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December 2020 Travel News Articles

Curated by Ed Boitano

As U.S. Races Toward COVID-19 Vaccine, Britain Takes the Lead

By Daniel Trotta

Covid-19 vaccine

(Reuters) — Britain leapt ahead of the United States in approving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, intensifying scrutiny on U.S. regulators as they consider whether to grant emergency use in the country that leads the world in coronavirus infections.

A day after top U.S. health officials announced plans to begin vaccinating Americans as early as mid-December, British regulators granted emergency use approval to the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc along with Germany’s BioNTech SE.

Dr. Jose Romero, chairman of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, said U.S. officials will be watching closely to see what they can learn from the British experience with a vaccine that requires extreme refrigeration.

“I’m personally interested to see how well they can deliver it and how their transport systems, the dry-ice trays that hold this vaccine, function in the real world,” Romero told CNN.

“Does it keep the vaccine cold? Are there any issues involved in getting the vaccine out from a central point into the public sector? We can learn from that and adjust our plans as necessary,” Romero said.

The vaccine still faces regulatory hurdles in the United States.

A Food and Drug Administration panel of outside advisers will meet on Dec. 10 to discuss whether to recommend emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine. Moderna’s vaccine candidate is expected to be reviewed a week later, and others are under development.

While some U.S. health officials described a timeline that assumed FDA authorization would come within days of the Dec. 10 meeting, the head of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Dr. Peter Marks, told patient advocacy groups last week that it might take “a few days to a few weeks.”

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, likewise, has said the process could take longer, and the vaccine calls for two separate injections given three weeks apart.

“It does take two doses to get the full 95% efficacy, but there’s a possibility that some patients will derive protection after one dose, so the vaccine can start having an immediate impact,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. Food U.S. Food and Drug Administration under the Trump administration and a member of the Pfizer board of directors, told CNBC television.

With many Americans still refusing to follow basic public health guidance on wearing masks and avoiding crowds, a vaccine could be crucial to arresting a raging pandemic that killed 10,000 people and infected 1.1 million last week alone in the United States.

Another 2,624 new U.S. deaths were reported on Tuesday, raising the cumulative death toll above 270,000 since the pandemic began. More than 13 million have been infected.

A record 96,000 COVID-19 patients were reported in U.S. hospitals on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally, at a time when exhausted healthcare professionals are short-staffed with many of their colleagues falling sick.

Dr. Tom Mihaljevic, president of the renowned Cleveland Clinic, told MSNBC television on Wednesday that his hospital had three and a half times as many coronavirus patients now as it did in April during the first wave of the outbreak.

“The hospitals are full,” Mihaljevic said. “Virus is currently everywhere.”

He also cautioned against further spread over the year-end holidays, after millions of Americans defied official warnings and traveled for Thanksgiving last week.

“This pandemic is spreading in families,” Mihaljevic said. “When people get together with people they know under their own roof, then that is when the guard comes down. This is when the masks are not being worn, when social distancing is not being put in place. And therefore we will have to reconsider how we celebrate this coming holiday season.”

Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Nick Zieminski

Travel Stars Shine Brightest

Courtesy Business Traveler

The 2020 Best in Business Travel Awards highlight resilience, innovation and staying power

Business Travel Awards 2020

The Best in Business Travel Awards are celebrating 32 years of honoring the star performers in the industry, making it one of the longest-running readers’ choice awards in travel. In years past, these awards have generally been a reflection of steady, incremental improvements that the industry’s leaders have developed – innovative products, added routes, new thinking in service levels and technology, all the steps that travel providers take to make life on the road easier for you, the readers of Business Traveler.

In many ways, 2020 has been a year like no other. The challenges of COVID-19 have caused wrenching changes throughout the travel industry. The weight of cross-border bans, countrywide lockdowns and pure fear that crushed global travel at the beginning of March continues now and into the foreseeable future. This has left our readers with a dilemma: When I cast my vote for the Best in Business Travel, do I choose those providers who were doing a great job before the pandemic, or the ones who have really picked up the ball since?

However, the present circumstances are not so very different from crises in the past, and the way the top performers are responding is much as they always have responded to challenges. In fact, there’s no better time for the stars of travel to shine than when they are put to the test. When the gauntlet is thrown down, it’s these industry leaders who pick it up and respond with creativity and drive. That’s the hallmark of the Best in Business Travel Award winners.

