Scenic scraps summer tours and cruises

Scenic Group
joined the growing list of companies canceling their summer travel season
because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company has suspended operations for river cruises and
land tours through Aug. 31 for the Scenic, Emerald and Evergreen brands.
Sailings on luxury expedition ship Scenic Eclipse have been halted through the
end of September. 

“Our top priority is to ensure that our guests and crew are
able to travel safely before we resume operations,” Scenic COO Rob Voss said in
a press release. “Although we see some easing of national lockdowns and
progress being made on Covid-19 measures, the restrictions on travel still vary
considerably from country to country, making it difficult to navigate.”

Voss said industrywide health protocols still need further

“Suspending operations through Aug. 31 just makes sense as
it allows more time for those protocols to be developed and gives our guests
enough notice to better plan for their future travels,” he said.

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Tenon Tours leaves USTOA

Tenon Tours has resigned its membership with the U.S. Tour
Operators Association and is thus no longer part of the group’s $1 million
consumer-protection program. 

Tenon specializes in tours to Ireland, Scotland, Britain,
Italy and Iceland.

“The current global situation we are all facing has required
us to reevaluate our company’s immediate needs,” Tenon Tours president Bryan
Lewis said in statement released with USTOA. “Although we valued our membership
immensely, we have regretfully decided to resign from USTOA and look forward to
rejoining in the future.”

A call to the company’s reservation line on Friday confirmed
the company is still operating.

Nonetheless, USTOA President and CEO Terry Dale advised
travel advisors that while purchases of Tenon tours made between Feb.  5 and March 18 of this year may be protected
under the USTOA $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program, payments and deposits
after that will not be covered.

Under USTOA rules, active members must post a $1 million security
in the form of a bond, letter of credit or U.S. treasury bill. The fund covers
consumer payments if a company goes out of business.

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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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