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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long history of bad advice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mar 16th 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best in Travel Winners Based on Travel Agent Votes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOURCE World Travel Holdings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why the world is waking up to Vietnamese coffee – CNN

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Why the world is waking up to Vietnamese coffee - CNN

New Inspirational Adventure Journeys from TCS World Travel – Arts and Collections International

The leader in luxury jet travel, TCS World Travel, has recently announced their Expedition Schedule for 2021 and it promises some truly magical Around the World itineraries and Regional Deep Dives. Travelling by private jet and enjoying the finest hospitality with every single detail taken care of for you by the expert TCS expedition team, these itineraries bring together destinations and deliver authentic experiences not normally possible in a seamless journey.

For more than 25 years, TCS World Travel has been a pioneer in private jet expeditions, where seamless travel by private jet is complemented by the ultimate in hospitality and curated experiences in each destination. With over 300 Around the World journeys and regional deep dive expeditions under their belt, TCS are the recognised leader and standard setter in this exciting new area of luxury travel cultural discovery.

Journeys include:

January 1 25, 2021 | 25 days | 52 guests | Boeing 757

Orlando, FL Cusco and Machu Picchu, Peru Easter Island, Chile Apia, Samoa Lizard Island and Great Barrier Reef, Australia Angkor Wat, Cambodia Taj Mahal, India Masai Mara, Kenya Lost City of Petra and Wadi Rum, Jordan Marrakech, Morocco Orlando, FL

Discover a life list of iconic destinations on our flagship journey, reimagined to even greater heights. Travel aboard our private jet, with flatbed seating for a more intimate group of 52, and unwind in stunning, smaller properties in select locations, all while exploring nine of the worlds most legendary places and natural wonders.

$114,950 per person, double occupancy | $11,495 solo supplement

For more information see here

February 28 March 16, 2021 | 17 days | 52 guests | Boeing 757

London, England Cappadocia, Turkey Jaipur, India Ranthambore, India Maldives Nosy Be, Madagascar Masai Mara, Kenya London, England

Travel in pursuit of the some of the worlds most magnificent creatures and experience its breathtaking landscapes. Watch in awe as millions of wildebeest pour across the Africa Savanna and witness the majestic Bengal tiger. Marvel at the otherworldly rock formations of Cappadocia and delight in the endemic flora and fauna of Madagascar

114,000 per person, double occupancy | 11,400 solo supplement

For more information see here

For more information, call TCS World Travel on 0330 0022888 or visithttps://www.tcsworldtravel.co.uk/

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New Inspirational Adventure Journeys from TCS World Travel - Arts and Collections International

Vote Now: The Most Instagrammable Hotel In The World 2020 – Luxury Travel Advisor

Well, this March certainly has been full of Madness...

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

So, we're happy to introduce the third edition of our Most Instagrammable Hotel in the World Contest! (Last year, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara took home the title.) For the 2020 edition, we received hundreds of submissions for truly wonderful properties around the world; however, only 64 made the "final" cut. We looked for unique views, interesting color schemes and hotels that have not participated before, with the exception of last year's winner and runner-up (Viceroy Los Cabos). Now comes the tough part:

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

The editors of Luxury Travel Advisor seeded the hotels and created a bracket. It's up to you to vote on each contest, for whichever hotel you feel is the most Instagrammable! But what does that mean? We're looking for the best picyou know the one; as soon as you post it, the likes, comments and shares start pouring in.

The rules: Round 1 is now open and voting closes Thursday, March 19 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.You can only vote for each matchup once per round. The winners move on to face their new competition, and so on, until a winner is crowned on April 8.

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

The Plaza Hotelarguably New York City's most famousis home to the iconic Palm Court, which is popularfor its Afternoon Tea. It's also Instagram gold that earns the hotel the No. 1 seed in the North America bracket.

At Barnsley Resort,a historic former manor house near Adairsville, Georgia, the gardens back up to the historic Manor House Ruins, which at night are lit with twinkle lights and serve as a rustic Instagram heaven.

Viceroy Snowmasscertainly has an enviable position, wouldn't you say? After a long day of hitting the slopes, you can ski or board right up to the hotel and hop in its heated outdoor pooloffering up-close views of those same slopes.

Locatedin the lush Catskill Mountains, The Roxbury at Stratton Fallshas introduced whimsical themed rooms at a former 1848repurposed Mansion. Here is The Superhero Incognito.

Experience one of the best views of the Toronto skyline and the CN Tower from the 44thfloor infinity pool at theBishaHotel Toronto.

The Theatre at Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angelesis the literal foundation of Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles. It's a restored, 1,600-seat movie palace from the 1920s with a three-story grand lobby.

The Hermitage Hotel is the most original and longestistanding Nashville hotel (it was built in 1910!). Need we say more about this ornate lobby?

DuntonHot Springs is aRelais & Chteaux resort set deep in the Colorado Rockies. The restored ghost town has 13 authentic log cabins with distinct characteristics, tasteful furnishings and magnificent views of the mountains and surrounding meadows.

The Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Clubin Bermudais a grand dame hotel with pink exterior surrounded by lush palm trees and pink sand beaches. Note the moongate on the lawn!

Located in the heart of Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fairmont BanffCanada's "Castle in the Rockies"has been openbe for more than 130 years.

The Loren at Pink Beachis seta tranquil section of, what else,Pink Beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The pool, rocks and beach make for an Insta-worthy pic.

Originally City Hall Annexa place where Phillys big moments were formally notarizedThe Notary Hotelbuilding dates back to 1926 and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The hotels design draws on the buildings civic roots.

The iconic Guitar Hotel at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was part of a $1.5 billion expansion. Designed to resemble back-to-back guitars, complete with guitar faces and brightly lit strings, The Guitar Hotel reached 450 feet into the sky, outfitted with floor-to-ceiling glass panes.

The 24-hour rooftop fitness center at The Confidante Miami Beach has the proper motivation for you ("The time is now!") and some great content for your social media.

Poised in the storied 1914 property on Baltimores historic Recreation PierRec Pier as its known to localsSagamore Pendry Baltimore embodies the citys rich history, vibrant personality and harbor setting with character, inspiration and style.

The Beekman, a Thompson Hotels one-of-a-kind architecture immediately captivates guests. The hotels nine-story atrium, capped by pyramidal skylight, illuminates the hotel from within.

Last year's runner-up, Viceroy Los Cabos takes the No. 1 seed for theCentral and South America and the Caribbean bracket. Thestriking contemporary architecture and design is Instagram gold.

Looking for the best Instagram content at Grand Isle Resort in the Bahamas? The day beds and cabanas at 23 North Beach Club are just the spot.

At Tierra Atacama, all guestroomsoverlook the Andes Mountain range,nearby volcanoes and uninterrupted views of Atacama. And how about that pool?

The blue-green tiling at the adults pool; the white cabanas and architecture; the palms treesit all works at Las Hadas by Brisas.

Anguillas Malliouhana, Auberge Resorts Collection is fresh off amultimillion dollar enhancement.One Instagrammable space is thecascading infinity pool that seems to drop off into the sea belowwe love the pops of yellow.

Set along a ridge with views of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Guana Island offers a quintessential island hideaway experience.

Located in the Arenal Volcano National Park in Costa Rica, Nayara Tented Camp's 21 accommodations have been built at a higher altitude on the hillside to provide unobstructed views of the volcano.Let's not forget the private plunge pools!

El Gabinete Del Barco is the indigenous gallery atSolaz, a Luxury Collection Resort, Los Cabos features regional artifacts, including thesuspended skeleton of a 43-foot-long grey whale. Woah!

At Azulik Resort in Tulum, guest must cross a swing bridge to enter the Bridges of Tseen Ja restaurant, which serves Mexician-Japanese fusion. It's also great for the 'Gram.

TheOne Bedroom Pool Suite Terrace at the Rosewood Little Dix Bay in the British Virgin Islands is a quintessential beach shotpool, beach, palm trees!

Grab a pic ofThe Leap of Faith at Atlantis, Paradise Island. Guests drop down the 60-foot slidefrom the top of the iconic Mayan Temple through a clear tunnel submerged in a lagoon filled with marine life.

Loungers at the adults pool at Nizuc Resort & Spa are sure to be a hit on social media. Throughout, the resortfuses Asian architectural forms with Mexican materials and Mayan iconography.

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica inthe Peruvian Amazonis home to theCanopy Walkway, a bridge system suspended 98 feet above the ground, which leads to theCanopy Tree House, a remote cabin.

Talk about a unique offering:Surrounded by lush sub-tropical jungle, the Hol Be Spa at Hacienda Temozon, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Temozon Sur offers an intimate and exclusive atmosphere where you can distance yourself from the outside world.

Explora Patagonia is located at the center of the Torres del Paine National Park, in the heart of Patagonia, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. On the shores of Lake Peho, it has breathtaking views of the Paine ridge and the granite towers.

Palmaa - The House of AA is a wellness retreat in the Riviera Maya. Connect with nature (and your Instagram followers) atAtlantis: Spa in the Jungle.

We're a fan of bathtubs. The black and white marble bathrooms in theGrands Appartements ofHtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel earn the hotel a No. 1 seed for the Europe bracket.

At the top of Monte Mario, high above Rome there is a verdant green park, where allepo pines, palms and pools refreshand then there's this buzzworthy Jacuzzi at Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Set on a hilltop above Ornos Bay and just under two miles from Mykonos town, Kalesma Mykonosaccommodations are spread across five acres and each has unobstructed lookouts from its private patio, as well as a full-sized personal heated pool.

The top spot for an Instagram photoshoot at Hotel Hassler Roma isfrom the private terrace of the Penthouse Suite. Love the views of the city!

