ROUND-UP:Jan. 17-21, 2021

This week in the Round-up: Crystal is not having a ball; TICO introduces new specs; WestJet cuts more flights; Lynx Air reveals launch details; Contiki unveils a new look; and Air France announces plans for Quebec City.

NEWS

Crystal has suspended operations for its ocean and expedition ships through April 29 with river cruises suspended through the end of May. The cruise line says that suspending operations will provide its management team with an opportunity to evaluate the financial difficulties of its parent company Genting Hong Kong. Guests and travel partners are currently being notified. Crystal will provide a full refund of cruise fare paid, which will be processed automatically to the original form of payment.

In February, the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) will launch a new digital flipbook study manual for Travel Counsellor and Supervisor/Manager certifications. The new manual will have updated content to reflect changes in legislation and will be easier to use. Effective Feb. 28, TICO exams will be based on the newly revised study manual; the deadline to write the exams based on the current manual is Feb. 27. In the future, TICO says it will launch new, fully interactive online education and continuing education programs that have a strong focus on having students apply the program’s regulatory content.

ACTA is the latest travel organization to call on call on the federal government to lift mandatory arrival testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated, asymptomatic travellers so that the tests can be used to support Canada’s domestic testing needs.

Officials at the St. John’s International Airport Authority reached an agreement with the facility’s firefighters to end staffing shortages and flight cancellations and enabling normal operations to resume. The parties had been working with a federal mediator to resolve the situation.

Organizers of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, set to begin Feb. 4, say tickets will not be sold to the general public but instead will be distributed to “targeted” groups of people. Organizers had said in September that there would not be any international spectators at the Games due to COVID-19 prevention policies that have all but shut China’s borders to international travellers.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

After several months of forced suspension due to COVID-19, Air Transat has returned to Faro, Portugal with flight TS232 from Toronto on Jan. 18. Now operated year-round, the route will be offered once a week. The airline also operates flights to Lisbon and Faro from Toronto and, from Montreal, Lisbon and next summer, Porto.

AIR

Calgary-based Lynx Air announced it will officially take flight on April 7 with its first flight from Calgary to Vancouver. Initially, Lynx will offer five domestic destinations: Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Kelowna, and Winnipeg, with flights utilizing brand-new Boeing 737 aircraft. Routes will roll out throughout April with tickets now available to be booked online.

WestJet is continuing the consolidation of flights this month into next, with the airline announcing that 20% of its scheduled flights Feb. 1-28 will be reduced. The “difficult decision” is in response to the Omicron variant affecting staffing levels and the prolonged impact of government barriers on bookings, says the airline. The schedule reduction also represents a slight increase over January, which has seen 15% of flights curtailed.

As of May 17, Air France will connect Quebec City (YQB) to Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport with three weekly flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Flights will be operated by Airbus A330-200.

BY THE NUMBERS

Global tourism experienced a 4% upturn in 2021, compared to 2020 (415 million versus 400 million), however, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) were still 72% below the pre-pandemic year of 2019, according to preliminary estimates by UNWTO. This follows on from 2020, the worst year on record for tourism, when international arrivals decreased by 73%.

TECHNOLOGY

Travelport has launched its new Travelport+ tools and functionalities. Customers using the latest version of the desktop tool, Smartpoint, can now access new itinerary enhancements, including Trip Quote, to customize itinerary quotes, and Assisted Ticketing capabilities. Additionally, Travelport has launched a new Trip Manager portal on Travelport+, offering self-service for travellers to carry out fast, easy transactions for their trip on the go and continues its Intelligent Storefront mission by making it easier for agents to understand offers and compare brands with similar attributes on a like-for-like basis. Agencies using Travelport can also better manage the hotel bookings they sell with a simple self-service rules engine, the Content Optimizer.

DEALS

Envision, Budapest

Wave Season deals from Avalon Waterways offer three tiers of savings, ranging from $1,700 to $3,200 in savings for booking on select cruises through March 27. The special rates apply to dozens of cruises, including the 15-day “Magnificent Europe” cruise ($3,200 per couple savings), 16-day “Enchanted Europe for Beer Enthusiasts” ($2,200); and eight-day “Danube Dreams” ($1,700). All bookings also include the option of adding airfare for $499.

The new ‘Spring Seat Sale’ from Transat is valid on new individual Europe bookings made through Feb. 14, for travel between March 1 and June 30, 2022. (Some exceptions apply). Details are available on the airline’s web site.

Savings of up to 20% off are available on select European Waterways Spring barge cruises in France, Italy, and Scotland. The offer ends Feb. 21.

TOURS

Capitalizing on the latest trends in health and wellness trends, TruTravels has launched a new FitVentures collection of wellness-focussed tours, departing from May. The two tour itineraries – one in Thailand, the other Indonesia – come with a ‘workout schedule’ and with Muay Thai classes, beachfront bootcamps and volcano hikes, with the tour operating promising to challenge the conventional wellness retreat by “making working out fun while travellers enjoy the trip of a lifetime.” Activities include cooking classes, cycling, sunset paddleboarding and more. With the “Great Escape Sale,” travellers can save up 40% off the price.

An eye-catching new look and feel signifying “an optimism for the industry that meets the new needs of clients” is behind a brand refresh from Contiki, launched last week. Featuring “Contiki Green,” the vibrant new colour in part represents the brand’s take on sustainability – a “new kind of green.” Along with the new look, Contiki says it has also realized its goal of becoming entirely carbon neutral effective this month.

