Travel news latest: Fury grows within travel industry after U-turn on pre-departure tests


A scientist specialising in emerging infectious diseases has said that travel restrictions will not stop the omicron variant from spreading.

Professor Paul Hunter, from the school of medicine at the University of East Anglia,  told BBC Breakfast that increased travel rules will have a “very minor impact” on the virus growth. 

“I think everything that we do has some benefit but I think the travel restrictions at this stage will have a very minor impact on how we we are likely to see things develop over the coming weeks,” he said.

Professor Hunter also highlighted that travel bans could have an adverse impact on controlling the pandemic.

“One of the problems with travel restrictions like this is that it then demotivates other countries to actually be open about their own situations for fear of what they would see as economic sanctions.

“So I think once the infection is spreading within a country, then border restrictions don’t really add anything. We’ve known that long before Covid. This has been knowledge that we’ve had for decades, if not centuries, to be honest.”





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Covid travel test changes a ‘hammer blow’ to industry


There was already concern in the industry that people’s confidence to travel, and to book future trips, would be knocked by the requirement to take a PCR test within 48 hours of arriving in the UK, and the need to self-isolate until a negative result.



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New COVID-testing rules just ‘one more hit’ for pandemic-weary travel industry


After more than a year of cancelled plans and delayed trips, COVID-weary travellers and those in the tourism industry have been thrown for yet another loop after the federal government implemented new travel rules this week designed to keep a lid on the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant.

On Monday, Ottawa announced new rules requiring incoming air travellers from all countries except the United States to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, regardless of whether they’re vaccinated or not. And they’ll also have to quarantine until their test results come back negative.

Those new rules are in addition to existing stipulations that anyone coming to Canada must take and pass a COVID test within 72 hours of departure.

It’s bad news for an industry that can scarcely afford it.

“It’s one more hit to an industry that has been … significantly hit by the pandemic,” said Statia Elliot, director of the School of Hospitality Food and Tourism Management at the University of Guelph.

She says that after policy makers were accused of being too slow to implement stricter travel and testing protocols in the early days of the pandemic, they are overcompensating by doing the opposite now and moving swiftly.

A look at the numbers shows how stark the impact of COVID-19 has been on travel. In October of 2019, before the pandemic, more than a quarter of a million people landed in Vancouver’s airport from countries that were not the U.S.

A year later, in the depths of COVID-19, that figure shrank by more than 90 per cent to less than 17,000. This year, that figure had rebounded somewhat, to just shy of 70,000 people. And as of now, every single one of them will be subject to the new testing and quarantine regime.

Travel agencies critical of new rules

The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA), which represents the industry in Canada, says the new rules are wrongheaded and based on politics, not epidemiology.

“The federal government’s recent announcement of molecular testing for all inbound travellers except those arriving from the United States is a concerning policy that impacts travel demand just before the holiday season,” ACTA president Wendy Paradis said.

“As the federal government prepares its formal order, we are meeting with politicians and government decision-makers and imploring them to act on the best available science rather than political pressure.”

It’s too early to tell exactly what impact the new rules will have, but headed into the key holiday travel season, it won’t be a positive one.

“Every time there’s an additional step, like a test at the airport, [people] will think twice before they travel because of the hassle and because of the cost,” Elliot said.

Canadian traveller Robyn Boar will certainly think twice before leaving home any time soon. The 18-year-old just returned home from a European trip.

“I was worried they were going to cut off all flights,” Boar said. “I’m just happy to be back home in case things go south.”

U.S. exempt for now

So far, the new rules don’t apply to those travelling between Canada and the U.S., but there are signs that could change.

According to reports in Washington, the Biden administration could move as early as Thursday to bring in COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements for air travellers, two moves the U.S. has been reluctant to implement so far at almost any stage of the pandemic 

That would affect Canadians headed south, and Canada’s transportation minister hinted on Wednesday that those arriving here from the U.S. may soon be subject to more stringent rules, too.

WATCH | Transport minister hints at ‘discussions’ about changing rules for U.S. travellers:

Transport minister says discussions about new restrictions for travellers from the U.S. are ongoing

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says his office is talking to Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos’ office about placing new restrictions on travellers from the U.S. 0:25

“We are having discussions,” Omar Alghabra said. “We need to be prepared and ready if we need to adjust that decision to include travellers from the U.S. [but] we haven’t made that decision yet.”

