All travel news.

ROUND-UP:Feb. 8-12, 2021

Some of last week’s notable news includes federal approval for Air Canada’s Transat takeover; Sunwing and Marriott playing let’s make a deal; and new flights for Flair.

NEWS

The federal government has approved Air Canada’s $190-million purchase of Transat A.T., with some conditions. Air Canada must preserve the Transat head office and brand in Quebec, maintain 1,500 employees for Transat’s leisure travel business, conduct aircraft maintenance in Canada while prioritizing contracts in Quebec, have a price monitoring mechanism and launch new destinations within the first five years.

Starting February 15, anyone arriving in Canada by land will need to show a recent negative COVID-19 test. A similar requirement for air arrivals has already been announced. A date has also been announced for Canada’s new stricter air border protocols to kick in: Feb. 22.

Destination BC has introduced an “Industry Performance Dashboard” that offers info on key tourism indicators and allows users to compare year-over-year figures, such as international arrivals, convention centre data, hotel occupancy and average daily room rates, and passenger volume for airports, BC Ferries, and highway traffic volume.

TICO reports that Tucan Travel in Toronto, which mainly sold tours to South America, Europe, Asia and Africa voluntarily has terminated its registration under the Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002 to operate as an Ontario travel retailer and travel wholesaler and is no longer in business.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

SLS Baha Mar, the first international SLS property, will reopen to international travellers in Nassau, Bahamas, on March 4, marking the final phase of Baha Mar resort destination’s reopening. Heightened safety and health measures will be in place.

DELAYED/ CANCELLED

Air Canada has temporarily suspended service on 17 routes to the US and other international destinations until at least April 30. The route suspensions in the US include New York, Boston, Washington, DC, Seattle, Denver and Fort Myers. Also, flights to Bogota from Montreal, London and Tokyo from Vancouver, and Bogota, Dublin and Sao Paulo from Toronto. Flights from Toronto to Tel Aviv will continue to be suspended, and flights from Toronto to Dubai and Hong Kong will have their start-ups postponed. The airline also temporarily laid off 1,500 workers.

AIR

Anticipating that travel will begin again in spring and summer, ultra low-cost carrier (ULCC) Flair Airlines is expanding service to 18 Canadian destinations by summer. Flights to Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo, Halifax, NS; and Saint John, NB, will begin May 1, with June starting dates for Thunder Bay, Charlottetown, and Victoria, BC; and in August to Abbotsford, BC.

Rebooking fees for Lufthansa Group airlines Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines and Eurowings will continue to be waived until May 31, extending the Group’s original end-of-February deadline. Changes can be made as often as desired before that date; afterwards, one rebooking is allowed free of charge.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines says it that it will continue to limit capacity on flights through April 30. The carrier says it will also block middle seats in most cabins although groups of three or more passengers can choose to sit together.

DEALS

Clients booking a marine-themed trip in February with G Adventures will receive 15% off the price of the tour. the British Virgin Islands, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cuba, Greece, the Maldives, Montenegro, Sri Lanka, St Vincent & the Grenadines, and Thailand, plus adventures by boat in the Galapagos Islands, and river-based experiences in the Amazon, Burgundy and along on the Mekong. Travel must be completed by June 30, 2022 to qualify for the discount. For more on agent bonuses, see “Fams and Incentives” below.

Luxury hotel barge cruising specialist European Waterways says it is rewarding travellers who are ready “to venture out again” with up to 20% off on some of its most popular cruises in France and Italy, valid when booked by Feb. 22. The specials represent savings of up to US$17,000 on whole barge charters and $1,318 p.p., based on double occupancy. Savings are available on selected weeks though spring and summer, and reservations are protected by European Waterways’ “Book with Confidence” policy, which provides booking flexibility.

BY THE NUMBERS

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers on the US detected twice as many firearms per million passengers screened at airport security checkpoints nationwide in 2020 compared to 2019, and at a significantly higher rate than any other year since the agency’s inception. Throughout 2020, TSA caught approximately 10 firearms per million passengers screened as compared to about five firearms per million in 2019. TSA officers discovered a total of 3,257 firearms on passengers or in their carry-on bags at checkpoints, although total passengers screened in 2020 fell by 500 million versus 2019 due to the pandemic. Of those firearms caught in 2020, about 83% were loaded. In 2019, TSA officers stopped a record 4,432 firearms, of which 87% percent were loaded.

TOURS

Starting in April, the Globus family of brands – consisting of Globus, Cosmos, Avalon Waterways and Monograms – will require guests to produce one of three safe travel verifications: Proof of COVID-19 vaccination at least 14 days prior to travel; proof of a negative COVID-19 test (NAAT/PCR or antigen) result within 72-hours of travel; or proof of recovery from a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis within three months of travel. Without one of these verifications, travellers will not be able to join a planned vacation with any of the tour brands. The company also says it will facilitate – and cover the cost of – additional COVID-19 testing, if required, for guests to return to their home country, as well as tests on trip if guests show symptoms.

PONANT is launching Le Commandant Charcot, the first luxury hybrid electric polar exploration vessel (135 cabins), to take guests to parts of the continent not previously explored. Among the highlights: a sail to Peter I Island, where fewer people have visited than have set foot on the moon; close encounters with Antarctic seabirds, Minke whales and orcas; tethered hot air balloon rides and hovercraft excursions. Under the supervision of the team of naturalist guides and scientists, guests will also be able to participate in research and experiments during sailings.

