HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) – It has been a busy travel weekend for millions of Americans. Whether you are traveling by road or plane, or just celebrating the new college football season, all of us are dealing with the threat of COVID-19.



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Labor Day travel concerns

Health officials are warning Labor Day travel could likely lead to another spike in COVID cases.

After the Fourth of July, ADPH reported COVID-19 patient hospitalizations doubled weeks after holiday celebrations.

The Transportation Security Administration reports this year, more than 10 million people were screened on the Fourth of July weekend.

The number of travelers is way down from just two months ago. TSA reports around 2.1 million people were screened by TSA officers on Friday. On Sunday, just over 1.6 million people were screened.

ADPH spokesperson Dr. Karen Landers says everyone unvaccinated needs to be extra cautious.

“We have been hovering just under 3000 hospitalizations and we have had well over 50 children on any given day hospitalized. The most important aspect that we need to remind people is when you are getting together keep in mind that if you are unvaccinated your COVID risk is really the same in terms of contracting COVID,” said Landers.

Dr. Landers said another spike needs to be avoided at all costs because hospitals are at full capacity. Right now more than 600 people are on ventilators in Alabama.

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WASHINGTON – Roger W. Miles, chairman of the board of Miles Partnership, will be honored as the 2021 inductee into the U.S. Travel Association Hall of Leaders, the organization announced Friday.

Distinguished individuals are named to U.S. Travel’s Hall of Leaders for “sustained, noteworthy contributions that have positively impacted the travel industry and raised industry-wide standards.”

With this induction, 103 travel industry luminaries have been named to the U.S. Travel Hall of Leaders since it was established in 1969.

“Roger is a trailblazer whose ingenuity, creativity and business acumen shaped the modern-day field of destination marketing, inspiring countless visits to a host of American cities and travel businesses and sights,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “He graciously shares his knowledge on place-based marketing and has contributed in meaningful ways to the success of every entity and leader that he’s advised over the years.”

Miles founded Miles Partnership in 1990. He leveraged his background in business and engineering to bring an analytics-driven approach to destination marketing, leading to the development and evolution of groundbreaking digital marketing strategies. Miles played an instrumental role in the creation and utility of destination travel websites.

Miles is also credited as a leading voice in evolving cooperative marketing models from media-driven display advertising into content-rich storytelling. Core to this approach was the creation of tangible assets—articles, photos, videos and more—to help destination marketing organizations (DMOs) promote themselves to digital audiences. Miles was instrumental in developing programs that helped individual tourism businesses collaboratively market with local DMOs, and local DMOs partner with state tourism organizations. This approach also helped build out national programs in support of Brand USA.

Prior to founding Miles Partnership, Miles had more than 17 years of management experience in the publishing industry. He currently serves on the board of trustees of Thornton Academy in his hometown of Saco, Maine, and has held board and officer positions for numerous tourism-related startups and national trade associations, as well as chambers of commerce and convention and visitor bureaus.

Miles will be honored by the U.S. Travel board of directors at a dinner on November 17, 2021, during its fall meeting.

The 2020 inductees were Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association, and Ernest Wooden Jr., former president and CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. A list of all previous Hall of Leaders honorees is available here.

About U.S. Travel Association

U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry. In 2020, travel generated $1.5 trillion in economic output and supported 11 million jobs, a drastic decline from pre-pandemic figures. U.S. Travel’s mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit ustravel.org for information and recovery-related data.

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Kristi Huss, owner of Travel Savvi Inc., is back from the Female Leaders in Travel Conclave held in mid-June. Here’s her report from the event.

As the third Female Leaders in Travel Conclave came to a close at gala night at Secrets The Vine Cancun, ladies dressed in red are gathered on the dance floor singing along to “celebrate good times.”

Despite a very hard year in the travel industry, there was not any grumbling or complaining from this group. Instead, a grateful group of travel industry colleagues—now friends—celebrated the four days they spent together June 9 through 13.

Unlike Any Other Industry Event

While many travel industry events focus on product knowledge and sales, the Female Leaders In Travel agenda is about self-development and bettering leadership skills.

