ROUND-UP: July 31-Aug. 04, 2023
Among the headlines last week, IATA took umbrage with the federal government, TICO forked out funds for a number of claims, Nicaragua finally dropped arrivals testing requirements, Crystal cruised again, a new low-cast Caribbean carrier revealed plans for Canada, and a surprising retirement announcement from south of the border.
Instead of pursuing “costly and poorly thought-out” air travel consumer rights regulations, federal governments in Canada and the US need to “take ownership” of the issues – not least air traffic controller staff shortages – causing “unacceptable” delays at airports across the continent and resolve them, says the director general of IATA, Willie Walsh.
The Travel Industry Council of Ontario’s (TICO) approved eight claims against the Compensation Fund totalling $44,180 to assist 16 consumers who did not receive the travel services for which they had paid. They include Albarkah Travel and Tours, 1 claim to assist 3 consumers, $4,253; Crystal Cruises, 4 claims for 8 consumers, $31,280; The Travel Broker Group, 1 claim, $1,250; World Travel Inc. 2 claims for 4 consumers, $7,397. Some claims were denied: Rejoice Holidays Inc., 1 claim was denied as it was received beyond the legislated filing deadline date; Interjet Airlines, 5 claims were denied as they were claiming for unredeemed credits issued by the airline; Luxury Travel Centre Inc., 4 claims were denied as they were based on credit card misuse by the registrant.
The government of Nicaragua announced that the requirement for arrivals to present a Covid 19 Vaccination Card or PCR Test Certificate has been lifted. Therefore, all COVID 19 entry restrictions upon entering Nicaragua are no longer in effect.
Visits to the Acropolis of Athens, Greece’s most popular archaeological site, will be capped starting next month at a maximum 20,000 daily and subject to varying hourly entry limits, the Greek government says. Similar caps will also be imposed for other popular archaeological sites in a bid to mitigate overcrowding. Typically, the Acropolis attracts 23,000 visitors a day.
Low-cost Dominican Republic-based carrier Arajet, will launch flights from YYZ to Santo Domingo from Oct 24, followed by Montreal from Nov. 7. Service will be four times a week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Onward connections from the airline’s hub include Santiago de Chile, Medellín, Sao Paulo, Cartagena, Aruba, Kingston, Curacao, and Saint Martin. Launched in 2022, Arajet offers nearly 90 connections in 20 destinations in the 14 countries in which it operates.
Canada Jetlines has taken delivery of its third Airbus A320 aircraft, which has been provided by a global aviation lessor providing aircraft and capital to the world’s airlines. The aircraft is an Airbus A320-200, with Canadian registry C-GCJK, equipped with two CFM56-5B4/3 engines. Passenger amenities include galley provisions for hot and cold buy on board refreshments, the installation of Jetlines’ complimentary Flymingo wireless inflight entertainment system and a USB charger for personal electronic devices.
In-flight entertainment with Air Canada now includes Apple TV+. AC is the first airline in Canada and second airline globally to offer Apple TV+ original programming onboard and brings the in-flight entertainment programming to more than 2,500 hours of movies, TV shows, podcasts, music as well as live TV news and sports—nearly double last year.
Travellers booking Collette’s Oct. 1 or Oct. 10, “Cruising the Danube to the Black Sea” tour departures can either save 25% or book two seats for the price of one. During the 10-day experience, travellers will cross seven countries – Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania – along the majestic Danube. Offer codes are DANUBESOLO (25% off) and DANUBE2FOR1.
Air Canada Vacations has added a host of popular sun destinations to its ePackages shopping tool. Among them: Bermuda, Belize, San Juan, Puerto Rico Fort-de-France, Martinique, Grand Cayman, Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, Saint Vincent, St, Kitts, Port of Spain, Kingston, Jamaica, Mexico City, and Monterrey, Mexico. With the enhanced ePackages tool, travel agents will earn their regular package commission amount on the land portion of the booking. Agents will also receive 300 ACV&ME points per room on ePackage bookings.
The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club in Bermuda recently debuted its first-ever custom fragrance, created in collaboration with local Bermudian Master Perfumer Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone of Lili Bermuda. The perfume reflects the legacy of Bermuda hotel, which has evolved through more than a century of Bermuda’s tourism iterations. The Harkness Hamilton Princess Rose blooms around the harbour-front property and was the source of inspiration for this new custom fragrance, aptly named Island Rose.
Plans for a new Hotel and Private Residences in Jacksonville, Fla., have been announced by Four Seasons. Anticipated to open in 2026, the property will play an integral role in the development of the Jacksonville Shipyards and Downtown Jacksonville.
Club Med is enriching its programming for teenagers with Club Med Teens (11 to 13 years old) and Club Med Chill Pass (14 to 17 years old) to offer special activities adapted to each age group. New features include a modern talent show, a giant inflatable water course, a variety of sports and a pool party, guaranteeing unforgettable moments. The new program is available exclusively at Club Med Punta Cana, Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda, Club Med Cancún and Club Med Ixtapa Pacific Villages. It will be rolled out to all destinations by 2024.
