‘New Zealand will be the loser’: travel sector bemoans slow reopening | Travel

Lyn Rickman and her family were hoping to travel across the ditch from Australia to visit her daughter Ellie, who lives in New Zealand and is due to graduate in Auckland at the beginning of May.

“Now chances are we won’t get there, because the borders will open in a staggered way from 30 April and we’d have to quarantine,” says Rickman.

“We can’t plan anything … we’re just hoping New Zealand changes the rules. I’ll be triple-vaxxed, what more can we do? It’s hard.”

Rickman is one of many Australians frustrated by New Zealand’s gradual border reopening timeline, which keeps Australians out until at least 30 April.

Under the plan, fully vaccinated New Zealanders currently in Australia will be able to return home without quarantine from 17 January.

But fully vaccinated non-citizens won’t be able to enter the country until 30 April next year, and they will still need to isolate for a week.

The Tourism Export Council of New Zealand chief executive, Lynda Keene, is disappointed with the government’s decisions, in particular the need to have travellers self-isolate on arrival.

“The impact on international tourism businesses cannot be understated,” Keene says.

“Decisions today will affect the next five years of New Zealand’s international tourism offering. Australia will be the winner. New Zealand will be the loser.”

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents chief executive, Dean Long, has described the move as a “body blow” to the travel industry and said many were frustrated at the decision.

“It effectively means the largest source market for both [Australia and New Zealand] won’t recover until the end of 2022 and into 23,” he says.

Long says it would take up to six months for travel volume to recover properly, as tourists initially remain weary of potential lockdowns or border closures.

“This unfortunately means for New Zealand they’re going to be at the bottom of the rung for people wanting to travel for leisure purposes.

“I can’t see there being a strong snow season for New Zealand because Australians just won’t have confidence that the New Zealand government won’t close the border and lock them out and cancel flights.”

It comes as Australian tourists find themselves with limited options for travelling.

As it stands, they can only visit the UK, the US, Canada, Italy, Greece, Germany and South Africa without having to quarantine.

Justin Tighe-Umbers, the co-chair of the New Zealand Aviation Coalition, says the aviation sector is at a loss as to why the New Zealand government is taking a more conservative approach to reopening its border.

“With the latest dates for reopening, we’re months behind Australia and out of step with the rest of the world,” he says.

“We can go and visit family and friends in Australia, but there is no certainty they will be able to come see us for another five months and even if they can they’ll still have to isolate for seven days.”

“International airlines plan schedules way in advance and New Zealand is falling off the radar,” Tighe-Umbers says. “Every day that goes by without certainty, is a day they choose to put their assets elsewhere.”

Liam Nash had his hopes riding on being able to return home to New Zealand in time for Christmas. He hasn’t seen his family in 18 months.

But with the border remaining shuttered until 13 January, Nash isn’t sure when he’ll be able to make it. He’s set to start a new job in Victoria the day after it reopens.

“Planning a trip back has been a logistical nightmare,” he says. “The lack of surety surrounding the border bubble has made it difficult to plan ahead, and although I’m glad we are able to travel back from January, I’ve missed my window.

“It’s a bittersweet pill to swallow.”

New Zealand’s Covid-19 response minister, Chris Hipkins, announced the new timeline on Wednesday, conceding that it may affect plans for families hoping to be reunited over Christmas.

“A phased approach to reconnecting with the world is the safest approach to ensure risk is carefully managed. This reduces any potential impacts on vulnerable communities and the New Zealand health system,” he said.

All non-citizen travellers will need to take a Covid test upon arrival, self-isolate for seven days and can only enter the community when they return a negative test.

Chris Roberts, the chief of the Tourism Industry Aotearoa, has welcomed the certainty that comes with dates for reopening being announced but criticised the lack of clarity on when non-citizens would be able to enter the country without having to isolate.

“The government has failed to recognise the critical importance of visitors to re-establishing our connections with the world,” he says.

“This is not just about tourism. If international airlines decide to pull out of New Zealand, it may be years before they return – putting vital trade links for high-value exports and critical imports at risk.”

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Travel bans imposed to slow spread of new virus variant | DW News – latest news and breaking stories | DW

DW News

Governments across the globe have issued travel restrictions in response to a new coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa and now named “omicron” by the WHO. The South African government says the bans are an overreaction.

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Survey: ‘Slow reboot’ for long-haul business travel

While short-haul business travel is beginning to make a
comeback in certain markets, pre-pandemic levels seem to be some way off and
long-haul travel remains the furthest from reach, according to a survey of
travel industry experts.

A poll of more than 400 C-suite and senior managerial
level travel industry experts conducted by travel experiences, airport services
and travel medical company Collinson and the Centre for Aviation (CAPA) reveals
that just over a third (35 per cent) of respondents believe short-haul business
travel will hit 41 to 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in 2022, while 23 per
cent are more optimistic and expect to see a recovery of 61 to 80 per cent.
Only 8 per cent predict next year will hit 80 per cent or more of 2019 levels.

Long-haul business travel recovery is expected to take longer than
any other segment, with 86 per cent of survey respondents saying they believe
2022 will see less than two-thirds of the levels recorded in 2019. In the Asia-Pacific region, 30 per cent predict numbers won’t even hit 20 per
cent of 2019 levels.

The figures are slightly less optimistic than the findings of a recent report by the World Travel & Tourism Council and McKinsey & Company, which predicted business travel spend to reach two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022.

