Category Archives: travel

Venice Floating Nativity

Brussels 06.12.2021 Venice has been attracting people for hundreds of years, and with a natural setting as its lagoon, where even a floating nativity scene has become an open-air artwork.

The floating nativity scene brings the magic of Christmas in the lagoon of Venice with baby Jesus emerging from the waters, surrounded by a floating Joseph and Mary under the sunset near the island of Burano.

Due to the changes of sunlight throughout the day and with the water enhancing the colours of the silhouettes, the scene offers an atmosphere of serenity throughout the day.

The artwork, created by Francesco Orazio, a greengrocer with an artistic talents, was completed on Saturday, December 4, in an open stretch of water, out of the way of vessels.

The painted plywood Nativity figures were fixed by wooden stakes and then anchored on the bottom of the lagoon. And, for a couple of hours a day, the feet of the statues are exactly level with the water.

Omicron: France restricts travel

Brussels 02.12.2021 France has announced new rules for all travellers – vaccinated or not – arriving in France from non-EU countries in the face of the new variant of Covid-19 named Omicron.

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal, speaking after the weekly meeting of the government’s Defence Council on Wednesday, on December 1, announced the implementation of new rules aimed at controlling the spread of the newly-detected Omicron variant.

A government Decree published on Thursday, December 2, provides more detail.

The new rules come into force at 00.01 AM on Saturday, December 4th, and the testing requirements apply to everyone aged 12 or older – including those who have French citizenship or permanent residency in France.

All travellers – vaccinated or not – will require a negative Covid test in order to enter France from any country outside the EU or Schengen zone. This would include travellers from the UK, the USA and Canada.

The test must have been taken within 48 hours of departure. The decree states that only tests “that are able to detect protein N of Sars-Cov2” can be used – this covers all PCR tests but not all antigen tests. Home tests have never been accepted for travel purposes.

Spain welcomes vaccinated tourists

Brussels 07.06.2021 The Spanish government has published the new requisites for travellers arriving in the country from outside the European Union and countries associated with the Schengen free-travel area. (Image: Valencia, Spain).

As was expected, the text released in the Official State Gazette (BOE) on Saturday states that from today, passengers from risk zones will be permitted to enter Spain if they have been administered the full doses of a Covid-19 vaccine approved by either the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the European Medicines Agency (EMA), more than 14 days prior to arrival.

No proof of vaccination, recovery or diagnostic test will be required from tourists from low-risk zones, said the government in a release, although everyone will still have to fill out the travel form available on Spain Travel Health (SpTH).

Once the European Union’s Digital Covid-19 pass goes into effect on July 1, this will also enable travellers to prove their immunity to the coronavirus if they are required to.

“At ports and airports there will be two control points. Whoever comes from countries or zones not included on the list of risk zones will have access to a quick control with the QR code obtained from SpTH. And once the EU Digital Covid-19 certificate goes into effect, whoever has this document will also have access to this quick control,” says the government statement.

Portugal: tourists leave for UK

Many upset British travellers were heading home on Sunday, June 6, from a shorter-than-expected holiday in the Algarve, Portugal, before a 10-day quarantine comes into force early next week due to rising coronavirus infections.

Britain said last week it was removing Portugal from its “green list” of countries that do not require quarantine on return because of rising COVID-19 case numbers and the risk posed by coronavirus variants detected in Portugal.

Portugal had been placed on the green list just weeks earlier, but from 0400 GMT on Tuesday 8 Juin it will shift to the “amber list”, meaning returning Britons will need to quarantine for 10 days and take two COVID-19 tests.

In the Algarve, the favourite Portuguese destination of British holidaymakers, Faro airport had long queues on Sunday afternoon as more travellers decided to shorten their holiday to avoid quarantine.

Faro airport had 55 flights scheduled to the UK on Sunday, with a capacity to transport more than 10,000 people, compared to fewer than 20 flights from Lisbon airport, according to information on the website of Portugal’s airports operator ANA.

The president of Portugal’s hotel association AHP, Rui Martins, said the UK’s decision “will seriously compromise the entire summer”.

