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ROUND-UP:Dec. 7-11, 2020

Pre-testing programs and pilot programs continue across the country; Cuba capacity from Canada increases; and the Boeing 737 Max jet is flying again.


The Canada-US land border will continue to be closed to non-essential traffic until at least Jan. 21, 2021.

Commercial flights with Boeing 737 Max jetliners resumed last week for the first time since they were grounded worldwide following two deadly accidents nearly two years ago. Brazil’s Gol Airlines became the first in the world to return the planes to its active fleet, using a 737 MAX 8 on a flight from Sao Paulo to Porto Alegre. In future, customers will be able to exchange their tickets if they don’t want to fly on the aircraft.

Starting Dec. 15, ADM Aéroports de Montréal is launching a pilot project to test a new rapid screening process for COVID-19 on departures from YUL Montréal-Trudeau International Airport to destinations requiring a negative result medical certificate for entry. The antigenic tests, which deliver certified results in 15 minutes, will initially be offered by reservation to travellers to France flying on project partner Air Canada, as well as Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines or Air Transat. Other destinations could be added to the pilot project.

WestJet has expanded its Hawaii pre-testing program to BC and Ontario. The program will be administered by Life Labs at company partner clinics in BC and at Shopper’s Drug Mart in Ontario. Price is $250 and $199 (plus tax), respectively and more details can be found on WestJet’s web site. Passengers arriving with the approved negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of departure exempt a 14-day on-island quarantine.

Air Canada returned to Antigua on Dec. 6. The Sunday flight was Air Canada’s first flight to the eastern Caribbean island since March. Passengers and flight crew were greeted upon arrival with a water salute and minister of tourism Charles Fernandez and the CEO of Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin C. James, were on hand to greet the crew and passengers (photo). Sunwing and WestJet have yet to announce resumption dates for flights to the destination from Canada, but the carriers are expected to resume flying early in 2021.

Flight service to Cuba on Sunwing resumed on Dec. 13 with futures service departing weekly from Toronto and Montreal on Sundays.

After an eight-month hiatus due the pandemic, Copa Airlines has resumed operations from Montreal Trudeau International Airport (YUL) to Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport (PTY) with four times non-stop weekly flights and connections onward through Latin America.


Boeing reported more cancellations for its 737 Max jet, which last week carried paying passengers for the first time since the planes were grounded 21 months ago after two deadly crashes. Boeing said orders for 88 of the planes were cancelled in November, pushing the total to 536 for the year. The company reported 27 orders for the plane, although 25 were a new order by Virgin Australia that replaced an earlier, larger order for 48 Max jets. The November figures don’t include Irish carrier Ryanair’s recent announcement that it will order 75 more Max jets.


In its latest Travel Restrictions Report, the UNWTO shows that as of Nov. 1, a total of 152 destinations have eased restrictions on international tourism, up from the 115 recorded on Sept. 1. At the same time, 59 destinations have kept their borders closed to tourists, a decrease of 34 over the same two-month period.


Aeroplan Members making new eligible international round-trip bookings until and including Jan. 31, 2021 with Air Canada, will receive complimentary Manulife COVID-19 Emergency Medical and Quarantine Insurance, underwritten by The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company (Manulife). Travel must be completed by April 12, 2021.

Travellers buying tickets on Emirates now automatically receive expanded multi-risk insurance coverage that includes COVID-related expenses. The free plan updates coverage introduced by the airline in July and also extends to Emirates codeshare flights operated by partner airlines, as long as the ticket number starts with 176.

RESORTSSunwing reports that Riu Montego Bay in Jamaica (photo) has reopened its doors an adults-only resort following a complete renovation and refurbishment. The popular resort, situated on the shores of Montego Bay, just minutes from the Sangster International Airport, is now exclusively for guests aged 18+ and offers fully modernized facilities and brand-new resort areas.


Travellers will receive up to 50% off stays plus perks at Club Med resorts in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Florida, complete with unlimited land and water activities, extensive culinary options and premium oceanfront accommodations through the “Splash into Winter” sale, which is open for bookings through Jan. 5 with travel dates through July 2, 2021.


