NSW Covid update: Sydney’s eastern suburbs cluster grows as Queensland asks residents to reconsider travel | New South Wales

New South Wales has recorded a third Covid case connected to the eastern suburbs cluster, as the premier, Gladys Berejiklian, told residents to be on “high alert” but did not announce any new restrictions.

A fourth case in another part of Sydney, believed to be unconnected and possibly a false positive, was also announced.

The latest Sydney outbreak was first discovered on Wednesday, when a limousine driver who transported flight crew tested positive. The driver had not been vaccinated, despite being a frontline worker.

Genomic testing has also revealed the current eastern suburbs outbreak to be the Delta variant, and a match for a strain that had been “uploaded in the US”.

It comes as Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the reintroduction of travel declarations for anyone entering the state ahead of the school holidays and asked residents to reconsider travel to greater Sydney.

When asked why the driver had not been vaccinated, Berejiklian said the number of contractors and new employees in the quarantine system meant it could not be guaranteed that “100%” of workers would be vaccinated.

“People who are employed directly by police or NSW Health have all been vaccinated, but we also have to appreciate there are new people coming in every day to the system,” she said on Thursday morning.

“We have literally tens of thousands of people involved in our hotel quarantine system. We’ve vaccinated all the permanent employees and those in the system a while but every day there are new people, subcontractors of subcontractors coming into the system.”

On Thursday morning, the state recorded two new locally acquired cases: a woman in her 70s and a man in his 40s. They followed the two cases announced the night before: the driver and a household contact.

The woman in her 70s had tested positive in the eastern suburbs, with transmission likely occurring at a cafe in Vaucluse, according to the state’s chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant,

The man in his 40s tested positive in Baulkham Hills in the city’s north, but Berejiklian said NSW Health was still determining if it was a false positive or an old case, because the “viral load in his system was very low”. The premier said this case could not yet be linked to the eastern suburbs until more tests were conducted.

However, the woman in her 70s has been linked to the eastern suburbs cluster, which now numbers three, including the limousine driver and his wife, who tested positive on Wednesday.

Chant, said the woman in her 70s had attended Bell Cafe in Vaucluse “at the same time as the driver on June 13”.

“We consider all people who were at that cafe at the same time as the driver to be close contacts and they must all be tested and isolate for 14 days after that visit. Because we’ve had transmission at that cafe, we’re urging everyone to take the request for testing seriously.”

Victoria recorded no new locally acquired Covid cases on Thursday, and a further easing of restrictions is still scheduled for the state on Friday. For Melbourne, the 25km travel restriction will be lifted, masks will no longer be always required outdoors, and in Melbourne and regional Victoria caps on visitors to homes will be raised.

In NSW, Berejiklian stopped short of announcing any lockdowns or restrictions, but asked people to refrain from large social gatherings “unless you absolutely have to”.

“At this stage, all we’re asking people to do is be on extra high alert, especially in the eastern suburbs,” the premier said.

“Unless you absolutely have to attend a large gathering, unless you absolutely have to engage in activities of a social nature in the next few days, we ask everybody to refrain from that, to be extra careful, to make sure you hand sanitise and socially distance.”

Berejiklian said people should “modify their activity” for the “next few days”.

Berejiklian said it was not mandatory to be vaccinated to work in transporting flight crew but “we have very strong recommendations”.

The NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, called on NSW residents to get vaccinated.

“It should be a salutary reminder to all of us that you should get vaccinated,” he said. “You can’t hide from what’s happening in the world. As soon as your turn comes, go and get vaccinated.”

From 1am on Saturday 19 June, all travellers entering Queensland from any state or territory will be required to complete the Queensland travel declaration.

Palaszczuk tweeted the announcement, adding that “this step is a sensible measure to keep Queenslanders safe”.

In another tweet, Palaszczuk asked those who may be travelling to NSW, and specifically greater Sydney, to “reconsider”.

The travel declaration needs to be completed up to three days prior to arrival, with the Queensland Health website saying the form takes “three minutes” to complete, and a declaration is issued “immediately”.

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What to Expect If You’re Traveling This Summer – NBC 6 South Florida

After a year of lockdowns and staycations, millions of Americans are ready to get away.

“We’ve heard from consumers that they’re ready to travel,” said Jorge Avalos, a senior brand manager for Travelocity. “The majority of them are planning to book a trip over the next nine months.”

Avalos said a recent Travelocity survey found one group of travelers was most eager to travel.

“Parents of kids are ready to get out there, especially right now over the summer,” Avalos said.

Another trend the survey found was reuniting with loved ones, he said.

“The thing that people are missing the most is socializing … with family and friends,” he said. “So here at Travelocity, we’re calling this summer the summer of family reunions because so many people are just ready to get back into it.”

But the pent-up demand will likely mean consumers will end up paying more for that family vacation.

“Summer travel is going to be more expensive,” said Adit Damodaran, an economist for Hopper.com, an app that monitors trip prices to help consumers find the best deals.

According to Hopper, consumers may want to consider traveling domestically later in the summer.

“Right now, June is looking to be the most expensive travel month,” Damodaran said.

Hopper said domestic ticket prices have already jumped 12% since April – a trend that is expected to continue in June, topping out at an average of about $293 roundtrip.

