Travel Landmarks

Tips For Traveling More Ethically And Mentally

For many, travel may still be a pipe dream in a Coronavirus-dominated world, but as some areas of the globe open up to international travel — or even as the prospect of future adventure is still on the cards — can we take the time to learn to be better tourists, backpackers, travellers and so forth? Can we learn how to travel both ethically and mindfully? Some believe so.

A recent article from Lonely Planet astutely pointed out that “often, the personal benefits we gain when traveling come at the expense of the places and people we visit. These include degradation of the environment, threats to local culture and heritage, overcrowding, and residents being priced out of their own cities.”

Jeff Greenwald, executive director of Ethical Traveler, spoke to Lonely Planet explaining that “ethical travel really is simply mindful travel,” and that every traveler has the opportunity to represent not just themselves, but their place of origin.

“It’s travel with an awareness of the places you’re visiting, your impact on those places, where your money is going, and how you can be a good representative of your own country when you travel, rather than just an example of everything that’s wrong with your own country.”

Here are just some of the many that you can travel mindfully. Often mindful travel is aided by researching your destination before you visit under the lens of ethical travel. This way, you can ensure you’ll be aware of tourism problems, be respectful of local customs and be the best mindful traveller you can be.

Nature and Wildlife 

Interactions with local nature reserves and wildlife is one particular area where you can be mindful. Obvious examples include not leaving litter and being respectful of local areas – if the guidelines ask you not to feed the animals, to stay on paths and not trample on the flora and fauna, then do so. These are also good practices to adopt as standard anyway. 

Less obvious ways can be looking into the ethicality of activities. Many activities such as elephant riding, petting tigers, or posing for photos with captive animals are known to be harmful and abusive to the animals. If you are looking to experience the local wildlife, research the activity first – a good rule of thumb is to assume that unusual interactions with wild animal touching, riding, close contact, and so forth will not be ethical. Although many animal sanctuaries help the animals in question, always research into whether it is genuinely ethical before attending.  

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According to Lonely Planet, “[A 2019 Exodus Travels study], which surveyed 2000 internationally-traveling Americans, also revealed that 39 percent feel ‘travel guilt’ over their past experiences abroad, especially if it involved practices like swimming with dolphins or posing for photos with captive wildlife. Respondents say that a combination of personal research, greater concern for the environment, and documentaries like Blackfish have made them more conscientious.”

Support the Locals 

Tourism can be immensely beneficial to countries economically, but often larger corporations benefit from tourism over local communities. Further, the lasting impact of colonization and commercialisation on travel can mean that local communities are not benefiting from tourism but are instead being negatively impacted by it. One example is as popular areas expand for tourism, local people are priced out of living in those areas or do not receive proper money made from their crafts or services – instead, this profit going to larger corporations, often in other countries. In some areas, Native or Indigenous communities are exploited completely. 

Therefore, you can choose to support local businesses, artists, and traders over the larger organizations. This can mean opting to buy souvenirs and gifts from local craftspeople rather than the commercialised airport gift shop. Visiting a locally owned restaurant or reserve, rather than one owned by an offshore business person. Joining local tours and paying local landowners over larger tours. Opting for local services can not only offer richer, authentic, and unique experiences, but can even save you money.

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To find out where the local establishments are, ask residents and people of interest, such as a local taxi driver or accommodation host. There is also a wealth of information on travel blogs and websites that can point you in the right direction. Soon you’ll be a pro at seeking these areas out for yourself. 

The Environment  

Early on in the pandemic, when much of the world was placed into lockdown, images of clear waters, pollution reduction and wildlife returning to areas frequently disrupted by humans dazzled and inspired the world. While many people looked at how quickly damaging human practices can be curbed, this can also be remembered as you travel – from reducing your carbon footprint generally to your direct and immediate effect on the places that you visit. 

Just as it is important to look after the environment in your home country, it is important to do so while travelling. Some poorer countries will be feeling the effects of climate change more than richer ones, and therefore it is all the more important that you take care of the environment.

This can be anything and everything from bringing your own reusable water bottle — check that the water is drinkable before you refill — to renting bicycles rather than taking a taxi. Look up the environmental problems in the area that you are visiting, such as the damage tourists have to coral reefs. Do your best to not add to those problems and reduce your impact. 

