Category Archives: News

Travel News: African Tourism Board Created

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More American tourists heading to Switzerland
Switzerland Tourism reported the number of nights Americans spent in Swiss hotels in the summer season 2018, from May through September, was up 11.3 percent compared to the same period in 2017, based on data from the Swiss Federal Office of Statistics. The Bernese Oberland saw the biggest growth from the U.S.. Since 2010, Switzerland has reported an increase in overnights from the U.S. every year, for a total of almost 50 percent. “A good summer was to be expected, based on reports we received from tour operators, travel agents and other industry partners,” says Alex Herrmann, director North America of Switzerland Tourism. “But the actual growth rate of over 10 percent beats our expectations.”If this trend continues, Switzerland will most likely celebrate its best year in at least 25 years in terms of U.S. travel to Switzerland.” 
African Tourism Board created
A new, multinational body to promote the travel and tourism sector in Africa was unveiled during World Travel Market in London. Created by the International Coalition of Tourism Partners, itself based in Seychelles, Brussels, Bali, and Hawaii, the Africa Tourism Board will seek to enhance and promote the sustainable growth, value, and quality of travel on the African continent.With a steering committee formed, the African Tourism Board goal is to convert this initiative into a stand-alone organization by April 2019. The vision is to have ATB be based in every member destination and in every source market. This will create a global network for Africa, and enables every base to interact with every other base. Organizers made every effort to assure African countries that the Board does not intend to take over national tourism initiatives or policies. To learn more, see African Tourism Board


Delta begins flying Airbus A220 — with a window in some restrooms!
Delta airline’s new Airbus A220 aircraft is gearing up with some exciting new features. The airbus will start by flying LaGuardia to Boston and to Dallas Ft. Worth, then Detroit, Houston and JFK, among others. 
– three restrooms on each plane, one at the front and two at the rear, and there will be a window in one of the two rear bathrooms
– Gogo-powered 2Ku Wi-Fi
– each passenger will have personal power ports
– Economy class passengers will have 18.6-inch-wide main cabin seats, the widest among any narrowbody aircraft.
– overhead bins are a bit roomier, the windows are a bit larger, and there is ambient LED lighting throughout the plane as well. 
– Of the 109 seats on board, 12 will be in the First Class cabin and 15 will be designated Delta Comfort Plus seats. 
– First Class seats will benefit from extra-large seatback screens
– Delta Comfort Plus seats will have additional legroom compared to the main cabin. 
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European Capital of Smart Tourism Awards
The winners of the first edition of the European Capital of Smart Tourism competition were awarded on 07 November at a ceremony in Brussels. The occasion was European Tourism Day, the largest annual meeting on European tourism. Representatives of Helsinki and Lyon received trophies on behalf of their cities. The objective at EU level is to foster the sustainable development of tourism by showcasing innovative solutions from EU cities in tourism. In addition, four cities received 2019 European Smart Tourism Awards for their outstanding achievements in the four categories of the competition: Málaga (Accessibility), Ljubljana (Sustainability), Copenhagen (Digitalization) and Linz (Cultural Heritage & Creativity). In order to become a European Capital of Smart Tourism, a city needed to demonstrate exemplary achievements as a tourism destination in implementing innovative and intelligent solutions in all four award categories: accessibility, sustainability, digitalization, cultural heritage and creativity. Cities of more than 100.000 inhabitants were eligible in the first edition of this competition. 38 cities from 19 EU Member States applied, but Helsinki and Lyon stood out for their innovative tourism measures.
New FAA legislation could mean lower seat pitch, and more
At first glance, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) Reauthorization Bill that was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump last week, looked like it was a win for travelers tired of being sandwiched into ever-shrinking airplane seats. But, according to consumer advocate groups and airline industry analysts, not only could the bill ultimately do little to change the status quo when it comes to the size of airplane seats, it could even result in seats getting more cramped. The bill’s primary purpose was to maintain the FAA’s funding, while at the same time establishing some new guidelines for airline regulations. One of the bill’s provisions requires the FAA to issue regulations that would establish minimum dimensions for passenger seats on aircraft, something it does not do currently. The concern is that the FAA could set a requirement for minimum seat pitches as low as 27 or 28 inches. 
App for checking LGBTQ safety in regions worldwide
The first-ever neighborhood-level LGBTQ Safety ratings category on a smartphone app was launched yesterday. LGBTQ travelers will for the first time have unlimited access to real-time safety ratings on more than 30,000 neighborhoods worldwide. The “Top 5 Safest Global Urban Neighborhoods for LGBTQ Travelers” app by GeoSure provides safety ratings ranging from 1-100 – the lower the score, the safer the neighborhood. Utilizing machine learning, AI, sentiment analysis, and predictive analytics, ratings are based on analysis of thousands of sources daily to provide and continuously update its suite of comprehensive travel safety solutions. The Top Five Safest Global Urban Neighborhoods for LGBTQ Travelers are named as The Castro District in SFO, Berlin’s Schoneberg area, Amsterdam’s Centrum neighborhood, Barcelona’s Eixample vicinity, and Tel Aviv’s City Center/Florentin region. GeoSure is available on the App Store and Google Play. The company defines its LGBTQ Safety category as rating “Likelihood of harm or discrimination against LGBTQ persons or groups and level of caution required at location.”
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Most travelers do not purchase travel insurance
More than half (54 percent) of consumers have never purchased travel insurance and two thirds (65 percent) of those who have never purchased it have never even considered it, according to a survey by TravelInsurance.com. This despite the fact that 76 percent of survey respondents have experienced a flight delay in the past, and nearly half 48 percent have had their luggage lost or stolen. Another 35 percent have experienced either getting sick or traveling with someone who has gotten sick during a trip. The survey also showed that 47 percent of respondents don’t know whether or not their health insurance provides coverage while traveling, especially when traveling abroad. Willamette Intl Travel agents always recommend travel insurance. We are happy to provide package options to you provided you have booked your travel arrangements with our agency. 
 
Singapore Airlines Is The World’s Best Airline For 2019
AirlineRatings.com chose the list. The flag carrier of Singapore ousted five-year champion Air New Zealand, which has held the coveted title since 2014 and which still claimed second place this year. In comparison, not a single European or North American carrier made it into the Top 10 roster. The Perth-based website stated that “Singapore Airlines came out number one in many of our audit criteria” during the AirlineRankings.com. Annual Excellence Awards Tuesday. The audit, annually conducted by the publication’s seven editors, involves a detailed process that evaluates 12 major factors including fleet age, passenger reviews, profitability, investment rating, product offerings and staff relations. This year, Singapore Airlines edged out runners-up Air New Zealand, Qantas Airways and Qatar Airways for its “industry-leading in-flight service” as well as its new fleet additions, such as the world’s first Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350-900 ULR. Singapore Air also earned praise for its updated interiors, for its commitment to operation safety, and for its relaunch of the longest commercial flight in the world: non-stop service between Singapore and New York.
 
