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ROUND-UP:Jan. 10-14, 2021

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Remember when “wave season” meant cruising? It’s that time of year. Also in last week’s news: Lynx Air announce tickets are on sale, with a contest to celebrate; Transat enhanced check-in procedures; TICO deferred payments (again); the US conditional sailing order expired; and winter fun is cancelled.

NEWS

The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) advises that new provincial funding will enable it to waive registrant fees for a third year as the travel industry continues to grapple with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Travel agencies and wholesalers will receive a fee waiver for annual registration renewal fees and Travel Industry Compensation Fund payments (Form-1) owed to TICO from April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023. The waiver applies to all registrants registered with TICO as of March 31, 2022.

Tourism operators in British Columbia can apply for financial help from a $15-million relief fund to cover some of their losses due to COVID-19. The provincial government says BC-owned hotels or motels that employ more than 150 people, Indigenous-owned resorts on reserves with over 100 employees, and tourism operators who hold tenure or BC Parks permits can all apply for grants. The fund was suggested by a task force established in September 2020 to look at ways of helping tourism operators during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

Effective Feb. 15 all visitors to Belize are required to apply for Belize Travel Health Insurance – a mandatory insurance that helps protect travellers against incurred medical and non-medical expenses if they test positive for COVID-19 during their stay in Belize. Cost of the policy is US$18 with coverage for up to US$50,000 in medical (including emergency assistance), accommodation, and trip cancellation expenses related to treatment of COVID-19 for a period of 21 days. Arrivals continue to be required to present a negative test.

The European Union ended travel restrictions on flights from southern Africa on Jan. 11, well over a month after imposing them to in hopes of containing the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

DELAYED/ CANCELLED

Due to public health measures, in-person Winterlude activities at the Snowflake Kingdom and elsewhere in Ottawa will not take place this year. Canadians across the country, however, are being invited to vote online in the 44th annual event’s National Ice-Carving Championship. Also cancelled is the BeaverTails Ottawa Ice Dragon Boat Festival, which was take place as part of Winterlude from Feb. 4 to 21.

With less than 48 days to go, the 2022 Ontario Winter Games were postponed until 2023 due to surging Omicron cases in the province, the uncertainty of some events taking place and the possibility of others being cancelled due to COVID exposures. The games were slated to be a positive economic influx into the tourism sector of Renfrew County, which has been hard-hit by the pandemic. And on Saturday, it was announced that the BC Winter Games next month in Vernon would also be cancelled due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the province.

Large-scale events, such as Lunar New Year fairs, have been banned in Hong Kong as the city tries to keep a lid on the omicron outbreak. Transit passengers from 150 countries and territories were also banned effective yesterday (Jan. 16). Early this month, Hong Kong imposed a two-week ban on incoming flights from several countries, including Canada. Other restrictions have been posed as part of the Chinese city’s “zero tolerance” COVID-19 policy.

RE-OPENING/RE-START
A section of the historic Old Seven Mile Bridge, paralleling the Florida Keys Overseas Highway, reopened Wednesday (photo) in the Middle Keys so residents and visitors can once again use it for cycling, walking, running, rollerblading, watching sunrises and sunsets and to access Pigeon Key. The oft-photographed 3.5-km span of bridge near Marathon was part of a US$44-million renovation that began in 2017.

Continuing its restart, Carnival Cruise Line resumed guest operations Friday from Charleston, S.C., with Carnival Sunshine. The ship departed today on a four-day cruise to Nassau, Bahamas.

The daily, public ferry service between Anguilla’s Blowing Point Ferry Terminal and the Marigot Ferry Terminal on the French side of St. Martin has recommenced.

AIR

Tickets for Lynx Air flights go on sale on Wednesday (Jan. 19) and to celebrate the Canadian low-cost carrier (formerly Enerjet) has launched a trivia contest starting today (Monday) offering Canadians a chance to win free flights for a year. Two grand prize winners will win one round-trip flight per month to any Lynx destination for 12 months and five additional winners will each receive one round-trip flight anywhere on Lynx’s network. The contest closes Jan 18 at 8 p.m. MT. For details and to enter, click https://www.flylynx.com

Air Transat customers can now upload and validate their destination health documents when checking in online. This will allow them to obtain their digital boarding pass before arriving at the airport and ensure they meet entry requirements. The tool, which uses a technology developed by Amadeus, is currently in a test phase and will be deployed in three phases. Initially it will only validate the COVID-19 test and will be available for a selection of routes. In the coming months, it will be extended to the entire Air Transat network and will also validate proof of vaccination for destinations that require it.

