Peach Aviation to offer unlimited travel passes to revive tourism


Low-cost carrier Peach Aviation Ltd. will offer an unlimited travel pass that will allow holders to take any of the airline’s domestic flights for one month in an effort to revive the tourism industry hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Osaka-based company will begin selling a total of 150 passes from noon on Tuesday with the price ranging from 19,800 yen ($170) to 39,800 yen depending on different options, after Japan eased travel restrictions following a decline in COVID-19 cases nationwide.

Passengers head to board a Peach Aviation Ltd. aircraft at Kansai airport in Osaka Prefecture on July 1, 2021. (Kyodo)

Pass holders will be able to board on all 33 domestic routes offered by the carrier in November, the airline said, adding that it hopes people will explore different parts of the country or even enjoy so-called “workations,” allowing people to take a trip while working online.

While railway companies often sell all-you-can-ride passes, it is rare for a Japanese airline to offer such services, the company said. People aged 12 and over with a valid photo ID are eligible for the passes.

Japan saw record numbers of coronavirus cases during this summer’s fifth wave of infections, prompting the government to issue a state of emergency for Tokyo and other parts of the country that urged people to refrain from making unnecessary outings and traveling across prefectural borders.

The state of emergency as well as a quasi-state of emergency ended in September following a steady decline in COVID-19 infections nationwide.

Peach Aviation will offer two types of unlimited travel passes, which are the “lite” plan, which only covers travel fares, and the standard plan that also allows passengers to select their seats and check in one item of luggage for free.

The lite pass and standard pass will cost 19,800 yen and 29,800 yen, respectively, for the first total of 30 passes that are sold. For the remaining 120, the passes will each cost 10,000 yen more.

In July last year, Japan launched the “Go To Travel” subsidy program to promote domestic tourism that had suffered during the pandemic. But the government suspended it in December following a resurgence in COVID cases.

Tetsuo Saito, Japan’s new tourism minister, said earlier this month that he will consider when to resume it following the full lifting of the state of emergency.





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Wednesday Travel League | News, Sports, Jobs



RUSSELL, Pa. — Josh Hilliker won for the second time this season in Wednesday Travel League action after shooting the low round of 79 at Cable Hollow Golf Course.

Wayne Stoughton finished second with 82 and Robert Calph was third with 83. Hilliker and Calph tied for the low front nine with 40 and Hilliker led the back nine with 39. The B Flight champion was Dave Wallace. The winner of the Bruce “Java” Chrabasz Commissioner’s Award was Bob Kujawa.

Untied birdies were recorded by: A Flight, Hilliker (Nos.1,9,18), Gary Richardson (No. 3), and Bob North (Nos. 7,17); B Flight, John Waterman (No. 3), Lenny Leszkowicz (Nos. 6, 10), Ken Kaus, (No. 12), Don Kujawa (Nos. 9, 16, 18), and Wallace (No. 17). Closest to the pin were Hilliker (No. 2), Bob Thompson (No. 5), North (No. 11) and Wallace (No. 17).

Top point winners were Hilliker (36), Wallace (32), North (23), and Don Kujawa (19). Season points leaders are 1. Ed Tofil (482), 2. Mike Wolfe (443), 3. Stoughton (392), 4. Al Etzel (321), 5. Wallace (310), 6. Mick Dunning Sr. (273), 7. North( 266), 8. Tom Destro (256), 9. Kaus (255) and 10. Waterman (235).

This week the league plays Jackson Valley Golf Course in Warren, Pennsylvania. The first group tees off at 10:20 a.m. Limited openings are available, so golfers must be signed up at 785-2291 no later than 8 p.m. Sunday.



