Colors: Yellow Color
Colors: Yellow Color

Leaders of several major U.S. airlines met online Friday with White House officials to press their case against requiring coronavirus tests for passengers on domestic flights, saying it would undermine the already fragile industry.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki downplayed speculation that the Biden administration could soon impose a requirement that passengers on domestic flights first pass a COVID-19 test. But she stopped short of taking the idea off the table. A person familiar with the discussions said the airline CEOs talked with White House coronavirus-response coordinator Jeff Zients, according to the person, who spoke anonymously to discuss a private meeting.

The CEOs of American, United, Southwest, Alaska and JetBlue all took part in the meeting, according to industry officials. The meeting was arranged after Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said that a testing requirement before domestic flights was under consideration.

Since late January, the CDC has required that international travellers show a negative COVID-19 test or recovery from the virus before they board a flight to the U.S. The airline industry generally supports that rule, believing that testing could eventually replace tougher international travel restrictions, such as quarantines.

Airlines reacted with alarm, however, when CDC officials raised the possibility of testing larger numbers of passengers on domestic flights. Airlines officials say that would further devastate air travel, which has still not returned even to half its pre-pandemic level. They worry that the additional cost of a test would discourage people from taking shorter trips.

The airlines also argue that there isn’t enough testing capacity to test every passenger. More than 1 million people went through checkpoints at U.S. airports in one recent day, according to figures from the Transportation Security Administration. They also say that requiring people to take a coronavirus test before flights would cause more people to drive — merely shifting the risk of spreading the virus from planes to cars.

Airline unions have joined the push against testing domestic passengers. The Southwest Airlines pilots’ union said a testing mandate “would decimate domestic air travel demand, put aviation jobs at risk, and create serious unintended consequences.”

 

To solidify Nevis’ position as the definitive “Island of Love,” the Nevis Tourism Authority (NTA) has introduced a specialty cocktail with aphrodisiac properties for Valentine’s Day.

Inspired by Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, the Nevisan Kiss was conceived by the award-winning Nevisian mixologist, Mr. Kremour Maloney. Mr. Maloney says: “Aphrodite was also Cupid’s mother, the symbol of Valentine’s love and passion, and she was acclaimed to have given us the gift of pleasure and the power of seduction, all elements that stir those lustful feelings that are captured in her namesake, Aphrodisiac, and we deliver in the Nevisian Kiss.”

Aromatic and spiced, the Nevisian Kiss contains three magical elixirs with aphrodisiac qualities that have been used through the ages: Cinnamon for blood flow and sexual libido; Ginger to increase body heat and a heightened heart rate; and Nutmeg, reputed to be “Viagra for Women,” also raises body heat, sweetens breath, and acts as an all-round stimulant. The foundation of the Nevisian Kiss is the Nevisian rum, Captain Nils Viking Rum, and combined these ingredients are brewed to make a potent mix. 

The recipe for the Nevisian Kiss is a blend of 1.5 oz. Captain Nils Viking Rum, 1.0 oz. fresh lime juice, 1.0 oz. cinnamon infused simple syrup, 0.75 oz. apple juice, 2 slices of ginger root, and finished with a garnish of fresh grated nutmeg. To ensure you have your Nevisian Kiss blended to perfection, Mr. Maloney will host a demonstration via a live stream on @NevisNaturally, the handle for Instagram on Sunday, February 14, at 1 pm AST (12:00 pm EST).

      

“Nevis, The Island of Love,” is renowned as a destination for all things romance: engagements, weddings, and romantic holidays. This Valentine’s Day, Nevis wants to assist you in declaring your love to your significant other in grand style by illuminating your commitment on the NTA’s social media platforms.  To be featured, all it requires for your participation is to share your love story, titled “Nevis Love Story” with their social media handles for the NTA and they will create a personalized image in your honour.

On receipt of any story, the NTA will create a “Sandy Love” graphic by drawing a heart on a pristine beach, lapped by the warm Caribbean waters, and take photos of the images.  The graphic will feature the names of the lovers that submitted a “Nevis Love Story” with their social media handles tagged, and on Valentine’s Day, the tagged images will be posted on the NTA’s social media platforms and shared to all their followers. Participants are encouraged to share their love story with the world by reposting this virtual symbol to celebrate their love, sealing their commitment with a Nevisian Kiss.

Nevis is part of the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis and is located in the Leeward Islands of the West Indies. Conical in shape with a volcanic peak at its center known as Nevis Peak, the island is the birthplace of the founding father of the United States, Alexander Hamilton. 

