Noma, one of the world’s best restaurants, to return as a wine bar – CNN

(CNN) As coronavirus restrictions ease around the globe, one of the best restaurants in the world, Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, announced Friday that it would be reopening next week with a new concept: An outdoor wine bar with two burgers -- one meat, one vegetarian -- on the menu.

The restaurant closed in mid-March because of the Covid-19 pandemic. As Denmark starts to reopen two months later, lucky Danes get a chance to have a new, albeit limited, Noma experience.

Noma is no stranger to change -- founder Ren Redzepi closed the first version of the restaurant 14 years after opening to start again with Noma 2.0, which opened in 2018. In the interim, Redzepi has done pop-ups in Japan, Mexico, even one under a bridge in Copenhagen.

The agility of this restaurant and its team is one of its most singular attributes, as well as its bringing Nordic cuisine to the attention of gastronomes the world over.

After opening the wine bar, Redzepi plans to reopen the original, new Noma in due time.

"Being closed for so long means that it will take weeks for our team to get the kitchen back to the levels we were at before closing. We do not yet have an official opening date for the restaurant to share, but we will have more information on this very soon."

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Noma, one of the world's best restaurants, to return as a wine bar - CNN

Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. adapt to current environment with enhanced support – Travel Daily News International

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. The mantra We Care More can be found painted on the walls of the worldwide headquarters of Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., yet this saying has never rang more true than now, when its employees, network of home-based travel agents and travel partners need to hear it most.

Everybody is craving social interaction and is anxious about the future. With a belief in transparency, the Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. leadership team has been providing business and industry updates daily through Town Halls, motivational webinars and a series of blog posts from Co-CEO/Chairman Brad Tolkin, Chief Operating Officer Debbie Fiorino and Senior Vice President/General Manager Drew Daly. Other educational content includes the ins and outs of virtual events so our agents can continue engaging with their clients. In addition, cruise line executives are hosting educational webinars to provide guidance on navigating this uncharted territory. All webinars are recorded to ensure every single agent has an opportunity to receive the information if they are unavailable to attend live.

Parent company World Travel Holdings has been a leader in the virtual workspace for more than a decade, so the corporate headquarters team was able to quickly deliver new virtual resources and tools. Previously scheduled in-person regional trainings and events have become interactive virtual conferences, enabling even more of our agents to attend and engage with the headquarters team while getting access to the same educational content the live events provided.

We say it 365 days a year and during these unprecedented times, one thing has never changed that our number one priority is taking care of our customers, and our customers are our Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. travel agents, said Fiorino. We are in the business of making business dreams become a reality, and this means making adjustments to ensure our agents can afford to stay in business while the industry is at a standstill.

To ease the financial burden, agents have the option to defer their monthly fees for at least three months, as well as keep their administrative fees based on prior sales. Also, the company is helping its agents understand the opportunities provided to them through the CARES Act with one-on-one conversations, as part of its webinars and educational resources. As part of World Travel Holdings, a powerhouse in the cruise travel industry, the company advocates on behalf of its agents to ensure they receive their protected commissions.

As a result of the current environment, the supplier changes and promotional offers have become even more complex, so the headquarters team has created infographics, charts, videos and more to educate and support agents so they can readily assist their clients with Future Cruise Credits and get them rebooked.

We are laser-focused on planning for the future and getting our agents prepared to handle the pent-up demand that we know will arise when people are able to start traveling again, said Daly. We are all in this together and rooting for the travel agent industry as a whole, we look forward to its resurgence.

Training is also paramount for new travel agents, with in-person travel agent training now being conducted virtually, complete with an online video cruise tour. New agents are taking this time to work with their dedicated Business Development Manager to develop a business plan and learn the ins and outs of the industry, so they will be prepared when the industry rebounds.

In addition, the team is using their expertise to swiftly change direction in strategy, creating alternative engagement and marketing assets to support agents in staying in front of their clients. Leading by example to demonstrate what agents can do for their own clients, the Business Development Team has created weekly newsletters and is hosting virtual MeetUps, as a means of engagement. Marketing has taken an educational and aspirational approach, creating social media posts and a Virtual Travel Guide that educates consumers about why they need a travel agent now more than ever, while simultaneously inspiring them to dream about future travels.

I have been a franchise owner of Dream Vacations for five years and this has been a very trying time professionally, but I am so thankful to have the support of my company headquarters, said Dawn Beers OBrien, Dream Vacations franchise owner and vacation specialist in San Jose, Calif. In this time of uncertainty, having this support and encouragement is so important. I am eternally grateful to be a member of the Dream Vacations family.'

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Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. adapt to current environment with enhanced support - Travel Daily News International

Enhancing our mission of beauty innovation for a better world Shiseido becomes Platinum Partner for Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo – The…

Japanese premium beauty group Shiseido has signed as a Platinum Partner for the inaugural Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo

The Expo which takes the form of a live 5-day event followed by a 30-day showcase begins on 12 October, just after the conclusion of the Chinese Golden Week holidays. It features a star-studded series of events across the five days, including a Symposium, category workshops and a new consumer research initiative.

Shiseido Travel Retail President & CEO Philippe Lesn commented: The Virtual Travel Retail Expo is an inspiring initiative, which is embracing the power of digitalisation to meet the evolving needs of our global industry.

Shiseido Travel Retail is energised by the opportunity to take a leading role in this new virtual community as a Platinum exhibitor, and we look forward to further enhancing our strong digital credentials in our mission of beauty innovation for a better world.

The Moodie Davitt Report Founder & Chairman Martin Moodie said: Under the global stewardship of President & CEO Masahiko Uotani and the travel retail leadership of Philippe Lesn, Shiseido has become synonymous with innovation and digitalisation. In 2016, Uotani-san created the Shiseido+ Digital Academy as part of his Vision 2020 corporate strategy to make Shiseido the most digitally advanced company in beauty.

Virtual becomes reality as the pioneering Moodie Davitt Expo takes shape

Since that creation, the travel retail channel has witnessed some outstanding activations and innovations, culminating in the breathtaking Shiseido Forest Valley in collaboration with Jewel Changi Airport. We are honoured to welcome such a thought leader to our inaugural Virtual Expo.

Shiseido Travel Retail underscored its reputation for innovation and commitment to digitalisation at the recent Moodies Awards, when it picked up four major accolades.

Best Launch/Relaunch Campaign Winner Brand: Shiseido Travel Retail The Royal Launch of K by Dolce & Gabbana

Best KOL-Driven Campaign Winner Brand: Shiseido Travel Retail NARS Jet Set in Red

Best Branding Advertising Campaign Winner Brand: Shiseido Travel Retail Shiseido Forest Valley

Best Use of Digital to an Internal Audience/Employee Engagement Winner Brand: Shiseido Travel Retail Share STR

Note:To discover more about the Moodie Davitt Travel Retail Virtual Expo, please email Martin Moodie atMartin@MoodieDavittReport.comor Gemma Aldridge Early bird rates expire on 1 June.

A landmark moment from September 2019 at the Shiseido Red Ginza Street pop-up in CDFGs magnificent Haitang Bay store, where guests were invited to check in to the future of skincare. The pop-up occupied the central atrium space and recreated Tokyos iconic intersections, transporting guests into one of the worlds most famous luxury shopping districts.

Shiseido President and CEO Masahiko Uotani (second from left) and Travel Retail President & CEO Philippe Lesn (left) inaugurate the SENSE Art Installation at Shiseido Forest Valley in Jewel Changi Airport last May, a key moment in delivering Shiseidos mission of creating beauty innovation for a better world. Pictured also are Jewel Changi Airport Development Chief Executive Officer Jean Hung and Shiseido Chief Brand Officer Yoshiaki Okabe (right).

Shiseido Travel Retails Share STR won this years Moodies Award for Best Use by a Brand of Digital to an Internal Audience (Employee Engagement)

[Click on the video above to see The Moodie Davitt Report Fashion, Beauty & Social Media Editor Hannah Tan-Gillies turn into an avatar during the Shiseido Travel Retail launch of experiential activations Shiseido Sense Beauty Pop-up and Shiseido Forest Valley in collaboration with The Shilla Duty Free, Singapore Changi Airport, and Jewel Changi Airport Devt in May 2019]

Deploying the impact of digital with this K by Dolce&Gabbana activation at DXB (Dubai International Airport)

Augmented Reality at The Beauty Bar in The Shilla Duty Frees Changi T1 pop-up to honour the Shiseido Forest Valley launch in May 2019

Shiseido Travel Retail won another Moodies Award for the NARS Jet Set in Red Weibo campaign, snapping up the Best KOL-Driven Campaign by a Brand

Making a mark: Digital stamps mark the start of the traveller journey at Changi last May

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Enhancing our mission of beauty innovation for a better world Shiseido becomes Platinum Partner for Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo - The...

Aviation industry opens up slowly, and steadily – Times of India

With the aviation industry being one of the most affected during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that they come back to rule the skies, but with limited destinations. So now planes are indeed flying around the world on limited international routes. This could help in reviving the aviation industry to some extent, and allow people who urgently need to travel, a chance to do so.

India is already running international flights to limited destinations, while this month China, and South Korea have both opened a travel corridor between Seoul, and ten Chinese destinations. Meanwhile Europe too is opening up its borders, and beginning to allow international flights in a restricted manner. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania had lifted their travel restrictions between them on May 15. Furthermore, reports suggest that New Zealand and Australia should be resuming flights between the two counties soon.

Creating these bubble corridors should help the aviation industry a fair bit; however, this is full of risks. As travellers from around the world, mostly from those countries with high numbers of affected patients, such as Iran, Italy can possibly travel far and wide. There is always a chance that the virus may spread further, and affect those countries that are recovering, or have been able to recover to a considerable extent.

There are no minimum health requirements that can determine if a country can open up its aviation industry yet. Individual countries are doing what they can to determine this, and most nations are setting up a 14-day quarantine period. Australia and New Zealand have been working to determine a travel safe zone, and this is a good way to tackle the issue at hand.

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Aviation industry opens up slowly, and steadily - Times of India

Goldman Sachs warns jet fuel demand may never fully recover from the crisis – CNBC

A technician of the German airline Lufthansa works at a parked plane at the "Franz-Josef-Strauss" airport in Munich, southern Germany, on April 28, 2020, as public life across the world has been limited in measures to combat the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

CHRISTOF STACHE | AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus outbreak will have a lasting impact on the behavior of businesses across the globe, with jet fuel demand unlikely to ever fully recover, according to the head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs.

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant countries have effectively had to shut down, with many governments imposing strict restrictions on the daily lives of billions of people.

Confinement measures which vary in their application worldwide but broadly include school closures, bans on public gatherings and social-distancing guidelines have been implemented in 187 countries or territories in an effort to try to slow the spread of the virus.

