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Cruises

Layoffs imminent in tours sector coronavirus

The U.S. Tour Operators Association is calling on members to lobby to be included in a Covid-19
economic stimulus package, noting that a recent survey shows more than half of
its members anticipate layoffs.

Likewise, the Arival trade group representing day tour
operators and activities providers
called on Google and Facebook to offer advertising credits to its members,
emphasizing that 25% of its members expect furloughs.

USTOA on Wednesday sent its members a form letter urging
them to fill in their company information and send it to their representatives
in Washington with a plea for support for small businesses.

“During a recent USTOA survey, one of USTOA’s members
reported cancellations of over 50 percent and potential layoffs of between 60
and 75 percent,” the letter says. “From that same survey, of the 25
respondents, which consist of both active and associate members, 16 indicated
that they are considering some level of layoffs. Lastly, every single
respondent of the recent survey indicated that their company is experiencing
some level of cancellation due to Covid‐19. These are huge levels of economic
impact that are troublesome to me and my colleagues.”

Arival CEO Douglas Quinby called on Facebook and Google to
carry forward advertising credit to help companies that offer day tours, activities
and attractions survive the crisis. 

“Google and Facebook have become incredibly important
partners to the travel industry worldwide,” Quinby said. “They have profited
handsomely from the risk-taking of these enterprises over the past decade. Now
it’s time for them to step up and pay it forward by crediting the accounts of
these at-risk advertisers.” 

Arival estimates there are one million tour, activity and
attraction operators worldwide. 

Arival said its survey of nearly 600 of those operators
conducted between March 9 and 13 showed that 28% are at risk of business
failure within three months,  46% are at
risk of failure if travel does not begin to recover within six months, 37% of
total 2020 bookings have been canceled, 73% of operators report a decline in
2020 bookings and the average decline is 52%.“These numbers show an industry in
trauma — and it’s only going to get worse,” said Quinby.

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Cruises

Brightline Updates Train Schedule Due to Outbreak

The limit further potential spread of the COVID-19 virus, Brightline has modified its schedule and will be closing all in-station food outlets on Wednesday, March 18.

This new schedule will continue to offer hourly service during rush hour and maintain commuter hours Monday through Friday.

With its modified schedule, Brightline will offer a total of 18-weekday trains and 14-weekend trains.

Weekday morning services include:

– Southbound from West Palm Beach at 6:40 a.m., 7:40 a.m., 8:40 a.m., 9:40 a.m. and 11:40 a.m.

– Afternoon southbound service from West Palm Beach at 2:40 p.m., 3:40 p.m., 4:40 p.m. with a final daily southbound train at 6:40 p.m.

– Northbound service from Virgin MiamiCentral beginning at 6:50 a.m., 8:10 a.m., 9:50 a.m., 10:50 a.m. and 11:50 a.m.

– Northbound service at 1:50 p.m., 4:50 p.m., 5:50 p.m., with the last train at 6:50 p.m.

Weekend services include:

– Southbound from West Palm Beach will begin at 7:40 a.m., 9:40 a.m., 11:40 a.m.,1:40 p.m., 3:40 p.m. 5:40 p.m. and 7:40 p.m.

– Northbound from Virgin MiamiCentral will begin at 9:50 a.m., 11:50 a.m., 1:50 p.m., 3:50 p.m., 5:50 p.m., 7:50 p.m. and 9:50 p.m.

All Brightline stations will open 40 minutes prior to the first train departure and close 40 minutes following the last train arrival. All Central Fare restaurants and Good to Go and Somme Wine kiosks will be closed until further notice. Joe & The Juice and CAO Bakery & Cafe at Virgin MiamiCentral will remain open through Friday with take-out only during limited hours.

In addition, Brightline is incorporating measures in all stations to reduce the risk of passengers spreading the coronavirus to other passengers. The Brightline team will be increasing the frequency in which private and public spaces are disinfected, using fully disposable cleaning supplies and removing menus, magazines and other printed materials from seats. Hand sanitizers will also be found at all Brightline stations, and signs containing COVID-19 information will be placed in all employee work stations.

Brightline will also be allowing open seating for guests to encourage social distancing.

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Cruises

The latest travel cancellation and change policies

Many travel companies have introduced flexible cancellation and rebooking policies in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. Knowing that these policies can be complex, can change, and sometimes vary depending on the itinerary and departure date, Travel Weekly is providing direct links to suppliers’ policy-change pages.

Find the latest information from the State Department regarding countries with quarantines here.

