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ROUND-UP:April 12-16, 2021

Making news last week: Air Canada passengers can now request refunds; WestJet has extended its temporary sun flight ban; Israel is opening up to tourism; and Rails Europe’s new training program is on track. Read on for more:

NEWS

Air Canada says eligible customers can submit refunds through June 12 after the carrier agreed to revise its COVID-19 refund policy as part of a deal that will see the federal government provide a total of $5.9 billion in aid to the airline, including up to $1.4 billion to support the new refunds. The airline says it will not recall commissions for refunded tickets that travel agencies process. Refunds also apply to Air Canada Vacations packages.

The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) is seeking nominations from interested consumers and from the travel industry to form a new advisory committee reporting to its board of directors. The Consumer and Industry Advisory Committee (CIAC) will provide advice on proposed new initiatives, broad policy matters, innovation and/or other changes that impact the travel marketplace, whether leisure or business focused. Full details and criteria can be found HERE.

A new $600-million REM station will be built at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport. The project, to be led by Aéroports de Montréal, with partial funding by the federal government, will help reduce traffic congestion and improve accessibility and connectivity to the airport by offering an environmentally sustainable link between downtown Montréal and the airport.

The Anguilla Tourist Board has been accepted into Virtuoso’s exclusive portfolio of luxury travel partners, comprised of more than 2,000 preferred suppliers in 100 countries.

DELAYED/ CANCELLED

WestJet’s temporary suspension of international sun flights to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean has been extended until June 4. Guests with affected itineraries will be proactively notified of the cancellations.

Porter Airlines is also pushing back its tentative date for resuming flights. The airline, which has delayed its restart date several times during the pandemic, now plans to resume flying on June 21. Porter had most recently been set to resume flights on May 19.

Malta

RE-OPENING/RE-START

The Maltese islands are reopening for tourism season this summer. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists will be welcomed to the island of Malta from June 1.

Israel will reopen the country to vaccinated foreign tourists in May, more than a year after closing its borders to most international visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic. The tourism ministry says a limited number of tourist groups will be allowed to enter the country starting May 23, with individual visitors allowed at a later stage

AIR

Ultra low-cost carrier Flair Airlines is expanding service with a new, non-stop route between Ottawa International Airport (YOW) and Kelowna International Airport (YLW) starting Aug. 4 with flights on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization representing the leading US airlines, announced the commitment of its member carriers to work across the aviation industry and with government leaders in a positive partnership to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Turkish Airlines reports that it has resumed its premium onboard dining and hot meal service on all Business and Economy Class flights longer than two hours 15 minutes flight time.

BY THE NUMBERS

Boeing reports an uptick in airplane orders as travel begins to pick up again. The company received 196 orders in March, including the previously announced 100 from Southwest, while losing 156 to cancellations. Turkish Airlines scrapped most of a commitment for 50 Max jets, replacing some with options. The net gain of 40 orders raised Boeing’s first-quarter total to 76.

RAIL

Citing the uncertainty of when travel restrictions will be lifted, Rocky Mountaineer is delaying the start of its Canadian travel season until July 5. Affected guests are being offered a future travel credit equivalent to 110% of monies paid; 2021 and 2022 rail pricing held at 2020 levels; and a price guarantee for vacation packages even if third-party hotels or tour operators raise their prices. Guests can also choose to transfer their booking to the new route in the US, Rockies to the Red Rocks, with an added incentive to return to travel on the Canadian routes in the future.

VIA Rail will resume the Toronto to Winnipeg portion of The Canadian, which will enable one full round-trip per week starting May 17, 2021.

Rail Europe has begun a global training campaign with its new e-learning tool, “The Rail Agent Course” (TRAC), the only comprehensive rail training program to include all the European’s major train operators, also available on a dedicated app. The training course includes eight 12-minute modules, and there are weekly YouTube webinars. For info, visit HERE.

DEALS

Collette’s “Spring into Travel” sale offers guests up to 20% off tours worldwide, as clients plan their travel for the second half of 2021 and beyond. Guests must book by April 23 with travel dates from May 1 to Aug. 31, 2022, to qualify. Collette’s Travel Protection Plan financially protects clients in the event that they need to cancel or move their trip to a different date and the sale is combinable with the Advanced Commission Program, where agents can receive partial payments prior to their client’s departure date.

For travellers currently unable to travel due to government regulations such as hotel quarantines, as is the case with Canada, G Adventures is offering an incentive to ‘book now for travel later’ with 15% off select Classic trips and 15% off the ‘My Own Room’ option for travellers looking for more personal space, for bookings made during the month of April and departing up until June 30, 2022.

RESORTS

Club Med’s “Buy One Night, Get One Night Free” April Flash Sale, open for bookings at participating Caribbean, Mexico, and Florida resorts until April 20 for select travel dates through Nov. 5, 2021, gives guests one night free for every night booked, plus a free room upgrade, up to US$400 in air credit, and free stays for kids under 4.

Beaches Resorts reports that it has extended its Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC) accreditation through 2023 and continues to build on its existing partnership with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), the global leader in cognitive disorder training and certification.

