Villa Mercedes Petit Hotel in Puerto Vallarta offers 65 percent discount

Boutique hotel Villa Mercedes Petit Hotel, located in Puerto Vallarta’s Zona Romantica, is offering 65% discounts on their standard rates, valid on any future reservation for bookings through April 30.

Dates are 100% flexible, meaning if you book a specific travel date but need to change it, there will be no issue. Dates can be changed as many times as needed with no penalty.

To book, visit their website and use the promo code PVLOVERS.

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Visitation revenue up in Hawaii prior to pandemic lockdown

New data released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority shows visitors to Hawaii in February and visitor revenue both increased in comparison to February 2019. 

While travel had started to slow due to the spread of Covid-19, Hawaii did not implement strict measures to resist the spread of the disease until mid-March, and tourism continued much as usual through February.

Spending by Hawaii visitors in February totaled $1.46 billion, a nearly 5% increase compared to a year prior. Even with the extra day in February 2020 compared to February 2019, the average spend per day rose 1%.

There were an average of 250,052 visitors on the Islands on any given day in February, a half-percentage point higher than the average daily census for February 2019. Visitation from the U.S. West and U.S East were up 10% and 8% respectively, while visitation and total spend from Japan, Canada and all other international markets declined.

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Hawaii hotels strategize amid shutdown

Aloha State hotels and resorts are swiftly creating game plans after Hawaii Gov. David Ige requested visitors to the Aloha State postpone trips for at least 30 days and then mandated a 14-day quarantine for all arrivals. Several properties have already decided to close for a month or more.

The Kahala Hotel and Resort on Oahu suspended operations March 24 with plans to reopen on May 1 to help arrest the spread of Covid-19 and respond to the tourism slowdown.

“We are deeply saddened to close our doors but understand we must do our part to stop the spread of Covid-19 in our community and protect all residents of Hawaii. We are committed to acting in the best interest of our employees and guests to prioritize their health and safety,” Joe Ibarra, general manager of the Kahala Hotel and Resort, said in a statement. “We are closely monitoring the situation and following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, government leaders and health experts to determine when it is safe and appropriate to reopen.

The entire property, including the spa, fitness center, restaurant and retail stores, will be closed through April. Guests are being offered the option to stay through their scheduled checkout date or leave early without penalty.

Existing reservations from March 24 to May 1 are canceled, while new reservations are being accepted for May 1 and later.

Sister properties Halekulani and Halepuna Waikiki closed March 26, the same day Ige’s quarantine order was set to go into effect. The closure is scheduled to go through April 30.

“As always, the safety and wellbeing of our guests and our Halekulani and Halepuna Waikiki team is our utmost priority,” Halekulani Corp. said in a statement. “Our management team is working closely with our guests and our staff to help them in every way possible in advance of closing our hotels, as well as doing everything possible to safeguard our guests, our staff and our community from Covid-19.”

The Ko Olina Resort, including Four Seasons Resort Oahu, Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa and the Ko Olina Golf Club, on Oahu’s leeward coast has also closed in response to the pandemic.

The resort’s lagoon beaches and the Ko Olina Marina are also shuttered along with the tour providers, wedding chapels, restrooms and parking lots. The timeshare property Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club remains open for now, along with the independently owned restaurants and retail stores at the Ko Olina Station and Ko Olina Center.

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New Study Shows Impact of COVID-19 on Destination Organizations

MMGY Travel Intelligence, in partnership with Destinations International Foundation, has released a new study that shows the ongoing impact of the coronavirus outbreak on North American destination organizations.

Key findings show that organizations expect coronavirus will have an extreme impact on their business over the next six months. The majority of organizations have canceled events and postponed marketing and sales efforts.

These were the first results released from the ongoing study, which is a series of bi-weekly surveys of North American destination professionals that track how this sector has been affected by COVID-19 and what shifts organizations are making.

The first findings show that over the course of two weeks, the pandemic dramatically changed the sector’s outlook, operations and marketing spending.

During the first wave of the survey, which was conducted in early March, less than 20 percent of destination organizations reported reducing or postponing marketing spend and a similar amount reported restricting domestic travel for employees.

