Virgin Atlantic has had a buoyant evening for flight bookings, following the much-anticipated reopening of the transatlantic corridor.
Bookings to the USA increased by over 600 per cent compared to the same time last week.
Would-be-travellers were boosted by an announcement from the Biden administration earlier this week that fully vaccinated UK citizens will be able to return to the US from November.
New York had the most bookings of any US city overnight.
Leisure destinations were also performing well, suggesting holidaymakers are ready for a much-needed break, with Orlando flights up 11-fold, Miami nine-fold and Las Vegas eight-fold.
Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer at Virgin Atlantic, commented: “Following the gradual relaxation of travel restrictions, we’ve seen demand increase to many of our global destinations, but the USA has always been our heartland.
“We are simply not Virgin without the Atlantic, and I’m thrilled we’re finally able to return to the country that’s so important to us.
“We’ve missed flying our customers to the USA and we can’t wait to welcome them back on board for their American adventures soon.”
He added: “The news follows a busy weekend in flight bookings for the airline, demonstrating the positive impact the relaxation of government restrictions has had on the industry.
“The simplification of rules on international travel, which include the scrapping of expensive PCR tests for the fully vaccinated, are already having a significant impact on consumer confidence, resulting in a surge in demand across Virgin Atlantic’s route network.”
Flights to the airline’s sunny destinations in the Caribbean have risen 50 per cent week-on-week, with its newest route to St Vincent and the Grenadines, set to launch on October 13th, becoming the most booked Caribbean flight.
Barbados follows closely behind, with bookings for both October half term and the Christmas break proving the most popular time to visit.
Bookings to both Jamaica and St Lucia have also doubled.
Travel blogger Jenn Bethune, who identified Gabby Petito’s van in video footage from a summer trip to Wyoming, on Tuesday reacted to news of the FBI confirming remains discovered Sunday belonged to the 22-year-old.
The agency on Tuesday said Teton County coroner Brent Blue had identified remains located in the Bridger-Teton National Forest on Sunday as Gabby Petito’s and that she had died of homicide.
“I’m tired. I’m worn out. I am exhausted. I am drained emotionally and physically,” Bethune said in a Tuesday Instagram post. “My brain is mush. My phone has been attached to the charger so much, I feel reminiscent of the corded phones I grew up with. I think I’ve consumed like 30 calories in the last 36 hours. Coffee counts, right?”
She added that her emotions have felt like a “flipping carnival ride” that keeps spinning.
“But every bit of it was worth it,” she said of the aftermath that followed her decision to publish footage of Petito’s van, which she located around the same vast campground area the 22-year-old’s remains were discovered. “It was worth it because this community came together and brought Gabby home.”
Bethune went on to say that Petito has “brought so many people together, so many hearts, beating as one.”
“She is a beacon of light and hope. And we can never fully repay her for what she’s done for us,” the travel blogger said before encouraging her followers to get Petito to 1 million subscribers on her YouTube channel, Nomadic Statik, to make her dreams of becoming a travel blogger come true.
Petito and her 23-year-old fiancé, Brian Laundrie, were traveling from New York to Oregon in a white 2012 Ford Transit van that they converted into a camper. Petito had aspirations of becoming a travel blogger and had set up a YouTube page and website under the name Nomadic Statik to get her blogging career off the ground just before she disappeared.
Petito’s Instagram and TikTok accounts also display various places she and Laundrie traveled over the summer. Her last Instagram post with a specific location was in Moab, Utah, at Arches National Park, though she published photos afterward with no location. Her last Instagram post was published three weeks ago.
Bethune’s video suggested the pair was last together in late August in Wyoming near Grand Teton National Park.
Bethune concluded: “I know I am completely spent, but that is NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING compared to what Gabby’s family is going through. I know they are hurting, they are broken, and extremely tired. But I also know that They are incredibly strong and beautiful humans and I admire them more than words can say.”
Bethune previously told Fox News that she noticed the white van that Petito and Laundrie were driving in her blogging footage after someone tagged her in a story urging her and anyone in the Tetons at the end of August to look through photos and videos for any possible clues in Gabby’s disappearance.
Petito’s family reported her missing on Sept. 11, weeks after she last spoke with her mother in late August.
