Global Travel and Lifestyle News Network

ROUND-UP: Dec. 04-08, 2023

Ontario’s auditor general questioned the operations, and need for, TICO in Ontario, Other highlights of the week: a study blamed high airfares in Canada to federal fees, a familiar face joined Canada Jetlines, and Air Canada introduced bag tracking on its app, and Riviera Nayarit welcomed a new Riu resort.

NEWS

The cost of maintaining the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) may outweigh the provincial regulator’s benefits to consumers, Ontario’s auditor general said in it’s “value for money” report. Noting significant changes in the travel industry since TICO came into effect in 1997, the auditor said “TICO’s structure and responsibilities have remained largely unchanged” and issued 16 travel-related points – nine of theme directed at TICO, six directed at both TICO and the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery (MPBSD), and one directed at MPBSD, as well as suggested 32 “actions.” Most notably, OAGO questioned whether consumers are getting their money’s worth from TICO. ACTA welcomed the report’s findings.

The high cost of domestic air travel is largely due to the various fees the federal government charges airlines and airports, according to a Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) study released last week. Among the different fees that drive up ticket prices, the study focuses on three main ones: airport rents, security fees, and the fuel tax. The report further claim that claims Ottawa treats airports like “cash cows,” not essential transportation infrastructure.

New research says that while Chinese tourism has yet to recover from the pandemic, growth will return and by 2033 Chinese outbound by value could be “double the size” of the United States. The WTM Global Travel Report, in association with Tourism Economics, anticipates that the growth in the value of outbound travel from China between 2024 and 2033 will be 131% – by far the largest increase for any major market in the world.

BY THE NUMBERS

During the peak summer months, Germany‘s tourism industry experienced significant growth. In July, international overnight stays in Germany increased by 8.3% year-on-year, followed by a 6.3% rise in August. The Federal Statistical Office recorded a total of 54.6 million international overnight stays in hotels and lodging establishments with at least 20 beds from January to August, marking a 25.8% increase compared to the same period in 2022. As Germany recovers from the pandemic, inbound tourism has reached almost 89% of the record figures seen in 2019.

AIR

Air Canada has introduced a new feature to its mobile app that will enable customers travelling within Canada (later to be rolled out in the US and select international destinations) to track the progress of their baggage and mobility aid in real time at key points as it moves with them throughout their journey. If baggage is delayed, in addition to existing text or email notifications, the app has the functionality to advise customers of delayed items and enable them to easily file a delayed baggage report from their smart phone.

Citing growing interest in Latin America by Canadians, Air Transat is increasing service from Montreal to San Salvador, El Salvador, and Liberia, Costa Rica, to year-round. Previously, flights to the Central American destinations operated only during the winter season. The new services start as of May 1, 2024.

Porter Airlines is adding daily roundtrip flights on three new non-stop routes between Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) and Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Calgary International Airport (YYC) and Edmonton International Airport (YEG). The addition of the new routes beginning April 11, May 1, and May 28 respectively. The airline also reports that it has exercised purchase rights to place a firm order for 25 Embraer E195-E2 passenger jets, adding to its 50 existing firm orders.

Air Malta has cancelled all customer bookings for flights on or after March 31, 2024. The carrier says it has refunded all direct customers the full cost (including taxes) of any tickets already issued and that customers who had booked through travel agents will be refunded the full cost (including taxes) of their tickets by the travel agent who is able to access direct refunds from Air Malta on their customers behalf. The airline will cease operations on March 30, but will continue to operate as planned until then customers can continue to book and purchase tickets as normal. A new national airline, KM Malta Airlines will replace Air Malta.

DEALS

Through Jan.16, travellers with Transat can save up to $700 on tours for two to Europe and Morocco, while travel advisors can earn 5X BONBON, or $25, per eligible tour booking. The incentive is applicable on travel dates between May 1 and Oct.31, 2024. Some conditions apply.

Dubbed its “Sail of the Year” year event, Seabourn is offering savings of up to 25% on select Seabourn ultra-luxury ocean and expedition voyages; a reduced 15% deposit on those same select Seabourn voyages; and, up to US$1,000 Shipboard Credit per suite (for bookings made by Jan. 31, 2024, which can be used for experiences such as spa treatments, shore excursions, or an upgrade to Seabourn’s Reserve wine list. The promotion applies to more than 600 worldwide ocean and expedition itineraries sailing in 2024 and beyond. The offer is valid through Feb. 29, 2024.

