ROUND-UP: July 17-21, 2023
Inflation is starting to affect travel planning according to a new poll; Canada’s passport value rose this year; Sunwing revealed its winter flight/package schedule; and Experience Kissimmee says thank you at a Partner’s Event.
A new poll says a third of Canadians have changed or cancelled their vacation plans due to inflation. In addition to concerns about inflation, Canadians are also feeling the sting of flight delays and cancellations with almost half of Canadians surveyed by Leger said they think airlines aren’t reliable when it comes to their departures and arrivals.
The Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors (ACITA) is urging independent travel advisors to check their CRA accounts to see if their federal support payments during the pandemic have been recalled. To that end, the association has issued a “call to action” asking agents to advise it immediately of any notifications of repayment that have been issued at
Travellers arriving or departing the UK via London Gatwick – notably Canadian passengers on WestJet and British Airways – face potential disruptions to their flight plans later this month and in early August after almost 1,000 workers at the airport voted to strike in a dispute over pay. The Unite union says that members, including baggage handlers and check-in staff, who are employed by four private contractors will walk out for four days from July 28 and again for a subsequent four-day stretch from Aug. 4.
BY THE NUMBERS
Canadians can claim the world’s 7th-most valuable passport – up from 8th last year – according to the respected Henley Passport Index, which ranks the world’s 199 passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. Singapore took top spot in the ranking in a major poll shakeup as Japan placed third after reigning for five straight years. Canada had ranked 8th since 2021, having edged up one spot that year. Before that, Canada was sixth four years in a row. Historically, the document has never ranked lower than 9th and hit its high point – 2nd – in 2014. In 2023, Canadians can enter 185 countries visa-free.
EVENTSEverything was turning to white at the Experience Kissimmee VIP Partner Appreciation Event/ White Party on Thursday, as VoX’s Sue Webb joked, “Everybody actually listened to the instructions on the invitation!” Notably rockin’ the whites at the unique soiree – held in an elaborately themed three-level suite at the SoHo Metropolitan in Toronto – were (photo) EK’s DT Minich (c), with event partners Hayden Yates of Disney (l), and Tony Goodmann from Universal Orlando Resort. “This,” said Minich, “is simply a thank you for all you do.”
Air Canada has added a host of new features for passengers, from check-in to inflight. The upgrades include expanded in-flight food and beverage offerings, more family-friendly options in the airline’s in-flight entertainment library, as well as additional advances to the Air Canada App. The updates are the latest part of the carrier’s “More to Travel” initiative, a series of ongoing improvements underway across its travel products and services.
Cozumel, Mexico is back on Transat’s roster this winter. Bookings are now open for flights from Montreal and will be offered once a week, on Fridays, from Dec. 15 to April 26, 2024.
United Airlines and the union representing its pilots say they reached an agreement on a contract that will raise pilot pay by up to 40% over four years. The union valued the agreement at about $10 billion. It followed more than four years of tumultuous bargaining that included picketing and talk of a strike vote.
Through July 31, clients can take advantage of exclusive rate reductions, amenity discounts and the chance to win a getaway for two with Sunwing and Melia Hotels and Resorts in the Dominican Republic. And agents have a chance to win a free seven-night stay at Paradisus Palma Real Golf & Spa Resort or Falcon’s Resort by Meliá for departures by April 30, 2024. Agents can also agents can earn up to 5X STAR Points on select Meliá resorts in Punta Cana.
Cruisers on Azamara can take advantage of an Early Booking Bonus, which provides up to 20% savings when booking select sailings before Aug. 31. Guests who book a veranda or a suite will also receive a complimentary Experience More package, including a $300 onboard credit, free Wi-Fi, and a premium beverage package for two.
Sunwing Vacations has unveiled its 2023-24 winter schedule featuring flights on board Sunwing Airlines from 23 airports from coast to coast to 26 sun destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and the US. Notably, Sunwing’s overall capacity is growing by 15% over the previous winter season, including over 700 hotels and more travel options in popular destinations in Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Orlando, Fla. The tour company is also significantly growing capacity from Atlantic Canada and the West. New for this winter season are packages from Toronto and Montreal to the Cuban destinations of Cienfuegos, along with Manzanillo de Cuba.
Citing a return of demand for family travel, two new National Geographic Family Journeys trips in Italy and Tanzania are being launched by G Adventures. The new trips launch as the small group operator and community tourism pioneer reveals that bookings for the National Geographic Family Journeys travel style have more than doubled in 2023 when compared to the same booking window in 2022 (Jan.-June). The trips – “Italy Family Journey – Venice to Rome” and “Tanzania Family Journey” bring to 12 the number the New Geo journeys offered. Other destinations include France, Iceland, Morocco, Japan, and Peru.
A new jungle-themed hotel has recently opened in Quebec’s Saint-Calixte in the Launaudière region. l’Hôtel de la Cité Perdue (Hotel of the Lost City) is located 90 minutes from Montréal and guests can choose from various rooms with different vantage points of the resident lions. The lions, who were born and raised in captivity at the on-site Familizoo animal refuge and sanctuary, are free to roam in their habitat within eyesight or can retire to private areas out of view.
