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Cant Travel? Play These Games Instead During COVID-19 And Social Distancing – Forbes

Playing board games is a good way to pass time as a family.

Youre probably getting your fair share of couch time as more and more places close down life as we know it, insisting residents to stay at home and practice social distancing from others in order to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

We already hit you with some movie recommendations that can help ease the pain of a world without travel, and now we turn to another classic form of entertainment - the board game - to help satisfy your wanderlust cravings.

If youre looking to pass time and inspire future trips, here are a couple games to consider playing with friends and family:

Passport to Culture

The goal here is much like in real life - filling your passport. This card-playing board game sets a good travel tone right off the bat with a world map for its board, and the goal of seeing it all. Question and culture cards that relate to the different countries offer a nice way to learn a thing or two, and who knows, maybe help you find your next travel destination once the real world opens back up.

Where in the World

The games self-description says it all: It includes the latest facts about every country in the world including capitals, major imports and exports, languages and religions. With six games in one, there are different ways to explore the world, but the main focus is geography. Play a couple of rounds to practice filling out the world map.

Brainbox: The World

This memory-type game offers the chance to learn and answer questions about famous landmarks, world cultures, and geography. Players draw a card and have ten seconds to internalize its pictures and facts, then turn the card over and answer as many questions as they can. Great for adults looking to brush up on trivia, and anyone looking to expand their knowledge of the world.

Around the World in 80 Days

This game takes you back to the Victorian Era for an 80-day journey around the globe, using various modes of transportation that require different cards. The premise is simple: Whoever makes it around the world the fastest wins.

Dash! A Whimsical Race Through Singapore

Looking to take a trip to Southeast Asia? This board game takes you on a race through Singapore, including stops in some of its famous districts and points of interest.

Flags of the World

You can play name that flag games online, but theres also a board-game version if youd like something the whole family can play together.

Pandemic

For those who arent entirely freaked out by the concept of playing such a game during this time (aka, people who are enjoying watching movies like Outbreak and Contagion), there are a couple different versions of the Pandemic game, but all carry the same theme: Its up to you to save the world from a fast-spreading outbreak.

Catan

This classic game can take an entire day (or more) to play as you expand your horizons and conquer the world. But, since finding time will not be a big issue over the next couple weeks, its the perfect time to play.

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Cant Travel? Play These Games Instead During COVID-19 And Social Distancing - Forbes

Travel personalities reflect on how the coronavirus outbreak has changed their world – The Messenger

The coronavirus has clipped our airplane wings, silenced our train whistle, idled our car engine. Were hunkering down at home to avoid trailing germs around the planet. To think, not so long ago we were grumbling about diminishing legroom and escalating baggage fees. Those were the days. And we will have them again, but maybe with less indignation and more gratefulness for what we temporarily lost. As you wait on the phone to cancel a trip, or return your untouched suitcase to the basement, remember that you are not alone. We are all in this together: People who travel only once a year are standing (six feet apart) beside those who make a living by avoiding home. To reinforce this sense of camaraderie, we checked in with some of the most esteemed professionals and personalities in the travel industry.

We spoke to travel blogger Lee Abbamonte, the youngest person to visit every country in the world, plus both poles; Samantha Brown, host of the Emmy Award-winning series, Samantha Browns Places to Love, on PBS; Pauline Frommer, editorial director of Frommers guidebooks and Frommers.com; Tom Hall, vice president of experience at Lonely Planet and travel writer; Brian Kelly, founder and chief executive of the Points Guy; Sean Keener, chairman of AirTreks and BootsnAll Travel Network; Phil Keoghan, host of The Amazing Race on CBS; Darley Newman, creator and host of the award-winning series, Travels With Darley, on PBS; Rolf Potts, travel writer, podcaster and author of Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-term World Travel; Rick Steves, European travel expert with a guidebook series, public television and radio shows, and travel program; and Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet.

The virus can disrupt our travel plans but, as youll see from the answers below, it is also taking our wanderlust to even greater heights.

Q: What plans did you have to cancel?

Abbamonte: Aside from canceling several parts of my Europe trip to the loss of thousands of dollars, Ive also had to or will have to cancel countless trips over the next few months. I was supposed to attend a soccer game in Milan and Turin and go to a birthday weekend in Prague, and Im going to miss several work golf trips to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Georgia; Scottsdale, Arizona; and likely Branson, Missouri.

Brown: We had to postpone shooting episodes 2 and 3 of Season 4. The locations we postponed visiting are the Tyrol region of Austria and London.

Frommer: So many. My younger daughter is a high school junior and we were going to take an extended road trip during spring beak to visit two dozen colleges in the Midwest and South. I had to cancel flights to and from New York (that involved waiting on hold for three hours with Delta) as well as cancel hotel rooms and Airbnbs (that was easy). Plus, I had to release the rental car and call friends and family we were planning to see along the way.

Hall: Family holidays at Easter to longed-for journeys in England have been postponed, and my plans to bag a last-minute trip to Paris or Venice while crowds were low have also been put on ice.

Keener: I canceled a trip to the Redwoods (in California) with my children, a trip to Kauai and I may have to cancel a few more.

Kelly: I was headed to London at the end of April for our first anniversary of the Points Guy U.K. office.

Keoghan: I have typically traveled more than 250,000 miles a year for the last few decades. Staying put is not something I am used to, but I am embracing being at home and savoring all of the things that really matter in life.

Newman: We canceled trips to Austin for South by Southwest and the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas, two important industry events. We were not set to have any major filming trips until June and, at this point, we are looking at alternative dates for those film shoots. They are in the U.S., but we are still planning for the worst ... and hoping for the best.

Potts: Short-window trips to California and Louisiana have been scrapped for coming months. I teach a creative-writing class in Paris each July, and this year I was going to spend June with my nephew in Italy and Switzerland as a travel gift to celebrate his high school graduation. All of those Europe summer travels now look unlikely.

Steves: For the first time I can remember, my calendar is empty until June. Ive canceled my April 13 flight to Istanbul and the entire 40-day guidebook research trip that was to follow. My tour business, which took more than 30,000 customers to Europe in 2019, has already canceled all departures through the end of April (so far).

Wheeler: I got back to Australia today Wednesday Australia time and cant even go home because of the 14-day self-isolation ruling. Wow.

Q: How are you scratching your travel itch while grounded?

Abbamonte: Im trying to stay positive and continue to post travel content on my social feeds like Instagram, so I can feel normal and others can take their mind off the virus if even for a few seconds. I also plan to use the time wisely and productively and start writing my book.

Brown: We are brainstorming ways we can use the three years of travel content we have from Places to Love to keep people hopeful not just about travel but human kindness and connection, which is, of course, at the core of all travel experiences.

Frommer: Im writing and editing a lot for Frommers.com. Were working on articles that we hope will help a lot of people scratch that travel itch, with gorgeous photos, history and culture-rich text and much more, so that people can dream about future trips and the wonders the world holds, even if theyre not traveling right now.

Hall: My family and I are virtually touring the worlds museums and cities, and taking our time over booking travel for later in the year. Theres also a TV show Race Across the World airing in the United Kingdom showing teams racing from Mexico City to Ushuaia, Argentina, that is bringing a whole continent into view.

Keener: I am getting into nature while maintaining social distancing. So going into the garden, slowing down and enjoying the slower pace of life when in Portland, Oregon.

Kelly: I have been reading some great books. I started reading Daniel Silvas novels and am hooked. Reading his books has made me appreciative that I traveled to Israel twice in 2019.

Keoghan: Im immersing myself with post-production on a new reality series I am show-running for CBS called Tough as Nails. Its about real people in real life who are real tough, something that feels really timely right now. We want to honor the hardworking men and women who keep our country running, the people who arent afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.

Newman: Traveling around Central Park and, most recently, going back and forth to Maine to see my father and help him out. Over the last few days, I have come to realize that my idea of travel coming up may mean covering a few blocks in my home area of New York City or sharing photos and memories with friends on social media. Im also going back to video content weve filmed and will look for outtakes and footage that didnt make it into previous episodes, knowing that people who cant travel may have that itch and also cabin fever.

Potts: I am re-familiarizing myself with the 30 acres of Kansas prairie I consider my home base. Its actually a nice place, all things considered, for a quarantine: very pretty and isolated (and inexpensive). An interesting irony here is that I canceled my winter travels this year so that I could keep an eye on my aging parents, who live next door. Its the first time Ive wintered here in five years, having been to Sumatra, Sri Lanka, Hawaii, southern Africa and Uruguay/Argentina in previous winters. So in some alternate present, Im off trapped in quarantine flight restrictions in some place like Namibia or Fiji.

Steves: Im dreaming about Europe now more than ever, and Im getting the sense that other travelers are, too. So while were all grounded, Im making it my mission to stoke Americans travel dreams with vicarious travels. On my Facebook page, Im sharing a daily dose of Europe, featuring my favorite memories from a lifetime of travel. My entire public television series more than 100 half-hour episodes on every corner of Europe is available free to view at my website. And my Rick Steves Classroom Europe tool, which curates all that travel television into more than 400 teachable three- to five-minute clips, is a godsend for families suddenly home-schooling and teachers trying to come up with creative ways to keep their students engaged. My goal is to remind everyone whats waiting for them when this is all over and we can head back to Europe.

Wheeler: Ill be processing that trip London, Cairo and Socotra Island and sorting out the photographs, putting up a blog on my website and so on for a few days. And definitely doing some research on the places Ive learned about.

Q: Once we can travel again, where will you go to celebrate your liberation from self-quarantine?

Abbamonte: Im going to go play golf somewhere really nice at a top course to try to recoup the clear forthcoming drop to my handicap!

Brown: Road trip to Maine to see my mom. I turn 50 in March, and my mom has been making me pork chops with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes for my birthday for 35 years. We cant see her right now because shes a part of the community we all really need to protect.

Frommer: Ooh, such a hard question. Im hoping that a trip I have planned to the Traverse City area of northern Michigan will happen in May. Im supposed to do a broadcast of our radio show from there. Its a part of the country Ive loved forever, ever since I went to Interlochen Arts Camp as a kid. The area is beautiful, with the Great Lakes, cherry tree farms, wineries and so much more. Theres also a surprisingly good culinary and cultural scene. Fingers crossed that I get there this year.

Hall: Living in London, Ive long savored and come to take for granted how easy it is to get to Europes great centers of culture. Rome, which I love most of all, feels like the right place to go back to first for all kinds of reasons. The day when I can have a lazy coffee or gelato for the kids in the Campo de Fiori will be the day all of this is behind us. Then Ill hop on a few trains north to Bern, Switzerland, and float down the fast-flowing water of the Aare River.

