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Everything Amtrak is Doing to Protect Travelers

As travel restrictions are lifted, Americans are looking to hit the road again, and Amtrak is ready to provide a safe environment to protect the experience.

Amtrak has operated as an essential service throughout the coronavirus outbreak despite some routes being reduced or suspended, but an increase in demand in the coming weeks is expected to mean additional services.

The changes start as soon as customers book their travel, as Amtrak is waiving all change and cancellation fees for reservations made by August 31. The company also announced it would limit ticket sales to allow for physical distancing while traveling.

At Amtrak stations, travelers will notice enhanced cleaning protocols, social distancing guidelines, mandatory face coverings for all employees and customers, and passengers being asked to arrive only 30 minutes before departure.

“Now more than ever, we stand ready to play a critical role as our nation recovers,” Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to offer vital transportation services in a way that prioritizes employee and customer safety and well-being.”

Rail riders should be ready for a contact-free travel experience, with Amtrak now only accepting cashless payments, encouraging boarding with eTickets and sending gate and track information via the company’s mobile app.

Once on board the train, passengers will be encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, required to wear facial coverings while on trains or thruway buses and asked to follow the conductors’ instructions on where and when they can disembark to minimize crowding.

For travelers looking for a bite to eat, Amtrak’s cafe service will be available as carryout only and the company is temporarily offering flexible dining service in the dining or lounge car on all long-distance routes.

For added protection, protective plastic barriers are being installed at cafe countertops.

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How to visit Rome without leaving home

While lockdown restrictions may be easing across the world, travel to our favourite city break destinations remains far out of reach. The Foreign Office is still issuing a blanket ban on all overseas travel that isn’t deemed “essential”; those up for ignoring the advice are likely to face a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon their return.

But even from afar, the Eternal City shines bright. June is the perfect time to visit, whether in person or from the comfort of your living room. Rome’s abundantly plentiful cache of history, architectural delights and art can still be plundered via the wonder of the internet, while the currently spectacular British weather means you can almost make-believe you’re there if you whack on the Dean Martin and mix yourself an Aperol spritz.

Here’s the ultimate armchair travellers’ guide to Rome.

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What to do

Sistine Chapel

The great thing about doing a virtual tour of Michelangelo’s masterpiece rather than seeing it in the flesh is that you don’t have to spend several hours traipsing the entire length of the Vatican Museum, trudging shoulder-to-shoulder with grumpy, sweating strangers like a herd of cattle, in order to reach it. Even when you finally get there, you’re squished in like sardines and encouraged to move on as swiftly as possible by sharp-eyed stewards.

In the digital world, however, you are the only visitor – you can linger, take in the detail, zoom in on different parts that you like. And you can do it all while wearing a crop top and hot pants, something that’s certainly not encouraged at the real deal.

The Colosseum

If you’ve got an hour to spare, hop onboard a virtual walking tour of the Colosseum, kindly provided by Prowalk Tours. It starts right from the Metro station for the “authentic” experience, before taking in all four levels, including the arena floor and the underground “Hypogeum”. As well as giving you the chance to admire one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, it’s sort of lovely, too, to be transported back to a world in which thousands of strangers could merrily congregate in one place with zero concerns.

The Pantheon

There are several virtual tours, but for a peaceful experience of this former Roman temple, try the “360 VR Meditation” video: it allows you to explore the structure in 360-degrees from one vantage point, while including the gentle strains of tourists’ chatter (which somehow manage to sound like the sea), and the beautiful choral music from singers positioned inside at intervals throughout the video.

Trevi Fountain

To really pretend you’re in Rome, hang out by the Trevi Fountain in real time using its live webcam. It’s heartening to see a few visitors taking in the pale blue water, but astonishing compared to what this scene would usually look like in early summer.

You may not be able to throw in a coin right now, but that doesn’t mean you won’t return for real some day.

Local flavours

One big reason for going to Rome is to indulge in its culinary delights. Nonna Nerina, an 84-year-old Italian grandmother who lives just outside of Rome, usually runs “Handmade pasta with grandma” workshops with her granddaughter as one of Airbnb’s “experiences”.

But since the start of the pandemic, she’s been offering livestreamed online classes called “Nonna Live”, where participants receive a shopping list the week before, translated notes from Nonna Nerina, and wine pairings for each dish. Classes are two hours long and cost $50 (£40).

You can also learn to make the most classic of Roman dishes, pasta e ceci (pasta and chickpeas), on a virtual cooking class from Withlocals, costing from £13.65 a class.

