UPDATED: Israel Requiring All Arrivals To Self-Quarantine

Beginning March 12, 2020, Israel will require all arriving international travellers to self-quarantine for 14 days.

The move was announced by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu late yesterday.

A statement from the Israel Ministry of Tourism explained that the government of Israel has taken a wide range of actions in order to “minimize the outcome and reduce the ramifications” of COVID-19.

And as of March 12, 2020 at 20:00 hours, all visitors who want to enter Israel from everywhere worldwide, must attest that they will go into self-quarantine for 14 days, and it makes it clear that “this cannot be arranged at a hotel or any accommodation other than a private residence.”

The statement continues: “Until March 12, 2020 at 20:00 hours, tourists can enter from the designated countries allowed and entry will be denied from the designated countries such as China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Macau, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland and Austria and Egypt.”

And it adds that: “Tourists already in Israel or arriving before 12/3/2020 at 20:00, can continue their travel route as usual and will need to keep Israel Ministry of Health guidelines.”

The Ministry of Tourism’s statement concludes: “We hope that it will be over soon so we’ll be able to continue promoting Israel and see the record breaking peaks continue.”

Here in Canada, the Israel Government Tourist Office (IGTO) will continue to promote and present Israel as an attractive leisure destination and is the reason why Israel has been chosen by so many outlets to be the best destination for 2020 in so many aspects, So every tourist should plan their next trip to Israel once things get back to routine.

Gal Hana, Israel Consul for Tourism: “Israel has shown a huge growth in tourism due to the creative and innovative approach that will be on our side in dealing with the COVID-19 global epidemic. IGTO Canada will continue to raise the awareness to Israel, especially in times like that when every activity matter.”

READ On, There’s More

Israel’s move comes on a day when the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) recommended that Canadians avoid all cruise ship travel due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak (https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice.html).

And the Canadian move followed an advisory from the U.S. State Department stating that: “U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship” (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/novel-coronavirus-hubei-province–china.html). 

Response to those recommendations came quickly from the cruise industry and from other industry associations.

DWHSA Urges US To Reconsider Cruise Advisories

In a statement responding to the March 8 U.S travel advisories about cruising, the president of the Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Specialists Association (DWHSA), Lisa Sheldon indicated that the association is “gravely concerned about the unintended consequences of the latest U.S. government travel advisories warning Americans not to cruise.”

Sheldon continued: “The World Health Organization advises clearly against travel bans and restrictions in fighting the COVID-19 outbreak, saying they’re ‘usually not effective in preventing the importation of cases but may have a significant economic and social impact.”

DWHSA’s president pointed out that: “The new advisories against cruising will affect thousands of U.S. couples who’ve planned destination weddings and honeymoons on ships over the next year. They contradict directly the statements from Vice President Mike Pence given on March 7 as he met with cruise industry leaders to increase port screenings and to take other preventative measures to protect passengers. And, they will lead to financial hardship for tens of thousands of workers with cruise lines and related businesses if cruising grinds to a halt.”

And she concluded: “We urge U.S. officials to reconsider these advisories and to focus instead on working more closely with cruise lines to implement tighter screenings and other measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak.”
For more, go to www.DWHSA.com .

LOTS of CHANGING Policies 

Railbookers, Amtrak Vacations Release New Policies

Railbookers and Amtrak Vacation have released details of a new cancellation and rescheduling policy to help travel advisors and their clients deal with the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

Any new reservations booked through April 30, 2020 will have the option to change their travel dates or cancel their rail vacation up until 5 days prior to departure without incurring any change or cancellation fees.

Any existing reservations can be rescheduled up to 5 days prior to departure date without incurring any change or cancellation fees.

In either case, customers will be issued a voucher for future travel valid for 24 months, which can be used toward a new reservation with any of our brands, destinations, and itineraries for any travel date and length of trip without any penalty.

Frank Marini, president of Railbookers and Amtrak Vacations, said: “With Railbookers and Amtrak Vacations, we give our travel advisors and customers maximum flexibility so they can choose where, when, and how long they want to travel. For example, if a travel advisor’s client no longer wants to travel to Italy, they can select a Grand Canyon journey with our Amtrak Vacations brand. We are not restricting customers to specific dates of travel or destinations. If the train goes there, so do we.”

Agents should note that additional restrictions may apply for any rail vacations that include Cruises, Belmond, Rocky Mountaineer, Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, Journey Beyond Rail Expeditions, The Blue Train, El Transcantábrico, Tsars Gold, or other luxury trains. Please be aware that certain arrangements, such as low-cost flight bookings, may not be amended after they have been confirmed and any alteration could incur a cancellation charge of up to 100% of that portion of the travel arrangements.

For more, go to www.railbookers.ca or visit www.amtrakvacations.ca .

Enjoy The Wave With Avalon

For agents with clients considering a river cruise this year or next, Avalon Waterways has the perfect incentive to help them decide that includes a wide array of early booking bonuses to choose from which can save them some serious money.

The only catch is that they all expire April 6 this year.

Avalon’s offers include:

  • For select 2020 sailings the reductions comprise: a waived single supplement; a city stay extension in Budapest, Prague, Vienna or Munich; or a saving of up to $2,600 per couple. Book by April 6 and there’s the option of having the airfare included. Or if a more exotic destination appeals, there are savings of up to $2,600 per couple on select cruises along the Mekong and Ganges Rivers; $1,300 per couple on select Galapagos Islands cruises; or $650 per couple off select Nile cruises.
  • For select 2021 sailings, April 6 this year is also the deadline on European cruises to save the single supplement or up to $3,100 per couple; or up to $2,600 per couple or waived single supplement on select Mekong cruises and $650 per couple on select Nile Cruises.

