Day: June 28, 2020

Jack Ma’s New Chieftain Lays Out His Plan to Fend Off Tencent

(Bloomberg) —

Billionaire Jack Ma’s newest chieftain is accelerating Alipay’s evolution into an online mall for everything from loans and travel services to food delivery, in a bid to claw back shoppers lost to Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Ant Group Chief Executive Simon Hu is aggressively pitching digital payment and cloud offerings to the local arms of KFC Holding Co. and Marriott International Inc., expanding the firm’s focus from banks and fund managers on its ubiquitous app.

The Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. affiliate’s strategy is two-pronged. It halts Tencent and food delivery giant Meituan Dianping’s run-away success in attracting local merchants to their platforms, eroding Ant’s dominance of China’s $29 trillion mobile payments space. It also diversifies Ant’s business into less-sensitive areas after the firm drew regulatory scrutiny for its blistering expansion in financial services with in-house products.

“We want to help digitize the services industry,” said Hu in his first

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Is it worth it to bundle flights and hotels? Here’s what to know as you start traveling again

The coronavirus pandemic caused an unprecedented need for consumers to cancel travel plans. Many travelers have encountered frustration changing arrangements, canceling trips and obtaining refunds.

Some consumers prefer to handle each part of their travel on a piecemeal basis.  But if you end up having to cancel or make changes, it can be a hassle to contact every hospitality company individually.

For other travelers, a vacation package tidies up the process and creates a single-point contact but their policies may be restrictive regarding cancellation and refunds.

We’ve consulted with travel experts who share the pros and cons of bundling arrangements for your next trip:

The argument for bundling

Cost can be lower: When flights and hotels are booked together, travelers can achieve better prices. “From purely a financial perspective, a bundled vacation package can help you to secure the best prices and keep costs down,” says Matt Woodley, founder of

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holiday bookings ‘explode’ as travel restrictions ease

UK holiday-makers will soon be able to travel to some countries without quarantining upon return. Photo: S O C I A L . C U T/Unsplash
UK holiday-makers will soon be able to travel to some countries without quarantining upon return. Photo: S O C I A L . C U T/Unsplash

Holiday companies have seen bookings “explode” as COVID-19 travel restrictions are set to be relaxed next week, the BBC reported.

From 6 July, Brits will be allowed to travel to certain European countries without having to spend two weeks in quarantine upon their return.

A spokesperson for Britain’s leading tour operator TUI said this is a “hugely positive step forward”.

“We’ve already seen bookings increase by 50% this week, versus last [week], with holidays to Spain and Greece looking the most popular this summer,” said Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI UK and Ireland.

Lastminute.com reported an 80% increase on holiday sales compared to last week, attributed to Spain lifting the quarantine for Brits.

READ MORE: The top 10 countries Brits will visit once

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Can you travel in California? Official signals conflict

Californians, are you now free to move about the state?

It seems you are, if you judge by the flurry of hotel, casino and park openings in California, Las Vegas and the rest of the West in recent days, including a big burst of reopenings Friday with Disneyland to follow on July 17.

At popular destinations like Santa Barbara, Napa Valley and Los Angeles, tourism boosters are eagerly inviting the masses back and treating the state’s stay-at-home order as history.

But that’s not what public health officials are saying, at least not yet.

“We are waiting to see how the State Health Officer changes her order,” wrote a spokesman for Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer in an email Thursday.

As of Friday morning, that change hadn’t come yet, and the state Public Health Office was giving this advice on the state website:

“You can travel for

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