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Travel

Revealed: Which countries could open up their tourist industries first – full list

Holidays and trips abroad have been a no-go recently due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. But as countries begin to ease their lockdown rules, the prospect of restarting the tourism industry becomes more likely. Countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Japan are all beginning to look to future tourism as a way of bringing in revenue.

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The World Travel and Tourism Council has predicted that the tourism industry could lose $2.1trillion (£1.7trillion) because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The shocking amount equates to around 75 million jobs worldwide.

WeSwap, the UK’s largest P2P travel money provider has looked into which countries could reopen their travel industries across the world.

These are the countries who could reopen their travel industries first.

Vietnam

Vietnam has had one of the lowest case and death rates in the world, despite being just next door to China.

The country has had just over 320 cases and zero death rates.

The country has not had an infection in the last month and so is beginning to reopen its doors.

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Fiji

The country has only had 18 confirmed cases and no deaths.

Tourism makes up 40 percent of the country’s GDP so it has suffered immensely from the coronavirus pandemic.

But currently, it is not known whether Fiji itself is happy to kickstart its travel industry.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka usually has a booming tourism industry which has been hit very hard this year.

However, the country has had a low case rate compared to its neighbours India and Pakistan.

With just over 1,000 cases and under 10 deaths, the country could likely reopen its tourism industry quickly.

Seychelles

This is one of the most stunning holiday destinations in the world which has had a very low coronavirus infection rate.

The country has had a total of 11 cases and no deaths.

Despite being a popular holiday destination, the country has just banned cruise ships until 2022, meaning that travel may not be on the cards for a while.

Matt Crate, Managing Director of WeSwap, said that there are countries that will need to reopen the tourism sector to restart their economies.

He continued: “There are countries across the world that have dealt incredibly well with the infection rate of the disease and should be commended.

“Suspending travel has been an important part of these safety measures but there are countries that will need to look at reopening these sectors to restart their national economies.

“Hopefully, as the world starts to deal with the rate of infection, these industries can begin to slowly begin again and the countries that have dealt best with the disease can lead the charge to help the world travel in safety.”

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Travel

End of holidays to Spain? Tourists MUST arrive in June or nation faces ‘complete calamity’

Fourth vice-president and de-esclation chief, Teresa Ribera recently poured cold water on the idea of a June opening, saying July was more realistic because Spain could not dice with people’s health. “We have to be very careful about how the person who comes is not at risk, because they arrive at a safe destination, and at the same time it does not pose a risk to the local population.

“Our idea is that we can work on origins and safe destinations rather thinking of July than June. If it is opened massively, we could be incurring irresponsibility,” she said.

But Spain’s “Mesa del Turismo”, a powerful body made up of tourism leaders from all regions, says international travel MUST resume before or on June 15th at the latest and has warned that losing the summer season “would be a complete calamity”.

It has also called for the elimination of tourist taxes, saying “they are very inadequate measures in the current circumstances”.

“In mid-June, the Spanish tourism sector should have the possibility to become active, giving its citizens the maximum possibilities to resume travel and all foreign tourists to enjoy their holidays in Spain again, as they are accustomed to doing,” said Joan Molas, president of the Tourism Board in an open letter.

“We have said it before and we insist: with all the health guarantees that we are in perfect conditions to offer, we must return to the activity without further delay.”

“There is no economy without health, but neither is health without economy, and for this reason it is strictly necessary to develop an action plan that allows the two to progress in parallel, seeking a balance between the two that allows us to move forward.”

The board is estimating that the accumulated losses for the tourism industry until the end of May will reach 40,000 million euros.

“This figure will double, exceeding 80,000 million euros at the height of August if tourism is not reactivated immediately,” Molas warned.

n mid-June, the Spanish tourism sector should have the possibility to become active

Spain holidays

The Mesa says the tourism sector has been one of the hardest hit in the coronavirus crisis, so it requires additional support to minimise the loss of business and job fabric. It has called for a string of measures, including extensive financial aid and a reduction in VAT to seven per cent “which would help keep Spain competitive.”