HOTELS

Virgin Hotels, the lifestyle hotel brand by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, has announced plans to roll out the red carpet in three locations this year. This spring, the first opening is Virgin Hotels Las Vegas (March 25), followed by Virgin Hotels New Orleans this summer and Virgin Hotels New York City this fall. Virgin Hotels Edinburgh and Miami are planned for 2022 and beyond, with numerous hotel management signings announced before year-end.

Accor Group’s luxury segment will make news in 2021 with the openings of the Banyan Tree Doha in Qatar and new Raffles openings in Udaipur and Jeddah. Fairmont will see the opening of the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles, along with Fairmont Windsor in England; Carton House, a Fairmont managed hotel in Dublin; Fairmont Ramla Riyadh; Fairmont Ambassador Seoul; and Fairmont Tagazhout Bay in Morocco. Sofitel will bring French style to several new destinations including Seoul, Hangzhou, and Adelaide.

RESORTS

Marriott International, Inc. has announced a significant planned expansion of its all-inclusive portfolio through a long-term agreement with Sunwing Travel Group’s hotel division, Blue Diamond Resorts, which has an extensive portfolio of resort properties throughout the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico. The agreement is expected to propel Marriott into the list of top 10 global all-inclusive players by adding 19 franchised resorts totaling nearly 7,000 rooms across six destinations and more than doubling the company’s presence in the all-inclusive segment to 33 properties by 2025. The majority of the properties are expected to be converted into Marriott’s Autograph Collection by mid 2021.

A new all-inclusive luxury property in Cancun is now open: Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Cancun is situated in the exclusive resort enclave of Costa Mujeres just north of the Hotel Zone. Amenities at the 898-room resort include world-class restaurants and modern wellness features, four swimming pools, lazy river, splash park and FlowRider surf simulator; curated entertainment-themed experiences including mini golf, theatre, and adventure park; and authentic Hollywood memorabilia.

CRUISE

Royal Caribbean International says its Singapore season for Quantum of the Seas will continue for an additional three months from March 22 until June 21, building on the ship’s successful pilot program, which launched in December.

Until Feb. 28, Holland America guests who book a 2022 Europe or Alaska cruise can receive up to US$2,300 in amenities, including a free Signature Beverage Package, pre-paid gratuities, free Signature Dining Package and 50% reduced deposits, plus free WiFi for suites.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Wild Florida has acquired a 75-hectare plot of land adjacent to its Drive-thru Safari Park with plans to expand, allowing guests to see more exotic and native wildlife than ever before. In addition to the more than 150 animals already on property, Wild Florida is adding existing herds of wildlife and introducing many more rescued and relocated animals.

The annual Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival at Walt Disney Worlds returns this year on March 3, featuring fresh cuisine, creative gardens and unforgettable topiaries.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

G Adventures is offering agents a bonus 2% commission on all new bookings made during the month of February as part of its G-Normous agent incentive. Additionally, the small group operator is also giving one agent the opportunity to earn a spot on its “Sailing St Lucia and The Grenadines” itinerary. Agents will be awarded points for sharing the February Marine Sale on their social channels with more details on ways to win on G’s Agents of Change Facebook page.)

EVENTS

Atout France Canada’s annual trade show for tourism professionals, Destination France, will take place Feb. 22-25. The virtual event will feature information, webinars and the chance to meet one-on-one meeting with partners, plus fun quizzes and prizes – all focussed around a safe return to international travel in the future. Travel agents are invited to register now on Destination France platform.

March 3: The Bahamas is gearing up to host two virtual events – “From The Bahamas With Love” – on March 3 (1-4 p.m. EST) and 10 (4-7 p.m. EST) to showcase the vast offerings for romantic escapes throughout the destination. The expo will bring together industry leaders, partners, hotels, venues and services for a unique and educational experience for trade and consumer participants. The March 3 show is aimed at travel agents and planners, the March 10 event for consumers including soon-to-be engaged or recently engaged couples, future brides and grooms, bachelorette party planners, honeymoon do-over seekers and more. Click HERE to register for the trade event.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Arts & Leisure Tours Canada and USA has announced that Canadian travel industry veteran Pat Lista has joined its management team as Director of Product & Growth, responsible for the expansion of all luxury product worldwide including villas, private jets, and yachts. He can be reached at: pat@artsandleisuretours.com.

DESTINATIONS

Petra, Jordan

Travellers looking to hike the Jordan Trail can now take advantage of the Jordan Trail Pass, which has been launched by the Jordan Trail Association. The pass has been created to encourage visitors to travel beyond the usual tourism spots in the country and experience the best of Jordan’s hiking terrain and scenery. The Jordan Trail is a long-distance hiking trail in Jordan connecting the length of Jordan from Um Qais in the north to Aqaba in the south. Visitors can choose to walk sections of it, or for the more adventurous, the trail offers a total of 40 days of hiking over more than 675 km. of trail, travelling through 75 villages and towns along the way. The pass offers information, hiking tips and things for visitors to see in every region and costs approximately $70. Info and purchase HERE.

A new wedding and romance microsite, dubbed “My Heart Beats JA,” has been launched on the Jamaica Tourist Board website. Categories include: Romantic Getaways, Getting Engaged, and I Do. The “all things love” content addresses consumer trends, including more intimate or even private destination weddings, and a growing number of couples identifying and seeking opportunities for romantic escapes. Jamaica boasts a US$300-billion global wedding industry, which is represented through individual vendors on the site. Check it out HERE.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

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