One of the key ingredients of a successful event are connections made among everyone. Careful consideration has been placed on making sure each female leader is seated next to someone that will enhance their leadership style. From the moment the attendees enter the conference room to find their name card in a different daily seating arrangement, it is evident that every aspect of this event is tailored to benefit each person.

Taking an attendee’s weakness and matching them with someone that is strong in that area for the bus ride to an evening event is one example of how these thoughtfully considered pairings turns an ordinary dinner event into another opportunity of growth.

It is not about a one-size-fits-all concept: The 50 female leaders and 10 vendor partners in attendance lead and manage teams ranging from under 20 to teams in the hundreds. The ability to take what is learned and implement it in whatever size team or business model a female leader has is one of the great outcomes of this successful event.

Sanya Weston, CEO of Your Premier Travel Service shares why she returned for a second year “My experience at the Female Leaders In Travel Conclave was even more amazing than in 2020. Our mission ‘saving her a seat’ included elevating each other on every level as we gracefully tackled the challenges in the travel and tourism industry. Together we learned, connected, networked and collaborated, all while having fun. As a 30-year veteran in the industry, I can appreciate this platform and I look forward to continuing our mission.”

Stronger Together

Andrea Williams (Exquisite Vacations), Mona Dean (Horizon Escapes), Vanessa McGovern (Gifted Travel Network) Jennifer Doncsecz (VIP Vacations) and Nadia Henry (Travel With Sparkle).

This year’s addition of more female supplier partners in attendance enhanced the experience with the addition of the supplier leader’s perspective. It is not about everyone being in the same position or size of the agency; it is about being in the mindset to become better leaders in the travel industry.

Jacqueline Marks, executive vice president of trade sales Apple Leisure Group (ALG) Vacations, summed up her first year in attendance: “As we see travel come roaring back, so has my

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s chief of staff, Jordan Elsbury, has spent the last three days in Washington, D.C., meeting with government leaders about the problems at Hilltop Village Apartments.

The Northwest Jacksonville apartment community has been the subject of several News4Jax I-TEAM stories after we uncovered a mice infestation in all of the 14 buildings on the property.

As a result of our initial story in April, the mayor’s office ordered code enforcement inspect all 200 apartments. We’ve now learned inspectors have returned to the property every week and have issued 556 violations since May 4. The mayor’s public affairs office said that 132 of those have been corrected by the property owner and that the landlord has been issued $35,250 in paying citations at this time.

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Elsbury has met this week with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, both of whom have already sent letters to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, requesting action to hold the landlord responsible, and have called on HUD to do more to force the owner to correct unsafe living conditions.

The I-TEAM learned HUD was supposed to inspect the property in 2017 but never did. An inspection was not conducted until the I-TEAM and Rubio’s office asked why it had been missed.

Hilltop Village is owned by S.P. Hilltop LLC, which owns 11 other HUD communities in Jacksonville. The owner receives payments from the federal government as part of a contract with HUD to provide affordable housing to low-income earning families. As part of that deal, the owner is supposed to provide safe, decent living conditions for the tenants. HUD is required to ensure that is being done by, among other things, inspecting the property. Despite the missed inspection in 2017, the owner still received $5.7 million in HUD payments.

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After we exposed the mice infestation, a HUD spokesperson told the I-TEAM last month that the property management company responsible for maintaining Hilltop Village had allocated $111,986 for exterior exclusions of pests entering the 14 property buildings and have signed contracts that also include an additional commitment of up to $144,000 for interior exclusion.

Yet, it does not appear those pest control measures are working. We have received several calls, emails and texts from tenants who tell us their apartments are still infested with mice. We wanted answers from the Jacksonville HUD Office. It’s supervisor is Alesia Scott-Ford.

“’You really caught me off guard, and I’m not in a position to answer these questions,” she told me when I asked her if HUD is going to continue to send payments to Hilltop Village’s owner.

We spoke to her before she appeared at an unrelated news conference at City Hall.

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“HUD is doing everything possible to ensure that families are living in a safe, decent and comfortable environment,” she told me.