To date, more than 4.1 million people have contracted Covid-19 worldwide, with 282,727 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The public health crisis has led to an extreme demand shock in energy markets, with world travel brought close to a standstill.

Jeff Currie of Goldman Sachs argued that the severe loss of oil demand came primarily from three sectors: Commuting demand; industrial demand and jet demand.

Industrial demand and commuting demand should both be able to recover fairly quickly from the pandemic, Currie said, but jet demand "is the weakest one."

"So far, we would tend to think when we see a normalization globally, you'll get the leisure demand back. The part I don't think you get back is what we are doing right now," Currie said during a video call with reporters on Thursday.

"I think you are going to lose a good chunk of the jet demand that would have been associated with business travel. Our base case is you lose somewhere around 2 to 3 million barrels per day of that," he added.

Brandon Wilson, owner of AvidJet, disinfects a Frontier airplane with a fogger at Denver International Airport on Tuesday, May 6, 2020. ProShield, the microbiostatic agent used to disinfect the plane, will keep the aircraft clean for up to 90 days after application.

AAron Ontiveroz | The Denver Post | Getty Images

Goldman Sachs expects global oil demand to fall to 94 million barrels per day in 2020, down from 100 million barrels per day in 2019. Oil demand is then expected to rise to 99 million barrels per day in 2021.

Currie said the U.S. investment bank does not expect oil demand to normalize back to pre-crisis levels until the third quarter of 2022.

Alexandre de Juniac, the chief executive and director general of the International Air Transport Association, has warned the situation for the airline industry "could not be more dire."

Last month, the IATA published analysis which showed the Covid-19 crisis could see airline passenger revenues drop by $314 billion this year, reflecting a 55% decline when compared to 2019.

As of early April, the number of flights globally was reported to be down 80% compared to 2019, in large part as a result of the travel restrictions imposed by governments worldwide.

When asked whether he expected the loss of jet fuel demand to be permanent, Goldman's Currie replied: "I know just in myself that I find Zoom has been a very good substitute for getting in a plane and flying halfway around the world. And, you look at the routes that the airlines are planning when they come back, they are not going to be at the same level that they were previously."

"So, is it 2 million barrels per day that has a more persistent drag to it or is it 3 million (barrels per day)? That is still to be known," he continued. "You can't say it is lasting but, is there going to be a lasting impact on business behavior and willingness to get into Zoom? The answer is, absolutely, yes."

An airplane sits at the Avianca Holdings SA Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Aeronautical Center in Rionegro, Colombia on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Avianca Holdings SA reported a net income of $36.1 million USD in the third quarter despite a pilot strike that lasted for almost two months.

Nicolo Filippo | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Alongside the IATA, the global trade representative of the world's airports has urged governments to quickly grant financial relief to assist airport operators and airlines during the Covid-19 crisis.

"The financial impact of the current crisis is unlike anything we have ever seen and requires urgent action by governments to assist the aviation industry to protect jobs, ensure essential operations, and plan for recovery," Angela Gittens, director general at Airports Council International (ACI), said in a statement on April 30.

More recently, the world's second-oldest airline filed for bankruptcy. Colombia's Avianca would be the first major carrier worldwide to go under as a result of the pandemic if it fails to come out of bankruptcy, Reuters reported on Sunday.

Avianca's pleas for state-aid have so far been unsuccessful.

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Goldman Sachs warns jet fuel demand may never fully recover from the crisis - CNBC

Travel changed after 9/11; Here’s how it will look after the Covid-19 pandemic finally recedes – CNBC

The coronavirus has devastated economies around the world and disrupted life in ways that were unimaginable just a few months ago. The world will never be the same. But at some point, industries will start coming back online and people will start going out again.

We asked travel industry experts for their thoughts on what willrestore confidence for people to begin traveling once theCovid-19 pandemic finally recedes. In the latest installment of our series "The Next Normal," we look at where and how we'll actually travel once we're willing to hit the road again.


A road trip to a national park or other attraction in a neighboring state.

A week-long stay at a sanitized vacation rental property nearby.

How does that sound? Your next outing might be booked through a travel advisor and insured, too.

That's what a typical family vacation might look like in the U.S. once travel and tourism starts to pick up again post-pandemic, say industry experts. Just when that might happen is up in the air, yet it could be as soon as early fall or as late as next spring or beyond.

The hypothetical trip incorporates several trends coming to the travel business going forward. These include traveler preferences for domestic destinations reachable by car and stays at private rental properties instead of crowded hotels and resorts.

What seems sure is that any rebound in travel and tourism, brought to a screeching halt by the coronavirus pandemic, will start slowly and stay closer to home. A recent study from Longwoods International found that 82% of travelers polled had changed their travel plans for the next six months.

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"Tourism recovery typically begins locally," said Elizabeth Monahan, spokesperson for "Travelers tend to first venture out closer to home, and visit their local eateries, stay local for a weekend getaway or travel domestically before a robust demand for international travel returns."

Omer Rabin, managing director, Americas, for Guesty, agreed. Guesty is an Israeli-founded property management software that enables users with properties across Airbnb, and other travel sites to automate and streamline operations. "There will be a lot of demand for domestic travel," he said. "I think that's clear to everybody in the industry right now.

"We see a much better recovery and occupancy for drive-to destinations," he added. "People say 'we don't know what's going to happen with flights, but we do know that we're going to be able to get in the car and drive for three hours and have our own place and stay there for two weeks.'"

In fact, the Longwoods survey found that of those that had changed their travel plans for this year, nearly a quarter, or 22%, had switched to driving from flying . Aviation industry group Airlines for America says U.S. airlines have idled 3,000 aircraft, or half the nation's fleet, due to the downturn, while the number of passengers passing through TSA checkpoints at airports is down 93% over last year.

"Our clients are a little hesitant to get on an airplane right now," said Jessica Griscavage, director of marketing at McCabe World Travel in McLean, Virginia. "We're already preparing for the drive market for the remainder of the year, and probably into 2021."

For its part, online travel insurance comparison site InsureMyTrip is finding that the continental U.S. is indeed the top draw for future client travel but it's also tracking some interest in domestic destinations like Hawaii, as well as the Bahamas and Caribbean destinations like Jamaica.

"When people get more comfortable, they'll continue to go farther and farther away from home, starting with domestic and then moving to international, long-term," said Cheryl Golden, director of e-commerce at the Warwick, Rhode Island-based firm. (To wit, Sandals Resorts reportedly will open most of its Sandals and Beaches properties across the Caribbean June 4, and those in the Bahamas July 1.)

There is a small degree of interest in flying from die-hard bargain seekers.

"We've heard from a number of travelers that the low airfares available along many routes are tempting," said TripAdvisor's Monahan, although she cautions those willing to book flights that "airlines continue to adjust their cancellation and change policies for travelers across the globe in response to Covid-19."

Until the virus is under control and efficient systems are in place to restore confidence in travel, it's simply too soon to tell when people can expect to start booking again.

Erika Richter

senior communications director, American Society of Travel Advisors

"Every day and every week, it just seems like things are changing and it's really dynamic," said Golden. "It's hard for us to say right now when we think people will be ready to travel but travel will come back."

Erika Richter, senior director of communications at the American Society of Travel Advisors, said a new normal is probably necessary before bookings will pick up again. "We're still in that wait-and-see mode, because until the virus is under control and efficient systems are in place to restore confidence in travel, it's simply too soon to tell when people can expect to start booking again."

And when they do, things will be different, thinks Anne Scully, a certified travel counselor and president of McCabe World Travel. "Travel's going to come back [but] we'd need a crystal ball to say when," she said. "It will be changed, I think, at least for the next 12 months."

In the meantime, Scully's colleague Griscavage said she seeing a "standstill" in the agency's bookings through the holiday season meaning little in new business but not many cancellations, either. "Those [trips] are still bought, they are not cancelled yet, though it's just too soon to tell," she said. "I'm personally not seeing a surge in [holiday] travel bookings just yet though I think that can change very quickly as states are starting to open up."

There's been good news at Guesty, however, said Rabin. In the last two weeks of April, more reservations than cancellations came in.

Noel Hendrickson/Getty Images

"The most interesting thing is that there are more future reservations for the holidays right now than we have seen in that point of time in April 2019 for the holiday season last year," said Rabin. "Which means there's a lot of optimism and people are planning ahead."

Reservations for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's stays are up 38%, 40% and 23%, respectively, compared to the same time in 2019, Guesty found. "This also means that a lot of people are unable to take summer vacations or don't feel comfortable making bookings and travel plans for June, July, August," said Rabin, so are planning for later in the year. New flexibility in vacation-rental cancellation policies is helping, too, he added.

"Travel has changed," said Scully at McCabe World Travel. "It changed after 9/11, and it changed after the economy blew up in 2008-09." Yet travel advisors then showed clients it was still possible to travel despite any economic or geopolitical changes, and perhaps "better than ever," she said.

Griscavage said she foresees a big surge in family and multi-generational travel once people are willing to book trips again. "They didn't get their spring breaks, they're unsure of their summer trips," she said. "Maybe you didn't get to go to Mom and Dad's 50th anniversary or Grandma's 80th birthday.

"All of these families haven't been able to be together," she added. "I think we're going to see a lot of family and multi-gen travel but in a different way, a safer way."

How so? Accommodations perceived as cleaner and more isolated will find greater favor. "The question on every traveler's mind will be 'what are resorts doing to make us feel safe?'" Griscavage said. "I think we're going to see a big increase [in bookings of] villas and private homes and less crowded experiences moving forward."

Scully suggested that traditional hotel properties may pivot to operate more like private villas, selling entire floors staffed "not so much with a butler but a handler who could go down to pool, for example, and make sure the lounge chairs are separated." Hotel rooms may also sit empty for several days and be completely disinfected before a new guest can check in.

"These are going be not only game-changers but maybe a healthier way for us moving forward," Scully mused. "You've probably seen ridiculous shows on TV where they ask 'Is that hotel bedspread really clean?' Well, I bet now that it's really going to be spotless."

Rabin agreed that sanitization will be "a very big thing." Many of Guesty's vacation home hosts are installing automatic locks that can be opened via cellphone app, are arranging for contactless food deliveries to guest units and space out rental periods, "sometimes for days," to ensure complete unit disinfecting, he said.

There's a definite move toward vacation homes over hotels, Rabin said. "People feel much more comfortable staying short-term rentals like vacation homes," he said. "Hotels have a lot of turnover of guests, a lot of volume, a lot of people at check-in and check-out and in the dining room."

The trend is even influencing how hosts market their rental units. "If you search today for apartments on Airbnb, you will see that a lot of the hosts will put in the name of the property 'Sanitized, highly clean, Covid-friendly' a lot of things like that to basically signal to their customers, 'We are a safe location.'"

