Sandals Resorts International (SRI) has announced the introduction of Sandals Holiday Assurance.

The new initiative offers the guarantee of a free replacement stay should a holiday be impacted by Covid-19 while on resort.

It also provides guests with complimentary on resort Covid-19 testing.

Clients who have holidays booked before December, including those made through third parties, can rest assured that if they should test positive for Covid-19 whilst in resort and are required to quarantine, they will be provided with an accommodation credit voucher for the value of their room cost.

This can be redeemed against a replacement stay within 12-months of the issue date.

Agents can book their clients’ holidays via Unique Caribbean Holidays (the UK tour operator for Sandals and Beaches Resorts) with complete confidence, knowing that their holiday is fully assured with Sandals Resorts.

Certain restrictions, terms and conditions do, however, apply.

According to SRI executive chairman, Adam Stewart, the new Sandals Holiday Assurance programme is designed to take the worry out of travel, giving guests certainty that their investment in an all-inclusive luxury holiday is safeguarded from interruptions outside of their control.

“We want to put the fun and joy of planning and anticipating a great holiday back into travel. While we recognise the real concerns that may weigh on our guests’ minds, we’re taking extraordinary measures to remove worry from the equation, so travellers’ can delight in the entire travel journey – from booking to departure,” said Stewart.

In addition, UK guests travelling to any Sandals or Beaches Resort will benefit from complimentary on-resort Covid-19 PCR or antigen testing, based on the requirements of the local governments in the islands where Sandals and Beaches Resorts operate.

This also includes the required antigen test for British guests to return into the UK, which is carried out at all Sandals and Beaches resorts within 72 hours prior to guests’ departure.

Results are usually received from within 24-hours.

More Information

Sandals Resorts International is the parent company of the leading luxury all-inclusive resort brands Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts.

Sandals is recognised as the World’s Leading All-Inclusive Company by voters at the World Travel Awards.

AirAsia reports “very encouraging” demand for flights into the tourist destination of Langkawi, as it ramps up capacity ahead of the island’s reopening to vaccinated domestic travellers.

Still, AirAsia Malaysia chief Riad Asmat says it was “difficult to predict” broader recovery prospects, given the unpredictable nature of the coronavirus pandemic, which has crimped travel demand.

AirAsia

Speaking at virtual briefing ahead of the 16 September launch of the Langkawi travel bubble, Riad says the carrier has sold nearly 200,000 seats — and counting — since the Malaysian government announced the island’s reopening earlier in the month.

“We are very encouraged by the demand. There is pent-up demand…people are eager to move…eager to visit other states,” he adds.

The low-cost carrier will operate 90 weekly domestic flights to the island from 16 September, with the majority of them — at 63 weekly flights — from its Kuala Lumpur hub. Other Malaysian cities with flights to Langkawi include Johor Bahru, Penang and Ipoh.

“More routes will be added and frequencies increased as the travel demand grows in tandem with the reopening of more leisure destinations in the near future,” AirAsia Malaysia states.

AirAsia’s schedules compare with the 28 flights a week operated by flag carrier Malaysia Airlines, as well as 10 weekly flights by Firefly.

Asked by FlightGlobal what effect the travel bubble will have on AirAsia’s broader recovery, Riad offers a cautiously optimistic outlook.

“[It] is difficult for us to predict what is going to happen in the next couple of weeks or months. We obviously have forecasts, we have our results, we have our plans going forward, we definitely have plans for 2022, but it is all dependent on the situations such as this,” he says, referencing the travel bubble’s launch.

Adds Riad: “It is a test…and hopefully we can make it a success. [Is this] light at the end of the tunnel? Yes, for sure.”

The move to cautiously allow again interstate travel — currently restricted in Malaysia in recent months as the country battled its worst-ever wave of coronavirus infections — comes amid a broader shift towards living with an endemic coronavirus.

Langkawi officials have set a target of 400,000 visitors by the end of the year, and they hope that the travel bubble will help revitalise the tourism sector on island, which has been hard-hit by the pandemic.

The Malaysian government has said that it would consider opening up more destinations in the country opening up once vaccination rates hit the benchmark 80%.