Laundrie returned home to North Port, Fla., where the couple lived with Laundrie’s parents, 10 days earlier on Sept. 1 with no sign of his fiancé. Authorities recovered the van on Sept. 11, and began a forensic examination of the vehicle on Sept. 14.
Laundrie is a person of interest in the case and has since also been reported missing. North Port law enforcement officers are continuing their search Tuesday for any signs of the 23-year-old in an area of the Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve not far from Laundrie’s family home.
By CALEB JONES, Associated Press
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii officials are facing pressure to increase COVID-19 testing for travelers as the islands weather a record surge and federal guidelines change to require negative virus tests from both vaccinated and unvaccinated people coming to the U.S.
State leaders have resisted implementation of a two-test policy for arriving travelers, despite evidence that more COVID-19 testing would help reduce the spread of disease, especially in an isolated destination like Hawaii.
Earlier this summer, the state removed all testing requirements for vaccinated people.
And even with a single pre-flight test for unvaccinated travelers, experts say infected passengers can easily slip through the cracks.
Because of the incubation and latency periods of COVID-19, using just one test to prevent spread among tens of thousands of daily visitors is akin to using a chain link fence to keep out mosquitos, said Dr. Darragh O’Carroll, an emergency and disaster physician in Honolulu.
“There are a lot of holes,” O’Carroll said. “The science has been fairly conclusive since probably June of 2020 that a single test system was no more effective than 30 to 40% in catching a population of infected people.”
New federal rules announced Monday require all foreign travelers flying to the U.S. to demonstrate proof of vaccination before boarding, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Unvaccinated American citizens will need to be tested within a day before returning to the U.S., as well as after they arrive home.
O’Carroll and a number of his colleagues have been pushing state leaders to do the same, he said.
“Nobody really seemed to listen,” he said. “No matter what we said and how conclusive the science looked.”
After months of mandatory quarantines, business closures and virtually no tourists, Hawaii had among the lowest infection rates in the nation. Then, in October 2020, the state allowed travelers to skip quarantine with a single pre-flight test.
Infection rates increased, but they remained low compared to other states. Some of that has been attributed to a severely crippled tourism industry and a lack of participation in leisure travel. And some believe visitors do not see the incentive to test after arrival when facing quarantine away from home.
But when travel numbers increased this summer, so too did infection rates.
In July, Hawaii lifted its quarantine and testing requirements for vaccinated travelers. A month later the state was in the throws of a record surge of delta variant cases that were filling hospitals and leaving more people dead than at any other time in the pandemic.
Before July, Hawaii reported a seven-day average of 46 daily cases. In the first week of September, that number was up to nearly 900. Case rates have slowly begun to decline since, but experts say it’s unclear if that will hold.
Much of that was community spread fueled by the delta variant — which was introduced through travel.
Scientists say implementing additional testing measures could help.
A study published in March in the medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases showed that the risk to an overall population is reduced by only 36% through a single pre-flight test. But a two test system coupled with a short quarantine period catches a much higher rate, in excess of 70% of infected travelers, according to the study.
Lee Altenberg, an adjunct full professor in the mathematics department at the University of Hawaii, wrote that the paper “is one of very few studies available to inform policy makers in Hawaii.”
But, he said, the research was mischaracterized as proof that Hawaii’s single test system was highly effective at preventing spread. State officials said the study proved their single test system would catch 88% of all infected travelers.
“The public had the wrong impression about how much protection we were getting from the Safe Travels pretest program, and you can’t make good policy if you don’t have accurate information,” Altenberg said.
“We need to get absolutely serious about our travel protocols,” Altenberg added. “And if we’re laboring under the misimpression that (Safe Travels) is preventing 90% of infections, we’re not going to get serious about those protocols.”
The authors of the study said that the 88% figure represents the percentage of contagious people that would be detected on the day of travel, not the overall reduction of risk to a destination population.
The difference between “infected” and “infectious” is important, said one of the study’s co-authors.
“There obviously are people that … will develop an infection but are not yet infectious,” said Dr. Nathan Lo, faculty fellow in infectious diseases at the University of California, San Francisco and co-author of the study. “And those people will not be detected necessarily.”
Gov. David Ige did not respond to an interview request, but the state did announce Monday that 1 million free rapid tests are being provided for routine testing of Oahu residents.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green told The Associated Press that decisions about testing are ultimately up to the governor, but noted that Hawaii’s single test policy is more than other states in the U.S. have done, helping keep the islands safe.