It works: Those hosts are seeing more reservations, according to Guesty data. The firm is working to ensure all hosts can offer such contactless, cleaner stays to prospective guests, said Rabin.

InsureMyTrip, for its part, is seeing a 6% increase in vacation-unit rentals over 2019, along with a decrease in hotel bookings, said Golden. "It's a trend that's just starting to happen, but I do expect we'll start to see more of this as people look to travel closer to home for vacation."

If anyone booked without a travel advisor during this period, they learned they should have.

Anne Scully

president, McCabe World Travel

Other areas of travel and tourism from pricing and flexibility to insurance and booking methods are also evolving:

Flexibility: Once you've paid, you are now, in many cases, free to cancel flights, accommodations and other travel components almost up to the last minute. "All the vendors really need the revenue stream, and so they offer this kind of flexibility at the moment," said Rabin. "The biggest chance that they have to recoup a lot of the losses for a weak summer is in a strong winter," so they're doing what they can to encourage bookings.

Scully at McCabe World Travel would like to see another change when it comes to prepayment. "When we give a hotel, a tour operator or a cruise line money, those funds for that client should be held in a kind of escrow," she said. "They don't get to use it for marketing or for something else, so when something happens, they have to give clients back money that they paid in good faith."

Pricing: Costs for travel autumn-onward have not dropped much. "Most of the vendors really understand that their path to profitability and recovery in 2020 is trying to protect their prices into winter season," said Rabin. "And so we see that most of them, for very obvious reasons, want to actually sacrifice the flexibility and not sacrifice the margin."

Duration: Rabin said short-term accommodations rentals, once typically between 3.5 and 5 days, are trending longer in duration, with an average 8.5- to 9-day stay. The trend stared a few weeks back when urbanites were booking month-long escapes from city centers that pushed the length of the average stay up "but now we see it as something that's really a sustainable trend, for the last month or so."

Types of trip: Apart from close to home road trips, people seem willing to consider booking vacations that normally require a year or more of advanced planning, said ASTA's Richter. "While some travelers are booking for 2021, it really is going to depend on the traveler and where they're going," she said.

African safaris, for example, require a year or more in advance of booking, especially for popular times of the year. "Those are the types of planning discussions that travel advisors are having with some of their clients," she said. "You also have to think about all of the destination weddings and honeymoons that were put on hold and need to be readjusted, and then maybe readjusted again, and again."

Travel insurance: Travel insurance, once an afterthought shunned by travelers looking for a bargain, may seen an uptick. "Now more people than ever are aware of travel insurance and how it could possibly help them," said Golden at "Every time we've had an event like this in the past, there's been an uptick in travel insurance that sticks."

Before 9/11, about 7% of people bought travel insurance; after a surge in post-attack sales, the figure reached around 15%, she said. "We expect there will be a similar rise after coronavirus," Golden said. "It's now spiked pretty dramatically." Twenty-five percent to 30% of travelers will buy travel insurance going forward, the firm estimates.

Advisor Scully has sold a lot of travel insurance of late, especially the comprehensive kind. "We upgraded our clients on insurance to 'cancel for any reason,'" she said, noting she also offers clients medical evacuation services. "Whenever we're taking a client's money and they say, 'I'm not going to insure this,' the first thing I'll say is 'Are you comfortable losing $25,000 should you not be able to travel?'"

Travel advisors: The rise of Internet booking engines and online travel agencies from the mid-90s hit the traditional travel agent industry hard. But the trouble many travelers have had getting self-booked plans refunded or rescheduled amid the pandemic may fuel a renaissance in the fortunes of agents, who've now rebranded themselves as "travel advisors."

"If anyone booked without a travel advisor during this period, they learned they should have," said Scully at McCabe World Travel. "Trying to even call the airlines because the phones were just so jam-packed could take 16 hours, could take two to three days."

It's not just consumers who are noticing. "Our partners, our hotel partners, our cruise partners, our airline partners, our partners on land, they all know moving ahead, how valuable that travel advisor will be to their future growth," said Scully.

"The role of the travel advisor has evolved so much and we are not merely transactional agents anymore," said Richter at ASTA, whose thousands of members represent 80% of all travel sold in the U.S. through the travel advisor distribution channel. "We believe strongly that the future will have a heavy emphasis on the travel advisor facilitating the future of travel."

She favorably compared the roles advisors can play in both travel and personal finance. "During this crisis, folks who are concerned about their 401(k), savings and investments, they're talking to their financial advisors, [who] are helping them reassess and make short-term and long-term adjustments to their financial portfolio," said Richter. "The same is true for savvy travelers.

"They are working with their travel advisor to adjust their short-term and long-term travel goals, and it's a relationship that is ongoing."

Read more:

Travel changed after 9/11; Here's how it will look after the Covid-19 pandemic finally recedes - CNBC

5 charts show which travel sectors were worst hit by the coronavirus – CNBC

Information board displaying cancelled flights at the departure hall at Kansai International Airport on March 10, 2020 in Osaka, Japan.

Tomohiro Ohsumi | Getty Images

From spring breaks to summer holidays, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted travel plans globally as lockdown measures keep much of the world's population at home during some of the peak seasons for traveling.

To limit the spread of Covid-19, more than 200 countries and territories worldwide have imposed measures that restrict or deter people from entering their respective borders, according to a report released last week by the United NationsWorld Tourism Organization.

"Never before in history has international travel been restricted in such an extreme manner," the report by UNWTO read.

From flight suspensions to border closures, the massive shutdown has cost countries billions of tourism dollars, airlines are running out of money and millions of people have lost their jobs turning the tourism industry into one of the largest casualties of the coronavirus outbreak.

Here are five charts that show the pandemic's impact on the travel industry.

Travel restrictions around the world became more stringent as more cases of Covid-19 were reported, according to the UNWTO report.

There were four broad categories of restrictions, according to the report. Of a total of 217 destinations,

UNWTO said that as of April 20, none of those destinations have lifted any measures to ban, limit or deter visitors and in some cases, residents from entering their borders.

One effect of those limitations on travel is the reduction in the number of commercial flights.

The average number of commercial flights per day fell from more than 100,000 in January and February this year to around 78,500 in March and 29,400 in April, according to data by Flightradar24, a website that tracks flights globally.

Such a decline has led airlines to ground a large proportion of their fleet, resulting in many running into financial difficulties.

Some governments have stepped in to offer a lifeline for those struggling. They include:

Still, passenger revenue for airlines is estimated to plunge by $314 billion in 2020 or a 55% drop from 2019 levels, according to the International Air Transport Association.

The aviation industry could take years to fully recover, said Brendan Sobie, an independent analyst at consulting firm, Sobie Aviation.

"The recovery is going to be very slow, it's going to be a long road especially for international travel," he told CNBC's "Capital Connection" last month.

"We'll see some domestic recovery this year, but the international recovery is going to take a few years and could take several months to start."

In addition to airlines, hotels have also been hit by the reduction in travel.

Hotel rates fell across all regions in March, according to data by STR, an analytics firm that tracks the hospitality sector.

The tourism industry contributes around 10.3% of global gross domestic product and generates roughly one in fourof the world's new jobs over the past five years, according to World Travel and Tourism Council, which represents private companies in the industry.

But the sudden halt in global travel due to the pandemic would result in more than 100 million job losses this year, according to an analysis by WTTC.

That would contribute to an estimated $2.7 trillion decline in travel and tourism GDP in 2020, the analysis showed.

"This is a staggering and deeply worrying change in such a short time," Gloria Guevara, the council's president and chief executive, said in an April statement. "The whole cycle of tourism is being wiped out by the pandemic."

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5 charts show which travel sectors were worst hit by the coronavirus - CNBC

When will we start traveling again? Here’s what experts are saying – CNBC

A passenger walks through Reagan National airport as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to keep airline travel at minimal levels and the U.S. economy contracts in the first quarter at its sharpest pace since the Great Recession, in Washington, April 29, 2020.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

The coronavirus pandemic has rocked the international economy and disrupted our lives like nobody could have imagined at the beginning of 2020.

Things may never return to the way they were before the Covid-19 crisis. But the world won't stay on lockdown forever.

We asked experts in public health and various industries for their best predictions on what the world will look like when the pandemic finally recedes. In this segment of our series, "The Next Normal," we look at what experts are saying about when travel might resume.


In April 2019, more than 2 million travelers passed through U.S. airports every day.

A year later, the coronavirus pandemic all but shut down air travel, as people sheltered in their homes, scared that recycled air and close quarters will make airplanes a breeding ground for Covid-19 infections. Air travel has dropped by more than 95%, with some days seeing fewer than 100,000 air travelers across the country.

Is this the beginning of a permanent decline in air travel? Or will things return to normal?

While the experts acknowledge they don't have a crystal ball, they all agreed that it would take around 18 to 24 months before there's a significant spike in demand and the industry begins to return to regular levels. In the meantime, the travel industry will undergo some very big changes: Airports may institute new kinds of security checks to screen travelers who are sick, nervous tourists will vacation closer to home, and the travel experience will be dominated by large chains as small hotels and restaurants struggle or go out of business.

A survey published last weekfrom Longwoods International, a market research firm focused on the travel industry, found that 82 percent of Americans have already changed their travel plans for the next six months because of the coronavirus. Fifty percent said they would cancel trips, and 45 percent expect to reduce travel in that time frame, according to the survey of 1,000 American adults.

"What we have seen since the country went into shutdown with talks to reopen is that intent was directionally heading up," said Amir Eylon, the firm's president and CEO, who has been conducting regular surveys since the pandemic was declared. "But now we're seeing a plateau."

Some countries are thinking about how to get people traveling again while reducing exposure.

Airlines like Delta are considering issuing informal "immunity passports," for instance, to people who can prove they have already been infected.

But those in public health, like Harvard global health professor Ashish Jha, are skeptical.

Jha notes that the test results might be inaccurate, especially given the variable quality of the antibody tests. "The testing is still very flawed," he warned. And even if people have recovered and have antibodies, it's possible they could be infected again.

Temperature checks at airports could also become the norm. But Jha notes that these might not catch cases where the person is asymptomatic.

All in all, without "aggressive testing, tracing, and isolation," he said, it will be very challenging for airlines to reassure travelers that people with Covid-19 aren't on board.

"When it comes to resuming activities as before, it's about your risk tolerance," Jha said. "There's no magic formula."

People who do hop a flight will find the experience is very different. Airlines are starting to require passengers and crew to wear masks, and many carriers are leaving middle seats open and doing away with beverage service.

Many airlines are still canceling international flights through the summer and into fall.

Even as airlines and authorities put safety measures in place, people will have to feel safe before demand picks up.

Some people particularly the one-third of Americans at high risk of hospitalization if they get exposed to the virus will stay home until there's a vaccine or some kind of proven treatment, which would likely mean a year or longer avoiding travel.

