As more airlines worldwide profess their plans for making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all of their passengers, other travel companies are toying with the idea of doing the same.

The cruise line industry is no exception to this rule as Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, has made his intentions quite open to the public:

“It will certainly be a requirement for the crew… But it’s too early to tell whether we have the legal standing to mandate that you take a vaccine to come onboard – lawyers are looking at it as we speak.

But there is talk beginning to emerge from different corners of the travel industry, the airlines as well, of requiring some kind of immunity passport demonstrating that you’ve had the virus or been vaccinated so that you are good to go. We have to build confidence in our customers and among ourselves that it’s safe to cruise.”

John Maddox, a travel advisor, is not inherently against the idea of making it mandatory for passengers to get vaccinated for COVID-19. However, it is extremely crucial for cruise line companies to breach this subject very carefully:

“I think it is a bit of a slippery slope and cruise lines might be best served to put out some surveys and feelers to see how it might be received… I do think it is inevitable, but it will, in my opinion, deter some from cruising – especially those that aren’t currently avid cruisers.

How it is positioned and marketed will be critical. A stamp on a passport or notarized form vs. an app or card might make some difference.”

In the meantime, Congress has passed the Cruise Passenger Protection Act and requires two new changes from the cruise line industry going forward:

  • Video cameras must be installed in all public areas of a cruise ship, with the footage being held for 20 days
  • A trained physician must be on the trip at all times

I’m sure that passengers will be more than happy with the new ruling from Congress. But I cannot say the same for the COVID-19 vaccine. It might just be the final straw that convinces them it is not worth their while to take a cruise trip ever again. At bare minimum, they will look around for another cruise line that gives them the right to choose what goes in their bodies.

It’s going to be a very awkward 2021 for the international travel industry. And a vaccine could either spell its very revival or destruction.

What do YOU think about the idea of making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all cruise line passengers? Are you for it or against it? Reply to this newsletter and let us know where you stand on this issue!

Looks Like Travelers DO Want the COVID-19 Vaccine After All…

With the ongoing battle – both offline and online – about how safe and effective the COVID-19 vaccine is, it’s becoming more apparent that travelers are heavily divided between whether they will take the vaccine or not. According to the Travel Intentions Pulse Survey (TIPS) released by MMGY Global, that division is exactly 50/50:

  • 50% of respondents will take the vaccine as soon as it becomes available
  • 40% of respondents want to wait a few months before taking it
  • 9% of respondents refuse to take the vaccine altogether

However, there were other noteworthy data points were discovered in this survey…

  • 38% of respondents will take a domestic business trip in the next 6 months
  • 21% of respondents will attend a convention
  • 39% of respondents will stay in a hotel within the next six months
  • 67% of respondents will travel by car over the next six months
  • 39% of respondents will visit a bar/restaurant in the next six months

Put another way, the demand for travel is gradually making a comeback. But you can’t deny this newfound optimism is driven entirely by all the good news surrounding Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine receiving approval in four separate countries.

Let’s see if these numbers hold up three months from now – I’m curious as to whether more respondents will be willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine as more people start to take the risk and become guinea pigs for the world’s largest science experiment. 

Australia Is Just Fine Without the COVID-19 Vaccine, Says Chief Medical Officer

Paul Kelly, the Chief Medical Officer of Australia, shocked the world when he proclaimed that the country’s success in dealing with COVID-19 means they can hold off on getting vaccinated for a full year.

“We don’t need any vaccine this year. Other countries are in a far different state than us and they should be prioritized…. Today is eighth day in a row we’ve not had any community transmission. That’s the first time we’ve been able to say that since February.”

Despite Australia purchasing 10 million doses of the vaccine from Pfizer, the Therapeutic Goods Administration – the medical regulatory authorities of Australia – has yet to approve the COVID-19 vaccine. They want to take their time and give it the full examination before allowing it to get distributed sometime in 2021.

No approval, no jab. That’s the motto Australia is living by as the rest of the world is in a state of absolute panic. I have to respect it, as even the Swedes are toying with the idea of getting everyone vaccinated as soon as possible.

