White House is Reviewing the Travel Ban to North Korea

The iconic North Korea Worker's Party Monument in Pyongyang, DPRK, represents the three pillars of the Revolution: Workers (hammer), Farmers (sickle), and Intellectuals (brush). The slogan says: “The organizers of the victory of the Korean people and the

Travel to North Korea is a no-go for American citizens right now thanks to a travel ban instituted last year, however, that may soon change.

The White House announced today that they are reviewing travel restrictions to North Korea. They are looking into easing the restrictions to make it easier for humanitarian aid to reach the country, which may facilitate a better relationship with North Korea.

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The U.S. Special Representative to North Korea, Stephen Biegun announced this policy review while in South Korea to discuss nuclear negotiations. He said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked him to review the travel ban.

“I understand that many humanitarian aid organizations, operating in the DPRK, are concerned that strict enforcement of international sanctions has occasionally impeded the delivery of legitimate humanitarian assistance to the Korean people,” Biegun said. He referred to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or DPRK.

Biegun was clear that this review would most likely result in allowing certain American travelers to visit Noth Korea: those who are providing aid through humanitarian aid organizations. It doesn’t appear that the travel ban would be revised to allow Americans to visit North Korea for tourism purposes.

“We will also review American citizen travel to DPRK for purposes of facilitating the delivery of aid and ensuring that monitoring in line with international standards can occur,” Biegun said. “I want to be clear — the United States and the United Nations will continue to closely review requests for exemptions and licenses for the delivery of assistance to the DPRK.”

Biegun also mentioned that the White House has “greater confidence about the safety and security of Americans traveling to the DPRK” after North Korea released an American citizen for entering North Korea illegally just last month.

Bruce Byron Lowrance tried to illegally enter North Korea through China in October and was detained by the North Korean government for one month. He claims he entered North Korea under the direction of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Speaking of Lowrance’s release, Biegun said, “The government of the DPRK handled the review of the American citizen’s expulsion expeditiously and with great discretion and sensitivity through diplomatic channels.”

However, not all American citizens who have visited North Korea have returned home unscathed. Otto Warmbier, an American university student, was detained in North Korea for 17 months after convicted of trying to steal a propaganda poster. He was released by North Korea last year in a coma and died days later.

It was Warmbier’s case that resulted in the U.S. banning its citizens from traveling to North Korea. His death followed a history of American citizens being detained in North Korea prisons for months or years.

If Biegun makes any changes to the travel ban, it will only be to allow American citizens to travel under the direction of humanitarian aid, so Americans shouldn’t rush to start planning a North Korean vacation, because it’s likely not in the works.

And perhaps that’s a good thing because sometimes traveling isn’t worth it — at least not to a country that the U.S. State Department suggests that travelers “discuss a plan with loved ones regarding…funeral wishes” before visiting.

New Global Business Travel Report Forecasts Airfare Stability

Travelers walking together with luggage

American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) is forecasting that airfares will remain stable in 2019 despite some fluctuations on major routes.

The Air Monitor 2019 report found that fare levels should hold steady on many of the world’s major air routes throughout the year.

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Capacity and competition are two key factors that will keep rates stable in 2019. The report finds that an increase in both of these factors, including new low-cost carriers on long-haul routes will restrain a rise in airfares on key routes from Europe and Asia-Pacific even as fuel costs rise and the economy continues to grow.

While there is evidence for fare stability, current economic and political uncertainties and developments could impact the forecast, and there are some exceptions to the optimistic forecast. Demand for premium-class seats in North America is set to outpace capacity growth, meaning increases in fares for these seats in both North America and Europe.

On the flip side, there is projected to be overcapacity on Middle Eastern routes, meaning fare decreases in both business and economy classes.

“While current global political and economic uncertainties create a challenging environment for price forecasting, it’s important for buyers to access the information and insights that help them drive better value in their air programs,” said Joakim Johansson, vice president of business development, American Express GBT. “For the Air Monitor 2019, we have developed a robust, scientific methodology that combines GBT’s own historical flight transaction data with a wide range of critical metrics that drive supply and demand, shaping pricing conditions.”

