RSS Tourism News

4 Future-Proof Reasons for Travel Companies to Automate Tours and Activities in 2021 and Beyond

It’s been a rapid and wild run for the travel sector in 2020. With the industry looking to move forward and chart a plan towards recovery, travel companies are re-evaluating their operations to set themselves up for future success.

Unsurprisingly, technology is set to play a pivotal role in the years to come, and with the overhaul of digital distribution channels, manual and labor-intensive operational processes are destined to be things of the past.

Tech innovation group Livn recently demonstrated its leadership in the field through its Open Connectivity Hub: an API infrastructure that synergizes industry players, harmonizes systems and infrastructures, merges and streamlines a traditionally fragmented tours and activities (T&A) space, and connects tour operators to travel resellers in real-time.

Though much of the travel industry is scaling down or on hold in the current climate, Livn is poised for a strong recovery and set to launch its updated second iteration of the API in December.

To highlight the major benefits of Livn’s dynamic platform, SkiftX unpacks four future-proof reasons why travel businesses ought to automate their tours and activities in the post-pandemic world.

LIVE INVENTORY

One of the main limitations to securing full occupancy on T&A products in previous years had to do with businesses’ inability to fill bookings and cancellations at the last minute.

Before the pandemic, travel agencies and in-person were the prime channels for bookings in this space.

Post-pandemic, consumer demand is calling for a stronger shift towards ‘instantaneous’ booking options, as travelers seek personal control of their own plans.

This trend dovetails with rising demand for experiential travel, and a pre-existing desire for greater online booking options that allow for spontaneous, fast-confirmation connectivity.

A core feature of Livn’s Open Connectivity Hub is that it solves this problem: giving travel resellers access to live inventory, thus facilitating last minute bookings in real time.

This clearly benefits both tour operators and resellers: maximum sales, while giving next-level responsiveness should any last minute rules or regulations, such as the opening or closing of travel corridors due to lockdown limitations, impact the industry.

HARMONIZATION

It’s well known that the T&A sector traditionally functioned as a fragmented and disparate space mostly because its products are so diverse. To shift this, Livn’s API brings a new level of industry-wide harmonization.

Livn technology translates many tour reservation system implementations into one unified and streamlined API, a powerful synthesis that gives structured access to and interaction with global tour products via a single connection point.

“In our learnings over the last nine years, looking across dozens of systems, we have gained unique technical insight into the most efficient way for data to be transmitted and shared between all parties in the distribution chain,” says Livn’s founder and CCO Steve Martinez, “from source tour operator inventory to end traveler consumption and demand.”

What this also delivers is a clear and well-defined industry standardization>—something previously lacking in the T&A spacewith all information unified, and technical aspects of the reservation process simplified for travel resellers, including structured product content, availability data, metadata, terminology and pricing.

This goes for different channels and verticals (hotel, airlines, etc.) as well as mediums (desktop, tablet, mobile and travel agency environment).

COLLABORATION

Livn’s API works collaboratively, connecting with over 20 different tour operators’ reservation system providers around the world.

In an industry rife with different systems (rarely do two exist with identical, overlapping features, requirements or naming conventions) this alone marks a significant development.

“Our vision is to become the industry standard for T&A API connectivity which the industry has been lacking for years,” said Martinez.

“We have a very privileged and broad view of current tour operator API landscape (through our deep integrations with their reservation systems) and on the flipside (distribution) we have a variety of real life use cases on how this data is actually being used – including bricks and mortar and online travel agencies, content marketing business models, mobile application companies,, local visitor information centres, airline middleware platforms, and Global Distribution Platforms (GDS). This inflection point is one of great responsibility, which very few companies occupy and, we intend on making the most of this opportunity by driving real change and working with all parties involved to bring the sector forward.”

All this is driven by Livn’s core philosophy that learnings and best practices be incorporated and shared for mutual collaboration across the sector.

