● It’s OK to hug Mickey. We need more news like this—from ABC4 news, Salt Lake City: “In a world of dark news and endless controversy, here’s one piece of news that will make you grin from ear-to-ear — you can hug Mickey Mouse again. Disney Theme Parks have finally brought back character hugs. Guests lining up for meet-and-greets with their favorite Disney characters can now ruffle Donald’s feathers, touch noses with Goofy or enjoy a warm, hearty bear hug with Winnie the Pooh. The new announcement will allow all guests to hug costumed characters across all Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Lines.”
● Sun Country drops Hawaii flights because of pilot shortage. Sun Country Airlines is cutting all schedules to Hawaii for the rest of the year, indicating that a shortage of pilots is the reason for doing so. The carrier has also eliminated service to Fairbanks, Alaska. The airline, which is based at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, informed customers it was “regrettably electing to suspend service to Honolulu for the 2022 travel season.” Customers will automatically be refunded. Sun Country says it is hopeful for a return to Honolulu for the 2023 travel season.
● Facial Recognition in All Airports has lots of support, survey says. A.I. has begun helping out in a lot of areas that were once only handled by humans, from transportation, to factory work, to even finances. A.I. is only growing more capable and popular by the day, so how does the average American feel about it? TransImpact created a survey that asked respondents for their opinions on subjects like self-driving cars, facial recognition, and A.I. technologies in general. It ran for one day in January 2022 and received 1,000 responses in total. For complete newsletter article, read here.
● Uri Argov is back in the travel and tourism business. It has been almost five years since Uri Argov, who built Tourico Holidays into one of the largest receptive tour operators in the United States, sold it to Hotelbeds. He’s back. Argov and colleague Moti Engelman and have announced the creation of a new concept in operating that will be executed under the brand name of RoadRunAir. Given the background of the two, it makes sense. Moti has been an airline captain, senior deputy at Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority and member of El Al’s board of directors. In addition to his service in the military, Argov has been as a commercial pilot. They created RoadRunAir to fulfill the untapped demand for people to fly private and like a VIP celebrity like on multi-stop tours, but at a price point affordable to almost any travelers. To operate the business RoadRunAir has gained an Air Carrier Certificate and purchased several business jets that it will operate and fly with its own livery. Read more here.
● Major industry players are optimistic … and then some. As reported in TravelDailyNews, ITB Berlin and Statista Q looked at the future, and they like what they see. Statista’s Mobility Market Outlook (MMO) forecasts that the global travel industry will grow by a projected 48 per cent, reaching $637 billion in 2022. In 2023 it will overtake pre-pandemic levels by around five per cent, reaching almost $756 billion. In 2022, the highest growth rate is forecasted for the cruise industry (180 per cent year-on-year) and the hotel trade (57 per cent). Read the complete article here.
● Thai industry group says Chinese travelers should be back by October. Though it’s an outlook from another part of the world, it nonetheless has markers in common with those selling the Visit USA travel product abroad. The Tourism Council of Thailand is confident that Chinese tourists will return to the Kingdom in October and help boost foreign arrivals this year.
Speaking to The Nation news, Wichit Prakorbkosol, vice president of the council and president of CCT Express Co Ltd, said Thai tourism operators, who have inside sources in Chinese government agencies, learned that Beijing would allow its citizens to travel abroad starting October 1, which is China’s National Day. if the country is opened fully to foreign tourists without travel restrictions within the second quarter of this year, at least 5 million foreign tourists would arrive in the second half of the year.
“The sooner the country is opened fully, the more advantage we will have over our competitors, who are opening their countries more and more,” Wichit said.
Wichit said it is expected the inbound tourism industry would recover by 70 per cent next year compared to the pre-Covid level of almost 40 million foreign tourists in 2019 and the industry is expected to fully recover in 2024. Read here for the complete article.
● Canada Jetlines to begin operations at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The new, all-Canadian, leisure carrier has announced that it will begin operations out of Toronto Pearson International Airport with a target of this summer. ed start date in the summer of 2022. Toronto Pearson is Canada’s largest airport, and pre-COVID served 50.5 million arriving and departing passengers annually. Canada Jetlines will operate out of the airport with a fleet of airbus family aircraft, starting with the A320. Canada Jetlines will operate to international destinations throughout the U.S., Mexico, Caribbean, and domestic cities in Canada. Read here for the complete news release.
● New Illinois Campaign: Governor JB Pritzker last week joined other state officials at the Shedd Aquarium to kick off the state’s new tourism campaign, “Middle of Everything,” starring Illinois native, Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actress, Jane Lynch (she was born in Evergreen Park and raised in Dolton) who is making her directorial debut with the campaign’s new TV ads. The ads will run in 20 markets across Illinois and seven neighboring states and will be seen on cable nationwide. A Spanish-language ad will also air in the Chicago market. To view the ads and other media assets for the “Middle of Everything” click here. And click here for the complete news release on the campaign launch.