“It is known that for each euro spent on tourism products, 1.96 euros more are generated in other sectors of the Spanish economy,” said the board’s president.

The tourism leaders also want the tourist tax scrapped in places where it is in force, such as the Balearics, saying this would have “a positive effect on the activation of demand.”

This call has been echoed by hoteliers in Mallorca and Ibiza but the Balearic government has refused to do so.

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The board also wants borders reopened to allow international travel.

“Italy has already announced that It will open on June 3. Spain cannot delay this decision,” said Joan Molas.

“There is an urgent need to convey a clear message to foreign tourists, that Spain is safe and that they are welcome.

Tourism is a company in which all of us Spaniards are shareholders; a company that has always paid us back in great amounts what we have invested in it and that has contributed to the earliest overcoming of other crises . Let us not now abandon it to fate.”

Spain’s State of Emergency is expected to end on June 7th and at the moment, travel is restricted with anyone coming into the country subject to 14 days of quarantine.

The government hasn’t said when this will be lifted but it is widely tipped to be rescinded once the State of Emergency order is lifted.

Spain is still recording coronavirus deaths every day but the24-hour figure has been below 100 for the last week. So far, nearly 28,000 people have died. 

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Travel

Holidays 2020: UK summer staycations to be allowed in weeks in major announcement

Holidays have not been an option for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Britons are not permitted to travel abroad unless for “essential” reasons. However, there is now cause to be optimistic about UK holidays.

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The Culture Secretary said on Wednesday the government hopes for domestic travel to be possible from July.

This could see Britons enjoying staycations in several weeks time.

However, this will only be the case if such travel is considered safe.

Minister Oliver Dowden shared the travel advice at the Downing Street press conference.

“I would love to get the tourism sector up as quickly as we possibly can,” he said.

“We’ve set this very ambitious plan to try and get it up and running by the beginning of July.

“Clearly, we can only do it if it’s safe to do so because I think the worst thing for our tourism sector would be to start, then see the R rate rise out of control, see a second peak that overwhelms the NHS that we then have to slam on the brakes again.”

Dowden added: ”Believe me, when we get to the point when we can have British tourism back, perhaps apart from the Prime Minister you won’t get a bigger champion of the great British break than me.”

Restoring tourism in the UK will provide a much-needed boost for the economy.

According to VisitBritain, the tourism industry has seen losses well into the billions.

Hugh Graham-Watson, Managing Director of The Hotel Guru, recommends that those who are looking to get away this summer should act fast.

To get the best deals consumers need to book now to avoid the spike in holiday prices,” the travel expert told Express.co.uk.

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However, it’s important to be careful when booking – check the fine print.

“Make sure that any cancellations terms are flexible,” advised Graham-Watson.

“Most hotels are offering free cancellation even for peak dates.”

Rowland King, director of QualitySource, also spoke to Express.co.uk about summer holidays this year.

“We think it will be possible for people to practise social distancing when travelling in the future,” he said.

“Of course, this will depend on where and how we plan to travel.”

“Travelling across the UK by car, for example, will be easier to practice social distancing rather than travelling abroad via plane,” Rowland said.

King added: “There are plenty of cheap and accessible camping parks to visit, and you can even go off-grid to save more money and ensure you practise social distancing more effectively.”

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Travel

Holidays 2020: Australia seeks surprising quarantine exemption for UK travel

Australia has been praised for its handling of the pandemic, with only 7,081 cases and 100 deaths.

The British government is planning a 14-day quarantine for most people arriving in the country in the coming weeks to try to prevent a second peak of the pandemic, with details to be finalised next month.

Heathrow Airport has proposed Britain should set up “travel bubbles” with low-risk countries exempt from the requirement.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said in a statement that the country’s handling of the pandemic should allow it exemption.

Birmingham said: “Australia has led the world in the successful containment of COVID-19, which clearly means that travellers coming from Australia would pose a low risk to the rest of the world.”