When I asked her about the missed HUD inspection in 2017, she said, “I can’t. I’m not allowed to speak

As more newly vaccinated tourists eagerly make travel plans for the summer and fall, Rhode Island’s tourism and hospitality sector has been brainstorming ways to keep attracting visitors year-round.

Leaders in the tourism and hospitality industry from Newport and across Rhode Island joined government representatives and industry experts in a virtual meeting Thursday evening to discuss how the travel industry in Newport can better recover from the pandemic. These virtual meetings are a part of a series of meetings the governor is holding with various industries called Community Conversations. 

“Newport is open for business, everybody should know that,” Rep. Lauren Carson (D-Newport) said at the beginning of the meeting. “It’s really busy in town, let me tell you, there’s traffic all over. Even on a Monday and Tuesday night the streets are filled, so I really think people are looking forward to coming back from Rhode Island.”

The Facebook livestream began with a presentation on the current status of the tourism industry, led by travel statistics firm Tourism Economics President Adam Sacks. Sacks gave several data points indicating a “summer mini-boom” for the U.S. economy, including rising rates of vaccination and job openings across the country in what Sacks described as the “best case scenario” in terms of their predictions for economic recovery. 

Sacks said 80% of travelers in the U.S. say they are ready to travel, and the Rhode Island specific data shows steady improvement in monthly travel spending from last fall, outperforming the U.S. average in recovery rate. Given the size of the Rhode Island economy dedicated to tourism and hospitality, Sacks said encouraging the accelerated recovery of the tourism industry in the state is important to recovering fully from the pandemic by 2023.

More:Tourism leaders hopeful despite another Newport cruise ship season seemingly lost to COVID

“Leisure hospitality historically has been a driver of economic growth and job growth in the state before this pandemic began, and so it’s an industry that we want to continue to foster and continue to look to as a driver of economic growth,” Sacks said. “The only way that we get economically full in Rhode Island is by fully restoring the travel industry where leisure and hospitality job losses have been center. The only way that economic recovery happens is if we get a travel recovery because so many of the jobs lost in Rhode Island have been related to travel.”

One of the key takeaways from Sacks’ presentation and the following panel of industry leaders was the importance of attracting visitors to Rhode Island year-round to create a sustainable tourism economy.

“As you think about the recovery for Rhode Island, I would encourage you to ensure that marketing and aggressive marketing of the state is a key part of it, because that is one of the most important levers that you have at your disposal to inspire and to cause people to make decisions to travel to Rhode Island as opposed to your competitors,” Sacks said.

More:As Juneteenth

PORTLAND, Ore., June 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Nearly 500 travel and tourism professionals — ranging from tour guides and outfitters to regional destination marketing organizations, chambers of commerce, lodging establishments to wineries and microbreweries — will gather virtually tomorrow for Oregon’s annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism to reflect on the impacts of COVID-19 and wildfires, gain valuable insights and tools to amplify tourism businesses and destinations, and set the stage for a statewide economic recovery.

The pandemic and stay home orders impacted traditional tourism related businesses such as restaurants and lodging immediately during the spring and summer of 2020, which are prime travel months for many communities in Oregon. These communities felt the impact in other indirect spending from retail shops, coffee and grocery stores, outdoor guides and outfitters and wineries and small locally owned Oregon companies, which all make up the tourism economy. The most recent Dean Runyan Associates 2020 Economic Impact Report shows total direct travel spending in Oregon declined to $6.5 billion, the lowest since 2003.

This spring, in response to industry needs, Travel Oregon released a suite of investments totaling $4.5 million to provide direct economic recovery investments through grants and direct investments to each tourism region of the state.

The latest in this suite of economic recovery investments by Travel Oregon includes a statewide advertising campaign, Welcome to Oregon Again, designed to promote in-state travel, support local tourism businesses, and keep Oregonians traveling locally. Welcome to Oregon Again launched on June 1 and prioritizes safe travel, responsible recreation and local business support throughout the summer season.