Two-thirds of travel sector employers with staff still on the furlough scheme are planning redundancies once the wage support is removed at the end of the month, the travel association ABTA has warned.

The body said a survey of its membership showed that 69% of employers planned to let staff go after 30 September.

It blamed “overly-cautious” coronavirus restrictions on travel in the UK, saying they had hammered demand during the peak summer season and inflicted huge damage on the industry’s chances of recovery as a result.

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Travel boss welcomes prospect of UK restrictions easing

ABTA said that it expected almost 100,000 people in the sector, including airlines, to have either lost their jobs or walked away during the COVID pandemic once the Job Retention Scheme was closed.

The figure rose to 226,000 when the employment impact on the supply chain was factored in, its report said.

It warned that 43% of travel agent and tour operator workers, tens of thousands of people, were currently still on furlough though the report could not put a number on the roles set to be lost.

ABTA spoke out as ministers prepare to review the restrictions covering international travel by 1 October – with discussions set to intensify this week as the PM outlines later on Tuesday his plan to deal with coronavirus over the coming months.

ABTA is demanding the traffic light system for destinations is scrapped, along with the widespread use of PCR testing.

It accused the government of wasting the success of the vaccine rollout to date and said it should be up to individuals to determine their own risk status.

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Javid wants to scrap PCR tests for travellers

The body complained that shifting restrictions and confusion meant that 58% of bookings, with departure dates in July or August this year, had to be postponed or cancelled.

It concluded that too much damage had been done to demand for the government to end financial support now, with a letter to Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak urging “a package of tailored financial support – extending the furlough scheme for travel businesses and a dedicated grant fund”.

ABTA chief executive, Mark Tanzer, said: “The government’s travel requirements have choked off this summer’s travel trade – putting jobs, businesses and the UK’s connectivity at risk.

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Heathrow boss urges change to travel rules

“While our European neighbours have been travelling freely and safely, the British were subject to expensive measures which have stood in the way of people visiting family and friends, taking that much-needed foreign holiday and making important business connections.

“The government needs to wake up to the damage its policies are doing to the UK travel industry and the impact they will have on the wider economic recovery.

“It is the fares from leisure passengers that keep our planes flying

The UK’s traffic light travel system could be simplified to just two lists – a ‘go’ and a ‘no go’, similar to the current green and red lists, say sources.

In the wake of reports by the BBC and The Telegraph last week, The Telegraphis now reporting that double-jabbed travellers will be able to take cheaper lateral flow tests before and after travel to the UK from abroad.

Paul Charles, CEO of the PC Agency, has told the paper that up to 24 countries could move straight from the former red list to a new green list, with the red list expected to be “significantly shrunk”.

The government last week declined to comment on any big changes, saying: “Our international travel policy is guided by one overwhelming priority – protecting public health.

“The next formal checkpoint review will take place by 1 October 2021.”

In other news, more than 300,000 people are estimated to have broken quarantine rules between March and May.

Follow the latest travel news below:

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Dominican Republic, Indonesia and the Maldives ‘should come off red list’, says expert

A dozen high-profile countries – all with either a big population or very popular with British travellers, or both – should be removed from the UK’s red list, a data analyst and travel expert has said.

Tim White, who tweets as @TWMCLtd, has given his expertise to The Independent.

These are: Argentina, Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kenya, Maldives, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

He notes, though: “If cautious, Mexico may need to stay a while longer, and Dominican Republic needs help to conduct genomic sequencing.

“Some scientists will say it’s a risk taking South American countries [including Argentina and Peru] off the red list with Gamma, Lambda and the latest “Mu” variant all in circulation to some degree.

“But most scientists believe most of the variants circulating in South America are not more likely to evade vaccines so there is an argument to allow them all off red.”

Simon Calder13 September 2021 16:23

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Argentina, Egypt, Oman and South Africa could come off red list, says expert

South Africa, Argentina and Pakistan are among the countries that should be removed from the UK’s red list, travel industry expert Paul Charles has said.

“There have been no new Covid variants of concern since 11th May,” he tweeted this morning.

“Our analysis shows 24 countries should come off the UK red list immediately, including Argentina, Egypt, Kenya, Namibia, Oman, Pakistan, SouthAfrica, Uruguay, Zambia.”

