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WILL IT BE ENOUGH? Feds set to change border rules

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The federal government says it will announce changes to COVID-19 measures at Canada’s borders this week. But will it be enough to satisfy a desperate travel industry that has been increasingly urging that regulations be eased as the latest wave of the pandemic wanes and a general sentiment takes hold that it is time to learn to live with the virus?

Simply put, the industry will expect nothing less than a removal of the federal government’s standing advisory against all non-essential international travel – a blanket measure that has been shown to significantly suppress consumer demand – as well as the requirement for pre-travel PCR testing for fully vaccinated international arrivals in Canada.

Anyone travelling within Canada by plane, passenger train or boat must be vaccinated against COVID-19 ¬– a protocol not actively opposed by the travel industry. However, the need for quarantine for travellers after post-arrival testing while they wait for results is.

It was hopeful news then on Friday when Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos stated that the worst of the latest wave of the pandemic is now behind Canada, and that border protocols will be “tweaked” accordingly.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam also acknowledged that due to the infectious nature of the omicron variant, it’s very difficult to stop every case at the border and prevent an infected person from transmitting the virus to someone; as such, she revealed that the travel advisory is being assessed.

However, at the same time, Duclos warned that Canada cannot simply decide to live with the virus and remove measures entirely while so many people are still dying of COVID-19. He added that more children need to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and Canada must administer more booster shots to adults.

Increasingly, tourism organizations, such as airlines and tourist boards, and sympathizers (Chambers of Commerce, doctors) have stated that current Canadian protocols are outdated and ineffective in preventing the introduction and spread of a variant that has already overwhelmed Canada. Moreover, they say they do not “follow the science” and point to many other countries, such as the UK, having dropped similar requirements.

On Friday, Air Transat flight attendants were the latest group to condemn “government inertia in its management of border mobility.”

Dominic Levasseur, president of Air Transat Flight Attendant Union, which represents 2,000 members, of whom 60% are still laid off, said, “If these measures are not eased out soon, hundreds of jobs are at risk in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. The government’s management of our borders must be strongly challenged.”

He added, “We ask our governments to act quickly to reduce sanitary restrictions at our borders. These excessive measures are strangling Canadian companies like Air Transat. Our demands are simple: we must facilitate the relaunch of our industry… Help us!”

This week, Levasseur, and the rest of the travel industry, will be hopeful that the government has been listening.

Meanwhile at the Ambassador Bridge

‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters were forced to end their occupation of the busiest bridge from Canada to the United States on Sunday morning after police in Windsor, Ontario, started arresting demonstrators and towing away vehicles.

Police swept through the convoy around 7am, following a standoff that began Friday evening when a Canadian judge issued a 10-day injunction making it unlawful to block Ambassador Bridge – which connects Windsor with Detroit.

Protesters in trucks, cars and vans have blocked traffic in both directions since Monday, choking the supply chain for Detroit’s carmakers.

Despite clearing the key bridge on Sunday morning, however, officials kept Ambassador Bridge closed to traffic.

Demonstrations across Canadian cities have been implemented in response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s order for the country’s truckers to be vaccinated or quarantine after returning from the US.

‘Today, our national economic crisis at the Ambassador Bridge came to an end. Border crossings will reopen when it is safe to do so and I defer to police and border agencies to make that determination,’ Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said in a statement on Sunday.

Police forced the demonstrators to clear the bridge by stepping up their presence with more than 50 vehicles, including cruisers, buses and an armored car on Sunday. The number of protesters still at the bridge had dropped to around 45 from Saturday’s roughly 100-person turnout.

‘Enforcement is continuing in the demonstration area and there will be zero tolerance for illegal activity. The public should avoid the area,’ the Windsor Police Service tweeted on Sunday morning.

Protesters lingered in the vicinity of the bridge after their forced removal, however, gathering on sidewalks and in parking lots of local businesses.

One small group convened at a Shell gas station with a couple of men in a pickup truck who were blasting Twisted Sister’s 1984 protest anthem, ‘We’re not going to take it.’

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

AIR CANADA CELEBRATES BLACK HISTORY MONTH

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Air Canada is marking Black History Month by featuring the achievements and contributions of its Black employees to aviation, including an inaugural Black History celebratory flight on Friday staff with an entirely back crew.

