Become an Autism Certified Travel Professional Today

The Autism Speaks website states that approximately 1 in every 54 children are diagnosed with autism each year. With autism comes additional challenges when traveling, from choosing the right destination to finding the best accommodations to figuring out the least overwhelming time to see the sites.

April is World Autism Month and the perfect time for agents to become educated on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and discover how to tap into this underserved market.

The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) offers a certification program that provides agents with the knowledge needed to better serve individuals on the spectrum, and also those traveling with them.

Families want to know they’re being served by the best—someone who will understand the struggles they may encounter while on vacation and someone willing to go the extra mile to ensure their needs are met. Whether it’s finding a hotel room with specific features or booking them on an airline that can provide special air travel services, a trained advisor can be the key to minimizing stress.

In becoming a Certified Autism Travel Professional (CATP), agents will be able to confidently plan autism-friendly vacations for families and bring their business an entirely new revenue stream and a completely new customer base.

Once the online program has been completed, agents will receive additional CATP benefits, including an official Certification Number; a listing on the International Registry; an official certificate to display; a digital badge to use on email signatures, travel websites, resumes and social media; and access to the IBCCES Online Member Community.

The program is done online and takes approximately four hours to complete. Registration fee is $150, which includes access to the Certified Autism Travel Professional Exam. The annual renewal fee is $99.

The IBCCES Certified Autism Travel Professional program covers ten areas of competency, including:

—What Is Autism?

—Selling Into the Autism Market

—Breakdown of Target Market

—Sensory Awareness

—Individual’s Perspective

—Parent Perspective

—Resorts/Hotels

—Air Travel

—Cruise

—Road Trip

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Disney Purchases Over 26 Acres Near Magic Kingdom

Disney continues to acquire additional land in Florida, most recently buying more than two dozen acres just west of the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World Resort.

According to a report by the Orlando Business Journal citing Orange County records, an entity related to Burbank, California-based The Walt Disney Co., Celebration Co. purchased 26.3 acres on the southeastern shore of Reedy Lake from Winter Garden-based Lake Reedy Development Group LLC for $1.05 million on Tuesday.

The deal comes just a few months after Disney bought an adjacent 235 acres from Lake Reedy LLC for $6 million.

John Gerner, managing director of Richmond, Virginia-based Leisure Business Advisors LLC, speculated to the Journal that the December land purchase “could be used for a more upscale, exclusive getaway that feels isolated on the edge of Disney property.”

Nonetheless, Disney has not issued a statement regarding the acquisition.

#DisneyWorld just purchased 26.4 acres of land on Reedy Lake adjacent to a December purchase on the border of Disney Property. https://t.co/kimoTfR6tk pic.twitter.com/b4mxCTWakS

Meanwhile, the company’s theme parks and cruise line remain shutdown amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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Hotels: The world’s most expensive hotels – would you work 943 days for one night here?

While the travel world is currently on pause, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan and dream about your next holiday. With breath-taking views, lavish suites, A-list guests and 24-hour butlers, these hotels are worth their eye-watering price tags. So, how long would you have to work to be able to stay for a single night?

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Official-canada-eta.com, ESTA Visa Waiver processors, have analysed data on the most expensive hotel suites and standard rooms at top hotels in the world.

The results revealed the cost of staying at an expensive suite in a top-notch hotel compared with the average UK salary and how that compares with a standard room at the same hotel.

Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas

This hotel costs £78,433 per night which is 943 days of the average person’s salary in the UK.

The Empathy Suite includes commissioned artwork, two sharks suspended in liquid, an outdoor pool and a 13-seater bar overlooking the Las Vegas strip.

The added extras include butlers, a chauffeured car, and $10,000 (£7,840) to spend around the resort.

But a standard room at the same hotel costs just £153 a night which is two days of work on the average UK salary.

Hotel President Wilson, Lake Geneva, Switzerland

With guests like Rihanna, Matt Damon and Céline Dion, this hotel has the largest and most expensive suite in Europe.

At £66,800 a night, it would take 803 days of work on the typical UK salary to rent the suite.

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However, the suite includes Stunning views of the lake, one of the world’s largest TV screens, a grand piano and a wrap around terrace.

The property is over 5,500 foot and includes bullet-proof windows.

The cost of a standard room is £518 a night which is six days of work.

Or, you can find 23 guests to take with you and share a 12-bed suite which will only set you back £2,800 per person.

BVLGARI Resort and Residences, Dubai

This hotel has created a private island with a bridge that connects you to mainland Dubai.

