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ROUND-UP: Jan. 02-06, 2023

2023 kicked off with violence affecting tourists in Mexico, continuing news and views about travelling to and from China, the fallout from weather woes for airlines and passengers, a MSC Cruises milestone, and news of a big Comp Fund payout from TICO. Read on for the rest of last week’s wrap…

NEWS

The federal government advised Canadians in Mexico to limit their movements and shelter in place due to violence in the northwestern part of the country, including the popular tourist town of Mazatlan, after a security operation in which alleged drug trafficker, who is a son of former cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was captured. Dozens of military personnel and suspected cartel members were killed in a battle, civilian airliners shot at, and the airport closed.

New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh says the holiday travel woes that left thousands of passengers stranded at airports or struggling to find flights home show why there should be more competition in Canada’s airspace. He says the lack of choice for passengers is also making flying less affordable, and he’s calling on the Liberal government to find ways to make the airline industry more competitive.

On Dec. 20, the Travel Industry Council of Ontario’s (TICO) Board of Directors approved 43 claims against the Ontario Travel Compensation Fund totalling $201,928 to assist 86 consumers who did not receive the travel services for which they had paid. The largest amount, $177,227, covers 28 claims to assist 50 consumers for Crystal Cruises; others – Jacco Tours, 12 claims to assist 26 consumers, totalling $11,515; Jet Airways, two claims to assist eight consumers, totalling $12,386; and Sunmed Holidays, one claim to assist two consumers, totalling $800.

TICO has also advised that Active Journeys in Toronto has had had its registration under the Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002 revoked. The company operated as both a travel retailer and travel wholesaler and specialized in organizing biking, hiking, kayaking, rafting and multi-sport holidays in Asia, Africa, United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. TICO notes, “This travel agency and tour operator is no longer in business.”

BORDERS

Hong Kong started to reopen its border with mainland China on Sunday, allowing tens of thousands of people to cross from each side every day without quarantine. The city’s land and sea border checkpoints with the mainland have been largely closed for almost three years under China’s “zero-COVID” strategy.”

As of Jan. 5, passengers leaving China, Hong Kong and Macau were required to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test when they enter Canada.

AIR

Canada Jetlines is introducing a rewards program that will enable enrolled travellers to purchase flights at a preferred rate on all current and future routes via Canada Jetlines’ international network. The program is offered through a partnership with the BOOM group.

IATA added its voice to the list of opponents to travel testing for travellers from China with the association’s director general calling the measures “knee jerk,” ineffective, and based on politics, not science.

Delta Air Lines will provide free Wi-Fi service on most of its US flights starting in February. The airline says that by the end of the year it will outfit more than 700 planes with high-speed, satellite-based broadband service from T-Mobile and plans to expand free Wi-Fi to international and Delta Connection flights by the end of 2024.

BY THE NUMBERS

On Jan. 1, Swoop reported its single largest travel day, operating 64 flights with 10,268 passengers. The milestone day saw the airline flying 37 flights across Canada, 14 to the US and 13 to destinations across Mexico and the Caribbean.

DEALS

In celebration of Atlantis Paradise Island’s 25th anniversary, the Bahamas resort is offering guests at The Coral, The Royal, and The Reef up to 25% off a 5+ night stay. The booking window ends Jan. 25 for travel through Dec. 15.

TOURS

Coquelicot, a Belmond Boat, Champagne will take to France’s canals in May. The luxury barge will feature three glamorous cabins with ensuite facilities, an indoor salon with champagne bar, and an extensive outdoor deck. An exclusive partnership with Maison Ruinart will include private champagne pairing lunches by Maison Ruinart’s Chef In Residence Valérie Radou and Coquelicot Head Chef. For the very first time, Maison Ruinart’s Chef will be cooking a private ‘four hands’ lunch outside of Maison Ruinart. Guests will also have guided tours of the historic Taissy vineyard. Rates start from a mere $119,000 for a weekly sojourn for up to six people.

HOTELS

Hard Rock International (HRI) has received regulatory approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission for its acquisition of The Mirage Hotel & Casino from MGM Resorts International. The 3,044-room casino resort will continue to operate as The Mirage Hotel & Casino until the renovation and rebranding of the property to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas is complete.