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Two US airports allow non-travelers to go past security
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is introducing a new SEA Visitor Pass that will allow non-travelers past security for the first time since 2001. According to the Seattle Times, Sea-Tac is starting a trial of the program that will allow up to 50 non-travelers a pass to go through security in order to eat at one of the restaurants, shop in the terminal, or say goodbye to friends and family at their gates. The trial period will end Dec. 14. If all goes well, Sea-Tac will make the program permanent. Pittsburgh International Airport last year became the first major U.S. airport since 9/11 to allow non-travelers through its security gates with its myPitpass program. At each, non-travelers have to go through security checkpoints and meet all TSA requirements before heading through. Sea-Tac does not expect the new program to increase wait times at security – only 50 passes will be available and visiting hours will be restricted from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. All non-travelers wanting to participate in the program have to sign up online before 1:30 p.m. the day before they want to use the pass. Approved participants will get an email from the TSA, which will direct them to pick up their passes at Sea-Tac with a photo ID.

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Travel News: Taking Holidays Can Prolong Life

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A New Study Suggests Taking Holidays Can Prolong Life 

Travelmole reports three weeks’ holiday or more each year is the most important factor to a long life, according to researchers. The findings of a lifestyle study that began 40 years ago claim taking vacations is even more beneficial to following a healthy lifestyle. The study, which began in the 1970s, involved 1,222 middle-aged male executives, born between 1919 and 1934, who had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, overweight or smoking. Half were told to exercise, maintain a good diet, stop smoking or keep to a healthy weight, while the other half were given no advice. According to the findings, those given the regular advice were more likely to die young, possibly because they suffered extra stress by trying to live a healthy lifestyle. Among the same group, those who took less than three weeks off each year were 37% more likely to die young over the next 30 years. Professor Timo Strandberg, of the University of Helsinki, said: “Don’t think having an otherwise healthy lifestyle will compensate for working too hard and not taking holidays. “Vacations can be a good way to relieve stress.

National Car Rental Chosen By Travel + Leisure Magazine As ‘World’s Best’ For Fifth Year In A Row  

Travelwirenews reports vehicle selection, customer service and overall value were just a few of the categories for which National Car Rental received praise, taking the top spot for the fifth year in a row in Travel + Leisure magazine’s World’s Best Awards. This recognition marks the 23rd year that National has qualified for the prestigious “World’s Best” list. In addition to the National brand, Enterprise and Alamo placed among Travel + Leisure magazine’s “Top 5 Car-Rental Providers.” This is the fifth consecutive year that all three brands have been named among the top rental car operators. Business Travel News magazine also recently recognized National and Enterprise for their mobile app technology, quality of data reporting and consistent communication, naming them as the top two car rental brands in its annual Car Rental Survey for the fourth consecutive year.

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Record Cruise Year For Northern Europe

Cruise Industry News reports cruise ships will be in record numbers in the waters of Northern Europe this summer, with 129 ships set to offer cruises in the region. Capacity will also move to a record high, with more than 2.5 million cruise guests expected, up from 2.3 million in 2017, and way up from just under 2 million in 2014. 

New Zealand To Abolish Departure Cards

New Zealand will follow Australia and abolish “bothersome” departure cards from November in a move pitched as bringing seamless travel between the close neighbors one step closer. Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway and Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri announced the document’s demise Sunday but have yet to announce an exact date. The removal is in line with an international trend as countries rely on more sophisticated records to track traveler identity information. Australia axed its onerous green departure cards in July last year. New Zealand estimate it will save departing travelers 100,000 hours as they complete more than 6.5 million cards a year.

Air Yachts: The Next Big Thing In Yukon Luxury Tourism? 

Hybrid Air Vehicles of Britain has built a modern blimp with a passenger gondola that looks more like a luxury yacht than a platform for filming football games. Branded as the Airlander 10, it is a self-contained unit for transporting guests and everything they want. It has glass floors and 360-degree windows, a cocktail bar and bedrooms. Guests can stroll around the 20 metre-long cabin as they watch the landscape roll by underneath. The airships cruise at up to 150 kilometres per hour. The Whitehorse to Dawson run becomes an afternoon outing instead of a week-long saga. The Airlander 10 is designed to carry fuel for five days so, unlike a river boat, side excursions to land on a glacier or watch a herd of caribou on a distant mountainside are possible. You can also fly low and quietly hover. Unlike the infamous Hindenburg, the German hydrogen-filled airship that burst into flames spectacularly in 1937, today’s airships are filled with helium, which doesn’t burn. They have sophisticated multi-directional propeller systems that allow pilots to control them much better, even in high wind. In the off-season, you can fly it somewhere else and generate cash flow all year long. An Airlander 10 might do trips in the Yukon in the summer and spend the winter floating its cargo of people, money and champagne around California and the Caribbean. It’s an intriguing idea. However, the catch is the cost. Hybrid Air Vehicles is reported to be planning to charge about $40 million per airship. That’s not far off what a new Boeing 737 costs. So don’t expect to see a fleet of luxury airships hovering over Dawson City any time soon. 

Delta Is Adding New Seatback Screens While Other Airlines Get Rid of Them

In a press release last week, Delta Air Lines announced that it had installed a seatback entertainment system on its 600th aircraft. Delta now says it has more aircraft with seatback screens than any other airline in the world. The figure underscores Delta’s desire to keep passengers entertained in multiple ways. “With seat-back screens, customers don’t have to choose between using their phones or watching a movie,” Tim Mapes, the airline’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “Whether they want to work, relax, or a little bit of both – we want to give our customers the ability to choose and make the most of their time in flight.” Delta Studio, the in-flight entertainment system, works on seatback screens and personal devices. Last year, Delta introduced free messaging via Wi-Fi on board. 

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Fiji Increases Departure Tax 

The Fiji Government is hiking its departure tax by more than US$25, but players in the tourism industry don’t believe that will stop tourists visiting the popular travel destination. As part of its budget, the Government has announced its airport departure tax will increase from US$81 to US$108 from January next year. Fiji’s new departure tax is far higher than its direct competitors, including Samoa and the Cook Islands. Nearly $US3 of the tax will go to the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji and five dollars will be given to Airports Fiji Limited. The tax, which is included in the price of the ticket, will also include a five-dollar environment levy.  

