Colors: Yellow Color
Colors: Yellow Color

As part of its global efforts to work with governments and tourism agencies to support responsible travel and local economic growth, Airbnb announced its partnership with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) to promote its member countries across Airbnb's vast global community. This collaboration is designed to amplify the Caribbean's recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic by promoting safe, responsible travel to the region.

As part of this partnership, Airbnb is launching a marketing campaign that includes the rollout of a series of email newsletters and a landing page highlighting the CTO's member countries and their respective protocols for safe travel during this time. Airbnb has also pledged to share data with the CTO, including travel trends, to facilitate informed marketing decisions during this recovery period. The promotional landing page for this partnership will be unique to others worldwide. It will integrate 18 countries from the English, French and Dutch Caribbean, promote homes in each destination, and links to each country's website. 

"With the Caribbean continuing to re-open, we're helping to usher in the safe return of travel to this wonderful region by shining a light on the many places to see and things to do," said Carlos Munoz, Airbnb Policy Manager for Central America and the Caribbean. "We're also excited to promote the important economic impact driven by hosting on Airbnb."

This partnership is one of the many initiatives in the CTO's ongoing programme to help its members rebuild tourism in their destinations. "The partnership with Airbnb will help us to promote the region responsibly by providing our members with a platform to showcase their destinations while at the same time highlighting the health safety measures that each has implemented to ensure that visitors can enjoy a safe Caribbean experience during this time," shared Neil Walters, Acting Secretary-General of the CTO.

The St. Lucia Tourism Authority is planning a new series of virtual global roadshows for the travel trade in readiness for the easing of travel restrictions later this year.

Aimed at travel agents and reservation staff in the main source markets - the US, the UK and Canada - the three events come as vaccination programmes are underway and holidaymakers are looking ahead to when they can travel abroad again.

The global roadshows will be different from webinars as they go a step further in recreating a fam trip experience online. Participants will get a close-up perspective of Saint Lucia’s hotels, activities and landscape to show what makes it a compelling destination for visitors.

Hosted live by the sales team in Saint Lucia with market representatives on hand to answer questions and provide specific information, the roadshows are a fun and interactive way to update and inform agents who sell holidays in the Caribbean.

P&O Cruises has said that anyone wanting to take its cruises around the British Isles this summer will need to be vaccinated first. Travellers will have to prove that they have had two coronavirus jabs to take the trips which depart from June.

Saga Cruises and Virgin Voyages in the US have made similar moves recently. It comes amid renewed fears about the damaged travel industry, with airports warning that summer 2020 passenger numbers were their lowest since 1975.

P&O Cruises, part of the Carnival group, will run trips on two ships this summer. The Britannia will cruise from Southampton along the south coast of England for three or four days, and the Iona will travel up to Scotland from Southampton for seven-day trips.

Carnival said that passengers wishing to board would have to have had both.

Guests will also have to have travel insurance that "must include medical and repatriation cover" and medical expenses related to Covid-19. Guests and crew will be expected to respect social distancing rules and wear masks when appropriate. Should anyone test positive on board, they will be isolated and quarantined.

Paul Ludlow, the president of P&O Cruises, said: “Carnival expected a government-approved way to prove people had been vaccinated by the summer.

"This is moving at pace," he said. "We anticipate by the 27 June, which is our first sailing, there will be a government-accredited scheme to prove your vaccination, but at the very least, then of course, a letter from your GP would suffice."

He said that P&O Cruises was "in close conversation with government every day" about travellers being able to prove their vaccination status.

"At the moment we're stipulating that all guests of all ages must be vaccinated to come on board with us."

Carnival follows Saga cruises, which said in January that all customers had to be vaccinated. British Airways also plans to let people register when they have had two vaccinations on a smartphone app. The cruise industry was brought to its knees after regulators around the world stopped ships from sailing to try to limit outbreaks.

There were a number of deaths from Covid-19 after people were infected on board Carnival ships early last year. The first UK citizen to die of coronavirus was infected on the Carnival-run Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. At the time, the outbreak on the ship was the largest outside mainland China, with more than 600 people infected.

Simon Calder, travel editor of the Independent, said: "A lot is unusual" about the "staycation" cruises P&O is planning.

"Because the voyages are 'cruises to nowhere', the captains will look at the weather forecast and aim to sail where it is warm and sunny." He added the P&O concept is "you can look but you can't touch".

"On a voyage around the Scottish islands, for example, Iona will anchor off Iona, the magical island after which she was named, but you can't step ashore," he said, adding: “Doing this circumvents all kinds of problems.

"There are concerns about shore excursions. Some ports of call may not welcome hundreds of people from a wide range of locations wandering around, and conversely some cruise lines do not want their passengers to mingle with locals - MSC Cruises has made it a condition of travel.” Carnival has been burning through cash and last quarter said it had made a net loss of $2.2bn.

Airport operators have also been on the ropes due to the coronavirus crisis. They said that passenger numbers travelling through UK airports last summer plunged to their lowest level since 1975. Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee called for tailored government support.

