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ROUND-UP:Aug. 16-20, 2021

Canadian airports get federal funds for COVID testing, Hyatt Hotels has agreed to buy AMResorts, Disney World eases its mask mandate, and a majority of Canadians back vaccine certificates.

NEWS

The US land border will remain closed to Canadians and Mexicans until at least Sept. 21. The US Department of Homeland Security says restrictions on non-essential travel at all land and ferry border crossings will remain in effect to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including the Delta variant. The restrictions, which have been in place since March 2020, had been set to expire Saturday.

Federal officials in the US are extending until Jan. 18 a requirement that people on airline flights and public transportation wear face masks, a rule intended to limit the spread of COVID-19. The Transportation Security Administration was scheduled to enforce the rule until Sept. 13.

Ottawa has launched a new funding program for the country’s major airports to invest in COVID-19 testing and screening infrastructure. Twenty-six facilities across the country are eligible to tap the $81.6 million Biosecurity Funding Stream to aid in the recovery and re-start of travel.

BY THE NUMBERS

76% of respondents to a survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they would strongly or somewhat support a vaccine passport like the one Quebec is implementing. Quebecers are even more supportive of the measure, with 81% saying they are in favour of the plan, which will apply in places like bars, concerts, and festivals where there are lots of people in a confined space.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

The Vancouver Aquarium has officially re-opened. Along with a new 4D Theatre Experience, the Aquarium also unveiled its Marine Mammal Rescue Exhibit, a feature that showcases the Aquarium’s work in rescuing and rehabilitating marine mammals on B.C.’s coast.

Norwegian continued its “Great Cruise Comeback” with departures out of Seattle (to Alaska) and Miami. The cruise line also floated the Norwegian Prima from drydock at Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera (Venice), Italy, marking a major construction milestone and the first time the new vessel touched water. It will sail next summer.

DELAYED/ CANCELLED

International travellers will have to wait until early 2022 before being able to visit New Zealand as the South Pacific nation delays exercises caution in reopening its borders due to the pandemic.

AIR

WestJet has reinstated its Calgary-Paris route, making it the only non-stop between the cities. The French capital joins London and Amsterdam on WestJet’s Calgary network. The Paris flights are weekly through Oct. 31 and mark the resumption of the carrier’s codeshare with Air France.

Ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) Flair Airlines announced a new base at Edmonton International Airport accompanied by an expansion of service that will bring four new non-stop US destinations to the city. The new Edmonton-US routes will start Dec. 16 and include non-stop service to Las Vegas, Phoenix, Palm Springs, and Hollywood Burbank through the Spring. Flair is also expanding its domestic network from Edmonton. In addition to existing winter service to Kitchener-Waterloo, Vancouver, Abbotsford and Toronto, Flair is expanding its current summer service from Kelowna and Victoria to extend throughout the winter season.

Porter Airlines is introducing a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy for staff to support a safe and healthy workplace for employees and passengers. Aligning with Porter’s restart of service on Sept. 8, team members must be fully vaccinated or present a negative COVID-19 test administered within 72 hours of the start of their shift.

DEALS

Lifestyle hotel brand B Hotels & Resorts’ “BSummer” promotion offers special rates and perks on stays now through Sept. 30, at the brand’s collection of upscale resorts in top Florida destinations, including Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and the Keys. Nightly rates start at US$99.

TOURS

The Globus family of brands – consisting of Globus, Cosmos, Avalon Waterways and Monograms – has extended pre-trip Health & Safety Protocols, including requiring proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (14 days prior to embarkation) to join any vacation in its portfolio, for travel through March 2022. Moving forward, Globus says it will advise all travellers of vaccine implications or changes with advance notice. Accepted vaccines include those authorized or approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Health Canada, European Centre for Disease Prevention (ECDC) or an official government body.

Australian-owned adventure expedition operator Aurora Expeditions has joined Virtuoso as one of the newest suppliers of its exclusive global preferred partner portfolio to expand and reach a new global audience. The small-group, expedition-style travel company voyages to some of the wildest places on Earth, including Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands, the Arctic (European and Canadian), Alaska, the Russian Far East, Costa Rica, Baja California and West Papua.

CRUISE

Princess Cruises Alaska

The newly announced 2023 Alaska cruises and cruisetours program from Princess Cruises went on sale last week, featuring six Medallion Class ships, including the cruise line’s newest Discovery Princess, returning to Alaska for a second season. There are 145 departures, 14 unique itineraries, five glacier viewing experiences and four departure ports, including Vancouver.

All guests travelling with Uniworld River Cruises must now show documented proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, or Johnson & Johnson), with the final dose administered no less than two weeks prior to the start of their cruise/tour. The policy will be in effect until at least Dec. 31, 2021. In addition to the proof of vaccination, guests will still be required to wear a mask while walking around public areas, such as the corridors or the lobby, and when the required distancing to others cannot be maintained. Masks can be taken off when seated in the lounge and restaurant. While onshore, all guests and crew are subject to local mask guidelines.

HOTELS

The ribbon has been cut at Hyatt Regency JFK Airport at Resorts World New York, a new hotel that connects with Resorts World New York City casinos. The eight-story, luxury hotel in Queens has 400 high-tech guestrooms, a popular Sugar Factory Restaurant, fitness centre, state-of-the-art conference and meeting spaces, and 6,500 onsite slots and electronic table games. The centerpiece of the property is a soaring grand lobby, suited for art exhibits, events and musical performances.