Others will wait for reassurance from senior health officials and scientists, not just airlines and travel experts.

"Many people are not going to feel safe going back to crowded airplanes ... until they see that the number of new deaths from the virus has gone down to almost none in their region, or until there is a vaccine or much better ways of tracing and isolating who has it," said Robert Reich, the former U.S. Labor secretary and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

Safety is not the only factor. As the economy sours, people are also nervous about splurging on air travel to luxury destinations.

"We're still talking about whether we might see a U-shaped recovery, or more of an L, or even a W, if there's a second wave of coronavirus cases," said Josh Collins, who runs marketing for Streetsense, a branding firm that specializes in hospitality, travel and real estate. He thinks the days of taking a lavish annual trip to a tropical destination might be over for a while until people feel confident about their finances again. Instead, they might look for local options, like camping or road trips, that are easier on the wallet.

For example, Noble House Hotels & Resorts in San Francisco, which includes the high-end Argonaut Hotel and Hotel Zoe, is fielding callsfrom European tourists who say they need to postpone their trip for later in the year or even into 2021, according to area manager Stefan Muhle.He's also seeing a drop in bookings from business travelers because of the cancellation of conferences, including Dreamforce, which brings 200,000 people to San Francisco every November.

Now, he's considering a new market: staycationers. Rather than the standard excursions, which might involve booking a tour bus for a large group, he's thinking creatively about marketing the hotel as a luxurious place to spend the night after a hike in a nearby national park, such as Muir Woods. Trips with an emphasis on the outdoors might be particularly appealing after people have been cooped up in their homes for months.

After studying consumer sentiment, Longwoods'Eylon said this strategy has the best shot of success for many hoteliers. He expects that travel will resume in a slow, careful and highly phased manner. It will kick off with local outings as the economy reopens. From there, some people will increasingly feel confident driving for a night or two away from home. It could take much longer before most people are comfortable getting on a plane for a long-haul trip.

"The first signs of a new normal will be that parents start taking their kids to the zoo or the park," he said. "From there, they'll venture a little further for a night away from home."

The industry has already been devastated by Covid-19, and business are shutting down or laying off staff. As of early April, the World Travel & Tourism Council expects that the travel industry to lose as much as $2.1 trillion by the end of the year.

That means fewer options for travelers once demand picks up.

Many smaller businesses will have shut their doors, leaving behind larger, high-end chains that have more runway and can still attract people with spending money. The hotels that are still in business might have offloaded their restaurants, which were once profit centers but are now sitting empty.

Streetsense'sCollins said many of his clients are kicking off plans to bring visitors back in to their hotels and restaurants, but with a lot more social distancing than before. That might keep some businesses afloat for a while. But not every vendor will be able to sustain that kind of reduced capacity for long. "Many of these small businesses are operating with razor-thin margins already," he said.

On the plus side: deals, deals and more deals.Businesses will probably cut back on travel and look to do more virtual meetings. That means airlines and hotels will find themselves catering to leisure travelers and may offer major discounts as they desperately look for business.

"Everyone is getting acclimated to web-based conferencing in general, myself included," said Dr. Peter Bach, a physician and epidemiologist at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he also runs the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes. Bach was once a frequent business traveler, but those trips are now on hold as the virus spreads."If the airline industry becomes purely for pleasure, it becomes a very different business," he said.

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When will we start traveling again? Here's what experts are saying - CNBC

Greece could be one of the first countries that welcomes tourists after coronavirus shutdown – Greek City Times

Greece could be one of the first countries in Europe to welcome tourists back, once theCovid-19pandemic has been combatted, according toWorld Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)President & CEOGloria Guevara.

In its new 2020 Economic Impact Report (EIR) report, the WTTC shows that Greece continued to be one of the strongest European countries in terms of Travel & Tourism growth last year, and that the sector will be key to the countrys economic recovery.

In an announcement, Guevara underlined how fundamental the Travel & Tourism sector was last year to the Greek economy and said the countrys government must also be applauded for its incredibly swift response to COVID-19, which saw restrictions in place even before the virus reached the country.

Since then, the government has worked closely with the public and private sector, ensuring protocols and standards are in place that will not only see the country through to a fast recovery, it could be one of the first countries in Europe to welcome tourists back to its shores, she said.

WTTCs 2020 Economic Impact Report (EIR) underlines that the Travel & Tourism sector last year support almost 850,000 jobs in Greece, equating to more than one in five of all those in employment.

Strong growth in the country followed the Governments successful policy which focused on extending the season beyond summer, which led to a rise in visitor numbers outside of the traditional summer season, she said.

WTTCs EIR reveals that, between 2016 and 2018, Germany accounted for 14% of all visitors to Greece, with the UK reaching 11%. Visitors from Bulgaria accounted for 10% of all travellers, with Italy and North Macedonia level pegging at 5%.

The report shows that tourism also generated 39.1BN to GDP, or 20.8% to the Greek economy, growing by an incredible 12.1% from the previous year, outpacing the growth of the overall economy for the third consecutive year.

The comprehensive report shows this growth significantly outpaced the overall GDP growth in 2019 of 2.2% in the same year.

Analysis in the WTTC EIR report also showed international visitor spend totalled a staggering 21.3 billion, representing almost one third (30.1%) of the countrys total exports.

The report also demonstrates the nations need for a swift recovery due to its strong reliance on leisure spending, accounting for 94% of all spend, compared to 6% for business spend. Furthermore, international spend accounted for 68% compared to 32% domestic.

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Greece could be one of the first countries that welcomes tourists after coronavirus shutdown - Greek City Times

World tourism faces worst crisis since records began, says UNWTO – The Guardian

International tourism faces its worst crisis since records began, with up to 1.1bn fewer people taking trips globally in 2020. The scale of the coronavirus pandemics impact is outlined in a report by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which predicts a decline in international arrivals of between 58% and 80% this year.

This is due to widespread travel restrictions and the closure of airports and borders worldwide. The prediction of a 58% decline is based on the gradual reopening of international borders and easing of travel restrictions in early July; the 80% figure is based on early December.

Globally, the crisis threatens the livelihood of up to 120 million people who directly rely on tourism for work - and millions more indirectly while representing a financial loss in export revenues from tourism of between 736bn and 971bn. The predictions are based on UNWTO figures for the first three months of this year, which show a worldwide decline in international arrivals of 22%. Following the start of the lockdown in many countries, arrivals dropped by 57% for March alone.

The whole cycle of tourism is being wiped out by the pandemic

The world is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis, Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO secretary general said. Tourism has been hit hard, with millions of jobs at risk in one of the most labour-intensive sectors of the economy.

The figures are in line with the World Travel and Tourism Councils (WTTC) predictions of more than 100m job losses in the travel and tourism sector, with three quarters of these in G20 countries.

This is a staggering and deeply worrying change in such a short time, said Gloria Guevara, CEO of WTTC. In just April alone, our research shows an increase of 25m in the number of job losses in travel and tourism. The whole cycle of tourism is being wiped out by the pandemic. Travel and tourism is the backbone of the global economy. Without it, global economies will struggle to recover in any meaningful way and hundreds of millions of people will suffer enormous financial and mental damage for years to come.

The impact will vary in different regions at different times, with Asia and the Pacific expected to rebound first. According to the UNWTO Panel of Experts survey, some recovery is expected in the final quarter of 2020 and into early 2021, while domestic tourism is expected to recover faster than the demand for international travel.

In the UK, Visit Britain has forecast a decline in inbound tourist numbers of 54% for 2020, which equates to 21.9m fewer arrivals and a loss of 15.1bn in tourist revenue. This scenario assumes a recovery of international arrivals from August, and is subject to revision as the situation develops. In terms of domestic tourism in the UK, if the sector starts to open up in June, the annual loss will be an estimated 22.1bn (14.1bn from day trips and 7.9bn from overnights).

Global airline revenues are forecast to drop by more than half $314bn (249bn) in 2020, according to the latest estimates by the International Air Transport Associations (Iata). This is almost three times worse than its worst-case scenario in March.

Last month, the WTTC outlined what the new normal could look like as lockdown rules and travel restrictions are eased, pre-vaccine. New protocols and standards are being mapped out in collaboration with various associations among them the UNWTO, the World Health Organization, European Travel Commission, and Iata including global hygiene standards and intensive cleaning regimes in hotels, aircraft and cruise ships.


World tourism faces worst crisis since records began, says UNWTO - The Guardian

WTTC launches urgent appeal to support the African travel and tourism sector – ITIJ

According to the WTTC, Africas travel and tourism sector employs roughly 24.6 million people on the African continent and contributes US$169 billion to Africas economy combined (representing 7.1 per cent of the continents GDP).

But with the Covid-19 travel restrictions, Africas travel and tourism sector is at the risk of collapsing, taking with it millions of jobs. Airlines, hotels, guesthouses, lodges, restaurants, meeting venues and related businesses face mounting losses WTTC notes that, typically, travel and tourism in the continent comprises 80 per cent of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Many have already begun laying off staff or placing them on unpaid leave.

The impact of the Covid-19 outbreak is being felt across the whole travel and tourism value chain. The sector is particularly exposed with millions of livelihoods across the world, especially within vulnerable communities, supported by the sector. International financial support is key to ensuring that travel and tourism can lead to wider economic and social recovery in these communities, said Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General for theUN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) one of the four other international transport and tourism bodies working alongside the WTTC to launch the appeal.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) and the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) are the other three organisations making the request for urgent funding.

These organisations are jointly calling on international financial institutions, country development partners and international donors to provide Africas travel and tourism sector with: $10 billion in relief to support the travel and tourism industry and help protect the livelihoods of those it supports directly and indirectly; access to as much grant-type financing and cash flow assistance as possible to inject liquidity and provide targeted support to severely impacted countries; and financial measures that can help minimise disruptions to much-needed credit and liquidity for businesses this includes the deferral of existing financial obligations or loan repayments.

They are also asking that supporters ensure that all funds flow down immediately to save the businesses that need them urgently, with minimal application processes and without impediment from normal lending considerations such as creditworthiness.

Airlines are at the core of the travel and tourism value chain that has created quality jobs for 24.6 million people in Africa. Their livelihoods are at risk. Containing the pandemic is the top priority. But without a lifeline of funding to keep the travel and tourism sector alive, the economic devastation of Covid-19 could take Africas development back a decade or more. Financial relief today is a critical investment in Africas post-pandemic future for millions of Africans, commented IATAs Director-General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.

The speed and strength with which the international community comes together and responds through international financial institutions, country development partners and international donors will be paramount to provide support to the many millions of people whose livelihoods are heavily dependent on our sector, added Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO.