CONNECTIVITY

No other platform in the T&A space is capable of connecting as strongly or widely as the Livn API. From PAX details, to pick-up points, to cancellations, the platform is able to implement all usable API features from an underlying reservation system. Once confirmed, reservation and ticket information is completely binding, valid and 100 percent traceable.

Livn’s approach is complete integration, a contrast to the ‘partial’ implementations that the space is used to – for example: situations where brochureware content is delivered via an API, while reservation information is transmitted via email.

Likely to be the industry’s most widely connected platform by 2022, it’s the only platform that allows travel companies to use its technical infrastructure to transact without interfering with their existing commercial agreements. Effectively, it’s an ‘open’ model, where travel resellers are charged a small transaction fee for each booking that passes through the API.

Livn’s innovative infrastructure will allow the API to triple the number of connected Reservation Systems by the end of 2021.

PREPARE TODAY FOR TOMORROW

After a tumultuous 2020, in this moment of pause, the industry awaits its green light to surge ahead. Consumers have their eyes set on travel again, and will continue to seek the most streamlined, instantaneous, ‘low-to-no touch’ booking solutions available.

These consumer demands “all come at a time when the industry is finally starting to show signs of cohesion and standardization,” adds Martinez.

Transition is the name of the game here, as more and more companies align with the growing trend to engage professional partners with vertical specialization, enabling them to free up their resources and capital to focus on their core business model.

“The T&A sector is transitioning into the same easy, reliable and accurate realm the industry has enjoyed for airline, car, and hotel sales – and Livn is uniquely placed in this space,” said Martinez.

England Will Use Covid Testing to Shorten Travel Quarantines

England will introduce a new system on Dec. 15 allowing passengers arriving from high-risk countries to take a COVID-19 test after five days of quarantine and to be released from any further self-isolation if they test negative.

Airlines and other companies in the travel and tourism industries had been calling for such a scheme for months, having suffered devastating consequences from a 14-day quarantine rule that has deterred people from travelling.

“The move will give passengers the confidence to book international trips in the knowledge that they can return home and isolate for a shorter period if they have received a negative test,” the government said in a statement on Tuesday.

The new scheme will be open to all passengers arriving from countries not featured on the government’s safe travel list, such as France, Italy, Spain and a number of other major destinations usually favoured by British tourists.

“With this announcement there is now light at the end of the tunnel not just for carriers and UK aviation but consumers looking to get away at Christmas and beyond,” said Tim Alderslade, chief executive of industry group Airlines UK.

People travelling to England by plane, ferry or train from Dec. 15 and wishing to take advantage of the scheme will have to book a test with a private provider from a government-approved list. They will have to pay for their test.

Those who decide not to take a test will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

British Airways said the new scheme was “a significant step in the right direction”.

The airline added that it planned to publish results of trials it was conducting between Britain and the United States that it said would show that a robust pre-departure testing system would eliminate the need for quarantine altogether.

The government also said it would introduce new financial support for commercial airports and ground handlers in England in the new year, capped at up to 8 million pounds ($11 million)per site.

“This new package of support for airports, alongside a new testing regime for international arrivals, will help the (aviation) sector take off once again as we build back better from the pandemic,” finance minister Rishi Sunak said in the government statement.

Source: https://skift.com/2020/11/24/england-will-use-covid-testing-to-shorten-travel-quarantines/

Portugal Admits It Must Diversify Beyond International Tourism

Portugal’s tourism sector is set to lose 60,000 jobs this year alone due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and a recovery is still far off, Tourism Secretary Rita Marques said on Monday.

Some of the country’s regions must diversify their tourism-dependent economy after the pandemic, Marques also told Reuters in an interview.

She expected a rebound of international visits to happen by the third quarter of 2021, depending on the success of a COVID-19 vaccine, but it could take until 2023 for those to return to pre-pandemic record levels.

Last year, Portugal had more than 16.4 million foreign visitors.

