CURRENT NEWS 3/18/21

Headlines of Interest to International Travelers Updated Every Few Days

Curated articles from around the web covering recent news on travel restrictions, security, air travel, cruising along with travel industry headlines.

Two good reference web sites are now available for up-to-date travel information on COVID-19 requirements by country and for CDC travel recommendations.

The first is the Internatinal Air Transport Association – IATA offers an up-to-date COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map HERE.

Additional information from the The American CDC – For international travelers the American CDC now provides a list of countries and the COVID-19 threat level for each HERE.

DAILY BRIEFS

Recent News

March 18th, 2021

New Orleans airport sees traffic rebound to 20% above March 2020 as Southwest Airlines announced that it expects to resume its non-stop flight to Cancun on April 16, the first international flight from the airport in over a year.

Biden could lift COVID international travel restrictions in mid-MAY – The Biden administration is aiming to lift COVID-19 travel restrictions by mid-May for the Mexico and Canada borders and also loosen current flight bans on the UK, Europe and Brazil, officials have said.

Crystal To Base Luxury Cruise Ship In Bahamas – In a move to open up cruising in North America, Crystal Cruises announced it would home port its luxury oceangoing ship, Crystal Serenity in the Bahamas. It will offer new weeklong itineraries departing from, and visiting only ports in the Bahamas.

Airline industry pushes back on CDC – The airline industry is pushing back against new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that fully vaccinated people should still avoid travel.

The US Virgin Islands Is Open – The U.S. Virgin Islands has reopened to travel with enhanced health and safety protocols in place amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to being one of the most sought-after destinations in the Caribbean, the USVI—consisting of the main islands of St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas—is among the most accessible to Americans, who won’t need a passport to visit or a negative COVID-19 test result to return home to the mainland U.S.

Singapore Airlines to trial IATA Travel Pass next week
Singapore Airlines will become the first airline in the world to pilot the Travel Pass mobile application from the International Air Transport Association next week.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board has announced its plan for the recovery of tourism and the resumption of international travel. The strategic plan outlines the division of an HK$1.138 billion (£127 million) budget for the next financial year, which has been split into two phases. The main strategy will focus on encouraging back international visitors to Hong Kong as soon as possible.

March 3rd, 2021

Signs of Life Emerging In The Cruise World

With cruise companies suspending service around the world over COVID-19, and plans to start again being announced only to be cancelled again and again its been discouraging trying to make future plans.

Most cruise lines were forced to cancel sailings over countries closing their ports, shut down facilities and infrastructure, a lack of flights, along with increased travel restrictions that change on a week-by-week and country-by-country basis. CLIA,the Cruise Lines International Association first announced a suspension of member operations till October 31, 2020.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control lifted its “No Sail Order” on November 1st for all cruise ships with more than 250 passengers and crew operating in American waters. It really was designed to make it very difficult to meet its requirements and to this day there are still more questions than answers on how to comply. All major cruise companies have now suspended their cruise operations until the end of March.

Unlike America, Europe-based lines have restarted operations with MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises leading the way. Royal Caribbean has now announced it will deploy its newest cruise ship, the 4,198-passenger Odyssey of the Seas to Israel starting in May for cruises to the Mediterranean.

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas will be extending its cruise to nowhere schedule for an additional three months in Singapore between March 22 and June 21, and residents can now book two-, three- and four-night Ocean Getaways aboard the groundbreaking ship.

MSC is also making plans for Caribbean cruises to be departing from Cozumel Mexico in the next couple of months

February 24th, 2021

Covid-19 wiped out 74% of international tourist arrivals in 2020 – UN World Travel Organization reports due to the global pandemic, that the World Tourism Barometer by UNWTO, 2020 had 1 billion fewer international arrivals than the previous year, wiping out 75% of international travel.

IATA prepares to debut Travel Pass as aviation looks to reopen – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects its digital Covid Travel Pass will be ready for use “within weeks”. The pass – which was originally unveiled in December – is designed to verify a passenger has had the Covid-19 tests or vaccines required to enter a country. It also verifies they were administered by an approved authority.

Qantas Pushes Back Expected Restart of International Travel – Qantas aims to restart 22 of its 25 overseas routes to cities including Los Angeles, London and Johannesburg from Oct. 31, it said Thursday. Low-cost arm Jetstar will restart all its 13 international routes at the same time.