Todd Handcock, Asia-Pacific president for Collinson, said: “For
business travel, at this moment in time, it’s about understanding and evolving
travel risk management strategies by engaging the right professional support,
especially with the newly published ISO31030 standard…”

Other findings of the survey include a slight increase in
optimism about a 2023 recovery for the travel industry, with 37 per cent of
respondents predicting a return to 2019 levels by that time – up from 35 per
cent in a similar survey conducted in April 2021.

Forty-three per cent of industry experts polled expect
border re-opening arrangements by governments to ease or substantially ease
next year, while 32 per cent predict these agreements will evolve at different
rates throughout the year.

More than half (54 per cent) believe Covid-19 testing protocols
will remain key to re-opening borders until the end of 2022, with a further 26
per cent expecting this to continue until the end of 2023. Nearly three-quarters
(72 per cent) agree that traveller vaccine documentation is of ‘vital
importance’, and 38 per cent believe quarantine measures will remain in place
for the foreseeable future as an added layer of protection in addition to
vaccines and testing.

Seventy-four per cent of respondents said they are concerned
by reports of fraudulent Covid-19 test results and vaccination passports.

Worryingly, 79 per cent of experts said they believe travel
will feel ‘more stressful’ than before the pandemic.

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After Mostly ‘Solid’ Q3, JetBlue Projects Slow Q4 Corp. Travel Rebound

Despite a delayed corporate travel rebound, JetBlue performed better than expected in terms of third-quarter revenue, executives said Tuesday during the carrier’s earnings call.

JetBlue reported $1.97 billion in total revenue, including $1.8 billion in passenger revenue, during the third quarter, down 5.5 percent compared with the same period in 2019. Capacity for the quarter was down 0.8 percent compared with 2019.

JetBlue had expected revenue for the quarter to be down between 6 percent and 9 percent compared with 2019, but it is doing better than expected with its most recent revamp of the fare options it first introduced in 2015 as well as an uptick in demand at the end of the quarter.

JetBlue president and COO Joanna Geraghty said performance was “solid” in July and August, and then September “took the brunt” of the demand slowdown as Covid-19 cases picked up across much of the country. Those trends stabilized later in the month and have continued to improve, she said.

The pull-back in corporate demand, however, likely will continue throughout the fourth quarter. As such, along with the usual slowdown in leisure demand in the fourth quarter outside of the holidays, JetBlue projects revenue will be down between 8 percent and 13 percent for the quarter compared with 2019, with capacity down between 4 percent and 7 percent.

“We expect troughs to be challenging, exacerbated by a slower business travel recovery, but the holidays are performing meaningfully better, and we took tactical capacity actions to better align with the demand environment,” Geraghty said.

JetBlue reported net income of $130 million for the quarter, which included the benefits of the federal payroll support program. Excluding that and other special items, the carrier reported a loss of $39 million for the quarter, compared with an adjusted net income of $176 million in the third quarter of 2019.

RELATED: JetBlue Q2 earnings

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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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WTTC blames UK government for slow tourism recovery | News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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McManus: Slow down for a good, long read

The reward, he said, has been meeting other humans of almost infinite variety: cattle-herding nomads in Ethiopia, farmers in Pakistan, a cobbler in Afghanistan, an ox-cart maker in Myanmar.

And migrants, millions of migrants — some driven by war or disorder; others by economic crisis or climate change.

“Movement is mankind’s oldest survival strategy,” he wrote in one of his articles from the road for National Geographic.

“Sitting down” — that is, settling in one place — “is relatively recent,” he told me. “Moving around is in our limbic memory.”

Even the COVID-19 pandemic, which formally closed borders around the world, didn’t end informal migration. “The idea that you can block migrants with a wall is silly,” he said. “It’s an Iron Age response to a 21st century problem.”

In his travel, he has run into five wars — in Ethiopia, the West Bank, Syria, Kurdistan and Afghanistan — and a military coup in Myanmar. He has been ambushed twice and stopped by police or soldiers more than 100 times. And yet he has taken positive lessons: Most of the world is at peace, and most humans are good.

Salopek has a tip for travelers (beyond investing in good shoes): Pack good reading material.

“I must have more than 200 books in my Kindle,” he said. He just finished rereading “Chernobyl Prayer” by Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich, a collection of interviews with survivors of the 1986 nuclear accident.

“Breathtaking,” he said.

Salopek may be among the world’s most devoted practitioners of “slow journalism”: the belief that slowing down, reporting details in depth and writing at length can produce better and more accurate descriptions of the world, even in the Internet Age.

Especially in the Internet Age.

“There’s a standard media construct that compresses reality and produces stories that are digestible, and that’s understandable, because there’s so much information out there to absorb,” he said. “But this walk has reminded me how artificial that is.”

Perhaps surprisingly, we’re in the midst of a boom in longform journalism — helped by the fact that the internet offers writers more ways to publish their work, even if it doesn’t always make it easier for them to earn a living.

Salopek, like many serious readers, is a fan of The Atlantic and The New Yorker, venerable magazines that have prospered in the digital age by reinventing themselves while still focusing on quality.

Traditional newspapers have also learned that longform journalism is an essential part of their franchise — because readers want it.

If you’re looking for summer nonfiction reading, you’re in luck. There is not only a boom in longform journalism; there’s something of a boom in newsletters that help readers find the best work out there.

I’m partial to the Sunday Long Read, a weekly digest produced by journalists and guest editors that has a chatty, personalized feel. It’s also worth looking at Longreads, which offers articles from an eclectic mix of mainstream, not-quite-mainstream and downright obscure sources. For something a little more highbrow, there’s the Browser, a smart British aggregator that draws on sources across the English-speaking world.

There’s still enough summer left to improve your reading list. Happy browsing.

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