News & Views of the Week

 

Greetings from all of us at GATEWAY CRUISES 'N TOURS:

Changes in the industry are abundant and they are also constant.  

Currently the cruise lines remain in a holding pattern as the CDC has not finalized ways to get them back to the Amerian ports and then to lift the no sail order.

They are in the process of returning ships closer by but the mock cruises that will be required have not even begun to come together.

We will update you when we can and when we know more but for now we don't think cruises will return till spring of this year and maybe even beyond then.

Another source of concern is the Alaska season.  The Candaian government will not lift a no sail order in their ports until the virsu is more under control here in America so the Alska season at this time is temporary on line but stand by for further updates on that as well.

NEWS AND VIEWS have continued during this time and we will update this section as well as the COOL POSSIBILITIES when we have the chance to do so.

Please stay safe an dhealthy and remember you will GETAWAY FROM YOUR EVERYDAY soon.

 Bill and Fred

 

Canada extends cruise ban for one year, dealing a blow to Alaska season

By Johanna Jainchill 

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Feb 04, 2021

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The Carnival Miracle cruising in Alaska.

The Carnival Miracle cruising in Alaska.

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In a huge blow to the Alaska cruise season, the government of Canada extended its cruise ship ban for one year, until February 2022.

Canada's Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, announced an interim extension of the country's prohibition on cruise vessels carrying more than 100 people from operating in Canadian waters. The order also prohibits passenger vessels carrying more than 12 people from entering Arctic coastal waters.

CLIA-North West & Canada (CLIA-NWC) said it was "surprised by the length of the extension" of the temporary cruise prohibition, which had been scheduled to end Feb. 28.

"We hope to have an opportunity to revisit this timeline and demonstrate our ability to address Covid-19 in a cruise setting with science-backed measures, as CLIA members are doing in Europe and parts of Asia where cruising has resumed on a limited basis," said Charlie Ball, chairman of CLIA-NWC. "The pandemic is having a devastating impact on local businesses, and two years without cruising in Canada will have potentially irreversible consequences for families throughout the country."

The Alyeska resort in Alaska.

The Alyeska resort in Alaska. Photo Credit: HagePhoto

Transport Canada, which said that cruise vessels in Canadian waters pose a risk to its healthcare systems, also advised Canadian citizens and permanent residents to avoid all travel on cruise ships outside Canada until further notice.

"Temporary prohibitions to cruise vessels and pleasure craft are essential to continue to protect the most vulnerable among our communities and avoid overwhelming our health care systems," Alghabra said in a statement. "This is the right and responsible thing to do."

Unless the U.S. gives cruise ships relief from the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA), which mandates that foreign-flagged ships call on at least one foreign port on any U.S. itinerary, the ruling would effectively ends any hopes for large ship cruising in Alaska this summer. Large ships operating in Alaska come under the jurisdiction of both Canada and the U.S., and cruises either begin, end or call in Vancouver and Victoria as part of Alaska itineraries.

 

The Norwegian Joy alongside the Canada Place terminal in Vancouver in 2019.

The Norwegian Joy alongside the Canada Place terminal in Vancouver in 2019. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

CLIA told Travel Weekly earlier this month that if Canada's restrictions were likely to remain in effect "for an indeterminate period, the cruise industry may consider asking for temporary relief from the PVSA."

The late summer Canada/New England season is also unlikely to operate unless by then the order is rescinded based on improving conditions.

According to CLIA-NWC, in 2019, the cruise industry generated a total of $4.25 billion in economic activity in Canada, a 33% increase from 2016, and supported 29,000 Canadian jobs paying $1.43 billion in wages.

"We stand ready to work with Canadian health and transportation officials to operationalize a path forward," Ball added.

 

 

CDC Issues Order Requiring Travelers To Wear Face Masks

by Matt Turner

Feb 1, 2021 10:53am

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Photo by Hispanolistic/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Order on January 29 requiring the wearing of masks (over the mouth and nose) by travelers to prevent spread of COVID-19. Conveyance operators must also require all persons onboard to wear masks when boarding, disembarking and for the duration of travel. Additionally, operators of transportation hubs must require all persons to wear a mask when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub.