“Hotels, particularly in the Algarve and Madeira Island, have started to see massive cancellations,” he said.

EU travel list updates

Brussels 06.05.2021 Following a review under the recommendation on the gradual lifting of the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU, the Council updated the list of countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted to add Israel. As stipulated in the Council recommendation, this list will continue to be reviewed every two weeks and, as the case may be, updated.

Based on the criteria and conditions set out in the recommendation, as from 6 May 2021 member states should gradually lift the travel restrictions at the external borders for residents of the following third countries:

Australia
Israel
New Zealand
Rwanda
Singapore
South Korea
Thailand
China, subject to confirmation of reciprocity
Travel restrictions should also be gradually lifted for the special administrative regions of China: Hong Kong and Macao, subject to confirmation of reciprocity.

Residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican should be considered as EU residents for the purpose of this recommendation.

The criteria to determine the third countries for which the current travel restriction should be lifted were updated on 2 February 2021. They cover the epidemiological situation and overall response to COVID-19, as well as the reliability of the available information and data sources. Reciprocity should also be taken into account on a case by case basis.

Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) also take part in this recommendation.

EU railroad travellers rights

Brussels 03.05.2021 Under the new rules adopted by MEPs on Thursday, train passengers will be better protected when there are delays and cancellations or when they face discrimination. EU railroad travellers rights

“We have very good news for those travelling by train, as we managed to secure the same minimum passenger rights all over the EU when it comes to re-routing, spaces for bikes, through-tickets and the rights of passengers with reduced mobility. These are important advances in making rail travel more convenient and passenger-friendly”, said EP rapporteur Bogusław Liberadzki.

On Thursday, April 29, Parliament approved the agreement with member states on the revised rules on rail passengers’ rights. The rules will guarantee that passengers can be re-routed and receive help when there are delays and cancellations. Access and assistance will improve for people with reduced mobility, and there will be more dedicated spaces for bicycles.

Helping stranded travellers
If there is a delay of over 60 minutes, passengers can choose either to be fully reimbursed for the cost of the ticket, continue on their journey or be re-routed under comparable conditions, but without facing additional costs. They must be able to travel in the same class as their original ticket. Train travellers will be able to organise travel on a different route themselves and get reimbursement for a new ticket if the rail operator does not communicate re-routing options within 100 minutes from scheduled departure.
The re-routing obligations will apply even in the event of force majeure and if necessary, meals and refreshments will need to be provided, and accommodation costs will be reimbursed. [
The new rules will also give more clarity on what can be considered a force majeure, which would exempt rail companies from paying compensation for delays or cancellations. In addition to extreme weather conditions and major natural disasters, the new rules now include major public health crises or terrorist attacks. Rail staff strikes will not be covered by this exemption.

Assisting people with reduced mobility
Travellers with reduced mobility will have more flexibility when making travel arrangements, as they will be obliged to notify the operator of their travel plans only 24 hours in advance (under current rules, they have to notify the operator 48 hours in advance). Where an accompanying person is required, they shall travel free of charge. Travellers with reduced mobility using an assistance dog shall be given a guarantee that the animal can travel with them.

Refurbishing trains for more bicycles
In an effort to provide more sustainable mobility and comfortable alternatives, all trains must be equipped with dedicated spaces and racks for bicycles, with at least four bicycle spaces on each train.

COVID19: EU travel Certificate

Brussels 29.04.2021 Today, the European Parliament adopted its negotiating position on the proposal for a certificate to reaffirm the right to free movement in Europe during the pandemic. The MEPs agreed that the new “EU COVID-19 certificate” – instead of Digital Green Certificate, as proposed by the Commission – should be in place for 12 months and not longer.

The document, which may be in digital or paper format, will attest that a person has been vaccinated against coronavirus or, alternatively, that they have a recent negative test result or have recovered from the infection. However, EU COVID-19 certificates will neither serve as travel document nor become a precondition to exercise the right to free movement, MEPs have underlined.

The legislative proposal covering EU nationals was approved with 540 votes to 119 and 31 abstentions, while the one on third-country nationals passed with 540 votes to 80 and 70 abstentions.