Airline Violence Rages On As The Work Environment For Flight Attendants Is Deemed “Hostile”

As more and more passengers are returning to the skies following the pandemic, airlines are seeing a worrisome rise in violence – so much so that International President of Flight Attendants Sarah Nelson stated flight attendants are now having to serve in a “hostile work environment.”

Speaking to The Washington Post, Nelson explained that they’re on track to have had more incidents of disruptive passengers than in the “entire history” of aviation, and flight attendants unfortunately take the brunt of that anger. Additionally, Nelson said that 61% of incidents include homophobic, racial, and gender slurs.

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Data released by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) shows that in 2021, 5,114 disruptive passenger incidents have occurred – which is 5.6 incidents per 10,000 flights. The FAA has levied around $225,287 in total fines against passengers who committed assaults, and over $1 million against passengers that engaged in unruly behavior.

The rise is more than evident. The total unruly passengers investigations initiated in 2021 is at 973. That’s up from 183 in 2020 and the highest since 2004, which had 310. Speaking to Fox Business, Nelson stated the disruptions are being felt across the industry, and are not limited to just one company.

“It doesn’t matter airline you fly for. When flight attendants see another flight attendant getting punched in the face, bloodied, abused, we all feel it.”

The mental state of attendants has taken a big hit. One employee told CCN Travel they’re exhausted both physically and emotionally.

On Nov. 13, a Texas passenger assaulted a Southwest Airlines employee by punching them in the head following a “verbal altercation” during boarding. The passenger was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, while the attendant was hospitalized. A similar incident occurred with a Californian passenger on an American Airlines flight two weeks ago.

COVID-19 can be blamed for some of the uptick in violence. Of the 5,114 total incidents, 3,710 of them — around 72.5% — involved passengers refusing to follow mask mandates, which calls for masks to be worn throughout the entire duration of a flight.

In response to these altercations, airlines have taken a number of measures. Forbes notes some have prohibited alcohol on flights and alerting authorities. On Jan. 13, the FAA signed an order — the “Zero Tolerance Policy” – forcing stricter legal enforcement on misbehaving passengers.

Transportation Secretary Peter Buttigieg has suggested that a federal no-fly list for violent passengers “should be on the table.” “It is completely unacceptable to mistreat, abuse, or even disrespect flight crews,” Buttigieg said. “There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of treatment of flight crews in the air, or any of the essential workers from bus drivers to air crews who get people where they need to be.”

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Airlines and their employees still have the holiday season to get through. According to AAA, air travel is expected to be up 80% from last year, which is just below 9% from 2019 levels. 53.4 million Americans are expected to travel either by land, sea, or air. Holiday travel is typically followed by delays or cancellations of flights, which could be a poor mixed with the all-time high tensions.

Some flight attendants have considered quitting due to the abuses, which has led Southwest to offer perks — such as travel rewards — to attendants in order to avoid staff shortages during the busiest travel time of the year.

Travel Ban

US Lifts Pandemic Travel Ban For International Visitors 

This Monday the US lifted restrictions on travel from a long list of countries which will allow tourists to make long-delayed trips and reconnect with their family members living in the states, more than a year and a half since the pandemic began. Some of the countries included on the list are Mexico, Canada, and most of Europe. 

The US is now accepting fully vaccinated travelers at airports and land borders, fully removing all Covid-19 restrictions initially imposed during the last presidential administration. 

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The new guidelines allow air travel from previously restricted countries as long as the individual has proof of vaccination in addition to a negative Covid test. If an individual is traveling into the US by land, from Mexico or Canada, they’ll just need proof of vaccination, but no negative test. 

Airlines in general are preparing for an influx of travelers from Europe specifically as well. Data from Cirium, a travel and analytics firm, shows that airlines are increasing flights between the United Kingdom and the US by 21% this month. 

The new guidelines will also likely impact the Mexico-US and Canada-US borders tremendously, as traveling back and forth between all three countries was a normalized means of travel pre-pandemic. 

These new guidelines will also ideally help improve local and state economies on the border. Malls, restaurants, and retail establishments in general have been devastated economically by the lack of visitors from Mexico and Canada. 

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There’s also a lot of personal motivation from Americans that have motivated officials to reopen the borders. So many families in the US were forced to stay away from their families due to pandemic restrictions and how far away they live.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the U.S. will accept travelers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just those in use in the U.S. That means that the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in Canada, will be accepted.”

Airlines will require air travelers to verify their vaccine records and match them against their ID, and if they don’t, they could face up to nearly $35,000 in fines for every violation. Airlines will also be collecting information about passengers for contact tracing purposes.

