Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau offers tips for local getaways, giveaways – Press Telegram


Last year, the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau offered a new service, providing themed itineraries for vacationers to experience the area “like the locals do.”

That program won awards — and is back for summer 2022. And with an addition. Now, when the itinerary of the month is unveiled, it will be accompanied by a chance to win prizes through the CVB’s Instagram account, @VisitLB.

This month’s trip is called Aquatic Adventure, highlighting all the ways to enjoy Long Beach’s 11 miles of waterway and coastline. The prize is aquatic-themed as well, with a family four pack of whale watching tickets from Harbor Breeze Cruises and four tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacific. The day at the aquarium comes with an added perk: a family “Animal Encounter” with sharks and rays, or with some of the aquarium’s feathered friends.

A new specially curated itinerary will be released once a month for the next three months, according to Samantha Mehlinger, CVB’s vice president of communications.

“Our Long Beach Days & Getaways let you explore Long Beach like a local, showcasing unique attractions and activities alongside hidden gems that’ll make your friends say, ‘Where is that, and when can I go?’” she said in a release. “Be sure to follow us on Instagram for a chance to win prizes all summer long.”

Each itinerary will be revealed with an original video and giveaway on Instagram. To qualify for the prize drawing, go to @VisitLB on Instagram, spot the new video, tag two friends in the comments and follow @VisitLB.

For more ideas about things to do, go to visitlongbeach.com and visit the “This is Long Beach” blog on that website.

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Visitors Bureau reviews website traffic


SIDNEY — A review of web traffic for the past three months was reviewed at the April meeting of the Sidney Visitors Bureau.

Web site traffic for January 2022 included 1,195 web sessions, 993 new users, 1,748 page views and 3,050 Facebook impressions. The time on site averaged 1 minute, 44 seconds.

Statistics for February included 1,255 web sessions, 1,108 new users, 1,778 page views and 5,685 Facebook impressions. The time on site averaged 1 minute, 9 seconds.

In March, there were 2,171 web sessions, 1,804 new users, 2,938 page views and 2,630 Facebook impressions. The time on site averaged 1 minute, 19 seconds.

The Sidney Visitors Bureau has partnered with Ohio Tourism Bureau’s program, Find It Here, to produce at Storytelling campaign promoting Sidney as a weekend travel destination. The content of this campaign was uploaded to the Visitors Bureau website late last year and will be used again in May of this year by Ohio.

Agreements have been executed in the first quarter of 2022 to promote Sidney as a travel destination. Those agreements include:

• The year-long placement of Sidney Visitors Guides in brochure racks in high traffic areas of the greater Detroit area by Travel-Ad-Service.

• The year-long placement of Sidney Visitors Guides in brochure racks in hotels and rest areas along Interstate 75 in Ohio by Ad-Rack.

• The year-long placement of Sidney Visitors Guides in brochure racks in hotels along Interstate 69 and Interstate 70 in Indiana by Tourist Information Service.

• The placement of Sidney Visitors Guides at consumer travel shows in Detroit, Michigan, Sandusky, Ohio, Hershey, Pennsylvania, and the Ohio State Fair by Ohio Travel Pavilion.

• Publication of two advertorials in the eNewsletter OhioTraveler.com

• Dissemination of two promotional press releases to more than 800 radio, television, magazine, and newspaper media outlets in the United States with OhioTraveler.com.

• Placement of a digital banner ad linked to VisitSidneyShelby.com on OhioTraveler.com.

• Placement of a linked display ad to VisitSidneyShelby.com in all 12 monthly editions of the OhioTraveler.com eNewsletter.

• Two social media posts on the OhioTraveler Facebook page.

• Two eBlasts (May and July) with Ohio Find It Here to 425,000 individuals with a propensity for travel to Ohio.

• Contracted for eight months of Paid Key Word Search services in conjunction with Ohio Find It Here.

• Placement of three monthly posts on Ohio Find It Here Facebook page.

• Placement of two monthly Instagram posts on Ohio Find It Here.