If that happens, all bets are off for the industry, as travel between the U.S. and Canada had only just started to return to normalcy, Elliot said.

“Just last week sentiments of … feeling safe to travel were actually on a little bit of an upswing [and] we were at really a better point than we’d been in a long time,” she said.

“Now with this latest variant, it’s just a hit sliding us backwards.”

Canada has implemented tough new travel rules to deal with the rise of the concerning omicron coronavirus variant. (Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Restrictions better than closure, expert says  

While yet another round of restrictions and hassle are another bitter pill to swallow for anyone who’s delayed travel for more than a year already, business professor Frederic Dimanche said things could always be worse.

“It’s a measure that, I think, is better for sure than closing the border,” the director of the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ryerson University in Toronto told CBC News in an interview.

“The whole point of all this is about making sure that people feel safer when they’re travelling again.”

Back in Vancouver, Boar says she takes as many precautions as she can, including being fully vaccinated, in the hopes of being able to travel again soon. But those plans, like everything else, are now up in the air.

“I want to do a couple of more trips in 2022, but with the new variant I don’t know if I’ll be able to,” she said.

Elliot says that mentality is common — and very concerning for an industry that’s already been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. 

“What’s hardest for the industry right now is just the fatigue,” she said. “Every time something like this happens, I think it just shapes the psyche of every traveller.”


Have questions about this story? We’re answering as many as we can in the comments.




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Omicron Fears Shaking Global Film, TV Industry – The Hollywood Reporter


News from the World Health Organization that a new coronavirus variant, dubbed Omicron, discovered in southern Africa, was a “variant of concern” has hit the global entertainment industry with a sickening sense of déjà vu.

While little is yet known about Omicron, including its potential resistance to existing COVID-19 vaccines, the reaction to the news has been swift, with countries across the world introducing travel restrictions in an effort to slow down the global spread of the new variant. More than 40 countries, including the United States, the U.K., the European Union countries and Australia have imposed temporary restrictions on travel from southern African countries deemed “at-risk” including South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. A few, including Japan and Israel, have shut down their borders entirely to non-citizens.

The moves come as COVID cases involving the Omicron variant have been confirmed in at least 15 countries, including Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Israel and Canada. The Omicron variant has a high number of mutations — around 30 — in the coronavirus’ spike protein, which could allow the virus to spread more quickly and may make it harder for COVID vaccines to target.

That’s bad news, particularly for countries already seeing a spike in COVID infections involving the Delta variant. Europe has been particularly hard hit, with Austria introducing a new nationwide lockdown on Nov. 22, shutting cinemas, restaurants and other public venues, the Slovak government declaring a state of emergency and curfew on Nov. 24, and the Netherlands imposing a partial lockdown involving a 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for most businesses, including theaters, from Nov. 28.

Elsewhere, governments are tightening COVID restrictions, a move many see as a prelude to a full lockdown. Several German states now require cinema-goers to prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID or have recovered from a COVID infection, with some requiring the vaccinated to also produce a negative PCR test for entry, a restriction called “lockdown through the backdoor” by Christine Berg, chair of German exhibitors association HDF Kino.

The impact of the new regulations, and growing safety concerns from visitors, is already showing up in attendance figures. There were 505,000 movie tickets sold in Germany this past weekend, a 37 percent week-on-week drop and the worst weekend showing since Sept. 24, 2020. Box-office receipts across Europe have been sliding over the past three weeks, notes Rob Mitchell, a box office analyst with Gower Street Analytics in London, though it’s not clear COVID has been the main cause of the decline.

There are serious concerns, however, that public fears over Omicron could prove a major blow to holiday returns. One U.K. exhibition executive pointed to the British government’s response to Omicron, which has included reintroducing compulsory mask-wearing in shops and public transport. If this measure were extended to include hospitality and cinemas, the exec notes, it would have an immediate impact.

“We know from every previous occasion that this [such measures are] a strong deterrent from impulse visits to the cinema, which is the lifeblood of what we do,” he said.