Hotels

Marriott International

Hilton Hotels & Resorts

Hyatt Hotels

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

IHG

Radisson Hotels

Accor

MGM Resorts

Wynn Resorts

Walt Disney World Resorts

Disneyland Resort hotels

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Choice Hotels

Omni Hotels & Resorts

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

Belmond

Banyan Tree Group

Loews Hotels

Como Hotels and Resorts

Playa Hotels & Resorts

Small Luxury Hotels

Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

Red Carnation Hotel Collection

Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas

Montage International

1 Hotels

Airbnb

Sonder

Stay Alfred

Domio

River cruise lines

AmaWaterways

American Cruise Lines

American Queen Steamboat Company

Avalon Waterways

CroisiEurope Cruises

Crystal River Cruises

Grand Circle Cruise Line

Scenic Group

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Viking River Cruises

Tour operators

AAT Kings

Abercrombie & Kent

Adventures by Disney

Africa Answers

Alexander & Roberts

Amtrak Vacations

Apple Leisure Group

Asia Answers

Audley Travel

Australian Pacific Touring

Authentic Vacations

Brendan Vacations

Celtic Tours

CIE Tours International

Club Adventures by AAA Exclusive Vacations

Collette

Contiki

Cosmos

Costsaver

Country Walkers

Discovery Tours by Gate 1

Down Under Answers

Gate 1 Travel

Globus

Goway

Grand Circle Travel

Grand European Travel

Great Value Vacations

Holiday Vacations

Insight Vacations

Intrepid Travel

Lion World Travel

Luxury Gold

Monograms

Overseas Adventure Travel

Perillo Tours

Pleasant Holidays

RailEurope

Railbookers

Rocky Mountaineer

Tauck

Tenon Tours

Trafalgar

VBT Bicycling Vacations

Worldstrides

Theme parks

Walt Disney World Resort

Disneyland Resort

Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Studios Hollywood

Six Flags

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Azizi Developments nearly sells out Palm Jumeirah development

Azizi Developments has recorded 80 per cent pre-sales of its residential units on Palm Jumeirah.

In line with its strategy, the developer consistently achieves a high pre-sales ratio across all of its projects, with all of them selling out swiftly prior to their completion.

Spanning across nearly 38,500 square metres of built up area, Mina features 178 units, comprising 120 one-bedroom apartments, 54 two-bedroom residences, and four spacious, lavishly designed penthouses scheduled to be completed by quarter two of the year.

The project also features several retail units spread across 1,847 square metres.

This report comes in light of Azizi Developments’ recent announcement of surprising its existing customers with further enhancements to the landscaping of Mina with an investment of over AED10 million.

Azizi is now utilising superior hardscape materials of improved specifications, at no cost to its clients.

The developer also added to the soft landscape through the generous addition of greenery in the form of trees, bushes, and floral plants.

Furthermore, shaded areas are being added for the comfort of Mina’s residents, and ground levels are being adjusted to make the landscape more visually appealing.

Mina residents will enjoy immediate proximity to the Palm’s extensive promenade, where families can bask in the orange glow of Dubai’s soothing sunsets and active residents can take advantage of early-morning runs.

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Cruises

Cruise Planners Provides Support for Travel Advisors

Cruise Planners CEO Michelle Fee is taking on the chaos created by the coronavirus outbreak with a number of proactive measures that directly address the pandemic’s impact on our industry.

“While we were prepared to react in times of crisis with a strong team of communicators, marketers and sales professionals, no one could have predicted how this story is playing out for the cruise and travel industry,” said Fee in a statement. “I am proud of how our team has reacted and continues to support all of our franchise owners–because of our home-based model, technology and ability to move funds to accommodate digital marketing needs, we are nimble, responsive and doing what’s right.”

Cruise Planners is supporting its nation-wide network of home-based travel advisors with action at the government level as well as through direct communication to agents and with its industry partners.

“Our relationship with CLIA, ASTA and the International Franchise Association (IFA) help keep us at the forefront as key decision-makers,” said Fee. “We are advocating to protect small business owners – and the possible financial burden of this crisis.”

The company will also be hosting webinars with cruise line executives and these will include a conversation with John Chernesky, senior Vice President of sales and trade marketing at Princess Cruises. Chernesky is talking to travel advisors about the fluid situation.

Cruise Planners is also actively working to protect travel agent commissions.

“Some of the initial drafts of how the cruise lines were going to react did not protect the commission on the sailing, or were vague with how the future cruise credit commission would be paid, if at all,” said Fee. “Cruise Planners leveraged its relationships to advocate for travel advisors commission protection with major cruise lines by actively being involved in their advisory boards and being a leader in the industry.”

