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Travel News

Domestic Travel Bookings Nearing Full Recovery

DONALD WOOD | TravelPulse.Com

Troy Warren #travel-all

 

New data from American Express found spending on domestic travel bookings was already nearing a full recovery.

According to CNBC.com, American Express CEO Steve Squeri revealed bookings in May were 95 percent of what they were in May 2019, signaling that COVID-19 vaccines and lifted restrictions are elevating traveler confidence.

“We also believe that by the end of the year in the U.S., we will have a full consumer recovery from a travel perspective, and overall, by the end of the year I think globally we’ll probably be about 80 percent of what we were in 2019,” Squeri told Jim Cramer on Mad Money.

The number of travelers taking to the skies is also on the rise, with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening 2.03 million passengers at airport checkpoints around the U.S. on Friday, the first time the agency surpassed two million people since the pandemic began.

While the number of travelers screened continues to climb steadily, they are still only 74 percent of the volumes registered on the same day in 2019. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would no longer require fully vaccinated travelers to wear a face mask in transportation hubs, including airports, train stations and bus terminals.

Data from American Express also found that restaurant spending is also on the rebound, with May dining expenses amounting to around 85 percent of May 2019 levels.

“The people that are really spending a lot in restaurants [are] millennials — 130 percent in April of what they spent back in 2019,” Squeri continued. “We believe that that’s going to continue to move forward.”


 

 

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Travel News

National Park Service Reporting Record Visitor Numbers, Long Lines

DONALD WOOD | TravelPulse.Com

Troy Warren #travel-all

 

The United States National Park Service is reporting a massive surge in visitors so far this year as pandemic-related restrictions have been lifted thanks to the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccinations.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the rising number of Americans willing to hit the road for vacation this summer has resulted in long lines outside the gates of many of the most popular national parks across the country.

Last week at Arches National Park in Utah, officials were forced to turn guests away and make them wait at the gates after the property reached guest capacity before 9 a.m. local time. Signs in the area warned visitors of waits of as long as five hours.

Arches National Park registered around 194,000 guests in April, which is an increase of 15 percent from April 2019. The facilities were closed in April 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions.

At Yellowstone National Park last month, officials announced more than 483,100 people visited the property, a new record for the month of May and an 11 percent increase from May 2019.

Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park also set a new record for May with more than 363,700 visitors, an increase of around 30 percent from May 2019. Camping in the park also increased 93 percent in May 2021 compared to May 2019.

The National Park Service said that while properties across the U.S. are recording record high guest arrival numbers, officials are expecting millions more visitors over the summer, with July and August historically the busiest months.

In 2020, national parks saw a 28 percent decrease in visitors compared to 2019 due to temporary closures and other pandemic-related restrictions. Officials said 66 of the 423 parks in the National Park System were fully closed for at least two months.


 

 

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Travel News

Milestone Reached as More Than 2 Million Passengers Fly

RICH THOMASELLI | TravelPulse.Com

Troy Warren #travel-all

 

For the first time since March of 2020, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened two million passengers in a single day.

The milestone figure had been approached in recent weeks, particularly around the Memorial Day Weekend, but not surpassed until Friday, June 11, as the summer travel season is now fully underway.

“The growing number of travelers demonstrates this country’s resilience and the high level of confidence in Covid-19 countermeasures, to include ready access to vaccines,” said Darby LaJoye, the acting head of the TSA.

The coronavirus pandemic brought travel to a virtual standstill last year, but the industry has slowly been regaining its footing. The 2,028,961 passengers screened at U.S. airports on June 11 was 1.5 million more than on the same date last year.

However, it’s still 26 percent less than the 2,727,860 who flew on June 11, 2019, meaning travel is back but not all the way back.

According to the Washington Post, LaJoye recently issued a memo warning that 131 of the nation’s largest airports will face staffing shortages this month and asked office workers to volunteer to assist with airport checkpoints.


 

 

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Travel News

No More Masks Needed Indoors for Disney World’s Vaccinated Guests

LAURIE BARATTI | TravelPulse.Com

Troy Warren #travel-all

 

Walt Disney World Resort in Florida today announced that it will be scaling down some of its COVID-19 precautions for fully vaccinated guests, starting June 15.

For fully vaccinated visitors, masks will no longer be required while indoors in most areas, except while aboard any Disney transportation, including buses, monorails and the Skyliner.