TOURS

Goway has introduced a new line of small group journeys, Odysseys by Goway. The curated collection of tours features longer stays and small group sizes (max 16) while delivering unique experiences across 10 different countries that are guided by Goway. Currently, travellers can book 12 different guaranteed-departure tours to Italy, New Zealand, Peru, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania, with Australia and South Africa to be added soon. For a limited time, travellers can save $200 p.p. if they book by Jan. 26, 2024 (*not combinable with other offers).

Air Canada has introduced a new air-to-rail booking option that allows customers to book train tickets four major passenger rail systems in Europe at the same time as their flight, enabling seamless connections to their onward journeys. Customers have access to a multitude of destinations throughout France, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria through the airline’s partnership with Lufthansa Express Rail Product and new collaborations with AccesRail & WorldTicket that include France’s TGV-SNCF Voyageurs, Germany’s Deutsche Bahn, Swiss Federal Railways or ÖBB, the national railway of Austria.

HOTELS

The first Mondrian Hotel in Greater China, Mondrian Hong Kong opens this month. It is located in the bustling district of Tsim Sha Tsui (one minute walk to MTR station) with 324 spacious rooms, including 12 suites. The hotel offers stunning views of Victoria Harbour, state-of-the-art wellness facilities, bar and restaurant, and a world-class dining experience at Carna by Dario Cecchini, a contemporary steakhouse from the renowned butcher from Tuscany.

Dubbed Dubai’s vertical resort, One&Only One Za’abeel is set to launch operations this month (“soon,” according to its website). Thes extraordinary urban hotel reimagines the traditional horizontal resort concept with a groundbreaking vertical design. Anchoring the architectural marvel is The Link, the world’s longest cantilever, an avant-garde feat of engineering, housing dining concepts, uniquer leisure experiences, and a rooftop infinity pool offering 360-degree views of the Dubai skyline.

RESORTS

The Inclusive Collection, part of World of Hyatt, recently held ‘Let’s Get Social’ cocktail events in Toronto, Montreal, and Calgary to showcase the Breathless Resorts & Spas brand and the unique offerings at its five resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean. The private event for travel advisors included experiential offerings, pop-up style entertainment, cocktails, and light bites. On hand for the events were (photo, l-r) Brian Joseph, BDM; Javier Navarro, Director of Sales, Breathless Cancun Soul Resort & Spa; Carolina Bellina, Senior Director of Canadian Sales; Pheona Jennings, Sales Manager, Breathless Montego Bay Resort & Spa; Juan Carlos Mejia, Director of Sales Groups Manager, Breathless Cabo San Lucas Resort & Spa; Cesar Meza, Director of Sales, Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa.

Riu Palace Pacifico in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico has reopened to guests after a complete refurbishment and conversion into an adults-only hotel. The renovation of the hotel, built in 2008, is accompanied by the expansion of new services for its guests, including more gastronomic options, improved experiences, and the Elite Club by RIU. RIU will also close the year with some news and improvements at Riu Palace Baja California in Los Cabos, Mexico and Riu Palace Jamaica in Montego Bay, Jamaica, where Elite Club will be opening as of Dec. 15.

CRUISE

Culinary- and destination-focused cruise line Oceania Cruises has announced that its 1,250-passenger ship, Marina, will undergo an all-encompassing refurbishment in May 2024. The refurbishment will include the addition three new dining options: Aquamar Kitchen, the new wellness-focused dining venue that debuted on Vista this year; an expanded poolside ice cream parlour; and a new casual al fresco trattoria offering Italian dishes, including freshly made pizzas. Marina is the last of Oceania Cruises’ current fleet to be refurbished; Its eighth ship, Allura, is set to launch in Spring 2025.