KLM reports that it will start adding 0.5% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for flights departing from Amsterdam and will additionally give customers the option of purchasing an extra amount of sustainable fuel. In this manner it aims to stimulate the market for SAF. “The face of travel is set to change in the future and SAF will play an essential role in this regard,” says the Dutch carrier.

RAIL

Given the impact on travel demand of tighter COVID-19 restrictions due to the rapid spreading of the omicron variant, VIA Rail will temporarily reduce frequencies in the Québec City-Windsor corridor starting Wednesday (Jan. 9).

Clients booking an eligible Canadian trip this month (through Jan. 31) on Rocky Mountaineer will receive a complimentary upgrade from SilverLeaf to Goldleaf service ($1,500 value). Bookings are also risk free with a full travel credit for use to the end of the 2023 season granted to any travellers who cancel within 60 days of their trip for any reason. GoldLeaf Service includes bi-level glass-dome coaches equipped with spacious seats and unobstructed views; exclusive outdoor viewing platform; and gourmet breakfast and lunch.

DEALS

Through Feb. 6 Bermuda’s “Pink Sale” is offering up to 50% off on hotel bookings in the destination, with rates starting at $100/night and travel available through December. Participating properties and information can be found HERE 

Costa Cruises North America has savings of up to US$800 on select 2022 itineraries as part of Wave Season. The offer, available on bookings made by Feb. 28, applies to select Mediterranean and northern Europe itineraries in 2022. As an added bonus, guests also receive a $100 p.p. onboard credit, totalling $200 in onboard credit per cabin. Wave Sale deals are available on cruises departing from April through November. Restrictions and blackout dates apply.

HOTELS

Atlific Hotels has added four British Columbia hotels to its management portfolio, including two in Fort St. John – the Travelodge by Wyndham Fort St. John and Ramada by Wyndham Northern Grand Hotel & Conference Centre – plus two in Richmond, the Holiday Inn Vancouver Airport and Holiday Inn Express Vancouver Airport. The latter recently completed a top to bottom renovation and offers 161 guestrooms with free fiber optic high-speed WiFi, fridge and microwave, fitness centre, 24-hour airport shuttle, gated parking with electric charging and onsite restaurant. The Holiday Inn Express Vancouver Airport also recently renovated and features 107 guestrooms with a variety of in-room conveniences, fitness centre, 24-hour airport shuttle, and free breakfast.

Housed in the historic Tontine Building that originated as the city’s first Stock Exchange in 1729, the sleek, residentially inspired Wall Street Hotel will boast 180 spacious rooms and suites, a fine dining restaurant featuring a Michelin star chef, plus a stylish rooftop bar and lounge with outdoor terrace when it opens in March. The Preferred Hotels member is located at 88 Wall St. in lower Manhattan and in the heart of the global financial district, steps from Battery Park, the World Trade Center, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

RESORTS

Clients can save 45% off the price of all-inclusive spring and summer escapes at top Club Med resorts throughout Mexico, Florida, the Caribbean, and Canada. The “Your Vacation Your Way” sale is open for bookings through Feb. 23 for travel through Aug. 26. Additional perks include a free room upgrade and free stays for kids under four. Participating resorts include Punta Cana, Cancun, Miches Playa Esmeralda, Quebec, Ixtapa, Turks and Caicos, Sandpiper Bay, Caravelle, and Buccanneer’s Creek.

Due to open April 1, Dreams Karibana Cartagena Beach & Golf Resort will be the first AMR Collection resort in South America. The Colombian all-inclusive will feature 268 rooms, all with a private terrace, balcony, or swim-out suites. Other amenities include five bars and lounges with unlimited international and domestic top-shelf spirits; three gourmet à la carte dining choices; pool and beach service; 24-hour room and concierge services; daily activities and entertainment; access to a private beach club; 18-hole golf course; and more.

CRUISE

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says it will let its controversial conditional sailing order mandating various COVID-19 protocols aboard cruise ships sailing in US waters expire as initially intended on Jan. 15. Health and safety measures applied by individual cruise lines will then become voluntary.

