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Maui Set To Impose New Hotel Tax Due To Influx Of Tourists 

The Hawaiian island of Maui has announced that they will now be collecting a hotel tax from all tourists staying there in order to help them deal with the influx of tourists while recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The new 3% tax will be collected from all individuals staying at a hotel or short-term rental on the island. According to the Associated Press, this tax comes after lawmakers in the state passed a bill that would change how Hawaii allocated tax revenue to the different counties. 

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Before this new tax was implemented, the state would collect a 10% hotel tax to be distributed to each county. According to Hawaii News Now, the bill is also cutting Hawaii Tourism Authority’s budget by 24%. Maui County Council Chair Alice Lee told the media outlet that this change would help the tourism industry in Hawaii thrive overall as the world begins to reopen more. 

“This tax will help tremendously. Instead of $23 million, we’ll probably receive in the neighborhood of $50 to $70 million,” she explained. 

The push for Hawaii’s tourism sector to find new ways to gain more revenue comes as a major increase in travel, and travel plans, have emerged, especially in Maui. Maui’s Mayor Michael Victorino has reached out to certain airlines to start bringing fewer tourists to the island, as they are starting to become overwhelmed with wealthy travelers who want to escape. 

“We don’t have the authority to say stop, but we are asking the powers to be to help us,” Victorino said to the AP.

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In May 2021, more than 630,000 visitors flew to Maui. In May 2019, before the pandemic, Maui received about 847,000 tourists, so the state is currently witnessing almost pre-pandemic levels of travel while the US is still very much battling this virus and its variants. 

Maui is also one of the easiest places to travel to currently, especially for American citizens. Last week the state removed their requirement for travelers to be tested for Covid-19 before coming to the island; this stipulation only exists for fully vaccinated domestic travelers. 

Those who are not vaccinated still have to provide proof of a negative test from a “trusted medical partner site” in order to skip the mandatory quarantine period once they get to the island itself. 

Hawaii has also recently expanded their partnership with the company Clear’s Health Pass, which offers vaccinated individuals with an easy and digital way of proving their vaccination status to make travel easy. 

Governor David Ige also announced that the state plans to lift all of its Covid-19 restrictions once Hawaii reaches a 70% vaccination rate. Currently 65% of all residents have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and 58% are fully vaccinated. 

Summer Vacation

The Most Popular Vacations People Are Booking For 2022 

As more individuals receive their Covid-19 vaccinations throughout the world, many are planning their first big trips for when the world really begins to return to a sense of normalcy. 2022 is already seeing an influx in flight bookings under the assumption that by that point, more of the world will be vaccinated and Covid will be more obsolete. 

Here’s a list of some of the most popular destinations individuals are booking trips to for next year:

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Napa Valley, California: Many individuals are looking to book trips that will give them an experience, not just a simple resort vacation. After struggling throughout the pandemic and one of the deadliest wildfire seasons of the past decade, California in general is ready to open its doors for tourists again. Napa Valley is specifically offering a ton of different wine tasting resort packages that will give individuals the opportunity to plan their perfect vacation in wine country. By 2022, the Four Season Napa Valley will also be open and running, marking the first time a Four Seasons winery will be in Northern California. 

Paterson, South Africa: Speaking of experiences, the safari expedition’s offered at the Kruger National Park in South Africa is unlike any other safari experience out there. The Shamwari Private Game Reserve, in Paterson, South Africa, offers two daily game drives which allow individuals to digitally and safely search for wildlife native to the area. A majority of the wild animals in the game have left the actual reservation area due to colonization and poaching, however, this new experience will allow the reserve to rebuild what was lost while continuing to educate the world about the magic of wildlife. 

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Loire Valley, France: The Hotel Château du Grand Lucé is an hour away from Paris and has been open to the public since 2019, however, the property has existed since 1760. This French chateau that formerly housed royalty can now become your own personal vacation palace while you endure unforgettable experiences like biking through the village and picnicking in the flower-filled exotic gardens. 

Perez Zeledon, Costa Rica: For those looking for more of the beachside resort vibe without all the crowds, look no further than Perez Zeldon, Costa Rica. This 150 acre landscape includes a coffee farm, tribal village, lush rainforest, and plenty of white sandy beaches to rest and recharge on. 

Sardinia, Italy: This is one of the most popular beach destinations in Italy to date. Sardinia is known for its white sand beaches and captivating turquoise waters. There are a multitude of hotel options that offer complete serenity and privacy. All restaurants and shops are also within a walking distance depending on where you stay. 

