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Cruises

Club Med Launches 'Safe Together' Initiative, Florida Reopening Flash Sale

Club Med today released details of its newly-developed ‘Safe Together’ commitment ahead of the reopening of its all-inclusive resorts in Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean, and affirmed its updated Free Cancellation Policy to provide further flexibility and peace-of-mind to anyone booking their Club Med vacation through December 2020.

In North America, Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Port St. Lucie, Florida, will be the brand’s first resort to welcome back its valued GMs (that’s Club Med-speak for “guests,” from the original “Gentils Membres”), starting Friday, June 12, 2020, to enjoy their favorite beachside experiences in the safest manner possible.

Flash Sale

Situated along the St. Lucie River, surrounded by lush vegetation and enjoying a wonderfully tropical climate, Sandpiper Bay is the ideal Club Med Resort for an active family vacation, filled with outdoor delights. It’s also located about a 90-minute drive away from both Orlando and Miami, where all kinds of attractions draw visitors, as well as a short drive away from West Palm Beach.

Today, Club Med also launched a Flash Sale on Sandpiper Bay bookings, offering free stays for kids under twelve, and 50 percent off adults on reservations made before June 3 for travel between June 13 and December 18, 2020.

Free Cancellations

To provide ultimate booking flexibility and promote peace-of-mind, Club Med has also introduced its ‘Book with Confidence’ free cancellation policy on all new reservations made between May 18 and December 18, 2020. It guarantees guests a full refund on their stays, provided that they cancel before fifteen days prior to their planned check-in date.

In conjunction, an enhanced ‘Best Rate Guarantee’ means that, if guests should find a lower price offered on the same travel dates, they’re eligible to receive a Future Travel Certificate for the value of that price difference, applicable on their next booking.

‘Safe Together’ Commitment

Since its founding in 1950, Club Med has specialized in the development of low-density resorts, each integrated with care and respect for its unique natural environment, and with a focus on active, outdoor enjoyment, leaving plenty of space to practice social distancing in the post-pandemic era.

“We understand expectations on health and safety have shifted, and after a long period of social distancing people will want to revisit places they are familiar with and trust,” said Carolyne Doyon, President and CEO of Club Med North America. “Club Med has a 70-year-long legacy delivering a thoughtful and safe vacation experience. As our resorts reopen, we will maintain the Club Med atmosphere, which is an integral part of our DNA, while also keeping safety and hygiene as our top priorities.”

‘Safe Together’ represents a fresh set of health and safety practices, developed by an International Scientific Committee consisting of doctors and professors, and in alignment with guidelines set by global health authorities. The company will modify its operations at all properties to ensure the health and safety of guests, while still preserving the beloved “Club Med Spirit” for which the brand is known.

Health and Safety Provisions

Hygiene:

—Capping resort capacity at 65 percent

—Plexiglass barriers installed on all service counters

—Digital and in-app services, including check-in, spa bookings and in-room service requests

—Staff required to wear face coverings indoors, during cleaning or food preparation

—Temperature checks for employees at the start of every shift

—Temperature checks for guests upon check-in and periodically throughout stays

—Increased frequency of deep-cleanings for all high-touch surface and public areas

—Hand-sanitizer available throughout the resort properties

—Doctor or nurse available 24/7

Dining:

—Increased opening hours at all dining locations, enabling lower occupancy levels

—More distance between tables and more outdoor dining capacity added

—Focus on single plates and custom-prepared dishes

Kids’ Clubs:

—Every child temperature-checked twice per day

—Hand-washing for all children organized hourly

—Focus on outdoor activities

—Ongoing deep-sanitization and disinfection of all toys, equipment and high-touch surfaces after each use

Activities:

—Fan-favorite sporting activities (e.g. tennis, golf, kayaking, yoga, sailing, flying trapeze, etc.) will operate under strict sanitization processes carried out between users

—Yoga and fitness classes will be held outdoors

—Event entertainment and resort programming will consist of smaller-scale events and make prime use of Club Med’s outdoor spaces. Examples include live concerts or DJ sets, sunset acoustic music performances on the beach, acrobatic displays above the pool and family movie nights held in the open air under the stars.

For more information, visit clubmed.us.