It costs £33,573 per night or over 400 days’ work which gets you a Turkish Spa, a private beach, home cinema and private security.

The stunning hotel oozes sophistication, comfort and security – what more could you want?

But if that’s a little out of your price range, you can stay in one of the hotel’s standard rooms which costs a reasonable £368 for just four days’ work.

Jayne Forrester, Director of International Development at Official-canada-eta.com said of the data: “The luxuries these hotel rooms provide really make them a once in a lifetime experience for the typical person.

“With lavish celebrity lifestyles shared across social media, you do wonder how much some evenings cost. Comparing these hotel room prices to salaries is really interesting, and can help you appreciate great deals on your holidays and accommodation.

“While most people could only afford one of these suites with a lottery win, they represent the luxury hotspots that you may still be able to experience at a lower price point.

“Split between several people for special occasions, these hotel experiences could be more within reach than they first appear.”

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Consumer travel publications change strategies during virus crisis

The Covid-19 crisis presents a quandary for editors of
consumer travel magazines: With borders closed and people being told to stay
home, what is the right way to approach travel inspiration?

Each one is finding its own way to respond, but what seems
to cut across most is a focus on “armchair travel.”

Conde Nast Traveler recently launched the “Ultimate Guide to
Armchair Travel” and is “leaning into offering inspiration for those dreaming
about their next trip,” while promoting the idea that travel is a “state of
mind.”

Travel+Leisure editor in chief Jacqui Gifford published a
letter ahead of its upcoming May issue in which she wrote, “For now, travel is
about armchair escapism. It is and always will be about emotion and heart.”

Of course, encouraging armchair travel does not necessarily come
naturally for publications that write about the real thing, but Afar has made adjustments
regardless.  

“Now we have a lot of coverage about things you can do from
home to continue to inspire your wanderlust,” said Afar travel news editor Michelle
Baran. For example: taking a trip around the world in foreign films, doing
virtual tours and trying out recipes from different cultures.

Armchair travel is not the only approach to the current
crisis. 

Conde Nast Traveler launched several new franchises in
response to the current reality. Its “Here, Now” column spotlights coronavirus-related
stories such as a piece on the Spanish fitness instructor leading workout
classes on his roof in Madrid and Chinese nurses who continue traveling to care
for others. Conde Nast said it is writing about how people around the world are
“coping, creating joy, and getting through this together.” 

Another initiative is “What It’s Like to Be a Travel
Industry Worker Right Now.” Conde Nast has spotlighted a flight attendant, a
tour guide, a cruise ship captain and a hotel housekeeper, revealing their
anxieties, concerns and on-the-ground experiences. 

In its May issue, Conde Nast will feature an essay by travel
writer Pico Iyer on the importance of traveling to places that have had
setbacks, like Australia after the bushfires and Egypt after a terrorist
incident. 

Jesse Ashlock, Conde Nast Traveler’s U.S. editor, said, “Now,
of course, the conversation is about traveling again to a whole world that is
experiencing crisis. And that is a theme we will return to a lot in upcoming
issues and on our other platforms.”

Conde Nast’s July issue will be “radically different” than
what was imagined, Ashlock said.  

“What it will do is celebrate the universality of travel in
a non-time-oriented way,” he said. “It’s not about travel in the summer of
2020. We will gather a lot of bold-faced names to talk about why they are still
a traveler, which is also a social [media] campaign we [recently] launched. It
is something we’re exploring in a lot of different ways and one of several
initiatives that we’ve embarked upon as we figure out how to shift course.”  

Under Ashlock, Conde Nast had already shifted to focus more
on travel “as a force for good,” something he realized matters more now than
ever. The April issue, which was put together before the U.S.’s travel
lockdown, is the magazine’s first with the “force for good” theme, with content
focusing on leadership, sustainability and community.

Baran said that Afar has also been making strategy changes
on the fly throughout the crisis. “As things have unfolded, our approach just
kept having to change. We’ve had to tear up the script several times,” she
said. 

Afar is helping readers cope by adding some online
humor pieces such as “How to re-create your canceled Europe trip at home,”
which includes setting the alarm to 4 a.m., when it’s morning in Europe. 

“We feel like people need a dose of fun and laughter right
now,” she said. 

Conde Nast, which last week unveiled its annual list of Top
Travel Specialists in the April issue,
plans to leverage its network of travel advisors in more ways, Ashlock said. 

During the current crisis, he believes they are a valuable
source of information for readers. The brand is already using advisors’ intel
and tips on navigating the crisis, such as via an Instagram Live conversation
with Italy travel specialist Andrea Grisdale to discuss the coronavirus
pandemic in Italy. 

