ROUND-UP:Aug. 23-27, 2021

Canadians get the green light for Britain, unvaccinated Air Canada employees face the axe, ITA replaces Alitalia, Pfizer finally gets approved in US, , Wild Florida welcomes unusual baby gators, St. Kitts makes its mark in Canada, and more in last week’s Round-up.

NEWS

Effective today, Canada has been added to the United Kingdom’s “green list,” meaning travellers can enter the UK without a mandatory quarantine. Canadians will still need to take a pre-departure test and a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 of arrival. Regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated, no quarantine will be required, unless an individual tests positive. All visitors must also complete the passenger locator form, which can be filled out online 48 hours before arrival. Local variations may apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

All non-exempted employees of Air Canada mainline, Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Vacations must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 30 or “face consequences up to and including unpaid leave or termination.”

Delta Airlines says it will begin charging employees on the company health plan $200 a month if they fail to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a policy the airline’s top executive says is necessary because the average hospital stay for the virus costs the airline $40,000.

With the launch of a new Italian carrier (Italia Trasporto Aereo, or ITA) imminent, Alitalia has announced that is has stopped selling tickets from Oct. 15, effectively signalling an end to the airline, which has been in operation since 1947, but in bankruptcy since 2017. The airline says it will contact affected passengers for refunds or rebooking on an Alitalia flight before Oct. 14.

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) has been named Best Airport in North America by the Skytrax World Airport Awards for a record 12th year in a row. Skytrax is recognized as the global benchmark of airport excellence with more than 21.65 million completed passenger questionnaires, making it the largest annual global airport customer satisfaction survey. YVR also received the Skytrax COVID-19 Airport Excellence award, the only airport in Canada to do so.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is now fully approved for used by the US Food and Drug Administration. Perhaps more importantly, the status upgrade from “emergency use authorization” in the US (it has been approved in Canada) is expected to spur wary individuals to finally get the shot as the delta variant continues to surge.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

California may have been last in the US cruising queue, after Florida, Texas, and Seattle, but the state has returned as a cruise gateway after 17 months on pandemic pause with the launch of the Carnival Panorama last week bound for the Mexican Riviera.

Crystal Cruises celebrated the return to service for luxury ocean ship Crystal Symphony as she departed this week on the first in a series of four seven-night “Luxury Bermuda Escapes” cruises sailing roundtrip out of Boston on Sundays. The ship’s departure was delayed by one day due to Hurricane Henri. The series of Bermuda sailings will shift to New York starting Sept. 24.

BY THE NUMBERS

As part of a commitment to address climate change and protect biodiversity, Parks Canada is mobilizing to plant 150,000 trees this summer in up to 18 national parks from coast to coast. This includes planting 2,500 trees in Fundy National Park this year alone.

AIR

With Canada’s international border set to reopen on Sept. 7, Air Canada will begin Toronto-Munich service three times weeks weekly departing the former Tues., Thurs., and Sat., and the latter Mon-Wed-Fri. AC service will aboard a 298-seat Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Non-stop service between Orange County/Anaheim and Calgary will be re-introduced by WestJet effective Nov. 4, with twice weekly service that will transition to thrice weekly on Dec. 7. Additionally, the airline moves from summer flights to providing year-round service between Calgary and San Francisco, operating twice weekly, beginning Oct. 31, 2021.

Gulf Air has been added to Aeroplan’s roster of over 40 airline travel partners. The national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain serves 55 cities in 30 countries with modern fleet consisting of the A320 family and the 787 Dreamliner.

Member of Flying Blue, Air France and KLM’s loyalty program can now transfer of their American Express Membership Rewards points to their Explorer, Silver, Gold or Platinum Flying Blue accounts. They also can take advantage of the monthly Promo Rewards, such as a reduction in miles needed to book rewards tickets or benefit from the offers of an array of partners including car rentals and hotel stays.

TOURS

Quark Expeditions

Polar adventure operator Quark Expeditions has announced a total of 17 different itineraries in its Arctic 2023 season – many on the technologically-advanced ship, Ultramarine. Guests on Ultramarine, equipped with two helicopters and 20 quick-deploy Zodiacs, can choose from a varied portfolio of adventure options in the industry, such as flightseeing and helicopter-supported mountain biking. Sample tours include “Spitsbergen Explorer: Wildlife Capital of the Arctic,” “Under the Northern Lights: Exploring Iceland & East Greenland,” “Canada’s Remote Arctic: Northwest Passage to Ellesmere Island,” and “Jewels of the Russian Arctic: Franz Josef Land.”

Several new direct Sunwing routes will start this fall from Toronto and Montreal: Toronto-Los Cabos, Thursdays starting Sept. 16; Toronto-Aruba, Mondays starting Sept. 20; Toronto-St. Maarten, Thursdays starting Sept. 30; Montreal-St. Maarten, Thursdays starting Nov. 4; and, Montreal-Los Cabos, Thursdays starting Nov. 11. In addition to the flights, vacationers can choose from a range of popular resorts, such as the all-inclusive Riu Palace Aruba, Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Casino and Spa in St. Maarten, and the adults-only Riu Palace Baja California in Los Cabos.

HOTELS

The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas is relaunching its entertainment with an entire slate of headliner shows, from a modern day “Rat Pack” of former boy band performers, to a new dance show featuring Dancing with the Stars alum Derek Hough. In all, more than 100 shows will be available in 2021, throughout the resort.

