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ROUND-UP:Dec. 21-24, 2020

The hottest year on record, a new WestJet sked, and sales open for Club Med’s first Canadian resort are among this week’s items.

NEWS

2020 is set to go down as the hottest year on record, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric, which reported that last month globally was the second hottest November on record, behind only 2015. NOAA’s calculations show that the first 11 months of 2020 were .02 degrees (0.01 Celsius) cooler than record-hot 2016, but there’s a 55% chance that 2020 will end up the warmest on record based on December results. NASA, however, has already declared 2016 hottest based on additional data from the poles.

New Zealand and the Cook Islands say they plan to have a travel bubble in place early next year, which will allow people to fly between the two countries without going into quarantine. The arrangement would represent the first travel bubble that New Zealand has agreed to since closing its borders when the coronavirus first hit earlier this year.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

Hawaii’s largest hotel property, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, has partially re-opened with 1,100 rooms available to guests. The resort has been closed since April

DELAYED/ CANCELLED

Japan is barring entry of all non-resident foreign nationals until at least Jan. 31 as a precaution against a new and potentially more contagious coronavirus variant that has spread across Britain

AIR

An updated January schedule for WestJet features Dreamliner service to Mexico and more flights to sun destinations in the Caribbean, the US (including Hawaii), Mexico and Central America, the latter including flights to Liberia (Costa Rica) and Ixtapa/Zihuantanejo, Mexico from Calgary. There will also be a resumption of service between Kona, Hawaii, and Vancouver and as well between Aruba and Toronto. Dreamliner service between Calgary and Cancun, Mexico begins on Jan. 8 while service to Puerto Vallarta will start on Jan. 23.

Aeroplan members can now redeem their points for a single use Wi-Fi pass on board all Gogo equipped aircrafts on all routes. Passes are available starting as low as 850 points for select flights under two hours.

Passengers on United Airlines will soon have access to virtual, on demand customer service at the airline’s hubs, giving people an easy, contact-free option to get real-time information and support. Customers can access “Agent on Demand” on any mobile device to call, text or video chat live with an agent and get answers on everything from seat assignments to boarding times. Agent on Demand is currently available at Chicago O’Hare and Houston’s George Bush International Airports and is currently rolling out to other United hubs by end of year.

DEALS

Through Jan. 3, Air Canada Vacations customers can save up to 50% off on January vacation packages to all their destinations, including Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, Canada, Europe and US. Travel must be completed by Jan. 31.

Through Jan. 8, European Waterways guests can save 10% off the whole barge charter price of Enchanté. With the special charters priced at US$43,560 (based on 8 passengers travelling), groups will save $4,840 off the full $48,400 price, departing April 4, 2021. The price includes a $150 per person Culinary Cruise supplement.

Palace Resorts & Le Blanc Spa Resorts has extended their Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals through Jan. 31. They include the “2×1 Holiday promotion” – book one room for a minimum of four nights and receive another room of the same value, free; and buy five nights, get the fifth night free! Travel must be completed by June 15.

RESORTS

Sales for Club Med Quebec Charlevoix (rendering above), the company’s inaugural Canadian property, have officially opened. The 302-room, 25-suite all-season mountain resort is scheduled to open its doors on Dec. 3, 2021.

Iberostar’s Travel at Ease complimentary assurance package is now offered at the company’s Cuban resorts, which continue to re-open to guests, to provide support for guests during their stay if their vacation is interrupted due to COVID-19 symptoms. The program is already in place in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Brazil and will remain in effect until August 2021.

HOTELS

The historic Casa Marina Key West, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, will celebrate its 100th anniversary on New Year’s Eve as the final project of industrialist Henry M. Flagler, founder of the Florida Keys East Coast Railroad that stretched from the Florida mainland to Key West. Casa Marina opened on New Year’s Eve 1920 as Key West’s most glamorous resort, welcoming notable guests such as Ernest Hemingway and Rita Hayworth.

IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group), has completed a deal to sign their first luxury hotel in Mallorca, under the Kimpton brand. Due to open in 2022, the Kimpton Mallorca will further expand the brand’s presence in Spain, following the launch of Kimpton Vividora Hotel in Barcelona earlier this year. The 79-room luxury boutique hotel will be located next to one the Santa Ponsa Golf, on the site of the existing Santa Ponsa Country Club.

TOURS

Having finished all their veggies on World Vegan Day recently, the team at Contiki were inspired to put together a special vegan-friendly tour of Europe for next year (departing Berlin on Aug. 28). The one-off eight-day tour promises to take participants on a “vegan food odyssey” around some of Europe’s coolest cities, including Prague, Vienna and Budapest, with extra stops along the way. Foodie experiences include a vegan cooking class, a dinner cruise on the Danube river and an interactive food tour in Berlin. The trip also coincides with one of the world’s largest vegan festivals – The Vegan Summer Festival – in Berlin.