On Friday, Flight AC914 from Toronto to Fort Lauderdale and return flight AC917 operated with a wide-body Airbus A330-300 aircraft, included two Black pilots and eight flight attendants, and was further planned and supported by Black managers and employees on the ground and behind the scenes.

“We salute and acknowledge the achievements and contributions of Air Canada’s Black employees who brought forward their idea of operating today’s Black History celebratory flight. We are very pleased to champion their identity, pride, and enthusiasm for this special, inaugural flight to commemorate Black History Month at our airline,” said Air Canada executive VP Arielle Meloul-Wechsler.

“We are a global airline that transports customers across six continents, and our biggest strength is our people. Air Canada is widely recognized for its diversity, culture and inclusiveness, and we strive to create a workplace that employees feel proud to belong to by leaning in and listening, learning, and working collaboratively to continually advance shared initiatives,” she added.

In its internal voluntary surveys, 387 Air Canada employees self-identified as Black, and work in leadership, management, specialized professional positions, and across all work groups including pilots, flight attendants, customer service agents, maintenance technicians and ground support crews.

Crew on flight AC914

“Not only does this demonstrate Black representation in aviation, we also want qualified Black people to know they have a place in our industry and especially at Air Canada,” said Yolanda Cornwall, Customer Service Training Specialist – Toronto. “We thank Air Canada for supporting this historic flight and for working together with Air Canada’s Black employee community to further strengthen our airline’s culture.”

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

WILL THE TIGER CATCH COVID BY THE TAIL?

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The traditional prayers for good fortune took on greater meaning this year as people around Asia on Tuesday ushered in the Lunar New Year – the third since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak – amid concerns over the coronavirus and virulent omicron variant, even as increasing vaccination rates raised hopes that the Year of the Tiger might bring life back closer to normal.

The Lunar New Year is the most important annual holiday in China and fell on Feb. 1. Each year is named after one of 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac in a repeating cycle. The Year of the Tiger follows the Year of the Ox.

Celebrations across Asia this year were again more subdued than usual, with people taking strict health and safety precautions, and some traditional festivities either reduced in size or cancelled.

In the Japanese capital, the Tokyo Tower was illuminated in red with a display to celebrate the diplomatic relationship between Japan and China, and the Beijing Winter Olympics.

In Cambodia, ethnic Chinese people performed a traditional dragon dance in Phnom Penh, while people prayed for good fortune at the Tai Hong Kong Shrine in Bangkok, Thailand.

In Hong Kong, which saw a surge in cases in January, people wore surgical masks as they shopped for red and tiger-themed holiday items. The city has closed schools because of the outbreaks and required restaurants to close at 6 p.m., forcing many to dine at home for traditional New Year’s Eve family dinners.

With the Year of the Tiger, many are hoping the traditional powers attributed to the animal will help put the country on a path out of the pandemic, said Chen Lianshan, a Beijing university expert on Chinese folklore.

“The tiger is a protection against evil spirits and it can defeat demons and ghosts of all kinds, and the Chinese believe that the plague is one kind of an evil spirit,” he said.

Elsewhere in Asia, there were signs that celebrations were subdued, though not quite as much as they were last year. Despite ongoing pandemic restrictions, most people are now vaccinated with at least two shots in many of the region’s countries.

In the old quarter of Hanoi, people flocked on the weekend to the traditional market to get decorations and flowers for the festival, known as Tet in Vietnam. Still, the country has cancelled Tet fireworks and other large events to minimize risks this year.

In Thailand, where 69% of people are fully vaccinated, Bangkok decided not to hold traditional Lunar New Year celebrations in Chinatown for the second year in a row, but was going ahead with lighting seasonal lanterns on the district’s main street.

In Singapore, Lunar New Year celebrations are more subdued due to coronavirus restrictions that allow residents to receive only five unique visitors a day, and preferably only one visit daily. The rules are likely to get in the way of the tradition of visiting relatives during the holiday.

Business was brisk at a flower market in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei on Monday as people made last minute purchases. Some 73% of Taiwanese are fully vaccinated.

Empowered by an 85% vaccination rate more Chinese have been travelling domestically this year despite government warnings, and many people prepared to celebrate by buying red lanterns and other decorations for their homes, and food to mark the beginning of a new year.

Still, 63-year-old retiree Huang Ping lamented as he shopped at a Beijing flower market that the new year’s “atmosphere has faded” with the closure of temples and seasonal fairs to prevent large crowds. He said he hoped for better times soon.

