ROUND-UP:May 10-14, 2021
America opens up, but Toronto events remain closed; Transat and Princess Cruises delay operations; Sandals has a “landmark day”; and a host of incentives continue for travel counsellors throughout travel agent month in May; plus many more news highlights of the week:
Citing the unprecedented impact that the global pandemic has had on the air sector in Canada, including experiencing major decreases in traffic over the past 15 months, the federal government has unveiled a basket of programs to bolster airports with hundreds of millions of dollars in funding.
Nova Scotia’s provincial boundaries were closed to non-essential travel as the province tries to control a COVID-19 outbreak. Ontario extended its lockdown until June 2.
Citing sustained ridership declines in Ontario and Quebec and a lack of government support, Greyhound Canada has discontinued all operations on its remaining routes in Ontario and Quebec and permanently closed all services in Canada effective May 13. Cross-border operations through Greyhound Lines, Inc. (USA) are not affected (pending border re-opening).
Low-cost inter-city coach service Megabus is launching a new stop in Ottawa for travel between Toronto, Scarborough, Kingston, and the capital. Starting May 20, the route will offer double decker bus service four days a week from Thursday through Sunday. To mark the launch of the service, tickets are free for the first week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people in the US, allowing them to safely stop wearing masks inside in most places. Authorities remind, however, that the travelling public is “still required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in US transportation hubs such as airports and stations.”
BY THE NUMBERS
The number of planes landing in Canada carrying passengers with COVID-19 was cut by more than half in the two weeks after the government barred incoming flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days after high numbers of passengers were testing positive for the virus after landing. Health Canada data posted online show between April 10 and 23, 135 international flights arrived with at least one passenger who had COVID-19 – 36 of those were direct flights from India and two were from Pakistan. However, from April 24-May 7, the total number fell to 56 flights, including a dozen from the US and eight from Europe.
The British government’s roadmap out of lockdown continues today (May 17) with the go-ahead for pubs and restaurants in England to reopen indoor areas, and venues including theatres, stadiums, and cinemas able to admit limited audiences.
Nine casinos in Las Vegas owned by MGM Resorts International have been given approval to open casino floors at 100% capacity with no person-to-person distancing requirement. They include Bellagio, ARIA, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, New York-New York, Luxor, Excalibur and Park MGM. Other fully open casinos include Wynn Las Vegas, Encore and the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and the resort now known as the Strat.
Anguilla will re-open its borders to visitors on May 25 following a month-long closure for the management of a cluster of active COVID-19 cases.
Air Transat has extended the suspension of its flights until July 29, due to continued travel restrictions in Canada and abroad. The airline was slated to end in mid-June.
Toronto has cancelled major in-person events through to Labour Day due to COVID-19, a move that affects such prominent events as the Canadian National Exhibition, Honda Indy, Taste of the Danforth, Caribana, and the Labour Day Parade.
While Princess Cruises waits for travel restrictions to ease, the company is cancelling California Coast and Mexico sailings on Ruby Princess through Aug 21; Caribbean sailings on Caribbean Princess through Aug. 21; and the remaining 2021 Mediterranean season on Enchanted Princess. Princess says it is continuing discussions with various US and Canadian government officials to try to preserve a portion of the Alaska 2021 cruise season.
More non-stop options to Hawaii will be on Air Canada’s agenda next winter,
including the first Montreal-Honolulu and Toronto-Maui services, starting Dec. 12 and 18 respectively. The new flights complement the airline’s long-standing services from Calgary and Vancouver to the islands.
Sunwing’s return to the Waterloo, Ont., will feature Monday flights to Cancun from Dec. 13 to April 18, 2022. The carrier will also begin flights from Windsor to Varadero and Cayo, Santa Maria, Cuba, starting Dec 14 (until April 5) and Dec. 16 (to April 14) respectively.
Turkish Airlines will launch its 10th US gateway, Newark, NJ, on May 21. The carrier will service four flights per week to and from Istanbul until the end of May, and on June 1 will increase its frequency to daily flights. The carrier has also announced the return of its unique in-flight chef gourmet dining service for passengers on flights eight hours or longer.
Rocky Mountaineer and Fairmont Hotels have partnered to launch a special offer in which Canadian residents booking a package by June 11 can save up to $2,900 per couple. The offer is applicable to all Rocky Mountaineer packages and travellers can stay at a range of Fairmonts in western Canada, including Vancouver, and Banff Springs. Every booking comes with a risk-free deposit that is refundable up to 30 days prior to travel, two free dates changes, and free name changes, should some of the group not be able to travel. The first departure of the year is currently scheduled for July 5. The rail company is oddly celebrating its 30th anniversary during its 31st year of operation (having had to cancel its 2020 season due to the pandemic) and claiming, “31 is the new 30!”
Starting this summer 2021, Hélico Horizon Gaspésie will begin offering panoramic helicopter tours over Percé Rock, Bonaventure Island, and the Percé UNESCO Global Geopark at the eastern tip of the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec. The aerial tours will take sightseers soaring 900 metres above the geologically unique coastal landscape, offering a breathtaking new perspective on the region’s rugged rock formations and dramatic cliffs.
MSC Cruises has revealed details of the company’s brand-new itinerary in the Red Sea for the Winter 21/22 season. The first-time cruises feature Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, promising culturally rich destinations combined with top beach experiences. Homeporting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, MSC Magnifica will offer seven-night cruises, starting from Nov. 13, 2021 through to the end of March 2022. From Jeddah, the ship will call Aqaba for Petra in Jordan, Safaga for Luxor in Egypt, then the other Saudi ports of AlWajh and Yanbu before returning to Jeddah.
