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WTTC Global Summit delayed until autumn

The World Travel & Tourism Council has been forced to delay its annual Global Summit for a second time.

Originally scheduled to take place on Puerto Rico, officials announced earlier in the year that the twentieth annual staging of the event would be moved to Cancun in late April.

Now, as coronavirus continues to spread around the world, the event has been moved to autumn.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC chief executive, said: “We stand in solidarity with governments, countries and organisations which are being affected by Covid-19 and look forward to hosting our Global Summit in the autumn.

“This will provide a global platform to discuss the sector’s recovery and future plans.”

The WTTC regards the Global Summit as the most influential tourism event in the calendar, where the highest-level industry leaders meet with key government representatives to act on the biggest and most important issues across the international agenda.

Carlos Joaquin, governor of hosts Quintana Roo, added: “Cancun and the state of Quintana Roo are continuing to plan a full schedule of events, meetings and conventions against the global backdrop of Covid-19.

“We have no Covid-19 cases but stand ready to support those around the world.”

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'If I die, I die': Young people capitalize on cheap coronavirus flights


As people around the world canceled their trips because of fears of the new coronavirus, Ashley Henkel booked three.

a couple of people that are standing in front of a window: Passengers at Sydney Airport on Tuesday, March 10, 2020.

Henkel, 20, is taking advantage of cheap flights to see North America. She lives in California’s Central Valley, but this summer she’ll be in Vancouver, New York City and Portland, Oregon.

A college student itching to travel, she’s one of many people staring the deadly virus in the face and saying, “Whatever.”

As flight schedules are scaled down and airline stocks plunge, carriers are offering deals that have put air travel within reach for people who usually can’t fly.

It’s a high-risk, high-reward trip, people say.

“I feel like if the coronavirus would get even more serious and like wipe out a large amount of people, I might as well be somewhere having fun,” Henkel told NBC News in a message.

She had thought about going on trips this summer, but it was too expensive. Now, as people self-quarantine, she’ll be taking pictures in Times Square. There is “no fun in staying at home and being all worried,” she said.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is telling people over 60 or those with chronic illnesses to stay home, young people feel now is their time to fly. Notwithstanding the dangers of spreading the virus to more vulnerable populations, Henkel’s trips might be what the airline industry needs as it takes a hard hit from the outbreak.

Multinational corporations like Google and Walmart are restricting “nonessential” travel, people are canceling trips and large conferences are being called off. Global air travel is projected to lose $63 billion to $113 billion because of reduced demand, according to an estimate from the International Air Transport Association, and the coronavirus is on track to slow global travel faster than the SARS and MERS outbreaks did.

United Airlines said it will lose money this quarter, and Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said the outbreak is a more serious challenge for the industry than the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Cruise lines are feeling the hit, too, reportedly discounting voyages as shares for some major lines have fallen around 50 percent since January.

But on social media, as it often goes, jokes abound about “risking it all” for a dream trip.

On Twitter, Jack Mulligan of Manchester, England, joked that coronavirus wasn’t going to stop him from traveling.

“As much of a joke my tweet may have seemed, I was being deadly serious,” Mulligan told NBC News.

Mulligan, 29, says he saved £300 to £400 on his trip in May to the Dominican Republic.

“I think the coronavirus is clearly something people need to be wary of, but I don’t plan on putting my life on hold because something is going around,” Mulligan said. He had planned to go on vacation anyway, and because cheap flights are now available, he said, booking on Tuesday made sense.

For Capri Nicole, 27, the discount flights offered something more meaningful than a getaway: a chance to see her grandma, who is sick with cancer, next week on her 71st birthday.

Next week, Nicole will travel from Atlanta to Connecticut, and she said she saved about $200, which put once unaffordable flights within reach.

“There’s sicknesses everywhere,” Nicole said. “I could get a disease today unrelated from the virus.”

Nicole says she isn’t worried about getting sick.

“If I die, I die. I miss my family.”

WATCH:  Big efforts to keep travelers safe from coronavirus (provided by TODAY)


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Italy Expands Lockdown to Entire Country

As the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus rises across Italy, the country’s Prime Minister expanded the lockdown to the entire nation.

According to The Washington Post, Italy now has the most coronavirus cases in the world outside China and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Monday he has shut down the country to inbound tourism.

As for domestic travel, Italians are being asked to stay inside unless they have work or for emergencies. In addition, all public gatherings and sporting events will be temporarily suspended to halt the spread of the viral infection.

The new rules were implemented Tuesday and last until at least April 3.

“The right decision today is to stay at home,” Conte told local media outlets during a press conference. “Our future and the future of Italy is in our hands. These hands have to be more responsible today than ever before.”