And that’s the kind of innovative thinking we find throughout this year’s selections. As always, the categories include the best in class in global travel, the best airlines and business hotel chains by regions, as well as the best meetings destinations, car rental, leisure experiences, services and products. A total of 54 categories in all – representing an increase of eight new categories over last year’s awards. We see this broadening interest as good omen for the future of travel, as more of our readers explore ways to enrich their travel experiences. Again this year, the lists include the top three vote-getters in each category, highlighting both winners and finalists.

Since 1988, Business Traveler has been asking our readers to cast their votes for who does travel better than anybody else in the world. Today, in a year of almost unimaginable tumult, the 2020 Best in Business Travel Awards are sounding a powerful note of confidence in the future of this industry, and in the ability of its leading companies to rise above all the challenges and changes this crisis – or any other – can produce, and provide the best of the best the world of travel has to offer.

AIRLINES

Best in Global Travel

Singapore Airlines plane taking offBest Overall Airline in the World
Winner
Singapore Airlines

Finalists
Qatar Airways
Emirates

Best Airline in the World for International Travel
Winner
Etihad Airways

Finalists
Singapore Airlines
Delta Air Lines

Best Airline Alliance
Winner
oneworld

Finalists
Star Alliance
SkyTeam

Airline with Best First Class Service in the World
Winner
Singapore Airlines

Finalists
Emirates
Etihad Airways

Airline with Best Business Class Service in the World
Winner
Singapore Airlines

Finalists
Qatar Airways
Emirates

Airline with Best Premium Economy Service in the World
Winner
Singapore Airlines

Finalists
Cathay Pacific Airways
Air Canada

Delta airline plane

Airline with Best Economy Class Service in the World
Winner
Delta Air Lines

Finalists
Singapore Airlines
Turkish Airlines

Best Airline Cuisine in Business Class
Winner
Singapore Airlines

Finalists
Delta Air Lines
Qatar Airways

Best Overall Inflight Experience in the World
Winner
Singapore Airlines

Finalists
Delta Air Lines
Qatar Airways

Airline with Best Overall Customer Service
Winner
Delta Air Lines

Finalists
Singapore Airlines
Southwest Airlines

Best Airline Corporate Program
Winner
Turkish Airlines

Finalists
Delta Air Lines
Alaska Airlines/Virgin America

Best Airlines By Region

Air Canada airlinerBest North American Airline for International Travel
Winner
Air Canada

Finalists
Delta Air Lines
United Airlines

Best Airline for North American Travel
Winner
JetBlue

Finalists
Delta Air Lines
Alaska Airlines/Virgin America

Best Airline in Africa
Winner
Ethiopian Airlines

Finalists
South African Airways
Kenya Airways

Best Airline in Asia
Winner
Cathay Pacific Airways

Finalists
Singapore Airlines
EVA Air

Emirates plane on runwayBest Airline in the Middle East
Winner
Emirates

Finalists
Qatar Airways
Etihad Airways

Best Airline in South/Latin America
Winner
LATAM

Finalists
Avianca
Aerolineas Argentinas

Best Airline in Western Europe
Winner
British Airways

Finalists
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Lufthansa

Best Airline in Central & Eastern Europe
Winner
LOT Polish Airlines

Finalists
Turkish Airlines
Lufthansa

Best Air Travel Experience

United AirlinesBest North American Airline for Business Class Service
Winner
United Airlines

Finalists
Delta Air Lines
American Airlines

Best North American Airline for Premium Economy Service
Winner
Delta Air Lines

Finalists
United Airlines
American Airlines

Best Business Class to Africa
Winner
South African Airways

Finalists
Qatar Airways
Turkish Airlines

Best Business Class to Asia
Winner
Singapore Airlines

Finalists
Cathay Pacific Airways
Korean Air

British AirwaysBest Business Class to Western Europe
Winner
British Airways

Finalists
Lufthansa
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Best Business Class to Central and Eastern Europe
Winner
Lufthansa

Finalists
Turkish Airlines
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Best Business Class to the Middle East
Winner
Emirates

Finalists
Qatar Airways
Etihad Airways

Best Business Class to South/Latin America
Winner
LATAM

Finalists
Delta Air Lines
COPA Panama

Best Business Class to Australia/New Zealand/South Pacific
Winner
Qantas

Finalists
Air New Zealand
Singapore Airlines

Best North American Airline for Inflight Experience
Winner
Air Canada

Finalists
JetBlue
Delta Air Lines

Best Airline for Transpacific Service
Winner
Cathay Pacific Airways

Finalists
Singapore Airlines
ANA (All Nippon Airways)

