Taking one more step toward opening cruising, Royal Caribbean Group in its quarterly report today announced it will be allowing vaccinated guests on voyages of five days or less to board without Covid testing — and is “transitioning to the point where everyone will be able to vacation with us.”. Read the rest of this entry »
A notice on the CDC’s website indicates the termination of the Centers’ program for reporting Covid-19 cases on cruise ships. The CDC indicated the cruise industry has access to the tools necessary to manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs. The notice stated the CDC will continue to publish guidance to help cruise ships continue to provide a safer and healthier environment for crew, passengers, and communities going forward.
In a FAQ section, the CDC stated the agency ended the program because it “depended upon each cruise line having the same COVID-19 screening testing standards, which may now vary among cruise lines.” The notice indicated the public should contact the cruise lines directly regarding outbreaks occurring on board ships
As of April 16th, Jamaica will not require international travelers to demonstrate a negative Covid-19 test and will eliminate the indoor mask mandate which has been in effect.
Effective April 16, 2022, travel to the island will be made even easier as the pre-travel COVID-19 test will no longer be required. Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, said in a press release “We are optimistic that these simpler requirements will serve to increase the appeal of Jamaica as a premier destination and keep us moving along the road to a stronger recovery for both the tourism sector and the nation’s economy as a whole. Eliminating mask mandates and the need for travelers to present a negative COVID test result are important strides toward our continued gradual relaxation of travel protocols as the spread of COVID-19 keeps declining.”
The CDC ranks Jamaica as a destination with low COVID-19 risk. Earlier this year, Jamaica eliminated quarantines for international arrivals and its Travel Authorization Form.
The U.S. State Department has urged Americans to reconsider travel to Hong Kong and mainland China due to “arbitrary enforcement of local laws and Covid-19-related restrictions” and “ including the risk of parents and children being separated.”
China is in the midst of a Covid-19 surge currently. A Reuters report indicates “the number of new asymptomatic cases, which China counts separately, stood at 23,815 compared with 22,648 a day earlier.” According to the travel advisory on April 08, 2022, the Department allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees, and family members of emergency and non-emergency U.S. government employees, from the Consulate General Shanghai consular district due to a surge in COVID cases and the impact of restrictions related to the PRC’s response.
China has adopted a “Zero-Tolerance” approach to Covid-19 with severe lockdown and isolation requirements impacting the ability to travel and access to public services. In addition, travelers to the PRC and Hong Kong may be subject to mandatory testing.
The Travel Advisory indicated U.S. citizens may b subject to wrongful detentions, arbitrary interrogations, and “exit bans” forbidding leaving the country.
NerdWallet, a website, and app that provides consumers and small businesses with trustworthy financial guidance, found that 70% of Americans are planning leisure travel in the next 12 months. NerdWallet’s annual Travel Study found that while many Americans are making travel plans for 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic still impacts their travel decisions.
The report, which includes a survey conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of NerdWallet among over 2,000 U.S. adults, found that younger generations of Americans are planning to travel more than older generations. More than half of Generation Z (60% – ages 18-25) and millennials (58% – ages 26-41) are planning more than one leisure trip in the next 12 months, compared to 41% of Generation X members (ages 42-57) and 40% of baby boomers (ages 58-76).
Regardless of their travel plans, 62% of Americans say they would feel more comfortable traveling if certain COVID-19 precautions take place. However, comfort levels vary: 15% of Americans say that nothing would make them feel more comfortable traveling right now, while 23% say they already feel comfortable traveling.
More than half of Americans (56%) say the way they travel has changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those who have changed the way they travel, nearly a third (32%) say they only travel to destinations that are low-risk for COVID-19, while 28% say they stopped going on international trips and only travel domestically.
“Two years into the pandemic, consumers are more comfortable in their ability to make travel decisions that feel right for them, leading to skyrocketing demand for hotels, rental cars, and airlines,” said Sara Rathner, a travel expert at NerdWallet. “Now more than ever, it’s important for travelers to build flexibility into their vacation plans and travel budgets. Those who feel comfortable traveling should plan to spend more time and money on their vacations this year as crowds of out-of-practice travelers learn to navigate pandemic-era travel staples like increased wait times, trip insurance, rapid tests, and quarantine expenses.”
Additional findings from the study include:
- Many Americans want to take multiple trips: Americans are planning to take two trips, on average, requiring a flight or hotel stay in the next 12 months.
- Some Americans still aren’t traveling: About half of Americans who don’t plan on traveling for leisure in the next 12 months (51%) say they aren’t doing so for a COVID-related reason, including concerns over COVID variants (37%) or case rates at their desired destination (19%).