Cruise Line To Avoid Swamping Small Towns With Thousands Of Passengers

Visits by the 3560-passenger Majestic Princess are expected to inject $100 million into the New Zealand economy over the coming summer cruise season. A cruise line bringing almost 100,000 passengers to New Zealand this coming summer says the industry needs to be careful not to swamp smaller ports as vessels get bigger. Princess Cruises largest and newest ship, the Majestic Princess, which carries almost 5000 passengers and crew, will make its maiden voyage here at the end of September. Akaroa residents have complained about the small port town being swamped by cruise visitors and tour buses, and some have called for an end to “two ship” days at the height of the season. Princess Cruises’ senior vice president for Australia and New Zealand Stuart Allison said they were mindful of the impact ships had on smaller centres such as Akaroa, and they had worked hard to increase shore excursions getting guests off the beaten track.

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Travel News: Word of the Day – Security

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Singapore Air Teams With Wellness Experts For Ultra Long Range Flights

Airlineratings reports Singapore Airlines and Canyon Ranch, one of the world’s premier integrative wellness brand, have signed a partnership to enhance ultra-long-haul travel with a focus on wellness cuisines, rest and relaxation, and well-being on the world’s longest flights.

The team of experts has developed science-based strategies for improved sleep, exercise and stretching, as well as new, nutrition-focused menus, applied specifically to Singapore Airline’s new 18 hour 45 minutes non-stop service launching on October 11 between Singapore and New York (Newark), the world’s longest commercial flight.

  • – Wellness Cuisines – developed by Canyon Ranch chefs and nutritionists focused on nutrition and hydration (taking into consideration longer flight duration with less body movement), combined with bold flavors and textures.
  • – Rest and Relaxation – which includes sleep strategies designed to help customers in all cabin classes improve the duration and quality of rest, as well as specific light settings in providing better cabin ambiance for rest and relaxation
  • – Guided Stretching Exercises – led by Canyon Ranch exercise physiologists, accessible via personal seat back entertainment systems to promote relaxation. Singapore will be the first airline in the world to operate the A350-900ULR, with seven on firm order with Airbus.

Long Security Lines at Airports May Become A Thing Of The Past 

The WSJ reports the Transportation Security Agency is looking at ways to streamline the process and prevent passengers from missing flights. There is a glimmer of hope that the frustrating, slow airport security experience will get a little smoother over the next few years. In a partnership with American Airlines, the Transportation Security Administration introduced a new kind of machine last month to screen carry-on bags in Terminal 8 at Kennedy International Airport in New York. The machines, the agency says, improve on the current system, in which most travelers have their carry-on bags screened by X-ray machines that produce only two-dimensional images of their contents. If agents are unsure of what they’re seeing, they pull the bag aside and inspect its contents manually. The new machines use computed tomography, a technology that produces three-dimensional images so detailed they can even show the mass and densities of items in the bag, including liquids inside their containers. With the new machines, the T.S.A. says, security agents will be better able to analyze what is inside a bag and will be less likely to have to perform searches by hand.

Easter Island Limits Tourism In Preservation Efforts

CNN reports it’s a five-hour flight to Chile’s Easter Island (Rapa Nui) from the nation’s capital of Santiago. Mysterious, hard-to-get-to and isolated, the volcanic island in Polynesia automatically makes it a dream destination for intrepid travelers who long to get off the beaten path. But now, the island is one of many destinations around the world trying to balance popularity with preservation. Lonely Planet’s Alex Butler reports that tourists can only stay on the far-flung Easter Island for a period of 30 days; previously, a 90-day stay was permissible. This new rule applies both to international travelers and to Chileans who are not a part of the indigenous Rapa Nui people. While the 30-day rule went into effect August 1, Chile has not yet established how many visitors will be allowed on the island. 

Los Angeles Will Be the First US City To Use Subway Body Scanners

Associated Press reports Los Angeles will be the first US city to start equipping its subways with body scanners. But the Southern California metropolis isn’t using the bulky, slow-operating models that populate US airports: Instead, LA’s Metropolitan Transit Authority will deploy portable trunk-sized scanners that can survey people from 30 feet away at a rate of 2,000 individuals an hour. Los Angeles will be the first US city to start equipping its subways with body scanners. But the Southern California metropolis isn’t using the bulky, slow-operating models that populate US airports: Instead, LA’s Metropolitan Transit Authority will deploy portable trunk-sized scanners that can survey people from 30 feet away at a rate of 2,000 individuals an hour. They can scan people from 30 feet away and process 2,000 individuals per hour. LA MTA will use the scanners, made by Thruvision, in response to threats of terrorism or to scan large crowds heading to protests or sporting events, according to the Los Angeles Times. They use radio waves to pick out guns and nonmetal explosives beneath clothing and highlight them on a split-screen display. They are calibrated to especially pick out weapons capable of mass casualties.

Emotional Support Animals No Longer Allowed On Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships

Cruise Critic reports Royal Caribbean has updated its policy on emotional support animals. Emotional support animals, defined as those whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support are no longer allowed onboard its ships; emotional support animals do not qualify as service animals under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Service animals, which support people with both physical and mental disabilities, are still covered under Royal Caribbean’s policy; they are permitted in all public areas, including dining venues, as long as they are on a leash or harness. Disabilities that might require service animals include blindness, deafness and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. “We are changing our policy, but the policy is being changed to better differentiate between emotional support animals and service animals because they are two very different things,” a Royal Caribbean spokesperson told Cruise Critic. “Service animals that are formally trained and certified to perform a function are still welcome onboard with the proper paperwork and certifications.”

Facial Recognition Cameras Are Working In Some Airports But Where Does The Data Go?