• Placement of a print ad with enhanced listing in Ohio’s Travel Guide.

• Published in the TourismOhio app (enhanced listing with links to VisitSidneyShelby.com website)

• Renewed advertising agreement for on standing position on the digital billboard located near the intersection of Vandemark Road and Michigan Street.

• Secured no cost ad position in Discover Shelby County Ohio magazine published by the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce.

In other business, the Visitors Bureau:

• Renewed sponsorship of the Shelby County Fair and committed to placing a one quarter page ad in the Fair program.

• Submitted an advertiser’s insertion order to The Civil War News to promote the Living History Weekend at Tawawa Park in September.

• Renewed sponsorship of the Buckeye Farm Antiques show with an ad in their show program.

• Renewed listing on the Eldora Speedway web site to promote overnight lodging in Sidney.

• Designed and produced a quantity of 15,000 Sidney Visitors Bureau promotional rack cards.

• Added 17 popular destinations and 5 major events to the Ohio.org web site and Ohio Find It Here app. Both are sponsored by the Ohio Department of Travel & Tourism.

• Co-Leading along with Bill Clark at the Shelby County Fairgrounds the pre event planning to host 1,000 participants in the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure who will be spending three days and two nights in Sidney on June 18,19, and 20 as part of their seven day bike tour of west central Ohio.

For a complete calendar listing of upcoming events, visit www.VisitSidneyShelby.com and be sure to Like Us on Facebook @VisitSidneyOhio.





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Diamond Head in Hawaii: Visitors will soon need to set reservations


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(CNN) — It’s one of the most popular spots in Hawai’i, and soon anyone from out-of-state will need a reservation to visit.

The new system for iconic Diamond Head State Monument — or Lē’ahi, to natives — will become effective May 12, the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) announced in a Monday news release.

On the island of O’ahu, Diamond Head is one of the state’s most visited sites, the DLNR said, and is renowned for the stunning views along its hiking trail.

The system is slated to activate on Thursday, April 28, and will allow for reservations beginning 14 days ahead.

Starting May 12, people without a Hawaii driver’s license or ID must have secured a reservation to enter the park, the news release said. State residents will have free access without reservations, but entry might depend on whether parking spaces are left.

Why is this happening at Diamond Head?

Hawaii is simply facing the same problem some US national parks and Venice, Italy, are having: Too many people crowding into the same space at the same time.

Overcrowding can sour the travel experience and damage the very things people want to see.

“The new reservation system will mitigate environmental impacts sustained by foot traffic, reduce vehicle congestion in the park and surrounding neighborhoods, improve the experience of kamaʻāina and visitors enjoying the monument,” the news release said.

This is the third state park to require reservations, the release said. The other two are Hā’ena State Park on Kaua’i and Waiʻānapanapa State Park on Maui.

Reservations are also required at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on O’ahu.

“We commend DLNR for bringing this reservation system to fruition, to support the efforts to manage the flow of visitors and residents into Diamond Head State Monument, and make the experience more enjoyable for all,” said Noelani Schilling-Wheeler, executive director of the O’ahu Visitors Bureau.

Top image: An aerial view shows Diamond Head crater on February 23, 2022. (Photo by Daniel Slim / AFP via Getty images)



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Which international countries have ended COVID-19, coronavirus restrictions for travelers and visitors?


UTAH (ABC4) – As states and countries are slowly relaxing COVID-19 health restrictions, many folks are eager to head out and start traveling again. Many international destinations still require some form of COVID-related restriction such as allowing only vaccinated travelers or requiring a quarantine upon arrival.

Wondering which countries you can travel to now with open borders with no restrictions?

Popular travel site Kayak has an interactive map displaying all countries with either fully open borders, open borders with certain restrictions and countries that have fully closed borders.

According to Kayak, 25 countries have fully open borders with no travel restrictions, 164 countries have open borders but require either a quarantine and/or a negative COVID test, and 37 countries are completely restricted to all travelers who are not citizens.

