Meetings Uncovered: Latest Updates in Hospitality News

Smart Meetings breaking news graphic.

Uzbekistan’s Cotton Industry Receives $2 Million to Prevent Forced, Child Labor

Oct. 5, 2022—The U.S. Department of Labor on Wednesday announced the allocation of a $2 million grant to Uzbekistan with the goal of curbing forced labor and child labor in the county’s cotton industry through a cooperative agreement to assist the country in adhering to international labor standards. The funding was administered by the Bureau of Internal Labor Affairs, according to a press release.

“Uzbekistan’s commitment to labor standards compliance has renewed international interest in sourcing and investing in cotton grown there,” Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee said. “To take advantage of these economic growth opportunities, employers must provide decent working conditions and respect the voices and rights of workers. At the same time, workers will need tools to advocate for good labor practices and participate in labor standards compliance systems.”

The grant will support a project including the Solidarity Center and its co-implementer, the Center for International Private Enterprise, to strengthen the voice of workers and assist local cotton businesses to enact processes for effective labor compliance standards. A full list of goods produced globally using forced or child labor can be viewed here.

Rest periods Between Shifts Extended for Flight Attendants: FAA 

Oct. 4, 2022—The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday announced a final rule that will extend the rest period between shifts for flight attendants to 10 consecutive hours, up from the previous requirement of nine hours. The ruling on the duration of rest periods also fulfills the requirement of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which directs the FAA to increase the rest period of flight attendants with scheduled duty lasting 14 hours or less while eliminating the provision that allows rest periods to be reduced under certain circumstances, according to a press release.

“Flight attendants, like all essential transportation workers, work hard every day to keep the traveling public safe, and we owe them our full support,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “This new rule will make it easier for flight attendants to do their jobs, which in turn will keep all of us safe in the air.”

The final rule will go into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The FAA held two public feedback periods in 2019 and 2021, spanning more than 105 days, and reviewed over 1,000 comments from flight attendants, airlines and the public.

U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism to Announce Hotel Reopening, Post-Pandemic Return of Cruise Industry

Oct. 3, 2022—The U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Department of Tourism will announce the reopening of two Frenchman’s Reef properties in St. Thomas following a $350 million renovation and news regarding the post-pandemic return of its cruise industry during the 40th annual Caribbean Travel Marketplace scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 4 in San Juan Puerto Rico. The marketplace is produced by the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) and is the largest marketing event for Caribbean tourism suppliers and wholesalers. The USVI Charter Yacht Show in November and the popular month-long Crucian Christmas Festival in St. Croix will also be discussed during the annual marketplace, according to a press release.

“This CHTA event is an ideal forum for the USVI Department of Tourism to announce to the media, to our partners and to industry peers, the progress we have made after the severe economic impact that the pandemic had on our tourism industry and throughout the Caribbean these past two and a half years,” said Joseph Boschulte, USVI Commissioner of Tourism. “We are especially excited to share the news of the reopening of two rebuilt and rebranded properties at Frenchmen’s Reef, restoring our accommodation capacity in St. Thomas to the levels prior to the devastating destruction caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria five years ago.”

AHLA Survey Reveals Improvement in Ongoing Hotel Staffing Shortage

Oct. 3, 2022—The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) on Monday reported widespread staffing shortages continuing at hotels following a survey of 200 hoteliers conducted Sept. 12-19, 2022. Responses to the “Front Desk Feedback” survey showed 87% of respondents reported staffing issues (36% reported severe staffing shortages) with housekeeping being the most severely impacted area of hotel service with 43% ranking it as their biggest staffing hurdle. However, the latest survey shows some improvement from May when 97% of survey respondents reported staffing problems and 49% reported severe issues, according to a press release.

“Today’s tight labor market is creating unprecedented career opportunities for current and prospective hotel employees, and AHLA and the AHLA Foundation are working tirelessly to spread the word. With hotel wages, benefits, flexibility and upward mobility at historic levels, there has never been a better time to work at a hotel than the present,” AHLA President & CEO Chip Rogers said.

In response to the ongoing staffing issues, the AHLA Foundation launched its “Place to Stay” advertising campaign across 14 cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego, and Tampa to promote the over 200 career paths in the hospitality industry through the site thehotelindustry.com.

Federal Government vs. Northeast Alliance Trial Continues

Oct. 3, 2022—The trial of the federal government vs. American Airlines—JetBlue Northeast Alliance continues this week. The government is attempting to dismantle the partnership between American Airlines and JetBlue under anti-trust laws due to the Northeast Alliance blocking competition in the city by pulling their resources together and operating as one airline.

Robert Isom, Chief Executive of American Airlines Group, acknowledges the partnership with JetBlue yet denies violating any antitrust laws. Isom says the two airlines do not act as one in Boston nor anywhere in the Northeast. The latest update in the trial comes from MSN News as Isom testified.

“We have our own gate. We have our own planes,” said Isom in the Boston trial. “We have our own services that make us distinct.”

Delta, LATAM Partnership Approved by U.S. Dept. of Transportation

Oct. 3, 2022—The U.S. Department of Transportation approved a joint venture between Delta Airlines and LATAM that will provide travelers access to over 300 destinations between the U.S./Canada and South America, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. The new partnership is expected to expand cooperation in these markets through additional route offerings, improved connections and strengthening existing reciprocal loyalty benefits, according to a press release.

“Delta’s partnership with LATAM will help grow the market between North and South America and provide significant and much-needed benefits for customers, and we applaud the DOT for this final approval,” Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive officer said. “Now, we’ll get to work with LATAM to transform the travel experience for our collective customers and create new opportunities for our employees.”

The airlines first announced plans to form the partnership throughout the Americas in 2019 with the goal of significantly expanding travel options across North and South America, while offering an industry-leading customer experience.

West Virginia International Yeager Airport Projects Under Environmental Review: FAA

Sept. 30, 2022—The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday announced the environmental review of projects slated for the West Virginia International Yeager Airport (CRW), including airfield, safety and terminal improvements. A draft environmental review will be prepared by the FAA, which will also conduct several public meetings on the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the projects. The upgrades were proposed by the Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority (CWVRAA), according to a press release.

The proposed projects include upgrades to the terminal facilities, shift and extension of Runway 5-23 and the parallel taxiway to improve safety and meet FAA standards with the goal of implementing the necessary upgrades to meet the forecast of heightened aviation demand at the airport. The EIS will be prepared to address the potential environmental impact of the projects.

Top DOT Officials Celebrate Groundbreaking of New Seaway Visitor Center in Massena, N.Y.

Sept. 30, 2022—Top officials from The U.S. Department of Transportation this week celebrated the groundbreaking of the new visitor center at the U.S. Eisenhower Lock in Massena, N.Y. carried out by the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (GLS). The new 75,000-sqaure-foot center will welcome visitors to the Seaway and usher in a world-class tourist attraction in the region, according to a press release.