Best Airlines for Transatlantic Service
Winner
British Airways

Finalists
Virgin Atlantic
Lufthansa

HOTELS

Best Hotel Experience

Four Seasons MaldivesBest Luxury Hotel Brand
Winner
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Finalists
The Ritz-Carlton
The Peninsula Hotels

Best Boutique Hotel Brand
Winner
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

Finalists
Autograph Collection Hotels
Leading Hotels of the World

Best Business Hotel Brand in the World
Winner
Marriott International

Finalists
Hilton Hotels and Resorts
IHG

Best Hotels by Region

Best Business Hotel Brand in Asia
Winner
Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts

Finalists
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
The Peninsula Hotels

Hilton Bay-Tel AvivBest Business Hotel Brand in Europe
Winner
Hilton Hotels and Resorts

Finalists
Marriott International
IHG

Best Business Hotel Brand in the Middle East
Winner
Jumeirah Group

Finalists
Marriott International
Hyatt

Best Business Hotel Brand in North America
Winner
Marriott International

Finalists
Hilton Hotels and Resorts
Hyatt

Best Business Hotel Brand in South/Latin America
Winner
Marriott International

Finalists
Hyatt
IHG

LOYALTY

Best Loyalty

Best Frequent Flyer Program
Winner
Delta Air Lines – SkyMiles

Finalists
United Airlines – MileagePlus
Southwest – Rapid Rewards

Best Hotel Loyalty Program
Winner
Marriott Bonvoy

Finalists
Hilton Honors
World of Hyatt

Best Credit Card Rewards Program
Winner
American Express

Finalist
Capital One

ON THE GROUND

Best Connections on the Ground

ARIA Resort and Casino at night

Best US Meeting Destination
Winner
Las Vegas

Finalists
New York City
San Diego

Best International Meeting Destination
Winner
Seoul

Finalists
London
Paris

Best Airport in the World
Winner
Singapore Changi (SIN)

Finalists
Seoul Incheon International (ICN)
Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS)

Incheon AirportAirport with Best Duty-Free Shopping
Winner
Seoul Incheon International (ICN)

Finalists
Dubai International (DXB)
Singapore Changi (SIN)

Best Car Rental Company in North America
Winner
National

Finalists
Hertz
Avis

Best Car Rental Company in the World
Winner
Hertz

Finalists
Enterprise
Sixt

Best Credit Card
Winner
American Express

Finalists
Chase Sapphire
Visa

Best Travel App
Winner
Trip Advisor

Finalists
Expedia
Kayak

Best Luggage Brand
Winner
Tumi

Finalists
Travel Pro
Briggs & Riley

LEISURE

Best Leisure Experiences

cruise shipBest Luxury Cruise Line
Winner
Celebrity Cruises

Finalists
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Crystal Cruises

Best Luxury Resort
Winner
The Brando (Tahiti)

Finalists
Two Farms (Vermont)
Four Seasons (Maldives)

Best Golf Resort
Winner
Pebble Beach Golf Resort (US)

Finalists
Cape Wickham Links (Tasmania)
Bandon Dunes / Trails Resort (US)

Lets Go There

Best in Business Travel Award Winners provide vital leadership in the effort to inspire America’s travelers

The US Travel Association and an industrywide collaboration of 75 travel companies have launched a major advertising campaign, Let’s Go There. The campaign is designed to encourage Americans to dream about, plan for and – eventually – return to traveling for both business and pleasure.

It’s no coincidence that among the participants in the coalition are over a dozen winners or finalists in the 2020 Best of Business Travel Awards; it highlights once again the importance of the leadership, innovation and creative thinking these organizations bring, not only to their own businesses, but to the travel community globally. Let’s Go There Coalition supporting organizations that have also been recognized by Business Traveler readers in this year’s awards include:

These travel industry stars are joined by other leading companies such as Disney, Pepsico, Google, Amazon and Sabre, organizations like the US Chamber of Commerce, Brand USA, the American Society of Travel Advisors and Airlines for America, and dozens of city and state convention and tourism authorities.