Guests can savor Michelin-starred seafood fare at Le Agavi, while taking in unparalleled views of the Positano cliffside and azure Gulf of Salerno.

Located under the shadow of Budapests iconic St. Stephens Basilica on the Pest side of the Danube, Aria Hotel Budapests High Note SkyBar serves curated cocktails with 360-degree city views. We also love the piano-inspired art in the lobby below.

Take in views of the Aegean Sea, some other Cyclades and whitewashed buildingsfrom your privatepool terrace at Katikies Santorini. Just be sure to grab a pic for your social media.

Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort is a cliffside location overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Portugal. The pool deck is our favorite shot.

Every inch of Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo is Instagram goldbeginning with the hotels palace-like exterior that greets guests upon arrival.

Hotel Barrire Le Fouquets offers Instagram-worthy photo opps galore from Le Joy's lush green patio overflowing with fresh flowers in full bloom.

At the brand-new nhow Amsterdam RAI hotel, eye-catching explosion of colorful design details pleading for Instagram-capturing. Yes, please!

Lough Eske Castle is located just outside Donegal Town in Northwest Ireland. Nestled within 43-acres of forest woodland and hugging the shores of Lough Eske, the castle is ideal for capturing an Instagram shot that makes you feel like royalty.

Step back in time at IrelandsDromoland Castle. Think: Cozy spaces,evenings spent by the fire, brisk walks through the countryside and great content for your Insta-feed.

The new Sky Bar by SEEN at Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Lisboa offers views St. Jorge's Castle, the River Tagus, the Arrbida Mountains and the Lisbon skyline. Pretty good stuff!

The La Corte pools are enchanting oases at Borgo Egnazia for the crystal-clear waters, local white stoneand Mediterranean gardens. Happy Instagramming!

Take in impressiveviews of the Swiss Alps, from the indoor poolrubber duck includedatKulm Hotel St. Moritz, which datesfrom the 19th century.

Last year's champion!Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantarais Insta-gold, even from its Entrance Archway.

Set within a natural amphitheater shaped by the vertical cliffs of Devil's Peak and Lion's Head sits Cape Town. An enviable spot in the city's fashionable Victoria & Alfred Waterfrontis One&Only Cape Town, with views of Table Mountain.

The rooftop pool at Avani+ Riverside Bangkok Hotel areenvy-inducing for its vantage point over the city skyline and Chao Phraya River.

The Silo in Cape Town, South Africa, a total Instagram darling. Our favorite spot is theRoyal Suite Bathroom.

Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort is located on a dramatic cliffside over the Indian Ocean. Terraced architecture ensures ocean viewsand great photosfrom every angle.

Situated on private beachfront along Jumeirah Beach overlooking The Palm Island Bay, One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai's best shot might be of the illuminatedcity that serves as the hotel's backdropgeran.

At resort village Hoshinoya Bali,guests canindulge in a breakfast picnic in the Caf Gazebo in the sky. Situated in lush, jungle green hills overlooking the Pakersan river, Hoshinoya Bali is ideal for guests seeking harmony and relaxation from the moment they step onto the property.

A photographpeering down one of Raffles Singapore'siconic verandah corridor is sure to be a hit with your followers.

Boutique hot springs ryokan KAI Sengokuhara, managed by Hoshino Resorts, offers Instagram-worthy moments around every corner. The best views are from your private onsen with views Mount Kintoki and forests.

Opened in 1923, La Mamounia has been symbolic of traditional Moroccan hospitality and a classic example of the great age of grand hotels.We love the black and white marble.

At Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort,spend the night observing Thailands elephants in their natural habitat while sleeping in unique transparent, fully equipped luxury jungle bubbles in the jungles of Thailand.

A highlight at Atlantis, The Palm? How aboutthe 32-foot Dale Chihuly sculpture in the Grand Lobby to Lost Chambers Aquarium, where guests can enjoy an underwater yoga class amongst 60,000 marine animals.

Surrounded by the clear waters of the Indian Ocean,One&Only Le Saint Gran is an iconic embodiment of Mauritius. The top Instagram spot on property is obviously the cabanas.

Club 53 at Rosewood Hong Konghas a range of full-service offerings for guests, but the highlight is thestunning marble indoor pool with views over the city and harbor.

Situated in Vietnam, Melia Ho Tram Beach Resort's most Instagrammable spot would have to be The Level Pool with its picture-perfect cabanas.

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Vote Now: The Most Instagrammable Hotel In The World 2020 - Luxury Travel Advisor

Travel bans, market chaos: Dizzying reaction to coronavirus spread around the world – TribLIVE

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ROME Sweeping travel bans cascaded around the globe Thursday, walling off countries and even entire continents, keeping people inside their homes, and slowing the engines of commerce to stem the coronavirus pandemic. Markets collapsed with the growing realization that there would be no fast end to the uncertainty.

After weeks downplaying the impact of the virus, U.S. President Donald Trumps announcement of strict rules barring most Europeans from entry came as a shock across the Atlantic. Within hours, even the European Unions passport-free travel came into question, with guards in places that had been without borders for more than a decade and airports shut down.

The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, noted that the vast majority of new cases of the COVID-19 illness are linked to Europe, which he called the new China. Deaths in Italy topped 1,000, with more than 15,000 testing positive.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, acknowledged that the United States was lagging other countries in testing for the virus to learn how widespread it really is.

It is a failing, lets admit it, he told lawmakers.

The European Union quickly slammed Trumps unilateral decision, declaring the virus a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action.

The virus detected three months ago in China has produced crippling outbreaks in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, ignited global financial panic and in the last week has seen dizzying developments erupt by the hour. European soccer leagues, American basketball tournaments, school terms for millions of students, weddings, baptisms, funerals, nightlife, culture high and low all fell by the wayside with a swiftness that was becoming increasingly difficult to grasp.

Britain Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose country was spared the U.S. travel ban, called the pandemic the worst public health crisis for a generation and said many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.

The illness edged closer to the worlds power centers: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he was self-isolating at home because his wife showed flu-like symptoms after her return from Britain, while the Brazilian presidents communications director tested positive just days after traveling to meet with Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

Developments in just one 24-hour period include an official designation of pandemic from the World Health Organization, the dramatic halt to much travel between the United States and 26 European countries, and infections being announced in rapid-fire pace by Hollywood celebrities, sports stars and political leaders as well as ordinary people on cruise ships. In Italys Lombardy region, the virus European epicenter, hospitals were overwhelmed with both the sick and the dead.

Its similar to what you might think of as an infectious disease equivalent of a major earthquake thats going to shake us for weeks and weeks, said Dr. Jeff Duchin a top public health official for the Seattle area, which has one of the biggest U.S. coronavirus outbreaks.

Across the board, European markets closed on one of their worst days in history, unswayed by new stimulus measures from the European Central Bank to buy up 120 billion euros ($132 billion) in bonds. An early fall of 7% on Wall Street triggered a trading halt amid the global sell-off, but rose slightly after the Federal Reserve announced it would inject up to $2 trillion into short-term lending markets.

More than 127,000 people in more than 110 countries have been infected. The vast majority are in just four countries: China and South Korea where new cases are declining and Iran and Italy, where they are not. The spread has slowed so much in China that the government sent a medical crew to Italy and offered surplus supplies to Iran and other countries in need.

More than 4,700 people have died worldwide.

Around the world, nursing homes emptied of visitors to protect the elderly, who are especially vulnerable to the virus.

In California, the governor advised officials to cancel any gatherings of more than 250 people, as well as any smaller meetings where people must be closer than 6 feet (2 meters). Congress shut the U.S. Capitol and House and Senate office buildings to the public until April 1, and the White House canceled tours.

In Italy, new restrictions closed restaurants, cafes and retail shops Thursday after the prime minister imposed a nationwide lockdown on personal movement. Grocery stores, pharmacies and outdoor markets were allowed to operate, as were newspaper stands.

Rosanna Farina, whose family has run a newspaper kiosk in Romes historic center since the 19th century, was torn on whether it was worth staying open.

So few people are out and about. People are terrorized, she said, wearing a scarf around her face. Id rather be home. Im worried, even if Im keeping a distance.

Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Lithuania Algeria and Slovakia joined the growing list of countries shutting down their school systems, and Europes most successful soccer team, Real Madrid, put all its players into quarantine after one tested positive. The Czech government said it would reimpose border checks and bar entry to people from 13 risk countries, including Britain and several in the European Union. Slovakia closed its international airports and ground transport hubs.

Even remote Mount Everest closed for business. Chinese mountaineering officials canceled spring climbs from their side of the mountain, while on the other side in Nepal, operators say cancellations were pouring in.

Europeans were adjusting to the American travel restrictions, which hit some of the worlds most heavily traveled routes and threw travel plans into chaos.

We were going to get married in Las Vegas, with Elvis. It was going to be epic, said Sandrine Reynaert, a Parisian who had to cancel the April 20 ceremony. Her future husband already has the date engraved in his ring.

Now Reynaert was canceling each step of the trip that, as well as Las Vegas, would have taken them to other iconic spots of Americana: Route 66, Joshua Tree National Park and the Grand Canyon.

Britain and Ireland were exempt, despite imposing far fewer restrictions in response to the virus than many EU countries, raising questions about the coherence of the U.S. policy. Trump accused Europe of not acting quickly enough to address the foreign virus and claimed that U.S. clusters were seeded by European travelers.

Across the U.S., where cases now number more than 1,300, a sense of urgency was pervasive.

Schools emptied of students and workplace cubicles went vacant. A rite of spring, college basketballs NCAA tournament, was to be played without fans, while the NBA decided their pros wont play at all for now. St. Patricks Day celebrations were called off across the U.S. and Ireland. In New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera shuttered. TV shows taped without audiences, rush-hour crowds in New York subway cars disappeared and families hunkered down, wondering what would come next.