Birmingham also spoke to International Trade Secretary Liz Truss about the possibility of an exemption on a phone call.

He said:”We welcome any recognition that Australia has led the world in the successful containment of COVID-19, which clearly means that travellers coming from Australia would pose a low risk to the rest of the world.”

“However, transmission from overseas continues to present a risk to Australia’s ongoing suppression of COVID-19 and restrictions on travel in and out of Australia will remain for the foreseeable future.”

Birmingham said Australia has no plans to open its borders to non-citizens, while all returning locals will still have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

It comes as the Australian economic outlook, based on Fitch ratings, downgraded the countries coveted ‘AAA’ rating to “negative” from “stable.”

They cited the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the countries economy and public finances as the reason why.

Australia has seen job losses in the first week of May has risen by 1.1 percent, which is a decrease from 3.7 percent at the start of April.

The UK government has suggested countries with low levels of coronavirus infections might eventually be excluded from the requirement to self-isolate in a home or hotel for 14-days.

Australians argue that an immediate exemption for Australia would allow the UK to focus its compliance efforts on arrivals from countries with a much greater risk from COVID-19 infections, especially Europe and the United States which this time last year made up nearly 75 percent of all passengers arriving at Heathrow Airport.

Asked about the possibility of an exemption for Australia, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “We will set out full details on this at a later stage, ahead of the measures coming in to force.

“At this point, no exemptions are planned for specific countries.

“Any changes brought in will be subject to a rolling review every three weeks to ensure they are in line with the latest scientific evidence and remain effective and necessary.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel is understood to support an exemption for Australia.

In other news, Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW) said on Friday it gatherings of 20 people will soon be permitted.

Currently, outdoor gathers are limited to 10 people or less.

NSW state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the easing of the restrictions will boost the local economy.

Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney: “We want to save jobs.

“We cannot afford to continue to have the job losses that we’ve encountered in April.”

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Travel

Spain holidays: Government issues major warning in latest Spain travel update

Spain holidays are hugely popular among British holidaymakers so it’s unsurprising many people are champing at the bit to go back. However, Spain has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic. There are currently 232,555 confirmed cases of the virus in Spain. 

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Tragically there have been 27,888 deaths.

So what is the latest travel advice?

Back in March, in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus, Spain entered a strict lockdown.

The country is now taking steps to relax the tough measures.

A four-stage de-escalation plan was launched on May 4.

Now the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its travel advice to Spain.

In the latest development, unveiled last night, everyone apart from young children is now obliged to wear a face mask in public.

“From May 21, the use of face masks will be obligatory to anyone over the age of six years old in all public spaces in Spain, where it is not possible to maintain social distancing of two metres,” said the FCO.

“Face masks must cover the nose and mouth. Sanctions may be imposed if you do not comply.

“Those with respiratory problems or those unable to wear a mask due to other health conditions or disabilities are exempt from this rule.

“While not mandatory, the use of face masks on children between three and five years of age is recommended.”

In a second update yesterday, the FCO detailed the financial support available for those in Spain at the moment.

“If you’re in Spain, and have exhausted all other options to cover essential living costs while you wait to return home, you could apply for an emergency loan for your living costs from the UK government,” explained the Foreign Office.

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“You can only apply if you normally live in the UK and you cannot return home. This last-resort option is for those most in need, and you would need to repay the loan when you are back in the UK.”

Thirdly, the FCO shared the latest update on ferries between Spain and the UK.

“There are currently no scheduled passenger ferries operating between Spain and the UK,” said the government. “We are working closely with Brittany Ferries who may be able to assist repatriating a small number of people on their freight services.

“If your ferry has been cancelled and you wish to return to the UK, please contact the British Embassy online stating your name and booking reference number.”

Spain also currently has quarantine measures in place. The FCO explains: “From 15 May, all new international arrivals entering Spain, including Spanish nationals and residents, will be required to self-isolate in their residence or hotel for a period of 14 days.”

