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ROUND-UP:March 15-19, 2021

Last week’s news includes more delays at the US-Canada border, mass vaccinations in Cuba, delays for Rocky Mountaineer, a new tourism tax in Cancun, and a border thaw in Iceland.


Non-essential travel restrictions will remain in place at the Canada-US border until at least April 21, a month beyond the last proposed date.

Starting April 1, tourists to the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun, will have to pay a 224 pesos (approx. $14) p.p. tax. The levy applies to all visitors over the age of 15 and is payable via a website called “Visitax” upon booking, during their stay, or at airport booths at departure.

Cuba expects to vaccinate its entire population by August, prompting tourist board officials to observe that “Cuba will be safer than ever and ready to receive Canadians when travel restrictions are lifted.”


Iceland has removed testing and quarantine protocols for all vaccinated travellers, including Canadians.

Cruises lines are starting to look to Britain for cruise options. MSC and Viking will begin Brits-only cruises in May, Princess in August. Britain’s advanced vaccination program is the motivating factor.


The start of its Canadian travel season for Rocky Mountaineer has been delayed until June 1. At the same time, the company has extended the inaugural runs of its new “Rockies to the Red Rocks” route in the US by four weeks, from Aug. 15 to Nov. 19.

Holland America Line has announced it is extending its pause of cruise operations to now include all June 2021 roundtrip sailings to Alaska from Seattle. This includes six cruises on Eurodam and Oosterdam with a call at Victoria, BC.

IATA will postpone its 77th IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit until Oct. 2-5. The Boston event was originally scheduled for June 27-29, also in Boston.


Emirates and TAP Air Portugal have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to expand the codeshare partnership currently in place between both airlines. Subject to required regulatory approvals, the expanded agreement is expected to come into effect from May 1 and will provide customers with seamless booking, ticketing and travel benefits across 70 destinations on both airlines’ networks.

Travelport has completed a multi-year extension of its full content agreement with American Airlines, including an agreement on the distribution of American Airlines’ NDC content. Also supported is American’s new codeshare and extended services relationship for domestic bookings with Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways.


Turkish Airlines reports that as of February, it is operating an average of 603 flights per day to 208 destinations worldwide – down 52% from its 2019 levels, but significantly more than most other airlines. Among those routes are Istanbul to Toronto (four to five times weekly) and Montreal (three times weekly).


With travel expected to see a strong rebound for late 2021 into 2022, it’s going to be more important than ever for travel advisors to use social media tools to market, strengthen their reputation, and drive bookings, according to BranchUp, which offers a free marketing tool designed especially for retail agents. Easy to access and use, BranchUp creates a mix of editorial content and special offers that are posted daily to travel advisors’ Facebook Business pages, helping to boost lead generation and sales. Agents can sign up HERE.


Globus has unveiled a new touring style that combines guided sightseeing with the choice of additional curated experiences that allow travellers to tailor their tour to their own interests. Starting in September, Choice Touring by Globus will be available across 13 itineraries in Europe and North America (including two in Canada) and all optional tour choices – on average, eight in three destinations per tour – are included in the package price.


In Florida, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium has opened “Whales: Living with Giants,” an exhibit in the facility’s newly expanded visitor centre. Activities include multi-media exhibits, a virtual reality experience, walk-through life-size whale gallery, kid’s interactive zone, and a theatre featuring whale related films and speakers. The exhibit runs through Aug. 31.


Florida’s new Capitana Key West — one of the closest North Roosevelt Boulevard properties to downtown Duval Street and with a private beach fronting the Gulf of Mexico — has opened as an Opal Collection property. Seventy-five units, each with a balcony, include 64 units with gulf views and 11 townhome-style cottages (offering grocery deliveries). The 64 units include two-bedroom family suites (one with bunks and one a king) with small kitchen and dining area; 32 king rooms, some with wraparound gulf-view balconies; and 29 queen rooms all with kitchenettes.

The opening of Sable at Navy Pier in Chicago marks the 100th property milestone for Curio Collection by Hilton; it is also the first hotel at Navy Pier, one of city’s most iconic and historic landmarks overlooking Lake Michigan. The high-end hotel boasts innovative and historically sensitive design, 223 guest rooms and suites with a nautical theme, and spectacular lake and skyline views.


In Islamorada, in the Florida Keys, the renovated pet-friendly Chesapeake Beach Resort, a Pacifica Host Hotels resort, has unveiled 20 new rooms in addition to the resort’s 32 previously renovated units. A new two-story Tiki hut is targeted for completion by summer’s end. In addition, 13 on-site villas are to undergo full renovations, scheduled for completion with new kitchenettes and bathrooms by mid-2022.


Royal Caribbean announced that it will begin offering cruises from Nassau starting June 12. The move follows similar plans announced by Crystal to homeport and sail in the Bahamas, although RCI’s seven-night itineraries aboard the Adventure of the Seas will also go further afield – to Cozumel, Mexico. Bookings open starting March 24 and cruises will continue through August.

Like its sister line, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises also announced a return to Caribbean cruising with the Celebrity Millennium set to sail from St. Maarten beginning June 5. The departures will mark the end of a year-long pandemic hiatus for the line with cruises heading for Aruba, Curacao and Barbados on one cruise, and Tortola, St. Lucia, and Barbados on another.


March 25: The Israel Ministry of Tourism is hosting a special Culinary Live Instagram event on Thursday with chef and cookbook author Adeena Sussman and food expert Jaime Milne will cook and discuss the food and culinary scene of the middle eastern nation. A save the date announcement and link will be made on Instagram today (Monday) and the page will be posted live on the 25th for the event at 1 p.m. EST.

May 2-4, 2022: The German National Tourist Board (GNTB) has announced that GTM Germany Travel Mart 2020 will take place from May 2 to 4 in Oberammergau, marking the first time for the trade event in the home of the famed Passion Play, which will take place in 2022 (after being postponed from the 2020 due to the pandemic).


Prominent travel industry personality Frank LaFleche died on March 11 at age 86. Frank had served at the Canadian Travel Commission but was coaxed out of retirement in 2005 to join, with wife Marie, the Jordan Tourism Board North America, from which he retired, for the second time, at a lavish “Where’s Frank” themed reception hosted by the JNTBNA in Toronto in 2017.

The Travel Agent Next Door celebrated its 7th anniversary on March 19. The host agency says it has grown over its short lifespan to a roster of 508 primary agents, 380 associate agents, and a staff of 45.


Chesapeake Bay, Maryland

Fun fact: March 25 is Maryland Day, in which residents and visitors commemorate the occasion in 1634 in which settlers disembarked from two small sailing ships onto Maryland soil. Those hanging around the “Old Line State” can also purposefully eat some oysters along the “Crab & Oyster Trail” in honour of National Oyster on the Half Shell Day on March 31, deemed to be an opportunity of “mindful travel” that helps preserve the Chesapeake Bay.

An innovative new museum dedicated to Inuit art and culture will soon open in Winnipeg. Designed by architect Michael Maltzan, Qaumajuq is inspired by the light and landscape of Canada’s North and will be home to the largest public collection of Inuit art in the world.

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First published at Travel Industry Today

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