ROUND-UP:July 12-16, 2020
In case you missed it, and even if you didn’t, here’s a quick look at some of last week’s need-to-know travel news, including: WestJet is slowly ramping up business; new Canadian carrier OWG’s first route will be Cuba; and AMResorts continues virtual site inspections.
US federal health officials are extending the ban on cruise ships through the end of September as coronavirus infections rise in most states, including Florida. CLIA says it remains “aligned with the CDC in our commitment to public health and safety.”
Hola Sun Holidays has announced a partnership with new Quebec-based air carrier OWG. This new strategic alliance will allow Hola Sun Holidays (as well as its sister company Caribe Sol in Quebec) to offer direct and dedicated flights to Cuba on board modern Boeing 737-400s. Flights will be offered from Nov. 1 to Cayo Coco, Holguin, Santa Clara and Varadero.
In August WestJet will offer operations to 48 destinations including 39 in Canada, five in the US, two in Europe, one in the Caribbean, and one in Mexico, representing a 10% increase in flying from July, but a decrease of 75% from August 2019. Highlights of the schedule include:
• The re-introduction of non-stop Dreamliner service from Calgary to London (Gatwick) and Paris effective Aug. 20.
• Service to five key transborder destinations including Atlanta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York (LaGuardia) and Orlando.
• Flights to Cancun resume operation, along with once-weekly service to Montego Bay, Jamaica.
The Islands of Tahiti re-opened its borders to international tourists on July 15. Arrivals are required to perform an RT-PCR test of SARS-CoV-2 within three days before the flight to Tahiti and present the negative result to the airline attendant upon check-in; complete a health commitment form via the online platform Etis.pf (Electronic Travel Information System); and four days after arrival in French Polynesia, conduct self-administered test using the kit provided free of charge upon arrival at Tahiti Faa’a international airport.
As the Turks and Caicos Islands ready to re-open borders on July 22, the country has announced that travellers must now produce a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from within five days of travel, rather than the previous requirement of a test to be taken within three days of travel.
Marineland Canada in Niagara Falls has pushed back its re-opening date to July 24, from July 17.
All arrivals to Hawaii will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine until Sept. 1, extending the provision for an additional month from the original Aug. 1 date.
In accordance with flight restrictions in Australia, Qantas has suspended sales for all international flights except New Zealand and some South Pacific destinations until March 28, 2021. It had earlier suspended international flights through October.
After several delays, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line now hopes to resume sailings on Aug. 28.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) is reducing its workforce by 27% – about 500 positions – as part of a new business structure that reflects the pandemic. GTAA says passenger numbers at Toronto Pearson currently are at approximately 1996 operating levels and dropped in April by 97% compared to the same period of 2019.
Air Transat made its first two delivery flights on the weekend (photo) with its new Airbus A321neoLRs jets fuelled by a kerosene blend containing 10% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), a first for the Canadian carrier. Transat president Jean-François Lemay, said, “This initiative is part of our commitment to reducing our own carbon footprint while contributing to the achievement of the airline industry’s ambitious decarbonization targets.”
Count Montreal among the gateways being serviced again by Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) as the carrier continues to bolster its resuming flights to key international gateways. Flights to Zurich operate on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays with an Airbus A340-300 increasing to four times weekly Sept. 1-Oct. 2 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
For 2021, Globus and Cosmos are making their group experiences even smaller with Small Group Discovery tours (average 20 passengers) on all departures through Central & South America, Asia, Africa and select departures in the South Pacific. Stéphanie Bishop, managing director for the Globus family of brands, says clients can have a big experience, like visiting Iguassu Falls (photos) in a small group, giving group members room to roam at the same time as up-close access to fascinating attractions. Globus also notes that its European Private Touring program, launched in 2018, provides travelling parties of two to two dozen their own dedicated tour director, private transportation and private guides on published itineraries.
G Adventures has released its 2022 program of Arctic and Norway departures aboard its 134 passenger G Expedition ship ahead of schedule. The 12 departures run from May to September 2022 and include a new 22-day “Norwegian Fjords and Realm of the Polar Bear” tour, which departs from Edinburgh and takes in the Norwegian Fjords before journeying on to the Arctic regions of Svalbard, Spitsbergen and Longyearbyen.
