ROUND-UP: Oct. 23-27, 2023
Carnival faced legal troubles in Australia for a cruise operated during the pandemic; Transat announced a flight first (spoiler alert: to Africa); while in other round-up news from last week, Porter launched flights to Las Vegas, Arajet arrived in Canada, and Visit Florida spread some sunshine during its annual mission north of the border.
Carnival was ruled negligent by an Australian court for failing to cancel a cruise that led to a major COVID-19 outbreak early in the pandemic. The Ruby Princess left Sydney on March 8, 2020, with 2,671 passengers aboard for a 13-day cruise to New Zealand but returned in 11 days as Australia’s borders were closing. COVID-19 on the ship spread to 663 passengers and claimed 28 lives. Federal Court Justice Angus Stewart ruled that Carnival had been negligent as defined by Australian consumer law and had a duty to take reasonable care of her health and safety in regard to COVID-19.
ACTA has an issued a reminder to the industry that all travel businesses with operations, employees, or markets in Quebec are required to comply with new data privacy rules outlined in Quebec Law 25 by Sept. 2024. Additionally, all travel businesses that are based elsewhere, but have employees in Quebec, or serve markets and customers in the province must also comply. ACTA says it will provide information on its website this Fall to help members understand the new requirements and take the required actions to comply with the law. In addition, ACTA is working with a partner in Québec to plan and deliver a webinar to further assist members. For information, click HERE.
Called the strongest storm in history to make landfall along the eastern Pacific Coast, Hurricane Otis ripped across Mexico’s southern Pacific coast as a powerful Category 5 storm last week, tearing through buildings in the resort city of Acapulco, sending sheets of earth down steep mountainsides and causing massive flooding.
Air Transat will offer non-stop service between Montreal and Marrakech, Morocco, starting next June, making it the only airline in North America to offer non-stop flights to the Moroccan city. It is also the first-ever venture to Africa for the airline and represents what it calls a “strategic shift” in operations. Flights will be operated twice a week from June 12 to Oct. 24, 2024, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The service will then continue once a week, on Saturdays, until April 20.
Dominican Republic low-cost carrier, Arajet, the Caribbean’s low-fare airline, arrived in Toronto with the start of direct flights between the city and Santo Domingo. The route was officially launched at an inaugural event at Hotel X where they presented the biggest drone show in the sky said to be largest ever held in Toronto. The airline will be flying out of Toronto four days per week – Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays – increasing the air connectivity between the two countries and destinations beyond.
An exterior view of take-off that can be viewed on the aircraft’s seatback entertainment system is just one of the features on Air Canada’s upgraded Airbus A321, which the carrier unveiled to passengers on a flight recently. Other features include a new cabin interior, new technologies and services such as Bluetooth audio, and free high-speed internet sponsored by Bell. The 14 Airbus A321s and eight A320s in the fleet will be retrofitted starting this fall through to the end of 2025.
Porter Airlines will launch daily flights between Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) starting March 5, 2024. The service will utilize the airline’s new Embraer132-seat all-economy E195-E2 aircraft, which will depart at 1 p.m. daily, arriving at 3:04 p.m. Return flights at 4 p.m., arriving at 11:16 p.m. Introductory roundtrip fares start at $346.
Lynx is adding Mexico to its international roster, with service to Cancun from Toronto Pearson set to take off Feb. 15. The Mexican tourism mecca is the ultra low-cost carrier’s first destination in the country and marks its third country in a growing network that will now feature 18 destinations.
BY THE NUMBERS
According to a new IATA survey, which was based on 8,000 responses across 200 countries, passengers want convenience when they plan their travel and when choosing from where to depart. Proximity to the airport was passengers’ main priority when choosing their departure point (71%). This was more important than ticket price (31%). A small majority of passengers prefer to book directly with the airline (52%).
The “Explore with More” from Holland America includes an air credit, shore excursion credit and kids cruising free. Running through Nov. 15, the promotion is available on Have it All cruise package fares for select departures from April through October 2024. Through “Explore with More,” guests receive a Shore Excursion Credit valued at up to US$400, free airfare for kids, and a US$500 Air Credit on 2024 Europe cruises. Additional perks include specialty dining, beverages and Wi-Fi that come with the “Have it All” premium package.
Africa is booming, the Middle East not so much, travel advisors learned at Goway Travel’s annual showcase for the destinations in Toronto last week. It was the 12th time the Toronto-based tour company hosted the multi-day event for agents and suppliers, but first since before the pandemic. On Wednesday, 150 agents were on hand for a full day of training and trade show at the Hyatt Regency on King, featuring 27 suppliers from across the destinations. The day before about 1,000 agents signed up for a virtual event.
Philippine Airlines (PAL), the national flag carrier of the Philippines, has launched PAL Holidays, a one-stop travel website that offers a seamless and comprehensive platform for booking travel to the southeast Asian country, and beyond. The new site is now live in Canada and elsewhere.
The new platform is powered by Expedia Group’s White Label Template technology and designed to help users effortlessly plan and book their entire journey – including PAL flights, hotels, transportation, and travel activities, all in one convenient location.
The well-known Chelsea Hotel Toronto, located on Yonge Street just north of the Eaton Centre, has completed a $25-million refurbishment. The investment – the most extensive since 2013 – included 600 guestrooms in the Executive Tower, hotel corridors throughout the hotel, modernization and refurbishment of the Executive Tower elevators. Additionally, there was a refurbishment of Market Garden Restaurant and Elm Street Bar & Lounge, the latter featuring double the seating capacity and the addition of new furniture and lighting.
