ROUND-UP: Nov. 04-11, 2022
Not again: Another massive COVID outbreak on a cruise ship. Also last week, Hurricane Nicole hammered the eastern seaboard, Bermuda dropped travel restrictions, Air Canada rolled out several onboard enhancements, Hilton Hotels hit a major milestone in Mexico, and Canada Jetlines revealed its first international routes.
More than 800 passengers aboard the Majestic Princess reportedly contracted COVID during a cruise from New Zealand to Australia last week. About 4,600 passengers and crew were aboard the ship, which arrived in Sydney on Saturday, with the affected passengers held in isolation. Carnival officials said most of the cases were mild or asymptomatic while Australian officials assured they were well prepared to deal with the situation, which immediately drew comparisons to the outbreak on Ruby Princess in early 2020, where 28 people died and around 900 people tested positive for the virus.
Heavy rain from the Hurricane Nicole covered the eastern United States from Georgia to the Canadian border hitting Florida’s coast particularly hard. Dozens of hotel and condominium towers as tall as 22 stories were declared uninhabitable in Daytona Beach Shores and New Smyrna Beach after seawater undercut their foundations. Just six weeks earlier, Hurricane Ian caused an initial round of damage that contributed to problems from Nicole.
Gerry Schwartz, founder of Toronto-based private equity firm Onex Corp., which counts WestJet among its diverse portfolio of operating companies, is stepping down from his role as CEO of the company after nearly 40 years. The billionaire, who turns 81 this month, will remain chairman of Onex. Veteran Onex executive Bobby Le Blanc will take over the top job. Onex purchased WestJet in 2019 for $5 billion.
The Bermuda government has announced the elimination of the travel authorization (TA) process some three weeks earlier than originally scheduled – a move that will streamline the overall travel experience for visitors. From Nov. 14, visitors instead will be required to complete the Bermuda Arrival Card, a free, digital arrival form to capture visitor data.
BY THE NUMBERS
Despite the Chetamon wildfire, Jasper National Park saw a huge rebound this summer and came close to pre-pandemic visitation numbers, reports Parks Canada. The figures show that September brought in the highest number of visitors to the park for that month with 360,803 while August’s visitation rate was the park’s second highest ever attendance for that month with 473,267, a number that was just shy of the 2019 record of 495,704 visitations.
Alaska Airlines is exercising options to purchase 52 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft (photo) for delivery between 2024 and 2027, growing the airline’s confirmed 737 MAX fleet from 94 to 146. Alaska also secured rights for 105 more planes through 2030, ensuring access to sufficient aircraft for fleet replacement and growth. This agreement represents the largest commitment for future aircraft in the airline’s history.
Las Vegas has been announced as Canada Jetlines’ first international route, starting service Jan. 19 from Toronto Pearson. Multiple frequencies will be available weekly. Also starting Jan. 19 will be two flights a week from Toronto to Melbourne, Central Florida. The routes will follow the launch of Canada Jetlines service between YYZ and YVR in December.
Upgraded dining in Economy, more in-flight entertainment, and connectivity options, and enriched Premium offerings are among a comprehensive range of enhancements being rolled out by Air Canada starting this month. Customers will see new and restored services in Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges and in Premium cabins onboard, a new Economy Class dining service with a celebrity chef entree internationally plus new Bistro choices in North America. And in a first for a Canadian airline, complimentary, high-speed Wi-Fi for Premium Rouge passengers.
WestJet is adding four-times weekly service between Terrace, BC, and Calgary, beginning Dec. 1. The route will operate four times weekly on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, on WestJet Encore’s Q400 aircraft.
More than 700 trips spanning the globe, including Antarctica, are included in G Adventures’ annual Cyber Sale, now running through Nov. 30. Travellers can save up to 30% off select trips offered by the tour operator when travelling by April 30. Select departures departing May 1-June 20, 2023, qualify for 10% off.
With the holiday travel season approaching, Plaza Premium Lounge is offering Canadians up to 50% off lounge passes across its global network. The collection of holiday passes can be booked between Nov. 15 and Dec. 31, starting at US$89 for two visits. Meanwhile, the PPL Pass Canada, from US$151, offers frequent flyers five or 10 visits to any Plaza Premium lounge in Canada. Last but not least, guests can save up to 15% off ALLWAYS, the bespoke airport concierge service that includes baggage handling, security fast lane access, immigration-designated assistance, and limousine transfer to buggy service, to ensure a smooth coordination at every point in the airport.
Hilton opened its 200th hotel in the Caribbean and Latin America, the Waldorf Astoria Cancun, a 173-room luxury resort set on 40 hectares of coastline. Also representing Hilton’s second Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts property in Mexico, the milestone caps off a strong decade of Hilton’s continued growth in the region, during which the company opened approximately 75% of its current portfolio of hotels, expanded its presence across 15 of Hilton’s distinct brands and welcomed guests in 28 countries.