Top Travel Technology Leaders Honored at 2019 Travvy Awards

Travel technology.

Travel technology continues to be a fascinating and rapidly evolving space, one in which barely a day goes by without the announcement of an exciting new development designed to improve the overall travel experience.

From apps designed to customize and improve your hotel stay, to new ways of booking travel and sophisticated ways of communicating with travel brands, there appears to be no end in sight when it comes to the possible uses of technology.

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At the 2019 Travvy Awards, the leaders in the travel tech arena were among those who received awards. Technology categories covered everything from Best Car Rental Website to Best Host Agency Website and Best Travel Planning Technology.

Here’s the full list of winners. (Gold winners listed first; Silver winners listed second):

Best Car Rental Website

enterprise.com; autoeurope.com

Best Host Agency Website

AvoyaTravel.com; nexion.com

Best Tour Operator Website

ShoreTrips; Shore Excursions Group

Best Travel Agent Reservations System

VAX VacationAccess; Expedia Travel Agent Affiliate Program

Best Travel Planning Technology

Cruises Inc., CruiseOne and Dream Vacations; VAX VacationAccess

Best Travel Technology Provider

Cruises Inc., CruiseOne and Dream Vacations; VAX VacationAccess

Winter Storm Gia Hampers Travel With Road Closures, Flight Delays

plane, snow, airline

Update: January 14, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. ET

Winter Storm Gia forced approximately 1,500 flight cancellations across the U.S. over the weekend but those issues are beginning to clear up Monday morning, with flight-tracking website FlightAware.com reporting just 170 cancellations and 450 delays within, into or out of the U.S. as of 9:30 a.m. ET.

A majority of those headaches are being felt in the Washington, D.C. area, with Reagan National and Washington Dulles airports combining for 82 flight cancellations.

Winter Storm Gia is causing travel headaches from the Midwest to the Northeast U.S. this weekend, dumping snow and ice on roads and runways.

Gia walloped parts of the Midwest Friday and Saturday, causing nearly 500 car accidents in Missouri alone, according to Weather.com. The storm even caused an American Airlines flight to slide off of the runway at Missouri’s Columbia Regional Airport Friday. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

A Delta Air Lines flight also skidded off the runway at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport Sunday. WKRC reported the plane was taxiing between locations within the airport boundaries when it slid off the pavement. There were no injuries.

According to flight-tracking website FlightAware.com, more than 3,300 flights within, into or out of the U.S. were delayed Saturday while 460-plus were canceled. A majority of those disruptions occurred at major Midwest airports, including Chicago’s O’Hare and St. Louis Lambert.

As of 10 a.m. ET Sunday, more than 540 flights within, into or out of the U.S. have been canceled, with cancellations and delays stacking up at Reagan National, Washington Dulles and Baltimore-Washington, among other major airports across the Northeast.

Major airlines waived change fees in anticipation of Gia but the details vary from carrier to carrier so travelers are advised to check with their airline and confirm their flight status before arriving at the airport.

The storm is currently bearing down on the mid-Atlantic and expected to last through the weekend with flight delays and cancellations likely to linger into Monday as a result.

Where Your State Wants to Travel the Most

Map of the United States, most mentioned travel destinations

It’s no secret that Americans want to travel the world in 2019. But where does your state want to go in the New Year?

The folks over at DaringPlanet.com recently analyzed geotagged tweets including hashtag #vacation, #travel and similar terms (more than 200,000 tweets) over the last month to determine each state’s most mentioned travel destination. Keep in mind that any place from within its own state was omitted to avoid false positives such as people visiting New York City tweeting about being there.

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The results suggest that Americans’ most preferred vacation destination is actually located within the U.S. as Hawaii was the top destination for more than one-third of the 49 eligible states.

Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming all pointed to the 50th U.S. state as their ideal 2019 getaway.

Meanwhile, 10 percent of the country wants to vacation in Italy, with Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Washington dreaming of the European hotspot more than any other place. Florida wasn’t far behind Italy, conquering the hearts and minds of four states across the country, including Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi and Rhode Island.

