SOURCE: TravelPulse


As the United States and other countries move to decriminalize the use of medical and recreational marijuana, many travelers are left wondering what kind of impact the legalization would have on domestic and international tourism.
In the U.S., recreational marijuana is legal in 18 states and Washington, D.C. and medical use is permitted in over 35 states. From an international perspective, countries like Canada have completely legalized the plants and more than 40 other nations support its use for recreational or medical reasons.

Malta recently legalized it. Germany is on the brink of full legalization for recreational use. Mexico has talked about the possibility of legalizing it someday, which would undoubtedly lead to a rise in travelers visiting popular places like Cancun and Los Cabos.

Marijuana tourism first took off in the United States but it is absolutely going global now.

In a study conducted in the Journal of Destination Marketing & Management, Soo Kanga and Jaeseok Lee break down the positive manner in which residents in Colorado have reacted to the influx of marijuana tourism—also known as cannabis tourism—following its legalization.

Research findings suggest that the more residents perceive a positive impact, the more likely they will support tourism.

To be blunt, the perception of weed has changed, and that’s a good thing for travel.

“Every aspect of the travel industry could see a boost in sales,” Travel Agent expert Tammy Levent said. “Travel agencies could sell more packages, transportation will increase, restaurants will have more patrons, hotels will enjoy more bookings, and even the entertainment establishments such as performing arts centers and sporting stadiums will see more guests.”

A Gallup poll from August 2021 found that 49 percent of Americans have at least tried marijuana, with 12 percent of respondents regularly using it. The total is even more for Millennials (20 percent) as compared to Gen Xers (11 percent) and baby boomers (nine percent).

A study conducted by Kayak also found that nearly 33 percent of American travelers 21 years of age and older are interested in visiting a cannabis dispensary while traveling and about 25 percent of respondents ages 21-34 have already traveled to a destination because cannabis was legal.

“Cannabis tourism has come a long way over the past five-10 years,” Front Row Travels’ Ayanna Lawson said. “Initially seen as just a walk through a few weed farms and another reason to get high, the cannabis tourism industry as a whole is starting to pull back the curtain and mystery surrounding cannabis and plant medicine in general.”

SOURCE: ABC Action News

TAMPA BAY — St. Petersburg retirees Alan and Jessica Kapell have traveled around the world for the last three decades. The avid cruisers say they never leave home without travel insurance.

“We’ve never taken a cruise without having insurance because everything and anything can happen,” Alan told ABC Action News.

And for 30 years they’ve never had an issue with a claim, until their planned trip was canceled and they tried to get reimbursed.

The couple had purchased a week-long cruise around the Caribbean last fall and were set to sail out of Port Canaveral the day after Christmas.

But in December Alan suffered a debilitating back problem and his doctor grounded him from the trip. Alan said the condition prevents him from walking without pain.

By January, the Kapells said they’d filed everything needed to process the insurance claim. Then they waited. January came and went and so did February. Alan said he tried calling and emailing the customer service number for Nationwide but received nothing more than an email stating the company was experiencing a very high volume of claims.

Tammy Levent, President of Elite Travel in Clearwater, understands travel insurers are busy as travel hits post pandemic highs. She advises checking out online reviews before choosing a travel protection plan. “You have to research before you book with anyone to make sure they pay claims,” Levent said.

After two months of waiting on his insurance money, the Kapells made a call for action to Jackie Callaway, who in turn reached out to Nationwide.

Alan Kapell said that’s when he got a call telling him everything had been finalized.”

In this email to the Kappels a Nationwide travel claims customer service staffer stated: “We sincerely apologize for the delayed response and for the email that you received in error on February 10, 2022. Your claim was not approved at that time however, your review was completed today and payment was approved in the amount of $2074.07.”

Two checks totaling just over $2,070 – the cost of the cruise – arrived in the Kapells mailbox in late March.

If you run into trouble with any insurance claim the state of Florida has a helpline run by Florida’s Department of Financial Services.

Taking Calls From Travelers

by Tammy

SOURCE: TravelPulse

The experience of taking calls from those traveling during an ongoing pandemic has been quite challenging for us working within the travel industry. Some of the more common types of calls we get are from travelers who booked a trip on their own and didn’t take the time to learn about the many COVID-19 restrictions in place.