Keener: I do love air travel and am still amazed that humans built planes that can rapidly get us around the globe. On liberation, I look forward to going to South America and experiencing all of the beautiful cultures and expansive natural spaces.

Kelly: One of my favorite things to do is scuba diving. I plan to book a trip to go scuba diving in the South Pacific. Hello, Palau! I also want to take the worlds longest flight from EWR (Newark Liberty International Airport) to SIN (Singapore Changi Airport) and explore Singapores incredible food scene.

Keoghan: I was on the phone with my parents last night and talking about how important it is to plan our next adventure together. With them being so far away in New Zealand, it is something I always do. I want to go on another hike with my dad in the mountains of the South Island. As I always say at the start of The Amazing Race, The world is waiting for you. That said, it might have to wait a bit until we get rid of our unwanted house guest!

Newman: Im dreaming of a long vacation, perhaps in the Caribbean or Western Europe. I would relish sipping a cool cocktail by the beach or wine in a French cafe and soaking in some of the normalcy we have recently lost. Ill likely and hopefully end up filming those experiences, but for now, like so many people stressed by the current uncertainty, I long to go back or move forward to a normal state of things.

Potts: Odds are Ill celebrate by finally taking my nephew to Italy and Switzerland. Our original plan was to take a European train trip through that region, a journey of the sort I never got to take as a teenager during the heyday of the Eurail Pass. In general, the pandemic has reminded me of what a blessing and privilege travel has always been, and how it has gotten even easier and more accessible over the course of the past quarter-century (up until about 10 days ago, that is). When Im able to travel again, Im sure I will have a sharpened sense of this privilege, and I hope I enjoy the journey even more as a result.

Steves: Whats next? Before coronavirus hit, Id already make plans to take my extended family (and my daughters new in-laws) on our flagship 21-day Best of Europe bus tour in mid-June. While I wouldnt be surprised to see this crisis last longer, Im hoping we can go ahead with that tour. Someday soon well all look back on this crisis as a time that made us smarter and more compassionate as a society, and more aware that the only way to make our country truly first is to put the entire world first as well.

Wheeler: I was hoping to go to South America in a few weeks, but right now who knows.

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Travel personalities reflect on how the coronavirus outbreak has changed their world - The Messenger

Remote Year, which helps you work while traveling the world, lays off 50% of staff – TechCrunch

Remote Year wants to help people travel around the world and keep their job while doing so. The Chicago startup relies on the idea that great work can be done anywhere. And to prove it, it brings people to 12 cities in 12 months, all while theyre working full-time jobs. Think co-working spaces in Ljubljana, code from bungalows in Thailand and workshops from rooftops in Istanbul.

Needless to say, Remote Years core business relies on wanderlust, disposable income and the ability to travel.

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, founder Greg Caplan told TechCrunch that Remote Year has laid off 50% of its staff. The layoff impacted roughly 50 roles on the sales, marketing and product side, and comes less than six months after the company raised a $5 million capital investment from LightBank, which brought its total funding to $17 million, according to Crunchbase data.

The borders sort of froze up with the virus and a lot of our folks decided not to travel and go home, Caplan told TechCrunch. Half of our revenue dried off in a couple of days, and theres no end in sight when this situation may change.

The startup says it still has runway from its last capital investment. Layoffs are expected to more largely hit the tech travel industry due to the global pandemic and people staying inside. Earlier this week, travel savings startup Service shut down operations, citing the pandemic and economic downturn.

Remote Year charges between $2,000 and $3,000 a month for its travel programs per person. This includes travel to and between destinations, private rooms and activities. Caplan said that Remote Year staff has always been a distributed team, and by nature of industry, it was monitoring COVID-19 for over a month before the onslaught of cancellations and news.

But monitoring it and talking about it was very different [from] what has unfolded in the last seven days, Caplan said.

To help the employees that were laid off, Caplan looked inward. Remote Year has always had a three-person team that connects people to remote jobs. That team will be helping its former colleagues through 1:1 coaching, resume interviews, interview preparation and contract negotiations. He urges other founders to do whatever they can to humanize this global pandemic, and reach out if needed.

Weve actually heard from a couple other companies that want our help finding remote jobs for employees, Caplan said. Were not sure what that means for our business, but were going to think about how we can help.

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Remote Year, which helps you work while traveling the world, lays off 50% of staff - TechCrunch

WhatsApp Is at the Center of Coronavirus Response – WIRED

The Covid-19 pandemic is impacting communities around the world. For the 2 billion of those people who also use the encrypted communication service WhatsApp, now more than ever is a time for calling, messaging, and seeking trustworthy information. So the World Health Organization is going where the people are, launching a new tool called WHO Health Alert on WhatsApp today.

When you text "hi" to +41 79 893 1892 over WhatsApp, you'll receive back a text from the WHO that includes a variety of menu items for the latest information, like novel coronavirus infection rates around the world, travel advisories, and misinformation that should be debunked. Think of it like a hotline: Text 1 for the latest statistics, 4 for mythbusters, that type of thing. The WHO can also send out proactive alerts as needed to everyone who's signed up.

Read all of our coronavirus coverage here.

The WHO isn't the first to enlist WhatsApp in this manner. The Facebook-owned app's ubiquity and experience handling disinformation has made an obvious choice for governments and international organizations, placing it squarely at the center of the novel coronavirus responsewith all the responsibility and controversy that entails.

"We already have over one million people signed up even though we havent even announced it yet," says Will Cathcart, who runs WhatsApp, of WHO Health Alert. "It's great. There seems to be a lot of appetite from people for ways to get good, accurate information and were happy to do what we can there to help."

Helplines are preferable in many ways to landing pages, social media profiles, or massive open channels, because they allow governments to use WhatsApp like regular users, having one-to-one interactions with constituents. The only difference is that the responses are automated.

Organizations can find out their options for setting up similar chatbot mechanisms at this landing page for WhatsApp's Coronavirus resources. The bots run through WhatsApp's business application programming interface, which maintains WhatsApp's encryption and allows entities to manage their services

All the new institutional uses combined with widespread social isolation means that more people than ever are using WhatsApp for messagingand an especially large volume of phone calls and video chats. To keep up with demand, Cathcart says that WhatsApp has nearly doubled its server capacity in the last few weeks.

"We dont know whats coming, and we view WhatsApp as a lifeline for people to communicate when they need it. And the core thing we offer is that itll be there and work," he says. "Were hearing all these amazing anecdotes especially out of places on the front lines of things like health care workers using WhatsApp to communicate with patients, to communicate with each other. Schools using it to try to do remote education, people using it to keep in touch with their friends and family, either through messaging, but actually exceptionally through video calling and voice calling. And were seeing that in the data with a ton of extra usage."

On a platform that has struggled for years to curb misinformation, all of that extra usage has also bred pandemic-related rumors and myths. WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption means that only the devices at either end of a communication hold data unencrypted. WhatsApp itself is totally boxed out of being able to access user communications other than metadata like which accounts are interacting. This means the company can't moderate content on the service like social networks can. Users can communicate on WhatsApp without being surveilled by oppressive governments, but those same protections can also make it easier for misinformation to spread. Meanwhile, law enforcement in the US and around the world have increasingly lobbied to undermine end-to-end encryption.

Cathcart says WhatsApp's priority, even more so during the pandemic, is to elevate accurate information and support fact-checking organizations around the world. The company announced a $1 million donation on Wednesday to the Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network. The goal is to help buoy the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, which is bringing together 100 local organizations in more than 45 countries to fight Covid-19-related disinformation.

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WhatsApp Is at the Center of Coronavirus Response - WIRED

We can’t travel, but we can take measures to preserve jobs in the tourism industry – World Bank Group

Twin towers of Viru Gate in the old town of Tallinn, Estonia. The country adapted their campaign on Twitter from Visit Estonia to Visit Estonia, later #stayhome. Photo: Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock

The tourism industry is at a standstill. Even as policymakers around the world seek ways to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, recovery cant begin until the health emergency is under control and travel restrictions can be lifted safely. The longer the health crisis lasts, the more difficult for companies to survive, especially the small- and medium-sized enterprises that make up a big share of the tourism ecosystem, and greater the distress for workers.

Governments are rightly worried. The latest figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council show that 50 million jobs are at risk in the sector globally, a reduction of between 12 and 14 percent.In many countries, tourism is the largest contributor to GDP, forex and employment particularly for vulnerable groups, women and youth. For developing countries strongly dependent on tourism for gross domestic product 20 percent for 37 countriesthe health crisis is already a national economic crisis.

Early on, many unaffected destinations invested in marketing campaigns to attract those who still wished to travel. It is now clear that marketing any kind of travel - even domestic - is irresponsible. In line with WHO guidance, we all have a responsibility to do our part to flatten the curve and curb the transmission of the disease. This means restricting movement and reducing all forms of interaction - including travel.

The most forward-thinking industry and destination brands aim to show sensitivity and build trust - Estonia adapted their campaign on Twitter from Visit Estonia to Visit Estonia, later #stayhome.

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We can't travel, but we can take measures to preserve jobs in the tourism industry - World Bank Group

World’s most expensive cities to live in – CNN

(CNN) The global economic landscape could be very different this time next year, but 2020's most expensive cities have been revealed -- and the number one spot belongs not to one single city, but to three destinations.

The Japanese city of Osaka replaces Paris on the winners' podium, making it an all-Asian trio this year.

New York climbed up to fourth position while Los Angeles rose to eighth. This was driven, the EIU says, by "strong local currency and firm domestic demand" pushing up prices for clothing and domestic help.

The bi-annual survey, which evaluates the cost of over 160 goods and services in 133 cities around the world, has been carried out for more than 30 years.

Rises and falls

Hong Kong shares the title of world's most expensivecity with Paris and Osaka.

Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images

The French capital dropped down to fifth place, equal with another European city, Switzerland's Zurich.

The survey notes a clear trend across the 37 European cities surveyed: all but four -- Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev and Istanbul -- fell in the rankings for 2020.

"Modest domestic demand and weak global energy prices have kept inflationary pressures subdued across Europe in the past year, the EIU said.

The Israeli city of Tel Aviv is the only Middle Eastern city in the top 10, and jumped three places this year to the number seven slot, which the EIU attributes to rising transport costs.

A strengthening of the yen this year led Japan's capital, as with Osaka, to soar up the rankings, this time to joint eighth position, alongside L.A.

The Swiss city of Geneva, a stalwart in the survey's top 10, slid down from fifth place to 10th, while Copenhagen -- joint seventh last year -- dropped out of the top ten entirely.

The rest of the list

A strong US dollar meant 15 out of the 16 US cities surveyed climbed up the rankings this year.

Currency depreciation, meanwhile, was behind the South Korean capital, Seoul, dropping out of the top ten, said the EIU.