Delayed a full year by the pandemic, Avalon Waterways new vessel, the Avalon View, will now debut in April in Bratislava, Slovakia. The ship will be christened by on April 12 by godmother Meredith Vieira, a 15-time Emmy Award-winning TV broadcaster. After the ceremony, the 166-passenger View will join Avalon’s Suite Ship fleet to sail the Danube River in 2022.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has unveiled the next ship in its new Prima Class category. Norwegian Viva will begin sailing Mediterranean itineraries in June 2023, homeporting in key southern European port cities Lisbon, Venice, Rome, and Athens, before sailing to the Southern Caribbean for her 2023-24 winter season (from San Juan)

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

SeaWorld Orlando says that its anticipated Ice Breaker roller coaster will make its debut on Feb. 18. The roller coaster ride has four airtime launches, as well as a 28-m.- tall spike with 100-degree angle. Although the ride doesn’t officially open until the middle of next month, those with season passes will get sneak peaks earlier.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

G-Normous, G Adventures’ biggest annual agent incentive offers $75K worth of cash and prizes to agents in Canada through April 30. The 9th annual “thank you” promotion also invites agents to compete in fun community challenges, and to vie for the $5K grand prize for the overall G-Normous top seller in Canada. In addition to the cash prizes, agents also receive one entry to win a fantastic trip each month – drawn at random – with each booking made. Agents with a G Adventures Sherpa account are automatically registered. Agents without an account can sign-up through their agency manager at https://www.gadventures.com/agents/register

EVENTS

Registration for ‘MeetGB Virtual’ 2022, VisitBritain’s free flagship business event is still open. Taking place in Feb. 15-17, the online tradeshow for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions/Events (MICE) is held in partnership with MeetEngland, Business Events Scotland, Meet In Wales, Tourism Northern Ireland, and London Convention Bureau, inviting international buyers to connect online in real time with UK destinations, venues, and suppliers. For more info and registration: https://www.visitbritain.com/gb/en/business

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Two familiar faces are back with the AMR Collection in Canada. Scott Reid returns as BDM Central Canada, covering Western Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan; and after a short stint away Brian Joseph returns as BDM for the Toronto, Greater Toronto Area, Eastern Ontario, and the Niagara regions. They join Orelbys Vigoa (Quebec and Atlantic Canada) and Carlo Trinidad (Western Canada).

AGENTS

An annual customer contest conducted by The Travel Agent Next Door (TTAND) attracted 42,000 online entries. Designed to help build data bases and enhance social media presence, the contest offered a seven-day Caribbean cruise for two from Fort Lauderdale on Celebrity Cruises in a Verandah stateroom, with complimentary air from all major Canadian gateways. Winner of the contest was Paul Vendetti of Ontario, a client of TTAND agent Jennifer Jones (photo).

The American Marketing Group (AMG), parent company of TRAVELSAVERS, NEST and The Affluent Travel Collection, has introduced an enhanced digital platform that delivers social media content for all affiliate agencies in the US and Canada. The platform, called Social Connect, helps advisors engage their current clients and reach new clients to build their brand awareness and increase sales.

BY THE NUMBERS

Nevada casinos set a record in November, reporting a ninth straight month of US$1 billion or more in house winnings, providing another sign that business in the nation’s tourist-dependent gambling mecca has returned to pre-pandemic levels. The $1.32 billion in casino winnings reported statewide was up from $1.22 billion in October, and almost reached the record $1.36 billion figure set last July, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported. The streak beat the previous record of eight consecutive months set before the Great Recession, from October 2006 to May 2007. Nevada sports betting also set records – reaping a record $72 million in November on sports wagers totaling $1.1 billion.

DESTINATIONS

Cuba has eliminated the need for visitors who test positive to stay in “hotel-hospitals,” instead permitting travellers to isolate in their hotel. The new measures replace previous requirements for passengers who test positive for COVID-19 to quarantine at the government designated facilities. Now, passengers can stay at their hotel in select rooms that are separated from the rest of the hotel in a different block or section and overseen by medical personnel.