“We know it will be hard, it will take some time,” Marques said, adding that Portugal sought to be among the first to benefit when people were allowed to travel freely again.

Tourism was crucial for Portugal’s recovery from the 2010 economic and debt crisis and Marques is convinced it will help Portugal recover from the pandemic.

However, some regions rely too heavily on tourism, she said, calling for the development of other sectors there and a boosting of their international competitiveness.

Regions such as the southern Algarve, famous for its beaches and golf courses and particularly popular with British visitors, are among the most affected.

In Algarve, the tourism industry is not only suffering with the economic impact of the pandemic, which pushed the number of registered jobless up 134% to 24,088 last month from a year ago, but also from concerns about the implications of Brexit.

It is crucial not only to develop other sectors but to also attract more tourists from markets other than Britain to Algarve, Marques said.

“We need to diversify…but we will work to guarantee the Algarve continues to welcome all British people – no matter what happens with Brexit,” Marques said.

The tourism industry contributed about 15% to Portugal’s gross domestic product in 2018, latest official data show.

Though the sector all but collapsed due to the pandemic, with revenues sliding nearly 65% between January and September, Marques said residents opting to spend their holidays closer to home have lent a helping hand to the sector.

“I believe domestic tourism is here to stay,” she said.

Source: https://skift.com/2020/11/25/portugal-admits-it-must-diversify-beyond-tourism/

Cruise Lines Continue to See Strong Bookings for Future Cruises

Cruises remain popular for the traveling public, and many cruise lines are reporting strong interest among travelers for sailings in 2021 and beyond.

Seabourn recently reported a lot of interest in its 2022 World Cruise: Extraordinary Horizons, which is already more than 50 percent booked for segments through its halfway point in Shanghai.

“We are really encouraged by the tremendous amount of positive interest and bookings for our 2022 World Cruise, which clearly demonstrates that now is the time to consider a booking rather than later on when suite availability may be limited or even sold out,” said Steve Smotrys, vice president of global sales for Seabourn. “The past few months has given travelers time to consider when they are ready to explore the world again and know that when they travel with Seabourn, they’ll visit some of the world’s most fascinating destinations while experiencing the personalized, intuitive service we are known for.”

Oceania has also seen record bookings for its upcoming 2021 and 2022 seasons.

The cruise line launched a Labor Day sale and saw record-setting booking numbers with nearly half of the new reservations from first-time guests, and less than five percent of those reservations were from future cruise credits.

The cruise line followed its successful Labor Day event with the launch of its 2022 Europe & North America Collection of voyages and experienced a record-setting day for a summer season launch.

“The tremendous response from our loyal repeat guests, our travel partners and first-time guests underscores the tremendous pent-up demand for immersive, destination-focused cruises and our acclaimed small-ship experience that features The Finest Cuisine at Sea,” said Bob Binder, president and CEO of Oceania Cruises.

Another cruise line that is seeing big booking days is Regent Seven Seas Cruises (RSSC), which set a new record with its largest booking day in the cruise line’s 28-year history. That took place the day Regent opened its 2022-2023 Voyage Collection.

“The staggering response to our 2022-2023 Voyage Collection demonstrates the incredible future demand for the unrivaled Regent experience. Luxury travelers simply cannot wait to get back on the oceans to see the world again, while enjoying impeccable, personalized service on luxurious and spacious ships,” said Jason Montague, RSSC’s president and CEO. “Our loyal guests wasted no time in securing their perfect itinerary and suite with last year’s Voyage Collection launch day total eclipsed after only 90 minutes of being on sale.”

Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain has said that the cruise line is experiencing strong bookings and, in its most recent business update, Royal Caribbean said new bookings in 2021 have continued to improve.

Demand is definitely there, with a strong response among travelers eager to volunteer to sail on test cruises for which dates haven’t even been announced.

Royal, Caribbean, International

Frequent cruisers are not the only ones excited to sail, either.