“As time goes by, I hope to see them as a more prominent
part of what we’re doing in print and in all aspects and expressions of the
brand,” Ashlock said. “We couldn’t do a lot of our stories without them and
readers should be aware of that and look to book travel with specialists as a
result of the good intel that they’re getting from our magazine. … We see them
as an extension of our editorial family.”

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US airlines refuse to collect data that could help trace coronavirus victims

US airlines are continuing to refuse to collect passenger data that would aid in tracing and contacting those who may have contracted coronavirus.

The US government has been attempting to make carriers provide travellers’ information for 15 years, ever since health officials assessed the weak spots in their response to the Sars outbreak.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been warning since 2005 that a lack of passenger information hampers its ability to track cases of illness and contact those who may have also become infected, reports The New York Times.

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At present, it only has access to data on around half of all travellers per flight, as anyone who has booked through a third-party website such as an online travel agent does not have personal information available on the flight manifest.

This means that, during an outbreak, it’s tough for the CDC to get in touch with every passenger who may have come into contact with a disease carrier.

This was true of the Ebola outbreak in 2014, and the authorities are now facing similar challenges in tracing those who may have been affected by Covid-19.

The CDC said it needed just five bits of information on each traveller: name, phone number, email address, address where they’d be staying in the United States and emergency contact information.

However, airlines have continued to lobby strongly against collecting more passenger data when people check-in for flights, arguing that they would need to overhaul entire computer systems – a task they claim would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and at least a year to undertake.

Instead, after the first coronavirus case was confirmed in the States and the CDC insisted airlines provide information to help them trace its spread, airline officials and lobbyists proposed two alternatives: airlines could hand out paper forms for passengers to fill in (which they’d pass onto the government, who would have to sort out the data entry side of things); or an app into which passengers would have to input their details to enter the country.

The CDC has said there are flaws in both options, claiming that the paper forms would be too cumbersome and slow a solution, and that the app might be impacted by the unreliable nature of inflight wifi, coupled with the fact that not all people travelling have smart phones.

Health officials attempted to make passenger data collection a mandatory requirement as a part of the historic bailout bill that gave the airline industry $60bn in taxpayer funds in order to stay afloat.

However, President Trump signed the bill on Friday 27 March with no such stipulation attached.

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Coronavirus: How covid-19 will change the future of travel

Covid-19 has left a lot of people wondering whether they will ever take a holiday again. With cruise lines suspending their schedules and airlines cancelling flights most days, many people have put their holiday plans on hold. While the Government is hoping for the coronavirus, and therefore lockdown, to be over in a matter of months, the likelihood of that is getting slimmer each day.

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Today, the UK experienced its highest rise in deaths in a single day, taking the death toll to 2,352.

With cases and death tolls rising all over the world, and travel companies seeking financial help, what does the future of the travel industry look like?

Less everyday travel

If remote collaboration and communication has proven to be more effective then people won’t travel as much.

The long-term impacts on businesses cannot be predicted but if isolation has led to more effective work and is better for the environment, then it is possible that people will continue working at home and travel less.

Simon Hayes of NEC Display Solutions Europe said that remote collaboration and communication cuts back travel time by 25 percent on average.

He said in AV Magazine’s blog: “Some people may still travel to the office but realise it need not be every day.

“Others, living further away perhaps, will be able to connect without wasting hours of travel time and its associated risks and frustrations.

“Imagine a Monday morning without the gridlock because 25 percent of regular commuters have chosen to connect remotely for the 9am briefing.”

He added that a one-hour meeting in the office can take 15 minutes less time by using video.

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He added: “Time is precious, so let’s hope people reward themselves more often by claiming some of it for themselves. It will certainly make for a happier workforce so let’s embrace that.”

Less international travel

A key analysts has lowered Expedia’s profitability estimates again as people wonder whether travel companies in the future will have a business at all.

On Monday, RBC Capital Markets lowered Expedia’s profitability, estimating that they will incur a $57million (£45.8million) loss.

Last year, in the same quarter, they made a profit of $176million (£141.6million).

The analysts wrote: “We continue to believe EXPE is one of the most at-risk names in terms of exposure to COVID-19 and view the extent and duration of this risk as an unknowable.”

Egencia President Rob Greyber, whose corporate travel company is owned by Expedia Group said he is optimistic.

He said: “I think what’s driven business travel is going to still be true as we emerge from this, but I don’t think it’s going to be a dramatic recovery overnight. But I do think travel recovers within a pretty close range of where it’s been. And I think it will continue to grow from there.”