CDC workers will be spot-checking travelers for compliance in the US as well. At land borders, Customs and Border Protection agents will be checking proof of vaccines, to ensure everyone’s information is legitimate. 

U.S. Issues First ‘X’ Gender Mark On Passport

According to a statement released on Wednesday by Ned Price, a U.S. State Department spokesman, passports will now carry an “X” gender marker for “non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons.” The Department stated it hopes to add the option to all routine passports by early 2022.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken had previously announced in June about the Department’s intentions to change the issuance of U.S. passports for all genders and identities. “The process of adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons to these documents is technologically complex and will take time for extensive systems updates,” Blinken stated at the time.

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Prior to his election, President Joe Biden had made a promise to progress accurate LGBTQ+ identifications through the use of gender markers on legal documentations, building upon what the Obama-Biden administration had started.

Speaking to CNN Travel back in March, Gemma Hickey — a Canadian who identifies as “trans masculine nonbinary” and uses they/them — had a bad experience in 2017, when airport officials questioned their documentation. Hickey, who was flying to Ontario for top surgery, described themself at the time as being “vulnerable.”

Now, Hickey has expressed their happiness after the country finally issued a third-gender document in 2019.

“I was just delighted to report, after the fact, that I didn’t have any issues, especially for young people out there who are concerned about this.”

According to the Associated Press, the U.S.’ first “X”-gender passport was given to Colorado native Dana Zzyym who, like Hickey, also uses a gender-neutral pronoun. Zzyym had been in a legal battle over passport identification with the U.S. government since 2015, after he put “intersex” above the “M” and “F” boxes – which led to his passport being denied.

Zzyym was born a male, but had “ambiguous physical sexual characteristics.” After several surgeries that failed to make Zzyym appear fully male, they then decided to identify as intersex. As the AP notes, due to his passport being denied, Zzyym was unable to attend an International Intersex Organization meeting.

“I’m not a problem. I’m a human being. That’s the point,” Zzyym told the AP, while also stating this battle is important for the next generation of intersex people who want to be recognized as citizens with equal rights.

Also speaking to the AP was U.S. special diplomatic envoy for LGTBQ rights, Jessica Stern. Stern commented that the passport decision brings legal documents in line with “lived reality.” Additionally, Stern explained that when a document shows a person’s true identity, that person is given greater respect and dignity.

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The U.S. isn’t the first country to adopt a third gender on its passport. Argentina, India, Germany, Iceland, Canada, Nepal, and Australia are just some of the countries to also adopt X’s and O’s in order to promote inclusion for the LGBTQ+ communities worldwide.

Still, other nations are reluctant to change identification procedures. In March 2020, a campaigner lost a court of appeal challenge in the U.K. after calling for gender neutral passports. The High Court had previously denied the bid in 2018.

Additionally, legal licenses in the U.S. have already had gender markers for quite some time. Arkansas has been issuing “X” drivers licenses since 2010, and 20 states since 2017 have also followed suit. Yet, according to the 19th News, not all LGTBQ+ updated their licenses to include the “X,” possibly due to further harassment and unwanted attention. Only time will tell if those individuals feel the same way about three-gender passports.

Hawaii Set To Welcome Back Travelers On Nov. 1

After seeing a considerable drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Hawaii’s governor David Ige said on Twitter that the state plans to reopen to both essential and non-essential travelers (regardless of vaccination status) starting on Nov. 1.

“I’m encouraged by the continuing trend of lower case counts of COVID in our islands. Our hospitals are doing better and seeing fewer patients. This gives us the ability to move forward in our economic recovery and safely welcome back fully vaccinated domestic travelers.”

Due to Hawaii’s “Safe Travels” program (which will continue to remain in effect), non-vaccinated travelers will be required to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their departure time to Hawaii, or be subjected to a 10-day mandatory quarantine. Visitors will also have to have to go through temperature screening upon arrival.

Ige stated that Hawaii is continuing to see information from the federal government about international travels plans, and that an appropriate plan will be in place prior to Nov. 8. Ige also assured Hawaii will continue to monitor case counts and hospitalizations, and will make adjustments when necessary while also prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of its residents.

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Hawaiian Airlines has also stated that it’s important for Hawaii to match its travel policies with federal rules on internal travel in order to avoid confusion while erasing further screenings and testings.

