Skift Breaking News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Tourism

Canada’s Travel Bans Were Ineffective at Stopping Covid — Study

14 hours ago

A review into Canada’s strict travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic has claimed they did little to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

The report, called Evaluating Canada’s Pandemic Border and Travel Policies: Lessons Learned, was written by four Canadian doctors specializing in infectious diseases and pandemic management, and was published just days before the country said it would lift all entry restrictions from Oct. 1.

It said that mandatory arrival and departure testing, quarantines, travel advisories, and other border restrictions did not materially reduce the spread of variants of concern across Canada.

The report echoes a review carried out in July into the UK’s “traffic light” system of travel restrictions, on which the government spent $585 million. The UK government, ultimately, did not know whether the system worked or whether the cost was worth the disruption caused, according to the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons.

However, it’s worth noting that this latest study may be self-serving; it was commissioned by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada in partnership with the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable.

However, they argue that with the benefit of hindsight — namely more than two years of analysis — there was no scientific basis to apply stricter health measures to travel and tourism than to other industries.

“Enough time has passed for us to make a scientific assessment as to whether the travel restrictions introduced by the federal government were successful in containing the spread of the virus and its variants,” said Dr. Zain Chagla, Infectious Diseases Physician and Associate Professor at McMaster University.

“At best, travel restrictions are estimated to delay the impact of a variant of concern by a few days,” the report stated.

It also found there was no convincing evidence that pre-departure and on-arrival testing and surveillance had a significant impact on local transmission in Canadian communities.

Alternative measures, such as community wastewater testing, were also deemed to be more accessible surveillance mechanisms to identify variants without inconveniencing travelers and requiring significant government and industry resources.

Tourism

Hong Kong to End Hotel Quarantine From September 26

5 days ago

Inbound arrivals to Hong Kong will not be required to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine from September 26.

Chief Executive John Lee made an announcement on Friday marking an end to some of the strictest restrictions imposed by a country during the pandemic.

Hong Kong has also replaced the requirement of a pre-arrival polymerase chain reaction test with a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of departure.

Inbound arrivals would still need to take a test at the airport but unlike earlier where they had to wait for the results, this would be more of a test-and-go measure and travelers would also be able to take public transport from the airport.

However, they would be required to self-monitor at home for three days and would not be able to dine in at restaurants and visit bars. On days 4 and 6, travellers would need to take mandatory polymerase chain reaction tests.

One of the last few destinations that still follows a stringent Covid policy for inbound arrivals, Hong Kong has been progressively easing restricstions, the pace of which quickened after Lee took charge as the city chief.

Daily Covid cases in Hong have now fallen below 6000.

Lo Chung-mau, the city’s health chief, mentioned that the shortening of the quarantine period in August to three days in a hotel and four at home had resulted in a 20 percent increase in inbound arrivals.

However, speaking at an aviation conference in Qatar on Wednesday, Willie Walsh, director general of International Air Transport Association, said that the stringent Covid policies have resulted in Hong Kong losing its position as a global aviation hub.

A once-vibrant financial hub of Asia, pressure had been mounting on the Hong Kong government to fully reopen its international borders. 

On Thursday, Japan announced its decision to reopen to mass tourism from next month. Asian destinations will surely be competing with each other to bring back tourists into the country and help resurrect the economy.

Tourism

Do Magazines and Newspapers Still Influence Where You Take Your Vacations?

2 weeks ago

Forty-five percent of global consumers make travel decisions based on information they gather in newspapers and magazines, according to a survey by UK-based market research company YouGov.

South Africans are the most likely plan to travel based on information appearing in newspapers and magazine articles, with 62 percent of respondents agreeing with the statement below. A majority of respondents in Asian countries such as Vietnam, India and the United Arab Emirates said the newspaper and magazine articles influenced their travel decisions. Meanwhile, respondents in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States are the least likely to be swayed by information in print.

Fifty-one percent of respondents who are influenced by newspaper and magazine articles on travel said they notice advertisements in such media.

Courtesy YouGov

Tourism

UK Government Not Clear if Covid Travel Restrictions Worth $585 Million Worked

2 months ago

Despite spending around $585 million on implementing its traffic light system as part of its wider response to manage travel during the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK government does not know whether the system worked or whether the cost was worth the disruption caused, according to a report by the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons.

The government introduced health measures at the border from 2020 and implemented controls in four main phases, and from early 2021 operated a new “traffic light system” that broadly remained in place, with modifications, until March 2022. The traffic light system placed countries on red, amber or green lists, with more restrictions applying for travel from red-list countries and fewer for green.

The report released on Tuesday stated that while the government did not track spending on implementing health measures, the National Audit Office estimated that the government spent $585 million on the traffic light system in 2021–22.

The government also did not strike the right balance between its reliance on the travel industry to implement travel controls and the support it provided.

“Carriers were legally responsible for checking that everyone travelling to the UK had submitted a Passenger Locator Form recording their contact information and recent travel history. This imposed extra costs on carriers in a period where their revenue had fallen dramatically,” the report stated.

Although the government provided access to up to $9.6 billion of financial support during the pandemic, this was mostly general support from the furlough scheme. It did not provide any additional financial support to carriers to implement the travel controls it introduced.

