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Real ID Act to Pose Challenges for Many Travelers

by Lux Joseph 18. September 2015

Since 911, America has seen an increase in airport security and the process by which passengers need to follow in order to travel within the United States and abroad. These changes came about to increase safety and security for US Citizens, and the US government is continuing to work on making sure our safety is a high priority.

At Commercial Medical Escorts (CME), safety is also our number one priority. We pride ourselves on delivering the highest level of care, while keeping patient safety at the forefront of each and every decision that is made. We look into the safety of not only the patients, but also our escorts that serve on each mission around the world. As changes are made surrounding airline safety as well as travel requirements we ensure they have the most up to date information.

Since 2005, the US Government has slowly been implementing and enforcing a variety of new rules to traveling to comply with the 2005 Real ID Act. Beginning in 2016 there is a select group of states in which residents will be required to travel with a passport, even on domestic travel. Currently the following states that will follow under these guidelines are:

  • ·      Massachusetts
  • ·      Minnesota
  • ·      New Hampshire
  • ·      Louisiana
  • ·      Wisconsin
  • ·      New York
  • ·      American Samoa

The driver’s licenses and state IDs from the aforementioned states above are not compliant with the Real ID standards and this is why they are requiring those residents to travel with their passports. While all of our nurses, physicians, paramedics, and travel companions carry passports, this is not the case for all Americans.  It does not appear to be clear as to why the states above do not meet the requirements, but the US government believes this is a vital component of our national security framework that needs to be complied with at all levels.

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s guidelines on enforcement of the Real ID Act,

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on December 20, 2013 a phased enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act (the Act), as passed by Congress, that will implement the Act in a measured, fair, and responsible way.

Secure driver’s licenses and identification documents are a vital component of our national security framework. The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government ‘set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.’ The Act established minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards.  The purposes covered by the Act are: accessing Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and, no sooner than 2016, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.

States and other jurisdictions have made significant progress in enhancing the security of their licenses over the last number of years. As a result, approximately 70-80% of all U.S. drivers hold licenses from jurisdictions: (1) determined to meet the Act’s standards; or (2) that have received extensions. Individuals holding driver’s licenses or identification cards from these jurisdiction may continue to use them as before. 

Individuals holding licenses from noncompliant jurisdictions will need to follow alternative access control procedures for purposes covered by the Act.  As described below, enforcement for boarding aircraft will occur no sooner than 2016.”

Under the final phase, which will begin "no sooner than 2016," residents of "non-compliant" states will no longer be allowed to present state-issued driver's licenses as identification for air travel, but instead will be required to present "alternative forms of identification – such as a U.S. Passport." It is up to those states that are not in compliance, working with the federal government, to come up with a solution to this problem.

Implementation of REAL ID has been repeatedly delayed over the past 10 years to provide additional time for states to comply, and it is possible that further extensions could be granted. DHS has promised that before this final phase is implemented, it "will conduct an evaluation to inform a fair and achievable timeline. The date for implementing Phase 4 will be set after the evaluation has been complete; this phase will occur no sooner than 2016...DHS will ensure the public has ample advanced notice before identification requirements for boarding aircraft."

Given that not being able to use a driver's license to board an airplane for domestic travel could prove extremely disruptive to residents and travel businesses in the non-compliant states.

CME will continue to monitor this situation as it impacts our nurses, physicians, paramedics, and travel companions, but also the patients and their family members that we bring home. Prior to any transport, our team ensures that we check all travel documents to ensure you have all the necessary documents to ensure a smooth journey back to your home.

http://www.dhs.gov/real-id-enforcement-brief

Orlando Hits Record High in Tourism Again

by Lux Joseph 26. April 2015

Orlando is practically in the back yard of Commercial Medical Escorts, just under three hours away from our company headquarters. The U.S. has its own charms and hot spots to visit but there are two places that tourist seem to be very fond of. Both New York and Orlando happen to bring in the largest amount of tourist out of the many other places in the United States, but only one can reign supreme. So which city is it that tourist are picking as their “to go” place? As it turns out, Orland happens to be on top of the hierarchy when it comes to being the center of tourism here in the U.S.

According to Visit Orlando, a whopping 62 million tourist visited the Florida city during 2014 in hopes of having a good time, which, according to Orlando Sentinel, is “That is more people than the populations of Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, and Delaware, combined”.  Although this isn’t too much of a surprise, as Orlando did open up a few more attractions, including Universal Orlando’s diagon alley, from the Harry Potter series, for those of you who are unfamiliar.  

George Aguel, the President and CEO of Visit Orlando, said “This historic milestone is the latest testament to Orlando’s leadership in tourism.” He continued to say “It’s a tribute to the steadfast commitment and continued investment by our tourism community, the special brand of service that greets our visitors and the global marketing and sales efforts of our Visit Orlando team and member companies.”