“If the mayors want to do additional testing, I absolutely support that,” Green said. “Offering voluntary take-home antigen tests upon arrival for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers could offer additional protection given the delta variant’s highly infectious nature.”
But Green said the single test system is more than any other state, except for Alaska, has done in terms of travel testing. Alaska is also dealing with a record surge of COVID-19 that has crippled the state’s health care system.
“We’ve done more than everyone else, we’ve done a better job than everyone else,” Green said.
Dr. Mathew Kiang, an epidemiologist and professor at Stanford University, was the lead author on the Lancet study. He worries about the lack of routine travel testing as well as so-called breakthrough infections for those who are vaccinated. Experts say the shots help reduce the severity of the illness, but people who get infected could spread it to others.
“There’s a lot we still aren’t quite sure about for … breakthrough infections, especially in terms of asymptomatic spread,” Kiang said. But “we know delta is one of many variants of concern and this is going to keep evolving over time.”
Kiang said additional testing “allows you to bring in more visitors and it allows you to ramp up the economy.”
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — Authorities in northwest Florida said they are aware of a photo that shows someone who “fits the description” of Brian Laundrie walking on a trail in Okaloosa County, according to WKRG.
Sam Bass captured a photo of the man on his trail camera and shared it on Facebook.
“I’m not saying this is the guy but whoever was on my trail camera this morning in Baker (Florida) strongly fits the description of Brian Laundrie,” Bass wrote on Facebook. “Authorities have been contacted but people in the North West Florida area be on the look out.
The photo has been shared over 23,000 times on Facebook. The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement on Tuesday and said they are aware of the photo.
“We wanted to let you know we are aware of this report and are actively checking it out,” the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. “There is no confirmation of this information. Obviously we will keep everyone in the loop if and when there is anything to report.”
The disappearance and almost-certain death of Gabby Petito and the police hunt for her boyfriend have generated a whirlwind online, with a multitude of armchair detectives and others sharing tips, possible sightings and theories by way of TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.
Whether the frenzy of attention and internet sleuthing has helped the investigation is not clear, but it has illuminated the intersection between social media and the public’s fascination with true-crime stories.
“This is one of the first cases where we really see in the public spotlight just what social media can do with regards to potentially solving a case or tracking down evidence,” Ráchael Powers, an associate professor of the Department of Criminology at the University of South Florida, told WFLA.
On the flip side, Powers said this type of access to information can overwhelm investigators.
“Someone has to sort through all of those tips to find out which ones are really relevant and can help the investigation versus which ones are well-meaning but perhaps are barking up the wrong tree,” Powers said.
Months before her disappearance drew more than a half-billion views on TikTok, Petito, 22, and 23-year-old boyfriend Brian Laundrie set out from Florida on a cross-country road trip over the summer in a van she decorated boho-chic style.
They documented their adventure on video and invited social media users to follow along on the journey, sharing scenes of a seemingly happy couple cartwheeling on a beach, hiking on mountain trails and camping in the Utah desert.
But they quarreled along the way, and Laundrie returned home alone in the van in September. Over the weekend, a body believed to be Petito’s was discovered at the edge of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Investigators have not said how she died but have identified the now-missing Laundrie as a person of interest.
Social media users have been fascinated by the case and have been poring over the wealth of online video and photos for clues.
“A lot of it has to do with the cross-country journey they were documenting, going on social media on this grand adventure,” said Joseph Scott Morgan, a Jacksonville State University professor of forensics and an authority on high-profile murder cases. And he added: “They are young, they are attractive people.”
Another source of fascination: a police bodycam video, released last week, showing the couple after they were pulled over in August in Moab, Utah, where the van was seen speeding and hitting a curb. They had gotten into a fight, and Petito was in tears, with Laundrie saying tension had been building between them because they had been traveling together for months.
Theories and observations picked up steam on Reddit, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter.
Users have delved into Petito’s Spotify music playlists, Laundrie’s reading habits and the couple’s digitally bookmarked trails. A TikTok user reported having picked up Laundrie hitchhiking.
And a couple who document their bus travels on YouTube said they went through some of their video footage from near Grand Teton and spotted what they said was the couple’s white van. They posted an image of it with a big red arrow pointing to it and the words, “We found Gabby Petito’s van.” They said that was what led investigators to the area where the body was found.
