ROUND-UP: Aug. 9-13, 2021

Vaccine certificates for travel will soon be available for Canadians, TravCorp brands guests must vaccinate before travel, flights arrivals from India get pushed back again, the US border opened (in one direction at least), and Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not the British monarch) is sailing again.

NEWS

Fully vaccinated Canadians will soon be able to get a government document that will certify their COVID-19 vaccine history for the purpose of international travel. The vaccine certificate, expected to be ready by the fall, will be digital, with an option for those who can’t have or don’t want a digital certificate.

The Canadian land border opened to vaccinated Americans on Aug. 9. Border wait times were not deemed to be too bad at some locations, while lengthy bottlenecks were in evidence at others. No word on when Canadians can cross the other way.

Expedia Group has announced that every purchase made through its mobile apps will result in a donation to help UNICEF’s global COVID-19 response, which endeavours to distribute safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments in over 180 countries. Participating Expedia brands include Expedia, Hotels.com, Vrbo, Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotwire, ebookers, and CheapTickets.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth returned to sailing on Friday (Aug. 13) after a 17-month break. Following a series of UK voyages, international sailings will begin in October with a cruise from Southampton to Amsterdam followed by a 14-night voyage to the Canary Islands and Madeira in November.

US-headquartered small ship cruise line Windstar Cruises has welcomed back the 342-guest flagship Wind Surf to the sea. The largest sailing ship in the world recently departed from Barcelona on an eight-day voyage to Lisbon, stopping at ports including Palma de Mallorca, Cartagena, Almería, Málaga, Gibraltar, and Cadiz. Four of the line’s six yachts are now back in the water cruising.

Air Canada will resume flights to St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Nov. 1, having suspended its service when the Canadian border closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The islands returned to cruising on Aug. 7 with the arrival Seabourn Odyssey in Bequia.

DELAYED/ CANCELLED

Citing the latest public health advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Transport Canada has restricted all direct commercial and private passenger flights to Canada from India until Sept. 21. The agency is also extending the requirement related to third-country pre-departure COVID-19 molecular tests for travellers to Canada from India via an indirect route. This means that passengers who depart India to Canada via an indirect route will continue to be required to obtain a valid COVID-19 pre-departure test from a third country – other than India – before continuing their journey to Canada.

With new COVID-19 cases surging in Louisiana, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival won’t be returning this year after all, organizers say. The festival, which traditionally is held in the spring, had been scheduled to run Oct. 8-10 and Oct. 15-17 this year after being canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The festival is expected to return to its original time frame next year, April 29-May 8.

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

Two new winter services from Air Canada will depart from Quebec City: Flights to Fort Lauderdale will start on Nov. 19 and flights to Orlando on Dec. 17. Starting Dec. 4, Air Canada will also be offering more flights to Punta Cana and Cancun.

On Nov. 4, WestJet will launch new non-stop service between Calgary and Seattle. Flights will operate four times weekly on WestJet Encore’s Q400 aircraft and will increase to two-times daily on May 19, 2022.

Eurowings Discover has been added to Aeroplan’s roster of more than 40 airline travel partners. Eurowings Discover is the new leisure carrier of the Lufthansa Group with operating bases in Frankfurt and Munich, Germany. It serves several international destinations in Africa, North America, the Indian Ocean, and the Caribbean.

West Africa

CRUISE

West Africa and its unique archipelagos – the Bissagos Islands and Cape Verde – have been added to a growing list of new warm-weather destinations for Hurtigruten Expeditions. The 13-day itinerary includes four countries: Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Senegal, with ‘MS Spitsbergen’ based out of Dakar. The expansion follows the cruise line’s recent launch announcement of year-round expedition cruises to the Galapagos Islands starting early 2022. Besides its first-ever African expedition cruises, Hurtigruten will also introduce a series of itineraries to the Canary Islands and Madeira for the 22/23 seasons.

‘Oasis of the Seas’ will lead the next group of Royal Caribbean ships to return to service with a Sept. 5 departure to The Bahamas from New York. A dozen more ships will sail out throughout the fall and winter across the globe, from Alaska to Australia by May of 2022 giving the cruise line its full complement of ships.

TOURS

The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) guided tour brands have announced a Covid-19 vaccination requirement for all adult guests, effective Sept. 1. Trafalgar, Contiki, Insight Vacations, Costsaver, Brendan Vacations, and Luxury Gold’s new policy requires clients to show documented proof of having received two doses of approved Covid-19 vaccines from either Pfizer, Moderna, Astra Zeneca, or one dose from Johnson & Johnson. The final dose of the vaccine must have been administered a minimum of 15 days prior to their departure and the policy will remain in effect until at least Dec. 31. Clients will need to provide the proof to their Wellbeing Director, Travel Director, Trip Manager or Travelling Concierge before joining the tour and also upon arrival at their destination. They will additionally need to comply with specific PCR testing requirements imposed by airlines and/or the destinations, which may differ from country to country.