Or get stuck in without a screen by snapping up a recipe book, such as Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient. It’s a showcase of modern dishes influenced by tradition, with each recipe acknowledging its origins while also exploring how it transitioned to the variations found today.

In terms of drinks, although strictly speaking it may be more Venetian than Roman, a spritz goes down nice and easy at this time of year. Check out blog The Roman Foodie for recipes of several variations.

Setting the scene

Where to begin? The Eternal City has served as inspiration for countless cultural offerings. But a good jumping off point is clearly Roman Holiday: this classic film sees Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn skipping around the city on a Vespa and falling in love with one another (while you fall in love with the scenery).

Fellini’s 1972 film Roma gives a different, less romantic but more fascinating view of the Italian capital. A semi-autobiographical story depicting director Federico Fellini’s move from Rimini to Rome, it features a series of loosely connected scenes that take place in the 1930s and 1970s.

For the true Roman experience, Gladiator lets you experience the empire in its heyday. A particular highlight is seeing the Colosseum as it would have looked in 180AD.

(There are also two separate but equally terrible-looking romcoms called When In Rome, one of which stars the Olsen twins. It’s safe to say you can probably give both a miss.)

Neatly ticking the boxes of “holiday read” and “being set in Rome (among other places)” Eat, Pray, Love is the bestselling account of writer Elizabeth Gilbert’s attempt to rediscover herself after a messy divorce, which has since been adapted into a film with Julia Roberts. The book’s best bit is undoubtedly the “Eat” section, where the protagonist learns Italian and imbibes all manner of delicious grub while wandering around Rome.

Soundtrack wise, does it get better than Dean Martin’s An Evening in Roma? It does not, my friend. Crank it up loud and proud. If classical music is more your style, mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli hails from Rome and has a decent set of pipes on her, to put it extremely mildly.

Bring it home

If you’re looking for authentic cuisine, check out myDelibox – an Italian online delicatessen where you can order famed Italian products at fairly reasonable prices.

Roman “Concept store” myzarstore sells fashion, accessories and jewellery in its online shop, as well as skincare products. And if that’s not enough concept for you, there’s also Dana Roma; located in a small church in central Rome, it combines art and fashion with a focus on brands that are “made in Italy”. Although part of the joy is undoubtedly going in and having a nose around, you can still click through from Dana’s site to find all the Italian-made labels they’ve curated for the best in local design.

Anything else?

If the weather continues to be fine, what really gives the vibe of being in Rome is authentic Italian gelato. Until your local ice cream place is open once more, you can buy Grom gelato from Waitose in pistachio, chocolate and coffee flavours for the astronomical price of £6.99. Gulp.

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Uniworld’s ‘Heroes Among Us’ European Cruise Giveaway Open for Nominations

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is inviting its travel advisor partners and River Heritage Club Members to nominate the “unsung heroes” of their communities for a chance to win a free, seven-night European river cruise.

25 honorees will be selected by the Uniworld executive management team to receive their complimentary cruises, which consist of one stateroom for themselves and a guest on any seven-night 2021 or 2022 Uniworld, or U by Uniworld, European river cruise (excluding Portugal).

“In these extraordinary times, Uniworld would like to celebrate the unsung heroes who make it possible for us to be home because they aren’t,” said Uniworld CEO, Ellen Bettridge. “We want to express our eternal debt of gratitude to these essential workers who are keeping us healthy, in body and spirit: the doctors and nurses, bus drivers and mail carriers, delivery people and grocery clerks, volunteers and first responders who have forged on despite their risk.”

Uniworld’s past guests and travel advisor partners are encouraged to enter on behalf of an exceptional everyday hero who, according to Bettridge, “has left a lasting impression by putting the needs of their community first during this COVID-19 pandemic.”

Nominations are being accepted online now through July 31, 2020, and the winners will be notified by August 5. Simply fill out the form with your nominee’s name, and their occupation or role in the COVID-19 response efforts, as well as your reasons for nominating them. You can also upload a photo or video to make your submission stand out.

For more information, visit uniworld.com/en/heroes-among-us/.

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Omni Hotels & Resorts Introduces Enhanced Health and Safety Measures

WHY IT RATES: Omni releases its post-COVID-19 reopening strategy, complete with a new sanitation and hygiene program, special booking deals, and updates on its charitable efforts and planned brand-expansion projects. — Laurie Baratti, TravelPulse Associate Writer

Omni Hotels & Resorts has officially rolled out its new Omni Safe & Clean program that includes extensive new cleaning guidelines, processes and procedures to ensure the health, safety and comfort of its guests and associates. The program follows the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and also meets or exceeds the “Stay Safe” initiative set forth by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). Each Omni hotel and resort will adhere to local and/or federal mandates.