The FBI has not specified what led to the discovery or said whether other tips from internet sleuths have helped.
Michael Alcazar, a retired New York City detective and professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that Petito’s Instagram account gave investigators places to start and that social media became a rich source of tips.
“Instagram is kind of like the photo on the milk carton, except it reaches so many people quickly,” he said.
On the other hand, some users have spread misinformation, reporting potential sightings of Petito and Laundrie that turned out to be wrong.
Hannah Matthews, a TikTok user from Salt Lake City, admitted becoming obsessed with the case, saying she identified with Petito and felt that could have been her. She has made 14 short videos detailing theories of what could have gone wrong and providing updates on the case. One of them suggests Petito did not write one of her Instagram posts. It has gotten nearly 2 million views.
“It just seemed like an odd case from the beginning and after doing more research and (collaborating) with other people on social media, the case just kept growing and having twists and turns,” she said.
As of Tuesday, the hashtag #gabbypetito had received more than 650 million views on TikTok. By way of comparison, #FreeBritney posts about pop star Britney Spears’ bid to end her conservatorship had gotten 1.9 billion views.
“There’s a lot of different complicated reasons that people are drawn to it, and it’s not all sinister or malicious or creepy,” said Kelli Boling, a professor of advertising and public relations at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who has studied audience reception to true-crime podcasts.
She said those fascinated by such cases are sometimes domestic-violence victims who find that such material can help them deal with their own experiences.
“Some people are really drawn to it from a place of healing, or from a place of wanting to find justice for the young lady,” Boling said.
While expressing sympathy for Petito, some have detected what they see as a racial double standard, complaining that the media and online sleuths are heavily invested in this case because she is young and white.
“There are a lot of women of color, and especially immigrants, this happens to all the time, and we never hear about it,” said Alex Piquero, a criminologist at the University of Miami.
In the same state where Petito was found, at least 710 Native Americans were reported missing between 2011 and late 2020.
Also, an LGBT couple who lived in a van were reported missing and later found shot to death at a campsite near Moab, not long after Petito and her boyfriend were stopped by police there. The deaths of Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner generated some media coverage but nothing like the Petito case.
The case also came at a time when interest in cross-country travel, especially in vans or recreational vehicles, is at a high, perhaps as a reaction to the isolation forced on people by the COVID-19 outbreak. The couple’s plans sounded like something out of a romantic movie gone terrible awry, Piquero said.
“It has this whole air of intrigue,” he said. “People have a real fantasy about being able to solve crimes.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
SYLVA, NC (FOX Carolina)- A bronze sculpture of Harriet Tubman is now on display in downtown Sylva, according to a release from the Jackson County NAACP.
The statue, entitled “Journey to Freedom” is a nine foot, 240 pound sculpture that depicts Harriet Tubman helping a young girl escape slavery, according to the NAACP.
The statue will be in Sylva until December 20 and will be featured in Bridge Park, the release says.
According to the NAACP, the statue’s stay in Sylva is part of a national tour.
A celebration of the sculpture will be held on September 26 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. featuring a keynote by University of Alabama scholar Dr. Vincent Willis, musical performances, readings and more, the NAACP says.
The sculpture was made by Cashiers native and Academy and Emmy award winner Wesley Wofford, according to the release.
Copyright 2021 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
The U.S. Travel Association will hold a press conference Tuesday morning as the international IPW travel trade event continues at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The association bills IPW as a “national showcase of America, where U.S. travel exhibitors connect with travel buyers and media from more than 70 countries to promote their product, negotiate future business and build relationships.”
It says the international inbound travel trade show drives $5.5 billion in future travel to the United States.
Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, kicked off the 52nd IPW with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday at the convention center’s new West Hall.
“We are thrilled to reconnect with our travel colleagues face to face over the next few days, igniting new business and inspiring a fierce comeback for international inbound travel, an effort that we will achieve through our work together,” he said at an opening ceremony.
The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) said that it’s preparing for the start of the Antarctic travel season following “months of discussion and collaboration with Antarctic gateways.”
The organization, which turned 30 this year, held a meeting with members on Sept. 16 to discuss operations for the season ahead following recently released COVID-19 parameters for travel from Antarctic Gateways Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas).