“We’re starting to return to pre-pandemic pricing for airfare,” Damodaran said.

Hotels will also likely cost more but expect to see the biggest increase in rental car prices.

“Those prices have nearly doubled since January,” Damodaran said. “Now, it’s almost $100 a day to secure a rental car.”

Kim Orlando, founder of Travelingmom.com, said now more than ever it is important to research a destination and have a plan B.

“You may need to change on a dime,” Orlando said. “Or stay somewhere else or cancel your trip if you need to for whatever reason.”

While life is getting back to normal, don’t be surprised if you see COVID surcharges on your restaurant bill in some parts of the country, Orlando said.

“Be prepared and ask ahead of time, are surcharges going to show up on my bill and what is the surcharge?” she said. “Is it 4% or 3% and can I decline it and just tip according to how I want to tip?”

For international travel, the experts NBC 6 Responds spoke to recommend booking the week a country or region announces it is opening up to U.S. travelers, in order to find the best deals.

Damodaran said you may want to consider Iceland or Greece for decent deals for more immediate travel. If you plan to travel later in the summer, he said Portugal might be worth looking into.

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South Carolina-Based Fuel Travel Announces Rebranding of Marketing Services Into Stand Alone Company

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C., June 11, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Fuel Travel today announces that the company, which has traditionally offered both guest-facing software solutions and marketing services has officially spun off its marketing services division into a stand alone entity rebranded as TravelBoom Marketing, an identity intended to better reflect the full suite of marketing services it offers. The Fuel Travel brand will continue to offer software solutions to the travel industry, including its booking engine, CRM & marketing automation and white-label mobile app & digital key.   

The rebranding became necessary as Fuel’s software customer-base has grown and the need for more specific and specialized offerings on the marketing services side have emerged. TravelBoom’s marketing services were first offered to the travel and hotel industries in 1996 and since its inception, it has focused and delivered on its mission to develop and execute data-driven marketing solutions that drive increased direct bookings and growth for its clients. The new TravelBoom will offer expanded marketing services to include Brand Strategy, Creative Strategy, website design and development, search engine marketing, content marketing, paid media planning and buying, research, reputation management, social media, technology integration, email/CRM marketing, database management and state-of-the-art analytics. 

Fuel Travel’s popular Hotel Marketing Podcast and its Travel Sentiment research transition to  the new TravelBoom brand and all episodes and research results will be available on the TravelBoom website located at www.travelboommarketing.com. In addition, Fuel Travel founder Scott Brandon will become the CEO of TravelBoom Marketing and former COO David Day, will become President at Fuel Travel.

“We have seen phenomenal growth in the demand for both our software and our marketing services,” said Scott Brandon, CEO of TravelBoom. “Over the past few years it has become clear that selling software solutions and marketing services under one brand creates some confusion amongst our potential clients and customers and therefore, we think now is the time to separate the companies to provide clarity and focus our growth objectives.”

Prospective and existing TravelBoom clients will experience a new modern look and feel across all communication channels anchored by a newly designed website with an enhanced user experience at www.travelboommarketing.com.

About TravelBoom Marketing
TravelBoom specializes in developing and executing customized data-driven marketing solutions that drive direct bookings and growth for its clients. With over 25 years of experience in digital marketing for travel and hotels, TravelBoom leverages advanced data science and analytics to uncover insights and develop strategies that greatly enhance results for our clients and reduce reliance on third-party channels. TravelBoom is also host of the world’s #1 ranked Hotel Marketing Podcast and its quarterly Traveler Sentiment Study both of which can be found at www.travelboommarketing.com.

About Fuel Travel
As a leading provider of advanced software solutions for the hotel industry, Fuel helps independent hotels, resorts, condotels, and management groups maximize market share and profitability. This is achieved by providing a comprehensive suite of software solutions including: the Fuel Booking Engine, Fuel AI-Powered CRM & Marketing Automation, Fuel Mobile App & Digital Key and Fuel Gauge Analytics Dashboard. These solutions help properties increase profitability through efficiency gains, increased conversion rates and cost reductions. www.fueltravel.com

SOURCE TravelBoom Marketing

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BBC – Travel – South Africa’s language spoken in 45 ‘clicks’

On the outskirts of Upington, in South Africa’s Northern Cape, there lives a queen. The queen is elderly and when she dies it may not just be she who is gone, but an entire realm.

Katrina Esau is 88. Her community crowned her Queen of the Western Nǁnǂe (ǂKhomani) San in 2015. A year earlier, then-president Jacob Zuma presented her with the National Order of the Baobab in Silver.

For the previous eight decades, Esau had gone largely unnoticed. Her people, the San – of whom the Western Nǁnǂe (ǂKhomani) are one group of many – are good at that. Their survival depended on it: first for the countless centuries that they had South Africa to themselves, living deftly on the land as hunter gatherers. And then, with the arrival of other groups, to evade the scrutiny of those who meant them harm.

Esau was born on the farm where her parents worked. The farm’s Afrikaner owner obnoxiously renamed the young queen “Geelmeid”. “Meid” means “maidservant” while “geel” (yellow) is a crass reference to skin tone. Today, some still know her – lovingly – as Ouma (Grandma) Geelmeid. But often it’s Queen Katrina.