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WTTC launches urgent appeal to support the African travel and tourism sector - ITIJ

World Travel & Tourism Council believes international holidaymakers could return to Spain this summer given huge interest from Brits & Germans…

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) believes that international tourism could return to Spain this summer, given the huge interest particularly from British and German holidaymakers.

ACCORDING to Gloria Guevara, President and CEO of WTTC, tourism can potentially return to Spain this summer, so long as adequate safety protocols are deployed, and that plans are coordinated with the rest of the EU and the private sector to avoid the risk of Covid-19.

It obviously wont be at the same volume as last year, but it could be an interesting percentage to save the summer, along with national tourism, given the huge interest particularly from German and British holidaymakers keen to spend their holidays in Spain, pointed out Guevara.

Tour operators are already piloting tourism programmes to open some markets in the south of Europe to holidaymakers, which could include Spain, confirmed Guevara. However, she admits, that Portugal and Greece have an advantage over Spain, given their faster response to Covid-19. So Spain has its work cut out to demonstrate that it is a safe destination for international tourists, along with other Covid-19 epicentre countries, such as Italy, the US, the UK and China.

However, she added that the WTTC is against the introduction of health/immunity passports to allow people to travel, similar to the ones introduced decades ago. Not only are they complicated, but they also pave the opportunity for potential corruption, she added.

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World Travel & Tourism Council believes international holidaymakers could return to Spain this summer given huge interest from Brits & Germans...

Dreaming of the deeps: World’s most epic scuba diving destinations – CNN

(CNN) If only salt water -- sweat, tears and the sea -- really was the cure for everything, as Danish author Isak Dinesen once said. Then scuba diving would be just the antidote the world needed right now.

Until it's finally safe to get out exploring the world again, however, you can dream of where to dive beneath the surface of the ocean for the most wonder-inducing views on the planet.

"There are so many aspects of scuba diving that may be beneficial in directing our minds away from worries, stresses and daily demands," says clinical psychologist and PADI scuba diving instructor Laura Walton, who has dived everywhere from the South Pacific to Scotland.

"In modern life, we are constantly pulled into the past, present and future through our ability to think," she says. "But when we dive beneath the water, our attention is captivated by absorbing experiences of entering another world."

Depending where you descend, that might mean finning through a "Christmas tree forest" of baby corals off the Florida Keys, coming face to face with a wall of sharks on a French Polynesia atoll or having a stare-down with a giant Pacific octopus in the cold waters of British Columbia.

The world's most intriguing dive destinations take intrepid to the next level.

Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Raja Ampat is home to some of the highest marine biodiversity in the world.


Bali brings the traveling masses to Indonesia. But intrepid scuba divers know to hop another flight east in the archipelago to West Papua, where some of the very best diving on the planet awaits in Raja Ampat.

The clear warm waters of the marine protected areas here are home to over 1,300 species of reef fish and veritable fields of corals that are among the most pristine in the world.

"You can come back and say you saw nine species of anthias, five species of pygmy seahorses," says Cole, "Indonesia overall has continued to over-impress fish and coral geeks. But Raja Ampat deserves its position at the top."

Tuamotu Atolls, French Polynesia

A blacktip reef shark swims alongside a school of one-spot snappers in French Polynesia.

Photo Brandon Cole

After admiring one of the most impressive and reliable shark aggregations in the world, let the current push you into the atoll's calm, turquoise lagoon, where you might spot a manta ray winging its way across the pristine coral beds.

Palau, Micronesia

Palau's aerial view is a showstopper. Its underwater world is equally engaging.


But until you've submerged underwater in this marine wonderland located some 500 miles east of the Philippines in Micronesia, you haven't seen Palau at all.

The most famous Palau dive site, Blue Corner, is a reef that juts out into the open ocean, with big upwellings that attract passing pelagic fish, reef sharks and schooling clouds of pyramid butterfly fish, among many other species.

Local Palau wildlife guide, marine biologist and diver Ron Leidich has called Blue Corner an "underwater Serengeti," so riveting is the experience of diving in such an abundant confluence of marine life.

Divers use a "reef hook" at sites like Blue Corner to tether themselves to rocks to watch the spectacle of passing reef sharks and clouds of tropical fish in what are often strong currents.

"Palau is hands down the best place we've ever been diving," says diver Frances Gulick, of Dallas, Texas, who usually takes several dive trips a year with her husband. "Nothing compares to watching sharks hunting in front of you while a resident Napoleon wrasse photobombs like a puppy dog of the sea."


"There's something about that Fiji blue water and the yellow, red, purple, green and pink background of the coral reefs and walls that makes the whole scene look like it was painted by an impressionist master," says Cole, "With anthias and fairy basslets schooling on many of the reefs, it's as close to diving in a kaleidoscope as you can get. A truly fractal experience."

Famed dive sites like Beqa Lagoon on Viti Levu, Fiji's main island, draw shark divers to mingle with shark wranglers and eights specie of sharks, with regular tiger and bull shark sightings.

Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia

Machinery is seen inside the bridge of the Nippo Maru shipwreck, one of the famous dive sites in this Graveyard of the Pacific.

Photo Brandon Cole

One of the world's top destinations for keen wreck divers is Chuuk Lagoon (previously called Truk Lagoon) in Micronesia, where over 60 Japanese warships were sunk during World War II by the US Navy in Operation Hailstone of 1944.

The violence that rained down on this beautiful corner of the world is palpable even under water, where the bones of Japanese victims can still be seen fused to the steel wrecks. But the profusion of coral life carpeting cargo holds and crawling up the sunken masts and the clouds of tropical fish swirling all around you drive home the message that life, indeed, goes on.

If you dive just one wreck, make it the 500-foot-long Shinkoku Maru, a former Japanese fuel supply ship covered with a rainbow profusion of sponges, soft corals and anemones.

Key Largo, Florida Keys

The Coral Restoration Foundation in Key Largo has offshore coral nurseries for reef restoration.

Courtesy of Coral Restoration Foundation

The organization's largest coral tree nursery covers 1.5 acres of sea floor and has more than 500 coral trees holding 60 to 100 corals each.

"Corals are critical for creating habitat for all the marine life we like to see," says Alice Grainger, communications director for the CRF. "All our genotypes were originally collected in the wild, so they're very hardy. The corals we're returning to the reef are thriving."

And diving through a coral nursery, says Grainger, is a singular experience. "It's like swimming through a forest of coral Christmas trees."

Vancouver Island, British Columbia

At about 110 pounds, the giant Pacific octopus is the world's largest.

Photo Brandon Cole

"If it wasn't for that 45 to 50 degree Fahrenheit water, you could easily trick yourself into thinking you're seeing the colors of the tropics here," he says, "The invertebrates -- soft corals, anemones and sea sponges -- are particularly colorful."

Two bucket list cold water critters divers come here to see are wolf eels and the giant Pacific octopus -- the largest octopus in the world that averages about 110 pounds and 16 feet across.

"So much of the area is swept by strong currents that act as a conveyor belt for the nutrients and oxygen that supercharge marine life," says Cole, "Learning how to dive the tides is key to enjoying what Vancouver Island has to offer."

Sea of Cortez, Baja, Mexico

The Sea of Cortez is home to giant manta rays.


It's impossible to talk about diving in the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California) without name-dropping a legend. After all, it was Jacques Cousteau himself who referred to the rich waters between the Baja California Peninsula and Mexico's mainland as "the world's aquarium."

Encounters with friendly California sea lions (the juveniles have a tendency to playfully nip at divers' fins) are the most common lure when it comes to in-water interactions. But the more than 800 species of fish and animals that call these waters home also include manta rays, whale sharks, schooling hammerheads and megapods of dolphins.

Cocos Island, Costa Rica

Diving by liveaboard dive boats is the only way to access Cocos Island, a remote Pacific Ocean island that belongs to Costa Rica and lies some 330 miles off the mainland.

"Enchanting is a word that gets kicked around a lot in travel, but if a jungle island ringed with waterfalls right out of Jurassic Park where every dive is a shark dive doesn't do it for you, I don't know what will," says Mary Frances Emmons, editor-in-chief of Scuba Diving magazine.

Cocos Island is an eastern Pacific way station for every kind of creature, she says, from Galapagos and hammerhead sharks to parrot fish, squirrel fish, rays and jacks by the thousands.

"We got lucky near the end of our dive when we stumbled on a pack of white tip sharks in a hunting frenzy not far from the surface," she recalls, "An unusual daytime glimpse at a top nighttime attraction in Cocos."


Divers kneel on the sandy bottom at the dive site called Tiger Beach, where tiger sharks come in close off the western end of Grand Bahama during one of the Bahamas' most legendary dives. And Cole says there's no better place than here to see the striped apex predators.

But many other apex sharks can be regularly seen and dived with in the mouthwash-clear waters of the Bahamas, too, he says, including great hammerheads, lemon sharks, bull sharks and oceanic whitetips.

Add to that adrenalin rush the Bahamas' many shipwrecks, plunging walls and the chance to regularly snorkel with wild dolphins off islands like Bimini and you've got the all makings for an epic adventure a short jaunt from the US.

Solomon Islands

Sunken ships lure divers to the Solomon Islands.


The world's most fascinating dive destinations blow you away below the water and then again when you surface, too.

A cultural mix of Melanesian, Polynesian and Papuan influences swirl on land. And for divers, there are endless shipwrecks, downed airplanes and even sunken submarines to explore during expeditions via liveaboard dive boats or from land-based eco resorts.

Add to that abundant fish life, pristine pastures of hard coral and authentic village visits, and you'll find culture, history and marine biology intertwined at every turn.

National Park Revillagigedo, Mexico

Most divers, however, are drawn to the area for intimate encounters with giant oceanic manta rays, which typically have wingspans of 23 feet. "But interactions with wild bottlenose dolphins in the water here have become just as good," says Higuera.

Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand

Sunrays shine on fish and kelp near New Zealand's Poor Knights Islands.


New Zealand's topside views (most from the South Island) get the lion's share of the Hollywood love.

Home to thick kelp forests, the waters here don't exactly beckon like Bali (during the southern hemisphere summer, water temperatures average about 72 degrees). But it's precisely the mix of New Zealand's cooler ocean waters mixing with warm currents swept south from the Coral Sea that make for the unusual denizens that cruise the Poor Knights.

"Biologically it's neat because it's a mixing of cold and warm water critters," says Cole, which means you might see parrot fish, moorish idols and sea turtles alongside cool water critters like scorpion fish and the ubiquitous blue and pink maomaos (colorful fish that tend to congregate in arches and shadowy grottoes).

"Folks go to New Zealand for green travel and to be outside, but very few go below the water line," says Cole, "And the water in the Poor Knights is truly tropical blue."