Now, in the second wave of the survey two weeks later, 80 percent of destination organizations surveyed have reduced or postponed sales and marketing spend. Sixty percent have asked employees to work from home.

The percentage of destinations reporting coronavirus-related postponements and/or cancellations of conferences, meetings or events surged from under 40 percent in Wave I to almost 100 percent in Wave II.

“Destination organizations not only serve as representatives for the broader travel industry but as stewards of their communities,” said Jack Johnson, chief advocacy officer for the Destinations International Foundation. “This study allows us to support these organizations by creating a tool that shares up-to-date detail on how their peers are managing through this ever-changing process.”

Destination organizations have shifted gears over the last two weeks and are now mostly fielding inquiries about coronavirus-related questions.

The number of respondents receiving 20 or more COVID-19-related inquiries a day rose from 4 percent in the first wave of the survey to 30 percent in the second wave. People are calling to primarily ask about event cancellations and attraction closings, as well as business-related functions such as conferences, conventions and business meetings.

“This is a rapidly evolving situation for our industry, and it’s important for destinations to make decisions based on facts and hard data as they begin to prepare recovery strategies,” said Craig Compagnone, chief operating officer for MMGY Global. “While there is no precedent for this situation, we know that travel has spiked following previous crises, and data will help influence how destinations keep travelers and communities informed until travel restrictions are eased and bookings return.”

The survey also asked destination organizations if they had planned for a situation such as a pandemic. Thirty percent of respondents stated that they had an emergency plan in place.

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Casa Velas opens guacamole bar

Puerto Vallarta’s Casa Velas has debuted a brand-new guacamole bar at the hotel’s private Beach Club.

The bar offers more than 100 ingredients, with mix-ins ranging from onion and tomato to starfruit, quinoa, cheeses and even dried insects. Diners who really want to up the ante can turn their guacamole snack into a meal with grilled shrimp, salmon and more.

The guacamole bar is included in the resort rate.

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UAE visitors will be allowed to stay amid coronavirus shutdown

Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship to grant permission to stay in the country

A specific mechanism for that will be announced in the few coming days.

Visitors to the UAE caught up in the current coronavirus restrictions will be allowed to stay in the country for the foreseeable future.

The United Arab Emirates announced on Monday it will temporarily suspend all passenger and transit flights amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The Emirati authorities “decided to suspend all inbound and outbound passenger flights and the transit of airline passengers in the UAE for two weeks as part of the precautionary measures taken to curb the spread of the Covid-19″, reported the official state news agency, WAM.

While carriers across the world have followed suit and countries closed borders, leaving many stranded in the country and far from home.

However, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) has cushioned the blow by granting them permission to stay legitimately in the country, with specific instructions set to be announced in the coming days.

A statement from the authority said: “The ICA is keen to deal with various developments arising from the measures taken at both regional and international levels to contain the spread of coronavirus, Covid-19, in a way that will ensure necessary care to all residents of the UAE.”

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Oberammergau Passion Play postponed coronavirus

The Oberammergau Passion Play, a once-per-decade event in
Germany, is being postponed until 2022 because of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

It’s yet another blow to tour operators and river cruise
companies, which have tied many summer packages to an event that was expected
to draw about half a million visitors.

The play dates to 1633, when the people of the Bavarian
village vowed to re-enact the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
every 10 years to ward off the plague.

More than 2,000 actors, instrumentalists, singers and
supporters — all hailing from the village — take part in the five-hour
performances, which this year were scheduled to run from May 16 to Oct. 4.

The Globus family of brands (Globus, Cosmos, Avalon
Waterways and Monograms) said it would give guests priority for the 2022 event
and at the current price. The company said it expects to offer new dates to travelers
by May 2020.

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Tourists brave absolutely terrifying 121ft-high freestanding climbing wall

How does climbing 121 feet up a curved tower with nothing between you and the ground sound?

For most people, terrifying. For a very, very brave few, it's a challenge.

Yet that's exactly what's on offer for visitors who take on the Excalibur climbing wall in Groningen, in the Netherlands.

At a height of just over 121 feet, it's the world's tallest freestanding climbing wall.

But it's not just the height that's terrifying; the tower's curved shape means that you can climb along 36ft of overhang too.

