All travel news.

ROUND-UP: Jan. 16-20, 2023

In last week’s news, the WHO urged a return to masks; Mexico told tourists to butt out; an Icelandic airline made moves in Canada; the UN predicted that tourism is back – nearly; and the next year’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace will be held in Barbados in May.

NEWS

The World Health Organization (WHO) is urging passengers to wear masks on long haul flights once again. The recommendation follows the rapid spread of the latest Omicron subvariant of COVID-19 in the US. In Europe, the XBB.1.5 subvariant has been detected in small but growing numbers.

Mexico has banned smoking in all public places and tourists caught contravening the law – which went into effect this week – could be fined up to US$300 and be jailed for up to 36 hours. The new anti-smoking law is considered to be one of the strictest in the world, encompassing all public places, including hotels and beaches. Lighting up is only permitted in private homes and private outdoor areas.

BY THE NUMBERS

Based on forward-looking scenarios by the United Nations World Tourism Organization for 2023, global international tourist arrivals could reach 80% to 95% of pre-pandemic levels this year, depending on the extent of the economic slowdown, the ongoing recovery of travel in Asia and the Pacific and the evolution of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, among other factors. The UNWTO says Europe and the Middle East are anticipated to return to pre-pandemic levels.

AIR

Icelandic low-cost airline Play is expanding to Canada. The Reykjavik-based carrier says it will offer flights from Canada to 26 European destinations including London, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Dublin, Brussels, Stockholm, and Gothenburg. Play says all of its new Canadian flights will be offered out of Hamilton International Airport, with service beginning June 2023.

Canada Jetlines has confirmed a partnership with Travelkore – a travel safety and travel healthcare services digital platform. Through this partnership, travellers will gain access to a unique digital safety application, healthcare services, and health products at home, or at their preferred destination.

DEALS

The annual ‘Pink Sale’ is back with offers of up to 50% off island-wide accommodations in Bermuda. The deals last through Jan. 30.

American Queen Voyages’ Winter Saving Event, through Feb. 28, includes up to US$2,500 in savings and free roundtrip air from select gateways (guests can swap the free airfare for a $300 p.p. travel credit).

TOURS

Goway has secured exclusive spots in Japan for this spring’s cherry blossom season which typically occurs in late March and early April. This year’s festival is expected to be the busiest in Japan in over four years with virtually no

availability for foreign travellers. Goway, however, has secured exclusive hotel rooms and tours as well as a dedicated national guide for its 12-day ‘Japan Cherry Blossom Odyssey’ tour, calling in Osaka, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Kanazawa, and Tokyo. Highlights include three cherry blossom viewing opportunities, including one in Kyoto.

A new holding company has been formed by G Adventures to bring its existing and new brand acquisitions under the same parent brand – G Travel Community (GTC). The purpose of GTC is to create a community of travel companies that have ‘community-led growth’ at the core of their strategies, and a shared belief in the power of changing peoples’ lives through travel. Current brands comprising the GTC portfolio are G Touring (Travelsphere and Just You) and TruTravels, and Planeterra. Bruce Poon Tip, the founder of G Adventures, will be chairman.

HOTELS

A signature addition to the Cavalier Resort, the new Embassy Suites by Hilton is on track to open in Virginia Beach, Va., in February. Its 157 luxury hotel suites event space feature a host of first-class amenities. Amenities include indoor and outdoor pools, a 24/7 fitness centre and a pair of new eateries – Arbuckle’s Bar & Grill and beachfront dining at the Tacos & Tequila Shack.

Opening this fall in Orlando, Aloft Lake Nona will be a six-story, 205-room music-themed property. Its eclectic décor and design nods to the hotel’s music and technology roots that gives each guestroom its own character. Aloft Lake Nona will also feature a 930 sq.-m. conference centre and full-service restaurant.

RESORTS

Celebrating the end of its 25th anniversary in Mexico in 2022, RIU Hotels & Resorts has completed the renovation of one of its three hotels in the Los Cabos area of Mexico: Riu Santa Fe. The hotel had been expanded in 2018 when the Riu Pool Party area and Splash Water World

Riu Sante Fe

built and full renovations were officially completed late in 2022. The five-star property, which has 1,288 rooms spread throughout various buildings and streets emulating a charming Mexican village, boasts a new design and spaces, including a refresh of all rooms not added in 2018 and expanded the dining options.

