Briefs: USTA reacts to U.S. reducing visa wait times; The BoTree to open in London

USTA ON US REDUCING VISA WAIT TIMES: The recent measures taken by the US Department of State to cut visitor visa wait times for travelers to the US by up to half in some key markets like India are “substantial progress” after advocacy by the travel sector, according to a release from the US Travel Association. The State Department implemented “Super Saturdays,” in which embassies and consulates opened on Saturdays to process visas. According to the United States Travel Study, interview wait times for the top ten inbound visa-needing markets (excluding China) continue to exceed 400 days. However, for the first time since 2021, the global average wait time has dropped to less than 150 days. Key markets (such as Brazil, India, and Mexico) have seen some progress, with India moving from a mid-December high of 999 days to 577 days as of January 19. Despite significant improvements in some countries, wait times remain excessively long. While we appreciate the State’s efforts, there is still much work to be done to reduce interview wait times to an acceptable level. “The state must remain laser-focused on resolving this critical issue while establishing clear goals and limits for acceptable wait times,” said USTA President and CEO Geoff Freeman. 

LUXURY HOTEL TO OPEN IN LONDON: The luxury hotel The BoTree will open in July. The hotel, designed by EPR Architects, will have 199 rooms, including 29 suites, as well as bars, two destination restaurants, a live music club, a boutique screening room, and a fitness center. The hotel will be part of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts Legend Collection and will be a sister property to the Middle Eight and The Guardsman. Concrete, an Amsterdam-based designer, created the rooms at the BoTree. 

LIMELIGHT RESIDENCES AT MAMMOTH: Limelight Residences Mammoth, a limited edition of 15 private residences in Limelight Hotel Mammoth in Mammoth, Calif., has been unveiled by Aspen Hospitality, a division of Aspen Skiing Co. Each private residence has views of the Sierra Mountains and its elevator for residents only. In addition, owners will have full access to hotel amenities and the Mammoth Mountain Club. There will be 15 two- to five-bedroom residences with gourmet kitchens. The Limelight Hotel & Residences Mammoth is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in winter 2024. 

RECORD HIGH ADR, REVPAR IN CANADA: ADR and RevPAR in Canada were the highest for any year on record, according to STR 2022 data.  

  • Occupancy: 61.1% (-6%) 
  • ADR: CA$181.73/ US$13.88 (+10%)  
  • RevPAR: CA$111.06/ US$83.03 (+3.5%)  

Canada followed its usual seasonal trend in December, with marginally lower occupancy and RevPAR performance compared to November but improved in comparisons to 2019: occupancy (+8.4% to 53.3%), ADR (+16% to CA$178.15/ US$133.20), and RevPAR (+25.7% to CAD95 / US$71.03). Because of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) in Montreal and a resurgence in holiday parties throughout the month, hoteliers benefited from strong group demand. British Columbia saw the highest occupancy level in 2022 (66.5%), which was behind the pre-pandemic comparable by 4.5%. Among the key markets, Vancouver reported the highest occupancy (72.9%), which was 8.2% behind 2019. Among the provinces, New Brunswick (54.7%) recorded the lowest occupancy, down 8.1% from 2019. Among the markets, Edmonton saw the lowest occupancy (51.8%), which was 4.1% below its 2019 comparable.  

NEW MARRIOTT BONVOY PROMOTION: Marriott Bonvoy, Marriott International’s travel program, has launched a global promotion that makes achieving Elite status and accumulating points easier and faster for members. Marriott Bonvoy members can earn 1,000 bonus points and one bonus Elite Night Credit for every eligible paid night stayed between February 7 and April 21. Bonus points can be redeemed for program experiences. During the promotional period, there is no limit to the number of bonus points or bonus credits that can be earned.