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ROUND-UP:Sept. 21-25, 2020

Insurance and medical news was in the spotlight last week on multiple fronts, as were new flights to Cuba, and the launch of a new video-conferencing tool from Goway.

NEWS

Ahead of its resumption of operations on Nov. 6, Sunwing has partnered with global healthcare leader Medcan to provide medical expertise, consultation, and health “inspiration” on its “Safe with Sunwing” program related to COVID-19. The company will also provide ongoing support for customer and employee health and safety, including the appointment of Dr. Peter Nord, Chief Medical Officer at Medcan, as Sunwing’s Chief Medical Advisor.

Travel professionals can now chat face-to-face with Goway destination specialists over the teleconferencing platform Zoom. The Goway Video Calls tool gives personalized attention while ensuring safety and peace of mind during the pandemic, while offering a more intimate means of communication than a phone call. A three-way call can also include clients.

Agents and their clients are invited to join ‘Live With Contiki,’ a new weekly online series in which special guest discuss relevant topics to young Canadians. The interactive 30-minute sessions cover everything from the latest trends in social media, photography tips and tricks, mental health, trending destinations and more. Clients can contribute to the conversation and connect with other travellers, and also have a chance to win an Contiki prize pack. The events take place Tuesdays at 7 p.m. EDT. To check the schedule and to register, go HERE.

INSURANCE

Snowbirds and other Ontario travellers will retain coverage for out-of-country medical expanses thanks to an Ontario court ruling that said the provincial government could not eliminate its Out-of-Country Travellers Program, which provides reimbursement for Ontario residents who face medical emergencies while abroad.

Clients booking a roundtrip flight from Canada to an international Air Transat destination or a Transat package to Mexico, Central or South America, or the Caribbean through Oct. 31 for stays of up to 21 days will receive free insurance offered through Manulife. The plan covers emergency medical (up to $200,000) and quarantine expenses at destination (up to $150 a day per insured person or $300 a day per family, for a maximum of 14 days), in addition to providing assistance if COVID-19 is contracted during the trip. The offer is valid for departures Oct. 1-April 30, 2021.

The US has been added to WestJet’s destination list for free insurance coverage, including complications from COVID. The enhanced coverage will retroactively include all bookings made as of Sept. 18 and will increase by $100,000 to include up to a maximum of $200,000 at no additional charge to eligible guests. Any WestJet air-only reservation including WestJet Vacations bookings for travel to and from the US, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe (including UK) and inbound to Canada will be eligible for the coverage for up to 21 days for travel through Aug. 31, 2021.

The COVID-19 Coverage & Assistance Plan administered by Allianz Global Assistance is now included in Air Canada Vacations packages for eligible travellers to Mexico and the Caribbean residing in Saskatchewan. Plus, the policy maximum amount has been increased to $200,000 per insured person per trip (previously $ 100,000).

RE-OPENING/RE-START

Following the successful start of flights from Montreal to Cayo Coco, Cuba, Air Canada launched service between Toronto and Cayo Coco on Sept. 26.

DELAYED/CANCELLED

With COVID-19 cases on the rise again, VIA Rail has extended the suspension of its long-distance routes, the Canadian and the Ocean, as well as the Sleeper class on the Winnipeg-Churchill route, which were scheduled to resume on Nov. 1. All affected passengers will be contacted and reimbursed automatically.

Rio de Janeiro’s famed and flamboyant Carnival parade – scheduled for next February – has been postponed for the first time in 108 years due to COVID. No new date has been set.

BY THE NUMBERS

For the month of August, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism reports that it received 4,761 visitors: 67% travelled from the US, 21% from the UK, 7% from the Caribbean, and 3% from Canada. V.C Bird International Airport re-opened to international flights in June after easing pandemic restrictions. The islands are anticipating a resumption in service from Air Canada and Sunwing soon.

AIR

Following Toronto Pearson, YUL Montreal-Trudeau International Airport has become the third airport in North America to be accredited under the Airports Council International (ACI) Airport Health Accreditation program (AHA).

oneworld member airlines have committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, becoming the first global airline alliance to unite behind a common target to achieve carbon neutrality. The alliance’s 13 member airlines plan to achieve this target within the existing environmental framework previously agreed to by governments, including through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Southwest Airlines reports that it will add year-round service to two new destinations in its route network later this year: Miami and Palm Springs, Ca.

DEALS

A special MSC Cruises global discounted cruise fare program has been launched to recognize all front line and back office healthcare professionals as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for their ongoing contribution to fight the global pandemic. Bookings made by April 30, 2021, will qualify for a 50% discount off regular rates on any cruise through the end of 2021, and special onboard activities will be held to recognize the guests and their families.

TOURS

New Orleans (photo), Nashville, San Francisco and San Diego have been added to Monograms’ global vacation portfolio for 2021. The US city getaway packages include superior accommodations in the heart of the city, the guidance of a helpful Local Host, and guided sightseeing in the “off season.” New off-season Europe itineraries are also available next year for Europe, including London; London and Paris; Rome and Florence as well as Rome, Florence & Venice.

Kensington Tours’ new The Resort Collection program enables clients to customize a trip to a luxurious island or beach destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, Southern Europe and the South Pacific, combined with personalized local experiences across a wide range of areas, including history, sailing, scuba diving, fine dining, spirits, ecology, architecture, and more – all complimented by white glove service and amenities. Introductory offers include complimentary luxury airport transfer (for bookings made by Dec. 31), risk-free cancellation (for 100% credit) by Oct. 31, and, for agents, $400 in prepaid VISA gift cards for each of their first bookings (by Dec. 31) for travel to the end of 2021.