“Since its creation over half a century ago, the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway has become a model of international cooperation, an economic gateway to America, and an indispensable part of our national economy,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “From grain to steel, the Seaway delivers American goods to the world, and brings resources to our shores. This new visitor center will to build understanding of the Seaway’s vital role in our economy and our history.”

The new center will feature an observation deck where visitors can view the process of commercial vessels being elevated 40 feet in the air through transit of the lock. In addition, the center will also house memorabilia and informational displays. Hundreds of ships from all over the world transport roughly 35 million metric tons of cargo through the St. Lawrence Seaway every year.

Florida Keys Reopened

Sept. 30, 2022—Key West International Airport reopened Thursday morning after tropical storm-force winds and storm surge from Hurricane Ian impacted the island chain Tuesday and Wednesday. The Florida Keys Overseas Highway, including all 42 bridges, is open, said Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay. Almost all Keys lodging establishments escaped significant storm impact and are open. The National Hurricane Center discontinued a tropical storm warning as well as storm surge warnings and watches for the Keys late Wednesday afternoon.

Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen Opens in Caesars Atlantic City

Sept. 29, 2022—Chef Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen restaurant is now open in Caesars Atlantic City according to the hotel’s press release. For the first time in the history of Chef Ramsay’s hit competitive cooking show, the restaurant will be based on the East Coast’s famous Jersey Shore.

Hell’s Kitchen in Caesars Atlantic City will be the city’s third Ramsay restaurant. The celebrity chef has had success in Atlantic City with Gordon Ramsay Steak and Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill. We hope to see the Hell’s Kitchen television show and its restaurant at Caesars Atlantic City have the same success!

Read more about Atlantic City’s upgrades here.

Puerto Rico to Receive $8 Million in ‘Quick Release’ Emergency Relief Funding to Repair Flood-Damaged Roadways

Sept. 28, 2022—The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on Wednesday immediately authorized $8 million in “quick release” funds for use by Puerto Rico to rebuild and repair roadways that were damaged by flooding and landslides caused by Hurricane Fiona, according to a press release.

“Today’s announcement will help the people of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, which has claimed lives and damaged infrastructure,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “These emergency funds are a down payment to help Puerto Rico clear debris and reopen as many roads and bridges as possible, so citizens and emergency personnel can get where they need to go safely.”

Fiona caused historic flooding after making landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 18. due to heavy rainfall and wind. The flooding caused massive landslides damaging bridges and roads throughout the island. The damage caused by the hurricane has been estimated at more than $35 million.

“The Federal Highway Administration is working closely with the Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority to repair the damage caused to roads and bridges by flooding in multiple locations across the island,” Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack said. “The quick release funding we are providing will help get those repairs started as soon as possible and better prepare this area for future flooding events.”

Hurricane Ian Shuts Down Commercial Flights in Orlando

Sept. 27, 2022—Orlando International Airport (MCO) issued a press release today announcing operations will be suspended as of 10:30 a.m. EST as Hurricane Ian is expected to hit Florida. After leaving Cuba this afternoon, the storm has gained momentum and is barreling towards South Florida with estimated wind speeds of 120 mph. MCO is alerting passengers to cancel/reschedule flights and other travel plans to remain safe.

However, MCO won’t be closed completely. The airport will remain in operation for emergency/aid and relief flights. Passengers are not allowed to be inside the airport during the storm as it is not an authorized shelter.

Track Hurricane Ian here.

Bally’s Finalizes Acquisition of Tropicana Las Vegas

Sept. 27, 2022—Bally’s Corporation has completed its acquisition of Tropicana Las Vegas with Gaming & Leisure Properties Inc. (GLPI) and Penn Entertainment Inc. (PENN), which was announced April 2021.

Bally’s has purchased the non-land assets of Tropicana from GLPLI and Penn for $148 million. Bally’s will lease the land from GLPI for an initial 50-year term.

Read more about Las Vegas here.

SFO Food Workers Continue Strike—Demand Higher Wages

Sept. 27, 2022—Fast food workers at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on Tuesday continued their open-ended strike, which began Monday, demanding higher pay amid skyrocketing menu prices offered at restaurants and other vendors at the airport, according to a press release.

The duration of the strike “really depends on the employer,” says Ted Waechter of Unite Here 2, a labor union that represents more than 15,000 hospitality workers in San Francisco, San Mateo County, the East Bay and North Bay. “Our lines are strong and workers are clear that they’re not going back to work without a meaningful raise and affordable healthcare. So, we’ll be out on strike until the employers agree to those, we think, very modest demands.”

The majority of food workers at SFO have reported making $17.05 an hour and say they have not received a raise in three years. Many have also reported having to take on multiple jobs to keep up with the high cost of living in the region. In addition, food workers at SFO have recently taken to social media to compare the cost of menu items compared to their hourly wages.

My pay for a whole hour of work is less than the price of just one meal. That is so unfair. I’m on strike because I want to quit my second job and have more time with my family,” said Vivian Narvarte, who works at both Pie Five Pizza and Ladle & Leaf Restaurant at SFO.  

The strike follows a vote held by airport food service workers in August with 99.7% voting to authorize a strike.

Caesars Entertainment Announces Caesars Virginia

Sept. 27, 2022—Caesars Entertainment this week announced Caesars Virginia—slated to open in 2024. The new $500 million resort will be built in Danville, Virginia, and will be home to 500 guest rooms and 40,000 sq. ft. of meeting and convention space. Event planners will also be able to take advantage of the 900 square-foot boardroom and outdoor terrace, perfect for providing attendees with a reception area and additional breakout space, according to press release.

The new property will also have the potential to provide attendees with an all-inclusive experience with a 2,500-seat live entertainment venue featuring state-of-the-art technology, new restaurant and bar concepts, a world-class casino gaming floor, spa, pool and fitness center.

“Caesars Virginia will be an economic driver for the region, both as a tourist and entertainment draw and through the more than a thousand good-paying jobs the resort will create,” Anthony Carano, President and Chief Operating Officer of Caesars Entertainment said. “The people of Danville have entrusted us to build a world-class resort, and we look forward to proving that trust was well founded with an incredible resort worthy of the iconic Caesars brand.”

New Extra Fee Disclosure Laws for Airlines

Sept. 26, 2022—President Joe Biden will propose new legislation this afternoon for airlines and travel search websites in response to hidden fees for unpredictable circumstances. After a travel-crazed summer due to pent-up travel demand, customers are unknowingly facing fees for losing luggage, changing or cancelling their flights and other unforeseen charges they may not have been aware they would be responsible for.

