ROUND-UP: Dec. 25-29, 2023
There were a billion reasons that 2023 was a great year for travel and tourism (ed note: not all listed here!). Other round-up highlights over the holidays included the return of Mexicana airline (in unique fashion), ongoing Boxing Week sales from tour companies, and the return of Disney product to the Air Canada Vacations portfolio.
With almost a billion tourists having already travelled internationally in the first three-quarters of the year, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) says international tourism has almost completely recovered from the unprecedented crisis of COVID-19. According to data an estimated 975 million tourists travelled internationally between January and September 2023, an increase of 38% on the same months of 2022.
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) has entered into agreements with several airlines for a new rebate program aimed at driving better performance and passenger experience at Canada’s busiest airport. Airlines representing approximately 90% of seats at Toronto Pearson are eligible to earn rebates by achieving certain passenger volume thresholds and meeting targets related to operational performance, including on-time departures and timely baggage delivery. The arrangement starts Jan. 1.
The US Department of Transportation is investigating possible deceptive practices in airline loyalty programs after federal lawmakers raised concerns about how companies are calculating points and rewards. DOT says it is planning “to carefully review complaints regarding loyalty programs and exercise our authority to investigate airlines for unfair and deceptive practices that hurt travellers as warranted.”
Mexico launched its army-run airline Dec. 26, when the first Mexicana airline flight took off from Mexico City bound for the Caribbean resort of Tulum. The airline’s military-run holding company now also operates about a dozen airports, hotels, trains, the country’s customs service and tourist parks.
On Dec. 21, Air Transat kicked off the 2023-2024 sun season from Moncton with its first direct flight from Moncton to Cancun. Service is weekly every Thursday, and with weekly flights to Punta Cana every Friday. In February, a weekly flight to Varadero will start, as well as flights to Orlando, now offered twice weekly. Air Transat departures to sun destinations from YQM will be offered until May 2024 this season.
An expanded international air agreement between Canada and Panama will enable Copa Airlines to increase frequencies between the countries in 2024, culminating in daily service between both Toronto and Montreal starting May 20 and 21 respectively. Increased service will to Panama City will begin in March with connections to more than 60 Central America, South America, and Caribbean destinations beyond the carrier’s hub.
Fares for new Maltese national carrier KM Malta Airlines are now on sale for flights commencing on March 31, 2024. Seventeen routes include 17 routes include Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Catania, Dusseldorf, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Lyon, Madrid, Munich,
Sunwing is continuing Boxing Day week deals into the New Year with savings on vacations to Mexico, the Caribbean (including Cuba), Central America and the United States available when booked by Jan. 7, 2024. Customers can get up to $1,500 off per couple on vacation packages at over 200 hotels and resorts.
TravelBrands New Year offers continue across its multiple brands as follows: Sunquest – 10X Loyalty Rewards Points on bookings made between by January 2, 2024. Valid on hotel-only, add-ons, as well as Sunquest and TravelGenie packages; Cars – 3X Loyalty Rewards Points, a $25 gas card for every three cars booked, and three chances to win your rental back (through Jan. 3); Exotik Journeys –$200 off per couple, valid through Jan. 8; Encore Cruises – For any sailing on select cruise lines departing on or before July 31, each child will receive a US$50 Fun credit and a CDN$100 air credit (for bookings by Jan. 8). Info on www.travelbrandsaccess.com.
Travellers can save up to CDN$750 when booking the Feb. 4, 2024, departure on Collette’s 22-day “Australia & New Zealand Uncovered” Explorations tour.
The Omni Homestead Resort in in Hot Springs, (southwestern) Virginia (photo), has celebrated its official Grand Reopening after completing a US$150-million property-wide renovation project. Situated in the Allegheny Mountains, the 930-hectacre property is America’s first resort, with a history spanning 250 years and has hosted many US president and other dignitaries over the years. The resort’s iconic Warm Springs Pools underwent a meticulous 14-month, $4.6 million rehabilitation, preserving historic structures dating back to 1761.
Banff’s newest hotel, Moxy Banff, is slated to open in January. Marketed as “a playful hotel brand for the young at heart,” Moxy is part of Marriott Bonvoy’s portfolio of over 30 brands. Originating in Europe in 2014 with the launch of Moxy Milan, Moxy now has over 125 locations across the globe.