If we avoid each other and listen to the scientists, maybe in a few weeks it will be better, said Koloud Kay Tarapolsi of Redmond, Washington, who has two children whose schools closed Thursday.

As the pandemic grips Europe and the U.S., it continues to ebb in China, where the first cases of COVID-19 emerged in December. It reported a record low of just 15 new cases Thursday. So far more than three-fourths of Chinas patients have recovered.

Most people infected by the new virus have only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, though symptoms can be severe, including pneumonia, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. Recovery for mild cases takes about two weeks, while more severe illness may take three to six weeks, according to the WHO.

Research published Wednesday found that the coronavirus can live in the air for several hours, and for as long as two to three days on some surfaces.

Among those newly testing positive were double Oscar winner Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson in Australia; Juventus defender Daniele Rugani in Italy; Irans senior vice president and two other Cabinet ministers; and Spains equality minister.

For 83-year-old Natalina De Santis, fear of germs led her to forgo all visits from her three adult children. She insists they leave care packages outside the door of her home in Rome, then goes to the balcony to wave.

If I get sick, what would my children do? she said in a telephone interview. Theyd have to come, they wont be able to leave me alone. So, to avoid all this, I stay in my home.

Categories:Coronavirus | News | U.S./World

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Live Coronavirus Updates and Coverage – The New York Times

Spain and France announced drastic, countrywide restrictions on Saturday to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Spain ordered all citizens to confine themselves to their homes and to leave only to buy food, go to work, seek medical care or assist the elderly and others in need.

Officials in Spain reported 1,500 new cases, the largest daily increase in the country so far, pushing its total to 5,753. The government ordered all schools, restaurants and bars to close, extending measures that various regional authorities, including in Madrid and in Catalonia, had taken on Friday.

Also on Saturday, Spanish authorities said the wife of Prime Minister Pedro Snchez, Begoa Gmez, had tested positive for the virus.

France announced the closing of all non-indispensable businesses as of midnight, including restaurants, bars, and movie theaters, after a sharp uptick in the assault from the coronavirus. French cases doubled over the last 72 hours to about 4,500. There have been 91 deaths, and 300 coronavirus patients are in critical condition half of them under 60 years of age.

The measures in both countries follow similar moves in Italy, the hardest hit country in Europe. Italy has been locked down since early in the week, with only groceries, pharmacies and banks allowed to operate. On Saturday, the country reported 175 new deaths, with a total of 1,441, and 2,795 new cases, with the total crossing 21,000.

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The Latest COVID-19 Policies From The Travel Corporation Brands – Luxury Travel Advisor

Several brands from The Travel Corporation, including The Red Carnation Hotel Collection, Luxury Gold and Insight Vacations haveupdated their precautionary measures and cancellation policy as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Red Carnation says it is following the recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition to these measures, it encourages travelers to learn more about what you can do to travel safer.

(The World Health Organization has several recommendations to reduce exposure to a range of illnesses, including hand and respiratory hygiene as well as safe food practices.)

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For guests who have booked a pre-pay rate and are due to stay between March 13 and December 31, 2020, you will have the option to amend your booking from 12 months of your planned arrival date. If you are able to claim your hotel stay via your travel insurance, please let Red Carnation know and it will arrange for any documents you require to be sent to you.

If you would like to book a future date, bookings may be cancelled one day prior to your arrival date without any fees being incurred.

Owing to the evolving COVID-19 situation and government travel advisories and restrictions, Insight Vacations is temporarily suspending operations in Europe, the UK and the Middle East of all guided vacations commencing from March 13 until April 30, 2020. Similarly, Luxury Gold is temporarily suspending operations in Europe, the U.K., the Middle East, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa of all guided vacations commencing from March 13 until April 30, 2020.

All guests currently booked on a guided vacation during this temporary suspension may change their travel dates or destination. We can assist you with your new date or destination for any time in 2020 or 2021, with a full credit of all monies paid for the land portion of the trip redeemable against your revised journey with Insight Vacations or another TTC brand (Luxury Gold, Trafalgar, Brendan Vacations, CostSaver, Uniworld, U by Uniworld) to any destination. If travel insurance was declined, you will be responsible for any change fees charged by the airline.

For guests with existing bookings to Europe, the UK and the Middle East (for Insight Vacations) or to Europe, the UK, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa (for Luxury Gold) departing from May 1 and more than 30 days from today for other destinations, or any new bookings being made, the brands are temporarily offering a fee waiver until 30 days prior to departure should guests wish to change their dates or travel to a different destination. Airlines may have different policies and penalty charges, which are the guests responsibility.

Guests currently traveling to the above destinations with Insight Vacations or Luxury Gold have the option to continue their travels or return home early and receive a pro rata travel credit for the unused land portion of their trip.

Trips operating in North America are operating as planned.

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My dream cruise is in tatters thanks to coronavirus here’s how it feels to be stranded at sea – Telegraph.co.uk

Cruise holidays are on hold, for the next month or so at least. The global cruise industry will voluntarily enforce a complete shutdown of operations in support of a worldwide effort to contain the spread of Covid-19. Ships will be returned to port, engines stalled, passenger cabins will lie empty, the many bars and restaurants on board will resemble ghost towns and theatres will fall silent.

But what happens when youre on one of the last cruises operating before the global pauseandstill weeks away from your intended disembarkation? Terri Shanks, an independent civil celebrant from Worthing, West Sussex is finding out. She's currently on board Holland America Lines Maasdam and shared the experience with Telegraph Cruise.

Shanks and her son Cameron, aged eight, are stranded in the South Pacific. Shanks, a single mother, withdrew Cameron from school in 2018 and spent her life savings on the ultimate adventure two years travelling the world. They are currently on what was meant to be a 35-night voyage from Auckland to San Diego.

They left Auckland on March 1, and were immediately told that both Tonga and the island of Niue wouldn't let the ship dock. Later, news came that Christmas Island had also refused entry. However, passengers did manage to go ashore in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand; three islands in Fiji; and Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

Just as we left Rarotonga news came in that French Polynesia were closing all ports for 30 days and this meant missing another five ports," says Shanks.

"Most significant was Papeete, Tahiti as some passengers and crew were meant to disembark or embark there. It was also the port where we were due to restock on fuel and food. We circled overnight before returning to Rarotonga and those passengers who were due to leave us had to disembark with all their luggage, via tender boat, in heavy sea swells. The captain said in his 40 years at sea he had never known a passenger disembarkation like it.

The disembarkation took place over two days, after which the ship left the Cook Islands, making its way towards Hawaii with a rescheduled itinerary and the aim of restocking fuel and food supplies before continuing to San Diego, where they were due to arrive on April 3.

On March 13 it was announced that US ports were cancelling all cruise operations and Holland America Line was suspending all cruises for 30 days.

"Our cruise will now be cut short and is aiming to end in Hilo, Hawaii on March 20 (two weeks early)," says Shanks.

"The reality though is that we dont even know if they will allow the ship to dock in Hilo, or let passengers disembark! There were rumours that the people of Hawaii wanted to send a flotilla of boats to stop us from docking, even though there is no coronavirus currently on the ship.

There are approximately 800 passengers on board Maasdam, with few Britons left, besides Shanks and her son. She says the atmosphere on board is mostly upbeat: Passengers are naturally disappointed, but understand that circumstances are beyond anyones control. There is a huge amount of support for the captain, cruise director and crew who are doing an exceptional job in incredibly difficult and stressful times. At this moment the crew do not know what their futures hold either for the immediate or long term and yet they are going out of their way to keep things going for the rest of us left on board."

Cameron is the last child remaining on the ship: He has gained loads of surrogate grandparents and is pretty much lapping up the attention! says Shanks.

He went up on the main stage with the cruise director and spoke to everyone about his round-the-world travel experience, so that was quite a proud parent moment.

Passengers are being encouraged to form special interest and skills groups. For example, some are giving language, music, astronomy lessons, and so on, to fill the long days at sea.

I am leading a travel chat group every evening in the crows nest, which encourages passengers to come together as a community for a storytelling session about their previous travel adventures," says Shanks.

She has also been busy posting updates on Facebook and Twitter pages. Many of the older people onboard are not electronically connected and have worried families back home struggling for information. I have, where possible, been trying to be the conduit between the two.

And where does this leave Terri and Cameron's overall travel plans?

In absolute tatters! she says. We dont know what the next step is as yet. We were due to have five weeks in the US on arrival before making our way via rail from Los Angeles to Seattle to connect with an Alaskan cruise, but we strongly suspect that will also now be cancelled. We have also been told that we will only be allowed to transit through the US and not stay there, even though we have accommodation and additional onward travel plans all booked and paid for there. Its the unknown and the lack of information which is most concerning at the moment.

But it has not put the intrepid pair off travelling, says Shanks. We appreciate these are unprecedented times and as soon as the coronavirus crisis has calmed down we shall most definitely be planning the next adventure as soon as possible.

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My dream cruise is in tatters thanks to coronavirus here's how it feels to be stranded at sea - Telegraph.co.uk

Virus Brings New Travel Restrictions, Lockdowns And Closures – Yeshiva World News

Daily life came to a grinding halt around much of the world Sunday amid new travel restrictions, border shutdowns and sweeping closures of restaurants and bars aimed to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The numbers of cases and deaths continued to rise, including in hard-hit Italy where 368 more deaths brought its overall toll to 1,809. With the country under a nearly week-old lockdown, Pope Francis ventured out of the Vatican to visit two churches in Rome to pray for the sick, a spokesman said.

Public worship was curtailed in many places as pastors gave sermons to empty pews or moved to online services. Muslim authorities announced that the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalems Old City would be closed indefinitely, and the Vatican said next months Holy Week services would not be open to the public.