In its most recent earnings call, Carnival noted that, while repeat passengers make up 55 percent of bookings for 2021, 45 percent were new to the brand.

One major motivator for cruise bookings—and perhaps travel bookings on the whole—is the announcement of a potential vaccine.

While the lifting of the CDC No Sail order didn’t bump up NCL cruise bookings much, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings brands, CEO Frank Del Rio noted that the vaccine may have provided the cruise line with a bounce.

“Over the last 24 hours, bookings were pretty good, better than the previous four or five Mondays,” Del Rio said. “I think that’s attributable to the vaccine news, since we don’t have any promotion or marketing. I do think that was positive news.”

If ocean cruising is strong, river cruising may be even stronger.

Cruise Planners, which recently hosted a river cruise-themed webinar noted that savvy consumers are booking their 2021 river cruises now—before they sell out.

“Most of our future bookings (25 percent) are coming from river cruises and the pent-up consumer demand is trending high in this area and with limited inventory, even into late 2021. Savvy travelers are working with their travel advisor to get the best possible sailings, secure their cabins and lock in the best rates,” said Michelle Fee, CEO and founder, Cruise Planners.

Fee also noted that it’s a good time to be shopping for cruises as a whole.

“I do think people should start looking and if they’re even planning on traveling next year, especially to Alaska, and I gotta tell you, Europe is leading the pack as well we’ve been having amazing weeks selling Europe for next summer and beyond,” said Fee. “So you know, again, it’s supply and demand right, so if the demand is there and there’s limited supply you’re going to see a little bit higher price point but at this point we’re not necessarily seeing that.”

Path on the water from a large cruise ship

For travel advisors, the demand is slowly coming back for cruises.

Valerie Dorsey, of Cruise Planners, said that she is still seeing more land requests than requests for cruises.

“All-inclusive properties are the strongest right now for Mexico and the rest of the Caribbean,” Dorsey said. “Day-to-day the challenges change with Covid-19 requirements and so requests don’t always turn into current bookings. I do have large ship bookings outweighing my small ship bookings right now, but I must say that my customers on luxury small ships were the longest holdout for canceling their cruises and they all want to go again when the ships start to sail after the vaccine.”

Jeremy Hall of Cruise Vacations International noted that cruise bookings are up and down but that most interest is for later in 2021 and 2022.

“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster in regards to new cruise bookings,” he said. “Some weeks are better than others but nonetheless, travelers are planning their 2021 cruises though mostly for spring through winter. We are seeing mostly premium and luxury ocean bookings as well as river. The phrase I hear most often from our most eager clients is ‘It has to be over by then.’ I agree with that thought and am anxiously awaiting it to be proven.”

Scott Lara of The Cruise Genius has found avid interest in cruising with clients anxious to get back out there.

“I’ve been getting overwhelmed with calls regarding new cruises for 2021,” said Lara. “Some interest in river cruises, but mostly new and repeat clients are anxious to sail on Carnival and a few other cruise lines. I’ve also received many calls about all-inclusive resorts in Cancun, specifically TRS Yucatán and Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres.”

Lawton Roberts, CEO of Country Place Travel, said that many people are hopeful but are seeking assurances.

“At this point, we are still not seeing “strong” future bookings for ocean cruises,” said Roberts. “The preference still remains smaller vessels, mostly river cruises. Clients are now wanting to learn more about the ‘passenger protocol’ on ocean cruises during the phased start-up guidelines from the CDC before committing to another ocean cruise. Everyone wants to go on a vacation, but they don’t want it to be a laboratory environment where you can seldom if ever truly relax.”

Safe Tourism: Seychelles steps up health measures

Responding to the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases and the second wave in certain regions around the world, destination Seychelles is re-enforcing measures to curb probabilities of local infection on its shores.

The review has been done by the tourism task force, a committee regrouping tourism stakeholders, health decision-makers and various other local agencies to oversee all issues relating to the re-opening of the destination during this period dominated by the COVID 19 pandemic.