As of March 29, 2022, these are the 25 countries with fully open borders:

  • Aruba
  • Bahrain
  • Costa Rica
  • Curaçao
  • Denmark
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Faroe Islands
  • Gabon
  • Gibraltar
  • Guam
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Jordan
  • Maldives
  • Mexico
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Puerto Rico
  • Romania
  • Slovenia
  • United Kingdom
(Mao showing countries with travel restrictions (Courtesy of Kayak.com)

When traveling, experts say it’s important to check each country’s travel entry requirements before booking any tickets or making plans. Countries with restrictions may also accept a variety of COVID-19 tests. All travel information can be found on each country’s official government travel site.

What should I do if I get COVID-19 while in another country?
Experts say if you contract COVID while abroad, it’s critical to adhere to local authority recommendations which may include hospitalization, self-isolating, and testing.

“Be sure to contact your travel insurance company and travel provider as well and inform them of your situation,” says Kayak.

What should I do if the borders of the country I am visiting close?
“Depending on your home country, you may need to change your departure date and return home as soon as possible,” advises Kayak. “If that’s the case, contact your travel provider to find the earliest departure.”

Opening statuses and entry restrictions can change, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on all current requirements.

To check out the full list of countries you can travel to and for the most current travel tips, click here.



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Anguilla Relaxing Entry Protocols for Vaccinated Visitors


Anguilla is easing traveler entry protocols by waiving online travel authorization requirements for fully vaccinated travelers ages 18 and over, said Anguilla Tourist Board officials in a statement.

Citing new Ministry of Health guidelines issued in accordance with the country’s “evolving Covid-19 exit strategy,” effective April 1 vaccinated travelers are no longer required to apply for permission to enter Anguilla via the IvisitAnguilla.com travel portal.

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Visitors arriving in Anguilla will still be required to present evidence of their Covid immunization status with an approved vaccine and proof of a negative RT-PCR Covid-19 test result obtained within three days of travel or a rapid antigen test taken within two days of travel.

Additionally, Anguilla will eliminate arrival testing for visitors who have been fully vaccinated within the last six months, and for persons who’ve received a booster dose where completion of the primary, full vaccination series occurred six months or more prior to arrival. A valid negative test result must be presented prior to arrival, ATB officials said.

Vaccinated adults and minors who received a full primary course more than six months prior to arrival but have not received a booster dose are still considered fully vaccinated and will not need to apply for entry via the Anguilla portal. ATB officials say such visitors will be subject to testing on arrival for a $50 per person fee. These travelers must also present a negative Covid-19 test result prior to arrival.

Travelers arriving in Anguilla without appropriate documentation (including proof of vaccination and test results) will be required to return to their country of origin. Guests who are unable to return immediately will be required to complete arrival and exit tests, and quarantine for five days at their own expense.

Each quarantine visitor will be charged a fee of $200 in addition to any fines for unapproved entry. Unvaccinated visitors who are granted a medical exemption will be required to apply for entry on the Anguilla portal, test on arrival, quarantine for five days and receive a negative test result to exit quarantine as well as pay a $100 per-person fee.

For the latest insight on travel around the world, check out this interactive guide:



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Central America struggles to bring back international visitors


The wooden platform surrounding the temple can hold up to 20 people, allowing them to catch a view of the sunset over the nearby lagoon. But on that day, there were no more than 10 tourists, a tour guide and the park keeper.

Countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Belize were popular with adventure travelers before the pandemic hit. Adrenaline-filled activities such as climbing the Mayan ruins, year-round surfing, diving and exploring the jungle attracted millions of visitors from all over the world. But even as travel resumed in 2021, Central America has struggled to bring back international tourists.

In the first nine months of 2021, combined data from the local tourist authorities for Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and El Salvador show that international tourist arrivals across these four countries were about 35 percent of what they were in 2019.

The sector is still lagging, and while there were signs of recovery in October and November in some countries, the omicron variant is another obstacle on the way back to growth.

