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ROUND-UP:March 8-12, 2021

Transat expects to fly again in June; a new US airline gets approval; and a Canadian group sues the government over its hotel quarantine program. Read on for more of last week’s notable news…

NEWS

A constitutional rights advocacy group is mounting a legal challenge to the federal government’s quarantine hotel policy, arguing it infringes on Canadians’ fundamental rights. The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) has filed an application with Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice along with five individuals, seeking an end to the policy.

If Canadians shift two-thirds of their planned spend on international leisure travel towards domestic tourism, it will make up for the estimated $19 billion shortfall currently facing this country’s visitor economy, help sustain 150,000 jobs, and accelerate recovery by one year, says Destination Canada, which says one in every 10 Canadian jobs is tied to tourism.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

Air Transat expects to begin flying again “sometime around mid-June” in time for the summer season to Europe, the company says. The restart follows a suspension of the company’s regular flights until the end of April following the Canadian government’s request in January to stop travel to Mexico and the Caribbean because of the pandemic.

Crystal Cruises will launch cruises to and within The Bahamas starting July 3, making the company the first ocean cruise line to return to sailing from the Americas since the cruise industry’s voluntary halt in operations almost a year ago. The series of “Bahamas Escape Cruises” will utilize the Crystal Serenity to sail 16 seven-night voyages from Nassau and Bimini respectively to four Bahamian islands. The cruises replace the ship’s previously scheduled itineraries for the period July 8 to Oct. 19, 2021.

Construction has resumed on Universal Orlando Resort’s Epic Universe, which was paused last July due to the pandemic. Universal’s fourth Orlando theme park after Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay (water park), Epic was due to open in 2023, but will now be delayed until an as-yet-to-be-announced date.

DELAYED/ CANCELLED

Princess Cruises is extending its pause of cruise vacations sailing the Caribbean, California Coast, Mexico and Mediterranean through June 30; Holland America similarly is extending its pause of European cruise operations to include departures through June 30, 2021.

Seabourn is cancelling a series of select 2021 Europe departures. Voyages affected include: Sojourn, Encore, and Ovation, all until July 3; and Seabourn Quest, until Nov. 7.

AIR

The US Transportation Department has granted approval for a new airline led by David Neeleman, who started JetBlue Airways two decades ago. Breeze Aviation Group has up to one year to begin flights using up to 22 planes, the company said Wednesday.

WestJet has cancelled orders for 15 Boeing 737 Max aircraft as the industry-wide downturn in aviation continues. The cancellations leave WestJet with 27 Max aircraft remaining on order.

Aeroplan members can link their account to their Starbucks Rewards account and earn Aeroplan points in addition to Starbucks Stars at participating Starbucks locations throughout Canada.

BY THE NUMBERS

The parent company of British Airways and Iberia says it lost 6.9 billion euros ($10.6 billion) in 2020 as the pandemic caused a near-total collapse in international air traffic. IAG’s after-tax loss compared with a profit of 1.7 billion euros the year before. Its revenue slumped 70 per cent to 7.8 billion euros. Passenger capacity at IAG’s airlines in 2020 was just 33% of what it was the previous year. In the current quarter, it is estimated at just 20% of what it was in the same period of 2019.

DEALS

Atlantis on Paradise Island in The Bahamas is offering savings of up to 20% on refundable rates when booking at least 30 days in advance. And extended-stay guests at the Grand Isle Resort & Spa in Exuma can receive up to 50% off when staying 14 days or more.

TOURS

As it attempts to navigate the uncertainly of travel during the pandemic, Rocky Mountaineer has been forced to delay the start of its Canadian travel season until June 1. However, the company has also extended departures of its new “Rockies to the Red Rocks” route in the US by 16 trips over four weeks (Aug. 15-Nov. 19).

Toronto-based Kensington Tours reports that the company will manage in-destination COVID-19 testing for all clients in order to help them meet government requirements for a negative test before returning to Canada and the United States. For itineraries that include two or more countries that may require a negative test to enter, Kensington Tours will also arrange and manage testing.

CRUISE

Virgin Voyages’ third ship will be named Resilient Lady and is scheduled to join the fleet on 1 July, 2022. It will join the first Virgin vessel Scarlet Lady scheduled to debut in July this year – a year later than scheduled. The second ship Valiant Lady is now scheduled to debut in November 2021.

In 2022, Holland America Line will celebrate 75 years of Alaska exploration — longer than any other cruise line — and bookings are now open for cruises and land excursions. From April through October 2022, guests can embark on cruises aboard Eurodam, Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Oosterdam and Zuiderdam. For clients who want to travel farther inldan, 16 different Land+Sea Journeys combine a three-, four- or seven-day Alaska cruise with an inland exploration of Denali National Park. Holland America Line is also the only cruise line that extends land tour options to the Yukon Territory.