The NYT reports the cameras are now operational at airports in Orlando, Los Angeles, Detroit and Atlanta. The program makes boarding an international flight a breeze: Passengers step up to the gate, get their photo taken and proceed onto the plane. There is no paper ticket or airline app. Thanks to facial recognition technology, their face becomes their boarding pass. The problem confronting thousands of travelers, is that few companies participating in the program, called the Traveler Verification Service, give explicit guarantees that passengers’ facial recognition data will be protected. And even though the program is run by the Department of Homeland Security, federal officials say they have placed no limits on how participating companies, mostly airlines but also cruise lines, can use that data or store it, opening up travelers’ most personal information to potential misuse and abuse such as being sold or used to track passengers’ whereabouts. The data the airlines collect is used to verify the identity of passengers leaving the country, an attempt by the department to better track foreigners who overstay their visas. After passengers’ faces are scanned at the gate, the scan is sent to Customs and Border Protection and linked with other personally identifying data, such as date of birth and passport and flight information. For its part, Customs and Border Protection has said it will retain facial scans of American citizens for no longer than 14 days. But the agency has said it cannot control how the companies use the data because they “are not collecting photographs on C.B.P.’s behalf.” The program is not mandatory for passengers. But the airlines, Delta, Lufthansa, British Airways and JetBlue, have reported that a majority of passengers participate.

Viking River Cruises Becomes An Adult-Only Line

Viking River Cruises has announced a ban on guests below the age of 18 sailing on their vessels on bookings made from August 1, 2018. The update on the policy says, “As of 1 August 2018, for all NEW bookings, all Viking guests will need to be 18 years old to travel on either the river or ocean product. Guests booked on a Viking River Cruise prior to 1 August 2018 who are 12 years old or above will be allowed to sail on their currently booked voyage. We will continue to support this program until 2020 when all the previously booked guests will have sailed. For all cruise tours booked after 1 August, 2018 (regardless of departure year), you must be 18 years old on or before the day you are scheduled to embark on the cruise tour.”

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Travel News: Startup Plans To Send Tourists To The Edge Of Space 

 
Hapag-Lloyd Releases Statement Following Polar Bear Incident
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises released a statement on Sunday morning following a weekend incident that left a polar bear dead in Spitsbergen. ” This Saturday on a trip ashore in Spitsbergen during a BREMEN cruise an accident occurred: a polar bear guard, an expert employed by the cruise line, was attacked on land by a polar bear. The guard suffered head injuries, however, he was responsive after the attack and was airlifted. He is out of danger, with no threat to life. In an act of self-defence, unfortunately, it was necessary for the polar bear to be shot dead. We very much regret this incident. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is very aware of its responsibility when travelling in environmentally-sensitive areas and respects all nature and wildlife. To prepare for a shore leave, the polar bear guards go ashore in advance after sighting the landing site as a group and without passengers. They then set up a land station and check the area again to make sure that there are no polar bears in sight. As soon as such an animal approaches, the shore leave would be stopped immediately. The incident occurred when the four-person polar bear guard team, who are always on board for these expedition cruises as required by law, prepared for a shore leave. One of the guards was unexpectedly attacked by a polar bear that had not been spotted and he was unable to react himself. As the attempts of the other guards to evict the animal, unfortunately, were not successful, there had to be intervention for reasons of self-defense and to protect the life of the attacked person. The injured person was immediately provided with medical care and flown to a hospital with a rescue helicopter. We are in personal, direct contact with him. His condition is stable and he remains responsive. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has worked comprehensively and co-operatively with the Norwegian authorities to reconstruct and clarify the incident on the ground and will continue to do so.
Southwest Airlines Promises They Still Won’t Charge for Bags 
Condé Nast Traveler reports at least one airline has some good news about fees you don’t have to worry about. Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in an earnings call on Thursday that the airline will continue with its policies of free checked bags, no change fees, and open seating for the foreseeable future, despite the fact that they’re potentially leaving billions of dollars on the table by doing so. I don’t think we need to change the essence of what Southwest Airlines is to still find opportunities to drive revenues,” Kelly said. While he said the company was exploring new ways to make money, he didn’t divulge details, only adding that they were “very handsome opportunities.” No need to sweat the small stuff: customers won’t see the changes for awhile, not in 2018, and perhaps not even in 2019, Kelly said. Southwest is largely fee-free, but it doesn’t assign seats; instead, passengers can shell out $15 for EarlyBird Check-In to improve their place in the boarding line so they can nab that precious window seat. They also can pay around $50 for each leg of their trip to board with the first group of passengers. The airline’s hands-off, free-bags-and-change-fees approach hits a note with travelers. The Dallas-based airline routinely bests JetBlue, Delta, United, and American when it comes to value for the money, credit card perks, and, uh, flight attendant friendliness. The airline even announced yesterday that despite rising fuel costs, its ticket prices were falling. 

Arizona Startup Plans To Send Tourists To The Edge Of Space 
Travelwirenews reports a Arizona startup plans to send tourists to the edge of space using high-altitude helium balloons, but tickets will definitely cost at least $75,000 each. World View Enterprises has plans to send passengers to a lot more than 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface. The firm will use high-altitude balloons for a ride proponents say will undoubtedly be a lot more peaceful than rocket-based systems. World View currently launches missions primarily for the government, with roughly 50 within the last year. For passenger flights, World View is rolling out a capsule dubbed Voyager, which includes windows on all sides. While it will not reach official boundary of space, passengers should be able to see Earth fall away beneath them. In just a couple of years, wealthy tourists could see themselves going for a relaxing visit to the edge of space, towed by way of a high-altitude, helium-filled balloon. World View Enterprises has been honing its flight system during the last couple of years before plans to send passengers to a lot more than 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface. World View has conducted over 50 flights within the last year. In 2015, a then-Google exec completed a record-breaking free fall from about 136,000 feet, counting on a suit and balloon developed by World View over the course of three years. At present the firm primarily conducts missions for the government, including a recently available effort to fly a military imaging system from Arizona to Mexico.
 