“Viva Jamaica” has been launched by noted Rockabilly promoter, Tom Ingram, who’s been organizing the hugely successful “Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend” for 26 years. Viva Jamaica is the first-ever Rockabilly seven-day vacation event to be held at a clothing optional, all-inclusive luxury resort on the beaches of Jamaica. The event is Aug. 16-23 at Hedonism II in Negril. Among extensive entertainment events, live bands performing are Canada’s Shook Boys.
Hard Rock International announced development plans to open a new Hard Rock Hotel Algarve in Portugal. The new development will be located near the gorgeous sands in Praia do Vau, Portimão, further expanding the brand’s global reach. The property, set to begin construction in early 2024 and open in Summer 2026, will have around 275 luxurious rooms and suites and an additional 150 branded serviced apartments.
Silversea celebrated the final handover of Silver Nova, the most environmentally conscious ultra-luxury cruise ship ever built, last week in Eemshaven, the Netherlands. Royal Caribbean Group President and CEO, Jason Liberty, joined President of Silversea, Barbara Muckermann, and other VIP guests (photo) to officially welcome the pioneering ship as the 12th in Silversea’s fleet. Set for its inaugural voyage on Aug. 14, the new vessel will accommodate up to 728 guests, boasting an innovative asymmetrical design offering a space-to-guest ratio of 75 GRT-per-passenger – one of the most spacious cruise ships ever built. She also introduces a brand-new selection of spacious suites, many of which offer a 270-degree view from sea to sky.
Cavalia’s newest Illumi production, Symphony of Flowers is set to debut on July 28 in Terrebonne, just under an hour north of downtown Montréal in Québec’s Lanaudière region. Through Sept. 3 the symphony will showcase over 100,000 colourful, flowing flowers choreographed to music and accompanied by a story written by poet Raôul Duguay, with English narration by singer-songwriter Jim Corcoran. Guests are also welcome to stroll among the dazzling blooms, composed of over 500,000 LED lights.
FAMS & INCENTIVES
ACTA is adding two additional experiential learning opportunities for travel advisors in 2023. Trips to the Dominican Republic (Aug 15-21) and Alentejo, Portugal (Nov. 13-19), join the sold-out ACTA – Avalon Waterways European River Cruise Summit taking place in October. Contact the association for details and rates.
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) is offering Canadian travel advisors a chance to take part in its annual series of familiarization trips for 2023, taking place this fall. Included is the “Off-Site Weddings” excursion, Sept. 18-24, which will give participants in-depth look at some of Jamaica’s most iconic locations to say ‘I do,’ as well as popular resort options for on-property weddings. Prices for Destination Jamaica’s educational FAM trips start at $499, with fees covering return airfare, accommodation, meals, activities, and ground transportation in Jamaica. As space is limited, agents are encouraged to apply early to secure a spot at www.visitjamaica.com/canada/fam-tours.
It’s the last chance for golfers to register for the 67th annual SKAL Golf Tournament to be held Aug. 21 at the Royal Ontario Golf Club in Hornby, Ont. (near Milton). The tournament is open to everyone. Registration & breakfast begin at 7:30 a.m. with shot gun start at 9 a.m. There will be raffles, prizes and more. Non golfers are welcome to sign up for lunch only. Hole and other sponsorship opportunities are still available. Cost is $200 for Skal Toronto and Toronto North members, $225 for other Skal members and guests; $75 lunch only. Register here: https://SkalGolf2023.eventbrite.ca.
Direct Travel (formerly Vision Travel) reports that four of its Canadian travel advisors have been named to the prestigious Virtuoso Cruise Icons list. The list comprises advisors who have, within the previous year, sold at least $1 million of Virtuoso’s preferred partner cruise portfolio. This year’s complete list totals some 78 travel advisors across North America, including just six in Canada, four of which are Direct Travel advisors: Alan Szeto and Shawn Kilner of Victoria, BC, Magda Newman of Toronto, and Sandra Keeso-Hall of Georgetown, Ont.
After 10 years of development, the Los Angeles Metro has officially opened its Regional Connector transit project offering two new routes from Azusa to Long Beach and from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica. The Regional Connector will transform the way riders experience the Metro system, providing a seamless journey across L.A. County with no transfers required, and three new underground stations: Little Tokyo/Arts District Station; Historic Broadway Station, for the theatre and financial districts; and Grand Avenue Arts/Bunker Hill Station for access to downtown’s performing arts institutions, museums, fine dining experiences and more.
Afrobeats superstar Ayra Starr is the latest name act to be announced for the popular Barbados Food and Rum Festival, which runs from Oct.19-22.
LAST WEEK IN TRAVEL HISTORY
In 1938, pilot Douglas Corrigan took off from New York for a flight to California. He landed in Dublin, Ireland, and earned the nickname “Wrong-way Corrigan.”
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First published at Travel Industry Today