2024 sailings of Viking’s Mississippi River cruises are now on sale. The company’s first custom vessel, Viking Mississippi will debut in August 2022 and will sail voyages on the Lower and Upper Mississippi River, between New Orleans and St. Paul, Minn. Viking’s first river cruises in the US have already sold out through the 2023 sailing season prompting the cruise line to open 2024 dates sooner than expected.
With the reopening of its two Barbados hotels – Sandals Barbados and Sandals Royal Barbados – on Friday, the resort chain marked the first time since the start of the pandemic that all Caribbean destinations flying the Sandals and/or Beaches Resorts flags are accepting guests. Sandals executive chairman Adam Stewart called it a “landmark day.”
The Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach located in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, is welcoming guests back starting this month. The all-inclusive resort boasts an oceanfront pool, watersports, 1,220 m. of beautiful white-sand beaches, ocean view rooms, and more.
Set to open in June, the new Humaniti Hotel Montreal will be the first Autograph Collection property in Quebec. Located in the heart of the city, the development is already an urban landmark thanks to its H-shaped architecture that rises 39 stories above the city. The 193-room hotel is the focal point of a newly constructed European-inspired, mixed-use development. Amenities include the adjacent h3 lounge, featuring a unique view overlooking artist Marc Séguin’s massive ‘Hanima’ art sculpture, terrace, and rooftop pool. The property will also feature a urban-concept grocery store and French bakery on-site.
Virgin Hotels is taking reservations for the brand’s latest property: Virgin Hotels New Orleans. Situated in the city’s Warehouse District, the hotel will join the growing number of new restaurants, galleries, and shops in the burgeoning area. Located at 550 Baronne St. near the Central Business District, the new-build hotel will feature 238 guestrooms, including Grand Chamber Suites and two Penthouses.
ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS
Nassau, Bahama’s Baha Mar mega resort will make a splash on July 2 with the long-awaited opening of its new US$200-million luxury water park, Baha Bay. Set on 6.1 hectares facing the waterfront, the attraction will be exclusively available to guests at Baha Mar’s Grand Hyatt, SLS, and Rosewood hotels and feature over 20 attractions, including 24 water slides, dueling water coaster, 1.83-million-litre wave pool, action river winding, Surf Simulator, 2,400 sq. m. beachfront lounge area, and more.
FAMS & INCENTIVES
Through June 30, 2021, Sunwing is offering agents 5X the STAR Agent Reward Points that convert to cash on all new bookings to the newly renovated Tropical Deluxe Princess and Caribe Deluxe Princess in Punta Cana, for travel between Nov. 1 and Oct. 31, 2022. The popular beachfront resorts will be reopening in July following extensive renovations.
Ultra-luxury cruise line Silverseas is marking Travel Advisor Appreciation Month by rewarding its Very Important Partners (V.I.P.) with a selection of rewards for the month of May, including complimentary cruises for the three highest-selling travel advisors and $100 gift cards for all bookings. For details and to register for the gift card incentive, visit HERE.
AmaWaterways has announced special Advance FAM rates on 25 select sailings in Europe embarking October through December. Travel advisors can now reserve a seven-night river cruise more than five months prior to their departure and can earn back the cost of their stateroom by making three new FIT bookings on the same sailing. New client bookings under the “Sail With Me” bonus offer must be made during May.
To celebrate “Travel Advisor Month,” Warwick Paradise Island Bahamas is offering appreciation rates and a 3rd night free for travel advisors booking through May 31 for travel completed by Dec. 20, 2021.
May 23-30: TIAC is celebrating Tourism Week with a week-long series of activities and the mission to encourage to Canadians to pledge that they will travel in Canada this year. Click HERE for details and the agenda.
Michael Levinson is the new government-appointed chair of the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO). He replaces Jean Hébert whose term expired following his tenure as board chair over the past five-plus years. Levinson’s diverse background includes such positions as president of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel & Motel Association, VP of the Ontario Hotel & Motel Association, as well as being a board member of the Human Resources Executives of the Canadian Tourism Research Institute (CTRI), a division of the Conference Board of Canada.
The Canadian director of Discover the World, Joanne Lundy, is retiring after 28 years in the post. She will be replaced by a face familiar to the trade, Jane Clementino – a 30-year industry veteran whose CV includes Navigant/CWT Canada and most recently WestJet as Global Director of Indirect Sales. Although Lundy is retiring as director, she will continue to be involved on a part-time project basis. Global sales representation firm Discover the World Canada represents a broad range of clients including Sata Azores Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Condor, Caesars Entertainment, Loews Hotel Group, Europcar, Expedia TAAP, Bahamas Paradise Cruises, and more. Clementino can be reached at email@example.com.
The City of Charlottetown will add a representation of an Indigenous elder or child next to its downtown statue of Sir John A. Macdonald to create a reminder of the darker side of the former prime minister’s legacy. The change is one of several recommendations from Indigenous groups in PEI that have been adopted by city council. The statue of Canada’s first prime minister, sitting on a bench with his arm outstretched and his top hat beside him, has been vandalized three times in the past year.
The Hemingway Rum Co. Distillery in Key West, Fla., offers private “Papa’s Cocktail Classes” with a tour, tasting, mixology class, and cocktail glass for a maximum of 10 participants on Tuesdays through Sundays 5-6:30 p.m. Formerly a tobacco warehouse, the venue houses the Papa’s Pilar Rum production facility, an experience centre, tasting room and trading post. A 1,300-litre still produces up to 300 litres of rum daily from molasses, yeast, and water. Reservations are required for the experience at www.papaspilar.com.
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First published at Travel Industry Today