“The past year-and-a-half has been challenging as we’ve learned more about COVID-19, and we and our members have constantly been re-evaluating the feasibility of a season. This has required a great deal of flexibility and agile working on behalf of our members and conversations are continuing as the season draws closer,” said IAATO’s Executive Director, Gina Greer.
The association, which has more than 100 members worldwide, said that it has been working hard over the last 16 months to deliver recommendations regarding COVID-19 protocols when Antarctic operations resume in late 2021. It said that much of this work has involved close collaboration with Antarctic gateway countries.
Some members have taken the difficult decision not to operate for the 2021-2022 season, but for the majority, preparations are continuing, IAATO said.
IAATO explained that one of its strengths is “the willingness of the membership to set competitive interests aside to come together to act for Antarctica by sharing best practice for safe and responsible operations.”
“This approach resulted in the formation of IAATO’s COVID-19 Advisory Group (CAG) in June 2020,” IAATO wrote. “The CAG has leveraged the strength, skills, and experience of IAATO’s existing committees and working groups, as well as the expertise of the secretariat, stakeholders, and worldwide industry standards to lead the organization through the challenges and complexities of the pandemic.”
IAATO wrote that as the traditional start of the Antarctic season draws closer, the CAG has continued to closely monitor global developments as restrictions on travel begin to ease, communicating with Antarctic Gateway countries and other polar stakeholders as governments release their policies and protocols, sharing regular updates with the wider membership.
“Over the last two months, gateway governments released initial guidance. Operators have raised questions about the feasibility of some requirements given the diverse nature of the IAATO membership, which ranges from yachts carrying no more than 12 people to large cruise vessels,” the association explained.
Greer said that IAATO’s work with the Antarctic Gateway authorities is a “critical part” of pre-season preparations.
“(I)t is important to IAATO and its members that the diversity of the IAATO membership is reflected within gateways’ COVID-19 protocols so that they can be applied to all responsible tourism providers … It’s been encouraging to see the recent guidance from Argentina and Chile relating to Antarctic tourism, but the reality is that it will be challenging for some operators to implement. There are still a lot of questions and we’re working through them with the Gateway authorities,” she shared.
IAATO said that its usual pre-season preparations continue. IAATO operators must operate under a permit or authorization from an Antarctic Treaty Party or relevant government, submitting their Advance Notification and Environmental Impact Assessment to IAATO ahead of the Antarctic season.
“While the impact of the pandemic has created challenges for the association and its members, IAATO’s mission of advocating and promoting the practice of safe and environmentally responsible Antarctic tourism endures. IAATO Committee and Working Group efforts throughout the last year have supported the organization in honing its policies and strategies to protect Antarctica while enabling Antarctic travelers to have a safe, enriching, educational experience,” the association wrote.
As the show returns to Dubai, AHIC founder Jonathan Worsley has been honoured for his contribution to tourism in the Middle East.
Anita Mendiratta, special advisor to the secretary general of the UNWTO, presented the Bench chairmen with a letter of special recognition.
The letter, from Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary general of the UNWTO, thanked Worsley for stepping forward to keep the hospitality and tourism industry connected, informed, innovative and inspired from the outset of the pandemic.
He was credited with visionary leadership and using technology to deliver numerous virtual and hybrid events, step-changing how the industry connects.
Surprised and delighted to receive the recognition, Worsley dedicated it to the team at Bench that have worked tirelessly to ensure AHIC returned in 2021, live in person.
Airbus has become a member of the new DAX40 index in Germany.
Deutsche Börse completed the expansion of the DAX from 30 to 40 companies earlier as part of a comprehensive reform process and appointed Airbus, among others, to the German premium index.
“We are very pleased to be appointed to the newly formed DAX.
“We believe that Airbus has found its place in this index due to its economic size and performance.
“This inclusion allows us to better represent Airbus’ historic industrial significance in Germany and highlight our innovative and diverse portfolio of activities too,” said Guillaume Faury, Airbus chief executive.
“The inclusion in Germany’s most important stock market index is both a motivation and a responsibility to continue our strong strategic presence in the country. We are proud of our European roots.”
With this inclusion in the DAX40, Airbus will no longer be a member of the MDAX, to which it has belonged since the listed European aerospace group was founded in 2000.
Airbus shares are traded at three European stock exchanges: in Paris, where Airbus has been a fixed component of the premium CAC40 index since 2000; in Frankfurt and in Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Valencia).