the Sea, which would allow nations beyond the five surrounding it to make a claim to its resources. If, however, it is deemed to be a lake, it must be split equally between the five littoral states: Russia, Azerbaijan Turkmenistan, Iran and Kazakhstan. In the end, the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea granted it ‘special legal status’, adjudging it to be neither a sea nor a lake. Each of the five countries has been granted 15 miles of sovereign waters and an additional 10 miles of fishing space. Beyond this, the common waters can be used by any of the signatories, but each state holds a veto regarding the exploitation of energy reserves in these common areas. Although the Caspian Sea agreement has taken years to negotiate, Stanislav Pritchin, an executive partner at the Expert Centre for Eurasian Development, told Business Destinations that this should be evaluated in light of the complexity of the situation. “I wouldn’t say that the agreement took too long because you can see examples in many parts of the world where negotiations concerning the delimitations of a sea are still ongoing,” Pritchin said. “For example, the US–Canadian dispute involving the Beaufort Sea remains unresolved and Norwegian–Russian negotiations took several decades. What’s more, these examples only involve bilateral negotiations. In the case of the Caspian Sea, we have five littoral negotiations.”

Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea:





While the agreement represents significant progress, it has not resolved all of the remaining territorial issues. The delimitation of the seabed and subsoil resources, for example, has deliberately been left undefined, allowing the member states to decide for themselves at a later date. Nevertheless, some are viewing the agreement as a green light to explore commercial opportunities across the sea.

Still waters run deep Aside from a few substantial sticking points, much of the recently signed agreement has been in place in a de facto sense for some time. As a result, a number of business ventures are already underway


Caspian Sea

With the dispute over how to divide the Caspian Sea now put to bed, further progress can be made

Right: Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend the signing of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea

across the Caspian Sea. Kazakhstan began commercial production at its Kashagan oil field in 2013, while Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz gas field has played a key role in the Southern Gas Corridor since 2006. One of the most important business developments under discussion in the region is the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline (TCP), a long-mooted project that would carry Turkmen gas across the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan and onward to European markets. Not only would this provide much-needed revenue for the Turkmen Government, it would also threaten Russia’s dominance of Europe’s energy mix. “With regard to the TCP, the convention provides clear rules and a legal framework for underwater projects – not just the pipeline but cable telecoms and other transborder underwater projects,” Pritchin explained. “This means that there are no political or legal restrictions for the TCP – it is only a question of economics.” Even so, it appears that Russia may have already headed off the threat posed by the TCP. Back in November, Myrat Archayev, the head of Turkmenistan’s state-owned gas company, Türkmengaz, spoke about the possibility of sending the country’s gas supplies towards Eastern Europe via existing Russian pipelines. While the construction of the TCP is yet to be confirmed, a number of other commercial endeavours are afoot: in December, the Russian ambassador

to Azerbaijan, Mikhail Bocharnikov, announced that plans to develop cruise tourism on the Caspian Sea were already underway; Turkmenistan recently invited foreign investors to help exploit the country’s oil potential; Azerbaijan has discussed the development of industrial fish farming; and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has spoken of accelerating joint projects within the country. As further details of resource sharing are ironed out, more commercial initiatives will surely come to light.

United front One major hurdle to the development of the Caspian Sea will be more difficult to clear than the others: Iranian sanctions mean that many companies are reluctant to invest in projects in the country, whether they are solely in Iran’s zone of maritime jurisdiction or consist of joint proposals with other states. Unfortunately, western expertise will likely be required for Iran to make the most of its hydrocarbon resources. Alternatively, it could sign deals with Russia or China, but the former already has a number of huge energy deals in the works, and the latter has little experience in deep-water extraction. Perhaps the most significant benefit of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea is not economic at all: the agreement prevents any country, besides the five littoral states, from having a military presence on the Caspian Sea. For Russia in particular, this is a

significant boon, as it secures part of its southern border from possible attack. “This convention is extremely important for stability in the area because key principles for supporting regional security were agreed,” Pritchin said. “The main one relates to conflict resolution and the other regarding military bases on the Caspian Sea. In addition, no single Caspian state can use its territory for military action against a neighbouring country. In case of a possible conf lict, especially in terms of US–Iran tension, there are no threats to Iran from the Caspian Sea dimension.” Greater regional cooperation also offers hope for the local environment. Pollution caused by sewage from Iran and damage caused by oil and gas extraction pose a threat to the Caspian Sea’s wildlife, especially its sturgeon population. While the agreement may result in further exploitation of the sea’s oil and gas reserves, it also provides a framework for the five member states to work collaboratively on cleaning it up. Crucially, the Caspian Sea convention should serve as a starting point for further regional integration. With the dispute over how to divide the body of water now put to bed, further progress can be made. Individually, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Iran cannot protect the Caspian Sea from further environmental degradation, nor make the most of its rich resources. Together, they just might. BD

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Istanbul Airport

Turkey faces turbulence with airport project

Turkey wants its new Istanbul Airport to become the largest in the world. But despite promising projections, Courtney Goldsmith asks whether there is any substance behind the country’s latest mega-project Nearly 104 million people flew through Atlanta, Georgia, in 2017. This meant that, for a 19th consecutive year, HartsfieldJackson Atlanta International Airport kept its grip on the title of the busiest airport in the world. However, it may soon have to defend its crown as a new challenger enters the market. In 2018, Turkey unveiled a new airport in Istanbul, which it hopes will accommodate almost double Atlanta’s current visitor numbers. Turkey’s new airport, officially named Istanbul Airport – not to be confused with the already-operating Istanbul Atatürk Airport – is the crown jewel in the 15-year infrastructure boom President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has brought to the country. With a final capacity set to reach 200 million passengers per year, Erdoğan told the crowd at the airport’s partial opening in October that the project would help strengthen Turkey’s place on the global stage. Although Turkey has achieved impressive economic growth since 2000, 134

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2018 was marked by growing fiscal pressures in the country. While Erdoğan promises a bright future for the airport, saying it will boost the economy and generate jobs, critics have warned that the projections are unrealistic and the airport’s development was simply designed to enhance the president’s image.

