All travel news.

ROUND-UP:Sept 28-Oct. 2, 2020

Airport testing is making significant progress in Canada, more international borders have re-opened, Carnival is cutting more cruises, and other news you need to know.

NEWS

Eleven additional Canadian airports are now implementing temperature screening for travellers, joining Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. They are St. John’s, Halifax, Québec City, Ottawa, Toronto – Billy Bishop, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Kelowna and Victoria. This includes tests for both departing passengers as well as non-passengers (e.g., airport workers, flight crews).

Air Canada has ordered 25,000 rapid response tests as part of its ongoing evaluation of COVID-19 testing technology and protocols. The airline, which last month partnered with McMaster Health Labs (MHL) and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) in a study of arriving international travellers at Toronto-Pearson, says the kits will be used for voluntary employee testing.

Vancouver Airport Authority and WestJet have selected the University of British Columbia (UBC) as the research partner for a COVID-19 rapid testing pilot at YVR. The pilot, which will be conducted on a voluntary basis for passengers on select departing flights when it launches, will seek to gather data to support public health knowledge and the response to COVID-19, and help inform longer-term solutions around aviation safety and health-screening at airports.

The Travel Corporation’s not-for-profit Treadright Foundation has released another short film featuring its ‘Planet’ Ambassador, filmmaker and environmentalist, Céline Cousteau, speaking to the critical role travel plays in empowering local food producers and communities. The film follows Cousteau as she rediscovers her roots in France and meets local producers dedicated to living in harmony with the land. The video can be found on TreadRight’s YouTube channel.

Celine Cousteau

RE-OPENING/RE-RESTART

Nov. 6 is the date Sunwing will relaunch service with guaranteed YYZ departures (see today’s story) At the same time, the tour operator has extended its Royalton 10th Anniversary Sale through Oct. 12 and added Hideaway at Royalton; Royalton CHIC; and the boutique chain Mystique by Royalton to the package options. Agents will receive 10X STAR points for bookings.

Despite COVID numbers rising again globally, more countries continue or prepare to open borders to international travellers. Among them (various restrictions apply): South Africa, Morocco, Uganda, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Belize, Panama (Oct. 12), and St. Kitts/Nevis (Oct. 31). Others are entering new phases of re-opening include Anguilla (Nov. 1), Mexico’s Yucatan state, and Guatemala has opened archaeological sites.

DELAYED/CANCELLED

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended its ban on large cruises in US waters through Oct. 31. The no-sail order, initially issued in March, had been set to expire on Sept. 30.

Carnival Cruise Line is cancelling sailings in all US ports except its home ports of Miami and Port Canaveral, Fla., through the end of the year. The cruise line said it will focus its initial return to operations on those two ports, but it stressed that it still might not sail from those ports in November and December.

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has delayed the re-start of operations to Nov. 4 for the Grand Celebration and March 3, 2021, for the Grand Classica. Cruises had been scheduled to resume in October.

AIR

Revamped Option Flex service and fare options have been introduced by Transat. They include two types of Option Flex for South and Europe packages: Option Flex Standard and Option Flex Extra, which for $59 p.p. allows travellers to change their travel dates, destination and/or hotel up to 72 hours before departure and cancel their trip up to 72 hours before departure and get a travel credit for the amount paid, plus transfer their vacation package to a friend or family member up to 30 days before departure. For $99 p.p. Option Flex Extra allows travellers to make changes or cancel their trip (with full refund) up to 24 hours ahead. At the same time, Transat is extending its Book With Peace of Mind offer until Dec. 31.

Palm Beach International Airport has received GBAC STAR facility accreditation – ensuring proper cleaning protocols, disinfection techniques, and work practices are in place to combat biohazards and infectious diseases. PBI is second airport in the US and the first airport in Florida to receive the facility accreditation.

BY THE NUMBERS

The number of passengers arriving at Canadian airports from abroad last week was 93% lower than it was a year earlier, similar to the rest of September and August but slightly up from the spring trough. Travellers on flights from the US were down 96%.

DEALS

As a partner in Switzerland Tourism’s new “I Need Switzerland” campaign (detailed previously in today’s newsletter), Goway Travel is offering special promotional prices all its trips to Switzerland departing prior to Dec. 10, from customized, private-guided adventures to self-drive trips in a Tesla model 3 vehicle.

Early planners who book a 2020/21 winter vacation package to Mexico and the Caribbean with Air Canada Vacations by Oct. 11 for travel between Nov. 1 and April 30, 2021 will receive an early booking bonus of up to $400 ($100 per adult, and $100 per child aged from two to 12) as well as CareFree travel protection for free.

TOURS

Citing a surge in demand for 2021, Avalon Waterways is unveiling a large selection of 2022 European itineraries as well, marking the earliest release in the company’s history. Early bookers can receive a complimentary suite upgrade.

