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Dozens Dead, Missing After Two Tourist Boats Capsize off Thailand

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Dozens have been confirmed dead and dozens more are still missing after a pair of boats carrying tourists capsized off of Phuket, Thailand Thursday.

According to the New York Times, the vessels were overcome by waves as high as 16 feet after going out despite a severe weather warning.

One of the ships, the Phoenix PC Diving ship, was carrying 105 passengers, including 93 tourists—many of which were Chinese nationals—when it sank after leaving Koh Racha, a snorkeling hotspot.

The second vessel, the Serenita, sank off nearby Koh Mai Thon. All 42 people aboard the ship were rescued, the Times reported.

On Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said two Chinese nationals have been confirmed dead, 47 others were missing and 78 Chinese nationals have been rescued. However, Lu warned of the numbers’ potential inaccuracy as search and rescue operations are still ongoing.

The Thai Prime Minister’s Office has promised officials “will exert all efforts to find those still missing and provide support to all survivors of this tragic event.” The ongoing search for survivors includes helicopters, ships and divers.

Phuket is a popular tourist destination known for its beaches, resorts and numerous snorkeling and diving opportunities. Chinese nationals make up a significant portion of Thailand’s international visitors.

This post was published by our news partner: TravelPulse.com | Article Source
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Travel Industry Lauds Passage of Paycheck Protection Program Reform Bill

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The U.S. Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act on Wednesday, sending it to President Donald Trump’s desk for final approval.

The reform bill provides business owners with additional flexibility and more time to utilize loan money and still be forgiven under the PPP established to provide economic relief in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The travel industry has been quick to commend lawmakers. The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is in full support having advocated for the improvements behind the scenes.

“We commend the Senate for passing the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (H.R. 7010), which would change PPP loan terms—in some cases retroactively—in a number of ways ASTA has advocated for, including five-year loan terms, reducing the requirement that 75 percent of the loan must go to payroll to get forgiveness, allowing forgivable expense over 24 weeks (as opposed to the current eight) and allowing companies to restore headcount without jeopardizing forgiveness by the end of the year (versus the current June 30),” Eben Peck, EVP Advocacy, ASTA, said in a statement.

“While the PPP will remain complex, this bill gives more flexibility to PPP recipients and increases the chances that loans can be fully forgiven,” Peck concluded.

The U.S. Travel Association also wasted no time praising the decision, calling it an “important step.”

“The PPP changes passed by both chambers are another important step in providing relief to small businesses that otherwise will not survive until the economic recovery phase,” added U.S. Travel’s Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes. “The modification to the portion of funds that can be used for non-payroll expenses is especially crucial to travel-related small businesses, which have comparatively high capital overhead but virtually zero incoming revenue because of the necessary measures in place to stem the spread of the pandemic.”

U.S. Travel still believes that there’s more work to be done to ensure a successful recovery. The organization is encouraging officials to extend PPP eligibility to non-profit and quasi-governmental entities responsible for driving local and regional economic development.

“Like the businesses they serve, the finances of these non-profits have been devastated by the standstill in travel and tourism, and the moment of recovery will be moot unless they can keep their lights on to take advantage of the return in travel demand,” Barnes stated. “We urge leaders to move urgently to enact the next phase of coronavirus response legislation, which is absolutely vital to the future of the travel and tourism industry, and to prioritize expanding eligibility to those most hard hit by this pandemic such as destination marketing organizations.”

This post was published by our news partner: TravelPulse.com | Article Source

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