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has warned that the region’s economic survival is in “serious jeopardy” as the tourism-dependent economies struggle with the consequences of the pandemic and travel restrictions being imposed and considered by its most popular countries of origin for travel. CHTA welcomed the new United States administration’s balanced international travel measures, which call for returning travellers and those entering the United States to show proof of receiving a negative antigen or PCR test while not mandating quarantines but recommending self-isolation upon returning.

The organization, whose membership includes 33 of the region’s national hotel and tourism associations, expressed its appreciation and concerns in a letter to President Joseph Biden and US government officials last week in response to the administration’s call for input on international travel protocols as part of an Executive Order on the matter. In throwing its support behind requiring travellers entering the US to show proof of a negative antigen test within 72 hours of travel, CHTA cautioned against the imposition of mandatory PCR tests for travellers returning to or entering the US from the Caribbean highlighting the stringent virus containment measures already in place within the region and the region’s challenges in administering a much larger number of PCR tests.

The organization said that should this become a new requirement, it would “severely strain the current testing capacity of many Caribbean jurisdictions” citing the availability, costs and processing time as essentially rendering much of the region unable to meet local and US traveller testing demand. CHTA noted that, in recent weeks, the region has moved aggressively to increase its capacity to administer PCR and antigen tests as it aims to meet local demand and adhere to new testing requirements for travelers and returning residents to its key source markets.

  

The organization indicated should this be put in place it would be devastating to the region’s economic health and also have further ramifications on the US economy. CHTA cited the “inextricable link between the economies of the Caribbean and the United States, and Florida, in particular, which provides many of the goods and services supportive of travel to the Caribbean.

Eastern Airways is to serve the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar from Birmingham Airport starting from May 28, marking the return of Eastern Airways to the airport and the return of the route. The airline will start by re-connecting the Midlands with the popular destination located on the Iberian Peninsula, twice weekly on a Monday and Friday.

As the UK’s second largest city, Birmingham will be linked again to Gibraltar after a four year hiatus to provide connectivity for both the business and leisure markets. Southampton to Gibraltar has also been announced simultaneously. The service will be operated on the airline’s Embraer 190 e-Jet fleet with fares starting from £74.99 one-way, including taxes and a 15kg hold baggage allowance as standard. Flights are now available to book at www.easternairways.com

Roger Hage, GM for Eastern Airways, said: “This marks a major development in the network Eastern Airways offer as our first regular scheduled service to the Mediterranean peninsula adjoining Spain. With a quality array of hotels, beaches, water-sports and heritage, this UK territory offers an exciting short-break destination aside from its role in UK business, notably financial services and maritime. With easy access to the south-coast of Spain also a benefit, working together with HM Government of Gibraltar has enabled this to be the first service to be announced, supporting UK regional airports and their role in direct European connectivity.”

Minister for Business, Tourism, Transport and the Port of Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar the Hon Vijay Daryanani MP said: “I stated recently that I would be able to announce the addition of another airline with services to Gibraltar and therefore it gives me great pleasure to make the announcement on Eastern Airways today. The airline will be operating services to Gibraltar from Southampton Airport and Birmingham Airport in the UK.

“The services to Southampton open up a new catchment area for Gibraltar and the resumption of services from Birmingham will be welcomed by many. In these challenging times, these new routes will create further opportunities for business and leisure traffic to Gibraltar. The news will no doubt be welcomed and embraced by the local business community and the tourism, retail and hospitality industries.

“The Government continues to work, planning for the brighter future that will come after this pandemic. Work to ensure that tourism recovers and flourishes after this pandemic does not stop. This Government is delivering air services for Gibraltar in an unprecedented manner and is committed to adding further routes and more carriers in due course.”

Tom Screen, Aviation Director for Birmingham Airport said: "It is great news that Eastern Airways is back at Birmingham offering customers the chance to fly direct to Gibraltar again, this route has been un-served from Birmingham since 2017. Gibraltar is a popular destination to our leisure customers, for a sunny getaway, but also an important business route providing access to this British territory.

“We believe that this route will be a sign of things to come as they develop their network further. Both Birmingham Airport and Eastern Airways have a fully enhanced cleaning structure in place and can reassure customers that their safety if is of paramount importance.” Eastern Airways’ services have been carefully reintroduced, aligned to changes in Covid-19 restrictions, with extensive cleaning measures on-board and throughout all aspects of the airport for the safety of all passengers.

