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ROUND-UP: June 13-17, 2022

Highlights from last week: WestJet said it will focus on western Canada, Air Transat announced its winter sked from Montreal, the elimination of vaccine mandates set many wheels in motion across the country, Goway launched a travel academy, and Travel Leaders conference attendees received a great surprise.

NEWS

Effective June 20 the COVID-19 vaccine mandates for Canadian domestic and outbound international travellers have been suspended. However, requirements for foreign nationals coming to Canada will not change. The vaccine mandate will also be lifted for domestic travellers on passenger trains and buses, but will remain for passengers and crew of cruise ships. And travellers will still need to wear masks on planes and trains and fill out health questions through the ArriveCan app when travelling to Canada.

Airport delays were down in the first few days following Ottawa’s suspension of randomized COVID-19 testing at Canadian customs. But while the measure marked a “big step” toward clearing clogged terminals, the head of the Canadian Airports Council cautioned that “People can (still) expect longer wait times in summer. But she added, “we shouldn’t see anything like we’ve seen the past month. I think we’re getting over that hurdle.”

Unvaccinated airport and airline workers – representing up to 10% of the workforce – who have been on leave since the fall will be able to return to work starting today (Monday), potentially easing the bottlenecks plaguing Canada’s biggest air transport hubs daily.

The federal government says 72% of Canadians who apply for a passport in any manner will get it within 40 business days, while 96% of people who submit their application in person will get their passport within 10 business days. The government’s website now includes estimated wait times for visits to passport offices, updated three times a day, to help people plan. Early last week, average wait times were four hours and 45 minutes in Ottawa, three hours in Toronto, and six hours and 45 minutes in Vancouver.

BORDERS

In addition to eliminating the mandatory Bahamas Travel Health Visa, the Government of The Bahamas has announced that fully vaccinated travellers are no longer be required to submit to pre-travel COVID-19 testing to enter the country. All unvaccinated travellers ages two and older will be required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test – either a negative RT-PCR test or a Rapid Antigen test – taken no more than 72 hours prior to travel and present the negative test results at check-in before travel to The Bahamas.

Thailand is lifting a pre-arrival registration requirement for foreign visitors that was seen as onerous and a drag on the recovery for its ailing tourism industry. Registering for the “Thailand Pass” required online copies of vaccination documents, insurance policies and other documents to be submitted, after which visitors would receive a QR code for use during travel. The requirement had already been dropped for Thais and will be dropped for foreign visitors on July 1. The government’s COVID-19 centre also that an outdoor mask mandate would be dropped as of July 1 except in crowded venues.

BY THE NUMBERS

Signalling the destination’s strong tourism recovery, Jamaica welcomed its one millionth stopover arrival for 2022 on June 15. The milestone was celebrated with the arrival of Brian Simmons (and his mother), who landed at Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport (MBJ) on JetBlue flight 1479 from New York. The couple were met by Jamaican tourism officials, including Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett and presented with an all-expenses-paid return trip.

TRAVEL AGENTS
Imagine the surprise for attendees at last week’s Travel Leaders Network’s international conference, EDGE, in Aurora, Colorado when Holland America Line announced that every travel advisor in attendance (and a guest) would receive a complimentary Alaska cruise for the 2022 season (photo). “Holland America Line is an amazing partner,” said John Lovell, President of Travel Leaders Group, while HAL VP Michelle Sutter, declared, “The best way to sell a product is to experience it for yourself, whether these advisors are sailing with us for the first or 100th time.”

Travel agency owners and managers to take part in an ACTA-sponsored industry survey detailing the soft benefits of being a travel agency employee. The data will be used as an integral part of the association’s strategy to lobby governments to invest in travel agencies by demonstrating that the travel sector offers strong employment opportunities. Deadline to participate is June 30; click HERE.

