All travel news.

ROUND-UP:Jan. 10-14, 2021

Remember when “wave season” meant cruising? It’s that time of year. Also in last week’s news: Lynx Air announce tickets are on sale, with a contest to celebrate; Transat enhanced check-in procedures; TICO deferred payments (again); the US conditional sailing order expired; and winter fun is cancelled.

NEWS

The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) advises that new provincial funding will enable it to waive registrant fees for a third year as the travel industry continues to grapple with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Travel agencies and wholesalers will receive a fee waiver for annual registration renewal fees and Travel Industry Compensation Fund payments (Form-1) owed to TICO from April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023. The waiver applies to all registrants registered with TICO as of March 31, 2022.

Tourism operators in British Columbia can apply for financial help from a $15-million relief fund to cover some of their losses due to COVID-19. The provincial government says BC-owned hotels or motels that employ more than 150 people, Indigenous-owned resorts on reserves with over 100 employees, and tourism operators who hold tenure or BC Parks permits can all apply for grants. The fund was suggested by a task force established in September 2020 to look at ways of helping tourism operators during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

Effective Feb. 15 all visitors to Belize are required to apply for Belize Travel Health Insurance – a mandatory insurance that helps protect travellers against incurred medical and non-medical expenses if they test positive for COVID-19 during their stay in Belize. Cost of the policy is US$18 with coverage for up to US$50,000 in medical (including emergency assistance), accommodation, and trip cancellation expenses related to treatment of COVID-19 for a period of 21 days. Arrivals continue to be required to present a negative test.

The European Union ended travel restrictions on flights from southern Africa on Jan. 11, well over a month after imposing them to in hopes of containing the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

DELAYED/ CANCELLED

Due to public health measures, in-person Winterlude activities at the Snowflake Kingdom and elsewhere in Ottawa will not take place this year. Canadians across the country, however, are being invited to vote online in the 44th annual event’s National Ice-Carving Championship. Also cancelled is the BeaverTails Ottawa Ice Dragon Boat Festival, which was take place as part of Winterlude from Feb. 4 to 21.

With less than 48 days to go, the 2022 Ontario Winter Games were postponed until 2023 due to surging Omicron cases in the province, the uncertainty of some events taking place and the possibility of others being cancelled due to COVID exposures. The games were slated to be a positive economic influx into the tourism sector of Renfrew County, which has been hard-hit by the pandemic. And on Saturday, it was announced that the BC Winter Games next month in Vernon would also be cancelled due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the province.

Large-scale events, such as Lunar New Year fairs, have been banned in Hong Kong as the city tries to keep a lid on the omicron outbreak. Transit passengers from 150 countries and territories were also banned effective yesterday (Jan. 16). Early this month, Hong Kong imposed a two-week ban on incoming flights from several countries, including Canada. Other restrictions have been posed as part of the Chinese city’s “zero tolerance” COVID-19 policy.

RE-OPENING/RE-START
A section of the historic Old Seven Mile Bridge, paralleling the Florida Keys Overseas Highway, reopened Wednesday (photo) in the Middle Keys so residents and visitors can once again use it for cycling, walking, running, rollerblading, watching sunrises and sunsets and to access Pigeon Key. The oft-photographed 3.5-km span of bridge near Marathon was part of a US$44-million renovation that began in 2017.

Continuing its restart, Carnival Cruise Line resumed guest operations Friday from Charleston, S.C., with Carnival Sunshine. The ship departed today on a four-day cruise to Nassau, Bahamas.

The daily, public ferry service between Anguilla’s Blowing Point Ferry Terminal and the Marigot Ferry Terminal on the French side of St. Martin has recommenced.

AIR

Tickets for Lynx Air flights go on sale on Wednesday (Jan. 19) and to celebrate the Canadian low-cost carrier (formerly Enerjet) has launched a trivia contest starting today (Monday) offering Canadians a chance to win free flights for a year. Two grand prize winners will win one round-trip flight per month to any Lynx destination for 12 months and five additional winners will each receive one round-trip flight anywhere on Lynx’s network. The contest closes Jan 18 at 8 p.m. MT. For details and to enter, click https://www.flylynx.com

Air Transat customers can now upload and validate their destination health documents when checking in online. This will allow them to obtain their digital boarding pass before arriving at the airport and ensure they meet entry requirements. The tool, which uses a technology developed by Amadeus, is currently in a test phase and will be deployed in three phases. Initially it will only validate the COVID-19 test and will be available for a selection of routes. In the coming months, it will be extended to the entire Air Transat network and will also validate proof of vaccination for destinations that require it.