Over the weekend, Italian officials announced a lockdown of the Lombardy region, which has been one of the areas hit the hardest by the virus. The decision to lock down the entire country came after deaths associated with coronavirus jumped by 97 on Monday to 463.

Earlier this month, U.S. officials urged Americans not to travel to the regions of Lombardy and Veneto, causing airlines across the U.S. to alter their schedules, including American Delta and United airlines.

While travel to Italy has been shut down, the industry is raising awareness that there are a handful of facts to consider before canceling any plans or ruling out travel entirely.

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France travel advice: Is it safe to travel to France?

France is the sixth most affected country in the world by coronavirus, closely following Spain. That’s enough to put jetsetters off, with many people opting to stay in the UK instead. But is it safe to travel to France, and is it possible to cancel your trip last minute? Express.co.uk gives you all the details you need to know.

Is it safe to travel to France?

Although coronavirus cases are rapidly increasing in France, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice does not directly warn against visiting the country.

The website says: “There is an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus in China and elsewhere, including France.

“The government has introduced a range of measures including prohibiting gatherings which involve more than 1000 attendees. You should contact the organiser of events or local authorities for further information.

“Certain local authorities continue to implement measures such as minimising local travel, closing local schools and cancelling smaller events.”

At the moment, there are no restrictions. British people are free to travel to France, and aren’t required to self-quarantine when they return.

READ MORE- Coronavirus in France: Is it safe to travel to France?

READ MORE

  • Coronavirus France map: Regions in France struck down by killer virus

How do I stay clear of coronavirus while in France?

If you do end up travelling to France, the French Ministry for European and Foreign Affairs has published a list of guidelines online.

The document reads:

  • Wash your hands very often
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve when you cough our sneeze
  • Do not shake hands or greet people with kisses on the cheek
  • Use single-use tissues
  • Wear a mask when ill (only if prescribed by a doctor).

Should I wear a face mask when I travel to France?

Although there is evidence both for and against wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, you don’t need to wear one in France.

The French Ministry for European and Foreign Affairs advises: “It is not recommended that you wear a surgical mask if you do not have any symptoms.

“Masks are not effective for the general public because they cannot be worn at all times and they are not necessary unless you are in close or long-term contact with someone is ill.

“Masks are therefore reserved for ill people and only with a doctor’s prescription, people who are in proven high-risk contact, emergency care professionals, medical transport professionals, and health professionals working in the community and at hospitals.”

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  • Coronavirus: Full list of countries FCO warns against travel to

Can I cancel my holiday to France?

Since there are no travel restrictions in France, it’s unlikely you will be able to cancel your flights and get a refund.

If your flights have been cancelled by the airline – for example, British Airways has cut hundreds of flights, including to France – then you might be in luck.

If you were planning to travel via Eurostar, the same applies- services will be running as normal.

Get in touch with your travel provider to see what can be done.

Keep in mind that the only time you are likely to get a refund is if the FCO changes their advice on travelling to France.

Stay updated here 

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AirAsia offers FREE seats amid the coronavirus crisis

Airline offers seats for FREE in huge drive to fill cabins amid the coronavirus outbreak

  • AirAsia is offering six million heavily discounted seats for its ‘Big Sale’ 
  • Destinations in the deal include Australia, Thailand and Indonesia 
  • Sale runs until Sunday with deals available for travel through to July 2021

In a bid to fill cabins amid the coronavirus outbreak AirAsia is offering jaw-dropping discounts – including zero-fare seats. 

The Malaysia-based low-cost airline is offering six million heavily discounted seats in total for a promotion called the ‘Big Sale’. 

It runs until Sunday (March 15), with the deals available for travel through to July 1, 2021, to destinations including Australia, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore.

AirAsia is offering six million heavily discounted seats in total for a promotion called the ‘Big Sale’ 

The zero-fare deal includes seats on domestic flights from Kuala Lumpur to other destinations in Malaysia such as Johor Bahru, Penang, Langkawi, Alor Setar and Kota Bharu. 

All the passengers have to pay are taxes and a passenger service charge of 12 Malaysian Ringgit (£2.17/$2.83). 

The Big Sale free-seat offer also includes one-way short-haul international flights from the Malaysian capital to the likes of Singapore, Phnom Penh, Jakarta and Phuket for just 44 Malaysian Ringgit (£7.95/$10.38).

Meanwhile, pocket-money free-seat fares are available for long-haul flights from Kuala Lumpur to destinations such as Seoul, the Gold Coast, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Taipei from just 71 Malaysian Ringgit (£12.83/$16.76).

