ROUND-UP: Oct. 9-13, 2023
War in Israel resulted in myriad travel disruptions and future itinerary changes – read on for the latest dispatches including Air Canada flights. Also in the round-up: a report forecast room rates rising; Maui began welcoming tourists again (even if few showed up), TICO at last announced the election of its two industry directors, and more WestJet-Sunwing merger news.
Hotel guests should expect to pay increasingly higher room rates in 2024, according to a new report from American Express Global Business Travel, which says the rate spike follows large price jumps in 2022 and 2023. In Canada, the Hotel Monitor 2024 study forecasts record-breaking rates in Canada including percentage increases of 8.9, 8.3 and 6.7 percent in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto respectively. According to the report, Canada’s hotel industry achieved record-breaking average daily rate (ADR) and revenue per available room (RevPAR) levels in 2023. Vancouver saw the country’s highest occupancy, at 89%.
The area around the Lahaina, Maui, largely destroyed by wildfire began welcoming back travel last week – two months after the wildfire that killed at least 98 people and destroyed more than 2,000 structures. Five hotels in West Maui were accepting reservations again, including The Ritz and The Mauian. In addition, eight timeshare properties were opening across the region early this month, including some a few miles from the devastation.
After technical difficulties at its AGM and a subsequent revote, TICO announced its two newly elected travel industry directors, both for three-year terms: Robert Townshend of Total Advantage Travel & Tours and Andrew Dawson of Sunwing. They join three previously elected public directors. TICO’s Board of Directors is now comprised of three Ministerial appointees, three elected industry directors and three elected public directors.
The outbreak of war in Israel after an attack by the Palestinian group Hamas prompted a raft of airline and cruise cancellations, and tour operators cancelling programs as well. Among the latest:
Air Canada says it’s cancelling all direct flights to and from Tel Aviv through the end of the month (October). The suspension extends one in place since Oct. 8. Passengers whose trips through Oct. 31 were cancelled can opt for a refund or rebooking. The carrier typically flies to Tel Aviv from Toronto daily, and from Montreal three times per week.
Travel agencies that sell Israel are scrambling to rebook passengers and reroute itineraries as the war sparked by Hamas’s attacks on Israel ramped up. Artzi Korostelev said it was all hands on deck at Toronto-based Peerless Travel as customers rescheduled trips to Israel into 2024 and employees worked the phones 16 hours a day, while new bookings screeched to a halt.
MSC Cruises has revised the East Mediterranean itineraries for MSC Sinfonia and MSC Musica. MSC Sinfonia’s future eight 11-night voyages will see Haifa, Israel replaced by Istanbul, which also means Rhodes will be replaced by Piraeus, Greece, and Izmir in Turkey will replace Limassol, Cyprus. Starting Oct. 21, MSC Sinfonia’s new itinerary will be the Italian ports of Genoa, Civitavecchia and Messina followed by Piraeus, Izmir, Istanbul and Heraklion in Crete before the ship returns to Genoa, Italy. MSC Musica’s future three seven-night voyages from Piraeus, Greece will see Haifa replaced by Rhodes on Oct. 18 and 25 and Marmaris in Turkey on Nov. 1. Updates are available on the website.
Geek island cruise line Celestyal will temporarily suspend calling to Israel on its “Three Continents” cruise, until the end of November, and the situation will be monitored for any itineraries departing after this date.
All departures to Israel through the remainder of the calendar year have been cancelled by Collette. Future departures for Jan. 1, 2024, and on will be evaluated well in advance of travel, says the tour operator.
Travelport and Air Canada have renewed their content distribution agreement. Notably, the multi-year agreement will feature a full range of New Distribution Capability (NDC) content and end-to-end servicing of NDC bookings to help agencies easily manage trip changes and exchanges – a development the airline calls the “next step” in the evolution of its distribution capabilities.
Lynx took flight between Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) Oct 12, continuing the rapid expansion of the airline’s Toronto network.
Air Transat has revealed its 2024 summer flight program from Toronto. In 2024, the airline is offering six more weekly flights to Europe and seven more weekly flights to the South. At the peak of the season, the airline will offer 110 weekly direct flights, serving more than 25 destinations. Newly added direct flights to Lima in Peru will now be offered year-round. The airline will also enhance its offerings to Europe by increasing the frequency of its flights to England, Croatia, Ireland, Italy, and Portugal throughout the season.