All-inclusive Blue Diamond Resorts has announced substantial upgrades to its elevated Diamond Club and Star Class room categories. The enhancements will be offered across the Royalton Luxury Resorts and Planet Hollywood Beach Resorts portfolios to guests with bookings on or after Oct. 13. The enhancements will encompass significant improvements in Food & Beverages, In-Room Experience, and Guest Services, with a particular focus on Butler Services, which have become synonymous with luxury and personalized attention.
BY THE NUMBERS
Artificial intelligence (AI) has helped Iberostar Hotels & Resort prepare 735,000 fewer meals in the first half of the year, while cutting food waste by 28% overall. The company has also achieved an 11% reduction in waste weight and saved 1,264 tons of CO2, which translates to 2,500 tons of CO2e reduced per year – the equivalent of 6.4 million miles driven by a passenger car.
Crystal officially relaunched under the new guardianship of A&K Travel Group with the maiden voyage of Crystal Serenity last week. The original Crystal cruise line filed for bankruptcy in 2022 and sold off its two ships. The cruise line’s largest vessel accommodates 740 guests and is the first of two ships returning to service this summer. The cruise line also announced that four new ships are planned, including two classic ships and two expedition vessels.
A new and improved ‘Future Cruise Program’ by MSC Cruises is designed to benefit travel agents and the line’s guests when a customer who had used an agency for their holiday at sea books their next sailing while onboard. The original agents will receive full commission for any new booking made on board and MSC Cruises while new aspects of the program for guests include a reduced ‘onboard-only deposit’ starting from CDN$100 p.p. for their next cruise, greater flexibility so a reservation can be changed to suit the customer’s needs prior to final payment, and an extended ‘best price guarantee’ timeframe. Benefits of the line’s existing ‘Future Cruise Program’ will continue.
Adventure booking platform Tour Radar, which offers 50,000+ multi-day organized adventures across the globe from 2,500+ reputable and niche operators, announced its third annual Adventure Together event will be hybrid, held online and in Vienna, Austria, Oct. 18-19. The conference attracts global leaders in the adventure industry, filled with essential conversations about travel and technology, as well as a symposium about AI, sustainability, business growth, and talent attraction. While the focus is on the entire organized adventure industry, there will be tracks exclusively for travel agents and operators. Sponsors include Globus, Intrepid, The Travel Corporation, Europamundo, Colette, Air Canada, Explore!, Travel Talk, and Wastik India Journeys. For info and to register, go HERE.
ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS
A new, exclusive Ultimate VIP Experience package has been introduced by Discovery Cove in Orlando. The package (which does not include admission) features a VIP Cabana for the day with amenities and photo plan, VIP concierge service, personal time with animal care specialists, premium drinks, reserved seating and table service, private photo session, valet parking and expedited entry.
FAMS & INCENTIVES
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) is offering Canadian travel advisors a chance to take part in its annual series of familiarization trips taking place this fall. Included are excursions exclusive to Western Canada (Nov. 18-23, departing Calgary) and Quebec (Dec. 5-12, from Montreal). 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.
TRAVELSAVERS Canada has appointed Clare Burke as manager of marketing. With a 20-plus year career in the travel industry in marketing and events, Burke will play a key role in the expansion of the TRAVELSAVERS CANADA network of travel advisors and preferred partners through unique marketing products and networking events. Previously, Burke served at Ensemble Travel Group for 13 years, specializing in network care and event management.
Chris Thompson, who has led Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the United States, as President and CEO since 2012, announced his retirement effective May 31, 2024. His career included 15 years as an executive at VISIT FLORIDA, including three years as President and CEO.
Spain received 37.5 million international tourists in the first half of 2023, a 24% increase from the same period last year. The figure is lower than for the same period in 2019, the year before the COVID-19 pandemic, when 38 million tourists arrived, but officials say the numbers are a sign that international tourism has rebounded strongly since the health crisis. Visitors from Britain topped the tourist list, totaling some 8 million and the northeastern region of Catalonia, including Barcelona and the Costa Brava, were the most visited area.
The 12th Annual “Kids Free San Diego” is returning in October with special savings for the entire family. City hotels, restaurants, attractions, museums, tours, and transportation companies are offering families with kids 12 and under a variety of deals from complimentary attraction and museum admission to free meals, as well as welcome amenities at area hotels. See San Diego.org for details.
LAST WEEK IN TRAVEL HISTORY
In 1930, the British airship “R100” crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Montreal. The trip was financed by Britain and Canada, part of a plan to provide airship service throughout the Commonwealth. The flight took 78 hours and 52 minutes. But airships were too vulnerable to the elements and after the explosion of the Hindenburg in 1937 airship travel ceased.
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First published at Travel Industry Today