This is frustrating for travel experts. Travelers who choose to book their own trips do so without the professional guidance travel agents offer. This means they’re likely taking more time and spending more money to book their travels online without professional assistance. Then as soon as they experience a problem they want to contact an expert in the field to help them figure out their problem.

This is why patience is key when taking calls from travelers. Many people who don’t have a lot of traveling experience will have questions they could probably have figured out themselves. While common sense answers are obvious to travel professionals, it’s important to be patient when dealing with calls from new or inexperienced travelers.

Handling Travelers Calls

So how should a travel professional address these phone calls? As a travel expert, the best thing you can do is to try and help the person who called you. Depending on how you handle the call could decide whether or not you get a potential new client.

Traveler: I booked my vacation trip weeks ago and my passport hasn’t come back yet. Can you help me?

Answer #1: You didn’t book with me so I can’t help you. This answer ensures the traveler won’t call back.

Answer #2: We can’t help you with a passport that’s already being processed. While this answer is true, also offering them the number to the National Passport Information Center lets them know you’re still want to be helpful.

Answer #3: Where did you book? If you booked online, you could cancel, get a credit with the airlines and let me help you book a trip now. This answer let’s a traveler know that you’re really interested in helping them solve their travel-related problem!

Personally, the third answer is how I handle taking traveler calls. I always ask them who helped them book their travels, but when I get no reply, I tell them it’s best to go to the government site where you’re traveling to and see what the restrictions are since they change on a daily basis.

Then I tell them that in the future we would love to help you so you can become a part of our family of clients. In doing so, we’re always available to you when you have questions. We even offer a price match guarantee, giving you the peace of mind that you’re not only paying the best prices but also that someone is here for you 24/7. Can you remember us next time you’re in need of travel assistance? Here’s my information…

At the end of the day, you’re still coming across professional, and you can possibly even gain a new client. I know this is a frustrating time for travel professionals. But as experts in the niche, know there are ways to get travelers back, even if it’s just one traveler at a time.

While its completely understandable that so many people are concerned about traveling due to the coronavirus outbreak, I feel it’s really important to put everything in perspective. Even though there’s no one-size-fits all answer to this current predicament that’s literally affecting the entire world now, using a common sense approach is essential, as it’s too easy for some to let fear and/or their emotions get in the way of their ability to think clearly during this particular time in traveling history.

I want everyone to know that there are still many places they can travel to, as many places are still considered to be safe. So for those who want or need to travel at this time, it’s really just a matter of figuring out what places are still safe to travel to. This requires travelers to keep on top of all travel news related to the virus, making it essential that they educate themselves well. This is simple to do, as those who still want to go on with their travel plans at this time just need to keep on top of all travel advisories, as they can change at any given moment.

How to Protect Oneself

There are a few things travelers can do to protect themselves, as it’s necessary to avoid being exposed to the virus in order to prevent one from getting ill. The best ways travelers can protect themselves from getting the virus is to wash their hands frequently with soap and water, not touch their face, wear a mask if it makes them feel safer, and maintain at least 3 feet in between them and anyone who is exhibiting any signs of the virus, like coughing and sneezing.

The CDC has posted the following questions for travelers, which will help them make a final decision on whether or not they should travel during this outbreak.

  • Is COVID-19 spreading where you’re going?
  • Will you or your travel companion(s) be in close contact with others during your trip?
  • Are you or your travel companion(s) at higher risk of severe illness if you do get COVID-19?
  • Do you have a plan for taking time off from work or school, in case you get exposed to, or are sick with, COVID-19?
  • Do you live with someone who is older or has a severe chronic health condition?
  • Is COVID-19 spreading where you live?

Important Coronavirus Facts

Because I feel it’s so important for travelers to understand everything they need to know at this time, I thought it would be beneficial to make a list of facts to help travelers determine what they should do regarding traveling at this particular time. While all travel-related facilities are indeed taking great measures to reduce the risk of anyone getting diagnosed with the virus, it’s still necessary for all travelers to take matters into their own hands by doing everything possible to protect themselves from the virus, as there is no vaccine as of yet.

