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ROUND-UP:May 3-7, 2021

Cruising in the US inches closer, vaccine passports may be required to enter Canada, and Holland America sets its sights on a cruising restart in August, plus more of last week’s news round-up:

NEWS

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada may require international travellers to prove they were vaccinated against COVID-19 before they can enter the country. The PM said the federal government will align its policy on whether it will require travellers to provide a vaccine certification with its international allies.

Cruise lines can soon begin trial voyages in US waters with volunteer passengers helping test whether the ships can sail safely during a pandemic. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave ship operators final technical guidelines last Wednesday for the trial runs. The CDC action is a step toward resuming cruises in US waters, possibly by July, for the first time since March 2020.

Public health officials in Toronto said they would not fully shut down a federal quarantine hotel for international travellers where more than a dozen staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Thirteen staff at the Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport Hotel had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

Holland America Line announced that it will return to the seas in August from Greece. Bookings for Greek Island cruises departing Aug. 15 and 29 are open now. Further Med cruises aboard the Eurodam – before the vessel returns to the US in November – will be announced soon.

May 7 marked the return to service of UnCruise Adventures in Alaska with the company’s first full sailing out of Juneau and into Glacier Bay National Park. The full Alaska season will include six adventure itineraries out of Juneau, Sitka and Ketchican with 22-86 guests, led by a fully vaccinated crew. The company’s recent policy requires all guests to provide proof of vaccination to embark on their adventure to the Great Land.

DELAYED/ CANCELLED

In Germany, Bavarian officials have cancelled Oktoberfest for a second year in a row because of the safety risks due to the pandemic. The beer-drinking festivities typically attract about 6 million visitors from around the world.

A requirement that people on planes and other forms of transportation in the US wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will remain in place through at least Sept. 13, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says. The mandate, which went into effect Feb. 1, was set to expire May 11

BY THE NUMBERS

More than 5,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 after flying back to Canada since mandatory quarantine hotels began in late February, including 3,748 people who tested positive the day they returned despite having to show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before they boarded their plane.

The data suggest about 1.5% of incoming travellers test positive on the day they land in Canada and another 1,411 people tested positive on the test required 10 days after they returned. About 40% of those people were infected with one of the three variants of concern Canada is tracking.

AIR

Sunwing flights to Cancun from North Bay, Ont., will start Dec. 16, continuing through April 14, 2022. Also from northern Ontario, Sudbury-Varadero service takes flight Dec. 17 through April 15. Customers who book their getaway at select resorts by May 31 will receive up to $1,000 per couple in value during the tour operator’s extended Freedom 21/22 Sale, including complimentary Price Drop Cash Back of up to $800 per couple.

Vancouver has begun welcoming three flights a week from Istanbul courtesy of Turkish Airlines, which began the service on May 2. The addition of the YVR flights takes the Turkish flag carrier to 11 weekly flights to and from Canada, including service to Montreal and Toronto. The Vancouver flights – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays – utilize Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner aircraft with 30 Business and 270 Economy seats.

DEALS

Travellers booking their Rome or Athens package with Air Canada Vacations by June 30 for travel from June 1, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2022, can secure lower flight fares. ACV says it will also beat lowest Europe cruise fares by 10% for bookings made by June 20 for travel Sept. 1-Dec. 31, 2022.

Crystal’s Book Now Savings (BNS) offer has been extended two additional weeks until May 19, at which time fares for over 280 sailings across the company’s award-winning fleet will increase. Until then, guests can save up to $5,000/stateroom.

TOURS

Special event cruising is set to take centre stage for Avalon Waterways in 2022 with two major events: the Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany (postponed from 2020) and Floriade in the Netherlands. Avalon reports that both events – held only once a decade – will be the focus of special cruises throughout the season. A series of special interest cruises, ranging from culinary/wine/beer to photography, gardens and WWII.

A first-ever, one-time-only “Mystery Cruise” is being planned by Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, departing June 12, 2022. Hosted by company president and CEO Ellen Bettridge, the 10-day European cruise-tour will feature “over-the-top, unique experiences both on and off the ship” – the details of which will be revealed to passengers in the weeks before the trip. And the biggest mystery – the itinerary – will only happen when guests are on their way to the airport. More details are available on Uniworld’s web site.

HOTELS

A new wilderness-inspired hotel is in the works for Jasper, Alta. Being developed by Pursuit, the hotel will be located at the edge of town and have 88 guest rooms with kitchenettes and expanded patios that seamlessly bring the outdoors in. The property will also feature a vaulted pavilion, complete with a “show-stopping” fireplace that enhances the cozy ambiance of the mountain hotel experience. It will be Pursuit’s eighth hotel/experience in Jasper National Park and will encompass the existing Marmot Lodge. The new hotel is anticipated to open in June of 2022.

RESORTS

Turtle Island Beach Resort

The newly opened Turtle Island Beach Resort, Trademark Collection by Wyndham in Belize is set on a private island on the west side of pristine Ambergris Caye, five minutes by boat from San Pedro Town. The resort’s villas offer two bedrooms with a full kitchen, terrace, and a private pool, while the beach houses feature one bedroom, a fully equipped kitchen, and terrace. Complimentary kayak and paddleboard is available onsite and snorkeling and diving expeditions can be arranged nearby. The hotel also features a turtle sanctuary lagoon where three turtles are being nurtured back to health. The resort is the third Wyndham-branded hotel in Belize and the second hotel on the island to convert to the Trademark Collection by Wyndham.