President Biden and The Transportation Department will be announcing plans to ensure airlines fully inform potential customers on all possible travel fees on Monday afternoon, Sept. 26. Pete Buttigieg, Transportation Secretary, is confident the new protocol will relieve travel anxiety, according to a press release.

“Airline passengers deserve to know the full, true cost of their flights before they buy a ticket,” says Buttigieg. “This new proposed rule would require airlines to be transparent with customers about the fees they charge, which will help travelers make informed decisions and save money.”

FAA Releases Latest Vertiport Design Standards to Support Advanced Air Mobility Aircraft

Sept. 26, 2022—The FAA on Monday released the latest set of design standards for vertiports as part of the main infrastructure that will support Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) aircraft at U.S. airports. The design standards will provide guidance and key information to airport owners, operators and infrastructure developers to support the use of the electrically-powered AAM aircraft that are designed for vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), according to a press release.

“Our country is stepping into a new era of aviation. These vertiport design standards provide the foundation needed to begin safely building infrastructure in this new era,” Associate Administrator for Airports Shannetta Griffin, P.E. said.

The new design standards include the following:

  • Dimensions and design for vertiport touchdown and liftoff areas
  • Lighting, markings and visual aids to identify vertiports
  • Charging and electric infrastructure for charging equipment at vertiports
  • Guidelines for adding vertiports to an existing airfield
  • Standards for building vertiports on top of structures

Canada Ends Travel Requirements

Sept. 26th, 2022—As of October 1st, Canada will be ending travel requirements such as masking, proof of vaccination, the ArriveCAN app and mandatory testing and/or quarantine. Though the tourism industry has been doing well in Canada recently, the lift of the border restrictions is predicted to increase the volume of visitors even further.

Porthole Cruise and Travel reported on the story as the news is particularly important for the cruise industry. Many cruise ships traveling to popular destinations such as Alaska and New England use Canadian ports to dock. John Padgett, President of Princess Cruises, says “Alaska and Canadian cruises are among the most desired vacation options in the world, and we look forward to welcoming everyone who’s waited the past three years for this market to fully open.”

Hurricane Ian Heads to Florida, Ramps Up Strength

Sept. 26, 2022—Hurricane Ian maintained its northwest course towards Florida as of 11 a.m. EDT on Monday as the storm continued picking up strength, hurling winds of up to 80 mph. Hurricane-force winds extended as far out as 25 miles from the storm’s center as forecasters warn that Ian will become a Category 4 hurricane, AccuWeather.com reports.

“By Tuesday, Ian may be a dangerous major hurricane,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty said. Tuesday is expected to bring the worst conditions, with gusts reaching speeds of up to 120-140 mph and a storm surge of over six feet in some areas.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday declared a landfall state of emergency and later activated the National Guard on Sunday. DeSantis warned Florida residents to prepare for the storm’s impact.

Ian is currently categorized as Category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. “The path of Tropical Storm Ian remains uncertain and could have impacts from the Keys to Northwest Florida. Floridians along the Gulf Coast should prepare now for the possibility of severe weather next week,” DeSantis tweeted.

“A quick uptick in strengthening is expected early this week as Ian moves into the western Caribbean, where low wind shear and very warm water are in place. This will raise the likelihood of significant impacts in the western Caribbean, and eventually the United States,” Douty said.

Amtrak Pledges Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2045

Sept. 23, 2022—Amtrak this week pledged to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its network by 2045 to curb the impact of climate change while continuing to provide passengers with service, according to a press release.

Amtrak aims to meet this goal by taking the following actions:

  • Improve energy efficiency by implementing renewable fuels and energy.
  • Reducing the use of diesel fuel through innovations in zero-emission technologies.
  • Achieve 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030 through energy-efficient upgrades and renewable energy generation.

“Not only are trains convenient and comfortable, they are also one of the most sustainable modes of transportation,” Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner said. “With new equipment, modernized stations and net zero emissions, Amtrak can lead the drive toward sustainable transportation throughout the nation.”

“We congratulate Amtrak for this ambitious commitment to further reduce its carbon footprint, cementing its place as a leader in the clean transportation revolution,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “As we continue working to implement President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we look forward to working with Amtrak to demonstrate the key role of passenger rail in fighting climate change.”

Next Round of Funding Opens for Airport Terminals Program

Sept. 23, 2022—The FAA announced the application process for the next round of funding to provide grants for airport terminal development projects in the U.S. has started and will remain open until Oct. 24, 2022, according to a press release.

The funding, made possible through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, aims to address the aging infrastructure of airfields across the country and includes upgrades and repairs such as expanding terminals, improving energy efficiency, building new air traffic control towers, improving energy efficiency, increasing accessibility among other features. The current round of funding will match the first round at $1 billion.

“Americans deserve modern airports that meet the needs of their families and growing passenger demand. Funded through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, today’s grants will improve airport terminals while also creating good jobs in communities across the country,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.

The first round was allocated to 90 airports across the nation, with the distribution of the funds determined by airport size. Large hub airports will receive 55% of the total funding; medium hub airports will receive up to 15% of the total funding; and small hub airports will receive up to 20% of the total funding. In addition, 10% of the total funding will be awarded to smaller, non-primary, non-hub airports.

Hurricane Fiona Heads for Atlantic Canada

Sept. 22, 2022—After barreling through the Caribbean, Hurricane Fiona is now moving north towards Atlantic Canada. According to U.S. Consulate General Halifax, the Canadian Hurricane Centre is alerting residents of the possible flooding and rolling power outages that can occur as the storm hits Canada Friday night and Saturday morning, according to a press release.

Hurricane Fiona is predicted to land in Nova Scotia and Cape Breton early Saturday morning before making its way to Lower Quebec Northshore and Southeastern Labrador the following day. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Canada have released a list of actions to take in preparation for the hurricane.

Read more here.

PHL Life Sciences Appoints New Advisory Board Chair

Sept. 22, 2022—PHL Life Sciences, a business development division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), on Thursday announced the appointment of Patrick M. Oates, Ph.D. as the organization’s new Advisory Board Chair. PHL Life Sciences promotes Philadelphia as a leading hub and destination for the life sciences industry. Oates serves as senior vice president of business development and strategic planning for EMSCO Scientific Enterprise, Inc., and has a doctorate in physiology and molecular biology, according to a press release.

EMSCO Scientific Enterprise, Inc. is a local, minority-owned distributor of laboratory supplies, equipment, chemicals and pharmaceutical excipients. Oates works to expand commercial growth through partnerships with pharmaceutical companies and other life science entities

“Patrick will be an incredible resource and asset for PHL Life Sciences as we continue to connect industry associations and planners with our city’s strong life sciences network for the most successful healthcare, medical and higher education meetings here in Philadelphia.” Bonnie Grant, executive director of PHL Life Sciences said.

Events booked by PHL Life Sciences in 2019 resulted in a regional economic impact of $215 million.

