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Insight Vacations Launches First Women’s Only Journey

WHY IT RATES: To celebrate International Women’s Day, Insight Vacations is offering a 12-day, women-only tour through India. – Mackenzie Cullen, Editorial Associate

As Insight Vacations, the leader in premium guided journeys, celebrates International Women’s Day 2020, it is thrilled to launch a new women’s only journey for the first time ever – Inspirational India, A Wander Women Journey.

As the first journey in Insight’s new “Wander Women” journey program, it will take place in India in 2021 and will offer immersive learning opportunities, wellness experiences and Deliciously Authentic Dining while featuring the power of impactful tourism on women’s economic empowerment.

With this year’s International Women’s Day theme being #EachForEqual, Insight is aligning itself with a gender equal world, showcased by launching these journeys created and led by women. Just like with all Insight journeys, clients who embark on this journey will get all of the sights and the insights, up close and personal, in comfort and in style.

“On International Women’s Day, we recognize the power of impactful tourism. With 57% of our guests being women along with the rise of women’s only travel, our new journey which is designed and run by women, makes it a perfect fit for those who want to get below the surface and experience India as a culturally immersive destination as well as have opportunities to give back and empower women in the local communities while learning about their day-to-day lives,” says Ulla Hefel Böhler, Global CEO for Insight Vacations. “This journey is also a great opportunity to connect and meet with other fabulous women from around the world and provides economic empowerment to local women.”

This exclusive women’s only journey is only available on a limited departure date, so clients are encouraged to book early to secure their space. Below is a sample of the itinerary:

Inspirational India, A Wander Women Journey – 12 Days (Departing March 24, 2021)

Insight’s new 12-day women’s only journey in India starts in Delhi with a morning experience visiting Old Delhi and absorbing the vibrant culture. A choice between a “glassperience” with jewelry making where guests will make their very own piece of wearable art with glass or an ayurvedic treatment with two massage therapists is offered as Insight Choice the following day. Guests will visit Sheroes, a one-of-a- kind café in India. Unlike any other café or a general restaurant, it is solely run by acid attack survivors and promotes social integration as well as economic empowerment.

A visit to the Taj Mahal is included before embarking to Jaipur to enjoy Holi, the ancient festival of colors. On the eve of the Holi festival, visit an Indian family to join their Holika Dehan tradition, which includes a home-hosted dinner and a bonfire that’s meant to ward off evil before the festivities begin the following day when clients wear local Kurta attire and take to the streets for a colorful celebration. The following day enjoy morning yoga with a female guru.

Guests enjoy a Pink City rickshaw ride offered by Pink City Rickshaw Company, providing new aspirational employment opportunities to 200 women from low income households in Jaipur and then choose between an evening Bollywood dance class or a henna demonstration. Women will also visit the Sunder Rang arts and crafts project at Chandelao village where an average of 20 women work at the centre, producing traditional Rajasthani textiles and handicraft items for both local and export markets, creating a sustainable source of income for the artisans.

A meeting with a local astrologer reveals the secrets of the stars and after travelling to Udaipur, guests relax and rejuvenate at the Taj Aravali Resort & Spa. Clients also visit the Seva Mandir Organization, an NGO supporting natural resource development as well as health and women’s empowerment before embarking on an evening boat ride at Lake Pichola and visit Jagmandir.

For reservations, contact your district sales manager, call Insight Vacations at 1-800-582-8380 or visit www.insightvacations.com.

SOURCE: Insight Vacations press release.

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Cruises

Suppliers girding for long fight as Covid 19 takes toll

As the coronavirus outbreak continued to spread through
Europe and the U.S. last week, the travel industry began signaling that it was
girding for a protracted fight. 

And while some analysts seemed to think it was an
existential battle, others viewed it as yet another crisis the industry would
eventually overcome. 

In a video message to travel advisors, Richard Fain, CEO of
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., was blunt about the toll the outbreak was taking
on the company. 

“In fact, to use a technical term I learned in business
school, it sucks,” Fain said. “Like you, we’re hurting. We’ve had to cancel
cruises. We’ve lost revenue.”

But he also reminded advisors that the industry has
weathered many other crises that at the time seemed insurmountable, including
9/11, H1N1 and Ebola.

Royal Caribbean and the cruise industry at large is “strong
and growing,” he asserted, and when the crisis ends, “We are going to be in a
position to take advantage and move forward in a fast pace, and you will be,
too.”

Analysts echoed that sentiment, even though cruise companies’
share prices have plummeted around 40% over the past month and cruise lines are
cutting prices and relaxing cancellation policies to stave off a booking
slowdown and a rise in cancellations. 

