ROUND-UP: July 24-28, 2023
Canada got a new transport minister last week, while those planning a trip to Europe to next year learned they’d have to apply (and pay for) a new permit; in other round-up news of the week, ACTA and CATO continued their squabble with TICO, top airline arrival numbers lagged, Air Canada was on the move in Dubai, and WestJet released its expanded winter 2023 flight schedule.
Pablo Rodriguez has been sworn in as Canada’s new transport minister, taking on a long list of turbulent issues as the aviation sector emerges from a period of crisis. Leaving his spot atop the Heritage Department, Rodriguez takes over from Omar Alghabra, who assumed the cabinet post in January 2021.
Starting in 2024, Canadians – amongst others – seeking a short-term visit to 30 European countries including France, Switzerland, Spain, and Greece, will have apply to the European Travel Information and Authorization System. The European permit costs €7, or about $10.25, and can be obtained on the ETIAS website or mobile app. It allows travellers to visit for up to 90 days within any 180-day period and is valid for three years, or until the “passport” used in the application expires. Travellers younger than 18 and older than 70 years are exempt from payment, as are family members of EU citizens or of non-EU nationals who can move freely in the European Union.
ACTA and CATO took the unprecedented step of withdrawing their appointees from the TICO Board until they are given the opportunity to meet with the Ontario Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery, Kaleed Rasheed. The two associations are also asking for a copy of TICO’s recommendations to the Ontario government on future fees and Compensation Fund funding. TICO replied that it “remains steadfast in its commitment to consumer protection and will continue to actively engage with all stakeholders.”
Holy Destinations Travel Inc., a travel agency located in Nepean, Ont., had its provincial registration revoked under the Travel Industry Act, 2002 effective July 26, 2023. Holy Destinations Travel Inc. specialized in Islamic holy pilgrimages – including Hajj and Umrah – to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. TICO says it had received consumer complaints, alleging that the travel agency collected consumer payments without providing the travel services consumers had purchased.
WestJet announced its winter schedule, operating 230 direct routes from Canada to the southern US, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America this winter, while also extending key domestic and international routes from summer to year-round service. Featuring four new and four returning routes, WestJet’s winter sked will see more than 85 daily departures on average to sun destinations from Canada gateways. Among the new is non-stop seasonal service between Toronto and Bonaire, beginning Dec. 12.
Porter Airlines is expanding its Western Canada network with the addition of a non-stop route between Ottawa and Edmonton. The new route begins Oct. 4, with one daily roundtrip flight operated on the 132-seat Embraer E195-E2 aircraft.
Air Canada‘s Dubai operations have moved to Dubai International’s (DXB) flagship Terminal 3. The co-location of operations, along with Emirates, will significantly improve the experience for customers transiting in Dubai between the Americas on Air Canada and the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Africa on Emirates, who will benefit from the convenience of remaining in the same terminal.
BY THE NUMBERS
Canada’s two biggest airlines saw a far higher proportion of their flights delayed this summer than many of their American peers, according to figures from an aviation data firm. Overall, only half of Air Canada’s 31,168 flights were on time between June 19 and July 16, statistics provided by Cirium reveal. By comparison, 64% of WestJet’s 14,998 flights arrived on time. Flights are considered on time if they reach the airport within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrival time. The numbers contrast with on-time performances that range between 68% and 83% for the five biggest airlines in the US.
Contiki has announced its first ever trip to South Korea. The nine-day “South Korea Soul” itinerary begins and ends in Seoul and includes a high-speed rail journey to Busan, plus a stopover at Jeonju – the UNESCO World Heritage town known for its traditional ambience and local hospitality. “Over the past few years, South Korea has become a powerhouse for popular culture,” says Taryn Welsh, Operations Director, Asia at Contiki. “It’s now one of the most sought-after travel destinations among 18-35s globally, thanks in no small part to movies and TV shows…”
In 2024, Intrepid will also offer four new trips to Morocco, including a rare venture through Morocco’s “best kept secret,” the Happy Valley, or Ait Bougmez region of the High Atlas Mountains. Other new trips include the eight-day “Classic Morocco” and “One Week in Morocco: Sahara & Atlas Mountains” and five-day “Mt Toubkal Long Weekend,” the latter enabling guest to clime the highest summit in North Africa.
Accor‘s presence in Japan is set to double. The hotel company recently announced a new strategic partnership with JHRA in Japan to renovate and rebrand the Daiwa Resorts portfolio into Grand Mercure and Mercure hotels that will offer uniquely local experiences. The agreement will double Accor’s current portfolio in Japan, adding 23 properties and over 6,000 rooms. Conversion of the hotels will occur throughout 2024, after which the properties will operate under the aforementioned Accor brands.