Red Sea, Egypt

Here, off the tip of the Sinai Peninsula between Africa and the Middle East at Egypt's Ras Mohammed National Park, you'll find some of the clearest seas on the planet for scuba diving (there is almost no natural runoff from the Sinai to cloud the surrounding waters).

Extraordinary walls of healthy hard corals abound. And around Dahab and Sharm al Sheikh you can access many dive sites right from the shore, with no boat required.

"Orange anthias are everywhere and not shy with divers, who may also find themselves surrounded by angelfish, butterflyfish and colorful broadtail and Napoleon wrasse," says Emmons.

Wreck divers delight in descending on the famous British Navy ship SS Thistlegorm, the Red Sea's most popular wreck. Emmons says to add the former cargo ship, the Giannis D, to your wreck wishlist, too.

"it's a playfully disorienting jungle gym that suggests diving in an M.C. Escher drawing, come to life," she says.


A rough fileclam mesmerizes in the waters off Dominica.

Photo Brandon Cole

But in addition to its coral-clad walls and reefs, Dominica offers something many Caribbean islands can't -- the chance to swim with resident sperm whales that frequent the waters during specially permitted boat trips.

Even if you come to the Caribbean's Nature Island just to dive the reefs, however, you won't leave disappointed. And the place to see the corals and fish life at their best is within the protected Soufriere-Scotts Head Marine Reserve on the island's southwest tip.


Divers needn't venture far beyond Lisbon for some of mainland Europe's most dazzling underwater views.

Much farther offshore, the volcanic archipelago of the Azores delivers with open ocean dives and sightings of the resident sperm whales. At the submerged seamount called Princess Alice Banks in the Azores, shoals of mobula rays swim in circles around the pinnacle at a depth of around 90 feet in what can only be described as a vortex of wonder.

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Dreaming of the deeps: World's most epic scuba diving destinations - CNN

EHang Joins Hands with LN Holdings in Building the World’s First "UAM" Theme Hotel – GlobeNewswire

EHang Joins Hands with LN Holdings in Building the World's First "UAM" Theme Hotel

The signing ceremony of strategic partnership between EHang and LN Holdings

EHang Joins Hands with LN Holdings in Building the World's First "UAM" Theme Hotel

Eight journalists took rides on EHang 216 for aerial trips over LN Garden Hotel

EHang Joins Hands with LN Holdings in Building the World's First "UAM" Theme Hotel

Eight journalists took rides on EHang 216 for aerial trips over LN Garden Hotel

EHang Joins Hands with LN Holdings in Building the World's First "UAM" Theme Hotel

Eight journalists took rides on EHang 216 for aerial trips over LN Garden Hotel

EHang Joins Hands with LN Holdings in Building the World's First "UAM" Theme Hotel

Urban Air Mobility Global Total Addressable Market (Base Case)

GUANGZHOU, China, May 11, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- EHang Holdings Limited (Nasdaq: EH) (EHang or the Company), the world's leading autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) technology platform company, announced that it has entered a strategic partnership with LN Holdings (000524.SZ), a Shenzhen-listed tourism platform company, to further commercialize its AAVs by integrating Urban Air Mobility (UAM) solutions into the latters hotel/tourism businesses. This collaboration will not only broaden the use cases for AAVs, but will also expand the partnerships in the existing ecosystem. As one of the collaboration initiatives, the introduction of EHang 216 AAV services into LN Garden Hotel will make it the world's first hotel to offer such services to its customers.

Senior executives from both companies attended a signing ceremony in Guangzhou on May 9, including Edward Xu, Chief Strategy Officer of EHang, and Feng Jing, Party Secretary and Chairman of LN Group. Representatives from major media organizations were also invited to take rides on EHang 216 AAVs onsite for aerial trips over the hotel. At dusk, an aerial light show was performed by EHang to celebrate the new partnership.

The partnership between EHang and LN Holdings will start with a pilot program at the LN Garden Hotel in Nansha, a coastal district in Guangzhou, to build the world's first UAM theme hotel. The program will promote the innovative integration of aerial sightseeing, traveler transportation, air logistics, aerial media light shows, intelligent exhibitions and education. It will also promote the new experience of air tourism and explore other commercial use cases for EHang AAVs.

This cross-sector collaboration intends to set an example for integrated operation of air mobility solutions in the tourism industry, while also contributing to establishing Guangzhou as Chinas first and the worlds leading UAM smart city and shaping the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area to be the best place to live, work and travel.

Hu Huazhi, Founder, Chairman and CEO of EHang, said, We are excited to establish a comprehensive and long-term strategic partnership with LN Holdings. Helping to build Guangzhou into a global air mobility pilot city is a milestone for us, and further promotes the commercialization of the UAM ecosystem. Guests of LN Garden Hotel will experience our one-stop intelligent AAV services, including the unique aerial sightseeing, convenient and autonomous air deliveries and high-tech aerial light shows.

Liang Lingfeng, General Manager of LN Group and Chairman of LN Holdings, commented, We own a broad chain of resources in the tourism industry, covering travel, brand hotels, conventions, exhibitions and scenic attractions. By leveraging our controlling shareholder LN Groups ability to integrate its resources in consumer sector, cooperating with EHang could generate incremental products and services. We can fulfill customers travel demands in the air and on the ground by combining intelligent technology with the tourist experience. Eventually, we will provide new products and services across different sectors, business categories and regions in the country.

As a pioneer in the global UAM industry, EHang entered into a strategic agreement with Guangzhou Government in August 2019 to develop the worlds first UAM pilot city. In the future, tourists visiting Guangzhou can not only travel around landmarks such as the Canton Tower, Beijing Road and the Pearl River, but can also ride in an air taxi (the passenger-grade AAV) to enjoy the scenery of Guangzhou city from the air.

As other cutting-edge technologies such as 5G networks develop, AAV technology will gradually realize a market potential in the trillions of dollars. According to Morgan Stanley, the global UAM market should reach $1.5 trillion by 2040. The China market shows strong potential of $431 billion, accounting for almost 30% of the global UAM market.

(To watch the video, please click here.)

About EHangEHang (NASDAQ: EH) is a worlds leading autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) technology platform company. Our mission is to make safe, autonomous and eco-friendly air mobility accessible to everyone. EHang provides customers in various industries with AAV products and commercial solutions: air mobility (including passenger transportation and logistics), smart city management and aerial media solutions. As the forerunner of cutting-edge AAV technologies and commercial solutions in the global Urban Air Mobility industry, EHang continues to explore the boundaries of the sky to make flying technologies benefit our life in smart cities. For more information, please visit

About LN HoldingsLN Holdings (000524.SZ), subordinating enterprise of LN Group, is the operation integration platform, innovation development platform and capital operation platform of LN tourism industry, its market value ranks among top 10 of A-share listed tourist and hotel enterprises. It devotes to build international pan-tourism ecosystem with the core of consumption experiences covering travel, brand hotels, convention & exhibition operation, IP interactive entertainment, quality food, gourmet culture, global shopping guide, and leisure & health being. With the goal of Enjoy Pleasant Journey, Create Quality Life, LN Holdings is developing into a national leading, internationally well-known tourism brand operator with high credibility and consumer satisfaction.

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Investor Contact: In the U.S.: In China:

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EHang Joins Hands with LN Holdings in Building the World's First "UAM" Theme Hotel - GlobeNewswire

Abu Dhabi bets on virtual events to revive tourism – CNN

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Abu Dhabi bets on virtual events to revive tourism - CNN

Travel from New York City seeded wave of U.S. outbreaks – Seattle Times

New York Citys coronavirus outbreak grew so large by early March that the city became the primary source of new infections in the United States, new research reveals, as thousands of infected people traveled from the city and seeded outbreaks around the country.

The research indicates that a wave of infections swept from New York City through much of the country before the city began setting social distancing limits to stop the growth. That helped to fuel outbreaks in Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and as far away as the West Coast.

The findings are drawn from geneticists tracking signature mutations of the virus, travel histories of infected people and models of the outbreak by infectious disease experts.

We now have enough data to feel pretty confident that New York was the primary gateway for the rest of the country, said Nathan Grubaugh, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health.

The central role of New Yorks outbreak shows that decisions made by state and federal officials including waiting to impose distancing measures and to limit international flights helped shape the trajectory of the outbreak and allowed it to grow in the rest of the country.

The city joins other densely populated urban hot spots around the world, starting with Wuhan, China, and then Milan, that have become vectors for the viruss spread.

Travel from other U.S. cities also sparked infections across the country, including from an early outbreak centered in the Seattle area that seeded infections in more than a dozen states, researchers say. Even if New York had managed to slow the virus, it probably would have continued to spread from elsewhere, they say.

But the Seattle outbreak proved to be a squall before the larger storm gathering in New York, where, at the end of February, thousands of infected people packed trains and restaurants, thronged tourist attractions and passed through its three major airports.

During crucial weeks in March, New Yorks political leaders waited to take aggressive action, even after identifying hundreds of cases, giving the virus a head start. And by mid-March, when President Donald Trump restricted travel from Europe, the restrictions were essentially pointless, the data suggest, as the disease was already spreading widely within the country.

Acting earlier would most likely have blunted the viruss march across the country, researchers say.

It means that we missed the boat early on, and the vast majority in this country is coming from domestic spread, said Kristian Andersen, a professor in the department of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research. I keep hearing that its somebody elses fault. Thats not true. Its not somebody elses fault; its our own fault.

A lack of testing obscured the true extent of the outbreak for months, and officials acted on incomplete and sometimes conflicting information. The enormous growth of New Yorks outbreak partly reflects its volume of international visitors, especially from Europe, where most of its infections came from.

Dani Lever, communications director for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, criticized federal authorities, describing an enormous failure by the federal government to leave New York and the East Coast exposed to flights from Europe, while at the same time instilling a false sense of security by telling the state of New York that we had no COVID cases throughout the entire month of February.

A White House spokesman, Judd Deere, said that Trump had acted quickly. The president blocked most visitors from Europe starting March 13, more than a month after he restricted travel from China.

Just as he acted early on to cut off travel from the source of the virus, President Trump was advised by his health and infectious disease experts that he should cut off travel from Europe an action he took decisively without delay to save lives while Democrats and the media criticized him and the global health community still did not fully comprehend the level of transmission or spread, Deere said.

The travel from New York that helped spread the virus includes residents who traveled, commuters who work in the city and people who visited or passed through.

Now that infections are dispersed around the country, travel from New York is no longer a main factor shaping the progression of the epidemic, researchers said.

As states around the nation begin to relax their restrictions, the findings demonstrate that it is difficult, if not impossible, to prevent those actions from affecting the rest of the nation.

Geneticists have analyzed and shared more than 2,000 samples of the virus from infected people. As the virus infects new people and replicates, it picks up mutations along the way. These mutations typically do not change the behavior of the virus, but they can provide a signature of a viruss origin.

