Royal Caribbean CEO Urges Travel Advisors to Rebuild – Cruise Industry News


Two Royal Caribbean Ships

Appealing to travel advisors to start to sell cruises again, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain states his case in a newly released video.

The time has come, he said, to focus on how we come out of the pandemic, rather than how we should live during it. The time has come to look forward and do what we have done for decades, sell cruises.

Fain said a surge of interest has come mainly via the internet rather than from travel advisors, as people became used to buying things online during the pandemic, and continue to do so, while many travel advisors cut down on staff and marketing.

“Now, we need to rebuild so travel advisors need to do more,” he said. Appealing to travel advisors, Fain said: “We need you to reach our full potential. It was the personal contact with travel advisors that built up the knowledge and awareness (of cruising) in the first place.

“We need you and we need your personal touch, and the clients need you to help them understand the complexity of the product.”

Fain noted that while the pandemic is not over, its prevalence in the industrialized world is falling, and the main drivers behind the disease are understood and can be controlled.

He also noted that cruise ships have advantages over land-based comparables with the vast bulk of people onboard being vaccinated, and the sanitation being controlled, including air filtration, and with strict health and safety protocols being enforced.

“As a result, we can make ships safer than shore-based alternatives,” Fain said.

Comparing to a CDC color-coded COVID-19 map of the United States, Fain said that cruise ships would be blue, representing the lowest category of risk, and better than most of the counties in the U.S.



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Schumer urges TSA to plan for holiday travel as 40% of employees remain unvaccinated


NEW YORK — As the deadline for federal employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 falls around the holiday season, New York Sen. Charles Schumer has urged the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to come up with a plan to avoid a holiday travel mess.

The plan includes the deployment of additional TSA canine dog teams across the country wherever staffing and security are a concern due to vaccination rates, which could include LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty International airports.

About 40% of TSA employees remain unvaccinated, according to Schumer.

“News from the TSA that 40% of its employees are unvaccinated could create a turbulent travel experience for Americans and New Yorkers as the holidays approach, but if the agency plans now with contingencies that include the deployment of canine dog teams—wherever vaccine rates are impacting staffing and security—travel headaches could be avoided,” Schumer said in a statement.

There is a Nov. 22 deadline for federal workers to be fully vaccinated. 

Schumer has been an advocate for canine teams that are highly trained to detect explosives and substances and can assist vaccinated TSA agents with luggage screening and help reduce wait times.



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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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CDC Urges Caution As Holiday Travel Approaches – Breaking News, Sports, Weather, Traffic And The Best of NY


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CDC Urges Caution As Holiday Travel ApproachesFor many, October means it’s time to think about holiday plans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines Monday for holiday travel. CBS2’s Meg Baker reports.

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CDC Urges Caution For Holiday TravelThe CDC issues guidelines for holiday travel and urges caution, especially for those who are unvaccinated.



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Travel industry urges Biden to eliminate certain covid-19 restrictions


“We strongly urge the COVID-19 response team and relevant Federal agencies to partner with airlines, airports, unions, hotels, theme parks and other key stakeholders to develop a data-driven, risk-based road map for reopening international travel,” the letter says.

Some of the major points of the road map include: allowing vaccinated travelers exemption from international testing requirements (instead of having vaccinations required for travel); creating clear benchmarks and a transparent framework to lift inbound international travel restrictions; and prioritizing international travel’s return ahead of the upcoming Group of Seven Meeting.

While the letter encourages measures to be taken to allow travel again, it does not encourage the government to lift existing public health efforts such as mask mandates, inbound coronavirus testing requirements and social distancing recommendations.

But it also recommends assessing the need for the inbound international testing mandate on a monthly basis after entry restrictions are lifted.

The letter says “the right public health measures are now in place” for the safe return of international visitors.

It also focuses on the financial toll of coronavirus mitigation travel restrictions, stating that the drop of international arrivals to the United States in 2020 cost the economy $146 billion. According to estimates from the U.S. Travel Association, the United States lost 5.6 million travel-supported jobs, and that 1.1 million jobs and $262 billion in export spending are at stake if international travel bans remain in place by the end of 2021.

Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy at U.S. Travel Association, says industry representatives hope the letter will bring attention to how many Americans are impacted by current restrictions.

“When international travelers come here and spend money in communities, it helps to support local and state taxes,” Emerson Barnes says. “The broader impact to folks coming and staying at hotels or visiting attractions is important for jobs and the economy.”

Dow says while domestic leisure travel appears to be rebounding, “a full travel recovery will depend on reopening international markets, and we must also contend with the challenge of reviving business travel.”

At this time, however, nonessential travel remains discouraged by coronavirus experts.

