Large events help Raleigh tourism rebound, but business travel slow to return

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – While the return of flagship events has brought thousands of visitors back to Raleigh, tourism experts say the city won’t see pre-pandemic tourism levels until business travel returns.

Major events that were canceled or moved online last year are finally making a comeback.

Thousands of people are now pouring into the North Carolina State Fair and earlier this month, bluegrass lovers lined five city blocks in Raleigh for the International Bluegrass Music Association Festival.

Loren Gold, executive vice president for Visit Raleigh, said the city won’t hit pre-pandemic tourism numbers with vacationers or one-time events alone.

“Leisure does make up our mix but it’s probably about a third of our total mix,” Gold said.

With more companies taking operations online, Gold said it’s business travel that has been slow to make a comeback in large cities like Raleigh.

“Business travel took a huge spike downward because companies were not sending their people on the road,” Gold said.

Counties with the state’s largest cities saw some of the biggest dips in visitor spending last year. Wake County visitors spent more than 42 percent less in 2020 than 2019.

Still, the latest data from Visit Raleigh shows food and beverage tax revenue is up 36 percent from last year and hotel occupancy is also up by 48 percent.

“They’re all up, it’s just a matter of getting back to pre-pandemic, 2019 levels,” Gold said.

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WTTC blames UK government for slow tourism recovery | News

The World Travel & Tourism Council has argued the year-on-year recovery in the UK may only claw back a third, while international travel spending continues to plummet.

Latest research from the body shows the recovery has been severely delayed by the lack of spending from international visitors.

WTTC blames strict travel restrictions, such as the destructive ‘traffic light’ system, for wreaking havoc on the sector.

Now, despite its highly successful vaccine rollout, the UK is set to record further losses in inbound visitor spending than the previous year, during which international travel ground to an almost complete standstill.

At the current rate of recovery, WTTC research shows the UK sector’s contribution to the nation’s economy could rise year on year by just under a third (32 per cent) in 2021, broadly in line with the global average of 31 per cent.

However, research conducted by the global tourism body goes on to show the increase has been primarily spurred on by the recent boom in domestic travel, with domestic spending growth set to experience a year-on-year rise of 49 per cent in 2021.

While this surge in domestic travel has provided a much-needed boost, it will not be enough to achieve a full economic recovery and save millions of jobs still under threat.

The research reveals that international spending is predicted to plunge by nearly half on 2020 figures – one of the worst years on record for the tourism sector – making the UK one of the worst performing countries in the world.

While other countries, such as China and the United States, are set to see a rise in inbound international travel spending this year, the UK lags behind and continues to record significant losses.

Severe travel restrictions, ever-changing policies, and barriers to travel to the UK, such as the current requirement for visitors to take an expensive day two PCR test after arriving in the country, have had their toll.

Julia Simpson, WTTC chief executive, said: “WTTC research shows that while the global tourism sector is beginning to recover, the UK continues to suffer big losses due to continuing travel restrictions that are tougher than the rest of Europe.

“Despite government announcements the UK still has a red list, costly PCR tests and a requirement for day two tests which simply put people off travel.

“Just as the world opens up the UK has more requirements for the double vaccinated than our neighbours.”

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Who Needs a Whirlwind Trip When You Can Take It Slow?

It’s a far cry from seeing Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower and the Roman Colosseum — the package-trip hit parade — in a week.

“We used to book a lot of Europe and Asia where people just wanted to check spots off their list,” said Denise Ambrusko-Maida, a travel adviser and the owner of the travel agency Travel Brilliant in Buffalo, N.Y. “People are pulling away from tourist hot spots. They don’t want to be crammed in and shuffling along in lines.”

Rebecca Werner, a Chicago-based travel adviser with Protravel, recently booked a summer train trip to Glacier National Park for a Wisconsin family of four who are fans of the Netflix mini-series “The Queen’s Gambit.” It was a “good way to catch up with their kids and see some good scenery, plus play some chess on the train,” she said.