New global hub Istanbul Airport is set to fully open to the public in March 2019 when the country’s flag carrier, Turkish Airlines, will transfer all its flights over from Atatürk Airport. The new airport, which is located on a nearly 80 million square metre plot of land to the north of Istanbul, reportedly cost around $12bn to construct. This makes it one of the biggest infrastructure investment projects in the country’s history. Officials aim to position Istanbul Airport as the premier Eurasian transit hub, replacing Dubai International Airport, which is currently the world’s third-biggest airport and the busiest hub

Above: The opening ceremony of Istanbul Airport

for international passenger traffic. With six runways planned, Istanbul Airport will fly to more than 350 destinations for 150 airliners when completed. Assuming all of the plans are delivered on time, the airport could indeed become one of the largest in the world, Thomas Budd, a lecturer in airport planning and management at Cranfield University, told Business Destinations. But this achievement will face threats that are outside of the airport’s control, such as the state of the Turkish and global economy, global demand for air transport and the geopolitical situation of the region. “Also, it has to be assumed that other competing airports in the region will respond quickly to increased competition from the new Istanbul Airport, which will also have an impact,” Budd added. Fadi Hakura manages the Turkey Project at the international affairs think tank Chatham House. Based on the Turkish Government’s track record with mega-projects, along with research that shows the airport’s projections were based on optimistic assumptions, he said: “In all likelihood, the projections will not be met and will probably cost the Turkish taxpayer hundreds, if not millions, of dollars or euros in subsidies each year.” There are still factors working in the airport’s favour, however. According to an analysis of the air transport market in 2016 by the European Commission, Istanbul Atatürk Airport was growing at one of the most rapid rates of any airport over the 10 years to 2015, with an average annual passenger increase of 11.5 percent. By 2016, Atatürk was one of Europe’s top five busiest, with about 61 million passengers a year. In the decade to 2015, the European Commission found that most transfers at Atatürk occurred for flights between Europe and the Middle East or from one European country to another. Over the coming years, the number of flights between these regions is expected to increase. But while Turkey’s East-meets-West location is ideal for such transfers, recent developments in modern aircraft may prevent the need for connecting hubs in the future. For instance, Singapore Airlines now flies non-stop for almost 19 hours between Singapore and New York City, and Qantas has a direct flight from the UK to Australia. Currently, many flights between these locations have a

TURKEY’S NUMEROUS INFRASTRUCTURE MEGAPROJECTS HAVE COME UNDER CRITICISM FOR LONG DELAYS AND UNNECESSARY COSTS layover in Dubai or Qatar – the airports whose success Turkey aims to replicate. If air travel continues to progress in this direction, Hakura said it is likely that Istanbul Airport’s projected passenger numbers will not be met. “I’m not saying ‘maybe could’, I’m saying ‘will not’ be met,” he stressed.

Delays and controversy The design of Istanbul’s new airport, which takes inspiration from Turkey’s domed mosques and baths, has been lauded. The airport’s tulip-shaped control tower won first place in the ‘Future Projects: Infrastructure’ category at the 2016 World Architecture Festival in Berlin. Despite the airport’s gleaming appearance, the breakneck pace of its construction caused severe issues. IGA, the consortium behind the project, has been criticised over working conditions and safety standards at the building site: at least 27 workers have died on the site since work began in 2015 due to accidents or health problems, according to Turkey’s labour ministry. Workers also complained of bed bugs in their sleeping quarters and poor food quality. In September, police detained hundreds of protesting workers after more than a dozen were injured in an accident involving a shuttle bus. Workplace accidents are troublingly common in Turkey. A report by the Assembly of Occupational Health and Safety said the number of deaths by workplace accidents in 2017 reached 2,006, up from 1,970 the previous year. From that total, 453 deaths occurred in the construction industry. On its website, IGA says it employs a zero-tolerance policy for occupational health and safety risks: “Our vision is to become a leading organisation in occupational health and safety by adopting the current and most advanced national and international practices in this field.” Turkey’s numerous other infrastructure mega-projects have come under

Above: The Turkish Stars perform at the opening ceremony of Istanbul Airport

criticism for long delays and unnecessary costs. The Kabatas ferry connects Istanbul’s European and Asian sides, and in 2016 construction began to transform the ferry terminal into a seagull-shaped port complete with shops and galleries. But in recent months, reports have said the work has stalled. Meanwhile, a plan to build a pedestrian tunnel underneath the Bosphorus was cancelled in 2017, and the Istanbul canal, which would link the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara for an estimated $16bn, has been called a “crazy” idea by President Erdoğan himself.

Precarious symbols of success


2018 200m







Erdoğan has constructed his reputation on Turkey’s mega-projects – from bridges to shopping malls to mosques – but the new airport carries a particularly significant political importance due to its scale and cost. While Budd said Istanbul Airport will represent “a bold statement about the ambitions of the role of an outward-looking, modern Turkey in the global economy”, critics argue it was not an economic necessity and is merely another prestige project that will allow Erdoğan to boast about the country’s achievements under his leadership. For a time, the construction of mega infrastructure projects did drive economic growth in Turkey. Throughout Erdoğan’s time as president so far, the construction sector has grown from accounting for 12

percent of GDP to 17 percent. It is now a mainstay of the Turkish growth model. But, according to Hakura, that growth is unsustainable in the longer term. “In fact, it’s no longer sustainable even today,” he said. Turkey’s mega-projects have largely been financed by dollar-denominated debt. With US interest rates climbing and Turkey’s currency plunging against the dollar, the country’s foreign currency debt has soared. By the end of 2017, the corporate sector’s foreign exchange liabilities reached a record $328bn. “Turkey can no longer absorb more foreign loans to finance these mega infrastructure construction projects,” Hakura said. At a time when Turkey’s economic outlook is still fairly uncertain, the country would benefit from shifting towards a more sustainable growth model. But still, the government is pressing on with more mega-projects. Near the end of 2018, Erdoğan confirmed a tender would be held for the construction of the Istanbul canal despite a government freeze on new investments. Turkey can no longer rely on megaprojects to boost economic growth. If, instead of finding a more sustainable growth model, the government continues to depend on the construction of large physical symbols of its successes, it may find its foundations have been built on shaky ground. BD