This order must be followed by all passengers on public conveyances (including, airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares and more) traveling into, within or out of the United States, as well as conveyance operators (crew, drivers, conductors and others) and operators of transportation hubs (airports, bus or ferry terminals, train or subway stations, seaports, ports of entry) or any other area that provides transportation in the United States.

Conveyance operators are told to board only those who are wearing masks; instruct travelers that federal law requires wearing a mask and failure to comply violates federal law; monitor travelers onboard the conveyance for anyone who is not wearing a mask and to seek compliance from them; disembark anyone who refuses to comply; and provide travelers with prominent and adequate notice to facilitate awareness and compliance of the requirement to wear a mask.

The CDC’s order notes that the requirement to wear a mask shall not apply under several circumstances, including while eating, drinking or taking medications for brief periods; while communicating with someone who is hearing-impaired and the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication; if, on an aircraft, the wearing of oxygen masks is needed; and to verify one’s identity such as during a Transportation Security Administration screening or by a ticket or gate agent.

Excluded from the order are private conveyances operated for non-commercial use (among others).

For additional guidance on the use of masks to slow the spread of COVID-19, visit www.cdc.gov.

 

 

Canada to quarantine travelers, suspend flights to Mexico and the Caribbean

By Rob Gillies, Associated Press 

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Jan 29, 2021

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Air Canada is among the carriers cancelling air service to the Caribbean and Mexico starting on Sunday.

Air Canada is among the carriers cancelling air service to the Caribbean and Mexico starting on Sunday.

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TORONTO (AP) -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced stricter restrictions on travelers in response to new, likely more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus -- including making it mandatory for travelers to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense when they arrive in Canada and suspending airline service to Mexico and all Caribbean destinations until April 30.

Trudeau said in addition to the pre-boarding test Canada already requires, the government will be introducing mandatory PCR testing at the airport for people returning to Canada.

U.S. airlines say CDC has not reached out about Covid testing on domestic flights

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"Travelers will then have to wait for up to three days at an approved hotel for their test results, at their own expense, which is expected to be more than $2000," Trudeau said.

"Those with negative test results will then be able to quarantine at home under significantly increased surveillance and enforcement."

The steep cost for the hotel stay includes the cost for a private PCR test, security, food and the cost of measures the designated hotels will have to take to keep their workers safe.

The prime minister said those with positive tests will be immediately required to quarantine in designated government facilities to make sure they're not carrying variants of particular concern.

Trudeau also said the government and Canada's main airlines have agreed to suspend service to sun destinations right away. He said Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, and Air Transat are cancelling air service to all Caribbean destinations and Mexico starting Sunday until April 30.

"They will be making arrangements with their customers who are currently on a trip in these regions to organize their return flights," Trudeau said.

He said starting next week, all international passenger flights must land at the following four airports: Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal.

"We will also, in the coming weeks, be requiring nonessential travelers to show a negative test before entry at the land border with the US, and we are working to stand up additional testing requirements for land travel," Trudeau said.

Canada already requires those entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days and to present a negative Covid-19 test taken within three days before arrival.

The move to require a hotel stay upon return would discourage vacations as people would not want to have to quarantine at a hotel at their own expense upon return.

"It's excellent. It's a shame it's this late. This is something they could have done ages ago," said Dr. Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto and the medical director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Sinai-University Health Network.

"This is definitely a step in the right direction."

More and more governments are thinking about ways to be more aggressive because of the new variants, delays in vaccines, the challenges with getting the population vaccinated and the strains on health care systems.

Trudeau also announced there will be a delay in part of the next shipment of the Moderna vaccine, which arrives next week. He said Canada will receive 78% of the expected amount, translating to 180,000 doses. 