Americans returning from abroad faced chaos at airports as overwhelmed border agents tried to screen passengers for illness.

In Spain, long lines for food and police patrols marked the first day of a nationwide quarantine. In the Philippines, soldiers and police sealed off the densely populated capital of Manila from most domestic travelers. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced plans to limit movement nationwide, and Lebanons government ordered a lockdown in the country, closing down Beiruts famed seaside corniche.

Ireland ordered all pubs and bars to close for two weeks including on Tuesday, St. Patricks Day and urged people not even to hold house parties. Two pub industry groups had warned of the real difficulty in keeping people apart in the countrys famous watering holes.

With new infections dwindling in Asia, Europe has become the main front line of the fight against COVID-19. The virus has infected 162,000 people and killed over 6,000, but nearly 75,000 people have already recovered.

China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Spain have the most infections. For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

People should go out only alone or with the people who live in their apartment, said Austrias Kurz, whose country has 800 infections.

That was echoed by one of Americas top infectious disease experts.

I think Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told NBCs Meet the Press.

Travelers returning to the U.S. after the Trump administration imposed a wide-ranging ban on people entering from Europe faced hourslong waits for medical screenings. Images on social media showed packed arrival halls and winding lines.

This is unacceptable, counterproductive and exactly the opposite of what we need to do to prevent #COVID19, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth tweeted.

The U.S. has seen 61 deaths and more than 2,900 infections.

Italy, the worst-hit European country, reported its biggest day-to-day increase in infections 3,590 more cases in a 24-hour period for a total of almost 24,747.

Its not a wave. Its a tsunami, said Dr. Roberto Rona, whos in charge of intensive care at the Monza hospital.

The Transport Ministry banned passengers from taking ferries to the island of Sardinia and halted overnight train trips, which many in the north had used to reach homes and families in the south.

Even as authorities pleaded for people to stay home, Pope Francis visited St. Mary Major Basilica, near Romes central train station, to pray for the sick, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

The 83-year-old pontiff then walked to another church with a crucifix that in 1522 was carried in a procession during a plague afflicting Rome. In his prayer, Francis has invoked the end of the pandemia that has stricken Italy and the world, implored healing for the many sick, recalled the many victims of these days and asked for consolation for their family and friends.

The Vatican said it would close all Holy Week ceremonies to the public starting with Palm Sunday on April 5. Although the statement did not specify Easter, which is celebrated on April 12, it appeared likely that restrictions on large gatherings might well continue in Italy. Holy Week services usually draw tens of thousands to Rome but, with Italy at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, tourism has vanished.

Spain was under lockdown amid a two-week state of emergency.

From now, we enter into a new phase, said Prime Minister Pedro Snchez, whose wife tested positive. We wont hesitate in doing what we need must to beat the virus. We are putting health first.

In Barcelona, there were long lines to buy bread. Police patrolled parks and told people who were not walking their dogs to go home. The Las Ramblas promenade, the heart of the city and a tourist magnet, was eerily empty.

The state of emergency is necessary to unify our efforts so we can all go in the same direction, Mayor Ada Colau said.

Spains Health Ministry said the country has recorded 288 deaths, up from 136 on Saturday. The number of infections rose to 7,753 from 5,700.

The Netherlands ordered all schools, day-care centers, restaurants and bars to close until April 6. The new restrictions cover the countrys famed marijuana-selling coffee shops and sex clubs.

Elsewhere, Morocco suspended all international flights, and Turkey set aside quarantine beds for more than 10,000 people returning from Islams holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

In China, where the virus was first detected in December, those arriving on overseas flights were routed to an exhibition center for initial checks before being shuttled to their homes or other quarantine locations.

Even as social life largely halted the German capital of Berlin closed bars, cinemas and other facilities Saturday evening some attempts at keeping up public life persisted.

France, which has 4,500 infections and 91 deaths, went ahead Sunday with nationwide elections to choose mayors and other local leaders despite a crackdown on gatherings. The government ordered unprecedented sanitary measures, with election organizers having to keep a 1-meter (3-foot) gap between people and provide soap or sanitizing gel and disinfectant wipes for voting machines.

In Germany, which had reported more than 4,800 cases and 12 deaths, the state of Bavaria also held municipal elections, with poll workers wearing protective gloves. Germany is preparing to partially close its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Denmark on Monday, and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said people will no longer be allowed to cross those borders without a valid reason, such as for work.

Britain, which has not yet restricted everyday activities, said it plans to set out emergency powers this week, including potentially requiring people over 70 to self-isolate for up to four months and banning mass gatherings.

We will do the right thing at the right time, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC. We will publish the bill this week coming.

Puerto Rico ordered nearly all businesses to close for next two weeks and set a nighttime curfew following confirmation of a fifth case.

Even Montenegro, with no confirmed cases, preemptively banned foreigners and ordered the closure of cafes, restaurants, shopping malls, fitness centers and playgrounds.

With the virus having reached 25 of Africas 54 countries, sweeping restrictions were announced. Kenya is banning travelers from countries with infections and closing all schools for three weeks.

Senegal and Mauritania also are closing schools. Senegal also banned all public gatherings for a month, stopping cruise ships from docking and suspending Muslim and Christian pilgrimages.

Muslim authorities announced that Jerusalems Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islams third-holiest site, would be closed indefinitely, with prayers being held on the sprawling esplanade outside.

Dalia Samhouri, a regional official with the World Health Organization, said both Iran and Egypt, two of the most populous countries in the Mideast, were likely underreporting cases because infected people can still show no visible symptoms. Iran says it has nearly 14,000 virus cases and 724 deaths, while Egypt has reported 110 cases, including two fatalities.


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Virus Brings New Travel Restrictions, Lockdowns And Closures - Yeshiva World News

Travel Brands, Remember Who You Really Serve The Traveling Public – Skift

With the travel industry and global economy buckling under the uncertainty of the coronavirus, it has become clear that leaders across travel failed in not only mitigating the scale of the crisis but have no idea how to engage effectively with their customers.

Aggressive marketing tactics employed by the travel industry confuse and alienate consumers, limiting customer loyalty in the process. Skift calls this phenomenon hate-selling, but the pushy online behavior of these brands has a serious real-world effect.

The arcane terms and conditions travelers accept are extremely anti-consumer in nature. Usually, it amounts to a financial hit on travelers who dont realize it costs money to switch flights or shift a hotel stay.

As the stability of the global travel sector has crumbled, and airlines have made their policies more flexible, consumers have begun to realize one thing very clearly: there is no actual reason for that $250 change fee or cancellation fee, its revenues-for-the-sake-of-revenues on the part of giant companies. Hotels, too, have been hesitant to allow customers to cancel or postpone their stays. Only in last few days have policies been relented, after all their systems have been overwhelmed.

Get the Latest on Coronavirus and the Travel Industry on Skifts Liveblog

Beyond the usual nickel-and-diming deployed by travel companies to boost revenue, the U.S. travel industry in particular has taken a bizarre stance to the panic gripping the world. Travel went from overtourism to no tourism in a matter of weeks and the industry leadership acts like this is just a bump in the road for their business.

More than 150 travel companies and groups signed a release earlier last week encouraging travelers to make fact-based decisions about traveling, the subtext being that the fake news media is misleading people on the severity of the pandemic.

The latest expert guidance indicates that for the overwhelming majority, its OK to live, work, play and travel in the U.S., reads the statement. By seeking and heeding the latest expert guidancewhich includes vigorous use of good health practices, similar to the preventive steps recommended for the seasonal fluAmericas communities will stay strong and continue to thrive. The decision to cancel travel and events has a trickle-down effect that threatens to harm the U.S. economy, from locally owned hotels, restaurants, travel advisors and tour operators to the service and frontline employees who make up the backbone of the travel industry and the American economy.

Its hard to grok what the intended effect of this statement even is. People should continue to travel because they owe it to businesses? The fear being experienced by consumers is based on lies being spread on the news?

The travel sector has an important role to play in flattening the curve of infection but has so far done everything in its power to not just resist a slowdown in movement but convince travelers to conduct their lives as they normally do.

With an eroded Federal government in the U.S., it remains unclear whether public health officials are giving sound advice on halting the spread of the virus or the public is being manipulated for political reasons in an election year. The contrast between the actions of Federal public health officials is striking when compared to state and local leaders who have closed down schools and entire cities.

The statement serves to underscore one thing in particular: the travel industry has a strangely delusional relationship with its customers, if it is a relationship at all. The individual traveler really doesnt matter; these companies look to drive a huge volume of bookings from travelers, in an age of big data, they see travelers as numbers and revenue instead of people. The collapse of business travel has been a crucial component to the unprecedented situation airlines and hotels now find themselves in.

In the era of Permanxiety, doubt and uncertainty have become common. The question of whether your family and community are about to be rocked by a highly infectious virus, however, represents something unprecedented in American life.

With the entire country of Italy under lockdown, the realization has dawned on many that life as usual will be interrupted by efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Protecting the most vulnerable among us, whether elderly or those with existing medical conditions, is not just sound decision making by leaders but the moral thing to do in an uncertain situation.

Travel brands, though, still act like everything will magically go back to normal once this phase passes, that this viral outbreak is like a natural disaster. It is tone-deaf and insulting, though, to imply that those taking precautions to protect themselves and their families by cancelling a trip are somehow at fault for their concern.

This has become a public relations boondoggle for travel brands with frustrated customers spending hours on customer support lines only to be kicked off, lied to about refunds, or told to call back later like they dont matter at all. This represents a huge reputation issue for legacy travel brands.

As the full extent of the coronavirus epidemic is being exposed in real time, its doubly surprising that more than 150 of travels most powerful groups couldnt see a black swan event like this coming. They are, after all, stationed all over the world with insight into demand and habits of both travelers and locals.

