Facebook LIVE – Travel Industry News – October 5, 2023
Early September, Morocco suffered a devastating earthquake in the Atlas Mountains region which is about 40 miles outside of Marrakesh. A few walls in the Jewish Quarter and the famous Jemaa El Fna Medina crumbled but Marrakesh was largely unaffected. Ouarzazate, known for it’s mud buildings, and Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot in the Atlas mountain regions are heavily damaged though and that is also where most of the deaths occurred. I have a small women-only group traveling to Morocco in April 2024 so I’ll be keeping an eye out for any news here.
Speaking of disasters and recovery, Hawaii is urging travelers to come back to Maui after fires devastated the West side of Maui and the Lahaina area, in particular, because there are many other areas on the island to visit. Plus the whole state is working very hard to get the west side of Maui back into tourism shape.
New York City got dumped on, literally, last Friday by a torrential rainstorm that backed up sewers, flooded subway stations, and snarled traffic for hours.
Paris is reporting a serious bedbug infestation that has taken over buses, the metro, theaters, and Charles de Gaulle Airport. I just had a small group of women return from Paris last week and thankfully there’s been no reports of bedbugs from them. I’m not discounting other reports because Paris officials are taking it serious and are worried about the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
Amsterdam is increasing Tourist Taxes for land and cruise guests in 2024. You’ll see the 12.5% increase on your hotel bills and cruise invoices. And that increase makes Amsterdam the most expensive when it comes to tourist taxes in Europe and the fourth-highest tourist tax in the world.
Starting sometime in 2024, Iceland will implement a new tourist tax from international visitors to protect its nature and environment.
The ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System), better known as the EU visa, that was set to start in 2024 is rumored to have run into problems that will push it to 2025. However, the ETIAS website still says coming in 2024, so… stay tuned!
This week, London’s Gatwick had to limit its daily flights because of staff sickness (mostly Covid cases). It’s still out there people, please take care.
Passport processing time just got 2 weeks faster. The US State Department announced that processing times are now eight to 11 weeks for routine service and five to seven weeks for expedited service.
United Airlines’ Pilots agree to new deal, however, Southwest Airlines’ Pilots agreed to go on strike near the end of October. We’ll see how that goes.
Late September, Delta announce some major changes to their Frequent Flyer program: termination of the rollover miles in 2024, how Medallion Qualifying miles (MQM), segments (MQS), and dollars (MQD) are earned and Delta Sky Club lounge access limits for Delta Amex and Amex Platinum cardholders for 2025. Delta loyalists were outraged over these drastic changes and shouted their feelings all over social media. The outrage was loud and ugly and now Delta Execs are backpedaling. They say they will review the changes but one thing that stood out to me is when Delta’s CEO said “we probably went too far — too fast.” To me that means those changes will still go into effect but perhaps not as soon as originally planned.
The Brightline train between Orlando airport (MCO) and central Miami, launched September 22, 2023.
MGM Resorts had a major “cybersecurity issue” last month that nearly shutdown everything in its casinos and resorts around the world. It took 10 days to get everything back online.
The Federal Government shutdown was delayed for 45 days. That puts a possible shutdown right before Thanksgiving. If it does shutdown, it will affect air travel the most especially if the shutdown is long and drawn-out because while TSA and Air Traffic Controllers are considered essential, they will be working without pay.
October is National Plan a Cruise Month!
Carnival Cruise Lines increased their drink package prices. The $10 per person increase on short cruises (3, 4, and 5-nights) will go into effect this coming Sunday October 8, 2023 and for all other cruises, December 1, 2023.
Norwegian Cruise Line is increasing solo accommodations across its fleet by more than double, starting January 2, 2024. It’s the addition of almost 1,000 dedicated solo staterooms across 19 ships. Norwegian is serious about its solo travelers because some of the cabins are oceanview and balcony and on some ships there’s a special key-card entry only access to the Studio Lounge! The Studio Lounge features a dedicated space for solo travelers to socialize and is equipped with a bar offering beer and wine and a variety of snacks served daily. I might be done with the mass-market super ships but when they do they do their best for solo travelers, I’m going to ring their bell loudly.
Staying with Norwegian Cruise Line, they are bringing Wheel of Fortune to main theater on 16 ships by Spring of 2024.
And finally, I often get asked why small group travel costs more than big bus travel. Well, companies like Gate1, Globus, Trafalgar, etc. can guarantee (or block) a certain number of rooms for a certain number of weeks each year, so, of course the hotels and other suppliers are going to reduce prices for them. They are bring a bus load (40-50 people/20 rooms) and paying for them in advance. While a one-time small group trip can’t guarantee anything. However, the trip is more customized and intimate than the big bus tours could ever dream of and, depending on where the tour is, the big buses need to stay outside the city limits. Big buses cannot maneuver the tight inner-city streets. Please note that I sell both. If you don’t mind the big bus tours with 50 people, I will get you what you want. If, on the other hand, you want something more tailored, more personalized, more bespoke, I will get you what you want or offer one of my own future small group trips. Stay tuned…