RESORTS

Hotel Xcaret Arte

The first of Grupo Xcaret’s hotels exclusively for adults is set to open on July 1. The 900-suite Hotel Xcaret Arte will feature seven restaurants, a spa/wellness centre, five distinct immersive cultural experiences, multiple pools, and expansive events and convention facilities. Resort guests will also have unlimited access to seven eco-adventure parks and tours and nine different culinary options led by top chefs, including Michelin-starred Paco Mendez.

Playa Hotels & Resorts has announced its newest all-inclusive resort with Hilton, adding The Yucatan Resort Playa del Carmen, Tapestry Collection by Hilton to its managed resort portfolio and entering the growing soft branded all-inclusive market. Playa first entered a strategic alliance with Hilton in 2018 and currently operates Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa in Jamaica, Hilton La Romana all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic and Hilton Playa del Carmen in Mexico. The adults-only Yucatan Resort Playa del Carmen, formerly the Live Aqua, will be the second Playa-managed Hilton all-inclusive property in Playa del Carmen and as a result, guests of both resorts will have expanded offerings between the two properties. The 60-room boutique resort is scheduled to open in May.

HOTELS

Two new Washington DC openings of note: Coming this month, The Ven at Embassy Row is part Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio and will feature 231 rooms inspired by Scadinavian design at is Dupont Circle address, overlooking the city’s “embassy row.” Also, sophisticated boutique property The Banneker, named after noted Black innovator Benjamin Banneker, has a Spring opening date with 144 rooms overlooking the Washington monument.

As Tokyo prepares for the Olympics, the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi has opened, the brand’s third property in Japan. The glittering, all-new hotel overlooks the Imperial Palace and Gardens in the Otemachi district and is highlighted by four new food and beverage concepts as well as a stunning spa designed by Jean-Michel Gathy.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

SeaWorld reports that its theme parks in Orlando, San Antonio and San Diego are welcoming guests back with extended operating schedules, new experiences, open-air events, and signature animal presentations and exhibits. As part of those measures, reservations are required to manage capacity, so guests should purchase date-specific tickets in advance of their visit to secure admission.

The grand opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT in Orlando will be Oct. 1, 2021. The new family-friendly attraction will officially debut as part of the kickoff for “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” honouring Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th anniversary.

EVENT

March 16: European river cruise brand Riviera River Cruises will host a webinar for Canadian travel agents on Tuesday at 1 p.m. EST. Registrants for the “Hidden Gems of European Cruising” session will qualify for bonus commission and the chance to take part in a fam. Registrants can also see the webinar on demand. Register HERE.

May 11-14 – Typically held early in the year, the annual Caribbean Travel Marketplace, which was one of the last unaffected trade shows of 2020 (in Nassau, Bahamas in January) will take place virtually in 2021 for first time in its nearly 40 years. Details for the 39th annual show are being developed but the traditional two-day live format will be doubled online.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

To celebrate the launch of a new group sales incentive, agents who book a new group with Trafalgar, Costsaver, Insight Vacations, Luxury Gold or Contiki through June 30 will receive a bonus commission of $250 for bookings of more than nine guests, $750 for groups of 15-plus, and $1,000 for groups with 20-plus guests. Two webinars will be hosted on March 19 and 26 to discuss groups and the sales incentive. Contact The Travel Corporation for details.

Luxury cruise line Silversea Cruises has extended its support to travel partners by offering a Cdn$255 bonus commission on all bookings through April 30, as well as including more voyages eligible for this commission. Extended following its successful launch, the special commission incentive is now available on new bookings made on any Silversea voyage departing on or after Oct. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022. Moreover, the line has also enhanced guests’ flexibility by extending its Cruise with Confidence policy and its reduced deposit initiative until April 30.

DESTINATIONS

Canadian trail

The Canadian federal government plans to invest $400 million over five years to help build new and expanded networks of pathways, bike lanes, trails, and pedestrian bridges. Past projects have included the Grouse Mountain Regional Park trails in North Vancouver, the Flora Foot Bridge in Ottawa, a bikeway extension in Corner Brook, and a new cycling path along the Mine, Notch and Kingsmere corridor in Chelsea, Que.

In St. Martin, perfumer Tijon hosts masterclasses in perfume making for visitors, teaching how fragrances are created. Participants can have fun experimenting with different mixtures, learn the history and art of making perfume, and create their own “aphrodisiac.”

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

 

 

 

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

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