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Medical Tourism

Medication vacation When Turkey’s traditional tourism industry dried up, the country turned to its medical sector to attract a new wave of visitors, writes Sophie Perryer Turkey is typically celebrated by global travellers for its white sand beaches, azure seas and opulent palaces. Now, the Eurasian country is seeking to bolster its reputation in the field of medicine, too. Turkey has seen an influx of medical tourists over the past 10 years, rising from 75,000 visitors in 2007 to more than 700,000 in 2017, according to the Istanbul International Health Tourism Association. It is estimated that this number had topped one million by the end of 2018. Faced with soaring healthcare costs at home, tourists from Europe, the US, Russia and Saudi Arabia are opting to fly thousands of miles to save up to 90 percent on the cost of treatments – and incorporate a summer holiday into their trip. Healthcare in Turkey has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and the country now boasts a number of internationally accredited, state-of-the-art hospitals. However, there are some institutions that compromise on safety standards to scrimp on costs – those are the ones that thrifty tourists must watch out for.

Foreign bodies Medical tourism is one of Turkey’s fastestgrowing industries and is estimated to contribute $4bn to the country’s economy annually. Patients flock in from across the globe for a range of medical procedures, from the cosmetic to the essential, costing anywhere from a few hundred dollars to almost $20,000. The low cost of treatment remains the most attractive factor for the majority of 136

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visitors, particularly those from countries with no paid-for state medical system. In the US, where healthcare costs are eyewateringly expensive even for those with medical insurance, it’s a no-brainer to go abroad for treatment. For example, the average fee for a heart valve replacement in the US is $150,000, whereas it’s just $17,000 in Turkey. Shorter waiting times are a contributing factor, too. Patients can wait up to 18 months for a knee replacement, particularly in the UK, where the overstretched NHS is suffering from a lengthy backlog. By contrast, in Turkey, most patients can have the operation in less than two weeks from the point of booking. It’s a simple equation for many: the less time they spend waiting for a procedure, the sooner they can be back on their feet.

Boosting the numbers Seeking to capitalise on the influx of medical tourists, Turkey has recently unveiled a roster of state incentives to make healthcare even cheaper for overseas visitors. In March 2018, the government passed a law offering a VAT exemption to nonresident foreigners who undergo medical treatment or rehabilitation in an institution accredited by the Ministry of Health. It has also made healthcare the central focus of its national tourism development plan and is aiming to bring in two million patients and $20bn in revenue annually by 2023. It’s not just patients that will benefit from this prioritisation, either. In April 2018, former Turkish finance minister Naci

Ağbal announced that the government was in the process of debating new regulations to encourage private investment in the healthcare sector. He told state-run news agency Anadolu: “We will offer additional incentives to private companies for their health tourism investments.” Ağbal also suggested that the country was pressing to sign contracts with foreign social security institutions to bring more elderly patients to Turkey for medical care. Turkey is an almost perfect destination for elderly patients, particularly those unable to afford vital operations at home. Retirees are able to travel at almost any time of the year, with many opting to do so in spring and autumn, when the weather is still warm but the crowds of summer holidaymakers have returned to their desks. This allows Turkey to maintain a fairly consistent flow of tourist trade, rather than the summertime boom that the country has historically seen. It’s a more consistent income model, with fewer external factors – such as poor weather – to dissuade visitors from travelling. “To try and spread demand more evenly, Turkey and other destinations with



Medical Tourism


similar seasonality issues try and diversify their product,” said Rochelle Turner, Research Director at the World Travel and Tourism Council. “By focusing on new and niche markets where the experience is more important than the weather, these destinations are hoping to attract new visitors, open up regions and create new products that will appeal.” Overall, tourism has fallen dramatically in Turkey over the past three years due to a series of diplomatic incidents and an increased terror threat dissuading prospective visitors. The country now purports to have smoothed over the political cracks, claiming to be back on a more even keel. The influx of medical tourists indicates a restoration of international confidence and is set to help Turkey replenish the funds it lost as a result of reduced tourism revenue. Turner said: “750,000 is a significant number of people – all who will be staying in hotels, buying food and drink, and perhaps experiencing some of Turkey’s vibrant culture. This all brings needed income to the country, creating jobs and opportunities for further development through the supply chains of these businesses.”

Cost of a heart valve replacement

$150,000 US

$17,000 TURKEY

Safety first For the most part, undergoing a medical procedure in Turkey is a safe experience, particularly with regards to serious curative procedures in leading hospitals. The Anadolu Medical Centre is Turkey’s most respected institution, boasting an affiliation with the US’ eminent John Hopkins Hospital through its international programme. The hospital is particularly famed for its cancer treatment centre, which is recognised by the Organisation of European Cancer Institutes as providing an extremely high level of care for patients. In the cosmetic sphere, however, standards are not so high. A February 2018 investigation by UK newspaper the Mirror found that Turkey is the worst location for botched plastic surgery operations on British people, with Marmaris-based surgeon Dr Mehmet Kaya singled out by the paper for causing physical damage to a number of patients. Kaya was found to be offering cosmetic procedures for an 80 percent discount on the price typically paid in the UK. Over a dozen women have since come forward claiming Kaya has left them with permanent scars as a result of improperly stitched wounds, though a

clinic representative told the Mirror “it is not the doctor’s fault”. Michael Saul is a partner at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, the first law practice in the UK to help patients claim compensation for complications resulting from substandard plastic surgery. He believes that it is highly dangerous to go abroad for any kind of cosmetic procedure, due to inadequate pre and post-operative care and the expectation of financial commitment before a patient has seen the facilities or met their operating physician. “There’s a range in surgical standards from country to country, the qualification process will be different for doctors, so really it’s a lottery,” he told Business Destinations. From a legal standing, it can be near impossible to claim compensation for substandard surgery administered abroad. “The starting point is you normally have to sue in the country where you have had the surgery,” Saul said. “If that’s in Turkey or other parts of Eastern Europe, there will be language barriers, a no-win-no-fee regime is unlikely to be available, and also the level of compensation awards in those types of jurisdictions are likely to be low, too.” In an effort to tackle sub-standard clinics, in July 2018, the Turkish parliament approved a bill to establish International Health Services, an organisation that will help regulate and promote the health sector. There are concerns, however, that the promotion element of the organisation’s directive will take precedent, with noble regulatory goals falling by the wayside in favour of greater revenues. Turkey must now strike the right balance between bolstering its tourism revenue while ensuring that stringent clinical standards are met. If safety is not prioritised, the country risks seeing a dramatic decline in medical tourists over the next few years, as prospective visitors realise that the low cost of surgery simply isn’t worth the risk. BD