 

Celebrity to Return to Mexican Riviera From Los Angeles

Jan 21, 2021

CelebrityMexicanRiviera_Hero

Celebrity Millennium offers new amenities following a recent enhancement.
Credit: 2021 Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises is set to resume sailings in 2021, and the brand is already looking to 2022 for a triumphant return to the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles. New seven- and eight-night itineraries onboard Celebrity Millennium will be the first from the line after eight years away from the region. A total of 12 sailings are scheduled from late September through mid-December.

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“With Celebrity Millennium sailing the summer 2022 Alaska season, we saw an opportunity to then head south and bring our stunning ship to the L.A. region,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity, in a press release. “As the ship has just completed a voyage of transformation, she will provide the perfect surroundings for West Coasters ready for their own exciting transformative getaway in 2022.”

The pair of Mexican Riviera routes will feature a combination of Cabo San Lucas (sometimes overnighting), Ensenada, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Scenic tours will showcase everything from beautiful Pacific Pearl beaches to Guadalupe Valley wine tastings.

Following the season in Mexico, Celebrity will sail a special 15-night Panama Canal transit over Christmas and New Year’s Day between Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The cruise will have seven relaxing sea days and call on Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, as well as Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Colon, Panama; and Cartagena, Colombia.

The Celebrity Millennium itself was recently enhanced as part of the multimillion-dollar Celebrity Revolution refurbishment program. Onboard, guests will now find new Exhale bedding and Cashmere Mattresses, as well as The Retreat, which encompasses an exclusive sundeck, a lounge and Luminae restaurant just for suite guests. Also redesigned are the ship’s signature spa and Sunset Bar.

What’s more, as part of its new Always Included approach, Wi-Fi access, drinks and tips are complimentary on Celebrity Cruises.

The Details
Celebrity Cruises
www.celebritycruises.com

 

French government shuts down Caribbean, Polynesian islands

By Christina Jelski 

By Gay Nagle Myers 

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Feb 02, 2021

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Tahitian sunset from the Tahiti Pearl Beach resort.

Tahitian sunset from the Tahiti Pearl Beach resort. Photo Credit: Jeri Clausing

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The French government, fearing the spread of deadlier and more contagious variants of the Covid-19 coronavirus, has closed the borders of its overseas territories indefinitely, including those in the Caribbean and French Polynesia.

Caribbean destinations that fall into that category are St. Barts, St. Martin, Martinique and Guadeloupe.

The French government took this action “independently of the will of our local authorities [desire] to keep St. Barts open,” said Nils DuFau, president of the St. Barts Tourism Board. The island was among the first in the Caribbean to reopen to visitors back in late June.

DeFau said St. Barts has had “some” Covid cases, “but we have managed to keep it at bay and the situation is well managed and under control.

"We are right now negotiating to ease the entry restriction and find an alternative solution. Our aim is to reopen the island’s borders as soon as possible.”

Visitors currently on the island will be able to leave within a few days.

French Polynesia, which includes the islands of Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea, has also temporarily halted inbound tourism, citing "the resurgence of Covid-19 cases around the world."

In a statement, French Polynesia's official tourism website, Tahiti Tourisme, announced that the travel suspension would go into effect on Feb. 3, with the duration of the measure to "be specified in the coming days."

Travelers currently in French Polynesia with a return scheduled for this week will be able to complete their trips as planned, though those with departures beyond that point are being advised to contact their airlines to confirm their flight schedule. 

According to a government update posted online, there will be exceptions to the travel freeze, with those traveling due to a serious personal or family-related matter, an emergency health situation or an urgent professional reason permitted entry to the destination. Travelers will only be allowed to board a flight to French Polynesia once they provide documentation proving that their reason for travel falls under one of those three categories.

  • Related: Travel Weekly's complete coverage on the Covid-19 crisis' impact on travel. 

All passengers 11 years and older entering the destination will also continue to be required to show proof of a negative PCR test taken less than three days prior to travel.

French Polynesia had previously reopened to international tourism on July 15.