Virgin Hotels New Orleans opened Aug. 18. Located in the city’s artsy Warehouse District, the new hotel delivers thoughtful yet playful references to the city and hotel features multiple dining and drinking outlets, including the 13th-floor bar, Dreamboat; a cocktail lounge; The Pool Club, a rooftop pool, restaurant, and bar; Commons Club, the brand’s flagship restaurant, bar and lounge;, and Funny Library Coffee Shop—plus various meeting and event spaces.

RESORTS

AMResorts has introduced a new master brand designed to bring its six resort chains together under one name – AMR Collection. The strategic repositioning is designed to help both agents and guests easily identify the brand that best news their needs. AMR Collection includes Secrets, Dreams and Breathless Resorts & Spas, Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts, Alua Hotels & Resorts and Sunscape Resorts & Spas, with the portfolio representing 102 properties across 36 beachfront destinations and eight countries, including new entries in St. Martin and Macao Beach in the Dominican Republic.

Meanwhile, Hyatt Hotels Corp. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Apple Leisure Group (ALG), including AMResorts. The US$2.7-billion acquisition, expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021, subject to regulatory approval, will enable Hyatt to boost its presence in the luxury resort sector and immediately double its global resorts footprint with the addition of almost 100 ALG properties.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Disney World is now allowing visitors to choose whether or not to wear face coverings in outdoor lines, outdoor theatre and outdoor attractions. Masks had been required previously. Face coverings will remain optional in outdoor common areas. They will still be required for visitors aged two and up at all indoor locations, such as restaurants, theatres, and transportation with the exception of ferry boats.

AGENT EDUCATION

With Italy re-opening to tourism and Air Canada having started service again last month, the Italian National Tourist Board invites travel agents to join its “Travel to Italy” training academy. The course is designed to provide travel advisors with the “inspiration, knowledge, and confidence to create unforgettable itineraries to sell (and upsell) clients for their trips to the land of ‘La dolce vita.’” Nine free modules range from food and wine to art cities, outdoor activities, and getting around the country. Upon completion of the course, advisors receive the designation of “Italy Specialist” along with a certificate to prove to clients that they are experts in the destination. To register, click HERE.

FAMS

Medinet Habu Temple, Egypt

Egypt, Nov. 10-18: Toronto-based NARAT’s unique ‘In Agatha Christie’s Footsteps Egypt & Sudan FAM’ will showcase the Middle East through the famed English author’s experience and comes ahead of next year’s Disney film adaptation of “Death on the Nile.” Designed to promotes the launch of the NARAT’s 2022 Egypt programs tied to Agatha Christie experiences, the FAM will showcases such iconic sites such as the Great Pyramids and Sphinx, the new Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Valley of the Kings; and historic Luxor, Kom Ombo, Edfu, Philae and Karnak, the latter via a Dahabiya Nile cruise. Agens can also extend the trip to include the Abu Simbel, the Red Sea, and neighbouring Sudan. Priced at US$1,959, the FAM includes international (ex Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver) and domestic flights, five-star hotel and cruise accommodations, touring with a Canadian tour director and Egyptologist guide, and meals. One companion, subject to space availability, is welcome. For info, call 1-877-By-NARAT (296-2728) or email fams@narat.org.

EVENTS

Aug. 24: On Tuesday, the Jamaica Tourist Board in Canada has invited special guests from award-winning social media agency Pinch Social to host a professional development session designed specifically for travel specialists. The special skill-building session of the JTB’s weekly “Irie Hour” broadcast will take place at 2:30 p.m. EST and focus on how agents can use and optimize various social media platforms for their business to enhance their online presence, reach new clients, and achieve success in the new consumer travel environment. The JTB says it’s a great way for agents to attend a typically pricey workshop for free. Register for the event HERE.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Switzerland Tourism (ST) has announced the promotion of Divine Bonga to Head of Media and Communications North America starting Sept. 1. In her new role, Bonga will be managing the communications strategy for the tourism board and lead teams in New York, San Francisco, and Toronto. Bonga succeeds Ursula Beamish-Mader, who managed media relations in Canada for over 30 years and, additionally, led the North American media department for Swiss Tourism for the last decade. Taking over the Toronto-based role of Media Relations Project Manager Canada effective Aug. 26 is Laura Fairweather. She has 25 years experience in PR with Four Season Hotels and Resorts, Fairmont, and the Canadian Tourism Commission.

DESTINATIONS

Tickets for Expo 2020 Dubai, a six-month world’s fair (Oct. 1-March 31, 2022) are now on sale. One-day tickets are priced at AED 95 (CDN $32; multi-day tickets, offering unrestricted entry for 30 consecutive days, are priced at AED 195 ($167). Seniors (60-plus), those under the age of 18, and students holding a valid student ID from any academic institution in the world will be given free entry.

Tickets include access to all pavilions, events, and live performances, featuring up to 60 live events each day. They can be purchased via authorized ticket resellers around the world (including online travel agents, tour operators, hotel groups and airlines), or at https://www.expo2020dubai.com

Peru’s new National Archeological Museum, opened this summer, marks 200 years of independence for the South American nation. Known as MUNA, the museum is located in Pachacamac, just south-east of Lima, and focuses on the preservation and conservation of the country’s immense cultural heritage. The five-storey museum was conceived to house 500,000 Inca and pre-Inca pieces, which have not been exhibited in the past for lack of a suitable place. Initially, the museum will offer temporary exhibitions and a significant cultural program, with permanent exhibitions being unveiled in 2024 to coincide with the bicentennial of the Battle of Ayacucho.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

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