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‘Beautiful buildings wherever you look’: Germany’s best towns and villages, by readers | Germany holidays


Winning tip: A ‘film set’ close to the Polish border

We arrived in Görlitz, Germany’s most easterly town, to find it packed with peasants swilling beer from pewter mugs and devouring sausages to a background of drums and pipes. It was the annual medieval festival, and they take the past seriously here. That’s understandable: Görlitz is jammed with arcaded squares, ancient towers and magnificent churches that have bedazzled film-makers from Tarantino to Wes Anderson. We lucked into the building that served as the Grand Budapest Hotel – actually an art nouveau department store. We went to Poland for a beer – the town of Zgorzelec is just over the River Neisse – before returning to Görlitz for carousing, 15th-century style.
David Ellis

Black Forest bathing

Oppenau, Black Forest
Photograph: robertharding/Alamy

We had a great family holiday in the Black Forest near Oppenau. It’s a beautiful old small town but the best thing about it was the huge, public open-air swimming pool, with water slides, grassy picnic areas and a cafe. Best of all when you pay your tourist tax you receive free entry and free train travel around the Black Forest region. This means you can explore the small towns, lakes, forests and waterfalls by train.
Rebecca

Alpine views and a beach, near Munich

Sunset at Ammersee Lake, Herrsching am Ammersee.
Sunset at Ammersee Lake, Herrsching am Ammersee. Photograph: Alamy

Herrsching am Ammersee is a small town at the end of the S-Bahn line from Munich, next to Ammersee, a beautiful 15km-long glacial lake. There are views to the Bavarian Alps over 60km away, a promenade, and beaches where people swim in the summer. A short hike through the woods brings you to Kloster Andechs, a stunning Benedictine abbey on a hill overlooking the lake. The abbey brews its own beer and has a Biergarten where you can sip its brews – some with evocative names: Spezial Hell, Weizenbock and Bergbock Hell – and crunch on a Brezeln (pretzel) or two. If you over-indulge on the “hells”, Nefis, on Seestrasse, does the best Turkish meze and kebabs. Taking the boat to Dießen am Ammersee is also a must, as is hiring a bike to explore the many fairytale Bavarian villages nearby.
Tom

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Guardian Travel readers’ tips

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

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Luther’s legacy, near Berlin

Town hall, period houses and St Mary’s Church, Lutherstadt Wittenberg.
Town hall, period houses and St Mary’s Church, Lutherstadt Wittenberg. Photograph: Alamy

Lutherstadt Wittenberg is a beautiful town less than an hour by train from Berlin. It’s the perfect place for a day trip or overnight stay. For a cheap stay, Wittenberg Youth Hostel (€28.50) is next to where, according to some accounts, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses. It’s a beautiful place, especially if you are a fan of reformation history. The market square is stunning at sunset, and there is a shop where you can by anything in Martin Luther form, including a tiny Lego Luther.
Ellen

Into the Harz mountains, Lower Saxony

Goslar Glockenspiel
Goslar Glockenspiel. Photograph: McCanner/Alamy

I recommend Goslar, a Unesco-listed city in an untouched area in the Harz mountains. It’s a beautiful old town with a charming centre. The slate-clad Kaiserringhaus has a glockenspiel (pictured) and automatons that chime regularly each day. The enchanting figures act out scenes from Goslar’s mining past. Parts of the Martkbrunnen fountain date back to the 12th century, adding to the timeless atmosphere of the centre. A great trip from Goslar is to take a scenic ride on the narrow-gauge, steam Brocken railway, an ideal way to see some of the least-known natural landscapes in Germany.
Gerard Gordon

Medieval magic, northern Bavaria

Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Photograph: Alamy

The fortified hilltop city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is not just a beautiful place to visit but one of Germany’s most significant historical centres. Ringed by a huge defensive wall punctuated by towering city gates, the enclosed warren of narrow streets, lanes and alleyways are a delight to wander. Lush parks and gardens are to be stumbled across among the quintessentially German medieval architecture of half-timbered and brightly painted and decorated buildings. Cafes, restaurants and beer halls abound, as do museums, not least the glittery Christmas Museum, the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum and the Imperial City Museum, celebrating the town’s long and prestigious history.
Graeme Black

Architectural oddity near the North Sea

Bremen readers pic
Photograph: Nigel Gann

Bremen is a fascinating, beautiful small city with ancient streets, a lively Marktplatz, art at the Kunsthalle from such diverse sources as Masolino, Dürer, Monet, Van Gogh, Beckmann, Cage and Paik, and the fine Theater am Goetheplatz. There’s great countryside around, with nature parks, castles and Bremerhaven, where there’s the excellent German Maritime Museum. There are loads of good restaurants outside and in, with sensible Covid restrictions. The Böttcherstraße, which hosts a plethora of arts and crafts shops, is a remarkable piece of interwar architecture, and there’s a hotel right in the middle of it in Atlantis House. The walks along the River Weser are lovely too.
Nigel Gann