While Cast Members won’t be checking parkgoers for proof of vaccination, those who aren’t fully immunized are expected to continue wearing face coverings in all indoor areas and attractions, the resort wrote in an update posted on its official website.

On June 15, the resort will also begin relaxing its physical distancing guidelines for guests, which it noted will be evident in queues and at theatres, shops, restaurants and boarding areas for attractions and transportation.

Disney’s largest theme park is making such protocol adjustments in light of the CDC’s updated guidelinesreleased last month, which stated that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks or physically distance while indoors or outdoors. The changes were also encouraged by the recent easing of COVID-19 measures by public health and government officials, in response to robust vaccination volumes and dwindling infection rates throughout the U.S.

Disney World had already dropped outdoor mask requirements for all guests in mid-May, but face coverings had still been required upon entering and throughout all attractions; at all theatres, including theatre entrances; for all transportation, including transportation entrances; and all other indoor locations, including restaurants, except while actively eating or drinking. At the same time, the resort phased out temperature checks for park visitors.

As for Disneyland Resort in California, it seems likely that the masking requirements within the resort will remain in effect even after the state lifts its broader mask mandate on June 15, along with all capacity restrictions. The resort will, however, begin welcoming back out-of-state visitors on that date, whereas only California residents were allowed previously, due to a state-imposed ordinance.

For more information, visit disneyworld.disney.go.com.


 

 

 

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Travel News

Two Passengers on Fully Vaccinated Cruise Test Positive for COVID-19

DONALD WOOD | TravelPulse.Com

Troy Warren #travel-all

 

Celebrity Cruises announced two passengers on the first North American cruise since 2020 have tested positive for COVID-19.

According to an official statement, the two guests were sharing a stateroom onboard Celebrity Millennium when they tested positive for coronavirus. The asymptomatic passengers were discovered during the required end-of-cruise testing and moved to isolation.

In addition to being monitored by the cruise line’s medical team, Celebrity said it was “conducting contact tracing, expediting testing for all close contacts and closely monitoring the situation.”

The Celebrity Millennium ship returned to sailing with a fully vaccinated crew and guests, all of which had to show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of Saturday’s departure from St. Maarten.

“This situation demonstrates that our rigorous health and safety protocols work to protect our crew, guests and the communities we visit,” Celebrity said in a statement.

The cruise line also revealed the passengers who tested positive would remain in St. Maarten until they test negative and offered assistance making travel arrangements when ready to return home.

Celebrity Millennium set sail last weekend with enhanced health and safety standards that were the culmination of more than a year of working with public health authorities, government agencies and its Healthy Sail Panel of scientific, medical and public health leaders.


 

 

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US, UK to Announce Plans to Reopen Transatlantic Travel

DONALD WOOD | TravelPulse.Com

Troy Warren #travel-all

 

United States President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced they would work together to ease travel restrictions between the two countries.

According to The Wall Street Journal, President Biden and Prime Minister Johnson met before the annual Group of Seven (G7) meeting and agreed in principle to a wide-ranging “Atlantic Charter” that would open the U.S.-UK air travel corridor.

The two leaders are expected to announce their reopening plans on Thursday, as well as unveil a joint task force with the goal of reopening travel between the two nations as soon as possible now that COVID-19 vaccines have brought the number of cases down.

Earlier this week ahead of the G7 summit, the chief executives from the top airlines offering passenger services between the U.S. and UK met to push for the reopening of the U.S. and UK travel corridor.

In response, U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow issued a statement on the efforts both leaders are making to reopen travel between their two countries as soon as possible.

“Opening a U.S.-U.K. travel corridor is a smart, science-based step to take for both countries’ economic recoveries, and now is the critical time to take it,” Dow said. “The U.S. and the U.K. both have among the world’s leading records on vaccinations and declining infections, the U.K. is our top overseas travel market, and the two governments enjoy a close relationship.”

“With abundant evidence that travel is safe with layered health measures in place—and a clear economic need to reopen international travel—moving to reduce travel restrictions between the two countries is the perfect place to start,” Dow continued.

World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Senior Vice President Virginia Messina also released a statement about the possible restart of travel between the nations.

“Whilst we welcome the news of a taskforce aimed at safely reopening travel between the UK and the US, unless we have a clear timeline and unlock transatlantic travel by 4 July at the latest, we will continue to see jobs lost and businesses go under,” Messina said.

“Nearly half of all adults in both countries are fully jabbed and could travel seamlessly straight away, enabling airlines and the wider travel sector to recover quickly,” Messina continued. “Those not vaccinated should be allowed to travel with negative test proof.”