Some 260 million people travelled in China in the first 10 days of the holiday rush starting Jan. 17 – fewer than before the pandemic but up 46% over last year. Overall, the government forecasts 1.2 billion trips during the holiday season, up 36% from a year ago.

This year the celebrations coincide with the Beijing Winter Olympics, which open near the end of the weeklong holiday. The Chinese capital has been tightening controls to contain coronavirus outbreaks ahead of the sporting event.

The Games are being held inside sealed-off “bubbles,” and organizers have announced that no tickets will be sold to the general public and only selected spectators will be allowed.

“I’ll watch the games with my kid,” said Wang Zhuo, a retail manager from Beijing, “but of course on TV!”

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

‘THE HOTTEST THING ON ICE’: Jamaican tourism bets on bobsled teams

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When you think about it, Jamaica has many tourism touchstones – sun, sand, and Sandals, amongst them, not to the mention the famously friendly people. But more distinctly, visitors also think of Bob Marley/reggae music, Red Stripe and rum, Blue Mountain coffee and jerk seasoning, superb slang (irie, ya mon!), James Bond (or at least 007 author Ian Fleming who wrote the spy novels there), and, naturally, bobsleds!

The latter, of course, relates to the now legendary story of the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team – four athletes who had never seen snow – inexplicably qualifying to take part in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

Such was the improbability – and renown – of the tale that it was turned into the 1993 Disney movie “Cool Runnings,” starring the beloved late Canadian comedian John Candy.

“I just want to tell you, everywhere I go in the world, a reference point is ‘Cool Runnings,’” Jamaican tourism minister Edmund Bartlett said at a virtual press event Friday. “It’s an amazing impact we made on the global scene, not just in entertainment and film but in giving a definition of Jamaica that lingers. People still see us as being that unique country that created a unique experience of bobsleighers who had never seen snow.”

(Ed. note: bobsled/bobsleigh are synonymous terms, the former predominantly used in North America).

And now with Jamaican athletes once again ready to intrigue the world by participating in bobsled disciplines (as well as alpine skiing for the first time) at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing starting later this week, Jamaican tourism is primed once more to slide along on the ride.

Indeed, the ministry of tourism and industry partners (including Sandals) have even contributed J$3 million ($24,533) to the Jamaica Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation to help support a sport that has amazingly become synonymous with the Caribbean nation.

Certainly, Jamaica is known for sport – particularly its renowned for its sprinters, and most notably Usain Bolt who carved out a career as the world’s undisputed fastest human being. And in 1998, the ‘Reggae Boyz’ mimicked the bobsled team, taking the World Cup of Soccer in France by storm as the Caribbean’s first English-speaking country to reach the final.

But it was the unlikely emergence of the Jamaican bobsled team in the ‘80s – winter athletes from a nation that trades on being an antidote to winter – that found its way into the global consciousness, and whose indomitable spirit and tenacity was captured in what has become a cult classic film.

1988 Bobsleigh team

And similar interest in this year’s team (which will compete in not one but three bobsled events) will clearly delight Jamaica tourism officials, who even unveiled an official team theme song – “Rocket Blaster” – on Friday, with culture and entertainment minister Olivia Grange declaring, “Jamaica will be the hottest thing on ice” at the Beijing Games.

But the participation of the bobsled boyz – and girlz – speaks to a larger issue, says Bartlett, namely the development and diversification of Jamaica’s tourism product.

“Entertainment and sport are going to be to mega pillars on which the new tourism is going to be built,” he adds. “Sport is going to be critical. We need to respond to people’s passions and build products around their passion points.”

In the meantime, Grange says Jamaica will take advantage of her nation’s outsize reputation on the international sporting scene to generate exposure and interest.

“Whenever there is a global sport event,” she says, “we can guarantee one thing: Jamaica will get great exposure – during, before and after the event. And we have been seeing that great exposure for Jamaica over the last few weeks as the world gets ready for the Winter Olympics… The stories about the extraordinary bobsleigh and skeleton representatives in the 2022 Games have been the greatest advertisement about everything we want the world to hear and see about Jamaica.”

Further, she observes, Jamaican athletes are “great ambassadors” for the country. “They may not be giving the explicit invitation for people to come to Jamaica,” she says, “but their presence on the world scene has caused so many people to ‘make it Jamaica.’ In their role as sports and cultural representatives, every single one of them has contributed meaningfully to Jamaica, especially in the areas of commerce, travel and tourism.”