In addition to Hawaii and Florida, California (Ohio), New York (Florida and Nevada) and Tennessee (Alabama) have captured Americans imaginations this year. The latter is arguably the most head-scratching as Tennessee and Alabama literally share a border.

At least three states—Kansas, Montana and Oregon—mentioned Thailand more than any other place when referring to vacation travel.

It should come as no surprise though that residents of frigid Minnesota are eyeing the Bahamas this year while it’s only fitting (and funny) that the cannabis-friendly state of Colorado is drawn to the birthplace of Rastafarianism, Jamaica. Nonetheless, the Caribbean destination has a ton to offer American visitors looking to escape the cold, including amazing beaches and natural attractions, phenomenal cuisine and a whole lot more.

Map of the United States, most mentioned travel destinations

Other destinations stealing U.S. states’ hearts in 2019 include Costa Rica (Idaho), France (Michigan), Greece (New York), Iceland (Vermont and Utah) Mexico (California), Scotland (Arkansas), Spain (South Carolina) and Sweden (Alaska).

While 18 states have Hawaii on the brain in 2019, the Aloha State is most interested in something much more specific in Yellowstone National Park, which is the nation’s first national park and one that should be on every travelers’ radar this year.

South Dakota has its sights set on the Grand Canyon in the New Year while Louisiana and Missouri covet Walt Disney World more than any other travel destination.

So, where will you go in 2019?

Popular Travel Apps Allegedly Shared User Data with Facebook

Girl on cell phone

A new report from London-based watchdog group Privacy International claims that several popular travel apps, including Kayak and TripAdvisor, are sharing user information with Facebook without consent.

The Boston Globe reported the researchers tested more than 30 popular Android smartphone apps and determined that about 20 of them, including Skyscanner, Yelp and others, shared user information with the social network the moment they were launched even if the user didn’t have a Facebook account.

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Privacy International said that Facebook would receive a unique code to identify the specific phone that was running the app and that, after collecting data for months or years, it could gain insights into the specific user’s travel habits.

The Kayak app reportedly shared users’ travel dates, flight and destination search history, cabin class and whether they were traveling with children.

“For most people it’ll come as a big surprise that an app that doesn’t have anything to do with Facebook is sending your data to Facebook,” Privacy International researcher Frederike Kaltheuner told The Globe. “It’s definitely a violation of the spirit of the law,” she added, referring to a new European Union law requiring companies to ask permission before sharing a user’s data with third parties.

“The technical issues raised by Privacy International are extremely complex and we respectfully consider the statements they have made to be somewhat oversimplified,” TripAdvisor said in a response to the report. The company also promised to discuss the issue with the watchdog group.

Facebook also responded to the report by shifting responsibility to the app developers.

“Developers can choose to collect app events automatically, to not collect them at all, or to delay collecting them until consent is obtained, depending on their particular circumstances,” the company said in a statement via The Globe. “We also require developers to ensure they have an appropriate legal basis to collect and process users’ information.”

Kaltheuner admitted that “we obviously don’t know what Facebook is doing with the data” and added that the group plans to run the same test with Apple iPhone apps.

The report comes just a few months after TripAdvisor announced changes to its app and website.

2018 Gay Travel Award Winners Announced

Grand Hyatt Kauai Outdoor

WHY IT RATES: The awards recognize travel industry partners that welcome LGBTQ travelers. 鈥擩aneen Christoff, TravelPulse Senior Writer

GayTravel.com, a trusted resource for LGBTQ travelers across the globe, announced the winners of the 2018 Gay Travel Awards.

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The mission of the Gay Travel Awards is to recognize and promote select LGBTQ welcoming properties, events, destinations and travel-related companies around the globe. These distinguished organizations lead by example and help to inspire other companies and brands around the world to follow their spirit of inclusiveness and acceptance.

This year, 25 winners were selected from over 100 nominees.

“The Gay Travel Awards support and promote LGBTQ travel and tourism by identifying and rewarding select organizations which exemplify a spirit of inclusiveness, acceptance, exemplary customer service and hospitality excellence. We are delighted to reveal all of this year鈥檚 winners鈥?said Stephen Prisco, Vice President of GayTravel.com.