According to John Hopkins University, Hawaii has recorded 82,730 COVID-19 cases and 876 deaths. The state saw a spike in late August, when it had a seven-day average of 921 cases and five deaths. Due to the uptick, Ige asked travelers on Aug. 23 to stay away.

Hawaii local news station KHON noted that Ige’s request for non-essential travelers to stop entering the state was just that – no enforcements were made to travel rules. However, visitors listened, and the impact it had was very visible.

Hawaii’s stoppage of non-essential travelers sent shockwaves throughout the Hawaii tourism industry. At one point, Maui County saw up to 52,000 room cancellations and a loss of around $25.2 million. Hotel occupancy, which is typically around 50 to 60% in September, dropped to 30%.

“Since the governor’s request for nonessential travel to halt, the industry has seen cancellations increase and occupancy cut nearly in half in some instances,” Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association President and CEO Mufi Hannemann stated at the time. “Some hotels have been forced to offer discounts in order to keep operating, and all of this taking place during our normal slow season.”

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Businesses also had to pull back job offers and experienced layoffs due to the lack of visitor activity. When it was all said and done, the industry lost millions of dollars in economic revenue. Now, tourism leaders will hope to recoup those losses once the visitor numbers start to inch back up.

It remains to be seen whether businesses and hotels will be ready for the reopening in two weeks. However, while Hannemann said that there could be challenges — such as large gatherings — he would rather face a problem like this than what they had to go through in September and October.

Currently, Hawaii has a seven-day average of 124 cases and three deaths. Hawaii also possesses close to a 70% vaccination rating. As USA Today notes, most of Hawaii’s visitors during the pandemic have come from the other 49 states due to other countries continuing to have rigid travel restrictions.

Tourism plays a major role in Hawaii’s economy – in 2019, visitor spending added up to $17.75 billion, and tourism supported 216,000 jobs. In August 2021, Hawaii saw 211,269 total visitors. That’s greatly up from August 2020’s total of 22,625 visitors, but still down from August 2019’s 252,916 visitors.

U.S. Opens Mexican, Canadian Land Borders To Fully Vaccinated People

After over a year and five months of heavily restricted travel, the United States will begin easing bans by allowing fully vaccinated, nonessential travelers to cross into the country over the Mexican and Canadian land borders.

Details of the new policy were previewed to a number of reporters by senior administration officials, who chose to remain anonymous. The officials gave comments on the opening, saying that the vaccination requirements will ensure safety during travels.

“This is an important step that will further enhance the safety of international travel and the safety of Americans at home. These new vaccination requirements deploy the best tool we have in our arsenal to keep people safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Officials explained that the easing of nonessential traveling across borders will begin in early November, although a date was not specified. Unvaccinated persons can only enter if they have essential purposes.

The second phase of the rules will begin in early January 2022, which will see all travelers, whether essential or nonessential, require vaccinations in order to enter the country.

According to officials, the period between November and January should “provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers and others to get vaccinated, enabling a smooth transition to this new system.”

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While the current travel restrictions end on Oct. 21 as USA Today points out, there will be a new restriction placed leading up until the day in November that phase one begins.

While it isn’t know what vaccines will be permitted at the border crossings, USA Today gave a list of vaccines that are either U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO) approved, which include Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac, and Sinopharm.

These new travel rules also only apply to legal travelers. Illegal travelers who attempt to enter into the country will still be in violation of Title 42, which allows the U.S. to expel immigrants without allowing them a chance for asylum.

While the Trump Administration came under scrutiny for their use of Title 42, the Biden Administration has also enforced the law as recently as late September when thousands of Haitians congregated at the Texas border.

Officials explained that travelers via vehicle, rail, and boat will be asked by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for their vaccination status, along with other typically needed admission documents. Officials also stated that COVID-19 testing will not be required for vehicle, sea, or rail assuming the passengers have their vaccination.

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The timing of these new protocols were likely influenced by the surrounding countries’ vaccine statuses. One official explained that both Mexico and Canada have high vaccination rates, as well as vaccine availability. Additionally, the official discussed about having both air and land travel approaches be “consistent.”

Right now, 38% of the total population in Mexico is vaccinated, while 52% have had at least one dose. Meanwhile, 72% of Canada’s population have reached full vaccination, while 77% have received at least one dose.

As CNN notes, the U.S. had been extending the restrictions on Canadian and Mexican border travel on a monthly basis since the pandemic accelerated back in March of 2020. Canada had previously announced that vaccinated U.S. citizens would be able to enter the country in early August. However, the U.S. remained noncommittal about border restrictions at that time.