AIR

The WestJet Group says it plans to refocus its routes and fleet on Western Canada. The airline says it will continue to be a national airline with a significant presence in Eastern Canada, but primarily through direct connections to Western cities. It says it will add routes to more communities and centre its existing wide-body 787 Dreamliner fleet around Western Canada and will pause future acquisitions of wide-body Dreamliners, which it uses to fly trans-Atlantic routes. WestJet also says its regional fleet of De Havilland Q400 turboprop aircraft will be ‘shifted and right-sized’ to focus on Western Canada.

Long story short, Turkish Airlines will now be called Türk Hava Yolları.” The rebranding follows Turkey’s official name change to “Türkiye” (pronounced tuer-key-YAY) to reflect its Turkish spelling and pronunciation.

Air Transat has added Las Vegas to its roster of destinations available from Montreal this winter. Four times weekly service begins Nov. 3. Other highlights of the carrier’s winter service from Montreal include New Orleans, twice weekly from Nov. 3; Havana three times a week starting Dec. 19; and Tampa two times a week starting Dec. 23. Air Transat will upgrade its Montreal-London and Montreal-Los Angeles seasonal service to a year-round starting in the fall, each with three weekly flights. In addition, the carrier will extend its Montreal-Marseille direct flights to until Jan. 8, 2023, with two flights a week.

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) has eased into full operations of its newly expanded international terminal. At nearly 27,000 sq. m., the Pier D project is the airport’s largest terminal expansion since 1996 and incorporates the latest advances in operational excellence, passenger experience, climate, and accessibility. The new terminal expansion offers eight new gates and features a glassed-in island forest with access to the outdoors.

DEALS

Clients booking their all- inclusive 2022-23 winter vacation with Sunwing by July 28 will receive early booking bonus benefits that include reduced deposits of $100 p.p., no fuel surcharge, and complimentary Price Drop Guarantee. The deal applies to travel between Nov. 1, and April 30, 2023. Plus, agents will continue to earn STAR Agent Rewards Points that convert to cash on all vacation bookings made during this time.

TOURS

Goway has launched the GowayPro Travel Academy with training modules on over 20 destinations (at launch) across all seven continents. After completing an individual country course, participants earn a Bronze specialist status for that country, which includes email badges and electronic certificates. More indepth Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels are also available. Perks upon completion include bonus GowayPro rewards and other exclusive benefits, including VIP FAM invitations and discounted personal travel. E-mail academy@goway.com for info. For enrolment or to register for an introductory webinar (including a chance to win a two-night stay in Hawaii) on July 7, click HERE.

With the new Tom Hanks film “Elvis” hitting movie screens June 24, and with the late singer’s Graceland home also celebrating its 40th anniversary hosting public tours this month, Tauck has announced that guests on its “Life on the Mississippi” cruise-tour will get a private after-hours tour of the Memphis mansion. The excursion begins in New Orleans or Memphis and includes seven nights on a paddler wheeler river vessel.

HOTELS

Choice Hotels International and Radisson Hotel Group have entered into a definitive agreement for Choice to acquire the franchise business, operations, and intellectual property of Radisson Hotel Group Americas, which include nine hotel brands, for US$675 million. The deal will add 624 hotels in the US, Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean with over 68,000 rooms to the Choice Hotels roster.

Another opulent hotel has arrived in Jordon. The Ritz Carlton, Amman, opened on May 29 in the prestigious 5th Circle located in the heart of the capital. The luxury hotel offers nine dining venues, grand event spaces and a lavish ESPA Spa.

RESORTS

Sandals Resorts has teamed up with legendary Netherlands soccer team Ajax Amsterdam to launch a program designed to give the gift of soccer to children in Curaçao, home of its newest resort, while at the same time linking sports and sustainability in the Dutch Caribbean island. ‘Future Goals’ includes coaching and mentoring, plus providing much-needed equipment, notably including soccer goals made from recycled material including reclaimed ocean fishing nets.

