Week in Review: Senate Committee Passes FAA Reauthorization Bill

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Thursday passed the bipartisan Senate Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2023. The legislation, among other highlights, increases FAA safety inspectors, air traffic controllers and FAA oversight of foreign repair stations; requires FAA safety technology deployment to prevent near-misses, 25-hour cockpit voice recorders and investigations of service difficulty reports; and sets refund standards for non-refundable tickets, protects vouchers for five years, prohibits fees for family seating and triples fines for airline consumer violations.

The bill must now be passed by both the full Senate and House of Representatives before it can be sent to the president’s desk.

According to U.S. Travel Association EVP of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes, “the Senate Commerce Committee’s passage of an FAA reauthorization bill is a critical step toward ensuring the long-term safety and modernization of the U.S. air travel system, in addition to boosting air traffic controller staffing levels to meet growing demand.”

Travel Agency Network Updates

World Travel Holdings has announced a multimillion-dollar technology investment in its B2B division. What does this mean? In 2024, the size of the IT team will increase by a dozen positions. The additional IT professionals will allow the company to accelerate current initiatives, simultaneously creating solutions and new technology.

Elsewhere, Avoya Travel released its schedule of in-person and virtual events for 2024. In-person events include Avoya Regionals, Avoya Socials, the Avoya Land Forum, Million Dollar Showcase and Avoya Conference. Virtual events include the newly rebranded Early Success Masterclasses and Destination Days.

Caribbean Remains Hot

Montego Bay, Jamaica
Montego Bay will be home to much of Jamaica's upcoming hotel development. (Photo by Shunyu Fan/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

With a record winter tourist season on the horizon and 10 consecutive quarters of growth, Jamaica is reporting visitor arrivals of approximately 4.1 million for 2023. This represents a 16 percent increase over 2022 and a 7.5 percent increase over 2019. Of this total, more than half of the island’s visitors are from the U.S. alone at approximately 3 million.

On the hotel front this year, Jamaica expects to add 2,000 new rooms with the debuts of the first 1,000 rooms of the 2,000-room Princess Grand Jamaica, the 753-room Riu Palace Aquarelle and the 450-room Unico Hotel in Montego Bay.

Anguilla also set some records in 2023. The Anguilla Tourist Board this week announced a considerable increase in tourist arrivals to the island last year, with the total number of stopover arrivals reaching an all-time high of 95,944 (surpassing the previous record set in 2019). In terms of overall visitor arrivals, which also includes day-trippers, Anguilla closed the gap compared to its metrics in 2019. The recorded 2023 figure of 155,732 visitor arrivals is only 6 percent lower than the 2019 number.

Good to know: To build off this success, the Anguilla Tourist Board will be expanding its marketing efforts in 2024, unveiling new destination pillars and entering new markets as they work towards increasing arrivals and occupancy levels as they grow Anguilla’s tourism industry.

Stats of the Week

hotel reception staff
Seventy-two percent of hoteliers say they are still unable to fill open positions at their properties. (Anchiy/Getty Images)

New market research commissioned by travel subscription company eDreams revealed that the majority of consumers (84 percent) are prioritizing travel within their household budgets in 2024. Only 5 percent of U.S. respondents said they didn’t think it was important to budget for travel. Top of mind for travelers when booking is cost-effectiveness as well as health and safety. When looking at younger travelers, to try and determine what travel could look like in the coming decades, many are prioritizing digital connectivity or social inclusiveness.

What does this mean? In the U.S., 44 percent of Millennials and Gen Z prioritize social inclusivity and values when considering their travel choices, while that’s the case for only 29 percent of Baby Boomers. Similarly, 35 percent of Gen Z travelers highlighted the importance of digital connectivity for communication and work while traveling as a top priority, compared with 7 percent of those over 65.

It’s important to note, however, that more than two thirds of hotels continue to experience staffing shortages, according to a new survey conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. To try and fill those roles, hoteliers are offering more pay and a host of incentives to attract and retain talent. Over the last six months, 82 percent of respondents have increased wages (which hit a record-high average for hotels in December 2023), while 59 percent are offering greater flexibility with hours and 33 percent are expanding benefits. Nonetheless, 72 percent say they are still unable to fill open positions.

30Under30 Nominations Now Open

30under30 nomination logo

Nominations for Travel Agent's 30Under30 for 2024 are now open! You may nominate yourself or pass the word along to a qualified candidate you know.

What to know: Nominees must be 30 years old or younger as of December 31, 2024, currently work at any level as a travel consultant, have completed a significant project for his or her travel agency, and be recognized by leaders of his or her organization as an emerging leader. The deadline to be considered for the 17th edition of the program is March 1, 2024.

Please make sure to fill out the form in its entirety and don't be shy about bragging a little—it will help us make our decisions! We hope to hear from you and good luck!

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