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Driving home the point of just how fragile the fledgling travel recovery actually is, the discovery of a new and potentially more contagious coronavirus variant earlier this week threw countries across the world into a panic and could be a major blow to the travel market, which was showing strong traffic gains after the U.S. border opening on Nov. 8.
Many countries imposed an immediate travel ban on travelers from southern Africa, where the variant was first discovered. Some countries, like Israel, Morocco and Japan, imposed a ban on all foreign travelers for 14 days.
Canada announced on Tuesday that it will require people arriving by air from all nations except the United States to take a COVID-19 test. And yesterday, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that effective Dec. 6, passengers flying to the U.S. will need to show a negative Covid-19 test performed within one day of departure – tightening the pre-departure testing window for entry to the U.S. for vaccinated travelers to one day instead of three days–as the spread of the Omicron variant continues to raise concerns.
In addition, Biden extended the federal mask mandate on flights, trains, and other forms of public transport through March 18, 2022. The mandate was previously set to expire on January 18.
“We hope this measure to narrow the pre-departure testing window will be temporary until more is learned about the Omicron variant. In the meantime, the travel industry urges everyone to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible,” said the U.S. Travel Association in a statement. “It has long been known that measures to combat the virus and its variants would evolve and require us to be nimble and adapt. It is critically important that we communicate these policy changes clearly to global travelers and continue to welcome all qualified visitors to the United States.”
See a statement on the new variant from ForwardKeys on page 4.
Globally, the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer spells out how fragile and uneven the recovery is, despite the upturn it reports for the third quarter. Page 2.
SOUTH AMERICA & CANADA
Looking ahead, South American Duty Free Association ASUTIL and the Uruguayan Chamber of Border Stores hosted a virtual Border Shops meeting last week, focusing on the latest progress in the region. John Gallagher reports. Page 1.
In one positive development, London Supply was finally able to re-open its flagship duty free store in Puerto Iguazu after 20 months with no commercial activity. Page 4.
In Canada, the Frontier Duty Free Association elected a new Board of Directors at its virtual Annual General Meeting on Nov. 10. Congratulations to new FDFA President, Tania Lee of Blue Water Duty Free. Page 1.
Duty Free Dynamics reports two major developments. The Panama-based travel retail specialist has entered the Wellness category with a partnership with Goli Nutrition, producer of the best-selling Apple Cider Vinegar gummies and other supplements. Duty Free Dynamics also announced a partnership with Simextra Group, with whom it opened one of the first Lego stores in a South American airport, in Guyana. Page 3.
WEBB Banks has partnered with Flor de Caña rum for the Caribbean and select Americas travel retail markets.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: PANZERGLASS
Award-winning PanzerGlass is looking to expand in the Americas travel retail market. The highly effective screen protectors for mobile phones, laptops, smartwatches and tablets are already listed with INMOTION stores in U.S. domestic airports and the company is now launching a new virucidal screen cleaner spray. See more details on page 4.