Globally, the cost of living dropped 4% this year. Said the report, "This mainly reflects the impact on global currencies of easing monetary policy, uncertainty around the US-China trade war (which has put pressure on some emerging-market currencies) and the strength of the US economy."

Damascus, Syria, was at the bottom of the worldwide rankings, followed by Tashkent in Uzbekistan.

World's most expensive cities to live in 2020:

1. (tie) Singapore

1. (tie) Osaka, Japan

1. (tie) Hong Kong

4. New York City, New York

5. (tie) Paris

5. (tie) Zurich, Switzerland

7. Tel Aviv, Israel

8. (tie) Los Angeles, California

8. (tie) Tokyo

10. Geneva, Switzerland

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly listed Paris as one of the top three most expensive cities.

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World's most expensive cities to live in - CNN

UK travel industry urges government action to forestall collapse of businesses – The Guardian

The UK travel sector is calling on the government to make immediate changes to the package travel regulations to prevent innumerable company collapses and the loss of many thousands of jobs.

Under the existing regulations tour operators are obliged to offer a full refund if elements of the holiday cant be provided. But travel industry bodies say that in the current global crisis the regulations are not fit for purpose and will lead to the end of many otherwise successful travel businesses.

The existing financial protection structures and regulations were not designed to cope with a large-scale collapse of businesses, said Mark Tanzer, chief executive of the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta).

Abta is asking for an emergency government consumer hardship fund to fulfil refund payments; and is also requesting that credits should be allowed as an alternative to cash refunds. In addition it is calling for the current 14-day window for refund payments to be removed.

The Association of Independent Tour Operators (Aito) reiterated Abtas assertion that the package travel regulations must be changed with immediate effect because they were not designed to cope with a disaster affecting every country and every destination worldwide.

The existing financial protection structures and regulations were not designed to cope with a large-scale collapse of businesses

To continue with the regulations would lead to innumerable company collapses and the loss of many thousands of jobs, which would cost the government dear for many decades to come.

As well as calling for government intervention over the PTRs, travel businesses are pleading with holidaymakers to help by being patient and postponing rather than cancelling trips. Travel companies are doing everything they can to offer flexible booking policies. It is really frustrating [for customers] if you dont know where you stand in terms of your trip but companies are inundated at the moment so trying to have patience [will help]. The best advice is to speak to your travel company and get a credit or change to an alternative date, said an Abta spokesperson.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, which represents 350 small and medium-sized travel agents, said the industry was at breaking point while working round the clock to help customers. She said Advantage group members were looking at bookings by date order. If you dont have an imminent departure the best advice is to wait and see.

Lo Bue-Said welcomed the chancellors announcement of a 330bn emergency package for businesses on 17 March but said it was unclear how it would be split between various sectors such as hospitality, retail and leisure, adding: Speed is of the essence. Nothing is materialising quick enough; [financial support] doesnt seem to be filtering down. The situation is really dire. For small businesses this is going to be catastrophic. We will get through this but what the industry looks like at the end is impossible to say.

Her call for immediate action has been echoed across the sector. Following the news of the stimulus package, Abta said measures such as government-backed loans should be made available immediately to travel businesses, with clear guidelines on how businesses can access them.

The chancellors promise that the government would do whatever it takes came just hours after warnings that the global tourism sector was fighting for survival. In an open letter published on 17 March, the World Travel and Tourism Council said: The travel and tourism sector is uniquely exposed, and we estimate 50 million jobs globally are at risk. It is calling for immediate financial assistance to protect the incomes of millions of people who work in travel and tourism; unlimited, interest-free loans for travel companies; and all taxes and other dues to be waived for the next 12 months. Without these interventions, the WTTC said, economies around the world faced an existential threat.

Signed by WTTC president Gloria Guevara, the letter implores governments to take drastic action to protect the sector, which is responsible for creating one in five new jobs.

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UK travel industry urges government action to forestall collapse of businesses - The Guardian

It’s Hard to Believe How Empty the World’s Top Tourist Destinations Are Due to Coronavirus Until You See These Photos – Travel+Leisure

In January, word came out of China that a new coronavirus known as COVID-19 was ravaging the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province. In just a matter of weeks, the virus spread around the globe, shutting down entire nations in its path. And that meant the halt of travelers to popular tourist destinations around the globe.As of March 13, coronavirus cases topped 125,000, though medical professionals warned that number could be much, much higher. In response, the World Health Organization named it as a global pandemic, the U.S. State Department issued a global level 3 travel warning urging people to reconsider any international travel, and the entire nation of Italy shut its borders down.But thats not all. Places like the Louvre in Paris shut down until further notice, Disneyland announced it would close until the end of March, and Broadway shuttered its doors, an unprecedented move only occurring a handful of times throughout history.However, its important to remember, this is all for the common good. After all, the only way to get through this is together, each doing our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus to vulnerable populations. And, because of this slower flow of tourism, we are getting a glimpse of what popular destinations look like without the crowds. Until the sites reopen, do a little virtual tourism by checking out museums with digital experiences and live streaming operas. Then, start planning your next vacation in your head for later this year to see them all in person for yourself.

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It's Hard to Believe How Empty the World's Top Tourist Destinations Are Due to Coronavirus Until You See These Photos - Travel+Leisure

Global action vital to save world’s tourism industry: Saudi minister – Arabnews

Dr. Thamer Ahmad Baazeem has been the chief communications and media officer at the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah since February this year.

He earned his bachelors degree in marketing in 2006 from King Abdul Aziz University (KAU) in Jeddah and between 2007 and 2015 obtained a masters degree and Ph.D. in the same subject from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia.

During 2004, alongside his studies, Baazeem worked as a marketing researcher as part of being an intern in Hydraulic City, Jeddah. A year later, he served in the DNA market research group as an assistant marketing strategist.

Baazeem was a sessional academic at QUT and taught on introduction to marketing and consumer behavior courses between 2012 and 2015.

On his return to the Kingdom in 2016, he joined Umm Al-Qura for Development and Construction Co. as an executive marketing consultant, a position he held until 2017.

Baazeem started at KAU in 2010 and held a number of roles there including lecturer in marketing, vice dean of the research and consulting institute, acting chair for the department of human resources management, adviser in the center of creativity and entrepreneurship, and his current position as an assistant professor of marketing, teaching consumer behavior and behavioral economics for masters degree programs.

In 2016, he co-founded 3Dit, a 3-D printing technology and services group and has been a member of the executive board of Baazeem Trading Co. since 2017. He is also a member of the advisory board of Taif Armed Forces Hospitals.

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Global action vital to save world's tourism industry: Saudi minister - Arabnews

Coronavirus bailout: Airlines are asking the US government for $50 billion in aid – Vox.com

The airline industry is struggling to stay afloat in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Strict international travel restrictions have been put in place, people are worried about flying, and thousands of airline workers are at risk of losing their jobs. In this moment of crisis, US airlines say theyre in desperate need of financial relief or the industry might be at risk of collapsing.

On March 16, Airlines for America, an industry trade organization that advocates for major US airlines, asked for $50 billion in assistance from the federal government (by taxpayer money) through $25 billion in grants, $25 billion in low-interest loans, and significant tax relief (which includes a $4 billion return for taxes theyve previously paid). Airlines for America has not responded to an emailed request for comment from Vox.

President Donald Trump suggested that bailouts are on their way during a press briefing on March 17, saying, We dont want airlines going out of business. Meanwhile, labor unions and other lawmakers have called for the aid to come with specific conditions, such as maintaining pay and benefits for workers and preventing money to be directed to CEO bonuses or stock buybacks. The airline aid proposal released by the Treasury Department on March 18, however, doesnt appear to have strict bailout limits championed by Senate Democrats and union representatives. The White House is discussing various bailout packages with Senate Republican leaders before bringing in the Democrats, so conditions of the aid might change.

Before the release of the White Houses proposal, Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said that bailouts should come with significant conditions to help workers and keep planes flying, not enrich shareholders or pad executive bonuses. She called on the airlines to commit to maintaining payroll and paying workers a $15 minimum wage, in addition to guaranteeing them representation on board seats.

Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, also said in a press release, We cant let airlines get away with pocketing a bailout while contracted workers suffer. They need to share the responsibility to address the crisis by supporting those on the front lines.

As the operational leaders of the airline industry and those most impacted by work stoppages, pilot and other airline employee work protections must be included in any government investment package, Dennis Tajer of the Allied Pilots Association wrote to Vox in an email. Equally important, to help instill confidence and proper use of the government investment, it must not be a blank check to spend on share buybacks and executive bonuses.

The proposal doesnt fully address that, some lawmakers have pointed out. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) told Politico that the package should include provisions that would allow taxpayers to take on stock in airlines and limit executive pay. We have restrictions on share buybacks, on dividends, on executive pay, we make sure their workforce is treated fairly, that theyre not the victims of this after use of our resources similar to some of the things we did with the banks in the 2008 financial crisis, Reed said.

This isnt the first time airlines have relied on the US government as demand for travel grinds to a halt. In the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks that severely hurt US airlines, Congress passed a $15 billion financial aid package that gave carriers $5 billion in immediate cash assistance and $10 billion in loan guarantees. However, a major thing was different in the airlines 2001 crisis than today: The transportation industry was experiencing a slowdown even before 9/11. CNN reported in 2001 that airlines were most heavily hit by the pre-attack economic decline due to a drop in business travel and were projected to lose $3 billion. The 9/11 attacks only highlighted how vulnerable airlines are to sudden unexpected events, and throughout the 2000s, carriers were caught up in a series of bankruptcies and mergers.

Compared to a decade ago, major US airlines were raking in record profits. The net profit for all US airlines, as recently as 2010, ranged from $3 billion to $4 billion. From 2015 to 2018, United alone reported net profits of $4.5 billion, $2.3 billion, $2.1 billion, and $2.5 billion. The consolidation of smaller carriers into what is now known as the Big Four American, United, Delta, and Southwest also helped increase profits. Together, these airlines control more than 80 percent of the American passenger market and had bright financial outlooks until the pandemic hit.

A Delta spokesperson told Vox in an email that the company has long operated under a philosophy of balanced use of its cash, which benefits all of its stakeholders. Additionally, weve rewarded the industrys best people with the most generous profit-sharing plan in corporate America, with a cumulative payout of $9.1 billion while also giving wage increases for the last 10 years. Southwest and American said it was directing all inquires about government assistance to Airlines for America, the industry group advocating for the bailout.

(United has not responded to a request for comment from Vox.)