“The unfortunate thing about Omicron hitting now is that October was the first month where we were incredibly close to average box office returns pre-pandemic,” says Mitchell of Gower Street, noting that global box office for October was just 7 percent down from the three-year average for the month from 2017-2019.

Cinema closures in select territories and concerns over further lockdowns have led Gower to adjust downward its year-end prognosis for worldwide box office from $21.6 billion (its mid-October estimate) to $21.0 billion.

That figure represents a best-case scenario, in which there are only a few, smaller territories in lockdown and the studios continue to release their big titles as planned. A worst-case would see theater closures and declining box office trigger the studios to postpone or cancel their upcoming tentpoles, leading to the sort of negative feedback loop seen during the third wave of COVID last fall, where MGM’s decision to pull James Bond release No Time to Die led to exhibitor Cineworld shutting its doors, which in turn triggered further postponements and further closures.

“The title everyone is looking at right now is [Sony and Marvel’s] Spider-Man: No Home, which is the film exhibitors worldwide are counting on for the end of the year,” says Mitchell. “If Sony pulls Spider-Man, and everyone is hoping they don’t do that, or if the film does really poorly and people attribute that to COVID, we could see the studios start to pull their titles for the first quarter of 2022.”

So far, conditions in North America appear significantly better than in Europe and the major studios have not signaled plans to postpone or cancel the theatrical rollouts of major tentpoles. Alongside Sony’s Spider-Man sequel, 20th Century Studios’ Steven Spielberg-directed West Side Story adaptation and Warner Bros.’ The Matrix Resurrections are still holding to their planned December release dates.

But the situation remains uncertain. While lockdowns in Austria and the Netherlands alone are unlikely to push the majors to push their tentpoles and scrap multi-million dollar ad campaigns, closures in major territories such as Germany, France or the U.K. could change the calculation. Here is where China could play an oversized role. The fact that Matrix Resurrections and Spider-Man: No Way Home have both been approved for Chinese release could tip the scales in favor of the scheduled rollout, with a staggered bow, or postponement, for smaller territories.

On the production side, there are also no signs, so far, of Omicron shutting down global film and TV shoots.

“Producers have come through the first three COVID waves and know what to do to keep things moving,” one veteran producer noted. But any potential wobbles could impact what is already a very overcrowded market, with studio space and crews at a premium.

“There’s a lot of push now where people are looking at Eastern Europe – the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary – so I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a lot more things moving there,” says British producer Jonathan Weissler. Unfortunately for studios in the region, COVID cases in the region are among the highest in Europe and vaccination rates among the lowest.

Omicron is casting a shadow of uncertainty over international industry events, including film festivals and trade fairs scheduled for the coming months. The International Broadcasting Convention canceled its in-person event, set to kick off in Amsterdam on December 3. International television showcase Content London, which runs Nov. 29-Dec. 2, appears to have narrowly escaped restrictions, with most delegates arriving just before the UK introduced new travel restrictions requiring a negative PCR test for overseas arrivals. For those arriving after, an on-site PCR testing site will offer same-day results.

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival, due to kick off Dec. 6, could become the first of many festivals to cancel in the wake of Omicron. The inaugural event, which was originally scheduled for March 2020 but became one of the first cancellations in the first COVID-19 wave, hopes to welcome a sizable number of African filmmakers, most from North Africa. Saudi Arabia has suspended flights from 14 southern African nations, but has said people “from all countries” would be able to travel so long as they had received one dose of the vaccine. Festival guests are currently being told they need proof of vaccination and a recent negative PCR test to attend.

The Berlin Film Festival is still planning to hold an in-person event from Feb. 10-20, 2022 with attendees required to be either fully vaccinated or prove they have recovered from a COVID infection. A Berlinale spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter that the festival was looking at other options, including requiring negative PCR tests, capacity restrictions and stricter masking requirements.

“The rapid development in the number of infections [in Germany] is of course worrying, so it is very important to consider further containment measures,” she noted. “It goes without saying that we are closely monitoring further developments.”





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BTA names TRIP Group industry partner


The Business Travel Association (BTA) has added travel risk
management company the TRIP Group as its latest industry partner.

