ROUND-UP:Feb. 22-26, 2021
Last week’s developments include a new testing pilot at Pearson, the continuation of cruising’s cancellations, and the launch of Trafalgar’s virtual “Ultimate Travel Event” and more.
A 10-week pilot project has been launched at Toronto Pearson airport to study two-hour rapid PCR testing, as well as comparing the efficacy of antigen tests compared to PCR tests in a “high-throughput, commercial environment.” The free tests are available to both select passengers and airport workers, that latter to be part of a parallel process to study multiple testing protocols over multiple days.
The American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines report a company booking milestone: a 35% increase in bookings for North American cruises from both international and domestic markets. The cruise lines launched their 2023 season itineraries recently, the furthest in advance the lines have ever released a season.
Sandals Emerald Bay in The Bahamas has officially reopened its doors today, welcoming guests back with enhanced health and safety measures in place. The Great Exuma resort is the 11th Sandals property now open for business.
A number of cruise lines have officially docked more departures: Carnival Cruise from US ports at least through May 31; Holland America all sailings that depart from or conclude in a Canadian port in 2021 (i.e. Alaska cruises); and Windstar all departures in May, resuming – based on current conditions – in June, based on a phased-in approach.
Qantas Airways does not expect to resume international travel apart from New Zealand until late October after the Australian population is vaccinated for COVID-19. The airline had been selling seats on international flights from July 1.
Beginning July 1, Emirates will begin offering content and services for travel agent partners on its NDC-enabled direct connect platform, Emirates Gateway. At the same time, the Dubai-based airline says it will begin issuing a surcharge on all bookings made via Global Distribution Systems (GDS). Full details are available at the Emirates Partners Portal (emirates.partners). The airline also reports its first flight facilitated from end to end by vaccinated staff and crew.
oneworld has enhanced its customer portal to offer the most up-to-date information on government entry and travel restrictions, making it easier to plan travel. The feature enables the airline alliance’s customers to retrieve information specific to their journey, including government entry restrictions, testing requirements, health documentation and quarantine rules at their destinations.
Club Med’s “Spring into Summer” sale offers travellers 45% off all-inclusive escapes at Club Med resorts in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Florida. Bookings can be made through May 4 for travel through Nov. 5.
Following its fall 2020 launch, Kensington Tours has expanded its Resort Collection with new itineraries in the Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles and the Bahamas. The Collection is designed for travellers who want to relax on a pristine beach while also having authentic local experiences tailored to their own interests led by local experts and private guides. Sample resorts include The Ocean Club, Bahamas; One&Only Reethi Ra, Maldives; Oberoi Beach Resort, Mauritius: and Mahe, Seychelles. Kensington notes that it arranges all elements of the experience upfront, so the agent doesn’t have to worry about making any additional bookings.
Sonesta International Hotels is touting historic growth with the addition of 88 hotels to its global portfolio of destinations, adding to the company’s recent expansion, which has seen a 350% increase in hotels over the last six months. Seventy-eight hotels have already been reflagged to Sonesta with the remaining 10 to transition to before the end of March.
A new Four Seasons hotel is set to open in New Orleans this spring. The 34-story hotel will have 341 rooms and suites with views of the Mississippi River and cityscape. A signature restaurant by James Beard chef Alon Shaya overlooks lush gardens, while the Chandelier Bar is the gathering point of the lobby level. A second chef-led restaurant on the fifth floor will, overlooks the river, alongside the full-service spa, fitness centre and outdoor pool deck. An observation deck and exhibit features the only 360-degree panoramic riverfront views of New Orleans.
AMResorts will expand its footprint in Mexico with the opening of two resorts on June 1 in the exclusive area of Nayarit near Punta de Mita situated on the shores of the Banderas Bay. The beachfront Secrets Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort and Dreams Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort are combined to create to “one cohesive property, the former with 278 rooms and suites, the latter with 363.