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Travel

One country’s plan to lure back tourists

Iceland is keen to get tourists back – and it’s handing out COVID-19 tests in a bid to woo us.

Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir announced this week it would begin allowing tourists to enter the country as early as June 15.

Additionally, each visitor will be given a free COVID-19 test upon arrival, the results of which are processed immediately. Those who test negative will be free to enter, while infected tourists will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, at their own cost, the New York Post reports.

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In an official statement, Ms Jakobsdottir explained Iceland would loosen travel restrictions “no later than June 15 2020”, while from May 15, some professionals arriving in Iceland – including scientists, filmmakers and athletes – will be eligible for a modified quarantine, Lonely Planet reports.

Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrin Jakobsdottir, wants to get tourists back. Picture: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

The statement added those who could prove they recently tested negative may be allowed to forego the arrival exam, though exactly how to apply for said waiver was not reported.

Newcomers may also be asked to download and join Iceland’s official contact tracing smartphone app, which is already being used by nearly 40 per cent of its population. The country has been lauded for its rigorous testing and research efforts, which has helped the isolated island country avert disaster.

“When travellers return to Iceland we want to have all mechanisms in place to safeguard them and the progress made in controlling the pandemic. Iceland’s strategy of large-scale testing, tracing and isolating have proven effective so far,” Tourism Minister ThórdÍs Kolbrún Reykfjord Gylfadottir said.

“We want to build on that experience of creating a safe place for those who want a change of scenery after what has been a tough spring for all of us.”

Iceland’s tourism industry leaders are eager to restart the northern summer holiday season.

The dramatically beautiful country had been a favourite among tourists before COVID-19 struck. Picture: iStockSource:Supplied

“I believe that if everything goes well, we should see some tourists here this summer,” said Bjarnheiður Hallsdóttir, the chair of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association, according to the ReykjavÍk Grapevine.

“For those who want to come, this will be a very real possibility.”

Icelandair has struggled to stay alive amid record-low bookings. The airline recently was forced to lay off 3000 of its employees, according to Insider.

“There is a lot at stake that Icelandair continues operations, and it’s in reality a life-or-death question for tourism in Iceland,” Ms Hallsdottir said.

“Hopefully people realise that the situation isn’t just about Icelandair but tourism in Iceland as a whole, and not just tourism but the economy and our whole society.”

Out of about 364,000 citizens of Iceland there have been just over 1800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths, according to data reported by John Hopkins University.

This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission

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Transport

Airlines award bonus points to spur bookings

U.S. carriers have begun offering bonus frequent flyer miles
to spur travel demand.

JetBlue on Thursday said members of its TrueBlue rewards
program can earn double the points for all travel that is booked by June 15.
Points will be doubled in all fare classes, and the bonus will be awarded even
for holiday bookings such as Thanksgiving. Travelers must provide their
TrueBlue number at the time of booking. 

Similarly, Southwest customers who sign up for a new
promotion will earn double the Rapid Reward points for all flights booked and
flown by Aug. 31. 

American, meanwhile, is in the midst of a seven-day
promotion that offers AAdvantage program members 500 bonus points for each
flight completed from July 1 through Dec. 31 up to 5,000 points. To be
eligible, customers must register for the promotion on the American website and
then book the flights by May 18.

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Destinations

How to Experience the Grand Canyon From Home

The Grand Canyon is one of the most sought-after and visited places in the world but the coronavirus pandemic has forced many travelers to postpone or even cancel their travel plans.

Fortunately, there’s now a way to experience this awesome landmark like never before without even leaving your home.

With the help of a $50,000 donation from the Arizona Lottery, the Grand Canyon Conservancy has launched “Grand Canyon Moments,” a 20-week series of eye-popping unreleased footage exploring everything that the iconic natural wonder has to offer.

The two- to three-minute videos will dive into a variety of topics related to the canyon, including dark skies, trails, geology, ecology, history, wildlife, the Colorado River and American Indian connections, among others.

The first two episodes, “Dark Skies” and “Ribbon Falls” were released earlier this month, with more to follow.

To make sure you never miss a new video, subscribe to the Grand Canyon Conservancy’s YouTube channel or visit GrandCanyon.org and sign-up for the email list to get notified when a new video is shared each week.

