Hospitality News November 2021
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International tourists arrive to long lines

A rush of international travelers headed into the United States Monday as the COVID-19 travel ban ended and people from dozens of countries begin flooding in, more than 600 days since they were barred from entry.

That’s more than 86 weeks. Nearly 20 months. Enough time for grandchildren to be born, or for couples to lose track of the number of nights they fell asleep to FaceTime calls with their partner. Long enough to lose hope in a U.S. vacation or honeymoon after having to delay plans over and over.

Lines began forming at the Canada and Mexico borders well before daybreak, and eager travelers boarded flights from Europe, including dueling departures from London’s Heathrow airport. The U.S.-Mexico border is typically the world’s busiest border crossing, with about 350 million people crossing annually.

The new U.S. entry requirements require foreign air passengers to test negative for the coronavirus before boarding a plane to the country and, if they are 18 or older, show proof of full vaccination. Travelers entering the U.S. on land or by ferry for nonessential reasons must show proof of vaccination. Although federal officials had warned of the potential for long lines at entry points, there seemed to be few delays as visitors arrived by land and air.

It’s a long-awaited moment for travelers from more than 30 countries. The U.S. initiated its first COVID-19-related travel ban on China in February 2020. By the end of March, it had added travel bans on the United Kingdom, Ireland, Iran, and 26 countries in the European Schengen Area. Brazil, India, and South Africa were later added to the list.

Federal officials warned of delays: ‘No staff around to help’

The smooth sailing for international travelers at JFK Airport ended Monday afternoon as arrivals ramped up after a relatively quiet morning. Passengers arriving from England on Virgin Atlantic reported lines of up to two hours to clear Customs and Border Protection processing due to the arrival of multiple flights from the United Kingdom. CBP officials had warned lines would grow from recent levels given the return of international passengers.

Paul Richards, the 58-year-old head of safeguarding for Stoke City F.C., arrived on a Virgin Atlantic flight from London at 3:35 p.m. ET for vacation and to celebrate his son’s 21st birthday. He ultimately waited about two hours before being cleared into the country.

“No point in getting irate, the queue will still be there,” he said as he waited.

Marc Evans, a 42-year-old police officer, flew from Manchester, England, with his wife and two children to visit family for the first time in 20 months, ultimately waiting more than an hour.

“It was apparently a PR stunt to show the USA was back open but seems they weren’t concerned about the queues at customs,” Evans said via Twitter message, noting that they have a friend waiting to pick them up at the airport.

Evans said he was frustrated as his family has been told to wait as other families with children have been able to jump the queue. There are “no staff around to help,” he said.

But the problem extends beyond a pesky wait, according to Evans. “Other people were getting connecting flights and told to stay in line,” he said.


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Holiday travel expected to reach near pre-pandemic levels

Millions of travelers are expected to hit the road and skies over the Thanksgiving holiday as families reunite after months of separation, with AAA projecting travel volumes to reach near pre-pandemic levels.

The roads will be jam packed as well as airports — especially considering that only 60% of TSA workers had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose as of a month ago. The deadline for TSA workers to get their first shot is less than two weeks away.

“Get to the airport early because you’re going to have plenty of company this year. We’re almost back to pre-pandemic levels, so there will be lines at TSA,” AAA spokesperson Andy Gross told CBS News’ transportation correspondent Errol Barnett.

And despite gas prices inching up more than $1 a gallon since last year, 90% of travelers are expected to drive.

“And if you can’t leave for Thanksgiving until, say, Wednesday afternoon, you’re going to be in traffic, particularly around big metropolitan areas. Just be aware of that and plan for it and just be patient,” Gross said.

AAA’s projection follows a day of happy reunions at U.S. airports after the federal government ended pandemic travel restrictions affecting more than 30 countries. One of the first people to fly into the U.S. after the restrictions ended was Bhavna Patel, who saw her grandson for the first time Monday after landing in New York from London.

“How do you describe this feeling? Look, it’s just such a joy, you know?” an emotional Patel told CBS News.

Even with the new wave of international travelers, Monday’s reopening went smoothly, and AAA has some tips on how to keep it that way for your holiday trips. It says travelers should book early-morning flights that are less likely to be delayed or canceled.

Those planning to drive should hit the road Wednesday before noon or Thursday morning if they’re not traveling too far, AAA said. Overall, travelers should make a plan now to save on the stress later.

Source: CBS

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Accessory dwelling units (ADU) offer one solution to the affordable housing problem

With housing prices soaring beyond the reach of low- and middle-income Americans, many cities are moving to create more affordable rentals by significantly expanding dwellings commonly known as garage apartments, in-law suites, and granny flats.

The official name for the apartments created from converted space is accessory dwelling units or ADUs.

Affordable housing advocates promote ADUs as a way to modestly increase housing stock without drastically altering the neighborhoods that surround them, and a steady stream of new city, county, and state regulations is making them easier to build.

“There has been a dramatic uptick in ADU regulatory relaxation over the last few years,” said Kol Peterson of Portland, Ore., author of “Backdoor Revolution: The Definitive Guide to ADU Development.”

“A number of cities and states have come to the conclusion that ADUs are a good thing and that they should put forth enabling legislation to hopefully spur their development,” added Peterson, who is also the owner of Accessory Dwelling Strategies, a company dedicated to ADU-related education, advocacy and consulting.

Cities that have eased or are looking to ease regulations for these units include Evanston, Ill.; Greenfield, Mass.; Maplewood and Princeton, N.J.; and Edmonds, Wash. Missoula, Mont., home of the University of Montana, relaxed ADU regulations in October, raising the maximum allowed height to 25 feet, and removing requirements for owner occupancy and parking.

Also studying the concept are Chicago, which is allowing ADUs under a pilot program, and Alexandria, Va. Perhaps most notably, California and Oregon have passed statewide legislation making ADUs easier to build, which is reflected in recent ­statistics.

In California, legislative changes helped pave the way for an 11-fold increase in ADU permits between 2016 and 2019 — just 1,269 permits were issued in 2016, which increased to 14,702 in 2019. Los Angeles alone issued 15 ADU permits in 2013, 80 in 2016, then 2,342 in 2017, and 6,747 in 2019.

The numbers could prove to be even higher thanks to another round of new California laws aimed at further promoting ADU construction.

Building Blocks constructs 350- to 1,200-square-foot housing units and converts garages into ADUs for homeowners in the Los Angeles area seeking to earn rental income, said Jason Neville, the company’s CEO. The structures range from studios to three-bedroom units, and cost an average of $300 a square foot to build, he said.

“I started three years ago and now am working on my 11th one,” Neville said. Other builders in the space are “small-scale businesses like mine. We’re ma and pa companies employing other ma and pa companies.”

“The major factors in favor of ADUs are affordability and flexibility,” said Sam Khater, chief economist and head of Freddie Mac’s Economic and Housing Research division. “The share of entry-level homes has declined a lot, yet demand has more than outstripped the declining new supply that’s coming out of the market.”

Source: Washington Post

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