The two associations will work together to improve members’
risk awareness and resolve the challenges faced by international business
travel. They will collaborate on a range of joint ventures such as events and
industry meetings.

The Travel Risk & Incident Prevention (TRIP) Group is an
organisation formed by members of corporations, NGOs, government departments
and travel experts, creating a community of experienced professionals within
the travel sector.

According to the BTA, the TRIP Group is the first risk
management provider to partner with the organisation.

Clive Wratten, chief executive of the BTA, said: “Since the
pandemic, the risks associated with business travel have become more ambiguous,
so it is paramount that as a community we remain informed and prepared for
these challenges as the industry recovers.

“Our partnership with the TRIP Group has come at the perfect
time and is a valued attribute to the BTA. Together, we will navigate these
uncertainties to tackle the post-Covid world and protect the future of business
travel whilst ensuring our members enjoy a safe, informed and secure journey.”

TRIP Group CEO Lloyd Figgins added: “Our new alliance is an
opportunity to extend our ethos to other like-minded business companies. We are
excited to work together to strengthen the safety of our community and prepare
industry leaders for travel’s current and future challenges on both a local and
global scale.”



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Atlas Offers Travel Advisors $10k Bonus – Cruise Industry News


World Navigator

Atlas Ocean Voyages has announced Unified: In It Together, a new recognition program with outstanding Travel Advisor benefits, according to a press release.

From Nov. 8, 2021, through March 31, 2022, Travel Advisors can earn a $10,000 bonus for every five bookings made in any accommodation and aboard all voyages.

The $10,000 bonus will be fulfilled in future cruise credits and will be paid after every fifth booking has departed, the company said.

Travel Advisors can use the future cruise credits to pay for future bookings and keep the difference for themselves.

As part of Unified: In It Together and to help Travel Advisors earn their $10,000 bonus, Atlas Ocean Voyages is also offering travelers a savings of $1,000 per guest – up to $2,000 per room – for booking] with a Travel Advisor from Nov. 16, 2021, through March 31, 2022.

Furthermore, Atlas is committing to providing marketing kits in advance of launching any consumer promotion to help Advisors promote the offer to their clients. 

“As our industry continues to recover, Unified: In It Together recognizes and helps drive more business for our valued Travel Advisor partners.” said Alberto Aliberti, President of Atlas Ocean Voyages. “Atlas Ocean Voyages always appreciates Travel Advisors for their critical role in creating unforgettable experiences for their clients. With Unified: In It Together, Travel Advisors can earn $10,000 for every five bookings, with no limits, making our Travel Advisor recognition program the industry’s most generous to-date. We have more offers and benefits planned for Travel Advisors under Unified: In It Together, so stay tuned.”



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VAYK – Vaycaychella Brings P2P Finance and Cryptocurrency to Travel Industry | News


DALLAS, Nov. 12, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Vaycaychella, Inc. (USOTC: VAYK) formerly known as World Series of Golf, Inc. (WSGF) today announced the CEO, William “Bill” Justice will publish a comprehensive overview of the company’s expanded travel industry technology plans on Wednesday, next week, November 17th, 2021.

The company earlier this week announced a name change to Vaycaychella effective in Wyoming where the company is incorporated.  Today, the name change, and a new ticker symbol go into effect everywhere the shares of the company are traded. The ticker symbol changed from WSGF to VAYK.

The corporate name change to Vaycaychella reflects the company’s new business direction as a technology company operating in the travel industry.

Last year, the company acquired a business in the short-term property rental market named Vaycaychella and proceeded to build a software application based on the business model of the acquired business.  The company operates upstream from technology companies to include Airbnb, VRBO, and Booking.com by supporting entrepreneurs in financing the acquisition and renovation of short-term vacation rental properties through a P2P software application. 

Last week, Bill Justice published an update on the company’s progress and plans for its core short-term property rental market alternative property finance operation to include an upcoming Version 2.0 of their Vaycaychella App and the launch of a cryptocurrency exchange for vacation property back cryptocurrencies:

See a recent management update from the Company’s CEO, William “Bill” Justice, to learn more.

The CEO update next week will address Vaycaychella’s broader plans for the overall travel industry.

To learn more and keep up with the latest updates at Vaycaychella, and to access the Vaycaychella App, visit  https://www.vaycaychella.com/.