Where Bach played the organ, Thüringen

View over the old town of Muhlhausen
Photograph: Alamy

Mühlhausen, in Thüringen in the former GDR, is a small town with a huge history. The young JS Bach was organist here, and you can hear organ music in the church where he worked. Earlier, the theologian Thomas Müntzer, who opposed both the Roman Catholic church and Martin Luther, preached here and was executed outside the city in 1525. The medieval centre is one of the largest in Germany, with beautiful churches and buildings wherever you look. There are lovely old wooden doors, behind one of which is the town hall where a friendly civil servant can lead you to the amazing painted council chamber. The train journey goes through quiet countryside to the sleepy station, far from the bustle of the big cities.
Barbara Forbes

Wonky wonder, Bavaria

the medieval town of Dinkelsbuhl on the romantic road
Photograph: Laura Di Biase/Alamy

Not too far from Nuremberg is the red-roofed medieval town of Dinkelsbühl. A trout-filled river, a city wall reminiscent of Carcassonne, and more taverns than you can shake a schnitzel at. In the middle of July the town is overflowing with lederhosen-wearing young people swilling beer at bunting-bedecked trestle tables in the central square – all as part of the Children’s Festival, which marks the town’s escape from decimation by the Swedish army when the general took pity on the local peasant children. Brightly coloured doors, wonky windows and curious cobbled streets make Dinklesbuhl a fantastic historic stay.
Rosey

Handsome and Hanseatic, Lübeck

Holsten Gate (Holstentor), Lübeck
Holsten Gate (Holstentor), Photograph: Alamy

The moment you walk through Lübeck’s Unesco-listed Holstentor Gate (pictured) you find a city stuffed with treats. As the former capital of the Hanseatic League, it abounds in history and culture, and has the added bonus of being within a few kilometres of wide, sandy beaches. The highlight for me, though, was savouring the tastes and sights of its edible claim to fame: marzipan. After walking down Breite Straße and sampling Niederegger Café’s signature nut tart, I visited the free museum upstairs and saw, among other fascinating exhibits, lifesize, local figures, including novelist Thomas Mann, sculpted from almond paste.
Rod



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Las Vegas excited to welcome back international tourists


LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — For the first time in 21 months, millions of fully vaccinated international tourists will be allowed to visit the United States starting on Nov. 8, and Las Vegas will be one of their top travel destinations.

For months, local experts have said Las Vegas’ tourism numbers are strong but they’re not quite back to where they were pre-pandemic. The lack of international tourists is a big reason why.

RELATED: Las Vegas’ economic impact as international travel is set to return

In 2019, Las Vegas welcomed about 5.7 million international travelers, bringing an economic impact of $4.8 billion for the city, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Each of the past two years, Las Vegas has lost out on nearly all of that money because of COVID-19 related travel bans.

A lot of local industries depend on those travelers, from hotels to casinos to conventions, but perhaps none more so than the wedding industry.

Before the pandemic, international weddings accounted for about 90% of Joni Moss-Graham’s wedding planning business, “LV Wedding Connection.” She says she’s happy to start getting some of that business back, especially since there are about 30 international couples who did not cancel their plans with her and have been waiting for the borders to reopen so they can have their wedding in Las Vegas.

“Now, with the news today, we’re really excited,” she said. “And I’m even more excited to tell you that even before the news came out today, on Monday of this week I got my first booking from France for November already, and another one coming on board for Dec. 27. So, they’re ready. They want to come.”

“I’m excited,” added Moss-Graham. “I really love the international travelers because they love being here, they’re honored to come to the United States, and of course Vegas. And thirdly, ‘we’re getting married.'”

She says her biggest concern now is making sure all the businesses she works with, such as catering, transportation, decorations and more, have enough staff to service all the couples who want to get married in the marriage capital of the world.

LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill sent 13 Action News a statement that reads:

“Today marks an important turning point in the recovery of international visitation essential to Las Vegas’ tourism industry. This milestone is also significant and welcome news for many of our major tradeshows and conventions that draw exhibitors and attendees from around the world. We appreciate the federal administration working alongside the travel industry to advocate for a safe reopening of international travel beginning on November 8. We are excited to welcome back our sorely missed international visitors.”





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Travel Tip: Travel Agents and How to Successfully Work With One


For those of you who think the days of the travel agent are gone, you might want to think again. New research by AAA confirms what many of us already knew — travel agents are here to stay.

In fact, the study shows that 27 million of us are planning to use a travel agent within the next year. The reason most often cited is the value travel agents offer when things go wrong — flight delays, hotel cancellations, weather, etc.

Surprisingly, the study also found that younger travelers are using travel agents and millennials are just as likely as baby boomers to use a travel agent.

The key to successfully using a travel agent is specialization. Don’t just use one travel agent. Use the ones that specialize in where you want to go or what you want to do when you get there.

Photo Credit: Basher Eyre





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Hawaii’s tourism industry prepares for loosened national travel restrictions for fully vaccinated visitors – Honolulu, Hawaii news, sports & weather


Friday’s announcement was welcomed news for many people in the tourism industry including here in Hawaii. Bruce Fisher, owner of Hawaii Aloha Travel, says international visitors are better for the local economy because they tend to stay longer and spend more. The industry is hopeful for a more vibrant 2022 but right now Hawaii still has travel restrictions in place for visitors from many foreign countries. 





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Need a COVID test for an upcoming trip? Here are some tips so things go smoothly


If you need to take a COVID-19 test for your upcoming travels, you’ll find plenty of options — from spitting to swabbing, at-home to drive-through testing locations.

We needed COVID tests for our recent family trip to Hawaii, which requires proof of a negative test taken within 72 hours of travel — by an approved testing partner — to avoid a mandatory 10-day quarantine upon arrival. As of May, all non-vaccinated transpacific travelers to Maui must also take a rapid coronavirus test upon landing, offered for free at Kahului Airport.

Since we needed our initial test results so quickly, we decided to try out two methods to determine (for us) which proved the most reliant and the easiest to use, and to make sure we wouldn’t miss our flights because of late test results or, worse, end up quarantined — not a fun way to spend vacation.

Hawaii and Puerto Rico require a negative COVID-19 test result to enter, and many other states still recommend visitors and returning residents get tested. Hawaii requires visitors to take a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) from a certified Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) lab, and although the list is long, not many were accessible to us.

You can get a nasal swab PCR test at a participating CVS pharmacy (www.cvs.com) for $139. About 10 Walgreens pharmacies in Greater Boston also offer free drive-through swab tests — make sure you choose the PCR test out of the three options (https://walgreens.com/covid19testing).

Some airports offer approved COVID-19 tests for travelers heading to Hawaii, including San Francisco International Airport.
Some airports offer approved COVID-19 tests for travelers heading to Hawaii, including San Francisco International Airport.Handout

We live in Washington state and chose the free nasal swab test at our local Walgreens (available to anyone 3 and older) and a mail-in Vault Health saliva test ($119 per person), which works nationwide (https://www.vaulthealth.com).

We scheduled our Walgreens test for 72 hours before flight time, filling out all our information online in advance so the paperwork was ready when we arrived. The entire test for four of us took less than five minutes. We drove up to the pharmacy window, verified our information, swabbed our own noses, and packaged up the samples on the spot. We had our negative results back 20 hours later — a total relief.

The same day as our Walgreens test, we performed Vault’s home test. We had ordered the Vault mail-in test kits a month in advance and bought a jar of pickles and a bottle of vinegar for the test — not necessary, but we had heard that sniffing pickles, vinegar, lemon, and other tart liquids can help people generate saliva (it works). We just had to make sure no one had eaten, had anything to drink, or chewed gum within 30 minutes of taking the test.

To complete the test, we initiated a video call through Zoom with a Vault test supervisor who guided us through the process, verifying our identities and test serial numbers, and then instructing us to spit into a tube up to a black marker. The spitting part proved to be a long process (even sniffing pickle juice): It took us each about 10 to 15 minutes to generate enough saliva to fill the tube.