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With stunning beaches, delectable food and modern facilities for corporate events, the Algarve is an ideal destination for business travellers, writes João Jesus, Area Director of Sales and Marketing at Algarve Congress Centre The Algarve is a gorgeous destination in the south of Europe, known for its warm weather and for receiving more than 300 days of sunshine each year. The region is an incredible place to unwind while taking in the picturesque golden beaches and stunning rock formations. Food is another highlight in Portugal’s southernmost region: the Algarve, which borders the Atlantic Ocean on two sides, serves some of the best fish and seafood in the country, as well as fresh vegetables, cured meats, wines and desserts. And as an added benefit, the basis of the region’s cuisine stems from the Mediterranean diet, which is renowned for being one of the healthiest in the world. Cuisine aside, there’s a great deal to discover in this charming corner of Europe, from museums to music concerts. Nature lovers can choose from an array of scenic walking trails, birdwatch138

ing tours and sea cave expeditions. There are also sports activities for any kind of visitor, from car racing on the Algarve International Circuit to internationally recognised golf courses.

Exclusive events Despite being a brand new venue in the region, the Algarve Congress Centre, which is strategically located between the local marina, the beach and the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura hotel, has already hosted a number of prestigious corporate and social events. From intimate rooftop cocktail parties to national congresses and international corporate meetings for thousands, the flexibility of the Algarve Congress Centre means it can host events in almost any format. The venue’s 270-degree glass-walled meeting rooms, together with 360-degree views from the rooftop, provide a stun-

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The flexibility of the Algarve Congress Centre means it can host events in almost any format

ning vista of the ocean and the marina, helping guests to make the most of the local surroundings. The centre can host events for 50 to 3,000 people across 22 multifunctional meeting rooms. Separate f loors and entrances can be allocated to different events, creating a feeling of exclusivity.

Prime location When planning large-scale events for numerous guests, providing entertainment and things to do is one of the most important tasks for organisers. Fortunately, programmes taking place at the Algarve Congress Centre can be enriched by our additional venues, such as Lakeside, an outdoor venue where guests can enjoy dinner by the lake, or Purobeach Vilamoura Poolside, where a cocktail by the pool can create the

perfect atmosphere for a moment of escapism. Guests at the five-star Tivoli Marina Vilamoura can also delight in a range of restaurants and bars, or they can take some time to relax at the spa and indulge in treatments featuring Algarvian products. The fact that the conference venue is a djoined to the Tivoli Ma r ina Vilamoura, as well as being close to the airport and several other top-class hotels, is one of its biggest highlights. The centre’s convenient location helps to reduce the logistical stress of travelling for business. In fact, we feel certain that no other venue in the region has the same degree of flexibility as the Algarve Congress Centre. BD FURTHER INFORMATION:


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BREAKING WITH CONVENTION Business Destinations picks out the following nine conference destinations from across the globe, from a creative Chicago meetings centre to a destination in Australia’s ‘smart state’

Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre Since Queensland launched its Smart State initiative in the 1990s, Brisbane has emerged as a pioneering tech hub. Catering to that innovative community is Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC). The centre features 44 multifunctional meeting and event spaces, including the capacious Great Hall, which can accom-


multifunctional event spaces


Capacity of the Great Hall

Corner of Merivale and Glenelg Streets, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia +(61) 7 3308 3000 | www.bcec.com.au modate up to 4,000 guests. To seriously impress corporate guests, reserve the Sky Room, an intimate gala venue that looks over Brisbane’s glittering skyline. It’s little wonder that BCEC has been named the World’s Best Convention Centre by the International Association of Congress Centres for the past three years running.

Eko Hotels & Suites

1415 Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria +(234) 12 7727 0025 | www.ekohotels.com – the largest in Nigeria. Eko has extensive facilities to ensure guests are well catered EKO seeks for, including eight restaurants, a stateto delight of-the-art fitness centre and onsite mediinternational cal clinic. Each Friday evening, the hotel guests with traditional African hosts a themed buffet, serving specialities from across the globe – a testament to its hospitality international focus.

As Lagos’ premier business hotel, Eko seeks to delight international guests with traditional African hospitality in a corporate-friendly setting. Located just 10 minutes from the city centre, the hotel boasts a range of well-appointed rooms and suites, meeting rooms with integrated technology, and a 5,000sq m convention centre

Sheraton Santiago Hotel & Convention Centre Generating almost 50 percent of Chile’s GDP, Santiago is a key economic hub for the country’s financial and commerce industries. Perfect for accommodating the city’s influx of corporate guests, the Sheraton boasts 525 luxurious rooms and 19 meeting rooms, making it the largest hotel and convention centre in Santiago.


rooms and suites


meeting rooms

Hotel Pullman Shanghai South

Avenue Santa Maria 1742, Santiago, Chile | +56 2 2233 5000 www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/travel/sclsi-sheraton-santiago-hotel-and-convention-center Event organisers will benefit from highspeed internet access, a talented team of photographers and audiovisual technicians, and an award-winning catering team to surprise and delight guests. The Sheraton is easily accessible from a range of international destinations too, as it’s just a 15-minute drive from the airport.

1 Pubei Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China | (+86) 21 2426 8888 www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-7564-pullman-shanghai-south/index.shtml

Conveniently located in Xuhui’s business district, Hotel Pullman Shanghai South is the ideal choice for business travellers looking for an upscale retreat that brings stylish design to a corporate setting. Its ultra-slick exterior conceals 333 contemporary rooms and suites, an executive lounge, spa and fitness centre, 140

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rooms and suites

1,300sq m

Size of the ballroom

three restaurants, seven function rooms and a 1,300sq m ballroom. The Pullman is easily accessible from Shanghai South railway station, Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport, meaning it’s easy to meet business associates from across the globe.