 
Inca Rail Upgrades Trains To Machu Picchu 
Travel Market Reports that Inca Rail in Peru was acquired by the Carlyle Groupsome two years ago and has now rebranded as Machu Picchu Trains by Inca Rail and significantly upgraded its product offering. With a $10 million investment from Carlyle, the company has refurbished its cars, enhanced the onboard experience, ratcheted up the amenities, added a 360-degree panoramic-view observation deck with an outdoor terrace, and offers a private charter service. The company expanded its first-class offering from 30 seats to 60 seats, adding a second 30-seat car, and adding an observatory lounge car between the two cars. The 360-degree observatory lounge is unique in the market, “not only because we have more panoramic windows, but it is the only train with an open terrace. It’s wonderful because since we want to deliver as full an experience as possible, this is the way the customer can experience the journey with the five senses, to see, to smell, to hear and to feel more of the journey. There are no windows so you can take pictures.” Inca Rail also upgraded the technology on the train to accommodate the needs of today’s wired travelers. “It’s also the first train that offers state-of-the-art technology, with a USB port for ISP to charge phones and iPads if you want to take pictures and don’t have batteries. It’s also the only train that has an entertainment system that lets passengers follow the trip with their phones. They can see where the train is going. There are many things to see along the way. They can hear the narration in different languages and find out what is outside, the Incan ruins or the Urubamba River. There is also music and video from the Andes. So, it’s a unique train. The company now offers four classes of service: private, first class, 360 Degree and the standard Voyager service. “For the top luxury class, we offer a private service on a chartered basis, it’s unique in market. You can charter the whole car and it’s at your disposal. You travel with a chef, staff and butler service. It includes upscale dining with a five-course meal, whisky, live music, a lounge and a bar. It’s for one to 10 people. It could be couples, families or friends. You charter the service and it’s completely private, the only private charter in the market.” Passengers can catch the train from Cuzco or Ollantaytambo. From Cuzco, the train leaves from Poroy Station, about a 20-minute drive from downtown Cuzco. The trip to Machu Picchu is about three hours. From Ollantaytambo, passengers catch the train near the site itself and the trip takes about an hour and a half. The train drops passengers off at the Machu Pichu Pueblo Hotel, formerly known as Aguas Caliente, at the foot of the final climb to the Citadel. The final leg of the trip is taken by bus. With its new, upgraded service, Inca Rail is including a private bus for the final climb. The Peruvian government implemented some restrictions, last July. There are two shifts for visitation: in the morning between 6 a.m. and noon, or from noon to 5:30 p.m. In addition, the authorities mandated that visitors have to be accompanied by a licensed tour guide so they know where to walk without damaging the site.


 
Virgin Galactic Completes Rocket Powered Test Flight
CNN reports the race to put tourists into space seems to be a glacially slow one most of the time, and then it suddenly takes a supersonic leap forward. That is what happened with Richard Branson’s long-delayed Virgin Galactic project, which last Thursday completed a rocket-powered test flight at 2.47 times the speed of sound. Carried up to an altitude of 46,500 feet over the Mojave Desert in California, Virgin’s VSS Unity was released from its mother ship before blasting into the stratosphere. With rockets blazing for 42 seconds, it then entered a near-vertical climb to 170,800 feet, approximately halfway to the edge of space. The ship then glided back down to Earth, making a successful landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The third rocket-powered outing in less than four months was hailed as the most successful yet for the project, which eventually aims to carry passengers and commercial payloads into space. It was the first to reach the mesosphere, which Virgin Galactic describes as an “under-studied atmospheric layer” because it’s beyond the range of balloon flight. “This was a new altitude record for both of us in the cockpit, not to mention our mannequin in the back, and the views of Earth from the black sky were magnificent,” Mackay added. Branson predicted it would be up and running by December in an interview released on the eve of the latest test. If Virgin Galactic gets up and running, passengers paying north of $250,000 will experience a two-and-a-half-hour flight to the edge of space. The flight will culminate with several minutes of weightlessness during which they’ll be able to float from their seats.
 
 
 
Hawaii’s Honolulu Airport Will Run On Thousands Of Solar Panels
Hawaii is doing the most when it comes to environmental conservation. The state officially banned all chemical sunscreens, which contain coral-bleaching ingredients, in early July. A number of hotels across the islands have gotten rid of plastic straws and single-use plastics (read our full list of companies that are saying no to single-use plastics). And the state has pushed to use exclusively clean energy by 2045. Hawaii’s Department of Transportation took another step, announcing that Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport will be outfitted with 4,260 solar panels by the end of November, with the aim to cut the airport’s electricity bill in half. Thousands of solar panels will cover the roof of Terminal 1’s parking garage to help capture the rays of Honolulu’s 270 days of sun a year. There also are plans to add more to Terminal 2’s parking garage in the coming years (and, ultimately, a whopping 21,000 across all of Hawaii’s airports). More than 98,000 light fixtures at Honolulu’s airport will be replaced with LEDs as well, the state’s DOT reports. Honolulu is far from the only airport trying to decrease its carbon footprint. George Airport (2,000 solar panels), between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth in South Africa, and Cochin International Airport (46,000 panels) in India’s southwestern Kerala region are both run completely by solar energy. The South African airport hopes to be carbon neutral by 2030 and the Indian airport,-which serves nearly eight million passengers annually-hopes to reduce its carbon emissions by 330,000 tons over the next 25 years. Gatwick Airport in London is officially carbon neutral as of last summer, using 100 percent renewable energy, emphasizing electric car rentals, and building the world’s first airport waste management plant to turn cabin waste into energy on-site.
 
 
New TSA Scanners Could Allow Travelers to Keep Their Liquids and Laptops 
Open Jaw reports the TSA plans to have up to 40 units in place at 15 US airports by the end of this year, with plans for another 100 or so more by the end of the government’s fiscal year 2019. The Transportation Security Administration announced plans to expand testing of a new carry-on bag screening technology that it says could detect the kinds of materials that caused it to issue a ban on liquids and powders. The new checkpoint technology is expected to result in fewer bag checks. In the future, the agency said, “passengers may also be able to leave laptops and liquids in their carry-on bags.” The computed tomography scanners (CT) utilize 3-D technology similar to the kind doctors use to view and rotate images of the human body. “TSA is committed in getting the best technology to enhance security and improve the screening experience. Use of CT technology substantially improves TSA’s threat detection capability at the checkpoint,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “By leveraging strong partnerships with industry, we are able to deploy new technology quickly and see an immediate improvement in security effectiveness.” CT technology testing started in 2017 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Boston’s Logan International Airport, with John F. Kennedy International Airport receiving the third such machine. Abroad, London’s Heathrow International Airport is among several international airports testing the 3D technology.

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Travel News! The Planetarium Aboard the Viking Ship

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Big Sur Road Is Coming Back

LA Times reports Big Sur road coming back: Highway 1, closed for a year and a half because of massive slide, to reopen by July 20 (that’s today!). Travelers soon will be able to do something they haven’t in a year and a half: drive the 650-plus miles of California’s Highway 1 between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Caltrans announced Tuesday that full access to the blocked area south of Gorda would reopen by 11 a.m. July 20. The new stretch of road could open to traffic a few days sooner, depending on when work is completed, according to Caltrans.