UBS financial analyst Robin Farley said that cruise sellers
were reporting cancellation rates of between 20% and 30% and website and call
center traffic being down in the mid-20% range. On the upside, she said, they
indicated that summer bookings and beyond were “holding up.”

Farley also said it was an “encouraging sign” that booking
activity had improved almost immediately after the Diamond Princess quarantine
until it was hit again by the Italy outbreak.

“There was visible resilience to underlying demand,” she
wrote in a note to investors. 

Robert Kwortnik, associate professor of services marketing
for the School of Hotel Administration at the Cornell SC Johnson College of
Business, said he also believes that the cruise industry will survive this.

“If there is a vertical in hospitality and travel that is
prepared for this, it is the cruise industry,” he said. 

Kwortnik cited the industry’s adaptability and ability to
move its assets. 

“You build a resort somewhere and all of a sudden there’s a
geopolitical shock, and you’re kind of in trouble because the building is not
going to go anywhere,” he said.

Being able to move ships means cruise lines can “hunker down”
as they did after 9/11, when people were afraid to fly. 

“That’s when the whole homeporting model happened,” Kwortnik
said. “If they’re afraid to fly, let’s move the ships closer. … It was a way
to wait out the consumer’s hesitation.”

That doesn’t mean it’s easy.

“It’s not like you can do that effectively overnight,” he
said. “You’ve got all kinds of considerations,” such as crew visas, the time it
takes to move ships from one region to another and then having to fill them,
especially ships with 2,000 or more cabins. 

“That’s not something you can just fire emails to travel
partners and say, ‘OK, we have a great deal, let’s fill the ship for next week,’”
Kwortnik said. “Cruising is something consumers take a lot of time thinking
about.”

He added that another industry advantage is that while the
lines might fill ships for less, “a significant portion of revenue is driven
onboard.”

Hotels reeling

Some hotel analysts last week predicted the crisis would
have a significant and sustained impact on the sector.

David Eisen, director of intelligence for the hotel
benchmark service HotStats, said, “When the hotel industry talks about black
swan events that have the potential to disrupt business and cause irreparable
damage, [Covid-19] is it. The outbreak and worry over further contagion has
left the hotel industry reeling in its wake.”

Eisen said the virus has had a “deleterious impact already
on hotel profits.” As an example, he cited Marriott International reporting a
RevPAR decline of nearly 90% in China and Taiwan for February.

“The virus’ impact on domestic travel has been smaller,”
Eisen said. “But containing it and stamping out its spread quickly is all the
hotel industry can hope for to erase what likely will be a difficult first
quarter, at the least.”

He also expressed concern over the “worry and uncertainty”
that permeated many of the hospitality industry’s recent fourth-quarter 2019
earnings calls, with Eisen calling moves like Hilton’s decision to shutter some
150 hotels across China “extraordinary.”

Jan Freitag, senior vice president of lodging insights for
the hotel data firm STR, echoed a heightened concern, saying that what had been
a more regional issue in Asia is now “clearly a global issue, the depth of
which is yet to be determined.”

STR has seen significant impact ripple across key markets
beyond mainland China, including in Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan, where
occupancy dropped 97%, 64% and 59%, respectively in recent weeks, and Bali and
Thailand, where occupancy plummeted by 26% and 24%, respectively.

Given the developing situation, analysts said they expect
the crisis will be a drag on hotel performance in North America. Freitag said
STR is waiting to see which sector of the region’s hospitality industry will
become “the canary in the coal mine,” with the firm paying close attention to
airport hotels, convention travel and gateway cities such as New York, Los
Angeles and Vancouver.

Thus far, U.S. performance appears soft, with STR reporting
that U.S. hotel occupancy fell 2.1% from Feb. 16 to 22, as RevPAR dropped 1.4%.
The steepest U.S. occupancy decline, 4.8%, was at airport hotels.

Drop in airline bookings

After early carnage to Asian carriers, the virus has begun
wreaking havoc on U.S. carriers, including their domestic and transatlantic
networks.

Citing stagnating demand, United planned to unveil on March
7 a new domestic and Canada schedule for April, with a 10% cutback in flying.
The carrier also said it has begun planning similar cutbacks for May.

Those cuts will be accompanied by a 20% pullback by United
on international operations next month and likely for May, as well. The carrier
has also suspended hiring, postponed planned raises for management and
administrative staff and begun offering optional unpaid leave. United and
several other U.S. carriers have also suspended change fees on new bookings.

