All travel news.

ROUND-UP:Feb 15-19, 2021

WestJet suspends flights, McCarran Airport renamed, and a new president at TIAC highlight today’s news round-up.

NEWS

Air France-KLM plunged to a €7.1-billion euro ($10.88 billion) loss in 2020 as the global pandemic grounded planes and halted travel plans worldwide causing a 67% slump in passenger numbers at the French-Dutch aviation giant.

In order to ease travel to the destination, Sint Maarten has announced that travellers originating from the US and Canada can supply any non-home administered antigen test for the SARS-COV-2 virus obtained from a naso-pharyngeal swab performed within 48 hours prior to departure to Sint Maarten for entry into the country. All FDA-approved antigen tests including those with Emergency Use Authorization only (EUA), are accepted.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

Belize has officially reopened its maritime borders for yachting tourism. The authorized maritime ports of entry are San Pedro, Belize City and Placencia.

Travellers to Alaska no longer require a negative COVID-19 test when arriving in the state. The entry expired along with the state’s emergency declaration on Feb. 14.

AIDA Cruises will open its 2021 cruise season starting March 20 with AIDAperla sailing around the Canary Islands, a favourite “fly and cruise” vacation for German travellers. Previously scheduled departures in March have been cancelled due to Germany’s COVID-19 lockdown.

DELAYED/ CANCELLED

WestJet will temporarily suspend operations to St. John’s, Nfld., London, Ont., and Lloydminster and Medicine Hat, Alta., as of March 19, until June 24, 2021.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., which operates the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, has announced an extension of its previously announced suspension of global cruise voyages through May 31, 2021.

The government of Namibia has closed the southern African country’s state-owned airline, Air Namibia, saying that it can no longer afford the financial losses. All flights have been cancelled, 10 aircraft have been grounded, and the reservations system has been closed.

AIR

Air Canada, historic livery

Air Canada took to Facebook late last week to reveal the look of its new A220-300 aircraft – “Fresh from the Airbus paint shop in Mirabel.” The aircraft recognizes the company’s heritage with a special Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) livery and will soon join the AC fleet.

A county board in Nevada has voted to rename McCarran International Airport after former US Sen. Harry Reid, following long-standing calls to rename the facility, whose current namesake, former Sen. Patrick McCarran (1933-54), was known for anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic views. The US FAA says the change could take a couple of months to facilitate.

DEALS

Sunwing is helping customers plan for brighter days ahead with an early booking bonus on vacation packages next winter during the tour operator’s “Freedom 21/22” sale. Exclusive discounts and special perks are being offered on select vacation packages booked by March 31 for travel between Nov. 1 and April 30, 2022. Clients will receive up to $1,000 in value per couple as well as deposits of $100 p.p., complimentary Price Drop Cash Back of up to $800 per couple at select resorts, and the ability to change or cancel their plans anytime with ease. Complimentary COVID-19 coverage is also included on all packages for travel in 2021.

Canadian RV rentals operator CanaDream is offering 5% off on motorhome bookings made by Feb. 28 for travel April 5 to June 20 and Aug. 23-Oct. 31. The offer is valid at all CanaDream stations. Members of the CanaDream Club can also receive preferred rates at a host of campsites, attractions, and tours across the country.

HOTELS

IHG Hotels & Resorts’ boutique luxury brand, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, will open its first property in France this spring. The Kimpton St. Honoré Paris will see the brand’s playful and sophisticated style breathe new life into the former landmark department store, “Samaritaine de Luxe.” Located on the Boulevard des Capucines in the Opéra district, the hotel will feature 149 guest rooms (including 24 suites), an indoor swimming pool, gym and a luxury spa and will retain the building’s original 1917 Art Nouveau façade, distinctive staircase, and unique elevator.

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has opened its first property in Cambodia, the five-star Howard Johnson Plaza by Wyndham Blue Bay Sihanoukville. Located along Independence Beach close to the centre of town, the 36-storey, 522-key hotel overlooks the Gulf of Thailand and includes outdoor pool with panoramic sea views, well-equipped fitness centre, spa, and three dining outlets. Sihanoukville is located 225 km from the capital, Phnom Penh.

RESORTS

Posadas’ La Colección Resorts has expanded to the Dominican Republic with the opening of Live Aqua Beach Resort Punta Cana, the first Live Aqua property outside of Mexico. Offering top-notch service and amenities, the beautifully designed adults-only, all-inclusive resort boasts 347 guestrooms, some with private or swim-up private pools, 15 restaurants and bars, an expansive spa, numerous recreational activities, and more. Two more Posadas resorts are in the pipeline for later in the year: Live Aqua Beach Resort Riviera Maya Tulkal in July and Fiesta Americana Riviera Maya Tulkal in November.

The newly rebranded Hana-Maui Resort, a Destination Hotel, has reopened for guests. The 214-hectare Hana town resort – and newest addition to the Hyatt Hotels portfolio – overlooks the Pacific Ocean from Maui’s rugged northeast coast and features 74 guest rooms, suites, bungalows and family residences. Its amenities include several dining options, a wellness centre and an ocean-view spa, as well as immersive adventures and cultural experiences such as helicopter tours, lava-tube explorations, waterfall rappelling, surfing, canoe paddling, wine tastings and tours of tropical fruit farms.

TOURS

Quark Expeditions has secured rapid onsite testing capability as part of its S.A.F.E. COVID Policy, designed to protect travellers’ health—and financial investment – when expedition travel resumes. The rapid PCR testing capability will allow Quark Expeditions to ensure all guests test negative for COVID 19 before boarding ships with results available within 60 minutes; identify infected individuals, even asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic carriers; and carry out onboard testing of passengers and crew to ensure continued peace of mind.