Grange says her culture ministry supports 40 national sports federations in the country and has contributed J$70 million (approx. $572,500) to the bobsled team’s preparation for the Winter Games alone.

She adds that their success and profile is especially welcome this year as Jamaica celebrates its 60th anniversary of independence.

“Who could have imagined that our nation could have such an impact on sport and culture in such a short time,” exclaims Grange. “The (bobsled) teams are a reminder – and proof – that nothing is impossible. We don’t have no snow, but here we are, competing with the world’s best in winter sports!”

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

LIFE IS A HIGHWAY: Nations establish ‘ocean’ reserve

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Ecuador, in partnership with regional neighbours Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica, has created a new marine reserve to help protect the environmentally sensitive Galapagos Islands and, at the same time, create an “ocean highway” to Costa Rica’s Coco Islands marine reserve.

Called Hermandad or “Brotherhood,” the new reserve expands the total protected marine area around the Galapagos archipelago by 45% to 193,000 sq. km.

A ceremonial signing event took place in the Galapagos recently led by Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso and including Colombian president Ivan Duque and the foreign ministers of both Panama and Costa Rica. Other dignitaries on hand included former US president Bill Clinton and noted marine biologist and conservationist Doctor Sylvia Earle.

“There are places that have made a mark on the history of humanity and today we have the honour of being in one of those places. These islands that welcome us have taught us many things about ourselves. So, instead of acting as the absolute masters of these lands and seas, shouldn’t we act as their protectors?” said Lasso.

The new reserve extends to the northeast of the Galapagos following a migratory route used by millions of sea turtles, whales, sharks, and rays — thereby joining two marine UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The creation of the reserve follows declarations at COP26 in Glasgow late last year by the four nations to work together to create a huge Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor between their countries.

Ecuadorian officials said the decree “undoubtedly safeguards the life-affirming wildlife experiences our guests appreciate in the Galapagos. They will enjoy and cherish the same marine natural encounters — whether through coastal explorations with dinghies, kayaks, stand-up-paddle boards or glass-bottom boats, snorkeling or SCUBA diving — for decades to come…”

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE IN TONGA: Communications difficult as internet and phone lines severed

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New Zealand and Australia were able to send military surveillance flights to Tonga on Monday to assess the damage caused by a huge undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday. A towering ash cloud had prevented earlier flights and communication in the Pacific Island nation is still severely limited.

New Zealand hopes to send essential supplies, including much-needed drinking water, on a military transport plane today (Tuesday).

U.N. humanitarian officials and Tonga’s government “report significant infrastructural damage around Tongatapu,” the main island in the archipelago, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“There has been no contact from the Ha’apai Group of islands, and we are particularly concerned about two small low-lying islands – Mango and Fonoi – following surveillance flights confirming substantial property damage,” Dujarric said.

The company that owns the single underwater fiber-optic cable that connects the island nation to the rest of the world said it likely was severed in the eruption and repairs could take weeks.

The loss of the cable leaves most Tongans unable to use the internet or make phone calls abroad. Those that have managed to get messages out described their country as looking like a moonscape as they began cleaning up from the tsunami waves and volcanic ash fall.

Tsunami waves of about 80 cm. crashed into Tonga’s shoreline, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described damage to boats and shops on Tonga’s shoreline. The waves crossed the Pacific, drowning two people in Peru and causing minor damage from New Zealand to Santa Cruz, California.

Scientists said they didn’t think the eruption would have a significant impact on the Earth’s climate. Huge volcanic eruptions can sometimes cause temporary global cooling as sulfur dioxide is pumped into the stratosphere. But in the case of the Tonga eruption, initial satellite measurements indicated the amount of sulfur dioxide released would only have a tiny effect of perhaps 0.01 Celsius global average cooling, said Alan Robock, a professor at Rutgers University.

Satellite image

Satellite images showed the spectacular eruption undersea Saturday evening, with a plume of ash, steam and gas rising like a giant mushroom above the South Pacific waters.

A sonic boom could be heard as far away as Alaska and sent pressure shockwaves around the planet twice, altering atmospheric pressure that may have briefly helped clear out the fog in Seattle, according to the National Weather Service. Large waves were detected as far away as the Caribbean due to pressure changes generated by the eruption.

