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ROUND-UP:Sept. 13-17, 2021

Last week’s highlights include news of new leadership at WestJet; Red Label Vacations testing US waters; Transat resuming UK and Portugal flights, a new assurance program from Sandals; and Globus extending its vaccine policy for guests through 2022.

NEWS

WestJet Airlines Ltd. has named Harry Taylor its interim president and chief executive. Taylor has been WestJet’s chief financial officer since 2015. He will assume the interim CEO role between late November and mid-December 2021.
Taylor will replace current WestJet chief executive Ed Sims, who announced in June his plans to retire at the end of this year. Jennifer Bue, WestJet’s current VP of finance planning and analysis, has been named interim CFO.

Toronto-based H.I.S.-Red Label Vacations is expanding to the US with a new sustainable online travel agency that promises to allow clients to offset their carbon emissions while booking. Copolo is designed to be simple one-stop site for travellers to plan and book their trip, including airline tickets, hotel reservations, car rentals, and more. Travellers will also have the option to offset the carbon emissions produced from their trip by partnering with CHOOOSE, a leading climate-focused technology company in Oslo, Norway.

Effective Nov. 15, Cuba will relax entry requirements and open all tourism destinations. The move will reflect an over 90% vaccination rate in the country, says the tourism board. Fully vaccinated Canadians can enter without undergoing a COVID test upon entry or quarantine, though subject to temperature screening and random tests. Not fully vaxxed visitors must provide a PCR test taken with 72 hours of arrival. COVID tests for the return home will be provided at hotels for only US$30 (visa or debit).

BY THE NUMBERS

Chinese health officials say more than 1 billion people have been fully vaccinated in the world’s most populous country. That represents 72% of its 1.4 billion people. China’s National Health Commission says 2.16 billion doses have been administered and 1.01 billion people have been fully vaccinated.

AIR

Starting Nov. 20 and Dec. 4 respectively, Swoop will introduce new service from Edmonton and Toronto to Los Cabos, Mexico. Non-stop flights will operate weekly from the Alberta city and twice weekly from T.O.

Flair Airlines is extending its flight schedule through Summer 2022 in core Canadian and US markets. The ultra low-cost carrier says many year-round and seasonal routes will see an increase in service including departures from Edmonton (YEG), Kelowna (YLW), Halifax (YHZ), Kitchener (YKF), Abbotsford (YXX), Winnipeg (YWG), Toronto (YYZ), Saint John (YSJ), Vancouver (YVR), Calgary (YYC), Victoria (YYJ), Charlottetown (YYG), Thunder Bay (YQT), and Montreal (YUL).

RE-OPENING/RE-START

Sunwing is set to resume service to Cuba with weekly flights to Varadero and Cayo Coco starting Oct. 8 and into November from Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton. As the winter progresses, more gateways and destinations are expected to be added to reflect evolving consumer demand, says the tour company.

The first flights between Canada and the UK from Transat transpired last week after several months of inactivity due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The airline will initially be flying three times weekly from Toronto to London Gatwick. In response to strong demand, the airline also announced it would be resuming its flights from Toronto to Manchester Oct. 19, earlier than originally planned. And direct flights from Toronto to Glasgow are set to resume on Dec. 15. The airline also resumed service to Portugal – Montreal-Lisbon and Toronto-Porto – last week.

Air Transat also resumed flights between Canada and Portugal last week after many months of temporary suspension due to COVID-19. The company operated its first two round-trip flights this week, connecting Montreal to Lisbon and Toronto to Porto. Air Transat now offers two direct flights per week from Montreal to Lisbon and from Toronto to Porto. Direct flights from Toronto to Faro are set to begin on January 18.

Porter Airlines officially returned to Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ) last week with service to Ottawa, Montreal and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) also returned with service to Billy Bishop.

DEALS

The 20th Anniversary Sale by AMR Collection is offering savings plus additional perks for guests at Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts, Secrets, Breathless, Dreams, Now, and Sunscape Resorts & Spas by AMR Collection when booking by Nov. 22 for travel through April 9, 2022. The offer includes $200 in resort coupons, $20 spa treatment at adult-oriented properties, $20 kids at select family-friendly properties, and a free night return stay when celebrating a 20th birthday or 20th anniversary during original stay, as well as savings up to half off.

TruTravels welcomed its first travellers back on the road recently after more than 500 days as the youth-travel and social adventure specialist kicked off its relaunched European tours with an 11-day sailing and land adventure in Croatia. The G Adventures brand is offering 30% off October departures to help fill remaining tours for the late-summer season.

TOURS

The Globus family of brands – consisting of Globus, Cosmos, Avalon Waterways and Monograms – says it will require all travellers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to join any vacation in its portfolio through 2022. Last month, the GFOB extended vaccination policies into 2022; with this announcement, it’s now committing to that policy for the full year.

In conjunction with the launch of its Caribbean cruise program, Tradewind Voyages has appointed Toronto-based Discover the World as its general sales agent (GSA) in charge of sales and marketing in the US and Canada. The world’s largest tall ship, Golden Horizon, will make her inaugural voyage in the region from Barbados with the first of 21 round trips departing on Nov. 11 through March 31 March, featuring smaller ports of call and undiscovered gems in the islands.

HOTELS

Bill Gates’ investment firm Cascades has purchased a controlling stake in Four Seasons Hotels from Saudi Arabia-based Kingdom Holding. The price – an incredible US$2.21 billion. The deal, which is expected to close in January 2022, has Cascades buying half of Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s stake in the hotel chain.