There’s a good reason we haven’t heard much about COVID-19 from Australia within the past month, and that’s because they almost have the pandemic under control. Virtually all of the restrictions are gone, face masks are now voluntary, and international flights have resumed again.

Time will tell if Australia will become the new “Sweden” of the COVID-19 pandemic…

Without a Visa, Where Can American Travelers Go?

If there’s anything that American travelers hate doing, it’s filing out numerous legal documents and paying unreasonable fees in order to get a travel visa for select countries. But according to the Henley & Partners Passport Index, 185 destinations worldwide grant Americans the freedom of visa-free travel.

Henley currently ranks the US passport as the world’s 7th most powerful passport in 2020 with respect to the number of countries you can visit without requiring a visa. Countries such as China, Turkey, Vietnam, China, and India are exceptions to this rule… but I highly doubt anybody wants to visit any of those countries anytime soon.

Some of the countries that American passport holders can travel to visa-free include:

  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Italy
  • Poland
  • Israel
  • Canada

Be careful, though – just because you can travel to those countries without a visa doesn’t mean you can visit them right now. Certain countries still have restrictions in place to prevent foreign tourists from paying a visit.

But so long as you look up your destination country’s rules in advance and know exactly what you’re getting into, your options for traveling right now are virtually limitless. Pick a place, have fun for a few days, and then relax at home after getting tested for COVID-19 a few times!

Even Two-Year-Olds Can’t Escape the “Mandatory Face Mask” Rule

As airlines tighten up their rules for passengers who want to see all of the world’s sights during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are still worried about the lingering status behind face masks.

One family traveling with United Airlines found this out the hard way, when their under-2-year-old daughter refused to wear a face mask as the plane was getting ready for takeoff. Despite the CDC clearly stating that kids younger than 2 should not have to wear a mask, United’s staff members weren’t having any of it.

TMZ reports this family getting banned from the airline for life without any chance of getting their cargo back, but United themselves have disputed this claim:

“The health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority, which is why we have a multi-layered set of policies, including mandating that everyone onboard two and older wears a mask.

We are investigating this specific incident and have made contact with the family. We also refunded their tickets and returned their car seat and bags.”

The family says they’ve been issued a lifetime ban, while United says this is not the case at all. It’s an interesting dispute that marks the commitment of US-based airlines to any ruling from the nation’s health authorities, although you could argue that commitment sometimes goes too far.

What do YOU think about this incident? Should the family have been booted off because of a rowdy baby who didn’t want to wear a face mask? Reply to this newsletter and tell us if you believe United made the right decision!

TAP Air Portugal Receives Government Aid in Exchange for Sacrificed Jobs

Meanwhile, one of Portugal’s largest airlines, TAP Air Portugal, is under some heavy financial duress. They’ve already lost $849 million from the start of the year until September, and are projected to lose $8 billion in revenue from 2020 to 2025.

The majority of this airline is already owned by the Portuguese government (72.5%), so that’s the good news. Since the government doesn’t want to lose more money than it already has, they have no problem bailing them out to the tune of $4.1 billion.

However, this comes at a very steep cost. From Simple Flying:

“This rescue package for the Portuguese national flag carrier will mean that around 3,500 people could lose their jobs [33% of their workforce].

The plan, which will require approval from the European Union authorities in Brussels, also sees that those remaining employees who will still be on the airlines’ payroll take a 25% cut to their wages. If the plan gets the go-ahead from Europe’s top politicians, it will mean that 500 pilots, 750 cabin crew, and 750 ground crew will be let go.

On top of this, 1,600 employees on short-term contracts will not have their contracts renewed. The airline’s current fleet of 108 aircraft will also shrink to a more manageable 88.”

Although some experts claim a move like this was overdue for TAP Air Portugal to make them leaner and more competitive against private carriers, it’s the government and they can do what they want with their “property.” Considering that passenger numbers are down 70% compared to 2019 for the airline, it’s nothing more than a desperate cost-cutting measure.

Hopefully this rescue package does what it intends to do, otherwise we could see many more jobs and planes slashed from this already-struggling airline.

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