For those wanting to travel in more comfort, Big Sale seats are also available in AirAsia’s premium flatbed cabin from Kuala Lumpur to the likes of Bali, Okinawa and Ahmedabad from just 599 Malaysian Ringgit (£108/$141) one-way.

There is also a deal on checked baggage, which can be pre-booked for 10 per cent less than normal.

AirAsia Indonesia president director, Veranita Yosephine, told the Jakarta Post that the airline was looking at ways it could help stimulate tourism and maintain Indonesia’s economic growth, ‘especially in this challenging period’.

The zero-fare-seat deal is for domestic flights from Kuala Lumpur to other destinations in Malaysia such as Johor Bahru, Penang, Langkawi, Alor Setar and Kota Bharu. All the passengers have to pay in this instance are taxes and a passenger service charge of 12 Malaysian Ringgit (£2.17/$2.83)

Meanwhile, Airasia.com CEO, Karen Chan, said: ‘Our first Big Sale for 2020 is here. AirAsia understands the current sentiments of our customers, that’s why we’re providing ample opportunity to book in advance for an affordable getaway as travel period is up to July 2021.

‘The best way to snap the lowest fares and best-value travel deals is to plan ahead and book early – as with this latest Big Sale.

‘We are on track in transforming into a household travel and lifestyle brand across Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) with all you need to complete your holiday planning including flights, accommodation, activities and more, all available now on airasia.com.’

Airport passenger traffic in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to take a 24 per cent hit in the first quarter of the year from coronavirus, according to Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific.

It said that this would lead to a $3billion decline in airport revenue and would place pressure on any growth projects. 

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Pound to euro exchange rate: Sterling plummets to fourth-month low as coronavirus worsens

The pound to euro exchange rate dropped yesterday to a fourth-month low after trading flat last week. Coronavirus continues to serve as a barometer for GBP’s movements. Cases continue to rise in the UK, and there are 321 people who have tested positive for the deadly virus in this country.

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Looking ahead at today, market attention will remain on the epidemic, experts have said.

Meanwhile, the final estimate of Q4 eurozone GDP is not likely to spark much movement.

The pound is currently trading at 1.1482 against the euro, according to Bloomberg at the time of writing.

Michael Brown, currency expert at international payments and foreign exchange firm Caxton FX, spoke to Express.co.uk regarding the latest exchange rate figures.

“Sterling fell to four-month lows against the euro on Monday, briefly falling below the €1.14 handle,” said Brown.

“[This came] despite safe-haven flows being the order of the day as coronavirus concerns continued to roil markets.

 “Today, the final estimate of Q4 eurozone GDP is unlikely to result in any significant volatility.

“Attention [is] set to remain squarely focused on the coronavirus epidemic, and escalating potential for a co-ordinated global policy response.”

Sebastien Clements, currency analyst at OFX, shared his expertise on yesterday’s stock market fall.

He said on Monday: “This morning, a blend of exogenous shocks have sent the markets into a frenzy on what may only be described as ‘Black Monday’.

“A combination of a Russia vs Saudi Arabia oil price war, a crash in equities, and escalations in Coronavirus woes have created a killer cocktail to worsen last week’s hangover.

“On the currency front, safe havens like the Yen and Swiss Franc are thriving while the US dollar plummeted.

“The pound has moved from lows of 1.27 against the US dollar last week, to just below 1.32 at European open on Monday morning.

READ MORE

  • Coronavirus in France: Is it safe to travel to France?

“Governments now have no choice but to turn to monetary/fiscal stimulus to combat and stabilise the volatility in international markets before irreversible damage could see us slip into a premature economic crisis.”

So what does this all mean for Britons heading off on holidays and looking to buy travel money?

The Post Office is currently offering a rate of €1.1080 for over £400 and €1.1322 for over £1,000.

Interestingly, research has shown that Britons are not stalling holiday plans altogether as coronavirus shows no sign of disappearing.

Travel marketing and communications firm, Finn Partners commissioned a nationwide survey which revealed that 44 percent of British consumers are still happy to book a holiday if there is a great deal to be had in spite of the negative COVID-19 headlines sweeping the country.

The survey of 1,000 Brits revealed as many as 61 percent confirmed that publicity around coronavirus would not stop them from making new holiday bookings.

Importantly, 68 percent of respondents said they would happily book their holiday if they could change it at no extra cost and avoid losing money-making flexibility the key priority for the travel industry right now.

The data also revealed that the older generation is resolute when it comes to booking holidays.

Seventy percent of those over 60 are continuing to book despite the publicity, along with 68 percent of 45 – 59-year-olds and 61 percent of 30 – 44-year-olds.

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Ubeeqo introduces Hyundai Ioniq hybrid to UK fleet

Ubeeqo is extending its choice of low emission vehicles with the introduction of the Hyundai Ioniq hybrid to its UK fleet.