As for tourist accommodation: “Hotels and other tourist accommodation are expected to re-open (with access restrictions to communal areas) when Phase 1 of the plan is activated.”

Earlier this week a Spanish minister said they hoped to welcome tourists by June, however, Britons are currently unable to travel unless it’s “essential”.

It is not yet clear when this restriction will be lifted.

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Travel

Holiday refunds: ‘Holidaymakers should get vouchers’ Spain pushes EU to protect tourists

Many people around the world have been left with no summer holiday plans due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In fact, many holidaymakers have been forced to apply for refunds due to their holidays being cancelled by companies and airlines. Rather than offering cash refunds, some companies are offering travellers vouchers instead.

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And now, Spain is pushing for holidaymakers to be rewarded with vouchers with 100 percent protection.

Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto told tourists leaders of the European Union that the voucher system would work if all countries in the EU joined the initiative.

She explained that Spain was in favour of offering the temporary measure.

She said: “Spain is in favour of temporarily allowing airlines to offer passengers vouchers instead of reimbursements, issued under uniform conditions for the entire EU.

“But, to guarantee the rights of passengers – in the face of possible insolvency of airlines – it would be necessary to create a European guarantee fund, given that the regulation is supranational in nature and a national solution would generate asymmetric protections for passengers according to each country.”

The EU has already suggested that travellers who are owed a refund should be persuaded to take the vouchers rather than cash.

But this would only apply if the offer was made more attractive by offering enhanced amounts and at least a year to use the vouchers.

By law, the owed money should be given back but the EU says it recognises both sides of the story.

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For example, cash flow and lack of finance has hit tourism agencies and airlines hard.

However, they are not the only ones who have faced hardship.

Tourists and customers have also been hit financially by COVID-19.

Ms Maroto also called for phased and coordinated steps in the EU for cross-border travel and tourism.

She especially defended the need to establish coordination between the Member States for the gradual return of tourism.

Spain and eleven other countries are pressing for a European Recovery Plan for the tourism sector that pays attention to the specific problems of the most affected countries and territories and, in particular, to the outermost regions and islands.

The tourism chief said Spain welcomed the recommendations on tourism and transport issued by the Commission on May 13 to restore freedom of movement and gradually lift coordinated border controls between member states and travel restrictions.

She also said that a “phased approach” to tourism is the best way to approach cross-border travel.

She added: “We believe that a phased approach, coordinated and agreed among Member States, is the best way to achieve a gradual normalisation of cross-border travel; therefore, we must coordinate to lift the confinement and quarantine regulations, as well as in the restoration of tourism and transport services.”

It comes as Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya told the BBC Today programme that Spain is aiming to become the “safest destination in Europe”.

She also said that she hopes her country will open in June but that the popular Canary Islands and Balearics will be first.

Arancha also said that the bigger cities such as Madrid and Barcelona that have suffered most from COVID-19 will not be able to open to tourists straightaway.

She added: “Some of our territories, like the islands, are COVID-19 free. They can open faster.”

Additional reporting by Rita Sobot

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Campsites reopen: Camping trips could start up again ‘in July’ ready for summer

Holidays abroad this summer are looking more unlikely due to the UK Government’s temporary quarantine rules which are set to come into play next month. But although a sunshine-soaked break in Spain may not be not be on your list this summer, many Britons are looking at going camping instead.

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In fact, figures from online camping site Cool Camping are seeing that summer bookings for campsites have soared by 500 percent in the past week.

The website said: “There’s clearly a pent-up demand to get away.

“The mooted date of July 4 is ideal timing for summer and could save many businesses who have had no income.”

And now, Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey has said that campsites could be open “potentially in July”.

Ms Coffey told Sky News: “I know there are a lot of campsites that are very keen for people to come.

“Some of this is being carefully considered, recognising that we have a reduced outdoor transmission risk, that things like camping may well become suitable.