New hotel operator, Legendary Hotels and Resorts, will be entering the Icelandic hospitality market over the next two years, with ambitious plans to construct, purchase, or rebrand a portfolio of 12 hotels. The first hotel has already been purchased in Southern Iceland, with a full rebrand to begin early in 2023. Properties will feature flexible check-in and check-out times, free high-speed wireless Internet, a variety of amenities and home comforts, along with seamless airport transfer.
Blue Diamond Resorts Starfish St. Lucia resort re-opened on Nov. 1 after a temporary pause to operation. Located on the white-sand shores of Rodney Bay, the 140-room family resort is surrounded by the lush landscapes with rooms offering views of the resort’s gardens or the bay, modernized amenities, a variety of dining options and bars, play area for kids, spa, and fitness centre at the neighbouring resort, as well as exclusive beachfront venues for weddings and honeymoons.
The only all-inclusive resort on the secluded island of San Salvador, Bahamas, Club Med Columbus has officially reopened its doors for the winter season ahead. Guests can expect to find newly refreshed two-story bungalows, new dining concepts, enhanced wellness and scuba experiences. A playground for watersport enthusiasts, activities like sailing, waterskiing, and kayaking are includes, along with flyboarding, tennis (on brand new courts) and destination experiences including new quad tours.
Carnival Luminosa arrived in Queensland, Australia marking the first ship from the fleet to be homeported in Brisbane. The ship set sail on her first cruise on Nov. 6 and will operate 28 sailings through April 13, 2023, visiting 60 ports of call across Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific including Airlie Beach and The Great Barrier Reef.
Silversea Cruises has confirmed its return to Asia, with four ships – Silver Shadow Silver Whisper, Silver Spirit, and Silver Muse – scheduled to sail in the region this winter. The intimate, 596-guest Silver Muse will become the cruise line’s first ship to sail in Asia since March 2020 when she departs Singapore on Dec. 2 calling in Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, and Vietnam, among other destinations, while Silver Shadow follows on Dec. 20 from Mumbai to Singapore. Silversea’s Asia season will comprise 25 voyages ranging from 10 to 20 days.
G Adventures believes that 2023 is going to be a big year for adventure travel. With this in mind, the tour operator is introducing more than 20 new itineraries, ranging from four to 12 days designed to allow guests to get off the beaten path and get active in some for the world’s most beautiful locations, from Iceland to Morocco. All trios share G Adventures’ commitment to local cultural experiences and ensuring the local communities visited benefit from hosting travellers. For a full list of options, see G’s website.
PONANT is collaborating with Smithsonian Journeys on a series of co-branded sailings for 2023 and 2024. Each of the itineraries will be led by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts – whether an art historian, a solar astrophysicist, or an international relations expert – whose expertise and knowledge will shed new light on a destination and deepen travellers’ immersion in place. Among the new sailings is a nine-day circumnavigation of Sicily on Le Champlain, April 14-22, 2024.
Ahead of Black Friday (Nov. 25), Discovery Cove in Orlando has announced its biggest sale of the year, with savings of up to 50% off reservations to visit the all-inclusive day resort where visitors can swim with dolphins, snorkel among thousands of tropical fish and rays, hand-feed exotic birds, strut alongside flamingos, and more.
FAMS & INCENTIVES
Marriott Bonvoy has launched a sweepstake for meeting planners to win up to one million Marriott Bonvoy points with their One Million Reasons to Meet sweepstakes. From Nov. 14 to Dec. 31, meeting planners can enter online for a chance to win the grand prize, as well as instant prizes such as exclusive Marriott Bonvoy Moments, MBV Boutique gifts and points of various denominations.
The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) has named Bill Knowlton as recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award for 2022. The seasoned travel professional and leader, best known for his 30-plus year tenure at Jonview Canada, has spent more than five decades in the industry. TIAC will honour Knowlton with the award at a gala ceremony on Nov. 23 during its Tourism Congress 2022, as well as unveiling the winners of annual Canadian Tourism Awards.
A new Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary app is now available, providing information about the sanctuary’s 9,800 sq. km of waters surrounding the Keys. The Marine Sanctuary Explorer app describes the sanctuary’s more than 50 marine zones with easy-to-read guidelines about allowed activities. GPS-enabled technology alerts users when approaching the sanctuary’s no-wake and other managed zones and delivers real-time information about rules and regulations. The app is free to download for Apple and Android devices.
2023 has been dubbed “The Year of Events” in St. Martin. During a recent Toronto visit, Saint-Martin Tourism Office Director Aida Weinum highlighted a packed schedule of events, including the SXM Festival, Carnaval, Love Days Festival, and the Oualichi Festival. The popular Festival de Gastronomie, a foodie-focused celebration, typically takes place in November and includes a BBQ and mixology competition, cooking workshops, and a culinary village realized with participation by Michelin-starred chefs.
LAST WEEK IN TRAVEL HISTORY
In 1793, the Louvre Palace in Paris was opened as a public museum.
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First published at Travel Industry Today