The farm owner also forbade Esau from speaking her mother tongue, N|uu; a language with roots to humanity’s very origins. Instead, the newly minted Afrikaans language (a mere 300 or so years old) would be Esau’s camouflage for almost her entire life.

N|uu is one of our last linguistic links to the earliest humans: the hunter gatherers of southern and eastern Africa

Cut off on the isolated farm, speaking Afrikaans, Esau began “burying” the language that she had “sucked from [her] mother’s breast”. This act of burial was just one funeral of many: the language, a descendant of those spoken by the first humans, had already been dealt its death blow a decade or so earlier.

The year 1931 saw the opening of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (now incorporated into the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park). The terrain here is semi-desert, with two dry riverbeds, the Nossob and Auob, that flow once in a blue moon. Yet for the the ǂKhomani, the last community of people to speak Esau’s language, the landscape was home. The park’s opening saw the ǂKhomani families evicted and scattered, smashing the one remaining circuit board of the language. ǂKhomani children would henceforth be born into a world of Afrikaans.

Along with !Xun (spoken in Namibia), ǂAmkoe and Taa (both spoken in Botswana), N|uu is one of our last linguistic links to the earliest humans: the hunter gatherers of southern and eastern Africa. All four languages are endangered: ǂAmkoe has 1,000 or so speakers; Taa 3,000 speakers; and !Xun 14,000 to 18,000.

N|uu, meanwhile, has just two: Esau and her brother Simon Sauls.

We don’t know when the N|uu language developed – it is too ancient to age precisely – but certainly its roots could not be deeper. Yet if it becomes one of the 600 to 800 languages likely to disappear in the near future, it’s not just its antiquity that we should mourn. N|uu’s richness and beauty are also astonishing: English has 44 distinct speech sounds (phonemes), for instance, while N|uu has 114.

Then there are its clicks. The bar in “N|uu” represents a click consonant – specifically a dental click, articulated with the tongue tip sucking quickly away from the upper teeth. A century ago, at least 100 indigenous click languages were likely spoken in the southern and eastern regions of Africa. To those unfamiliar with clicks, it can seem as if a click-language speaker’s mouth has morphed into a percussion instrument. Consider that N|uu makes meaningful distinction between an incredible 45 clicks; to hear the language spoken fluently is to experience a linguistic fireworks display.

The star of the N|uu click repertoire is the phenomenally rare bilabial “kiss click”, which sounds uncannily like an air smooch and features in just two of the world’s 7,000 or so other languages. (One of them is Taa, which has 111 click phonemes.)

As Esau’s years have advanced, her urgency to sow new seeds of N|uu has increased. In the early 2000s, she started teaching the language to her community from a schoolroom built in her front yard in Rosedale, a township near Upington, using song, dance and play. Her pupils, who range in age from three to 19, are the only students of N|uu in the world.

In recent years, others have bolstered Esau’s efforts. A team of linguists has helped create an orthography and educational materials for N|uu, meaning that her granddaughter Claudia Snyman can teach the written language (Esau can’t read). Tortoise and Ostrich, a children’s storybook in N|uu, Afrikaans and English was published in May.

But the beauty of N|uu should not be used to paint an unduly romantic picture of Esau’s people – the San. Michael Daiber is manager of the !Khwa ttu heritage centre, an hour’s drive north of Cape Town, which calls itself the “embassy” of the San. He says the centre, which also offers accommodation, is an antidote to the “sunsets and silhouettes and smiling people” image of the San.

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“Establishments used to promote that naked hunter-gatherer Bushman image,” Daiber explained. “All that ‘the last surviving’, ‘unique encounter’, ‘come and see it while it’s still here’ language. The leaders who founded !Khwa ttu back in 1996 were saying, ‘This is not our story. Our land has been taken away from us. We have had a really tough history.'”

“Where San live, it looks like unoccupied land,” added Joram /Uiseb, a San of the Namibian Hai||om group, who is heritage co-ordinator at !Khwa ttu. “Land is life. Only take from nature what you really need.” For the San, land was about stewardship not ownership, and South Africa was easily wrested from them.

“In the 1980s, I was told there were no Bushmen left,” Daiber said . “And here 40 years later I’ve had a career working only with San people. How do you measure it and who decides?”

The “it” he’s referring to is San identity. Even “San” itself is an exonym for South Africa’s original inhabitants. It was introduced by the Khoikhoi, a people who arrived from modern-day Botswana. The term “Bushman”, meanwhile, is a translation of “Boesman”, which is what the Dutch – who settled the region from the mid-17th Century – called the hunter gatherers. But while the San’s languages and lifestyle have been mostly erased, the people live on.

“It’s incredible the way that they have survived,” said Daiber.

There are between 120,000 and 140,000 San living today in southern Africa: around 60,000 in Botswana, 40,000 in Namibia and the rest in South Africa, with a small number in Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. !Khwa ttu represents the San as they are now: survivors with no land of their own on which to practice their traditions. Sheena Shah, who worked alongside fellow linguist Matthias Brenzinger to establish a N|uu orthography with Esau, believes the centre has a special energy thanks to its role as a place of learning as much for the San as for visitors.