Joint Office of Energy and Transportation Appoints Leader Gabe Klein

 Sept. 21, 2022—The U.S. Department of Energy and Transportation announced that former Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation and Director of the Washington D.C. Department of Transportation, Gabe Klein, will be the lead on President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Klein will be leading the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, an outfit created to service rural and disadvantaged communities, with vehicle electrification charging networks. The overall goal of the Joint Office is to upgrade national transportation systems and provide Americans with affordable electric options to cut down on fuel costs, according to a press release.

While more metropolitan areas have long had options for electric vehicles and readily available charging stations, the Joint Office is ensuring the same options for electric energy systems will be available nationwide. U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm assures Klein is the man for the job.

“Gabe has spent his career spurring innovation for sustainable transportation,” says Granholm. “We couldn’t be more excited to have him working for more electric cars and trucks on our roadways.”

American Airlines Confirms Employee Email Hacker Breach

Sept. 20, 2022—Although American Airlines is insistent to assure customers and employees that only a “very small number” of people were targets of email hackers and that no fraud has been reported, personal information was still compromised and caused both travelers and American Airlines employees alike to feel uneasy. Booking a flight requires an individual to provide date of birth, a driver’s license, passport information and even medical history—these are all details the hackers now have access to, per Associated Press.

According to Associated Press, the hacking investigation began in July, yet American Airlines did not disclose its discovery of hacking until last week. The airline has ensured customers and employees that the accounts breached have been disabled and a team of cybersecurity professionals has been hired to investigate.

American Airlines Partners with American Red Cross to Provide Hurricane Fiona Relief

Sept. 20, 2022—With most of Puerto Rico out of power and almost 840,000 people without running water, Hurricane Fiona has proven to be an entity of destruction as it tears its way through the Caribbean. Hitting the Dominican Republic yesterday and Turks and Caicos earlier today, the storm has left the islands in desperate need of help. In alignment with the American Red Cross, American Airlines announced a new offer for their AAdvantage members that will contribute towards providing relief in the Caribbean and credit members with miles in return.

The offer is available for American Airlines AAdvantage members and is available through October 15, 2022. For every dollar donated to the Red Cross with a minimum of $25, members will earn 10 miles. American Airlines is a member of the Annual Disaster Giving Program with the Red Cross and is urging patrons to donate and support American Red Cross efforts in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and all of the Caribbean.

Partnership Connecting Small and Disadvantaged Businesses with Resources Announced During OSBDU Business Forum

Sept. 20, 2022—The US Department of Transportation (USDOT), Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the US Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) on Tuesday announced a partnership with small and disadvantaged businesses that require resources to succeed. The partnership was announced during a business forum hosted at the USDOT headquarters and focused on helping improve access to capital and other resources to ensure all businesses will benefit from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. To date, USDOT is on track to hit the goal of allocating 20% of the agency’s federal contracts to small and disadvantaged businesses, according to a press release.

The business forum included several panels featuring business leaders and senior Biden-Harris Administration officials including US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman, and US Department of Commerce for Minority Business Development Under Secretary Don R Cravins Jr.

“Through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are making historic investments in our transportation infrastructure—and that represents major opportunity for historically excluded Americans and our nation’s small businesses,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “These new initiatives with our partners at SBA and MBDA will help more small business owners secure federal contracts to modernize our country’s infrastructure for decades to come.”

AHLA Foundation Partners with U.S. Job Corps

Sept. 20, 2022—The American Hotel & Lodging Association Foundation (AHLAF) has partnered with the U.S. Department of Lab in an effort to pump new life into the hospitality workforce.

The partnership’s initiatives have been designed to fill the 130,000 open jobs in hospitality with ready-to-work Job Corps students enrolled in hospitality training programs, giving them access to hotel jobs and AHLAF’s apprenticeship program.

“We are proud to team up with Job Corps as a platinum partner to strengthen our retention and recruitment programs,” said Sarah Cozewith, vice president of workforce development at AHLAF. “With hundreds of thousands of open hotel positions, this is the perfect time for these students to enroll in the hotel industry. From training more than 1,400 apprentices to providing more than $1 million in academic scholarships annually, this trailblazing partnership builds on AHLAF’s ongoing efforts to craft an industry as diverse as the guests we serve.”

Qatar Airways Hosts Largest Post-Covid Meeting of Aviation Financial Leaders in Doha

Sept. 20, 2022—Qatar Airways will host the largest gathering of the aviation industry’s financial leaders since before the start of the Covid pandemic in Doha, Qatar, from Sept. 19 to 22. The financial symposium follows the IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit (WATS), hosted in Doha last June, which was the most attended AGM in the Middle East in history, according to a press release.

The financial forecast appears promising as the aviation industry continues to immerge from the pandemic while government-imposed restrictions have been removed and demand for air travel ramps up. Industry losses are expected to fall from $180 billion during 2020-21 to $9.7 billion in 2022.

“We are honored to be hosting the first in-person World Financial Symposium since 2019, especially during our milestone year, celebrating 25 years of operations. This vital symposium will bring together financial leaders from airlines and from our many supply chain partners to discuss and debate the path forward and the challenges to be overcome,” said Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Bake.

The sessions of the symposium will address:

  • ESG and sustainable finance trends
  • Achieving carbon net zero by 2050
  • Financial risk management
  • The road to airline retailing & customer centricity
  • Fulfillment and settlement in a world of airline offers and orders
  • The future of airline payments and payments as a value creator
  • Understanding and preparing for OECD BEPS 2.0

Hurricane Fiona Tears Through the Caribbean  

Sept. 19, 2022—Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico yesterday with winds up to almost 100 mph and an estimated 25 inches of rain. Although Puerto Rico has worked to build a stronger and more resilient infrastructure on the island as they recovered from the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017, CBS News reports the new bridge in the central city of Utuado crumbled instantly under the pressure from the storm. Hurricane Fiona left almost the entire island without power and nearly 840,000 without running water.

Hurricane Fiona continues to move and gain momentum. After slowing down slightly as it hit the land mass of the Dominican Republic, the National Hurricane Center says the storm is headed towards the islands of Turks and Caicos with tropical winds as fierce as 140 mph. The storm is projected to avoid Florida but will intensify to Category 4 as it heads northwest towards Bermuda.

Panama Lifts Travel Restrictions

Sept. 19, 2022—Panama is an incredibly beautiful country with some of the most coveted resort experiences in the world—yet this was all shut down in 2020 as Covid swept the world. For obvious safety reasons, Panama stood strong in its strict restrictions regarding arriving travelers. However, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the restrictions set in place during the pandemic were to be lifted and normal tourism protocol would be reinstated, per Breaking Travel News.