“But that is a decision that still needs to be taken for later this year, potentially in July or even later in the year, recognising that we need to do all we can to keep that ‘R rate’ below one, the number of infections down, and we need to be careful when we take those steps.”

Camping has not been previously mentioned by the Government but some assume that campsites will fall into phase three of the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to ease lockdown.

Caravan parks are also hoping to open to the public this summer.

Many caravan and holiday parks are aiming to restart in Phase three of the Government’s plan.

Phase three is anticipated to begin in July, subject to scientific and medical data.

According to a 50-page plan published by the government, phase three will allow for: “Some hospitality businesses being permitted to reopen ensuring they can provide safe environments and strictly enforce social distancing measures.”

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Caravan parks are also hoping to open to the public this summer.

Many caravan and holiday parks are aiming to restart in Phase three of the Government’s plan.

Phase three is anticipated to begin in July, subject to scientific and medical data.

According to a 50-page plan published by the government, phase three will allow for: “Some hospitality businesses being permitted to reopen ensuring they can provide safe environments and strictly enforce social distancing measures.”

Currently, quarantine rules are in place for anyone arriving in the UK from abroad which has potentially deterred Britons from going abroad for a holiday.

The new rules state that anyone arriving into the UK will have to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

However, the rules will not be put in place until June next month, according to the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Anyone caught breaking the rules could be subject to a fine of up to £1,000.

Once visitors have completed 14 days of quarantine they can then mix with the general population.

Dan Yates, Managing Director of Pitchup.com, told The Daily Telegraph that he thinks that “time will be tight” for camping businesses hoping to make money this summer.

He said: “In short, with a date of ‘no earlier’ than July 4, time will be tight to capitalise on this summer.

“Typically, the peak begins in the third week of July with the start of the school holidays, and ends at August Bank Holiday.

“That said, we live in hope of an Indian summer.”

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‘Don’t Come’: Hawaii Enforces Strict Lockdown Measures


Venturing out of a hotel room in Hawaii right now might land you in handcuffs.

A couple sits on an empty section of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu on Saturday, March 28, 2020. Like many cities across the world, Honolulu came to an eerie standstill this weekend as the coronavirus pandemic spread throughout the islands. But Hawaii officials went beyond the standard stay-at-home orders and effectively flipped the switch on the state's tourism-fueled economic engine in a bid to slow the spread of the virus. As of Thursday, anyone arriving in Hawaii must undergo a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. The unprecedented move dramatically reduced the number of people on beaches, in city parks and on country roads where many people rely on tourism to pay for the high cost of living in Hawaii. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

Just ask one of the roughly 20 people who’ve been arrested for violating Governor David Ige’s two-week quarantine imposed on all who arrive in the state or travel between its islands.

Hundreds more have been arrested or issued citations for violating other aspects of the state’s emergency orders to combat the coronavirus, which are among the nation’s strictest and have helped to drive down the rate of infection to the second lowest in the country.

State parks and Hawaii’s famous beaches have been closed. Hotels are issuing single-use keys, forcing quarantined guests who leave their rooms to go to the front desk and explain why. Airlines have been encouraged to suspend incoming flights. The state’s visitors bureau has asked media organizations to “refrain from publishing any stories about Hawaii that might encourage people to travel to the islands.”

Pandemic experts credit the strict measures with helping to drive down the number of cases in Hawaii. Just 640 cases had been confirmed as of May 17, one more than the day before, according to Hawaii’s Department of Health. With 45 cases for every 100,000 residents, the state is above only Montana in per-capita infections, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Fewer than 10 new cases per day have been reported since mid-April while most other states continue to report might higher numbers.

Being thousands of miles from the nearest continent and reachable almost exclusively by air travel puts Hawaii in a unique position to not just contain the virus, but potentially eradicate it there, said Dr. Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

“By every metric that we follow they’ve done a terrific job in being able to stop the spread,” he said. “If you can get the community spread under control and you can implement strict screening of passengers, you really can stop the epidemic in their state.”