Samiuela Fonua, who chairs the board at Tonga Cable Ltd. which owns the single cable that connects Tonga to the outside world via Fiji, said the cable appeared to have been severed about 10 to 15 minutes after the eruption. He said the cable lies atop and within coral reef, which can be sharp.

Fonua said a ship would need to pull up the cable to assess the damage and then crews would need to fix it. A single break might take a week to repair, he said, while multiple breaks could take up to three weeks. He added that it was unclear yet when it would be safe for a ship to venture near the undersea volcano to undertake the work.

A second undersea cable that connects the islands within Tonga also appeared to have been severed, Fonua said. However, a local phone network was working, allowing Tongans to call each other. But he said the lingering ash cloud was continuing to make even satellite phone calls abroad difficult.

Fonua said Tonga, home to 105,000 people, had been in discussions with New Zealand about getting a second international fiber-optic cable to ensure a more robust network but the nation’s isolated location made any long-term solution difficult.

Ardern said the capital, Nuku’alofa, was covered in a thick film of volcanic dust, contaminating water supplies and making fresh water a vital need.

Aid agencies said thick ash and smoke had prompted authorities to ask people to wear masks and drink bottled water.

One complicating factor to any international aid effort is that Tonga has so far managed to avoid any outbreaks of COVID-19. Ardern said New Zealand’s military staff were all fully vaccinated and willing to follow any protocols established by Tonga.

Dave Snider, the tsunami warning coordinator for the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, said it was very unusual for a volcanic eruption to affect an entire ocean basin, and the spectacle was both “humbling and scary.”

The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the eruption caused the equivalent of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake. Scientists said tsunamis generated by volcanoes rather than earthquakes are relatively rare.

Rachel Afeaki-Taumoepeau, who chairs the New Zealand Tonga Business Council, said she hoped the relatively low level of the tsunami waves would have allowed most people to get to safety, although she worried about those living on islands closest to the volcano.

“We are praying that the damage is just to infrastructure and people were able to get to higher land,” she said.

The explosion of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano, about 64 km. north of Nuku’alofa, was the latest in a series of dramatic eruptions. In late 2014 and early 2015, eruptions created a small new island and disrupted international air travel to the Pacific archipelago for several days.

Earth imaging company Planet Labs PBC had watched the island in recent days after a new volcanic vent began erupting in late December. Satellite images showed how drastically the volcano had shaped the area, creating a growing island off Tonga.

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

COMO, THE ITALIAN CITY OF SILK AND SCENERY

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Lake Como is of glacial origin, dating back to the last Ice Age. It’s 146 km in size and at its deepest point measures 410m – making it one of the deepest lakes in Europe.It’s a place of glorious sunshine and gentle pleasures and has been the accepted retreat for wealthy folk since Romans first discovered it +2,000 years ago when, in 49BC, Julius Caesar sent 5,000 colonists to inhabit it. For centuries Como has been famed for its dramatic setting, fairy-tale villages, and now the catwalk of A-listers who own villas on the shores.

It’s also one of the world’s leading centers of silk production, with an interesting story pinned to its history in the production of silk. It all began in 1400 when Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, decided to plant mulberry trees around Lake Como to feed the greedy silkworms. Their ingestion of mulberry leaves produced silk, which led to the production of silk.

Como’s silk is what Reims is to Champagne and Modena is to supercars.

In 1866 Como entrepreneurs founded a Technical Institute enabling future generations to learn the ancient craft of silk manufacture. The industry kept expanding as Como had built a worldwide reputation for silk excellence. In fact, their reputation had so peaked that Como became known as the Silk City, with famous brands like Mantero, Ratti, Clerici, and Frey, leading the industry with their silken treasures.

In the 1990s, Como became the world’s most important center for silk manufacture, attracting major couturier and apparel labels from New York City, Paris, and Milan.

In Como and its surrounding foothills, there are several hundred companies engaged in the silk and textile trade – manufacturing, printing, dyeing, designing, and selling – which employs tens of thousands of locals. Chances are, if you own a silk scarf, tie, blouse, or dress by any big-name fashion house, the silk came from Como.

Reminders of silk are everywhere.

Along the city’s main shopping street – Via Vittorio Emanuele II – designer boutiques showcase silken garments in their windows. On the main square – Piazza Cavour, a large emporium offers a profusion of silk products. And just outside the city walls in La Tessitura, is ‘Loom Café’, a former textile mill turned restaurant.

Celebrities here, celebrities there!