“I am so proud of how each of us in Oregon’s travel and tourism industry, from every corner of the state have shown up, cared deeply and supported one another in these trying times,” said Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon. “We continue to actively listen to the needs of Oregonians, communities and businesses to be as responsive as possible. And I am excited to build on that information and lessons learned from this last year to chart our strategy going forward.”

To continue supporting economic recovery efforts as the state reopens to travel, Travel Oregon is first launching the agency’s Rebuild Strategic Plan on July 1, 2021. This plan includes current activities in support of the state’s economic recovery and places equity and inclusion at the forefront of its strategic vision.

The second, longer-term effort is the Transformational Plan. To further develop this plan, the agency will seek input and guidance from the people and communities at the heart of the tourism industry to develop a roadmap that will extend to 2025. The plan will serve Oregon’s entire travel and tourism industry based on the priorities set by these community stakeholders. Already, stakeholders have expressed a need for additional grants and funding resources, as well as marketing and promotion as priorities.

About Travel Oregon The Oregon Tourism Commission, dba Travel Oregon, works to enhance visitors’ experiences by providing information, resources and trip

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January, 22, 2020.

Jason Alden | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Singapore and Australia will work towards putting in place an air travel bubble between the two countries, their prime ministers said on Thursday, after more than a year of travel disruption caused by the pandemic.

“We discussed how two-way travel between Singapore and Australia can eventually resume, in a safe and calibrated manner, when both sides are ready,” Singapore leader Lee Hsien Loong told a joint news conference with visiting Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

Singapore had in March said the two nations were discussing plans for quarantine-free travel.

Both Singapore and Australia have avoided the severe coronavirus outbreaks suffered by many countries, with total cases at just over 62,000 and 30,000 respectively.

Lee said infrastructure and processes for resuming travel needed to be put in place, starting with mutual recognition of health and vaccination certificates.

“When all preparations are ready, then we can start small with an air travel bubble to build confidence on both sides,” he said.

Morrison is the first foreign leader to make an official visit to the city-state since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last year. He stopped in Singapore on his way to Britain for the G-7 Leaders’ Summit.

The leaders’ discussions also included a potential fintech bridge and exploration of a green economy agreement.

Morrison said he welcomed the countries working together to put the systems in place to enable a bubble to emerge between them.

However, he said: “there is still some time before we reach that milestone.”

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore and Australia will work towards putting in place an air travel bubble between the two countries, their prime ministers said on Thursday, after more than a year of travel disruption caused by the pandemic.

“We discussed how two-way travel between Singapore and Australia can eventually resume, in a safe and calibrated manner, when both sides are ready,” Singapore leader Lee Hsien Loong told a joint news conference with visiting Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

Singapore had in March said the two nations were discussing plans for quarantine-free travel.

Both Singapore and Australia have avoided the severe coronavirus outbreaks suffered by many counties, with total cases at just over 62,000 and 30,000 respectively.

Lee said infrastructure and processes for resuming travel needed to be put in place, starting with mutual recognition of health and vaccination certificates.

“When all preparations are ready, then we can start small with an air travel bubble to build confidence on both sides,” he said.

Morrison is the first foreign leader to make an official visit to the city-state since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. He stopped in Singapore on his way to Britain for the G7 Leaders’ Summit.

The leaders’ discussions also included a potential fintech bridge and exploration of a green economy agreement.

Morrison said he welcomed the countries working together to put the systems in place to enable a bubble to emerge between them.

However, he said: “there is still some time before we reach that milestone.”

(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Martin Petty)

New Expedia execs Jon Gieselman (left) and Rathi Murthy. (Expedia Photo)

In 2001, Expedia Group embarked on a shopping spree. Over the course of nearly two decades, the Seattle travel platform snatched up more than 40 companies with a combined worth of nearly $13 billion.

Among the brands Expedia controls today are Travelocity, Hotwire, CheapTickets, Orbitz, HomeAway, Vrbo, Egencia and Hotels.com, to name just a few.

If you’re not sure what each of those companies does or why you’d want to use them, you’re not alone. Expedia says its customers are confused, too. In fact, media mogul and Expedia Chairman Barry Diller said during an earnings call last year that even the company’s own employees are baffled by its vast constellation of products.