Aqua Expeditions has resumed its operations in the Peruvian Amazon, with the first departure of its boutique river cruise having set sail Dec. 18. In line with safety protocols for entering the country, guests are required to produce a negative molecular (PCR) Covid-19 test conducted no more than 72 hours before boarding, as well as a pre-boarding health assessment. The company is also moving into 2021 celebrating the launch of a new vessel, the 20-suite, custom-designed Aqua Nera, which will set out on its maiden voyage from Iquitos on April 3.

CRUISE

MSC Cruises has reconfirmed its winter cruise program for 2021/22, featuring itineraries in the Caribbean, the Med and the Gulf region, as well as South America and South Africa. There will also be the Grand Voyages along with new itineraries across continents and different oceans. Highlights include four ships sailing out of Florida (Miami and Port Canaveral) include the MSC Seashore, and a brand-new 116-night itinerary around the globe departing on Jan. 5, 2022, featuring 43 destinations in 24 countries with nine overnight stays.

“CruiseFirst” is a new value-add program from Norwegian Cruise Line offering guests both increased flexibility and additional savings when booking a cruise in 2021 and beyond. The program enables guests to purchase CruiseFirst certificates worth US$300 for only US$150, which can then be applied to any new NCL reservation for three years from the purchase date. The certificates are combinable with nearly all posted promotions. Additionally, from Jan. 1 to March 31, travel advisors will receive a Wave season $50 gift card bonus on the purchase of each certificate. Full standard commission will also be paid reservations booking made using the certificate.

BY THE NUMBERS

Sales are now open for MSC Cruises’ 2023 world cruise, which will visit 53 destinations in 33 countries across six continents. The 119-day voyage on board MSC Poesia departs on Jan. 5 from Genoa, Italy, and will sail 30,000 nautical miles across 24 separate time zones.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

A select group of Canadian travel agents recently visited Jamaica on the courtesy of the island’s tourist board on JTB Canada’s first organized FAM trip of 2020. Ten agents from Ontario and Quebec were accompanied by JTB Senior Business Development Manager Jerron Britton to experience the island’s COVID-19 protocols in action and check out half a dozen hotels and resorts on the island, as well as iconic attractions like Dunn’s River Falls. “This trip gave Canadian travel agents an opportunity to see that Jamaica is open and the country’s protocols are hard at work,” said Angella Bennett, Regional Director, Canada, Jamaica Tourist Board

Earlier this month, Air Canada Vacations hosted 80 agents from across Canada at the newly renovated Bahia Principe Grand Tulum in Mexico celebration of the hotel’s grand opening, as well as to familiarize the group with health and safety protocols implemented throughout the journey. Site inspections were conducted at other Bahai properties and agents were also able to take local excursions and relax in the sun.

EVENTS

April 27-29, 2021: In partnership with the tourism association of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (TMV), the German National Tourist Board has decided to organize the Germany Travel Mart (GTM) 2021 as a digital event for the second consecutive year. The largest incoming workshop for Destination Germany is planned for April 27-29, 2021. At vGTM 2020, 450 key accounts of the international tourism industry from 49 countries connected with 250 companies representing Germany’s travel industry.

May 3-8, 2021: The Cuba Tourist Board has announced that FITCUBA 2021 travel trade has been scheduled for May 3 to 8 in Varadero, Cuba.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Prize winners from the recent Hawaii Tourism Canada recent Aloha virtual event have been announced: Jodi McCulloch, Strategic Site Selection; Tasha Walsh, Romantic Planet Vacations; Brenda Goodby, Maritime Travel; Nancy Sinnamon, The Travel Agent Next Door; Nicole Hobbs, Jubilee Travel. All win trips or accommodations in the islands.

DESTINATIONS

Slovenia has been named European Region of Gastronomy 2021. The central European country combines a rich natural larder and historic food traditions with influences spanning Italy in the west, Austria in the north and Hungary and Croatia to the east. The country also boasts world-class chefs, a new Michelin guide, and world leading awarding-winning wines. Check out this TasteSlovenia.si.

Costa Rica’s Playa Hermosa has recently been named the next ‘World Surfing Reserve,’ becoming the first beach in Central America to hold the prestigious title and the world’s 13th. Located on the central Pacific coast, the 9-km-long beach is renowned for having some of the most consistent waves in the world and for holding the ISA World Surf Championship in 2009. It also boasts rich biodiversity, strong community support and a clear conservation vision. Other reserves include the Gold Coast in Australia and Malibu, Ca.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

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