Danny Callaghan, chief executive of the Latin American Travel Association (LATA), a U.K.-based group that promotes travel in the region, said that between surges in 2021, travelers were booking and inquiring about Central America.

“But there are challenges … as well as lack of clarity around crossing borders,” he said. “Consumers are extremely wary of the possibility of conditions for return being imposed, with the onerous costs that often apply.”

Because of that hesitancy, hospitality businesses and tourism companies are having to reinvent themselves.

Isaac Herrera, 42, an independent tour guide based in El Salvador, has shifted to offering only small private tours. He works in Metapán, an area filled with waterfalls and hiking trails.

“It has been much better because this way people feel safer,” he says. “I don’t mix groups. Instead, I work with people who already know each other, like friends or families.”

But the private tour route does not always guarantee success in this time of crisis, said Jesús Yat, 61. He works as a tour guide in Petén in Northern Guatemala, commonly known as the “Heart of the Mayan World” for its archaeological ruins. Yat gives tours around landmarks such as Tikal — a UNESCO World Heritage site — and Yaxhá.

“There are weeks where I do not find any clients requesting my services,” he says. “For now, the majority of visitors are locals, and they have visited the sites two or three times already, so they do not require my services.”

In Flores, Guatemala, the four-star Isla de Flores hotel has relied on locals to help weather the pandemic and only recently began receiving international guests — a major shift from their usual business.

“Before the pandemic, we only received international tourists,” says hotel manager Carla Rodríguez, 32. “But after, we started working only with locals, and for that, we had to lower our rates. Until this summer, we had only Guatemalan tourists. Since then, it has been picking up. It is about 50-50 now.”

There have been very few people coming into Guatemala from abroad. In October, there were 50,154 foreign visitors, less than a third during the same month in 2019, according to the latest data from INGUAT, the national tourism institute. While this was a slight improvement on the previous month — arrivals in September were down 76 percent vs. 2019 — there’s still a long way to go. In October, 29 percent of foreign visitors came from the United States.

Ana María Díaz, 34-year-old nonprofit worker, and her father, Ron Goldberg, 75, from North Carolina, flew into Guatemala in October to volunteer at an archaeological dig in Tikal. They felt comfortable visiting Guatemala only after getting vaccinated.

“I studied archaeology and one of my good friends is the director of the Tikal project,” Díaz said. “It was one of those bucket-list items. I wanted to come last year but we couldn’t because of the pandemic. But we couldn’t wait too long because it always becomes harder and harder to take time off. This was the best time; it’s near the start of the digging season.”

In the neighboring country of Belize, the story is similar. The full reopening of seaports and land borders, initially scheduled for the end of 2021, has now been pushed back to February because of the omicron surge. Tourists flying into Belize can enter with a negative test result and have a certified accommodation.

Tour operator Tukán Travel Belize launched in 2019, just before the pandemic. The company invested thousands of dollars in equipment and was able to pay it off in a few months while business was good, says assistant manager Celine Neal, 27.

They have managed to survive and are hopeful for a better year in 2022. Even with the spread of omicron, they have experienced in recent weeks an increase in last-minute bookings and scheduled tours for this year.

“Tourism in Belize has not fully recovered, but with the borders officially open in 2022, more tourists will be allowed to visit, and it will make it much easier for travelers,” Neal says.

The tourism Central America had in 2021 from outside the region consisted of mostly North American visitors. As European border openings and requirements fluctuated in 2021, visitors saw Central America as an alternative. As international travel picks up this year, it is essential that tourists from other parts of the world comes back to Central America, Callaghan says.

“We have really pretty locations,” says Efraín Zacarías, the manager of Raíces del Lago, a restaurant in Flores, Guatemala. “I want to say to international tourists not to be scared, because we have all the protocols in place.”



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New Zealand Announces It Will Open To Visitors Earlier Than Planned


New Zealand’s prime minister recently announced that the country’s borders will soon reopen to most tourists.

The announcement, and its timing, were welcomed by New Zealand’s citizens and tourists alike because it moves the reopening time frame up considerably.