For these travelers, pursuing personal passions has supplanted the bucket list.

Working with the bespoke travel agency Untold Story Travel, David Demers of Naples, Fla., is organizing two nearly monthlong trips next year to Israel and the Mediterranean with ample time to pursue his interests in history, theater, food and art.

“In the past, travel was about packing in as much as you can, running around checking boxes, which becomes mechanical,” said Mr. Demers, who recently sold his health care company. “The pandemic taught us all that it’s OK to not go fast, to focus on what’s important.”

With that in mind, the travel company Sojrn recently launched monthlong trips staying in one destination, each with an educational theme such as philosophy in Athens, wine in Italy or Spanish language in Colombia. Travelers stay in local apartments and participate in weekly dinners and events, leaving lots of unstructured time to work and explore.

“I’m trying not to plan everything out to the minute like I have done in the past,” said Cara Wright, of Apple Valley, Minn., who plans to continue working for a nonprofit while in Italy in October with Sojrn.

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Slow travel: The eco-friendly travel experience that is growing trend | Travel News | Travel

Slow travel: The eco-friendly travel experience that is growing trend | Travel News | Travel – ToysMatrix

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Study: Business travel slow to tecover in Indiana – WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — A new study commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association shows the Indiana hotel industry will end the year down nearly $644 million in business travel revenue compared to 2019. The lodging sector has been crippled by the pandemic, with business travel being its largest source of revenue. The new analysis comes on the heels of a recent national survey by AHLA, which found that most business travelers are canceling, reducing, and postponing trips amid rising COVID-19 cases.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association Chief Executive Officer Patrick Tamm said hotel occupancy rates associated with business travel have been slow to return.

“We get back on Sunday nights and we’re at single digits, maybe in the teens. There’s just not business travel,” said Tamm. “Our ‘bread-n-butter travelers, when they come in for that Monday meeting, Mondays, Tuesdays Wednesdays, we’re just simply not seeing those folks.”

Tamm says business travel is key for all hotels, but particularly in central business districts. He says all of Indiana’s metro areas are facing the same plight.

“Not just downtown Indianapolis but downtown Fort Wayne, South Bend Evansville, all of those central business districts where key business occurs without people being in our traditional offices and spaces and traditional office meetings and sales calls,” said Tamm.

The trade association is not expecting a recovery in the business travel sector until 2024, which includes corporate, group and government entities. But even then, travel will not likely be at the same level as before the pandemic as the adoption and use of video calls remain constant. However, Tamm says that person-to-person connection is still necessary.

“You can’t get to know somebody or what their issues are or uncover issues on a factory floor or in a hospital setting via Zoom or a little screen on your laptop. It’s not the same as a human connection,” said Tamm.

The AHLA says without congressional action, the industry will end 2021 down approximately 500,000 jobs, even as leisure and convention travel, especially in Indianapolis, slowly recovers.

“People are very interested in doing going, taking leisure trips, which is fantastic,” said Tamm. “But we need people to also start getting back to business and getting back to offices and getting vaccinated as well.”

The AHLA is pushing for passage of the Save Hotel Jobs Act currently before Congress. The measure would provide relief for unemployed hotel workers in the form of direct payroll grants.

Additionally, properties that receive grants would be required to give laid-off workers recall rights, ensuring those who have lost their hotel jobs due to the pandemic are able to return to their roles.

Tamm says the measure would also help hotels that are using cash reserves to stay current with the debt load.

“Business travel is critical to our industry’s viability, especially in the fall and winter months when leisure travel normally begins to decline,” said Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO. “That’s why it’s time for Congress to pass the bipartisan Save Hotel Jobs Act to help hotel employees and small business owners survive this crisis.”

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Roadwork to slow travel on Route 104 in Oswego County | Local News

Motorists are being advised to expect intermittent lane closures along a stretch of Route 104 in Oswego County next week.

