All travel news.

ROUND-UP:Jan. 31-Feb. 04, 2022

In last week’s “news,” Niagara-on-the-Lake introduced a new hotel tax, ACTA a new focus on diversity, Exotic Journeys a new look, Outer Shores a new BC lodge, Sandals a new webinar on its newest resort (Curaçao), and BranchUp unveiled a new, but familiar face.

NEWS

After years of deliberation, false starts and delays, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. councillors have approved the implementation of a controversial municipal accommodation tax. The 2% levy is set to begin on July 1. Initially, it will only apply to rentals with five or more rooms – mainly hotels – but most B&Bs and short-term rentals are expected to be added in the future.

Direct international flights to Bali have resumed for the first time in two years as Indonesia opens the resort island to foreign travellers from all countries, though mandatory quarantine remains in place. Garuda Indonesia operated its first flight in two years from Tokyo and Singapore Airlines will introduce a regular direct route to and from Denpasar in Bali starting Feb. 16.

AT THE BORDER

The Government of Aruba has eased entry requirements for all visitors. Effective Feb. 3, visitors have the option of presenting status of COVID-19 booster vaccination, or negative results from an antigen test taken one day prior or a PCR test up to a maximum of three days prior to travelling. s must be uploaded as part of Aruba’s Embarkation/Debarkation Card process no earlier than three days before arrival. Visitors between the ages of 12 and 17 can enter Aruba with a completed primary series with no booster. Full details on the web site.

DELAYED

The famed Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will be held in late April rather than the final weekend of February, as the number of coronavirus cases in Brazil spikes and the omicron variant spreads across the country.

BY THE NUMBERS

In a sign that travel is back in the US and “ahead of schedule,” Visit Tampa Bay has announced record-setting 2021 numbers that included revenue in excess of US$758 million, an increase of over $50 million or a 7.1% increase on the previous best numbers set in 2019. Additionally, tourist development taxes collected by Hillsborough County in January (for hotel stays in December) totalled $4,495,484, a 32.8% increase over the previous record for January, set in FY 2020.

AIR

Starting in May and operating weekly until the beginning of September, Sunwing’s summer domestic program will commence for its 17th consecutive year. Flights will depart daily between Toronto and Vancouver, starting May 17 until Sept. 7; between Toronto and St. John’s from Monday to Friday, starting June 20 until Sept. 7; between Toronto and Gander on Tuesday and Fridays, starting June 21 through Sept. 6; and between Toronto and Stephenville on Wednesdays, June 22-Sept. 7.

Turkish Airlines reports that it has started to use sustainable aviation fuel on its flights. Aviation fuel obtained from sustainable sources was used for the first time on TK1823 flight that departed from Istanbul Airport for Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport on Feb. 2. While sustainable fuel will be used for one day a week on the chosen route, there are plans in place to use it on different routes on a wider scale.

DEALS

The “Great Escape Sale” from Sunwing offers hot deals on warm weather breaks in destinations across the destination. The offer, which encompasses all travel styles, is available for booking through Feb. 28 for departures by April 30.

Up to $7,000 off select voyages is available to river cruisers with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ ‘Cruise Back Into Travel’ offer. Bookings, valid through Feb. 28, must be paid in full.

American Queen Voyages is celebrating its 10th anniversary with an extra 10% savings on the already reduced rates of the cruise line’s ‘Winter Savings Event.’ Guests booking on select sailings will see fares beginning at US$2,599 when booked by Feb. 28. Eligible sailings include Memphis to St. Louis on the American Duchess, Detroit to Montréal on Ocean Navigator, and Vancouver to Sitka on Ocean Victory.

HOTELS
The owners of niche adventure travel company Outer Shore Expeditions are adding to their portfolio with the opening of Outer Shores Lodge this spring. Bordering Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in British Columbia, the six-bedroom, two cabin lodge features a great room with stone fireplace, dining room, library, indoor steam shower, and workshop space. Each of the cabins is fully self-contained with a full kitchen and fireplace. Guests will enjoy daily locally sourced meals and guided excursions on hikes, by kayak, or by boat. They can also explore the historic boardwalk town of Bamfield, take in sunsets and local wildlife, and explore lush rainforests and stunning west coast beaches. Full-service packages including excursions are available.

When island hopping from Nassau, Canadian travellers prebooking a minimum four-night stay at a participating Bahamas Out Island property will receive one free airline or ferry ticket. Deadline for bookings is Feb. 14. For details and participating resorts, click HERE.

TOURS

TravelBrands’ Exotik Journeys is celebrating 45th anniversary with a new look and expanded offerings detailed in seven new brochures: The Exotik Explorer; Ocean Explorer; Self-drive Explorer: The best of USA; Self-drive Explorer: The best of Canada; Escorted Tours Explorer; Explorer Canada Holidays; and Explorer Winter Holidays. Belize is also being introduced as a new destination. Additionally, both, both travel agents and their clients will get a chance to be rewarded with a variety of incentives (see “Agent Incentives” below). TravelBrands is planning a virtual event (agents and clients) in March to mark the milestone with details to come.

Transat Distribution Canada (TDC) has added online travel agency Exoticca to its list of preferred partners. Founded in 2015, Exoticca offers affordable itineraries that are in between 100% escorted and a la carte tours. Over 300 destinations tours are available to meet the needs of small groups, private tours, and solo travellers on every budget.

CRUISE

Currently sailing in Baja, Mexico, and Hawaii, UnCruise Adventures reports that its post-pandemic comeback will continue with Alaska cruises starting April 8. Seven and 14-night departures will include 14 different itineraries spread across seven vessels and continuing through Oct. 8 – the longest Alaska season in the company’s history.

