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ROUND-UP:May 17-21, 2021

A busy week of border talk, a new refund tracking tool from Transat,  more Porter delays; oh, and happy national tourism week.

NEWS

It’s National Tourism Week in Canada (May 23-30). The annual event, which has been organized by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) since 2013, takes on a whole new meaning this year. “This,” says TIAC, “is our chance to rally as an industry to convince Canadians that we are a sector to believe in.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speculated that the Canada US-border – closed to non-essential travel for over a year – may require over 75% of Canadians being vaccinated before it might re-open. The monthly border opening postponement has been pushed to June 21.

Following the announcement by the EU that Europe will relax border restrictions and allow Canada’s fully vaccinated travellers to visit the 27-nation bloc, Canada’s largest airlines renewed their call for a clear plan from Ottawa on resuming international travel. Later in the week, Transport Minister said he could not offer a clear plan other than to state that it is too soon to lift travel restrictions.

Canadians attempting to drive across the American border solely for a COVID-19 vaccination, even with a doctor’s referral, would be denied entry, the US border agency says. Unlike the Canadian government, Customs and Border Protection does not consider a vaccine essential for entry purposes.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

AmaWaterways plans to return to the rivers of Europe with the resumption of sailings onboard select ships beginning July 3 in Portugal.

The new custom-built 20-suite river vessel, Aqua Nera, will make her maiden voyage on the Peruvian Amazon on June 12. With tourism re-opening, the Aqua Expeditions vessel will begin a series of three-, four- and seven-night expeditions from its home port of Iquitos.

DELAYED/ CANCELLED

Porter Airlines is resetting its tentative date for resuming flights to July 20. Porter previously set June 21, as its tentative restart date. Operations were temporarily suspended on March 21, 2020, due to COVID-19.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing travel restrictions, Sunwing is extending its temporary suspension of flights until July 29, 2021.

BY THE NUMBERS

In its just-released annual report, VIA Rail says it experienced a 77% drop in ridership and a decrease of 80% in passenger revenues in 2020 compared to 2019.

AIR

United, Delta and American have said they are resuming flights to Tel Aviv after Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire in violence that had included rockets fired at Ben Gurion International Airport.

Transat now offers travellers and travel agents the possibility to easily track their refund requests with a new tool available on its website. To check the status of a request, simply enter the Transat booking number and full name. Note that the tool does not provide tracking for group or GDS bookings.

Service to the sun for Ontario residents from John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport begins in Dec. 10-12 with Sunwing flights to Cancun, Punta Cana, Montego Bay, Varadero, Cayo Coco, and Cayo Santa Maria. The season concludes April 17, 2022. Bookings made by May 31 receive $1,000 per couple off.

Breeze Airways will begin flying this week (May 27) and says it will expand by July to 16 cities, mostly in the southeast and central US. Breeze, the creation of JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman, is targeting secondary cities that are largely overlooked or have other non-stop routes.

DEALS

Families, couples, and solo travelers can take advantage of up to 45% off, plus perks, at Club Med resorts in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Florida. The “Splash into Summer” sale is open for bookings through June 30 for select travel dates through Dec. 17, 2021.

Through June 16, Sonesta Resorts Sint Maarten’s Vaxication Sale offers up to 40% off all-inclusive rates booked at the adults-only Sonesta Ocean Point Resort and the family-focused Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa. Travel must be completed by Sept. 30. Use the code: PROVAX.

TOURS

Holland’s once-a-decade Floriade Expo 2022, one of the world’s major horticultural shows, will be offered as part of three Trafalgar tours covering the Low Countries next year. Some of the highlights for Trafalgar guests include riding an 850-m. cable car over the southern and northern parts of the Floriade park, and exploring the pavilions and greenhouse complexes to learn from experts what is needed to build a “green city.” Itineraries include Florida include the six-day Amsterdam Explore, seven-day Best of Holland, and 10-day Best of Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Floriade runs April 14-Oct. 9.

The tiny Caribbean island of Nevis is aiming to attract travellers interested in culinary and agri-tourism with the introduction of its latest destination experience, the “Around the Garden” tour. The five-acre fruit farm in Cades Bay has been developed using a park model where picnic benches, Wi-Fi connectivity and refreshments will be available to guests. The new farm tour will be offered in two tiers, providing visitors with the opportunity to choose either the 40-minute or 60-minute option and will be conducted twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays. For info or to book, email aroundthegardentour@gmail.com.

HOTELS

Geejam Hotel

One of Jamaica’s hippest boutique properties, the Geejam Hotel in Port Antonio, recently completed a significant expansion with the addition of a three-storey, 12-room block, and a new communal infinity pool built 60 m. above the Caribbean Sea. The hotel’s new Rhumba Rooms have been designed in Geejam’s signature jungle-chic style with curated artworks portraying famed Jamaican musicians featured in each space. Nestled in the lush rainforest foothills of the Blue Mountains, the exclusive clifftop hideaway has become a favourite among creative types and celebrity guests thanks to its secluded setting and a unique on-site recording studio (Drake, Santigold, Major Lazer and Amy Winehouse have all worked on projects there).

