Travel restrictions

Travel restrictions brought on by the terror scare at Heathrow show some signs of abating as air travellers were handed new rules Sunday that permitted the carrying of small amounts of liquid nonprescription medicine onto a plane while all were instructed to remove their shoes during security checks. The Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) had previously banned all liquid medications but now will allow up to 114 grams of liquid nonprescription medicine – just how they arrived at such a precise number will remain a mystery along with alleged devices that can detect “hostile intent” among passengers.

While it is obvious that the security equilibrium for thwarting the continually mutating terrorist landscape is always going to be a moving target, the hotel industry too needs to be nimble in responding to travelers’ needs. The latest crisis showed remarkable resilience and agility across the board on the part of hoteliers with most responding with beefed up toilet supplies to even baggage check-in at some hotel locations. It is possible that the industry is on the cusp of some financial roiling owing to the travel uncertainties. Britain’s Guardian newspaper reports that prices at the four-star Palms Hotel in Miami dropped from the full rate of £200 to as little as £34.50 – that translates to less than $65! The article also ominously notes that “The US is most likely to be affected by a drop in demand and subsequent price-cuts, particularly with the ongoing security alerts on transatlantic flights”. Nevertheless, the industry has shown itself capable of rising from much worse as was the case with 9/11. A downturn when it does come is more likely from the normal economic cycle than any discrete event – even one as traumatic as 9/11.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.