In November, Montreal will welcome the new 351-room Hyatt Place Montreal Downtown, located at 1415 Saint-Hubert St. close to the gay village and Quartier des Spectacles, along with numerous downtown attractions.

RESORTS

Guests impacted by COVID-19-related travel interruptions will now receive a free replacement vacation (including airfare) from Sandals and Beaches resorts, in what the company says is an industry-first guarantee designed to promote worry-free travel amongst guests. The new no-charge Sandals Vacation Assurance Program, which is included in all current and new reservations made through Dec. 31, 2021, for travel until Dec. 31, 2022.

The all-inclusive Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace in La Romana, Dominican Republic, will re-open on Oct. 1 after extensive renovations. Known for its secluded pristine beaches and turquoise waters, the resort is offering a special inaugural “Endless Summer” promotion granting guests a third night free, with rooms from US$85 per person, per night. Guests will also get free access to all the sporting activities and amenities of the resort’s sister property, Dominicus Beach.

CRUISE

Cruise Control columnist Wallace Immen reports that “just when it seemed cruising was starting to get more predictable, cruise lines have once again tightened the testing rules for getting on ships.” Immen says the new two-day testing deadline means Canadians may need to have two sets of negative COVID tests, one to fly to a cruise and another to get on board.

AmaWaterways celebrated the launch of its newest ship, AmaDahlia, on the Nile River on Sept. 6, sailing the “Secrets of Egypt & The Nile” itinerary. Company co-founders Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst were on hand for to meet guests in Cairo before the ship’s launch in Luxor, which featured local musicians and an Egyptian whirling dervish performance.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

After a pandemic-related absence of almost two years, Halloween Horror Nights has kicked off at Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood. The annual horror extravaganza continues on select nights until Oct. 31. This year’s haunted houses are inspired by the movies “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Haunting of Hill House,” “Beetlejuice,” and “The Bride of Frankenstein.”

Air Canada is celebrating Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th anniversary celebration with an Aeroplan contest that gives members a chance to win up to 50 prizes, including one of five Air Canada Vacations packages to the Orlando, Florida, theme park destination. The contest is effect through Sept. 29, ahead of the launch of WDW’s 18-month milestone event, which starts Oct. 1. Air Canada is also adding Disney merchandise and Disney Gift Cards that can be redeemed using Aeroplan points on the Aeroplan eStore. For details, visit Air Canada’s web site.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

Air Canada’s Global Sales team, in partnership with Switzerland Tourism, recently hosted a group of travel agents at the latest edition of the Air Canada Race in Basel, Switzerland. The event was held to show Canadian travel professionals what it’s like to get back to travelling “in a safe and responsible manner…” The airline produced a video of the Aug. 27-Sept. 2 event, check it out HERE.

EVENTS

Sept. 30-Oct. 1: ACTA has released details about some of the panel topics that will be covered at its Virtual Summit, Sept. 30-Oct. 1: ACTA President, Wendy Paradis will facilitate a panel discussion with travel industry leaders to focus on anticipated trends and challenges; Flemming Friisdahl, President and Founder at The Travel Agent Next Door, will lead a panel of travel agents to explore why there has “never been a better time for travel agents to stand proud”; and Keith Lane of Celebrity Cruises and Gary Murphy of Ama Waterways will discuss the continued efforts towards cruise recovery. For info and registration click HERE.

The Antigua & Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association, in collaboration with island’s tourism authority, are preparing to conduct the seventh installment of the travel trade business to business destination event, Showcase Antigua Barbuda. And notably, the Oct. 13-14 event will take place face to face. Registration details are to come.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

The Travel Agent Next Door’s Jeffrey Cohen has been recognized again by Celebrity Cruises as an Iconic Advisor winner for 2021 for the second quarter of 2021 in the ‘Most Engaged Year over Year’ category. Cohen was one of only five Canadian travel advisors to receive the award for Q2 2021.

Air France – KLM has appointed Eric Caron Sr. VP and GM for North America, a new role. Based in New York, he will oversee Air France and KLM passenger activities within Canada, French Polynesia, Mexico, and the United States. Caron was most recently based in Paris, France serving as Executive Vice President In-flight Services and a member of the Air France Executive Committee.

DESTINATIONS

Originally scheduled to open last year, but delayed due to the pandemic, Athens’ new Olympic Museum is now open. Located within walking distance of the 2004 Olympic stadium, the state-of-the-art venue is housed over a 3,500-sq.-m. light-flooded floor of the Golden shopping mall in northern Athens and linked via a pedestrian bridge to the main Olympic arena, known as OAKA. The spacious new cultural landmark traces the legendary history of the Olympic Games through the three main chapters of its evolution: Birth (Ancient Olympia), Revival (Athens 1896) and Return (the 2004 Athens Olympics); using rich audiovisual props such as videos, animations, interviews, and augmented reality applications that will flash visitors back in time to ancient Greece.

Two stars of the dinosaur world will take centre stage in Raleigh, North Carolina, in fall 2022 with the opening of “Dueling Dinosaurs,” a permanent exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. The most complete fossils of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Triceratops ever unearthed will be displayed as they were found: locked together as if dueling at the time of their death. The museum is building a state-of-the-art research centre, called SECU Dinolab, where the public can get a close-up view and meet scientists seeking to uncover secrets that were buried for 67 million years. The museum announced the acquisition of the T. rex and Triceratops in May 2020, 14 years after they were excavated at a Montana ranch.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

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