When reached for comment, the White House referred to yesterday’s press briefing by the COVID-19 Response Team and public health officials. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said the agency is working on updated guidance for what you can do if you’re vaccinated, which includes travel recommendations.

“We currently are at a situation — if we look at our European friends — we just don’t want to be at this rapid uptick of cases again, and that is very possible that that could happen,” Walensky said. “I would just encourage people and remind people: Now is not the time to travel.”

Read more on travel during the pandemic:



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We Need to Plan: UK Travel Urges Clarity From Government | World News


By PAN PYLAS, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Leaders from Britain’s aviation industry joined forces Wednesday to urge the British government to ensure that popular European destinations face the least onerous coronavirus travel restrictions when holidays are allowed again.

Under the government’s new traffic light system for England, travel to countries in the lowest green category could be opened up to quarantine-free travel from May 17. Arrivals would be required to take a pre-departure test as well as the gold standard PCR test on or before day two of their return to England. They would only need to quarantine if they receive a positive result.

The government has said it will categorize destinations — green, amber or red — after analyzing vaccination rates, coronavirus cases and the prevalence of variants of concern. Given the metrics being applied, countries like the United States and Israel are expected to be on the green list immediately, while much of Europe could be placed on the amber list, which would require travelers to self-isolate at home for potentially ten days on their return.

Aviation minister Robert Courts said Wednesday that the government should be able to give more details about how countries are characterized in early May so the industry — and potential holidaymakers — can start putting plans in place.

“We are giving as much notice as we can,” he said.

Lockdown restrictions are being eased across the U.K. after a stringent winter lockdown and the rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines has seen coronavirus cases — and deaths — fall sharply. However, given that previous waves of the pandemic have arguably been fueled by too-lax border policies, the government has indicated it will take a cautious approach.

With much of Europe in the midst of a surge of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions being re-imposed, there are concerns that popular European destinations, such as the beach resorts of the Costa del Sol in Spain or the Greek islands may not make the green list.

“We would like to see the green category as expansive as possible,” Chris Garton, chief solutions officer at Heathrow Airport, told lawmakers in the House of Commons.

“We understand from a health perspective it’s a proceed with caution time …. but if we err to much on the side of caution then you will have some very devastating effects on the travel sector and the aviation sector,” he added.

The aviation industry around the world has been hammered over the past year with passenger numbers down around 95% from pre-pandemic levels.

Travel to Europe will play a crucial role in the industry’s recovery so any delay in putting popular holiday destinations in the green category would spell further financial difficulties.

EasyJet Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said he “would expect almost all major European countries” to be put in the low-risk category immediately and that the airline will be able to fly 20% of its normal schedule between April and June.

Lundgren said he’s optimistic that many of easyJet’s core markets in Europe will make the cut as the rollout of vaccines picks up pace.

“I wouldn’t see a reason why you wouldn’t have the majority of the countries of Europe in there,” he said.

Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at:

https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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



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Whitmer concerned about Florida travel, urges precautions


Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks during a March 1, 2021, press conference in Lansing about coronavirus. (Courtesy Michigan Executive Office of the Governor)

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday that a factor in Michigan’s surging COVID-19 cases is fewer people were infected earlier in the pandemic than in other states, and she expressed concern about spring break travel to Florida.

Florida and Michigan have reported the highest and second-highest number of cases of a more contagious variant that was first identified in the U.K. Michigan had the United States’ worst infection rate in the past two weeks.

“Yes, I am concerned” about travel between the states, the governor told reporters while attending the opening of a large-scale vaccination site in Oakland County. “It’s a concern no matter what. That’s why we are really encouraging people to get vaccinated.”

She urged people returning from Florida to work from home and have their kids learn virtually for at least a week. She and health officials later recommended that people get tested after in-state, out-of-state or international travel. Michigan will provide about three-dozen pop-up testing sites to make it easier for travelers.

The variant first identified in the U.K. is up to 50% more transmissible than the virus that surged last spring and again in the fall, making it more adept at thwarting measures that were previously effective, according to the World Health Organization. Scientists have concluded it is also more deadly.

Whitmer remained averse to tightening restrictions that were loosened in recent months and continued to emphasize vaccines, which have been given to at least 35% of Michigan residents ages 16 and older, including more than 67% of people 65 and up. She said she will get her first shot Tuesday, alongside one of her daughters, a day after eligibility opens to everyone 16 and older.

“It’s a bit disappointing that as our vaccination rates are going up that our infection rates have not done a similar decline,” Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said.

The state health department reported nearly 5,500 new coronavirus cases and 20 additional deaths. The seven-day average, 5,128, has grown six-fold over nearly six weeks. About 2,600 adults were hospitalized with confirmed infections, more than double the roughly 1,200 in the hospital two weeks ago.