Agents should note these early booking offers cannot be combined.

Go to www.avalonwaterways.ca or www.agentlingo.ca .

Riviera River Cruises Updates Policies

Riviera River Cruises is taking a number of steps to alleviate the concerns of travel agents and their clients over COVID-19, updating its deposit and cancellation policies and it will survey guests as they board its ships.

Effective immediately, updated deposit and cancellation policies are:

  • The deposit of $400 will be fully refundable up to 60 days after being made. If booking is canceled after 60 days, the deposit will be transferred to a future 2020 departure.
  • Clients who have deposited or fully paid: Any 2020 booking can be canceled with 24 hours’ notice and will be credited to a future 2020 cruise. If future cruise costs more, client will pay the difference.
  • Additionally, Riviera guests will be asked to complete a survey on their current health and recent travels before boarding ships. Ships and buses used for excursions will also be well stocked with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.

Riviera is also encouraging guests and staff to employ basic hygiene practices to keep safe, including washing hands frequently, avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth, covering mouth and nose with bent elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing, and maintaining social distance with others who are coughing or sneezing.

It also continues to monitor updates from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it is in close contact with its ships, Cruise Directors, Cruise Concierges, local guides and local tourist organizations.

For more, go to https://www.rivierarivercruises.com .

Travel Worry-Free With Collette

Collette is making it clear that it’s dedicated to providing a worry-free experience for both travel professionals and guests, from start to finish.

The operator points out that it stands behind an industry-leading Travel Protection Plan, offering a full cash refund for any guest who has to cancel up to 24 hours before departure, providing flexibility should any situation arise.

In fact, Collette has already guaranteed more than 35% of its travel dates through 2022, showcasing a commitment to its guest and their plans.

Jaclyn Leibl-Cote, president of Collette, points out that: “Our plan is designed knowing that life happens and that sometimes, plans change. We want to provide a worry-free experience for both you as well as the guest.”

With multiple guaranteed dates on nearly every tour, guests will be sure to find a tour that suits them and can remain confident knowing that if their plans change, Collette is on their side.

Go to www.collette.com for more.

Added Peace Of Mind From Emirates

In a newly released video — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYkg8dbV7Ng&feature=youtu.be – Emirates is offering agents an inside look as the enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures that it has implemented.

On all aircraft departing from its hub in Dubai, Emirates has implemented enhanced cleaning and complete disinfection of all cabins as a precaution. In line with the latest expert medical finding that the COVID-19 virus is primarily transmitted by touch, Emirates has placed its greatest focus on surface cleaning.

The airline uses an approved chemical that is proven to kill viruses and germs, leaves a long-lasting protective coating against new contamination of viruses, bacteria and fungi on surfaces, and is eco-friendly.

The cleaning process includes a comprehensive wipe down of all surfaces – from windows, tray tables, seatback screens, armrests, seats, in-seat controls, panels, air vents and overhead lockers in the cabin, to lavatories, galleys and crew rest areas. All of this is done in addition to other normal procedures such as changing head rest covers on all seats, replacement of reading materials, vacuuming, and more.

To complete this thorough cleaning process within an hour while the aircraft is preparing for its next mission, requires a team of 18 trained cleaners on a Boeing 777, and a team of 36 for an A380. In a 24-hour period on an average day, some 248 aircraft go through this process.

On any aircraft that were found to have transported a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case, Emirates would go even further, and implement deep cleaning and disinfection in a process that takes between six to eight hours to complete. This includes the defogging of cabin interiors and misting with disinfectant across all soft furnishings, and replacement of seat covers and cushions in the affected area. The aircraft’s HEPA cabin air filters will also be replaced.

All of Emirates’ aircraft are fitted with HEPA cabin air filters which are proven to filter out 99.97% of viruses. They also remove dust, allergens and microbes from the air recirculated into the cabin and cockpit, which helps to provide a safer, healthier and more comfortable environment for the passengers and crew.

As well, Emirates is also providing customers across its network added flexibility, choice, and value; with the ability to change their travel dates without change and re-issuance fees. This waiver policy applies to all booked tickets issued on or from March 7 until March 31, 2020.

Go to www.emirates.com for more.

Emirates also recognizes that some of its members will be impacted by travel restrictions and flight reductions, and as a result, Emirates Skywards is providing its Platinum, Gold and Silver members the ability to maintain their current status by fulfilling 80% of their tier travel requirements between March 31 and June 30, 2020.

In addition, Skywards members booked to travel between March 1 and June 30, 2020 will be able to benefit from an additional 20% bonus Tier Miles.

Etihad Booking Condition Changes

Etihad Airways is giving travellers peace of mind when making their next booking by allowing one complimentary date or destination change for all flights booked between March 8 and April 7, 2020.

Valid for travel from March 22, 2020, the offer is applicable to all fares including Etihad Guest redemptions and Etihad Holiday bookings.

Any fare difference arising from the rebooking/rerouting will be applied.

Stay tuned, there will be more on COVID-19 on www.travelpress.com and in Press Today.