Arnie Weissmann
Arnie Weissmann

Remember when we scoured the soil looking for the "green shoots" of recovery?

Today, we can't see the shoots -- they're obscured by lush foliage. The first 15 days of March have not only shown a significant change in the operating environment of the travel industry but the tangible value of planning for a brighter future, even in uncertain times.

Here, day by day over the first half of March, are events that suggest there's reason for optimism in 2022:

March 1: Hawaii Gov. David Ige announces that Hawaii will end its Safe Travels Program on March 25, when it will become the 50th and final state to eliminate requirements to avoid quarantines.

Six time zones away, the Star Wars hotel opens at Disney World.

March 2: The Norwegian Sky returns after its pandemic pause, becoming the 11th Norwegian Cruise Line ship back in service. Six more to go, and the line's fleet will be back at full-strength.

On the same day, it's announced that the Brazilian cruise season will restart on March 5, after a two-month break to allow cruise lines and the government to negotiate Covid protocols.

March 3: A new hospitality brand is born -- Fila House. In partnership with Hyatt, the sportswear brand Fila announces the first property will open in Shanghai in 2024.

March 4: The largest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean International's Wonder of the Seas, begins its first revenue cruise

March 5: Maine further relaxes its protocols and announces March 26 as the target reopening date for bars and tasting rooms in the state.

March 6: The Los Angeles Times predicts travel prices are likely to rise due to increased demand. 

March 7: Canada lowers the bar -- a little -- for cruise ships desiring to stop at Canadian ports. It replaces its 100% vaccination requirement with a policy to allow children under 12 and those with medical conditions to be aboard without proof of vaccination.

March 8: U.S. Travel and Meetings Mean Business Coalition meet with U.S. deputy secretary of commerce Don Graves about what needs to be done to help travel and tourism recover. The secretary says the government will bring "all tools to the table" to overcome the obstacles that remain.

March 9: TSA administrator David Pekoske says in a statement, "We are now seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, demonstrated by the rapid recovery of the travel industry."

Frontier Airlines announces new routes in anticipation of summer vacation travel.

March 10: MSC Cruises says it has broken ground on a $350 million terminal in PortMiami that can handle three ships simultaneously. Opening is targeted for 2023.

March 11: The Viking Mississippi, Viking's first riverboat purpose-built for the Mississippi River, is floated out at Edison Chouest Offshore's LaShip yard in Houma, La. It's scheduled to enter service in June.

The Senate approves $250 million in relief funding for Brand USA.

March 12: Following a lengthy legal battle, a much-anticipated gondola that will link Lake Tahoe ski resorts to create the third-largest ski area in North America gets the go-ahead. It is expected to be operational for the 2023 ski season. 

Emerald Cruises superyacht Azzurrabegins its maiden voyage, from Aqaba, Jordan. 

March 13: Arajet, an ultralow-cost carrier based in the Dominican Republic, takes delivery of its first jet, which it will use initially for flights within the Caribbean and Central America. The airline expects to add U.S. routes later this year.

March 14: The U.K. says it will drop all pandemic-related entry requirements on March 18.

March 15:Tailwind Air announces it will launch seaplane service to connect New York and Boston.

I could, of course, compile a parallel list of potential problems over this period: The invasion of Ukraine, inflation and fuel costs all have travel connections, and those issues are certainly as real as the good news above.

But what impressed me about the positive news this month is that so much of it did not just happen as an isolated event. New cruise ships and terminals, new airlines, new hospitality brands don't magically appear overnight. These developments were the result of planning and major investments made during the darkest hours of the pandemic. 

For that matter, the emergency funding to renew Brand USA was the result not only of 2022 lobbying but of a decade-plus of relationship-building between the industry and Congress.

The Ides of March are linked with times of great change; it was the date Julius Caesar was assassinated, which altered the course of the Roman Empire. We continue to be in the midst of changes, ones that began with the identification of a novel coronavirus in 2019 and are newly shaken by geopolitical events.

But the travel industry has demonstrated it has, as a core competency, the ability to move forward against all headwinds, no matter how strong. 

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