Drury Plaza Hotel OrlandoDisney Springs Area, the newest official Walt Disney Partner Hotel, is set to be completed in spring 2023 with 604 guestrooms and 1,600+ sq. m. feet of meeting space. Property guests will be able to enjoy a resort-style pool, splash pad and poolside dining and refreshments, as well as an extensive marketplace, onsite dining, complimentary hot breakfast, shuttle service to all four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks, and evening snacks and beverages.

RESORTS

Playa Hotels & Resorts has expanded its mid-scale Jewel Resorts brand with the addition of the two new Jewel Resorts in the Dominican Republic. Opened Dec. 21, the 620-room all-ages Jewel Punta Cana is the first Jewel resort in the DR, located 20 minutes from the Punta Cana International Airport on Uvero Alto Beach. Half an hour away, Jewel Palm Beach opened on Jan. 7, boasting 500 guest rooms.

CRUISE
MSC Cruises
bid bon voyage to guests aboard MSC Poesia and MSC Magnifica as the two ships departed from Genoa, Italy (photo) last week for simultaneous world cruises – an industry first. Sailing together for the start of the cruises, the two ships will part ways at the Mediterranean for different routes around the globe comprising a 119-day voyage for the Magnifica and 117 days for Poesia. Shorter segments of the trips can still be booked.

AmaWaterways is adding two new 2023 river cruise dates for guests to experience “Heritage on the River; Your Personalized Ancestry Experience.” The special itineraries, conducted in collaboration with Ancestry, will provide guests opportunities to explore their heritage with tailored experiences that educate and immerse them in the destinations their ancestors once called home. Both are seven-night cruises – the Legendary Danube cruise embarking June 17, travelling from Nuremberg to Budapest, and the Captivating Rhine cruise embarking Nov. 2, travelling from Amsterdam to Basel.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

LEGOLAND Florida will open its newest attraction – Pirate River Quest – early this year. The family-friendly treasure hunt adventure, led by a pirate in search of a lost treasure, takes guests through the uncharted waters of the legendary Cypress Gardens to discover the secrets protecting its canals.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

To celebrate recently completed renovations Palette Resort Myrtle Beach Hotel Condominium has introduced a book two nights, get a third night free offer for travel agents. Clients will also receive the seventh night free when booking six at the Myrtle Beach, SC, hotel. The beachside property has a large variety of one-, two-, and three-bedroom Ocean View & Ocean Front Suites. Commission is 10%.

EVENTS

Discover Puerto Rico will host a webinar designed to illuminate the territory’s seven key regions, culinary and cocktail culture, accommodations, and highlight why Puerto Rico is “not only perfect for pre- and post- cruise, but also a destination in its own right. The “Puerto Rico in Focus” session takes place Friday, Jan. 13, 10-10:30 a.m. EST. Register HERE.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

The Aruba Tourism Authority has announced the promotion of Sjeidy Dijkhoff- Feliciano to Area Director of North America, overseeing the tourism board’s regional sales and marketing teams. Dijkhoff-Feliciano has been at the ATA since 2002 with her most recent role as communications manager. In her new role, Sjeidy will partner closely with tour operators and other key industry partners, but will remain based in Aruba.

DESTINATIONS

The village of Château-d’Oex, Switzerland is celebrating the 43rd annual Festival International de Ballons which runs from Jan. 21 to 29. For eight days, the classic mountain resort village is transformed into the hot-air balloon capital of Switzerland, attracting balloonists and spectators from all over the world. More than 100 colourful hot-air balloons will take to the skies. The highlight is the Night Glow event, a sound and light show that includes 20 hot-air balloons, paragliders, members of the Swiss Ski School, and pyro technicians who work together in a unique Alpine performance. The town is famed as the starting point of the first successful around-the-world balloon journey, made in 1999 in the Breitling Orbiter by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones.

The Wales Coast Path, stretching 1,400 scenic kilometres along the entire coast of Wales, marked its 10th anniversary in 2022; at the same time, the England Coast Path tracing 4,500 km. along the English coast, is increasingly being connected in full. Visitors can explore pieces of it in coastal cities like Brighton, Bristol, and Liverpool then wander further to discover white sand beaches, sea-to-table cuisine, and unforgettable views along the world’s longest continuous coastal walking path.

LAST WEEK IN TRAVEL HISTORY

In 1493, Columbus sailed for Spain from the New World on his ship, the ‘Nina.’

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

 

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

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