Delta, American, and United Airlines have significantly cut back on both domestic and international flight routes, and instituted hiring freezes and voluntary unpaid leave to try to offset revenue loss. Hundreds of thousands of workers are at risk of losing their jobs, and layoffs of airline contractors and airport employees have already begun. The airlines, of course, arent the only aspect of the travel industry hurt by the pandemic. The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that 50 million jobs within the sector will be negatively affected by the coronavirus. Nearly 60 global airlines signed on to a plea asking governments and industry stakeholders around the world to offer aid.

To the average person who doesnt follow the aviation industry closely, its probably baffling to hear that a large, multibillion-dollar company like United is in financial distress. Many people appear infuriated that airlines which they say have treated customers poorly even during profitable times are now demanding more money at taxpayers expense.

If were gonna bailout the airlines that have been gouging us for decades while they cut costs and space I better never pay for a fucking bag again, one person tweeted. Some are calling for the industry to be nationalized, and others were unsympathetic to the airlines call for help, saying that other industries and workers, like local businesses and restaurants, need aid too.

So where did all those cash profits go? The short answer is stock buybacks. Bloomberg News reported that the biggest carriers altogether spent 96 percent of free cash flow to buy back their own shares, which primarily benefit airline executives, investors, and other shareholders. Stock buybacks are meant to increase a stocks value since fewer shares exist in the open market, and investors end up owning a greater share of the company. Airlines have also been criticized for generously paying their top executives (who earn millions in compensation packages), while their workers rallied for a pay raise as profits soared.

Running an airline is a high-cost operation, and carriers like Delta have become savvier in figuring out ways to get passengers to pay more through travel fees, like additional luggage, seat selection, and priority boarding. Fees are also another stream of revenue for airlines that are exempt from the 7 percent excise tax on domestic airfare. Passengers are catching on to how airlines are nickel-and-diming them for their comfort and convenience; yet so far, no airlines have waived these additional fees.

Slates Henry Grabar described the industry as low-margin, capital-intensive businesses, which means a companys cash savings wont be very helpful during an extensive crisis. Capital-intensive means its hard to tighten your belt, Grabar wrote. You can save some money on fuel and food, but not on labor or rent. You still have to pay banks or leasing companies for your planes. You cant save those seats for later, or fly twice as many flights when business picks up again. There is no factory to shut down. Even if you ground flights, many costs are fixed.

Experts predict that the US and the world, for that matter is on track to enter a recession, which means businesses and their employees across sectors, from hospitality to manufacturing, are facing uncertain times. The government hypothetically doesnt have to (and cant) bail out every ailing industry, but lawmakers, for the most part, think of airlines as a public utility and a crucial part of the US economy. Vices Aaron Gordon argued that Congress overvalues the airlines relative to the average American, writing that public transportation agencies are also experiencing a similar financial shock and employ the same number of people, yet are only asking for about $13 billion in assistance.

Airline executives are well aware that its in the governments interest to help out the industry. As Tim Wu, author of The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age, wrote in the New York Times: The major airlines know that unlike a local restaurant, they will never be allowed, collectively, to fail completely. In practice, the public has subsidized the industry by providing de facto insurance against hard times in the form of bailouts or merger approvals. And now here we go again.

At this point, a bailout appears to be necessary not just for flights to keep operating but to ensure stability for the 750,000 airline workers who are the backbone of the industry. Yet many appear wary of how much leeway the industry should be given. It remains to be seen what a bailout will accomplish in the long term, particularly as this pandemic shows no signs of letting up anytime soon, but its clear that the US government wont let the airlines fail. Not this time, at least.

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Coronavirus bailout: Airlines are asking the US government for $50 billion in aid - Vox.com

16 Of The Cheapest Travel Destinations Around The World – World Atlas

For many people traveling is one of their big aspirations in life, something that they want to check off the bucket list before time runs out. And for good reason, as traveling can be an amazing experience that has many benefits. These benefits include personal growth and learning, an expansion of perspective and lifelong memories of different cultures that will never fade. Despite all these upsides, taking trips comes with one big downside in the form of the cost and time needed. Time allotment will, unfortunately, have to vary by person, but not every trip has to be prohibitively expensive. This list will run down some of the cheapest travel destinations in the world.

Starting off the list is Croatia, located in central and southeastern Europe off the coast of the Adriatic Sea and bordering Hungary. This location is a popular tourism spot, with more than 19.7 million visitors in 2018 alone. The appeal of the vacation spot lies in a deep historical and cultural heritage complemented by its scenic location and temperate climates.

Another great spot to visit for cheap is the Czech Republic, with tons of tourists flocking to the country in recent years. Its most popular city is its capital Prague which in addition to beautiful architecture boasts a thriving and affordable nightlife that houses a ton of bars and clubs in close proximity.

Romania, similar to many other entries on this list, is located in Europe, specifically in the southeastern portion, bordering Hungary, Serbia, and Bulgaria among other countries. It is another popular tourist destination that boasts a variety of world heritage sites like the churches of Moldavia and the Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains. There's also resort swimming and skiing to enjoy.

Vietnam is one of several not European entries on this list. And it's a spot that has seen increasing popularity with the number of visitors going up from 2.1 million in 2000 to 18 million in 2019. This is partly due to a long term plan by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism but is also tied into the many sites to see, like national parks and bustling cities.

Back to Europe, Greece is the next cheap destination to visit. This coastal country is celebrated for its stunning ancient buildings, which are testaments to civilizations long gone. Emphasizing this fact is the variety of archaeological museums and sites that contain the remnants of these old cities. Its cultural focus is bolstered by a variety of ecotourism activities like hiking and caving.

Laos is an Asian country known for its mountainous terrain, French colonial architecture, settlements in the hills and Buddhist monasteries. Visitors can make their way to the capital, Vientiane where they can witness the massive That Luang monument, the Patuxai war memorial and the bustling array of stalls and human bodies known as the Talat Sao or Morning Market.

Turkey is a country in the middle east that holds ancient connections to the past empires of Greece, Persia, and Rome, among others. The tourist appeal of this location lies in the variety of historical sites that the country houses, especially in the realm of bazaars and classical buildings. It is also a good place to visit for its seaside resorts.

Indonesia is officially known as the Republic of Indonesia and is located in Southeast Asia. Its fast-growing tourism sector is an important element of its economy, with its capital Jakarta ranking as one of the top 10 cities in regard to tourism growth in 2018. There's a lot to enjoy in the country with its beautiful natural attractions and a rich variety of leisure activities to undertake.

The South Asian country of Nepal is a great spot to visit for thrillseekers. It boasts a variety of pursuits for the adventurous, with its most notable appeal lying in its excellent mountaineering opportunities - this country is where Mount Everest is located. Other fun wilderness activities include mountain biking, rock climbing, bungee jumping, and hiking.

This country is situated in Northern Europe and borders the Baltic sea. A standout here is the vast number of islands included in its borders, making for an array of terrains that include rocky beaches and imposing forests. The landscape is littered with castles, churches, and old fortresses while the capital contains well-preserved architecture and a variety of museums.

Another exceptionally affordable travel destination to visit is the Asia-located country of Cambodia. Its landscape includes low slung plains, a massive river delta, scenic coastlines and mountains dotted throughout. Visitors can make their way to the capital of Phnom Penh to check out the artsy Central Market, gorgeous Royal Palace and a whole set of ancient displays.

This entry is unlike the others due to its continental location, situated as it is in Central America. Tourism in the country is its second-largest industry with the city of Granada standing tall as one of the preferred spots to visit, due to its large vendor-filled central park, horse tours, and grassy islands. Make sure to check out the volcanoes while you're there.

Densely packed India is one of the world's most populous countries and a great place to visit for travel. It has an array of world heritage sites and a luxuriant background culture of temples and palaces that make for a bunch of must-see locations while there. It also has beautiful natural vistas and national parks to round out its tourism profile.

Taiwan's political situation leaves its relationship to China unclear, but this should not be a deterrent for interested travelers who want to make a stop in Asia. Notable sites to visit include the Taipei 101 tower, the National Palace Museum, the Chian Kai-shek Memorial Hall and the Dadaocheng Wharf, all located in the capital Taipei.

This African country is home to a diverse set of wildlife that makes it a great spot for animal lovers. This includes birds, lions, and Rhinos, among many others. Non-native speakers also won't have trouble getting along as many residents are versed in English. This place is safe, beautiful, and an excellent location to camp and soak in nature vibes.

This South American destination rounds out the list of cheap travel spots. Though its past has been checkered with conflict, it has in recent years turned into a calmer place to be. The capital Bogota is booming with activity as new businesses open up. There's a lot to tour around and see in the city, with exceptional street art and exquisite architecture.

Link:

16 Of The Cheapest Travel Destinations Around The World - World Atlas

When Are Cruise Lines Around the World Expected To Resume Service? – Cruise Critic

(12:15 p.m. EDT) -- With ocean and river cruise lines temporarily suspending service around the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping track of the seemingly minute-by-minute changes to the cruise industry can be challenging.

Most cruise lines have voluntarily paused sailings for the meantimeafter being faced with port closures; a lack of suitable infrastructure, including flights; and increased travel restrictions that change on a country-by-country basis.

We're keeping tabs on when each line expects to resume sailings. In some cases, the return to service is spread out over a number of weeks, while other lines have tentatively set dates for the resumption of cruises. We've also put together a comprehensive guide to cancellation policies,which we will update regularly.

The information below will also be updated as necessary. These dates are subject to change.

Adventure Canada (Ocean Endeavour only): 2021 (2020 season canceled)

AIDA: Early April

Azamara: April 11

Bahamas Paradise: April 10

Carnival (including Australia): April 10

Celebrity: April 11

Celestyal Cruises: May 1

Costa: April 3 to May 3

Cruise & Maritime Voyages: April 24

Crystal Cruises:

Cunard Line: April 11

Disney Cruise Line: April 12

Fred. Olsen: May 23

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises:

Holland America Line: April 14

Hurtigruten: April 28

Majestic Line: April 18

Marella Cruises: April 17

Metropolitan Touring: April 17

MSC Cruises: May 1

Norwegian Cruise Line: April 11

Oceania Cruises: April 11

P&O Cruises: April 11

P&O Cruises Australia: April 13

Paul Gauguin: April 11

Ponant: No sooner than April 19

Princess Cruises: May 10

Regent Seven Seas: April 11

Royal Caribbean: April 11

Saga Cruises: May 1

Seabourn: April 11

Scenic: April 30

Silversea: April 11

Star Clippers:

Tauck: April 14

Viking Cruises: April 30

Virgin Voyages: July 15

Windstar Cruises: April 30

Amadeus: April 15

AmaWaterways: April 25

American Queen Steamboat Company: April 12

APT: April 24

Arena Travel: April 30

A-ROSA River Cruises: April 15

Avalon Waterways: May 1

CroisiEurope: April 15

Crystal River Cruises: April 11

Emerald Waterways: May 1

Gate1 Travel: May 1

Grand Circle: May 1

Pandaw: 2021 (2020 season is canceled)

Riviera Travel April 24, 2020

Scenic: May 1

Tauck: April 14

Titan May 1

Travelmarvel: April 24

TUI River Cruises: May 2

Uniworld: April 23

Vantage Deluxe World Travel: April 30

Viking River Cruises: April 30

The rest is here:

When Are Cruise Lines Around the World Expected To Resume Service? - Cruise Critic

During a pandemic, what does being the world’s happiest country mean? – CNN

(CNN) For Samuel Kopperoinen, living in the world's happiest country during the coronavirus pandemic isn't about short-term happiness.