A complete list of this year’s categories and winners are listed alphabetically below:

Bed & Breakfast 鈥?Mauger Estate B&B

Car Rental 鈥?Advantage Rent A Car

Casino Resort 鈥?The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

Destination, Domestic 鈥?Miami, FL

Destination Honeymoon 鈥?Riviera Maya, Mexico

Destination International 鈥?Paris, France

Gay Bar 鈥?Cafe Lafitte in Exile, New Orleans

Gay Pride 鈥?Vallarta Pride

Glamping 鈥?Patagonia Camp, Chile

Hotel, Best Restaurant 鈥?The Restaurant, Meadowood, CA

Hotel, Boutique 鈥?The Orlando Hotel, West Hollywood

Hotel, City Domestic 鈥?The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square

Hotel, City International 鈥?The St Regis Mexico City

Hotel, Beach Resort 鈥?The St. Regis Punta Mita

Hotel Luxury, Europe 鈥?Hotel Romazzino, Costa Smeralda, Italy

Hotel Luxury, Mexico 鈥?The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun

Hotel Luxury, US 鈥?Monarch Beach Resort, CA

Hotel, Pet-Friendly 鈥?Atlantic Hotel & Spa, Fort Lauderdale

Hotel, Seasonal 鈥?AWOL, Provincetown, MA

Hotel, Spa 鈥?Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Puerto Rico

Hotel, Value 鈥?Best Western Plus Inn Of Sedona

Hotel, Wedding 鈥?Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa

LGBT Event 鈥?Life Ball Vienna

LGBT Friendly Cruise 鈥?Celebrity Cruises

LGBT Tour Operator 鈥?Venture Out

SOURCE: GayTravel.com press release.

Travel Agents Believe 2019 Will Bring a Boom in Business

Traveler's desk with a working computer

It’s shaping up to be a banner year for the travel business. If you are a travel agent, presumably you are betting on your clients increased wealth and social media channels to inspire them to book more vacations this year.

Research from global marketing communications firm Strategic Vision shows that 44 percent of companies surveyed in their annual Pulse of the Industry Survey indicated that their clients are optimistic about international travel, and 54 percent are optimistic about domestic travel. This is a major jump from last year, during which just 19 percent of respondents were optimistic about international travel and 29 percent for domestic.

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In fact, this year, very few people are cautious about traveling internationally, just 16 percent.

For luxury travel firms that cater to these travel advisors, this means 2019 could be one for the record books.

“The luxury travel industry is poised for yet another banner year in 2019,” says Peter Bates, president and founder of Strategic Vision, which services the luxury travel and lifestyle industries. “Travel and tourism is already the world’s largest industry—contributing $8.3 trillion to the global economy—and it continues to grow. The combination of social media, affordable flights, greater wealth, and globalization have created a new Age of Exploration. Of course, I should add, as a cautionary note, that in today’s political and economic climate, conditions can change quickly and unpredictably.”

Clients’ financial standings are one of the main factors buoying the industry. More than half of those surveyed indicated that the continued strength of the economy has led to more disposable income. However, high consumer confidence is also boosted by an increased determination to see the world.

“Our clients are always going to travel,” says Lia Bakin, Co-Founder of In The Know Experiences. “Politics, weather, terrorism… it’s all a part of everyday life now. People want to live life and enjoy themselves.”

The idea that clients are determined to travel is good news for destinations around the world but especially those that have been affected by recent tourism challenges, putting them on track to see major comebacks.

There was a significant drop in travel to the Caribbean last year as the region recovered from multiple hurricanes but the future looks brighter. Survey results show that 68 percent of respondents said that clients have planned or are planning a trip. Just 22 percent of those surveyed said that their clients were waiting for specific islands or resorts to recover.

Concerns about Zika have also subsided. Only only 2 percent of respondents said that the virus kept clients from booking Caribbean vacations. In last year’s survey, that number reached 10 percent.

In terms of what trips travelers are looking for in 2019, experiential travel ranks high among clients as does cruising.

When it comes to where travelers want to go, Italy remains at the top of the heap, even when other emerging destinations gain steam.