Disclaimer/Safe Harbor: This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Securities Litigation Reform Act. The statements reflect the Company’s current views with respect to future events that involve risks and uncertainties. Among others, these risks include the expectation that any of the companies mentioned herein will achieve significant sales, the failure to meet schedule or performance requirements of the companies’ contracts, the companies’ liquidity position, the companies’ ability to obtain new contracts, the emergence of competitors with greater financial resources and the impact of competitive pricing. In the light of these uncertainties, the forward-looking events referred to in this release might not occur.

WSGF Contact:

William “Bill” Justice

[email protected]

(800) 871-0376

Cision View original content:https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/vayk–vaycaychella-brings-p2p-finance-and-cryptocurrency-to-travel-industry-301423240.html

SOURCE Vaycaychella, Inc.





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How we in the business travel industry can be principal players in the journey towards net zero


Nora Lovell Marchant

Nora Lovell Marchant, vice president global sustainability,
American Express Global Business Travel

The agreements that world leaders forge at COP26 are meant
to chart a clearer course to achieving climate targets, but it will ultimately
fall to business to fulfil many of these solutions. It’s the private sector
that drives the investment, innovation and technology development that’s necessary
to shift the planet to net zero.

However, many organisations are unsure how to reduce their
own emissions and have yet to formulate action plans. More than half of the FTSE
100 don’t have net-zero targets set, and less than a quarter have
scientifically approved plans to reach net zero.

Aviation comprises nearly 3 per cent of global carbon
emissions and business travel is a significant contributor. But travel isn’t
the problem – carbon is the problem. In fact, business travel can power
progress on sustainability. The sector is strategically positioned to help organisations
move the needle on net-zero. Business travel is a highly concentrated industry;
we have the influence – and ambition – to accelerate meaningful change.


Together we have the ability to coordinate across supply chains, sectors and borders to empower solutions and catalyse change


One of the recommendations to business from the independent
report to the UK Climate Change Commission is to ‘do the basics well – measure,
disclose, target, act, adjust’. The business travel sector can help drive this,
designing and implementing policies and programmes to support sustainability
targets. Travel managers and their partners can now pull several levers,
including:

  • Track and report, analysing emissions data for
    actionable insights.
  • Influence choice, shifting travel decisions at
    point of sale in booking tools.
  • Procure sustainable products and services. One
    small example; this year we worked with Cvent to create for the industry a template
    of corporate responsibility and sustainability questions for the hotel RFP
    season.
  • Promote offsets – that is, independently verified,
    high-quality carbon credits.
  • Drive towards net-zero aviation, which is
    economically and technically challenging – yet achievable with sustainable
    aviation fuel (SAF).

SAF can offer an 80 per cent reduction in lifecycle carbon
emissions compared to fossil-based jet fuel. While it’s currently only
available in tiny quantities – 0.1 per cent of jet fuel available today – SAF
is the most viable option in the near and medium term to achieve net-zero
aviation. Other technologies are important and promising – but decades away
from creating real impact. Ramping up SAF production and deployment to meet
growing demand is a massive feat but we can achieve this, together.

Working in collaboration with Shell Aviation, GBT is helping
scale up SAF supply and demand by aggregating corporate demand and unlocking
investment and production
. This is just one example of the type of innovative
partnerships that can be formed when we reach across value chains to bring all
corners of our industry together.

There are few industries in the world more international
than business travel. Together we have the ability to coordinate across supply chains,
sectors and borders to empower solutions and catalyse change. We need to lean
into this.

Another way we can work together is to unite in advocating
for government support and action. If we work to combine inventive practices with
policy, we can amplify the business travel industry’s positive impact.