Data shows why such measures have become increasingly
necessary.

Globally, airfare transactions were down 34% year over year during
the seven days ending Feb. 25, compared with the previous week’s year-over-year
decline of 24%, ARC and IATA data shows. Of particular importance to U.S.
carriers, though, is that ticket sale transactions for flights to, from and
within North America were down 8% year over year during those seven days. That
was the first year-over-year weekly decline for the region since Covid-19 was
identified. It came in the same week that outbreaks occurred in northern Italy
and South Korea, sowing fears of a pandemic.

The Italy outbreak has dealt an especially large hit to the
transatlantic networks of U.S. carriers. According to analysis by Forward Keys,
bookings for arrival to Europe from North America were down a whopping 68.1%
year over year during the last week of February. The dismal figure corresponded
with a global collapse in bookings to Europe in the immediate aftermath of the
northern Italy outbreak. 
___

Robert Silk, Christina Jelski and Nancy Trejos contributed
to this report.

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Address Jumeirah Resort on schedule to open later this year

Address Jumeirah Resort has announced the structural completion of its two 310-meter towers.

The topping out of the two towers marks the first key turning point towards the completion of the project, which is due to be unveiled toward the end of the year.

The 77 double-height levels were completed in just 799 days – an average of three levels completed per month.

The resort is now in an interior fit-out phase and in the final structural topping out of the 310-metre high sky bridge, which will link the two skyscrapers at the very top.

The sky bridge will feature an infinity pool, once completed, boasting the distinction of the highest infinity pool in the world.

The 443 fully furnished and serviced apartments and 478 unfurnished residential apartments offer living areas, and are fitted with branded fittings.

The apartments will offer its residents views of the Arabian Gulf, the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina and Ain Dubai (Dubai Eye) and direct beach access.

In addition, residents will also enjoy signature Address services and the Spa at Address facilities, multiple pools for adults and families, a fitness centre on the 75th floor, Qix Club for children, world-class food and beverage outlets, gentlemen and ladies hair salons and high-end retail outlets, including fine jewellery.

Additional services will include a 24-hour concierge, weekly cleaning and maintenance, in-room dining services and a U by Emaar Silver Card membership.

Looking ahead to completion, which is on track to coincide with the launch of Expo 2020, Emaar Hospitality Group have also announced key restaurant and retail spaces within Address Jumeirah Resort.

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Adam Goldstein Leaves Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd

Adam Goldstein is out at Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. after 32 years with the company.

Travel Weekly reported that March 2 was Goldstein’s last day serving as Vice Chairman of Royal Caribbean. A replacement has still yet to be named.

Goldstein, who first joined the cruise giant in 1988, will remain in his role as chairman of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Royal Caribbean praised the former president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International for his “countless contributions” and wished him luck in his next chapter.

“Adam Goldstein has made countless contributions to our company since the day he came to RCL in 1988. Adam worked his way up through various roles at the company to eventually serve as president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, president and COO of RCL, and most recently as vice chairman,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement.

“Every step of the way, our company was growing, strengthening and becoming more successful—and the parallels between Adam’s achievements and the company’s are no accident. Adam will always be family to us and we wish him the best in his future endeavors,” the company added.

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Caesars Raises Resort Fees at Four Las Vegas Hotels

Caesars Entertainment Corp. is the latest hospitality company to hike resort fees on the Las Vegas Strip.

According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, Caesars raised the nightly charges at Bally’s, Flamingo, The LINQ Hotel and Harrah’s Las Vegas from $35 to $37, or $41.95 after taxes.

A spokesperson for the company defended the decision, telling the outlet that the latest increase brings the company “in line with relevant competitors.”

MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts have also recently raised resort fees, which are charged on top of a guest’s base room rate. The mandatory charges pay for services such as free Wi-Fi and pool or gym access, among other things.

Tuesday’s move comes just months after Caesars hiked resort fees at Caesars Palace and Nobu Hotel Caesars Palace from $44.21 inclusive of tax to $51.02 per night and Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino from $36.28 after taxes to $39.68 per night.

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Princess 21 test positive on Grand Princess

Twenty-one people onboard the Grand Princess have tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus, Princess Cruises said. 

In a series of tweets, the line said that the results came back from an initial screening of 45 passengers and crew. Two passengers and 19 crew tested positive. 

We can confirm that the results from the first phase of health screenings of 45 guests and crew onboard #GrandPrincess were completed. We were notified by Vice President Pence while he was conducting a press conference….

