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ROUND-UP: March 22-26, 2021

There was good news for travel and tourism in Ontario’s provincial budget; WestJet is rolling again, announcing a host of new and restored services; Royal Caribbean is Bermuda bound; and Canadians aren’t quite ready yet to welcome American visitors.

NEWS

Ontario’s budget promised $400 million in additional spending over the next three years to support the province’s tourism industry. Among the supports is $150 million toward a potential tax credit for Ontario residents that would apply to up to 20% of certain tourism expenses in the province. Also, $100 million will be put toward grants for small tourism and hospitality businesses, such as hotels, travel agencies, camps and amusement parks.

An online poll conducted by Leger found 70% of 2,200 Canadian respondents were either very or somewhat worried about allowing cross-border travel. Only 26% said they were either not very worried or not worried at all. In the US, Leger found the opposite: only 31% of the 1,968 Americans surveyed were very or somewhat anxious about lifting restrictions.

Leaders of the US travel and aviation industry have called on the US federal government to set a May 1 deadline to commit to a plan for reopening the country to inbound international visitation, including Canadians.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

Air Canada says it will restore some service along routes to Jamaica, Mexico and Barbados beginning in early May after Canadian airlines suspended all flights to sun destinations in January at the request of the federal government. The airline will operate three flights per week from Toronto to Mexico City starting May 3, and one flight per week from Toronto to Kingston, Jamaica and Bridgetown, Barbados, beginning May 5 and 9. The suspension on flights to sun destinations was intended to last until April 30.

Greece’s most famous attraction, The Acropolis, re-opened last week in a move a government official called a “pressure release” for Greek citizens and to prepare for an expected restart of tourism in the Mediterranean country in mid May. Other ancient sites across Greece also got the go-ahead to re-open, though museums have remained closed.

BY THE NUMBERS

Travel’s economic footprint in the United States shrank a staggering 42% last year, from $2.6 trillion to $1.5 trillion, according to new end-of-year prepared for the U.S. Travel Association by the research firm Tourism Economics. The employment devastation was similarly massive: travel-supported jobs fell by 5.6 million in 2020 (16.7 million to 11.1 million)—a whopping 65% of all American jobs lost to the economic fallout of the pandemic. Travel and tourism had supported employment for 11% of the US workforce prior to the onset of COVID.

AIR

WestJet is restoring service to Charlottetown, Fredericton, Moncton, Sydney, N.S., and Quebec City over the course of six days beginning June 24. Additionally, service between St. John’s and Toronto will resume June 24. A restart of service between St. John’s and Halifax will also be moved up to May 6 from the previous target of June 24. All the services had been suspended due to pandemic. And on Friday, the carrier announced 11 new domestic routes across Western Canada, and Ontario. The new routes include service between Toronto and Comox; between Ottawa and Victoria and eight new routes connecting the prairie provinces to BC tourism destinations, such as Regina to Kelowna.

Flexible booking and cancellation policies by Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will remain in effect for bookings with a departure date before Dec. 31. Tickets may be rebooked or refunded without having to provide any documents justifying why, however, cancellations must occur prior to departure.

DEALS

The latest special offer from European Waterways gives up to 20% off on select departures in in Southern France and Italy, valid when booked by April 5.

Croatia’s Katarina Line is offering fleet-wide specials of 20% off on all 2021 sailings, valid when booked before May 1.

TOURS

Air Canada Vacations is extending its complimentary COVID-19 Coverage and Assistance Plan, administered by Allianz Global Assistance, to international destinations when booking any flight and hotel-inclusive package. The coverage is designed to cover emergency medical and quarantine costs related to COVID-19 while travelling and is available to eligible customers who book a flight and hotel-inclusive package (excluding cruise and Canada packages) for travel from May 1 to Oct. 31, 2021.

Kensington Tours’ new “Personal Heritage Journeys” provide people with a customized exploration of their family’s roots through a personalized itinerary built on the client’s unique family tree, and guided visits to the most meaningful places and moments of their past. In partnership with AncestryProGenealogists, the tours can be created for any destination, but specific countries – Scotland, Ireland, England, Germany, Poland, Italy, Ghana, and Japan – have itineraries pre-developed to inspire clients and help them plan their own journey. Agents can earn a bonus of up to $200 per booking before March 31 for travel in 2021 and 2022.

HOTELS

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts has opened the brand’s first hotel in South Korea. The Fairmont Ambassador Seoul is situated on Yeouido Island, the historic hub of financial and government institutions on the Han River and is connected to subway stations and the Hyundai Department Store. Featuring 326 guestrooms and suites, the hotel is also home to four dining venues, an indoor swimming pool, spa, fitness centre and includes the Fairmont Gold hotel-within-a-hotel experience.