Then we slipped each sample into a biohazard bag that went into a UPS pre-paid package — and missed the UPS air freight drop-off time by 20 minutes, pushing back our test results by 24 hours. We took the test on a Thursday afternoon, but we didn’t receive our results until Saturday night — just 14 hours before we left for the airport. Had we planned better and known about the drop-off times, we would have had our results back within 27 hours of taking the test (times vary, of course, but Vault says it will have results to you within 24 hours of receiving them).

The biggest benefits to the Vault test: It can be completed at home, at any time of day, and at a time that works for you. It’s a great option for those living in rural areas who may not have access to drive-through test sites and for those who need results for prescheduled events, such as a wedding. But make sure you allow enough time to complete the test (you can’t rush spit) and that you know the drop-off deadlines for UPS airmail so you can avoid added stress.

Finally, if you are headed to Hawaii, you’ll need to take part in the mandatory online Safe Travels Hawaii program, which aims to mitigate the spread of COVID on the islands. Make sure you create a Safe Travels account (kids can be added under an adult’s account) so you can upload your negative test results when you receive them and complete the mandatory health questionnaire 24 hours before flying.

Here’s the catch: You must receive the negative test results and upload those to the Safe Travels website before boarding the final leg of your flight to Hawaii. Otherwise, you’ll have to quarantine for 10 days or the duration of your trip, if shorter. That means you can’t get out of quarantine even if your negative results come in after landing.

Once you upload your results and complete the health questionnaire, the program generates a QR code that you’ll need to show at the airport and at hotels during check-in.

After landing in Maui, all nonvaccinated travelers 5 and older must also take a rapid COVID test. You are exempt from this second test if you have still not received your pre-trip test results or have opted to quarantine.

Even with testing requirements or recommendations, it’s still worth it for a chance to travel again.

Kari Bodnarchuk can be reached at travelwriter@karib.us.


Kari Bodnarchuk can be reached at travelwriter@karib.us.



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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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Travel blogger Jenn Bethune’s footage of Gabby Petito’s van helped cops find her body


A travel blogger says she felt “chills” when she realized she had filmed Gabby Petito’s converted white van near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming last month — in the same area where a body believed to be the missing 22-year-old was found over the weekend.

Jenn Bethune said she discovered her footage of Petito’s van Saturday night and alerted authorities, who found the body Sunday.

In an interview with TV’s “Fox & Friends” on Monday, Bethune said someone tagged her in a social media post calling on people who were in the national park Aug. 27 to check through their videos and photos to try to help investigators searching for Petito.

“I got chills all over my body and ran right straight back to my laptop, got my GoPro footage, and lo and behold, Gabby’s van was on there,” Bethune said.

Jenn Bethune(left) and her husband Kyle realized that they had seen Gabby Petito's van on August 27, 2021 when they were in Grand Teton National Park.
Jenn Bethune (left) and her husband, Kyle, realized they had seen Gabby Petito’s van on August 27, 2021, when they were in Grand Teton National Park.
Red White & Bethune/YouTube

Bethune said she and her husband, Kyle, remembered seeing the van as they drove through the park that day but “didn’t think anything of it” at the time.

“The reason why we noticed the van is because we’re from Florida, and the van had Florida plates, and we wanted to stop by and say hi,” she said. “But the van was very dark, closed up, looked like no activity, so we ended up just keeping driving.

“Each of these dispersed camping spots are kind of tucked away behind the trees,” Bethune added. “It was very busy. It was pretty full that day we were there.”

According to Bethune, the van was dark, closed up and empty so she and her husband paid it no mind and kept driving.
According to Bethune, the van was dark, closed up and empty, so she and her husband kept driving.
Red White & Bethune/YouTube

She said she only made the connection between the van and the Petito case after being tagged in the social media post.  

Bethune, who posted her footage of the van on her YouTube page Sunday before authorities revealed they had found a body, said she spoke to Petito’s mother after realizing she’d seen the van.

“It was beautiful, we got to share some moments together on FaceTime. Just two moms, really just have a great cry,” Bethune said of her call with Petito’s mom.