“San learn computer literacy and finance management here. But they also get training in how to use traditional knowledge like ethnobotany for ecotourism. They then practice their skills with visitors,” Shah said. “We loved our tour through the fynbos, with a San guide who showed us the plants he uses in traditional medicine or as food.”

“Visitors to !Khwa ttu meet San at all levels: tour guides, waitresses, shopkeepers,” added Daiber. “It’s beautiful to hear the stories from the San themselves.”

And hearing them is a privilege.

“San people are very shy,” said /Uiseb. “They don’t want to say, ‘I am a San’. Only a few people say ‘I am a San’.”

For a glimpse of their disenfranchisement, consider that South Africa has 11 official languages and none of them has anything to do with the country’s first people. It’s rare, moreover, that San have land rights or access to natural resources. Where they are granted use of land, it is usually shared with cattle farmers who overgraze it.

Elinor Sisulu, executive director of Puku, the children’s literature foundation behind the N|uu children’s storybook project, is keenly aware of the politics around San identity. “The Western publishing paradigm has been very exploitative towards indigenous languages,” she said. “Katrina Esau is the expert, so we have been very clear that she must be paid. We are all leveraging off her knowledge. She should be recognised as a professor, but the academic paradigm doesn’t recognise original knowledge.”

It’s beautiful to hear the stories from the San themselves

“We are powerless now,” said /Uiseb. “Two thousand years back the San were so powerful, but now we are spectators, watching people destroying the land. If Table Mountain could speak… It has witnessed many things: from the tip of Africa we populated the whole world. It is very important that we should be recognised one way or another.”

But there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. On 1 April, the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act come into effect, which opens the door for San and Khoikhoi representatives to have a say in South Africa’s National and Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders. “It gives us power to negotiate from the inside,” said /Uiseb. “If they allow the process to take place then you yourself are now a lawmaker.” The Act may ultimately facilitate future land claims by the San.

One person who is absolutely not afraid to say “I am a San” is Esau, queen of a South Africa that she dearly hopes will not die with her.

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Things to Know Before Traveling to South Africa in 2021

A dispatch from an American who recently spent three weeks in the country.

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Editor’s note: In her role as Marketing and Social Media manager at SmartFlyer, NYC-based Kayla Douglas looks after the agency’s website and social feeds. She’s passionate about empowering the ever-growing community of SmartFlyer agents to approach social media marketing with authenticity. Always on the hunt for the next hot travel trend, you can typically find Kayla reading, running, writing, and creating content. A cortado (or glass of wine, depending on the time!) is rarely out of reach.

When South Africa opened its borders to Americans last fall, I decided to plan a bucket-list trip combining its safari regions with Cape Town and the nearby Winelands. As the news developed around the “South African variant,” I knew I was going to have a difficult decision to make. Could I still go? Should I still go? Thankfully, I didn’t have to rely on doom scrolling alone—one of my dear friends and colleagues is travel advisor Tiffany Figueredo, who splits her time between Cape Town and Fort Worth. 

She gave me real-time guidance on the situation on the ground, and this intel ultimately empowered me to make an informed decision. I spent three weeks there [in February 2021], managing marketing and social media projects for SmartFlyer and enjoying some personal leisure travel. 

South Africa is currently open to American travelers, with proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of arrival. No quarantine is required. 

Lesson 1: Buy all the insurance

After deciding that I was going to take the leap, I armored up with extra insurance coverage on top of my annual Arch RoamRight’s Multi-Trip insurance policy and annual MedjetHorizon membership. For this trip, I invested in COVAC Global, the only travel membership that will bring you home if you contract COVID-19 while traveling; their motto is “if you get sick, you get home,” plain and simple.

Naturally, these precautions were on top of my negative PCR test required no more than 72 hours before departure for South Africa. In terms of PPE, I had extra peace of mind thanks to Kaze Origins N95 masks and lots of TripWipes used in-flight. All of this was worth it—once I got there, I felt reassured that I’d made the right decision both for my mental health and in support of our recovering industry. 

Lesson 2: Advisors are a big help when it comes to planning a safari

Let the safari begin: Boarding a Federal Airlines PC12 flight

Flying to—and through—South Africa

I flew from Newark on United Polaris into Frankfurt, then connected on Lufthansa to Johannesburg. To acclimate [from the jet lag], I stayed one night at the Four Seasons Hotel the Westcliff, though I’m excited to see that the Saxon Hotel is reopening on May 1 to give travelers another luxury option in the country’s capital city.

The bush planes out to Sabi Sands and Kruger National Park are most easily accessible via Johannesburg. These flight logistics are nearly impossible to Google, which is just another reason to book with a savvy travel advisor. Mine booked me on Federal Air, a carrier that services the safari regions on its beautifully outfitted PC12s. Pro tip: You can store larger, hard-sided luggage at the Federal Air Lounge in Johannesburg since you can only bring a small, soft-sided duffel on safari. My advice would be to pack accordingly and remember that [most] lodges do complimentary laundry service, so less is more. 

Lesson no. 3: Know the differences between Sabi Sands and Kruger

On safari in the Sabi Sands

Lesson 4: Want to see leopards? Sabi Sands is the place

The ways in which these two regions are governed makes for highly distinct experiences. Sabi Sands is privately owned by six of the original families who took over this previously agricultural land. They work together to maintain the landscape to this day, which has long been a gathering place for leopards. While the lodges across Sabi Sands communicate with one another, you won’t see guests from another lodge out on a game drive because it’s all privatized. 