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Categories
Destinations

EU issues guidelines to facilitate summer travel within Europe

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union on Wednesday unveiled its
plan to help citizens across the 27 nations salvage their summer vacations
after months of tough coronavirus confinement and to hopefully resurrect Europe’s
badly battered tourism industry.

Around 150,000 people have died across Europe and Britain
since the virus surfaced in northern Italy in February, but with the spread of
the disease tapering off, people in many countries are cautiously venturing out
of confinement to return to work and some schools are reopening.

A question on the minds of people, tour operators and the
thousands of small businesses that depend on the tourism industry is whether
this year’s warmest months will turn into a lost summer, with most Europeans
reduced to a home-style “staycation.”

“This is not going to be a normal summer, not for any of us.
But when we all work together, and we all do our part … then we don’t have to
face a summer stuck at home or a complete lost summer for the European tourist
industry,” European Commission executive vice president Margrethe Vestager told
reporters.

In a series of guidelines, the EU’s executive arm, the
European Commission, laid out its advice for lifting ID checks on hastily
closed borders, helping to get airlines, ferries and buses running while
ensuring the safety of passengers and crew, and preparing health measures for
hotels to reassure clients.

But a big question remains: will the countries of the world’s
biggest trading bloc follow the advice? Faced with a disease about which much
is still unknown, national capitals have tended to go it alone, and they — not
the EU Commission — have the final say over health and security matters.

The commission’s over-arching advice is that EU countries
with similar rates of coronavirus infections and comparably strong healthcare
systems should begin lifting border measures between each other. Tourists from
outside Europe cannot enter until at least June 15.

The move comes amid deep concern that Europe’s ID-check free
travel zone — the 26-country space known as the Schengen Area — is being
strangled by controls, further harming virus-ravaged economies by limiting the
movement of goods, services and people that are essential to business.

Austria and Germany said Wednesday they plan to start
loosening border controls this weekend after two months of restrictions. German
interior minister Horst Seehofer said all border crossing points with France,
Switzerland and Austria will be opened — compared with a select few currently.
Border guards will no longer check all travelers, as they have been since March
16.

In a tweet, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced a
shift from Friday to “random checks at the German-Austrian border and on June
15 the border should be opened again.” He said his government is looking to do
the same “with Switzerland, Liechtenstein and neighboring countries in Eastern
Europe, provided the infection numbers allow it.”

Even with border restrictions easing, social-distancing
rules would apply, and the EU Commission is recommending that robust disease
monitoring measures are put in place — including good testing capacity and
contact tracing — so that people have the confidence to return to hotels and
camping sites abroad.

With airlines and travel operators buckling under a
liquidity crisis after governments ordered the cancellation and grounding of
many flights and limits on public life, the commission is hoping for a greater
use of air travel vouchers, which would be more flexible than tickets and could
limit the need for refunds. That would save time for consumers and spare
airlines and operators the cost of refunds in some cases.

Vouchers would be protected against the company going
bankrupt, and valid for at least a year, with trips remaining refundable if the
vouchers are not redeemed. The vouchers would also be transferable to another
traveler, under the guidelines.

Tourism-reliant Greece, which handled the coronavirus better
than most of its partners but whose economy was already severely weakened by
its debt crisis, has thrown its weight behind the commission plan, and is
calling for the resumption of travel between EU countries by June 15. It says
prospective travelers should be tested three days before departure.

A government document seen by the Associated Press says that
while containing the pandemic remains key, “health measures should be
implemented in a way that minimize unnecessary impact on cross-border travel.”
It calls for a coordinated response, backed by EU funding, that would allow
resumption of air, road, train and sea travel simultaneously.
___

Raf Casert in Brussels, Geir Moulson in Berlin, Sylvie
Corbet in Paris and Nicholas Paphitis in Athens contributed.

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Categories
Transport

Flydubai to continue focus on cargo operations

Dubai-based carrier is also helping schedule various repatriation flights

Flydubai has continued to operate and has moved more than 1,651,929kg of perishables, medical supplies, express courier and essential goods.

Dubai-based low-cost carrier Flydubai is focusing its efforts on cargo operations, while also assisting with the repatriation of citizens across the world.