It's about the social safety net and other supports systems his country has in place before trouble strikes.

Finland is followed by Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway.

Countries are ranked on six key variables that support well-being: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity.

Jtksaari primary school and sports facilities in Helsinki are closed to stop the spread of the virus.

Antti Aimo-Koivisto/Lehtikuva/AFP/Getty Images

"A big part of well-being is good quality public health care," said Kopperoinen, a Helsinki contractor who's married with three children. Finnish people "have a sense that in case of ailments and disabilities we will get treatment.

"We trust the quality and availability of it," he said, "and our social security network is important. It helps us if we lose our job, get sick or [our] kids get sick. We will lose income, but we can get compensation, which helps us survive and adjust our daily consumption."

And it's not just the health care, child care, educational system and unemployment benefits that make for a good society, especially in an unsettling time as the coronavirus spreads across the globe.

'It's a very tough regime'

Shoppers are confronted with empty shelves at a supermarket on March 14 in Wassenaar, The Netherlands.

Michel Porro/Getty Images

"The key measures in the coming weeks will be social distancing, self-isolation, quarantine, shelter in place, and other measures to shut down, deliberately and systematically -- if well done -- key parts of social and economic life," said Sachs.

"It's a very tough regime, hard to implement and follow, and one of high economic cost in the short term. It's all to avoid a mortality disaster," he said. "I am sure that well-functioning governments will end up doing better because this epidemic requires strong and effective governments and implementation."

In contrast, the situation in the United States -- which ranks 18th on the World Happiness Report -- "is chaotic," he said. "In this case it reflects low trust of government and low performance and expectations of government by the public. We are thoroughly unprepared."

People thrive in high trust societies

This shopping mall in the city center of Stockholm, Sweden, was nearly deserted on March 17.

Fredrik Sandberg/AFP/Getty Images

When a pandemic like the coronavirus attacks the health and income of a country's residents, the residents of "a high trust society quite naturally look for and find cooperative ways to work together to repair the damage and rebuild better lives," according to the report. "This has led sometimes to surprising increases in happiness in the wake of what might otherwise seem to be unmitigated disasters.

"The most frequent explanation seems to be that people are pleasantly surprised by the willingness of their neighbors and their institutions to work in harness to help each other," the report continued. "This delivers a heightened sense of belonging, and pride in what they have been able to achieve by way of mitigation. These gains are sometimes great enough to compensate for the material losses."

Finnish history and civics teacher Ville Jttel agreed.

Jttel doesn't think Finland's government is perfect, but the Tampere resident said he trusts the current administration to do its best during this crisis.

"Maybe in retrospect one can find some things that should have been done earlier or later or left undone," he said.

"But during a crisis like this, they have to operate with the information they have and they can't see the future. And not all developments can be estimated with 100% certainty. So I believe they will do their best and everything they can."

Superpowers are not happy

Pedestrians cross a quiet Millennium Footbridge across the River Thames in London on March 17.

Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Even without the impact of the coronavirus, none of the world's largest economies made it into the top 10 rankings. The United Kingdom came in 13th place, up from 15th place last year, while Germany stayed in 17th place for the second year in a row. Japan came in 62nd place (down from 58th place); Russia came in 73rd place (down from 68th place); and China came in 94th place (down from 93rd place).

And on the other side of spectrum, people in Afghanistan are the most unhappy with their lives, according to the survey of 153 countries, followed by South Sudan (152nd place), Zimbabwe (151st place), Rwanda (150th place) and Central African Republic (149th place).

It began with Bhutan

The prime minister of tiny Bhutan is credited with launching World Happiness Day.

Shutterstock

Bhutan proposed a World Happiness Day to the United Nations in 2011, which brought international attention to happiness as a measurement of well-being.

This report is the eighth to come out since 2012. The rankings of the world's happiest countries came from an analysis of data from surveys in 156 countries, including the Gallup World Poll.

World's happiest countries

1. Finland

2. Denmark

3. Switzerland

4. Iceland

5. Norway

6. Netherlands

7. Sweden

8. New Zealand

9. Austria

10. Luxembourg

World's least happy countries

1. Afghanistan

2. South Sudan

3. Zimbabwe

4. Rwanda

5. Central African Republic

6. Tanzania

7. Botswana

8. Yemen

9. Malawi

10. India

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During a pandemic, what does being the world's happiest country mean? - CNN

Coronavirus: April could be a month with almost zero flights as airlines axe more routes – The Independent

The world appears to be heading for a near-total shutdown of international passenger aviation in the month of April, with some groundings continuing until June.

South African Airways, which was dependent on government financial support before the coronavirus crisis began, says it has cancelled all operations in April and May.The airlines acting chief executive, Zuks Ramasia, said: In the best interests of our crew, passengers and the public, we have decided to suspend all international flights until 31 May 2020.

It is all our responsibility, not just government, to curb further transmission of the virus. In addition, the increasing risks to our crew of contracting the virus including the possibility of being trapped in foreign destinations as a consequence of increasing travel bans cannot be ignored.

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

The announcement followedCathay Pacific cancelling 96 per cent of its flights in April.

The Hong Kong-based carrier plans three flights a week to London Heathrow, returning services to the level of the early 1980s. It intends to serve 11 other cities, including Singapore and Sydney.

Whilecoronavirus is at the root of the crisis, Cathay Pacific blames flight bans and other restrictions imposed by national governments for the collapse in demand.

The airline warned: Our ability to maintain even this skeleton schedule will depend on whether more travel restrictions are imposed by governments around the world which will further dampen passenger demand.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says: Evidence shows that restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most situations.

Airlines are extremely vulnerable when ticket sales dry up. Their business model is based on flying planes close to full capacity, with liquidity provided by advance ticket sales.

Top: Nabi Younes market, Mosul

Bottom: Charles Bridge, Prague

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Top: Nabi Younes market, Mosul

Bottom: Charles Bridge, Prague

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Carriers incur fixed costs for aircraft leases and wages which are payable regardless of whether they have hundreds of flights each day or just a handful.

London, whose airports normally handle far more passengers than any other city in the world, is the most vulnerable location to a shutdown.

The biggest airline at the UKs busiest airport, British Airways, will cut flights by at least three quarters in April and May.

The chief executive of BAs parent company, IAG, has already said it. Willie Walsh, who has deferred his retirement to tackle the crisis, said: We have the flexibility to make further cuts if necessary.

UK carriers, as well as Ryanair of Ireland, have been in talks with the government about a package of measures to limit the damage to airlines.

US Surgeon General urges influencers to warn young people about coronavirus

They are asking for state-backed loans and help in paying wages, as well as help with three specific costs: the European air passengers rights rules known as EC261 to be suspended; Air Passenger Duty to be removed to stimulate demand when flights resume; and a freeze on air-traffic control charges.

Separately, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has calculated that an average of one million jobs are being lost each day worldwide in travel and tourism as the coronavirus pandemic evolves.

The president and CEO, Gloria Guevara, said the reaction to the virus is wiping out an entire economic sector and that up to 50 million jobs were at risk.

It is heartbreaking that the livelihoods of millions of people who have dedicated their lives to the travel and tourism sector are being decimated, she said.

From waiters to taxi drivers, guides to chefs and caterers, pilots to cleaners, the relentless cascade of job losses is plunging millions of families into terrible hardship and debt, fearful of how to buy food and pay their bills.

We fear this situation will only deteriorate unless more action is taken immediately by governments to address it.

See the rest here:

Coronavirus: April could be a month with almost zero flights as airlines axe more routes - The Independent

Coronavirus canceled this family’s Disney trip. They made better memories at home – CNN

(CNN) When a Texas family's Walt Disney World trip was canceled after the park closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, they decided special memories could just as easily be made at home.

The Hearn family, who are regular Disney-goers, recreated what would've been their traditional Disney World experience, drawing parallels between classic Disney moments and DIY versions equipped with costumes, Disney balloons, a mini-Cinderella castle and more.

Their trip to Florida was initially planned for the end of March to celebrate Cady Hearn's last year in her 20s and their newborn's first visit to the park. After booking their trip in January, they'd secured all their fast passes, flights, schedules and hotel rooms.

"We go on maybe like three or four trips a year to Disney," Hearn said. "Every time that we go, I like to make little videos of our trips and just kind of include the highlights and kind of our favorite parts. Sometimes I share them on my Facebook page for my friends to see, and sometimes we watch them at home."

Recreating magic

Hearn had hoped to make a video for this trip, but soon realized they could recreate what would have happened at Disney to take place at home instead.

A brainstorming session with her sister led to a new project: conjuring memories of what their itineraries in the park were like and what they'd usually photograph there, to produce a list of props, signs and media elements that would mimic the entire experience.

The video opens to the kids on a makeshift plane, sitting on benches next to airplane window printouts on the wall. A fake printout of a Magical Express ticket and a mini-Disney bus were substitutes for what you need to ride the Disney Magical Express shuttle bus from Orlando International Airport.

Paper wall art reading, "Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy" stands in for the plaque you walk underneath below the train tracks of Magic Kingdom and onto Main Street.

A train that usually runs around the family's Christmas tree replaced the Magic Kingdom Railroad Train Ride. In one scene, Hearn and her mother push the kids in strollers and excitedly cheer, urging them to look at the small Cinderella castle sitting in the grass at the end of their street.

Someone hands a balloon vendor four $20s for just a few Mickey- and Disney princess-themed balloons.

"I just thought it would be kind of funny to pay a lot more than they actually charged, like $80 for four balloons because we all know how expensive they are," Hearn said.

Long lines even at home!

"Then there's a scene of one of my twins being a character attendant and holding up a sign that says the wait time is 300 minutes to go on the Frozen Ever After ride," Hearn said. "And we have us sitting in front of the TV watching someone else's home video of the Frozen Ever After ride and pretending we're on it."

Little People toys went on the Mad Tea Party spinning tea cup ride as the 4-year-old twins would have.

And of course, a parade!