HOTELS

Halifax’s maritime vibe extends into the city’s new Sutton Place Hotel Halifax. The 262-room property features dark navy and gold design hues reminiscent of nautical heritage throughout the hotel, which is situated downtown between the waterfront and Citadel. Hotel amenities include upscale fitness facilities, outdoor patio with hot tubs and firepits, and onsite Chop Steakhouse & Bar.

RESORTS

Geared towards people who can work remotely and students studying remotely, Palace Resorts’ Extended Stay promotion promises guests greater savings the longer they stay. For stays of 15 days or longer, package amenities include free enhanced wi-fi; $350 laundry credit; 30% off excursions, spa services, and golf; early check-in and late checkout; and free airport transfers. Parents can also take advantage of the extension of the Kids & Teens Stay Free promotion, which allows kids aged 17 and under to stay, play, and eat free with two paying adults. Requisite health and safety measures are in place at the chain’s nine Mexican resort and Moon Palace in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Dominica’s Secret Bay resort is adding four new, two-story villas to its existing portfolio, bringing its number of villas to 10. The villas will feature floor-to-ceiling glass walls, private plunge pools and outdoor rain showers, amongst other details that the eco-resort masters. Reservations on the new villas for November are now being accepted.

CRUISE

Winter 2022-23 worldwide cruises for 13 of 18 Norwegian Cruise Line ships are now open for sale. Itineraries range from eight to 21-days in the Caribbean, Mexico and Panama Canal. Latitudes Members will receive an exclusive 15% discount and bonus points and all guests will receive special EBB offers for a limited time.

As part of its fleet restructuring and refurbishment plans, Carnival Cruises has announced the following schedule changes:

Carnival Magic itineraries operating from Miami will be cancelled until Mar. 13, 2021
Carnival Paradise itineraries operating from Tampa will be cancelled until Mar. 19, 2021
Carnival Valor itineraries operating from New Orleans will be cancelled until Apr. 29, 2021 (including the transatlantic cruise from New Orleans on Jan. 25, 2021 and the return from Barcelona on Feb. 26, 2021)
Carnival Spirit itineraries operating from Brisbane will be cancelled through May 16, 2021, with the first sailing being the Singapore to Brisbane voyage embarking on June 12, 2021.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Coinciding with World Rhino Day (Sept. 22), Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida reported that is caring for three pregnant rhinos (photo), which are endangered in Africa due to poaching. Kendi was the first rhino born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1999 and she’s expected to be the first to deliver a calf sometime this October. Jao is expected to give birth sometime in fall 2021 and Lola is due soon after. Rhinos’ gestation period lasts approximately 16-18 months, so each of these births are roughly 1-½ years in the making. The calves will weigh between 40 and and 63 kg. at birth and will stand up within the first hour of their lives.

Wild Florida Airboats, Gator Park & Drive-thru Safari is celebrating 10 years of airboats, animal encounters, and adventure by giving everyone free weekday admission to their Gator Park throughout October with a canned food donation. The attraction opened on Lake Cypress in Kenansville, Fla., in 2010.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

To mark the 10th anniversary of Royalton Luxury Resorts, Sunwing is offering a 10-day sale that promises “the biggest savings of the decade” for consumers plus 10x STAR points for agents on all bookings, plus a chance to win trip for two to select Royalton properties.

EVENTS

Sept. 29: Air Canada Vacations will host the webinar “All you need to know about Air Canada Vacations’ COVID-19 Coverage & Assistance Plan administered by Allianz Global Assistance” on Sept 29 at 1 p.m. EDT. Register HERE.

Sept. 30: Over the next few months, small group adventure operator, G Adventures, will be hosting a series of live discussions with leading voices from across the industry to tackle the most pressing issues facing travel today. Agents are invited to join “Retravel Live,” which will shine a light on the traveller’s power to enact change and contribute to making the new way of travel better for everyone. The first event takes place on Wednesday (Sept. 30, at noon EDT) and will cover the impact of the shift from ‘overtourism’ to ‘undertourism,’ plus other related topics. Among the guest panellists is George Stone, editor in chief of National Geographic Traveler. To join, click HERE.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

With the support of the Jamaica Tourist Board (including a team led by JTB Canada director Angella Bennett), Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation’s (HHJF) physically distanced Jam-walk 5K in Toronto on Saturday helped raised funds to support HHJF’s goal of building its 23rd school in Port Antonio, Jamaica next year.

Following the Travel Industry Council of Ontario’s (TICO) Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Sept. 17, the Board of Directors renamed Jean Hébert as Chair and re-elected Scott Stewart as Vice-Chair. Marc Patry’s three-year tenure as board member ended and Doug Ellison of Ellison Tours was elected as the newest TICO Board member for a two-year term.

DESTINATIONS

As part of new COVID safety upgrades, Cuba reports that visitors will be able to use credit cards with greater ease. Though the use of credit cards is nothing new, the service was very limited to hotels and major shopping centres only. Now, as part of the COVID measures and in order to avoid dealing with cash, the government has extended the use of credit cards to pay for all services in and out of the hotels, including taxis, car rentals, tours, etc.

Full marks for the tourism folks in Virginia’s Blue Ridge for interjecting a little light-hearted humour into the pandemic with their “imperfection substitutions” initiative, designed to help home-bound travellers replace some of the region’s top attractions with a funny, or sometimes tasty, alternative: a carrot hanging in the basement for a stalactite at Dixie Caverns, for example. Check them out HERE.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com.

* Future dates and events listed here are up to date at time of printing, although obviously subject to changes due to ever-involving pandemic information. Travel Industry Today accepts no responsibility for sudden or unreported inaccuracies.

 

 

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

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