Ironically, despite the United States’ reservations regarding opening Canadian borders to nonessentials, America currently has a lower overall fully vaccinated rate (57%).

Travelers from Mexico and Canada won’t be the only foreigners impacted by new protocols. Yahoo! Finance reported that starting in November, all international travelers must be fully vaccinated and provide a negative COVID-19 test three days before a U.S.-bound flight. Additionally, unvaccinated Americans flying abroad will face stricter requirements.

Australia’s Prime Minister Says International Travelers Won’t Be Welcome Until At Least 2022

Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlined plans for lifting some of Australia’s toughest Covid-19 this week. Part of this outline stated that foreign tourists won’t be welcomed back until at least 2022. The country will instead be prioritizing the return of skilled migrants and students by reopening external borders when they reach a certain rate of vaccination.  

Morrison’s benchmark for reopening will be once 80% of the population aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated. He also announced plans to allow vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents to fly overseas in November; citizens haven’t been able to leave since March 2020. 

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Australia has been reporting the lowest level of immigration since World War II due to these strict travel restrictions. Australian universities and businesses have been struggling to cope with the lack of international students and tourists who typically support these institutions financially. 

Australia’s travel restrictions, however, has allowed life to return to a fairly normal place due to the lack of infection. As of right now some of its biggest cities, like Sydney and Melbourne, are currently experiencing shutdowns due to minor outbreaks. These shutdowns are what has helped keep Australia’s rate of infection low. 

The difficulty with restricting citizens from international travel is that half of Australia’s population was born overseas, or has at least one immigrant parent. Morrison said the priority will be to get migrants and international students back before tourists, but did not specify when he thinks those groups will be allowed back. 

Before the pandemic, the Australian Tourism Export Council made 33 billion American dollars in a year. That sort of revenue could help Australia’s recovery efforts immensely, which is why the Council is hoping international visitors will be able to return by March. 

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As of right now, however, the lack of specificity in the plan to reopen borders has many workers within Australia’s tourism/travel industry worried. 

“International tourist arrivals have to be part of the plan. Even if they’re not the first priority, we’d like to see how this is going to be worked out. There are many businesses that are just hanging on,” said Daniel Gschwind, chief executive of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council.

Morrison said that the “government would work toward a complete quarantine-free travel for certain countries, such as New Zealand, when it is safe to do so,” but did not give a clear timeline as to when that will happen. Any international travelers that are able to travel into Australia currently must quarantine in a hotel for two weeks. 

Australia is currently battling outbreaks of Covid-19 and its variants while rushing to get as many citizens vaccinated as possible. It’s initial vaccine rollout was slow, but is starting to gain some momentum now.

Airlines Pushback Reopening Flights Between US And Europe Amid Covid Case Surges 

US borders are currently closed to travelers from the European Union (EU) and the UK, and have been that way for over 500 days now. While there hasn’t been a formal announcement as to when these borders will reopen, airlines are beginning to push back the scheduled restart of their London-New York flights. 

Initially flights were set to resume between the two major cities in September, but now airlines are waiting until November. New outlets in Ireland seemed to allude that the US would be lifting its travel ban in time for Labor Day weekend, however, no official announcements have been made to confirm those reports. 

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The EU is currently discussing whether or not they will reopen their borders to US citizens while the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will be keeping land borders between Mexico and Canada closed until at least September 21st. 

Land border restrictions don’t apply to cross-border trade, US citizens.lawful permanent residents, or individuals traveling for school or medical reasons. Travel into Canada is also now allowed for US citizens who are fully vaccinated. 

Jeff Zients is the White House Covid-19 coordinator who recently held a press briefing regarding the reopening of international borders and US travel in general. 

“The interagency working groups are currently developing a policy process, and we will be ready when it is the right time to consider reopening travel. And that’ll be guided, as always, by science and public health.”

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Travel correspondent Simon Calder claims that “in the past 48 hours I have asked a number of travel industry chief executives about when the current presidential proclamation banning arrivals from the U.K. might be lifted. Their answers and predictions range from ‘September’ to ‘no idea’.”

“The main problem now appears to be two-fold: inertia (once draconian rules are imposed, they can be slow to remove), combined with an unwillingness in Washington DC to complicate the difficult domestic situation at a time when the Delta variant is running wild across America, especially in the key tourism state of Florida.”