Panoramic view of Amalfi and harbor, Italy, Europe

“Italy remains untouchable,” says Kimberly Wilson Wetty, Co-Owner & Co-President of Valerie Wilson Travel. “Whether a first trip or your 20th, everyone always wants Italy. There is comfort in the consistency of what Italy offers from the great food and wine to amazing hotels and sightseeing, as well as the romance of the Italian people and culture.”

Other trending destinations, which fall in line with other surveys, include Japan, which is hosting the 2020 Olympic Games. Namibia, Botswana, and gorilla- trekking regions like Rwanda are popular in Africa and Egypt is making a comeback. Ireland, like Italy, is a safe destination that traveler enjoy over and over again, and Southeast Asia remains popular for its value and is front-of-mind once again after the soaring popularity of the film “Crazy Rich Asians.”

Also still topping travelers’ bucket lists is Iceland.

“Runaway success shows with Iceland as a backdrop such as ‘Game of Thrones’ created a buzz and an awareness among travelers everywhere. Social media hummed with increased awareness and interest in Iceland and its culture,” says Bell de Souza, vice president and COO of Mansour Travel Company.

2018’s Top Business Travel Destinations

Manhattan Bridge New York City Skyline. (photo by: sansara/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

After a global study, Egencia flight data confirmed that New York is the most popular business travel destination globally. The Big Apple is followed by London and Paris.

London hasn’t held the top spot since 2014 and Paris, is solidifying its spot as a business travel hub with air travel to the City of Light up by more than 20 percent from January 1, 2018, to December 1, 2018.

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Forecasts show that New York will continue to dominate the business travel market. Egencia flight data shows that business trip flight bookings to New York were nearly 10 percent higher than bookings to London in 2018.

Fourth on the list is Asian business hub Shanghai. China’s pre-eminent commerce center and, while Europe holds two spots in the top three and the U.S. takes the top spot, Asian destinations dominate the top 20. Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo rank sixth, eighth and ninth respectively, and Beijing came in at number 15, Mumbai was 17 on the list and Seoul was in the 20th spot.

The Middle East, South America and North Africa all have taken spots in the top 20 as well. Dubai came in at 11, according to Egencia data. Sao Paulo was 18 and Casablanca was number 19.

Overall, business travel is on the rise. Between January 1, 2014, and December 1, 2018, total business travel flight bookings increased globally by nearly 110 percent.

“While U.S. and European cities retain the top three spots, the most interesting takeaway is how global business travel has truly become with five of seven continents represented in the top 20 destinations,” said Andrew Dyer, Vice President of Global Supply at Egencia brand. “As business travel continues to grow, it’s never been more important for companies to have a traveler-friendly program that also provides unified global tools for travel managers to assist their travelers.”

Here are the official Egencia top business travel destinations:

—New York






—San Francisco

—Hong Kong




—Mexico City




—Los Angeles


—Sao Paulo



Travel Leaders Helps Travelers Choose Their Cruise

Embracing couple in front of cruise ship

What’s known as Wave Season, the biggest reservation period of the year for the cruise industry, is well underway.

During this time, which takes place now through March, cruise lines roll out their biggest deals and most enticing perks to draw in travelers who are ready to book.

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“Many people, especially first-time cruisers, are not aware of the breadth of cruise experiences that are available to accommodate their travel desires,” said Roger E. Block, CTC, president of Travel Leaders Network, which is one of the largest sellers of cruises in North America. “River cruises and ocean cruises can offer a variety of different itineraries and onboard atmospheres, but there is always something for everyone and our travel advisors help their clients sort through the available options.”

The options are broad and, one of the things that the cruise industry has done over the last decade is broaden its depth of product to appeal to a more diverse range of clientele. These days, there is a cruise for just about every type of traveler and guests can experience everything from intimate small ships to mega resorts afloat.

In order to assist travelers with the task of pairing down options and selecting the right cruise, Travel Leaders has put together tips to help make the right selection.

