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ROUND-UP: March 1-5, 2021

Milestones for WestJet and Uniglobe, a light for California theme parks, Rocky Mountaineer incentives, and details on Sunwing’s domestic flight schedule this summer are among the top news items of last week:

NEWS

Uniglobe Travel has kicked off 40th anniversary celebrations for 2021 with the announcement of plans to host a series of events for staff under the banner #Uniglobe40Strong. The first company-wide webinar will unveil the marketing campaign, “Putting You First for 40 Years,” designed to showcase Uniglobe customer success stories throughout 2021 via its social media channels. Additional events will be held throughout the year.

StudentUniverse, Flight Centre Travel Group’s online travel booking platform for students, has expanded into Canada. Offering exclusive pricing and terms on flights, hotels and tours, StudentUniverse’s Canadian launch will give young travellers across the country the ability to easily access student and youth-only flight deals online.

Day-one WestJetters, including the original captain, first officer, cabin crew and flight dispatch, helped the airline celebrate its 25th anniversary on March 1 by recreating the airline’s first flight between Calgary and Vancouver in 1996. The scheduled flight, WS129, had 140 guests on board and each guest received a gift of flight voucher to be donated to a charity of their choice.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

California relaxed guidelines for opening outdoor venues on Friday, paving the way for the eventual re-opening of theme parks like Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Knott’s Berry Farm with limited capacities and required health and safety protocols.

Beaches Ocho Rios has officially reopened. In addition to enhanced cleanliness protocols, the Jamaica all-inclusive resort is providing all guests departing back to Canada with complimentary on-site COVID-19 testing to meet travel requirements.

DELAYED/CANCELLED

Calling its tentative re-start date on March 29 “unviable” due to the “implementation of more restrictive travel rules by governments since our last update,” Porter Airlines has pushed back its tentative timetable to May 19. “While there are signs of progress in containing the pandemic, it is necessary to reset our sights based on changing conditions,” said company president and CEO Michael Deluce. “We remain optimistic that things are moving in the right direction, but it is possible that this tentative date may also need to be modified if vaccinations don’t accelerate to enable the easing of travel restrictions.”

BY THE NUMBERS

In a recent survey (end of Feb) of past customers by Tripcentral.ca, 37% said they were interested in booking travel as soon as they are able. Meanwhile 34% “badly” want to book travel but aren’t sure when they can. Just over 27% said they were in no hurry or could wait and under 2% they had no interest in travelling at all. Fall (24%) and winter 2022 (27%) were the most expected travel times and 40% of respondents said they had no interest in travelling until they were vaccinated.

AIR

Sunwing’s domestic flight schedule will start in May for the 16th consecutive year. Flights will depart daily between Toronto and Vancouver starting May 10 and twice daily starting May 21 until Sept. 7; between Toronto and St. Johns from Monday to Friday, starting June 9 until Sept. 1; between Toronto and Gander on Tuesday and Fridays, starting June 15 until Aug. 31; and between Toronto and Stephenville on Wednesdays, starting June 9 until Sept 1. Savings of up to $200 per couple are being offered.

DEALS

This wave season, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is preparing for the return of travel with its new “Cruise Back Into Travel” offer where clients can save 10 to 30% on select dates and itineraries booked before March 31. Plus, guests who purchase flights through Uniworld will receive an additional $700 p.p. in savings and a private car transfer from the airport to the ship. The offer applies to select departures from Italy to Egypt and along the Danube and eastern Europe. Details are listed on the web site.

TOURS

Sunset in Newfoundland

With Canadians likely to be looking for closer-to-home travel options this summer, Globus and Cosmos are reminding that the sister brands have six unique Canadian itineraries – including Canadians-only departures – to consider. They range from the 12-day “Spirit of the Canadian Rockies” to the 12-day “Quebec in Depth,” along with other regional itineraries in Newfoundland (photo), the Maritimes, and more.

Fifteen new Active tours launched by G Adventures are designed to support local communities through community tourism, and to show travellers an alternative side of typically ‘mass market’ vacation destinations. Destinations include the Canary Islands, Ibiza and in Andalucia in Spain; on the islands of Crete and Corfu as well as on mainland Greece; in Sicily and Piedmont in Italy; Portugal’s Azores and Madeira islands; as well as in Cyprus, Greenland, Iceland, and Slovenia. Trips booked in March for travel through June 30, 2022 are being offered at 15% off.

CRUISE

Building upon its already extensive array of tools to keep travel advisors informed and engaged, Carnival Cruise Line is launching “From the Funnel,” a series of webcasts hosted by the line’s business development directors from across North America. The event schedule is posted on the GoCCL.com agent portal: with a new topic every other month. Upcoming sessions include tips for effective sales and marketing strategies, creative business development opportunities, inspiration, and motivational tools, along with regional updates and “must know” facts impacting travel advisors and their clients in their area.