Wyndham Grand Rio Mar is the first hotel in Puerto Rico to partner with El Yunque National Rainforest, the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest System. This partnership will allow guests to donate directly to the national park’s conservation efforts when they book their stay, and the resort will also feature an exhibition in the lobby to educate guests on the unique history of the rainforest and encourage them to experience the wonders of the park. Future opportunities are in the works to expand the partnership.
Velas Resorts says its new property, Grand Velas Boutique Los Cabos, will open in late 2023. The all-inclusive boutique hotel will be Velas Resorts’ third property in Mexican resort destination. For adults only, the resort will feature 79 spacious rooms, with a private terrace, living area with sofa, walk-in shower and jacuzzi, two queen or one king size bed, daily stocked premium minibar, and 24-hour personal concierge. Guests will also have access to sister property Grand Velas Los Cabos’ five gourmet dinner restaurants led by top chefs and four bars with no additional charge.
Located on the Northern Coast of the Dominican Republic, Aman’s oasis is a wellness-forward resort inspired by the shamanic healing traditions of the Taínos. New this season, guests have the opportunity to reap the empowerment of nature with two new immersive, multi-day journeys known as Atabey Connection and Anichi Healing – wellness journeys that draw on Taíno wisdom to transform each individual’s state of consciousness, awaken their inner purpose and reignite their passion for life.
Jenny from the dock: Virgin Voyages has introduced a new partnership with celebrity Jennifer Lopez to inspire future cruisers. Using “next Jen” tech, travellers can create with a few clicks a custom invite from an augmented reality version of singer-actor to convince their friends and family to join them. Virgin says the possibilities of “Jen A.I.” are limitless and could be used for birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, or “any reason to celebrate.” Check out the tool on VirginVoyages.com.
After taking delivery of its debut ship EXPLORA 1, Explora Journeys, the luxury lifestyle brand of the MSC Group, will officially set sail on Aug. 1 after an initial delay. The maiden voyage will depart from Copenhagen, Denmark, for a seven-night sailing to Reykjavik, Iceland, with visits enroute to Lerwick, Shetland Islands, and Kirkwall, Orkney.
ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS
Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights will dare visitors to survive “The Last of Us” as Naughty Dog and PlayStation’s award-winning post-pandemic video game comes to life – for the first time – as an all-new haunted house at Universal Orlando Resort, beginning Friday, Sept. 11, and at Universal Studios Hollywood, beginning Thursday, Sept. 7. Tickets and packages are now on sale now.
FAMS & INCENTIVES
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 a “Luxury” trip, Oct. 18-23, designed for agents working with clients who demand the very best and showcasing Jamaica’s upscale resorts, attractions, and experiences. From bespoke tours to private transportation services, agents will gain a true appreciation for Jamaica’s premium offerings. 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.
VISIT FLORIDA has announced that Florida Huddle 2024, the state’s official travel trade show, and MICE-oriented Florida Encounter will now take place concurrently Feb. 4-6, 2024, replacing its previously announced July 29-31 dates. The events will still take place at the Miami Beach Convention Center, hosted in partnership with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Destination Toronto today announced Rekha Khote, CEO of MK2 Hospitality, as Chair of its Board of Directors. Elected by the board of directors, Khote boasts a distinguished tourism career that includes executive leadership at Starwood Hotels and Delta Hotels & Resorts, along with board and committee experience at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Greater Toronto Hotel Association, George Brown College, and Destination Toronto, serving as Chair of its marketing committee.
A direct train service from Rome to Pompeii is now in service, enabling travellers in Italy to reach one of the world’s top archaeological sites in less than two hours. Operating on Sundays, the no-change service leaves Roma Termini at 8:53 and reach Pompeii at 10:40. During the journey, passengers will have the opportunity to learn about the history of the ancient city of Pompeii from a video clip streamed on the on-board monitors. When the Frecciarossa train reaches its destination, a Pompeii Link shuttle bus will be waiting to take passengers to the site. The return journey leaves at 18:40 and gets into Roma Termini at 20:55. The new service joins the 50 Frecciarossa daily return services that currently run between Rome and Pompeii.
Calgary has been chosen to host the 2027 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) – the largest multi-sport and culture event for Indigenous youth – on Turtle Island. The Games, which take place every four years, will be returning to their roots, having begun in Alberta more than 30 years ago.
LAST WEEK IN TRAVEL HISTORY
In 1909, Orville Wright established a world duration record for airplanes when he and passenger Lieutenant Frank Lahm remained aloft for one hour and 12 minutes.
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First published at Travel Industry Today