Previous to the lift on restrictions, travelers were mandated to prove vaccination status, undergo both pre-departure and post-arrival tests and even quarantine after arriving in Panama. With these restrictions now lifted, Panama tourism can return to its rightly earned reputation as one of the best hotel/resort destinations in the world.

DHS and TSA Appointing Personnel to Ensure Safety and Security

Sept. 19, 2022—The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a press release this morning announcing the appointment of 25 members to the Faith-Based Security Advisory Council who will aid the DHS and Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas in matters of security, equity and overall service to the public. The alliance between DHS and the Council is believed to improve communication and coordination in order to address any security threats.

While the DHS is appointing new personnel, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve a second term. As President Biden’s nominee, both the government and the TSA have faith that Pekoske’s experience in security leadership is an asset to travel safety.

White House Announces Minority Enterprise Development Week

Sept. 19, 2022—President Joe Biden proclaimed Sept. 18 through 24 as Minority Enterprise Development Week from the White House—calling on all Americans to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions and achievements of minority business owners and enterprises, according to a press release.

“Every day, America’s 9.2 million minority business enterprises deliver essential goods and services to their customers and help power the United States economy.  They develop cutting-edge technologies, provide social services to people in need, construct roads and bridges, operate restaurants and retail shops, and make vital contributions to all industries.  Minority business enterprises also provide proprietors and employees a sense of purpose, a source of dignity, and for some, a valuable asset to pass down through generations.  During Minority Enterprise Development Week, we celebrate the ingenuity and dedication of America’s minority entrepreneurs, and we recommit to helping all Americans access the resources they need to build thriving businesses and a fairer, more prosperous Nation,” the press release read.

The Minority Business Development Agency was made permanent through funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and is the only federal agency dedicated to connecting minority-owned businesses to “private lenders, exporters, and public- and private-sector buyers; and it directs the Department of Transportation to prioritize contracts to small, disadvantaged businesses.”

President Biden also announced his administration has pledged to boost federal dollars allocated to minority-owned businesses by 2025, which is estimated to bring these businesses as much as $100 billion in new revenue over the span of this period.

Mental Health and Employment Working Group Launched During U.S. Conference of Mayors

Sept. 16, 2022—U.S. Department of Labor’s Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy, Taryn Williams, applauded the launch of the Mental Health and Employment Working Group during the U.S. Conference of Mayors hosted in Miami on Friday, according to a press release.

The goal of the working group is to identify policies, plans and practices to address and support workers’ mental health needs across the country. It’s development was made possible through a collaboration between the department’s State Exchange on Employment and Disability and the Conference of Mayors.

“When it comes to mental health, America’s workplaces have a critical role to play. That’s why we at the Labor Department are committed to helping employers—Including state and local public-sector agencies—understand the steps they can take to promote mental health-friendly work environments,” said Assistant Secretary Taryn Williams. “We’re pleased to call the U.S. Conference of Mayors a partner in the State Exchange on Employment and Disability initiative and look forward to the knowledge-sharing and collaboration that the Mental Health and Employment Working Group will foster.”

Since 2020, the National Center for Health Statistics’ Household Pulse Survey revealed an increasing number of adults reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reported a growing number of adults who say they have experienced mental health conditions caused by lingering Covid-19 symptoms.

U.S. Senators Manchin, Capito Announce Continued Essential Air Services at Lewisburg, Clarksburg Airports

Sept. 14, 2022—U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin of West Virginia on Wednesday announced Essential Air Services (EAS) will continue at North Central West Virginia Airport in Clarksburg (CKB) and Greenbrier Valley Airport in Lewisburg (LWB) following a decision by SkyWest Airlines in March to terminate EAS services at 29 airports across the U.S. including Clarksburg and Lewisburg, according to a press release.

“Air service is absolutely critical for West Virginia, connecting our communities to the rest of the country, helping businesses export their products and increasing tourism across our great state,” Senator Manchin said. “I have fought for EAS program funding for years to bring quality, reliable air travel and new economic opportunities to West Virginia, and I am pleased Contour Airlines will be continuing these critical flight services at the Clarksburg and Lewisburg airports. I am grateful to DOT for their commitment to protecting EAS in West Virginia, and I will continue advocating for our transportation hubs across the Mountain State.”

EAS at Clarksburg and Lewisburg airports will now be provided by Contour Airlines following a selection process conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation and will start a three-year term on December 1, 2022. However, SkyWest is still responsible for providing EAS at both airports until the new term begins.

“Our airports in West Virginia are vital to connecting our residents and our communities with the rest of our country and world,” Senator Capito said. “These three-year contracts that will provide weekly service between our North Central West Virginia Airport (CKB) in Clarksburg and our Greenbrier Valley Airport (LWB) in Lewisburg to Charlotte Douglas International Airport will not only create great opportunities for our residents but will also serve as a gateway for people around the globe to visit West Virginia. I have long fought to keep Essential Air Services at our airports in West Virginia, and I’m thrilled to see this operation come to fruition.”

EPA Launches Program to Protect 3 Boston-area River Watersheds

Sept. 14, 2022—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday announced advanced actions in protecting three Boston-area watersheds from stormwater pollutants, which were previously unregulated. The Charles, Mystic and Neponset rivers will now be protected under the Clean Water Act, requiring permit coverage under the provision titled “residual designation authority,” for stormwater discharge. This includes commercial, industrial, and institutional properties that have one or more acres of impervious area such as hard surfaces like parking lots, roofs, and roadways that make it difficult for stormwater to soak into the ground, according to a press release.

“On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, EPA is taking strong, decisive action to ensure that all our citizens have access to local waterways that support enjoyment and recreation. It is clear that the nature and scale of the problem requires urgent action on this pressing environmental justice concern,” EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash said. “With a warming climate there is no time to waste to reduce bacterial and nutrient pollution in stormwater and the resulting water quality degradation including harmful algae blooms experienced yearly in all three watersheds.”

The general permit will be released in draft form by the EPA for public comment and will also be gathering public feedback on the implementation of the program at that time, per EPA regulations.

Alaska Receives $6.7 Million to Boost Tourism, Develop New Visitor Infrastructure

Sept. 13, 2022—U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo on Tuesday announced the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska, with a $6.7 million grant through the American Rescue Plan, according to a press release.

The grant will be used to boost tourism and develop new visitor infrastructure and amenities. The funding will be allocated to the construction of a new visitors center and will provide local businesses with additional retail space with the goal of helping them connect with visitors in a central location.

“President Biden recognizes the vital contribution the travel and tourism industry makes to the American economy,” Raimondo said. “This project will create new opportunities for businesses in Matanuska-Susitna Borough to tap into Alaska’s important tourism economy, expanding the potential for economic growth and resilience.”

“The Economic Development Administration plays an important role in supporting community-led economic development strategies designed to boost coronavirus recovery and response efforts,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo said. “This EDA investment will provide a critical new amenity that the region needs to support local businesses and increase tourism in the community.”