There are some immediate asks around which we can speak as a
single, powerful voice to government. These include:

  • International advocacy. The International
    Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), an agency of the United Nations, will
    convene in less than a year to decide the fate of the global aviation sector on
    sustainability. Let’s collectively call on ICAO to raise its ambition and
    follow the precedent set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA)
    and its 300 member airlines approving a resolution for the global air transport
    industry to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
  • Domestic lobbying. National governments
    have announced proposals for decarbonising aviation including the United
    Kingdom SAF mandate consultation, the ReFuelEU Aviation Initiative, and the
    United States SAF Grand Challenge. Let’s lobby our representatives to expeditiously
    pass concrete legislation that will create the regulatory certainty necessary
    to facilitate private sector investment.
  • In-sector solutions. SAF viability
    depends upon governments incentivising production and usage with appropriate
    financial stimulus. Let’s voice that government mandates are important – but
    insufficient to increase production at the scale required to meet net zero by
    2050 without fiscal support. Regulatory financing mechanisms include fiscal
    policy, tax credits and incentives, public-private partnerships and grants.
  • Out-of-sector solutions. Credible carbon
    credits provide a climate finance mechanism to mobilise public and private
    investment into nature-based solutions. Governments of 100 nations at COP26
    pledged to end and reverse deforestation by 2030, covering 85 per cent of the
    world’s forests. Carbon offsets are the only immediately available option for
    mitigating 100 per cent of business travel emissions. Let’s mobilise
    governments to invest in high-integrity carbon offsets and recognise that the
    airline industry is an ally in combating deforestation.

The challenges brought on by the pandemic have shown how our
industry can be resilient, resourceful and collaborative – when we galvanise around
a cause, we can spur government support and action. There is no greater threat
to our industry and our planet than climate change. But there are steps we can
take together – travel managers, TMCs, partners, suppliers and beyond – to
drive progress towards net zero at scale and speed.



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Industry Cheers Passage of $1.2T U.S. Infrastructure Bill


The U.S. House of
Representatives on Friday night passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill with
a 228-206 vote. Nineteen representatives crossed party lines for the bipartisan
legislation that is set not only to overhaul U.S. infrastructure elements from
roads and bridges to airports and rail but also includes major investments in
electric vehicle infrastructure and charging stations among other
environment-focused moves. The $1.2 trillion bill is the largest investment in
public works since Dwight D. Eisenhower introduced the Interstate Highway
System; it represents $550 billion in new spending.

An eleventh-hour
agreement forged by the Congressional Black Caucus to separate the vote on
infrastructure from the $1.85 billion Build Back Better social spending bill
finally allowed the bill to pass after months of debate. The Senate in August had
passed a version of the bill; President Joe Biden is expected to sign it in to
law as early as Monday.

In terms of
travel, the bill pumps $25 billion into airports to address repair and
maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports
and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies. It also will push
$66 billion to Amtrak for track repairs and expansion. It is the largest
investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak. It will devote $110
billion to roads and bridges.

Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn
in a statement called out improvement projects on the Northeast Corridor and
cited the possibility of “bringing passenger rail to more people across
the nation.” He underscored the administration’s will “to move
quickly to advance these projects.”

Speaking to Axios
on HBO on Saturday, Flynn called the funding “absolutely
transformational” and said it would spur the largest-ever expansion of
Amtrak in the railroad’s history. Flynn cited new routes to Columbus, Ohio; Los
Angeles to Las Vegas; Phoenix to Tucson; and service into Nashville as among
the first projects on the roster.

The infrastructure
bill also earmarks $7.5 billion to expand the nation’s charging network for
electric vehicles. The U.S. currently supports 122,000 charging ports at 48,000
stations nationwide, according to the Department of Energy. The Biden
administration aims through this funding to expand that network to 500,000
charging ports by 2030. The official White House website called this aspect of
the bill a “critical element” in the administration’s plan to
accelerate the adoption of EVs to address the climate crisis.

As part of the
companion Build Back Better bill, the administration has baked in significant
rebates for EV purchases that could motivate car rental providers to transition
their fleets. Those rebates only will kick in if Congress can muster the votes
to pass the companion legislation.

RELATED:Hertz Orders 100K Tesla Electric
Vehicles

The bill will also establish a formal chief
travel and tourism officer as part of the Department of Transportation.

U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow said in
a statement upon the passage of the Infrastructure and Jobs Act, “This bill
will have a profound impact on how people travel for decades to come. By making
historic investments in our transportation infrastructure now, we can emerge
from the pandemic with stronger, more modern and efficient systems that can
facilitate a resurgence in travel demand. … The historic levels of travel
infrastructure investment provided by this act—including for airports,
railways, highways, electric vehicle charging stations and more—will accelerate
the future of travel mobility.” He added that the new chief of travel and
tourism role “will be vital for rebuilding our industry and preparing to
welcome back visitors from around the world.”