What Type of Ship is Best

Travel Leaders notes that large, oceangoing vessels that travel to destinations such as the Caribbean and Alaska are like floating cities, with lots of choices for dining, activities and entertainment. These ships are ideal for families and groups.

The network also notes that there are smaller, more intimate options such as river cruises.

“River cruises, like the ones that ply Europe’s waterways, are smaller ships and provide a more intimate experience. They can travel close to the center of cities and towns. Onboard activities emphasize the cuisine, history and culture of the destinations,” Travel Leaders says.

Culinary Adventures

These days, cruise ships have evolved past the standard buffet and branched out to include unique dining experiences and gourmet restaurants.

These experiences also often extend to shore excursions.

Couple having lunch on cruise

“With innovative partnerships with well-known chefs and culinary experts, the cruise lines offer a way to immerse oneself and deepen one’s understanding of a region by taking a journey that feeds the senses with the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of local and authentic flavors. Expanded onboard cuisine options to shore excursions will often focus on flavorful, regional ingredients, cooking styles, demonstrations and tastings,” Travel Leaders points out.

Journeys That Quench Thirst

Whether it’s wine, beer or the trendiest new cocktails, travelers want to experience local flavors—and cruise lines are answering their demands.

“Certain cruises offer an opportunity for tastings and to learn from mixologists, sommeliers or famous brewers either onboard, during shore excursions or both. These cruises provide opportunities to try different selections that bring the rich history and culture of the people alive,” notes Travel Leaders. “Travelers may tap their own beer, blend their own wine, or explore a region rich in the history of the local vineyards.”

Expedition Cruises for the Explorer

One of the most popular trends is the explosion of options in the expedition cruising market. Those who love adventure can find a home onboard one of these intimate ships that sail to some of the most remote places in the world.

Geiranger fjord, Norway

“These ships, equipped with sturdy, inflatable boats called Zodiacs, take vacationers to the shore for land-based excursions or to spots in the water for activities such as deep-sea snorkeling or diving. Smaller ships also allow passengers to disembark more frequently, often with two or three landings or shore excursions per day for unique sightings and adventures,” Travel Leaders says.

Multi-Family Ocean Adventures

Families are spoiled for choice when it comes to cruise options. As previously mentioned, some ships are like floating cities with water slides and kids clubs and other family-friendly features.

However, some cruise lines set themselves up for families in different ways with educational options onboard and onshore.

Groups and Intimate Gatherings

The Travel Leaders Group offers added perks for those traveling in larger groups.

“Through the Distinctive Voyages program, available on nine cruise lines and only available by booking with a Travel Leaders Group travel advisor, clients will also receive a private welcome reception, a complimentary shore excursion and the service of a dedicated Distinctive Voyages host.

The added amenities, available at no extra cost, are a nice way to upgrade a vacation experience without spending more. These amenities are combinable with other national promotions offered by the participating cruise lines,” Travel Leaders notes.

Additional Price Savings and Travel Tips

Travel Leaders also points out that flexibility could mean bigger savings.

Additional savings can also be found on airfare. While it’s not always feasible depending on the destination, one can save even more by leaving from a port close to home. For those traveling long distance, it is always advisable to arrive at the port city at least a day before the ship sails. This gives vacationers a chance to explore the port before departing, and also relieves the stress and worry should they experience flight delays or even misplaced luggage—all of which can add to the expense of the trip.

There are more than 4,000 cruise specialists at Travel Leaders Network ready to help travelers book their next cruise.

Avoya Travel Wins Gold at 2019 Travvy Awards

Avoya Travel Mastermind Academy onboard MSC Seaside

Avoya Travel took home two gold Travvy statues at travAlliancemedia’s annual awards ceremony, which took place on January 23, 2019, at Gotham Hall in New York City.

The host agency took home honors for Best Host Agency as well as Best Host Agency Website, AvoyaTravel.com, during the fifth annual Travvy Awards.

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Once again, Avoya led the way in the host agency category, taking home top honors for the 5th year in a row. Nexion took second, with silver awards in both categories and Ciao Bambino was also nominated in each.

Avoya had another banner year in 2018, and the host agency expects a winning 2019 for its agents, who predict they will top last year’s sales during this year’s Wave selling season which is ongoing through March, and this can be attributed to its ongoing focus on agent training and education.