Royal Caribbean International will sail from Israel for the first time in May with the new Odyssey of the Seas visiting the Greek Isles and Cyprus. The second Quantum Ultra Class ship will depart from Haifa, for its first summer season before continuing its inaugural year in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Ports of call will include Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos and Athens, Greece and Limassol, Cyprus.

HOTELS

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts will debut its La Quinta by Wyndham brand in the Middle East in March. The new 100-room La Quinta by Wyndham Dubai Bur Dubai will be centrally located in the historic Bur Dubai district of the city.

Downtown Phoenix welcomed the new AC Hotel by Marriott, complete with an open-air lobby bar and outdoor patio, to the Arizona Center in February. The upscale, 199-room hotel is situated within walking distance of the arts and entertainment districts.

RESORTS

Room rendering, South Seas Village

Work has begun on a new village at Sandals Royal Barbados. Set to premiere July 1, the South Seas Village will be home to 66 new suites, bringing the total resort room count to 338, plus two new wellness-inspired eateries, The Greenhouse Restaurant and Heart & Sol Café, and two new pools.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Reservations for the newest addition to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts, the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, are now open. The 14-storey, 349-room/149-suite hotel will offer an upscale and boutique environment in the middle of Walt Disney World Resort when it opens this summer. The hotel is within walking distance of Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and offers complimentary water taxis service to the theme parks. Guest will also have full access to all the amenities at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

Rocky Mountaineer is extending its travel agent incentive program through March 26 to entice travellers to book Canadian trips this year. Agents who make three new bookings for Canadian residents to travel in 2021 will receive a complimentary four- to five- vacation package for their own travel (includes two- to three-days onboard the train and overnight accommodations). Details can be found on the company’s agent portal. Additionally, for clients, the Canadian Resident Offer has also been extended to March 26, with up to $1,400 per couple on qualifying packages of five days or more or $1,000 per couple on Classic Rail packages.

March 15: Royal Irish Tours is will be hosting a virtual familiarization trip for travel advisors to Northern Ireland on March 15 at 1 p.m. (EST). The two-hour tour will offer a taste of the destination and include a live baking demonstration, virtual tour of Titanic Belfast and the walled city of Derry. Two lucky attendees will win a trip on RIT’s next FAM trip to Ireland and other prizes are up for grabs. Register for the live event HERE.

MARKETING

Travel counsellors are invited to take advantage of a free Facebook marketing tool that provides a unique way to use social media to market and drive booking. Developed by Vancouver-based BranchUp, the one-of-a-kind tool is available in English and French (and Spanish) and can be used immediately. Developed specifically for retail agents in Canada and the US, BranchUp was designed by Michael Drever, founder of Cruise Ship Centers, has been extensively tested and is now being rolled out on a large scale. Agents can sign up at BranchUp.com.

PEOPLE

Destination Canada reports that Monique Gomel has assumed the role of Interim Chair of its Board of Directors. Gomel has served as vice-chair of the board since 2017 and brings 20-plus years of experience across various sectors, including tourism. She is currently VP of marketing and communications at Rocky Mountaineer.

EVENTS

March 8: AmaWaterways is celebrating International Women’s Day with a special “Sip & Sail” event today hosted by co-founder Kristin Karst. The virtual event, features Samantha Brown, AmaMagna’s Emmy award-winning Godmother, as well as chef Joanne Weir sharing personal insights into their experiences within travel and tourism, and highlighting their favourite river cruise journeys. Female cruise managers from AmaWaterways will also provide insider tips. The event takes place at 5 p.m. EST on Ama’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

DESTINATIONS

In the hopes of boosting tourism in one of Europe’s poorest countries, Albania has announced plans to build a second major airport in the southwestern town of Vlore. The Vlora International airport will be located 150 km southwest of the capital Tirana, close to the Narta Lagoon and the Vjosa River. No opening date has been announced. The tiny Balkan nation currently has only one international facility, the Tirana International Airport Mother Teresa near the capital. Another smaller airport in northeastern Kukes is expected to become operational in a few weeks and, after Vlora, another airport in southernmost Saranda has been planned.

The new Ultimate Daytona Beach Trail Guide offers a collection of car-, craft- and culture-themed tours and trails designed to help visitors navigate the area and explore its many cultural, historic, and natural attractions, as well highlight great places for food and drinks. Features include hiking and biking trails, plus themed routes for history, motorsports, and ale, amongst others. Check out daytonabeach.com.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

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