Kruger is owned and controlled by the government—there are strict rules that prohibit vehicles from leaving the demarcated roads. Many locals flock to Kruger to do self-drive safaris. For those staying in luxury properties, a handful of lodges have exclusive use of particular plots of land that aren’t subject to the limitations of the national park. This affords them the option to do spot-lit night drives, guided nature walks, and off-road driving for close-up encounters. Ultimately, you can see the Big 5 in both Sabi Sands and Kruger, so it will most likely come down to which lodge(s) you’re most compelled to experience—another place where your travel advisor can help. 

Starting Singita-style in Sabi Sands

We began our safari portion in the Sabi Sands—a vast game reserve about an hour’s bush plane ride from Johannesburg—at Singita Ebony Lodge. This was the very first Singita [it opened in 1993], and it sits on the Sand River, with just a dozen suites, each with its own private plunge pool. It feels like a fresh interpretation of a classic safari lodge. For those seeking more contemporary design, sister property Singita Boulders Lodge is just next door. The underground wine cellar at Boulders offers an extensive collection, including premium South African wines and rare auction wines. Finally, for those looking for a buyout, there’s Singita Castleton, also close by. 

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You don’t even always have to leave the lodge to see animals. On the very first afternoon we were at the lodge, a leopard decided to enjoy our personal suite deck just moments after we’d come inside. Our neighbor captured the entire situation on video, which we reviewed together in absolute awe during afternoon tea before the same leopard casually strolled through camp. It was an unbelievable start to our stay.

A morning coffee at Londolozi with Tiffany Figueiredo

While safarigoers typically wouldn’t do a split stay in this way, we opted to check out nearby Londolozi to maximize our knowledge as travel professionals. Their collection of five lodges is relaxed and familial—it grew out of a family camp established in the 1920s. The Varty family has always had a total commitment to conservation—they first acquired the land where Londolozi now stands in 1926 when there was absolutely nothing but bushveld stretching to the horizon.

Nearly 100 years later, they still live there and have contributed so much to the richness of the Sabi Sands. In Zulu, Londolozi means “Protector of All Things,” and this was the basis under which the camp was developed and how it is maintained. They pioneered the concept of a photo safari during a time when wildlife tourism presented the opportunity to salvage land divided by both literal fences and racial tension, especially during apartheid. Nelson Mandela once visited the property and said, “Londolozi represents a model of the dream I cherish for the future of nature preservation in our country.” Like all stays, it was the people who left the most sincere impact on me. 

One night, as we were watching a pride of lions, I asked our game ranger, Krist, how she landed in her career. She said she had previously been a primary school teacher, and one of her students asked her what she had wanted to be at her age. She replied that she’d always wanted to be a game ranger. A week later, she resigned from the school and enrolled in Londolozi’s intensive ranger school—an intensive training program that culminates in the rangers-in-training being out in the bush by themselves for days! It was awe-inspiring to see a woman succeed in such a male-dominated field. 

Many of the lodge guests right now are locals. With international tourism numbers still recovering due to COVID, South African properties have seized the unique opportunity to cater to domestic travelers with more rates more favorable to local currency. 

Next up: Kruger National Park 

We stayed at Singita Lebombo Lodge, easily one of the highlights of my time in South Africa. I flew with Federal Air from Sabi Sands to Kruger. It’s a relatively short trip, but feels like a completely new landscape now that you’re even farther east. You can see the ridge to Mozambique with the sounds of the N’wanesti River and all the birds as your backdrop. The sleek, contemporary suites have been built into the cliff to resemble eagle’s nests and completely blend in as if you’re floating between the earth and sky. If you can manage to leave your room (did I mention the outdoor bed?), there is an on-property cooking school that nurtures local talent.

Singita Sweni Lodge is right next door and has more rich pops of color than neutrals. Like in Sabi, these sister properties share a spa and shop. I chose a 90-minute crystal healing massage and I felt in a trance by the time I left. I’m not big on souvenir buying, but Singita’s chic boutique has homewares and furnishings that help you recreate the safari dream at home. For those eager to peruse, they actually just launched an online version!

Lesson no. 5: Bake in some down time between safari and Cape Town sightseeing 

Hiking on Cape Town’s Lion’s Head Mountain

After safari, I routed back to Cape Town. When working on your South Africa itinerary, I’d keep in mind that safari is more tiring than you may imagine. It’s a lot of early mornings on top of your jet lag. If you’re going straight to Cape Town, be sure to create some breathing room in your itinerary. I was working during the days while in the city and would highly recommend this for anyone whose job allows them similar flexibility. 

I was fortunate enough to base myself at Ellerman House for part of the time, and during the stay, met a fellow guest who is a University of London professor and has been teaching all of his classes via Zoom right from the property’s library for months. I mean, why not? You’ve got the sun, beach, art, a gym, exquisite food, and of course, Wi-Fi. We are ushering in a new way of working and the chance to WFHotel is probably one of the biggest upsides.