KLM reports that it will start adding 0.5% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for flights departing from Amsterdam and will additionally give customers the option of purchasing an extra amount of sustainable fuel. In this manner it aims to stimulate the market for SAF. “The face of travel is set to change in the future and SAF will play an essential role in this regard,” says the Dutch carrier.

RAIL

Given the impact on travel demand of tighter COVID-19 restrictions due to the rapid spreading of the omicron variant, VIA Rail will temporarily reduce frequencies in the Québec City-Windsor corridor starting Wednesday (Jan. 9).

Clients booking an eligible Canadian trip this month (through Jan. 31) on Rocky Mountaineer will receive a complimentary upgrade from SilverLeaf to Goldleaf service ($1,500 value). Bookings are also risk free with a full travel credit for use to the end of the 2023 season granted to any travellers who cancel within 60 days of their trip for any reason. GoldLeaf Service includes bi-level glass-dome coaches equipped with spacious seats and unobstructed views; exclusive outdoor viewing platform; and gourmet breakfast and lunch.

DEALS

Through Feb. 6 Bermuda’s “Pink Sale” is offering up to 50% off on hotel bookings in the destination, with rates starting at $100/night and travel available through December. Participating properties and information can be found HERE 

Costa Cruises North America has savings of up to US$800 on select 2022 itineraries as part of Wave Season. The offer, available on bookings made by Feb. 28, applies to select Mediterranean and northern Europe itineraries in 2022. As an added bonus, guests also receive a $100 p.p. onboard credit, totalling $200 in onboard credit per cabin. Wave Sale deals are available on cruises departing from April through November. Restrictions and blackout dates apply.

HOTELS

Atlific Hotels has added four British Columbia hotels to its management portfolio, including two in Fort St. John – the Travelodge by Wyndham Fort St. John and Ramada by Wyndham Northern Grand Hotel & Conference Centre – plus two in Richmond, the Holiday Inn Vancouver Airport and Holiday Inn Express Vancouver Airport. The latter recently completed a top to bottom renovation and offers 161 guestrooms with free fiber optic high-speed WiFi, fridge and microwave, fitness centre, 24-hour airport shuttle, gated parking with electric charging and onsite restaurant. The Holiday Inn Express Vancouver Airport also recently renovated and features 107 guestrooms with a variety of in-room conveniences, fitness centre, 24-hour airport shuttle, and free breakfast.

Housed in the historic Tontine Building that originated as the city’s first Stock Exchange in 1729, the sleek, residentially inspired Wall Street Hotel will boast 180 spacious rooms and suites, a fine dining restaurant featuring a Michelin star chef, plus a stylish rooftop bar and lounge with outdoor terrace when it opens in March. The Preferred Hotels member is located at 88 Wall St. in lower Manhattan and in the heart of the global financial district, steps from Battery Park, the World Trade Center, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

RESORTS

Clients can save 45% off the price of all-inclusive spring and summer escapes at top Club Med resorts throughout Mexico, Florida, the Caribbean, and Canada. The “Your Vacation Your Way” sale is open for bookings through Feb. 23 for travel through Aug. 26. Additional perks include a free room upgrade and free stays for kids under four. Participating resorts include Punta Cana, Cancun, Miches Playa Esmeralda, Quebec, Ixtapa, Turks and Caicos, Sandpiper Bay, Caravelle, and Buccanneer’s Creek.

Due to open April 1, Dreams Karibana Cartagena Beach & Golf Resort will be the first AMR Collection resort in South America. The Colombian all-inclusive will feature 268 rooms, all with a private terrace, balcony, or swim-out suites. Other amenities include five bars and lounges with unlimited international and domestic top-shelf spirits; three gourmet à la carte dining choices; pool and beach service; 24-hour room and concierge services; daily activities and entertainment; access to a private beach club; 18-hole golf course; and more.

CRUISE

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says it will let its controversial conditional sailing order mandating various COVID-19 protocols aboard cruise ships sailing in US waters expire as initially intended on Jan. 15. Health and safety measures applied by individual cruise lines will then become voluntary.

