- Category: Industry News
The US Travel Association’s conference, IPW, is underway this week in Orlando, Florida, and international visitation is on the mind of President & CEO Roger Dow. At issue is the United States’ pre-departure testing requirement for inbound vaccinated air travelers, which Dow notes is having an impact on the post-COVID recovery of the travel and tourism industry, especially as most other sectors are booming. Dow says that international travel spending in the US was still 79 percent below 2019 levels in 2021, while domestic leisure travel continues to be strong despite inflation and higher gas prices.
A recent survey conducted by Morning Consult for US Travel Association (USTA) found that these regulations remain a major barrier to economic recovery, and is contributing to a lag in jobs returning to the leisure & hospitality sector. In that survey, more than half (54 percent) of international travelers polled said the added uncertainty of potentially having to cancel a trip due to US pre-departure testing requirements would have a negative impact on their likelihood to visit the US.
“The recovery of American travel jobs and visitor spending hinges upon the annual growth of international inbound travel. America must apply every possible resource at rebuilding it to full strength to benefit American workers and businesses in every pocket of the country,” said Dow. “More than 40 nations have safely removed their pre-departure testing requirement and a recent survey found that 54 percent of international travelers were less likely to visit the US with the requirement still in place. Average wait times for visa appointments have also soared to more than a year in some of our top source markets, which prevents millions of people from visiting.”
Although the association continues to remain vocal about their efforts, including during a recent meeting with White House officials in late May, Dow is encouraged by the efforts of the administration’s new National Travel and Tourism Strategy, which includes a four-point plan to boost international travel through 2027 and is being led by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
“We commend the leadership of Commerce Secretary Raimondo and the Tourism Policy Council and applaud the ambitious goal of attracting 90 million visitor arrivals annually in the US by 2027. The strategy sets out specific actions that the government can take to rebuild our travel economy and make it more globally competitive than it was before the pandemic,” he said. “There is a lot of work ahead, but the administration must start by immediately repealing the pre-departure testing requirement for all vaccinated international air travelers and taking steps to drastically lower visa wait times.”
Visit ustravel.org for more information.
- Category: Industry News
The American Bus Association Foundation (ABAF) recently released the First Quarter 2022 Motorcoach Builders Survey, which is based on information from the major motorcoach manufacturers that sell vehicles in the United States and Canada. According to data, motorcoach manufacturers continue to face unprecedented challenges. While new motorcoach sales in Q1 2022 are 11 percent above where they were during the same period of 2021, sales are still well below before the onset of COVID.
This quarter, the participating manufacturers sold 191 new and 109 preowned coaches, for a total of 300 motorcoaches. This compares with just 270 during January 2021. The bulk of new coach sales were made to public entities like transit companies, which accounted for 58 percent of sales. These public entities tended to continue to purchase motorcoaches during the COVID shutdowns, while sales to private companies fell by almost 50 percent to an average of just 152 per quarter following the lockdown.
Overall, the three-month moving average of total coach sales is down by about 30 percent from the last month prior to the COVID pandemic.
“The motorcoach industry is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic,” said ABAF President Peter Pantuso. “When motorcoaches aren’t running, the trickledown effect on suppliers is devastating. As the industry struggles to rebound from the past two years, we are hopeful sales will also improve. However, it could be well into 2024 and beyond before we see a true comeback for the industry.”
According to the ABAF, the bus industry is the greenest and most affordable transportation sector and was moving more than 600 million passengers annually before the pandemic. As of the beginning of 2022, industry passenger volumes were still down by 62 percent from pre-COVID levels, making it one of the hardest hit parts of the economy.
The ABAF is the scholarship and research arm of the motorcoach, tour, and travel industry. The largest nonprofit in motorcoach group travel, the ABAF distributes $100,000 a year in scholarships to industry families and invests in research to demonstrate the important role motorcoach transportation plays in society.
Visit buses.org/aba-foundation for more information
- Category: Industry News
Sandra “Sandy” Asaro, co-founder of Desert Rose Worldwide Transportation of Phoenix, Arizona, passed away on May 25. The well-loved operator was 63.
Sandy grew up on Long Island with her older sister, Elizabeth. Just out of high school, she met her future husband and soulmate, Tony (1954-2020), in the most New York way possible: at a pizza parlor. Smitten, the inseparable couple were married a few years later and went on to have four children together: Josina, Barbara, Anthony, and Matthew.
Together they founded and ran a transportation company, A&S Limousines, in the late ’80s, while Tony was still on the force of the NYPD. While Tony would drive, Sandy would handle the phones and manage operations—while wrangling a family of young kids. After deciding that they wanted a change of pace from the hectic New York life after Tony’s retirement, they sold their book of business, packed up their young family, and set their sights on the much-warmer Southwest. Soon thereafter, settling in the Phoenix area, they founded Desert Rose in 1991, which became a full-time venture for the couple. You can read more about their company in the April 2017 issue of Chauffeur Driven, where they appeared on the cover.
Beyond business, the family matriarch was also the planner-in-chief, known for her legendary get-togethers—regardless of whether it was a family dinner or a massive holiday or birthday celebration. When her babies started having babies—she had six grandsons in all—she was known to envelop them in love and spoil them like only a grandma can, too. The couple also enjoyed traveling, quality wine, and good food wherever they went—which many times included their kids and grandkids. They would frequently travel to visit their extended “limo” family.
It's impossible, however, to talk about Sandy without also remembering her soulmate and the love of her life. The pair’s enviable love story spanned more than 40 years; they celebrated their 40th anniversary just months before he passed in 2020 after a long battle with brain cancer.
In addition to her children, Sandy is survived by her grandchildren: Mason, Dylan, Anthony Jr, Grayson, Cade, and Gaven; and many friends and extended family.
Sandy will be laid to rest on Friday, June 10, in Phoenix, Arizona. Visitation, celebration of life, and funeral information are available below.
Friday, June 10 at 8:30 a.m.
Messinger Pinnacle Peak Mortuary
8555 E Pinnacle Peak Mortuary
Scottsdale, AZ 85255
Friday, June 10 at 11:00 a.m.
Our Lady of Joy Catholic Church
36811 N. Pima Road
Carefree, AZ 85377
Friday, June 10 at 12:30 p.m.
Holy Redeemer Catholic Cemetery
23015 Cave Creek Road
Phoenix, AZ 85024