Bethune said that she and her husband wanted to stop by and say hello because they saw the van had Florida plates.
Bethune said she and her husband wanted to stop by and say hello because they saw the van had Florida plates.
Red White & Bethune/YouTube

“I am so sad that we couldn’t bring her back alive. To be able to bring her home to her family, or help with that, is everything,” she added.

Petito had last spoken to her mom over FaceTime around Aug. 25 while on a tour of national parks in the converted van with her 23-year-old boyfriend, Brian Laundrie.

Laundrie returned home to Florida without Petito on Sept. 1, retained a lawyer and refused to cooperate with authorities.

Bethune revealed that she managed to speak with Petito's mother shortly before authorities found her body.
Bethune revealed that she managed to speak with Petito’s mother shortly before authorities found her body.
Red White & Bethune/YouTube

Authorities had been poring through hundreds of tips and searching large swaths of Wyoming and Utah ever since Petito was reported missing Sept. 11.

Police in Florida ended up also searching for Laundrie after his family reported him missing since he reportedly set off on a hike last week and failed to return.

An autopsy on the body found in Wyoming and believed to be Petito is scheduled for Tuesday.



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U.S. to allow vaccinated foreign travelers to enter U.S. starting Nov. 8


Southern Nevada tourism officials were peppered with the same question over and over again at an international airline conference in Italy this week.

When exactly would the U.S. ease the international travel restrictions for vaccinated flyers?

“Almost every single conversation we had with a European carrier, that was the very first question they asked,” said Chris Jones, chief marketing officer for McCarran International Airport.

The answer came just after the conference concluded, though, with the Biden administration on Friday confirming that it would lift travel restrictions to the United States on Nov. 8 for fully vaccinated individuals arriving in the U.S. by air travel or by crossing land borders. The policy change was initially announced in September, but without a formal date.

“The US’ new travel policy that requires vaccination for foreign national travelers to the United States will begin on Nov 8. This announcement and date applies to both international air travel and land travel,” Kevin Munoz, White House assistant press secretary, said on Twitter.

Jones and other officials from McCarran and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority were in Milan for the World Routes conference, which ran from Oct. 10-12. Jones said Friday that the questions were frustrating because at the time they did not have a good answer, leaving questions about when the all-important overseas travelers could return to Las Vegas.

Having that confirmed date, Jones said, “is hugely important,” as it allows the carriers to actually move forward with a firm plan in place and lets travelers finally book their flights.

“We’re talking 20 months of dormancy and that doesn’t just flip back on with the flip of a switch,” he said.

‘Demand is clearly there’

Billy Vassiliadis, principal for Las Vegas-based R&R Partners, the advertising consultant for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said he expects foreign visitors to flock to Southern Nevada the same way domestic travelers did when restrictions were lifted by local government authorities.

“I think we’re going to see, as long as we get the (airline) carriers back, we’re going to see the same sort of rush to return that we saw domestically when we reopened and when the restrictions were lifted,” Vassiliadis said.

“I think demand is clearly there. I know our Mexican flights have been doing well all along and I know our Canadian partners have been shopping it big to get it back.”

Vassiliadis said the swiftness of Biden’s planning caught him by surprise, even though tourism leaders — including his wife, Rosemary, the director of the Clark County Department of Aviation — had testified in federal hearings about the importance of bringing international travel back quickly.

He said he expects to discuss the potential for international tourism marketing campaigns with LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill and Chief Marketing Officer Kate Wik.

“Now that we have a sense of it, I’m confident that Steve and Kate will want to begin to put together a campaign,” Vassiliadis said.

The convention authority doesn’t have elaborate international marketing operations in place but has had contracted offices worldwide to spread the word about Las Vegas.

In 2020, the LVCVA board of directors unanimously canceled international marketing contracts established in May 2018, anticipating a lengthy shutdown and limited hope for getting people to vacation in Las Vegas during the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

Coveted customers

The LVCVA first launched a comprehensive international initiative in 2008. Since then, international visitation to Las Vegas has increased from 4 million people in 2008 to 6.7 million in 2017.

The authority had marketing office relationships in London; Paris; Seoul, South Korea; Shanghai, China; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and several other cities.