Communication is one of the key ways to maintain relationships in a time of crisis and Cruise Planners is actively working to boost internal communications.

They have armed agents with the following information:

—Hosted live webinars, sent out talking points and guides to sensitive client conversations and tips to maintain sales/postpone for future travel dates

—Created additional marketing, social media and video content to adjust to this changing situation

—Created a Cancellation Policies Grid for all of our top suppliers

—Created FAQ documents and posted them through our Intranet and publicly for consumers

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Coronavirus expected to be six times more damaging than 9 11

Fallout from the Covid-19 coronavirus will be six times
worse for the travel industry than the terrorist attacks of 9/11, a new report
from Tourism Economics estimates.

The analysis, which the U.S. Travel Association said it
presented to the White House on Tuesday, forecasts the virus and the resulting
restrictions will inflict a $809 billion hit on the U.S. economy. The travel
industry will be hit harder than any other sector, resulting in the loss of 4.6
million travel-related American jobs this year.

Total spending on travel in the U.S. — including
transportation, lodging, retail, attractions and restaurants — is projected to
plunge by $355 billion for the year, a 31% decrease. That is six times greater
than the impact of 9/11, the report said.

Additionally, the analysis said, estimated losses by the
travel industry alone are severe enough to push the U.S. into a protracted
recession, and the projected 4.6 million travel-related jobs lost would nearly
double the U.S. unemployment rate.

“This situation is completely without precedent,” said U.S.
Travel president and CEO Roger Dow. “For the sake of the economy’s long-term
health, employers and employees need relief now from this disaster that was
created by circumstances completely out of their control.”

Dow said he and other travel leaders met Tuesday with
President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Commerce Secretary Wilbur
Ross to push consideration of a proposed $150 billion relief package for the
travel sector that would provide aid for both employees and small-business
owners.

Dow said 83% of travel employers are small businesses.

“The health crisis has rightly occupied the public’s and
government’s attention, but a resulting catastrophe for employers and employees
is already here and going to get worse,” Dow said in a statement.

“Travel-related businesses employ 15.8 million Americans,
and if they can’t afford to keep their lights on, they can’t afford to keep
paying their employees. Without aggressive and immediate disaster relief steps,
the recovery phase is going to be much longer and more difficult, and the lower
rungs of the economic ladder are going to feel the worst of it.”
___

Jeri Clausing contributed to this report.

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ASTA requests more than 13 billion for travel agencies coronavirus

ASTA on Tuesday released its official relief requests to
Congress relating to the Covid-19 coronavirus’ impact on travel agencies. ASTA wants
a total of $13.7 billion in loans and grants and additional funding for Small
Business Administration loans.

“Discussions about targeted financial relief for the travel
sector are fast-moving with requests ranging from $58 billion from passenger
and cargo airlines to $10 billion for U.S. airports,” ASTA said in its request.
“We feel strongly that any targeted relief for the travel industry should be
open to travel agencies and not simply limited to the largest companies in the
industry.”

If the largest companies survive but small businesses, like
those owned by travel advisors, fail, it would be an “unacceptable outcome,”
the Society said.

ASTA is specifically asking for $7.7 billion in grants this
year. ASTA calls it a “conservative” amount.

The Society is also asking for up to $6 billion in
zero-interest loans for travel advisors. The figure is based on Airlines for
America’s $29 billion request for loans for the U.S. airline industry, adjusted
proportionally, ASTA said.

ASTA is asking for additional funding of SBA loans, and “immediate
action” so the first batch of loans — providing around $7 billion via the
Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020 —
can quickly make their way to businesses.

To that end, the Society asked Congress to fund the
president’s request for an additional $50 billion in SBA loans, reduce or waive
loan collateral requirements, and broaden eligibility for SBA’s Economic Injury
Disaster Loans (additional state-level steps often result in denials for small
businesses, ASTA said).

Finally, ASTA said it supports any and all tax-relief
initiatives.

In related news, ASTA said disaster declarations are
beginning to roll in, meaning that agencies in some states can apply for SBA loans. On Tuesday
afternoon, those states included California, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Maine,
New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.

The Society has created a landing page for
coronavirus-related resources
and is hosting weekly webinars
on Mondays from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern time.

ASTA has also created an online grassroots portal to contact legislators about relief for travel advisors.

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Exploring Outside of Manhattan

For most first time visitors, New York City typically conjures up images that consist of the area from Central Park to Battery Park and everything in between. (Think Times Square, the Empire State Building, Little Italy and the 9/11 Memorial.)

And while all of these areas are iconic and “must-sees’” – the staff at New York City Vacation Packages (NYCVP) believe that to get the complete NYC experience it pays to venture off the island and into the other four boroughs that make up the Big Apple.