Grimaldi Forum Occupying a prime space on Monaco’s illustrious promenade, Grimaldi Forum is a truly impressive destination for corporate entertaining. The 35,000sq m space extends over six floors, each featuring its own unique auditoriums, meeting areas and catering spaces. From cavernous exhibition halls to elegant seafront terrac-

10 Avenue Princesse Grace, Monaco | +(377) 9999 2000 | www.grimaldiforum.com es, there’s no shortage of options for any occasion, which has led Grimaldi Forum to be nicknamed ‘the event factory’. There are also five onsite teams, covering areas such as logistics, technical services, construction and communication, to provide made-to-measure solutions for events of any size, ensuring they run smoothly.

From cavernous exhibition halls to elegant seafront terraces, there’s no shortage of options

Barcelona International Convention Centre Opened in 2004 for the Universal Forum of Cultures, Barcelona International Convention Centre (CCIB) is such a significant destination for conferences and events that Barcelona’s business and technology district, 22@, has been built around it. The vast 100,000sq m venue is made up of two state-of-the-art buildings and has a

Offsite Offsite was founded on the belief that corporate conventions are much more inspiring and productive when they take place in a creative space. The all-inclusive venue, located in Chicago’s trendy West Loop district, caters for intimate meetings of up to 100 guests in a state-of-theart artistic environment. Rentals include

total capacity of around 15,000. Of its 46 meeting spaces, the most popular include the 1,665sq m Banqueting Hall, which boasts a large terrace with sea views, and the Forum Auditorium, designed by famed Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. There are more than 4,500 hotel rooms within walking distance.


Guest capacity


meeting spaces

560 West Washington Boulevard, Chicago, US | +(1) 31 2655 8000 | chicago.gooffsite.com full tech support, customisable seating options, snacks, drinks and office supplies as standard, while all clients receive a dedicated event coordinator to ensure things run smoothly. Offsite’s Chicago location is its third in the US – it has two venues in New York City– with further expansion planned in the next few years.

Rentals include full tech support, customisable seating options, snacks, drinks and office supplies

Edinburgh Corn Exchange Despite being voted Scotland’s best large venue for two years running, the Edinburgh Corn Exchange (ECE) has not forgotten its family-run roots. Outstanding customer service and impressive flexibility are this Scottish venue’s guiding principles. The ECE boasts seven event spaces that can cater

Plaça de Willy Brandt, 11-14, Barcelona, Spain +(34) 9 3230 1000 | www.ccib.es

11 Newmarket Road, Edinburgh | +(44) 0131 477 3500 | www.edinburghcornexchange.com for groups of up to 3,000, each with their own distinct style. These include the Baron, a former cabaret bar reimagined as a dramatic dinner venue, and the Exchange, a hi-tech space equipped with state-of-the-art LED lighting and roof projection system. The venue also benefits from excellent transport links.

Metro Toronto Convention Centre Commitment to providing a premium service is what drives the staff at Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC). Covering more than two million square feet, Canada’s largest convention centre has built a reputation for excellence over the course of its 35 years in operation. With expert culinary, technical and

The ECE boasts seven distinct event spaces that can cater for groups of up to 3,000

255 Front Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada | +(1) 41 6585 8000 | www.mtccc.com

The centre has built a reputation for excellence over the course of its 35 years in operation

managerial teams, and a dedicated event manager assigned to every event, MTCC is equipped to host small and large parties with aplomb. The venue also boasts seven exhibition halls, 77 meeting rooms, two ballrooms and a 1,232-seat theatre, and is located just a stone’s throw from Toronto’s bustling financial centre.

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The promised Low-cost travel has made the tourism market more competitive than ever. Increasingly, locations are using place branding to stand out from the crowd, but they should be wary of upsetting the locals, writes Barclay Ballard Âť




dentities shift all the time, and not only for individuals. Nations too can change markedly in terms of their character. Often, this is a slow process, stemming from population change, technological development or long-running geopolitical factors. Sometimes, however, it occurs rapidly. Increasingly, cities, regions or entire countries are using marketing tactics to change their identities – or at least how potential visitors perceive their identities. The process, termed ‘place branding’, has been used successfully to boost tourism figures, encourage cultural rejuvenation and attract foreign investment. In fact, an entire industry has sprung up to help places create engaging brands. Businesses such as the Institute for Identity, the Place Brand Observer and a number of other similar organisations have been launched to provide advice and support for destinations looking to revamp their image. The cost of a branding campaign varies depending on its scale and ambition, but can easily total upwards of a million dollars for nationwide marketing efforts. For many, however, places are more than just marketing tools. They are where family roots grow and memories are made. They are homes. As such, place 144

branders must tread carefully if they think they are able to sum up such an emotional topic with a pithy slogan. What’s more, each place is unique: world-renowned cities like New York or Paris will present a very different branding challenge to a small market town looking to carve out space for itself in the global travel market.

Soul searching Although globalisation has meant there is a greater exchange of culture, ideas and people than ever before, individuals remain attached to particular areas. Places are not just different sections of a map; they arouse emotions and invoke a sense of belonging. Distilling a location’s essence, therefore, is not easy. Many different factors go into making a place unique, and not everyone – not even locals with deep roots – will agree on what they are. Still, nailing down an area’s identity is essential to delivering effective place branding. Far more than just a marketing technique, place branding involves identifying a city, country or region’s character or spirit and managing how that is portrayed. It may, of course, involve slogans and other traditional advertising techniques, but it must also resonate deeply with its audience. Sometimes, specialist organisations are employed to help develop a place’s brand.