“By the recent numbers, we know we’ve got a bit of a reality check happening,” Whitmer said. “We know that COVID is still very present and it is still a very real threat. We may be seeing light at the end of the tunnel, but we are still in the tunnel.”

She said Michigan did well keeping COVID-19 metrics low. She suggested that is a reason — along with variants, pandemic fatigue and increased travel — why there is a third wave.

“Because of that, we’ve got fewer people per capita who have antibodies than a lot of other states do,” she said. She noted that while her administration has eased restrictions, it has not gone as far as states that eliminated mask requirements.

More than 17,000 deaths in Michigan have been linked to COVID-19. More than 569,000 people had recovered as of March 26.



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Whitmer Concerned About Florida Travel, Urges Precautions | Florida News


By DAVID EGGERT and MIKE HOUSEHOLDER, Associated Press

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday that a factor in Michigan‘s surging COVID-19 cases is fewer people were infected earlier in the pandemic than in other states, and she expressed concern about spring break travel to Florida.

Florida and Michigan have reported the highest and second-highest number of cases of a more contagious variant that was first identified in the U.K. Michigan had the United States’ worst infection rate in the past two weeks.

“Yes, I am concerned” about travel between the states, the governor told reporters while attending the opening of a large-scale vaccination site in Oakland County. “It’s a concern no matter what. That’s why we are really encouraging people to get vaccinated.”

She urged people returning from Florida to work from home and have their kids learn virtually for at least a week. She and health officials later recommended that people get tested after in-state, out-of-state or international travel. Michigan will provide about three-dozen pop-up testing sites to make it easier for travelers.

The variant first identified in the U.K. is up to 50% more transmissible than the virus that surged last spring and again in the fall, making it more adept at thwarting measures that were previously effective, according to the World Health Organization. Scientists have concluded it is also more deadly.

Whitmer remained averse to tightening restrictions that were loosened in recent months and continued to emphasize vaccines, which have been given to at least 35% of Michigan residents ages 16 and older, including more than 67% of people 65 and up. She said she will get her first shot Tuesday, alongside one of her daughters, a day after eligibility opens to everyone 16 and older.

“It’s a bit disappointing that as our vaccination rates are going up that our infection rates have not done a similar decline,” Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said.

The state health department reported nearly 5,500 new coronavirus cases and 20 additional deaths. The seven-day average, 5,128, has grown six-fold over nearly six weeks. About 2,600 adults were hospitalized with confirmed infections, more than double the roughly 1,200 in the hospital two weeks ago.

“By the recent numbers, we know we’ve got a bit of a reality check happening,” Whitmer said. “We know that COVID is still very present and it is still a very real threat. We may be seeing light at the end of the tunnel, but we are still in the tunnel.”

She said Michigan did well keeping COVID-19 metrics low. She suggested that is a reason, along with variants and other factors, why there is a third wave.

“Because of that, we’ve got fewer people per capita who have antibodies than a lot of other states do,” she said.

More than 17,000 deaths in Michigan have been linked to COVID-19. More than 569,000 people had recovered as of March 26.

Eggert reported from Lansing.

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



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CDC Urges Americans to Avoid Travel as Airport Screenings Approach Pandemic Peak | Health News


The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday urged Americans to avoid travel while warning of a possible “avoidable surge” in the coronavirus.

“Much of the travel, we know, is related to people who are going on spring break,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a press briefing. “We’re worried not just for what happens when you are on the airplane itself but what happens when people travel. That is, they go out. They mix with people who are not vaccinated.”

The Transportation Security Administration on Sunday screened over 1.5 million travelers in airports – the highest number seen in over a year. Sunday was also the 11th consecutive day that saw over 1 million screenings.

Cartoons on the Coronavirus

“We’re so close to vaccinating so many more people,” Walensky said. “So I would just encourage people and remind people: Now is not the time to travel.”

And while travel ticked up, so did the most recent seven-day average of new cases, according to Walensky.

“The most recent seven-day average is about 53,800 cases per day, which is a slight increase from the previous seven-day period,” she said.

The weekend was the first time that over 3 million people were vaccinated on consecutive days, according to Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for COVID-19 response.

Walensky said that relaxing mitigation measures and giving variants the opportunity to widely spread could result in another surge.

“We are at a critical point in this pandemic, a fork in the road, where we as a country must decide which path we are going to take,” Walensky said. “And I am worried that if we don’t take the right actions now, we will have another avoidable surge, just as we are seeing in Europe right now and just as we are so aggressively scaling up vaccination.”

She added that the CDC is working on updating its guidelines for what activities vaccinated people can resume to include a section on travel. The first iteration of the guidance recommended vaccinated people avoid nonessential travel.



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