RIU Hotels & Resorts’ newest product in Mexico, the adults only Riu Latino, will open in Costa Mujeres on Oct. 1. Located 25 km north of the Cancun Hotel Zone, the resort features numerous water sports, plus unlimited access to the on-site Splash Water World park. Vacationers can also take in live music and shows, RIU’s signature day and night entertainment and dancing at the resort’s own nightclub. Sunwing packages begin Oct. 5 from Toronto.

CRUISE
Carnival Cruise Line reports that Costa Luminosa will join the Carnival fleet in September, sailing in November from Brisbane, Australia. The acquisition of Luminosa is an update to the previously announced plans for Carnival to take Costa Magica, which will now remain at Costa Cruises. After this delivery, Carnival Luminosa will operate seasonally through April from Brisbane, then reposition to Seattle, where it will sail Alaska itineraries from May through September, before returning to Brisbane.

Disney Cruise Line took delivery of Disney Wish at a traditional maritime ceremony in Bremerhaven, Germany. The ship will sail its maiden voyage on July 14, followed by a season of three- and four-night cruises to Nassau, Bahamas, and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, from Port Canaveral, Fla.

Holland America Line’s entire fleet of cruise ships is now operating again after more than two-year pause due to global pandemic. The departure last week of the Westerdam on a seven-day Alaska cruise from Seattle marked the last ship in the HAL fleet to resume operations.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

The producers of “Come From Away” have announced that the show’s final Broadway performance will take place Oct. 2 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in New York, ending a Tony Award-winning run of more than five years. The renowned musical tells the story of a small town in central Newfoundland and how it was forever changed by the emotional events of 9/11.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

Through July 3, Canadians will have an opportunity to enter VIA Rail’s “National Day Contest,” in which participants have a chance to win one of two train trips for four people to the Canadian destination of their choice (value up to $15,000). Dozens of additional gift cards will also be awarded.

Enter HERE.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Air Canada Vacations has appointed Ana Paula De Souza Director of Sales and Matthew Djorsev Manager of National Accounts. De Souza joins ACV’s senior management team with more than 30 years of experience in the travel industry, including 15 years in corporate sales at Air Canada. Djorsev joins the company with more than a decade of travel industry experience, including most recently at WestJet. Mary Santonato, who previously held the role of Manager of National Accounts, has taken on a new role as Manager, Groups and Incentives.

Greece and Eastern Med cruise line Celestyal Cruises has named Bentlie Logan as BDM for Northeast USA/Canada. Based in Connecticut, she will be responsible for developing the company’s distribution in key travel agent, group and tour operator channels, maximizing trade awareness, travel advisor training, development of cooperative marketing plans and representing the company at industry events. Prior to joining Celestyal, Logan worked as a BDM for Ships Group in Miami and spent more than five years as a travel advisor in Louisiana and California.

DESTINATIONS

From June 24 to Oct. 10, Mosaïcultures Québec will transform Québec City’s Parc du Bois-de-Coulonge into a remarkable living art gallery. The horticultural exhibition will see more than 200 life-sized topiary displays and botanical sculptures installed along a 1.5-km walking trail along the banks of the St. Lawrence River. The display will feature more than six million flowers creating, living floral tableaus depicting wild animals and natural with a special garden also dedicated to showcasing the culture and history of the Huron-Wendat Nation.

Big news for 2023 in Saint Lucia: the renowned Saint Lucia Jazz Festival will resume May 5-14.

Iolani Palace in Honolulu, Hawaii is now offering new programming: the Royal Hawaiian Band presents free lunchtime concerts held on Fridays at noon; Hawaii Workshops bring Hawaiian voices and stories to life every second Saturday; The He Mele Lāhui Hawaiʻi program offers live performances by Kuʻuipo Kumukahi each second and fourth Wednesday; and the Fashion Fit for Royalty specialty tour highlights wardrobe and jewellery of Hawaiian royalty in the 19th century.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

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