Lake Como has been the location of many a movie, including ‘Casino Royale’, ‘Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones’, and ‘A Month by the Lake’.

For centuries, notables have been hosted in Como – Liszt, Bellini, Verdi, Stendhal, Wordsworth, Shelley, Sinatra, Hitchcock, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Gorbachev, plus numerous Russian oil magnates and American business leaders.

Today a new generation of famous visitors and/or property owners have descended on the Silk City. George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Sadly, this gentrification brings with it the cost of increased traffic and dramatically inflated real estate prices – and just about everything else.

Views of Como

In and around Como

Whilst exploring one of the world’s most idyllic destinations you’ll see the crystalline water glinting between the spiked Swiss peaks on one side, and the low-slung Lombard hills on the other. Ferries and fishermen ply their way across the lake’s glasslike surface, and at the water’s edge, small seaplanes fly in and out of the Aero Club. Beautiful stone buildings line the city’s streets, which buzzes with the energy. There are market selling local sausages, cheeses, gelati and olive oils, mimics and musicians on Piazza Duomo, and cafes are packed with locals.

Places to see

• The handsome Neoclassical lakefront museum of Tempio Voltiano is a tribute to the celebrated Alessandro Volta, the 18th-century physicist and inventor of the electric cell.

• Take the steep funicular up to the village of Como–Brunate. At the top, some 1,600 feet above the lake, are gorgeous Art Nouveau villas.

• In the quiet off-season the village of Bellagio is a delight for its spectacular gardens, and steep stone alleys lined with shops that sell high quality fashion, jewelry, and homewares. In summer, it’s a theme park.

• Take a walk through twenty acres of luscious grounds at Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo. There’s also a 17th-century house with sumptuous furnishings.

• The terraced grounds of Villa del Balbianello have been the backdrop to many a movie. On display are artifacts from around the world, collected by its last owner, the eccentric explorer Guido Monzino.

• In neighbouring Varese, the Villa Panza is a major Modern and Contemporary art museum with spectacular hilltop gardens. Their art collection is renowned for its site-specific pieces by Turrell, Flavin, Wilson, and Wenders.

Views of Como

Elegance & Taste

After all that activity, reward yourself to the sparkling evening lights reflected off the lake’s still waters from inside the glass encased Terrazza 241 (www.terrazza241.it), the glamourous sky bar at the Hilton Lake Como. It’s ideal for informal dining and drinks, complete with live music – which adds to the stylish atmosphere.

Ask mixologist and bar manager, Vincenzo Sulmona, for one of his signature cocktails – the Smoked Negroni and watch the theatre of its production. Then relish the gastronomic delights of Chef Alessandro Ramella. His specialty dish: chunky spaghetti with a tomato and clam bisque – a concentrate of seafood flavors and aromas that packs a bunch, and why Chef drizzles just a little over his home-made spaghetti. Then finish with one of their innovative Eat-Your-Drink desserts.

You may be tempted to stay the night as the heated rooftop infinity pool, cocktails and live, mellow music might just keep you up there. Who knows which celebrity you might encounter, enjoying an Aperol spritz.

Hilton Lake Como

Following a full restoration, the 170-room Hilton Lake Como, pays homage to the Lombardian city’s past (and present) as a major silk center, as the hotel’s front-most building was until 1997 a silk factory. The Hilton Lake Como opened in 2018; and as you’d expect from a high-end hotel, has all the bells and whistles that make is a pampering paradise, complemented with gourmet delights. But what the other establishments of equal standing don’t have are the panoramic views over Lake Como through floor-to-ceiling windows.

Of course, it’s bright, stylish, and aesthetically pleasing, with frontline multi-lingual professionally trained staff that man the whole operation. The hotel’s clean minimal lines of glass and steel have been softened with contemporary décor in warm tones of brown, green, and blue, resonating the colors of the encompassing landscapes.

Rooms and common areas are set around an inner courtyard. The entrance lobby opens to a Glass Cube – an all-glass lounge filled with leafy foliage which exudes a welcoming feel. All the furniture is locally made.

Double rooms start from €180.00 ($258)

www.lakecomo.hilton.com

Como on a B&B Budget

But don’t go thinking visiting Lake Como is only for millionaires. It’s within everyone’s financial reach.

Start by searching for accommodations on AirBnB (www.airbnb.com). Then narrow your search down by zooming in the city of Como. That way you’ll be able to pick the location within your budget.

