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The main Breaking News today, as reported by TMI this morning, was the announcement of new dates for the TFWA World Exhibition & Conference, which has been moved from September to October 24-28, 2021.
TFWA has also launched a Hosted Buyer Program to help retailers cover some costs associated with attending the show. And finally, TFWA has opened registration for the TFWA Asia Pacific Hainan Special Edition event, which is taking place from June 21-24 in virtual format. See more details for all three initiatives on page 1.
In TMI’s lead story of the week, pressure is mounting for the restart of travel. A group of U.S. and UK airlines, along with aviation trade group Airlines for America, sent a letter to U.S. and UK officials calling for the reopening of the air corridor between the two countries. See page 1.
Adding their voices to the plea, leaders of 23 global travel companies sent a letter to President Biden Tuesday urging greater progress toward reopening international travel—as is happening elsewhere in the world—and warning of dire economic consequences if U.S. borders remain shut. The letter urges the establishment of a public-private task-force by the end of May to develop a risk-based, data-driven roadmap for safely reopening international travel to the U.S. This is a developing story.
Some progress is taking place in the cruise channel, although most of the industry sees the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s guidance as outdated, and slow to respond to even basic changes. But the CDC did issue guidance last week on the next phases of its Conditional Sailing Order which spelled out what cruise lines need to do to sail with volunteer passengers, which was one of the steps called for before cruising could begin for real. Details are spelled out on page 2.
Meanwhile, ports and cruise lines are rushing to get crew and port personnel vaccinated as fast as possible. Page 2.
Update: Norwegian Cruise Line Holding’s CEO Frank Del Rio, for one, lambasted the CDC rules as “unfair” and “never consistent.” One puzzling CDC rule mandated passengers had to wear masks outside even on a cruise line’s private island—including for vaccinated passengers. Today, a week after releasing its requirements and recommendations for cruise ships to implement as part of its test cruises, the CDC updated a few rules, loosening some of the more stringent requirements for fully vaccinated passengers. Taking a different approach from NCL, Carnival Cruise Line yesterday issued plans for a possible July restart in the U.S. on select ships, saying that it hopes to begin operating sailings on three ships from Florida and Texas, including Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze from Galveston, and Carnival Horizon from Miami.
“We continue to have constructive discussions with the CDC but still have many questions that remain unanswered. We are working diligently to resume sailing in the U.S. and meet the CDC guidelines,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “We sincerely appreciate the continued patience and understanding of our guests and travel advisor partners and will share additional information as quickly as we can.”
IATA reports that international passenger travel was still largely shut down in March, although domestic traffic was showing stronger recovery. Page 3.
However, IATA warned that the high cost of COVID-19 testing could stall any recovery in aviation and called on governments to facilitate any restart with affordable and timely tests. Page 3.
Vaccinations. The latest research from ForwardKeys showed how dramatically vaccinations can boost a restart of travel. Page 3.
Fraport USA appoints former Hudson executive Michael R. Mullaney as CEO. Page 4.
Harding bolsters its senior staff with two leading industry figures.
Duty Free Global promotes Nathalie Roelands to the role of Chief Operations Officer.
Cayman names a new Tourism Minister.
SUPPLY SIDE: SPIRITS
IWSR: Alcohol brands in travel retail are facing a number of fundamental short- and long-term shifts as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on the channel, and duty free operators are targeting alternative revenue sources to offset the effects of the pandemic, including domestic duty free, intra-continental travel and digital solutions. See report on page 5.
Drinks distributor MONARQ Group and LeVecke Corporation, a leading beer, wine, and spirits producer, have announced a partnership in which MONARQ Group will help drive strategic growth in the Caribbean, Latin America and US Duty Free. Page 5.
Accolade Wines creates a new position for Global Travel Retail. Page 6.
The first Corona store in the world opens at Cancun International Airport. Page 6.
Sliabh Liag’s Silkie Irish Whiskey, represented by Earl Meyers’ EM+P agency in the Americas channel, wins title as Best Blended Irish Whiskey at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Page 6.