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Ellerman House is a privately owned, 11-room [plus two villas] hotel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and with its incredible art collection, an assortment of mid-19th-century to modern-day South African art,  it could easily be a museum. But it feels cozy and not at all stuffy. One of the best parts about a stay here—well, aside from the gin cart!—is that you can go on a private art tour with their in-house curator, and learn about the complex history of South Africa through the art.

If you stay at the Silo, it has the dual benefit of owner and avid art enthusiast Liz Biden’s curated collection and it sits above Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA). Both spaces have a focus on Africa’s emerging contemporary artists. I was really impressed by MOCAA’s integration of the pandemic into its collections. What a surreal moment to see art made in 2020 hanging on a wall addressing a pandemic that we are very much still living in. It was a reminder that we are literally making history every single day. For both your time taking in the art at the Silo and MOCAA, I’d recommend partnering with Royal Portfolio’s Resident Art Concierge for more in-depth storytelling and historical context. 

A stop near Hermanus en route to the Winelands

Since we had a fair amount of room in our itinerary, we built in a stop before routing to the Winelands a bit further south at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, an ecofocused property about two-and-a-half hours from Cape Town. Visiting in July would be ideal, when you can do a floral safari and see the country’s famous fynbos at their pink peak. Here, you can also ride horses, go shark diving, whale watch, and so much more. I loved how the Grootbos team is incorporating sustainability and community enhancement through the Grootbos Foundation, a nonprofit that has an on-site ecotourism and hospitality training school—you can even visit during your stay.

In the Winelands, we stayed at two family-owned properties, La Residence, a Royal Portfolio property, and Babylonstoren, a working farm. It is a dream to be at the La Residence pool in one of their photogenic white and yellow cabanas overlooking the Franschhoek Valley after a winetasting. 

For those who crave less of a chandelier vibe and lean more to clean lines, Babylonstoren is another top contender for the Winelands, a place I equate to a Disneyland for adults. There is every imaginable amenity under the sun: a wine cellar, fruit and vegetable garden, multiple restaurants, an essential oil shop, a bakery, a butcherie, the spa and pool, and more. I adored our stay in one of the stand-alone Fynbos Cottages outfitted with a kitchen, fireplace, and private patio. You’re given a golf cart and bikes at check-in so you really have free rein to explore the vast property as you see fit.

At the end of a leisurely walk through the grounds with the head gardener en route to breakfast, there was a moment when I heard one of the farmers whistling as he worked, assembling a fresh fruit basket for a guest’s room. It reminded me that despite the doom and gloom we hear every day, there is real goodness—whistling while you work goodness—if you’re willing and able to leave your bubble. The world awaits. 

Lesson no. 6: Have cash on hand, even at the airport

My departure back to New York was a reminder of how flexible we need to remain with travel these days. While my SmartFlyer travel agent had already handled the cancellation of my flight from Cape Town and rerouted me through Johannesburg, the constantly evolving testing requirements caught up to me on this leg. It was seamless to get a PCR test in the Winelands to meet the U.S. requirement for a negative result no more than 72 hours before departure but, despite having this completely valid PCR taken just 24 hours prior, I hit a block.

There was a third party scanning passports and test results before you even got the Lufthansa check-in who insisted mine didn’t meet the requirements of my transit destination, Frankfurt. They refused to take the results for basically anyone on our flight, and negotiating with them wasn’t working.

Conveniently, there was a tent set up in the airport providing rapid tests with an immediate result. My advice here is to just have local cash on you just in case something like this happens to you, too. It was only 500 rand [around $33 now], but they did not accept international credit cards. That said, build in more time than you think you’ll need at the airport. Expect that travel right now simply has more red tape and you’ll have to show your COVID test multiple times. And above all, remember that leaving your bubble is a privilege—travel responsibly. 

When’s the best time to go to South Africa?

The summer time in Cape Town (December to March) doesn’t exactly match up with the dry season in the bush. So, there are pros and cons to any time of year. But for South Africa’s high season for safari running from June to August, this cooler, dryer time of year comes with less availability and higher rates. Conversely, low safari season, which runs from November to April, comes with more accessible rates, some rain showers, and more lush landscapes that make for gorgeous photos but can make spotting game a bit more challenging. Talk to your travel advisor about what would be the best fit for your schedule and personal preferences.

As told to Annie Fitzsimmons.

>>Next: 11 Overwater Bungalows Around the World to Book for 2021

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United Arab Emirates Widens Travel Ban Leaving Many South Asians Unable to Return to Country

LONDON, May 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The United Arab Emirates has widened its travel ban to include Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The ban came into effect on May 12th. The announcement comes after the UAE banned Indians from travelling to the country to curb the spread of the India COVID variant. However, this ban will not include long-term residency holders (such as the Golden Visa) and diplomats. Those that consider the UAE their home base but are not holders of the visa or hold citizenship must find alternative solutions to the restrictions.

Since the UAE banned travellers from India, there has been skyrocketing demand for private jets from wealthy individuals stuck abroad. While there are still charter flights available, they can only hold up to nine travellers and must get approval from the appropriate authorities beforehand, after submitting passenger details. There is no information for how long the ban will last, leaving many UAE-based companies to shift their short-term hiring plans, sourcing talent locally instead of hubs in South Asia like India.

