& Tourism Industry Buzz
UK Soccer Star Learns not to Get Rough with Cats. It was announced last week that Experience Kissimmee has ended its sponsorship with West Ham United—a UK football (soccer) club following the club’s controversial decision to play center-back Kurt Zouma despite universal horror at the defender’s abuse of his pet cat.
In a statement, Experience Kissimmee, which has had garnered some recognition through its West Ham affiliation, a fact not lost on the scores of thousands of Brits who visit Central Florida and Kissimmee annually, said it had made the decision to “part ways” with WHU. Said President and CEO DT Minich: “As an organization and community, we welcome visitors and locals alike to join us in celebrating wildlife and nature, now and always,” adding, “We are proud to work with partners who are accredited, certified and regulated to the highest standards of animal care.” Experience Kissimmee had sponsored West Ham United since 2016, initially on a three-year deal which was extended for a further three years.
A widely distributed video which apparently originated on social media platform Snapchat shows Zouma picking up the cat from another room and bringing it into the kitchen before drop-kicking the cat across the floor. He then throws shoes at the animal before later slapping it in the face. Zouma has since apologized for the incident.
● Volaris Airlines, which has service from Mexico to nearly 30 U.S. destinations, has teamed up with the Caped Crusader—Batman—as the latest movie featuring the latter hits theatres on March 4. Together with Warner Bros. Pictures, Batman now adorns an A320neo aircraft that will cross the Mexican skies from February to August 1, 2022. For more information, click here.
● Prescribing Park Visits for Your Health—From the National Parks Traveler: “Health care professionals in four Canadian provinces can now prescribe time in the national park system to boost people’s mental and physical health. Parks Canada is collaborating with a program called ParkPrescriptions (PaRx). Doctors, nurses and other licensed health care professionals who register with the program can prescribe nature — and even a Parks Canada Discovery Pass — to their patients.” You can read the entire article, by Jennifer Bain, here.
● In the UK, Disabled-friendly tour travel specialist Limitless Travel has expanded to the U.S. and Canada markets and has begun operating European trips for North American travelers. As reported in the Travel Weekly UK, the Birmingham-based specialist has also unveiled a range of new holidays for 2022, including three cruises to Norway, Iberia and the Mediterranean. “With our new US offering, we’re excited to take our expertise and levels of care and service to this market,” said Angus Drummond, founder and chief executive of Limitless Travel. “We’re looking forward to what 2022 will bring.” Limitless Travel said 2021 passenger numbers in 2021 were double the amount it took in 2019 and it saw record sales, despite the pandemic. Click here for the complete article.
● Return to normalcy—but COVID Will be with us: The U.S. Travel Association’s most recent “industry insider” weekly update tells us “There is a growing movement among business leaders to consider the COVID-19 pandemic a permanent fixture in our lives and move to an ‘endemic’ state of mind.” This matters, says US Travel, because “The call to loosen pandemic restrictions comes amid the ongoing omicron variant. As health experts determined that the strain is less deadly, many are calling for a return to normalcy.”
● One consequence of the recently announced Frontier Airlines acquisition of Sprit Airlines is that the two will become the fifth largest U.S. carrier. The move is certain to have an impact on inbound travel to the USA. The combined group intends to operate more than 1,000 daily flights to over 145 destinations in 19 countries, across complementary networks. As well, more than 350 aircraft are on order to add new routes to communities across the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean. Frontier is based in Denver, while Spirit is located in the Miami area. The acquisition is due to be completed in the second half of the year.
Chinese company Space Transportation is developing a “rocket with wings” for space tourism and ● point-to-point travel. “We are developing a winged rocket for high-speed, point-to-point transportation, which is lower in cost than rockets that carry satellites and faster than traditional aircraft,” the company said in a recent interview with Yicheng Times. The so-called space plane would aim to provide rapid transport between two locations on Earth through suborbital travel and be fully reusable. For the complete Space.com article on the matter, click here.
● Australia is reopening its borders now that as Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued the notice, indicating that the country will welcome fully-vaccinated tourists and business travelers starting next week (February 21). Scott made the announcement today hours after the government’s national security committee was briefed on the latest health advice. Morrison said that the move would boost the tourism industry that has been flattened by the pandemic. Although the international borders have been reopened in late 2021, entry has only been allowed for citizens, permanent residents and their families. It was later expanded to international students, backpackers and migrant workers. In recent years, Australia has been a top ten source market for overseas tourism to the USA.
● The Brazilian government announced last week that it has closed an agreement for the country’s entry into the Global Entry program, which facilitates access to the United States. The process allows people already with a U.S. visa to have immigration control in the United States faster, without having to wait long to be authorized to the country. To participate, interested travelers must be approved by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Authority after paying an application fee — $100 — and completing the registration and evaluation process, which includes a background check and personal interview. The entire process must be done through the official US government website. Once approved, they can proceed with the entry process at selected airports in an unbureaucratic way, through automatic kiosks.
● In recent action in New York City, tour travel company operators Urban Oyster, North America Tour Hub (NATH), and Adventure United States announced a new tour operating company: WeVenture. Owners David Naczycz, Andy Maunder, Jason Fried, Bill Gehrman, and Michiel Stavast bring a combined 75 years of tourism experience to WeVenture, making it the premier U.S. tour company operating in 11 cities with over 100 employees. This year, the New York City-based company expects to host 12,000 tours serving over 75,000 tourists in WeVenture destinations Boston, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
● More new travel job vacancies were created in January 2022 in the UK than at any point in the last two pandemic-hit years, based to the latest data from London-based C&M Travel Recruitment and C&M Executive Recruitment. Last month’s total was almost three times higher than December 2021’s figure, and stands more than ten times higher than the number recorded in January 2021. Click here for the complete article.