ROUND-UP: Feb. 13-17, 2023
Last week, ACTA continued its letter writing campaign for federal support; the Jamaica Tourist Board was on the road in Canadian cities; WestJet unveiled its summer service, including big Edmonton news; Machu Picchu re-opened; and a Mexican airline announced it was ending operations.
ACTA is asking travel agents again to send letters to their Member of Parliament in support of its recommendations on the federal Tourism Growth Strategy (TSG) that urge support for travel agents. To help make sending a letter quick and easy, TIAC has posted a link to find MP contact details and a letter template HERE.
ACTA also held its first meeting with its newly appointed 2023 Independent Travel Agent Advisory Group (ITAAG), a body tasked with advising ACTA on advocacy issues specific to independent travel agents.
A NEXUS enrolment centre has been opened in Maine, at the Houlton-Woodstock, NB, border. Applicants are now able to schedule an interview on the CBP’s Trusted Traveller Portal; officials from both countries will work together to conduct joint interviews.
Machu Picchu has reopened after being closed nearly a month ago amid anti-government protests. The move came after agreements between authorities in Peru with social groups and the local tourism industry to guarantee the security of the famed tourist attraction and transport services. The closure of the Inca-era stone citadel in Peru’s southeastern jungle on Jan. 21 forced the government to airlift more than 400 tourists from Machu Picchu to the city of Cusco by helicopter.
BY THE NUMBERS
Following strong annual percentage increases in international visitor arrivals (IVAs) to Asia in 2022, predictions now are for a return to pre-COVID levels this year, with growth momentum slowly moderating in strength to 2025 as pent-up demand gradually eases. PATA estimates 713 million IVAs in 2023 representing a 254% increase over last year.
WestJet has unveiled 20 new routes and three new destinations – Minneapolis, Detroit and Washington DC (Dulles) – to the airline’s summer schedule, which features what the carrier calls its “largest expansion in history” out of Edmonton. In addition to the new destinations, WestJet’s summer network additions also feature new routes from Western Canada to Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Nashville and Seattle, plus increased frequencies and options to travel from coast-to-coast and enhanced regional connectivity with the resumption of non-stop flights and increased frequencies in the West.
Direct service between Ottawa and Charlottetown will be launched by Porter Airlines on May 17. The new daily, non-stop route – available initially until the last week of October – is to be served by 78-seat De Havilland Dash 8-400 aircraft and marks the only daily non-stop service between the cities.
Canada Jetlines reports that travel agents in Canada are now able to view and book Canada Jetlines seat inventory via the Sabre Global Distribution System.
The small Mexican airline Aeromar is closing down due to financial problems after failing to recover from a pandemic downturn. The regional carrier operated 21 routes in Mexico and flew to McAllen and Laredo in Texas and Havana, Cuba. It specialized in flying routes between Mexico City and beach resorts.
Air Canada Vacations is offering up to 30% off select flight and hotel packages to Orlando, when booking by March 5 for travel dates through Dec. 31.
The “Treat Yourself, On Us” wave season offer from Cunard is available through March 28 for select voyages from May 16 to Jan. 3, 2025, across the entire fleet – flagship Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, and the line’s newest ship Queen Anne. The offer includes an onboard credit up to US$2,000 per stateroom and discounts of up to 30% for all fares.
Six major tour brands under The Travel Corporation umbrella – Trafalgar, Insight Vacations, Luxury Gold, Costsaver, Brendan Vacations, and Contiki – have now aligned under one rewards program: Global Tour Rewards. The unification merges all current TTC Tour Brands loyalty programs into one place, with the benefit of providing travel sellers “a highly marketable angle to re-engage past guests, cross-sell brands within the portfolio and encourage clients to travel again.”
Air Canada Vacations launched a new dedicated support program for independent travel advisors. ACV@Home is designed to provide assistance, creative tools, and training to help grow the community for travel professionals working from home. The tour operator is further introducing an awards program to recognize top-producing home-based agents.