MSC Cruises continued to advance its commitment to environmental sustainability by successfully connecting MSC World Europa to shore power in the port of Valetta, Malta – the first operational shore power facility in the Mediterranean. The line says it is committed to the use of shore power wherever it is available as part of its goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emission operations by 2050
Margaritaville at Sea is introducing three-night weekend sails from Palm Beach, Fla. to the Bahamas, including new “Saturdays at Sea” experiences, for August through December. Departing Friday and returning Monday, the three-night itinerary includes a full Saturday at sea, which will feature new dining, entertainment, and other experiences, such as a “Bottoms Up Party Brunch” with live music, special menus, and drinks. Other Saturday programming will include “Tropic Like It’s Hot” island night with suggested themed attire for passengers; new, complimentary dinner menu at the Fins main dining room; a “Sail Yeah” deck party; pickleball competitions; spa specials; casino promotions; and more.
Air Canada Vacations is again offering Disney vacation packages to its portfolio with a choice of 29 resorts in Florida, California, and Hawaii, and packages that include flight, hotel, and theme park tickets.
Due to the conflict in the Middle East, Collette has announced that all travellers who were booked on departures to Israel through the June 30 will be refunded in full. The price paid for the tour, flights, and insurance will be refunded to any traveller who was booked on tour travelling during that timeframe, at the time of cancelation. Any travel advisor who booked travellers during this period will keep all advanced commissions paid from those bookings.
Set to open in April, the adults-only Royalton CHIC Antigua is located on the northwest coast of Antigua on Dickinson Bay Beach, 20 minutes from the airport. The brand-new resort will feature 235 rooms and suites, seven restaurants, five bars and dining entertainment, sports and fitness facilities and The Royal Spa. Royalton Chic Antigua offers guests 15% off their stay when booking (available now) before the opening.
In 2024, RIU Hotels & Resorts will add two new hotels to its portfolio with the opening of Riu Palace Aquarelle, its seventh hotel in Jamaica and first in the Trelawny area of Jamaica. The 24-hour, all inclusive resort will open to travellers with 753 rooms and a wide gastronomic offering with a main buffet and five specialty restaurants – “Krystal” for fusion cuisine, “Napoli” serving Italian food; Kyoto, a Japanese restaurant; a steakhouse; and a Jerk station. Chicago will also be added to the RIU Plaza roster of urban hotels.
ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS
The Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto will celebrate its official Grand Opening with Gwen Stefani performing on Friday, May 3 and Blake Shelton performing on Saturday, May 4. Both performances will take place in a new, 5,000-person theatre.
FAMS & INCENTIVES
During January, Riviera River Cruises will offer wave season discounts of up to $700 p.p. on 2024 and 2025 European river cruise departures, as well as a gift card incentive for travel advisors. A $400 p.p. discount will be available on eight-day cruises, including exclusive departures for solo travellers, and a $700 p.p. discount will be available on 11- to 15-day cruises. And for every cabin booked, travel advisors will receive a $100 gift card.
Travel Advisors who book groups on American Queen Voyages have the potential to earn 10% enhanced commission on premium shore excursions, pre- or post-stay city stays and travel insurance.
The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) hosts free educational webinars for registrants to address common compliance questions. New webinar dates in 2024 have been added for sessions covering advertising, disclosure and invoicing, trust accounting, and preparing the verification statement. For information, click HERE.
US Travel has revealed its cities and dates for its signature IPW travel trade conference through to the end of the decade. Following previously announced Los Angeles (May 3-7, 2024) and Chicago (June 14-18, 2025), the next shows will be held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – May 18-22, 2026; New Orleans – May 3-7, 2027; Detroit – June 10-14, 2028; Denver – May 19-23, 2029; and Anaheim, Ca. June 1-5, 2020.
Canada’s largest food and drink celebration is returning with more restaurants than ever. Dine Out Vancouver Festival kicks off Jan. 17 for 19 days of feasting fun, showing over the city’s culinary scene through Feb. 4.
The twin-island destination of Antigua and Barbuda has revealed plans for Antigua and Barbuda Wellness Month with visitors and residents invited to immerse themselves in the destination’s enriching wellness experiences as they start anew in January. Hosted by the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Antigua and Barbuda Wellness Month offers those seeking to enhance their quality of life a selection of carefully curated activities in resorts and in local communities, ranging from wellness retreats, spa experiences, hiking trail exploration, off-shore island excursions with yoga on secluded beaches, culturally immersive experiences and healthy eating options.
LAST WEEK IN TRAVEL HISTORY
In 1986, the first non-stop flight around the world without refuelling was completed as the airplane “Voyager” landed safely in the Mojave Desert after nine days, three minutes and 44 seconds in the air. The pilot was US Air Force Col. Dick Ruton and the co-pilot was Jeana Yeager.
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First published at Travel Industry Today