This Week in Review: Morocco Earthquake, South America Updates

Following the devastating earthquake in Morocco last week, which has killed over 2,900 people and injured over 5,500, the travel industry’s PURE 2023 event—set to take place in Marrakesh September 10-13—was canceled. Instead, event operators and attendees already in the destination participated in relief efforts to support local charities.

Similarly, Intrepid Travel launched an emergency appeal through its not-for-profit, the Intrepid Foundation, committing to double all donations up to AUD $100,000. All funds raised will go directly to grassroots organizations to provide emergency relief and support in Morocco following the 6.8 magnitude earthquake. The company’s long-term local NGO partners in Morocco include Education for All and the High Atlas Foundation.

South America Travel Updates

Brazil, which in March announced the reinstatement of an e-visa requirement for visitors from the United States, Canada and Australia, has pushed back the effective date from October 1, 2023, to January 10, 2024. Once the new regulations go into effect, the visas, according to the Brazilian Tourism Board (Embratur), will be issued through a completely electronic process, quickly and easily. Further details will be provided by the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the near future.

Iguazu Falls seen from the Argentinian National Park
Part of the Iguazu Falls as seen from the Argentinian side. (Photo by ivotheeditors/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

In Argentina, Iguazu National Park will be closed to visitors on September 27 and from October 30 to November 2, 2023. The dates coincide with International Tourism Day and the dates of a trial in which four park agents are being accused of manslaughter, alleged breach of authorship and violation of duties of a public official after a tree fell and killed four visitors in 2016.

Fall Travel Is Up

By all metrics we’re seeing, the surge in summer travel is continuing right into fall. According to the latest research by rental management platform Vacasa, fall travel is on the rise this year, with 60 percent of Americans planning an autumn escape, up from 53 percent in 2021. The fall travel trends survey also highlights that 71 percent of those planning trips will travel more frequently this fall than they did last, with quick weekend getaways being the most sought-after. That said, 86 percent of travelers indicated they have shifted their plans or planning behaviors to be more budget-conscious.

Likewise, TripAdvisor’s latest “Seasonal Travel Index,” found that 74 percent of American travelers surveyed report they will travel this fall, well above the 61 percent planning to travel at the same time last year. Similarly, over half (52 percent) plan to travel more than they did last fall. While the two surveys show slightly different numbers, they both share two common threads: The number of travelers are up versus last year, as are the number of trips they’re taking.

TripAdvisor also found that travelers are changing their habits, opting for two- to four-day getaways (shorter than the five-plus days non-Americans are taking). To maximize their time away, U.S. travelers are likely to book more on-trip activities (three to five) compared to people living in all other countries surveyed.

View of the Eiffel Tower and streets lined with yellow and orange trees during fall
TripAdvisor's "Bateaux Parisiens Seine River Gourmet Dinner & Sightseeing Cruise" is its top Paris experience.  (Photo by encrier/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Looking to escape the airport crowds? According to research by PlanetWare, Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Philadelphia International Airport and Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport all have average security wait times of 10 minutes or under. On the flip side, Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu has waits over 20 minutes on average—the longest of any major airport. Chicago’s two airports—O’Hare and Midway—ranked second and third on the list of longest waits.

Interest in Becoming an Advisor Increases

At the start of the year, the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) made its “Travel Advisor Career Overview” materials, which provide a step-by-step guide the joining the travel industry, free—thanks to an investment by Norwegian Cruise Line. Since then, over 12,000 people have downloaded the materials. Prior, when the overview was available for a fee, it only had 50 downloads over five years.  

It could surely be a positive sign that many more folks are interested in becoming a travel advisor, bringing some much-needed support to a profession that has seen a significant exodus of experienced advisors in recent years.

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