BY THE NUMBERS
RIU Hotels reports that it has helped two Cape Verdean environmental conservation organizations contribute to the greatest number of loggerhead sea turtle nests ever recorded in Cape Verde’s history. In 2020, the project recorded a total of 35,016 new nests on the island of Sal, and, of the 125,827 nests found in Boa Vista, Bios recorded 27,954 on the beaches of João Barrosa. This is more than five times more than last year and double the previous record, from 2018.
Bookings are now open for Seabourn’s 2023 World Cruise and Grand Voyage. The 140-day 2023 “World Cruise: Extraordinary Discoveries” on Seabourn Sojourn, and 79-day 2023 “Grand Voyage: Grand Americas, Amazon & Antarctica” aboard Seabourn Quest, offer two distinct voyages set to visit multiple continents and ports while offering exclusive opportunities to experience natural wonders and diverse cultures. Full itinerary details will be available on Seabourn’s website.
In 2022 Holland America Line will celebrate 75 years of Alaska exploration — longer than any other cruise line — and bookings are now open for departures aboard Eurodam, Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Oosterdam and Zuiderdam. Special onboard celebrations will take place on each ship. “It’s incredible to think that Holland America Line has been taking guests to Alaska longer than it’s been a state,” says HAL president Gus Antorcha.
ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS
Universal Orlando Resort’s water theme park Volcano Bay has begun welcoming guests again. Enhanced health and safety procedures are in place, including temperature screenings for guests and staff, limited capacity, enforced social distancing and mask protocols (the latter not on slides or in pools), and aggressive cleaning and disinfection procedures.
FAMS & INCENTIVES
To celebrate the launch of its “Discover Your Panama” campaign, PROMTUR Panama is awarding trips to the Central American country, including one dedicated winner from Canada (excluding Quebec). The seven-day trip includes hotel stays, round trip flights, and tours. Some rules and regs apply; entry must be completed by March 15. For info and to enter, visit HERE.
The 2021 Ultimate Travel Event series by Trafalgar is underway with a host of dates in March (including three sessions on March 3) and continuing through the end of September (new dates will be announced throughout the year). Travel counsellors are encouraged to bring their clients to the virtual 30-minute sessions, which cover top destinations starting with Britain and Europe. Attendees will receive a $100 p.p. off travel voucher that they can use when booking their next 2021/22 vacation with Trafalgar or Costsaver, plus the chance to win a grand prize. To register, go HERE.
Brand USA will be hosting four days of one-to-one virtual business meetings for Canadian and international tour operators from March 15 to 18. Participants will have the opportunity to connect and leverage mutual opportunities with US travel partners to increase business through a series of matchmade appointments and also have access to programs highlighting key market updates and the latest insights affecting the travel landscape. Register by March 5 HERE.
Tahiti Tourisme reports that its former Tahiti Tiare agent specialist program has been shut down and replaced with a new program in Canada. The new Tahiti Specialist Program requires all travel advisors to create an account and complete the new and improved, interactive e-learning modules. The rewards-style training and booking program is designed to “excite and engage,” says the tourist board, and offers incentives such as luxury and small-group FAMS. Info and registration HERE.
The National Museum of African American Music has opened in Nashville’s musical tourism district. Unlike museums that focus on a genre or label, the museum is touted as the first to span multiple genres including gospel, blues, jazz, R&B and hip-hop. The museum has 1,600 artifacts in the collection. Visitors can learn dance moves with a virtual instructor and sing “Oh Happy Day” with a choir.
The new Sanford Children’s Zoo at the San Diego Zoo is slated to open in late 2021. Families will be able to venture through four ecosystems – Desert Dunes, Wild Woods, Marsh Meadows, and Rainforest – and explore communities of wildlife that have unique adaptations for their environment. The remodeled exhibit will provide kids greater opportunities to discover the natural world through play. It is also designed to help children awaken their senses, inspire their creativity, and enhance their empathy for wildlife.
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First published at Travel Industry Today