The Mud Creek Slide, which rained debris in one of the state’s largest landslides, destroyed a quarter-mile section of roadway on May 20, 2017. The road will be open to traffic in both directions, meaning there’s still time to take an uninterrupted summer road trip along the Big Sur coast. Last year, heavy rains led to slides and debris flow that wiped out a bridge and closed several points on Highway 1, including Paul’s Slide, roughly at Post Mile 21. The road is now open with a single lane and a traffic signal to direct drivers, which may cause some slowing. Construction crews worked round the clock seven days a week to complete the $54-million emergency repairs. They built new roadway across the slide, fortifying with embankments and other support features such as berms, rocks, netting and other materials.

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Courtesy of Silversea

Luxury Line Silversea To Cruise The Northeast Passage 

Silver Explorer will become the most luxurious cruise ship to sail the Northeast Passage through the Arctic when it sets sail from Nome, Alaska, to Tromso, Norway, on August 10, 2019. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Silversea’s expedition arm, the line is offering a rare cruise ship itinerary to the far northern reaches of the globe. The 25-night cruise will take in destinations in Alaska, Russia and Norway, including Wrangel Island, a UNESCO site where polar bears and walruses live; the otherworldly Champ Island with its mysterious stone spheres; Murmansk, a Russian city that dates to the early 20th century; and coastal villages like Chukotka’s Uelen, where passengers can interact with and learn about the native Chukchi and Yupik people who live there. A highlight will be the day Silver Explorer spends sailing as far north as it can toward the edge of the polar ice cap. The expedition team will be in search of seals, walruses and polar bears hanging out on the ice floes. Its onboard expedition leaders will offer lectures and workshops, and lead Zodiac trips and other shore excursions to educate passengers on the itinerary’s remote destinations. The ship carries a mere 144 passengers, and pampers them, even in rugged climates, with suite accommodations, butler service and all-inclusive fares that cover all drinks, gratuities and unlimited Wi-Fi. Fares for this sailing start at $37,260 per person, based on double occupancy. Note that all suite categories but the lowest three are currently showing waitlist status.

EU Gets Tough With AirBnB On Pricing and Policy

the European Commission and EU consumer authorities are calling on Airbnb to be more transparent with its pricing. They say Airbnb’s current pricing and some of its terms do not comply with EU rules and it has given the homeshare giant until the end of August to fall into line. Consumers must easily understand what for and how much they are expected to pay for the services and have fair rules e.g. on cancellation of the accommodation by the owner. Airbnb has been told to show all fees and charges from the initial search or, where that’s not possible, clearly inform customers that additional fees might apply. It must also clearly identify if the accommodation offer is made by a private host or a professional, as consumer protection rules differ.

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American Airlines To Eliminate Plastic Straws From Cabins, Lounges

Reuters reports American Airlines on Tuesday said it plans to no longer offer plastic straws and stir sticks in its lounges and onboard its flights, amid a broader global push to abandon one-time use plastics. Starting this month, American said drinks in its airport lounges will no longer come with plastic utensils and will instead feature biodegradable straws and wooden stir sticks. The phase-out onboard its planes will begin in November, with plastic straws and stirrers to be replaced by environmentally friendly bamboo. The carrier will also transition to “eco-friendly” flatware in its lounges. American said that the move will eliminate more than 71,000 pounds (32,200 kg) of plastic each year. On Monday, Starbucks Corp, the world’s largest coffee chain, said it would no longer offer plastic straws at its 28,000 locations by 2020.

Disneyland Just Experienced The Hottest Day Ever At A Disney Park 

Travel + Leisure reports Disneyland just had its hottest day ever. While southern California experienced a heat wave temperatures in Anaheim (home of Disneyland) soared to 113°F on July 6. It is not only the hottest temperature on record since the park opened in 1955, it is the hottest temperature recorded at any of the Disney parks around the world (including Orlando, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong), according to Theme Park Insider. Because of the oppressive heat, park officials closed all outdoor rides, including Big Thunder and Mountain Railroad – several food vendors also shut down because of the heat. Those who went to the park on that day said that lines for rides were short, as the park was practically empty. Disney first aid staff were on call to help guests experiencing dehydration. “There was one medic run right after the other,” one park cast member said. Wait times for many popular attractions dropped to the point where it was basically possible to walk right on.

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This High-Tech Planetarium Is On A New VIKING Cruise Ship

The Explorers’ Dome is located on the second level of the Viking Orion’s Explorers’ Lounge. The newest Viking Ocean Cruise ship, made its debut in Italy on June 14, revealing a unique high-tech feature: a planetarium at sea. The ship is named after the constellation Orion (the hunter) and NASA’s Orion spacecraft, the first crewed capsule designed to carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit. The ship’s name also honors retired NASA astronaut Anna Fisher, who is the “godmother” of Viking Orion and worked on the Orion spacecraft before retiring in May 2017.

The planetarium, called the Explorers’ Dome, features shows about space and exploration, including two 3D films: “Journey to Space” and “Under the Arctic Sky.” “The Explorers’ Dome onboard Viking Orion is currently the highest-definition 7K planetarium in the world,” Ralph de Klijn, Viking’s executive director of ocean operations, told Space.com. “The Explorers’ Dome is a versatile space that can operate as a high-tech planetarium, as well as show films and other programming in 2D or 3D.” Viking Orion is only the second cruise ship in the world to have a planetarium; the other is the Queen Mary 2.

Although Viking Orion is not the first cruise ship to offer a planetarium, the company says this one is the most advanced, with:

– Digistar 6 display system, five projectors and studio speakers.

– Viking resident astronomer. Howard Parkin, a Royal Astronomical Society fellow and founding member of the Isle of Man Astronomical Society

– lectures on the wonders of the cosmos

– offer guided tours of the night sky during stargazing sessions using Viking’s portable telescope.

While other Viking ships have resident historians, Orion is the only one with a resident astronomer and historian. Parkin will continue to offer lectures through the ship’s 2018 maiden season, de Klijn said.

Read more on Space.com: https://www.space.com/41145-space-cruise-vacation-viking-orion-reflections.html

Club Med Cancún Yucatán Introduces Expanded Family Area 

Club Med Cancún Yucatán has doubled the size of its Aguamarina family area, adding 60 rooms and a new pool. The Aguamarina family area now offers an additional 30 Club Rooms and 30 Deluxe Rooms. Both of the two-bedroom accommodation options provide oceanfront views. This expansion doubles the Aguamarina area’s capacity to 120 families. Club Med Cancún Yucatán also introduced a new Aguamarina reception area and concierge service. The resort also added a new family pool, offering water games, lounge areas and outdoor activities. After a long day in the water, guests can dine at the pool area’s new family bar La Marina. Here kids can visit the restaurant’s kids’ corner and the whole family can order special treats that change from day to day. Guests of the Aguamarina area receive all the benefits featured in a stay at Club Med Cancún Yucatán. This includes dining at the resort’s three restaurants, water and land sports such as snorkeling and flying trapeze, kids’ and teens’ clubs and nightly entertainment. The additions to the Aguamarina area follow a full renovation the resort completed at the end of 2017. The work included improvements to all the resort’s rooms, its meetings and events spaces and the 5-Trident Jade area. The property also introduced new wellness opportunities as well as new and improved dining options.

