ROUND-UP: Oct. 25-29, 2021

In last week’s news: Canada finally lifts its warning against non-essential travel, but not all the way; Air Canada introduces COVID-19 test kits; the pandemic claims Pandaw Cruises; Israel eyes rep-opening; and Goway looks south of the border…


The travel industry is welcoming what it calls the federal government’s “long overdue” move to lift a global advisory asking Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside the country. But disappointment continues that cruising, according to the feds, is still taboo.

Goway reports that is has partnered with the Signature Travel Network in order to expand its reach in the US. Signature Travel Network has over 11,000 members and is considered a trusted name in the travel industry.

Mississauga’s Sunmed Holidays Inc. had its registration under the Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002 revoked effective Oct. 29. Sunmed Holidays operated as both a travel retailer and travel wholesaler, and primarily sold tours to the Mediterranean. TICO states: “This travel agency and tour operator is no longer in business.”


Israeli leaders have recommended reopening the country to fully vaccinated tourists beginning on Nov. 1, over 18 months after Israel closed its borders to most foreign visitors due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said that foreigners who were fully vaccinated less than six months ago, or who have received a booster shot more recently, will be eligible to enter the country.

Qantas Airways has brought forward its plans to restart international travel from Sydney as Australian prime minister Scott Morrison predicted tourists would be welcomed back to Australia this year, well ahead of the originally expected date in 2022, or even later.

Air Canada has restarted service to Martinique from Martinique (Oct. 30) after several months of interruption of service due to the pandemic. A direct weekly flight from (YUL) will be operate with a two-class 169-seat B-737 aircraft.


Popular river cruise operator Pandaw Cruises says it has ‘no alternative but to cease river cruise operations’ following a prolonged break in operations due to the pandemic and with little hope in sight as much of Southeast Asia still closed to tourism. Pandaw has cancelled all its Asian river cruises with key Mekong cruises in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos having been at a standstill due to border closures and the political situation in Myanmar further affecting the business. Pandaw apparently had a good volume of bookings for 2022, but was unable to secure necessary funding for operations or essential refurbishments of its ships


Transat exec Joseph Adamo, joined Stéphane Poirier, President and CEO of Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport; Geneviève Guilbault, Quebec Deputy Premier; Caroline Proulx, Minister of Tourism; and Robert Mercure, General Manager of Destination Québec cité to announce new London flights from YQB.

Four new routes will be added to its Air Transat’s 2022 summer flight program. For the first time ever, the airline will serve San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Amsterdam airports from Montreal, as well as offering an exclusive direct flight between Quebec City and London. Routes to Fort Lauderdale and Miami will also go year-round.

This winter, WestJet is set to restore service and connectivity to more than 95 destinations across the airline’s domestic, transborder, sun, and international network as of December. Highlights include the addition of seven returning flights from Toronto for a total of non-stop service to 55 destinations, as well as 61 destinations from Calgary, 24 from Edmonton, non-stops from Winnipeg to Cancun, Orlando and Regina, and peak holiday flights between Kelowna and YYZ.

Air Canada has introduced (for sale) new testing products, including portable self-administered COVID-19 molecular and antigen test kits, through a partnership with Switch Health, a Canadian-based healthcare company. Using the Switch Health COVID-19 RT-LAMP Kit, customers can test themselves while travelling abroad prior to their flight to Canada to meet Canadian testing entry requirements without the need to visit a foreign COVID-19 testing clinic. The tests are conducted under the remote supervision of a Telehealth professional from Switch Health and include an electronic report suitable for travel. Preferred pricing is available for Aeroplan members. See HERE for details.


Bran Castle

With Halloween in mind, Insight Vacations notes that its 18-day “Treasures of the Balkans” tour features a private after-hours visit to Bran Castle, dubbed Dracula’s Castle, in Transylvania. The medieval fortress, dating to 1388, is perched on 60 m.-high rock and features soaring towers and turrets. A local expert tells the tale of Count Dracula and the life of Queen Marie of Romania, the granddaughter of England’s Queen Victoria who was the last royal resident of the castle from 1920 to 1938. Guests may have the opportunity to explore the castle’s secret and underground passages as well. The tour ends with dinner at Queen Marie’s Tea House.

Air Canada Vacations and Uplift have announced a partnership bringing flexible payment options to Canadians seeking to book their next vacation getaway. Travellers can pay for their trips over time with Uplift on the ACV web site.


Located at the corner of King St. and Blue Jays Way in the heart of downtown, the King Blue Hotel Toronto is now open. Utilizing the exterior of the historic Canadian Westinghouse Company Building, the new hotel has 118 sleek and contemporary guestrooms, including seven suites, ideal for both business or leisure travellers. Guest amenities include a deluxe indoor swimming pool, modern fully equipped fitness centre, rooftop terrace, and pet-friendly rooms.