Charles’s company The PC Agency has researched the red list countries with low enough cases and no variants of concern, to determine possible candidates for a move from the current 62-strong red list to a new “safe” list, that would

THE Commonwealth is now looking at the possibility of establishing travel bubble programs with other tourism markets, including Japan.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres on Monday said that he had spoken with Japanese Consul Kazuhiko Ono regarding the vaccination rate in Japan.

He noted that Japan’s vaccination rate is based on the entire population while the U.S. rate measures those who are eligible, or individuals 12 years of age or older, for the Covid-19 vaccine.

“So it’s a little bit different on the vaccine per population requirements, but as you know, around the world, the higher percentage of vaccination per country, the safer it is, so I’m sure that before they open up their borders, they would want to reach a certain number of percentage of their population to be vaccinated,” the governor said, referring to Japan.

With the CNMI recently reaching an 80% vaccination rate, the governor thanked the community, first responders, doctors, nurses, “and everyone involved in the effort to reach this goal.”

He added, “I’m really excited that we reached our goal. I guess when you reach a goal, now we’re going to try to reach another goal, which is hopefully 90%…. Now we’re focusing on our students, our kids, our [Public School System] student body, our faculties, and of course, we continue to push also our government and private entities.”

Marianas Visitors Authority Managing Director Priscilla M. Iakopo on Monday said the MVA board has approved the creation of a Japan Tourism Resumption Investment Plan, or TRIP, ad hoc committee to be chaired by Hyatt Regency Saipan general manager Nick Nishikawa.

Iakopo said MVA is also communicating with its Japan office to begin discussions with travel partners in Japan.

She said MVA was told that Japan is currently focusing on controlling the coronavirus in the Asian nation.

“When they’re able to control that, I guess they’ll start discussions with us,” she added.

Last week, she said she spoke with Skymark Airlines which had to suspend its Japan-Saipan flight service because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“They’re still asking for our patience,” Iaokopo said, referring to Skymark Airlines. “Once they’re ready to resume travel again, whether that will be domestically or internationally, we will be on standby.”

Japanese Consul Kazuhiko Ono, for his part, said establishing a travel bubble between the CNMI and Japan is not easy.

“As you can see, [the CNMI has] a travel bubble with Korea, but how many Korean tourists are visiting the Northern Mariana Islands at the moment? So I think, in my opinion, travel bubble is not a perfect scheme, but now the population of Japan who are already vaccinated is more than 50%, and I think the number is going up, so…maybe October or November…we will [ease] some protocols and some restrictions, including those affecting travel,” he said.

(CNN) — Fall is almost here, we’re approaching our seventh season of living with a pandemic, and yes, it still sucks.

Never mind, though, as CNN Travel is here as always to sharpen your pencils, straighten your rucksack and get you schooled in our weekly roundup of the latest developments in pandemic travel news.

1. France has banned unvaccinated American travelers

If American tourists want the chance to play beach volleyball in Saint-Malo, France, they'll need to have their jabs.

If American tourists want the chance to play beach volleyball in Saint-Malo, France, they’ll need to have their jabs.

Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP/Getty Images

However, the caution is reciprocated. France was added to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s highest-category risk list — “Level 4: Covid-19 very high” — back on August 9, meaning US citizens are already advised to avoid nonessential travel there.

2. And Spain has done the same

Tourists on Palma Beach in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, in June 2021.

Tourists on Palma Beach in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, in June 2021.

Jaime Reina/AFP/Getty Images

In a change from policy earlier this summer, Spain is allowing tourists from the United States only if they are fully vaccinated, the health ministry told CNN on Tuesday.

The new rule, which took effect this week, states that visitors from the United States on “nonessential travel,” such as tourism, must show “a vaccination certificate that the (Spanish) Ministry of Health recognizes as valid.”

Like France, Spain is on CDC’s highest-risk Level 4.

3. Cuba will start to reopen its borders in November

Cuba is changing faster than ever. See the vintage cars, the musicians and the stunning architecture as soon as you can.

Cuba’s state-run media has announced that the island will begin to reopen borders in November, despite a recent surge in Covid cases.