More glimpses of the family area here: https://www.clubmed.us/r/Cancun-Yucatan/y

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Paris Métro Ditches Paper Tickets, Moves to London-Like System 

Cntraveler reports Paris’s more-than-a-century-old, white paper Métro tickets are on their way out. Starting in 2019, entry to Paris’s efficient public transport system, including buses and express RER trains, will be done through contactless Navigo cards. The city’s transport agency, Ile-de-France Mobilités, announced Wednesday that it would be rolling out two different travel cards, in addition to the unlimited Navigo card for residents already available, over the next year for all sorts of travelers and commuters. If you’re visiting the city for a short time, you’ll need the Navigo Easy pass, available starting in April 2019. Almost identical to London’s Oyster card, the Easy pass costs €2 ($2.34) to buy. Then, you’ll load up the card with T+ rides, what the paper tickets represent now, which will cost the same in 2019 as they do today: €1.90 ($2.22) per ride or €14.90 ($17.39) for a pack of 10 rides. That’s a more than 20% discount, and will cover one-way Métro rides, RER trains in Zone 1 (central Paris), and bus trips. Much like the Oyster card in London, you can top the card up as needed at all transit stations so be sure not to throw yours away. There will be no time limit on them and the card is not nominative, meaning it can be given to a friend. You can also load Orlybus (to Paris Orly Airport) or Roissybus (to Charles de Gaulle Airport) tickets on the Easy pass as well.

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Travel News: Snakes on a Plane?

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TSA Finds Python Hidden In Hard Drive

ABC News reports airport security agents stopped a woman from boarding a plane with a python wrapped in a nylon stocking concealed in a computer hard drive Sunday. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said its agents stopped a real-life version of “Snakes on a Plane” from happening after an agent noticed the ball python. “A traveler on her way to the Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) in Barbados attempted to smuggle the snakelet inside of an external hard drive packed in her checked bag. If you think airplane seats can feel constricting, imagine how this little guy felt! Talk about bad memories!” the TSA continued. “While the python itself posed no danger to anyone on the aircraft, an organic item concealed inside electronics raises security concerns, which is why our officers took a closer look. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was notified. They responded and took possession of the snake and cited the traveler. Both the traveler and the snake missed their flight,” the TSA added. “Conversationally, this python had not gone full monty. It was wearing a nylon stocking.”

If You Owe The IRS It Could Cost You Your Passport

EtN reports if you have a seriously delinquent tax debt, the IRS can certify that debt to the State Department for action, and that department generally will not issue a US passport to a potential traveler after receiving certification from the IRS. This is all in plain print at the IRS website: “Upon receiving certification, the State Department shall deny your passport application and/or may revoke your current passport. If your passport application is denied or your passport revoked, and you are overseas, the State Department may issue you a limited validity passport good only for direct return to the United States. Seriously delinquent tax debt is an individual’s unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt totaling more than $51,000 (including interest and penalties) for which a Notice of federal tax lien has been filed and all administrative remedies under IRC § 6320 have lapsed or been exhausted, or seriously delinquent tax debt is limited to liabilities incurred under Title 26 of the United States Code and does not include debts collected by the IRS such as the FBAR Penalty and Child Support.

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Anguilla Retains Best Caribbean Island Ranking

Travel + Leisure reports the Anguilla Tourist Board (ATB) is pleased to announce that for an unprecedented second year in a row, Anguilla has been ranked #1 island in the Caribbean, Bermuda and Bahamas in the 2018 Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards, honoring the top travel destinations and companies around the globe as rated by its readers. Frangipani Beach Resort has been ranked #1 in the Top 25 Caribbean Resort Hotels category and #3 in the Top Hotels Overall category. The Four Seasons Resort & Private Residences Anguilla has been ranked #12 in the Top Caribbean Resort Hotels category; Zemi Beach House was ranked #15; and Malliouhana, An Auberge Resort was ranked #18 in the Top Caribbean Resort Hotels category. The World’s Best Awards appear in the August 2018 issue of Travel + Leisure, on sale July 27, and online: travelandleisure.com/worlds-best.

Singapore Airlines To Launch Non-Stop Flights From LAX To Singapore

By Christmastime, Singapore Airlines will be flying ten times a week between LAX and Singapore. If you don’t mind sitting on a plane for 17 and a half hours, getting from the West Coast to Singapore will be a whole lot easier and faster, thanks to the elimination of a layover in Seoul. Starting November 2, Singapore Airlines will bring back its nonstop route from Los Angeles International to Singapore Changi. The airline will will fly the route three times a week (Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) until November 9; service will go daily after that. From December 7, three more flights a week will be added for ten total non-stop flights between Los Angeles and Singapore per week. The fall kickoff date is notable for many reasons: It’s two weeks after Singapore restarts its longest-flight-in-the-world Newark-Singapore route (clocking in at nearly 19 hours), and just a week after Star Alliance member United ends its LAX-Singapore route. 
 

Airlines Load Factor Hits All-Time High

Forbes reports that if you think that airline flights are much more crowded than they used to be, you’re not wrong. The passenger load factor of commercial airlines has risen significantly over the past decade. In 2005, airlines had an average load factor of 75.2%, so on average, just three out of every four seats were sold. The recession of 2007-2010 stopped load factor growth. But by 2018, the average airline load factor hit 81.7% worldwide. In the US load factor has increased on domestic flights from 67.88% in 2002 to 86.08% in 2018, while the number of domestic flights has stayed almost constant, from 8,085,083 in 2002 to 8,176,610 in 2017. The US airline industry has clearly gotten better in filling seats as revenue passenger miles rose from 471,652,206 in 2002 to 684,221,393 in 2017. The days of having a whole row to stretch out in coach, or even an empty middle seat separating you from your neighbor, increasingly seem like a distant memory. The airlines are busy shrinking seats and cramming in additional rows into smaller, more fuel-efficient jets.