Why is travel, with its global footprint and deep insight into consumer habits, always slow to react appropriately during a crisis? It could be the fragmentation of the industry, perhaps, or the big business priorities created by a couple decades of consolidation.

Major airlines are adding liquidity and furloughing workers at the same time they publicly message that everything is just fine, theyre working through a problem like they usually do. Hotel chains have been quiet, mainly because they are really franchising companies that will cut costs while their franchisees fold over the next few months due to high labor costs and expensive debt payments.

Tour operators are cancelling trips through April and cruise lines are shutting down too. Even if consumer demand returns quickly, there may not be enough supply to satisfy companies desperate for profit after a few months of no business. Whatever ends up happening, the crisis portends a possible two-year downturn for travel at large after a decade of explosive growth.

The fear is real and consumers are spending less. Were probably about to see a recession in the States based on the collapse of spending by U.S. consumers. Its easy to make the choice between a roll of toilet paper and a trip to Rome when so much uncertainty has been unleashed. Those in Europe about to be locked down may not be so keen for that weekend trip to Barcelona this summer when they cant afford rent. The Chinese consumer who has helped supercharge the travel industry in recent years, too, will be less apt to splurge on that world tour. Government revenue and local economies will buckle as a result of decreased traveler spending and tax income.

With the airline sector in free-fall, particularly in Europe, much will be made of the nervy confidence the industry projected over the last few years and the speed at which it all fell apart. This doesnt bode well for the financial future of the airlines and will almost certainly touch off another wave of consolidation in the sector. Beyond that, connectivity will be reduced around the world on less lucrative routes.

Given the timing of Chinas reopening to the world, the U.S. travel industry can expect at least three months of disruption, eviscerating the lucrative summer travel season in the process. The knock-on effects of reduced demand will continue for some time after.

The optimistic take is that travel has grown so quickly since the Great Recession that when this crisis ends, it will be well-positioned to start growing again. The baseline is higher than ever before, the juicy pie bigger and ready to be sliced anew.

A more pessimistic view is that big companies will shudder and collapse because of their size and inflexibility, leading to a protracted slowdown and the emergence of upstarts who upend the status quo.

The biggest players in travel, with large head counts and huge overhead, are most threatened right now.

Its time for travel to adapt to the reality of this moment: the good times are over and it will probably be years before things return to normal, if they ever do. In an existential crisis, travel brands would be wise to remember who they really serve: the traveling public.

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Photo Credit: FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 28, 2020 file photo, two waiters wait for customers in a restaurant at St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy. With the coronavirus emergency deepening in Europe, Italy, a focal point in the contagion, risks falling back into recession as foreign tourists are spooked from visiting its cultural treasures and the global market shrinks for prized artisanal products, from fashion to design. Claudio Furlan / Lapresse via AP

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Travel Brands, Remember Who You Really Serve The Traveling Public - Skift

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Customized travel Market will touch a new level in upcoming year with Top Key Players like TCS World Travel, DuVine Cycling & Adventure Co,...

Corona virus affecting the tourism industry worldwide – Travel Daily News International

Tourism is entering a great crisis due to the worldwide panic of the Corona Virus, duration and scope still unknown, which is leading to the stock market crash continued for a week to all the giants of the sector. The impact of the Covid-19 Corona Virus on world tourism is unquestionable, and the authorities' forecasts are based on previous experiences with similar crises such as that of SARS or H1N1.

Chinas tourism industry will be most affected due to the virus since tourism represents 11% of their GDP in recent years, growing in a steady rate of 7%. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) through a joint statement have asked the tourism sector that their response to the outbreak of the Corona Virus be "measured, consistent and proportionate" to the threat posed for public health. Closing borders, prohibiting travel in general and more extreme government policies will not stop the spread of the Corona Virus, said the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

Hotels, airlines, and cruise operators are just a few of the hardest hit travel industries that suffer the most immediate repercussions, mainly when the outbreak occurs during the Lunar New Year, one of the busiest travel seasons in Asia.

The impact of the Corona Virus on companies is already global with cancellations of trips, public events, temporary employment adjustments, and falls in income. One of the most extreme cases in Spain is that of the Zurich insurer, which has cancelled all trips of its 2,000 employees both inside and outside of Spain and obliges those who are on a journey to return.

In Europe, Lufthansa's proposal stands out, which has offered its staff unpaid permits to counteract the negative effects of cancelling flights to China, which will leave 13 planes on the ground. Other companies such as BBVA have cancelled their employees' trips to the four affected Italian regions, to Japan, Iran, South Korea, Singapore and China. Deutsche Bank also cancelled all trips to Italy.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that global air transport revenues will be reduced by 5% this year, which means 29.3 billion dollars less (about 27,000 million Euros), while OPEC has lowered global demand of oil to 19%, 100.73 million barrels per day. The tourism industry is now in unchartered territory with significant losses reported already worldwide panic of the Corona Virus is also seen in the stock market collapses that for days have affected all major airlines, operators and hotels, such as the American, European and Asian ones.

Also, the US authorities dealt a great blow to world tourism, because before the alarm by the Corona Virus the Administration that presides over Donald Trump appealed to companies and public centers to avoid travel and large meetings. These measures will no doubt have a large impact on peoples travel arrangements to one of the most popular leisure destinations in the US in Las Vegas, as authorities will now seek to limit peoples face-to-face interactions, something that should have a positive knock-on effect on the ability of online casino and online betting sites worldwide to capitalize on their shortcomings in the coming weeks.

In China, on the other hand, there is now growing optimism that the epidemic will get under control by late April. Renowned pulmonologist Zhong Nanshan, head of the team of medical experts at the National Health Commission of China, has said that his country is confident of having the outbreak of Corona Virus under control at the end of April, as planned.

The Corona Virus has convulsed the world tourism industry, with large hotel chains and digital platforms such as Booking being forced to cancel reservations in the Asian country. The tourism industry faces an unprecedented confluence of threats - made up of a global health alarm; the shortage of aircraft due to the crisis of the Boeing 737 Max; the social demonization of travel; exaggerated and even false media offensives; climate catastrophes; sector taxes; bankruptcies of operators and airlines; and the political instability and economic slowdown in the large markets - which hints at least a global contraction for the tourism business in the near future.

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Corona virus affecting the tourism industry worldwide - Travel Daily News International

TUI suspends vast majority of travel operations | News – Breaking Travel News

Tour operator TUI has temporarily suspends the vast majority of all travel operations due to an outbreak of Covid-19 around the world.

A statement from the company said: In this rapidly changing environment the safety and welfare of our guests and employees worldwide remains of paramount importance and thus TUI Group has decided, in line with government guidelines, to suspend the vast majority of all travel operations until further notice, including package travel, cruises and hotel operations.

This temporary suspension is aimed at contributing to global governmental efforts to mitigate the effects of the spread of the Covid-19.

In light of the move, the executive board of the Germany-based company has also decided to withdraw the financial guidance from 2020.

Due to the unprecedented escalation of Covid-19, the board of TUI are continuously evaluating the situation and are considering a variety of actions to support our customers, colleagues and stakeholders, added a statement.

TUI said it had cash and available facilities of approx. 1.4 billion and year-to-date performance had been in-line with expectations prior to Covid-19.

The company added it would apply for state aid guarantees to support the business until normal operations are resumed.

We are taking substantial cost measures to mitigate the earnings effect, the company added.

TUI Group is a leading integrated tourism group operating in more than 100 destinations worldwide.

In financial year 2019, TUI Group recorded turnover of around 19 billion and an operating result of 893 million.

The group employs more than 70,000 people worldwide.

TUI offers its 28 million customers, including 21 million customers in European national companies, integrated services from a single source.


For all the latest from Breaking Travel News on the coronavirus pandemic, take a look here.

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TUI suspends vast majority of travel operations | News - Breaking Travel News

Coronavirus: Virgin Atlantic asks staff to take eight weeks of unpaid leave – Sky News

Virgin Atlantic staff will be asked to take eight weeks of unpaid leave over the next three months, to help the airline cope during the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline is one of many to have brought in drastic measures to cope with a fall in passenger demand, due to global travel restrictions and the reluctance to travel due to the disease.

Bosses said the cost would be spread over six months' salary to "drastically reduce costs without job losses".

Also on Monday:

Shares in IAG closed 27% down while easyJet's stock lost almost 20%.

Shares in TUI fell by more than 30% at one stage but recovered to be almost 12.7% lower while Ryanair also shed 12.7%.

The falls chimed with a series of warnings relating to the aviation and tourism sectors.

One consultancy claimed most of the world's airlines could be bankrupt by the end of May without help from the government and industry.

The CAPA Centre for Aviation, an airline analysis and consulting firm based in Australia, spoke up as airlines worldwide cut schedules and staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Demand is drying up in ways that are completely unprecedented," CAPA said in a report. "Normality is not yet on the horizon."

The UK's travel association, Abta, issued a similar appeal for government help and urged acceptance of its recommendation that refund credits should be accepted as an alternative to cash refunds where trips had to be cancelled.

Many countries have closed borders to arrivals or have announced compulsory self-isolation, leading to a sharp fall in demand for air travel.

The US has banned all flights from Europe, including the UK, while countries including Israel, Australia and New Zealand have said all arrivals will have to spend 14 days in isolation on arrival.

On Sunday, Sky News reported that Britain's airline industry needs emergency government support worth up to 7.5bn to avert a catastrophe that would wipe out tens of thousands of jobs.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News he will meet transport sector chiefs this week.

He said: "We understand this is a crisis like we haven't seen before, where businesses which are otherwise sustainable, otherwise good businesses, of course should be able to survive through this situation.