Andean Experience (AE) soft-opened Peru’s first tented exploration camp, PUQIO in September. An extension of AE’s Southern Route, including Titilaka on Lake Titicaca and CIRQA in Arequipa, PUQIO is situated in the remote Colca Valley in the Southern Peruvian Andes, a region rich with biodiversity – including a large population of Andean condor – hot springs, volcanoes and one of the world’s deepest canyons, the Colca Canyon. Guests can choose from three distinct and locally designed tents and anticipate a range of activities and outings, including trips to local markets, Andean fishing, visits to thermal baths, wildlife watching and more.
The new ‘Aisle Edit’ Look Book from Sandals is an assemblage of curated designs catering to the latest trends in destination weddings and offering couples the opportunity to personalize selections and see themselves reflected in their wedding day. Aisle to Isle’s new amenity-rich packages include elements scaled for any size affair – from intimate elopement ceremonies for two to larger celebrations with pre- and post-wedding gatherings – all complete with a bespoke, wedding planning team that manages all the details every step of the way. Additional package inclusions with seamless planning tools such as a gift registry service and wedding website template, the preparation of documents for marriage licenses, and more. View the digital production here.
Renovations to the pool area at Secrets Aura Cozumel are currently underway, with an expected completion date of Nov. 30. Throughout the duration of this project, the entire pool area, which includes 26 Junior Suites with a swim-up pool view and 42 Junior Suites with a pool view as well as the Manatees swim-up bar will be unavailable, while the Bordeaux restaurant will be unavailable through the completion of the renovation. The lazy river pool will remain open for guests, as well as the Preferred Club pool for Preferred Club guests.
After a pandemic pause, Norwegian Cruise Line returned to Asia for the first time in three years Oct. 19 as the Norwegian Jewel set sail from Tokyo to begin an extensive six-month season of voyages in the region. NCL says it will have a record four ships deployed in the region during the 2024/25 season, underlying its commitment to Asia, both as a source market and destination, NCL will. In addition to the Jewel, Norwegian Spirit, Sun, and Sky will also visit destinations including Japan, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, and Malaysia.
Marking Royal Caribbean International’s biggest line-up of 2023-24 holidays Down Under, the cruise line’s Brilliance of the Seas arrived in Sydney for the first time Oct. 22 beginning a six-month season of five- to 18-night cruises to unique destinations, from Fiji and the Loyalty Islands to locales in Australia like Port Douglas, Melbourne and Kangaroo Island. Travellers can choose from 20 different itineraries across 40 destinations.
ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS
The Hard Rock Casino Vancouver is in for a rebranding. Effective December, the Coquitlam venue will become Great Canadian Casino Vancouver, according to owners, Great Canadian Entertainment. Along with the name change, the casino will welcome a Gordon Ramsay Burger restaurant and offered enhanced entertainment options with Live Nation.
FAMS & INCENTIVES
TTC Tour Brands is inviting members of the BIPOC (black, indigenous, and other people of colour) travel advisor community on a specially designed Trafalgar FAM trip taking place March 11-17, 2024. The seven-day “Sense of Europe” itinerary will travel from Prague to Vienna and Budapest. The Eastern European travel experience is designed to give advisors the opportunity to engage and network with peers within the BIPOC community and discover the history, architecture, culture, and cuisine of the region with Trafalgar. Twin share prices is $1.321 p.p. For more info and to apply, click HERE or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit Florida made stops in Vancouver and Toronto (photo) last week as part of the DMO’s annual mission to spread a little sunshine north of the border. With 10 state partners (or their Canadians representatives) on hand, VF’s Erin Cramer (middle, front row) told attendees that 2.1 million Canadians had visited the just the first seven months of 2023 – a not unsurprising statistic, she said, considering “we know that Canadians love Florida, and we love Canadians!”
Former Flight Centre Vancouver-based travel agent Chadd Andre has been named the new Executive VP for Flight Centre Brand (FCB) Canada. The “significant change in Canadian leadership” follows the departure of Brian McLaren, who leaves FCTG after 21 years to pursue other endeavours. In his new role, Andre helms operations in Canada with a twofold focus to strategically boost both digital and retail sectors of the leisure business. McLaren will stay on until Nov. 30 to help with the transition.
TTAND agent Chen Yu was named the No. 1 “ChangeMaker” both in Canada and globally by G Adventures in its recent four-month long incentive campaign, which recognized agents responsible for “most lives changed” across eight markets worldwide.
All of West Maui except for burned-out sections of historic Lahaina will reopen to tourism on Nov. 1 following the deadliest US wildfire in more than century. West Maui has about 11,000 hotel rooms, or about half of Maui’s total. Travellers evacuated those hotels after the Aug. 8 fire raged through Lahaina town, killing at least 99 people and destroying more than 2,000 buildings. Mayor Richard Bissen said he made the move after talking about it with his Lahaina advisory team, the Red Cross, and other partners.
The newly launched Toronto Museum Pass provides access to seven popular museums in the city, including the Aga Khan Museum, Bata Shoe Museum, Gardiner Museum, Little Canada, Ontario Science Centre, Royal Ontario Museum, and Textile Museum of Canada. Available as a one- or three-day option with prices ranging from $45 to $85, the pass offers up to 70 percent off with additional discounts for seniors and children under 12. The pass is delivered directly to users’ phones once purchased, and must be used within 90 days of purchase. It is activated with first use at a participating business, expiring 24-hours and 72-hours after first redemption, depending on the pass purchased.
LAST WEEK IN TRAVEL HISTORY
In 1977, West German commandos stormed a hijacked Lufthansa airliner at an airport in Somalia and freed all 86 hostages aboard.
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First published at Travel Industry Today