 

What the COVID-19 Vaccine Means for Travel to Mexico

Feb 02, 2021

MexicoVaccine_PHOTO10201

More than half of U.S. travelers would feel comfortable traveling internationally six months after receiving a vaccine, according to a survey from Generali Global Assistance.
Credit: 2021 Riviera Nayarit Conventions and Visitors Bureau

The travel industry is eagerly awaiting the continued rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. But how will increased vaccination affect the travel industry in Mexico, and how long will it take for the positive effect to kick in?

“The vaccine is vital to the recovery of Mexico’s and the world’s tourism industry,” said Zachary Rabinor, founder, president and CEO of Journey Mexico, an upscale tour operator. “The vaccine will restore confidence in most people, allowing them to feel safe when traveling.”

Richard Zarkin, public relations manager for the Riviera Nayarit Conventions and Visitors Bureau, agreed about the vaccine’s importance. 

“Psychologically, once people get vaccinated, they’ll feel more comfortable traveling,” Zarkin said, adding that he expects airlines to increase their Mexico-bound service as the vaccine is more widely distributed. “Flights are going to jump.”

Granted, recovery may be slower than tourism officials would like. According to a 2021 poll by Yahoo Finance and The Harris Poll, only 28%of Americans plan to travel out of state within three months of getting vaccinated, with 50% planning out-of-state travel within six months of receiving the vaccine. An earlier survey by travel insurance provider Generali Global Assistance found that 54% of U.S. travelers would feel comfortable traveling internationally six months after receiving a vaccine.

Travel advisors should serve as timely, transparent and unbiased sources of information about the real time conditions surrounding their clients’ travel.

Nevertheless, Rabinor predicts that Mexico is well-positioned for rapid tourism growth.

“Many people are looking forward to a long-awaited vacation as soon as they feel it is safe to travel,” he said. “We expect a release in the big buildup of latent demand or a ‘boom’ in business as soon as travelers get vaccinated and confidence in traveling returns. We anticipate that people will stick to more familiar, accessible and closer-to-home destinations for their first trips. Mexico will be high on that list for Americans and Canadians.”

We anticipate that people will stick to more familiar, accessible and closer-to-home destinations for their first trips. Mexico will be high on that list for Americans and Canadians.

Ben Carothers, flight coordinator at Global Air Ambulance, a company that transports medical patients between the U.S. and Mexico, agrees that vaccinations are the most crucial element for substantial tourism recovery. 

“Americans' confidence about resuming normal life, including returning to traveling within Mexico, will be tied to evidence of [the vaccine’s] effectiveness,” he said. “Those figures should emerge within the next few months. As U.S. citizens begin to be immunized, they will once again feel comfortable traveling and vacationing in Mexico. By the end of 2021, we will be well on the way to seeing a full recovery of travel.”

By the end of 2021, we will be well on the way to seeing a full recovery of travel.

Destinations Look Ahead
Mexico is home to a variety of tourism-dependent vacation destinations, and local officials are eager to see the positive effects of the vaccine, both on health and the economy. 

“The vaccine is a key component of a whole health strategy and is a key factor in the economic recovery of our state and globally,” said Dario Flota Ocampo, director of the Quintana Roo Tourism Board, which represents Cancun, the Riviera Maya, Cozumel and other destinations in the Mexican Caribbean. “We expect the tourism sector worldwide to recover swiftly as more people get tested and vaccinated, allowing for greater mobility.”

Education and communication are especially important in constantly evolving situations like this, according to both Zarkin and Ocampo, whose organizations both maintain robust websites that are regularly updated with information about tests, vaccines and COVID-19 safety protocols. 

“We have direct and constant communication with travel agents, airlines, tour operators and the entire industry in general,” Ocampo said, “through virtual meetings, webinars, the Action Network weekly newsletter and statements, and via our social platforms and website.”

The Vaccination Process in Mexico
Travel to Mexico will likely increase as more U.S. travelers are vaccinated, of course, but it’s just as important for local populations to receive the vaccine. Like the U.S., Mexico is following a staged approach to vaccination, and the nation is better positioned to carry it out than many others, according to Ocampo. 