"That's what we're going to try and put in place for all businesses and individuals in this country, as we join this great national effort to defeat this virus."

When asked if the government was minded to bail out airlines, he was non-committal but said "discussions with the sector are ongoing".

In other coronavirus-related aviation news:

The World Travel and Tourism Council last week warned that up to 50 million jobs globally were at risk in the sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nigel Frith, a senior market analyst at AskTraders, said the virus outbreak had caused the "biggest crisis to hit the industry, worse than 9/11".

He added: "This is no longer just the smaller players like Flybe who are being affected. Industry big shots such as British Airways is even warning over its survival. It wouldn't be surprising if governments are forced to step in to prop up some airlines.

"The big questions here are how quickly will the virus pandemic last? how quickly will countries re-open borders? And how willing to travel will the public be? The answers to these questions are unknown but will ultimately decide the fate of the airline industry."

As of 9am on Monday, 1,543 people had tested positive for coronavirus - and figures from Sunday show 35 people in the UK have died since being diagnosed.

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Coronavirus: Virgin Atlantic asks staff to take eight weeks of unpaid leave - Sky News

U.S. Will Drop Limits on Virus Testing, Pence Says – The New York Times

All federal limits on testing will be lifted, Pence says.

Vice President Mike Pence said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was lifting all restrictions on testing for coronavirus, and would be releasing new guidelines to fast-track testing for people who fear they have the virus, even if they are displaying mild symptoms.

Today we will issue new guidance from the C.D.C. that will make it clear that any American can be tested, no restrictions, subject to doctors orders, Mr. Pence told reporters at the White House.

The federal government has promised to significantly ramp up testing, after drawing criticism for strictly limiting testing in the first weeks of the outbreak. But health care supply companies and public health officials have cast doubt on the governments assurances, as complaints continue that the need for testing remains far greater than the capacity.

The estimates were getting from industry right now by the end of this week, close to a million tests will be able to be performed, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Stephen Hahn, said at a White House briefing on Monday.

But some companies developing tests say their products are still weeks away from approval.

And even if a million test kits were available, public health laboratories say they would not be able to process nearly that many within a week. A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said on Monday that public health labs currently can test 15,000 people daily, though that figure is expected to grow.

The F.D.A. said that Dr. Hahn was taking into account the anticipated increased production of test kits by an outside manufacturer, Integrated DNA Technologies, which is now selling kits to the federal government and other buyers.

The C.D.C. botched the first attempt to mass produce a diagnostic kit, a discovery made only after hundreds of kits had been shipped to state laboratories. A promised replacement took several weeks, and still did not permit state and local laboratories to make final diagnoses.

Right now, Id say wed need more capacity, Dr. Hahn said at the White House briefing.

The Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed on Tuesday that a veteran had tested positive for the virus and was transferred to the V.A. hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., presenting the federal government with a new challenge a coronavirus infection in its sprawling veterans health care system.

The patient was diagnosed on Monday and is being cared for in isolation, a V.A. spokeswoman said on Tuesday. It was not clear whether local public health officials had already announced the case; Santa Clara County, Calif., has had several previous coronavirus cases, including two announced on Tuesday without any specifics.

The veterans health system, responsible for caring for more than nine million former service members, has been struggling with an overhaul of its $16 billion medical records system, which has been delayed amid technical and training glitches.

Last week, the U.S. military announced its first active-duty case, an American soldier stationed in South Korea, the country with the second-largest coronavirus outbreak after China. In response, Army officials closed the office buildings the infected soldier had used, called off social events on the base and sent clean teams to disinfect anywhere the soldier had been. A civilian employee at another American military base in South Korea has also tested positive for the virus.

President Trump said on Tuesday that he may further tighten limits on international travel in hopes of blocking the arrival of more visitors infected by coronavirus, but he ruled out for now any restrictions on domestic travel within the United States.

Were not looking at that at all. Theres only one hot spot, he told reporters. But were looking at other countries and were being very stringent.

The Trump administration has already imposed limits on travel from China, barred all travel to Iran and issued warnings to Americans not to travel to parts of Italy and South Korea.

Later, at the National Institutes of Health, Mr. Trump added that he was not actively considering restrictions on travel to Mexico but expressed concern about Japan, which is hosting the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and has just constructed a new stadium for the competition.

I dont know what theyre going to do, he said. They have this fabulous facility.

As for Mexico, he played down the prospect of travel limits. Were not looking at it very strongly, he said. Were not seeing a lot of evidence in that area.

Two people who died last week in the Seattle area were infected with coronavirus, officials said on Tuesday, suggesting that the virus had spread in that region days earlier than health officials had previously known.

That brought the death toll in Washington State, and in the United States, to nine. So far, those deaths have all been in the Seattle area.

The confirmation of additional deaths adds to an escalating emergency in a region that has rapidly emerged as a focal point for the virus in the United States, where there have now been at least 120 cases of coronavirus in more than a dozen states, as local health authorities from coast to coast raced to assess the risk to schools, medical centers and businesses.

The other deaths, all announced over the last few days, included residents of a nursing care facility in Kirkland, a Seattle suburb.

Health officials in North Carolina announced that states first case of coronavirus on Tuesday afternoon. They said the patient there had traveled to Washington and been exposed at a long-term care facility where there was an outbreak, an apparent reference to the Life Care nursing center in Kirkland, Wash.

The North Carolina patient was said to be doing well and isolated at home in Wake County.

Officials in Washington State were rushing to take steps to contain the spread. Health officials were asking the State Legislature for an additional $100 million in funding to help respond to the virus. Some leaders were weighing more widespread closings of events, and around Seattle, immediate steps were being taken.

In King County, officials were in the process of purchasing a motel in the region that could house people needing isolation. They were also working to repurpose modular homes that had been originally meant to be used by homeless people.

When the coronavirus first broke out in January, its impact on the travel and hospitality businesses appeared limited to China. But the outbreak has now spread to every continent except Antarctica, and the cities and industries that rely heavily on travel and tourism are bracing for pain.

One city that is anxiously watching the spread of the virus is Las Vegas, which had more than 42.5 million visitors last year, 6.6 million of them to attend business conferences, according to the citys Convention and Visitors Authority.

Some big upcoming conferences have already been canceled, including an annual Adobe Systems event with 20,000 attendees and celebrity speakers like Gwyneth Paltrow and Tom Brady. Adobe said it planned to host portions of the event online.

Major companies like Facebook, Twitter and Intel have said their employees will not attend the popular South by Southwest festival in Austin, Tex., which starts next week, but organizers insisted on Tuesday that the festival would go on.

The New York subway will be disinfected every 72 hours, officials say.

If theres one place where being packed in close quarters with crowds of strangers is unavoidable, it is the New York City subway system well known not just to the locals, but to millions of tourists and anyone who has ever watched a television show or movie set in the city. And that makes it a focus of public worry about contagion.

Officials said on Monday that industrial-grade disinfectants would be used to clean everything from train cars to MetroCard machines every 72 hours. The safety of our customers and employees is our first priority as we continue to monitor the coronavirus, said Patrick T. Warren, chief safety officer at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

From Monday evening to midday Tuesday, transit workers disinfected nearly all of the systems 472 subway stations, more than 1,900 subway cars and nearly 2,000 buses, officials said. Transit officials in neighboring New Jersey, which has its own vast commuter rail and bus network, have also ramped up its cleaning regimen.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends keeping essential services like public transit in operation, in part so that health care workers and other emergency responders can get to work.

Other major cities experiencing outbreaks have announced similar precautions. In Tehran, public health officials have said they are disinfecting buses at least four times a day and cleaning trains after each trip. In Italy, buses, trains and ferries are also being disinfected regularly.

Although research on the coronavirus is still in the early stages, a 2011 study on a possible influenza outbreak in New York City found that only 4 percent of infections would occur on the subway.

Iran frees 54,000 inmates to avoid spread in prisons.

The number of people in Iran infected by the coronavirus surged past 2,300, the death toll rose to 77, and the countrys head of Parliament said that nearly two dozen lawmakers had tested positive and should avoid meeting with members of the public, the authorities announced on Tuesday.

The new tallies were reported as the judiciary, apparently hoping to minimize the risk of contagion in Irans penal system, said it had temporarily freed more than 54,000 prisoners considered to be symptom-free. But it was unclear from the announcement how many of the prisoners had actually been tested, given the shortage of testing equipment in Iran.

Gholamhossein Esmaili, a judiciary spokesman, who announced the prisoner releases, did not specify whether any of the reported cases or deaths so far have included prisoners.

Iran now has 2,336 reported cases, more than any country other than China and South Korea, and 11 more people have died, according to figures cited by the deputy health minister, Alireza Raisi, on state TV.

State news media reported on Tuesday that Ahmad Toysarkani, an adviser to the judiciary, was among those who had died. The virus has been felt at the highest levels of Iranian society, with Masoumeh Ebtekar, the presidents deputy for womens affairs and the highest-ranking woman in the government, among those who have become infected.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, was pictured in state news media wearing plastic gloves, and he told the Iranian people to follow medical advice to help combat the outbreak, saying anything that facilitates its spread is a sin.

The death toll in Italy surges while the pope has a common cold.

The death toll in Italy jumped to 79 on Tuesday, an increase of 27 deaths in one day, Italian officials said.

Those who had died in the previous 24 hours ranged in age from 55 to 101, said Angelo Borrelli, the head of Italys Civil Protection Agency who is coordinating the countrys response to the crisis.

Most were over 70, and some had pre-existing conditions. But for the others, we still arent sure, he said at a news conference in Rome.

Of the 2,502 infections so far up from the 1,835 announced on Monday 90 percent were located in the northern Italian regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna, Mr. Borrelli said. Italy has had by far the largest outbreak outside of Asia.