The state Department of Transportation on Friday said that rolling, single lane closures will occur between the interchange with Interstate 81 in the Town of Parish and the intersection with Route 13 in the Town of Williamstown from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, May 24, through Thursday, May 27.

In a news release, the DOT said the closures are necessary to facilitate shoulder repairs and mowing. Motorists should expect a single lane with traffic controlled by flaggers.

Drivers are asked to use caution when traveling through the work zone area and pay attention to all traffic control devices, including signs and flaggers.

The DOT said that drivers should be aware that fines are doubled for speeding in work zones. In accordance with the Work Zone Safety Act of 2005, convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone could result in the suspension of an individual’s driver’s license.

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Australia news live updates: Scott Morrison blames ‘supply problem’ for slow Covid vaccine rollout | Australia news

Australia Post’s submission to the same Senate inquiry clearly indicates it doesn’t resile from the position she stood aside.

It said:

On 22 October 2020, Ms Holgate agreed to stand aside from the role of group chief executive officer & managing director of Australia Post pending the outcome of an investigation by the shareholder departments and any further actions taken by Australia Post. On 2 November 2020, Ms Holgate resigned with immediate effect and advised that she was not seeking any financial compensation from Australia Post.

The submission also quotes the Maddocks review of the incident, which it said contradicts Holgate by finding that:

  • The “former Chair’s position is that he did not” approve the provision of the watches to the watch recipients
  • There was “contradictory evidence as to whether the former Group CEO & Managing Director informed the former Chair that it was her intention to purchase the Cartier watches”.

Australia Post said it considers current chair, Lucio Di Bartolomeo’s, evidence to the Senate “to be accurate” but that is after “incorporating the subsequent clarification provided on 21 December 2020”.


Former Australia Post chief executive, Christine Holgate, has lodged an explosive submission to the Senate inquiry into her sacking for the decision to award executives Cartier watches as bonuses.

“It is almost five months since the events of October 22nd, 2020, when, for no justified reason, I was humiliated in Parliament and then unlawfully stood down by the Australia Post Chair from a role I was passionately committed to,” the submission begins.

In the submission, Holgate doubles down on her claim she never voluntarily stood down and accuses Australia Post chairman, Lucio Di Bartolomeo, of unlawfully standing her down and alleged “he lied repeatedly to the Australian people and to their parliament about his actions”.

”Time after time he has made statements that I had agreed to stand down when I had done no such thing.”

Holgate said she offered to resign, but alleged Australia Post then leaked the letter to the media, before sending a counter-offer which is “itself confirmation that no agreement had been reached”.

Holgate said the gift of Cartier watches was “legal, within Australia Post’s policies, within my own signing authority limits, approved by the previous chairman, expensed appropriately, signed off by auditors and the CFO, [and] widely celebrated within the organisation”.

Holgate accused Di Bartolomeo of “seriously misleading” evidence to the Senate on 9 November, including about his knowledge of a BCG report into the incident.


Travel agents and hotel operators have welcomed details of the two way travel bubble with New Zealand, but have warned “there will be very little real benefit” for the sector in the short term.

This is because most of the initial travellers from 19 April are expected to be low-spending tourists visiting family and friends, as Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive, Margy Osmond, told the Guardian.

Accommodation Association of Australia has backed that prediction up, with its chief executive Dean Long reigniting calls for post-jobkeeper wage support for CBD hotels in Melbourne and Sydney that are still reeling from a drop off in international tourism and business travel.

The Association said Sydney is currently the worst performing city market in Australia with revenue declines of 67% and forward booking rates of less than 10% for the next 90 days and that Melbourne is similarly decimated.