“Mexico was the first country in Latin America to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and we have been receiving vaccine shipments regularly,” he said. “The vaccination program in Quintana Roo started on Jan. 13 in six municipalities simultaneously, and the plan is to run it year round.”

As in the U.S., medical personnel and higher-risk groups are among the first to receive the vaccine in Mexico, with the general, under-age-40 population slated to be vaccinated between June 2021 and March 2022, according to Rabinor. 

“The vaccination process in Mexico will be slower, according to the plan outlined by Mexican authorities,” he said. “However, people who have been vaccinated will have more confidence in travel, regardless of the vaccination process in the destination, since they will be already protected. In addition, Mexico has done an excellent job in implementing safety protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which will continue. Travelers have already been traveling to Mexico throughout the pandemic and have returned home to share their experience of the strong safety protocol implementation, which, together with vaccines, will make people feel more confident moving forward.”

Until everyone is vaccinated, Rabinor stressed the need for travel advisors — and others — to stay on message.

“Travel advisors should serve as timely, transparent and unbiased sources of information about the real time conditions surrounding their clients’ travel,” he said. “Disseminating information around the simple protocols of wearing masks, social distancing, using sanitizing gel and washing hands, as well as avoiding crowded places, close contact settings and confined and enclosed spaces is everyone’s job, not just travel professionals.”

 

 

 

 

Curaçao Lifts Border Restrictions; All U.S. Travelers Able To Visit

by Matt Turner

Jan 4, 2021 1:00pm

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Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino

Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino (Marriott International)

The Caribbean island of Curaçao is eager to start 2021 on a high note, announcing earlier this week that prior border restrictions have been lifted. American residents from every state will be allowed entry without the previously required 14-day quarantine so long as they adhere to the entry protocols. The announcement follows the island’s initial phased reopening, which began in October, and coincides with the return of non-stop flights from the eastern seaboard.

“Curaçao has taken a cautious reopening approach, first with the lifting of restrictions to residents of the New York Tri-State area then extending into Florida,” said Paul Pennicook, CEO of the Curaçao Tourist Board, in a press statement. “Upon successful opening to these markets over the past months, we feel confident in our ability to safely welcome back all American travelers and provide them with an exceptional experience in a responsible way that also considers the well-being of Curaçao’s local community.”  

From January 1, every state within the U.S. will be re-classified by the Curaçao Tourist Board, the Ministry of Public Health, the Environment & Nature and the Ministry of Economic Development. American visitors will be required to complete the following steps prior to arrival via the online portal, found at dicardcuracao.com, in order to enter Curaçao:

 

Caribbean Resorts and Destinations Address New CDC COVID-19 Protocols

HOTEL & RESORT  BRIAN MAJOR  JANUARY 14, 2021

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Over-The-Water Bungalows

PHOTO: Over-The-Water Bungalows at Sandals South Coast. (Photo by Codie Liermann)

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)’s new protocols requiring travelers returning to the U.S. to present proof of a negative COVID-18 has challenged Caribbean-selling travel advisors to again adapt to a new paradigm driven by the pandemic.

Edouard Jean, the owner of New York-based Massive Travels, said Thursday he had fielded calls “most of the day” from clients regarding the new rules.

“From a traveler’s point of view; this is going to add stress to one’s vacation,” said Jean, who believes travelers will have numerous questions including, 'Where can I get the test? How much is it going to cost me?' and 'Will I get the results in time?'” he said.

As a travel advisor, “It’s going to be harder to sell to some clients who now have to take into account the extra hoops to jump thru and the extra cost for a family vacation,” Jean said. “And in general, who is to say you can’t become affected with COVID within 72 hours after getting a negative result.”

Nevertheless, some Caribbean resorts and destinations are already prepared to accommodate return-home tests mandated by the CDC changes. Here are the programs on tap at Caribbean hotels, resorts and destinations.