The Institute for Identity has worked on projects across Eastern Europe, tackling major cities like Minsk, the capital of Belarus, as well as lesser-known conurbations in what was formerly the Soviet Union. Company director Natasha Grand told Business Destinations that place branding can deliver a number of benefits, from improving the public mood to boosting socioeconomic conditions. “One of the most important aspects of place branding is coming up with a strategic vision for the place, its purpose and priorities,” Grand explained. “Strategic plans and standards for the tourism and investment industries, strategies to support the local way of life, and finding ways to engage young people – especially through arts, architecture, music,



Places are more than just marketing tools. They are where family roots grow and memories are made. They are homes

fashion and local food projects – are also important. Furthermore, there are practical elements such as representation at trade shows or making appealing and useful souvenirs associated with a place’s tradition.” Although every place branding project is different, they often begin in the same way: advisors first have to discover what makes a place tick. They often have discussions with government officials, tourist board officials and, of course, local people. “Pinpointing the identity of a city or region is fascinating and intricate work,” Grand explained. “The number of places that have a strong living identity is comparatively small on the global scale, and we all know them. Places like London, for example, evoke a

pretty consistent image and feeling. Most places, however, do not project a clear personality. The job is to capture, distil, name and augment the place’s personality: a particular world view, people’s mentality, a way of doing things, values and attitudes that make up the bloodstream of a particular place.” Readers will no doubt be familiar with many instances of place branding, even if they don’t recognise them as such. For example, the ‘IAMsterdam’ slogan has proved to be a hugely popular addition to the tourism scene in the Dutch capital. Similarly, in 2003, Las Vegas used place branding to turn the city’s reputation for debauchery into a selling point: today, ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ is a phrase known the world over. » 145


Showing the best side Often, one of the main aims of place branding is to boost tourism. Negative perceptions of a country or region can be a major reason for visitors staying away, even if the reality is starkly different. In much of the western world, images of Rwanda remain centred on the Tutsi genocide that took place during the Rwandan Civil War. Despite the fact that the conflict finished in 1994, depictions of the massacre in literature and film have ensured that it remains the primary image of Rwanda in the collective consciousness. Last year, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) looked to shake up its national brand by launching its Visit Rwanda campaign, encompassing a new logo and a broad strategy focusing on the country’s stunning nature and its traditional Imigongo artworks. The African country certainly has plenty to offer visitors, from 146

the mountain gorillas of Virunga National Park to the vibrant Kigali nightlife, but few are aware of its wonders. Rwanda’s partnership with Premier League football club Arsenal will certainly help bring greater awareness to the country’s branding initiative, but the move has not been without criticism. The decision to spend $40m on the advertising deal has been questioned, given that foreign aid still accounts for 17 percent of Rwanda’s national budget. With 60 percent of the country’s citizens living in extreme poverty, expensive adverts in magazines and on football kits will always be subject to critique. Elsewhere, however, the positive impact of place branding is clear to see. Tourism has played a key role in reinvigorating the Icelandic economy after it was decimated by the 2008 global financial crash. Visitor numbers to the small island

nation increased five-fold between 2010 and 2017, partly as a result of its successful marketing efforts. In particular, the tourism board utilised the natural beauty of the country’s geysers, glaciers and geothermal spas to attract visitors. External parties inadvertently helped Iceland’s branding efforts, too: in 2017, Iceland was named the fastest-growing national brand by Brand Finance’s Nation Brands 2017 report, growing 83 percent when compared with the previous year. This increase was partly the result of the popular television series Game of Thrones, which uses the country’s icy landscape as a backdrop for the majority of its winter scenes. A brand, therefore, is not solely the result of marketing efforts – it is also inf luenced by a place’s economic well-being, cultural capital and, indeed, actions taken by those not directly connected with the place at all.



What’s more, even when place branding does not target tourism directly, it may still help attract visitors. As Grand noted: “Tourists only come to places that have a life, even if a very relaxed one.” If place branding helps to shine a light on an area’s best features, then tourism is likely to benefit, even if only inadvertently. “The primary focus of place branding – counterintuitively – is the place’s own residents,” Grand added. “A good project should make them inspired, enthused, happy to belong where they are, and motivated to do more or better things. It is like stirring a whirlwind – the locals start, and the world responds.” Of course, tourism is just one of the benefits of place branding, but it can be a substantial one. The revenue brought in by international visitors can help support other areas of the economy. The RDB may have faced criticism for the money it spent

Left: Rwanda’s Virunga Mountains Right: Mountain gorillas, which populate the mountains

on its recent country branding project, but if it achieves its aim of doubling visitor revenue to $800m annually, then broader economic benefits are sure to follow.

Closer to home Economic success and a strong place brand certainly appear to go hand in hand. According to Brand Finance’s Nation Brands 2018 report, the top 20 most valuable nation brands correspond closely with the biggest economies on the planet. The US, China and Germany took the top spots, with all three boosting their brand values over the course of the year. These three countries, known respectively as a cultural powerhouse, the world’s growth engine and the European Union’s leading state, will be difficult to dethrone. Still, that doesn’t mean smaller nations or regions can’t benefit from place branding. Simon Anholt, a policy

advisor who helped popularise the concept of a ‘nation brand’, has worked with global heavyweights and smaller countries alike. One of his most successful projects involved improving Croatia’s image in the early 2000s: with the Croatian War of Independence fresh in people’s memories, Anholt supported the national government in its efforts to promote Croatia as a democratic market economy with a beautiful Mediterranean coastline. This was not only important for tourism; it also helped pave the way for EU membership in 2013. The most effective forms of place branding may incorporate advertising and slogans, but they do not rely on them. More tangible, long-term solutions are advisable if a brand is to grow organically. Education is particularly important, especially with regard to foreign languages. This will allow citizens to travel abroad and interact with visitors more easily. » 147



In this way, they will naturally act as advocates for their countries’ brands. Adopting a place branding strategy that also delivers social, cultural or economic benefits for the local populace will have a much bigger impact than even the most cleverly worded slogan. “The most effective place branding initiatives leave the community stronger, more self-confident and, at the same time, more interesting for visitors, investors, foreign talent and new residents,” explained Florian Kaefer, Editor of the Place Brand Observer. “This takes time and is mostly down to smart leadership. Place branding happens everywhere, all the time. It just isn’t usually referred to as such. Place development is among the strongest factors for successful place brands and influencing the reputation of a city or region.” In Australia, the city of Melbourne employed the services of branding firm Landor to help create its new image. The agency came up with a new identity revolving around a flexible ‘M’ logo that represents Melbourne’s vibrant, adaptable and progressive attitude. However, more tangible initiatives have also helped to shape the city’s brand: the local government’s decision to embrace street art, for example, has helped boost Melbourne’s reputation as Australia’s capital of cool. Its rich musical history helped too. Marketing can certainly prove to be an effective way of boosting a place’s brand, but it must be backed up with something concrete.