Restoring Optimism

The Let’s Go There campaign is based on recent research that shows people gain an emotional benefit when they plan travel, or even when they just think about future trips. The poll conducted by Michelle Gielan, founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research, found 97 percent of respondents said that having a trip planned makes them happier, while 71 percent said they felt greater levels of energy when they had a trip planned in the next six months.

traveling during the Covid19 pandemic

Indeed, despite the pandemic, there are early signs that travelers are beginning to feel confident about traveling again. Inmarsat’s recent ‘Passenger Confidence Tracker’ survey of 9,500 airline passengers found that nearly half of those polled worldwide (47 percent) say they expect to feel ready to fly within the next six months. Among US travelers, that number jumps to 60 percent. Perhaps more telling, the percentage of Americans who say they won’t fly again until there’s a vaccine falls to just 8 percent.

The message is clear: Americans are looking forward to getting back on the road. So the aim of the Let’s Go There campaign is to encourage travelers to go ahead and make their plans to travel now, and through that endeavor, to lift spirits and take the first steps toward restoring optimism – both about travel and about the future. Then as the momentum builds, travelers and would-be travelers can be confident that the industry is prepared to welcome them back.

The Let’s Go There Coalition spans practically every segment of the American travel industry. These leaders recognized the need to come together “as colleagues, not competitors,” with a united message, says Roger Dow, CEO of US Travel.

The organizations have come together to address the precipitous drop in travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic, initially with a safety-first message in the #TravelConfidently campaign. Now the time has come to reinvigorate travel and renew the sense of adventure and discovery that only travel can deliver.

The direct consumer campaign will include digital, broadcast, video and social platforms, as well as providing campaign-themed material for distribution by individual industry organizations across their own channels.

The message of Let’s Go There will:

  • Trigger the emotional connection to travel that Americans are missing and inspire them to look forward again to the joy of travel.
  • Remind Americans of the restorative power of optimism and anticipation of travel.
  • Encourage Americans to take the first step and make travel plans.
  • Take an active role in the country’s recovery.

“There is pleasure in planning travel, and when the moment is right, the industry is committed to being well-prepared for the safe return of travelers,” Dow says. “When it’s time for you, we’ll be ready.”

Second Passport Demand Surges by 50% Amid Covid-19 Restrictions

Courtesy george@priorconsultancy.co.uk

US passportsNational lockdowns, closed borders and travel restrictions have helped drive up enquiries for second passports, citizenships and overseas residencies by more than 50% year-on-year, reveals one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory firms.

deVere Group, which has more than 100,000 clients globally, reports that this highly unusual year has seen demand for its residency and citizen service “skyrocket.”

The majority of enquiries are from high–net-worth individuals from the U.S., India, South Africa, Russia, the Middle East and East Asia who are seeking alternative options in Europe and the Commonwealth.

Nigel Green, the founder and CEO of deVere Group, says: “Previously, a second passport, citizenship or residency were regarded by many as the ultimate luxury item; a status symbol like yachts, supercars and original artwork.

“While this still remains the case, there’s also been a shift due to the pandemic.

“Now, second citizenship or overseas residency are increasingly becoming not just a ‘nice to have accessory’ but a ‘must have.’

“Whether it be for personal reasons, such as to remain with loved ones overseas or be able to visit them, or for business reasons, a growing number of people are seeking ways to secure their freedom of movement as they have faced travel restrictions which are, typically, based on citizenship.”

He continues: “The pandemic has served as a major catalyst for demand which skyrocketed this year. It has focused minds to secure that second passport or elite residency.

“However, the appeal for is broader than just the global Covid-19 crisis.

“Increasingly people prefer the concept of being a global citizen, rather than being solely tied to the country of their birth.

“They too value the many associated benefits including visa-free travel, world-class education, optimal healthcare, political and economic stability, reduced tax liabilities and wider business and career opportunities.”

Every host country has different criteria for granting citizenship, including time spent in the country, being able to prove the legal source of funds and no criminal records.

For example, Portugal’s residency program requires only two weeks every two years of residency to gain the benefits, including the right to live, work, study and open a business there, as well as travel across the 26 countries of Europe’s Schengen area.

“More and more nations are running citizenship-by-investment programs, in which applicants invest an amount of money in a sponsoring country typically in high-end, new-build real estate developments in exchange for permanent residency, citizenship, or both,” affirms James Minns, deVere’s Head of Residency & Citizenship.

“These programmes, which high-net-worth individuals regard as invaluable insurance, are typically based on property investments that start from 250,000 EUR.”

Nigel Green concludes: “These highly unusual times have fuelled the surge in demand for second passports.

“The pandemic has brought into sharp focus what really matters to people: family, freedom and security.”

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