The list of facts below are beneficial for any traveler, as there’s so much information on the Internet and on the news nowadays, it can be difficult for travelers to understand what is fact and what is fiction.


  • FACT: The State Department has issued a Global Level 3 health advisory, which means that those who live within the United States are encouraged to reconsider any travels to other countries that have confirmed cases of the coronavirus. A Global Level 4 advisory, which has not happened yet, is the level that prevents travelers from taking part in any type of travel. So traveling is still an option.


  • FACT: Transportation facilities are taking extreme measures to clean high-touch areas often throughout the day, minimizing the risk of someone getting the virus when traveling by bus, train and airplane. Special attention is also being placed on cleaning areas where staff work, like check-in counters. They have also provided travelers with more hand sanitizing locations, encouraging travelers to use them often.


  • FACT: It’s an option for travelers to check in for their transportation travels using their cell phone. This is a good idea, as it means they don’t have to touch any self-service kiosks in order to check in for their reservation. And instead of handing over their phone to one of the agents or baggage handlers for identification purposes, they can simply hold on to their phone and show them the information.


  • FACT: Hotels are also responding to the outbreak, as they’re increasing the frequency of how often the clean any public areas. They’re also training employees on new ways to clean, helping to minimize the chances of any hotel guests being diagnosed. This includes cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting all areas of a hotel, including any food areas.

 Bottom Line

It’s up to travelers whether or not they want to travel during this current outbreak. The above facts should help travelers make the right decision, as these factual pieces of information are in place in order to help travelers make the right decision. All travelers are definitely encouraged to use a common sense approach when making their decisions, vs. letting their fear or emotions take over. If the decision to travel has been made, then it’s essential for all travelers to buy a travel insurance policy.

Elite Travel Management Group, Inc

Source: Tampa Bay News 10

Most people are booking staycations to avoid getting stuck outside the country.

TAMPA, Fla. — As more people are making travel plans in a few weeks for the summer, many are opting to stay in-state instead of heading abroad.

“We’re going to try a road trip I think next,” Frank Keeney said.

Keeney and his wife Tony were stranded on the Holland America Zaandam cruise ship nearly three months ago with hundreds of passengers and crew showing coronavirus symptoms.

“Up until the time that we were quarantined in our cabins. It was a great cruise! We were really enjoying it, but once we’re quarantined, the cabin, it’s just such a small space to be in for such a long period of time,” Tony said.

All they wanted was to come home. Now as the state of Florida starts reopening, they say they don’t plan on going on a cruise ship any time soon.

“I wouldn’t go right away. I, you know, I’m not sure I would go even in August, but eventually, this will all be behind us,” Keeney said.

Most cruise lines have already announced they’ll be sailing this summer, but travel agents aren’t seeing bookings to go abroad.

“Most of the people that are calling us are doing land packages because they want to get off or go somewhere if they really need to for an emergency,” Tammy Levent said.

The owner of Elite Travel in Palm Harbour says most of her clients want to stay in the state and are booking staycations in St. Augustine or Fort Lauderdale.

That way they avoid getting stuck outside the country and stay safe.

“My clients are all ready to jump on a trip and be able to go. Their number one question and concern is, ‘If I come back from the trip am I going to be quarantined,'” Levent said.

So, for now, travelers in Florida will plan on putting their money back into the state. The Keeney’s will be watching the data before booking their next trip.

“We’ll have to see how the opening the state of Florida goes. I think now, if everything starts spiking back up again we’ll probably not really wanna be socializing with a lot of people,” Keeney said.

If you do plan on traveling outside of the country, experts recommend you book through an agent. That way you can make sure all CDC guidelines are being followed. Having an agent will also make it easier to get refunds if anything were to go wrong.

Tammy Levent, a Palm Harbor, Fla. travel advisor, speaks for many agents—and airline customers, and members of Congress—when she says she is frustrated.

While nearly every major domestic airline is waiving change fees to rebook flights and providing credit for future travel in the wake of the coronavirus global pandemic, that credit is usually only good for one year from the date the original flight was booked. So if a customer booked a flight in November of 2019 to travel to Positano, Italy in June—as Levent did—you have to travel before November of 2020.

