Week in Review: Commission Payments, Idalia & Maui Updates

The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) this week published a list of its member supplier organizations that adhere to the commission payment timeframe. ASTA’s senior leadership worked with its Consortium Council as well as its Proud Partner Committee to create consensus and support for the timely payment of commissions.

To make the lists, suppliers must typically complete commission payments within 30 days of the published, contracted date set by the supplier for final payment and the payment is made in full.

While this was not a typical practice before the pandemic, the issues with the system reared its head at this time as advisors who previously booked sailings/tours/etc. for their clients had those trips pushed back or canceled as a result of the pandemic. Then, due to the commission payment structure, those advisors were never paid—or at a severe delay.

Said Zane Kerby, ASTA President & CEO: “We applaud our supplier partners who are committed to working closely with the travel industry and making sure that advisors get paid on time for the hard work they do. Some suppliers withhold full payment of commissions until travel is completed. With our members often working 12 to 24 months in advance on complex travel itineraries, this practice creates a number of problems for the hard-working advisor community that must be addressed.”

Hurricane Idalia, Maui Wildfire Updates

Hurricane Idalia has passed over Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, and is now turning east over the Atlantic Ocean. Nearly all Florida attractions have reopened, while Florida State Parks are taking Friday to assess damage at numerous locations. Of the 130 that were closed during the week, 100 have since reopened.

The Florida Keys, to which the storm passed to the west of, reports “no significant impacts from Idalia brushing the Keys as a tropical storm.” Keys infrastructure is operating normally, including the Florida Keys Overseas Highway, electricity, communications and water transmission. There are no reports of any notable damage. Both Key West International Airport and Florida Keys Marathon International Airport are operating normally.

The National Park Service is evaluating reopening timeframes for Dry Tortugas National Park, a remote series of tiny islands that lies 68 miles west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. The Florida Park Service is doing the same for Bahia Honda State Park in the Lower Keys and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West.

In the Big Bend region of Florida, where Idalia was the strongest storm to make landfall in more than 100 years. Currently, according to PowerOutage.us, more than 90,000 Floridians are without power. Georgia has an additional 33,000 people without power following Idalia.

Hurricane Idalia
Hurricane Idalia is now forecast to pass Bermuda Saturday afternoon/evening. (Photo by the National Hurricane Center)

As for Bermuda, which just had Hurricane Franklin pass, is expecting tropical storm conditions from Idalia this weekend. According to the National Hurricane Center, heavy rainfall and areas of flooding are likely.

Maui, additionally, continues its recovery from the recent wildfires. On Thursday, the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority put out a new update sharing that a $2.6 million “Maui Marketing Recovery Plan” has been approved. The campaign is focused on attracting the mindful traveler to the accessible areas of Maui, which includes Kahului, Wailuku, Kīhei, Wailea, Mākena, Pāʻia, Makawao and Hāna, as well as the other Hawaiian Islands of Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island. West Maui accounts for 15 percent of Hawai‘i’s tourism economy, and the state is losing an estimated $9 million per day in the wake of the fire.

Areas in West Maui—including Lahaina, Nāpili, Kāʻanapali and Kapalua—remain off limits to visitors as search and recovery efforts continue.

On the cruise front, Norwegian Cruise Line will return to Kahului, Maui, with the guidance and encouragement of the Maui community, Hawaii State Governor Josh Green and the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. Pride of America, beginning September 3, will recommence its weekly overnight calls to Kahului. Since pausing its calls in Maui, the cruise line donated $50,000 to Maui United Way and, alongside its partners, collected and will be donating over $150,000 in supplies such as food, clothing and mattresses.

Tip: The U.S. Department of Transportation has put together a site compiling the latest from airlines as it pertains to travel to Kahului Airport on Maui.

Middle East Tours

Travel to the Middle East is clearly growing in popularity. This week, Pleasant Holidays and its luxury brand, Journese, as well as Jacada Travel and the new J2 Adventures unveiled operations in Israel, Jordan and several surrounding countries.

Jordan_Petra with Camels
 In Jordan, destinations Pleasant Holidays and Journses offer include Amman, Petra and the Dead Sea.  (Pleasant Holidays/Journese)

Pleasant Holidays and Journese have each launched Egypt, Jordan and Nile River cruises to their portfolio. As well, Pleasant Holidays added Dubai and Abu Dhabi to its product offering in the Middle East for travel this year and in 2024. Over 30 hotels and 40-plus destination experiences with local guides are available. Travel advisors can book with a range of hotels, including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and InterContinental Hotels & Resorts. Destination management services are provided by Travco Egypt & Jordan. Flights to Cairo and Amman are offered on EgyptAir and all major airlines.

As for Jacada Travel, it announced an expansion into the Middle East. The bespoke travel company is offering fully customized itineraries for immersion in the culture, history and beauty of Egypt and Jordan, with more destinations to follow throughout the region in the coming months.

Lastly, J2 Adventures, which stands for Jewish Journeys, is the latest tour operator to rethink how its clients experience Jewish culture around the world. J2 Adventures is designed to meet the needs of families and groups by integrating thematic, custom-designed excursions around specialized topics and interest areas, including culinary, art and adventure travel. The company also offers a range of personalized mini adventures focused on Jewish travel.

Good to know: EL AL Israel Airlines began new service from its six U.S. gateway airports into Tel Aviv. Departures are available out of New York, Newark, Boston, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles. All EL AL flights from the Americas are operated with Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft; travelers can expect lie-flat seats in Business Class, gourmet meals, a choice of wines and beverages, and complimentary Wi-Fi for the duration of the flight.

Wellness in Asia

Two people practicing Tai Chi in nature
Tai Chi in the Marble Mountains, as arranged by TIA Wellness Resort. (Photo by TIA Wellness Resort)

TIA Wellness Resort, situated along Da Nang’s coastline in Vietnam, is taking its wellness ethos off-property, curating excursions to local sites. To do so, the resort has drawn on its four core wellness pillars—Nourish, Flow, Breathe and Create—to create the experiences, which include cooking classes, Tai Chi, meditation, calligraphy classes and more.

Separately, Avani+ Luang Prabang has announced a new wellness program. The multi-day “Luang Prabang Serene Sojourn” package includes meditation classes with a senior monk, health-conscious meals, alms-giving ceremonies, and other immersive activities that showcase Laos and its heritage.

Good to know: China this week dropped the last of its COVID-era travel restrictions. No longer do you need a negative P.C.R. test from within 48 hours of travel to enter the country. In January 2023, China has dropped all other measures but international travel has still not returned to pre-COVID levels.

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