Passenger flights from the UAE have been suspended from March 24 by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), as part of precautionary measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. That ban will not be lifted until June 4 at the earliest.

However, Flydubai has continued to operate and has moved more than 1,651,929kg of perishables, medical supplies, express courier and essential goods.

Flydubai Cargo operated 276 flights, to 26 countries, using six of the carrier’s Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft, allocated to operate as all-cargo flights.

Hamad Obaidalla, chief commercial officer at Flydubai, said: “Air cargo operations will continue to be our focus over the next few weeks. We have been working closely with our strategic partners enabling Flydubai to transport cargo seamlessly to where it is needed the most, while adhering to the safety standards set by the industry and the World Health Organisation (WHO).” 

The carrier has also obtained government approvals to operate 90 special repatriation flights over the past few weeks.

More than 12,532 passengers were able to return to their homes across 19 countries thanks to the efforts and collaboration of embassies and government authorities.

These repatriation flights operated to: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Croatia, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Somaliland, Sudan, Thailand and the United Kingdom.

Flydubai received over 187,000 enquiries about repatriation flights since March and has allocated a dedicated team to support with customer care.

Arabian Business magazine: Read the latest edition online

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Categories
Transport

Emirates SkyCargo to launch New Zealand cargo services

Four weekly services to be operated by carrier’s Boeing 777-300ER passenger freighters

The service will include exports of foods such as chilled meat, honey, dairy products, and seafood to various destinations in the Middle East and Europe.

Emirates SkyCargo is to launch four weekly cargo services to New Zealand from Sunday (May 3).

The company will operate three weekly Dubai-Auckland-Melbourne-Dubai flight rotations and a once a week Dubai-Sydney-Christchurch-Sydney-Dubai flight service operated by the carrier’s Boeing 777-300ER passenger freighters.

The service will include exports of foods such as chilled meat, honey, dairy products, and seafood to various destinations in the Middle East and Europe.

The flight service is also expected to help transport pharmaceuticals and medical appliances to markets in the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

“Emirates SkyCargo is delighted to working with the Government of New Zealand to help connect fresh produce of the highest quality and other key exports from Auckland and Christchurch. We consider it our responsibility to ensure that we are able to facilitate adequate supply of food and other essential commodities to markets that we serve and also support exporters in New Zealand at the same time,” said Nabil Sultan, Emirates divisional senior vice president, cargo. 

Emirates SkyCargo operates dedicated cargo flights on its Boeing 777 freighters and Boeing 777-300ER passenger freighters to more than 60 destinations across six continents.

Arabian Business magazine: Read the latest edition online

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Destinations

Sicily Willing to Help Pay For You to Visit

When Italy opens back up for tourists, Sicily wants your business.

Like, really wants your business.

The southern Italian island has announced it will pay for half of tourists’ flight costs and a third of their hotel bill in order to lure visitors back to the popular destination once restrictions from the coronavirus are lifted. And if that’s not enough, Sicily will also comp tickets to many of its historical sites.

Italy has been one of the hardest-hit countries in the world from the effects of COVID-19 and closed its doors to tourists on March 10. Overall, the entire country gleans 13 percent of its gross domestic product from tourism and Sicily says it has lost almost 1 billion euros ($1.09 billion USD) without tourists.

Of course, any tourism is still way off. Italy is in the midst of a slow re-opening, with restaurants given the OK to start takeout service beginning May 4, followed by manufacturing and construction. Retail stores and museums will open on May 18, and restaurants can offer dine-in sit-down service starting June 1 so long as people wear face masks.

The Sicilian regional government says it has 50 million euros ($54.9 million USD) set aside just for such an emergency. That pales in comparison to the loss of 1 billion euros—and counting—but it’s a start. The logic being, make the initial investment to lure the tourists and hope they spend like sailors on shore leave.

So how is this going to work? When Italy can start welcoming tourists again, visitors who book plans to visit the island can go on visitsicily.info to download vouchers to retrieve the funds and offset their costs.

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Categories
Holiday

Bringing Auckland to the world during lockdown – A Luxury Travel Blog

A stunning video that captures the beauty and stillness of Auckland, New Zealand is being shared across the world. Produced by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) while New Zealand is in lockdown to tackle COVID-19, Papatūānuku is breathing has resonated with New Zealanders and the global community – so much so that the video has been translated into French and Spanish by two inspired viewers.