The World Travel and Tourism Council projects that up to 75million travel and tourism jobs are at risk due to coronavirus.

The US Travel Association and Tourism Economics estimates a loss of 5.9million travel-related jobs in America by the end of April.

Microsoft’s global director of travel Eric Bailey said he thinks the way the travel sector works will shift after coronavirus.

He said: “It doesn’t mean that people stop travelling, necessarily, but it does mean that they they change the way that they travel. They don’t necessarily need to be face to face for a lot of things.”

He added: “I don’t think it’s going be about the dollars — it’s about the time.”

More holidays

However, others are more positive and think that the public will book more holidays.

A spokesman from ABTA, a travel association told Express.co.uk: “The coronavirus pandemic has placed the travel industry under immense financial and practical strain.

“The Great British public love their holidays and once we get back to normal there will be pent up demand for a much deserved break.

“It is essential that the government does everything in its power to support the travel industry to ensure businesses make it through to cater for this demand.

“This support will also safeguard the jobs of tens of thousands of workers and their families who depend on them.”

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Royal Caribbean Group Launches New Program to Assist Travel Advisors

The Royal Caribbean Group announced Tuesday it has launched a dedicated program created to assist thousands of travel agents and advisors in the United States deal with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The program, dubbed RCL Cares, will offer a variety of services to help educate travel partners as they navigate government benefits available to agents and advisors in America, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.

Royal Caribbean’s services include one-on-one assistance and access to critical resources about recovery benefits available under the CARES act. While the RCL Cares program will not provide legal advice, it will offer a resource desk to provide educational material and answer questions.

“This is perhaps the most challenging time the travel industry has seen, and we want to do all we can to support those who have supported us throughout our history,” Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain said in a statement. “Our travel partner community is hurting, and help can’t come too soon.”

“Any piece of legislation can be challenging to understand, and we want our travel advisors to receive all the financial assistance available to them,” Fain continued. “While our ships are idle, we have resources that can be redirected to helping our travel partners so that they will be fully ready and able to charge ahead when we return to service.”

To access the RCL Cares program, advisors and agents must visit CruisingPower.com, where they can access highlights of the CARES Act, FAQs, Small Business Association resources and tips.

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to impact cruise lines, several of the top companies in the industry have extended the suspension of all voyages, including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival, Disney, Seabourn and more.

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Cruises: Voyages to Guernsey cancelled until May as island records first covid-19 death

It comes as last week, all cruise ships to Guernsey had been cancelled until the end of April at the earliest due to the latest coronavirus travel measures. But now the cancellations have been extended until May 11.

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All cruise liners scheduled to visit the island in April were cancelled in mid March.

However, the States have now announced further cancellations due to the uncertainty of the lockdown.

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This means that several are cruise ships will no longer be able to dock in Guernsey because of the deadly virus.

The first cruise ship of the season was the Fridtjof Nansen which was meant to have arrived on March 20.

It was cancelled earlier in the month following the advice from Guernsey’s Public Health.

The decision was then made to stop all cruise ships to the island for the whole of April.

The largest vessel set to visit in April was the P&O Britannia which was chatting more than 4,000 people.

But P&O also lengthened the suspension of operations due to the coronavirus pandemic this week.

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President of the company Paul Ludlow said in a statement that it was “not feasible” to return to sailing at this moment in time.

The largest marina facility in the British Isles, Guernsey Harbours said in a previous statement: “Due to the global outbreak of Covid-19, travel restrictions imposed by the States of Guernsey require all persons arriving in the Bailiwick from anywhere else in the world to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.”

Guernsey Harbours has been contacted for further comment.

The island expects that all persons arriving in Guernsey from anywhere in the world must isolate for 14 days on arrival.

This is now a legal requirement that has been imposed by Guernsey’s Medical Officer of Health.

The measures include all travel by any means including private vessels and includes travel between the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey.

Travel advice for the Bailiwick includes, like the UK, no non-essential travel.

An individual planning to leave the island for essential reasons must take into account the fact they will have to self-isolate on their return.

It comes as Guernsey witnessed its first death from the coronavirus this week as the deadly disease spreads across the Channel Islands.

An individual who was known to be 80 years old passed away from covid-19 at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital on March 30.

Guernsey’s Director of Public Health Nicola Brink said in a statement: “I offer my sincere condolences to their family and friends and ask that their privacy is respected at this extremely sad time.”

Three patients at a nursing home in Guernsey have also been confirmed as having coronavirus.

The first death in the Channel Islands was in Jersey on March 25.

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