Motto by Hilton has marked a major milestone with its international debut in the Caribbean and Europe with the openings of Motto by Hilton Tulum and Motto by Hilton Rotterdam Blaak. Motto by Hilton Tulum is located the Hunab mixed-used lifestyle centre; the 115-room lifestyle hotel is surrounded by a jungle with ancient ruins and pristine beaches and within steps of restaurants, retail shops and nightlife. Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, Motto by Hilton Rotterdam Blaak is located in an iconic preserved bank building with 108 rooms. It is within walking distance of the Maritime Museum Rotterdam, Cube Houses and the Markthal, where visitors can shop, eat, and drink at nearly 100 food stalls and restaurants.

 CRUISE

‘Viking Neptune’ is the newest Viking ocean ship, officially named earlier this month in Los Angeles. After a ceremony with godmother, retired NASA astronaut, aquanaut and artist Nicole Stott, the ship departed on a 138-day world cruise. Through Jan. 31, Viking’s 25th Anniversary Sale, offers special savings, and up to free international airfare on river, ocean, and expedition voyages with a $25 deposit.

In an industry first, Celebrity Cruises guests will get to “see before they sail,” by exploring a hyper-realistic, digital recreation of aspects of their newest Edge-series ship Celebrity Beyond, complete with the ship tour, and the ability to visit top destinations that Celebrity sails to – from Alaska to the Caribbean and Europe to Asia. Additionally, guests can meet and chat with the line’s key leaders as digital avatars, including President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, inspirational Captain Kate McCue and others.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

The Walt Disney Co. is making several changes at its US theme parks. Among them: it will cease charging for overnight self-parking at its Walt Disney World resorts; Walt Disney World annual passholders will be able to visit the theme parks after 2 p.m. without needing a park reservation (except on Saturdays and Sundays at Magic Kingdom) and individuals buying its Genie+ service will receive digital downloads of their ride photos taken in the park on the day of their purchase for no additional charge.

EVENTS

 Barbados will host the 41st edition of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) Caribbean Travel Marketplace, May 9-11, 2023. The event follows last fall’s 40th edition, which was held in Puerto Rico. More details, including registration, will be revealed soon.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

G Adventures’ annual agent G-Normous incentive program offers $75k in cash and prizes. The four-month-long agent incentive program kicks off with agents competing for the $10K grand prize, with added trip giveaways, monthly cash prizes, bonus commission and more. Agents have a chance to win with every booking made. First up is January’s ‘Great Adventure Sale’ which provides clients with up to 25% savings on hundreds of trips, including many popular adventures in Japan, which is January’s destination spotlight for G-Normous. Bookings must be made by Jan. 31, for travel either between Dec. 22-June 30 or July 1 – Dec. 15, 2023.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

The UVI Canada team celebrates with Chester Cooper, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investment & Aviation, Bahamas (pictured centre)

Sales teams from Unique Vacations Inc. across Canada, the US and Latin America recently convened at the Sandals Sales Summit held at Sandals Emerald Bay in Great Exuma (Jan. 4-8). During the final evening’s gala awards ceremony, the sales team from Unique Vacations Canada were honoured as follows: Lorna Richards, National Training Manager – Spirit of Excellence, Canada, and the entire Canadian sales team – Winston Chang, BC, Saskatchewan & The Yukon; Donne Nixon, Alberta, Manitoba & NWT; Robert Smith, Ontario: Guy Archambault, Quebec; and Sandra Brousseau, Quebec & Atlantic Canada – was named “BDM of the Year, Canada.”

Phil Sproul, a long-time veteran of the travel industry, has joined Huntington Travel Group as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), taking control of the Consolidator and Tours arm, Escapades by Huntington. Sproul will oversee further development of the Canadian market while expanding the existing business in the United States. He can be reached at: phil.sproul@huntingtontravel.net

DESTINATIONS

Visitors to Charleston, South Carolina, will be able to experience the city and the state’s “next big thing” starting this month with the opening of the International African American Museum, which Brie Burnett of Discover South Carolina says will be even better than its counterpart in Washington DC. “If anyone is looking for a new place to visit, this is the one,” she adds. Historic Charleston already attracts many visitors interested in its plantation and Gullah (slave descendants) history and the No. 1 attraction in town is the Old Slave Market (now a museum).

Dubai is taking steps to enhance the destination’s accessibility and inclusion for travellers to “the next level.” The first phase of the initiative means all Dubai attractions, hospitality and entertainment organizations will have access to specialized autism-specific training designed to enhance staff knowledge, understanding and strategies for communication, guest experience and safety to better serve and accommodate people of determination.

LAST WEEK IN TRAVEL HISTORY

In 1949, the first non-stop trans-Canada flight, from Vancouver to Halifax, was completed.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

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