Last week, Omni proudly reopened the doors at six properties including Omni Jacksonville Hotel, Omni Amelia Island Resort, Omni Bedford Springs Resort, Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort, Omni Hotel at The Battery Atlanta and Omni Austin Hotel Downtown. Additional re-openings scheduled for Thursday, May 21, in time for Memorial Day Weekend include Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Omni Frisco Hotel, Omni Interlocken Hotel, Omni Fort Worth Hotel, Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, Omni La Mansiòn del Rio, Mokara Hotel & Spa and Omni Tucson National Resort. For the most up-to-date information on hotel re-openings, visit the brand’s Travel Advisory page.

“COVID-19 has changed every facet of our world and the way we do business,” said Peter Strebel, president of Omni Hotels & Resorts. “Our commitment to service has never wavered, and now, with our new “Safe & Clean” guidelines, our guests and clients can rest assured we’re ready and prepared to safely and comfortably welcome them back when they’re ready to travel again.”

Like many hotel brands, Omni temporarily suspended operations at many of its properties across the country. Even with empty hotel rooms and closed doors, Omni was determined to demonstrate how the true meaning of hospitality transcends physical barriers. At a time when the world is being told to socially distance and physically stay apart from one another, Omni has launched its new “Stay A Part Of” campaign to encourage guests and associates to Stay A Part Of what matters most during this unprecedented time. The spirit of this campaign laid the foundation for Omni as its associates worked diligently to adapt traditional hotel operations for reopening in a post-COVID-19 world.

As Omni looks ahead and resumes operations at select properties, the brand is committed to Stay A Part Of Hospitality through various aspects:

Stay A Part Of Safety: Through extensive collaboration with hospitality professionals, and in alignment with the recommendations provided by the CDC, Omni has developed new policies for its associates, implemented updated cleaning efforts and introduced social distancing measures to keep its guests and associates safe throughout all areas of the hotel. Details on all of the new measures implemented as part of the Omni Safe & Clean initiative are available HERE.

Stay A Part Of Travel: To celebrate the joy of travel at recently reopened hotels, the brand is offering Select Guest members (or new members), a 30 percent discount on best available rates on new bookings made now through September 5, 2020, for stays now through September 12, 2020. Offer is subject to availability with more information located HERE.

Stay A Part Of Hope: At Omni, every associate is a valued member of the Omni family. This core value is brought to life through Omni Circle, Omni’s associate charitable foundation. Omni Circle’s purpose is to assist associates who face extraordinary hardships including those whose lives have been affected by disasters, accidents and other emergencies. In just the last few weeks, Omni Circle has processed 1,800 applications and has distributed more than $2M to its associates impacted by COVID-19. This is more than double what the brand has distributed since the inception of Omni Circle in 2005.

Stay A Part Of Community: In partnership with Feeding America, Omni helps provide one meal for every completed stay through its Say Goodnight to Hunger program. Omni is committed to helping local communities during these trying times, and donations will be doubled for any group bookings made throughout the summer months. All donations directly benefit food banks in the 42 communities where its 60 properties operate. To date, more than 18 million meals have been donated.

Stay A Part Of Progress: Omni’s portfolio continues to expand with new properties in development including Omni Viking Lakes Hotel in Eagan, Minnesota (opening fall 2020), Omni Oklahoma City Hotel (opening 2021), Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport (opening 2021) and Omni PGA Frisco Resort in North Texas (opening 2022).

“Our new Stay A Part Of campaign reminds us that we all can, and must, stay a part of what we truly believe in,” Strebel continued. “Whether that is travel, community, safety, or hope, we are rooted in a bigger idea and we can continue to stay a part of these things although we can’t physically be together. Omni will continue to stay a part of service, offering our guests the same great hospitality they know and trust, and we look forward to welcoming them back with even better standards and guidelines set in place,” he noted.

For more information or to book accommodations, call 1-800-The-Omni or follow Omni Hotels & Resorts at Facebook.com/OmniHotels and Instagram.com/OmniHotels.

For more information, visit omnihotels.com.

SOURCE: Omni Hotels & Resorts press release.

