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ROUND-UP:Jan. 3-7, 2021

Highlighting this week’s round-up: Air Canada and Transat trim schedules, Hong Kong bans flights from Canada, G Adventures has big Bhutan news, a new resort opens its doors in Jamaica, and Disneyland is looking ahead to the Chinese Lunar New Year.

NEWS

Hong Kong announced a two-week ban on flights from seven countries, including Canada, to help stem an emerging omicron outbreak in the city. The ban took effect Jan. 9 and will continue until Jan. 21. The measures came as new omicron clusters have emerged over the past week, many linked to several Cathay Pacific crew members who broke isolation rules and dined at restaurants and bars in the city before testing positive.

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is calling for the region’s government leaders to reduce the isolation periods for travellers to align more closely with newly introduced standards in the US (five days) and UK (seven days). CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig is recommending a seven-day period, compared to as many as 14 days currently mandated in some destinations. To not do so, she says, would reverse progress made by the tourism sector since the start of the pandemic.

DELAYED/ CANCELLED

The world’s coolest music festival has been cancelled due to the pandemic. Igloofest was to take place in Montréal’s Old Port over four weekends from Jan. 15 to Feb. 22.

BY THE NUMBERS

Not all cruises are created equal, says Avalon Waterways. Pointing to several recent COVID outbreaks on ocean-going ships, the river cruise specialist says that despite operating more than 100 cruises across Europe, Egypt and the Galapagos Islands this past summer and fall, that it registered precisely zero COVID-19 cases onboard its ships, amongst either guests or crew. Avalon notes that the number of Canadians taking a river cruise has doubled in the past decade and that 95% of Canadian agents say they sell the segment.

AIR

Transat A.T. says it is cancelling nearly 30% of its winter flights through Feb. 25 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on air industry plans and profits. The company says the ongoing impact of the omicron variant and the federal government’s Dec. 15 recommendation against non-essential travel abroad have triggered a wave of trip cancellations.

Air Canada Vacations has been forced to temporarily suspend operations to over a dozen sun destinations effective Jan. 24, lasting until April 30. However, the tour operator is quick to note that operations to 23 destinations are being maintained and only 7% of customers will be impacted. Affected destinations include Antigua, Aruba, Samaná, Curaçao, Exuma, Grenada, Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo, Bermuda, Grand Cayman, Havana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Martin/Sint Maarten, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

DEALS

The “Escape Back to the Blue” Wave season campaign by Celestyal Cruises offers 30% select 2022 sailings in the Greek Islands and eastern Med through March 31. Additionally, children 12 years and younger sharing the same stateroom with their parents sail for free. Solo travellers also receive a reduced solo supplement on select sailings.

TOURS

To celebrate its status as a launch partner for the re-opening of the ancient Trans Bhutan Trail (after 60 years), G Adventures will offer two tours along the route in the Himalayan nation starting May 1. The active trekking itineraries (photo) include the 11-day “Camp the Trans Bhutan Trail” trip, which features camping and homestays, and a 12-day “Highlights of the Trans Bhutan Trail” itinerary with accommodation in homestays, locally owned guest houses, and hotels. Both packages feature three to four hours of hiking per day along the best portions of the 403-km trail, while engaging with locals along the way.

CRUISE

Tradewind Voyages has confirmed its full program for the 2022/23 season, with the world’s newest and largest tall ship, Golden Horizon, making her inaugural journey in the Caribbean in Barbados next November. Complementing the debut in the Mediterranean in May 2022, the following year’s season will feature sailings starting from Portugal in April 2023. The Caribbean season offers an extensive selection of voyages that span the Grenadines, St Vincent, St Lucia, Guadeloupe, British Virgin Islands, St Kitts, St Barts, Antigua and more. Early booking incentives are available through Jan. 31. In Canada, call 437- 826-9600.

Summer 2023 cruises in Europe are now open for booking with Royal Caribbean. The newly announced program features nine ships visiting more than two dozen countries across 35 itineraries and featuring destinations from the Amalfi Coast to the Holy Land, and Iceland to the Adriatic islands of Croatia, British Isles, Canary Islands and Greek Isles. Departures will begin in May.

RESORTS

H10 Hotels has inaugurated Ocean Eden Bay, a newly built 444-room five-star resort in Trelawney, Jamaica. The adults-only luxury hotel is located on the seafront at Coral Spring, adjacent to the Ocean Coral Spring resort that the company opened in December 2019. The complex has six restaurants, four bars, a private beach area with sun loungers, and a large designer swimming pool overlooking the sea. Guests will also have access to all Ocean Coral Spring’s spaces and services. The hotel is H10’s second in Jamaica and seventh in the Caribbean, with three resorts in the Riviera Maya and two more in Punta Cana, all of them five-star with prime seafront locations.