Despite government’s reliance on carriers, it sometimes did not provide carriers with sufficient notice ahead of public statements that travel rules were changing. People travelling found the rules difficult
to understand, and 40 percent of them did not know the rules on self-isolation, according to the report.

While the National Audit Office noted that changes at short notice in the fast-moving environment of the pandemic was inevitable, but the processes for communicating these changes to those responsible for implementing them, in advance of a public announcement, were not timely.

“The government is not learning lessons fast enough from the pandemic and is missing opportunities to react quickly to future emergencies… In the longer term, health measures may be needed to deal with new variants of Covid-19 or other diseases such as monkeypox, so government needs to ensure it is able to respond quickly,” stated the report.

Cruises

CDC No Longer Tracks Cruise Ship Covid Outbreaks

2 months ago

The Center for Disease Control has retired its Covid-19 Program for Cruise Ships, effective Monday. Under the program, the CDC monitored Covid outbreaks on cruise ships. Under the program’s color-coding system, cruise ships were coded with colors indicating the number of positive Covid-19 tests among the crew who boarded within a 14-day span. 

“While cruising poses some risk of COVID-19 transmission, CDC will continue to publish guidance to help cruise ships continue to provide a safer and healthier environment for crew, passengers, and communities going forward,” the agency said on its website.

Travelers can contact the cruise line directly about outbreaks occurring aboard their ship.

Earlier this year, the CDC removed its Covid-19 notice against cruise travel.

Hotels

Desperate Hotels in a Rush Left to Hire Inexperienced Staff

3 months ago

Heavily-understaffed European hotel brands are now scrambling to hire workers, left with applicants with no experience or even no track record, according to Reuters.

Accor needs 35,000 employees in the 110 countries that it operates in. The hotel brand has been conducting trial initiatives to recruit people who have never worked in the industry, Reuters quoted CEO Sebastien Bazin as saying.

Accor had also announced that it would be recruiting 12,000 overseas temporary employees to operate its temporary housing units for the Qatar World Cup.

IHG Hotels & Resorts faces a 20 to 25 percent staff shortage, according to Keith Barr its CEO.

Widespread job vacancies and upward pressure on labour costs in UK’s hospitality sector had been highlighted by a CGA survey in April. The survey cited staffing issues as a major reason for impeding hospitality’s recovery from Covid-19.

Hospitality staff, who had been furloughed or terminated during Covid, have found better paying jobs in other industries and are no longer keen to return, aggravating the staffing crisis.

Further afield in the U.S., nearly all hotels are experiencing staffing shortages, and half report being severely understaffed, according to a new survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Some 97 percent of respondents are experiencing a staffing shortage, 49 percent severely so. The most critical staffing need was housekeeping, with 58 percent ranking it as their biggest challenge.

As travel comes back with a bang, airports and airlines have also been struggling with staffing issues contributing to the chaos for travelers.

In a bid to address the labor shortage at airports, the UK is speeding up national security checks for new airport workers. German airports, on the other hand, will be filling staff shortages by hiring temporary workers from Turkey.

Tourism

China Cuts Quarantine Time for International Travelers to 7 Days

3 months ago

The National Health Commission of China has slashed the quarantine time for inbound travellers by half.

International arrivals will now only need to spend seven days in a centralized quarantine facility, and then monitor their health at home for three days, down from seven previously.

Relaxing its stringent zero-Covid policy has already spurred travel industry share prices, in particular airline stocks. China’s measures over the past year resulted in international flights running at just 2 percent of pre-pandemic levels, according to reports.

The share price of Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines’ rose by almost 2.5 percent in early trading on Tuesday.

The restrictions have long deterred cross-border travel, and frustrated millions of Chinese citizens living outside of their country. Widespread restrictions also prompted major hotel companies to tread cautiously regarding future development in the country.

Online Travel

Phew! Travel Booking Windows Are Increasing Again

5 months ago

Fascinating data point from Expedia Group Media Solutions in its latest Q1 Travel Trend Report: the booking windows which had shrunk dramatically over the last two years of the pandemic uncertainty and low traveler confidence, is now coming back up, based on data from all across the Expedia network and surveys. This is a welcome sign of travel industry and more certainty of business forecasts.

“Growing traveler confidence contributed to lengthening search windows in Q1, with global share of searches in the 180+ day search window increasing 190% and the 0- to 21–day search window decreasing 15% quarter-over-quarter.

Regionally, shorter search window share in APAC and LATAM held steady between Q4 2021 and Q1 2022, while EMEA and NORAM travelers searched further out, with the 91- to 180–day search window increasing 140% and 60%, respectively. The lengthening search windows in these regions is another indicator that summer travel demand in the Northern Hemisphere may surge in 2022.”

Other data points on the booking windows:

  • In Q1, 60% of global domestic searches fell within the 0- to 30– day window, a 10% decrease compared to Q4, while the share of searches in 91- to 180–day window increased 80% quarter- over-quarter.
  • Global international search share for the 91- to 180+ day window increased 35% quarter over quarter, with the 91- to 180–day window seeing the largest gains.

Filters

Tags

coronavirus

Clear Filters