HOTELS

In honour of Mother’s Day (May 9), select Hilton hotels across the Americas have created packages where “mom can truly get a moment to herself, be on her own schedule and make some new memories.” In Canada, some of the options include “Dinner with a View” at the Hilton Toronto, featuring a four-course tasting menu and bottle of wine, plus monogrammed bathrobe, slippers, and more; “Feel Like a Queen” at the Hilton Quebec, including sparkling wine, a $50 hotel credit, complimentary breakfast, and more; and “Pamper and Picnic” at Hilton Mississauga Meadowvale, with in-room manicure/pedicure, picnic in the onsite-gazebo, plus bottle of wine, Hudson Bay blanket, surprise gift, and more. All packages are available through the month of May.

TOURS

A tentative return to travel with a few tours by Tauck this spring will turn into a full “restart” of US tours effective July 1, says the company. News on international departures is pending. Tauck advises agents to check its web site for details and developments.

UK-based youth travel and social adventure specialist TruTravels, which was acquired by G Adventures in 2018, is expanding its trade sales into Canada for the first time. Product is categorized into four agent-friendly collections – classic, FitVentures, SailVentures, and Flashpacker – and features existing product along with some brand-new experiences, all of them designed to be highly structured with plenty of inclusions and aimed at both time-poor young professionals and independent backpackers who are looking for an added social element as part of a bigger adventure. The first departures will be in Bali and Thailand in October.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

The future of the Vancouver Aquarium, one of BC’s top tourist attractions, has been settled with an agreement signed last week to transfer ownership from Ocean Wise Conservation Association to Herschend Enterprises.

A new indoor Lego playground has opened at K11 MUSEA in Hong Kong. Families and kids can take part in a two- to three-hour interactive and educational experience featuring 10 Lego-themed play areas. The Legoland Discovery Centre highlights a creation of over 1.5 million Lego bricks in the Miniland, featuring iconic local landmarks and street views that include Star Ferry Central Pier, Peak Tram, etc. The display took 7,150 hours to build and was created by 46 Lego builders, nine designers, and four technicians, making it the first of its kind in the city.

CRUISE

Husavik, Iceland

The inaugural deployment of Crystal Cruise’s luxury expedition yacht Crystal Endeavor will feature five 10-night immersive voyages circumnavigating Iceland beginning July 17. The “Luxury Iceland Expedition” voyages will sail round-trip from the ship’s homeport of Reykjavík. Crystal claims the 200-passenger Endeavor will be the most spacious, fastest, and most powerful expedition ship in the industry, with a Polar Class 6 (PC6) classification that enables her to sail in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.

Royal Caribbean reports that Allure of the Seas will homeport in Galveston, Texas starting in November 2022. The vessel, one of the world’s largest, will sail seven-night western Caribbean itineraries from RCI’s new state-of-the-art cruise terminal, which begins construction in April.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

The Cuba Tourist Board in Canada is launching a Travel Agent’s Day (May 7) photo contest in which agents are invited to submit favourite photos from past Cuba trips for the chance to win a four-night all-inclusive stay at Iberostar Selection Varadero Hotel (double room) or a complimentary full-day catamaran cruise (anywhere in Cuba), courtesy of Gaviota Group. To participate, submit a jpeg photo with full personal and agency contact details (including social media) to info@gocuba.ca. Deadline for entry is April 30; winner announced May 5.

Travel agents booking a future 50-plus day cruise sailing with TravelBrands will earn 25,000 Loyalty Rewards points (value $250). The incentive is valid through April 30.

EVENTS

May 18-20: Registration for the Martinique Tourism Authority’s first-ever virtual international trade show is now open. The Martinique Travel Show (MTS) will take place from May 18 to 20 and is open to travel trade members, including travel agents. Events will take place in both English and French. Register HERE.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Goway has announced the Canadian winner of its “Golden Ticket” draw: Steve Carey from Travel Only. The Toronto travel agent wins a one-ounce bar of gold as part of the tour operator’s group booking promotion, which celebrated Goway’s 50th anniversary in 2020 and ran Jan. 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

Air Canada Vacations has announced that in addition to her current role, Lucie Guillemette, Executive VP and Chief Commercial Officer, Air Canada, will be leading Air Canada Vacations as its President, replacing Craig Landry effective immediately. Landry has served as president of the group since December 2015 and will remain Executive Vice President, Operations.

Canadian travel industry veteran Eric Bacon has joined Celestyal Cruises as BDM for Canada and the western US. Based in Los Angeles, Bacon will be responsible for cultivating relationships with travel advisors and growing the company’s key distribution channels through maximizing awareness, training, development of co-operative marketing strategies, and representing the company at industry events. Amongst other roles, Bacon previously served as the regional sales director, Canada for Rail Europe, and has worked for several Canadian travel agencies.

DESTINATIONS

Yosemite National Park will require advanced reservations for day visitors during the peak summer season to limit the number of visitors and allow social distancing amid the pandemic. Under the new rules, advance reservations will be required for day use visitors who enter Yosemite from May 21 to Sept. 30.

The Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, known for preserving ancient cultural sites, has been designated the 100th International Dark Sky Park. Park officials say the certification will help foster astronomy-based recreation and tourism while improving energy efficiency and reducing operational costs in the park related to outdoor lighting.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

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