The grant will also be partially matched with $1.7 million in local funding to retain or create roughly 180 jobs, according to estimates.

Read more here.

Baird/STR Hotel Stock Index Dropped in August

Sept. 13, 2022—The Baird/STR Hotel Stock Index dipped to a level of 5,021 after falling 2.7% in August with a total year to date decrease of 12.6% during the first eight months of 2022, according to a press release.

“Hotel stocks took a breather in August after July’s sharp rebound. Despite the slight decline in stock prices, both the Global Hotel Brands and Hotel REITs outperformed their respective benchmarks in August,” Michael Bellisario, senior hotel research analyst and director at Baird, said. “Hotel trends have remained solid throughout the summer months despite all the capital markets volatility and macroeconomic uncertainties. However, investors appear somewhat skeptical about the prospects for a significant recovery in business transient travel post-Labor Day, and hotel stocks appear to be discounting this relatively conservative fundamental expectation, in our opinion.”

“Even with expected seasonal slowing, demand and room rates have remained at healthy levels,” Amanda Hite, STR president said. “Upscale and upper midscale hotels reported stronger occupancy levels in August, appealing to price-conscious leisure and corporate transient travelers. With schools now back in session, owners and operators are closely watching the return of the corporate group and individual traveler to understand if, and how, patterns have changed since the onset of the pandemic. Association and large group event organizers are looking forward to the first fall without significant health restrictions, which could drive event attendance to new heights. When looking at the bottom line, GOPPAR surpassed 2019 levels for a fourth consecutive month in July. But as wages increase and operations are ramped up further, expenses will likely continue to rise, putting pressure on profit growth.”

However, Baird/STR Hotel Stock Index outperformed both the S&P 500 (-4.2%) and the MSCI US REIT Index (-6.1%). The Hotel REIT sub-index decreased by 3.7% to 1,143, while the Hotel Brand sub-index dropped 2.3% from July to 8,959.

‘National Economic Disaster’ U.S. Chamber of Commerce Urges Action on Railroad Negotiations

Sept. 12, 2022—The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday sent a letter to Congress urging immediate action in the negotiations with the country’s six largest freight railroads and 12 unions to avoid a shutdown of the nation’s rail service that would have “enormous national consequences,” according to the letter.

“A national rail strike would be an economic disaster—freezing the flow of goods, emptying shelves, shuttering workplaces, and raising prices for families and businesses alike, but that is exactly what is likely to happen in less than four days. To avoid a strike and the catastrophic economic impacts that would follow, one of three things needs to happen: the remaining unions who have not agreed to a deal need to join the ones who have; an agreement to extend the current ‘cooling off’ period must be reached; or Congress intervenes, as it has in prior situations. If action is not taken, the nation’s rail service will come to a halt, the negative impacts of which cannot be understated.”

The letter also suggests that Congress implement the recommendations of President Biden’s Presidential Emergency Board (PEB), which includes wage increases among other measures, if unions and carriers are unable to reach an agreement. A rail service shutdown would have a serious impact on 46 states and cost the U.S. economy roughly $2 billion a day.

FAA, NTSB Clarify Agency Roles During Commercial Space Investigations

Sept. 9, 2022—Members of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Friday signed an agreement clarifying the specific roles of the agencies during investigations into commercial space accidents, according to a press release.

The agreement was signed by National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy and Federal Aviation Administration Acting Administrator Billy Nolen.

“For over three decades, the NTSB has led and supported major commercial space mishap investigations that have made human spaceflight safer to this day,” Homendy said. “This agreement is proof that the federal government can keep pace with the exciting advances taking place in the private sector while also prioritizing safety as we enter a new space age.”

The NTSB will lead investigations involving any fatalities or injuries of persons, regardless of whether the individual was on board a commercial space launch or reentry vehicle, or if a commercial launch or reentry results in property damage, injury or death caused by debris created during a launch or reentry.

The FAA will be responsible for investigating all other commercial space mishaps.

Scramble for Hotel Rooms After Queen’s Passing Starts Now

Sept. 9, 2022—With the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth in London, hotel bookings have begun to soar. Tim Hentschel, founder and CEO of HotelPlanner.com says that the site “has seen a 20% increase in searches for London hotels from IP addresses in North America over the past 12 hours, and around a 32% increase in bookings. Also about a 10% to 20% jump in room rates over the past 12 hours, particularly among four and five-star hotels, the latter of which are going for £1,000 per night. HotelPlanner is forecasting that rates will double in the next few days across hotel categories.” 

The next 10 days in the United Kingdom will be official Days of Mourning for Queen Elizabeth. King Charles’ official Coronation may occur up to 10 months after his succession to the throne. It remains for the King to name William as Prince of Wales, but when that occurs as is expected, William will be invested as Prince of Wales in the capital of Wales, Cardiff. For all of these events, hotel bookings in and around London (and Cardiff, Wales) and possibly near the Queen’s Scottish home of Balmoral will be experiencing higher than normal volumes.

United Airlines Invests Additional $15 Million in Flying Taxis

Sept. 8, 2022—United Airlines on Thursday announced a $15 million investment in Eve Air Mobility, marking another significant bid by United in flying taxis. In addition, United announced the conditional purchase of 200 four-seat electric aircraft, plus 200 options, with the first delivery of the flying taxis, or eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle), expected as soon as 2026, according to a press release.

United Airlines and Eve Air Mobility also announced future projects including additional studies and development of the aircraft and the urban air mobility (UAM) ecosystem with the goal of revolutionizing the commuter experience in cities around the globe.

“United has made early investments in several cutting-edge technologies at all levels of the supply chain, staking out our position as a leader in aviation sustainability and innovation,” President of United Airlines Ventures Michael Leskinen said. “Today, United is making history again, by becoming the first major airline to publicly invest in two eVTOL companies. Our agreement with Eve highlights our confidence in the urban air mobility market and serves as another important benchmark toward our goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050–without using traditional offsets. Together, we believe our suite of clean energy technologies will revolutionize air travel as we know it and serve as the catalyst for the aviation industry to move toward a sustainable future.”

Govt. Of the Municipality of Los Cabos, Mexico Implements New Environmental Sanitation Tax

Sept. 8, 2022—The government of the municipality of Los Cabos, Mexico announced a new tax that will support environmental infrastructure, sustainability practices, and safety and security, among other projects, according to a press release issued by AMR Collection resorts.

The new mandatory tax is $33.68 Mexican Pesos per room, per night, approximately $1.70 USD, effective Sept. 8, and is applicable to all guests staying in Los Cabos regardless of room occupancy. However, the tax will be included in the room rate and will not be charged as an additional fee. All reservations booked prior to Sept. 8 will be exempt from the tax.