To honour and thank first responders and healthcare workers – including Canadians – Holland America Line is extending its Military Appreciation Offer to members of these communities with US$100 onboard spending money. The bonus credit is available for select ‘Have It All’ cruise bookings to a variety of destinations through May 2022. Reservations must be made by March 15.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Mardi Gras kicked off this weekend at Universal Orlando and continues with festival-themed events through April 24. Park guests will find live concerts (including the Barenaked Ladies on Feb. 19), a spectacular Mardi Gras parade, Bourbon Street brass bands performing throughout the park, and savoury cuisine inspired by diverse flavours from around the world. The event is included in the price of admission.

RESORTS
Landmark Resort
, one of the largest resorts in the Myrtle Beach, SC, area, will open a massive new waterpark this summer. The expansive 910-sq.-m. facility will be located on Ocean Boulevard opposite the over 500-room Landmark Resort and will be exclusive for guests who stay through the on-site rental program. A massive overhaul of the resort’s H2OASIS Waterpark, the brand-new facility will feature an array of slides and water play features, including three 12-m. tall enclosed 80-cm.-diameter slides will stretch 72 m. with 1,500 litres of rushing water flowing down each slide every minute.

After completing a US$55-million renovation, Sandals Royal Bahamian is now welcoming back guests to the luxurious, 404-room all-inclusive resort and private offshore island. Highlights of the resort’s enhancements include new swim-up suites and private villas, upgraded restaurants and five new dining venues, as well as new entertainment offerings.

AGENT EDUCATION

Visit Orlando has launched a reimagined Orlando Travel Academy, featuring new interactive sales tools, resources for travel, and corresponding app. The e-learning platform offers travel advisors quick and easy access to sales planning resources, including digital brochures, maps, itineraries and an on-demand training curriculum and graduates can also tap into discount offers ranging from 50% off select theme park tickets to 40% off room rates.

ACTA is embracing diversity and inclusion at the association with a series of measures designed to help expand awareness and actions in the Canadian travel industry. These include the launch of new courses for the trade; a partnership with the “Canadian Diversity Initiative”; a new in-house committee; and signing the BlackNorth Initiative Pledge. For more information on the courses, click HERE

FAMS & INCENTIVES

TravelBrands Encore Cruises’ ‘Valentine’s Dinner on Us’ campaign gives agents the opportunity to receive a $25 Uber Eats e-gift card for all cruise bookings made. The promotion applies to any new cruise booking made through Feb. 10. The offer is applicable to any sailing in any category, and with all Encore cruise line partners. The $25 Uber Eats e-gift card is applicable on every cruise file that is reserved and deposited or paid in full during the booking window.

Travel agents will earn an extra 4,500 Loyalty Rewards Points per passenger for all destinations on individual bookings made with Exotic Journeys through March 31. Agents will also earn 2X Loyalty Rewards Points until Oct. 31, 2022, on group bookings for Canadian destinations. A grand prize of 45,000 Loyalty Rewards Points will be awarded to one lucky agent. Every booking made is a chance to win.

EVENTS

Feb. 10: In advance of the opening of the new Sandals Royal Curaçao on April 14, Canadian travel advisors are invited to participate in a live webinar with Sandals Resorts, American Airlines, and the Curaçao Tourist Board on Thursday. Created especially for the Canadian market, the hour-long webinar starting at 1 p.m. EST will be led by Lorna Richards, National Training Manager, Unique Vacations Canada Inc., and features special guests from American Airlines and the Curaçao Tourist Board. To register, click HERE.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Arriving: Canadian travel industry veteran Doug Patterson has joined BranchUp, a Canadian company that offers free turnkey marketing solutions for travel advisors. Best known for his long tenure at Trafalgar Tours in Toronto, Patterson will start his role as National Director – Sales and Travel Advisor Engagement for the company on Feb. 7. He can be reached at DPatterson@BranchUp.com .

Moving on: After over 15 years at Club Med Canada, Meetings & Events Business Development Manager Quebec Annie Archambault is leaving the company effective Feb. 11. Club Med says she has been “a valued member of the sales team since 2006 (and) proved integral in promoting the brand and exponentially increasing the volume of business in the Québec market.”

Moving up: Chris Lynes has been named President of Corporate Traveller for the Americas. The Toronto-based executive is a 21-year veteran of the Flight Centre Travel Group where he has held leadership roles throughout the business including Area Leader, Brand Leader, and most recently as Sr. VP. Corporate Brands in Canada. Lynes will be responsible for the continued evolution of CT Americas regional business, in addition to developing the company’s new “glocal” structure.

DESTINATIONS

A new epicurean festival, the Anguilla Culinary Experience (ACE), will take place May 11-15, bringing together talented chefs from Anguilla and around the world for five days of curated experiences at a host of island hotels and resorts. The event will feature three signature events: the opening night Ultimate Barefoot Luxury Party at Cap Juluca; an afternoon Rosé Soirée party at Malliouhana; and a Caribbean beach barbeque on Meads Bay where local grill-masters will offer up freshly grilled seafood and ribs, while members of the island’s competitive culinary team battle in a mystery basket competition. For more information and package purchases, priced from US$425, click HERE.

Throughout this year and next Vilnius, Lithuania, will be conducting number of city-wide cultural, educational, and art events to celebrate its 700th anniversary in 2023. In 1323 Gediminas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, mentioned the city for the first time in his letters to foreign merchants and craftsmen, and the date, Jan. 25, has been attributed to the official origins of Vilnius as a city. Events for the 700th anniversary next year are designed to highlight the colourful history of the capital and strengthen ties between city residents and visitors.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

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