Long said:

The opening of the trans-Tasman corridor is a very welcome step in the right direction but the reality is while it’s good news for the travel sector, given most travellers will be catching up with friends and families there’s very little immediate benefit for our tourism sector or our hotels and motels. With the end of jobkeeper and given the massive holes in the market especially in Australia’s international hubs of Sydney and Melbourne, the flow on benefits for our hotels and motels, and the many small businesses who supply them is negligible. There’s no doubt it will be a big kick along for consumer confidence but it doesn’t erase the need for tailored support for our accommodation sector. The reality is it’s great news for our travel sector but not so good for tourism.

Australian Federation of Travel Agents chair Tom Manwaring said many of his members were already seeing “increased interest in booking NZ albeit primarily to visit friends and family”.

Manwaring said:

It’s not a massive increase in business and our sector still desperately needs support but it is a much needed step in the right direction.” However, we urge both the Australian and the New Zealand governments to do all they can to ensure now the corridor is open that it stays open. This is important both in terms of consumer confidence in booking travel and from a workload perspective for travel agents who are still working hard on repatriating the outstanding $4bn still owed to Australians by airlines, hotels and tour operators on Covid-impacted travel and managing re-bookings and cancellations as a result of state restrictions.


PNG man dies of Covid in Queensland hospital











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High winds, slow interstate traffic impact holiday weekend travel

Thousands of motorists ended an extended Presidents’ Day weekend Monday snarled in an hours-long traffic jam that backed up for miles along Interstate 10.

Strong winds picked up along the I-10 corridor as a high wind warning went into effect for the Coachella Valley at 4 p.m., lasting through Tuesday at 10 a.m.

As travelers made their way west on the interstate, many reported a slowdown for miles moving toward Los Angeles. Traffic was building near the exit for Indian Canyon Drive.

“Headed back into L.A. the traffic is just tremendously heavy,” said A.G. Kawamura. “I was surprised; I thought it must be an accident but I’m hearing it’s nothing more than people coming back from the weekend or going out for the weekend.”

Kawamura, who lives in Indian Wells, said the weekend felt significantly stronger for businesses. “It’s finally a good thing that we’re seeing people get out and hopefully we move past this pandemic,” he said.

Francis Alba and a group of models drove in for the long holiday weekend from Los Angeles. “We’re just doing a photo shoot. We’re in town; what we’ve been seeing there’s a lot of people,” he said.

Deterred from being stuck in the slowdown, they avoided returning home Monday night. “It was barely moving out there,” Alba said.

As the high winds picked up into the evening, drivers grew more concerned about their impact on the commute. “The winds can be really heavy and just makes for dangerous travel conditions,” Kawamura said.

Drivers braced against an already strenuous night of travel.

“If you’re a tall vehicle you gotta be really, really careful. It’s pretty windy out there, kind of crazy. Just stay safe and if you have a chance not to drive, just don’t,” Alba said.

Traffic conditions improved on the I-10 later in the night, though the high winds were expected to continue through Tuesday morning.

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Slow travel in mountains as more snow, high winds hit Colorado High Country

DENVER – Many mountain roads were snowpacked and icy late Friday afternoon as snow continued to fall in Colorado’s High Country.

The highest snow totals are expected in Jackson and Grand counties in northern Colorado, which are expected to see another 10 to 18 inches of new snow between noon Friday and early Saturday morning, along with winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour in the Rabbit Ears Pass area. A winter storm warning has been issued for the area.

Further south, winter weather advisories are in place for most of the central and northern mountains, which are likely to receive 4-10 more inches by Saturday morning than what was on the ground to start the day. Winds are also expected to gust up to 55 miles per hour, creating blizzard-like conditions at times, according to the National Weather Service.

StormTotalSnowWeb (4).png

National Weather Service Boulder

Forecast snow totals for Colorado from Friday through Sunday, Feb. 7.

Chain and traction laws were in effect for most mountain highways and I-70 as of late Friday afternoon, and there had been some spotty closures, including an hourlong closure of eastbound I-70 at Vail Pass earlier in the afternoon.