Helping local authorities across London to reduce emissions, the Ioniq hybrid will be available in Croydon, Islington, Lewisham, Kensington & Chelsea, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Wandsworth from March.

The Hyundai Ioniq delivers everything expected of a conventional car, but with all the environmental and economic benefits that come with electrified driving.

It is particularly ideal for the environmentally conscious business user or resident wanting a comfortable and spacious car for longer journeys.

“As we continue to provide a genuine alternative to car ownership, the Ioniq hybrid is an exciting addition to our fleet,” explained Patrick Cresswell, managing director, Ubeeqo UK.

“With its introduction, we are increasing both availability and choice for the growing number of motorists who are choosing to move away from the expense of car ownership, as well as help reduce congestion on our roads.

“We are working hard to ensure that those who do give up their own vehicle have the certainty that a car club will give them the access to mobility when they need it from as near to their home or business address as possible.

“And our roundtrip model is crucial to achieving that goal, using geofencing to ensure that vehicles are returned to the area where they were picked up from at the start of the journey.”

Ubeeqo, Europcar Mobility Group’s car sharing brand, operates a roundtrip service with a mix of fixed car club only bays and a unique geofence parking model.

The geofence vehicles ‘live’ in a geofenced location, usually spanning over one or two streets, and the customer picks up and returns the vehicle to this area.

All vehicles in the Ubeeqo fleet are specially adapted to include an RFID card access system, meaning the cars can be booked via the Ubeeqo app or website and used by several different people throughout the day.

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On the road: Top tips for getting the most out of your motorhome holiday

The most important currency when you’re about to drive off towards the horizon, is information. Details on where to go and what to see are gold . . . as are these tips about how to make life on the road even better.

What to pack:
● Think minimalist and casual because space is at a premium in motorhomes and let’s face it, you don’t really need to dress up in a caravan park.
● Remember the 3:1 tops to bottoms ratio.
● Pack hot and cold weather clothes separately. They can be stored away when not needed.
● Pack in collapsible bags – there’s no room for big suitcases in motorhomes.

Parking: Parking isn’t easy in a big motorhome so be prepared to park on the edge of towns, away from overhanging verandahs and where you don’t have to reverse into cramped spots. Some of the easiest parking spots are in supermarkets (and sometimes you can stay overnight).

More motorhome holiday inspiration:
• Six top tips for a campervan holiday
• French couple’s first aid turns old ambulance into luxury camper van

Checklist: Have a checklist to remind you of the necessary tasks before you take off, like close windows and skylights, lower antennas, lock doors, drawers and the fridge, and detach from power and water — don’t laugh, I’ve seen people drive off while still hooked up.

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Cayman Islands: Low-key luxury in the Caribbean

Soul-shaking scuba-diving, the best beach in the Caribbean and food so good you’ll be craving it for months: How the Cayman Islands became unbeatable at low-key luxury…

Ad Feature by Cayman Islands Department of Tourism

Paradise is often an overused term when it comes to holidays. After all, what one person might deem a slice of heaven, another might find frightful.

But when it comes to the classics – silk-soft sand lapped by azure waters, food worth piling on the pounds for, sensational service and more adventures than you can shake a snorkel at – the Cayman Islands are triumphant.

Long known as the financial centre of the Caribbean, this trio of treasures is so much more than a playground for the rich and a cruise ship stop-off; it is low-key luxury served up family style. Just as good at five-star service as it is friendly ramshackle beach bar. 

You’ll be welcomed like an old friend as soon as you arrive at the small airport in Grand Cayman. In fact, it will feel like a home away from home (it’s a British Overseas Territory), and your experience will only become more gratifying once you begin to explore this natural beauty.

Grand Cayman

Living up to its name, Grand Cayman certainly has lofty aspirations despite being just 22 miles long. Of course, it is an expert in luxury, with the stunning Seven Mile Beach lined with some of the world’s finest hotels. But while you can enjoy expertly-crafted cocktails and hand-rolled cigars, there’s another side to the island – literally.

Over in West Bay, water babies and wildlife enthusiasts are in their personal playground, ticking off must-dos such as exploring the beachside Barker’s National Park, horse riding in the surf or searching out shelled friends at Turtle Reef. 

Then there’s the culinary exploration. The island’s menus are a melting pot of global deliciousness: international cuisine including Jamaican, European and Japanese are perfectly paired with fresh local ingredients.

What to do:

This destination is a diver’s dream. Touted as the best in the Caribbean, you could easily fill your entire trip with diving excursions and still not see the plethora of underwater sites on offer. 

