What We Should Know About the Covid Vaccine and the Requirements of Different Countries

Dear TAs,

For members of the travel industry the big question is still: Might some countries require a COVID-19 vaccination for entry?

Probably. That is not my opinion, but is that of Jan L. Jones, a professor of hospitality and tourism at the University of New Haven in Connecticut. There are many African countries that already require vaccinations against such diseases as yellow fever prior to entry, which makes me wonder if COVID-19 may be next. Because of this, I too think that some countries may specifically require the vaccine, and others may require quarantine.

It is going to be quite difficult for travelers to keep track of the different requirements for the countries they are interested in visiting. There may even be different rules for different travelers caused by risk factors in different points of origin, and even passenger age.

Airlines might find themselves being first to require proof of vaccination.  In November, the chief of Australia’s Qantas air stated that the airline would require passengers to be vaccinated before boarding for departure to and from the country.

Israel recently announced that it will be issuing a “green passport” to citizens who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. This will free the vaccinated from certain restrictions, including clearance for international travel without a COVID-19 test. There has not yet been an announcement about whether travelers from other countries are required to be vaccinated before they arrive in Israel.

In the U.S., Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently told Newsweek, “Anything is on the table. Anything is possible, of course.” As distribution of the vaccine ramps up, it is possible that we will see some states in the U.S. requiring visitors to be vaccinated. The decisions regarding this type of requirements will be left to the individual states.

We all have our own opinions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, and whether or not we believe that a vaccine requirement is an infringement of our rights to visit a country. Right now, it is still too soon for a definitive solution. I believe that by this time next year we will have a much better idea. 


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Do you have what it takes?

Dear TAs (Travel Agents, Advisors),

You are a travel agent with vision, great organizational skills, and people skills. Double check the list below to make sure you are using all the right tools to ensure your continued success in selling travel to your clients – present and future.

To be able to sell travel successfully, travel agents should possess excellent communication skills.  They need these skills to be able to inspire and influence people. In the role of travel agent, you are sure to meet many different and interesting people, and no day will be the same as the next.   The ability to work with different budgets while managing a client’s expectations is essential.  You should be tolerant and talented at sales.  With your enthusiasm, you can get travelers the best value for their money and meet or exceed their expectations for a wonderful experience.

Successful travel agents are self-motivated and possess a lot of drive. There are endless opportunities to learn and grow with the intent of becoming an expert in your field. Take advantage of training, familiarization trips and webinars to learn as much as you can about destinations, suppliers, tour operators and industry trends.  Find a niche or specialization so you can offer greater value to certain clients and grow your business. You can create your own packages and attract even more clients interested in what you have to offer.  

The job of a travel agent requires great skill at planning.  You need to juggle phone calls, bookings, and communicate effectively every day with clients, tour operators, airlines and so many others.  You need to keep track of flights, pricing and payments, hotel reservations, and so much more.  Great organization and an ability to multi-task is essential for success.

Travel agents are visionaries. The get the inspiration to plan magnificent vacations from their clients’ wishes and use their own knowledge and experience to create unforgettable experiences for travelers. Using your own vision combined with that of the client is an integral component to a well-planned trip. You must understand and “see” your clients’ desired experience before making all the necessary arrangements.

As a travel agent, your biggest competition can be found on the internet.  It is essential to know what’s happening online.  Before coming to you, many clients will already have researched the places they want to visit. They are already aware of certain travel and accommodation options. Knowing what they know will give you a huge advantage and an opportunity to show what you can do better.  You will also need to use the internet to market yourself – both on your own website and on social media channels.

I am always cheering for you!

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Update on Cruise Status

Dear TAs (Travel Agents/Advisors),

It is hard to know when cruising in the U.S. will come back – most cruise lines have cancelled itineraries at least through the end of April 2021.  The cruise industry is hoping that cruises will resume soon – even in a very limited capacity.   As of February 2, a total of 64 cruise ships from various cruise lines have applied for approval to operate during the first phase of the Conditional Sailing Order. Of those, a total of 63 vessels, or 98%,  were given ‘green’ status.

Green ship status means that CDC believes the ship is currently unaffected by COVID-19 based on information provided by the operator of the cruise ship. The information provided to the CDC to obtain ‘green’ status verifies zero confirmed cases of COVID onboard over the past 28 days, proper quarantining procedures in place, and current paperwork on file. ‘Yellow’ ships were once designated as green but are awaiting results following a potential positive COVID test. ‘Red’ ships either had a confirmed positive COVID test or violated a different government protocol.

Carnival – Across all of their brands, Carnival currently has 30 ships operating or planning to operate in U.S. waters during the initial phase. Approximately 97% of their ships are ‘green’ including Carnival Dream, Ecstasy, and Miracle, and 4 additional ships from Carnival’s other brands. Carnival Pride’s status was recently changed from red from green.

Royal Caribbean – There are 24 Royal Caribbean ships across all brands currently operating or planning to operate in U.S. waters during the initial phase. The current CDC status of 100% of their ships is ‘green’.

Norwegian – Norwegian currently has 4 ships across all brands operating or planning to operate in U.S. waters during the initial phase. The upgrade of Norwegian’s Pride of America from red to green has resulted in 100% of their ships having  ‘green’ status.

Hopefully, we will be onboard soon! Bon Voyage!

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Are you taking advantage of Zoom?

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

I admire creativity, especially new ideas that come from necessity during difficult times. These are the ideas that last longer and are more impressive to the community.

Zoom is a great tool for Travel Agents/Advisors to promote destinations and afterward use the venue for questions and answers. It can also be used to organize groups and even to promote single clients looking for potential roommates. It is more effective than a webinar because people can communicate between themselves and at the same time, the presenter. The Travel Agent will have the opportunity to show what a fun and knowledgeable person she/he is.

Using videos of destinations, and maybe having local tour guides to show some great places to visit, now is the perfect time to invite clients and prospective ones to come and “virtually travel” to a place before paying the deposit.

A great idea is to record the Zoom meeting live, and later promote it through social media and YouTube, and on your website. Advise your crowd before recording that you will be doing so, so if someone has an issue with having their face shown they can turn off their camera. They can also use their initials instead of their name if they prefer.

Practice ahead of time with this platform. Avoid reading from a text; be natural and speak from your heart. So the presenter does not have to multitask, have someone else in charge of authorizing people into the Zoom and mute everyone but the speaker. Once you open for Q&A let your assistant open each individual microphone and close after the question to prevent background noises that can be very annoying.

Remember that your audience will be engaged if you are fun, knowledgeable and show yourself to be an expert on the subject and with Zoom. There are more travelers now than before looking for more information from a real person instead of search engine. Make sure you grab them before someone else does.

You can do it!

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