Most samples taken in Texas, Ohio, Louisiana, Idaho, Wisconsin and many other states carry distinct mutations that can be traced back to viruses introduced into New York.

Overall, Grubaugh estimated, infections spreading from New York account for 60% to 65% of the sequenced viruses across the country.

Other scientists said that they would like to see more samples before calculating precise figures. But they agreed that New Yorks prominence in seeding the national spread appears to have begun in early March, two weeks before stay-at-home orders were put in place.

New York acted as the Grand Central Station for this virus, with the opportunity to move from there in so many directions, to so many places, said David Engelthaler, head of the infectious disease branch of the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Arizona.

The most commonly detected viruses tied to New York have a distinct genetic signature linking them to outbreaks in Europe. Those spreading from Washington state have a signature linking them directly to China.

Benjamin M. Branham, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the airports, said that before the flight restrictions from Europe, the federal governments Customs and Border Protection only screened passengers from China, not from Europe.

At this stage, scientists say, genetic fingerprints alone are not sufficient for pinpointing the source of the viruses. But travel patterns and case histories of early known cases support the idea, they said.

It is a combination, still, of what genomic epidemiology and shoe-leather epidemiology is going to tell us, Engelthaler said.

Scientists modeling the progression of the disease nationally said the prominence of New York as a national hub was broadly consistent with their findings, although the picture was still emerging.

I would say this is not surprising in a sense, said Alessandro Vespignani, director of the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University in Boston. The picture emerging is consistent with numerical models.

Earlier research by Vespignani showed just how rapidly, and invisibly, the outbreak exploded in New York. By March 1, when the first coronavirus case was confirmed in New York, the city probably had more than 10,000 undetected infections, his research group showed.

New York and Washington state are not the only sources of the outbreak. Other large domestic hubs contributed to the spread, scientists believe, and a more diverse genetic mix is still seen in some places around the country, particularly in the Midwest and parts of the South.

Even as domestic travel began to drive the outbreak, some infections were still seeded around the country by international travelers, geneticists said. It is possible, experts said, that some of the virus samples attributed to New York may have instead been seeded in other cities by direct flights from Europe, or from travelers laying over in New York before traveling elsewhere.

For that reason, some scientists said they would like to see more samples before linking the majority of U.S. infections to New York.

I think thats probably the story line thats going to emerge, but Id like to see more data, said Harm van Bakel, a geneticist at Mount Sinai in New York.

A New York Times analysis of travel data supports the idea that the chains of infection originated in New York, experts said. The number of cases across the country was closely related to how many travelers each place received from New York in early March, based on anonymized cellphone tracking data from Cuebiq, a data intelligence company.

It looks like most of the domestic spread is basically people traveling out from New York, said Dr. Kari Stefansson, founder and chief executive of deCODE Genetics, a leading genome analysis firm based in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Last week, Andersen of Scripps Research and other scientists analyzing the outbreak in New Orleans reported that all of the samples taken from New Orleans were from the line linked back to New York. The virus swept through the area in March and has killed more than 1,000 people.

You can figure out, with travel patterns, that the most likely thing to have happened is those came into New Orleans directly from New York, Grubaugh said.

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Travel from New York City seeded wave of U.S. outbreaks - Seattle Times

The UAE has Offered to Host the IPL Reveals BCCI – Essentially Sports

The Emirates Cricket Board has offered to host the IPL this year. The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League has been suspended indefinitely in the light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The league was scheduled to start on March 29,2020, with the first match between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. However, the BCCI suspended the tournament till April 15 after seeing the rise in coronavirus cases in India. But when the government increased the lockdown in the country till May 3, BCCI postponed the tournament for an indefinite time.

As there is no possibility of hosting the tournament in the country any time soon, BCCI is receiving offers from other boards to host the IPL 2020 in their countries. However, BCCI has not taken any decision as the game of cricket has been suspended globally due to the pandemic. The deadly virus has now affected more than 4.1 million people across the globe.

UAE is the second cricketing nation to have made the offer of hosting the IPL. A few days back, Sri Lanka had also offered to host the league. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said that it has also discussed the possibility of playing host with BCCI.

Talking about the same, BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal quoted, The UAE has offered to host the IPL if we want them to. But right now when there is no international travel, there is no question of taking a call on that. He further added, The health and security of players and all participants is our priority. At the moment, the entire world travel has come to a standstill, so there is nothing we can decide at this stage,

IPL is a big tournament for Indian cricket as it provides a lot of revenue to the board. If the league gets canceled this year, BCCI is expected to face huge losses. The cancelation of IPL 2020 will have a major financial impact on both BCCI and the Indian economy.

Dhumal told SportsStar, The BCCI will also be in a difficult position in case cricket does not resume soon, especially the IPL. In that case, the BCCI will also have to face a lot of financial hardships. IPL is one of the major revenue-generating tournaments,

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The UAE has Offered to Host the IPL Reveals BCCI - Essentially Sports

Pursuing goats and getting stuck in the Arabian desert – Jewish News

It was as Abdullah threw both us and his Toyota Land Cruiser around, revving and sliding over the 100-metre high wind-scultped dunes of the Wahiba Sands, that I jinxed it by saying: Great driving!

Mrs Os knuckles grew ever whiter beside me. You just have to know the route, Abdullah said confidently.

Two minutes later, his brow furrowing, we stopped. He got out, climbed to the top of a dune, looked around, then walked back to the car looking a lot less confident. He started the engine, dropped us down into a dune gully, took a left into another, and slowly came to an unintended stop, revving hard in the soft sand now flying up from the wheels. The car sank, as did our hearts.

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After several minutes of making matters worse, Abdullah said hed have to go and get help. I took his mobile number and watched him clamber off and away, over the red-hot sand, under the midday sun, towards what he thought may be the nearest Bedouin encampment.

Now weve all, at some point, been left unexpectedly alone in the middle of the desert in the heat of the day, so we all know how these things work. We discover things about ourselves in those moments. I discovered that Mrs O gets very sleepy when genuinely worried.

Time ticked. And ticked. And ticked. Finally, Abdullah called hed got help and was on his way, assuming he could find us again. It was no little relief when he appeared in the passenger seat of another Land Cruiser on the horizon.

When your Land Cruiser gets stuck in the Omani desert in the heat of the day and another has to pull it free

The day-long excursion, which incorporated a visit to a Bedouin house and a swim in the natural mountain spring waters of the beautiful Wadi Bani Khalid, had been described in the brochures as a Desert Adventure, and it certainly was.

Abdullah, now with burnt feet, had been heroic, a status he later cemented by stopping to help a female driver with children who had broken down by the side of an isolated mountain road.

Abdullah teaches Mrs O how to write in Arabic

Hed been our guide a day earlier too, when we visited Jabal Akhdar (Green Mountain) and Nizwa, Omans old capital, to see its famed silverware and the lively livestock market on Friday morning, where farmers and traders come from hundreds of miles away to sell and buy animals.

Armed with her new camera, Mrs O was off and away the second we walked through the arch and into the square, in hot pursuit of an Omani infant who was in turn pursuing a goat.

Lively Friday morning livestock markets in Oman are as much a social as a business gathering. Picture credit: Mrs O

Our base for these exploits was the Chedi in Muscat, a GHM hotel whose Balinese and Swiss offerings have long had the worlds travel press swooning. Its Omani venture is no less spectacular. Journalists who get hosted stays can sometimes feel duty-bound to preen lyrical about their host venue, even if it isnt all that. This hotel is all that and then some. It is, for many, the best hotel in Arabia.

Neither a look online nor a mid-article rundown of its attributes will do justice to this hotel, located alongside the Sea of Oman, 15 minutes from a new world-class airport and the factory that makes the worlds most expensive perfume, Amouage.

One of the pools at the Chedi Muscat, where life is as good as good gets

Run by an Englishman, it has three pools, including one measuring 103 metres. If you reach the end, where the yoga master takes early evening classes, you can watch the sun go down. Few things in life beat an Arabian sunset.

In seven years of travel reviews, staying at some of the worlds very best hotels, Ive only ever given four 10/10 scores, those going to The Grove in Hertfordshite, Belmonds Villa SantAndrea in Sicily, the Chedi in Bali and the Constance Prince Maurice. The Chedi in Muscat makes it five.

Ex-Omani soldiers practice their drills in the former capital Nizwa

Upon my return, colleagues in the editorial office had a thousand questions about the Oman trip, a first (we think) for any Jewish newspaper in the UK.

Yes, Id got in fine, despite having an Israeli stamp in my passport, and yes, theyre absolutely fine with Jews. They like them, in fact. We tend to forget that until the formation of the State of Israel, Jews and Arabs lived alongside one another in the southern Arabian Peninsula, particularly in Yemen next door. Old Omanis still recall with fondness their old Jewish neighbours and friends, who they genuinely miss. Its touching.

A cooling dip in a mountain wadi, just one of many reasons to visit Oman

And yes, both Mrs O and I would go back to the Sultanate in a heart-beat. They say the region of Dhofar, and especially Salalah near the coast, is stunning when the rains travel up from India in the summer, dropping the average temperature to the mid-20s. But we may give the dune-bashing a miss next time.

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Pursuing goats and getting stuck in the Arabian desert - Jewish News

Anger as Italy slowly emerges from long Covid-19 lockdown – The Guardian

It has endured Europes longest lockdown, but when Italy enters its much-anticipated phase two tomorrow, few will find reason to celebrate.

Last week, after Italys prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, outlined plans to slowly ease the countrys quarantine, millions of people were overcome with feelings of anger and disappointment as their hopes were dashed by what many described as a false reopening.

Italians will now be able to travel within regions to visit relatives, provided they wear masks, but schools, hairdressers, gyms and many other commercial activities will stay closed; cafes and restaurants will offer takeaways only; and all travel between regions will be banned except for work, health or emergency situations. Restrictions on funerals have been relaxed, with a maximum of 15 mourners allowed to attend, but masses and weddings will have to wait.

For this reason, last Friday, Pietro Demita, a stylist in Lecce whose company is a leading wedding dress designer, set fire to his entire collection in protest against the lockdown, which has brought the wedding industry to near-collapse.

I set my creations alight, the fruits of my talent and my artistry, to send a strong message, Demita told the Observer. Because, even if I hadnt, the economic and political decisions imposed during the coronavirus crisis would have sent them up in smoke anyway.

Expectations had been high for a quick return to normality, especially in the south, where there have been fewer Covid-19 cases than in the north. The mood is sombre, not only because the virus, despite its slackening, continues to claim lives, but also because people are on edge after having been forced to stay at home for more than 50 days.

It seems theyre having a good laugh at our expense, says Costantino Montalbano, 31, a hair stylist in Palermo. Its as if theyre telling us to go out, but to stay at home. All this time locked up has affected our mental health, but its also hit us hard in the wallet. If we dont return to normality soon, coronavirus will have killed not only thousands of people, but the entire economy as well.