Which means while you're climbing, you could find yourself nearly horizontal as you climb. (There are ropes if you are climbing the overhang, but again, you're climbing at your own risk).

  • Daring tourists can stand on the roof of a cable car climbing a 6233ft mountain

  • Terrified tourists brave glass-bottomed bridge and its platform over cliff edge

Of course for those who make it to the top, they're rewarded with views of the countryside, although if we're honest they're not particularly spectacular views (at least, not ones that would have us climbing a 121ft-high curved tower).

Safe to say, it's not one for the faint-hearted, even if it does attract thousands of visitors from around the world every year.

Unsurprisingly, it's also not one for beginners. The climbing centre which is behind the tower, Klimcentrum Bjoeks, warns that only seasoned climbers should attempt to take on the challenge, especially as there's no supervision on offer for those who climb Excalibur.

For adventurers, you can even camp on site if you want to climb the wall during sunrise or sunset. (Campers are given access to the climbing centre's showers and kitchenette which has a microwave and fridge).

You can find out more about Excalibur on the Klimcentrum Bjoeks website.

There's plenty to explore in nearby Groningen too, whether you want to learn about local culture in the Groningen museum, check out the local shops or explore the breathtaking coastline. You can find more information on Holland's tourism website.

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Etihad Airways launches credit plan to defer cost of virus-hit flights

Etihad Credit permits a free cancellation and offers the original value of a booking to be used as credit towards their next trip

Etihad Airways said on Thursday it is introducing Etihad Credit to give passengers the freedom to delay their travel plans as the coronavirus crisis continues to grip the world.

Etihad Credit permits a free cancellation and offers the original value of a booking to be used as credit towards their next trip, the Abu Dhabi-based airline said.

“As the situation around the novel coronavirus continues to evolve, these new measures will provide maximum flexibility and ensures guests that need to travel, do so safely and conveniently,” it added in a statement.

Robin Kamark, chief commercial officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “In these unprecedented times, we understand that some of our guests are either unable to, or choose not to travel and it is our responsibility to help them as much as possible. 

“Now, more than ever, there is a global effort to care for one another and halt the spread of Covid-19 and under these challenging circumstances. Etihad Credit is our way of helping to relieve some of the unnecessary burden many of our customers are facing.”

Etihad Credit is available for all passengers who have booked to travel before June 30. They have until September 30 to rebook their trip, for travel until December 31 – any ticket, any fare type, any Etihad destination. Any fare difference from the original ticket price will be charged.

Additionally, Etihad Guest Members will be gifted monthly bonus Tier Miles from the end of March for three months to help them maintain their Tier Status.

“The safety of our loyal customers, and of our employees continues to be our utmost priority, and we are taking the necessary steps to ensure their wellbeing,” added Kamark.

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Jamaica Temporarily Closing Borders to Inbound Travelers

Jamaica is closing its borders to incoming travelers this weekend as government officials aim to combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

“The Government of Jamaica announced that effective 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, 2020, and for a period of 14 days in the first instance, Jamaica’s air and seaports will be closed to incoming passenger traffic,” the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica stated in a health alert published Friday.

“In light of this development and the Global Level 4 Health Alert issued by the Department of State, U.S. citizens who plan to depart Jamaica should coordinate with airlines to do so at the earliest opportunity.”

Jamaica had previously only imposed restrictions on travelers from heavily impacted countries such as China, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, Iran, Spain, France, Germany and the U.K.

The latest measures will not affect cargo or outgoing passengers. However, many countries around the world have issued their own travel bans and restrictions amid the COVID-19 crisis so Jamaican citizens will also be limited if choosing to travel at all.

“All the countries of the world are imposing restrictions and our attempt at trying to manage the potential crisis that we face has to include a reduction in the movement of persons,” said Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, via The Gleaner.

The US Embassy is committed to working with the GOJ and US airlines to ensure orderly departure of those US citizens who had plans to leave Jamaica over the next few days.

Palace Resorts & Le Blanc Spa Resorts also announced Friday that the all-inclusive Moon Palace Jamaica in Ocho Rios will remain open as of March 23 to continue to accommodate guests who choose to remain at the property.

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