A bucket list’s entry to tick off is Stingray City, which is not to be dismissed as some sort of amusement park. Here, on a sand bank in the middle of the North Sound, you can meet, greet and feed the friendliest rays imaginable. First attracted by the unwanted catches fishermen dumped here decades ago, the rays now show up daily for snacks from tourists. Meanwhile, in Babylon, a deep dive into the waters will pay you back tenfold as you swim by black corals, barrel sponges, parrot fish (whose coral chomping makes the sand on the beaches so soft). 

Meanwhile, foodies should snap up tickets to the annual Cayman Cookout. Hosted by French master Éric Ripert, some of the world’s greatest gastronomists,  including José Andrés, Clare Smyth and Emeril Lagasse, gather for cook-offs, taste talks, lunches, beach BBQs and pool parties during the five-day eating extravaganza. 

What to see: 

If you can drag yourself away from bathtub-warm waters and lazing on your lounger, there’s a diverse array of adventures just a short drive away. 

Wannabe geologists should book a tour of Crystal Caves, a labyrinth of glittering crystals – some of the largest ever discovered – at a depth of 300 metres, before meeting the local residents, a colony of bats. 

Flora and fauna fans should stop at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, 65 acres filled with a host of exotic plants, trees and flowers, which have bloomed on the island since settlers first arrived. This is also home to the endangered native reptile, the Blue Iguana, one of the longest-living species of lizard in the world. Make sure to meet Sir Peter the iguana, who enraptured HRH Prince Charles during his recent official visit. 

Where to eat: 

The question is, how many places can you fit in to your holiday? The Caymanians are masters at hosting, so anywhere you choose to eat will be a pleasant experience.

If high end is your bag, it doesn’t get any better than Éric Ripert’s Blue at the Ritz-Carlton. The Caribbean’s only AAA Five Diamond restaurant elevates local ingredients to the heady heights of fine dining. Sitting in the poolside grounds, this elegant, white tablecloth experience is a must for a special evening.

For family style dining, head to The Brasserie, where Executive Chef Dean Max and Chef Artemio López put a very personal stamp on every aspect of their dining experience. So much so, the fresh fish is caught by the restaurant’s own boat, the seasonal salads and vegetables head straight to the kitchen from the on-site garden – and it even has a market! Everything is worthy of tasting, but don’t miss out on the Cayman Conch Salad, bringing one of the island’s most mouthwatering ingredients to life.

Meanwhile, lunch should be a laid-back affair; head to Rum Point on the island’s North Side and choose a bench on the beach before ordering huge platters of crispy calamari, surf and turf, and jerk chicken. This must be washed down with a Mud Slide, a deliciously moreish and boozy milkshake. 

From conch to cassava cake: The Cayman culinary delights worth flying for… 

Conch fritters

Conch is a local delicacy in the Cayman Islands. A tropical marine mollusc famed for its ornate shell, they taste similar to scallops or clams and are served in a variety of ways, including in seafood stews and as ceviche. 

But the favoured way of cooking them is in fritter form. The conch is deep fried in a spicy batter and served alongside tangy tartar sauce or jerk mayo. 

Cayman beef

Marinated in ginger, chilli and garlic, this slow-cooked beef is a Caymanian’s version of a roast dinner. 

Once cooked down, the mouthwatering meat pulls apart and can be used on everything from sandwiches to pizzas. 

Jerk

A lot of the flavours and ingredients in the Cayman Islands are Jamaican-inspired or introduced, and jerk chicken and pork are two of the most popular. 

The meat is marinated in the famed mix – cumin, nutmeg, all spice, smoked paprika, cinnamon, chilli and brown sugar – before being grilled or barbecued. 

Served with coleslaw and corn on the cob, it’s best enjoyed on the beach at lunchtime with a rum punch or two.

Callaloo

A leafy green which is similar to spinach, this iron-rich plant is great with jerk, cooked in garlic, or served with eggs at one of the island’s famed Sunday brunches. 

Lionfish

As the top predator in its food chain, the dramatic-looking Lionfish can cause huge amounts of damage to the coral reef because of their voracious appetites. So, to help cull back their huge numbers, they have become a delicacy in the restaurants around Grand Cayman. 

Once its poisonous spikes are removed, the fish has a meaty taste, making it perfect for ceviche, tacos and fried in sandwiches – and is certainly something to brag about back at home!

Cassava cake

A dense Caribbean bake is usually the centre piece of a celebratory spread in Cayman.

Made from grated cassava – similar to a yam – coconut milk, brown sugar and Caribbean spices, it’s a regular sighting on the shop shelves. 

Cayman Brac

If you’re looking for something straight out of the pirates of the Caribbean, Cayman Brac is it. 