Kyoto, Japan: Kyoto has become one of the most iconic Asian city destinations for tourists. They’re known for their luxury hotels that are bustling with Japanese culture. Visitors can hike to take a dip in some hot springs, enjoy all the local cuisine, and take in all of the culture with a multitude of historical sights to see. 

Couple Camping

Why The Travel Industry Thinks Glamping Will Save The Tourism Sector This Summer

Bookings for camping and glamping locations all around the nation have been reaching record levels, as more people are ready to get back to some level of safe travel this summer now that more people are being vaccinated. 

Mike Bevens is an MD at glamping specialist company Canopy and Stars; a glamping business that assists travelers with all their travel needs and luxury wants. Bevens recently spoke about the increase in business that he’s endured, along with the rest of the industry. 

“We’ve had the busiest winter in terms of bookings, but there’s also been a huge increase in the number of new sites wanting to advertise. We’re up 200% on bookings from last year and have around 100 new sites coming online for this summer.”

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Derry Green is a UK resident who spoke with the local press about how he knew he had to do something to motivate his kids to leave the house with restrictions easing up this summer, however, he didn’t think his personal quarantine project would lead to a great new business opportunity.

“My kids were watching Love Island all the time, so when I got done building my back deck (my personal quarantine project) I put up a pod with a fire pit and lights, inspired by the show. Then people started asking me if they could come and stay in it so I put it on Airbnb and it sold out for two years in advance in five days,” he boasted.

Green quickly went viral on Facebook, so much so that now he has six more glamping units currently under construction that will be made available in the coming months. He personally owns four acres of woodland, so there’s plenty of room for his new business to thrive. 

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Green is not the only one who’s taking advantage of this new glamping trend. For those who are able to set up camp sites on their larger properties, renting out these spaces on Airbnb, and other rental services, have helped them immensely in terms of making an income during the past year of economic turmoil.  

“I believe in the transformative power of camping. It’s perfect for the situation we are in. Campsites can appear quickly in a way that cottages and hotels can’t, and they tend to benefit other businesses around them.”

Mojo and Kizzy Fell joined the glamping industry by necessity, after the pandemic halted all business for them last year. Originally, the two ran a successful rental business for Airsteam caravans that they would use mainly for film locations and music festivals. So when the pandemic shut down all of those activities, they needed to rethink their business model. 

“Our income just disappeared. We had to diversify, so we put five Airstreams on our 40-acre farm and called it The Wells Glamping. The caravans sold out immediately and now we have applied to increase the number to 12, hoping to be ready for bookings by the end of April. Luxurious vans that used to accommodate stars such as Will Ferrell and Kenneth Branagh will be repurposed for family holidays – and create up to 20 new jobs at the same time,” Mojo explained.

Greece Views

Greece Is Hoping To Reopen For Tourists In May 

Greece is hoping to reopen its doors for tourists and travelers in May, the 14th of May to be more specific. The country’s tourism minister recently made the announcement of what he claimed was a “much-awaited date for the tourist season to officially begin.”

Haris Theoharis told the world’s largest tourism fair, the IBT Berlin Tourism Fair, that anyone who’s been vaccinated for Covid-19, possesses antibodies, or has tested negative for Covid-19 will be able to visit Greece anytime after May 14th. 

“We aim to open tourism by May 14th with specific rules and updated protocols. Until then, we will gradually lift restrictions if conditions allow.” 

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This reopening makes sense considering tourism is one of the largest sectors of the economy in Europe, but especially Greece. Athens specifically has been struggling greatly to cope with the loss of income and revenue that normally comes with tourism season. Authorities in Greece have even called upon the European Union to create vaccination certificates so that individuals who have received their doses can travel more easily. 

This week the European Union commission’s vice president, Margaritis Schinas, claimed that he believed a digital vaccination pass would be available by the summer.

“I think after the last summit there is convergence on the need for this digital vaccination certificate. It will be a European product and will be the same throughout Europe.”

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Ursula von der Leyen, the commission’s president, however, also warned that there are a lot of legal and technical dangers with creating digital vaccination certificates, so it will have to be methodically planned out to ensure every citizen’s identity remains safe. 

One in five Greek residents work in tourism, in fact, it’s the country’s largest economic sector. The government has claimed that it’s aiming to attract at least 50% of the 31.3 million people who typically visit Greece annually in non-pandemic circumstances. 

According to the UK government the May 17th is the earliest date that the nation will allow international travel to occur. This projection was a part of the government’s roadmap for navigating its third national lockdown. UK tourists are Greece’s second largest source of visitors as well, so officials from Athens have been working closely with Britain on distributing vaccines and creating updated travel guidelines. 