This wouldn’t be the first time that Orlando has broken this record. In 2013, the record was broken with an astonishing 59 million people, and again New York coming in second place. More so, Orlando was able to break another record in 2014. Apparently, they were able to sell 32 million room nights, which amounted to over 200 million, the largest that the Orange County has ever seen. Mayor Teresa Jacobs commented “The impact of tourism on our community is remarkable and, in fact, the travel and tourism industry is the largest generator of jobs and economic impact for our region...”

Although New York did have something to say in response to the victory. Chris Heywood, an official at NYC & Co., said “We congratulate them on those numbers,” It seemed like a friendly enough thing to say, but he continued to say “We're thrilled to be the number one destination for international visitation. That is a market that stays longer and spends more money.” This just happens to be the case. New York, while not the top when it comes to general tourism, leaps bounds over everywhere else when it comes to international tourist, leading with a 12.2 million people, and Orlando only having half that amount.

Even so, it is a great achievement to be the leading in the total amount of tourism coming into a place. If anything, it might be a good idea to start planning a trip, just to see what all the fuss is about.

 

Sources:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/officials-orlando-top-us-tourist-destination-2014-30174715

http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/blog/2015/04/orlando-becomes-first-destination-to-surpass-60m.html

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/tourism/tourism-central-florida-blog/os-orlando-visitation-record-2014-20150409-post.html

http://www.travelweekly.com/North-America-Travel/Orlando-breaks-visitor-record

http://www.ibtimes.com/orlando-surpasses-new-york-most-visited-us-city-1574621 

Luxury Living: The Most Expensive Cities in the World

by Lux Joseph 2. April 2015

For the most part, we all enjoy traveling; whether that involves venturing into an unknown part of our surroundings or setting course for a foreign and mysterious country altogether, people like to travel. Yet there is always that one place that is just so great we often take the time to sit back and wonder how wonderful it would be if we had actually lived there. What would it take to live there comfortably and could it actually happen? Well, if you were thinking of living in one of the cities about to be mentioned, you’d better talk those plans over with your wallet.

The Economist Intelligence Unit came out with a survey listing the top ten most expensive cities in the world, and for those of you wondering, New York was 26th on the list. In fact New York is set as the base standard that other cities are compared to. At the very top of that list is Singapore in Asia. Singapore is a stand-alone city-state and because of this, it has to gain its resources, including electricity and water, from other neighboring countries. This can get very expensive, leading to higher utility cost. The transportation costs are also close to triple what it takes to get around NY. Not to mention the higher grocery prices and clothing prices, which is 50% more than that of New York. With all that to keep in mind, it’s no wonder why Singapore made top of the list two years in a row.

Another city on the list is Seoul, South Korea. While Seoul ties with Singapore when it comes to clothing expenses, what make this city really difficult to live in are the high prices for everyday food items. Fashion you could go on without, but food happens to be a pretty important part of our everyday life. Using the dollar to show the difference, a single kg loaf of bread in Singapore would go for roughly $3.50, while the same loaf of bread would cost an average of $13.00 in Seoul. This alone sets Seoul up for being a really expensive place and maybe even difficult place to live in. If you can’t afford to eat then you might as well not worry too much about the other necessities either. When CME has done transports to Seoul, the escorts have experienced and can relate to this cost difference when it comes to getting a meal before their transport.  

Standing on its own when representing Europe, Paris is the only European country to make it into the top ten list. With its generally high living expenses all around, the only thing you can look forward to are the relatively cheaper prices of alcohol and tobacco, and while that’s a lot of people’s dreams, it would be ideal if you at least had an apartment to enjoy such luxuries in. When it comes to arranging accommodations in Paris, hotels are priced relatively well compared to other areas of the world. Of course seasons depict different rates, but CME definitely sees a significant increase in costs when it comes to ground transportation. A sedan transfer in Germany that would be $125 could be more than double in Paris.

Others on the list included Osio, Zurich, Sydney, Melbourne, Geneva, Copenhagen, and Hong Kong (Which was tied with Seoul). If you’re really considering a move to one of these cities, it’s highly recommended that you consult your financial advisor to make sure that your bank can take the amount of pressure being placed on your funds. Otherwise, just enjoy your stay and let it be a happy memory that you can cherish in your comforts of your affordable abode. 

At CME, our nurses and physicians travel to all points of the world. They use currencies from dollars to pounds to euros to yen depending on their destinations. Of course anywhere you travel do will encounter tourist traps with inflated prices, but as you venture out to local areas you soon find out why some of these cities are recognized as some of the most expensive cities in the world.

Sources: 

http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/singapore-most-expensive-city-for-living-seoul-most-expensive-for-food-1.2263545#

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/04/most-expensive-cities-world_n_6793688.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/news/article-2977215/World-s-expensive-cities-revealed-Singapore-tops-charts-again.html

 


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