“With the help of Avoya’s Mastermind Program, I have better focus and the ability to handle more business during Wave and all of 2019,” said RaShonda Gibson of Abundant Journeys, LLC.

Avoya also saw triple-digit growth and early success with its New-to-Travel Agents last year, and the host agency hosted its first Avoya Travel Institute, a new educational opportunity that educated advisors on relationship building with top partners in 2018.

The host agency was also recently recognized as Norwegian Cruise Line’s 2018 Online Partner of the Year, which continues to show that the network is deserving of its numerous honors.

We're Entering a New Golden Age of Travel

Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko

The travel industry is experiencing a renaissance of the Golden Age of Travel, according to Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group. And that’s occurring in concert with the resurgence of the professional travel advisor.

Chacko made his comments Wednesday at the Travel Leaders Group 2019 Industry Outlook at the company’s new global headquarters on Broadway in New York City.

Most people think of the Golden Age of Travel as back when planes and trains were more luxurious, featured attentive personal service and people dressed up to take a trip.

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Now, however, “the world has shrunk” as airlines are offering nonstop service around the world at affordable prices and upscale expedition ships are taking people to exotic destinations, he said. “Prices are super competitive compared to where we were 10, 20 or 30 years ago.”

At the same time, Chacko said, consumers have more choices than ever and are searching for more unique adventures, so they’re increasingly seeking expert advice from professional travel advisors—“someone who understands the vast array of travel choices but also understands their customers.”

He noted that Phocuswright years ago predicted the extinction of travel agents, but now notes that they’re “thriving alongside OTAs and supplier-direct channels.”

Even millennials are turning to travel agents, according to the MMGY “Portrait of the American Traveler” study, which might not be what you expect from the generation that grew up with the internet. “But they’re seeking experiences none of their friends or parents have had,” Chacko said.

He said travel agents could help craft “hyper-intensive itineraries” with the help of tourism boards to meet the desires of their customers.

Trends continuing in 2019 include strong economic conditions, a positive GDP outlook, investment in every travel sector, the rise of the travel advisor and more “conscious travelers” seeking value-based, sustainable, meaningful travel, Chacko said. Challenges include safety and security, overtourism, cybersecurity and the actions of the federal government.

Travel Leaders Group includes 20 brands, 4,200 global employees, 6,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors who together produce a total sales volume exceeding $20 billion.

TravelAbility Aims to Improve Travel for Travelers with Disabilities

boy, wheelchair, beach, beach wheelchair

WHY IT RATES: The event will bring together innovators, destinations, cruise lines, and travel agents all intent on better serving travelers with disabilities. By putting all of these industry professionals in one room, awareness and new ideas may form to help make travel more accessible for travelers.—Alex Temblador, TravelPulse Associate Writer

TravelAbility Summit, the inaugural gathering of industry professionals dedicated to improving travel experiences for individuals with physical, behavioral, and cognitive disabilities will take place on November 12 and 13, 2019 in San Francisco.

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The conference is produced by North American Journeys, a tourism media and marketing company that has been organizing specialized conferences for the tour and travel industry for over 20 years.

“While legislation over the past 40 years has made travel possible for those with disabilities, it certainly hasn’t made it pleasant. The predominant mindset among travel providers has been one of litigation avoidance,” stated Jake Steinman, president, North American Journeys.

“Meanwhile, a group of innovative developers has responded with products and services that reduce barriers to travel and offer more robust travel experiences. The TravelAbility Summit provides the first-ever platform for innovators to meet and disseminate these ideas to forward-thinking tourism executives who view diversity and inclusivity as a marketing opportunity that will only increase as baby boomers age into their 70s and 80s.”

Limited to 150 participants, during the two-day program attendees will engage with transportation executives, specialized travel agents, cruise lines, and destination marketers who are in the best position to spread the ideas and best practices through their network of community partners to create a ripple effect of greater awareness.

Two examples of a few of the Fabulous 50 accessibility products that we plan to invite to TravelAbility Summit are Hoobox, the world’s first AI-powered wheelchair controlled by facial expressions via their “Wheelie kit.” See it here.