US Extends Land Border Closure With Canada, Mexico Again – The United States government announced land borders with Canada and Mexico would remain closed to non-essential travel until at least March 21.

EasyJet Bookings Up 600% Following UK Lockdown Lift Announcement – UK airline easyJet reported a 300% increase in flight bookings while vacation package bookings increased more than 600% from last week.

Israel tourism begins reopening as country emerges from lockdown – With around 4.3 million people having received at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine, Israel is currently preparing to reopen its economy.

February 16th, 2021

Mexico Invites Cruise Lines to Sail from Cozumel – One of the cruise lines Mexico is targeting is MSC which is currently successfully running cruises in the Mediterranean. MSC was the first major line to sail with full COVID-19 protocols as early as mid-August 2020, and has continued to do so with a few breaks when borders were tightened during a viral flare-up.

Norwegian Cruise Line and sister lines cancel sailings till June amid coronavirus pandemic – the date any cruise line will return to service in the U.S. continues to push further into the calendar year.

Carnival Cruise Line Provides Options for Longer Sailings – Carnival Cruise Line has updated guests and travel agents with options regarding the longer 8-14 day sailings.

Cruise Lines may Mandate Passenger Vaccinations – Cruise ports are pushing large cruise lines into vaccine mandates for passengers. Most major cruise lines are probably planning on making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory to board a cruise.

Royal Caribbean Currently not cancelling Alaska cruise season – Although the Canadian Government has been firm in its decision to ban all cruise ship travel from their ports, Royal Caribbean has now announced it will not be canceling any voyages. This includes cruises embarking/debarking from Canadian ports and those itineraries touching on Canadian ports of call. The cruise line says it is working through potential options with the Government of Canada and the USA and the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). The announcement comes as Alaskan government officials called the travel ban ‘unacceptable’.

February 1st 2021

Carnival breaks ground on new Miami terminal – Miami mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, and Carnival president, Christine Duffy, used ceremonial shovels to break ground on construction of the 471,000-square-foot facility.

Effective January 26th, all air passengers entering the United States will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

2021 Alaska cruise season in trouble – The growing threat of a second year without cruises — or a severely reduced season — could spell disaster for Alaskan communities and would be a blow to cruise lines trying to restart in North America.

Former Holland America Line president Orlando Ashford was named Azamara’s new executive chairman. This comes as Royal Caribbean Group closes the sale of the line to Sycamore Partners, the private equity firm that agreed to buy Azamara for $201 million.

British Airways to trial VeriFLY app – The new digital health travel passport application is designed to confirm passengers meet the entry requirements of their destination with digital health document verification to confirming eligibility.

Canada to quarantine travelers, suspend flights to Mexico and the Caribbean – It will be mandatory for travelers arriving in Canada to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense, and airline service to Mexico and the Caribbean will be suspended until April 30.

IATA calls for governments to reopen borders – IATA director general, Alain de Juniac, has given a briefing calling for governments to focus on reopening borders to international travel.

January 23rd

Tourism Industry Scrambles Amid New CDC Guidelines – An impending new executive order and a new Center for Disease Control and Prevention policy mandating a negative Covid-19 test for Americans returning to the United States is sending foreign governments, tourism agencies, and resort properties scrambling to arrange necessary resources.

US travel industry pushes back on potential quarantine – The US air transport and travel industries are pushing back on a potential quarantine requirement for international travellers arriving in the US, currently being weighed by the administration of President Joe Biden, in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

World Tourism Organization Calls For Vaccine Passport – The Global Tourism Crisis Committee, at a meeting in Madrid last week organized by the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), is calling for a vaccine passport, saying it must become an essential travel document to help restart international tourism.

Qatar Airways to add latest United States destination – Qatar Airways will add its 12th gateway in the United States with the resumption of four-weekly Atlanta flights starting June 1st.

Entertainment Industry Jobs No Longer Qualify for Travel Exemptions to Enter U.K. – Most entertainment industry jobs were exempt from U.K. COVID-19 rules such as the need to self-isolate for 10 days. As of this week the industry no longer qualifies for those exemptions.

Princess Cruises shrinks fleet with sale of Pacific Princess – The sale of the cruise ship is in line with parent company Carnival Corporation’s plan to accelerate the removal of less efficient ships from its fleet.