Whether you are a first time visitor or you’ve lost count how many times you have seen the magnificent skyline, you are guaranteed to find something new every time you step off the subway, bridge or ferry and explore outside of Manhattan. And NYCVP can get you started on your journey through each borough with a selection of tours, attraction admissions, sporting event tickets and even shopping discounts!

The Bronx

The number one draw for most to venture up to the Bronx is to take in a game at Yankee Stadium. NYCVP not only has tickets to see the Bronx Bombers in action – but complete packages as well.

These packages include accommodations, transportation to the venue (complete with a NY Yankee insider as your guide to answer questions and share trivia about the team), main level seating and their bonus inclusions that come with every vacation package.

While Yankee games may be the most popular reason why visitors head there – the Bronx is home to more than just baseball. Here you can also stroll through the beautiful and fragrant New York Botanical Gardens that will have you feeling light years from the hustle and bustle of Times Square.

Winter, spring, summer or fall – the grounds at the gardens are breathtaking and oh so Instagram worthy! Or if you prefer animals over azaleas, you may choose to spend your time at the Bronx Zoo – the largest metropolitan zoo by area in the United States at 265 acres. From mice to monarch butterflies, from bears to bison, from sea lions to snakes and much more, you are sure to find this menagerie of animals worth the trip!

And did you know that the Bronx is considered the birthplace of hip hop? Find out the history of this infectious music genre on The Birthplace of Hip Hop Harlem/Bronx Bus Tour that NYCVP offers. Bonus: it leaves from a convenient Mid-Town location year-round and is guided by an actual hip hop pioneer!

Brooklyn

One of the best ways to get to Brooklyn is to walk or bike over the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge. The views span up and down the East River and give you an incredible vantage point to take in the skyline. You can opt to take a leisurely stroll or ride on your own or accompanied.

NYCVP offers both bike tours and several different walking tours (including one with your own private photographer!) all of which allow you to learn about the history of the bridge from a knowledgeable tour guide while crossing it.

Once you are in the borough you can pick from your choice of activities. Into sports? Check out a Brooklyn Nets game at the Barclay Center. NYCVP has tickets and complete vacation packages for most home games. Up for some thrills? Head to Coney Island for a spin on the infamous Cyclone Roller Coaster. Looking for a place to chill? Head to Prospect Park for a picnic. They have a zoo there too! Thirsty? Stop in the Brooklyn Brewery to sample some of their tasty beers. Or better yet – if you are there on a weekend – take the Sunday Funday: A Boozy Brooklyn Tour offered by NYCVP. Not only will you get to sample some mighty fine beers – but you will also enjoy award-winning BBQ and some tasty chocolate along the way.

For an unbeatable look at the iconic graffiti that makes the Bushwick neighborhood so rich in this vibrant art form take the Graffiti & Street Art Walking Tour. (You can also give this art form a try for yourself with the Graffiti Art Workshop in Brooklyn!)

And finally, no trip to Brooklyn would be complete without checking out it’s hippest neighborhood – Williamsburg. For a great overview at this trending area try the Best of Brooklyn Walking Tour.

Queens

Not a Yankees fan? The Mets play at Citi Field in Flushing, and their stadium is about the same age as Yankee Stadium, just over a decade old. In town in late August / early September? Catch a tennis match at the world-famous US Open. And yes, NYCVP offers admissions as well as vacation packages for both!

And even if you aren’t into baseball or tennis check out Flushing Meadows Corona Park anyway. It’s a piece of NYC history as it was originally created to be the site of the World’s Fair in 1939. Today it houses 1964’s World’s Fair iconic Unisphere as well as the popular New York State Pavilion Observation Towers, the Flushing Meadows Carousel, the Queens Zoo and more.

Museums more your cup of tea? Queens has those as well. For film and tv buffs there is the Museum of the Moving Image. If experimental and contemporary art is your thing, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has a location in Queens housed in an old school: MoMA PS1. While admission is currently free for all NYC residents, purchasing MoMA admission with NYCVP includes your admission to MoMA PS1 for up to 14 days!

Staten Island

Getting to Staten Island is easy – and free! As a bonus, you get great views of Lady Liberty on the boat ride over and back. Once you disembark the ferry, head to the new Empire Outlets – it’s a shopper’s paradise literally steps away from the ferry terminal.

Featuring stores like Nordstrom Rack, Old Navy and Gap Outlets and the Nike Factory Store – plus favorite dining spots such as Starbucks and Shake Shack (and more sit down options opening soon) – it’s the only outlet shopping destination in New York City. Not to mention when you book a package through NYCVP you receive exclusive access to a VIP coupon book valued at $25.00!

