Travel Industry News – April 6, 2023
NOTE: You can watch the video above and/or read the post below.
The US Passport Office is backed up again
As I reported last month, the US Passport Office is backed up again. Current processing times are taking between 10-13 weeks and expedited between 7-9 weeks. This does not include mail delivery times. If you were my client, I automatically send you a warning email 364 days before expiration because I feel that you should renew your passport one year in advance of expiration. After that initial warning I send another email 300 days before expiration and a final email 200 days before expiration. After that I’ll send a text a week later. If you ignore all those warnings then it’ll be on you to suffer through the panic I see in the travel groups right now.
The revised Turks and Caicos Covid-19 vaccine requirements
Effective April 1, Turks and Caicos dropped its Covid-19 vaccine requirements for tourists. It had already eliminated mask requirements last year. The country, however, still does strongly recommend that travelers receive both the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine, but neither will be a requirement for entry to the islands.
South Korea’s fees and permits changes
Also effective April 1, South Korea removed its fees and permits requirement for USA and Canada passport holders. So we’ll no longer need to complete the online processing prior to arriving in that country.
Airport and Train strikes in Europe
Airport and Train strikes in England, France, and Germany disrupted travel last month, this month, and will probably continue in the EU through the always busy summer travel season as France, Italy, Greece, Spain, and Ireland continue to be some of the most requested countries for vacation.
The cruise industry’s wave season
Wave season, which is January through March every year, showed that the cruise industry continues to rebound with greater demand. And with more new cruise lines, ships, and sailing routes this year and next year, the forecast is that cruising will continue to break records. Note: A lot of cruise lines (ocean, river, and expedition) are extending their free (or partial) airfare or their free land pre-/post-cruise package promotions through this month.
Crystal Cruises revival
Crystal Cruises is back! After bankruptcy in the pandemic, the new ownership will honor guests who lost money with credits towards future cruises. If you were one of those people then go to the website (https://crystalcruises.com/exceptional-initiative) I’ve included in the description to see if you qualify.
Staffing shortages in the airline industry
Staffing shortages continue to be a problem in the travel industry worldwide but the shortage of qualified pilots and air traffic controllers in the US are hitting the airline industry hard. Routes, especially in the regional markets, are being cut back drastically by the major US airlines. I always tell my clients, family and friends who book their own flights on smaller/budget carriers to make sure there is another flight later that day, the next day, and the day after that just in case of cancellations. Statistics show that airlines have already cut 10% of scheduled flights this spring over pilot and crew shortages and the FAA had asked airlines to cut schedules in order to deal with a lack of air-traffic controllers.
Abusive Passengers Act
The Protection from Abusive Passengers Act has been reintroduced to Congress. This bill could ban a growing number of airline passengers who are either assessed a civil penalty for or convicted of violence or intimidation in the air. The bill would also permanently ban abusive passengers from participating in the TSA Pre-Check or Customs’ Global Entry programs, along with many other restrictions and fines.
Mexico travel advisory
I have clients traveling all over the world this summer but apparently Mexico is prevalent in the USA news. I can’t tell you what’s safe or not for you and your family and while I can’t vouch comment on the rest of Mexico, the Cancun/Playa del Carmen/Riviera Maya region (in the state of Quintana Roo) has the US State Department travel advisory of level #2 – Exercise Increased Caution, which is the same level as the UK, France, Italy, Spain, and Germany, etc. See description for link to look up countries that interest you. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/
Finally, the travel industry thought 2022 was the year of revenge travel but we’ve seen such an overwhelming surge in 2023 of people are not only desperate to take a vacation but who are also willing to pay way more than necessary. I’ve received several last-minute requests for this summer and the prices have surpassed even what I thought they might be. As mentioned, staff shortages are worldwide and that includes hotels, tour operators, drivers, guides, customer service reps, sales support, etc. and getting an answer can take weeks, especially on last-minute request. I constantly preach about planning ahead and will continue to do so because planning ahead will definitely save you time, money, and stress.