The current review of the measures is based on epidemiological factors and considerations.

The first change to the measures relates to the COVID-19 PCR test to be done while in the country. The timing of the test has been reviewed by the Public Health Authority (PHA) and specifies that all visitors coming into Seychelles, will take a PCR test after the fifth night. This means the testing will be conducted on the sixth day after the arrival of the visitor.

Before that, only visitors from the Category 2 countries were required to take a PCR test whilst in the country. Now, these new measures apply to all visitors.

Visitors and hotel partners are also being advised that unless informed of the contrary after 24 hours of the sample being taken, the visitor should consider the result as negative. Visitors from Category 2 countries may then follow Category 1 requirements, which include changing hotels and able to proceed with their planned holidays whilst observing strict health protocols throughout.
The task force has considered the increasing interest of young couples to walk down the aisle in the paradisiacal islands and has since applied stricter measures for establishments hosting weddings and for other wedding service providers including Civil Status personnel officiating, beauty and hairdressing service suppliers.

Relating to the sixth-day testing and protocols to be adopted in case of an asymptomatic case detected, the PHA has advised that if the client is staying in a Category 2 establishment, he or she could be allowed to remain in isolation within the establishment.

It is imperative that the person does not have contact with other visitors staying at the same property as well as have limited and controlled contact with hotel personnel while being monitored daily.

In actual practice, when or if a visitor is found to be a positive case of Covid-19, the health team will be on-site to guide the management on measures to be applied. It may also be the case that a particular establishment is not suitable to keep an infected person and he or she would need to be moved to another designated and certified hotel.

The general measures for a Category 2 establishment will automatically apply for a positive case and the specific measures must be determined on the actual establishment and the conditions present at the time. Before the PCR test is taken on the sixth day, every visitor is treated with caution, through intensive safety procedures.

Seychelles has been welcoming visitors since June from private flights and charters but reopened its borders to commercial fights on August 1, 2020.

Source: https://www.traveldailynews.com/post/safe-tourism-seychelles-steps-up-health-measures

HVS Asia Pacific Hospitality Newsletter – Week Ending 6 November 2020

Singapore has announced that travellers from mainland China and the state of Victoria in Australia will be able to enter Singapore without quarantine. Upon arrival, travellers will have to undergo a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (“PCR”) test and will not be required to be quarantined if the result is negative. Visitors from mainland China and Australia made up a quarter of total visitor arrivals to Singapore in 2019, with China as the top source market, accounting for one-fifth of total visitor arrivals and SGD4.1 billion in receipts. To facilitate the arrivals, the Singapore Hotel Association (“SHA”) created a one-stop reference on its website. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (“CAAS”) mentioned that travellers from these areas can apply for an Air Travel Pass from 30 October onwards to enter Singapore on or after 6 November. Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders returning from these areas do not need to apply for this pass. To qualify for the pass, applicants must have remained in mainland China or Australia in the last 14 days prior to their entry. As of 29 October noon, 1,375 applications from these areas were approved, and 602 visitors were received. None were tested positive for Covid-19.

Japan Eases COVID-19 Travel Curbs for Nine Countries and Regions

Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Toshimistu Motegi, announced that Japan has lowered its infection risk advisory from Level Three to Two against nine countries including Australia, Brunei, China, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. However, Japanese citizens are advised to avoid non-essential trips towards these countries. On the contrary, Japan raised its travel advisory against Jordan and Myanmar, which advises citizens to avoid all forms of travel. There are currently 152 countries and regions issued with Level Three advisories. In addition, Japan and Vietnam have agreed to implement a business track, where reciprocal short-term business travel could be resumed. Travellers could negate the 14-day quarantine order, should they test negative for the coronavirus upon arrival. Vietnam would be the third country that Japan authorises reciprocal business travel, following South Korea and Singapore.