Four Seasons Resort Lanai is welcoming a new observatory to its property this winter. The resort’s Love Lanai Cultural Advisors, working with the Imiloa Astronomy Center on the Island of Hawaii, are developing an accompanying observatory program about the history of Pacific Ocean voyaging, native Hawaiian traditions, and the methodology of traditional wayfinding, providing an overview of astronomy as it relates to Hawaii and parallels with Hawaiian culture. Resort guests in small groups can participate in observatory programming, which will be offered weekly. The new facility’s state-of-the-art, fully automated one-metre-class telescope observatory system features a direct-drive altitude-azimuth mounting system.

HOTELS

Rendering of the future Hotel Riu Plaza Chicago

Construction will begin this spring in Chicago on Riu Hotels and Resorts’ next urban Riu Plaza property. The new-build skyscraper, located in Streetville, the city’s commercial and cultural centre and close to the Magnificent Mile, will house a hotel with 28 floors and more than 350 rooms. Construction is expected to last for around two years.

The first-ever NYC Hotel Week has kicked off in New York. Running until Feb. 13, visitors will receive a 22% discount off the standard room rate at more than 110 hotels in the city (including all five boroughs), including properties such as The Beekman Hotel; Lotte New York Palace; The Pierre New York; The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue; Opera House Hotel; Hilton Garden Inn New York/Staten Island; The Rockaway Hotel; and The William Vale. Hotel weeks is part of NYC Winter Outing, which includes NYC Restaurant Week, NYC Broadway Week and NYC Must-See Week, running from Jan. 18 to Feb. 13. Hotel week reservations can be made HERE.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Lunar New Year at Disney California Adventure commemorates traditions of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures. The festival is filled with multicultural performances, kid-friendly crafts, culinary delights, beautiful décor, celebratory merchandise, and live musical entertainment, from Jan. 21 through Feb. 13. Not surprisingly, taking stage in 2022 – the Year of the Tiger – will be Tigger, joined by other popular Disney characters including Mulan and Mushu, Mickey and Minnie, and the Three Little Pigs – all donning their festive attire. Lunar New Year traditions include the Lucky Wishes Wall and “Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession,” a performance that honours family, friendship, and the potential for a fortune-filled new year.

Mardi Gras celebrations kick off at Universal Studios Florida from Feb. 5. The family-friendly version of the iconic Big Easy bash runs through April 24 and features a grand nighttime parade featuring uniquely themed floats and tons of beads, star-studded concerts on select nights, and authentic Cajun-style cuisine from New Orleans.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

David McKenna is the new president and CEO of Rocky Mountaineer, having taken office Jan. 4. The Canadian tourism veteran is a prominent leader in the domestic tourism industry who also serves as board chair of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC). Prior to joining Rocky Mountaineer, McKenna was president at the Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit where he led tourism expansion and acquisition projects in the Canadian Rockies.

EVENTS

A new season of ‘Irie Hour’ resumes Tuesday (Jan. 11) at 2:30 p.m. EST. Joining the Jamaica Tourist Board for the session is special guest Nina Spencer, a motivational speaker coach and speaker who will help inspire and motivate travel agents during these tough times. The topic for this one-hour coaching session will be “2022 Bring it ON! Forward Thinking: Profoundly Practical Strategies for Protecting Your Professional Passion and Building Great Client Relationships Despite Pandemic Times.” To register, click HERE.

DESTINATIONS

Canada’s largest food and drink festival, Dine Out Vancouver, reports that it has only been “slightly impacted” by the omicron outbreak and is moving ahead with its 20th anniversary season. From Jan. 14 to 31, hundreds of restaurants, breweries, and winemakers will present the best of the West Coast and international culinary arts with multi-course fixed-price menus starting at only $20. Festival organizers say that capacity limits and maximum seating adjustments will be made to indoor ticketed events; meanwhile outdoor events like Street Food City are not affected.

The Louisiana Great River Road Museum and Interpretive Center on the grounds of Houmas House Estate and Gardens is the newest member of the Great River Road network of museums and interpretive centres. The 3,300-sq.-m. museum is a state-of-the-art, $15-million facility chronicling the history and telling life stories along the lower Mississippi River from Baton Rouge through New Orleans to the mouth of the river. To date, there are more than 74 centres in the Great River Road Network interpreting the stories of the Mississippi River. These centres reside along the 10-state stretch of the river and include museums, parks, aquariums, and nature centres along with historic and prehistoric sites.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

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