Apple Leisure Group Joins ‘Buy One, Give One’ Campaign to Jump-Start Travel

Apple Leisure Group Vacations (ALGV) announced today that it’s coming together with other hospitality operators to participate in a new ‘Buy One, Give One’ program, which serves the dual purpose of generating immediate revenue for hotels suffering from the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and providing a “thank you” gesture to the dedicated healthcare professionals who’ve worked tirelessly on the front lines of the pandemic.

As such, ALGV becomes the only wholesale tour operator thus far to join in the “pay it forward” campaign. Restarting leisure travel is a major priority for the whole hospitality industry, which has been among the most severely impacted economic sectors amid COVID-19. According to recent data from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), 70 percent of hotel employees have been laid off or furloughed, and 80 percent of hotel rooms sit empty.

The ‘Buy One, Give One’ promotion is stackable atop massive travel deals, such as Dream Now, Travel Later rate reductions and Steal of a Deal, which is offering limited-time, rock-bottom pricing on vacations to inspire would-be travelers to take action now in planning their future getaways.

“One of the most important values we hold as a company is that WE CARE,” said Jacqueline Marks, Executive Vice President of Apple Leisure Group’s Trade Brands division. “We have been consistent with that from the beginning, and are proud to inspire action, own results, and show passion for all that we do because we care. With this initiative, we are delighted to have an opportunity to show that commitment once more, thanks to partnerships with organizations such as MMGY Global and Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International.”

Travel advisors and consumers can support the program by booking a future air-inclusive stay of six nights or more at participating properties in the Caribbean or Mexico through one of ALGV’s tour operators (namely, Apple Vacations, Funjet Vacations or Travel Impressions) by June 30, 2020. Each reservation made generates a room-night that will be banked by ALGV (for up to 500 nights) and distributed to eligible medical professionals, who will be able to use them toward future stays at participating hotel properties.

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European Airline Lobby Group Says Flying Will Be Safe

Airlines 4 Europe, the trade group for European airlines similar to Airlines 4 America, says that even without social distancing on aircraft that flying will be safe.

“Fortunately, airlines have experience and know there is already a very low risk of virus transmission onboard,” A4E Managing Director Thomas Reynaert told Forbes. “Any form of physical distancing is unnecessary, ineffective and simply impractical given the same desired result can be achieved by wearing face masks in an already sterile cabin environment.”

Forbes noted that despite the depiction of airplanes as something of a petri dish, where viruses can easily spread, the use of advanced HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are constantly cleaning the air onboard, limiting the risk of transmission.

“Physical separation on planes — including leaving middle seats free — is unnecessary and ineffective as a further protective measure, given the efficient air filtration and clean cabin environment,” Reynaert said.

There’s also another reason Reynaert is so vocal – his union, which represents Europe’s 16 biggest airlines, is well aware that carriers across the globe are losing money like a sieve. Airlines 4 America, in testimony to the U.S. Senate last week, noted that international flights are carrying an average of 29 passengers per flight.

Reynaert said airlines require planes to be at least 77 percent full in order to break even. Eliminating the middle seat would reduce a 100 percent full flight to just 50-66 percent of capacity. Thusly, A4E is asking the European Union to not put social distancing requirements in place.

Unlike American counterparts, European airlines have not put in place any requirements for face masks nor are they taking the temperature of passengers.

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Scenic Group Looks to the Future as Construction Begins on Eclipse II in Croatia

The Scenic Group has started building its second ocean ship. Steel-cutting is taking place on Croatia on the 228-passenger, luxury mega-yacht Scenic Eclipse II.

The first ocean ship, Scenic Eclipse, was christened on Sept. 10, 2019, by Dame Helen Mirren. The ship accommodates 200 passengers when sailing in polar regions. It has all verandah suites, 10 dining experiences, butler service for all guests, two onboard six-guest helicopters, and a six-guest submarine capable of diving nearly 1,000 feet.

A newly formed company, MKM Yachts, wholly owned by the Scenic Group, will now take full responsibility for all new ocean ship builds starting with the Scenic Eclipse II.

MKM Yachts confirmed an agreement with the Croatian government to begin shipbuilding operations in a dedicated section of the Maj 3 Shipyard in Rijeka.

“This outcome has been the result of a massive effort by our entire Croatian team, and in particular, our new managing director of MKM Yachts, Sasa Cokljat,” said Glen Moroney, owner and chairman of The Scenic Group. “The Croatian government has committed to supporting the redevelopment of the shipyard and assist in the funding of our new building program, which will comprise five custom-built vessels over the next six years. All vessels will be of the highest six-star standard with the ability to navigate the polar regions.”

The start of construction “heralds an exciting new era for the Scenic Group, as we continue to develop our luxury ocean products under both Scenic and Emerald Cruises brands,” Moroney said.

Scenic Eclipse has the highest Polar Class 6 rating and uses custom-built stabilizers that are 50 percent larger than those of other ships to provide greater stability. The GPS dynamic positioning allows the ship to maintain location without dropping anchor onto sensitive water beds. The Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems, plus the highly efficient engines, will reduce emissions, noise and vibrations, for minimal disturbances to the marine life environment.

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