Atlantis Paradise Island Offers Free Onsite COVID-19 Testing – Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas joins a number of other resorts in the Caribbean in offering free, onsite COVID-19 testing. The resort is offering the Rapid Antigen testing for up to two guests returning to the U.S.

January 19th

CDC refutes report of new highly contagious COVID strain in US – The CDC has refuted a report indicating that a new highly contagious COVID-19 strain is circulating.

Royal Caribbean sells Azamara in $201m private equity deal – The cruise line said the all cash deal with Sycamore Partners would allow it to focus on core operations after almost a year out of the water following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Disneyland Resort COVID-19 Vaccine Super Site Opens; 3K Doses Administered – Hundreds of cars lined up for the opening of Orange County’s first coronavirus vaccination super site at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

Etihad partners with IATA for Covid-19 Travel Pass – The mobile app is designed to help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with government requirements for Covid-19 tests or vaccines.

Royal Caribbean To Operate Homeport in Barbados for First Time – The Grandeur of the Seas will operate three seven- and 14-night Southern Caribbean itineraries from Bridgetown. The program includes three new ports of call for the line to Tobago, Trinidad and St. Vincent.

Singapore Airlines rolls-out Covid-19 vaccine to crew – Singapore Airlines has launched a bid to vaccinate all its crew against Covid-19. Once vaccinated, crew members will be subject to less scrutiny and fewer coronavirus-related security measures.

Costa Cruises Celebrates Float-Out of Costa Toscana at Finland

Disneyland Paris delays reopening until April – Disneyland Paris has pushed back its reopening date to April 2nd as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to sweep France. The theme park had been due to reopen on February 13th.

St Lucia to offer visitors Covid-19 tests on departure – Visitors can obtain a Covid-19 test conveniently at select hotels or at local testing facilities, with test results returned within the 72-hour time frame.

January 14th

Norwegian to abandon long-haul flights – Economy air carrier Norwegian has outlined a simplified business structure and dedicated short haul route network as it plans a return from the Covid-19 shutdown.

Royal Caribbean Group pushes back return into April – Royal Caribbean International will see the majority of its ships docked until at least April 30th, with only Spectrum of the Seas expected to return earlier, at the end of February.

The US will require all arriving passengers to get COVID 19 test – Anyone flying to the US will soon need to show proof of a negative test for COVID-19, health officials announced Tuesday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirement expands on a similar one announced late last month for passengers coming from the United Kingdom. The new order takes effect in two weeks.

Flying With Pets? – What to know if you want to claim your pet is a service animal, an emotional support animal, or fits under another category in travel.

VietJet eyes aircraft purchases as it relies on vaccine rollouts to revive air travel – Vietnamese budget carrier VietJet Aviation plans to expand its investment in new aircraft and technical facilities this year after reporting a small profit in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic.

January 11th Update

American Re-Hires 17,000 Workers – As per the terms of accepting money from the federal government’s most recent COVID-19 relief aid package, American Airlines has re-hired 17,500 workers who were furloughed back in October.

Travel body rejects compulsory COVID-19 shots, experts say herd immunity distant – “We should never require the vaccination to get a job or to travel,” Guevara, whose organisation represents a sector accounting for as much as 10% of global employment, told Reuters.

Disney World Eliminating Free Magical Express Airport Transport in 2022 and Other WDW News – New and existing bookings in 2021 will have the option to reserve transportation via Magical Express up until Dec. 31.

Canadians returning home from Jamaica this week have been exempted from producing a negative PCR test before leaving the destination as now required by the Canadian government.

Kauai, Hawaii to welcome tourists back on its own terms – The island of Kauai plans to reopen to tourists after a halt forced by the coronavirus. Starting this week, Hawaii’s “garden island,” which had opted out of the state program that allows trans-Pacific visitors if they produce a negative test before arrival, begins its own entry program.

Germany’s New Lockdown Rules Require Travelers to Present 2 Negative COVID-19 Tests – Arrivals will also have to quarantine in addition to testing.

Expedia CEO Says Mass Tourism Will Be Back Again by Summer – Its third-quarter earnings report shows a company that’s still pulling in $1.5 billion in quarterly revenue, exceeding mid-pandemic expectations, even if that it represents $221 million in losses.

January 8th Update

JetBlue Joins American, Alaska in Changing Rules for Emotional Support Animals – As of January 11, 2021, emotional support animals will no longer be recognized as service animals.

