UN Migration Agency: COVID Has ‘Radically Altered’ Mobility | Business News

By JAMEY KEATEN, Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. migration agency says the coronavirus pandemic appears to have accelerated “hostile rhetoric” against migrants in the world and “radically altered” mobility, projecting in a new report that travel and other COVID-19-fighting restrictions could dampen migration worldwide as long as they remain.

The International Organization for Migration released Wednesday its World Migration Report 2022, a vast compendium of the latest trends in human movement of all types — from people fleeing war to workers seeking jobs abroad — and a recap of the last two years of mobility. It cited the impact, for example, of a plunge in air travel last year as the pandemic was raging.

IOM pointed to a “dramatic increase” in internal displacement — movement within countries — caused by natural disasters, conflict and violence just as COVID-19 restrictions have sporadically shut borders across the globe since the pandemic emerged and spread over the last two years.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered immobility worldwide to an extent unseen in recent history, slowing the pace of human mobility and migration,” said Ugochi Daniels, IOM’s deputy director-general for operations, at a meeting of its member states. “The pandemic is estimated to have negatively impacted the total growth of international migrants by 2 million.”

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IOM Director-General Antonio Vitorino said “the pandemic also seems to have accelerated the hostile rhetoric toward migrants that has been growing in the last decade.”

“So we have devoted, in this report, a chapter on disinformation about migration,” he said. “Our research shows that debunking myth, as well as pre-bunking strategies, can help to mitigate or prevent harm caused by nefarious actors, who seek to undermine balanced discussions on migration.”

The report tallied about 281 million international migrants — not 283 million as initially expected — around the world by its latest complete count in 2020, amounting to just 3.6% of the global population. That was up from 272 million in 2019. About 60% of those migrants last year were migrant workers, it said.

IOM noted that migration is increasingly taking place between highly developed countries, not just from poorer countries to rich ones.

International remittances — people sending money back home — dropped to $702 billion in 2020, compared to $719 billion a year earlier, but marked a smaller decline than expected.

“The resilience of migrants’ international remittances has defied predictions, remaining high in 2020, with just a 2.4% decline globally — and much less dire than the 20 % drop initially projected,” Daniels said.

About 3,900 people died while on the move last year, down from 5,400 in 2019, IOM said.

The report highlighted “major migration and displacement events,” including conflicts in places like Syria, Yemen, Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan, as well as political and economic instability like Venezuela and Afghanistan in the period. It also cited climate and weather related displacement in places like China, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Haiti and the United States over the last two years.

Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Border agency gives update on reopening land border ports to nonessential travel

SAN ANTONIO — U.S. Customs and Border Protection will give an update Friday on the plans to reopen the border to nonessential travel.

The media briefing will be held at 10:30 am. Friday at the Juarez- Lincoln International Bridge in Laredo, Texas. Leaders will discuss reopening the land border ports to nonessential travel by fully vaccinated Canada, Mexico residents.

The press conference will be streamed within this article. Delays are possible.

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Travel agency H.I.S. expects record 53 bil. yen loss amid pandemic

Travel agency H.I.S. Co. said Saturday it expects to report a record net loss of 53 billion yen ($465 million) for the year ending this month, its second straight year in the red, as the coronavirus wreaks havoc on the industry.

The Japanese firm’s latest result follows the 25 billion yen loss it made in the previous fiscal year. Revenue for the current year is expected to fall 70 percent to 125 billion yen, it said, adding it will not pay an annual dividend.

H.I.S. logo (Kyodo)

Nearly 80 percent of the company’s revenue comes from services linked to overseas travel.

H.I.S. in September sold its head office in Tokyo for 32.4 billion yen to improve its financial position. It also plans to raise 21.5 billion yen through third-party allotment and issuance of share warrants, it said.

Its rival JTB Corp. has also been undertaking restructuring efforts including the sale of offices.