The two-minute video was made by ATEED staff with a goal of creating a connection and a message that reflects the region’s uniquely Māori culture while using existing Auckland footage.

The voiceover was recorded at home by 11-year-old Manawanui Maniapoto Mills in Muriwai, on Auckland’s rugged west coast, and features haunting taonga pūoro (traditional Māori instrumental sounds) by Moana and the Moahunters.

This includes the putaatara (opening conch shell sound), the purerehua (wind sound) and the kōauau (Māori flute sound at the end).

New Zealand’s Department of Conservation provided the native bird sounds.

On YouTube alone, the video has already been viewed over 300,000 times across different platforms.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently announced an easing of its lockdown measures after shutting down community transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

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Categories
Travel

Fla. Attorney Plans to Dress Up as Grim Reaper and Hit the Beach to Encourage Social Distancing


Floridians planning to hit the beach next week, beware — the Grim Reaper may be waiting.

a group of people walking on a beach: Sam Greenwood/Getty Crowded beaches in Jacksonville on April 19

As Gov. Ron DeSantis begins to ease restrictions on local beaches in the Sunshine State, one local attorney is taking it upon himself to make sure beachgoers know they may be tempting fate by getting close in public amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Daniel Uhlfelder of Santa Rosa Beach recently went viral with a tweet promising to dress as the Grim Reaper and spend some time on the sand starting May 1 (with six feet of distance, of course).

“Many of you have asked if I am willing to travel around Florida wearing Grim Reaper attire to the beaches and to other areas of the state opening up prematurely,” he wrote on Tuesday. “The answer is absolutely yes. Beginning May 1 we will hit the road here in state. Please retweet and spread the word.”

a person standing in front of a tall grass field: Daniel Uhlfelder already has his suit, and will hit the beach on May 1, the day after the governor's stay-at-home order is currently set to be lifted

Uhlfelder — who filed suit against DeSantis last month to close Florida beaches — tells PEOPLE his morbid plan was inspired by his frustration over the reopening of beaches when people should still be inside social distancing to help stop the virus’ spread.

“People aren’t getting the message, so I thought, well, what would really make the message of, ‘Hey, we’re prematurely doing this, and it’s a matter of life and death. Let’s take a pause’?” he says. “There’s nothing really as direct of a symbol of death as the Grim Reaper, and this virus kills people with real regularity.”

Many of you have asked if I am willing to travel around Florida wearing Grim Reaper attire to the beaches and other areas of the state opening up prematurely. The answer is absolutely yes. Beginning May 1 we will hit the road here in state. Please retweet and spread the word. pic.twitter.com/UO7QKg161n

Uhlfelder says he didn’t expect his tweet to go viral, but hopes that his state will be able to avoid earning a certain reputation.

“I’m a second-generation Floridian. I don’t want us to have the reputation of being idiots, but we’re getting that real quickly,” he says. “Not just being idiots, but being not very compassionate for human life.”

While Uhlfelder says he recognizes that beaches are a large part of Florida’s economy, he hopes local governments will take necessary precautions and hold off on opening the sands until science says it’s time.

His Grim Reaper suit has already been shipped to him from Walmart, and he says he’s ready to “make [his] presence known” on local beaches yet to be determined.

Uhlfelder is calling his mission “The Florida Grim Reaper Tour,” and is hoping to raise $20,000 in support of Democrats like Phil Ehr and Christy Smith, who are running for office.

Some beaches in north Florida have already started reopening for the first time in nearly a month; last Friday, crowds of cheering people quickly flooded Jacksonville Beach and began surfing, sunbathing and playing volleyball, CNN reported.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said that parks and beaches in Duval County would stay open so long as visitors practiced social-distancing guidelines and only participated in “essential activities” like walking, biking, running and swimming.

Gov. DeSantis’ statewide stay-at-home order is in place until April 30.

As of Thursday afternoon, there have been 28,832 cases and 960 deaths attributed to coronavirus in Florida, according to The New York Times. The U.S. has seen more than 852,253 cases and 43,587 deaths.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here. 


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