Theoharis claims that once all elderly and vulnerable individuals are vaccinated it could begin bringing back employees to its tourism sector. The government in Greece also said that it expects the country will be able to meet this goal once it receives its order of more than 2 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.

Travel Industry Is Bracing For A Slower Recovery Than Expected In 2021

The tourism industry has been one of the most heavily impacted sectors of the US economy, and while 2021 was initially looking hopeful in terms of recovery, experts aren’t as convinced now. 

Madrid Spain

Highly-Anticipated Hotel In Madrid Opens Its Doors To A Struggling Tourism Market

Madrid made headlines this week after announcing the opening of its first grand hotel in nearly 50 years. The hotel itself is a luxury Four Seasons establishment that took nearly a decade to complete.

Essential Travel Items

Tourists Would Rather Cancel A Trip Than Have To Wear A Mask On Vacation

According to a recent study, the travel industry is set to take a large economic hit in the coming months as the seasons change and more tourists opt to cancel their holiday trips.

Virtual Travel

Virtual Tourism Is The Future Of The Travel Industry, Research Suggests

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia recently released a new proposal for a virtual travel experience that they claim to be the future of the travel industry. In 2020 alone, the coronavirus pandemic has caused the tourism industry to dwindle greatly, along with many other industries in the world. During a global health crisis that requires everyone to stay home in order to keep everyone safe, travel lovers are trying to get creative, and this pair thinks they have the solution. 

The proposal was published in the scientific journal, Cell Patterns by Dr. Arni Srivasa Rao, director of the medical school’s Laboratory for Theory and Mathematical Modeling, and co-author Dr. Steven Krantz, a professor of mathematics and statistics at Washington University. The proposal claims that by using the billions of existing photos and videos online of travel hotspots throughout the world, and some advanced mathematical techniques, the current internet-based tourism experience could improve tenfold. 

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According to the proposal, the two have a technique that digitally measures the shapes, angles, and curvatures of certain objects in these images, as well as determines the distance between the camera and the object itself. Using drone footage, photos, and other videos compiled from online resources, the two believe they could make virtual travel experiences “more realistic for viewers that will help revitalize the tourism industry.”

The specific technology involved in these measurements is referred to as Live Streaming with Actual Proportionality of Objects, or LAPO for short. LAPO implements what’s known as “information geometry,” which essentially refers to measuring the actual dimensions of a given object in an image, and “conformal mapping,” which uses that information geometry to measure distance between objects and create more realistic imaging of people, places, and objects. 

“This is about having a new kind of technology that uses advanced mathematical techniques to turn digitized data into more realistic photos and videos with more of a feel for the location than you would get watching a movie or documentary.”

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Rao used the example of seeing the Statue of Liberty from a boat in the Hudson River versus watching a video of it, and how those two experiences greatly differ. However, with LAPO technology, Rao and his colleagues are able to measure and preserve “multiple angles and digitize that into video form so consumers can visualize it from multiple angles.” This will make people at home feel like they’re really there. 

The two main authors really wanted to emphasize their belief in this technology’s ability to help the tourism industry remain afloat/recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. They believe virtual tourism is the future based on the fact that overall it’s simply cheaper, safer because it can be done from home, easily accessible for all, and eliminates any risks that may arise from traveling to a new area of the world. 

“Virtual tourism also creates new employment opportunities for virtual tour guides, interpreters, drone pilots, videographers and photographers, as well as those building the new equipment for virtual tourism.”

People would pay for these experiences the same way they would pay a hotel or airline to take them somewhere, however, it will be monumentally cheaper based on the fact that you’re not actually going to the location itself. Rao and Krantz claim their next step is going to be to bring in some new investors and partners in the hospitality and tourism industry.

Vietnam Coronavirus

Vietnam Evacuating 80,000 Tourists From Da Nang After New Coronavirus Cases Appear

As the world continues to endure the coronavirus pandemic, many countries who were able to curve the spread and get their case numbers down after the initial wave of infections are now seeing a second wave of cases appear. These countries are not only immediately shutting down again to prevent an even worse rate of infection, but some are going as far as kicking out all outside visitors as well. 

Vietnam is currently set to evacuate more than 80,000 individuals from the central tourist region of Da Nang this week. Three local residents recently tested positive for Covid-19, prompting authorities to begin evacuations this past Monday (7/27). The Da Nang region of Vietnam is known for its beach resorts, and once the three cases were reported after an additional 11 cases appeared in a hospital in the region, the government began to take action. 