 

 

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Travel Business Recovery in the Wild West

Troy Warren #travel-all

 

Article written by Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue. He currently serves on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Commerce and is a global member of the World Travel & Tourism Council.

Post-pandemic recovery for international business travel is a delicate balance among what business travelers want, what business owners can provide and what governments permit.

Surveys show business travel recovery will follow leisure travel, which is already ramping up. Airlines are adding international flights to their schedules. The European Union has announced it is opening for travel in June. The U.S. is awash in vaccinations. Europe and other places are catching up. Many parts of the developed world are expected to have the opportunity throughout the summer and fall to get vaccinated.

The vaccination program is a powerful key to unlocking a return to normal business travel in the not-so-distant future. But it’s not the only key. There are many therapeutics available for COVID-19 infected patients to minimize the severity of the illness, accelerate recovery and reduce hospitalizations. Between the vaccines and the therapeutics, COVID-19 is no longer the threat it was even just a few months ago.

All these factors mean business travel should rebound quickly, steadily and vigorously, soon after leisure travel. Unfortunately, governments and other large organizations move more slowly, lagging behind what the science and the facts-on-the-ground dictate.

Some places – like the U.S. – continue to require unscientific rules like demanding fully vaccinated returning resident travelers to acquire and hand over a negative test result for COVID-19 infection. Other countries, like Thailand, South Korea and Dominica, go further by requiring fully vaccinated foreigners to undergo a mandatory quarantine. These lagging rules are regrettable. I’m hopeful officials from these and other countries amend their rules and procedures quickly to match reality.

Nevertheless, private sector organizations must be ready and agile as restrictions relax and borders reopen. This is especially true when it comes to your duty of care obligations. There has been debate among U.S. policy-makers whether there should be liability exemptions or prohibitions for business travelers who contract COVID-19 and have adverse outcomes. So far, nothing has made it into current legislation.

It’s an untested issue and a little bit like the Wild West. Traditionally, people were either in the office, traveling for PTO or traveling for work. Today, with work-from-anywhere, it becomes more complicated. Even with vaccines and therapeutics, it’s entirely possible that we’re going to see cases of business travelers becoming infected at some point as we move into this transitional period where more people are traveling.

Business leaders must have a travel risk and crisis management plan in place, if they don’t already. For those that do, they must pressure-test their plans to determine if it’s sufficient. You must put best practices in place to protect your organization, and the people in it, from these kinds of risks whether it’s COVID-19, an accident or a natural disaster. You must be able to demonstrate that you took a best-practices approach for your business and your people – for whom you are responsible. You cannot send your employees on the road and simply hope nothing bad happens. You have to take meaningful, measurable, actionable steps and be responsive to actual emergencies whether it’s for one traveler or a group of travelers.

Another piece of the travel recovery puzzle includes prevention. Some of my work on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board is to try to figure out how to mitigate these kinds of disruptions from happening. There is a technology available today that would go a long way toward preventing another pandemic from ever happening again.

Coronavirus is a disease spread by humans when we breathe, talk, cough or sneeze. The technology to noninvasively collect exhaled breath and then detect what disease people might be carrying has evolved from science fiction to science fact. Various Universities’ scientists are adapting technology used in other applications, like in automobiles to analyze exhaust gases, to analyze human breath components as you’re walking through an airport, train terminal or bus depot.

We’ll likely see devices to detect disease spring up in high-volume transportation areas the same way we saw backscatter X-ray and similar devices become commonplace following the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. The faster disease detection capabilities are deployed at strategic international terminals without impeding travel, the better.

By leveraging emerging technologies and acting strategically, and collaboratively, we can make the future of business travel less speculative and more certain. Doing so would also stop the next pandemic.


 

 

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Travel News

Canada Reportedly Considering Easing US Travel Restrictions

DONALD WOOD | TravelPulse.Com

Troy Warren #travel-all

 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reportedly preparing to ease border restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers.

According to Reuters.com, Trudeau and other health officials within the Canadian government are planning to ease the current 14-day isolation period for tourists who have received two COVID-19 vaccine doses.

The updated coronavirus restrictions are expected to be announced in the coming days, with travelers entering Canada still being required to test negative before arrival and possibly quarantine for a shorter period of time.

Politico reported Monday that Canada was reportedly considering a June 22 start date to begin loosening restrictions at the U.S. border, as long as the country’s vaccination campaign stays on its current trajectory.

On Monday, Trudeau said Canada is looking at how it could start welcoming international visitors as the country’s COVID-19 situationcontinues to improve. The Prime Minister said the government has to keep Canadians safe, but also help the nation’s battered tourism and travel industry.

“We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves,” Trudeau said. “We are looking at how we’re going to start welcoming up tourists in a phased way as the numbers come down in Canada, as the numbers start to come down in the United States and elsewhere around the world.”


 

 

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Top Airline Executives Call for Transatlantic Travel Corridor Reopening

DONALD WOOD | TravelPulse.Com

Troy Warren #travel-all

 

The chief executives from the top airlines offering passenger services between the United States and United Kingdom met on Monday to call for the reopening of transatlantic travel.

Leaders from American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic joined airport officials and other aviation CEOs ahead of the upcoming G7 meeting to push for the reopening of the U.S. and UK travel corridor.

Airline industry executives claim the world-leading vaccination programs provide the opportunity to safely reopen travel between the two countries, providing consumers the chance to reconnect with loved ones, re-establish business relationships and explore new destinations.

The CEOs urged both governments to take a data-driven and risk-based approach to reopening borders to travel after more than a year of travel restrictions that have deeply impacted trade and tourism between the U.S. and UK.

“Throughout the pandemic, experts have encouraged governments, businesses and the public to follow the science,” United CEO Scott Kirby said. “United and other airlines have done just that and implemented the necessary safety protocols to confidently reopen key international routes like the air corridor between our two countries.”

“Programs like the trials of COVID-free flights between Newark and Heathrow and the U.S. Department of Defense air filtration study conducted on board United aircraft not only contributed to the body of scientific knowledge, they have demonstrated the near non-existent rates of viral transmission aboard an aircraft,” Kirby continued. “And now, through mobile app, travelers can upload verified test results and vaccine records before international travel. All this with the successful leadership of vaccination efforts by both governments, no interests are served by delaying reopening of these essential air routes any longer. We are ready.”

Officials are pushing for the U.S. to be added to the UK’s “green list”—which means American travelers would no longer need to self-isolate on arrival—and asking the U.S. government to lift the 212F order to open up the transatlantic corridor for UK residents to enter.

A recent report from the U.S. Travel Association found that if international travelremains restricted, it would cost the American economy $325 billion in total losses and 1.1 million jobs by the end of 2021.

“The millions of travel-supported U.S. jobs lost to the pandemic cannot be replaced without the return of international visitors, and the UK is our No. 1 overseas travel market,” U.S. Travel Association President Roger Dow said. “Advancing a science-driven approach to restart international travel is crucial, and a US-UK corridor is a logical place to start because of the two countries’ excellent records on vaccinations and declining infections, as well as their strong relationship.”


 

 

 

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Celebrity Millennium Ushers in the Return of Caribbean Cruising

RICH THOMASELLI | TravelPulse.Com

Troy Warren #travel-all

It had all the fanfare of a brand new ship being christened for its first voyage.

And, in a way, it was a first voyage.

Celebrity Cruises on Saturday became the first cruise line to return to sailing from North America since the pandemic shut down the industry last year, as the Celebrity Millennium set sail from Philipsburg, St. Maarten.

It was both a first for the industry and the first of Celebrity’s fleet to return to sailing, as the Millennium will make ports of call in Aruba, Barbados and Curacao.

It was also the first time Celebrity Cruises has homeported in St. Maarten, where the cruise line now begins sailing Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries through August.

“This is such a significant moment for our company, our industry and the Caribbean. That this day has finally arrived for our guests and our crew is truly special – beyond words, really,” Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, said in a statement. “I am so happy to have our crew back onboard doing what they love and providing amazing vacations and service to our guests. I also am extremely grateful to the leadership of the St. Maarten government for their vision and support to make this moment happen. What an honor to now be the first to enthusiastically say, once again – ‘Welcome Aboard!’”

It might be the first, but it won’t be the last.

As the positive cases of the coronavirus pandemic continue to shrink around the world, and more and more people are being vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is relaxing some harsh restrictions in the industry and, earlier this week, approved a series of test cruises out of U.S. ports.

Celebrity Millennium set sail with enhanced health and safety standards that are the culmination of more than a year of diligent work with public health authorities, government agencies and its Healthy Sail Panel of scientific, medical and public health leaders.

Celebrity also noted it will sail in the Caribbean with a vaccinated crew and at least 95 percent vaccinated guests.