RESORTS

Almost 100 Olympians from the islands where Sandals Resorts International operates have been gifted complimentary vacation stays by the company. 2020 Olympians who medaled in the just-concluded Tokyo Games will each receive one complimentary no-limit on nights’ stay, in the highest room category at any Sandals or Beaches resort across the region complete with luxury BMW transfers from their home to the resort of choice. In addition, all athletes who represented their country in the Olympics in any event will receive four-night vacations at a Sandals Resort in their home island.

Upon reopening Sept. 1 and after an extensive renovation project, AMResorts’ Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort & Spa in Mexico will undergo a name change to Dreams Aventuras Riviera Maya.

HOTELS

Markham Hilton

With safety and hygiene becoming an area of increased focus for the hospitality industry, The Hilton Toronto/Markham Suites Conference Centre and Spa has introduced a fully touchless device using ultraviolet-C ray technology to keep guests’ cell phones as clean as possible.

The Hilton Garden Inn Snowdonia is now open and ready for guests. Not only is the hotel the first Hilton Garden in Wales, but it is also one of the largest hotels in North Wales with 106 rooms. Located on the site of Adventure Parc Snowdonia and home to Wave Garden Spa, it is ideal for travellers seeking active and well-being holidays and for exploring the surrounding scenic region.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

LEGOLAND New York Resort has officially opened. Along with a themed 250-room hotel, the attraction features seven LEGO lands: Brick Street, Bricktopia, LEGO NINJAGO World, LEGO Castle, LEGO City, MINILAND, and LEGO Pirates. The park also features the first LEGO Factory Adventure ride, which transforms riders into LEGO Minifigures, plus signature rides such as the Dragon coaster and LEGO NINJAGO The Ride. Kids can also earn their very own LEGOLAND Driver’s License at Driving School, team up to save the day at Fire Rescue Academy, and catch LEGO movies in 4D at Palace Cinema. The attraction is located in Goshen, NY, about 90 minutes north of New York City.

AGENT EDUCATION

A comprehensive e-learning platform for Canadian travel agents called ‘MSC Masters’ has been launched by MSC Cruises. The digital program comprises interactive modules, videos, tutorials about MSC Book, and generally provides a deeper insight into the cruise line and its itineraries. Agents who enrol will progressively earn rewards to eventually become an MSC Cruises Master. As an additional incentive for agents, 10 $200 or 20 $100 gift cards will be drawn for those who successfully complete the exam by Aug. 31. Agents can find out more from their BDM, Inside Sales, or by visiting https://www.mscbook.com

The Los Cabos Tourism Board has a new full-service destination portal designed to complement its agent specialist program and create a one-stop shop for travel advisors to access all the information they need to sell the Mexican destination. The Los Cabos Specialist site offers an up-to-date educational platform, loyalty program, downloadable resources like guides, maps, videos, and images, and a B2B marketplace, where hotels service provides have their own booths. Graduates from the previous training program are invited to creating a password on the new portal and enroll in the recently revised and expanded Los Cabos Specialist training program. For more information, visit HERE.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

Sunwing has announced a writing contest in conjunction with global multi-platform entertainment company Wattpad. Winners will receive an all-inclusive vacation for two at a Royalton Punta Cana Resort & Casino property. The #MissedMilestones Writing Contest is designed to curate a collection of firsthand stories from customers featuring, in 500 words or less, travel moments and milestones that they missed out on during the pandemic, including how they would celebrate those moments in the tropics. The contest runs until Aug. 14 and rules can be found on Wattpad’s website, which will also post winning stories.

EVENTS

Canada’s premier marketplace for the tourism industry, Rendez-vous Canada, will return in a new hybrid format next year. Hosted by Destination Canada and TIAC, and set for May 23-27 in Toronto, RVC+ 2022 will bring back in-person attendance, while also incorporating a virtual component, creating more opportunities for industry delegates to engage and make appointments with international buyers, travel trade media and Destination Marketing Companies (DMC).

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

The Travel Agent Next Door has named luxury cruise line Seabourn to approved supplier status for the host agency.

Dr. Ernest Hilarie is Saint Lucia’s new Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture, and Information. The former diplomat was sworn in on Aug. 5.

DESTINATIONS

France is now requiring people (including tourists) to show a QR code proving they have a special virus pass before they can visit restaurants and cafés or travel across the country, including on high-speed, intercity, and night trains as well as on long-distance travels by plane or bus. The special pass is issued to people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 or have proof of a recent recovery from the virus or who have a recent negative test. Similar measures were also introduced last week in Italy.

Opened July 30, the Niagara Parks Power Station is a new landmark attraction just south of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls. By day, visitors explore the preserved interior of the historic power station, transformed with new exhibits and guest amenities. Beginning Sept 3 each night, an immersive sight and sound experience “Currents: Niagara’s Power Transformed” will bring the building to life. The first major power plant on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, the Niagara Parks Power Station was completed in 1905 to produce hydroelectricity by leveraging the power of the Niagara River.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today