Over the last year, the pandemic has triggered mass uncertainty across the globe. To combat this, high net-worth individuals and their families have increasingly invested in second citizenship as an insurance policy to protect their future financially and physically. Citizenship by Investment Programmes, in particular, have become a popular route to achieving this. Under this initiative, wealthy investors can become legal and lifelong citizens within two to three months once making a qualifying investment into either a government fund or buying selected real estate options.

CS Global Partners, a London-headquartered immigration firm specialising in citizenship by investment, has noted an uptick in applications since the start of the pandemic. “For many wealthy individuals, the pandemic is the first time that they recognise the undeniable need for a Plan B. It’s not only a matter of protecting your family’s immediate safety but ensuring that your eggs are not all in one basket financially. Second citizenship can provide all of this,” says Micha Emmett, CEO of CS Global Partners.

St Kitts and Nevis introduced the world’s first and, now, the longest-standing CBI Programme in 1984. With nearly four decades of experience, the programme is recognised within the investment migration industry as a “Platinum Standard” brand. Not only is it a trusted product, but it remains to be one of the fastest citizenship programmes globally, as highlighted in the 2020 CBI Index. It also ensures its due diligence framework is robust and multi-tiered, accepting only those of the highest moral character.

Under the Sustainable Growth Fund, investors who choose St Kitts and Nevis can also take advantage of a limited time offer that confers citizenship to a family of four for only $150,000 instead of $195,000.

07824029952, [email protected], www.csglobalpartners.com

SOURCE CS Global Partners

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10 Things Solo Travelers Should Know Before Going To South America

I took my first trip to South America in 2019. I had freed myself from the corporate grind and finally felt like I had enough time to begin exploring this vast continent. I’ll be honest, I had some fears going into the journey. 

As an American who is part of the STEP program, I’m used to ongoing warnings in that region about kidnapping, crime, etc. I started my journey in Cali, Colombia, to celebrate a friend’s birthday party. I continued onward, solo, to six more countries. My preconceived notions were challenged and shifted every day. Here are my thoughts on what you should know as a solo traveler going to South America.

1. Local Buses Are Safe And A Great Way To Travel, But You Need A Couple Of Tips

If you’re alone and on a budget, take the buses. I was surprised at how safe I felt journeying all over Argentina, around Chile, Peru, and Brazil. Chile was the only place I was warned to look out for people dressing like a bus employee in a ploy to steal your luggage. I met a lovely young English couple in Santiago that fell prey to the scam and lost all their bags, including the one with their passports. 

As long as you know a few ground rules, you’ll have an excellent experience. Luggage goes in the bus, not on top. Don’t accept offers from anyone wanting to put your bags on top, that’s how the aforementioned couple lost their belongings. Line up by the luggage hold when your bus arrives and make sure to get a ticket for your bag. Tip the luggage attendant at least a dollar, U.S. That and your ticket will guarantee your bags will be there when you arrive at your destination.

Some countries, like Peru and Bolivia, have a “Hop” bus. I highly recommend using these services when you can. You might want to check out my review of the best ways to use Peru Hop. What I loved most about this was it’s a transportation method and tour guide all in one. You’ll meet lots of fun people as you go, and perhaps most important, the drivers are safe.

Colorful street in South America.
Heather Markel

2. Pay Attention To Dangerous Areas, And Use Your Intuition

Most countries in South America have a version of slums, like the favela, in Brazil. Ask whether it’s safe to be out at night, alone, when you arrive at your accommodation. Whatever they advise you, listen. Be open to the idea that places may not be as dangerous as you read. I wandered around the beaches in Rio de Janeiro in the early evening and felt perfectly safe. Intuition, especially as a solo traveler, is your best and strongest ally. Always listen to it, even if it makes no sense at all. 

3. Learn Some Spanish, But Be Ready For Dialects

There are many places in South America where you need to speak Spanish. If you want to get to some of the remoter parts of any of the countries, you’ll soon find there are parts where no English is spoken. I heard about the “gringo tax,” but I rarely encountered it. Either I didn’t notice, or it’s because I made an effort to speak Spanish. Only once, in Buenos Aires with a friend, who’s from there, did we get charged a “table fee” that we both found ridiculous. 

I do recommend basic Spanish if you’ve never studied it. However, even if you consider yourself fluent or a good Spanish speaker, the dialects change from country to country, and sometimes even within larger countries like Argentina. As a solo traveler, you’ll be more comfortable traveling with some Spanish.

4. It’s A Lot Colder Than You Might Expect

Despite the advice I got in advance, I wasn’t prepared for how cold some South American countries are. It’s easy to forget that their seasons are flipped with the U.S. Understandably, places like Ushuaia are cold mid-year. I was surprised by how cold Chile is all year round, especially at night. I didn’t expect Urugay’s winter to be so cold, nor did I know that in winter, Buenos Aires can be 2 degrees Celsius. You’ll be grateful that this area of the world makes some great sweaters!

Vibrant, beautifully crafted souvenirs.
Heather Markel

5. Make Room In Your Suitcase

South America has stunning scenery, and you’re going to find a lot of souvenirs you want. First, those sweaters I mentioned? I don’t think it’s possible to leave this region of the world without at least two. If you go to Peru, you’re getting a poncho, even if you didn’t plan to. If you become a fan of yerba mate in Argentina or Uruguay, you’ll want the cups, the metal straws, and the yerba. It could become an addiction. I’m in the Facebook groups about it, so I know I’m not alone!

