New Jersey Bans Smoking at All Its Public Beaches

Associated Press

Holiday goers at the New Jersey shore. The state has banned smoking in parks and beaches. Fines start at $250 for a first offense and go up to $1,000 for a third offense for people smoking out of designated areas. Associated Press

Skift Take: Say good-bye to cigarette butts in the sand! Well, for the most part. The law, which bans smoking and vaping of any kind on the state’s beaches and in its parks, allows towns to designate up to 15 percent of the area as smoking zones. Perhaps this will inspire other statewide bans.

— Sean O’Neill

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Activist Investor Urges Legoland Operator Merlin to Go Private

Bloomberg

A rainbow appears in the sky near the London Eye, operated by Merlin Entertainments. An investor wants the company to go private. Bloomberg

Skift Take: It’s difficult to see ValueAct capital getting its way unless 30 percent shareholder and Danish billionaire Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen backs the plan. Needless to say Merlin’s board still believes it is on the right track.

— Patrick Whyte

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Saudi Arabia Aims to Make Red Sea Beaches a Tourism Hotspot

Vivian Nereim  / Bloomberg

American tourist Birgit Mitchell visiting Mada’in Saleh, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Saudi Arabia, with her guide Yasser Al Imam. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. Saudi Arabia wants to turn hundreds of kilometers of its Red Sea coastline and nearby mountains and deserts into a global tourism destination Vivian Nereim / Bloomberg

Skift Take: The long-discussed first phase of the Red Sea project, with 14 hotels and an airport, is due in 2022. We’ll believe it’s not a mirage when we see it.

— Sean O’Neill

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Wow Air’s Shutdown Prompts Recession Fears in Iceland

Ragnhildur Sigurdardottir  / Bloomberg

Security doors stand illuminated at night at the entrance to Iceland’s central bank in capital city Reykjavik in this 2012 photo. Ragnhildur Sigurdardottir / Bloomberg

Skift Take: Iceland’s tourism growth had seemed unstoppable. But as Skift has said for years, every geopolitical upheaval today can be traced back to the travel sector in some way. Policy planners need to adequately account for it.

— Sean O’Neill

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Travel Advisors Can Fill Gap in Credit Card Trip Insurance

Svein Ove Ekornesvag  / Associated Press

Travel advisors are seeing an uptick in travel insurance sales after recent disasters. Some of the remaining passengers look out as the cruise ship Viking Sky arrives at port off Molde, Norway, March 24, 2019, after having problems and issuing a Mayday call on in the heavy seas off Norway’s western coast. Svein Ove Ekornesvag / Associated Press

Skift Take: Sales of travel insurance are on the rise, possibly due to heightened awareness of risks posed by everything from terrorist attacks to a sudden illness. For travel advisors, insurance is both a source of revenue and a way to provide good customer service.

— Maria Lenhart

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Travel Advisors See Trip Insurance Opportunity Where Credit Cards Fall Short

David Ryder  / Bloomberg

A Boeing 737 Max 9. Travel insurance sales have been increasing after the Boeing 737 Max groundings and other events that disrupted travel plans. David Ryder / Bloomberg

Skift Take: Awareness of the need for travel insurance is on the rise in some quarters. This trend offers significant opportunities for travel advisors to generate additional revenue and offer peace of mind to travelers.

— Allan Leibowitz

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Travel Advisors Mull the Implications of Potential Hawaii Short-Term Rental Crackdown

Baldeaglebluff  / Flickr

Pictured is a Honolulu home. Opponents of short-term rentals are looking for city council regulations to limit their growth. Baldeaglebluff / Flickr

Skift Take: A proliferation of Hawaii short-term rentals, which are exacerbating an already expensive and tight housing market, is sparking heavy debate in a state where tourism is the main economic driver. While such accommodations are needed to handle rising visitor numbers, some say it’s time to get them under control and look at the consequences of unchecked tourism growth.

— Maria Lenhart

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Qantas to Levy Surcharges on Travel Agencies That Don’t Join Program Starting in August

Qantas

Qantas is working with the global distribution systems to provide access to a range of fares and new content. Qantas

Skift Take: In Australia, the New Distribution Capability is moving from a vague concept to an active business model, as Qantas urges travel agents to sign up to a new channel with expanded content. Those who miss the June 30 deadline could lose out on some enhancements but also face new fees for airline bookings.

— Allan Leibowitz

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