BY THE NUMBERS

In a recent survey conducted by G Adventures nearly half of respondents (46%) said they will take longer trips when they ‘retravel’ internationally, with 47% of those doing so saying they will travel for four weeks or longer. Additionally, 47% of Canadians said they can now “work from anywhere” and almost half of those who can (45%) said they plan to combine their work and travel plans in the future.

CRUISE

The Egypt fleet of Viking will expand in 2022 with the addition of Viking Aton, a new state-of-the-art river vessel featuring 41 staterooms for 82 guests. Built specifically to navigate the Nile River, Viking Aton is currently under construction and is scheduled to debut in September 2022. It will sail the cruise line’s popular 12-day “Pharaohs & Pyramids” itinerary.

A new printed voyage planner brochure with nearly 200 pages of information detailing offerings from when its first yacht will set sail on May 1, 2021 through May 2023 has been released by Windstar Cruises. “This beautiful coffee-table publication is meant to educate and inspire people about Windstar and the 180 degrees from ordinary experience we have to offer,” says cruise line president Chris Prelog. To request a copy or view a digital version, click HERE.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

A brand-new Wizarding World exhibition is now under development and is scheduled to debut in 2022. The Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts exhibition is slated to tour in multiple regions around the world including: North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific Region and Europe, Middle East and Africa and will celebrate the most iconic moments of the films and stories of Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts, and the expanded Wizarding World through an immersive, behind-the-scenes exhibition experience. The initial venue will be announced in the coming months.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

Sea Breeze, Barbados

Sea Breeze Beach House and South Beach Hotel in Barbados are offering members of the Canadian travel industry special “Tradecation” rates April-11-Oct. 31. All-inclusive rates at the 122-room Seabreeze start at US$150 p.p. per night run of the house or $180 p.p. per night in a Luxury Ocean Front Junior Suite. Located on a stunning 300-m. white beach, the boutique property offers top-rated service and the feeling of staying in your own Bajan beach house. Meanwhile, South Beach Tradecation guests can check in for US$99 per room per night. Located close to Accra Beach on Barbados’ south coast, the contemporary hotel features smartly designed studios, and one- and two-bedroom suites with modern furnishings and luxury touches. Contact info@canlinktravel.com or 905-235-9091 for details.

EVENTS

Feb. 23: Tahiti Tourisme is launching a re-imagined specialist program in Canada in 2021 and agents are invited to get the scoop in a dedicated one-hour webinar at 2 p.m. EST on Tuesday. Register HERE for the English version.

Feb. 23-April 6: A series of business building and revenue development webinars from Insight Vacations/Luxury Gold kicks off Tuesday with biweekly sessions continuing through April 6. The sessions are designed to “equip travel advisors with real-world messaging and tools from Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold experts to reignite business in 2021 and beyond.” Webinars, which will be held twice each day at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST, include:

• Feb. 23: Destination Ireland, featuring Sandra Moffatt, Manager, Tourism Ireland, and Insight Vacations Travel Director Clodagh Fitzgerald.

• March 9: Fireside Chat and Q&A with Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold CEO, Ulla Hefel Böhler

• March 23: Turning Your Travel into Gold – Luxury Gold, featuring Jen Hirtle, Luxury Gold Travel Experiences Manager

• April 6 – Destination Egypt, featuring Claire Hanney, Head of Travel Experiences for Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold.

Contact Insight or your account manager for registration details.

March 2: ACTA will host webinars on March 2 (English) and March 4 (French), which will cover the latest updates on advocacy aid, provincial programs and travel industry restart plans. Register HERE.

March 5: VisitBritain’s annual ExploreGB trade show is taking place virtually this year and Canadian travel counsellors are invited to a special educational day on March 5. The free event will enable agents to take part in a series of on-demand educational webinars and an online Exhibitor Resource Hub will also give access to a wide range of supplier updates and include downloadable content. The platform will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. Registration closes today (Feb. 22) and spaces are limited. Click HERE.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) has announced the appointment of Beth Potter as its new President and CEO effective March 15, 2021. Potter has had a lengthy career in Canada’s tourism sector, most recently serving as the President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario.

WestJet has announced that Executive VP and Chief Commercial Officer Arved von zur Muehlen will step down from the airline on March 5. He will be replaced by John Weatherill, who has been with the company since August 2013, most recently as VP, Network & Revenue. The company as also announced the hire of Dr. Tammy McKnight as the airline’s first Chief Medical Officer (CMEDO), effective April 5.

DESTINATIONS

Add Dominica to the growing list of countries that has been awarded the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travels stamp, signifying the destination meets ’s globally accepted health and safety protocols such as those endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC). Dominica joins Caribbean counterparts already using the stamp – Aruba, Bahamas, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Grenada, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Turks & Caicos Islands, Tobago and the USVI.

The Caribbean island of Montserrat has joined the global marketplace of destinations courting home-based professionals with the announcement of the Montserrat Remote Workers Stamp. The 12-month long distance-work visa gives professionals the chance to trade “a routine at-home environment for exotic black-sand beaches and rich cultural offerings.” Application fees for the Stamp are $500 for individuals and $750 for individuals accompanied by a maximum of three family members. Program candidates must show proof of full-time employment, an annual income of minimum $70,000 and up-to-date health insurance coverage for applicants and accompanying family members, for eligibility. Go HERE for details.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com.

First published at Travel Industry Today

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