Meanwhile, the Vatican said Tuesday that Pope Francis was ailing with a common cold, and did not have symptoms that could be related to other pathologies.

On Tuesday, France, which has the second highest number of cases in Europe, announced 21 new cases of coronavirus on its soil, raising the total number of cases to 212. A top official at Frances health ministry also announced one new fatality from the virus, a 92-year-old man in the western Morbihan region, bringing the death toll up to four.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Tuesday morning a second confirmed case of the coronavirus in New York, saying that a man in his 50s in Westchester County, just outside of New York City, had tested positive.

The man initially went to a hospital in Westchester about four or five days ago, before it was confirmed he had the virus, the authorities said, acknowledging that he may have exposed doctors, nurses and others to the infection.

On Tuesday, health officials told the mans synagogue, Young Israel of New Rochelle, to call off its religious services for the foreseeable future. Citing guidance from state officials, the county also told congregants who attended Shabbat services on Feb. 22 or went to a funeral or a bat mitzvah there on Feb. 23 to quarantine themselves; the county said it would order quarantines if the affected people did not do so voluntarily.

The patient, whose test was confirmed overnight in New York City, is a lawyer who works in Manhattan and lives in New Rochelle. Mr. Cuomo said the new patient had an underlying respiratory illness and is now at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in the city. The mayors office said he was in serious condition.

Though he traveled recently to Miami, he had not traveled to any of the areas that are known hubs of transmission for the virus. For New York, this means the new coronavirus can no longer be thought of as an external threat that has yet to arrive.

Health authorities in New York are now scrambling to trace the chain of transmission in both directions: who infected him, and who he may have infected.

Two of the mans children have links to New York City. One child attends a Jewish high school in Riverdale, which was closed on Tuesday as a precaution. The other, a college student in the city who officials believed lives on campus, has exhibited symptoms associated with the illness.

Both of them have been quarantined and are being tested for coronavirus, according to Mr. de Blasio.

On Sunday, officials announced the states first case, a 39-year-old woman in Manhattan who had been visiting Iran, one of the epicenters of the viruss rapid worldwide spread.

Symptoms of the infection include fever, cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, and gastrointestinal problems or diarrhea.

Serious cases cause lung lesions and pneumonia. But milder cases may resemble the flu or a cold, making detection of the more deadly coronavirus difficult.

Current estimates suggest that symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days after exposure.

If you think youre sick, stay home, except to get medical care. If you have symptoms, the C.D.C recommends that you call a medical professional if you have recently been in an area with a coronavirus outbreak, or have had close contact with someone who has been to such an area.

Fed rate cut fails to quell investor fears of a coronavirus hit to the economy.

The Federal Reserve delivered the emergency rate cut investors had been clamoring for at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. The market rally that followed lasted about 15 minutes.

By the end of trading on Tuesday, stocks were sharply lower and bond yields had plummeted to previously unthinkable lows, suggesting that investors think theres little the Federal Reserve can do to keep the coronavirus from hammering the U.S. economy.

The S&P 500 fell about 2.8 percent, undoing much of Mondays 4.6 percent surge. The yield on 10-year Treasury notes dropped below 1 percent.

Both moves suggest investors see growing threats to the outlook for economic growth and corporate profits over the next 10 months.

Economists around the globe sharply downgraded their economic growth expectations for the year. JPMorgan Chase economists and market analysts estimated that investors are pricing in a 90 percent chance of recession, according to a research note published Tuesday afternoon.

India curbs medicine exports, affecting supplies worldwide.

In response to the epidemic, the government of India on Tuesday curbed exports of 26 drugs and drug ingredients, including a wide range of antibiotics and certain vitamins, meaning that the new coronavirus could soon have ripple effects on people worldwide with other ailments.

The world relies heavily on Indias huge pharmaceutical industry for generic drugs, but Indian officials are concerned about safeguarding the supply for their own country.

Indian drug makers depend on Chinese factories for key drug ingredients, particularly for antibiotics and vitamins. The Covid-19 outbreak in China and quarantine of Hubei province, where much of the production is centered, has severely hampered Chinas ability to produce those ingredients.

Although Indian companies had stockpiled extra ingredients ahead of the annual Lunar New Year holiday, those reserves are now running low.

Its unclear whether Indias exports of the specified drugs will be completely stopped. The governments order said that exports of the drugs are restricted, which means a government permit is required before they can be shipped out of the country.

The antibiotics facing export limits are tinidazole, metronidazole, chloramphenicol, erythromycin salts, neomycin, clindamycin salts and ornidazole.

Other drugs on the restricted list include the painkiller acetaminophen, the hormone progesterone, the antiviral drug aciclovir, and the vitamins B1, B6 and B12.

Cruise ship passengers in the U.S. being released from quarantine.

Many of the more than 120 American evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan were set to be released from quarantine on Tuesday from a military base in Texas, after state and local officials said the C.D.C. modified its release protocol in response to their concerns.

The former passengers have been at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio for roughly two weeks since being evacuated from the cruise ship. Those being released have tested negative for the virus and have not shown symptoms while in quarantine.

They were scheduled to go home on Monday, but their release was delayed at the urging of San Antonio and Texas state officials. The city tried and failed to obtain a federal court order barring the C.D.C. from releasing more people.

None of those released on Tuesday will stay at local hotels, city officials said, but instead will be taken on buses from the air base to the airport.

Quarantined people who have been infected must be symptom-free and have two negative test results within 24 hours are eligible for release.

Reporting and research were contributed by Jennifer Steinhauer, Katie Rogers, Christina Goldbaum, Reed Abelson, Sarah Kliff, Azi Paybarah, Jesse McKinley, Katie Thomas, Knvul Sheikh, Choe Sang-Hun, Peter Baker, Benjamin Mueller, Marc Santora, Joseph Goldstein, Michael Gold, Luis Ferre-Sadurni, Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper, Roni Caryn Rabin, Russell Goldman, Paul Mozur, Raymond Zhong, Noah Weiland, Emily Cochrane, Aaron Krolik, Claire Fu, Elaine Yu, Elisabetta Povoledo, Vindu Goel, Manny Fernandez, Mitch Smith, Patrick J. Lyons, Richard Prez-Pea, Dagny Salas, Iliana Magra and Constant Meheut.

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U.S. Will Drop Limits on Virus Testing, Pence Says - The New York Times

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Travel – How the humble potato changed the world – BBC News

In his 1957 essay collection Mythologies, the French philosopher and literary critic Roland Barthes called chips (la frite), a food that comes from a crop native to the Americas, patriotic and the alimentary sign of Frenchness.

Despite its origins in the Andes, its an incredibly successful global food

Just a century earlier, a potato disease prompted a famine that halved Irelands population in a few years, producing a decades-long cascading effect of social and economic turmoil. And as you read these lines, the worlds leading potato producers today are China, India, Russia and Ukraine, respectively.

Despite these nations intimate and complicated relationships with potatoes, and how intertwined their societies and economies are with them, none can truly call them native. The humble potato was domesticated in the South American Andes some 8,000 years ago and was only brought to Europe in the mid-1500s, from where it spread west and northwards, back to the Americas, and beyond.

Despite its origins in the Andes, its an incredibly successful global food, said food historian Rebecca Earle, whos tracing the potatos planetary journey in a forthcoming book called Feeding the People: The Politics of the Potato. Its grown practically everywhere in the world, and practically everywhere, people consider it one of our foods.

For the rest of the world beyond the Andes, the potato might not be autochthonous, but it feels local. Earle calls it the world's most successful immigrant, as its origin has become unrecognisable for producers and consumers everywhere. Idaho farmers in the US and gnocchi-loving Italians will claim the potato as much as any Peruvian, because its story is not only that of a country or of a region, but an account of how humans have reconfigured their relationship with land and food within a few generations.

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The potato is the worlds fourth-most important crop after rice, wheat and maize, and the first among non-grains. How could an Andean tuber persuade the world, in just a few centuries, to adopt it so completely? What made the potato so irresistible was its unrivalled nutritional value, its relative easiness to cultivate as compared to some major cereals, its ability to easily navigate wars and tax censuses due to its knack for hiding underground from collectors, and in particular, its camaraderie with working men and women in the fields.

A good place to understand its origins is the International Potato Center (IPC), a research-for-development centre that researches and promotes all things potato-related. Its set in an arid suburb in the Peruvian capital, Lima, and harbours a collection of thousands of potato samples from across the continent. The Andes is where the biggest genetic diversity lies, but you can find potatoes from Chile to the United States, Ren Gmez, senior curator at the IPC genebank, told me there.

He explained that potatoes were domesticated high in the Andes, near Lake Titicaca, nearly 1,000km south-east of Lima. Following domestication, these early potatoes spread through the cordillera and became a crucial food supply for indigenous communities, including the Inca, particularly as a staple foodstuff called chuo, a freeze-dried potato product that can last years or even decades.

Out of the Americas

In 1532, the Spanish invasion brought an end to the Inca but not to the cultivation of potatoes. The invaders took tubers (the underground parts of the plant we call potatoes) across the Atlantic, as they did with other crops such as tomatoes, avocados and corn, in what historians call the Great Columbian Exchange. For the first time in history, the potato ventured beyond the Americas.

These early Andean varieties had a tough time adjusting to Spain and other parts of mainland Europe. Day length is very constant across the year in the equatorial region where potatoes first were domesticated, so the potato plant was used to regular days with 12 hours of sunlight, said evolutionary geneticist Hernan A Burbano Roa.

European long summer days confused the potato plant, and tubers didnt grow during the favourable warmer months; instead, they did so in the autumn, too close to the frosty early winter days to survive. The first decades of planting in the Old Continent proved unsuccessful.