Like ‘Casa Bella’ a fully equipped apartment in Varenna (on the quiet side of Lake Como), with its jaw-dropping views from the balcony.

Or the ‘Como Secret Garden’, an apartment in an old house, overlooking a hidden garden in the heart of the city of Como.

There are also sterling properties on www.beblakecomo.com and www.lakecomo.is/be-our-guest-accommodation.

www.visitcomo.eu

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

PUBS, PATIOS & BARS: Suds and sunshine in Fort Lauderdale

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There are worse ways of waiting for your hotel room to be ready than to hole up in an Irish pub. And, indeed, if that pub is Waxy’s in fabulous Fort Lauderdale, I can attest that you may not to choose to leave, even when the call comes.

Located on the 17th Street, just up from the Hilton and across from the Embassy Suites (and not too far from Port Everglades for those waiting to board a cruise ship), Waxy’s Irish Bar makes the most of its exterior setting in a strip mall, but inside more than lives up to its billing as a wee slice of Ireland.

Importantly (since one is in Florida), there is an outside patio, enabling guests to enjoy the Irish craic and the sunshine simultaneously.

Also known as Waxy O’Connor’s, the establishment has for the past two decades earned a reputation as a rugby pub, though nowadays there seems to be too many Manchester United football games for the liking of some regulars. Being the US, it’s also a place you’ll be sure to catch American football games on one of the 16 TVs.

The pub says it pours “the best Guinness this side of the Emerald Isle” – a serious claim for a drink that actually requires training to pour properly – but, embellished or not, the boast points to beer bona fides that also includes Harp and Smithwick’s and a dozen more drafts from across Europe, plus a similar number of American and local craft options.

Of course, there’s also wine, plus a dozen or so craft cocktails – notably the subtly named “Blind Lemon,” made with Jefferson bourbon, after the Blues great.

And food: what you’d expect from an Irish pub – fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash, burgers, steak, lamb, and a chicken pot pie that earns raves; for dessert, there’s Jameson’s (i.e. Irish whiskey) bread pudding.

I can’t in good conscience advise anyone visiting Fort Lauderdale to skip the beach or to overlook the city’s many wonderous water activities or vibrant downtown for the sake of an Irish pub; but then again, who says I have a good conscience?

With glass purposefully in hand, we at Travel Industry Today continue our series on some of the planet’s best bars, patios and rooftop venues. For more articles in the series, click here:

PREVIOUS ARTICLES: https://travelindustrytoday.com/pub-patio/

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

NCL REVEALS NEWEST VESSEL – VIVA

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Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has unveiled the next ship in its new Prima Class category. Norwegian Viva will begin sailing Mediterranean itineraries in June 2023, homeporting in key southern European port cities Lisbon, Venice, Rome, and Athens, before sailing to the Southern Caribbean for her 2023-24 winter season (from San Juan).

Mirroring the upscale design and structure of sister ship Norwegian Prima, Norwegian Viva, also built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri in Marghera, Italy, will debut at 295 m. long, 142,500 gross tons and accommodate 3,219 guests at double occupancy.

NCL says the vessel will offer the highest staffing levels and space ratio of any new cruise ship in the contemporary and premium cruise categories, and largest variety of suite categories available at sea, as well as a redefined The Haven by Norwegian, NCL’s ultra-premium keycard only access ship-within-a-ship concept.

The Haven’s public areas and 107 suites designed by top Italian designer Piero Lissoni will feature an expansive sundeck, infinity pool overlooking the ship’s wake, and an outdoor spa with a glass-walled sauna and cold room.

The Prima Class’ variety of recreational activities include the fastest freefall drop dry slides at sea with The Rush and The Drop and the largest three-level racetrack at sea with the Viva Speedway.

Infinity Beach

Other amenities include Ocean Boulevard, a 4,100-sq.-m. outdoor walkway that wraps around the entire ship; Indulge Food Hall, featuring 11 varieties of eateries; The Concourse, boasting an outdoor sculpture garden; and expansive pool decks and infinity style pools at Infinity Beach and Oceanwalk, showcasing glass bridges above water.

“Norwegian Viva sets the standard in the premium segment, illustrating our commitment to pushing boundaries in four main areas: wide open space, service that puts guests first, thoughtful design and experiences beyond expectation,” Says NCL president and CEO Harry Sommer “We have taken everything our guests love to the next level with this brand-new class of ships designed with them in mind.”