Windstar Cruises is expanding its global reach with first-time cruises in South America beginning in December of 2025 on board all-suite yacht Star Pride. The diversification to the region creates new opportunities for the small ship cruise line’s well-travelled guests to experience bucket-list destinations, like Machu Picchu in Peru and Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. The new 16-day ‘Marvels of Latin America Cruise Tour’ will sail from Colon, Panama, to Lima, Peru (or reverse) and adds a pre- or post-cruise tour to Machu Picchu. And there’s an option for a mid-cruise overland tour to the Galapagos Islands. For a shorter version, an 11-day ‘Marvels of Ecuador, Peru, and the Panama Canal’ includes the cruise and the optional Galapagos Island overland tour.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Canadian residents can save 20% on five-day or longer Walt Disney World theme park tickets. The date-based ticket requires a select start date at purchase and is valid for ticket start dates from Jan. 11 to Sept. 28, 2024. Ticket is valid for admission beginning on the selected start date and must be used within a limited number of days, depending on ticket length and type.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

TravelBrands’ ‘Tis the Season for Giving campaign gives agents the opportunity to receive 3x Loyalty Rewards points on all car rental bookings and a $25 gas card for each three rentals booked. They’ll also have one of three chances to win their entire car rental back. The promotion applies to any new car booking with Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, Budget, Alamo, Enterprise, and National and runs until Jan. 3, 2024. Agents can further accelerate their rewards with TravelBrands Loyalty Rewards program, allowing them to collect points and redeem them for many rewards including merchandise, travel, gift cards, and the ability to donate to multiple foundations and charities. Visit www.travelbrandsaccess.com.

AmaWaterways recently launched Course 4 of its AmaAcademy online education platform. The newest course, entitled ‘‘The Rhine, Main, and Moselle Rivers with AmaWaterways,’’ highlights a selection of the luxury river cruise line’s most popular European itineraries and compliments the Course 2 learning module which focused on Danube itineraries. Advisors qualify for reduced FAM rates after completing Course 1 – Heart of the River, and graduates who make a new reservation within 90 days of completing any of the four courses will receive a C$50 gift card. New advisors to AmaAcademy can earn C$200 in reward gift cards by completing all four courses and making four reservations within 90 days of each completed course.

EVENTS

Aimed at promoting the Southeast European and Balkan region – dubbed ‘the last exotic part of Europe” – and increasing tourism from North America, the New Deal Europe Virtual Marketplace will take place Dec. 12 and 13. Co-funded by the European Union, the event is the largest travel trade event focussed solely on the region. The virtual workshop allows travel planners and product developers to meet businesses from 12 destinations of The Balkans and South-East Europe. For information and free registration (for buyers), click HERE.

https://portal.etoa.org/EURO/s/community-event?id=a1h3z000003O5StAAK

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Long-time tour operator executive Maureen Maheu has joined Canada Jetlines as Director of Product USA/Cruises. Maheu who has considerable experience in product south of the border, will work with Canada Jetlines to expend their US product offerings. With years of experience at Enroute Holidays, Regent, and Sunwing, Maheu says she is excited to be part of a new adventure with Canada Jetlines and is looking forward to working with hotels in Florida and other areas of the US. Canada Jetlines presently operates four times a week service to Orlando and three times a week to Las Vegas. The airline also operates to Cancun and Jamaica.

DESTINATIONS

Since 1996, the town hall in Gengenbach (photo) in Germany’s Black Forest region has proven to be a popular attraction during the Advent season: With its 24 windows, it is transformed into the world’s largest Advent calendar house for great art (photo). Famed artists such as Marc Chagall and Andy Warhol transformed the town hall into a unique winter fairy tale with their works. This year, images by one of the most renowned German illustrators of the present day, Olaf Hajek will be presented. At 6 p.m. every evening, the window opening ritual begins. An overwhelming spectacle until the last of the 24 windows is opened and the town hall shines in all its splendour. The supporting program on the stage in front of the town hall starts daily from 5 p.m. and on weekends from 3 p.m.

After a major refurbishment almost four years in the making, the fully remodelled Wien Museum’s spectacular reopening will take place in this month in Vienna, welcoming its first major temporary exhibition in February 2024 on the new top “floating” floor for temporary exhibitions. Opening on May 22, the next temporary show will spotlight secessionist movements in Vienna, Berlin, and Munich around 1900.

LAST WEEK IN TRAVEL HISTORY

In 1901, movie producer and later theme park pioneer Walt Disney was born in Chicago. He died Dec. 15, 1966.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

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