Loveland Pass closed from mile point 222 through mile point 229, according to Colorado State Patrol around. 7:25 p.m. They reported extreme weather conditions.

CDOT also reported a safety closure at around 7:40 p.m. for both sides of US 40 between Kemry Lane and Spruce Street and between Kremmling and Rabbit Ears Pass due to adverse conditions.

The National Weather Service said the peak of the snowfall would likely end by early evening, but that light and moderate snow would persist overnight. There is another chance of snow for the mountains on Saturday afternoon.

Several Colorado ski areas have received more than a foot of snow in recent days, and the additional snowfall and high winds continue to exacerbate dangerous avalanche conditions in the backcountry.

There are avalanche warnings in effect until Saturday morning for the moment, though they could be extended, for the Vail & Summit County as well as the Steamboat and Flat Tops zones. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center rated both of those zones, as well as the Gunnison, Aspen and Sawatch Range Zones, as having High (4 out of 5) avalanche danger on Friday, with slides likely and large enough to ill people. Travel is not recommended in the backcountry in those zones.

Avalanche danger was rated as Considerable in the Front Range, Grand Mesa and Northern San Juan zones.

Four more people were killed in avalanches this week in Colorado – three in a slide Monday near Silverton and another man who died in an avalanche in the East Vail Chutes on Thursday.

Click here for the latest weather conditions and forecasts from the Denver meteorologists. Click here for the latest road conditions statewide.

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Alaska ‘Bullish’ on Growing Corp. Travel Share, Expects Slow Recovery

Alaska Airlines executives expect business travel demand will recover to only half of pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year, but they also expect to pick up some marketshare during the recovery.

Following similar commentary by United Airlines and Delta Air Lines executives, Alaska executives in an earnings call on Tuesday said they are expecting recovery later this year led by “substantial pent-up demand” on the leisure side. Conversations with their corporate customers, however, indicate that corporate travel should be 50 percent of normal levels as 2021 closes, said Alaska Airlines president Ben Minicucci, who will succeed CEO Brad Tilden at the end of March.

Besides a successful vaccine rollout, duty-of-care considerations also could slow corporations’ return to travel, and companies likely will operate with reduced budgets at the onset of the recovery, EVP and chief commercial officer Andrew Harrison said. Business travel levels in the fourth quarter of 2020 were about 15 percent of their usual levels, according to Minicucci, a similar level reported by other U.S. carriers. Alaska has seen some demand growth from some segments where it has an advantage over other carriers—the fishing and oil industries in Alaska, for example—and small businesses “who do a fair bit of travel,” but large companies like Microsoft and Amazon are maintaining “strict policies with no travel,” Harrison said.

In the meantime, however, Alaska’s sales teams are working to win new customers, leveraging its new partnership with American Airlines and upcoming entry into the Oneworld alliance.

“Working with America Airlines and Oneworld as a global partner, we’re seeing very solid and strong interest in new contracts, in terms of network and utility we can provide corporate contracts,” Harrison said. “We’re very bullish on getting an increased share of business travel.”

For the fourth quarter, Alaska’s passenger revenue was down 68 percent year over year to $657 million, and total operating revenue was down 64 percent to $808 million. The carrier’s average daily bookings have been increasing since they stalled in November, when Covid-19 cases in the United States began to accelerate and local restrictions in several areas were tightened, Minicucci said. Even so, he expects the carrier will be “treading water” until a significant portion of the population has been vaccinated.

This month, Alaska also has begun the process of unblocking middle seats, though it should not make a substantial difference given low load factors at the moment, Minicucci said. Alaska will leave middle seats blocked in premium cabins through May 31, not for safety reasons but as an added benefit for travelers booking premium cabins, particularly as business travel levels remain down, he said.

For the fourth quarter, Alaska reported a net loss of $430 million, compared with net income of $181 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. For the full year, Alaska’s net loss was $1.3 billion.

RELATED: Alaska Airlines Q3 earnings

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