But then potatoes found better conditions in Ireland, where a cool but frost-free fall gave the crop enough time to mature after its introduction from Spain in the 1580s. A century of farmer selection produced a variety that set tubers earlier in the summer, and the potato took the mantle it would carry for centuries: the staple crop of peasants.

The humble tuber

Villagers prized potatoes because they provided an unmatched nutritional yield per hectare. In Ireland in particular, tenants rented the land they tilled, so as lords increased their fees, they were forced to produce as much food as possible in the smallest possible area. No crop produced more food per acre, demanded less cultivation and stored as easily as the potato, wrote sociologist James Lang in his book Notes of a Potato Watcher.

Potatoes contain nearly every important vitamin and nutrient, except vitamins A and D, making their life-supporting properties unrivalled by any other single crop. Keep their skin and add some dairy, which provides the two missing vitamins, and you have a healthy human diet staple. You even have 2g of protein for every 100g of potato; eat 5.5 kilos per adult per day, if ones to believe some estimates of consumption in mid-1600s Ireland, and you have a good supply.

For landless tenants in 17th- and 18th-Century Ireland, a single acre of land cultivated with potatoes and one milk cow was nutritionally sufficient for feeding a large family of six to eight. No cereal could claim that feat. Thus, began the centuries-long captivation among Irish and British peasants with the potato, grounded in rented earth and scarcity.

From the British Isles, potatoes spread eastwards across peasant fields in Northern Europe, writes Lang: they were found in the Low Countries by 1650, in Germany, Prussia and Poland by 1740 and in Russia by 1840s. After farmer-selection filtered out those varieties and genes less adapted to local climate conditions, it flourished.

Villagers in the war-ravaged European plains, by conflicts such as the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War, quickly discovered another advantage of planting potatoes: they were really hard to tax and plunder. If you have a field of wheat, its really visible. You cant hide it, said Earle, who claims tax collectors can visually measure their size and return in time for the harvest. But underground potatoes are well hidden, and you can dig them up one by one, as needed. Such piecemeal harvesting hid the crop from tax collectors and protected the peasants food supply in the war time, said Lang in his book. Marauding soldiers laid waste to field crops and raided grain stores. They rarely stopped to dig up an acre of spuds.

The elites and military strategists of the time noticed this. Prussias King Frederick the Great ordered his government to distribute instructions on how to plant potatoes, hoping peasants would have food if enemy armies invaded during the War of the Austrian Succession in 1740. Other nations followed suit and by the time of the Napoleonic wars in the early 1800s, the potato had become Europes food reserve, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations (FAO).

In fact, tubers were such a valued crop during wartime that every military campaign on European soil after about 1560 resulted in an increase in potato acreage, down to and including World War Two, wrote historian William McNeill in his 1999 essay How the Potato Changed the World's History.

Nutrition and power

In a matter of centuries, potatoes entered the European and global economies as a staple crop. For decades, food historians (such as those noted in this FAO booklet from 2008) have explained this spread as the result of well-meaning Enlightened sages obsessed with the nutritional properties of the tubers that managed to persuade a reluctant and conservative populace to adopt the potato.

But Earle has her doubts. It was peasants who adapted the potato to Europe, she argues, thus they needed no persuading. Elites did not discover a new crop, but rather, they had a novel idea of what healthy food was. Instead of placing a superfood in the middle of European diet, they realised that nutrition needed to take a more central role and looked around for those crops that might serve their purpose. The humble tuber was already there.

Enlightened discussions of population, and what its health meant for the power of the state, changed political calculations during the 18th Century, and also the fortunes of the potato. If a strong, numerous population was crucial for economic production and military might, the state needed to understand and manage the nutritional components of what people were eating. Abundant, healthy food became central to Empire-building, Earle writes in her 2018 paper Promoting Potatoes in Eighteenth-Century Europe. Thus, she argues, the fascination with potatoes does not come from the emergence of a new crop, but from novel European ideas of the relationship between food and the state.

In this regard, the potato was unrivalled. The food produced by a field of potatoes is much superior to what is produced by a field of wheat, wrote Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations. No food can afford a more decisive proof of its nourishing quality, or of its being peculiarly suitable to the health of the human constitution. But while Smith was right in highlighting the potatos virtues, it was peasants and not the elites that made potatoes a fixture of European gardens and farms.

A question of measuring arises, Earle admits. How did scholars like Smith and his contemporaries compare nutritional value? In the 18th Century, scientists hadnt agreed on a language for vitamins, proteins and minerals, she said. Instead, what they did is say: look at the people who eat potatoes. They are more robust, and they are stouter and more energetic than people who eat other things, said the scholar, who heads the Department of History at the University of Warwick.

But as she argues, potatoes served this state-building purpose not only because of their nutritional value, but because they were already planted in gardens and fields across the continent. Its fans praised its virtues.

Potatoes, by feeding rapidly growing populations, permitted a handful of European nations to assert dominion over most of the world

They were not wrong. A widely cited economics paper reviewed information from military records of French soldiers born after 1700 and showed that eating potatoes made people slightly taller. According to The Quarterly Journal of Economics: for villages that were fully suitable for potato cultivation, its introduction increased average adult heights by approximately one-half inch.

That same paper provides a stronger claim: that population in Europe and Asia exploded after the spread of the potato. According to the researchers, the tuber introduction accounts for close to one-quarter of the growth in Old World population and urbanisation between 1700 and 1900.

Potatoes, by feeding rapidly growing populations, permitted a handful of European nations to assert dominion over most of the world between 1750 and 1950, wrote McNeill.

Back to the Andes

The potato frenzy continued unstoppably until a blight paved the way for the Great Famine of 1845-1849 in Ireland. The failure of the crop, compounded by the utterly inadequate response by the British Government in London (which decided against relief and bet on market forces), led to the death of a million people, the emigration of one million people to the US and the steady departure of two more million elsewhere. Irelands population was halved in a matter of decades.

The Famine called attention to the fact that potato had supplied 80% of calorie intake in the country with only a handful of crop varieties available. Such a homogenous food block made the potato susceptible to diseases, as its genetic diversity had been washed away from domestication.

To be fair, some mixing of varieties had already taken place in Europe around the 1750s. Burbano was part of a team that peered into the genes of European potatoes to study their ancestry and concluded that ancient Andean varieties mixed with tubers later brought from the lowlands of south-central Chile, such as Chilo island, were naturally domesticated for the long days of the Southern Hemisphere.

This first admixture only provides some handy traits, but not enough genetic depth, so breeding programmes over the years have been looking at ways to improve food security for potato farmers. One of the ways breeders used to incorporate resistance was looking at wild potatoes, Burbano explained, talking about inedible potato cousins that still survive in the Andes and in the rest of their natural range. There are 151 known species, and they are the ancestors of todays potatoes, which have lost genetic diversity after centuries of serving humans.

In the early decades of the 20th Century, scientists began combining genes from mainstream potatoes, hoping to keep their domesticated traits, with wild potatoes, hoping to get their resistance to diseases. Most tubers grown today are a result of such tests.

These wild species might also provide an answer to another pressing issue: changing temperature and rain conditions due to the climate crisis. A recent study concluded that rising emissions could cause a reduction of up to 26% of global tuber yield reductions by 2085. Genetic resources from these species could provide desirable traits, such as tolerance to frost, drought or temperature increase.

Breeders in Europe and the United States, and more recently in Asia, have been developing these more resistant varieties for years, paving the way for potatoes to become a truly global crop in the 20th Century. Of the worlds top 20 tuber producers, only three (the United States, Peru and Brazil) are part of its historical range, but every country is creating its own connection to it.

In China, the government is aggressively promoting the potato among its population, hoping it can become a new national staple crop and staple food. Its leaders are following similar tactics to those of 18th-Century Europe, peddling it with state-owned media, popular figures and popular science books. And in India, potatoes are prepared in hundreds of different ways and you would struggle to convince farmers that they arent local.

Half the world around, the potato has reignited long-standing rivalries between Peru and Chile over who can claim the tuber as their own, while top chefs in Lima and the Andes such as Virgilio Martinez who opened Mil in 2019 are turning their gaze again to potatoes and featuring them in their creations.

While Peruvians insist that potatoes were domesticated in whats now their territory (and bits of neighbouring Bolivia), a Chilean minister countered in 2008 that a vast majority of the worlds tubers come from a variety introduced from Chile. But the debate is not necessarily about a history lesson, but also about national pride. The silly part is that the story of the potato began millennia before the concept of nation-states existed, said Charles Crissman, a researcher at the International Potato Center, in a New York Times story published in 2008. But, yes, the first potatoes came from what is today Peru.

The claims rankled Peruvians because it came during the International Year of the Potato in 2008, a celebration that even FAO conceded came from the Government of Peru. The country established the International Potato Center in 1971 and worked with indigenous communities in the mountain peaks to protect the potatos genetic heritage.

A small agri-park high in the Peruvian Andes, the Potato Park in Cusco harbours a living museum of the humble tuber, in their natural environment, a reminder of where the potato comes from, but also a roadmap of where it could go: genetic material from less domesticated potatoes can trace a path forward for the crop, as it deals with new threats such as changing climates and pressures on the agricultural sector.

A two-hour drive east of Cusco, a different view of the present and the future awaits: its Mil, an ambitious take on Peruvian culinary tradition perched 12,000ft up in the clouds of the Andean mountains. Thanks to its celebrated chefs, here you can try a handful of Perus almost 5,000 species of potatoes, and still have some space to wonder about whats beyond these mountains: is it an Indian curry? Fish and chips in an east London pub? A baked potato fresh from an Idaho oven?

With the global versatility of potatoes, the possibilities are endless.

Culinary Roots is a series from BBC Travel connecting to the rare and local foods woven into a places heritage.

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Travel - How the humble potato changed the world - BBC News