Travel-Related Unemployment Passes 50 Percent

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, more than half of the 15.8 million travel-related jobs in the U.S. have disappeared, according to a new report from the U.S. Travel Association.

The unemployment rate for tourism jobs is 51 percent, more than double the 25 percent rate the country experienced at the height of the Great Depression.

The news comes just as the U.S. readies for Memorial Day Weekend, which is generally seen as the start of the summer travel season. However, this year, Tourism Economics projects that travel spending in the U.S. will tally just one-third of last year’s levels—$4.2 billion this year versus $12.3 billion in 2019.

“Our national economy is in a recession, but the travel industry is already in a depression,” said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow. “Travel-related businesses have been hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic’s fallout, and unfortunately our workforce is on the front lines of that struggle.

“The travel industry has exhibited the ability to lead a national economic recovery, bouncing back well ahead of expectations after both 9/11 and the financial crisis of the late 2000s,” said Dow. “But to do that this time, travel-reliant businesses need to survive until a recovery can truly begin. Not only are structural changes and expanded eligibility to the PPP critical for the most impacted travel businesses just to keep the lights on, but ultimately stimulative measures will be important.”

The U.S. Travel Association has taken steps to help mitigate the problems within the industry as well as help restore tourism jobs quickly when travel resumes.

The association has acknowledged that Congress’ efforts have good intentions but that more aid is needed.

Dow noted that the public should expect travel to look and feel different for the foreseeable future, as travel businesses embrace practices aimed at promoting the safest possible environment for their customers and employees.

The association has created “Travel in the New Normal” health and safety guidance for travel businesses, drawing on input from top medical professionals and representatives of a wide array of travel industry segments.

This guidance is designed to help states and local governments with decision-making as they begin to reopen.

“Whatever government and health authorities decide about the right timing to reopen, we are giving consumers confidence that the travel ecosystem is embracing the most vigorous and well-informed practices for providing the safest possible environment, and those practices adhere to a uniformly high standard throughout every phase of a traveler’s journey,” Dow said. “That is critical as the industry prepares for the return of travel, which will bring jobs back and help rebuild the country’s economic strength.”

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Remaining Passengers Aboard Pacific Princess Disembark in California

The last few hundred passengers who remained aboard the Pacific Princess cruise ship will be able to disembark at the Port of Los Angeles after the ship had docked on Monday. The ship was one of the last three cruise ships sailing with passengers to dock since the coronavirus pandemic temporarily suspended the cruise industry.

A spokesperson for Princess Cruises confirmed that the 119 passengers have tested negative for COVID-19 and will be able to disembark within the next few days and the cruise line organizes their returning flights. The cruise line has also recently announced that suspension of all voyages has been extended to June 30, 2020.

“Of the 119 passengers who remained on board, 109 were deemed, under IATA [International Air Transport Association] medical clearance guidelines, to be medically unfit to undertake a long-haul flight back to the United States from Australia (for reasons unrelated to COVID-19)” the spokesperson told Fox News on Tuesday.

Pacific Princess originally departed on a 111-day cruise from Fort Lauderdale on January 5. The ship was allowed to drop off a majority of its passengers in Australia in March.

“Pacific Princess ended a segment of the current cruise early on March 21, disembarking most guests in Fremantle, Australia,” the cruise line said in a statement.

Along with Pacific Princess, cruise ships MSC Magnifica and Costa Deliziosa have also finally docked since being stranded at sea since January. Both ships had also been carrying passengers when they reached port.

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Food for Soul partners with Palace Resorts for Refettorio Merida

Food for the Soul, a nonprofit organization designed to fight food waste and build community resilience, has partnered with Foundation Palace, Palace Resorts’ philanthropic institution. Together, the organizations will open the first North American Refettorio on March 25 in Merida. 

The Refettorio will offer a daily lunchtime food service to members of the community by transforming surplus ingredients into meals. The elevated community kitchen will be brightly colored, festive, and welcoming, located inside the Casa Santa Luisa, a historic, colonial house belonging to a local philanthropist who was an advocate for social conscience. The walls will be decorated with artwork from the artist Bosco Sodi, who celebrates Mexican culture in his work.

From Monday to Friday the Refettorio, a team of local volunteers will serve three-course lunches to guests in need from the community, including the homeless and isolated members. 

Food for Soul’s Refettorios were thought up by Chef Massimo Bottura in 2015, with projects already open in Milan, Rio de Janeiro, Modena, Bologna, London, Paris and Naples.

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