Tag: changed

How travel has changed, even with vaccines

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As news of several effective Covid-19 vaccines offers some light at the end of the tunnel that is 2020, will a beleaguered travel and tourism industry — one of the hardest hit by the pandemic — soon begin to recover?

Possibly, say sources, but they caution that travel may take years to fully rebound and, no matter the timing, will likely look different than it did pre-pandemic.

“The news of a potential vaccine does hold promise for travel in 2021,” said Julie Hall, spokeswoman for AAA. “But … travelers need to be focused on knowing the risks of traveling and exposure in the here and now.”

Brian O’Connell, analyst at InsuranceQuotes.com, takes an even more measured stance. “I’m just not bullish on travel for the first half of 2021 – even if a vaccine is mass produced in that timeframe,” he said. “Caution is the watchword, as the vaccine will take months to be fully distributed in the U.S. and abroad.”

Kayak.com CEO Steve Hafner said he thinks “people are taking more a wait-and-see approach … until one of these vaccines gets out there.”

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However, the online travel agency did see a spike in searches — if not purchases — right after pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced 95% efficacy for its Covid vaccine on Nov. 10. The next day, searches were up 27% compared to the week prior, he said, but settled into a “more modest” 6% weekly growth rate in the days that followed.

Still, Hafner said the increased searches are good sign.

“I’m very optimistic that once these vaccines get distributed, people’s perceptions around travel are going to change toward the positive,” he added.

“I’m hopeful it comes by the second quarter [of 2021], knock on wood,” Hafner said, of a rebound in travel. “If we’re really lucky, we’ll see it in the first quarter.”

A survey of 4,300 customers earlier this year by travel insurer Allianz found that 49% would travel again given a proven vaccine. Meanwhile, 42% said the go-ahead from public health officials would suffice.

“[The] promise of a highly effective vaccine is good news for the tremendous pent-up demand for travel, and should provide another reason for consumers to feel more confident booking trips for 2021,” said Daniel Durazo, director of marketing and communications at Allianz. He said he expected that luxury and experiential trips will be popular next year as consumers look to book so-called revenge travel in the wake of all of this year’s canceled plans.

Indeed, what travel expert Stella Shon at consumer finance site ValuePenguin called national “cabin fever” may spur some to book sooner rather than later, she said. “They’re ready to travel,” Shon said of vacationers. “It’s interesting that over half of Americans have still stayed in a hotel or

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Nelson Toala: Stroke, pandemic changed life for Driskill Hotel cook – News – Austin American-Statesman

Up until about six months ago, Nelson Toala was the primary provider for his wife and two granddaughters.

He has worked as a cook at the Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin for more than a decade, but when the coronavirus pandemic hit, he was temporarily furloughed. He was hoping to return back to the kitchen, but before he got the chance, he had a stroke that left him with partial paralysis on his right side. He is unable to walk or shower on his own and his speech is not as clear.

“We were sent home from work on March 17, and since then I have had a difficult time,” Toala says. “I am head of household. I recently turned 65, and without the income, it has been difficult to maintain bills and cope with my financial responsibility.”

The change is something that is unfamiliar to Toala.

He was born and raised in Ecuador. As the son of a farmer, he grew up working on the farm before going off to college to become a pharmacist. He soon would be married and become a father of three. He has always worked to provide for his family, he says.

In 2006, when he moved from Manta, Ecuador, to Austin with his wife, Maria, 65, he says although things were challenging he did not let that stop him from doing what was expected of him — providing for his family.

“At the very beginning there were a lot of difficulties because of my age, language and culture and economic barriers,” Toala says. “That was challenging for me, but we found good programs, and the people in Austin are so giving.”

He says he started taking classes so he could learn English, and Goodwill was able to help him find a job and go back to school, but he wasn’t sure what was next for him. His pharmacist license from Ecuador would not carry over in Austin. He had to start all over.

Toala first worked at Bealls, but he needed to make more money to keep up with expenses, so he got a second job working at the Marriott. He says everyone in the hotel kitchen seemed to be in culinary school, and so he thought culinary school would be the logical next step for him as well.

While working two jobs, Toala attended part-time classes at Austin Community College’s culinary program and graduated in early 2011, about three years after taking his first culinary course.

“The language barrier was difficult, but my passion to redesign my career helped get me through it,” he says. “It took me three years because I worked two jobs, was going to school and had family responsibilities. But I did it.”

He says while he was in culinary school, Bealls had closed, and so he started applying for another second job. He would eventually land at the Driskill, working his way from a part-time breakfast line cook to banquets. In the last 14 years, he has

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