ROUND-UP:Sept. 27-Oct. 1, 2021

Expo 2020 finally opened in Dubai; Walt Disney World kicked off 50th anniversary celebrations; Ontario pledged $100 million to help its beleaguered tourism industry; Air France says bonjour to a new plane; and new incentives from Sandals highlight last week’s news.

NEWS

Delayed a year over the coronavirus pandemic, Expo 2020 Dubai opened on Friday (Oct. 1). The six-month-long international festival, which officially runs Oct. 1 to through March 31, 2022, features 190 country and thematic pavilions (including one from Canada), and highlights ranging from innovative and inspiring architecture to the world’s largest passenger lift, travel beneath a forest, and music in the gardens of the signature Al Wasl Dome, plus an extensive program of themed weeks, exhibits, workshops, performances, live shows, and more.

Virgin Galactic says the US Federal Aviation Administration has cleared it to resume launches after an investigation into why its spaceship veered off course while descending during a July flight with founder Richard Branson aboard. The company said it was advised by the FAA that corrective actions proposed by Virgin Galactic have been accepted.

Ontario is pledging to provide $100 million to eligible businesses in the province’s tourism sector to help it recover from the impact of COVID-19. The Tourism Recovery Program is designed to help businesses such as inns and lodges, boat tours, ski centres, live performance venues, cinemas, drive-in theatres, and amusement and water parks that have experienced a loss of at least 50% of eligible revenue in 2020-21 compared to 2019.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

Argentina opened some of its border to tourists from Chile and Brazil on Monday for a four-day test run as cases of COVID-19 have declined. The measure applies to two crossings into the provinces of Mendoza, a wine-producing region that neighbours Chile, and Misiones, which borders Brazil hand has the famed Iguazu Falls. Visitors will still need to show they have completed a full vaccine course at least 14 days before arriving, show a recent negative PCR test and accept a fast antigen test on arriving. They won’t have to quarantine but will required to have another PCR test if they stay beyond seven days – and those who test positive would then have to quarantine.

DELAYED/ CANCELLED

The Ironman World Championship will be held outside Hawaii for the first time in four decades. That is due to uncertainty over whether the Big Island will be able to host the triathlon as scheduled in February because of the coronavirus pandemic. Triathletes will instead head to St. George, Utah, to compete on May 7. Organizers plan to bring the contest back to the islands in October 2022. Ironman participants swim, ride bikes and run a marathon. The first race was held in Honolulu in the 1970 and moved to Kailua-Kona on the Big Island in 1981.

AIR

Swoop will start new non-stop service from Toronto Pearson to Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) with twice weekly flights effective Dec. 5. Introductory rates are available through Oct. 15.

Air France has taken delivery of its first Airbus A220-300, the company’s latest addition to its short and medium-haul network. The most innovative and efficient single-aisle aircraft in its class, the Airbus A220-300 provides a cost reduction per seat of 10% compared to the Airbus A318 and A319 and stands out for its energy efficiency, consuming 20% less fuel than the aircraft it replaces and its CO2 emissions are also reduced by 20%. Its noise footprint is also 34% lower.

United Airlines customers can access even more COVID testing locations, including more than 3,000 new Walmart and Albertson Companies locations across the US, through the airline’s website and mobile app in the Travel Ready Center. Customers can now easily book COVID-19 testing appointments at over 3,800 total testing providers and have their results delivered within four to 48 hours of their test and directly submitted to United’s website and mobile app to be reviewed for their flight.

DEALS

Flight and cruise packages booked with Air Canada Vacations by Nov. 25 for travel through Oct. 31, 2022, offer $300 in flight credits per couple. Further, air rates can be secured before they become available in the system with pre-registration that locks in the price for cruise bookings made more than 11 months in advance, where Air Canada Vacations is unable to offer confirmed flights. ACV will contact agents 11 months prior to the departure date to confirm availability and book the required segments.

Crystal Expedition Cruises has announced an increase in ‘Book Now Savings’ to $4,000 per guest on new luxury expedition yacht Crystal Endeavor’s singular nine-night voyage “Expedition Yachting: Caribbean Mystique” from Miami to San Juan departing Oct. 25. The itinerary features rare encounters exploring seldom-visited islands and boutique harbours only accessible to private yachts, including Great Exuma and Man of War Bay (Inagua Island), Bahamas; White Bay and Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke, and Norman Island, British Virgin Islands; Gustavia, St. Barts; and Saba, Netherlands; concluding in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Guests also receive a shipboard credit of $300 per guest, and reduced deposits of 15%.

TOURS

New ‘Nights Out’ evening experiences are designed to show Uniworld Boutique River Cruises guests Europe in a new light. Th five excursions include a concert in Vienna; after-hours St. Mark’s Square visit in Venice; brewery visit and tasting in Basel, private canal cruise in Amsterdam; and evening at Cochem Castle. The exclusive experiences will be implemented into Uniworld’s all-inclusive itineraries in 2023.

Expanding a policy implemented earlier this year on its European tours and cruises, Tauck will now require all guests ages 12 and over to present proof of being fully vaccinated at the start of their trip. The expanded vaccination requirement was instituted earlier this month and applies to all of Tauck’s tours and cruises worldwide.

HOTELS

The first hotel by Iberostar Hotels & Resorts in Peru opened its doors Oct. 1. Located in the city centre with views of the Pacific Ocean, the five-star Iberostar Selection Miraflores will be the first plastic-free hotel in Lima and presents a strong emphasis on local gastronomy, thus supporting the environment and local farming and fishing communities. A rooftop infinity pool offers stunning views of and the city and sunsets over the Pacific.