RELATED:Biden Sets Out
U.S. Entry Rules for Foreign Travelers

Not
all parties had unmitigated support for the bill, however. AHLA CEO Chip Rogers,
while acknowledging the need for U.S. travel infrastructure to remain globally
competitive, was unhappy with how the bill would fund elements of the plan.

“Reliable
and modern infrastructure is vital to the hotel industry because it facilitates
travel, commerce and American competitiveness. This package would go a long way
toward achieving those ends, but it comes at a steep cost,” Rogers said. “The
bill would terminate the Employee Retention Tax Credit two months early. Many
hotels and their employees are counting on this program—especially given
lingering Covid-19 concerns and the negative economic impact they are having on
hotels. While we strongly support investment in our nation’s infrastructure,
struggling hotel employees and small businesses should not be forced to bear
that cost, and AHLA will continue advocating to maintain programs that are
helping hoteliers through the pandemic.”

President Biden on Saturday focused many of his comments on
the bigger picture wherein infrastructure improvements would not only rebuild
U.S. frameworks and systems but would also create jobs. He also adhered closely
to messaging that the ultimate success of the infrastructure bill would require
the passage in mid-November of the sweeping $1.85 trillion Build Back Better
social spending plan, which remains in question.

Banking on the passage of that bill, he predicted,
“Generations from now, people will look back and know this is when America
won the economic competition for the 21st Century.”



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‘Long overdue’: Industry welcomes Canada’s lifting of global advisory against non-essential travel


Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press


Published Friday, October 22, 2021 2:39PM EDT

CALGARY – The travel industry is welcoming what it calls the federal government’s “long overdue” move to lift a global advisory asking Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside the country.

“You cannot believe how welcome this move is for us,” said Bruce Poon Tip, founder of Canadian based international tour operator G Adventures. “It’s very late, as far as I’m concerned, given what’s going in the rest of the world. But very welcome, that’s for sure.”

The global travel advisory was put in place in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world.

The government of Canada’s website now shows that advisory is no longer in place, though it continues to list individual advisories for destination countries, as it did prior to the pandemic.

It also urges Canadians to ensure they are fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus before travelling abroad, and to stay informed of the COVID-19 situation at their destination.

Canada has been slower than many other countries to remove its blanket advisory against international travel, and that’s been frustrating for the Canadian travel industry, Poon Tip said. He said his own company has been forced to lay off 1,000 people – more than half of its workforce worldwide – due to the collapse in travel demand.

“It’s been a tough time, making those kinds of decisions. The toughest decisions I’ve had to make in 30 years,” he said.

However, Poon Tip said he’s noticed a significant uptick in travel demand from Canadians in the last couple of months, something he attributes to the growing confidence in the wake of the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations.

“We’ve hired 30 people in the last couple of months just to answer inquiries, and we’re continually hiring again, which is a great feeling,” he said.

At The Travel Lady Agency in Calgary, founder and chief executive Lesley Keyter said she’s also noticed a dramatic increase in inquiries and bookings in the last two months. But she said the removal of the federal government’s blanket travel advisory will add an extra layer of comfort for some people.

“I’m sure this will persuade people who were on the fence. They’ll feel a bit safer about doing that,” Keyter said.

The removal of the global travel advisory should also make it easier for Canadians to purchase travel insurance, depending on their destination and its COVID-19 risk profile, Keyter added.

However, the federal government continues to advise against travel on cruise ships, something Keyter said will continue to negatively affect Canada’s travel agency industry.

“I’m desperately disappointed that they’re taking away the blanket ban, but they’re still keeping this Level 4 advisory for the cruises,” Keyter said.

“Honestly, having been on two cruises in the last couple of months, I felt safer on the cruise than I did on my overnight hotel in Toronto.”

Canada opened its borders last month to non-essential international travellers who have received both doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine, and to fully vaccinated travellers from the United States in August.

The U.S. government recently announced that its land borders will reopen to non-essential Canadian travellers on Nov. 8.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published October 22, 2021.





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