Singapore-based economy hotel operator, RedDoorz, has launched a new economy lifestyle hotel brand, SANS, as part of its strategy to build the largest new-age hospitality company in South-east Asia. SANS, inspired from the Indonesian word “santai” which means to “chill”, aims to provide a vibrant and cosy stay experience at an affordable cost, with properties to feature trendy furnishings and amenities. The brand will debut in Indonesia next month, with an expansion of five more new properties targeted by year end. RedDoorz will also embark on a major rebranding exercise in 2021 to reposition the company as a multi-brand accommodation platform. The company said that it plans to add new accommodation products to its platform across economy lifestyle, mid-scale and extended stay segments, on top of its existing budget hotel brand and co-living service, KoolKost. As part of the rebranding, the company will also roll out a new redesigned app and rebranding campaign in the first quarter of 2021. The new app will allow users to browse the company’s portfolio of accommodation brands, and will also be complemented by a new loyalty programme, which can be used to earn and redeem discounts, and access exclusive partner offers and benefits.

Aman Founder, Adrian Zechahas partnered with Japan-based hospitality group, Naru Developments, to launch a new Ryokan-inspired hospitality brand, Azumi. The first Azumi property is slated to open on one of the islands in the Setouchi Region, in southern Okayama Prefecture of Japan, coming spring 2021. Named after the Azumi people, one of the ancient seafaring tribes who crossed the ocean and settled in Japan, the brand is anticipated to showcase the right harmony between traditional design and modernised comfort. Each Azumi property will serve as a medium of expression for each locale and its climate by charting the diverse and dynamic roots of Japan’s cultural background.

About HVS

HVS is the world’s leading consulting and valuation services organization focused on the hotel, restaurant, shared ownership, gaming, and leisure industries. Established in 1980, the company performs more than 4,500 assignments per year for virtually every major industry participant. HVS principals are regarded as the leading professionals in their respective regions of the globe. Through a worldwide network of over 50 offices staffed by 300 experienced industry professionals, HVS provides an unparalleled range of complementary services for the hospitality industry. For further information regarding our expertise and specifics about our services, please visit www.hvs.com.

The Five Emerging Trip Types of 2021

The global pandemic turned travelers’ plans upside down in 2020. Looking ahead to 2021, the impact of the pandemic is changing not just our choice of destination but also the type of trips we’re most likely to take in the coming year. Our new research reveals the five emerging trip types for 2021 to motivate and inspire travelers to take a trip (or five) to best fit their newfound travel preferences.

1. Solace in Solo

The solo travel trend is likely to gather even greater momentum as people’s thirst to travel, which was stymied by the pandemic, will nudge them to take the plunge to travel on their own in 2021. Our data pre-pandemic saw only 17%* of travelers were planning a trip on their own, while 30%** now say they will be planning a solo trip in the future. With 42%** of travelers saying they want to travel more in the future to make up for travel time lost in 2020, this mentality is no doubt encouraging travelers to plan a solo trip of a lifetime, to get back out in the world!

The Five Emerging Trip Types of 2021
Solace in Solo — Photo: Booking.com

2. Relaxury

The unexpected halt to travel plans for most travelers has meant that just being able to travel at all is a luxury, in fact, 61%** of travelers have pledged to not take travel for granted in the future. So while research shows that travelers still have a high intention to travel again, only 13% ** are now actually planning a luxury getaway (such as a villa, 5-star hotel), with the majority (51%** planning a relaxing trip to get away from it all making relaxation the real luxury of 2021.

The Five Emerging Trip Types of 2021
Relaxury — Photo: Booking.com

3. Breakaway Bubbles

In 2020, most travelers have had extended time apart from friends and family. For many it appears that distance has made the heart grow fonder as 61%** of travelers plan to use future travel as an opportunity to reconnect with loved ones. In fact, while being apart, 36%** of travelers have revealed that talking to friends and family about traveling is one of their main inspirations to travel again.