- Stockpiling points and miles: More than three-quarters of Americans who have a travel rewards credit card (77%) are saving their points and miles. About 23% of travel credit cardholders say they are doing so because they don’t feel safe traveling yet, and a similar portion (23%) are saving their points/miles for a luxury or special occasion trip.
- COVID-19 exposures and positive test results impacted travel plans in 2021: More than 2 in 5 Americans who had travel plans in 2021 (43%) say that their travel plans were impacted because they or someone in their household tested positive for or were possibly exposed to COVID-19. Roughly 1 in 4 who had travel plans in 2021 (24%) say they canceled their trip as a result, and a similar proportion (25%) paid with rewards, cash, or credit to extend their trip in order to quarantine.
- The full study, including downloadable charts, can be found here: https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/travel/majority-of-americans-plan-travel
It looks like the travel industry will see a positive rebound this year as the Center for Disease and Control Prevention places more travel destinations at a lower risk level.
On Monday, April 4, the CDC moved the COVID-19 status of over a dozen of countries down to “high risk” Level 3 from Level 4. At the same time, no new destination was added to its “very high risk” Level 4.
The CDC moved a total of 14 travel destinations down to Level 3. These are:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Saint Lucia
Although the U.S. was not included in CDC’s advisory list, it was also moved down to Level 3.
Per the public health agency’s definition for each level, a country under the category of Level 3 “high risk” means that the destination had recorded between 100 and 500 cases per 10,000 residents in the past 28 days. A destination placed at Level 4, on the other hand, had recorded over 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.
The agency moved several countries down to “moderate risk” Level 2 on Monday as well. The five destinations are Iraq, Botswana, Eswatini, Dominican Republic, and South Africa. These countries recorded 50 to 99 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.
Meanwhile, Pakistan, Nepal, Morocco, Ghana, Malawi, and Jamaica were moved to “low risk” Level 1. These destinations recorded less than 50 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.
CDC’s move to lower the risk level of most countries offers a positive sentiment towards travel today. However, the public health agency warns to travel overseas only if fully vaccinated.
Covid appears to be on the decline, and travel is staging a healthy return, literally. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has not entirely disappeared from the possibilities you may encounter on your next trip. To assist you in being prepared, here are a few tips to help you to travel more safely:
Use a travel professional
A good travel agent is a valuable asset in these times. Not only will a travel professional assist you in every aspect of your planning so your time and trip itinerary are efficient, but you will have counsel and assistance for all of the recommendations that follow below!
Check the travel advisories of your destination country
Make sure to check the travel advisories of your destination country. The level of risk can vary depending on the destination. If the advisory is at a high or extreme level, it may be best to postpone your travels until things have calmed down.
Make sure your vaccinations are up to date.
Many countries are now requiring proof of vaccinations for travelers though the number of countries making such demands is on a sharp decline. Nevertheless, the science indicates the best protection against severe infection or hospitalization is up-to-date vaccinations. Also, don’t be afraid to pack a mask to take with you. It may come in handy in a situation like a crowded subway or train car.
Bring extra travel money for emergency purposes
Save a backup fund as a part of your travel budget in case of emergencies such as extended hotel stays or canceled flights.
Save those airline and hotel points or miles
If you have a rewards credit card, now is the time to use it. You can redeem points for free flights or hotel stays and cover unexpected travel expenses. Look over the terms and conditions of your rewards program to learn how and when you may use your points.
Get flights and lodging with flexible cancellation policies
If something comes up and you need to cancel your trip, you don’t want to be hit with hefty penalties. Look for flights and lodging with flexible cancellation policies. That way, you can cancel without losing any money.
Use a credit card that includes trip cancellation and interruption insurance or obtain a separate policy
This insurance can reimburse you for trip costs if something unexpected comes up and you have to cancel your trip. Travel expenses such as airline, hotels, cruises, tours, and passenger fares may be reimbursed with the help of trip cancellation insurance. But it still depends on the credit card you use, and check your specific card’s policy to see what isn’t covered. Also, compare your credit card’s cancelation policy with separate travel insurance. Some insurance policies may not cover costs related to Covid-19, so be sure to go over the policy with your travel advisor. Take note to look for Cancel For Any Reason coverage, which is typically more expensive but also more flexible.
Always have a backup payment method
If your primary credit card is declined or maxed out, you’ll need a backup payment method: cash, another credit card, or even PayPal. Especially during the pandemic, it’s always best to be prepared for unexpected medications, COVID-19 tests, and hotel rates.
Don’t go if you are sick
Finally, if you are feeling sick, don’t go. The best thing you can do is to stay home and rest. There’s no need to put yourself and others at risk.
It doesn’t feel right to talk about business as usual when we are confronted daily with the destruction of lives and monuments of civilization in Ukraine. It seems unseemly to gush about good news while such a horror is ongoing among people who look like they may have been just like you and me a month ago.