Ige has signaled he plans to maintain the tough stance on arriving travelers, even as several parts of the mainland U.S. begin to reopen their economies. While the state has already begun to reopen recreational draws including some state parks, beaches and golf courses with social distancing measures, Ige last week said he planned to extend the travel quarantine through the end of June.

The measures have come at a severe cost to Hawaii’s tourism industry, which accounts for a fifth of its economy. Some 10 million visitors spent $17.8 billion in the state last year, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

“The million dollar question now is how long are these restrictions going to stay in place,” said Dan Dennison, a spokesman for the state’s COVID-19 Joint Information Center.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Hawaii's Coronavirus Curve

Air travel to Hawaii has plunged by roughly 98%, a decline more severe than the U.S. overall where airline boardings are down closer to 90%. Only a few hundred people have arrived in the state each day since late March compared to roughly 30,000 daily in the same period last year, according to figures from the Hawaii Business, Economic Development & Tourism department.

Those who do arrive may leave the airport only after going through an elaborate procedure.

First, passengers are given a temperature check and those shown to have elevated temperatures receive an additional medical screening by paramedics stationed at the airport.

Those who pass that must then provide a declaration listing their name, mobile phone number and hotel information to airport personnel who then verify the details are accurate, including dialing the traveler’s number to ensure that it rings, and contacting the traveler’s hotel to verify they have a reservation.

“If they refuse, they will be handed to law enforcement, right there,” Hawaii Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara said. Travelers will be sent home if they’re unwilling to make a hotel reservation or unable to afford one.

“That has happened several times, dozens of times actually, and a law enforcement officer will stay with that person at the gate and watch them get back on a flight to the city they came from,” he said.

Finally, passengers must then sign a legal document acknowledging they’ll abide by the 14-day quarantine before being allowed to leave the airport.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Hawaii's Empty Airports

State officials then will make at least three follow-up phone calls to verify travelers are complying with the quarantine. The state has also launched a smartphone app to help with the process.

Hotels, too, have been enlisted to help enforce the quarantine. Staff have provided tips to law enforcement about travelers leaving their rooms, Sakahara said.

Recently, the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association asked hoteliers to issue single-use use room keys that allow guests to only enter their room once, thereby forcing those that break quarantine to request a replacement key from the front desk. Most hotels have agreed to enforce the policy, according to a list posted on a state legislature website.

“If they violate this law, we encourage the front desk to report them to the authorities,” association president Mufi Hannemann said in a note to hotels.

So far about 20 people have been arrested for violating the state’s quarantine order, including a couple on their honeymoon and a trio apprehended in their hotel’s pool, according to authorities. Violators face as much as a year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

“Quarantine means that you stay in your room. You can’t go to the pool. You can’t go to any facility at the hotel. You get your meals delivered,” Ige told reporters in April. “And when visitors understand that’s what it is and that we’ll enforce it, we are pretty confident they’ll choose not to be here.”

Plummeting demand and the state’s quarantine orders were cited by the U.S. Transportation Department’s decision to allow American Airlines Inc. to suspend flights to three of the state’s airports through mid-August. United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Alaska Airlines Inc. got approval to halt services to the same locations through September.

Airlines have also reduced service to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, with the only flights from the U.S. mainland originating from Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland, California, Sakahara said.

Hawaiian Airlines Inc. likewise received permission to suspend long-haul service between Honolulu and eight major U.S. cities, including New York, Boston, Las Vegas and Seattle. Ige as well as city and county leaders told federal officials they supported the cutbacks in their effort to blunt the virus.

“My primary goal is protecting the health and safety of the citizens of the three islands and jurisdiction that I care for and represent,” Michael Victorino, mayor of Maui County, wrote in an April 9 letter to the Transportation Department. “We rely on the significant contributions air transportation provides to our economy. We look forward to a time when we can once again welcome visitors to our islands.”