And with 10 million Americans having filed for unemployment in the last three weeks, either money is tight or, well, as Levent puts it, “Who goes to Positano in the fall and winter?”

“It’s a very difficult situation,” Levent told “I will keep working on this, but I might have to tell one of my customers he’s losing $2,800 in flights.”

Rarely do Americans travel to Europe in the fall and winter, except perhaps at Christmas time, since many tourist and seasonal businesses close down. Positano, for example, is a gorgeous, romantic seaside town on the Amalfi Coast whose peak times are between March and October.

Levent, who said part of her frustration is that policies seem to change call to call, said that agents want a uniform policy.

“We would all be happy with an extended travel credit, voucher or whatever with penalties waived,” she said. “So if they booked in November or December of 2019, and they were traveling in June of 2020, extend that option not to November 2020 but November 2021. Allow customers to try to book the same time period but in the following year, or one year from when they were supposed to travel and not one year from date of booking.”

Pleas from Levent and the industry are not falling on deaf ears. She did receive a notice from Delta saying it would try to process credits/refunds as soon as possible although it might take up to two billing cycles. And, according to the Huffington Post, carriers are facing mounting pressure to give customers cash refunds for canceled flights after Congress approved a $50 billion bailout package for the airlines.

On Wednesday, nine senators sent letters to the chief executives of 11 major airlines arguing that each company “has a moral responsibility to provide real refunds, not travel vouchers, to consumers, and to support State Department efforts to repatriate any American citizens trying to come home. It would be unacceptable to us for your company to hold onto travelers’ payments for canceled flights instead of refunding them, especially in light of the $25 billion bailout that the airline industry just received from Congress. We urge you to offer cash refunds for flight cancellations so that Americans can better weather this crisis.”

The letters were signed by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Robert Casey (D-Penn.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

World Travel Expert, Tammy Levent, Shares Safety Facts & Strategic Advice for Travelers

By: Tammy Levent, CEO of Elite Travel and founder of TASK™

Source: the 360 mag

The coronavirus causes respiratory disease in those who contract it. The first case was found in Wuhan, China. As of March 4th, there are over 93,000 cases found globally.

The World Health Organization states that if you’re not in an area where the coronavirus is spreading, haven’t recently traveled to an where there are known cases of the virus, or haven’t been in close contact with someone who is showing symptoms of the virus, then your chances of contracting the virus is low.

If the CDC or World Health Organization has put out a “do not travel” elevated warning, then do not travel there. If they say do not go to China, obviously you are not going to go to China even if it means having to miss your business trip. Your health is more important.

To keep track of the virus, you should monitor news updates and travel alerts regularly but be pragmatic and avoid making rash decisions. If your vacation is more than a month away, I would say waiting to cancel your flight may be the best move. There is no need to panic, things may be different in a month. You can always change the date for a later time. When booking flights, either online or with a travel professional make sure to ask about cancellation policies. When I travel, I get “cancel for any reason” and “medical insurance” to cover me if something happens overseas.

No matter when or where you are traveling, basic hygiene is the best means of prevention. Wash your hands with soap and water several times a day, especially before eating. Avoid touching your face or putting your hands in your mouth. If flying, be smart, wear a face mask when in close quarters.

I always take sanitizing wipes with me on airplanes and the first thing I do is wipe down the seat in front of me, the tray table, the headrest, armrest and seat belt. Another major thing that can help prevent sickness when flying is shutting off your ventilation on your overhead. I have been doing this for years.

Never put your suitcase or purse on your pillow. Think of all the places your purse and luggage have been! They touch the bathroom floor, the airport floor, the street, and the pavement. It’s just not sanitary!

The big question surrounding the coronavirus is  “Should you cancel your upcoming trip?” Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. The decision depends on when and where you are traveling and what your current health condition is. Discuss health concerns with your doctor and use qualified resources for information like The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).


National TV Travel correspondent, Tammy Levent is the CEO of Elite Travel, an award-winning national travel agency named the fastest-growing and most trusted in the nation and she is also the founder of TASK™ (The Travel Agent’s Success Kit) a business that helps struggling travel agencies successfully adapt to this new age of travel.

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