Jamaica’s upscale The Tryall Club in Montego Bay has added two new premium accommodation options to its portfolio of 74 condominiums, beach houses, and luxury villas. Earlier this year, the property unveiled a 1,000-sq.-m., six-bedroom Oceans villa, which features Zen-inspired design with a private infinity pool; and the grand five-bedroom Bella Vista, appointed with traditional mahogany furnishings, Italian marble, a bespoke game room, and a separate wellness building. With rental rates starting at US$20,000 per week, the new Tryall Club villas feature personalized service from dedicated butlers, chefs, and housekeepers. Guests can also travel in style via private jet through an new partnership with XO Jet Aviation.

RESORTS

Located on a hillside in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle in Mexico, Delta Hotels by Marriott, Riviera Nayarit, an All-Inclusive Resort is the company’s first property in Mexico and its inaugural all-included resort. Situated between the Sierra Madre Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, the resort features 117 guestrooms featuring private balconies with mountain views, two restaurants, and four pop-up venues. Additionally, there are two swimming pools, 24-hour fitness centre, 10-treatment room spa, and a beach club accessible via frequent shuttle service. The property is located 30 minutes away from Puerto Vallarta airport and nearby attractions such as a popular handcraft market and Flamingo’s Golf Club.

Margaritaville Island Reserve Cap Cana is preparing for a December opening in the Dominican Republic. A product of a partnership with Karisma Hotels & Resorts under the Island Reserve brand, the all-inclusive resort is designed to combine the easy-going, fun vibe of Margaritaville resorts with the luxury bona fides of Karisma, which owns and manages an extensive portfolio of resorts including Azul, Allure, El Dorado, Nickelodean, Sensatori, and other brands. The five-star resort, located in Cap Cana (near Punta Cana) on the southwestern-most tip of the DR, will mark the second resort for the Island Reserve brand after Cancun.

CRUISE

Vulnerable people, even if they are fully vaccinated, should avoid cruising at present, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in new guidance published on its web site. The warning, which includes river cruising, applies to people with a high risk of serious illness, including those with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, and the elderly.

The debut of Disney Uncharted Adventure aboard the Disney Wish will lead guests on a journey “from bow to stern and beyond the stars” that allows them to interact with Disney characters while completing quests to further an adventurous and fun storyline. Individuals or groups up to six can play, with the Play Disney Parks app acting as a spyglass that turns parts of the ship into a virtual reality playing field. The ship will sail its maiden voyage on June 9, 2022.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

After months of incubation, care, and monitoring, Wild Florida and its “Croc Squad” officially welcomed two more albino hatchlings to Orlando attraction, Wild Florida, which runs the world’s only successful albino alligator breeding program. Earlier this summer, a batch of 18 albino alligator eggs were collected from their adult albino alligators, Snowflake and Blizzard. The baby crocs are the second hatchlings delivered and will be put on exhibit at a later date. Wild Florida Airboats, Drive-thru Safari & Gator Park is located on Lake Cypress in Kenansville.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

St. Maarten tourism is launching a special “Travel Agent Program” for three consecutive months starting in September. North American travel professionals are invited to independently visit the Dutch Caribbean island and take advantage of special rates from on island partners, which include accommodations, land and watersport activities, restaurants and more.
For details and registration, e-mail stb-marketing@sintmaartengov.org 

EVENTS

Sept. 2-5: For the second consecutive year, The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) will hold its annual conference virtually, with Leshan, China, once again the featured destination. Virtual PATA Travel Mart (PTM) 2021 will be a business-to-business travel contracting and virtual networking event designed to mirror and enhance the features of the long-standing PTM, which for over four decades has connected qualified international buyers and sellers from Asia Pacific and beyond through one-to-one business appointments. Check PATA’s website for more details and registration.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

In a sign of increased commitment to the Canadian market where it hopes to increase visibility and boost stayover visitors, the St. Kitts Tourism Authority (SKTA) has named Oakville, Ont.-based Fathom Communications (Fathom Co) as its first-ever Canadian Public Relations Agency. The agency’s scope of work will include trade and consumer media relations, content strategy, events and activations, social media strategy and the cultivation of co-op marketing opportunities. The island is now open to fully vaccinated travellers and Air Canada will offer non-stop service from Toronto Nov. 7 to April 24, 2022. E-mail Laura Johnson at ljohnston@fathomco.com

DESTINATIONS

HK Tramways in Hong Kong as been recognized by the Guinness World Records as the “largest double-decker tram fleet in service.” It is the world’s most unique fleet of double-deck tramcars in operation, carrying up to 200,000 passengers every day. Affectionately known by locals as the “Ding Ding,” it is one of the cheapest, greenest, and most scenic ways to get around Hong Kong.

Beijing is planning to develop a special tourist route in the Chinese capital ahead of the planned opening of Universal Studios Beijing this fall. The tourism trail will encompass the Universal Studios theme park in Tongzhou district as well as its nearby destinations such as the Grand Canal, the Songzhuang artist village, the Taihu town, and the Zhangjiawan ancient town. According to city officials, “The route would help tourists to enjoy beautiful sceneries, experience intangible cultural heritage and modern arts, and relax with plenty of outdoor activities in the area.” More hotels will also be built around the route.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today