Henry Smith, chairman of the all-party Future of Aviation group told the press that “the figures are going in the wrong direction for the U.S. and I don’t really see any appetite in the U.S. to open up sooner rather than later. It is slightly different for the U.S. because they have such a big domestic market, which means international travel makes up a smaller proportion of the industry’s revenues.”

The US currently allows entry to any US citizen and their dependents as well as anyone who has spent 14 days in a country not listed on the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s prohibited list.

Demand For Air Travel Dropping Exponentially As Delta Variant Continues To Spread 

The demand for air travel has begun to plummet as the delta variant of the Covid-19 virus continues to spread rapidly. According to reports from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), cancellations have been on the rise this month alongside less passenger loads and lower air fares. 

TSA reported that 1.7 million people were screened nationwide this Tuesday, the lowest number of air travelers in nearly two months. Southwest Airlines also claimed to see an uptick in cancellations according to their recent financial filings. 

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Southwest is predicting that the surge in cancellations will continue into September should the US not get the virus and its variants more under control. Many major US airlines were looking forward to the coming months due to an overall decrease in cases and spreading of the virus, but the delta variant has them all taking on a new attitude. 

Travel booking site Hopper claimed that the domestic demand for travel hasn’t been this low since after the fourth of July. 

“What we saw was that mid-July was one of our best booking weeks ever, so the domestic bookings were really strong in mid July, but on the domestic front we have seen bookings be pretty flat since then,” Hopper economist Adit Damodarn said.

Damodarn explained how international bookings have been hit even harder due to the increase in spreading and lack of proper vaccine rollout in many international countries. 

“I think there’s a lot going on here that’s making people think twice about traveling. One of the big concerns for people going internationally is the chances of even if you’re vaccinated or getting an infection seem to be going up.”

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“It may not be severe, but it does mean that you might not be able to come back into the U.S. for some time just because of the testing requirement. So with that I think you’re scaring some people off. And then, of course, we have the just general concern about getting sick, going to places where there is more virus,” Founder of Brett Snyder said. 

Hopper also noted that more fliers have been purchasing “cancel-for-any-reason” flight insurance since the variant began spreading more rapidly in July. 

“The rate in which people are purchasing flight insurance is up about 33% when compared to last month. So I think what we’re seeing here is a little bit of hesitancy.”

Average air booking prices are currently down $76 on average as well. 

“We’re seeing a significant drop in domestic and international airfare. It’s a little bit more than the seasonality that we have seen in prior years, and so that would suggest to us that there’s both the seasonal variation coming off the peak summer travel season, as well as the impact of the delta variant,” Damodarn said.

England, Scotland, And Northern Ireland Loosen Travel Restrictions For Vaccinated Americans 

Fully vaccinated Americans can now visit England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland without quarantining beginning next week. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps made the announcement on Twitter this week. 

“We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK.” 

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Initially the updated requirements were just for individuals in the US and UK, but Scotland and Northern Ireland said they would also be joining England in waiving their 10-day isolation requirement for fully vaccinated individuals from the European Union and US. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, announced this week that they recommend all US citizens remain in the country and don’t travel to the UK specifically due to rising Covid case numbers in both nations. 

Visitors to England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland will still be subject to Covid testing upon their arrival. Pre-departure testing as well as testing upon arrival will still be enforced, and vaccinated Americans must provide proof of US residency as well as proof of vaccination. 

American travelers must also fill out a patient-tracker form so that authorities are able to contact them should someone they traveled with test positive. Travelers returning to the US must also show a negative Covid result in order to board a US-bound international flight. 

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“Given where we are today … with the delta variant, we will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons. The more transmissible delta variant is spreading both here and around the world.”

“Driven by the delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing Monday. 

United Airlines announced that it would have six daily flights between the US and London starting in August. The airline plans to resume additional flights in the coming months as well. 

“Today’s announcement is yet another major milestone in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic with the opening of one of the most important markets from the U.S.” said Patrick Quayle, United’s vice president of international network and alliances, in a news release.

Tori Emerson Barnes, the executive vice president of public affairs for the U.S. Travel Association trade group, urged U.S. leaders to “follow the U.K.’s lead and set a timeline to reopen its borders to travelers. We encourage them to start with vaccinated travelers from the U.K., E.U. and Canada. The reality is there’s no difference between a vaccinated American and those vaccinated in the U.K., the E.U. and Canada.”