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Amtrak Service Declines As It Becomes An Airline On Rails

Travellers United reports Amtrak service is becoming more airline-like with a former airline executive in charge, former Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson. His Amtrak service changes bring the railroad closer to service practices in the airline industry. Some of the changes: – Hot dining car meals prepared on-board, included in the fare for first-class sleeping car passengers, are being replaced with cold pre-prepared meals served in-room on the Chicago-New York and Chicago-Washington routes starting June 1.

– Amtrak no longer offers discounts to veterans, students and AAA members, and the minimum age of eligibility for the senior discount (which is now 10% rather than 15% was raised to 65 from 62.

– The railroad’s cancellation policy is now more airline-like. There is now a 25% penalty for most reservations canceled more than 24 hours after booking, even if the value is credited to the passenger as an eVoucher (redeemable for future ticket purchases) rather than as a cash refund. Luckily, Amtrak still does not charge change fees.

– First Class amenities like a lounge car for sleeping car passengers have been removed from several routes, and two routes have lost Business Class seating.

– A number of stations have lost their Amtrak Customer Service Representative(s), employees who do everything from selling tickets to handling baggage and assisting passengers with special needs.

– Amtrak has stopped operating charter and special trains in partnership with rail museums and preservation nonprofits, tour groups, sports teams and others, jettisoning a source of revenue and public goodwill in the name of operational convenience.

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Ethiopia Launches New E-Visa Services

Ethiopia, a treasure trove of history and culture, has become easier to get to with an all in one new e-visa service launched by the Ethiopian Immigration and Nationality Affairs Main Department in collaboration with Ethiopian Airlines. The new service brings the travelers closer to authentic travel experiences and enables them to travel to Ethiopia. All the visitors have to do is process their visa online on a single webpage where they apply, pay and secure their entry visa online. Give it a try and you will get authorized via email to secure your passport stamped with visa upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Call Willamette Intl Travel to discuss a unique holiday in Ethiopia – you’ll be sure to love this beautiful country and the warm-hearted hospitality of its people.  

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Travel News: Hawaii Hikes Hotel Tax To Pay For Honolulu Rail Transit

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Hawaii Hikes Hotel Tax To Pay For Honolulu Rail Transit

ETN reports Hawaii Tourism Authority issued the following Travel Industry Notification RE: 1% Transient Accommodations Tax Increase Takes Effect January 1, 2018: Please be advised that, effective January 1, 2018, the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) applied to lodging accommodations in the State of Hawaii will be increased by 1%, raising the TAT from its current rate of 9.25% to 10.25%. This increase is scheduled to stay in effect until December 31, 2030. The TAT increase is being put into effect to help pay for Honolulu’s rapid transit system that is currently under construction. The light metro rail system will extend 20 miles from Kapolei in Leeward Oahu to Ala Moana Center in Honolulu with 21 stations along the way, including the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, the State of Hawaii’s main port of entry for air transportation. Following is a summary of State taxes that will be applied by lodging properties statewide when the 1% TAT increase takes effect on January 1, 2018:

New Features For Symphony Of The Seas

Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas is getting a real makeover!

  • two-level Ultimate Family Suites with a slide, floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall, air-hockey table and the surround-sound movie room with its own popcorn machine and a library of video games – and 212-sq-foot wrap-around balcony with full-size whirlpool and bumper pool table
  • New ‘friction-less’ mobile check-in.
  • A reimagined Boardwalk with a massive Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, spanning the length of the neighborhood, will be a family magnet with more than 30 televisions, arcade games (video and vintage, like ‘Pac-Man’), draft craft beers, wings and burgers,
  • A redesigned Solarium offering a casual seafood spot, including oysters shucked to order, for lunch and dinner in a casual venue with great views,
  • The world’s largest laser tag arena,  housed in the Studio B ice rink that will be converted for this glow-in-the- dark family activity,
  • Broadway hit ‘Hairspray.’ And a new original ice show, ‘1977,’ features a time-traveling hero on a jewel-heist adventure.

The ship will debut April 18 with weeklong cruises from Barcelona before repositioning to PortMiami’s new Terminal A in November as the first Oasis-class vessel to sail from the ‘Cruise Capital of the World.’ This puts four Oasis-class ships in Florida ports including, also, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral.

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Virgin America Days Are Numbered

Virgin America will cease to exist on April 25, 2018, when all of the airline’s flights will switch over to Alaska Airlines, according to an internal memo. After acquiring Virgin America for $2.6 billion in 2016, Alaska has slowly been rebranding the 10-year-old airline, replacing some signage and ticket counters in airports, with plans to completely rebrand the airline by 2019, AirlineGeeks reported. For fans of the airline, the upcoming disappearance of Virgin America is even more of a reality with the latest announcement. According to the Alaska Airlines internal memo obtained by FlightGlobal, “Alaska Airlines has posted the new Airbus schedule for flights after April 24. The flights will be Alaska flights and will only be available through Alaska channels.” Travelers attempting to book a flight after April 24, 2018 on VirginAmerica.com will be redirected to AlaskaAir.com. On April 25, both airlines will become one in terms of website, mobile app, and ticket kiosks, and will be solely run by Alaska.

Grand Turk Rebounding After Hurricanes, Port To Open In November

Work is full tilt at Carnival Corp. & plc’s Grand Turk Cruise Center to restore the destination to receive ships in November. Carnival Cruise Line has confirmed seven sailings to call next month: Carnival Magic’s Nov. 4 cruise from Port Canaveral, Carnival Ecstasy’s Nov. 5 cruise from Charleston, Carnival Splendor’s Nov. 5 and Nov. 19 voyages from Miami, Carnival Glory’s Nov. 11 and Nov. 25 sailings from Miami and Carnival Conquest’s Nov. 25 cruise from Port Everglades. Further calls are booked in December. The Turks and Caicos Islands sustained a one-two punch from hurricanes Irma and Maria, and Grand Turk was among the hard-hit destinations. However, a senior Carnival Corp. official told Seatrade Cruise News the pier is fine and work is going 24/7 to restore landside facilities and tours. The cruise pier did not suffer any damage while the cruise center facility suffered mostly cosmetic damages and loss of some landscaping. The Carnival Cruise Line shore excursions team and local tour operators, have undertaken their own recovery efforts in gearing up to welcome back passengers. Marc Melville, director of Jamaica-based Chukka tours, which has a staff of about 100 on Grand Turk, as well as sizable operations in Jamaica and Belize, said the message to cruisers is that once Grand Turk reopens: ‘We need you to come back as soon as possible.’

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