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Host Agency Reviews’ 2021 COVID Report Reveals Positive News for Travel Advisors

Host Agency Reviews (HAR) published its 2021 Travel Agent Income COVID Report, one in a series of eight travel advisor reports pulled from its annual survey.

Each year, HAR polls hosted travel advisors, independently-accredited travel advisors, franchisees and travel advisor employees to provide a critical data-driven overview of trends across four advisor segments.


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According to HAR, its COVID report, in particular, is the first of its kind to show the magnitude to which the coronavirus outbreak and ensuing pandemic disrupted the livelihoods of the travel advisor segments in 2020 and beyond.

The survey of 1,100 travel advisors revealed that 83 percent of advisors experienced a sales decrease in 2020.

Travel advisors were asked, “How much did your agency sales decrease in 2020?” The most common response was “100 percent.”

The report also found that 71 percent of agencies with employees before the pandemic downsized in 2020, and the percentage of agents who reported selling travel full time dropped from 60 percent to 25 percent during the coronavirus outbreak.

However, despite the downturn in business brought on by the pandemic, HAR’s survey found that a majority of career travel advisors remained committed to a career in selling travel.

Fifty-five percent of travel agents applied for an assistance program, and 95 percent of travel agents who applied received some type of aid. Eighty percent of advisors stayed open (40 percent with regular hours and 40 percent with limited hours).

Seventy-eight percent of advisors who stopped selling travel as a primary source of income during the pandemic plan to return to pre-COVID operation levels.

“The report shows what we all know: the pandemic has hit our industry incredibly hard. But what it also reveals is that travel advisors are sticking around and still love their jobs despite the challenges,” said Steph Lee, founder of Host Agency Reviews. “The findings also quantify the exact ways agencies were affected and how they dealt with the challenges of the pandemic.”

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U.S. Travel Agency Air Ticket Sales Increase 175% Year Over Year in September

ARLINGTON, Va.–()–Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC) today released data showing ARC-accredited travel agency air ticket sales increased 175% year over year in September 2021. The consolidated dollar value of tickets sold by agencies in September totaled $3.2 billion, up from $1.2 billion in September 2020 and edging slightly higher compared to the August 2021 total.*

Month over month, September 2021 international trips and total trips increased by 3% and 1%, respectively. U.S. domestic trips increased less than 1%.

“Historically, we expect sales and total trips to decline month over month in September,” said Steve Solomon, vice president of global sales, marketing operations and customer experience at ARC. “This year, month-over-month sales started to decline between July and August due to travel restrictions triggered by the delta variant. We’re encouraged to see that decline leveling off, and ticket sales and trip numbers improving with the news of international travel to the U.S. becoming easier for vaccinated travelers beginning in November.”

Total passenger trips settled by ARC in September 2021 increased 103% year over year from 7.6 million to 15.4 million. U.S. domestic passenger trips increased 98% to 11 million YOY. International passenger trips increased 115% to 4.4 million over the same period. The average U.S. round-trip ticket price increased to $390 in September 2021, up from $343 in September 2020.

Year over year, September 2021 EMD sales increased 186% to $6,577,935. EMD transactions increased 142% to 133,179.**

More detailed information is available on ARC’s sales statistics page. Additional breakdown of corporate, leisure and online ticket sales can be found on the ARC COVID-19 data page.

About ARC:

As a leader in air travel intelligence and omnichannel retailing, ARC provides platforms, tools and insights that help the global travel community connect, grow and thrive. ARC enables the diverse retailing strategies of its customers by providing innovative technology, flexible settlement solutions and access to the world’s most comprehensive air transaction dataset. In 2019, ARC managed more than $97.4 billion in transactions between airlines and travel agencies, representing more than 302 million passenger trips. For more information, please visit arccorp.com.

