All travel news.

ROUND-UP:Dec. 14-18, 2020

COVID-19 vaccinations began at last in Canada; Ontario plans a tourism tax credit; and Air Canada has a new COO.

NEWS

With hopes of a light at the end of the tunnel for the nine-month-and-counting pandemic, COVID-19 vaccinations began to roll out across Canada last week, following similar endeavours in the UK, and corresponding to efforts in the US.

Ontario’s minister of tourism says the provincial government is creating a tax credit for 2021 to help reinvigorate the travel industry in the wake of COVID-19. Lisa MacLeod says that her ministry is in discussions with the finance ministry about the logistics but that it will be a 20% return on every dollar spent.

Plans for a third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport have been given a new boost after the airport’s owner won a Supreme Court challenge. The Appeal Court had blocked the project earlier, ruling that the government failed to take account of its climate commitments when it approved the expansion plans. Further environmental hurdles, however, are expected.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

LIAT Airlines has recently resumed regular commercial service. The Caribbean carrier operates flights five days a week to seven destinations: Antigua, Barbados Dominica Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and St. Vincent.

DELAYED/CANCELLED

Small ship cruise line Windstar Cruises has postponed all sailings until May, including the debut of its recently reimagined 312-passenger Star Breeze all-suite yacht, which will now return to cruising on May 15.

AIR

Aeromexico is increasing frequency on its Mexico City-Montreal route to five times weekly. The carrier has served the city for 10 years and also has direct flights to Toronto and Vancouver.

An enhanced winter schedule for Atlantic Canada and Quebec from PAL Airlines will see the carrier introduce two new routes: Moncton-Deer Lake, Nfld., and Moncton–Wabush, Nfld. The routes come ahead of planned Moncton-Ottawa service, intended to start as travel restrictions in Atlantic Canada are progressively reduced. PAL has also increased frequencies throughout the region, including between its Montréal and Wabush hubs.

Sunwing will recommence or increase service from Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary to selected destinations for the winter season using a combination of seats contracted from third party carriers as well as Sunwing Airlines. More flights will depart from Edmonton to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán on Saturdays starting Dec. 26 and new service from Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton to Cancun will begin on Saturdays starting Jan. 9.

BY THE NUMBERS

IATA reports that the recovery of passenger demand continued to be “disappointingly slow” in October with total demand down 70.6% year over year. Capacity was down 59.9% compared to a year ago and load factor fell 21.8 percentage points to 60.2%. International passenger demand in October was down 87.8% compared to October 2019, virtually unchanged from the 88.0% year-to-year decline recorded in September.

TRAVEL AGENTS

AMResorts hosted its first-ever “Amazing Agent Celebration” in Mexico early this month (photo). Held at Secrets Akumal Riviera, the four-day gathering recognized 77 of AMResorts’ top-performing agents and travel agent leadership from the US and Canada and featured a welcome reception, executive panel, resort activities, outdoor excursions, and a final-night gala. The company assures that “travel agents’ healthy and safety was a main priority” and that full COVID-19 protocols were observed.

DEALS

An early start to Sunwing’s annual Boxing Day sale enables clients to save up to 50% off January departures to sun destinations booked by Dec. 30.

With its deals starting at $499, vacationers can save on flights to the South, Florida, Europe and within Canada. Transat also offers up to 50% off on South packages during Transat’s Boxing Day sale, which runs until Jan 4.

Through Dec. 30, Windstar’s “Bon Voyage 2020 Sale” offers price reductions on select 2021 and 2022 voyages, including many options in Tahiti and the Caribbean. Travellers can also take advantage of a reduced deposit of 5% (normally 15%).

TOURS

Three new brochures have been released by G Adventures, all now available for agents to digitally download. Two of the brochures are themed in line with the small group adventure operator’s ‘18-to-Thirtysomethings’ and ‘National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures’ (featuring Journeys and Family Journeys) programs. The third brochure, ‘Earth,’ incorporates Active, Classic, Family, Local Living, Marine, Rail and Wellness travel styles. Included are four updated Hawaii trips timed to coincide with the state’s announcement that it has removed the quarantine on arrival for designated Canadian travellers.

Collette reports that it will have premiere access to tickets for the Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany in 2022. The once-a-decade event (postponed from this year) sees the residents of the tiny Bavarian hamlet depict the life and death of Jesus Christ, attracting thousands of visitors. Check out Collette’s website for info, tour packages and ticket info.