Sonesta International Hotels, the 8th largest hospitality company in the US, announced that during 2022 it added 74 properties to its franchised portfolio. The new properties further expand Sonesta’s global presence and include more than 8,500 guest rooms.
Open while undergoing a multi-million-dollar renovation, the once famed Artisan Hotel Boutique in Las Vegas is evolving into The Lexi – Elevations Hotels and Resorts new 64-room hotel that will be the first in Las Vegas to embrace the idea of cannabis-friendly hospitality. Located close to the Las Vegas Strip, The Lexi is embracing its “small and cheeky” mentality, and will feature all new guest rooms, including an entire fourth floor that will be designated cannabis-friendly. While recognizing and normalizing the idea of cannabis in travel, The Lexi is also set on creating a premium hospitality concept, an inspired culinary and cocktail program, and launching a spring/summer pool party season.
Sunwing is touting the renovated and reopened Riu Santa Fe in Los Cabos, Mexico, which recently celebrated its milestone 25th anniversary. Guests will discover a bright new modern lobby with a renovated reception desk, now including separate check-in and check-out areas, along with new concierge facilities. The 1,300-room resort also boasts more two-bedroom garden view accommodations, and all resort rooms, aside from those built during RIU’s 2018 expansion, have been refurbished. Other upgrades include a new pool with a swim up bar, and additional food options.
The new Four Seasons Resort and Residences at The Pearl-Qatar has begun accepting reservations in anticipation of its opening this spring. The chain’s second resort in Doha has 161 luxury, seaside one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, with fully amenities (including kitchens and laundry) that can be booked for days or months. Additional options include a private beach a two pools on lushly landscaped grounds, spa, gym, expansive kids facility, and seven restaurants.
On Valentine’s Day, thousands of couples symbolically renewed their vows while sailing on Carnival Cruise Line voyages during special onboard ceremonies virtually officiated by Chief Fun Officer Shaquille O’Neal. The cruise line says this year’s fleetwide event was its largest-ever Vow Renewal at Sea.
Expanding its itineraries to include Europe’s Rhine, Rhône, and Saône rivers for 2023, Riverside Luxury Cruises has expanded its fleet with the addition of the luxury vessels MS Bach, MS Ravel, MS Mahler, and MS Debussy. The season starts in April on the Danube. Agents can earn 21% commission for all 2023 booking and take advantage of special FAM rates. Visit www.riverside-cruises/TA.
After more than two years off the tracks, the Amtrak Cascades service connecting the three Pacific Northwest cities of Vancouver, Seattle and Portland will be fully operational by March. Limited service between Seattle and Vancouver resumed last September. The current daily trip departs at 7:45 am and arrives at Pacific Central Station at 11:45 am. Beginning on March 7, a second round-trip service from Portland to Vancouver will be re-introduced, meaning the service will now run at pre-pandemic schedules. The train is set to leave Portland at 3 p.m. and arrive in Vancouver at 11 p.m. Passengers will be able to book the second daily train at the end of February when Amtrak’s schedules are finalized.
ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS
Canadian residents can now take advantage of the “Get 2 Days Free with a 3-Day, 2-Park Ticket” offer at Universal Orlando Resort. Available for booking until Dec. 9 for travel any time in 2023, the offers starts as low as US$234.99 per adult, plus tax and allows guests spend five full days at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure for the price of a 3-Day ticket. And for $35 more, guests can upgrade their ticket to include access to Universal’s Volcano Bay water theme park.
Rapids Waterpark, South Florida’s largest water park, has announced a new ride coming this – ‘Mega Mayhem MAYHEM, Dueling Water Coaster.’ The new West Palm Beach attraction is the first of its kind in Florida and one of only six in the world. It will stand 16.5 m. and race 255 m. long per lane. This water coaster features two side-by-side flumes where riders speed down twists and high-banked turns as they are propelled uphill by a unique blast jet propulsion technology at a max speed of up to 35 kph.