Aerial view in Rio de Janeiro.
Heather Markel

6. Respect Your Altitude Sickness Symptoms

Don’t take this lightly. I brought Western medicine with me, but I hate taking medicine, so I used in-country herbal remedies everywhere I went. From coca leaves to herbal pills and lozenges, I tried it all. The difference is, if you use the prescriptions, you’ll more likely suffer the side effects than the altitude sickness. If you use the herbal path, it will take a little longer to kick in. That’s where time comes into play. Ideally, give yourself 2 to 3 days to adjust to the altitude in places like Peru, Bolivia, etc. You may suffer bad headaches and shortness of breath. 

If you’re a solo traveler, altitude sickness could impact your wits and your ability to function at 100 percent. Make sure to respect your symptoms. I learned that, unfortunately, altitude sickness resilience doesn’t build up over time. If you’re at a high altitude for a few days or a week, then go back down and come back up a few days later, the symptoms start all over.

7. If You’re A Female Solo Traveler, Abide By Local Customs

I will simply give you the advice that you should not go to dinner or drinks with a man, alone, unless you’re physically interested in him. Unlike other countries, there’s often a base assumption that if you go out alone with a man, you want to have sex with him. I suggest, whether you like that or not, you abide by this rule. If you like a man, go out with him. If you aren’t sexually interested in a man, don’t accept his invitation.

Stray dog who followed the writer.
Heather Markel

8. Pay Attention To Dog Culture

I realize this may sound strange, but dogs are a big part of travel in South America. In much of Argentina, especially smaller towns, dogs are like people. They don’t wear collars, they wander the streets as if on their way to important meetings, and if you pet them, they’re yours. They will literally follow you around, possibly for hours, and be your literal best friend. 

Of course, they would love a treat, but even if you don’t feed them, show a dog affection in Argentina, and you’re likely to have a new best friend who won’t want to leave your side. (Yes, they usually do have owners that love them, too.) In Chile, dogs are so important that a law was passed punishing people who abuse them.

9. Take As Many Free Walking Tours As Possible

These are now all over the world. If you aren’t familiar with them; the tour and guide are free, with the hope that you’ll tip them for their great service. I loved all the guides I had throughout South America. The groups are usually small, and it’s a nice way to meet people as you travel. As a solo traveler, it’s always nice to have reliable and inexpensive ways to meet other travelers.

10. Be Ready To Overhaul All Your Prejudgments

Some South American countries have gotten a bad rap. Colombia is an example of a country still trying to overcome its guerilla warfare reputation. I’m not saying that safety in South America is the same as what you’re accustomed to. However, South America is also not rife with militants and drug dealers everywhere you go. I’m sure they do exist, but the perceptions are based on something other than meeting wonderful locals and connecting, which is what you’ll be doing when you go there. 

South America is one of the most fascinating continents I have ever been to. The colors, the people, the llamas, the views, the food — there’s so much to tantalize the senses. I miss it and can’t wait to return. As so often happens when you gain an emotional attachment to a place, it follows you on your travels. 

The other day, here in New Zealand, I met a woman from Ecuador. It’s getting cold as we roll into winter, and she was selling ponchos and jackets from her country. I don’t have winter gear with me so I tried on one of her jackets. Because of my now excellent Spanish-speaking abilities, she gave me a huge discount. The experience warmed my heart and my body, just like my time in South America.

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CDC Details First Known Clusters of South African Variant in U.S. Without Travel Link | Health News

A study published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention details the first known U.S. clusters of infections from the coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa that don’t involve a history of international travel.

The investigation into the two linked clusters identified in Maryland earlier this year found that the variant infected 17 people – two of whom had a single shot of a two-dose coronavirus vaccine and one of whom was sick with COVID-19 just five months prior.

The variant, known as B.1.351, is believed to be able to evade immunity from prior infection or vaccination in some cases.

Cartoons on the Coronavirus

None of the 17 patients had any history of travel, meaning the virus was spreading in the community. Two people needed to be hospitalized, and one of the hospitalized patients died. The first documented infection, called the index patient, was linked to an indoor gathering where six attendees removed their masks to eat. All of the attendees later tested positive for the coronavirus or had antibodies.

“These first identified linked clusters of B.1.351 infections in the United States with no apparent link to international travel highlight the importance of expanding the scope and volume of genetic surveillance programs to identify variants, completing contact investigations for SARS-CoV-2 infections, and using universal prevention strategies, including vaccination, masking, and physical distancing, to control the spread of variants of concern,” the study said.

There are over 450 cases of the variant reported in the U.S., according to CDC data, but experts believe that to be an undercount of the real number of infections.

Leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci called the South African variant the “most problematic” of the variants at a press briefing on Tuesday. He said that despite the possibility of reduced efficacy, “get vaccinated and you will certainly have a degree of protection.”

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Add mindfulness and meaning to travel after the pandemic, holiday boss says – South China Morning Post

Add mindfulness and meaning to travel after the pandemic, holiday boss says  South China Morning Post

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