Biden-Harris Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Launch New Climate Hazard Tracking Tool

Sept. 8, 2022—The Biden-Harris administration and the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) on Thursday introduced a new website that will allow communities across the country track and analyze potential climate-related hazards and quickly find federal funds, including those allocated through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to support climate resilience projects in their area, according to a press release.

The interactive geospatial website, Climate Mapping for Resilience and Adaptation (CMRA), allows people to consider their exposure and the long-term impact of climate-related hazards in their communities. The tool uses data integrated from across the federal government in real-time with the intention of assisting federal, state, local and tribal governments as well as non-profit organizations in creating equitable solutions to protect people, property, and infrastructure.

“From day one, President Biden made a clear commitment to protect our most vulnerable communities from the impacts of climate change,” Deputy National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi said. “This website is designed as a one-stop shop to equip those on the ground with the tools they need to plan and prepare, and to access federal resources to build greater resilience.”

Holiday Inn Under Cyber-Attack

Sept. 7, 2022—The popular hotel chain, owned by hospitality industry titan Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), announced today their technology system has indeed been hacked. IHG released a statement to confirm their booking system and other applications have been infiltrated since Monday, per BBC news.

IHG assures they are taking the issue seriously. While still investigating the full scope of damage, the company says it is bringing in outside experts and pursuing legal action against the hackers with the authorities. Despite public complaints on social media about the hacked system, IHG claims their booking system is up and running.

“IHG’s hotels are still able to operate and to take reservations directly,” says the company.

Las Vegas Sands and Marina Bay Sands Create $1 Million Hospitality Scholarship Program in Singapore

Sept. 7, 2022—Las Vegas Sands and Marina Bay Sands have launched a $1 million scholarship program in Singapore. The program is being facilitated through Sands Cares, the company’s community engagement program. With tourism in Singapore expected to grow in the coming years, Singapore is looking to capitalize by increasing its hospitality career opportunities.

The Sands Hospitality Program will give the opportunity to more than 100 Singaporean students at six Singapore-based institutes, Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic and the Singapore Institute of Technology. The program will begin in 2023.

Labor Day Travel Recovers Beyond 2019 Levels

Sept. 7, 2022—The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that over the Labor Day holiday, they screened 8.76 million travelers between Friday, Sept. 2 and Monday, Sept. 5. The weekend travel volume represents 102% of volume for the same pre-pandemic holiday weekend in 2019 and is the first time that a holiday weekend passenger screening volume exceeds that of 2019. Transportation Security Officers screened 2.48 million passengers, says the administration’s website.

Dept. of Homeland Security Launches Inaugural Tribal Homeland Security Advisory Council

Sept. 7, 2022—The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday announced the establishment of the first-ever Tribal Homeland Security Advisory Council, as well as the opening period for membership nominations. The purpose of the newly formed Council is to allow tribal leaders to advise the security policies and practices implemented by DHS and their direct impact on indigenous communities, including law enforcement, emergency management, cybersecurity, border security, domestic terrorism and targeted violence, according to a press release issued by DHS.

“The inaugural Tribal Homeland Security Advisory Council is a result of sustained engagement to improve nation-to-nation relationships and comes at a time of critical importance,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said“I look forward to building a new Council that will provide timely advice and recommendations directly from Indian Country regarding how we can better work together to improve homeland security.”

To create a diverse pool of members that reflects the wide expanse of Indian Country, individuals nominated for leadership will be selected based on their qualifications, including professional background, geographic location and technical expertise. Nominations will be accepted over the next 30 days.

AMEX GBT, Travelport Renew Strategic Relationship with Tech Upgrades

Sept. 6, 2022American Express Global Business Travel (AMEX GBT) and London-based Travelport on Tuesday announced a multi-year agreement renewing their strategic relationship, which now spans more than 40 years. The goal of the ongoing relationship seeks to enhance travel retailing with new technologies and simplified processes that power bookings and travel suppliers from around the globe.

“We value our relationship with Amex GBT which has lasted more than 40 years. Deepening our collaboration by using Travelport+ will benefit both Amex GBT and its business customers,” Jason Toothman, Chief Commercial Officer – Agency at Travelport said. “Combining Amex GBT’s expertise with our modern travel retailing tools will ultimately improve how corporate travel is managed. The introduction of Travelport+ servicing capabilities and retailing improvements will ensure continued focus on delivering customer, traveler and supplier value to Amex GBT’s marketplace.”

Incentive Groups Want Luxury Says New Survey

Sept. 6, 2022The Incentive Research Foundation’s most recent report,  Decision Drivers 2022: Elevating the Experience, finds that 80% of groups surveyed (US-based) prefer luxury accommodations for incentive trips. The survey also found that the 10 top destinations for incentive groups are: 1. Hawaii; 2. Caribbean; 3. Western US; 4. Western Europe (France, Italy, Spain, etc.); 5. Southern US (New Orleans, Atlanta, etc.); 6. Southwest (New Mexico, Arizona, etc.); 7. Eastern US; 8. Alaska; 9. Mexico and 10. Canada.

On a webinar on September 6, Rick Garlick, the IRF’s chief research officer said that the survey found a continuing trend in European cruising. Within the cruising demographic, the Caribbean was up by 50% as a desired destination followed by Europe at 30%.

Hospitality Students Awarded $1 million in Scholarships

Sept. 6, 2022Students of the hospitality industry from across the U.S. have been awarded $1 million in scholarships from The American Hotel and Lodging Association Foundation (AHLAF). The scholarships will be allocated to 336 program participants over the course of the 2022-23 academic school year. Of the participants receiving funds, 72% are female and 51% are people of color. The age range of program participants is 18 to 70.

Recipients of the scholarships are students from two-year and four-year schools including 10 community colleges and 71 other institutions across 36 states and Washington D.C. To date, AHLAF has contributed roughly $16 million to students pursuing careers in the hospitality industry.

“Now more than ever it is critical to empower the future minds of the hospitality industry. Through this generous giving, the scholarship recipients at these various institutions will build upon their skills to discover the many exciting career opportunities our industry has to offer,” Sarah Cozewith, Vice President of Workforce Development of the AHLA Foundation said. “We could not be more thrilled to help them on their journey.”

Read more here.

Port Canaveral to Receive $1.9 Million in Security Funding

Sept. 2, 2022—The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded $1.9 million in federal grant funding to Port Canaveral through its Port Security Grant Program (PSGP), given to protect the Port’s infrastructure from terrorism and other threats.

The Canaveral Port Authority will received $1.3 million in federal funding for two Port Canaveral security enhancement projects: the Cybersecurity Vulnerability Reduction Project and for the purchase of a new Security Rapid Response Boat. In addition, the Canaveral Pilots Association was awarded $684,265 in PSGP funding for the purchase of a new high-tech response boat.