FAMS & INCENTIVES
Launched on Valentine’s Day, Globus’s “For the Love” booking incentive gives travel counsellors $50 for every Globus tour booked between Feb. 14 and March 17, plus enters the agent for a chance to win a Choice Touring Italy trip (“Veni, Vidi, Vidi: Umbria & Tuscany by Design) for two.
Access+ is the new-and-improved travel platform by TravelBrands newly enhanced Access+ all-in-one platform includes an improved hotel search widget, dynamic fly & drive packages and dynamic cancellation penalties. Loyalty Rewards points have also been integrated into the booking flow, and it’s now possible to book river cruises online, amongst other efficiency features. To celebrate, thousands of prizes, including Loyalty Rewards points, future travel vouchers, and a cruise for two are being awarded. For each new booking made Feb. 13-26, agents will receive one game play to scratch and win plus a chance to win 100,000 Loyalty Rewards points. Travel agents can still log into Access until Feb. 28.
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) was on the road this month travelling across the country to meet with more than 100 Canadian travel advisors during ‘Jamaica Night’ events in Winnipeg and Halifax. These regional events featured destination updates from the JTB’s Canadian sales team, prize giveaways and island-inspired entertainment. Attendees donned their Jamaica colours and were invited to get in the irie spirit while enjoying tropical cocktails, Caribbean cuisine. and live music, as well as to meet hotel partners and tour operators, including Couples Resorts, Sandals, Moon Palace, ACV, Transat, and WestJet Vacations.
Unique Vacations Canada is introducing another avenue for travel advisors learn more about Sandals and Beaches resorts with “The Sandals Scoop,” a new series of brief, casual one-on-one chats with various general managers across the chains. from Sandals and Beaches Resorts. Created exclusively for the Canadian market, the series debuts today with Sandals Emerald Bay GM Jeremy Mutton who will provide insider tips and discuss why the Exuma, Bahamas, property is the “perfect blend of seclusion and sophistication for Canadian couples.” The webinar takes places Feb. 21 from 1 to 1:15 p.m. Register HERE.
Tahiti Tourisme North America has signed a deal with Reps4Rent to provide a dedicated Canadian trade & marketing associate. With a background in sales and as a travel advisor, bilingual Gail Lea Scullion is now the primary contact for The Islands of Tahiti for Canadian to engage with travel agents across the country. Her role is to build relationships with the trade, support the Tahiti Specialist Program, conduct Tahiti Tuesday training webinars, organize FAMS and support Tahiti Tourisme’s promotion and communications initiatives. She can be reached at email@example.com.
UK carbon calculation and positive compensation company specializing in the travel industry Trees4Travel has advanced its North American expansion with the appointment of Canada-based Fiona Barclay, a well-known industry figure, most recently director, supplier management North America at CWT Vacations. Her role will be to drive Trees4Travel’s partnerships for sustainability with businesses across the region and its messaging that “it is possible to make travel planet and people positive.”
The new OLG Stage at the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls, Ont., is set to open, providing a new entertainment venue for the Falls and Southern Ontario. On Feb. 25, Billy Joel inaugurates the 5,000-seat facility, which boasts state-of-the-art technology, outstanding acoustics, and seat that are never more 45 m. away from the stage.
Visit Tampa Bay (VTB) has launched the third edition of its Tampa Gay Guide, which details a host of LGBTQ+-owned and LGBTQ+-friendly businesses across the many districts within the destination as well as events such as the Tampa Pride Parade, Pride on the River, and the Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. With a steady influx of LGBTQ+ travellers, the first edition of the Tampa Gay Guide was launched in 2019 to showcase Florida city’s diversity.
LAST WEEK IN TRAVEL HISTORY
In 2013, American Airlines and US Airways agreed to merge in an US$11-billion deal that would create the world’s biggest airline. It was approved in December and the combined carrier is named American Airlines Group Inc.
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First published at Travel Industry Today