With its moody, craggy bluff, sheer cliff drop and uncountable number of hidden caves and caverns, The Brac (as locals call it) looks like it should be the ‘X’ marking the spot on a treasure hunters’ map.

As different from its glamorous sister island Grand Cayman as is possible to be, this tiny island is only reachable by plane or private boat – and makes an amazing place to get away from it all.

Proud locals, Brackers, are calm, peaceful yet traditional folk, so don’t go there expecting to party the night away with a $40 cocktail in hand. This is a place to unplug and reconnect to nature. Swap sunbathing and selfies for snorkeling, fishing, hiking, rock climbing and spelunking (more about this later!).

What to do:

Unlike most of the Caribbean, made up of miles of sandy white beaches and lush undergrowth, The Brac offers something different: excellent hiking trails.

Make your way up to the tip of the Bluff which runs the spine of the island, passing cacti and aloe plants as you head to the lighthouse to take in the glorious views of the ocean.

If you fancy a less strenuous activity, Cayman Brac is an excellent place to fish. The shallow waters off the southwest coast are perfect for wading out for a bash at bonefishing, or fly fishing as Brits know it. Meanwhile, on a chartered boat you can cast your line into clear waters packed with marlin, tuna and wahoo.

Being a craggy island, The Brac is also unbeatable at caving – or spelunking as it’s enjoyably called. The most historic is St. Peter’s Cave, where locals have taken refuge for centuries during hurricane season. Hike through to enjoy sweeping vistas of Spot Bay below.

On the island there is also Bat Cave, where you can see the collection of roots from the trees above as well as, obviously, its very own collection of bats which hang from the roof of the cave.

What to see: 

Parrots. Your best chance of spotting the national bird of the Cayman Islands is at the Parrot Preserve nature reserve. While their distinctive bright green plumage can make it a struggle to see them in the trees, this is your best bet – just make sure you head there in the early morning.

Make sure to stop by Heritage House during your time on the island. Set in beautiful landscaped grounds, this place includes a replica of a traditional house, similar to the ones built when settlers first arrived on the The Brac in 1833. It also takes you back to the natural and cultural history of the island, through activities such as watching local artists at work. 

Where to eat: 

While on such a small island, it’s only right to eat like the locals.

Luckily for you, they eat the most amazingly fresh old-school Caribbean cooking – and Bracker Barry does it to perfection. Cooking on his old oil drum BBQ, he serves up satisfyingly huge portions of jerk pork and chicken alongside fresh-baked bread. Barry’s Golden Jerk is only open on the roadside three days a week, so make sure to check beforehand. 

More laid-back deliciousness is on the cards at long-running favourite, Star Island restaurant, a vibrant eatery serving up fresh seafood in the form of fish stew and shrimp curry washed down with rum punch.

Little Cayman

The name gives it away. This tiny sister island is so untouched by tourism that the airplanes arriving from Grand Cayman land at its tiny terminal, where visitors can catch a glimpse of the resident green iguana which shades itself off the runway. 

Once on the ground you’ll soon be glad of this low-key greeting committee. This is what escaping the rat race really feels like: tranquil, delightful solitude.

While Cayman Brac is known for its birdlife (it’s home to the Red-footed Boobies) marine life and stunningly beautiful natural scenery – as well as hikes, this is an island where you need to enjoy the water. Snorkel, swim, or dive around the surrounding coral beds in the morning, then spend your afternoon grilling fish, drinking icy beer and lounging in the sun. 

What to do: 

Grab yourself a kayak and paddle quarter of a mile offshore to find Owen Island. This tiny stretch of land is just beach and greenery, but you can while away a chilled few hours feeling as shipwrecked as would be actually enjoyable.

If you fancy diving deeper, tackle one of the region’s most popular underwater experiences. Bloody Bay Wall Marine Park is as exhilarating as it sounds; a sheer drop off point of 5,000ft into the dark abyss. This is an unforgettable activity, as you’ll be swimming alongside stingrays and turtles against one of the ocean’s most dramatic backdrops.

What to see: 

The island by scooter. At just ten miles long, it doesn’t take long to get your bearings, but there is plenty of sea to soak up and store away for a rainy day’s commute once back home.

Head down to Point of Sand, Little Cayman’s best beach, which boasts a tiny pier and all the trappings of an idyllic day alone, as there are rarely more than a handful of visitors at any particular point. 

Simply sit under a palm tree and just ‘be’. 

Foodie’s paradise: Chef Clare Smyth on why the Cayman Islands has all the right ingredients…

As the World’s Best Female Chef 2019, she knows a thing or two about the perfect recipe for creating world-class food. 

And for Clare Smyth (right), chef patron of two Michelin starred Core in London’s Notting Hill, thinks Grand Cayman has all the ingredients of a foodie’s paradise. 