Air Canada Vacations has announced that “The Jetz Experience, an Ultimate Escape,” is now available to book via any GDS system. The Air Canada Jetz flights offer travellers an upscale travel experience aboard an all-Business Class aircraft equipped with 58 spacious seats, plus amenities and complimentary services such as lounge access, room upgrades, exclusive discounts, and more. Upcoming departures include Toronto to Barbados (Dec. 14, 21, and 28); Toronto-Cancun (Dec. 20 and 27); and Vancouver-Puerto Vallarta (Dec. 21 and 28).

Vacation packages from Sunwing now include options for flights on board a range of international alternative carriers. The move is designed to create give more flexibility through a wide variety of departure dates and more regional gateways across Canada. Transfers and support from Sunwing’s destination representatives will also be included with select packages, which include the following destinations: Montego Bay, Cancun, Costa Rica, Aruba, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and Los Cabos.


Carnival Cruise Line has established dry dock plans for three of its ships, and as part of its gradual, phased-in return to operations in 2021, will defer the deployment of the vessels until after the work is completed.

Carnival advises that it has cancelled cruises on Carnival Magic (up to and including the embarkation on Sept. 24, 2021), Carnival Paradise (up to May 31, 2021) and Carnival Valor (through Sept. 11, 2021). Guests will have the option of a 100% future cruise credit combined with a generous onboard credit, or a full refund.

AmaWaterways has released its first-ever music video showcasing its original song, “Ama Means Love (Family).” Dedicated to the cruise line’s travel agent partners, the song symbolizes joy and strength in unity, says Ama. The video was filmed in Budapest with AmaWaterways’ lead onboard entertainer David Onka. It can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and AmaWaterways’ dedicated YouTube channel.


Opening in Spring, the new Iron Gwazi ride at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will be the tallest, steepest, and fastest hybrid rollercoaster in North America. 2021 will also see the addition of the new Solar Vortex ride at Busch Gardens’ water park, Adventure Island.


Agents who make three new Rocky Mountaineer bookings for Canadian residents to travel in 2021 will receive a complimentary vacation package for their own travel. The complimentary four- to five-day Classic Rail package includes two- to three-days onboard the train and overnight accommodations, valued at up to $4,479. Agents can choose from the “First Passage, Journey Through the Clouds” and “Rainforest to Gold” itineraries in 2021 or ’22 and can bring a companion for 50% off. See Rocky Mountaineer’s agent portal for full details.


Dec. 17: Tahiti Tourisme is inviting agents to a webinar on Thursday (Dec. 17) to learn from destination partners about the latest tourism developments in the islands. Participants in the three-hour event, which starts at 6 p.m. EST, are eligible to win a trip.

Reconnect with the World in The Islands of Tahiti – Splash (

Dec. 22: Canadian travel agents are invited to tune in to a special holiday edition of the Jamaica Tourist Board’s weekly “Irie Hour” on Dec. 22 (at 2:30 p.m. EST). The interactive ‘Chill and Chat’ style virtual session will feature an entertaining presentation from the Jamaica Tourist Board BDM team along with some Christmas magic courtesy of guest performers, the Brent & Sarah Magic Comedy Show. A recording will be available afterwards for those who cannot attend the live event. Register is HERE.


Malinda Hassell is the new destination marketing manager for the Dominica Tourism Authority. The industry veteran (Tourism Bonaire, Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association) will provide leadership oversight in implementing the Authority’s marketing plan under the guidance of the Ministry of Tourism, International Transport and Maritime Initiatives.


Canadian tour operators are boosting capacity and destination options to Cuba this month. This includes the launch of operations by Hola Sun/Caribe on Dec. 18 with new airline OWG, featuring two weekly flights to Cayo Santa Maria from Toronto and Montreal; the first flights from Sunwing and Transat to Varadero post-COVID, with service from Toronto and Montreal; and Air Canada Vacations re-launching Cayo Santa Maria, as well as adding more departures from Toronto and Montreal. The latter opens up Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and the Zapata peninsula to visitors.

New entry protocols have been implemented by the Dominican Republic. Visitors must complete a new online entry and exit form that has been designed to improve the efficiency of immigration, customs and public health processes. Only online entry will be permitted after Jan. 2, 2021. A video tutorial is available on the ministry of tourism’s web site.

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First published at Travel Industry Today

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