Located in the historic Crown Building on 5th Avenue in New York City, the first home of the Museum of Modern Art, Aman New York will be a luxurious sanctuary that celebrates the building’s striking architecture and significant history. Slated to open later this fall, the hotel will offer restaurants, a Garden Terrace & Bar, a private members club, the three-floor Aman Spa, and a Jazz Club and Wine Room.

RESORTS The Jumeirah Maldives is now welcoming its first guests. The all-villa luxury resort, tucked away on North Malé Atoll, is easily reachable by speedboat or seaplane from Malé Airport and provides privacy for romantic getaways, island retreats for families, and experiences to suit the more active traveller. Featuring 67 beach and over-water villas in one-, two- and three-bedroom configurations. The resort’s panoramic architecture and calming interiors are designed to create an elegant contemporary ethos in harmony with the natural environment, echoing modern Mediterranean chic, and each villa features a private infinity pool and large roof-top terrace with a dedicated dining area.

A new five-star seafront resort from Ocean by H10 Hotels will open in Trelawny, Jamaica in November. The adults-only Ocean Eden Bay will feature modern rooms, a large swimming pool, upscale buffet and a-la-carte dining options, a Despacio Spa, scuba dive centre, and a complete sports and entertainment program that includes an innovative dinner-show concept with different thematic performances and culinary experiences each week. Guests who book a stay at the Ocean Eden Bay property will have full access to the services and amenities of the adjacent family-friendly Ocean Coral Spring resort.

CRUISE

Crystal has extended vaccination requirement for guests and all crew through 2022 for ocean ships Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony and luxury expedition yacht Crystal Endeavor. All age-eligible guests (currently 12 and older) and all crew must be fully inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine (with both doses, if recommended by manufacturer) at least 14-days prior to their embarkation date. The same protocols are in effect for Crystal River Cruises.

By late spring 2022, Holland America Line says it will have a complete fleet back to cruising with the restart of operations for Noordam, Oosterdam and Westerdam. Noordam will restart with a March 14, 2022, cruise in Japan; Oosterdam will begin cruising May 1 in the Mediterranean; and Westerdam will return to service May 8 in Alaska. The ships will join Eurodam, Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Nieuw Statendam, Rotterdam and Zuiderdam, which have returned to service or are slated to restart cruising by December 2021. Volendam and Zaandam will return in May 2022.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Oct. 1 marked the official kick-off of 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort welcoming its first guests in 1971. For the next 18 months celebrations will ensue, with every inch of the now expanded destination set to reflect the ‘magical milestone,’ including an array of new attractions, nighttime spectaculars, enhanced technological features, dining and merchandise options, and much more to mark the occasion.

EVENTS

Co-organizers Liz Akey, Kimberly Hartley and Sue Webb

Skal Toronto Club hosted an honest-to-goodness golf tournament at the Royal Ontario Club near Toronto on Sept. 27. Social distancing and a scaled-back 19th hole reflected the circumstances, but a brilliant day and 64 enthusiastic participants more than compensated. But, sadly, the team of Wolf Paunic (Trafalgar), Sonia McKeon (Uniglobe), Liz Akey (EMA Marketing), and yours truly, did not win (the foursome of Simon Spina, Joe Montalbano, Andrew Cook and Joe Ricci did). Still, as club golf chair Kimberley Hartley put it: “It was a fabulous day of camaraderie, golf, food, drink, prizes, and lots of fun.”

FAMS & INCENTIVES

As a “token of appreciation” for their work during the pandemic, Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts launched several initiatives designed to reward Canadian travel advisors both previous and new bookings. All Points to Paradise rewards (redeemable for free stays) earned from 2019 to 2021 have been extended through Dec. 31, 2022. Also, for a limited time, agents will earn bonus cash commission and double P2P Points on new bookings of six nights or longer.
All bookings must be registered on the Sandals TA portal (taportal.sandals.com) within 30 days in order to qualify for each promotion.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

CAA North & East Ontario has appointed Patricia Marques as Director, Sales. A travel industry veteran with more than 18 years at CAA South Central Ontario and CAA National, Marques will be responsible for the Retail Travel Stores, Partner Relationships and Product Development, Travel Operations, Travel and Membership Call Centres, and Corporate Membership and Business Development teams. She can be reached at pmarques@caaneo.on.ca.

BY THE NUMBERS

Some members of The Travel Agent Next Door recently completed the second annual nine-week FIT TRIP fitness challenge campaign, which also raised funds for Pencils for Kids. Partner agents raised $6,980 and TTAND topped that amount up to $10,000 – enough to fund half the cost of building a school in Niger, Africa. There were over 260 TTAND participants, doing up to 50 different fitness activities and over 12,220 entries were made recording 771,180 minutes of exercise by all participants combined.

DESTINATIONS

Saint Lucia Tourism Authority has introduced a new option to the extended stay Live It program. Visitors can now experience life while working remotely in Saint Lucia with a multiple entry visa for up to one year. The program was introduced earlier in 2021 for visits up to six weeks; the second phase now allows applicants to stay for up to a year with a multiple entry visa at the cost of US$75.

A drawing newly attributed to Vincent van Gogh that has never been displayed publicly before is going on show at the Amsterdam museum that bears the Dutch master’s name. The “new” Van Gogh, “Study for ‘Worn Out,’” from November 1882, is part of a Dutch private collection and was known to only a handful of people, including a few from the Van Gogh Museum. It will be on exhibit until Jan. 2, 2022.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today