Notes for Editors:

*Ticket Sales

  • Results are based on monthly sales data ending September 30, 2021, from 10,921 U.S. retail and corporate travel agency locations, satellite ticket printing offices and online travel agencies. Results do not include sales of tickets purchased directly from airlines.
  • The average ticket price (USD) is for a round-trip ticket settled through ARC for an itinerary that included only U.S. domestic travel.
  • Passenger trips include the total number of passengers taking a trip from one airport to another using direct or connecting flights. Newly issued trips are added, and refunded trips are deducted to provide a net view of traveling passengers.
  • U.S. domestic passenger trips include the total number settled through ARC where the itinerary is wholly within the U.S. International passenger trips include the total number settled through ARC where some or all the travel occurs to airports outside the U.S. or originates outside the U.S.
  • Total sales are equal to the total amount paid for a ticket, which includes taxes and fees.

**Electronic Miscellaneous Documents (EMD)

  • Includes fees for products and services such as upgraded seats, checked bags, an unaccompanied minor, pet-in-cabin, etc.

© Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC). All rights reserved.

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US Health Agency Urges Americans to Refrain From Travelling to 4 More European Countries

American citizens have been advised to refrain from travelling to four European countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Belarus, Moldova – since they have registered an increase in COVID-19 infection cases.

According to the latest update of the Travel Advisory, which is reviewed every week based on other countries’ epidemiologic situations, the US Department of State has changed the travel advice against travel to the countries mentioned above from ‘Level Three: Reconsider Travel’ to ‘Level Four: Do Not Travel’.

This categorisation is the highest advisory level, meaning that persons travelling to one of these areas have a greater likelihood of being infected with the COVID-19 disease, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

Consequently, the US health agency advises that everyone who must travel to one of the four countries is fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 disease with one of the vaccines that have been authorised for use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order to lower the risk of getting infected and developing symptoms.

Until now, FDA has approved only Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty), Moderna (Spikevax), and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Bosnia and Herzegovina due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country. Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorised vaccine,” the Department of State noted. The exact same advisory was issued for the three other countries too.

Figures provided by World Health Organization (WHO) show that since the beginning of the pandemic, Bosnia and Herzegovina has registered a total of 241,227 infection cases, 275 of them being reported only during the last 24 hours.

Belarus has identified 559,715 in total, of which 1,943 were reported during the last 24 hours, whereas Moldova has registered a total of 307,182 cases.

In contrast, Romania has registered 16,743 new cases during the last 24 hours, which is the highest number among all four countries, bringing the total number to 1,382,531.

Except for the four European countries, the same travel advisory has also been issued for Cambodia and Saint Vincent and The Grenadines.

In addition, last week, the Department of State revealed that Americans are now also urged to refrain from travelling to Austria, Croatia, and Latvia since the countries have a ‘Do Not Travel’ alert.

On the other hand, the Department of State has revealed that the COVID-19 situation has improved in Spain as the country has been moved from Level Four to Level Three. The Czech Republic, the Faroe Islands, Gabon, South Korea, and Uganda have also moved to Level Three from Level Two.

Previously, SchengenVisaInfo.com reported that the US would permit entry for Europeans vaccinated with WHO-approved vaccines. This means that except for the vaccines that the US currently recognises, travellers from the EU vaccinated with AstraZeneca, including Covishield, Sinopharm, and Sinovac, will be permitted to enter the US territory once the entry ban is lifted.

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Travel agency now offers Covid-19 testing in Waikiki – Pacific Business News – Pacific Business News (Honolulu)

Travel agency now offers Covid-19 testing in Waikiki – Pacific Business News  Pacific Business News (Honolulu)

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Trump Hotels dropped by Virtuoso, a major luxury travel agency network

The split, which was first reported by Zenger News, means the hotels are not listed on Virtuoso’s website, and the network’s advisers will no longer be able to access previously negotiated benefits for travelers.

Travelers may turn to advisers to take advantage of preferred hotel rates, perks, VIP treatment and special access, or just to get expert help with planning where to go and what to do on a vacation. Virtuoso promises to connect clients to “carefully curated travel providers.”