Afterward, hop on the bus and head to Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden – only a 15-minute ride and a must-see on the island. Admission is free to walk the general grounds and gardens and it’s just $5.00 to get into the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden – which is undoubtedly their most popular area.

Once a retirement community willed to elderly sailors it is now home to more than a dozen distinct garden areas, a contemporary art gallery (also a $5.00 entrance fee) and more.

With all of this and so much more happening outside of Manhattan, it’s guaranteed there will always be a reason to keep coming back to New York City! Make plans now to start exploring all five boroughs with New York City Vacation Packages.

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Cruises

Cruise lines cancelling over coronavirus and when they will start sailing again

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a number of cruise lines to temporarily suspend a number of sailings throughout March and April.

The likes of Princess Cruises, Saga and Viking Cruises have all been forced to suspend all cruise operations, while Virgin Voyages has delayed the launch of its first cruise ship Scarlet Lady.

Passengers are being offered choices including cruise credit on future sailings, or a full refund. (in most cases, cruise lines are also offering a refund with some cruise credit as an add-on too).

A number of cruise lines are also offering flexible cancellation policies for passengers who may wish to rebook cruises for later dates.

We take a look at the cruise lines who have cancelled cruises amidst the pandemic- and when they are due to re-start sailings.

We've listed them in alphabetical order below…

1. Disney Cruise Line

What's cancelled? All new departures from Saturday 14th March through to the end of the month. This affects cruises on Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. You can see the full list of cancelled cruises here .

When will sailings start again? The cruise line is set to operate a schedule as normal from the start of April.


  • Coronavirus: cruise ships' extra measures to protect passengers from outbreaks

  • Princess Cruises passengers' refund rights as cruises suspended for 60 days

2. MSC Cruises

What's cancelled? Itineraries across eight ships to destinations including Mediterranean, South America and the Caribbean, for various dates through to the 25th April. You can find out more here . 

When will sailings start again? MSC hasn't suspended all operations – only a number of its cruises have been affected. At the moment there are no cancellations from the end of April onwards.

3. Princess Cruises

What's cancelled? Princess Cruises has suspended its global operations for 60 days , so that's all of its cruises.

When will sailings start again? The cancellations are currently planned until May 11th.

4. Saga Holidays

What's cancelled? Saga has suspended all cruise operations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the FCO's advice against travel for any Brits aged over 70 and with underlying health conditions. You can find out more here .

When will sailings start again? The cancellations are expected to last until May 1st 2020.

5. Scenic Group

What's cancelled? All river cruises in March and April with either Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours or Emerald Waterways .

When will sailings start again? The cancellations are currently planned until April 30th 2020.

What's cancelled? Viking has temporarily suspended all cruise operations – across both river and ocean cruises – until April 30th 2020. You can find out more here .

When will sailings start again? The cruise line plans to resume operations as usual from May 1st 2020.

7. Virgin Voyages

What's cancelled? Scarlet Lady's original inaugural season which was planned for April. Instead, this has been moved to July 15th, ahead of her maiden season which kicks off in August. You can find out more here .

When will sailings start again? Scarlet Lady's inaugural season has been moved to July 15th. She is the first ship for Virgin Voyages so the remainder of the scheduled cruises on board remain the same.

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Cunard Unveils Interim Cancellation Policy

Cunard has put into place a flexible interim cancellation policy for passengers with bookings scheduled to depart through July 31, 2020, and beyond.

All guests with existing and new bookings on cruises scheduled to depart before July 31, 2020, can cancel up to 48 hours before departure.

Guests who cancel their bookings will receive a future cruise credit equal to the cancellations fees, with refunds provided on any remaining funds paid.

The future cruise credits – which are non-refundable but may be used to multiple sailings – can be applied to sailings through March 2022 for bookings made before Dec. 31, 2021.

Passengers who keep their bookings as currently scheduled, and are traveling through August 2020, will receive $150 per stateroom credits applied to their bookings for cruises of one to three nights, $300 per stateroom for cruises of four to seven nights, $600 per stateroom for cruises of eight to 14 nights and $900 per stateroom for cruises of 15 nights and longer.

Travelers who canceled bookings between Feb. 1, 2020 and March 5, 2020, for sailings before the end of July 2020, can convert their cancellation charges into future cruise credits, which be credited to their accounts and applied to sailings through March 2022.

“However, as the situation evolves, guests should refer to Cunard’s website for the latest travel advice and policies,” Cunard said.

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