She said: "Despite dealing with the biggest crisis in their history, most airports remain operational to support vital public services, such as Royal Mail, air ambulances, Coastguard and the National Police Air Service, as well as other critical services such as freight, including PPE and vaccines."  The Unite union also called for tailored support, saying that more than 5,100 UK aviation and related jobs have been lost every month since February 2020.

Unite assistant general secretary for transport Diana Holland said: "It has been heart-breaking to see so many UK jobs go in aviation when we know that demand will come back.

"A staggering number of workers in the sector are now unemployed but when we look across the Channel, we see that a different approach from governments actually saves these jobs.” The government has previously said that it has provided unprecedented support to businesses across sectors of the economy including aviation.

A spokesperson said that the government was committed to restarting cruise travel when it is safe to do so, and is working closely with the sector to prepare for a safe and successful restart.

The spokesperson said: "We have put in place an unprecedented package of business support and recently extended government-backed loans and furlough payments to businesses, including in the travel industry. Around £7bn has been pledged to the aviation sector since the start of the pandemic, and through the Global Travel Taskforce we are working hard to restart international travel when it is safe to do so."

P&O Cruises has cancelled all international cruises on Arcadia, Aurora, Azura and Ventura until the end of August. Trips outside of the UK on Britannia and Iona have also been scrapped until the end of September.

P&O Cruises president, Paul Ludlow, said: “We remain in very close contact with the UK government and associated bodies as we monitor the latest situation and guidance on travel.

From the moment we see travel restrictions lifting we will begin the significant logistical task to restart our operations. It will take some time for the first ship to return to service, followed by the phased return of the remaining fleet.”

P&O Cruises will instead offer a series of short break and week-long UK cruises this summer.

The ex-UK trips will go on sale later in March.

A new study by travel insurance provider battleface reveals that Britsish people are willing to pay £22 per person on average for a PCR test (COVID test) before embarking on international travel. However, 33% said they would not be prepared to pay for a PCR test – either at home or at the airport - before travelling internationally.

As the prospect of international travel nears, many countries are requiring travellers to submit a negative PCR test result on arrival, taken within a certain time frame before travel. UK travellers are not permitted to use NHS tests for travel, except for freight drivers in certain circumstances. Private tests can cost £120 on the high street or over £200 at some clinics. Only 4% of those surveyed would be prepared to pay £75 or more for a PCR test, if it meant they could travel internationally, which is still considerably lower than the private PCR tests currently being offered to enable travel.

After almost 12 months together under lockdown restrictions, families should be looking forward to escaping to warmer climes and reunite with loved ones on holiday. However, 40% say they would not be willing pay for their family to have a PCR test to be able to travel.

The study of 2,000 UK adults was carried out between 5 and 9 March by Opinium Research on behalf of travel insurance provider battleface to look at the immediate motivators and barriers to international travel for 2021.

Sasha Gainullin, CEO, battleface comments: “It’s good news that the majority of travellers will be willing to take a COVID PCR test in order to go on holiday. That said, the current costs of PCR testing makes this option unviable for most travellers based on what they are prepared to spend on testing.

“Whilst vaccination passports and PCRs are expected to be the two key requirements for travel to restart, there is still a high degree of uncertainty which changes the risk profile for travel. The data shows that 23% are still prepared to travel without adequate medical cover, which is worrying given that a similar proportion of those asked (22%) said they have been caught out in fees when travelling without insurance.

“We urge travellers to check what the latest FCDO and destination entry requirements are before going away and, in addition to a PCR test or vaccine, ensure they have relevant and adequate travel insurance cover for the country they are travelling to.”

The U.S. Travel Association praised the Thursday introduction of one of its major legislative priorities: a bill providing much-needed assistance to the devastated travel industry through numerous key incentive and relief measures.

The bipartisan Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act provides stimulus needed to help bring back the millions of travel jobs lost to the pandemic. Specifically, the bill provides:

 A temporary business tax credit to revitalise business meetings, conferences and other structured events.

 A temporarily restored entertainment business expense deduction to help entertainment venues and performing arts centres recover.

 An individual tax credit to stimulate non-business travel.

 Tax relief for restaurants and food and beverage companies to help restore food service jobs and strengthen the entire American food supply chain.

The travel industry is by far the U.S. industry that has been hardest-hit by the COVID pandemic, losing half a trillion dollars in travel-related spending last year—10 times the negative economic impact of 9/11. Almost four in 10 U.S. jobs lost in 2020 are in the leisure and hospitality sector.

“The evidence is abundantly clear: there will not be a U.S. economic recovery without a travel recovery, and travel cannot recover without strong and innovative policy assistance,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “Even with the ray of hope provided by vaccines, it is unclear when travel demand will be able to rebound in earnest.

This bill contains critical provisions to assist in rebuilding this crucial but suffering American industry.”

U.S. Travel is leading a campaign to secure support for the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act, submitting a letter to Capitol Hill signed by more than 80 major travel-related companies and organizations.

The principal sponsors of the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act are Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and Reps. Steven Horsford (D-NV), Darin LaHood (R-IL), Tom Rice (R-SC) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA).