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ROUND-UP:Jan. 24-28, 2021

More countries are easing entry rules; Canadian athletes set off to Beijing; Rocky Mountaineer introduced a new partner; Carnival is sticking to its COVID plan; and registrations opened for ExploreGB – all in this week’s highlights of last week’s news!

NEWS

Effective Jan. 28, the modified pre-departure test requirements for travellers coming to Canada on direct or indirect flights from India or Morocco were removed. Travellers from these countries are no longer be required to obtain a valid negative pre-departure COVID-19 test from a third country. All travellers entering Canada are now subject to the same pre-entry test requirements, regardless of their departure country.

The airport in Kelowna, BC, has received $15 million in federal funding for upgrades to infrastructure, including for the flow of passengers and crew being tested for COVID-19. Some of the improvements include replacing airfield lighting, sections of the terminal building’s roof and the construction of runway areas.

The BC Court of Appeal dismissed WestJet’s efforts to overturn the certification of a class-action lawsuit on baggage fees. The Calgary-based airline is alleged to have between September 2014 and March 2019 published two prices for checked bags, one that was free and then charged passengers another that was higher. WestJet ultimately amended wording in its domestic tariff to remove that one checked bag will be free.

ENTRY NEW

Declaring that border testing of vaccinated travellers has “outlived its usefulness,” the British government announced that it is scrapping coronavirus testing requirements for people arriving in England effective Feb. 11 – news hailed by the travel industry as a big step back to normality.

The Cayman Islands reports that it has officially entered Phase 5 of its phased reopening plan, whereby children aged 11 years and younger will be permitted to travel to the destination accompanied by vaccinated adults regardless of the child’s vaccination status. In addition, quarantine requirements for all travellers are shortened to seven days from 10, and testing protocols have been altered – now requiring travellers to submit a lateral flow test (LFT) on days two, five and seven of their stay.

Updated entry protocols in Aruba mean Canadians (and other nationalities deemed high risk) now have the option of taking an antigen test one day prior or a PCR test up to two days prior to travelling to Aruba. Tests cannot be taken on arrival. Visitors 12 and older, who have tested positive using a molecular Covid-19 test by nasopharyngeal swab between 10 days and 12 weeks prior to travel date to Aruba, and do not show any symptoms, will be exempt from the requirement of providing a negative COVID-19 test result for entry. Full details can be found on the aruba.com website.

Vaccinated tourists visiting Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates no longer need to show proof of a booster shot to enter. The tourism specific change comes as confusion swirls around entry rules for Abu Dhabi, which has taken a more stringent approach to containing the coronavirus than UAE neighbour Dubai, prompting the former to erect a hard border with the latter, forcing all drivers to come to a halt for vaccination and COVID checks on what once had been a wide, empty highway before the virus struck.

BY THE NUMBERS

The World Health Organization reported that a shipment of 1.1 million COVID-19 vaccines to Rwanda on Jan. 15 included the billionth dose supplied via COVAX. However, the WHO noted that as of Jan. 13, 36 of its 194 member states had vaccinated less than 10 percent of their population, and 88 less than 40%.

AIR

Air Canada’s flight AC2201 from Vancouver to Beijing on Jan. 26 marked the first of three special charter flights transporting Team Canada to the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The plane featured a special livery for the occasion. The airline also introduced a comprehensive program to support the athletes.

New carrier Canada Jetlines has received conditional approval for flight crew (pilot) training from Transport Canada. Final approval of the training program will be granted once Transport Canada has reviewed the training conducted under the program and it proves to be satisfactory. The carrier plans to launch this spring.

Air France reports that it’s free “Ready To Fly” service continues to be deployed across its network, including now for domestic flight where vaccination is mandatory. To reduce the time required to process the submitted documents, Air France says it is replacing the manual verification of the vaccine pass with an automated check, ensuring customers travelling in France receive instant confirmation. The service is currently available on more than 140 routes on departure from 80 airports, including flights to France on departure from Europe and Canada.

DEALS

Clients can save up to 15% on Collette tours in North America for bookings made between Jean 26 and Feb. 4 for travel through the end of the year. Use offer code EXPLORE22. Some restrictions apply.

Two or more passengers travelling to Dubai on Emirates by April 30, and booking by Feb. 6, can save 25% on fares when travelling together. The offer is valid on return trips booked in economy or business classes by travel agents or via emirates.com/ca. Travellers can also take advantage of other perks, including receiving a free Emirates Expo Pass and My Emirates city pass (valid until March 31).

HOTELS

IHG Hotels & Resorts first Vignette Collection property in Asia will open in Bangkok in March. The 393-room Sindhorn Midtown is part of IHG’s newest luxury and lifestyle brand and follows the opening of Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok in 2020. Both hotels are situated within Sindhorn Village, a development project in the area of Langsuan Road and Soi Tonson.

Committed to continued growth, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts reports that it has more than 50 new projects under planning or development, including in Italy, Spain, China, Japan, Colombia, Belize, and across key markets in the US, all of which will add to the company’s existing portfolio of 122 hotels and resorts and 48 residential properties in 47 countries around the world.

RESORTS

AMR Collection says that due to equipment and product delivery delays resulting from the omicron variant, both Secrets Moxché Playa del Carmen and Secrets Impression Moxché in Mexico will delay their openings until April 18, and June 1, respectively.

TOURS

American Queen Voyages has partnered with Rocky Mountaineer to offer a pre- and post-cruise luxury rail City Stay Package for the inaugural season of Ocean Victory. Travelling through the Canadian Rockies between Calgary and Vancouver, the opulent add-on option is available for six sailings from May to September. The “Landscapes & Luxury Rocky Mountaineer City Stay Package” is available as a six-day pre-cruise option for guests booked on Ocean Victory May 2, 23; June 13; July 4, 25; Aug 15; Sept 5, and as a five-day post-cruise on May 28; June 18; July 9, 30; Aug 20; and Sep 10. The brand-new expedition ship Ocean Victory will sail between Vancouver, and Sitka, Alaska on 13-day journeys and feature ports of call that larger ships cannot access.

A new in-depth, eight-day exploration of the Swiss and Bavarian Alps, highlighted by a performance of the traditional Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany, has been introduced by Tauck. The “Swiss Highlands & Bavarian Alps” tour runs from May to September and starts in Bern, Switzerland.

CRUISE

Carnival says it will continue to operate – and expand – its current COVID-19 protocols, including sailing vaccinated voyages, requiring pre-embarkation testing, and following onboard indoor mask requirements “until further notice.”

Redesigned tier structures, which simplify reaching the next tier mark, are a key enhancement of Norwegian Cruise Lines Latitudes Rewards Program for loyalty members. The refreshed program features seven tiers, including new Diamond and Sapphire levels, replacing the Platinum tier. Fewer points are also mostly required to reach each level. Latitudes members will also have access to special offers and new onboard experiences, such as cabin upgrades, wine tasting, package discounts, and more. First-time guests are automatically enrolled in the program.

Cunard will be taking Shakespeare and new works to the high seas in 2022 as it joins forces in a first-of-its-kind partnership with Britain’s Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) to bring world class theatre to its transatlantic stage. Available exclusively on board the flagship Queen Mary 2, the three-year partnership will run May 29-Aug. 12, and then again from Sept. 15 to Nov. 13.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

LEGOLAND Parks and luxury sports car brand Ferrari have announced the world’s first LEGO Ferrari “Build and Race” interactive attraction is coming to LEGOLAND California Resort this spring. Featuring a life-size Ferrari F40 model developed by the LEGO Group, Build and Race puts guests in the driver’s seat as they make their way through the “garage” to the “racetrack” using their creativity and imagination to build, test and race their own LEGO Ferrari.

Meanwhile, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Toronto is reopening Feb. 3. The attraction has introduced enhanced cleaning measures throughout the day to clean and sanitize the attraction, including high-frequency touchpoints, play areas, and LEGO bricks.

EVENTS

Buyer registration is now open for VisitBritain’s annual trade show ExploreGB, which will take place virtually again this year, from March 22 to 24. The event hosts hundreds of pre-scheduled one-to-one virtual business meetings over the three days giving international buyers the opportunity to do business with top travel industry suppliers and destinations from across the UK and forge valuable business connections. Buyers control their own meeting diary and can arrange meetings around their other commitments, it is not compulsory to attend for the whole three days. There will also be a series of webinars to help boost knowledge of the UK as a visitor destination. Register HERE.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT) has appointed Pulse Travel Marketing as its new Canadian representative. The agency, under Sana Keller and Annika Klint, is tasked with creating brand awareness and ensuring that the Southern California destination is prominently positioned with the travel trade, and key distribution media channels across Canada through strategic trade, marketing, and communications programs.

DESTINATIONS

The historic ocean liner Queen Mary, which has been a Southern California tourist attraction and hotel for decades, is being prepared for “critical repairs,” according to officials in the city of Long Beach, which owns the ship. The ship will remain closed, except for film location work, until the $5 million worth of repairs are completed, a city statement said last week.

Visit Tampa Bay has launched the Riverwalk Attraction Pass, a new program connecting venues along the Tampa Riverwalk in one ticket that provides discounts to users. Similar to the CityPASS program, the Pass brings together many attractions but also enables museums and centres that would have been traditionally excluded to be part of a holistic program. Initial attractions participants include the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Henry B. Plant Museum, Florida Aquarium, Glazer Children’s Museum, Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa Bay History Center, and the Pirate Water Taxi. Users access a mobile landing page on the Visit Tampa Bay website to purchase the Pass and after receiving a link to their pass, can add it to their home screen on their mobile devices, where it is scanned for admission.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

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