Norwegian Viva will boast eye-catching hull art designed by Italian graffiti and sculpture artist Manuel Di Rita, commonly known as “Peeta,” who also illustrated the hull design on Norwegian Prima.

The first two Prima Class vessels, Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva, will feature cutting-edge alternative technologies, such as a NOx reduction system (SCR), that reduce the ship’s overall environmental impact.

ITINERARIES

Summer 2023: Mediterranean from Rome, Athens, and Lisbon

Following a string of inaugural cruises and beginning June 2023, Norwegian Viva will be the newest ship embarking in the Mediterranean. From June 15 to Nov. 6, 2023, she will sail a series of eight-, nine- and 10-day voyages from Lisbon, Portugal; Venice (Trieste) and Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; and Athens (Piraeus), Greece, offering guests the opportunity to explore the Mediterranean’s Spanish, Italian and Greek regions.

Winter 2023-24: Southern Caribbean from San Juan

Norwegian Viva will become the largest new ship to ever homeport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. On Dec. 15, she will depart San Juan on a seven-day Caribbean voyage with her first stop in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. She will then make her way to Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Bridgetown, Barbados; Castries, St. Lucia; St. John’s, Antigua; and St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, for her last stop before returning to San Juan on Dec. 22. Future sailings will also include notable ports in the Caribbean for seven- and nine-day sailings.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

REALLY? CANADA?

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday advised against travel to Canada because of a rising number of COVID-19 cases. The CDC elevated its travel recommendation to “Level Four: Very High”, telling Americans they should avoid travel to its northern neighbor. Curiously, while the CDC warning actually says “Avoid travel to Canada” and adds “If you must travel to Canada, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel,” for Mexico, listed at Level Three, the warning is simply the latter, “Make sure you are fully vaccinated before you travel.” This despite the fact Mexico’s confirmed Covid cases rose 186 percent last week.

The CDC currently lists about 80 destinations worldwide at Level Four, including the UK, Ireland, France, Spain and much of Europe. It also raised the island of Curaçao to Level Four on Monday.

This is quite interesting – you can check them out for yourself here https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list

Canada advised residents in March 2020 not to travel abroad for non-essential reasons like tourism. It withdrew the notice in October – before the first Omicron cases were reported – citing the success of vaccination campaigns.

Canada remains one of the top foreign destinations for Americans.

Here is something we also find interesting: While WHO has warned against calling the COVID-19 Omicron variant ‘mild’, there seems little question that Omicron is less severe than the Delta variant. WHO said early studies showed that compared with Delta there was a reduced risk of hospitalization from the variant. There appears also to be a reduced risk of severity in both younger and older people, but uncertainties remain.

The symptoms appear to differ from previous COVID-19 variants. While the main COVID-19 symptoms are still said to be a cough, high temperature and loss of smell and taste, the symptoms for Omicron, reported in a London study taken in December, accounted for half of all cold-like illnesses in the UK.

The top five symptoms reported in London for those testing positive for COVID-19 were runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing and sore throat.

However, it is unclear how many people with mild symptoms are not being hospitalized, and are staying home and self-medicating for the week or two it takes to get over the symptoms – how reliable then are the Omicron counts. And, which countries are reporting them accurately? Can there be any accurate reporting? How many people are reporting they have COVID when they have mild symptoms treatable with over-the-counter medication? Anecdotal evidence says many are not, or how many people believe they have had Covid when in fact they have had a cold or flu?

The pandemic is far from over. The week ending 02 January saw the highest number of cases reported since the pandemic’s start, according to The World Health Organization (WHO) and new record COVID-19 infections are being reported by countries from Argentina to Israel each day.

However, the CDC lists both China and India at Level One – Low.

I am currently in Florida. There are no lockdowns, no mandatory masking, no social distancing, and restaurants, stores and movie theatres are open. Some people are careful some are not.

In November the US lifted restrictions at its land borders with Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated foreign nationals, ending curbs on non-essential travellers in place since March 2020 to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States reached a fresh high of 132,646, according to a Reuters tally on Monday, surpassing the record of 132,051 set in January last year, amid a surge of the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Some interesting information:

The CDC warning about travel to Canada – you can also check warnings to other countries.

The number of Coronavirus cases worldwide as of Jan 10, 2022

DAILY NEW COVID CASES AS OF JAN 09,2022

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News