The largest hotel in San Francisco and on the West Coast, the Hilton San Francisco Union Square Hotel, reopens its doors today (May 24) for the first time in over a year. Throughout the pandemic, the 46-tower property displayed an illuminated heart and “S.F” to honor the city and serve as a sign of hope and solidarity for the San Francisco community.

RESORTS

On June 15 Now Onyx Punta Cana will become Dreams Onyx Resort & Spa. Property enhancements and upgrades include 320 new Premium Jr. Suites offering 272 connecting rooms and 16 two-bedroom family suites to accommodate large families; jungle water park featuring four water slides, a lazy river and swim-up bar; New Explorer’s Club for Kids, including a playground, painting room, splash zone and small stage; and more.

Nassau, Bahamas’ long-awaited Margaritaville Beach Resort will officially open on July 1 following a soft opening period. The casual-luxe resort will unveil the family-friendly Fins Up Water Park, featuring multiple slides, surf simulator, lazy river, dive pool, and grotto. Ten island-inspired bars and restaurants will open ranging from Caribbean casual to upscale cuisine. Also opening will be a kids club and spa.

CRUISE

MSC Cruises announced it will restart its sailing operations in Germany on July 3 with is first-ever deployment of an innovative Seaside class ship to operate in the Baltic Sea. The MSC Seaview will homeport in Kiel until September and offer seven-night voyages – all to include protected shore excursions – to Visby on Sweden’s largest island of Gotland, the port of Nynashamn for Swedish capital city Stockholm, and Estonia’s capital Tallinn, before returning to the northern Germany port.

On Oct. 15, 1872, Rotterdam I — the first Holland America Line ship — embarked on its maiden voyage from Rotterdam to New York. Exactly 150 years later, on Oct. 15, 2022, Rotterdam VII will depart Rotterdam once again as HAL recreates the historic crossing on its 150th anniversary with calls at Plymouth, England and an overnight in New York before continuing on to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Disneyland has announced that its new Avengers Campus – an entirely new land dedicated to the next generation of superheroes – will open June 4 inside Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, Ca. Highlights include a Spider Man adventure, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout, plus activities featuring Iron Man and Ant-Man and The Wasp.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

Sunwing is offering agents 5X the STAR Agent Reward Points that convert to cash on new bookings to select Dreams Resorts & Spas and Secrets Resorts & Spas properties. Agents can take advantage of the on applicable new bookings made through June 4 for travel between Nov. 1 and April 30, 2022.

The two newest ships in Silversea’s fleet—Silver Origin and Silver Moon—will lead the cruise line’s return to service starting in June, with the former starting her inaugural season in the Galapagos Islands from June 19. As an incentive for bookings, the cruise line is offering free trip (for top seller) and gift cards during the month of May.

IATA is boosting the benefits associated with its globally recognized IATA ID card industry credentials, as well as its AgentExperience platform. Noting that eligible travel professionals who possess the ID can already access benefits such as special offers for flights, hotels, car rentals, sightseeing, ground transportation, familiarization trips, and training courses, IATA says an additional 180,000 worldwide hotel properties with attractive rates have been added to the portfolio through a new partnership with hotelbeds.com.

EVENTS

June 9-10: G Adventures’ flagship training event for travel counsellors, Special Agent G, will be held virtually on June 9 and 10, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. EDT. The free two-day certification course requires the completion of two introductory training modules prior to the event, which is open to all agents, including previous participants. Highlights include exclusive offers and giveaways. For information and to register, click HERE.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Recently Team TPI gathered virtually for a mid-year conference, focusing on ways that the TPI Network can activate their business for future success. The two-day event brought together 350 attendees and over 30 supplier partners and featured presentations from ACV VP Nino Montagnese; Gary Murphy of AMAWaterways; Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean; Rob McChlery, Investors Group; and keynote session by industry veteran and author Geraldine Ree. TPI announced that its 2022 conference will be an in-person event May 1-5

TPI has also recognized that two of its advisors, Kim Paquette (Ont.) and Dorothy Beaton (NB) were listed among Celebrity Cruise’s Top 50 Travel Partner Awards, while Erin Novodvorsky (On.) was named Ottawa Travel Agent of the Year by Faces Magazine.

DESTINATIONS

The Underwater Museum of Cannes, France
, took over four years to develop and is now open to divers. Located at Saint Marguerite Island off the Bay of Cannes, museum features the latest sculpture installments by artist, Jason deCaires Taylor – each sectioned into two parts, the outer part resembling a mask. The theme of the masks connects to the history of the island, best known as the location where ‘the Man with the Iron Mask’ was imprisoned. The split mask is also a metaphor for the ocean, with one side depicting strength and resilience, the other fragility and decay.

The Cuba Tourist Board in Canada reports that the country has started to vaccinate all tourism workers as part of its plan to reach 70% of the population by August. The rollout of the vaccines began in Havana with tourist drivers in the capital and will be extended to all hotel and tourism workers in the main destinations in the country. “This process will offer greater safety assurances to Canadians when visiting the island,” says Lessner Gomez, Director of the Cuba Tourist Board in Toronto.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

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