The Hearn's daughters donned past costumes to masquerade as princesses in a mock Disney parade. An adult in the family wore a Mickey Mouse costume so the girls could still meet and hug a favorite character before watching a video of the fireworks they'd see at the end of a fun-filled day at Disney.

"We just had a lot of fun pretending that we were there since we couldn't actually be there," Hearn said.

After two days, they had the family video they'd been anticipating all along.

The power of imagination

"They loved it," Hearn said of her girls' reactions. "They had so much fun making it; they loved changing their outfits and acting out all of the different scenes. And now they ask multiple times a day just to rewatch it on the TV, the video that we made. And they think it's a lot of fun."

Hearn's twins don't understand much about how the coronavirus has impacted the world, but she hopes they remember they can still "have fun at home and make memories together here."

"Instead of getting out of the house and going to Disney, we can still make memories at home and still have fun without actually being there," she added.

More here:

Coronavirus canceled this family's Disney trip. They made better memories at home - CNN

Round 2: The Most Instagrammable Hotel In The World 2020 – Luxury Travel Advisor

Well, this March certainly has been full of Madness... and it's only getting crazier.Round 1 of The Most Instagrammable Hotel in the World contest is over! Thirty-two hotels move on in the bracket to face their new competition.

The rules: Round 2is now open and voting closes Monday, March 23 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.You can only vote for each matchup once per round. The winners move on to face their new competition, and so on, until a winner is crowned on April 8.

While this is certainly a pressing time for the travel industryand world overand the inspiration for this bracket-style tournamentwon't even be taking place this yearLuxury Travel Advisor is hoping to provide a fun distraction for those whose anxiety may be a little higher than usual.

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Luxury Travel Advisors only newsletter, covering unique destinations and product news for affluent travelers. Delivered every Tuesday & Thursday.

And remember: This contest is meant to highlight fantastic resorts from around the world. Please be sure to visit them and give them your business when it's safe and you feel comfortable doing so! We're all in this together.

The Plaza Hotel, the No. 1 seed in the North America bracket, moves on, defeating the Barnsley Resort by a score of 303-268, which represents 53.06 percent of the vote. Arguably New York City's most famous hotel is home to the iconic Palm Court, which is popularfor its Afternoon Tea and it's also Instagram gold.

Our top vote-getter in Round 1! The Roxbury at Stratton Fallswill give The Plaza Hotel a tough matchup after taking down Viceroy Snowmass 896-253 (77.98 percent). The hotel, ocatedin the lush Catskill Mountains, has introduced whimsical themed rooms at a former 1848repurposed Mansion. Here is The Superhero Incognito.

A matchup of underdogs! Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angelesdefeated Bisha Hotel Toronto, 327-192 (63.01 percent). The Theatreis the literal foundation of Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles. It's a restored, 1,600-seat movie palace from the 1920s with a three-story grand lobby.

DuntonHot Springsdefeated No. 4 seed The Hermitage Hotel by taking home 65.19 percent of the vote (339-181). It is aRelais & Chteaux resort set deep in the Colorado Rockies. The restored ghost town has 13 authentic log cabins with distinct characteristics, tasteful furnishings and magnificent views of the mountains and surrounding meadows.

Fairmont Banffhandily topped The Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Club with 73.59 percent of the votes (443-159).Located in the heart of Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Canada's "Castle in the Rockies" has been openfor more than 130 years.

The Loren at Pink Beachwon its matchup with The Notary Hotel, Autograph Collection by a total of 398-199 (66.67 percent). The hotel is seta tranquil section of, what else,Pink Beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The pool, rocks and beach make for an Insta-worthy pic.

In a very close contest, The Confidante Miami Beachtook down Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood by a score of 269-256 (51.24 percent of the votes). The 24-hour rooftop fitness centerhas the proper motivation for you ("The time is now!") and some great content for your social media.

The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel, in an upset over No. 2 seed Sagamore Pendry Baltimore, moves on after tallying 54.77 percent of the vote (287-137). Its one-of-a-kind architecture immediately captivates guests, the highlight being the hotels nine-story atrium, capped by pyramidal skylight, illuminating the hotel from within.

Last year's runner-up, the No. 1 seed in theCentral and South America and the Caribbeanbracket,Viceroy Los Cabosmoves on after defeating Grand Isle Resort, 384-144 (72.73 percent). Thestriking contemporary architecture and design is Instagram gold.

Tierra Atacamatakes on the 1-seed after topping Las Hadas by Brisas with an impressive 74.1 percent of the vote (349-122). All guestroomsoverlook the Andes Mountain range,nearby volcanoes and uninterrupted views of Atacama. And how about that pool?

Another bracket of upets! Guana Islandtopped Malliouhana, Auberge Resorts Collection 279-158 (a total of 63.84 percent of the vote). Set along a ridge with views of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, the hoteloffers a quintessential island hideaway experience.

No. 13-seedSolaz, a Luxury Collection Resort, Los Cabostopped Nayara Tented Camp with strong showing555-297 (65.14 percent)El Gabinete Del Barco is the indigenous gallery, whichfeatures regional artifacts, including thesuspended skeleton of a 43-foot-long grey whale. Woah!

Azulik Resort won our closest contestone vote determined the winner! By a score of 243-242 (50.1 percent), it took down Rosewood Little Dix Bay. At the resort, guest must cross a swing bridge to enter the Bridges of Tseen Ja restaurant, which serves Mexician-Japanese fusion. It's also great for the 'Gram.

No. 14-seed Nizuc Resort & Spahas taken down Atlantis, Paradise Island, 304-193 (a 61.17 percent share of the vote). Loungers at the adults poolare sure to be a hit on social media. Throughout, the resortfuses Asian architectural forms with Mexican materials and Mayan iconography.

We have two upsets in this bracket! Hacienda Temozon, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Temozon Surcame out on top in its matchup with Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, 285-159 (64.19 percent). Talk about a unique offering:Surrounded by lush sub-tropical jungle, the Hol Be Spaoffers an intimate and exclusive atmosphere where you can distance yourself from the outside world.

In an impressive contest,Palmaa - The House of AAjust toped 2-seed Explora Lodge with 52.52 percent of the votes (313-283). At thewellness retreat in the Riviera Maya, connect with nature (and your Instagram followers) atAtlantis: Spa in the Jungle.

Round 2 in the Europe bracket starts with a battle of Rome! Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Hoteltook downHtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel with 58.26 percent of the votes (254-182). The hotel is located at the top of Monte Mario, high above Romeand the standout is this buzzworthy Jacuzzi.

The second half of the Rome matchup isHotel Hassler Roma, which defeated Kalesma Mykonos by a score of 223-202 (52.47 percent).The top spot for an Instagram photoshoot at the hotelisfrom the private terrace of the Penthouse Suite. Love the views of the city!

Topping Aria Hotel Budapestby a score of 361-108equating to 76.97 percent of the votingisLe Agavi. Guests can savor Michelin-starred seafood fare at the hotelwhile taking in unparalleled views of the Positano cliffside and azure Gulf of Salerno.

Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resortsnuck by Katikies Santorini, 247-214 (53.58 percent) in one of our closer matchups! It boasts a cliffside location overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Portugal. The pool deck is our favorite shot.

Hotel Barrire Le Fouquets, in a tight contest, received 51.83 percent of the votes (255-237), topping Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo. Itoffers Instagram-worthy photo opps galore from Le Joy's lush green patio overflowing with fresh flowers in full bloom.

The brand-new nhow Amsterdam RAI hoteltook down Irish castle Lough Eske by a score of 371-247 (60.05 percent of votes). Here, an eye-catching explosion of colorful design details pleadfor Instagram-capturing.

Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Lisboahas defeated Dromoland Castle Hotel, 227-175 (56.47 percent). The new Sky Bar by SEEN offers views St. Jorge's Castle, the River Tagus, the Arrbida Mountains and the Lisbon skyline. Pretty good stuff!

Borgo Egnaziatook care of Kulm Hotel St. Mortiz 563-230 (71 percent). The La Corte pools are enchanting oases for the crystal-clear waters, local white stoneand Mediterranean gardens. Happy Instagramming!

Last year's champion moves on after defeating One&Only Cape Town with 62.4 percent of votes (239-144).Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantarais Insta-gold, even from its Entrance Archway.

Avani+ Riverside Bangkok Hotelhas taken down The Silo, 255-114, a total vote share of 69.11 percent. The rooftop pool isenvy-inducing for its vantage point over the city skyline and Chao Phraya River.

Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resortmade quick work of andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, taking home 80.18 percent of the votes (360-89).The resort is located on a dramatic cliffside over the Indian Ocean. Terraced architecture ensures ocean viewsand great photosfrom every angle. It now moves on to face another Bali resort!

We have a best of Bali matchup! Resort village Hoshinoya Balidefeated One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai by a score of 215-116 (64.95 percent). Guests canindulge in a breakfast picnic in the Caf Gazebo in the sky. Situated in lush, jungle green hills overlooking the Pakersan river, Hoshinoya Bali is ideal for guests seeking harmony and relaxation from the moment they step onto the property.

Hoshino Resorts KAI Sengokuhara takes down Raffles Singapore, 170-148, which represents 53.46 percent of the vote.Boutique hot springs ryokan at the propertyoffers Instagram-worthy moments around every corner. The best views are from your private onsen with views Mount Kintoki and forests.

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resortdefeated the 3-seed La Mamounia with 75.87 percent of the vote (437-139)! Spend the night observing Thailands elephants in their natural habitat while sleeping in unique transparent, fully equipped luxury jungle bubbles in the jungles of Thailand.

Taking down Atlantis, The Palm is One&Only Le Saint Gran(223-142; 61.1 percent of the vote) Surrounded by the clear waters of the Indian Ocean, the resort is an iconic embodiment of Mauritius. The top Instagram spot on property is obviously the cabanas.

Down goes No. 2 seed Rosewood Hong Kong! Melia Ho Tram Beach Resortearned an impressive 74.01 percent vote share (373-131). Situated in Vietnam, Melia's most Instagrammable spot would have to be The Level Pool with its picture-perfect cabanas.

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Florida Keys to Close to Visitors Starting March 22

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Round 2: The Most Instagrammable Hotel In The World 2020 - Luxury Travel Advisor

Reporter’s Notebook: World Travel in the Time of Coronavirus – VOA News

The U.S. immigration officer shifted uneasily on his feet, and self-consciously told a handful of travelers exiting the fast-track Global Entry gate: "Oh, wait I have to ask you something. Has anyone traveled from China or?"

He trailed off, seemingly scrambling to recall what else he was supposed to ask. "Oh, yes, and Iran?" We all said we had not. When he appeared to think he had forgotten something, I volunteered. "or Italy?" "Oh, yes, Italy," he concurred.