The vote took place on Wednesday, April 28, with results announced on Thursday morning. Both Parliament and Council are now ready to begin negotiations. The aim is to reach an agreement ahead of the summer tourist season.

Following the vote in plenary, Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES), Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee and rapporteur, said: “We need to put in place the EU COVID-19 Certificate to re-establish people’s confidence in Schengen while we continue to fight against the pandemic. Member states must coordinate their response in a safe manner and ensure the free movement of citizens within the EU. Vaccines and tests must be accessible and free for all citizens. Member states should not introduce further restrictions once the certificate is in force.”

No additional travel restrictions and free COVID-19 tests
Holders of an EU COVID-19 certificate should not be subject to additional travel restrictions, such as quarantine, self-isolation or testing, according to the Parliament. MEPs also stress that, in order to avoid discrimination against those not vaccinated and for economic reasons, EU countries should “ensure universal, accessible, timely and free of charge testing”.

Parliament intends to ensure that the EU certificate works alongside any initiative set up by the member states, which should also respect the same common legal framework.

Member states must accept vaccination certificates issued in other member states for persons inoculated with a vaccine authorised for use in the EU by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) (currently Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen), MEPs say. It will be up to the member states to decide whether they also accept vaccination certificates issued in other member states for vaccines listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for emergency use.

Data protection safeguards
The certificates will be verified to prevent fraud and forgery, as will the authenticity of the electronic seals included in the document. Personal data obtained from the certificates cannot be stored in destination member states and there will be no central database established at EU level. The list of entities that will process and receive data will be public so that citizens can exercise their data protection rights under the General Data Protection Regulation.

Affordable vaccines allocated globally
Finally, MEPs underline that COVID-19 vaccines need to be produced at scale, priced affordably and allocated globally (AM 21). They also voice concern about the serious problems caused by companies not complying with production and delivery schedules. (AM 22)

COVID19: Nice lockdown

The city of Nice area in Alpes-Maritimes is a department of France with the highest COVID-19 infection rate, with 740 new cases per week per 100,000 residents, according to the site Covidtracker.fr.

“We need strong measures that go beyond the nationwide 6 p.m. curfew, either tighter curfew, or a partial and time-specific lockdown. A weekend lockdown would make sense,” Mayor Christian Estrosi (The Republican party) said on franceinfo radio. “The weather is nice, everybody rushes to come here. A weekend lockdown would put a stop to that, without halting economic activity in the city,” Estrosi explained the measure.

The Mayor added that the infection rates had leapt due to the massive inflow of tourists over the Christmas holiday. International flights to the city had jumped from 20 a day before Christmas to 120 over the holiday – all this without people having virus tests in their country of origin or on arrival.

“We will be happy to receive lots of tourists this summer, once we win this battle, but it is better to have a period while we say ‘do not come here, this is not the moment’. Protecting the people of Nice is my priority,” he said.

Health Minister Olivier Veran said that the government would decide this weekend on tightening virus control measures in the Alpes-Maritimes.

Before ordering a second national lockdown in November, the government imposed curfews some cities and closed restaurants in Marseille, but it has generally refrained from regional measures due to the massive protest from local politicians and businesses.

“We do not rule out local lockdowns,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on LCI television.

He added that the trend in new cases was not good in recent days and that there was no case for loosening curfew.

EU tourism: 6M jobs at risk

Tito Livio Mongelli, Vice President of Skal Roma and head of the Academy and who will be introducing the works and directing the seminar, underlined how “we must stop thinking that everything will return as before, because we will no longer be the same: our certainties, our priorities, and perhaps also our way of working will have changed.”

In the future, “we will have to consider that we will all feel vulnerable, the world will be smaller when we think about the speed of spread of diseases, but the distances will seem enormous when we decide where to go on vacation.”

Prof. Filippo Zagarella, psychologist and psychotherapist, focused on: “the vicious cycle we are falling into: not knowing how to react to an invisible danger; we are in constant stress that depresses us, and we are getting worse and worse. In the face of danger, we automatically feel suffering, fear, and anger.

“Not being able to unload our anger against a concrete enemy, we have to find other escape ways: deny the danger or see something else as an enemy or repress our emotions or exacerbate the rules to fight this invisible enemy.