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The evacuations are ongoing but expected to be finished by the end of the week. Vietnamese airlines have been operating 100 flights out of Da Nang a day, all destinations are also located in Vietnam, and all travelers are required by authorities to self-quarantine for 14 days. 

Social distancing measures and facial covering procedures have been reintroduced in Da Nang and those living in any residential area near a hospital are required to stay home at all times. Things that promote mass gatherings such as festivals, bars, restaurants, discos, and salons all closed down on Tuesday and will remain like that indefinitely. 

Vietnam’s borders closed down to foreign tourists at the beginning of the pandemic, and will remain closed. Domestic tourism saw a massive spike once Vietnam began reopening, and since the country as a whole was shut down and able to reduce their case numbers, they assumed reopening within the country would be fine. 

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Vietnamese travelers began taking advantage of all the reduced hotel and public transportation rates to travel throughout their country. Concerns rose after the first case in Da Nang came from a 57-year-old man who had no history of international travel and had been living in the town for at least one month. 

The case was unexpected, especially considering it was an individual who had been remaining diligent with following health and safety measures. This caused massive concerns to rise within the Vietnamese government, leading Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to call on authorities to increase contact tracing and testing among all citizens. 

Genome testing of all the positive cases within Vietnam showed that a majority of the new cases were a strain of the coronavirus that had not been detected in Vietnam before this point. This strain has been found in Bangladesh, Britain and Ireland and has been proven to be even more contagious than the previous strains present in Vietnam; hence why the first case appeared in someone who wasn’t breaking any guidelines. 

Before this point Vietnam had gone 100 days without any new Covid-19 cases, hence the serious response to these 14 new cases. So far the country has experienced a total of 431 cases and zero deaths overall.

Lake Champlain

The Most Popular Lakes To Visit In The US

While travelling may not be the top priority in the middle of a global health crisis, there are many destinations within the US that can be visited via road trip, and are natural enough to promote social distancing from any other visitors. One of the most traditional and easiest trips one could take right now is visiting one of America’s many lakes. Lake’s not only promote a road trip sense of adventure, but also are safe enough destinations that one could access from almost anywhere in the country. Here are some of the nation’s most popular lake destinations:

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Lake Champlain: Lake Champlain is located in both New York and Vermont, and is one of the most well-known lakes in America. Not only was it the site of major events such as the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812, but this lake also offers breathtaking views with plaques/business owners who can inform you about the lake’s vast and intriguing history.  

Lake Superior: Lake Superior is one of the largest lakes in America, stretching across Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. In fact, it’s so large it can hold all of the water from all the other Great Lakes in the US. It’s a hot spot for fishing as it’s known for housing some of the country’s best whitefish, trout, salmon, bass, herrings, and so many more. For fish lovers, the best part is that it’s always fishing season at Lake Superior, as different species of fish migrate in and out of certain areas of the lake as the year progresses. 

Crater Lake: Crater Lake in Oregon is the deepest lake in the United States, likely because it’s essentially a flooded volcano. Coming in as the ninth deepest lake in the world with a depth of almost 2,000 feet, Crater Lake is also known for its crystal-clear shallow waters where visitors can see fish, underwater meadows and lava rock formations. The lake also promotes scuba diving if you provide your own equipment. 

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Lake Winnebago: Lake Winnebago is known in Wisconsin for it’s windsurfing and kite-flying capabilities. The intense winds hit their peak in the summer, drawing in crowds from all over who are ready to ride the waves and wind. Water temperatures in the summer can reach up to 85 degrees fahrenheit, and the lake annually hosts the Wind Power Championships for the nation’s greatest wind-sport racers. 

Lake Kabetogama: This Minnesota lake is famous for its beautiful canoeing views. One of the most popular things to do at Lake Kabetogama is taking a sunset canoe ride up to the Voyageurs National Park, where patrons can choose to stay at one of two dozen campsites that can only be reached by boat/aquatic vehicle. 

Lake Clark: Lake Clark in Alaska is a secluded body of water that can only be reached by hiking through the Alaskan overland, taking a sleigh ride with a dogsled team, or by flying via float-plane. The lake is 50-miles-long and is known to be a true vision of what Alaska is. Travelers mainly like to fish, kayak, or wildlife-watch at this lake, and there are plenty of spots to camp as well. 

Finger Lakes: The Finger Lakes of New York have over 100 wine merchants and represent quintessential upstate New York with its luscious and mountainous views. The lake is more known for it’s wineries than it’s lake activities, however, they still offer a myriad of water-sport/camping activities for the average outdoorsman to enjoy.