Porter Airlines has launched service between Ottawa International Airport (YOW) and Edmonton International Airport (YEG). The new route begins with one daily roundtrip flight operated on the 132-seat Embraer E195-E2 aircraft. The route offers a variety of connections to the east coast via Ottawa, including Newark and Boston. Porter also operates multiple non-stop daily flights between Edmonton and Toronto-Pearson.
BY THE NUMBERS
Vancouver International Airport welcomed more than 7.1 million passengers from July through September, a 21.7 percent increase over the same period last year and on par with 2019, reports YVR’s airport authority. August was YVR’s busiest month of the summer, with the BC Day weekend seeing the most passengers—328,422 passengers from Aug. 4 to 7.
Guests who book a getaway at Sandals Saint Vincent and The Grenadines through Oct. 27 will receive a US$1,000 instant credit on seven-night stays or longer, US$775 credit on six-night stays, US$505 credit on five-night stays, and US$375 on four-night stays through 2026.
Clients booking through Oct. 31 can save on select Rocky Mountaineer routes in 2024, including CDN$1,000 CAD off per couple/ $500 p,p, on “Journey Through the Clouds Discovery Banff” (westbound, most dates) and $1,415 per couple / $707.50 p.p. on “Rockies to the Red Rocks.
As WestJet and Sunwing continue integrating operations, the newly created Sunwing Vacations Group has been designated as the official vacation division of the WestJet Group, encompassing five “powerhouse” brands – Sunwing Vacations, WestJet Vacations, US tour operator Vacation Express, and the Group’s travel retail businesses SellOffVacations.com and Luxe Destination Weddings. Together they form the largest vacations brands in North America, though each will continue to be marketed independently.
“Journey to Success,” Goway groups department’s new platform makes booking 10 or more people “easier than ever,” with four exclusive tools and an elevated support that covers 115 destinations. “Journey to Success” includes a Groups Management Tool to aid in collating all required client details; a Groups Marketing Toolkit featuring best practices, tips, and tricks for marketing a group; a Marketing Coaching Session with a Goway Account Manager to review a plan for marketing to maximize success; and a five-part training video series on how to book group trips for 10 or more travellers. More details are available on Goway Groups Only website.
Blue Diamond Resorts’ Hideaway at Blue Waters, an Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort – Adults Only, is set to debut in Montego Bay, Jamaica (photo) in late November. With 352 rooms and suites, guests will also have 11 restaurants from which to choose, spa, infinity pool with pool cabanas, and more. The resort’s ‘Stay at 1, Play at 2’ feature, also gives access to neighbouring Royalton Blue Waters Montego Bay.
Sandals Saint Vincent and The Grenadines will mark the ninth Caribbean destination and 18th Sandals resort for Sandals Resorts International (SRI) when it welcomes its first guests on March 27, 2024.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises has announced the addition of two new Super Ships, the SS Victoria and SS Elisabeth, which will begin sailing in Europe in 2024 and 2025 respectively. Uniworld will take over the ships from Seaside Collection under a three-year, bareboat charter agreement for each ship and utilize them on existing itineraries with Uniworld staff and brand style and amenities. Before joining Riverside Luxury Cruises, the ships were a part of Crystal Cruises’ river fleet as the Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler.
Explora Journeys has confirmed firm orders for two hydrogen-powered ships with the Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri. The deal completes a total investment of CDN$5 billion in six luxury ships for Explora Journeys. EXPLORA V and EXPLORA VI will have new state-of-the-art energy efficiency measures and will be delivered in 2027 and 2028.
The largest hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, The Venetian, is revelling in its ideal location adjacent to The Sphere, Vegas’s new “it” attraction, which opened on the weekend with a concert by U2, who is in residency at the giant multi-use marvel. Guests can now request a “Sphere-view” room (in addition to Strip-view) at an upgraded price, and a walkway leads guests from the hotel to the venue. Soon packages will be available that include Sphere events.
The H Dubai was recently recognized as the first hotel in Dubai to earn the Certified Autism Center designation, awarded by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), reflecting the hotel’s aim to providing accessible and accommodating services to autistic and sensory-sensitive individuals. This milestone also aligns with Dubai’s wider initiative to achieve the Certified Autism Destination (CAD) designation, marking the emirate as an inclusive and sensory-friendly destination in the Eastern Hemisphere.
ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS
Orlando’s Discovery Cove is offering guests up to 40% off reservations through Dec. 31, 2024 when reserved by Oct. 22. The all-inclusive day resort offers guests a one-of-a-kind opportunity to swim with dolphins and snorkel with thousands of tropical fish and rays, and includes breakfast, lunch, and all-you-can-eat snacks throughout the day, plus unlimited gourmet coffee, ice-cold beverages, and beer and wine (for guests 21+). Parking, lockers, wetsuits, and swim gear are also included.
FAMS & INCENTIVES
During the month of October, travel advisors can earn an additional $50 on every booking they make to Australia or New Zealand with Goway.
Agents making hotel bookings with Expedia TAAP through Nov. 15 (for travel completed by April 30, 2024) qualify for a grand total of $4,500 in grocery gift cards up for grabs, you’ll be in the running with every eligible booking you make. One agent will win $2,000, another $1,000 and three $500. The more bookings, the more chances to win. Click here to register: https://bitly.ws/XdbQ
Collette has a special group offer which gives travel advisors an $1,000 on all bookings of 15 or more (except Antarctica). The offer runs through Nov. 24 for travel any time in 2024. Offer code GROUPOFFER23 must be used at time of booking. “Many advisors are making $15,000-$20,000 commissions on groups, so this is icing on the cake,” says Ron Lonsdale, VP of business development at Collette.
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) will be conducting Jamaica Travel Expo & Destination Weddings Showcase events will take place in Calgary on Nov. 7 (Best Western Premier Calgary), Montreal, Nov. 9 (Intercontinental Hotel Montréal), and Toronto on Nov. 10 (Pearson Convention Centre). Each regional event will feature dedicated product training sessions from 3 to 5 p.m. followed by a Destination Showcase from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. with live entertainment, Caribbean-inspired cuisine, games, photo opportunities and prize giveaways. Travel advisors can sign up to attend the free events at visitjamaica.com/canada/expo. Deadline is Friday, Oct. 27
The Travel Agent Next Door has appointed Christine Ufniak as its Marketing Director. Ufniak was previously Director of Marketing for North America at Carlson Wagonlit Travel, playing a pivotal role in shaping the marketing strategy and driving growth for the company’s North American operations – before leaving the industry for the past three years.
Collette, the oldest tour operator in the US, has announced the succession of Jaclyn Leibl-Cote to Chief Executive Officer of the organization, only the fourth CEO in the 106-year history, and its first woman. She is also the third generation of the Sullivan family to transition into the role. Current Collette CEO, Dan Sullivan, Jr., who has led the Rhode Island-based tour operator, including its Canadian office in Mississauga, since 1990, will transition to the role of Executive Chairman, effective immediately, where he will act as an advisor to Leibl-Cote and the Executive Team on the company’s overall direction and long-term strategy.
Martinique (photo) has been awarded its third UNESCO recognition: for the Volcanoes and Forests of Mount Pelée and the Pitons of Northern Martinique. Located at the foot of the volcano, Saint-Pierre was devastated by the eruption of Montagne Pelée on May 8, 1902, and it took decades for the town to rise from the ashes. The landscapes, geology and the protected endemic and irreplaceable flora and fauna of this area are also recognized as special by UNESCO. Yole de Martinique (a type of indigenous boat) was listed as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage site in 2020, and the entire island and surrounding waters were declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 2021.
An ancient Roman imperial palazzo atop the Rome’s Palatine Hill that offers sweeping views of the Roman Forum below has reopened to tourists, nearly 50 years after its closure for restoration. The nearly 2,000-year-old Domus Tiberiana was home to rulers in the ancient city’s Imperial period. The public is now able to tour it, following decades of structural restoration work to shore the palace up for safety reasons. Excavations uncovered artifacts from centuries of Roman life following the decline of the empire.
LAST WEEK IN TRAVEL HISTORY
In 1972, a charter plane carrying 45 people – members of an amateur Uruguayan rugby team, plus friends and relatives – crashed in the Andes Mountains. Ten weeks later, two of the 18 survivors reached civilization and the others were rescued shortly after. The story became the subject of the Piers Paul Read book, “Alive,” and at least two movies.
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First published at Travel Industry Today