Travel Unpacked: A touching 9/11 tribute and the power of retail tourism

The National rounds up the most interesting tourism news you might have missed

DUBAI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Dec 7 , 2016 : Fernando Frias Reis , marine conservationists explaining about the sharks at the Aquarium in Dubai Mall in Dubai. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For News. Story by Nick Webster. ID No - 35717 *** Local Caption ***  PS0712- SHARKS02.jpg
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On the 22nd anniversary of the September 11 attacks, one retired cabin crew member who worked for United Airlines until 2013 is marking the occasion in a very touching way.

Back in the UAE, Emirates has expanded its codeshare with United to better serve Mexico, just as it also extends its partnership with Greek carrier Aegean Airlines.

Here's a round-up of recent travel and tourism news – in case you missed it.

September 11 marked by former flight attendant

A retired United Airlines cabin crew member is honouring the flight crews who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks in a unique way.

Paul Veneto, who worked for the US airline from 1997 to 2013, is pushing an airline cart between Newark Liberty International Airport to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stoystown, Pennsylvania.

The campaign, called Paulie's Push, began in 2021, to mark the 20th anniversary.

In its first year, Veneto went between Boston Logan International Airport and the 9/11 National Memorial in New York. In 2022, he went from the Boston airport to the Pentagon National Memorial.

This year's push will take him over 300 miles, his longest stretch yet.

The power of retail tourism revealed

Last week, the World Travel & Tourism Council launched its report, Global Retail Tourism: Trends and Insights, which it said is "set to change the way we think about shopping tourism".

The sector has historically been under-researched, but in 2019 retail tourism was an industry worth about $178 billion. Since recovering post-pandemic, the report shows shopping is more than simply a leisure activity. "It shapes travel decisions, enhances destination appeal, boosts foreign exchange earnings and supports local brands and products," reads the announcement.

An emerging theme is called "retailtainment", fusing retail and entertainment, a trend the UAE is already famous for. The report also shows travellers are looking for authentic brands that encompass a city's culture, as well as luxurious brands and settings.

Julia Simpson, WTTC president and chief executive, said: “Retail tourism is no longer just about buying souvenirs; it's a driving force behind the recovery of the travel and tourism sector, contributing significantly to revenue, job creation and overall economic growth.“

Emirates to celebrate Oktoberfest

Between Saturday and October 3, Emirates will be celebrating the German festival of Oktoberfest with Bavarian cuisine and a selection of in-flight entertainment from the country. This will be available on flights to and from Munich, Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt, as well as in select airport lounges.

A traditional starter, main course and dessert will be served for lunch and dinner in economy outbound, and on inbound and outbound flights in business and first class.

Dishes will include appetisers or obatzda, Emmental and cream cheese with radishes, a hard-boiled egg and cornichons. For main course, there's fleischpflanzerl, a minced beef steak with butter, veal jus, vegetables and sauerkraut. Classic German breads will also be served, followed by desserts such as apple strudel.

More than 300 films dubbed in German will be available, as well as 45 German movies and a collection of 13 Bud Spencer and Terence Hill films, classic spaghetti westerns that are beloved in Germany. There will also be 28 playlists and albums of German music to tune into.

A night train through Europe

Speaking of Germany, a sleeper service between Berlin and Paris is back by popular demand after a nine-year hiatus.

Austrian operator OBB announced that its Nightjet train will start running again from December, making three trips a week, before the full daily service is back in action by October next year.

Trains depart from Paris Gare de l'Est at 7.12pm, arriving in the German capital at 8.26am, while the Berlin to Paris leg runs between 8.18pm and 10.24am.

It also stops in Strasbourg, Mannheim, Erfurt and Halle, offering travellers another more affordable way to explore Europe, as prices are expected to start from about €50 for a bed.

Tickets go on sale in October.

Japan's rail price hike

Making train travel less affordable is Japan, where its rail pass price is going up this autumn.

The Japan Rail Pass is known as one of the most cost-effective ways to get around the country. A seven-day pass, for example, is increasing from 29,650 yen ($203) to 50,000 yen when bought from an authorised retailer, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. That's nearly a 70 per cent increase.

The 21-day pass, on the other hand, will increase from 60,450 yen to 100,000 yen. Tickets for children aged six to 11 are half price.

This price hike, which is the first in several years, will be in effect from October 1. From then, rail passes will only be available to buy online or through authorised retailers, while the option to get them from select ticket offices in Japan will be discontinued.

More flights open up from the UAE

Flydubai recently announced the launch of daily flights to Cairo's Sphinx International Airport, taking the total number of weekly trips to Egypt up to 18. The service will start on October 29 as demand grows for travel between the two cities.

Meanwhile, Emirates has extended two codeshare partnerships, making it easier for its customers to reach Mexico and Greece.

The airline expanded its agreement with United to include eight destinations in the Central American country - plus Mexico City, which Emirates already flies to. This means passengers can fly to Cancun, Cozumel, Monterrey, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, San Jose Del Cabo, Leon (Guanajuato) and Queretaro, connecting in either Chicago or Houston.

Tickets are available through the airline's website or preferred travel agencies for travel from Thursday.

Aegean Airlines has also expanded its partnership with Emirates, meaning Dubai passengers can stop over in Athens before taking advantage of the Greek carrier's connections to popular destinations in Greece and throughout Europe. Aegean customers can also access Emirates' flights between Athens and Dubai, as well as Athens and Newark with a stop in Dubai.

Updated: September 25, 2023, 10:25 AM