I responded I had, but that I had not been in the most affected parts of the country in the north. "Okay," he replied. And that was the end of my exhaustive screening at Washington's Dulles International Airport. There was no mention by the officer of the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control for all those arriving in the U.S. from Italy: "Travelers should stay home for 14 days after returning to the United States and practice social distancing."

I had flown indirectly to Washington from my home in Italy via London, where I spent a couple of days to report. When I arrived at London's Heathrow Airport from Rome, there was no questioning, screening or temperature checks at all, either. There was a notice at Heathrow's Terminal 5 about coronavirus, but placed in such a position that it was easy to miss.

For arrivals at Rome's main international airport or Paris' Charles De Gaulle it is all very different. At both those airports nearly all security and border staff wear high-quality face masks and gloves as do many of the sales workers in the duty-free and other shops, which is not the case at either Dulles or Heathrow.

There is, of course, a dispute among public health officials about whether airport screening does any good because of the prolonged incubation period for coronavirus. The period generally ranges from two days to 11 days, according to a study published this week by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Britain's chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said at a press conference Tuesday in Downing Street that the British government is not banning flights or screening passengers en masse as the measures do not "slow down" the spread of the coronavirus. He pointed out that Italy had been the first European country to impose a ban on flights from China and had instituted temperature checks for arriving passengers, but neither had stopped Italy from becoming Europe's coronavirus epicenter.

But some epidemiologists are not sure screening is a useless exercise. While acknowledging it would not have prevented an outbreak, they say it can help to delay or slow one, thereby helping in the bid to avoid massive spikes in infections which can overwhelm hospitals.

A recent study by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control concluded that approximately 75% of passengers infected with COVID-19 and traveling from affected Chinese cities would not have been detected by entry screening, if it had been widely introduced in Europe. But that suggests 25% would have been intercepted, reducing or at least slowing down the number of infections.

And some epidemiologists say screening also offers the opportunity to gather data from passengers on their prior whereabouts so that if they do go on to test positive, the information is more easily available to start tracing their contacts. It also provides a chance to talk with travelers to improve their disease awareness, and to encourage the practice of good personal hygiene, epidemiologist Benjamin Anderson of Hong Kong's Duke Kunshan University told Science Magazine.

Others say seeing action being taken even if it is not entirely useful helps reassure people in times of panic fueled by fear and often by misinformation. And there has been plenty of the latter, often advanced on social media in viral moments of perversity, dread and sometimes with clear mischievous intent or the hope of profit.

Google is trying to "quickly remove" YouTube videos touting alternatives to mainstream medical treatment for those who contract the virus. The company has also blocked thousands of ads that attempt to capitalize on the virus, Google CEO Sundar Pichai noted in a memorandum to staff this week.

Long history of bad advice

Social media or not, it was ever thus with the panicked and profiteers spreading false news or selling "cures."

In "A Journal of the Plague Year," a 1772 fictionalized account of London's Great Plague of 1665, Daniel Defoe notes that people were quick to turn to quacks and peddlers offering "Sovereign cordials against the corruption of the air." Many squandered their cash on charms and amulets, thinking that would ward off the pestilence.

Not that the standard mainstream advice was necessarily any better, as recorded in Defoe's thoroughly researched novel. The narrator records the best way of disinfecting houses was by using rosin [a pine resin], pitch, brimstone and gunpowder. He recommended also as efficacious a coal fire roaring in the grate even in summer. Hardly helpful counsel for killing or keeping at bay the plague bacillus.

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Twenty-one years after Defoe's book was published, Americans in Philadelphia consulted it for tips as a fearsome viral Yellow Fever contagion took hold of what was then the capital of the United States. Among Defoe's readers was Benjamin Rush, one of America's Founding Fathers and a leading physician in the city. Several of the Founding Fathers fled the city; Rush remained and ministered to the sick, almost succumbing to the disease himself, and seeing his sister die.

Doctors argued bitterly over the best way to treat the Yellow Fever. Rush was convinced mercury and blood-letting, "the depleting cure" as he called it, was the key to recovery. Without the knowledge we have today about viruses, the medical response to the 1793 contagion, one of a series that swept 18th and 19th century America prompting the Yellow Fever to be nicknamed "the American Plague," was incoherent and ineffective.

But the 1793 Yellow Fever outbreak prompted the building of America's first quarantine station and hospital at the port of Philadelphia established to try to keep contagions at bay.

Defoe praised the preparatory work by London's mayor and the city's councilmen, as well as the College of Physicians, in their efforts to contain the plague. They appointed watchmen, nurses and inspectors and the authorities did well, he says, in keeping markets open for bread, cheese, butter and fruit at normal prices so that Londoners were said to have over-eaten during the Plague Year.

More than 300 years later Britain's Boris Johnson, a former London mayor himself, is doing what the authorities were doing back in 1665, although coronavirus is not as deadly as the bubonic plague preparing for a contagion.

It is not lost on Downing Street officials that they have little time. As of this writing, Britain had 373 confirmed cases, the number Italy had overnight on February 25. Italy now has more than 10,000 confirmed cases a jump of more than 9,000 in 14 days.

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Reporter's Notebook: World Travel in the Time of Coronavirus - VOA News

More than 80 countries have imposed travel bans to curb the new coronavirus – The Economist

Such restrictions, in vogue with governments, are ineffective most of the time

Mar 16th 2020

AT 8AM ON March 16th Germany partially closed its borders with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Although goods and cross-border commuters can still enter and leave the country, other travellers are being turned away. The measures are an abrupt reversal by Germanys chancellor, Angela Merkel, who had only days ago vowed to avoid such action. Later that day Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, proposed a 30-day halt to non-essential travel from across the external borders of the EU (and of members of the Schengen free-travel zone).

Similar measures are being taken all over the world. In the past week, after declaring the coronavirus outbreak a national emergency, President Donald Trump banned most arrivals into America from 28 European countries. Similar restrictions had already been imposed on arrivals from China and Iran. Saudi Arabia has placed restrictions on travellers from over 30 countries. Kenya has gone even further, banning travel from any country with confirmed cases of covid-19 (by March 16th there were more than 150 such countries). More than 80 states now have some form of travel ban or flight suspension in place, according to Mayer Brown, a law firm (see map).

Such restrictions, which will do little to contain the disease in places where it already exists, are designed to give governments and health-care providers time to prepare for the surge in cases that many countries are expecting. But they may do more harm than good. The World Health Organisation calls travel restrictions ineffective in most situations. Even if they reduce the rate of infection temporarily, the WHO says they may also prevent aid from being delivered, disrupt businesses and cause wider social and economic damage. Already the pain is being felt keenly by airlines. International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade group, has projected that the hit to demand could cost the equivalent of one-fifth of last years overall flight revenues, or $113bn. The actual figure could be worse still.

A paper published this month in the journal Science models the spread of the disease. It finds that Chinas ban of travel in and out of Wuhan, where the disease is thought to have originated, only modestly delayed its spread to the rest of the country. Even strong international travel restrictions would do little to stem the disease unless transmissions within countries are controlled. Instead, according to the WHO, governments would do better to educate their populations about the risks of covid-19, test, test, test every suspected case and treat those who are ill.

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More than 80 countries have imposed travel bans to curb the new coronavirus - The Economist

World Travel Holdings’ Brands Take Home 10 Statuettes at the 2020 Travvy Awards – Yahoo Finance

Best in Travel Winners Based on Travel Agent Votes

WILMINGTON, Mass., March 11, 2020 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ --World Travel Holdings and its brands including CruiseOne, Dream Vacations, Cruises Inc. , Villas of Distinction and Resort for a Day have earned six Gold and four Silver prestigious statuettes at the Travvy Awards, for every category in which they were nominated.

The annual Travvy Awards known as the Academy Awards of the travel industry were held Wednesday, February 12, 2020, at Gotham Hall in New York City to recognize the highest standards of excellence in the travel industry by honoring travel companies, travel products, travel agencies, and destinations for their outstanding achievement.

Suppliers, destinations and individuals from across the world of travel are eligible to submit their nominations to be considered annually for the honor of being recognized as an innovator in the industry. This year, more than 100,000 votes the largest voting block of agents in history were cast to determine the 2020 Travvy Awards winners.

With a portfolio of more than 40 diverse brands and as one of the nation's largest online and offline leisure travel companies, World Travel Holdings took home the Gold in the Large Retail Travel Agency category for the third time. World Travel Holdings caters to every kind of traveler and its extensive product offerings give customers the freedom to choose how they want to vacation from luxurious villa and resort getaways to top-brand cruises visiting the world's most popular destinations.

A member of the International Franchise Association and the number one franchise for military veterans, Dream Vacations/CruiseOne won Gold in the Best Travel Agency, Consortium, Cooperative or Franchise Group category. Dream Vacations/CruiseOne, along with its sister brand Cruises Inc., which is the original host agency in the U.S., were also recognized with three technology awards Gold for Best Travel Technology Planner and Silvers for Best Travel Planning Technology (Travel Planner) and Best Travel Agent Reservations System (My Cruise Control) for the resources they provide which enable agents to work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. In addition, Cruises Inc. won Gold for Best Host Agency Website (CruisesInc.com) and Silver for Best Host Agency. The Dream Vacations/CruiseOne franchise opportunity gives entrepreneurs a choice in how they want to brand their travel business, and Cruises Inc. is an independent business opportunity. Both business models provide a work-from-home opportunity to those interested in selling all types of travel experiences whether it be a cruise, resort stay or land tour.

Full-service premier luxury villa provider Villas of Distinction, which has an extensive portfolio of thousands of privately-owned villas in more than 50 luxurious destinations was recognized with two Golds for the Best Villa Rental Company Overall and the Best Vacation Packagers-Luxury categories. The luxury provider has gained its clients' trust by ensuring every villa meets strict standards so that each home exceeds the guest's expectations. For more than 25 years, Villas of Distinction's team of experts have made vacation planning effortless by helping travelers find their perfect vacation home and creating one-of-a-kind getaways and lasting memories at the world's top villas.

The largest distributor of resort day passes, Resort for a Day, which gives cruise customers the unique opportunity to spend their day at some of the best resorts, won Silver in the Best Shore Excursions category. Resort for a Day's resort partners are all conveniently located in more than 20 of the most popular cruise ports throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Hawaii, Mexican Riviera and more. Resort for a Day works with travel agents and agencies nationwide, offering commission on all Resort for a Day passes.

"Winning any award is always an honor, but being recognized by travel agents and their clients make these recognitions even more meaningful," said Brad Tolkin, co-chairman and CEO of World Travel Holdings. "I am thrilled that we won in every category in which we were nominated. This wouldn't have been possible without the dedication of our Dream Vacations/CruiseOne Franchisees, Cruises Inc. Independent Agents as well as the hard work of our employees who are continuously finding ways to take our brands to the next level through their innovation and dedication to delivering our customers remarkable experiences."