The Five Emerging Trip Types of 2021
Breakaway Bubbles — Photo: Booking.com

4. Weekend Wonders

With many travelers feeling apprehensive that future travel plans could be disrupted again, there will be an increased demand for a quick trip as over half of travelers (53%)** want to take more shorter breaks in 2021 than they did in 2019 to minimize any disappointment. A further 28%** also revealed their preference of a weekend break for their first trip once restrictions are lifted, showing travelers’ desires to be able to escape reality, even for just a few days.

The Five Emerging Trip Types of 2021
Weekend Wonders — Photo: Booking.com

5. Food for Thought

Travelers’ desire to explore the world has not diminished but traveling abroad is still being avoided by a majority of travelers (53%**) as travel restrictions are lifted. That is why local travel is the new way of exploring the world, with culinary delights being top of the list. And with taste buds at the ready, 36%** of travelers are keen to taste and indulge in local cuisine while traveling, with 38%** wanting to eat out more often with the money saved from not traveling abroad.

The Five Emerging Trip Types of 2021
Food for Thought — Photo: Booking.com

Source: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4101499.html

Hawaii Officials Optimistic About First Days of Tourism Reopening

On the first day of Hawaii’s less restrictive COVID-19 testing program, the state’s airports were overwhelmed with more than 10,000 visitors in a single day.

And that’s a good thing.

Because you can always hire more staff, but you can’t pull in the tourist numbers like Hawaii is used to, and certainly hasn’t experienced over the last seven months since the coronavirus pandemic first hit.

That has made officials in the Islands optimistic for a return to normal.

“I think we’re gonna see a daily average of roughly at around 5,000. I think it will even itself out. I think in the early days you have this pent-up demand,” Hawaii Tourism Association President and CEO John De Fries told KHON.

In order to boost tourism, Hawaii decided to end its mandatory 14-day quarantine for all visitors and instead has partnered with several airlines to do virus screenings. Travellers who provide written confirmation from a state-approved COVID-19 testing partner of a negative result from a test administered within 72 hours of the final leg of departure are now allowed to bypass the quarantine, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The head of the hotel industry says that the hotels operating now have been dealing with quarantine rules since they began, so the hotels are prepared.

“So they were very used to the quarantine policy, how to go forward and execute that, as well as the cooperation that’s needed with law enforcement officials for anyone that wants to observe the quarantine rules,” said Mufi Hannemann, who is the president of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association.

Hannemann said that the hotels are at about 20 percent occupancy right now.

All passengers must also take a post-arrival test once in Hawaii, and on the first day of reopening, only one traveller tested positive for COVID-19, Hawaii island Mayor Harry Kim said.

Testing got backed up at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport.

“Every island was caught off guard by the number of people who came in — not only by the number (of passengers), but by the airlines switching the number of flights and their schedules. Flights were coming in belly-to-belly,” Kim said.

But it’s certainly an issue that can be fixed.

“In spite of the fact that we had thousands more (visitors) than we expected, we thought the (state’s) processing at the airport went well,” Gov. David Ige said. “We were prepared. We had physical distancing markers, and we had adequate space to work through to keep the passenger flow. And we (worked) through the issues that came up upon arrival. So overall, I thought it went well for the first day.”

Source: https://www.travelpulse.com/news/destinations/hawaii-officials-optimistic-about-first-days-of-tourism-reopening.html

Interest in 2021 Travel Is on the Rise

Finally. Travellers are preparing to pack their bags and take to the air, road and sea again, according to anecdotal reports from travel advisors, who said bookings are gaining momentum for 2021 and beyond.

“Interest for 2021 travel began to rise in the past few weeks for myself and for my colleagues,” said Becky Lukovic of Bella Travel Planning, a Travel Experts affiliate. “The requests are still pretty all over the place: Hawaii, Caribbean, Colorado, Italy and Greece. A number [of clients] have started actually booking their plans with refundable arrangements or cancel for any reason insurance.”

