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ROUND-UP:June 29-July 3, 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: Canadians can now travel again to Europe, Universal Studios Florida has a new attractions, and Barbados is ready to re-open to tourism.

NEWS

The European Union opened its external borders (Schengen area) on July 1 to residents of 14 countries, including Canada, but notably not the United States. The list is subject to review every two weeks.

TICO continues to extend its original 90-day fee deferrals for an additional month, adding June 30 year-ends to Dec. 31 (original due date: Sept. 30).

The Utah Office of Tourism says it remains committed to the Canadian market after receiving US$23.4 in funding from the state legislature, with about half of it coming from the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. “This funding ensures the Utah Office of Tourism remains committed to our core international markets including Canada,” says Corey Marshall, account director for the Utah Office of Tourism in Canada.

Vision Travel offices across the country are beginning to re-open with all 41 locations expected to be operating by the end of the summer. “As local jurisdictions ease restrictions on retail businesses, we’re very happy to be able to welcome many of our frontline staff and independent travel advisors back into our offices, even if on a part-time basis,” says Brian Robertson, president/Canada West Region for Direct Travel, which also reports “conservative but steady growth” of leisure travel inquiries and bookings for late 2020 and into the next two years.

RE-OPENING

Barbados has re-opened to tourism and commercial flights will begin on July 12 with twice weekly service from Air Canada. On arrival in Barbados, travellers will be required to present evidence of a negative result of a PCR COVID-19 test (taken within the previous seven days), and bar code to clear immigration. Travellers without a documented negative PCR test result from an accredited or recognized laboratory will be required to take a test upon arrival, and will be quarantined at their expense, pending the results.

As Great Britain eases COVID restrictions, Historic Royal Palaces reports that it will be lowering the drawbridge at the Tower of London to allow visitors in starting July 10; allowing access to the interior spaces at Hampton Court Palace as of July 17; and re-opening Kensington Palace and Hillsborough Castle on July 30.

DELAYED

Costa announced a further pause for all its cruises until Aug. 15, 2020 and the cancellation of all cruises in Northern Europe for the remainder of the 2020 summer season.

Porter Airlines is modifying its return-to-service date in light of ongoing government travel restrictions. The new restart date is Aug. 31 instead of the previously announced target of July 29.

BY THE NUMBERS

According to IATA, North American carriers had a 98.2% traffic decline in May, little changed from a 98.4% decline in April. Capacity fell 94.5%, and load factor dropped 56.7 percentage points to 27.2%.

AIR

PAL Airlines says it is committed to continuing service in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. “PAL Airlines knows firsthand the uncertainty COVID-19 has created in Canadian commercial aviation,” said airline president Calvin Ash. “Given recent events, we believe it is important to restate our commitment to serving our network in Atlantic Canada and Quebec and to assure our passengers that they can continue to book future travel with confidence in our airline.”

With little advance fanfare, new three-times weekly service into Toronto Pearson was launched on Saturday by Qatar Airways. The flights on Airbus A350-900 aircraft join existing four-times weekly service from Doha to Montreal thereby giving Canadians daily flights to the Qatari capital.

DEALS

After a temporary three-month closure due to COVID -19, Royalton Luxury Resorts has announced it will be reopening four of its most popular resorts on July 15. To celebrate, Sunwing is offering up to 50% off for bookings made by July 10.

TOURS

Vancouver-based Fresh Tracks Canada is a new preferred partner of Transat Distribution Canada (TDC). Fresh Tracks offers a diverse range of domestic tourism experiences ranging from canoeing in Alberta (photo) to high arctic and wildlife experiences, as well as self-drive itineraries and personalized journeys for FIT & Groups.

Sunquest’s new SPFPlus program is an add-on feature that allows clients to make their final payment due 30 days prior to departure, deposit only $150 p.p., and receive a future travel voucher for cancellations made up to five days prior to a departure. Plus, travellers receive price drop protection. The introductory price of Sunquest Protection Factor Plus is $19.99 in July for all future travel dates and $10 from every purchase will be donated to Food Bank Canada.

HOTELS

With COVID raging in Texas, Margaritaville’s vaunted “no worries” atmosphere may be a little misplaced at the moment; nevertheless, the hotel chain has just opened its newest resort – Margaritaville Lake Resort, Lake Conroe/Houston – set on 75 waterfront hectares on the shore of Lake Conroe. Perhaps some day…

RESORTS

With the reopening of several of its hotels in Aruba, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, Riu Hotels & Resorts now has properties open in all its Caribbean destinations. The openings of the Riu Palace Bavaro (Punta Cana) and the Riu Palace Paradise Island (Bahamas) took place on July 1, Riu Reggae in Jamaica on July 3, and Riu Palace Aruba will re-open on July 10. After these openings, the chain will have resumed it activity in 16 of the 19 countries where it operates, pursuing its goal of gradually reactivating its 99 hotels.

CRUISE

Crystal Cruises will launch seven-night “Sunkissed Chic” and “Tropical Interlude” Caribbean voyages between Miami and San Juan aboard the Serenity in October and November. Clients can benefit from receiving the best stateroom or suite available at the time of booking; reduced deposit of $100 per guest; low Solo Fares from 125%; $250 As You Wish shipboard credit per stateroom or suite (based on double occupancy); and 10% cruise fare savings on the combined 14-night itinerary.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Jason Bourne’s perpetual flight from the US government has taken him to Universal Studios Florida, where the tortured ex-agent will entertain guests at the newly opened Bourne Stuntacular attraction (photo). Through the use of live performers, ground-breaking technology, extreme stunts and captivating practical effects, park guests will be immersed in Bourne’s world in a recreation of the blockbuster film series that Universal says “blurs the lines between stage and cinema in a hybrid form of entertainment that has never been seen before.” The show includes props and clips from the film and an introduction from Julia Stiles as her character from the films, Nicky Parsons.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

Travel agents registering for Iberostar’s StarAgents reward program before July 7 will receive 1,000 just for signing up and three times rewards for new bookings to Mexico, Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

Newly launched in Canada, the program offers a variety of incentives to agents for bookings, including the ability to redeem points for free stays.

DESTINATIONS

Invoking “the Francophone culture and the warm hospitality that has established Québec as a unique and world-class destination,” the province has updated its tourism brand from Quebec Original to “Bonjour Quebec.”

As British Columbia enters Phase 3 of the Province’s Restart Plan, Indigenous Tourism BC (ITBC) reports that its Trip Planner mobile app has been enhanced with travel and safety information including up-to-date operating hours, booking requirements and new community protocols. The app is an intuitive planning resource with educational tools that immerses travellers in the culture, history and raw beauty of BC’s Indigenous territories. Check it out HERE.

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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