Jeff Schlegelmilch, deputy director of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness, said the tourism sector’s outsized role in the state’s economy will make it very difficult to welcome visitors once again, even after the quarantine order’s current May 31 expiration date.

“When you reopen, if the virus is still burning all around you, you’re allowing that into your community again,” he said. “They have control over the island but they don’t have control over everywhere around them, and I don’t think there’s a viable exist strategy until there’s something more significant on the pharmaceutical front. I think they’re in this for the long haul.”

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


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The stunning winning images from a landscape photography contest

The stunning winning images from a landscape photography contest that showcase the beauty of planet earth, from the USA to Norway

  • Landscape Photography Competition is run by The Independent Photographer – a network of photographers 
  • Entries came from snappers from more than 60 countries  and were whittled down to finalists and winners
  • Stephen King’s ‘Winter Wonderland’ image – of a spring snowstorm in Hokkaido, Japan – took first place 

Stunning locations captured by the finalists of the 2020 Landscape Photography Competition showcase the Earth’s beauty in a unique series of images.

In Eric Melzer’s other-worldly ‘Solar Storm’, water ripples in eerily perfect formation around the Ivanpah Solar Station in California. John Kimwell Laluma’s incredible ‘Density’ captures the courtyard of a Macau apartment building from a whole new point of view and Olivier Jarry-Lacombe takes to the skies to capture ‘Paradise Island’ – an unusual Norwegian location.

The Landscape Photography Competition is run by The Independent Photographer – an international network of photographers and photography enthusiasts that reaches over one million visitors every year.

Olivier Jarry-Lacombe snapped this incredible aerial image in Norway. He called the picture ‘Paradise Island’ 

This image shows a wintry scene in the Arches National Park in Utah. The mesmerising snap was taken by Ben Riley and was named an editor’s pick 

Photographer Jay Kazen impressed the judges with this jaw-dropping image of a waterfall in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

This incredible scene was captured by Stefano Tomassetti in Bagan, Myanmar. The image is simply called ‘Balloons over Bagan’ 


On the left is the winning image – ‘Winter Wonderland’. It was taken by Stephen King during a spring snowstorm in Hokkaido, Japan. On the right is an image by Mark Boyle called ‘Sensual Curves’, which was shortlisted. It was captured in Injidup Bay in Yallingup, Western Australia

Photographer Stephen King also captured this serene scene over the Remarkables mountain range in the Otago region on the South Island of New Zealand 

The monthly competition offers up to £1,645 ($2,000) in cash prizes and is committed to helping emerging artists kick-start their professional careers.

After sorting through entries from over 60 countries, photographer and judge Thomas Heaton whittled the selection down to winners, finalists and editor’s picks.

Stephen King’s ‘Winter Wonderland’ took first place – his image capturing ‘an unexpected spring snowstorm in Hokkaido, Japan’. 

Mr Heaton said: ‘The photographer has created an image that can only be described as a piece of fine art.

Christopher Baker scooped the runner-up medal with this image of the Pyramid of Khafre in the Giza Necropolis, Egypt 

This amazing shot of the Great Wall of China was captured by Joshua Cavalier, who came third in the contest 

Photographer Eric Melzer’s other-worldly image ‘Solar Storm’. It shows water rippling in eerily perfect formation around the Ivanpah Solar Station in California


Photographer Sid Ghosh took two editor’s picks. One shows the Italian Dolomites, left, and the other is of a dramatic scene at Mount Cook in New Zealand, right 

This image was an editor’s pick and was snapped by photographer Nathaniel Perales in the Pacific North West in the U.S

‘The pastel colours, subtle tones, and beautiful arrangement of trees give this image a painterly quality which instils peace and calm in the viewer.’

Christopher Baker took second place with his unique ‘Pyramid of Khafre’ image taken in Giza Necropolis, Egypt. 

Mr Heaton said of Mr Baker’s work: ‘The Pyramids are a great place of wonder. They are shrouded in mystery and hold so many untold secrets. The photographer has captured this perfectly.