For Richard Turen of Churchill & Turen, clients’ interest has been increasing over the past three months. “Bookings for 2021 are within 15 percent of ‘normal,’” he said. “The number of guests planning more than one international trip in the 24 months beginning Jan. 1 is very close to the number that just have one trip deposited.”

Claire Schoeder of Elevations Travel, a Signature Travel Network affiliate, said she is witnessing an uptick in 2021 business, especially for the summer and fall in Europe. “Clients are optimistic that cases will decline and countries will once again be open,” she said. “Discussion of rapid tests at airports is helping, and some clients are optimistic about a vaccine.”

Both Schoeder and Turen noted that their cruise bookings have also been picking up steam.

“Surprisingly, the trust in cruise protocols seems to be way ahead of expressed uncertainties about the components that make up group touring involving travel by motorcoach. The consumer media may have gotten this one wrong,” Turen said.

What comes as less of a surprise is that agents are seeing strong sales to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. “Most of the vacations that I have booked for 2021 have been tropical beach vacations,” said Jemica Archer of TruBlue Travels. “People want to rest and relax after such an intense year. Mexico, Antigua and the Dominican Republic have been popular for us.”

While TruBlue Travels received some bookings for the first quarter of 2021, most reservations have been for the second quarter of the year. “I think people are still nervous about traveling during the pandemic – but I will say about 50 percent of my inquiries for travel have converted into reservations.”

For her part, Sarah Kline of Time for Travel is seeing a boost in Caribbean and Mexico inquiries for the first quarter of next year. “My spring 2021-2022 weddings are booking in full force,” she said. “I am getting inquiries from new couples, as well as robust bookings from guests attending spring 2021 weddings. I think it’s because other family members are going so it feels safe.”

Although James Berglie of Be All Inclusive said he continues to receive a few cancellations from guests within groups that were already booked before the pandemic struck, there is nonetheless some good news. “At the same time, we are now seeing an equal number of guests requesting to upgrade their stays to higher-end room categories, and/or requesting to lengthen their stays,” he said. “Additionally we’ve seen a big increase in last-minute reservations, [for those] traveling within the next one-to-two months,” he said.

Berglie, too, noted that clients are expressing interest in Mexico and Caribbean destinations.

“Mexico and the Dominican Republic remain at the top of our guests’ lists as they are honestly narrowing down destinations by the number of hoops they have to jump through with regard to COVID restrictions,” he said. “Our guests are ready to vacation, and don’t want to have to worry about travel authorizations and test requirements.”

Source: https://www.travelpulse.com/news/travel-agents/interest-in-2021-travel-is-on-the-rise.html

South Africa Tourism welcomes reopening of borders

South Africa has partially reopened its borders to international borders.

The move follows a decision from president Cyril Ramaphosa that the country would be moving to alert level one from today, thus opening up international borders for selected countries.

South Africa has developed a risk categorisation model for different countries.

High risk countries are those with higher numbers of Covid-19 infections and reported deaths compared to South Africa. 

Medium risk countries have a relatively equal number of infections and death toll to South Africa whilst low risk countries have a lesser number of Covid-19 infections and death toll in comparison to South Africa.

All travellers coming into the country will need to supply a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) Covid-19 test not older than 72 hours from the date of departure from their country.

Travellers will also be screened for any Covid-19 symptoms and be required to provide proof of accommodation address, should they need to self-quarantine.

“While many of our key source markets feature in the high-risk category, meaning that they are not able to travel to South Africa for leisure purposes yet, the environment is fluid and changes constantly.

“We remain optimistic and encouraged by the gradually phased opening of our sector and we will monitor the changes regularly, as the country lists are reviewed every two weeks,” said South Africa Tourism chief executive, Sisa Ntshona.

Source: https://www.breakingtravelnews.com/news/article/south-africa-tourism-welcomes-reopening-of-borders/