The Northern Irish chef was just one of the culinary superstars to attend the 2020 Cayman Cookout, an annual food festival uniting the best and brightest gastronomists on the planet in the stunning surroundings of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. 

But for Clare, what she really enjoys about Caymanian cooking is the level of pride locals have in their own produce. 

She says: ‘The Cayman Cookout is fun and work for me. I have a deep affection for the Cayman Islands. It’s our (Britain’s) island and I do an annual lunch for the governor at Core back in London. I have a really close connection to the islands.

‘What I love most is to see what’s happening and what they do with the products.  

‘I look to see what there is wherever I am in the world and cook with the ingredients in my personal style. 

‘It’s the right thing to understand how the food gets to the table. I love it – it’s all new stuff. 

‘But the best thing about being part of the Cookout is dealing with the Caymanian people; they are so kind. They have a value in people and really believe in leaving people with a good feeling.’

Where to eat: 

While there isn’t a lot of choice in Little Cayman, that can be a benefit – it means you get to try out every restaurant on the island during your time there.

The resorts are the best places to eat seafood straight from the boat. At Pirates Point, you can dine out on delicious, gourmet recipes made by on-site chefs. 

Meanwhile, another local institution, Hungry Iguana, serves up simple but mouthwatering bar food done Cayman-style. Conch chowder, crispy calamari and steak pomodoro pasta all make the menu, and are served up in one of the most stunning beach side settings imaginable.

For more inspiration for a trip to the Cayman Islands click here… 

Book your Cayman trip today… 

Cayman Islands – British Airways Holidays offers seven nights at the Sunshine Suites Resort from £1,049 per person. Price based on travelling from August 31 to October 10. 

Includes World Traveller return flights from Heathrow and accommodation. Book by March 31. For reservations click here or call 0344 493 0120.

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Still the happiest place on Earth — even as coronavirus hits Florida


ORLANDO — The Disney trip had been planned for months when reports of coronavirus hit the news, and leaders of the children’s cancer charity weren’t about to cancel.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: The Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., shown here in January, has continued to bustle despite the Orlando area beginning to feel the impacts of coronavirus fears. (John Raoux/Associated Press)

They ushered seven kids through the crowded gates of the Magic Kingdom on Wednesday, toward the pale-pink Cinderella’s Castle. They snapped photographs as the group posed with Rapunzel and Tiana, a face mask covering one little girl’s smile. They screamed through the gentle twists and turns of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and stayed late into the night for Space Mountain.

Although experts say coronavirus poses a higher risk to those with underlying conditions, there have been few reports of children becoming sick. Among this group, accompanied by a doctor who tended to their medical needs, the virus wasn’t anyone’s top concern.

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“When you’re fighting for your life and you have this opportunity to come to Disney,” said Chinos Liner, founder of the Cancun-based Chinos Cause for Cancer, “I think you forget about what happens in the world.”

Beyond the polished grounds of the park this week, anxiety over the virus mounted. The death toll surpassed 3,400 by Saturday as countries reported ever-increasing numbers of infections and global financial markets reeled.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) declared a state of emergency Sunday after two people tested positive for covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, in areas outside of Orlando. At a press briefing Monday, Vice President Pence did not directly answer a question about whether he would feel comfortable bringing his family to Disney World during the outbreak, offering only: “I travel across this country all the time.”

Four additional cases were discovered during the week, bringing the state’s total to six. Late Friday, the Department of Health announced the state’s first deaths, two patients in their 70s who each returned from international trips. Meanwhile, 278 people were being monitored.

On financial websites and Disney fan blogs this week, observers fretted over vacations to the parks and investments in the company. They raised the specter of Disney closing its theme park locations in the United States — something that’s happened only during hurricanes and the 9/11 terrorist attacks but became more tangible to some after Disney’s Asia parks shuttered late last month.

a group of palm trees and a fence: A closure sign stands in front of the entrance to Walt Disney Co.'s Disneyland Resort in Hong Kong, temporarily closed because of the coronavirus, on March 5. (Justin Chin/Bloomberg)

“It’s not outlandish to think that we could eventually bump up against the world’s leading theme park operator temporarily closing down its iconic theme parks on both coasts,” analyst Rick Munarriz wrote on the investment advice site the Motley Fool. “Even if Disney doesn’t resort to locking down its entrance turnstiles, the growing number of worrisome headlines will eventually weigh on travel plans.”

There has not been official guidance on travel to unaffected parts of the United States or to large gatherings of people. Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned the virus inevitably will spread widely within the country, potentially requiring communities to “modify, postpone, or cancel mass gatherings.”