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Regent Seven Seas Cruises Launches Booking Promotion

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has launched the “Return with Regent” program that offers 50 percent reduced deposits and a $1,000 shipboard credit for new bookings made by July 31, 2020.

The offer includes “Regent Reassurance,” which allows guests to cancel their cruise for any reason up to 15 days before departure date and receive a 100 percent future cruise credit (FCC).

The “Return with Regent” program is applicable to all sailings through 2022, expanding the line’s “Cancel for Any Reason” policy to cover all destinations and voyages.

Travel advisors will earn a $100 gift card for every new deposited booking made by July 31, 2020. The gift card will be paid within 60 days of the end of the promotion, not after sailing. Eligible bookings must be registered here by Aug. 15, 2020.

Additionally, travel advisors and a companion have the chance to sail with the luxury line in a “Sell and Sail” incentive. Travel advisors who make two new bookings on 2020 voyages will earn a free 2020 cruise, while those who make three new bookings on 2021 or 2022 voyages will earn a free 2021 or 2022 cruise. Eligible bookings must be registered here by Aug. 15, 2020

“We have been astounded by the tenacity and resolve shown by the thousands of talented travel advisors over these difficult months and we are proud to work alongside them,” said Randall Soy, executive vice president-sales and marketing for Regent Seven Seas. “As we see the green shoots of recovery and consumer confidence in cruise begin to grow, we want to give our valued travel advisors the tools to capture every possible booking, as well as reward them for their fortitude and loyalty.”

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Test Setup Begins for World's Longest Roller Coaster at Sea

Construction has begun on the world’s longest roller coaster at sea in Germany.

Originally announced last fall, the Space Cruiser by Dream Cruises will be the centerpiece of the first-ever theme park at sea, “Dream Park at the Pier,” which is scheduled to debut aboard the all-new Global Dream next year.

Developed by Germany’s Maurer Rides, the roller coaster’s track will span a whopping 994 feet, with riders reaching speeds of 37 mph and traveling as high as 180 feet above sea level.

“Dream Cruises is extremely excited to be working with Maurer Rides to create this spectacular new attraction at sea onboard Global Dream. We are thrilled with the progress of the construction of the roller coaster and are excited to unveil this ride to our guests when our ship launches,” said Dream Cruises President Michael Goh, in a statement.

The roller coaster is currently being built for testing near the MV Werften shipyards in Germany to keep the assembly and commissioning time for the 2,500-cabin Global Dream as short as possible.

“This saves valuable time during the ship assembly. The aim is also to collect all the 93 support base points coordinates after the roller coaster has been completed and then forward them to the shipyard for preparation and positioning for the deck foundations,” said Marco Hartwig, Project Manager Maurer Rides. “With the help of this elaborate procedure, we can ensure that the support base points on the deck of the ship are in the correct positions later.”

Undoubtedly among the world’s most ambitious cruise companies, Dream Cruises has already debuted the world’s first eSports facility and the first-ever life-size Monopoly board game at sea.

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Mexican Caribbean’s Top Hotels & Resorts Implement New Health and Safety Plans

The Mexican Caribbean is getting ready to reopen to travel and tourism around the beginning of June, and as the date approaches, the hospitality sector is announcing new protocols to ensure guests are safe and in a secure, virus-free environment.

Mexico’s secretary of tourism released new protocols for the industry to clean hotels with guidelines for cleaning all surfaces, including linens, walls, windows, beds, shelves and other installations, but resorts are going above and beyond to reassure visitors.

As popular tourist destinations such as Quintana Roo and Los Cabos make plans for welcoming visitors again, travelers should prepare for airports with health screenings as well as temperature checks and thermographic imaging.

Hotels may also introduce some of these measures. Following is a list of properties that have enhanced safety standards.

Posadas

Posadas announced elevated safety and sanitization protocols for its new Travel With Confidence promise. The new measures are being applied to all of the group’s 180 hotels and resorts in preparation for summer travel.

“We understand that travelers will be more cautious than ever once they begin to travel again, and so will we at all our hotels in the Posadas portfolio. That is why we want to be proactive and transparent with all the measures being implemented to keep our guest and employees assured that every facet of our properties and operations have been addressed from guest services and amenities to operational procedures,” said COO of Posadas, Enrique Calderon. “As we enter a new reality, we will be more than prepared to welcome guests in confidence.”

Playa Hotels & Resorts

Playa Hotels & Resorts announced its Playa Safe Stay initiative on May 4, 2020, focusing on preventive anti-viral measures aimed at reassuring guests.