AIC Hotel Group

All-inclusive Hard Rock Hotels, UNICO 20º87º Hotel Riviera Maya and Nobu Hotel Los Cabos are offering U.S. residents free return-home antigen testing and complimentary medical assistance. Existing and new reservations of three nights or more booked by February 28, 2021, for travel between January 26 and December 31, 2021, will receive two complimentary antigen tests per room. Additional tests can be purchased for $50.

Complimentary onsite medical assistance applies to all existing and new reservations from countries requiring negative COVID-19 test results and traveling through December 31, 2021. The onsite medical assistance will cover the extended hotel stay and quarantine costs for guests who test positive for COVID-19 while at the hotel.

AM Resorts

AMResorts is offering on-site, complimentary COVID-19 antigen testing and extended quarantine stay coverage to guests traveling to the U.S. “These new services support guest health, wellbeing, and peace of mind during vacation to meet CDC U.S. travel requirements,” said officials in a statement.

On-site property testing will be administered by private hospital provider Hospiten beginning January 26. Guests should contact the concierge at each resort to schedule departure testing. Guests who receive a positive test while on property will have quarantine costs covered for up to 14 days.

“With an increasing number of countries requiring a negative COVID-19 test result prior to entry, it is important that guests have an easy, hassle-free way to secure test results within the comfort and safety of AMResorts properties,” said Gonzalo del Peón, AMResorts’ group president Americas & Global Commercial.

Baha Mar

Bahamas mega-resort Baha Mar offers PCR and Rapid Antigen COVID-19 tests prior to guests’ departures from the Bahamas. Tests are being administered on-property by Doctor’s Hospital Nassau with results returned on official letterhead.

The optional testing will be facilitated at the guests’ request. PCR tests cost $125 plus tax and results are provided within 24 hours (48 hours on Sunday). The Rapid Antigen test is offered for $25 plus tax with results that can be expected in one hour.

“As we embark on this new beginning, we are determined to make it easier for our guests to navigate the logistics of international travel in the current world by offering on-site testing solutions,” said Graeme Davis, Baha Mar’s president.

Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa

Saint Lucia boutique property Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa and sister resort Serenity at Coconut Bay are offering guests who stay five nights or longer complimentary rapid antigen COVID-19 “Return Home” tests prior to departure. Departure testing is also available for short-stay guests for $75 per person.

Guests facing post-travel testing requirements upon returning to the U.S. can arrange with Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa front desk personnel or with their butler at Serenity at Coconut Bay for an Abbot Rapid Antigen COVID-19 return home test upon arrival in Saint Lucia.

Couples Resorts

Couples Resorts will offer free onsite rapid antigen testing for all guests lodging at its four all-inclusive properties, Couples Tower Isle, Couples Swept Away, Couples Negril, and Couples Sans Souci. Tests will be administered by a contracted medical partner within three days of a guest's departure date. Result collection will be processed with the approximate 15-minute timeframe for rapid antigen test results.

 

Oyster Bay

Private pool at Excellence Oyster Bay

Excellence Resorts

With resorts in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico, Excellence has partnered with certified local labs to provide COVID-19 free tests for guests whose home countries require a negative result to board a return flight.

Testing will be available on-site and free of charge for affected countries at all of the brand’s open hotels and resorts. “This new service will enable [guests] to remain at the property and get the necessary documentation to re-enter their destination of origin,” said Domingo Aznar, vice president of sales and marketing.

Palace Resorts and Le Blanc Spa Resorts

Palace and Le Blanc have expanded the Purely Palace and Purely Le Blanc programs to include:

– Now all resorts throughout Mexico & Jamaica will offer easy, onsite COVID-19 antigen (rapid) testing.

– Tests will be conducted on property at no cost to guests (for up to two guests per room) traveling to the United States.

– Testing and samples will be administered by experienced in-house lab teams.

– Results will be received within 30 minutes, and documentation will be ready for guests to present at the airport for their journey back home.

– Guests can contact the concierge to schedule their departure test as soon as they check-in.

If a guest tests positive, Palace Resorts and Le Blanc Spa Resorts will cover the cost of quarantine for up to 14 days at no cost to guests, for up to two guests per room should both guests test positive.