Not the full story When place branding initiatives lack substance, they may not only fail to attract enough tourists – they can result in a backlash. In 2009 in Hamburg, Northern Germany, locals reacted with anger to the city’s ongoing branding initiatives, which they saw as encouraging higher house prices and the stratification of residents. They even launched their own ‘not in our name’ protest campaign, where they proclaimed: “A city is not a brand. A city is not a corporation. A city is a community.” Even place branding projects that may appear successful to the outside world 148

Although defining the identity of a particular place is difficult, locals may not always appreciate help from a marketing agency have faced criticism: residents in the Dutch capital rebranded their city’s aforementioned slogan to ‘IAMsterdamed’ to voice their displeasure. Place brand managers must keep in mind that a superficial campaign may attract tourists in the short term, but is likely to alienate locals. To them, their city, region or country cannot be dressed up in a slick brand – it is what it is, warts and all. Efforts to shape how their home is perceived can lead to resentment. “PR spin and propaganda might have worked well in the past, but are no longer an effective means for influencing people’s perceptions of places,” said Kaefer. “It is too risky that campaigns will be found out, with the consequence of reputational damage. Everyone with a smartphone is a reporter now and can share the ‘truth’ regarding out-of-control spin doctors. Public money is better invested by actually improving a place and making it better for those who live there as well as those who are considering visiting.” Marketing alone is easy to see through. In 2004, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi employed the Monitor Group consulting firm to improve his country’s image. The main issue identified by the group was that Libya “suffered from a deficit of positive public relations”. History has demonstrated that the country’s problems run much deeper than that. A country is certainly more than just a brand, and a strong brand needs to be more than just PR.

A sensitive subject Finding the right balance between showing off the best a city has to offer and sugarcoating a place’s less desirable aspects is a difficult task. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that effective place branding campaigns



Amount spent on place branding:

$4.3m New York City in the 1970s

$700,000 Adelaide in 2013

$450,000 Average in Europe

Graffiti in Melbourne’s famous Rutledge Street

don’t come cheap: in 2013, Adelaide spent AUD 1m ($700,000) on a new logo; New York City ended up spending $4.3m in the late 1970s as part of a wholesale rebranding campaign; and across Europe, cities spend an average of €400,000 ($450,000) on marketing activities each year. Money alone, however, is unlikely to be enough: effective place branding also takes time and requires a willing ear. “We run our projects as social campaigns from day one: anyone interested can find out what we are doing, what we are looking to achieve, who we are talking to and how they can support us,” Kaefer explained. “Throughout the life of the project, we build a body of allies among the local opinion-makers, creatives, tourism professionals and other people we meet personally, and we give them opportunities to assess, criticise and contribute to our work.” As Kaefer mentioned, talking through branding projects with local people is vital. A place’s identity is amorphous, even as it is undoubtedly real. If you were to ask people what makes France French or Manchester Mancunian, they would each come up with different answers. Although defining the identity of a particular place is difficult, locals may not always appreciate help from a marketing agency.

Nevertheless, competition for tourists’ cash is getting tougher. Worldwide, the tourism industry reached a value of $5.29trn in 2017, and travel is becoming more accessible all the time. Low-cost airlines have opened up the market, and destinations must work harder than ever to attract visitors. Grand believes that in this competitive environment, it is “the character of a place, the experience it offers and the image it evokes that becomes the key deciding factor for holiday travel”. New media are also creating challenges for marketers: an advert in a travel brochure doesn’t carry as much weight as it used to. Instead, YouTube, social networks and other forms of digital advertising are increasingly being used to shape a place’s image. Singapore, for example, recognised this shift by employing online influencer Mikael Daez to boost its appeal. Certainly, tourist boards and external agencies must tread carefully when looking to shape a place’s identity. It will always be challenging to make something as contrived as a slogan represent something as authentic as local culture. However, when cities, regions or countries get it right, they can deliver benefits for visitors and residents alike. BD 149



View from the

STREET For his global photography project, the World Portrait Archive, travel photographer Alexandre Schoelcher taps into the serendipity of street photography to capture the lives of locals and challenge our preconceived notions of other cultures Alexandre Schoelcher was not always a photographer. The seed of inspiration was planted one night in 2007 when he was slogging through a business degree at the UK’s University of Bath. Schoelcher was in London to see a performance by rapper Mickey Avalon when he had his picture taken by a professional photographer. Later, when looking at the photographer’s portfolio online, he was blown away by the fact that someone could make a living by taking photos. More than a decade on from that night, Schoelcher is living as a professional freelance photographer in Australia. While his work takes him all around the world, travel is nothing new to Schoelcher. By his own admission, he had an eclectic upbringing: born to French and Iranian parents, Schoelcher grew up in Nigeria, Syria and the Netherlands before attending university in the UK. He has spent the past eight years in Melbourne. The World Portrait Archive, Schoelcher’s global photography project, is a chance to document and share snapshots of diverse faces and local cultures found all around the world. With the collection, he creates an intimate visual account of each country through the people he finds wandering the streets. 150

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Tbilisi, Georgia

How did you come up with the idea for the World Portrait Archive? How long have you been working on it? The idea of the World Portrait Archive came from my origins in street style photography, which I began in 2010 as a way of overcoming my fear of getting rejected when asking for someone’s picture. After doing that for a few years, I decided to combine the street style aesthetic with my passion for travel, and the World Portrait Archive was born. I’ve been working on it since 2013, although it’s been a bit of a slow burn, given the [logistical] and financial constraints as a result of living in Australia. Where have you travelled so far, and where do you hope to go next? Do you choose the locations for any specific reason? Specifically for the World Portrait Archive, I have been to Albania, Colombia, Georgia, Iran, Japan, Kosovo, Myanmar, South Korea and Sri Lanka, as well as shooting around a bit of Australia. Next on the list is hopefully Ethiopia in early 2019. However, my main aim is to tackle central Asia midway through the year.