“With Hyatt and Hilton, our guests are assured new standards of cleanliness while enjoying Playa’s unmatched experience of all-inclusive, worry-free, luxury,” said CEO Bruce Wardinski.

Playa’s Safe Stay initiative includes the safety standards of Hyatt and Hilton properties. Hilton has collaborated with RB, the maker of Lysol and Dettol, and the Mayo Clinic for its new safety protocols, Hilton CleanStay.

Hyatt also recently announced new Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment that includes an accreditation process by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), at all hotels around the world.

Palladium Hotel Group

Palladium has launched new safety protocols that will protect guests during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new guidelines are being put into place at its 48 properties in Europe and the Americas, including Mexico.

A task force has been put in place to put new safety measures in place, and its Palladium Hotel Group Global Customer Experience and Safety Council ensure compliance with the new directives, which include enhanced cleaning, social distancing and more.

Sandos Hotels & Resorts

Sandos Hotels & Resorts, with nine all-inclusive properties in Spain and Mexico, is instituting the Mexican government’s Clean Stay standards. Enhanced cleaning is accompanied with guidelines for visitors on hand-washing, proper sneezing and coughing techniques and suggestions for social distancing.

AIC Hotel Group

AIC Hotel Group includes All-Inclusive Hard Rock Hotels, Nobu Hotels and UNICO 20 87 Hotel Riviera Maya.

Each hotel has developed a comprehensive, enhanced cleanliness and sanitation plan that consists of added precautionary measures throughout all aspects of the guest and team member experience, following best practices and guidelines put forth by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control.

“As our industry gears up for its return, it is imperative we take every necessary additional precaution to keep our guests and employees safe,” said Frank Maduro, Vice President of Marketing at AIC Hotel Group. “Our hotel teams have worked hand in hand with local and national authorities while adhering to globally recognized guidelines to devise a number of added measures to provide a world-class vacation experience.”

RIU

RIU has also announced enhanced cleaning procedures.

Staff training is an essential part of these protocols, as it ensures that all employees know what they need to know in order to act appropriately in every task they undertake in their role. Another key part of this plan’s success is monitoring staff and ensuring they only attend their place of work if they are in good health, as well as ensuring that no members of staff who belong to risk groups are in charge of hazardous jobs such as cleaning items or areas with suspected cases of COVID-19.

There are updated measures that include changes at reception and plans for reduced hotel occupancy, as well as limited amenities in rooms to avoid cross-contamination and a new “disinfection team.”

Restaurant seating will be rearranged, and guests would need to wear masks and gloves at buffets.

Pools will have capacity limits, frequent cleaning and more.

Velas Resorts

Velas Resorts has created new post-COVID-19 hygiene protocols for its Stay Safe With Velas program and offers 100 percent sanitized resorts. The new guidelines include special training, physical distancing measures, touchless sanitizer stations, sanitizing mats, frequent hand washing and personal protective equipment for staff members.

In addition to enhanced cleaning of guestrooms and resort areas, the hotel will take guest temperatures and ask guests to use the sanitizing mat, wash hands and use hand sanitizer. Velas will sanitize luggage, high-touch points and provide guests with personal protection kits.

Barcelo

Barcelo has introduced the We Care About You commitment to safety. The policy institutes new safety measures in every facet of the company, from digital experiences and communication to sanitization and sterilization and new protocols for food and beverage operations, meetings and events and more.

The resort company announced that it would have “a continuous awareness program for self-protection of employees and training on the new operative protocols against COVID-19 and other infectious-infectious diseases. These programs will be reinforced by our expert team/hygiene collaborators’ modules.”

Iberostar Group

Iberostar Group, which operates a number of resorts in Mexico, has created a new team to work on post-COVID-19 policies.

“As an international hospitality company, people and the environment have always been a priority for Iberostar Group,” says Vice Chairman and CEO Sabina Fluxa. “We face new times and we need new solutions to promote circular economy policies in this scenario. Only resilient companies that are capable of meeting these challenges will be able to compete.”

The hotel group now has a Medical Advisory Board that includes experts in public health and safety in the tourism sector.

Palace and Le Blanc Spa Resorts

Palace and Le Blanc Spa Resorts have announced new safety measures that include enhanced preventive actions across all points of contact.

“In light of Covid-19 and to reassure future visitors, this new program will go above and beyond the stringent quality controls already in place, ensuring the health and safety of all guests and team members,” said a statement from the resort.