Nevertheless, there is some good news, and it’s important to recognize it, and to feel gratitude, remembering that “there but for the grace of God go I.” Read the rest of this entry »
For the first time in two years since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has lifted its risk advisory for cruises, indicating that while their suspension of the advisory does not mean there is no risk of Covid-19 infection onboard, cruise travel will no longer carry a CDC risk warning.w
CLIA issued a statement applauding the CDC’s removal of the risk warning and reiterated the stance that the move recognizes the effective public health measures in place on cruise ships helps to level the playing field, between cruise and similarly situated venues on land, for the first time since March 2020.
The cruise industry, caught up in a series of unfortunate infection outbreaks at the beginning of the pandemic, often expressed frustration at the unfavorable attention cruising received from the CDC as compared with land-based resorts and accommodations. In reality, the major cruise lines instituted some of the travel industry’s most stringent precautions during Covid-19, requiring masks and vaccinations on the majority of cruises. CLIA’s statement went on to indicate its cruise line members “are sailing today with health measures in place that are unmatched by virtually any other commercial setting.”
The CDC is still advising those cruising to be up to date on their Covid-19 vaccinations and to consult with their doctors about any precautions if immunocompromised or at high risk.
It wasn’t long after we published last week’s post, Seven Workarounds To France’s Pass Sanitaire, that we learned of the French government’s plans to drop requirements for the health pass. This comes as welcome news to travelers heading to France this spring and beyond. In fact, Britton is headed to France on Monday. See I’m Going To Paris On Monday.
While we won’t know the full details until next week, this site, www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus, (translated from French), suggests that the Pass Sanitaire will not be required for most activities: From March 14, the application of the “vaccination pass” will be suspended in Read the rest of this entry »
Have a group that’s concerned about traveling in a time of Covid? Why not have their questions answered and their concerns put to rest by a concierge doctor who will go over everything they need to know—or even come along with you?
That’s the newest business venture of ER physician Yvette McQueen. She heard the concern of so many travel advisors, meeting planners, and frequent travelers that she set out on a new business venture as a private travel health consultant.
McQueen has been scratching her own travel bug for the past 14 years as a traveling ER doctor, going from one hospital to the next to fill in for staffers who were on leave, or when there was a staffing shortage. As a frequent traveler herself, she had a particular interest in safe travel, and quickly became an expert in how to avoid getting sick—and what to do if Read the rest of this entry »
Like Girl Scouts who are always prepared, travel advisors know that a successful vacation often comes down to having a backup plan. So when Lene Minyard of Perfectly Planned Journeys gathered a group of insiders earlier this month to come up with ideas to help travel recover, it’s no surprise they proposed a Plan B—for their own businesses, for their customers, and for the industry as a whole.
The discussion began, of course, with concerns over the present situation. “There’s a lot of new blood coming into the industry; they are coming in by the droves,” said The Travel Institute’s Guida Botelho. “We get 8-10 new people every single day. And we have a responsibility to educate and empower and propel these people forward.”
But for new advisors—and for the thousands of travel advisors already in business—it’s almost impossible to keep up with the changing regulations of every supplier and destination. And of course, there’s the Damocles sword: the better job you do and the more information you share with clients, the greater your liability if you say the wrong thing.
“We need more training on being a business owner, on defining the advisor’s role in the midst of the pandemic,” said TRUE Global Network vice president Margie Jordan. “When you make it your burden [to give clients information], it becomes your liability. Where do we draw the line? What is our duty of Read the rest of this entry »
I was surprised to see a Reuters article that said, “U.S. CDC urges Americans to avoid travel to Japan, Cuba, Armenia over COVID cases.” Why Cuba? I wondered. Why Japan, too, for that matter? As for Cuba, it ran counter to the information that I’ve been getting about the country’s handling of COVID over the last year and a half, which has been impressively successful. But Cuba tends to be a good whipping boy for the news media. In the travel media, reports on Cuba are almost always glowing. But in the news media, portrayals tend to be negative.
The American people are attracted to Cuba and fascinated with it. They jump en masse at the opportunity to travel there whenever the word gets out that the restrictions have been relaxed. But there is still an establishment that tries to punish Cuba at every opportunity. It must be the oldest political grudge in the world. Read the rest of this entry »
Every time American society suffers a severe trauma, people re-evaluate their lives and re-prioritize. “Spending time with family” always rises in the list of priorities.
As it relates to the travel industry, every big shock causes an increased demand for family travel. In 2000, when the Wall Street tech bubble burst, the stock market lost a third of its value, causing stock portfolios to plunge in value and some retirement funds to evaporate entirely. It was a devastating blow to many families.