RIU Hotels continues to re-open resorts in the Caribbean. In Jamaica, the Riu Palace Tropical Bay (Negril) and the Riu Reggae (Montego Bay) opened their doors on May 1, the same day as the Riu Palace Paradise Island (Bahamas). RIU customers from countries that require a negative antibody test to return home can get the tests free of charge at RIU hotels in Jamaica and the Bahamas

CRUISE

Top Canadian teachers are eligible to be rewarded with a trip courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line through the “Norwegian Giving Joy” sweepstakes. The top 100 North American online vote-getters – nominated by the public – will receive a trip to be taken through 2023 and the top three will get donations of $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000 respectively for their schools. Nominate and vote HERE.

MSC Cruises announced that it has started a fleet-wide COVID-19 vaccination program for all its crew members.

The world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean International’s Wonder of the Seas will set sail from Shanghai and Hong Kong, China in 2022 on four- to nine- journeys through the Far East to the best of Japan and more. Currently under construction in Saint-Nazaire, France, Wonder will call China home when it arrives in March 2022.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Kissimmee, Florida’s Wild Florida will host Gator Week, May 24-29, and offer free Gator Park admission to everyone who brings in spare change. At the end of Gator Week, Wild Florida will also celebrate the inaugural National Alligator Day on Saturday, May 29. In addition to the week of gator-themed festivities, Wild Florida also celebrates its two adult albino alligators, Snowflake and Blizzard, for producing 18 eggs this month.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

Globus Family of Brands is hosting a contest in which agents are invited to tell clients why they are excited to travel again on Facebook or Instagram (use the hashtags #GlobusLovesTravelAdvisors or #AvalonLovesTravelAdvisors) for a chance to win a $500 gift card of their choice (Quebec residents excluded). The contest closes on May 30 and the winner will be based on a random draw.

G Adventures is awarding Canadian agents a bonus 2% commission on every new booking made between May 3 and 15 for travel by Jan. 31, 2022. And to help agents incentivize their customers to book now, the adventure operator is also extending its popular 15% off Classic trips sale for the month of May. The discount applies to a wide selection of tours across the Classic trip portfolio, all of which can be combined with the 2% commission bonus for new bookings made. Agents should be registered on Sherpa and can use the code GNORMOUS for the bonus commission to be applied.

Travel agents will earn 2% commission top-up on any new booking made with Contiki between May 6 and 13. E-mail sales@contiki.ca with your booking number to receive the extra commission.

Throughout May, agents have a chance to win a $500 future travel voucher towards a Trafalgar/Costsaver vacation. To enter, agents are asked to comment on weekly posts to be shared on the companies’ Facebook page with each comment equal to one entry into the grand prize draw (to a maximum of four entries). The grand prize winner to be randomly selected at the end of the month.

EVENTS

Registration for the 9th Annual Travel South USA International Showcase has opened. The three-day marketplace for tour buyers and airline partners will take place in New Orleans from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, with nine Super FAM Tours going to Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. For more details, e-mail Angelica De Stefano at Angelica@TravelSouthUSA.com.

MARKETING

Canadian travel counsellors are invited to take advantage of a free Facebook marketing tool that provides a unique way to use social media to market and drive bookings. Developed by Vancouver-based BranchUp, the one-of-a-kind marketing tool, available in English and French (and Spanish) creates a mix of editorial content and special offers that are posted daily to travel advisors’ Facebook Business pages saving countless hours sourcing relevant content to share with their page, friends and followers. Agents can then edit the posts to include their wording or recommendations as well as the ability to control the posts, ensuring content is always on point with their business. Sign up at BranchUp.com.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

The German National Tourist Office (GNTO) in Canada has a new director: Anja Brokjans, who joins the team at VoX International in Toronto with extensive experience in marketing, public relations, trade, and communications, including having spent 20 years as spokesperson for one of the world’s largest trade show companies, Deutsche Messe. Starting immediately, Brokjans is responsible for developing and executing a marketing plan for the Canadian market, which will include extensive media and trade activities along with initiating digital and social marketing campaigns.

Four TTAND travel agent partners – Laura Kay, Maizy Alexander, Anna Abbandonato and Jeffrey Cohen – have been named to Celebrity Cruises Top 50 Travel Partners for Canada. They were honoured last week by Celebrity Cruises at an event hosted by Allan Brooks, Director of Market Sales in Canada, along with the entire sales team. Fifty agents from across Canada were selected (based on bookings and revenue) to attend the gala. Agents were selected based on bookings and revenue, achieved by “selling up” – including selling suites, Aquaclass, Concierge class, and Galapagos Xpeditions.

DESTINATIONS

The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau has announced its new brand as Visit Lauderdale with the destination tagline ‘Everyone Under the Sun,’ reflecting the diversity and welcoming nature of the Greater Fort Lauderdale region. The brand launch also included the debut of the official Visit Lauderdale Everyone Under the Sun beer, crafted by Fort Lauderdale’s Gulf Stream Brewing Company. The new brand represents 31 municipalities in Broward County, of which the largest is the city of Fort Lauderdale.

A new Switzerland Tourism film features new ambassador Roger Federer, along with actor Robert De Niro adding even further star power. In the short film, De Niro “turns down” an invitation by the tennis star to be part of a movie about Switzerland. The Oscar winner declares that the destination is “pure, impressive, and utterly beautiful” – but there is no drama in Switzerland, something De Niro focuses his acting upon. The film can be seen online at www.MySwitzerland.com/Roger.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

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