RESORTS
With the re-opening this month of five more of its sun resorts, RIU Hotels & Resorts has returned to full operations in the Caribbean. On Dec. 1, Riu Palace Jamaica re-opened for business, followed three days later by Riu Montego Bay. In the DR, Riu Republica re-opened Dec. 15, the same day as Riu Antillas in Aruba (photo). Last not but not least was Riu Palace Paradise Island in the Bahamas on Dec. 17.

Sandals Resorts International (SRI) has signed an agreement that will bring Sandals Resorts to the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao – a brand-new destination for the Jamaica-based all-inclusive chain and its ninth overall. The new Sandals Curaçao will be the 16th resort in the company’s portfolio after a complete “Sandalization” of the former Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort that is to begin in 2021.

HOTELS

An art and design-lover’s paradise, the Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown is the brand’s first property in the Arabian Gulf, situated along the banks of the Dubai Creek, minutes away from Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall.

Boasting 269 rooms, the hotel showcases traditional culture with a contemporary twist, with each floor dedicated to one artist and over 200 curated pieces from both local and ex-pat artists in total.

Scheduled to open in Spring 2021, the new Margaritaville Beach Hotel in Jacksonville Beach will feature 202 guestrooms, a fitness centre, indoor and outdoor meeting and venue spaces, a beachside pool, and a two-storey restaurant. Meanwhile, in downtown Jacksonville, Downtown Hyatt Place is slated to open a 128-room hotel in April 2021. The new property will feature a lobby lounge, meeting and dining space, pool, rooftop patio, and even space.

CRUISE

Crystal is extending its temporarily relaxed booking policies to all 2021 voyages across its fleet, including Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yacht Cruises and Crystal Expedition Cruises. For 2021 sailings, the adjusted Crystal Confidence 3.0 policies allow final payment up to 60 days prior to first date of service. However, guests who pay in full 90 days prior will save an additional 2.5% off their cruise fare. Furthermore, guests sailing in 2021 may cancel their booking with no penalty up to 60 days prior.

Princess Cruises is expanding its Book with Confidence policy to allow guest the flexibility to change their vacation plans 30 days prior to day of departure, receiving cancellation fees as a future cruise credit. This flexible booking option is available for any cruise bookings made through March 2 on voyages departing through Oct. 31, 2021.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Florida’s Legoland theme park is planning an expansion next year including new rides. Full details have not been revealed, but a rendition of the new area shows at least six rides or attractions and a large building, possibly a restaurant. Located in Winter Haven, north of Orlando, the theme park says details will be revealed in 2021, which is the attraction’s 10th anniversary.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

Travel counsellors are invited to enjoy a “well-deserved winter break” with an exclusive 20% discount on Transat flights and packages to the South. The promotion is valid through Jan 31 for travel before April 30. Some exceptions apply.

EVENTS

March 1-5, 2021: VisitBritain’s flagship annual travel trade event ExploreGB will run as a virtual event from March 1-5, 2021, with international buyers invited to connect online with travel trade suppliers from across the UK to do business and boost bookings. Attendance is free.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Air Canada has named Amos Kazzaz as executive VP and COO effective Feb. 15, 2021. Kazzaz is currently the airline’s Senior VP, Finance, and is based in Montreal.

Garth Lund has been named Chief Commercial Officer for Flair Airlines. He joins from European carrier Wizz Air.

This year’s “The Holiday Joy” campaign launched by The Travel Agent Next Door brought in 48 qualified submissions from member agents and supplier partners, leading the organization to present packages to recipients that included $200 towards groceries to cover their holiday dinner, a $75 gift card for each family member in the residence to help towards gifts, and even a $25 gift card for pets. The response to the charitable initiative far surpassed TTAND’s expectation of sponsoring 10 needy families in their communities.

DESTINATIONS

In an effort to make planning a safe Bahamian getaway more seamless, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism introduced an interactive map that provides visitors with an island-by-island guide of the most up-to-date guidelines, including business hours of operations, beach access, and more. Check it out HERE.

Tourism Reopening | The Official Site of The Bahamas

New facilities and improvements designed to make the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, fully accessible to disabled visitors have been inaugurated – among them a lift for people using wheelchairs has been built on the north face of the hill, while a badly eroded network of existing concrete walkways has been replaced with smooth artificial stone paths leading among the ruined 5th Century B.C. temples on the summit.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

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