BC’s Bella Coola Heli Sports is now carbon neutral. After tracking and measuring its greenhouse gas emissions for 2019, the helicopter skiing company initiated policies to reduce carbon emissions company-wide and purchased offsets that protect old-growth forests in British Columbia. The company says the milestone makes it the world’s first, and only, climate positive heliskiing operation.

HOTELS

IHG Hotels & Resorts  has opened two new properties in Asia: Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok and Kimpton Shinjuku Tokyo. The hotels feature one-of-a-kind spaces that infuse local culture, textures and colours with modern sophistication.

The former Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista has re-opened as the rebranded Rosen Inn Lake Buena Vista in Orlando, one of eight Rosen properties in the central Florida city. The iconic property, set on 9.3-hectares, famously boasted five consecutive years of 100% occupancy when it opened in 1987. “Welcome Back” packages are available.

RESORTS

Hilton’s first-ever Conrad brand resort in Mexico, the Conrad Punta de Mita, has opened in the Riviera Nayarit. The Pacific-facing 324-room hotel is located in the upscale Litibu gated community and has a 3.5-km-long beach, plus three expansive pools, four restaurants, three bars, indoor/outdoor spa, outdoor fitness lawn and access to the Litibu Golf Course. Introductory and “workation” packages are now available.

Grenada’s well-known Spice Island Beach Resort says it will delay plans to reopen until October 2021 with hope that the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. The hotel plans to use the lockdown period to embed safety and health protocols and to further enhance the resort.

CRUISE

Following a Holland America Line coin ceremony for its new Rotterdam last week, which saw Dutch coins minted in 1872 (to honour HAL’s first Rotterdam) welded to the outside deck of the ship to bring good fortune, the ship will be floated out this week as the next stage of its construction. The vessel is scheduled to be delivered July 30, 2021.

Cunard Line cruises can now be booked through Air Canada Vacations. Travellers can choose from a variety of 2021 and ‘22 voyages, including Transatlantic Crossings, Alaska, Europe, South America, Australia, Asia and New England & Canada itineraries. New bookings made by Oct. 16 on select sailings between April 2021 and May 2022 will receive up to US$600 in on-board credits as well as reduced deposit, free upgrades, drinks and gratuities and agents will receive a US$50 per stateroom in bonus commission

EDUCATION

Carnival Cruise Line has launched a new eight-part online sales certification series to help agents enhance their sales skills and expand their business. Led by Carnival’s business development managers, the free “FUNdamentals of Successful Selling” program features twice- weekly diverse sessions, including business strategies, social media, hosting virtual cruise parties, and more. After completion and a short learning quiz, participants receive a certificate and an official logo that they can use on their website, email signature and marketing materials. Info is available at GoCCL.com.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Halloween season is underway at Universal Orlando Resort with a number of experiences on tap, ranging from the debut of two extreme haunted houses, treat-or-treating, scavenger hunts, and more. Events take place daily through Nov. 1 and replace this year’s cancelled annual Halloween Horror Nights extravaganza. COVID safety measures apply to all guests and activities.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

Diane Letourneau is the first winner in TravelBrands 2020 incentive, which tracks bookings being made through Jan. 31. The Club Voyages Mille et Une Nuits agent wins 100,000 Loyalty Rewards points. A winner is chosen every three months and agents are entered automatically when making a booking through Access.

EVENTS

Oct. 13-15, Nov. 14: TL Network Canada will host two virtual events this fall, the first on Oct. 13-15, the second Nov. 24. The first, “Bridge to the Future,” will enable members to interact with supplier partners, connect with peers and educate themselves about agency enhancing programs. Adventure Racing World Champion and top motivational speaker Robyn Benincasa is the keynote. Meanwhile, the November Canadian regional event will be similar to the organization’s traditional eastern and western fall events. To register, visit TLNetwork.ca.

New dates have been set for IPW, US travel’s signature travel trade showcase: Sept. 18-22 in Las Vegas. The event was cancelled this year.

DESTINATIONS

Belize dancers

With Belize ready to re-open to tourism this week, the Central American country has introduced a Gold Standard Recognition Program for hotels. Recipients have demonstrated compliance with a nine-point health and safety program that include such measures as implementing mandatory face masks, social distancing, contactless guest solutions, enhanced room cleaning, daily staff and guest health checks, and restricted capacity. Hotels that have achieved the Tourism Gold Standard will be the first to reopen, and visitors will only be able to visit tourism sites with an approved Tourism Gold Standard tour operator during this phase of reopening.

Organizers of the New Year’s Eve in Times Square celebration say the event will incorporate virtual elements and be scaled down and socially distant onsite in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Plans call for a virtual experience that will allow people to take part in the countdown to 2021 from wherever they are.

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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