This week, though, busloads of people streamed into the Magic Kingdom, the world’s most-visited theme park. Children cheered as Mickey and Minnie skipped across the steps of Cinderella’s Castle. Costumed Disney characters embraced fans and held them close for photos. Lines for rides stretched an hour long late into the afternoon; conversations revolved around which rides to try or memories of past visits.

The coronavirus was on the front pages of the newspapers stacked in Disney resorts but not on the forefront of visitors’ minds.

“It’s here, right? It’s not like you can bunker down and become a hermit,” said Patrick White, 57, who came from Chicago with his adult daughter. “Or you can, but to me that would be very lonely.”

There was the occasional sight of someone whipping out a bottle of Purell, and park officials reported adding hand sanitizer stations throughout the parks — although few were visible at the Magic Kingdom Wednesday. Employees at two stores said they had none left for sale.

“Right now, all the parks are in planning stages,” said Duncan Dickson, a former Disney executive and retired professor from the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. “They’re playing ‘What if.’ What if this happens? What if this happens? They’re making contingency plans.”

‘Still open for business’

Orlando is the tourism capital of the United States, the driver of a $75 billion industry in Central Florida. Even as fear over the coronavirus crept closer, with the cancellation of five conferences dealing an estimated $186 million blow to Orange County by the end of the week, some seemed reluctant to discuss its potential impact.

The city’s mayor and at least one commissioner offered only a prepared statement declaring that the city “will continue to monitor and work closely with the County and State Health Department.” The University of Central Florida barred a hospitality professor from giving interviews about the virus’s potential impact on tourism, instead referring inquiries to top administrators.

Becca Bides, vice president of marketing for Orlando’s tourism bureau, said in prepared comments that there had been “no significant impact” to leisure visitation, adding that 91 percent of visitors come from within the United States. She said the region “does not have direct air service to China or any country currently under a U.S. travel advisory.”

Disney representatives did not respond to multiple interview requests from The Washington Post. In a post on the company’s blog, chief medical officer Dr. Pamela Hymel wrote Disney was “in regular contact with health agencies for information and guidance.” She noted the parks have “high standards of cleanliness” and are implementing preventive measures in line with CDC recommendations.

Similarly, Universal Orlando Resort said in a statement officials were reinforcing health and hygiene procedures, enhancing cleaning protocols and “ready to act as needed.”

In the wake of the first three convention cancellations, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings at a news conference Thursday said the county remained free of confirmed cases. He called the risk to the community “very low,” adding that leisure travel remained strong.

“We invite families and others to consider vacationing here, especially during spring break,” said the mayor, the husband of U.S. Rep. Val Demings (D). “We are still open for business here in Orange County.”

a group of people posing for a photo: Children with Chinos Cause for Cancer pose with a princess at the Magic Kingdom. (Jamie Bachant)

But elsewhere in the Sunshine State, even areas without confirmed cases were seeing tourism ramifications. On Friday, Miami leaders called off Ultra Music Festival, a three-day event set to begin March 20. With about 170,000 attendees last year, the festival’s economic impact in Miami-Dade County has been estimated at $168 million.

Some in the Orlando tourism industry said they fear for the spring and summer months. Orlando Travel Company owner Ashley Moss, whose family has been in the business for three decades, said she had been moving “full steam ahead” — until the second half of the week.

Bookings remained stable, but her optimism slipped as she read news reports and contacted vendors about availability for April and beyond.

“The hard part about this is there’s really no way to prepare for it, and there’s really no way to tell which direction this is going to go,” Moss said. “Is it going to get worse, or is it going to get better at some point? I’ve never seen anything like this. My family’s been doing this for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

At Fun Spot, a small, family-owned park just off the touristy International Drive, carts of people sped up and down the White Lightning and Freedom Flyer roller coasters. It was a normal day, said John Chidester, the park’s vice president of marketing. There had been no downturn in sales or interest.

“I think we’re all waiting,” he said. “We’re waiting to see how the story unfolds. I don’t think anyone is taking it any further than that, because nobody knows what will end up occurring. Are we hopeful? Yes.”

Albert Ko, a professor of epidemiology and department chair at the Yale School of Public Health, said the country appeared to be entering a phase of the virus where people might need to consider reducing unnecessary travel and avoiding large gatherings in close quarters.

At that stage, he said, it’s important to be proactive rather than reactive.

“When do you pull the trigger?” Ko said. “That’s kind of the unknown, or the uncharted territory.”

For now, Orlando International Airport remained crowded with visitors. Demings, the Orange County mayor, said in an interview he was optimistic leisure tourism would stay strong, believing that even amid a public health crisis “people will want to travel, will want to relax in environments where they feel safe.”


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