Greece extends some COVID lockdowns until Jan. 18 – The country, in lockdown since early November due to a spike in infections mainly in the north, has seen its public health system come under severe strain while infections are recede at a slow pace.

Princess Cruises latest line to delay return – Princess Cruises has become the latest line to delay its return to operation. The Carnival-owned brand will now not be welcoming guests until at least May 14th this year.

Florida Considering Bill to Reverse Key West Cruise Ship Ban – The Florida Senate is considering for a bill that would ban local communities from trying to regulate cruise ports, a move that would reverse recent restrictions on cruise ships advanced in Key West.

Cathay Pacific suspends London flights to Hong Kong – The carrier said the decision was in view of the entry restrictions put in place by the government of Hong Kong on arrivals from the UK.

The U.S. Just Got a New National Park — and It’s a Rock Climbing and Whitewater Rafting Paradise

Top Mexican Tourism Destinations Working on Plan To Restart Sector – Updated COVID-19 Protocols to help bring tourists back.

January 7th Update

The U.K. Is now officially out of the EU on Dec. 31, 2021 and included in the 1259-page trade agreement between the EU and U.K. published Christmas Eve are new terms for short-term business visitors that will require work permits and in some cases the passing of an economic needs test. Many see some of the new policies to be mostly punitive.

The Marker Key West Harbor Resort announces a $3 million renovation of the modern, waterfront property, including its new Residence One & Two Bedroom Suites with spacious open-air balconies.

Some Travel Agents hope Biden win signals an easing of Cuba travel rules – For cruise lines and airlines, hotel companies and tour operators, restrictions on travel to Cuba ordered by President Trump in 2019 crippled what had been heralded as one of the most exciting travel “openings” in the past 20 years.

Dominican Republic extends Covid-19 healthcare offer. The ministry of tourism has announced the continuation of a free health coverage plan to March 31st for tourists arriving on commercial flights and staying at a hotel.

Jamaica welcomes boom in festive travel – Preliminary statistics from the Jamaica Tourist Board show that for the period December 22nd-28th, just over 21,000 passengers arrived on the island from around the world.

Delta moves closer to goal of free and improved WiFi – Delta has finalized a partnership with the WiFi provider Viasat, to enable it to move toward its goal of creating a free and connected experience for passengers across its network.

Princess Cruises and Holland America have joined other cruise lines in continuing a cruising pause in operations into May 2021. The cruise lines are extending their pause of cruise operations for all departures through April 30, 2021, including Alaska, Mexican Riviera, Pacific Coast, Caribbean, Mediterranean and Canada/New England departures.

Canada’s Travel Industry ‘In Tailspin’ After Government Announces New COVID Test Rules – Canada isn’t alone, dozens of countries enter third phase lockdowns.

UK government offers £4.6 billion in new lockdown grants – more help is needed everywhere to help business pandemic policies.

Which Cruise Ships Will Be Scrapped Or Taken Out of Service Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic? Cruise Critic keeps up with cruise industry news.

World Travel and Tourism Council fosters a co-ordinated response to the sector’s coronavirus fallout – An interview with the organizations director focusing on the pandemic.

Airlines urge White House to require testing for travelers instead of travel bans – Airlines for America (A4A), which represents the major U.S. airlines, called on the Trump administration to implement a global program to require testing.

How quickly can the COVID-19 vaccine make travel possible? The COVID-19 pandemic brought the global tourism industry to a screeching halt in 2020. With vaccines starting to be rolled out, there is hope international travel can resume soon.

Royal Caribbean to provide loans – Royal Caribbean Group will make $40 million available to give travel advisors interest-free loans of up to $250,000 to help keep their travel businesses afloat.

United Nations – World Travel Organization – Tourism falls to levels last seen in 1990 – Global tourism has returned to levels of 30 years ago, with one billion fewer international arrivals and a loss of about US$ 1.1 trillion in international tourism receipts.

British Airways announces deep cuts in long-haul network – British Airways has confirmed it will cancel services to more than 15 long-haul destinations next year as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rock the aviation sector.

Carnival Cruise Line welcomes Mardi Gras to fleet – When Mardi Gras begins guest operations in April, the 180,000-gross-ton vessel will be the most innovative ship in North America as it will be the first ship to be powered by liquefied natural gas.



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