Expedia has since set out to simplify things, and it’s turning to a former Apple marketing leader to make it happen.

Last week Expedia announced the hiring of Jon Gieselman, Apple’s former head of marketing for services, to help customers make sense of the online travel giant’s tangled product lineup.

In an interview with GeekWire, Gieselman said he plans to continue doing at Expedia what he did at Apple: Work closely with product, design, engineering and other tech teams “to come up with amazing experiences.”

“Then it’s really incumbent on marketing to bring those to life in a way that shows people how it changes the way they travel,” he said. “Marketing always begins with amazing customer experiences … certainly [Expedia] has done some of that. But, from my observation as a consumer, I don’t perceive that the company has really been product- and experience-led.”

Arguably no other tech company than Apple has done a better job of making the complex simple for its customers. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs talked endlessly about simplicity.

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity,” Jobs told BusinessWeek in 1998. “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Since Jobs’ death in 2011, Apple has added more than a dozen new varieties of products to its lineup, many of them under Gieselman’s purview. Yet, it has branded those new offerings with a kind of restraint that borders on blunt. When Apple released its watch in 2014, it simply called it “Apple Watch.”

Apple has adopted the same approach with the vast majority of its new products. The company has named its services plainly for what they are or what you do with them: Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple News, Apple Maps, Apple Podcasts, Apple Books, Apple Pay and Apple Card, for example

It’s been Gieselman’s job at Apple to help customers make sense of those ever-increasing product offerings.

“Think of it as product features that really change people’s lives,” he said.

To get an

Leading Australian and Pacific hoteliers and executives have applauded the move by the Queensland Government to incentivise jobseekers to relocate to the state and claim jobs in the hospitality and tourism industry and urged other states to follow suit.

Announced last week by Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palasczcuk, the new ‘Work In Paradise’ incentive provides a cash payment of AUD$1,500 in addition to an AUD$250 relocation allowance and housing assistance to take a job in Queensland’s tourism industry. The campaign, which kicks off from 1 July, is aimed at addressing critical labour shortages in the sector throughout the state but especially in areas where tourism is a lifeblood of the city, such as the Whitsundays and Cairns.

IHG Hotels and Resorts Managing Director Australasia and Japan, Leanne Harwood, said the talent shortage has accommodation operators in crisis, with the company desperately seeking to fill 600 positions across its Australian network. At a time when domestic tourism is thriving due to international border closures, the labour shortages is forcing hotels from all brands to reduce available inventory to ensure they can maintain a high standard of service.

InterContinental Hayman Island Resort is one place where workers are needed.

“It’s so heartening to see Australians getting out to ‘holiday here’ in droves, but this extraordinary demand has exacerbated our talent challenge, and there simply aren’t enough people to provide hospitality – from amazing front line staff, to the experts in finance, marketing, HR, IT, engineering and other diverse and critical roles required to run a hotel,” Harwood said.

‘Work in Paradise’ is the type of forward-thinking we want to see from governments, but we recognise that it’s also our responsibility.

“As hoteliers we must wave the flag to change perception and make sure jobseekers are aware that our diverse and inclusive accommodation sector offers amazing career progression, benefits, travel opportunities, training and pay. We in the industry know it so well, but we need to spread the word that whatever your specialism, there’s a bright career in hotels.”

Accor Pacific Chief Executive Officer, Simon McGrath AO

Accor Pacific CEO, Simon McGrath, echoed Harwood sentiments, saying the possibilities are endless for those willing to make their mark and build a career in hospitality.

“Federal government initiatives which encourage people to join our exciting and dynamic industry are fantastic. A career in hospitality brings extraordinary development and learning opportunities,” he said.

“I have worked for Accor for a long time, because you can be yourself and take your career wherever you want. If people are passionate about caring for guests and doing their best, they will go far in our industry.”

Career opportunities in tourism are vast and capable of taking a person around the world.

Harwood issued a call to other Australian states and territories to develop their own incentives to encourage people eager to work and grow their skills base to dive into a career in the hotel industry.

“So, this is a call to arms: Aussies, we need you,” she said.

“In