Vassiliadis noted the key “if” — if the foreign air carriers that have flown to Las Vegas in the past return quickly. Airlines often need up to six months of lead time to develop schedules.

It’s well documented that international travelers stay longer and spend more than most domestic travelers, but the volume of flights and passengers directly from foreign countries shows the potential impact of the new travel policies.

According to McCarran statistics, 3.8 million passengers arrived at Las Vegas’ airport directly from foreign countries in 2019 with 27 different air carriers offering scheduled service sometime during the year. Eight more carriers offered a small number of charter flights.

Most international air service was provided by four Canadian air carriers and six Latin American airlines. Other carriers provide service from Europe, Korea, China and Israel.

Substantial numbers

The largest number of passengers arriving internationally were flown by Canadian flagship carrier Air Canada, which transported 859,208 passengers to McCarran in 2019 — which was a 3.3 percent decline from the number flown in 2018.

Another big traffic generator is Westjet, a Canadian discount carrier, which flew 826,360 passengers to McCarran in 2019, a 13.1 percent decline from the number flown in 2018.

The largest Mexican traffic generator in 2019 was discount carrier Interjet, with 232,077 passengers, but the company ceased operations indefinitely in December 2020.

Other Mexican carriers operating to Las Vegas are discounters Volaris and Vivaaerobus, which were experiencing upswings in passenger traffic to McCarran at the end of 2019, and flagship carrier Aeromexico.

British rivals British Airways (326,112 passengers) and Virgin Atlantic (227,299), although flying fewer travelers than in 2018, were the biggest volume providers from Europe. Other smaller operators had fewer flights when service ended — Norwegian Air, Condor, KLM and Air France among them.

Asian carriers offered potential with Korean Air’s nonstop flights to and from Seoul, South Korea (128,571 passengers in 2019, a 5.6 percent increase from 2018), and Hainan Airlines’ nonstop routes to and from Beijing (42,539 passengers, off 18.4 percent from the previous year.)

A small contributor to the foreign passenger count came from Israel-based El Al, 11,173, which just started Tel Aviv service in 2019 before the shutdown.

Some domestic airlines — Frontier, Delta and Sun Country — flew passengers from foreign countries directly to Las Vegas, the statistics show. Other airlines have connecting flights to Las Vegas from overseas, but McCarran doesn’t track those numbers.

‘Important turning point’

Tourism industry leaders were happy about the announcement.

“Today marks an important turning point in the recovery of international visitation essential to Las Vegas’ tourism industry,” Hill said. “This milestone is also significant and welcome news for many of our major trade shows and conventions that draw exhibitors and attendees from around the world.”

Convention attendance has been hindered in the past three months by current travel restrictions with some shows clearly missing international representation.

Most recently, this month’s Global Gaming Expo attracted less than half the 27,000 attendees it normally hosts because many of them have been participants from foreign countries.

The Consumer Technology Association, sponsors of CES, believe the lifting of restrictions will boost numbers at January’s show with around a quarter of the attendees coming from foreign countries.

“Thank you to the Biden administration for lifting the travel ban on international vaccinated travelers. There is tremendous value in reopening borders, allowing us to reconnect face-to-face,” a representative of the association said in an emailed statement.

“CES 2022 registration kicked off just over a month ago and we already have tens of thousands registered for the show, with 25 percent of the registrants international,” it said. “Vaccines work, and we look forward to seeing you at CES 2022 in Las Vegas.”

CES was a virtual event in 2021. In past years, the trade show, Las Vegas’ largest, attracted nearly 180,000 people.

‘Critically important’ date

“We appreciate the federal administration working alongside the travel industry to advocate for a safe reopening of international travel beginning on Nov. 8,” Hill said. “We are excited to welcome back our sorely missed international visitors.”

Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, applauded the Biden administration for easing the restrictions and welcomed the newly announced date for welcoming back international travelers.

“The date is critically important for planning — for airlines, for travel-supported businesses, and for millions of travelers worldwide who will now advance plans to visit the United States once again,” Dow said in a statement. “Reopening to international visitors will provide a jolt to the economy and accelerate the return of travel-related jobs that were lost due to travel restrictions.”

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter. Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.





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