Cuba has been closed for much of the pandemic, which has hit the local tourism industry hard.

According to Cuba’s Ministry of Health, more than four million people on the island have been fully vaccinated with the island’s home-grown vaccines.

A statement from the Ministry of Tourism that was published on Monday in the Communist-party newspaper Granma said that Cuba will gradually reopen borders starting November 15 and will no longer require travelers to take a PCR test upon arrival.

4. Israel will reopen to small groups of tourists this month

Arrivals at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport in May 2021.

Arrivals at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport in May 2021.

Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

An Israeli pilot program to kick-start tourism will allow small foreign tour groups from selected countries, reports Reuters.

Fully vaccinated tour groups of between 5 and 30 people from countries on Israel’s green, yellow and orange lists will be allowed to enter the country, the tourism ministry said on September 5.

Individual tourists will still not be allowed to enter outside of a tour group, with exceptions being made for people visiting family members.

5. The Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc will reopen next month

Vietnam has taken a tough line with its Covid restrictions — this week a man was jailed for five years for spreading the virus — but there are still plans to revive its tourism industry.

A new season is here and, with it, seedlings of holiday escape plans to some sun-drenched beach or snowy mountain ski slope. In view of passenger data from the US and the UK, air travel is on its way toward recovering from the slump of a pre-vaccine Covid-19 pandemic – despite the rise of the Delta variant.

But does that mean it’s a good idea to buy that plane ticket, even if you’re vaccinated? And if you’re comfortable assuming some degree of personal risk, is it unethical to do so?

Kelly Hills: The short answer is that it depends on where you live. Are we talking about a country with a relatively successful public health response where 80% or more of the eligible population are fully vaccinated, and there is low overall incidence of Covid-19 both where you live and where you are traveling to? Then no, it isn’t unethical. But that doesn’t describe most of the world.

[As well as] following whatever public health guidance is in place, I think that people need to think in terms of best avoiding “moral injury”, which is what we call the psychological damage that happens when you violate your own moral or ethical beliefs. So, is there a risk of physical or moral injury to taking, or not taking, this non-essential travel? I think this more accurately catches the diversity of situations that people can find themselves in.

Thomas Tsai: I view it as less of an ethical question – a right or wrong – and more of a public health question of how best to minimize risk to yourself and to others. As a vaccinated traveler, it’s still important to follow airline and local jurisdiction guidelines around masking, screening and testing (in locations that require it).

To travel unvaccinated puts yourself and others at risk. We’re at a stage of the pandemic where the focus is collectively taking the actions that can reduce transmission to ensure that schools, workplaces and public venues can remain open and minimize the risk of infections from the Delta variant.

Saskia Popescu: I would encourage people to consider where they’re traveling to/from, and the community transmission levels [in both places]. Ensure that you’re prepared to continue practicing infection prevention efforts, like wearing a mask and reducing time unmasked indoors. Moreover, if you’re traveling after an exposure or not feeling well, I would discourage that – we need to be good stewards of public health.

Even though I’m vaccinated, is it wrong for me to travel somewhere that has low rates of vaccination?

Tsai: Again, I would think of it as maximizing the actions that are known to reduce risk of Covid transmission. With over a year and a half of deferred travel due to Covid, there are very real reasons why individuals may want or need to travel even to areas with low rates of vaccination – to see family, for example. As a public health researcher, I view the tradeoffs as one

MULLINS, S.C. —  Hudson Spivey passed for 202 yards and four touchdowns Friday to lead Pee Dee Academy to a 55-0 win over The King’s Academy.

Teammates Allen Moore had 81 yards receiving and a touchdown, while Colby Sinclair rushed for 63 yards and a score.

Landyn Tyler had 12 tackles, one interception and a touchdown for the Golden Eagles.

Pee Dee Academy improved to 3-0, 1-0 SCISA 2-2A and will host Thomas Sumter at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

PDA − Drew Singletary 29 pass from Hudson Spivey (kick failed), 10:33.

PDA − Luke Carter 2 run (Singletary kick), 9:23.

PDA − Landyn Tyler 12 pass from Spivey (Singletary kick), 8:54.

PDA − Singletary 21 pass from Spivey (Singletary kick), 4:55.

