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ROUND-UP:July 20-24, 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: Transat is flying again, Emirates will cover medical and quarantine costs for passengers, and Beaches is headed for St. Vincent.

NEWS

In what it says is an industry first, Emirates will cover its passengers’ costs for up to two weeks (and over $5,000) if they test positive for COVID-19 while travelling. The initiative applies to any destination, in any class of travel on departures starting by or on Oct. 31 and will reimburse medical costs for passengers up to approx. CAD$230 and quarantine costs of $155 per day for 14 days while they are away from home. Details are available on the company web site.

The island of Barbados is now accepting applications for its new 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp. This special visa provides remote workers with an opportunity to “transport their home office to paradise” by relocating to Barbados for up to a year. Cost is US$2,000 for an individual, $3,000 for a family. For more information and to submit an application,  www.Barbadoswelcomestamp.bb

RE-OPENING/STARTING

The Airbus A330 cabin crew who flew Air Transat’s first Montréal-Paris (TS110) flight on July 23, after four months of inactivity: (l-r) Marie-Josée Villeneuve, Serge Palasse, Sophie Brunet, Sonia Stahl, Josée Robitaille, Paule Parent, Alain Trudel, Carole Théorêt, and Louise Lefebvre. Photo: Catherine Pleau/Transat

After 112 days of air downtime due to COVID-19, Air Transat returned to the skies on Thursday (July 23) with three international flights (Montreal-Toulouse, Montreal-Paris and Toronto-London) and three domestic flights (Montreal-Toronto, Toronto-Montreal and Toronto-Vancouver). Transat’s entire reduced summer schedule of 24 routes to some 20 destinations will be up and running by Aug. 2. The company’s

Traveller Care practical guide has been updated to include hyperlinks about entry requirements for each destination offered.

Dominica is reopening its borders to foreign visitors starting Aug. 7. Both tourists and nationals must obtain a negative COVID-19 test (PCR) result recorded 24 to 72 hours before arrival then complete an online questionnaire at least 24 hours in advance and show their clearance to travel. Upon arrival, they will undergo a series of checks, including a rapid test screening. Should the passenger present any signals deemed unsafe, such as a positive test result, they will be quarantined at a government facility or a certified hotel.

DELAYED

G Adventures reports that it has taken “the unfortunate but necessary decision” to further suspend tours departing up to and including Sept. 30, 2020, as well as the Oct. 21, 2020 departure of its G Expedition ship. This comes with the exception of 21 departures operating between certain countries in Europe that are open for travel. Travellers can rebook their tour for a future date or book a different tour instead. All travellers booked and fully paid on a tour departing up to Sept. 30, 2020 will receive a 110% travel credit on all booked tour services.

BY THE NUMBERS

Vision Travel recently released results of a vacation/travel intentions survey with two-thirds (67%) of Canadian respondents reporting that they are already planning their next holiday. Among those, 46% imagine it will take place in 2021 while 16% are making plans for 2020. The top three destinations: 64% Canada or US; 47% Europe; 44% Caribbean or Mexico. Other data: 46% anticipate staying in a (safe haven) resort; 41% plan a self-drives trip, whether using the family car or a rental vehicle; and 24% expect to cruise or take an escorted tour.

AIR

Travel agents can now process prepayments for checked baggage through the GDS for all Air Transat flights. The transaction will be processed via the Electronic Miscellaneous Document (EMD), which allows agents to issue electronic vouchers for this ancillary service. The EMD will be linked to Air Transat’s e-ticket.

Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge at Toronto Pearson has reopened with new biosafety protocols. Lounges in Montreal and Vancouver are planned to re-open by Labour Day.

Following the July 7 relaunch of scheduled service to five British Columbia cities, Central Mountain Air (CMA) has announced the resumption of flights between three additional Alberta and BC destinations – Fort Nelson (YYE), High Level (YOJ), and Edmonton (YEG) – effective Sept. 14 and now available for booking online.

DEALS

Clients who book select 2021 cruises with AmaWaterways before Sept. 30 will receive free airfare. Plus, on additional select 2021 sailings, the special airfare offer is Free Companion Air (based on double occupancy with one fully paid adult airfare purchased through AmaWaterways). As an alternative to either offer, cruise savings of up to $2,000 per stateroom are available.

TOURS

Transat is relaxing the terms around the use of the future travel credits issued for flights, packages, and guided tours (cruises excluded) as a result of COVID cancellations. Those future travel credits are now fully transferable, with no expiry date.

RESORTS

Sandals future site – St. Vincent

The former Buccament Bay Spa and Resort in St. Vincent and the Grenadines  will be redeveloped into the fourth Beaches resort in the Sandals Resorts International portfolio. The all-inclusive marks Sandals’ eighth Caribbean island and promises to be a game-changer for SVG, which does not have any mass-market resorts. No opening date has been announced.

HOTELS

Marriott International has opened its 800th property in Asia Pacific, the JW Marriott Nara in Japan. The opening marks the entry of the JW Marriott brand into the country. The company also expects its EDITION and Aloft brands to debut in Japan before the end of the year. Across the Asia Pacific region throughout 2020, the Moxy brand anticipates its first hotel opening in China.

CRUISE

As travellers continue to navigate the uncertainty of planning travel during the pandemic, Crystal is expanding its peace of mind focused booking policies. For a limited time, the new Crystal Confidence 2.0 allows travellers 90 days from the time of booking to place their deposit on 2020-23 reservations across all brands – Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yacht Cruises and Crystal Expedition Cruises. In addition, the company is relaxing final payment deadlines for all its current savings programs.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

As a result of later opening dates for many of its resorts, AMResorts has extended the pause of its AMRewards Travel Agent Loyalty Program, which is now expected to return early in Q4. Any points expiring during this time will automatically be extended and available for use for 60 days from the date the program resumes.

EVENTS

Agents are invited to join Air Canada Vacations for upcoming webinars on Mexico, Victoria, BC, and the Palladium Hotel Group:

• July 28 (11 a.m. PST/2 p.m. EST): Features the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Embassy of Mexico in Canada, and the Quintana Roo Tourism Board on the reopening of Mexican Caribbean. The panel will address health and safety protocols along with helpful tips on what attractions are ready and available for tourists. Register HERE.

• July 30 (1 p.m. EST): Tourism Victoria discusses all that Victoria, BC has to offer and includes health and safety measures. Register HERE.

• Aug. 5 (10 a.m. PST/ 1 p.m. EST) and Aug. 6 (French, 11 a.m. EST): The Palladium Group on free COVID insurance. Register HERE for English, and HERE for French.

DESTINATIONS

It is expected that events of all types, including sporting events as well as business and conferences, will be permitted to resume in the United Kingdom starting Oct. 1 provided rates of infection remain at current levels. The UK government will hold a number of pilots at event venues around the country to plan for the return of large-scale events and test how to implement social distancing practices. Details will be finalized in the coming weeks.

Los Cabos has three brand-new Blue Flag-certified beaches. The newly anointed beaches are La Gaviota, Monument and El Surgidero, bringing the total Blue Flag beaches in Los Cabos to 22. This makes Los Cabos the No. 1 certified Blue Flag beach contributor in Mexico.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

* 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

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