AMResorts

AMResorts has announced its new COVID-19 cleaning protocol. The new CleanComplete Verification program is a comprehensive, 360-degree quality, safety and hygiene system that is backed by one of the industry’s highest-level, third-party certifications for quality and safety—Cristal International Standards.

“As the world reopens to a new normal and travelers begin to plan vacations once again, the health and safety of guests remains a top priority through these elevated efforts,” said Gonzalo del Peón, AMResorts’ President. “Guests should feel well-informed and reassured knowing that AMResorts-branded properties have implemented best-in-class practices.”

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Seychelles bans cruise ships

The Seychelles has banned cruise ships until 2022, according to media reports form the Indian Ocean archipelago.

The Seychelles main newspaper reported that minister of tourism Didier Dogley said the ban is effective immediately and will last until the end of 2021.

According to the report, Dogley said that cruise ships would not be able to call at Port Victoria, the main cruise port. It did not indicate whether smaller ports of call would be impacted.  

The Seychelles has become increasingly popular in recent years. Crystal’s luxury yacht, the Esprit, offers a two-month winter season there; other upscale lines, like Seabourn and Oceania, call on the islands, along with large ship brands like Norwegian Cruises and MSC Cruises.

Crystal said in a statement that it is seeking clarification from the Seychelles authorities regarding the specifications of vessels that may or may not be permitted during this suspension. 

“The 62-guest Crystal Esprit is a vastly different product than the typical cruise offering that calls on the Seychelles and we are hopeful that her voyages can carry on as planned,” the line said. “In the meantime, our itinerary team is creating exciting alternative voyages, and guests and travel advisors will be informed of any changes and relevant updates as appropriate.” 

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Seychelles Bans Cruise Ships Until 2022

As a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak worldwide, Seychelles has banned cruise ships through the end of 2021.

According to the Seychelles News Agency, the island chain’s Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Didier Dogley, announced the country has shut down Port Victoria to cruise liners until the beginning of 2022 to avoid a second wave of infections.

While the decision was reportedly met with “acceptance” by locals, some of which depend on tourism, Dogley and the government have a series of plans in place to support the travel industry throughout what could be a difficult stretch.

“The Seychelles Ports Authority appreciates the fact that the government has made a prudent decision to mitigate the impact that Covid-19 may have in the medium term,” port authority CEO Ronny Brutus told the Seychelles News Agency. “It is to be noted that the cruise industry has been a major catalyst by which the Covid-19 has spread throughout the world.”

“It is important to recognize the fact that the risk factor of a resurgence of the Covid-19 in Seychelles far outweighs the opportunity cost of not having cruise port calls for the next two years,” Brutus continued.

Officials also announced Seychelles’ main airport near the capital city of Victoria would reopen on June 1, but not without significant changes to the health and safety standards of the facility.

Seychelles public health commissioner, Jude Gedeon, also said the government plans to gradually lift travel restrictions depending on how the viral pandemic is handled, but does not expect tourism to rebound immediately.

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America’s Recovery Fund Coalition Advocates for Federal COVID Recovery Plan

America’s Recovery Fund Coalition (ARFC), a group of 100-plus business organizations and trade associations, have joined forces to advocate for the creation of a federal grant-based recovery fund to aid companies impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to survive and eventually thrive again.

ARFC said that the U.S. is expected to lose $1.2 trillion from the hotel industry alone, adding that 70 percent of hotel employees have been laid off.

“Those families have gone from living reasonable, comfortable lives with the ‘American Dream’ to pure panic,” said Oam Patel, a principal at Alora Hospitality Group.

In light of the dire consequences to the hotel industry, ARFC said it is calling on additional congressional support to help businesses to make payroll, offer workers benefits, reinvest in their local economies and more

“Hotels were one of the first industries affected by the pandemic and will be one of the last to recover,” said Chip Rogers, CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. “The CARES Act was an important first step with a lot of supportive measures for the hotel industry, but we need Congress to make important changes to the program to reflect the current economic reality and help the employees in the industries that have been impacted the most.”

Through federal forgivable loans, the America’s Recovery Fund would offer support to enable businesses to retain and rehire staff, pay rent, meet certain debt obligations, and pay state and local taxes, ARFC said.

In all, ARFC represents 45 percent of the U.S. workforce. In addition to travel industry members, the coalition includes members from retail, restaurants, theaters, gyms, salons, real estate, financial services, construction and equipment suppliers—representing 58 million American workers.

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