Port Canaveral was one of more than 30 U.S. ports awarded federal funding in 2022 from FEMA’s 100 million PSGP program.

Read more here.

California Passes Sweeping Climate and Clean Energy Package, Industry Profs Respond

California lawmakers on Wednesday passed SB-1137, allocating $54 billion toward clean energy and measures to mitigate the effects of severe drought amid intense heat and a 22-year drought in the western United States. The new package is aligned with the California air regulator’s vote to eliminate the sales of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

The bill focuses on the regulation of projects to decarbonize the state’s power grid, end new oil drilling around communities and create interim targets for 100% clean energy. In addition, the closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, the last in the state, has been postponed until 2030.

Industry professionals in the state have grappled with the impacts of climate change over recent years as extreme weather and wildfires have plagued areas known for being tourism destinations, including Lake Tahoe and California’s wine country, with strides in sustainability taking place across the board in the hospitality and tourism industries.

“This legislation plays an important role in continually moving California and our destinations forward in recognizing the realities of climate change and taking responsibility for being part of the solution. Sonoma County Tourism has a solid commitment to destination stewardship and sustainable travel,” says Claudia Vecchio, president and CEO of Sonoma County Tourism.

Read more here.

National Hotel Employee Day Announced by AHLA

The Washington D.C.-based American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) has established Sept. 1 as National Hotel Employee Day, recognizing the contributions of hotel workers and their impact on the hotel, tourism and meetings industries, according to a press release. The announcement comes amid a nationwide hotel staffing shortage with roughly 120,000 open hotel positions. The AHLA reports that severe staffing shortages and increased demand, due to the busy summer travel season, have resulted in a national increase in the average wages of hotel workers to $22.25 an hour in May 2022. The average wage was $18.74 an hour prior to the pandemic. “There has never been a better time to work in the hotel industry than right now,” AHLA President & CEO Chip Rogers said.

The newly-established National Hotel Employee Day was launched to thank and celebrate hotel employees who are critical in supporting the nearly $2 trillion tourism industry, according to the announcement.

Read more here.

Alaska Airlines Adds New Nonstop Flights to Anchorage

Event profs and attendees headed to Anchorage from the Seattle area’s Snohomish County Airport (PAE) in Everett, Washington can do so with nonstop flights starting Nov. 30, 2022, with tickets now available for purchase at alaskaair.com, per Travel Daily News.

Direct flights from the Everett airport to Ted Stevens International Airport (ANC), will be serviced through Alaska’s sister carrier, Horizon Air, and will be the farthest nonstop flight from that commercial travel hub, also known as Paine Field Airport.

“We listened to our guests who live and work from north of Seattle to the Canadian border. They told us one of their top requests is a nonstop flight between Everett and Anchorage,” Brett Catlin, vice president of network and alliances for Alaska Airlines said in a statement. “There’s a significant need and demand to connect workers and businesses in the two regions—from the fishing industry to aviation—In addition to the desire for leisure travel. We’re ready to welcome our guests on this new route this fall.”

Read more here.

Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts Announces Partnership with Aesop

Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, a Hilton brand, this month announced a partnership with Aesop, a vegan skincare brand. Aesop’s products center on hair and skin care, fragrance and other personal care products that will now be offered in Waldorf Astoria properties around the world. This partnership helps reflect the Hilton’s commitment to environmental sustainability as all in-room toiletries will be made from 97% post-consumer recycled plastic. All toiletries will also be full-size rather than travel-size to help reduce environmental impact. 

Read more here

Four Season Launches New Platform: Luxury is Our Love Language

In an effort to redefine luxury, the Four Seasons is debuting new branding that will continue to roll out over the next year. Luxury is Our Love Language is focused on a belief that true luxury should be personalized and intimate rather than rigid and scripted. By using surveys from guest experiences to personal anecdotes, Le Tuc, an NYC-based creative collective, partnered with Four Seasons to create personalized luxury experiences. 

As a part of this branding, The Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown will soon have a custom Acts of Love postcard experience for guests to write letters to their family, friends and loved ones. 

Read more here.

EventUp Releases Data on Hottest Planning Trends in 2022

The largest global marketplace for booking events, EventUp (powered by Tripleseat), this month released its findings on the most popular trends among meeting profs for selecting venues in 2022.  EventUp works to connect various types of venues with planners to create ideal experiences.

The data is based on leads and events booked through EventUp’s marketplace in 2022. “We are seeing an uptick not only in event size but also the amount of planners willing to invest in executing a perfect celebration,” Jonathan Morse, CEO of Tripleseat, said in a press release. “By looking at the trends both locally and globally we are able to better understand and support planners’ needs in order to connect them with the perfect venue.”

Top Trends

  • The average spend for events is $3,545; $35,827 for holiday parties
  • New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta ranked highest in popularity among host cities
  • Top celebrations include birthday parties and baby showers
  • Saturday is still the most popular day to party
  • The average event size is 130 guests
  • Restaurants and bars ranked highest as popular meeting venues

Orlando Health, Visit Orlando Form Official Wellness Partnership

A new partnership connecting leisure and medical health experts has taken shape between the Official Tourism Association for Orlando, Visit Orlando, and Orlando Health, offering health-related benefits to Orlando’s millions of visitors as the country’s most visited destination. Orlando Health is a nonprofit healthcare organization serving the southeastern U.S.

“This new partnership allows us to seamlessly connect both leisure guests and meetings groups with Orlando Health’s medical experts to make healthy travel more accessible,” said Casandra Matej, president & chief executive officer, Visit Orlando. The partnership provides both tourists and member organizations with access to a wellness and health resources telephone concierge service to provide individualized health resources and visitor-specific wellness tips. 

Read more here.

Transportation Secretary Buttigieg Asks Airlines for Hotels, Meal Vouchers

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has sent a letter to nine major airlines saying that they should pay for meals and hotels when travelers face delays or cancellations. Buttigieg asked for meal vouchers for delays of at least three hours caused by airlines themselves. He also asked for hotel lodging vouchers for passengers stranded overnight, per Bloomberg. Buttigieg said in the letter that air carriers canceled 3.2 % of domestic flights and delayed 24% of domestic flights in the first six months of 2022.“These aren’t just numbers,” Buttigieg wrote. “These are missed birthday parties, graduations, time with loved ones and important meetings.”

Read more here.

Destinations International Unveils New EDI Tool 

A tool created to assess Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) was launched by Destinations International during the association’s 2022 Annual Convention in Toronto with the purpose of assisting destination organizations of all budget sizes and locations to better assess the implementation of EDI strategies while tracking progress through data-driven metrics. The new EDI tool will also help to set the standards for EDI initiatives across the industry, Don Welsh, president and CEO of Destinations International said.

Read more here.

advertisement