A previous reopening plan stipulated that citizens from countries such as the U.S., Canada, and the UK wouldn’t be able to visit New Zealand until July 2022. Now, however, tourists from Australia who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will be able to visit New Zealand beginning April 12, and fully vaccinated tourists from countries including the U.S. can begin visiting New Zealand May 1.

“We’re ready to welcome the world back,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, according to The Guardian. “New Zealand will be ready with open arms.”

A Strict Closure

New Zealand closed its borders in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began and has essentially remained that way since then. While the closure is credited with saving thousands of lives, it also came at a steep cost.

New Zealand is known for its beautiful scenery and adventure tourism. Indeed, tourism is a multibillion-dollar industry that accounts for as much as 16 percent of the country’s annual gross domestic product, according to NPR. During the pandemic, however, those numbers plummeted due to the lack of tourists.

“Closing our border was one of the first actions we took to stop COVID-19, over two years ago. We have now received guidance that it is safe to significantly bring forward the next stage of our border reopening work: Our tourists,” Ardern announced, according to NPR. “The reopening will spur our economic recovery throughout the remainder of the year.”

Here’s why the accelerated reopening is possible. Just over 96 percent of the country’s population over the age of 12 is now either fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or they have also received a booster, according to New Zealand’s Ministry of Health. Secondly, while 14,148 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in New Zealand on March 17, that number is dramatically down from the country’s record one-day high number of 39,814 new cases recorded on March 11, 2022, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.

The Reopening Timeline

New Zealand announced on Wednesday that beginning at 11:59 p.m. on April 12, fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents can enter New Zealand without the need to isolate themselves or enter a managed isolation quarantine facility.

Then, beginning at 11:59 p.m. on May 1, fully vaccinated visitors from visa waiver countries – such as the U.S. – and visitors from other countries who already hold a valid visitor visa can enter New Zealand without the need to isolate themselves or enter a managed isolation quarantine facility.

You can find the full details about tourists visiting New Zealand here.

Know Before You Go

If you are thinking about traveling to New Zealand, keep in mind that the country has seen a recent surge in cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. However, the daily and weekly cases counts are declining.

It should be noted, however, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added New Zealand to its Level 4 list of countries with very high levels of COVID-19 on March 7. The CDC bluntly states “Avoid travel to New Zealand.”

While you’re thinking about New Zealand, be sure to read all of our coverage, including:



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Puerto Rico Drops All Entry Requirements For U.S. Visitors


Puerto Rico is joining the slew of vacation destinations loosening COVID-19 travel requirements. The U.S territory is easing up on capacity requirements, as well, thanks to falling COVID case numbers.

New Travel Rules

Starting March 10, visitors from the United States will no longer need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test in order to enter the U.S. territory. Travelers also no longer have to fill out the travel declaration form, which asks questions about vaccination status and testing. These changes only affect U.S. travelers; international travelers may still need to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test to gain entry into Puerto Rico.

Once in Puerto Rico, visitors and residents will no longer have to wear masks indoors or outdoors. Health officials are still encouraging everyone to wear a mask when they are in a crowded area with people they don’t know, and they will still require them in some high-profile places like hospitals. Officials will continue to offer voluntary testing at the airport for any visitor wishing to be tested for COVID.

Capacity Restrictions 

Puerto Rico is also lifting all capacity restrictions. That means restaurants, bars, and movie theaters can operate at full capacity (previously they could only allow 75 perfect capacity inside). The health department says it will consider capping events with more than 1,000 attendees, on a case-by-case basis. 

In addition to the lifted capacity restrictions, restaurants will no longer have to ask customers for proof of vaccination status or a negative test. However, health officials are allowing individual restaurants and bars to implement their own specific virus protocols, which can include masks and/or proof of vaccination status. 

Looking to visit the Island of Enchantment? Consider staying at one of our favorite vacation rentals during your trip to Puerto Rico. Food lovers should check out our best stops along the famed Pork Highway, and then eat and drink like a local in San Juan.



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