Tennessee Tourism’s coin-operated roadside binoculars that allow color-blind travelers to experience fall in the Smoky Mountains. See the video here.

And even designer Tommy Hilfiger has launched “Adaptives,” a new apparel line for people with disabilities. See it here. To view the full list of “Fabulous 50” products click here.

TravelAbility Summit takes place November 12-13th at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco, CA. To register and take advantage of “Early Bird” registration rates, click here.

SOURCE: North American Journeys

Latest Travel Impact Updates on Winter Storm Jayden

airport, snow, winter

Update: January 29, 2019 at 4:20 p.m. ET

Winter Storm Jayden is continuing to impact travel as it moves east into the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and parts of the South on Tuesday afternoon. According to FlightAware.com, nearly 1,300 flights within, into or out of the U.S. have been canceled as of 4:10 p.m. ET Tuesday while another 2,000 have been delayed.

Meanwhile, more than 800 flights within, into or out of the U.S. have been canceled for Wednesday.

Airports are being impacted across a large swath of the country, including places like Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Nashville, New York City and Washington, D.C., among other major cities.

Update: January 29, 2019 at 12:20 p.m. ET

The travel issues related to Winter Storm Jayden continue into Tuesday afternoon, as FlightAware is reporting over 1,080 flights within, into or out of the United States were already canceled and another 920-plus were delayed.

The airports being impacted most by the snow and ice associated with the storm include Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Chicago Midway International and O’Hare International, which combined for over 750 cancelations so far Tuesday.

Update: January 29, 2019 at 6:20 a.m. ET

After Winter Storm Jayden blanketed the Midwest in snow Monday, the weather system is moving East Tuesday and will likely disrupt travel at important travel hubs along the East Coast throughout the day.

According to FlightAware.com, over 970 flights within, into or out of the United States were already canceled Tuesday, with another 170-plus delayed. That is in addition to the nearly 2,000 flights canceled and the over 3,600 flights delayed Monday.

As Atlanta prepares for the Super Bowl this weekend, officials at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport have preemptively canceled over 280 flights as of Tuesday morning to avoid the issues caused by the snow and ice.

Chicago’s two major airports, O’Hare and Midway International, continue to deal with the fall out from Winter Storm Jayden, as over 400 combined flights have been canceled so far Tuesday.

Airlines continue to waive change fees for travelers scheduled to fly through at least Tuesday to and from airports in the path of the storm.

Update: January 28, 2019 at 3:59 p.m. ET

Winter Storm Jayden is causing major headaches in Chicago Monday as about 790 flights were canceled at O’Hare International Airport and around 220 were canceled at Midway International Airport.

According to FlightAware.com, over 1,500 flights in the United States were canceled through Monday afternoon and another 2,500-plus were delayed. The storm is also creating blizzard-like conditions in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and other Midwestern states.

Winter Storm Jayden continues to impact travel in parts of the Plains and Midwest, the weather system is expected to keep moving toward the South and East early this week.

According to Weather.com, Winter Storm Jayden dumped around six inches of snow on portions of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and a snowfall rate of one inch per hour was reported at Chicago O’Hare and Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport early Monday morning.

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FlightAware.com reported over 1,200 flights within, into or out of the United States were canceled Monday as of 11:30 a.m. ET, while another 1,300-plus were delayed due to the winter weather.

After causing havoc at the busiest Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and Milwaukee airports, Winter Storm Jayden is expected to impact travel in the South and the Northeast. Winter storm warnings and watches have been issued in parts of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.

As for the Northeast, winter storm watches have been issued for Monday through Wednesday for parts of New York, Pennsylvania and New England. To help customers scheduled to fly through airports likely to be impacted by the winter storm, airlines have started issuing travel waivers.

Delta Air Lines started waiving change fees for Tuesday and Wednesday at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and 28 Northeast airports, including New York’s LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airports.

Southwest Airlines also issued waivers through February 1 at airports in Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. In addition, United is waiving change fees for over 70 airports in the path of Winter Storm Jayden.