Playa Hotels & Resorts

Playa Hotels & Resorts will provide free on-site antigen testing and discounted PCR tests from January 22 through April 30, 2021, for guests staying at least three nights in Mexico and the Dominican Republic and five or more nights in Jamaica.

In addition, should anyone test positive and need to quarantine, guests will receive a 50 percent discount on accommodations.

Sandals and Beaches Resorts

The Caribbean all-inclusive resort firm “will be making available through March 31 complimentary COVID-19 testing right in the comfort of our resort,” according to a statement. “Tests will be conducted by approved and practiced medical professionals with our guests’ maximum convenience in mind and minimal distraction to their overall vacation experience,” the statement adds. “Once at the resort, our team will assist the guest without difficulty to make the arrangements required to schedule their COVID-19 test on-site at the resort.”

Anguilla

 

An Anguilla beach.

PHOTO: Travelers in Anguilla. (photo by Brian Major)

“Testing has been at the forefront of Anguilla’s reopening strategy; that includes testing on arrival and departure,” said Haydn Hughes, minister of tourism.

“The CDC’s requirement for testing on departure for all visitors returning to the US is one that Anguilla has the capacity to handle in an efficient manner. We are in fact already providing this service on request to guests.”

Hughes added that Anguilla, noted for its strict COVID-19 protocols, is increasing its testing capability “to ensure that we meet the anticipated demand.”

He added, “We have taken every precaution and introduced stringent protocols to ensure the health and safety of both our visitors and our residents. Our effective management of this disease has resulted in just 11 cases since we reopened our borders last November and no community spread.”

Aruba

“All necessary facilities and procedures” are available for visitors requiring COVID-19 testing while in Aruba as a requirement for re-entry to their country, said Aruba Tourism Authority officials in a statement. “Aruba has expanded testing and has state-of-the-art hospitals and medical facilities that offer PCR tests to outbound travelers, with an average turnaround time of 24 hours,” the statement adds.

Aruba’s primary testing areas are locatedin close proximity to hotels, and appointments can be made in advance, officials added. “The Aruba Government and Department of Public Health were prepared for the CDC’s new mandate and can reassure our travelers they will have easy access to testing in time for their departure," Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes, the Aruba Tourism Authority’s CEO.

St. Kitts and Nevis

St. Kitts & Nevis requires travelers staying fewer than seven days to take an exit test 72 hours prior to departure, while those staying longer than seven days can schedule an exit test through their hotel front desk, said a St. Kitts Tourism Authority spokesperson.

Travelers staying in hotels should inform the front desk, who will arrange testing onsite. Travelers not in hotels can arrange testing by calling 869-467-1273 or by visiting the Health Centre in Basseterre or consulting a government-approved doctor.

 

 

 

Canada-bound flyers will need proof of a negative Covid test

By Robert Silk 

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Jan 05, 2021

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Coronavirus covid test [Credit: Horth Rasur/Shutterstock.com]

Even with the new testing requirement in place, Canada will continue to require arriving visitors to quarantine for 14 days. Photo Credit: Credit: Horth Rasur/Shutterstock.com

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Beginning Thursday, Canada will require all flyers scheduled to arrive from outside the country to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test prior to departure.

Only results from molecular PCR tests will be accepted. Rapid antigen tests, which are less reliable, will not be sufficient. Tests must be taken within 72 hours of departure.

• Related: Air Canada Rouge returns to the skies

"Our government remains committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians," minister of transport Marc Garneau said in announcing the policy. "These new measures will provide another layer of protection for Canadians as we continue to assess public health risks and work to limit the spread of Covid-19 in Canada."

Even with the testing requirement in place, Canada will continue to require arriving visitors to quarantine for 14 days.  Transport Canada said it will be increasing surveillance efforts to ensure that quarantine requirements are adhered to.

• Related: Preview 2021: Airlines

Most U.S. residents are still prohibited from entering Canada. Exceptions are in place for those with dual Canadian citizenship, individuals with family in Canada and individuals who must travel for nondiscretionary purposes, such as essential work.