Like bars and restaurants, hairdressers should fully reopen on 1 June; museums and retailers from 18 May. Factories already geared towards exports and public construction projects resumed activity last Monday, while the majority of Italys industry will restart tomorrow. However, as the country plunges into recession, many businessmen and shopkeepers are complaining about the lack of financial support.

With summer around the corner, experts predict that the impact of Covid-19 on tourism, one of the countrys most important sectors, will be devastating. According to Italys National Confederation for Artisans and Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses (CNA), there will be 25 million fewer foreign tourists between July and September. The risk is that thousands of hotels, resorts and B&Bs will be forced to close their doors for the foreseeable future.

Bars and restaurants are the lifeblood of the economy of so many Italian cities and towns, but thousands have come together in protest against reopening, feeling that the restrictions of post-lockdown social distancing could spell the end for many.

As part of a series of symbolic gestures organised by a movement called Movimento Imprese Ospitalit (MIO), the owners of 75,000 bars and restaurants switched on the lights of their premises to mark the last day of business last Tuesday night before handing over the keys to their respective mayors the following morning. On Friday night, they switched off the lights in their homes for an hour.

Paolo Bianchini, a restaurant owner in Viterbo, Lazio, and spokesperson for MIO, said the peaceful protest was to show how much the hospitality sector was struggling. We only want to open when we know well be able to work efficiently, he said. For example, my restaurant has 100 covers with social distancing this will be reduced to 30. If I do so little business, my restaurant will close, as I wont be able to cover my costs. Paradoxically, we will fail if we open. We need liquidity how is it that serious countries like England are managing to help business owners, but Italy isnt lending a hand?

During the debate in the Senate on Thursday, the opposition parties grilled Conte. Ex-prime minister Matteo Renzi, who has called for less restraint in the reopening, remarked, The people in Bergamo and Brescia who are gone, those who died of the virus, if they could speak, theyd tell us to relaunch the country for them, in their honour.

Renzis controversial statement was harshly criticised by doctors who warned that the spread of the disease, which, as of Thursday, had killed almost 30,000 people in the country and infected more than 205,000, was not over and that a misstep could take the entire country back to mid-March coronavirus levels.

We risk a new wave of infections and outbreaks if were not careful, said Tullio Prestileo, an infectious diseases specialist at Palermos Benefratelli Hospital. If we dont realise this, we could easily find ourselves back where we started. In that case, we may not have the strength to get back up again.

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Anger as Italy slowly emerges from long Covid-19 lockdown - The Guardian

Putting the economy back together again: What the future holds for Americans – CNBC

A stylist wearing a protective mask cuts a customer's hair at a barbershop in Atlanta, Georgia, on Monday, April 27, 2020.

Dustin Chambers | Bloomberg via Getty Images

When the coronavirus crisis, or at least the worst of it, passes, the U.S. economy will still be big the biggest in the world, with any threat to be overtaken likely put at bay for many years.

But in other ways, things will feel smaller, much smaller in fact.

Growth rates will be lower. Big crowds will be few. Profit margins will be tighter.

Life will continue in many regards, but nothing will be the same, not for a long time. Much of what will become routine daily life will go against instinct. Society will reach for ways to continue churning forward. But that will come with a mind not to repeat the trauma wrought by seven weeks of social distancing that has separated this connected world in ways that few ever thought possible.

"There will be lower densities of people everywhere," said Nick Colas, a Wall Street veteran and co-founder of DataTrek Research. "That affects restaurants and bars and sports and everything."

The size of the world and the magnitude of the task will be important as policymakers try to piece together a broken economy. Layoffs have soared as thriving businesses have been shuttered indefinitely. Manufacturing is in a steep recession, retail and restaurants could take years to get back to normal, and governments will be hamstrung in trying to provide basic services.

As the world indeed is apt to feel smaller, it will require big ideas to get the U.S. moving again.

While formulating investment strategies and market analysis, Colas spends a lot of time studying sociological trends how behavioral patterns impact what we do with our money and how we view our lives. One day he might be writing about thought exercises using game theory, the next examining, as he did in a recent daily note, how long specifically it takes people to develop new habits 66 days, it seems, a number useful when considering the current lockdown.

Looking at the present social distancing situation, Colas figures on some key trends developing.

He expects a faster return to domestic travel than might be apparent. Restaurants and retail will grapple with a host of challenges, like how to arrange seating and what happens in clothing stores when customers want to try on something. Sports will continue, but with fans mostly watching from home.

All of it will come against a backdrop that will force people to keep a safe space from each other, something profoundly counterintuitive to a culture ingrained with hugs, handshakes and kisses.

"It's very hard, because it goes against the most fundamental human need of social contact. We're social animals," Colas said. "This current phase already has been hard on people, particularly in areas like New York where a lot of single people live alone. They're going to want to have contact. That's human nature, that's the human spirit. It's going to be hard to tamp that down without mental health disruptions."

Regions of the country are taking the first steps, albeit gingerly, back to normalization.

New York is reopening parts of the state, while Mississippi also has loosened restrictions. Idaho is transitioning into the first phase of relaxing its stay-at-home order. Arizona and Nevada have extended their directives to May 15 but relaxed some rules. You can now play golf in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but most of the Keystone State remains closed. Some resorts around the country are taking reservations for June.

Reopened areas will serve as fishbowls for others looking to relax restrictions. More than that, they will provide a window into how quickly the $21.5 trillion U.S. economy can get back on its feet.

Gross domestic product contracted 4.8% in the first quarter of 2020, the worst decline since the Great Recession, and more than 30 million people have filed unemployment claims, making the progress toward normalization all the more important and urgent.

"The issue's going to be, can you get people feeling like the new normal feels like the old normal?" Colas said. "It should end up feeling a whole lot better, because some of your normal life is back. You can at least hang out with your friends in the backyard while maintaining social distance. But at least people are coming over again."

How that translates into economic activity, though, remains uncertain.

Economists have been pondering the shape of the recovery: Will it be a U? V? W? Check mark? Square root? Nike swoosh?

No one seems to know, though the immediate expectations are that after the first-quarter slip the second quarter will post a number worse than anything the U.S. has seen before. In fact, the GDP number may be so bad something on the order of a 20% collapse or even worse and the unemployment rate peak anything from 15% to 30% seems perfectly likely as to become meaningless.

What will matter more is the path forward.

Most economists expect a considerable rebound after the second quarter. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said he sees "a fairly large increase given the size of the fall," thought "it's unlikely it would be bring us quickly back to pre-crisis level. "

That's all theory, though. As a practical matter, the country just has to get moving again.

"The point estimate of GDP right now is not really that valuable," said Marin Gjaja, a partner with Boston Consulting Group, which is helping businesses come up with strategies for reopening and how to conduct business in an altered landscape.

"The variation by sector is enormous," he added. "You've already seen what this has done to airlines, cruise ships, amusement parks, concert venues, amusement parks, any place where there are large amounts of people involved. They're trying to figure out how they can come back, what they can do to change their business in order to survive."

Gjaja also sees a landscape dominated by smaller social gatherings.

At a business level, that means shopping and eating closer to home. That benefits small retailers and locally focused restaurants but still leaves into question community-based businesses like barber shops and movie theaters.

"We've never seen a recession impact that looked like this with this degree of volatility in terms of impact by sector and geography," Gjaja said. "The degree of variability is really unique. We're going to have to figure out a way to navigate through that."

Boston Consulting released a report called "COVID-19: Win the Fight, Win the Future" that outlines what businesses need to do.

Gjaja stressed that different locales will have different needs. New York won't be the same as Montana which won't be the same as Michigan. Certain general rules, though, will apply.

Among the contingencies businesses need to take into account before opening are safety for employees and customers, preparation for additional shutdowns, and health monitoring for workers once they do return, he said.

For the travel industry, such questions are paramount.

The World Travel and Tourism Council, which represents the industry perhaps most impacted by the coronavirus lockdown, is advocating for a global set of rules to follow in airports, hotels and on planes.

"These must provide the reassurance travelers and authorities need, using new technology, to offer hassle-free, pre-vaccine 'new normal' travel in the short term," saidGloria Guevara, the council's president and CEO.

Guevara sees the liftoff in travel starting with something approaching "staycations" with trips near home, but then being led by younger people who can take advantage of lower fares to move about the country.

According to the WTTC, some of the changes travelers are likely to see at hotels will include digital check-ins, hand sanitizers in plentiful supply and contactless payments rather than cash. Cruise line workers will wear gloves and the ships themselves will be cleaned more frequently. At airports, flyers will be tested when boarding and exiting, and likely will have to wear masks while on board.

Companies that fail to follow safety guidelines may have to pay a steep price just in terms of business lost.

A survey from Vital Vio, a New York-based biotech company, found that 51% of people won't do business with companies that don't show a commitment to being sanitary, while 76% said they will "hold brands accountable" that don't invest in cleaning up their spaces.

Respondents also said they are willing to pay more for cleaner and safer travel as well as activities like dining out and going to the gym.

All of the measures will combine to tell what kind of a recovery the U.S. has after what could well be the worst downturn in its history.

Analyzing companies on how safe they are to reopen based on potential to spread the disease, Goldman Sachs said the first sectors will be manufacturing, professional services and agriculture. The riskiest industries, and thus the last ones likely to come back online, are health care, education, retail, arts and entertainment and the accommodation and food service industries.

The firm's economists compared the U.S. open to what's happening in Sweden, where social distancing practices were widely used through the country did not shut down at a level comparable to the U.S., and China, because it is well ahead of the U.S. on the recovery timeline.

"We believe that the level of economic activity in the US will get better rather than worse over the remainder of the year for several reasons," Goldman's economists wrote. "Partial relaxation of shutdown orders will allow some businesses to reopen, people will learn to adapt in ways that minimize the economic costs of social distancing, wider antibody testing should allow those who are hopefully immune to resume normal activity, and improvements in treatment should reduce fear and raise willingness to be around others. In addition, fiscal stimulus should largely short-circuit the usual second-round effects of income losses."

They found, however, that China's pace is "too optimistic" for the U.S. while Sweden offers some hope though the country is still using fairly strict social distancing measures. In China, commerce has largely come back, but traffic studies show that consumers are driving to work during the week but not going out on the weekends, indicating that a significant level of fear remains.

How well the U.S. comes back ultimately will come down to a lot of factors, but feeling safe is likely to be paramount.

"It's not just what the numbers say. A lot is going to come down to how it feels, how much of people's normal lives they can reclaim," DataTrek's Colas said. "As we restore some normalcy, it will feel a lot better."

Read more from the original source:

Putting the economy back together again: What the future holds for Americans - CNBC