HOTELS

Hard Rock Hotels has announced plans for the opening of its newest REVERB by Hard Rock in Hamburg, Germany. Slated to open in mid-2022, the 134-room hotel
will be located within the St. Pauli Bunker, Hamburg’s largest, and one of its few preserved, high-rise bunkers, which has come to locally represent creativity and urban culture. REVERB by Hard Rock is a new select service hotel designed for the modern music lover, a sanctuary for the eclectic, and a place where fans meet and experience a melting pot of music culture. The hotel features a modern, urban design package, traveller-friendly integrated technology, and programming focused on local music, food, and lifestyle.

The new ‘Winter Escapes’ promotion by B Hotels offers discounted nightly rates at various Florida properties when booked by March 19 for travel by June 30. Promotional rates start at US$119 at the B Resort & Spa in Orlando (Disney Springs area), $229 at B Ocean Resort in Fort Lauderdale, and $299 at Banana Bay Resort in the Keys. The Orlando property is also providing free breakfast to kids 12 years of age and under (some limitations apply). Booking must be made with the hotel online using the promo code BWINTER.

RESORTS

IHG Hotels & Resorts is expanding in Bali, Indonesia. The 120-key all-suite and villa InterContinental Bali Sanur Resort will be a rebrand of the former Fairmont Sanur Beach Bali and will relaunch with a fresh identity. The beachfront resort is located on Sanur Beach which is known for its long stretch of sandy beach with shallow waters and will boast 26 villas, each with a private pool, as well as 94 suites.

A new Ritz-Carlton Reserve resort has been announced for the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, joining an exclusive collection of only five Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties around the world. Located on the southern end of the island, it is expected to feature an open-air resort including 90 intimate rooms forming part of the community once known as the Cotton Bay Club. Amenities will include an 18-hole golf course, a lavish spa and swimming pools, and restaurants.

CRUISE

As part of its “Worry-Free Promise,” Holland America Line is extending its Flexible Cancellation Plan. Originally for cruises departing by the end of April, the plan now includes bookings made by March 31 for itineraries that depart on or before Sept. 30 and allows clients to cancel for any reason and receive a Future Cruise Credit in the amount of any cancellation fees that normally would be incurred. Cancellations must be made up to 30 days before departure. Additionally, final payments for cruises through May 31 are due at 60 days instead of 75 or 90.

Viking has floated out its newest ocean ship – the 930-guest Viking Neptune – marking a major construction milestone. Set to debut in November, the vessel will spend her maiden season sailing itineraries in the Mediterranean before embarking on the company’s 2023-24 Viking World Cruise.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival returns from March 4 to April 26 with its unique “tour” of California regions and neighbourhoods at the Anaheim theme park. A dozen festival marketplaces will offer bites and beverages for every palate. Complimentary culinary demonstrations with visiting, local, celebrity, and Disney chefs will return on Saturdays and Sundays during the festival. And to further enhance the experience, guests can book and purchase signature events such as the Carthay Circle Winemaker Receptions, and the Wine, Beer and Mixology Education & Tasting Seminars. The latest details will be shared on Disneyland.com.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

Travel advisors booking new-to-Windstar Cruises guests will receive a $100 per booking bonus commission or a $100 Visa gift card during Wave Season (through Feb. 28). Clients, meanwhile, can choose between “Pick Your Perk” savings options that include up to $1,000 onboard credit per stateroom or up to two free hotel nights with included transfer between hotel and yacht, plus full breakfast, Wi-Fi, resort fees and taxes.

Polar adventure operator Quark Expeditions has unveiled a gift card incentive for graduates of its PolarPro sales training program. Eligible travel advisors who sign up and graduate from the sales training program before March 31 can submit a request to earn a $250 gift card (or local equivalent) on their first booking with Quark Expeditions within 90 days of graduation. Eligible travel advisors who make their first booking after March 31, within 90 days of graduation, will earn a US$100 gift card (or local equivalent).

EVENTS

Registration is open for US Travel’s signature trade show, IPW, which is scheduled to take place from June 4 to 8 in Orlando. Last year the annual spring-time event in Las Vegas was postponed until September following outright cancellation in 2020.

The American Marketing Group’s Travel Market conference at Resorts World Las Vegas has been changed to Oct 27-30, 2022 (the previously announced dates were Sept. 28-Oct. 1).

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Popular industry executive Frank Dennis died Jan. 15 at age 80. Owner of Uniglobe Eastern Canada Region from 1991 to 2016, Dennis was instrumental in the franchise’s growth over the years and a leading figure in the Canadian travel industry, including having served as the first chair of the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO).

Canadian travel industry figure Michael Friisdahl is set to become executive chairman of Britain-based Signature Aviation, the world’s largest network of private aviation terminals (FBOs). The former CEO of Rouge airline and Thomas Cook North America has been president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) since December 2015, where he will depart at the end of February.

H.I.S.-Red Label Vacations Inc. (RLV) has announced the appointment of Kurt Ortmann as the Mississauga-based company’s new VP of Information Technology. The 30-year travel industry veteran, whose mandate is to amplify the company’s technological infrastructure and further the continued goal of streamlining operations and expanding customer-centric solutions, took office Jan. 14

DESTINATIONS
Laax, Switzerland,
is now home to the longest treetop walkway in the world (photo). The 1.5-km.-long walkway, also known as “Senda dil Dragun”, winds between the trees at a height of up to 28 m. Entering its first winter, the treetop walk connects the two villages of Laax Murschetg and Laax Dorf.

Miami Beach Live! is a month-long celebration starting in March that will feature a variety of activations and live events designed to engage all five senses in the South Florida city. Every Friday through Sunday during March, a diverse lineup of programming will take place in and around Lummus Park and the beachfront areas, from 10 to 13 streets. Themes include Dance, Pop, International, and Symphonic/Broadway – across an array of music, arts, culture, and culinary offerings. Every weekend throughout the month also features a Friday night movie, Saturday evening headlining concert, and Sunday Dine-Around spotlighting Miami Beach’s best-in-class culinary offerings.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today