PDA − Carter 2 run (Singletary kick), 1:31.

PDA − Allen Moore 65 pass from Spivey (Singletary kick), 11:25.

The US economy had a record 10.9 million job openings on the last day of July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Wednesday.

Jobs, jobs, everywhere.

That’s what the latest snapshot of the United States labour market is telling us. The world’s largest economy had a record 10.9 million job openings on the last day of July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said on Wednesday. That marked an increase of 749,000 job openings from the previous month – which was also a record.

In a sign of how confident people feel about their employment prospects, some four million Americans quit their jobs in July – roughly level pegging with the previous month.

While that may be awesome news for workers pounding the pavements in search of gainful employment, it is not necessarily great for the economy as a whole.

Why? Because jobs are only created when someone is actually hired. And robust jobs creation is the hallmark of a robust economic recovery.

In August, the US economy added 235,000 jobs – a bitter disappointment that marked the slowest pace of monthly non-farm payrolls added since January.

The economy is still 5.3 million jobs shy of regaining its pre-pandemic level from February 2020. And that shortfall doesn’t even account for growth in the economy or labour force since then, which means the hole is even deeper than the number suggests.

The Delta drag

Many analysts primarily blamed the slowing pace of jobs creation in August on a surge in COVID-19 infections linked to the Delta variant of the coronavirus. As evidence, they pointed to the sharp slowdown of new jobs added in the leisure and hospitality sector – hotels, restaurants and other businesses that engage in face-to-face customer services.

Leisure and hospitality businesses have reported difficulties hiring enough workers over the summer. Some analysts attribute the number of jobs going begging to businesses opening en masse and all vying for the same workers. Other possible reasons cited include an ongoing lack of childcare options, older workers opting to retire early, fear of contracting COVID-19 and enhanced federal jobless benefits giving unemployed workers more breathing room to switch up how they make a living.

Federal job benefits, including the sometimes controversial $300-a-week federal top-up to state unemployment benefits, expired this week. That will put to the test claims by politicians and others that federal unemployment benefits were the primary culprit keeping jobless workers on the sidelines.

Looking ahead

While COVID-19 infections are weighing on the US recovery, along with bottlenecks for raw materials and labour, the nation’s economic recovery is still on track.

Many analysts, though, are lowering their outlook for economic growth.

“Signs that Covid infections may be cresting should prevent the labor market recovery from going into reverse and ensure that consumer spending maintains moderate momentum into 2022,” Gregory Daco, chief US economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in a note on Wednesday. He added that his firm has trimmed its 2021 gross domestic product growth forecast by 0.6

THE Commonwealth is willing to sign travel bubble agreements with its other tourist markets, but it will depend on their Covid-19 situation, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said.

“I know that it’s not as easy to work with other tourist destinations because of their Covid-19 situations, but we are open to other destinations,” he added. “But at the same time, our priority is our public health and [the] safety of our community so we continue to monitor other tourist destinations. Once they have achieved Covid-19 herd immunity percentages, then it will allows us to move forward in signing a new travel bubble agreement.”

The CNMI has a travel bubble agreement with its primary tourism market, South Korea, which, according to Reuters, “is in the middle of its worst wave of infections, but it has kept the number of severely ill cases under control through steadily rising vaccination rates.”

Reuters also reported that South Korea “is drawing up a plan on how to live more normally with Covid-19, expecting 80% of adults to be fully vaccinated by late October…. The country has not seen a significant increase in coronavirus deaths, with a mortality rate of 0.88%, largely due to high vaccination rates among the elderly and vulnerable. Severe or critical cases stood at 387 as of Tuesday.”

In July, the CNMI hosted a familiarization tour for South Korean visitors that included representatives of major travel agencies and six media and social media channels.

The group spent five days at the designated hybrid quarantine resort, then visited Saipan, Tinian, and Rota after testing negative on the fifth day after their arrival.

Participants gave rave reviews of their trip, stating that they had felt safe despite the still raging global Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, the total estimated advertising value of the media fam tour was over $117,000.

The crew of the TV travel show Eudiny, also part of the fam tour, remained in the CNMI for another week and will produce nine one- to two-minute video clips based on their trip, MVA said.