 

 

What to Know If Your Passport Expires in the Next Year

The government is catching up with the backlog during the pandemic, but there are still hiccups.

BY KELSEY OGLETREE

September 28, 2020

All Your Passport Renewal Questions

 

Have you checked your U.S. passport lately? Even if you’re not considering international travel any time soon, you may want to take a look at the expiration date. Though travel agents typically recommend giving the government a few months to process a passport renewal, the timeline has, unsurprisingly, become a bit more complicated during the coronavirus pandemic.

Currently there's a major backlog at the U.S. Department of State, meaning travelers who need to renew will have to allow more time than usual, especially since international destinations require your passport to be valid for six months from your return date to the United States. 

We tapped a few experts to answer common questions about U.S. passport renewal right now. Read on for the advice, based on when your passport is set to expire.

How long are passport renewals taking right now?

"Due to the pandemic, expect delays in the renewal process,” says John Spence, USA president for luxury tour operator Scott Dunn

The government updates this page every Thursday with passport statistics. As of September 17, there were 934,000 passports awaiting issuance. Due to the phased reopening of U.S. passport agencies and centers, which began in June, processing time for renewed or new passports may be “substantially longer than usual,” officials say. (It took between six to eight weeks to process passport renewals in 2019, according to State Department officials.)

State Department officials report that they’ve largely worked their way through the backlog created by the COVID-19 shutdown of routine processing, with 97 percent of applications received in April, May, and June completed. Most applications are now being processed and returned to applicants within 10 weeks, they report. 

However, as of September 8, only 11 passport agencies throughout the country were open in phase two—meaning services are still greatly reduced, and therefore wait times increased.

What about expedited service?

Pre-COVID, you could pay $60 to receive your passport renewal faster, within about 10 to 12 days. In March, the government temporarily suspended expedited passport processing for customers applying at acceptance facilities or renewing passports via mail. As of September 28, expedited service has resumed, with a slower turnaround time of 4-6 weeks. 

Do I have to mail my passport in to be renewed?

As of now, yes. Mailing your passport in—with uncertainty over when it may be returned—is daunting. But within seven to 10 business days of mailing it in, you should be able to track your application status through this page, upon entering your last name, date of birth, last four digits of your social security number, and a security code.

It’s smart to always take a photo of your passport before sending it in for renewal, adds Spence. “If your passport happens to get lost in the mail, you at least have a copy to refer to, and this will save you additional time and effort to renew it.”

My passport expires in less than six months. What should I do?

Simply put: Start the renewal process immediately, says Spence. 

If a last-minute emergency trip comes up, there's an in-person option. Passport agencies and centers are only open to assist customers who need a passport in the next 72 hours for a life-or-death emergency—such as a serious illness, injury or death in your immediate family, including a parent, legal guardian, child, spouse, sibling or grandparent. You must make an appointment in advance at a facility near you for emergency service (walk-ins are not allowed).

What if my passport is good for another year?

The experts are divided on this one. Wendy Murphy-Murphy, a travel consultant with global agency Frosch, recommends waiting for the country to enter phase three before attempting to renew your passport, as this step will enable third parties to enter passport offices in person. 

On the other hand, Bahar Schmidt, founder and CEO of high-end travel resale marketplace Eluxit, says you should start the renewal process immediately if your passport expires in 2021. “If anyone has plans to travel internationally [next year], take the time and apply for one now so it is ready when [you are] ready to travel,” she says. “It’s a minimum of three months [now] to get a passport and can take up to six months in some cases.”

Should I ever let my passport expire?

“Never let them expire,” says Murphy-Murphy. Ideally, your passport should be good for a full year upon your return from any trip. Considering the status of your passport should now be the initial step before considering any travel plans, she adds.

If your passport is expired, you are eligible to renew your passport by mail for up to five years after the expiration date. After five years, you’ll be required to re-apply in person. But considering many of us will be in the skies as soon as we are able and feel safe, you might want to get moving on that renewal ASAP.