In April 2016, Virtuoso touted its affiliation with the soon-to-open Trump International Hotel in D.C. An announcement said only guests who reserved a stay with a Virtuoso travel adviser would get “exclusive benefits” including a room upgrade; daily full breakfast for two; $100 spa credit; welcome amenity; early check-in and late checkout.

“Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C. will soon take its place among the most esteemed landmarks of our nation’s capital,” the announcement said.

An agency that is part of Virtuoso’s network can still book a client at a Trump-branded hotel through other channels, said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group. But they won’t get the privileges that comes with preferred partners because Virtuoso no longer has a direct relationship with the hotels.

“It’s a big deal because Virtuoso is very well-respected in the industry,” Harteveldt said. “It serves a very elite base of customers and its actions are often studied by others. With Virtuoso doing this, some travel agencies that may have been debating whether or not to do it could decide well, if Virtuoso has done this, we too will end our professional relationship with the Trump hotels.”

It was not clear if any other travel agencies had cut ties with the company; several declined to comment or did not respond to questions. Representatives for Trump Hotels could not be reached for comment.

Since Jan. 6 — when former president Donald Trump encouraged a mob of his supporters that later attacked the U.S. Capitol — a number of Trump’s former business partners and clients have cut ties with his company. These have included lenders, bankers, insurers, lawyers and the PGA of America, which canceled a major golf tournament planned at one of Trump’s courses.

In some cases, these former clients or lenders explicitly cited the Jan. 6 riot as the reason for their decision. Others, such as Virtuoso, have declined to give a reason.

Whatever the cause, experts say the loss of Virtuoso’s affiliation could be bad news for the hotel company. It was already wounded by the pandemic and earlier by a backlash to Trump’s political moves.

Chekitan Dev, a professor of marketing and branding at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, said in an email that Virtuoso is “one of the largest, best known, and influential third-party channels of distribution, especially for luxury hotels.”

He said hotels face a challenge in finding ways to fill their rooms at the highest possible rate — which can be where travel agents come in.

“Getting fired by Virtuoso is a very big deal because the hotels or hotel brands lose exposure to a vast network of agents who are very skilled at booking business for their most discriminating and high-net worth customers who are typically also frequent travelers,” Dev said.

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Air Force veterans open travel agency | News

Air Force veterans Karen Esaias and Richard Von Schlichten have, throughout the decades, gone to locations all across the world for both professional work and personal enjoyment – Europe, Asia, South America, the Caribbean.

So, when looking for a retirement business to start, becoming travel agents felt like a natural fit. That led to the Cambria County couple recently completing training and opening a local Dream Vacations franchise.

“I think, over the years, I’ve often thought, ‘Oh man, it would be cool to be a travel agent,’ because we like to travel, and then you kind of live vicariously when you’re planning travel for other people, too,” Von Schlichten said. “So that’s fun.”

Dream Vacations encourages veteran ownership, so Esaias and Von Schlichten talked to several franchise owners who spent time in the military before making their decision.

“To a person, they were really pleased with the company itself and the support that they got,” Esaias said. “They loved it.”

Their training took place during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now’s a good time,” Von Schlichten said.

“While nobody’s really traveling, we can get all this learning done, we can attend all these webinars and videos with different cruise lines and the different suppliers around the world, and then, when people are ready to start traveling, we will have learned a lot.”

Von Schlichten and Esaias can book trips and cruises at locations all across the world.

But, along with helping clients go to far-off destinations, they also want to use their business to support the local community. Twenty percent of their earnings will go to nonprofits.

Clients will be able to direct the donation to St. Clement Food Pantry, Johnstown Free Medical Clinic or Veteran Community Initiatives.

“We’re doing what we love, and we’re happy to give some of that money back to the community,” Von Schlichten said.

More information about the business is available at OnVacationToday.com or by calling 814-961-2075. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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