This eye-catching image was taken by Dan Tomic in the mesmerising Shey Phoksundo National Park in Nepal. The picture was an editor’s pick


Peter Dyndiuk snapped the image on the left in the Hoh Rainforest in Washington State. It shows a ‘nursery log’ – a large dead tree that serves as a breeding ground for new trees. On the right is a jaw-dropping image of Waihilau Falls in Hawaii taken by photographer Stuart Chape

This hypnotic ‘editor’s pick’ photograph of the Grimsel Pass in Switzerland was taken by Michael Blann


The beautiful image on the left was an editor’s pick, snapped in Alaska by Janessa Anderson. On the right is a jaw-dropping image of Monument Valley in Arizona that was shot by Cole Udall

John Kimwell Laluma’s stunning image ‘Density’ shows the courtyard of a Macau apartment building from a whole new point of view

Jason Marino captured sunset at Vermilion Lakes in Banff National Park, Alberta. The image was an editor’s pick 

‘I am unsure if the photographer used intentional camera movements or took a double exposure, but the resulting image has that almost perfect symmetry – bold shapes and strong lines, whilst softening and hiding much of the unwanted details that may have been a distraction.’

Joshua Cavalier rounded out the top three with his third-place image ‘Jinshanling, The Great Wall’, taken in the iconic Chinese location. 

Mr Heaton said: ‘The Great Wall is one of the most iconic wonders and thus presents a multitude of challenges for photographers.

‘Extensively photographed over the years, almost continually flooded with tourists, and subject to natural weather conditions, capturing the perfect shot is no easy task.

‘Joshua Cavalier successfully overcame every challenge to create an image well worthy of its subject – perfectly composed, timed, and framed with a vantage point depicting the landmark void of people.’

For more, visit www.independent-photo.com

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Airlines are ‘taking advantage’ of the pandemic to offload costly staff, say unions

Unions representing aviation staff have accused airlines of “taking advantage” of the coronavirus pandemic to get rid of more expensive staff.

Diana Holland, assistant general secretary for transport for the Unite union, told the Transport Select Committee that British Airways was using the crisis to make redundant “legacy” staff who enjoy the best terms and conditions.

“This is taking advantage of a very difficult situation to push through something that is totally unacceptable,” she said.

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Unite represents most BA cabin crew. Ms Holland said that 93 per cent of members were feeling anxious, and 61 per cent reported depression.

One member of cabin crew has been sectioned, and two others had had heart attacks.

“The impact is absolutely devastating,” she said.

The Independent has asked British Airways for a response.

Brian Strutton, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), told the committee: “Airlines are exaggerating the problem.

“We’re in a trough at the moment. We will be coming out of it in the next two-and-a-half years, and airlines are egging the pudding too much to take advantage of the crisis, to make changes and downsize their workforce.

“This is an opportunistic land-grab by some of these airlines exploiting this situation.

“There should be a moratorium on job losses.

“We need to work out how the whole of aviation is going to recover.”

He also said that the government was making the situation worse because of the plan for quarantine for arrivals to the UK from June.

Jason Holt, chief executive of the ground-handling company Swissport UK, told the committee that the aviation industry was desperate: “This is a fight for survival. We are hand to mouth and we are running out of cash.

“At the moment there is not any coherence, from Treasury or No 10, with regard to the aviation sector.

“We don’t need bail-outs. We need cash-flow assistance.”

Mr Holt said “If the government remains asleep at the wheel, and our competitors in other parts of Europe – France, Germany and elsewhere – will shoot past us as we head towards a car crash.

“If we go bust, it will take many, many years for the aviation sector – which is the pride of the European skies – to get back on its feet.”

Kelly Tolhurst, the aviation minister, said: “We are in unprecedented times. We are working internationally with our neighbours who are facing some of the same challenges that we are.

“We will work hard to make sure we are clear about how we will work with the industry in order get that recovery that is required.

“We haven’t been asleep at the wheel.”

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