Nestled on Bay Harbor on the edge of Biscayne Bay within walking distance to the beaches of Bal Harbour, the Altair Hotel is Miami Beach’s newest luxury hotel. Overlooking nearby golf courses and the Intracoastal Waterway, the 96-room boutique property offers an intimate hotel experience with resort-like amenities, including a rooftop pool and whirlpool, fitness centre, concierge services, and access to bicycles, scooters, kayaks, and paddleboards. A high-end kosher restaurant and dining program will soon be added.


Following Cuba’s announcement of the gradual reopening of borders as of Nov. 15, the Iberostar Group has begun to plan a schedule of re-openings for the coming months. Today (Nov. 1), will see the re-opening of Iberostar Grand Packard, Iberostar Selection Bella Vista Varadero, Iberostar Selection Ensenachos, Coral Level at Iberostar Selection Ensenachos, and Iberostar Daiquiri. On Dec. 1, Iberostar Bella Costa, in Varadero, and Iberostar Selection Holguín will reopen, along with the Coral Level at Iberostar Selection Holguín. Some other openings include, on Dec. 22, Iberostar Playa Alameda and Iberostar Heritage Grand Trinidad, and Iberostar Selection Playa Pilar, in Cayo Guillermo, in January.

Set to open on Nov. 13, the Ventus Ha’ at Marina El Cid Spa & Beach Resort will be the third property at the El Cid’s Riviera Maya complex in Mexico and eighth resort overall. The all-inclusive resort will have 150 rooms and suites with private terraces, plus two restaurants and bars (including rooftop), and wellness/fitness centre. Guests can also utilize facilities at the neighbouring sister hotels.


US health officials have extended for nearly three more months the rules that cruise ships must follow to sail during the pandemic, after which cruise lines will be allowed, starting to Jan. 15, 2022, to move to a voluntary program to detect and control the spread of COVID-19 on their ships.

More than 150 destinations in 65 countries and the chance to visit 11 great wonders of the world are on tap for guests on the 2023-24 world cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Sea. Bookings can now be made for the “Ultimate World Cruise,”, which will sail roundtrip from Miami on Dec. 10, 2023, and continue through Sept. 10, 2024. With 57 destinations that are new to the cruise line, highlights include Casablanca, Morocco; Qaqortoq, Greenland; and Shimizu, Japan – the gateway to Mount Fuji. The cruise can also be broken into four shorter regional segments of two to three months each.


Nov. 10-18: TL Network Canada is hosting three in-person events this Fall: Nov. 10 – Toronto West (Delta Toronto Airport); Nov. 17 – Edmonton (Delta Edmonton South); and Nov. 16 – Vancouver (JW Marriott Parq Vancouver). The regional conference will feature educational sessions and training, workshops, panels, a one-hour trade show and dinner with game show and prizes. Space is limited.


Travel Alberta reports the reappointment of three members to its board of directors, including the redesignation of Linda Southern-Heathcott as chair, along with welcoming two new members, Ryan Robb and Gail Stepanik-Keber.

Sandals Resorts’ Executive Chairman Adam Stewart has joined the executive committee of the World Travel & Tourism Council. His induction represents “the actionable change and strides forward made by Stewart throughout his time in the industry.” The WTTC represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector and members include 200 CEOs, chairs, and presidents of the world’s leading Travel & Tourism companies.


The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) says its continued lobbying efforts have resulted in improved access and half-price testing on island for Canadians, who are required to obtain a negative PCR result in order to return home. Canadian visitors to Jamaica will be able to book their required pre-departure COVID-19 molecular test directly through Baywest Wellness Clinic and Technological Solutions Ltd. (TSL) for US$75 (inclusive of taxes), a reduction of more than 50% off the previous PCR testing price. Visitors must schedule their test through a dedicated online laboratory portal in order to qualify for the exclusive rate. Tourists staying at a licensed hotel in Jamaica’s Resilient Corridors can schedule a PCR test to be conducted on property via a convenient concierge service.

This year’s Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival is a month-long hybrid celebration kicking off today (Nov. 1). For overseas friends, the fest presents a line-up of online experiences, such as the “Sustainable Cocktail” online masterclass hosted by Agung Prabowo of Penicillin bar, winner of Asia’s 50 Best Sustainable Bar Award for 2021. Master chefs from top Chinese restaurants across the city also will spearhead the “Chinese Omakase by Master Chefs” program. More events and ticket details can be found on the Discover Hong Kong website.

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First published at Travel Industry Today