The first Canopy by Hilton property in South America, the 98-room Canopy by Hilton São Paulo Jardins, should be easy to find for guests – it features a lively façade designed by renowned Brazilian street artist Speto. The hotel is situated in the heart of the Jardins neighbourhood, known for its high-end clothing stores, fine dining, and proximity to museums such as the Museum of Image and Sound and Museum of Art. The hotel has the first clean energy gas-powered air conditioning system in Brazil.

RESORTS

After resting and/or renovating for more than seven months, 10 of Kaanapali Beach Resort’s 11 member properties are open again along the resort’s beautiful 5-km stretch of Maui beach. Also open for business are most of the resort area’s shops, restaurants and activities.

A resort-wide enhancement program has been completed at the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, featuring reimagined beachfront villa estates with abundant indoor-outdoor space including large infinity pools and complete privacy. In addition, overwater bungalow accommodations, dining experiences, and resort shopping have all been upgraded at the award-winning property in French Polynesia.

CRUISE

Bermuda will be the newest homeport for Royal Caribbean this summer

Following news that it will be homeporting in the Bahamas this summer, Royal Caribbean reports it will also launch seven-night cruises for the first time from Bermuda starting on June 26 and continuing through July and August. Featuring the Vision of the Seas, the cruises will also call at Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas, CocoCay. Only vaccinated passengers will be accepted.

Canadians looking to set sail on a cruise in 2022 can now book a high-seas getaway on board the brand new MSC Seahore with Sunwing. Sailings out of Miami will be available between Jan. 8 and April 23, 2022, with flight departures from Toronto, Quebec City and Montreal. Plus, customers who book their cruise by April 20 will receive a free upgrade from an Oceanview to a Balcony Stateroom, preferred stateroom locations, plus complimentary drinks package and wi-fi access (limitations apply).

ATTRACTIONS and THEME PARKS

If clients can manage to make it to Universal Orlando Resort before June 24, they can save 40% on a four-day, four-night hotel and ticket vacation package starting at $1,388, after savings, based on a family of four. The offer, which must be booked by April 19, includes passes with park-to-park access and accommodations at Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

FAMS and INCENTIVES

Agents completing two designated courses in African Travel Inc.’s new Advisor Educational Program, African Travel University, will qualify for a US$200 cash back discount on the cost of an educational trip to Kenya, Tanzania or South Africa later in the year. Contact the Toronto-based company for details and dates.

EVENTS

Registration is now open for Scotland Reconnect 2021, taking place April 27-29. VisitScotland’s virtual expo will offer the opportunity for tour operators, wholesalers, destination management companies and travel agents to hear the latest from Scottish businesses. Agents should register as “buyers” and can do so HERE.

SALES and MARKETING

Windstar has added two new free tools, BranchUp and MailPound, to help “make what travel advisors do simpler.” BranchUp is a marketing tool that curates supplier promotions and posts them automatically to travel professionals’ Facebook business pages. Advisors benefit from an automatic flow of chosen supplier content to generate engagement with their clients and more leads. MailPound is an email marketing program that allows advisors an opportunity to customize their email marketing outreach to clients. Agents can sign up directly or through Windstar’s advisor hub, HERE.

Discover the World has been selected by Loews Hotels and Co. to handle international sales for 19 of the New York based hotel company’s properties. The agency’s Mississauga office can be contacted at toronto@discovertheworld.ca

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Unique Vacations Inc. (UVI), representative for Sandals Resorts International, has realigned its leadership team, including, in Canada, the promotion of Maureen Barnes-Smith to VP Sales and Marketing, Canada; she has been with the company for 27 years. Another notable move sees former Canada boss Gary Sadler taking on the enhanced role of Executive VP Sales and Industry Relations.

Vince Accardi has been named as the new president of the Ontario Motor Coach Association and Motor Coach Canada. The Canadian tourism veteran had been acting president for the Tourism Association of Canada (TIAC) since November and helped lead TIAC’s pandemic support advocacy efforts, including the launch of the 2021 Tourism Recovery Plan.

DESTINATIONS

Prince Edward Island

The federal government has purchased a 164-hectare property in Greenwich, Prince Edward Island, adjacent to Prince Edward Island National Park, which will be added to the park. The land contains a forest, wetlands and coastal dunes that are home to many species at risk and rare species, such as the Piping Plover, the Yellow-banded Bumble Bee and the Little Brown Myotis (bat). Among the most spectacular natural characteristics to be protected at the site are the unusually large and mobile parabolic dunes with their associated counter ridges or Gegenwälle.

The Bermuda Black Golf Summit and Championship, taking place Nov. 2-7, is designed to drive diversity and inclusion in the sport and at the same time, promote black travel. Teeing off at Port Royal Golf Course, the event will dovetail with the PGA Tour Bermuda Championship creating natural incentives for longer stays. The BTA is targeting 24 foursomes to represent their communities and compete for the inaugural championship, while supporting local initiatives such as introducing and creating pathways for local children into the game.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

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