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For more information, a breakdown of categories and to view the full list of winners, please visit http://www.TravvyAwards.com.

For more information on World Travel Holdings and any of its brands please visit http://www.WorldTravelHoldings.com. World Travel Holdings is currently hiring virtual travel agents. For more information on joining this award-winning team, please visit the World Travel Holdings careers page.

About The Travvy Awards The annual Travvy Awards, presented by travAlliancemedia, recognize the highest standards of excellence in the travel industry and honor travel companies, travel products, travel agencies and destinations for their outstanding achievement with a prize considered to be the Academy Awards of the travel industry. More than 100,000 votes cast by the agents who sell the vast majority of these trips to tens of millions of consumers yearly determined the very best in the travel industry. This represents the largest database of the nation's foremost leisure-selling, independent travel agents in the country. The selections by agents reflect suppliers and destinations they believe provide the best overall service to their clients. For more information, please visit http://www.TravvyAwards.com

About World Travel Holdings World Travel Holdings is the nation's largest cruise agency and award-winning leisure travel company with a portfolio of more than 40 diverse brands. In addition to owning some of the largest brands distributing cruises, villas, resort vacations, car rentals, resort day passes and luxury travel services, World Travel Holdings has a vast portfolio of licensed private-label partnerships comprised of top leisure travel providers, including almost every U.S. airline, leading hotel brands and prominent corporations. The company also operates a top-rated travel agency franchise and the country's original host agency, and is consistently recognized as an industry leader in work-at-home employment. Its global presence includes operating multiple cruise brands in the United Kingdom. World Travel Holdings has offices in Wilmington, Mass.; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Virginia Beach, Va.; New York, NY; and Chorley, England. For more information, visit WorldTravelHoldings.com.

SOURCE World Travel Holdings

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World Travel Holdings' Brands Take Home 10 Statuettes at the 2020 Travvy Awards - Yahoo Finance

Offutt cancels military travel and leave, but says it has seen no confirmed cases of COVID-19 – Omaha World-Herald

Offutt Air Force Base will close its cavernous gym, the Field House, and bar government travel for military and civilian personnel as part of the effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The restrictions were announced late Sunday in a YouTube video featuring 55th Wing Commander Col. Gavin Marks and the bases senior enlisted member, Chief Master Sgt. Brian C. Thomas.

The base also is limiting or canceling mass gatherings, according to the video.

Marks said several Offutt personnel who have showed symptoms consistent with the coronavirus have been tested, but to date there have been no confirmed cases.

The gym will be closed beginning Wednesday and will remain so until further notice. Air Force fitness tests also have been suspended.

We understand many of you have concerns and many are worried, Thomas said in the video. Its completely normal and reasonable to feel some anxiety as we make our way through this.

Thomas said the 55th Wing had established a public health working group last week, made up of experts from the Wings medical group, emergency management, finance and contracting, as well as all of the major units at Offutt.

Marks said the group will keep him informed about changes in the status of COVID-19 at Offutt, and in the surrounding community while working with federal, state and local health officials.

Please know that everything we are doing is to prevent the spread of the virus, Marks said.

The cancellation of official travel and leave complies with a Defense Department directive issued Friday. That ends all domestic travel for either temporary duty or permanent relocation to another base through May 11, and leaves many service members and their families uncertain about upcoming moves.

Late spring and summer, after school lets out, are the peak seasons for military moves. A 55th Wing spokesman said it wasnt clear yet how many are affected.

Military members will only be allowed to take local leave. The policy also brought some service members home early from spring break trips with their families.

It was perfect timing. We started driving from Nebraska to Florida and had to turn around, wrote one military spouse on a 55th Wing Facebook page.

We understand these new travel policies and their implementation may create financial hardships for some, Marks said in the video. We are looking at how best to work through these issues.

Late last week, the 55th Force Support Squadron announced the cancellation of on-base recreational events for the rest of the month.

But most recreational facilities including the Willow Lakes Golf Course, outdoor recreation building, auto hobby shop, Aero Club and arts and crafts shop will remain open, with social distancing practices in place, according to the squadrons Facebook page.

The Warhawk Community Center has been closed, but on-base day care and youth programs will continue. The bowling alley has been closed, but its restaurant will remain open for takeout food only.

Enhanced cleaning protocols are being followed at all facilities, the Facebook page said.

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Military and civilian employees so far are not working from home. But Delanie Stafford, a 55th Wing spokesman, said training is taking place this week that will allow some to do so.

Stafford said Offutt workers and their families will be invited to join in a virtual town hall later this week. Details are still being worked out, but he said it will likely take place Wednesday evening through the 55th Wing Commander Facebook page.

Marks and Thomas urged residents to follow the Wings Facebook pages and its website, offutt.af.mil/units/55thwing.

We understand these decisions we have to make impact all members here at Team Offutt, and we are certainly sympathetic, Thomas said. But these are unprecedented times. We are all in this together.

The area now known as Offutt Air Force Base was first commissioned as Fort Crook, an Army post to house cavalry soldiers and their horses. This photo, circa 1905, shows mounted officers and infantry troops assembling on the parade ground. The officers' quarters in the background still stand today, but the closing of Offutt's stables in 2010 ended the base's equine tradition.

The World's Fair of Aviation was held at Offutt Air Force Base, including a race between a 1912 airplane and 1912 automobile. The 1912 airplane easily won, but provided sharp contrast to the sleek, modern "600-mile-per-hour aircraft" on display at the fair.

Painter Frank Anania places the final bolt in the SAC emblem, newly placedon the command building at Strategic Air Command headquarters. After the command was created in 1946, SAC headquarters were moved from Andrews Field, Maryland, to Offutt Air Force Base. SAC's high-flying reconnaissance planes and bombers would go on to play a global role from the onset of the Cold War through the last bomb of the Persian Gulf War.

The Strategic Air Command "nerve center" gets a new headquarters building at Offutt Air Force Base.

Even since the late 1950s, Strategic Air Command has been holding open house events at Offutt Air Force Base to display and demonstrate aircraft for civilian visitors.Each year, the open house and air show at Offutt features aerial acts or reenactments, static displays, and booths showcasing military history and capabilities.

The first SAC museum consisted of a section of abandoned runway near the north edge of Offutt Air Force Base outside of Bellevue. However, the outdoor display left the aircraft vulnerable to the elements.

A Royal Air Force bomber crashes at Offutt Air Force Base. Beginning in the late 1950s, the RAF maintained small detachment and service facility for Vulcan bomber planes at Offutt, often participating in defense exercises and demonstrations at the base until their retirement and deactivation in 1982. Thisplane crashed at take-off at the northwest end of the main runway and then slid across Highway 73-75. All seven passengers survived.

Just weeks after the Cuban missile crisis, President John F. Kennedy visits Offutt Air Force Base, accompanied by Gen. Thomas Power of Strategic Air Command, right.

Actor Rock Hudson receives a B-52 bomber briefing during a visit to Omaha and Offutt Air Force Base. He began filming "A Gathering of Eagles" in May of that year.

An early photograph of the Ehrling Bergquist military medical clinic in Bellevue. The clinic has served Offutt Air Force Base since 1966 and was remodeled in 2013, including a grand staircase, largerphysical therapy and mental health areas, and a more private mammography waiting area.

The world's largest aircraft at that time, the C5 Galaxy was displayed as part of the open house for civilian visitors at Offutt Air Force Base.

A conference room in the SAC underground command post at Offutt Air Force Base. Strategic Air Command would be formally disestablished in 1992, but Offutt would remain the headquarters for the new United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM).

The Strategic Air Command Memorial Chapel holds a Sunday morning service as a reminder of those who have given their service and those who have died during the Command's 46-year history. Founded in in 1946, the command was dissolved in a ceremony at Offutt Air Force Base.

OPPD worker Craig Azure of Ashland holds a power line up across Platteview Road near Highway 50 so that an Albatross airplane can fit under it. After SAC was dissolved, the museum moved into a new indoor facility in 1998. Airplanes were moved from their old location at Offutt Air Force Base to their new and current home near Mahoney State Park off I-80.

The parade grounds gazebo at Offutt is dedicated in honor of Airman 1st Class Warren T. Willis, who was killed in an aircraft accidentthe previous December.

President Bill Clinton speaks at a rally at Offutt Air Force Base.

More than 300 anti-nuclear protesters gather outside Kinney Gate at Offutt Air Force Base. The rally was part of a weekend of protest against nuclear weapons, and was organized in response to an extensive nuclear arsenal review being held at the base.

Vice President Dick Cheney greets service men and women following a speech at Offutt Air Force Base's Minuteman missile in Bellevue.

Dignitaries clap along to an armed forces medley as ground is broken for the new U. S. Strategic Command Headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base. From left: Neb. Rep. Adrian Smith, Rep. Lee Terry, Neb. Governor Dave Heineman, General C. Robert Kehler, Commander USStratcom, Sen. Ben Nelson, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, and Mayor of Bellevue, Rita Sanders.

Chris Shotton created this thank you message to the airmen and troops flying in and out of Offutt Air Force Base. Employees of area Walmart stores have been writing giant messages in fields near Highway 370 for years.

Senior Airman Kevin Chapman works the desk at the new Public Health Clinic located in the Ehrling Bergquist military medical clinic.

The new MERLIN SS200m Aircraft Birdstrike Avoidance Radar System, with the control tower in the background, photographed at Offutt Air Force Base. The system was moved here from Afghanistan in order to help detect large flocks and prevent damages to aircraft from bids, which cost the Air Force millions of dollars each year.

An aerial photo from late February of the construction site for StratCom's new $1.2 billion headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base. Despite numerous delays and setbacks, the building would be completed in 2018, six years after construction began. StratCom would then spend the next year outfitting the structure with more than $600 million worth of high-tech communications and security gear.

President Barack Obama arrives in Omaha after landing at Offutt Air Force Base. While in Omaha, Obama met with the family of Kerrie Orozco, visited a local teacher, and addressed a crowd of about 8,000 at Baxter Arena.

This year, U.S. Strategic Command unveiled a new Command and Control Facility located at Offutt Air Force Base. The "battle deck," shown here, features computer workstations, soundproofing, and the ability to connect instantly to the White House and Pentagon.

Luke Thomas and Air Force Tech Sgt. Vanessa Vidaurre at a flooded portion of Offutt Air Force Base. In March, historic flooding included breaches of two levees protecting the base from the Missouri River.

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Offutt cancels military travel and leave, but says it has seen no confirmed cases of COVID-19 - Omaha World-Herald


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