“However, we live under constant stress, and this stress compromises our immune defenses and makes also us feel badly physically. Not to mention the increased risk of getting sick precisely from the disease whose presence stresses us.”

Prof. Filippo Zagarella suggests “adopting the 4C model: knowing, being aware, training in new roles, and accepting change.

Create our “fantastic escape” to reduce stress: let’s put our mind on vacation and, as soon as possible, also our body! We will need holidays, as soon as possible!”

Prof. Matteo Colleoni, professor at UniBicocca University Milan, on the consequences of the pandemic on the demand for general and tourist mobility and on the changes taking place, highlighted how “tourism is a complex” eco-systemic sector “that includes several actors (producers, distributors, consumers, and supports), therefore, a plurality of economic activities are weakly, partially, or strongly associated with the tourism system: over ten million workers in Europe are in this business.

In the world, in the last two decades, the flow of international arrivals has more than doubled and it is a flow that largely travel by road (72% in Europe and 59% in Italy), despite the important value of air travel for business tourism and long holidays.

The consequences of the pandemic in some European regions, the high dependence of local economies on the tourism sector, e.g., in Italy we talk about Valle d’Aosta, Trentino and Alto Adige, Liguria, Sardinia, Tuscany, Umbria, and Marche, “has made them very vulnerable to shocks au-par of health care.

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the global impact of the pandemic crisis on tourism is 5 times worse than that of the 2008 global financial crisis.

The European Commission estimates a risk of loss of 6 million jobs with a strong impact on seasonal workers, young people, women, and foreigners, who are already weak at work.

The flows of tourist mobility are strongly associated with pandemic flows: tourism is at the same time the cause (in terms of diffusion) and consequence (in worsening terms) of the spread of the virus.

According to various survey results on tourist mobility choices, risk reduction has become the first factor in choosing the means of transport.

What are the possible policies and interventions for the management of the pandemic crisis in the tourism system?

Optimize the use of the policies currently in use (and their level of integration); guide and modify the preferences associated with tourist behavior and consumption; increase the resilience of the system through diversification interventions; and increase risk control levels (structural and technological surveillance interventions).

Interventions of integration of planning tools aimed at planning the activities of the sector in coherence with respect to the objectives of tourist mobility (considering the modal changes resulting from the restrictions in the transport system).
Promote less crowded destinations: in particular rural tourism and natural tourism, a way to promote sustainable tourism and meet the objectives of the SDGs “sustainable economic growth.”
Adoption of the “travel bubble” logic: possibility to move freely within certain areas (in particular in a sustainable and safe way) but prohibition of access from the outside (e.g., between Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia) – increase in local tourism.

Reduce dependence on tourism demand (through the 4S policy: Sustainable, Smart, Specialization, Strategies). Rethink the entire system of mobility and transport (including tourism transport).
Speakers profiles
Prof. Filippo Zagarella is a psychologist, psychotherapist, Dean, and teacher of the training course in Humanistic Psychotherapy with a bioenergetic address and designer of psychoanimation workshops for children, teens, and adults.

Prof. Matteo Colleoni is Full Professor of Sociology of the Environment and Territory at the Department of Sociology and Social Research of the University of Milan-Bicocca where he also holds the position of University Mobility Manager and President of the Degree Course in Tourism science.

Pompeii new discovery

Brussels 27.12.2020 The archaeologists said they had discovered a frescoed thermopolium or street-food counter in an exceptional state of preservation in Pompeii.

The ornate snack bar, decorated with polychrome patterns and frozen by volcanic ash, was partially exhumed last year but researches extended work on the site to reveal it in its full glory.

Pompeii was buried in ash and pumice when the nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, killing between 2,000 and 15,000 people. However, nowadays archaeologists continue to make discoveries there.

The Thermopolium of Regio V at what was a busy intersection of Silver Wedding Street and Alley of Balconies was the Roman-era equivalent of a fast-food snack stall.

A fresco bearing an image of a Nereid nymph riding a seahorse and gladiators in combat had been unearthed previously (pictured).

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