“We are awaiting official specific plans for future positioning of the ship from relevant authorities,” Princess said. “We will continue to closely follow the guidance of the CDC and other federal and state government authorities, and provide updates as they are made available.”

Earlier in the day the line posted a video from president Jan Swartz who said that “our ships are small, floating cities. Just as life happens in cities for good and for bad, the same happens here onboard our ships.”

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Princess Cruises Updates Cancellation Policy

Officials from Princess Cruises announced the company would modify its cancellation policy for cruises and cruise tours departing through May 31.

The cruise line updated its existing policies as a way to give travelers concerned about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak piece of mind when making decisions regarding their upcoming vacations.

The updated cancellation policy varies by departure date, with travelers scheduled to sail April 3 or earlier being able to cancel their trip up to 72 hours before the sailing to receive Future Cruise Credit (FCC) for 100 percent of the cancellation fees.

As for customers scheduled to sail with Princess between April 4 and May 31, they will be eligible to receive FCC for 100 percent of the fees as long as they cancel by March 31.

For passengers booked on voyages between June 1 and 30, the final payment date moves to 60 days before sailing instead of the previously listed 90-day policy.

Travelers who choose to maintain their current itineraries for departures between March 9 and May 31 will receive Onboard Credit, including $100 per cabin for three- and four-day cruises, $150 per cabin for five-day cruises and $200 per cabin for six-day and longer cruises.

Future Cruise Credits will automatically be applied to each guest’s Captain Circle account after they have canceled and may take up to 10 business days to be processed.

The coronavirus has been a significant issue for Princess since the Diamond Princess was quarantined in Japan last month. As a result, the cruise line canceled 22 itineraries on the Diamond Princess, Majestic Princess and Sapphire Princess.

In addition, Princess issued a “Health Advisory Letter” to passengers who sailed on the Grand Princess ship as health officials are investigating coronavirus cases from a previous voyage.

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’Desperate’ dad wants kid sent from China

Desperate parents are urging the Morrison Government to evacuate dozens of Australian children who are still stuck in the Chinese province of Hubei, where the deadly coronavirus originated.

There are 22 unaccompanied children aged under two in the province, along with five infants who have their parents with them.

Another 60 Australian children aged between two and 16 remain trapped in Hubei with relatives or carers.

The youngest unaccompanied Australian child in Hubei is eight months old.

RELATED: Follow the latest coronavirus updates and death toll

RELATED: Australia coronavirus cases rise

Melbourne father Yi Xu told the ABC he has been separated from his daughter, Chloe, who is “almost eight months old”. She has been living with her grandmother in lockdown in Wuhan.

Mr Xu said he felt “desperation and very, very deep worry” about the current situation.

“I worry about their living conditions,” he said.

“These kids, including Chloe, are Australian babies,” he said.

“The Australian Government should think about taking care of them.

“Think about their welfare, do think about their human rights.”

He told the broadcaster the Chinese government was sending supplies to residents, but Chloe’s grandmother risked exposure every time she left the house to pick up the supplies.

A doctor looking at a patient’s CAT scan at a temporary hospital set up for COVID-19 coronavirus patients in a sports stadium in Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei province.Source:AFP

Selina Liao feels helpless in Sydney as her nine-year-old daughter Theresa is stuck, locked down in Wuhan with her grandparents.

“It’s been so desperate,” the mother told the ABC. “Get her out of there.

“We can’t get enough food for her at this moment, also we don’t have medical resources.”

A volunteer sprays disinfectant inside a Christian church in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province, Friday, March 6, 2020.Source:AP

Foreign Minister Marise Payne says the government is focused on their welfare, but has tempered expectation of another evacuation flight.

“It’s not something we are ignoring, not at all, but it is not in the immediate prospect that there will be a further flight,” she told a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday.

China has not allowed Australia to help evacuate children with relatives who are not Australian citizens.

DFAT secretary Frances Adamson said Australia had sought to “test the system” from the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, but Chinese authorities had consistently refused.

Strict travel restrictions imposed by China are another major factor behind the limited prospect of further evacuation flights.

“We have not given a time frame because it is beyond our control,” DFAT official Andrew Todd told senators.

A patient rests at a temporary hospital set up for COVID-19 coronavirus patients in a sports stadium in Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei province.Source:AFP

A man walks under the Jiujiang Changjiang no. 2 bridge leading to Hubei province in Jiujiang in China’s central Jiangxi province on March 6, 2020. Picture: Noel CelisSource:AFP

DFAT has been in contact with 119 Australian citizens and 236 permanent residents still in Hubei.

The 355 people have expressed interest in Australian government support, including possible evacuations.

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