There’s a new Nobu in Chicago. The hotel – part of the lifestyle brand founded by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro and Meir Teper, is situated in the city’s vibrant West Loop, and features 115 guest rooms and suites; roof-top dining; meeting and event space; state-of-the-art fitness centre; and an indoor serenity swimming pool. A signature Nobu restaurant and bar will open at a later date. Guests can expect the company’s signature aesthetic – Japanese influence with an ultra-modern design, intended to create a zen oasis in the heart of the city.
The “Travel Freely: Free, Free, Free” promotion from AMResorts offers clients making bookings at 60-plus properties across the Caribbean, Central and South America a host of incentives, all for free: cancellations; additional night (varies by market and destination); upgrade to the next room category at check-in; kids stay free (up to two kids per room – available at Dreams, Now, Reflect and Sunscape Resorts & Spas); in-room welcome amenity (available at Zoetry, Secrets and Breathless Resorts & Spas); transfers for kids; $200 in resort coupons; and free night upon a return visit at any AMResorts property. The offer is valid for bookings made by Sept. 30 for travel through Dec. 22.
With French Polynesia officially re-opening to international tourism on July 15, Paul Gauguin Cruises is readying to welcome international guests starting with a 10-night Society Islands & Tuamotus voyage departing July 29 from Papeete, Tahiti. In August, the cruise line will resume its previously scheduled 7- to 14-night Tahiti, French Polynesia, and South Pacific sailings.
ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS
A new version of the popular EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival – the longest festival in Walt Disney World history – debuted with the re-opening of the park on July 15 and will continue into the fall. Blending floral the park’s annual flower and garden event with the food and wine festival, the new event will offer more than 20 signature global marketplaces, including Hawaii, Hops & Barley and Islands of the Caribbean. Additional tables will be added for social distancing.
FAMS & INCENTIVES
The “Sell Five, Sail Free” booking incentive from AmaWaterways has been launched six months ahead of schedule to give agents more time to earn a “much-needed” river cruise vacation. Travel advisors who make five new (fully paid) FIT bookings for 2021 by Dec. 31 will earn a complimentary seven-night AmaWaterways river cruise for themselves and a companion. As an added bonus, advisors who make 10 or more new FIT bookings will have the opportunity to be among the first guests to sail on board the AmaDahli, debuting on Egypt’s Nile River in September 2021.
Additional live site inspections of AMResorts properties have been scheduled as part of the chain’s “Back to the Beach Summer Series” and attendees qualify to win a three-night stay. The Zoom sessions are hosted by key resort team members and BDMs (all times 2 p.m. EDT unless otherwise noted):
• July 20, 1 p.m. EDT – Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun
• July 28 – Dreams Vista Cancun Golf & Spa Resort
• Aug. 4 – Breathless Cabo San Lucus Resort & Spa
• Aug. 11 – Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa
The Travel Agent Next Door celebrated a Virtual Gala Awards Night July 15 with a nearly three dozen top achiever awards for agents. Also feted were supplier partners in eight “most supportive” categories with winners including: Transat (Tour Operator and Best Overall Preferred Supplier); Goway (Land/Guided Tour); Celebrity (Ocean Cruise); AMA (River Cruise); TravelBrands (Best Overall Approved and FIT-Exotic); and G Adventures (Specialty Product).
Fans of Ernest Hemingway’s literary accomplishments and exuberant Key West lifestyle can celebrate both Tuesday through Sunday, (July 21-26), during the annual Hemingway Days festivities on the island he called home during the 1930s. Scheduled highlights include a virtual symposium with presenters including Ernest’s grandson John Hemingway. Symposium sessions are set for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and can be reserved (at a cost). Full details HERE.
The Rocky Mountain Park base town of Estes Park, Colorado, is doing its part for the environment with the introduction of its first electric trolley, to serve both residents and visitors during the peak summer season. A second 24-passenger vehicle is planned to enhance the town’s free shuttle service with officials expecting the two new trolleys to save almost 16,000 litres of fuel and reduce CO2 emissions by 30 metric tons.
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* Future dates and events listed here are up to date at time of printing, although obviously subject to changes due to ever-involving pandemic information. Travel Industry Today accepts no responsibility for sudden or unreported inaccuracies.
First published at Travel Industry Today