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Icy conditions disrupt Air travel in central U.S.
Icy Conditions Disrupt Air Travel in Central U.S.

Icy conditions and freezing rain are causing hazardous travel conditions across the central United States because of milder air spreading over the winter-weary region. Back-to-back winter storms have already claimed at least 82 lives in 13 states, with severe conditions leading to accidents, fallen trees, and tornadoes. The southern Plains to the Great Lakes are now at risk of accumulating ice and freezing rain, prompting warnings from weather officials and transportation departments to exercise caution or avoid travel. Commuters in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas are experiencing slick sidewalks and icy roads, leading to glazes of ice reported in each state. The dangerous conditions have resulted in school closures and disruptions to many people’s daily lives.

Moreover, the impact extends to air travel, with over 650 flights canceled and 800 delayed in the US due to freezing rain. Major airports like Chicago’s O’Hare International and St. Louis Lambert International have faced disruptions. The icy conditions have also caused water mains to break in Memphis, Tennessee, affecting thousands of people. Meanwhile, a dramatic warm-up is expected in the East later in the week, bringing significantly above-average temperatures. Cities that experienced a frigid weekend will see daily high temperatures rise by nearly 30 degrees, with records for warmest daily lows potentially broken. However, the warm-up may also bring hazardous rain and flooding, raising concerns despite the relief from the recent arctic blast in the central U.S.

It's always a smart move to have a travel insurance plan at your fingertips. Consider Trawick International's Trip Cancellation plan with Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage for maximum safety. This plan provides comprehensive protection for trip cancellations, interruptions, and travel delays, permitting cancellation for any reason, even those not typically covered by standard travel insurance plans.

International Travel to reach pre-pandemic levels in 2024
International Travel to Reach Pre-Pandemic Levels in 2024

The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer's first report of 2024 indicates that international tourism is rebounding, reaching 88% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023, with an estimated 1.3 billion international arrivals. The Middle East led the recovery, surpassing pre-pandemic levels by 22%, followed by Europe at 94%, Africa at 96%, and the Americas at 90%. Asia and the Pacific reached 65%, with variations among sub-regions.

Economically, international tourism receipts reached $1.4 trillion in 2023, representing 93% of the 2019 figure. Total export revenues from tourism are estimated at $1.6 trillion. The tourism sector's contribution to global GDP is estimated at $3.3 trillion in 2023. The recovery is reflected in industry indicators, with air capacity and passenger demand at 90% of pre-pandemic levels by October 2023. Looking ahead to 2024, the UNWTO expects full recovery, with a 2% growth above 2019 levels, driven by factors like increased air capacity, visa facilitation, and strong demand from key source markets.

However, challenges such as economic and geopolitical uncertainties, staff shortages, and potential disruptions due to conflicts (e.g., Palestine-Israel, Russia-Ukraine) may impact the sustained recovery and traveler confidence. Tourists are expected to prioritize value for money, sustainable practices, and travel closer to home amid these challenges.

Need guidance on selecting the ideal plan for your next trip? Our 24/7 customer service team is here to assist you. Contact us today!

Storms Unleash Havoc in Britain and Ireland
Storms Unleash Havoc in Britain and Ireland

Storm Isha battered Britain and Ireland with powerful 99 mph winds, causing widespread disruptions across various sectors, particularly in travel. The storm led to power outages in about 11,000 homes on the mainland, 45,000 in Northern Ireland, and 235,000 in the Irish Republic. Trees were brought down, roads and bridges were closed, train services in Scotland were halted, and numerous flights were canceled or diverted, with hundreds affected. The severe weather also forced a flight from Egypt to Glasgow to declare an emergency, diverting to Manchester. Ferry services were suspended, adding to the challenges in transportation.

Flood warnings are in place, and many areas remain under a severe weather alert for strong winds, hindering cleanup efforts.

Storm Isha is the second major North Atlantic storm this year and the ninth since September, though meteorologists suggest little evidence linking the increased frequency and intensity of winter storms to climate change. As the region copes with the aftermath of Isha, another storm named Jocelyn is on the horizon, expected to pass Ireland and Britain. While likely to be less intense than Isha, Jocelyn is forecasted to bring high winds, prompting warnings for potential power outages and building damage in Scotland.

Given the turbulent weather pattern and its impact on travel, Tourists are advised to stay updated with the latest weather reports and travel advisories, and to prioritize safety above all else.

State of Emergency in Ecuador: What We Know
State of Emergency in Ecuador: What We Know

Ecuador is currently experiencing a state of emergency and unrest following the escape of gang leader Adolfo Macias, leading to a 60-day state of emergency declared by officials. The United States has posted security alerts, but as of January 15, the Department of State has not issued new travel advisories. Tourists are advised to stay indoors, and a daily curfew is in place from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Visitors are encouraged to stay informed through the Ecuador Ministry of Tourism.

The situation escalated since January 7, with Macias' escape triggering violence, including the takeover of a television station in Guayaquil. Ecuador's military has been patrolling certain cities for over a week. While airports remain open, some commercial airlines have canceled flights, prompting visitors to check with their individual airlines. Although no travel advisory has been issued, caution is recommended, especially in big cities like Quito.

Additionally, the guidance provided in the travel advisory of June 22, 2023, remains valid for U.S. citizens. Residents and travelers are advised to exercise increased caution throughout the country, reconsider travel to areas marked as “Level 3,” and avoid areas marked as “Level 4” in the advisory. Compliance with all local laws, including the nationwide curfew during the state of emergency, is essential. U.S. citizens should be aware that individuals not connected with criminal organizations may exploit the current conflict to commit crimes of opportunity.

International airports in Quito and Guayaquil remain fully operational; however, some carriers have canceled flights to/from the United States in recent and upcoming days. Travelers are urged to closely monitor their flight status and work to rebook with the same airline or an alternative carrier.

For more information and updates, please visit Ecuador’s U.S. Embassy and Consulate website.

The Cruise Industry’s Comeback
The Cruise Industry’s Comeback

As wave season arrives, cruise lines gear up for what could be a groundbreaking year at sea. The surge in maritime enthusiasm has been building for the past three years, and new data from Squaremouth, the nation's top travel insurance marketplace, indicates that the cruise industry is set to break records in 2024.

Squaremouth has observed remarkable growth in the cruise sector since the resumption of cruise travel in 2021. In the previous year, there was a significant uptick in the purchase of cruise insurance policies, with more customers opting for plans with the 'Cruise' filter than in any other year of the company's 20+ year history. Squaremouth reported a 29% increase in cruise sales over 2022, marking a substantial 200% surge compared to 2021.

Anticipating this trend to persist in 2024, Squaremouth's recent survey reveals that 26% of customers plan to embark on a cruise for their next trip, compared to 20% in early 2023.

Want to get the best deals during wave season? Check out our latest blog and find out! CNN recently named our Safe Travels First Class plan as one of the Best Cruise Insurance Plans of 2024. Read more about why they chose this plan here.

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