Delayed a full year by the pandemic, Avalon Waterways new vessel, the Avalon View, will now debut in April in Bratislava, Slovakia. The ship will be christened by on April 12 by godmother Meredith Vieira, a 15-time Emmy Award-winning TV broadcaster. After the ceremony, the 166-passenger View will join Avalon’s Suite Ship fleet to sail the Danube River in 2022.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has unveiled the next ship in its new Prima Class category. Norwegian Viva will begin sailing Mediterranean itineraries in June 2023, homeporting in key southern European port cities Lisbon, Venice, Rome, and Athens, before sailing to the Southern Caribbean for her 2023-24 winter season (from San Juan)

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

SeaWorld Orlando says that its anticipated Ice Breaker roller coaster will make its debut on Feb. 18. The roller coaster ride has four airtime launches, as well as a 28-m.- tall spike with 100-degree angle. Although the ride doesn’t officially open until the middle of next month, those with season passes will get sneak peaks earlier.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

G-Normous, G Adventures’ biggest annual agent incentive offers $75K worth of cash and prizes to agents in Canada through April 30. The 9th annual “thank you” promotion also invites agents to compete in fun community challenges, and to vie for the $5K grand prize for the overall G-Normous top seller in Canada. In addition to the cash prizes, agents also receive one entry to win a fantastic trip each month – drawn at random – with each booking made. Agents with a G Adventures Sherpa account are automatically registered. Agents without an account can sign-up through their agency manager at https://www.gadventures.com/agents/register

EVENTS

Registration for ‘MeetGB Virtual’ 2022, VisitBritain’s free flagship business event is still open. Taking place in Feb. 15-17, the online tradeshow for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions/Events (MICE) is held in partnership with MeetEngland, Business Events Scotland, Meet In Wales, Tourism Northern Ireland, and London Convention Bureau, inviting international buyers to connect online in real time with UK destinations, venues, and suppliers. For more info and registration: https://www.visitbritain.com/gb/en/business

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Two familiar faces are back with the AMR Collection in Canada. Scott Reid returns as BDM Central Canada, covering Western Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan; and after a short stint away Brian Joseph returns as BDM for the Toronto, Greater Toronto Area, Eastern Ontario, and the Niagara regions. They join Orelbys Vigoa (Quebec and Atlantic Canada) and Carlo Trinidad (Western Canada).

AGENTS

An annual customer contest conducted by The Travel Agent Next Door (TTAND) attracted 42,000 online entries. Designed to help build data bases and enhance social media presence, the contest offered a seven-day Caribbean cruise for two from Fort Lauderdale on Celebrity Cruises in a Verandah stateroom, with complimentary air from all major Canadian gateways. Winner of the contest was Paul Vendetti of Ontario, a client of TTAND agent Jennifer Jones (photo).

The American Marketing Group (AMG), parent company of TRAVELSAVERS, NEST and The Affluent Travel Collection, has introduced an enhanced digital platform that delivers social media content for all affiliate agencies in the US and Canada. The platform, called Social Connect, helps advisors engage their current clients and reach new clients to build their brand awareness and increase sales.

BY THE NUMBERS

Nevada casinos set a record in November, reporting a ninth straight month of US$1 billion or more in house winnings, providing another sign that business in the nation’s tourist-dependent gambling mecca has returned to pre-pandemic levels. The $1.32 billion in casino winnings reported statewide was up from $1.22 billion in October, and almost reached the record $1.36 billion figure set last July, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported. The streak beat the previous record of eight consecutive months set before the Great Recession, from October 2006 to May 2007. Nevada sports betting also set records – reaping a record $72 million in November on sports wagers totaling $1.1 billion.

DESTINATIONS

Cuba has eliminated the need for visitors who test positive to stay in “hotel-hospitals,” instead permitting travellers to isolate in their hotel. The new measures replace previous requirements for passengers who test positive for COVID-19 to quarantine at the government designated facilities. Now, passengers can stay at their hotel in select rooms that are separated from the rest of the hotel in a different block or section and overseen by medical personnel.

From Feb 17 to July 17 the British Museum in London, in partnership with Wiltshire Museum and English Heritage, will host The World of Stonehenge, the UK’s first ever major exhibition on the history and mystery of the ancient site. There will be hundreds of objects brought together from across Britain and Europe including stone axes from the North Italian Alps, stunning metalwork from Ireland, and an extremely rare 3,000-year-old sun pendant, described by the British Museum as the most significant piece of Bronze Age gold ever found in Britain.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

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