Cartagena, Colombia

THE MORE I TRAVEL, THE MORE I’M ABLE TO ACKNOWLEDGE HOW MUCH OF A PRIVILEGE IT IS. IT IS BOTH HUMBLING AND HEARTBREAKING I choose my travel destinations based on a variety of factors, the most important ones being strength and depth of culture, and affordability. As I get older, though, and my disposable income has started to increase, I’ve been able to indulge in some more ambitious locations. How do you find the subjects of your portraits? Do you have any favourites? I love landing somewhere new and just hitting the streets. I try to do a bit of research beforehand, but usually the places that tourists are told to go to end up being the worst spots for actually finding subjects of interest. My favourite portrait is of an old lady holding a bouquet of flowers and a Coca-Cola bottle in Tbilisi, Georgia.

It is just one of those rare moments in street photography where everything fell together perfectly. Who do you look to for inspiration? My favourite photographer hands down is Pieter Hugo. His [The Hyena and Other Men] and Nollywood series, which were both shot in Nigeria, blew me away. I am also a big fan of [Christopher] Nunn, whose work in the Ukraine and back in the UK is excellent. Locally, in Melbourne, there are some fantastic photographers as well, with Sarah Pannell and Gina Nero among my favourites. What are the benefits of telling a story through photography rather than text or video? I have a lot of respect for both text and video, but what I really like about still image photography is that, when done correctly, it provides the same degree of storytelling while giving you something that is far more tangible. There is a reason why we print and frame photos in our homes, rather than having a projector showing an old family video on repeat. »

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Yazd, Iran

Tokyo, Japan

How does your archive of portraits foster connections around the world? Well, I’d like to hope that when people visit my website or Instagram and look at my photos, they can start to paint an idea of a country and its people in their minds that perhaps didn’t exist before. A classic example is Iran, a country that is grossly misrepresented in the world media. I’d like to imagine that, looking at some of the portraits that I have taken of ordinary people across the country, it might plant a seed in people’s thoughts that, in fact, Iran – or wherever else – is actually a place worth visiting.

Seoul, South Korea


What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your travels and work? In terms of travel, the biggest challenge is trying to explain the purpose of what I’m doing without being able to speak the local language. With my work in general, I guess it is just the overall struggle of working freelance, where

nothing is given to you for free. If you want the work, you have to chase it down. What have you learned from your travels? It’s hard to say this without sounding incredibly clichéd, but the more I travel, the more I’m able to acknowledge how much of a privilege it is. It is both humbling and heartbreaking, and it serves as a powerful reminder that while many people in the so-called developed world are constantly worrying about trivial matters, outside of our bubble, the majority of the world is perennially in a state of trying to survive. When do you see yourself finishing this project? I don’t think I ever will. I have found a lifelong project that I doubt will ever reach a definitive ending, which I’m incredibly grateful for. BD

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With the ubiquity of smartphones and free Wi-Fi, business travellers are expected to stay connected at all times. Planes are one of the few places where we are still able to unplug, writes Courtney Goldsmith

Even for the most experienced business travellers, there are plenty of aspects of travel that can cause stress or tension. I have had more than one unlucky experience of treating an airport terminal as an obstacle course after a connecting flight was delayed, or searching endlessly for the few and far between power outlets after my phone died. We can all sympathise with the momentary panic of misplacing our passport just as we reach the check-in counter. But there are some moments of tranquillity. For me, it happens after I’ve been harassed in the security queue and traversed the maze of gates to find mine (inevitably at the furthest end of the terminal) and finally step on the plane. The moment I heave my luggage into the overhead compartment and slouch into my seat, my worries evaporate. Whether for two hours or 12, I know that I can crack open a book or magazine, settle into a film or drift off to the soothing drawl of a podcast, because this time is mine alone.

shrink away beneath the clouds is the time when I feel most calm on a plane. Flying is still something of a novelty to most of us because, unlike travelling by train, bus or car, planes are places where we can disconnect from the rest of the world. But as in-flight Wi-Fi becomes faster and more widespread, many of us are turning our tray tables into temporary desks and losing one of the last spaces where we can unplug from work. Suddenly, my flights have become filled with the anxiety-inducing ping of phone alerts, the incessant jabbering of video chats and – when I finally relent to the lure of free Wi-Fi – an inbox full of emails. Unplugging from technology is proven to boost our quality of life as well as our health, but it is increasingly difficult to truly disconnect. Whether we are talking to Alexa after work or checking emails on our commute, our time outside of the office has become just as dominated by screens as our working hours. So what better way to recharge our batteries than a forced tech cleanse?

Switching off Despite the fact that take-off is one of the most dangerous parts of flying – at least, according to an in-depth study by Boeing – I find that watching the land below me 154

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Working hard or hardly working A recent study of UK consumers found that most Brits have become dependent on their digital devices. The research by

Unlike travelling by train, bus or car, planes are places where we can disconnect from the rest of the world

telecoms regulator Ofcom found that more than three quarters of people said they could not live without their phones. The majority of adults said the internet was an essential part of their lives, and one in five said they spend more than 40 hours a week online. The average daily time spent on a smartphone was two hours and 28 minutes. In the US, a 2015 study of smartphone users by Pew Research said 46 percent of people saw their phone as something they “couldn’t live without”. But at the same time, 57 percent of smartphone owners reported feeling distracted because of their phone, and 36 percent said their devices made them feel frustrated. Numerous studies have proven that overworking decreases productivity while draining creativity and multiplying stress, but business travellers are expected to be on call at all hours of the day. Smartphones, laptops and hotel Wi-Fi ensure there is no excuse for an email going unread or a document unsent. So, even though plenty of business travellers will be excited by the idea of free, fast Wi-Fi in the sky – and though I will most likely end up giving in to it myself – I cannot help but hope that planes remain the last havens of disconnection. BD



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Profile for World News Media Limited


The 2019 Spring edition of Business Destinations


The 2019 Spring edition of Business Destinations