 For the first time in nearly 40 years, Caribbean Travel Marketplace, the premier annual gathering where Caribbean hospitality and tourism professionals meet with regional colleagues and international buyers and sellers, will be staged virtually.

The marketing event, now in its 39th edition, is traditionally held during January, but due to the impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on travel and in-person events, the event will take place in an online environment from May 11-14, 2021.

Vanessa Ledesma, acting Director General and CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), which hosts the annual gathering, confirmed that Marketplace organizers are crafting an agenda that will allow participants more time to engage with tour operators, travel advisors, partners, trade and consumer media and influencers, to network, showcase and sell their destinations and services.

Although not meeting face-to-face is a major change for CHTA’s marquis event, Ledesma is confident that participating in what has become one of the region’s most highly anticipated travel, tourism and hospitality events will deliver countless benefits to attendees. “This virtual edition of Marketplace provides access to the world with no restrictions, and opens the event to a broader audience as the logistics of travel are removed, thereby facilitating further connectivity and networking,” she said, encouraging would-be participants to take full advantage of the robust line-up of events and offerings.

Major destination partnership opportunities are also being developed: “There will be pre-Marketplace components that will help global buyers to gain a better understanding of the destinations and suppliers, and to receive briefings on entry requirements and safety protocols,” advised Ledesma.

In its virtual format, Caribbean Travel Marketplace, which typically lasts for just over two days, will be presented over the course of four days in May. According to Ledesma: “It’s longer than usual because the online format allows us to incorporate supplemental elements without impacting the core buying and selling appointments.”

In preparing for its inaugural online format, the Caribbean Travel Marketplace task force reviewed feedback from attendees of previous Marketplace events and analyzed other virtual events to incorporate best practices. The show will seek to maximize attendees’ time and avoid long hours spent in front of a computer screen. Events will be scheduled to accommodate the participation of delegates located in multiple time zones, and will allow for more than one representative per company at pre-scheduled appointments.

“We are excited about the opportunity to develop and execute an event that is representative of our diverse culture and legendary hospitality. Caribbean Travel Marketplace has been a groundbreaker in its 39 years, having held some of the most iconic and memorable events in the region. We are ready to showcase the region and our diverse product offerings to the world virtually,” Ledesma noted.

She also confirmed the launch of “CHTA: Forward Together”, the association’s membership drive, which highlights the myriad benefits of membership in the organization that represents and promotes the interests of the private sector of the most significant economic driver in the Caribbean.

The Forward Together campaign highlights the association’s powerful advocacy, its hallmark Caribbean Travel Marketplace, the Resilience Series, Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF), Taste of the Caribbean, and Health Training Series.

 

The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism is on a mission to educate travellers that the Territory is an American overseas territory, and as such, travel to St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas or Water Island is within the United States’ domestic jurisdiction. Though not part of the contiguous United States, travel to the USVI does not require a passport from U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland. 

“We, too, are American,” reminded Commissioner Joseph Boschulte as he and his team work around the clock to clarify misunderstanding of recent Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel requirements related to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic for all air passengers arriving in the United States.

“The new requirements do not apply to persons traveling or returning directly from the U.S. Virgin Islands to the U.S. mainland,” he said. However, passengers traveling by air from St. Maarten or the British Virgin Islands, for example, are subject to the CDC’s three-day testing requirement “because they are coming from a foreign country and their first point of entry into the United States is either St. Thomas or St. Croix.”

“But if you are leaving St. Thomas or St. Croix and you are heading to or returning to the U.S. mainland, the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require passengers to test,” said the Commissioner, who explained that the USVI’s testing requirements are for domestic travel to the Territory, for example, from Miami to St. Croix, or from Dallas to St. Thomas.

All travellers five years of age or older must use the Travel Screening Portal at usvitravelportal.com to submit the required COVID-19 test result prior to traveling to the Territory. Travellers are required to provide evidence of a negative a COVID-19 molecular or antigen test result taken within five days of commencement of travel to the Territory or a positive antibody result received within four months of commencement of travel to the Territory.

Despite the downturn in leisure travel since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of Americans continue to visit the islands, arriving by air and sea, validating findings by both Squaremouth.com and KAYAK, of an increase in demand for travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

“Due to COVID-19, there are more travel protocols and restrictions in place now than ever before, and we realize that travellers may be overwhelmed and confused by the different requirements established by local, state or national authorities,” said Commissioner Boschulte. “Our team is here to help,” he offered, advising travellers to visit usviupdate.com for more details, and to check with their intended destination or state of residence concerning specific COVID-19-related travel requirements for arriving there.