YPB&R’s National Leisure Travel Monitor marketing survey showed that people’s main priority had shifted from making money to travel.
The lesson of the crash was painfully clear. You can work years building up your assets only to see them slip through your hands like water. Your travel experiences with your family, on the other hand, will always Read the rest of this entry »
The travel industry is rolling with the punches again, as 2021 rolls to a close and every day brings a new news cycle. Again.
Just two weeks ago at the US Tour Operators Association, the speakers were bullish about what 2022 would bring and travel advisors were looking forward to a great year. But this week, there’s a slight hesitation in everyone’s step, as omicron spreads on land, air and sea.
“This is going to be a tough week,” says Zena Beaver in Selinsgrove PA. “Three days ago all was good—but after the six o’ clock news last night, I received three emails and two texts about postponing trips from January to later in the year.”
“Those take-home Covid test kits are the new toilet paper,” joked Jennifer Trinin at ProTravel in Westbury, NY. “Maybe we can get ones with logos on them to Read the rest of this entry »
Half the cruise ships are sailing, carrying half the passengers they once did. At each port, they are beset by differing and ever-changing protocols, negotiating life-and-death decisions with new players with whom they do not have the usual long-term relationships.
And yet, guest satisfaction is off the charts. The new-to-cruise customers that many expected to be frightened off are instead showing up. New ships and new partnerships, new terminals and new ports are on the horizon—and they promise to share the wealth with local communities and to promote a healthier environment for all.
“We built this industry over more than five decades; we deliver a phenomenal experience that our customers love, and the Caribbean is an unbelievably popular destination for our core markets,” said Royal Caribbean International president and CEO Michael Bayley at the Caribbean Spotlight: A Focus on the Future breakout session. “We need to just stay focused and trust each other and, in another year or so, we’ll be looking back trying not to remember any of this.”
In short, this week’s Seatrade Global conference was unlike any other Read the rest of this entry »
Ever true, tried and trusty, Longwoods International continues to monitor the changes in demand for travel with its latest survey, COVID-19 Travel Sentiment Study – Wave 46, published last week. The snapshot, taken a year and a half into a grisly pandemic, indicated that consumers have now settled into a “new normal” in regard to travel.
The study was conducted Sept.15. Longwoods surveyed a national sample randomly drawn from a consumer panel of 1,000 adults, ages 18 and over. The sample was tailored to match Census targets for age, gender, and region to make the survey representative of the US population.
About the best thing you could say about the results is that “it could have been worse.” And it certainly could have been. Just recall how it was before the vaccines came on the scene.
But with the recovery we saw gaining strength at the beginning of summer stalled by a resurgence in Read the rest of this entry »
This week I am going to remind you of the well-known phrase, “What goes around, comes around.” Maybe it would be more accurate if I said, “What was old is new again.”
What I am trying to say is that you do not always have to come up with something new to (1) capture attention, (2) become more effective, or (3) to deliver a message worth delivering.
Today, I have decided to turn back the clock and repeat one of my messages from 2015. Here goes:
Regardless of the length, girth or the simplicity (or intricacy) of your business plan, your persistent adherence to the basics is essential if you want to continue to build a business you can be proud of. Read the rest of this entry »
Bekah Eaton came home from ASTA’s annual conference with new ideas, new relationships, and a case of Covid. She believes she caught it from the woman who sat next to her for two hours. “I felt betrayed and almost angry that she would put me in harms way, and expose me without warning or anything.”
Another travel advisor, who asked to remain anonymous, was on a fam trip to Italy when she thanked the woman sitting next to her, whom she knew was opposed to vaccines, for getting vaccinated before the trip. “She went off on me about how she felt forced to get the vaccine—and that was very alienating in a small group atmosphere.”
Then she saw someone attending a FAM in Europe after being at an ASTA event where there were positive cases. “And I’m thinking, weren’t you in that room at ASTA with people who tested positive? Shouldn’t you be quarantining and not on this AMA cruise in Europe?”
Those experiences changed the way she sees those people. Read the rest of this entry »
When AmaWaterways invited me to the Christening of AmaSiena, I said yes immediately. The prospect of going on a river cruise for the first time since the summer of 2019 excited me so much that I agreed to come on the trip without giving any of the details a second thought. But, as my cruise approached, I found myself questioning my decision to cruise during Covid: What happens if I test positive for Covid on board the ship? Do I need to pack anything extra? What do I need to do to be cleared to fly to the Netherlands and, on the way back, to the United States? And, most importantly, how will my cruise experience differ to the cruises I’ve taken in the past?
I realize that many of you are considering river cruises as well but traveling during the pandemic leaves you with similar questions, which I want to share with you how I prepared for my return to Europe. Read the rest of this entry »