From Feb 17 to July 17 the British Museum in London, in partnership with Wiltshire Museum and English Heritage, will host The World of Stonehenge, the UK’s first ever major exhibition on the history and mystery of the ancient site. There will be hundreds of objects brought together from across Britain and Europe including stone axes from the North Italian Alps, stunning metalwork from Ireland, and an extremely rare 3,000-year-old sun pendant, described by the British Museum as the most significant piece of Bronze Age gold ever found in Britain.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

PUBS, PATIOS & BARS: Suds and sunshine in Fort Lauderdale

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There are worse ways of waiting for your hotel room to be ready than to hole up in an Irish pub. And, indeed, if that pub is Waxy’s in fabulous Fort Lauderdale, I can attest that you may not to choose to leave, even when the call comes.

Located on the 17th Street, just up from the Hilton and across from the Embassy Suites (and not too far from Port Everglades for those waiting to board a cruise ship), Waxy’s Irish Bar makes the most of its exterior setting in a strip mall, but inside more than lives up to its billing as a wee slice of Ireland.

Importantly (since one is in Florida), there is an outside patio, enabling guests to enjoy the Irish craic and the sunshine simultaneously.

Also known as Waxy O’Connor’s, the establishment has for the past two decades earned a reputation as a rugby pub, though nowadays there seems to be too many Manchester United football games for the liking of some regulars. Being the US, it’s also a place you’ll be sure to catch American football games on one of the 16 TVs.

The pub says it pours “the best Guinness this side of the Emerald Isle” – a serious claim for a drink that actually requires training to pour properly – but, embellished or not, the boast points to beer bona fides that also includes Harp and Smithwick’s and a dozen more drafts from across Europe, plus a similar number of American and local craft options.

Of course, there’s also wine, plus a dozen or so craft cocktails – notably the subtly named “Blind Lemon,” made with Jefferson bourbon, after the Blues great.

And food: what you’d expect from an Irish pub – fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash, burgers, steak, lamb, and a chicken pot pie that earns raves; for dessert, there’s Jameson’s (i.e. Irish whiskey) bread pudding.

I can’t in good conscience advise anyone visiting Fort Lauderdale to skip the beach or to overlook the city’s many wonderous water activities or vibrant downtown for the sake of an Irish pub; but then again, who says I have a good conscience?

With glass purposefully in hand, we at Travel Industry Today continue our series on some of the planet’s best bars, patios and rooftop venues. For more articles in the series, click here:

PREVIOUS ARTICLES: https://travelindustrytoday.com/pub-patio/

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

ROUND-UP:Jan. 3-7, 2021

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Highlighting this week’s round-up: Air Canada and Transat trim schedules, Hong Kong bans flights from Canada, G Adventures has big Bhutan news, a new resort opens its doors in Jamaica, and Disneyland is looking ahead to the Chinese Lunar New Year.

NEWS

Hong Kong announced a two-week ban on flights from seven countries, including Canada, to help stem an emerging omicron outbreak in the city. The ban took effect Jan. 9 and will continue until Jan. 21. The measures came as new omicron clusters have emerged over the past week, many linked to several Cathay Pacific crew members who broke isolation rules and dined at restaurants and bars in the city before testing positive.

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is calling for the region’s government leaders to reduce the isolation periods for travellers to align more closely with newly introduced standards in the US (five days) and UK (seven days). CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig is recommending a seven-day period, compared to as many as 14 days currently mandated in some destinations. To not do so, she says, would reverse progress made by the tourism sector since the start of the pandemic.

DELAYED/ CANCELLED

The world’s coolest music festival has been cancelled due to the pandemic. Igloofest was to take place in Montréal’s Old Port over four weekends from Jan. 15 to Feb. 22.

BY THE NUMBERS

Not all cruises are created equal, says Avalon Waterways. Pointing to several recent COVID outbreaks on ocean-going ships, the river cruise specialist says that despite operating more than 100 cruises across Europe, Egypt and the Galapagos Islands this past summer and fall, that it registered precisely zero COVID-19 cases onboard its ships, amongst either guests or crew. Avalon notes that the number of Canadians taking a river cruise has doubled in the past decade and that 95% of Canadian agents say they sell the segment.

AIR

Transat A.T. says it is cancelling nearly 30% of its winter flights through Feb. 25 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on air industry plans and profits. The company says the ongoing impact of the omicron variant and the federal government’s Dec. 15 recommendation against non-essential travel abroad have triggered a wave of trip cancellations.

Air Canada Vacations has been forced to temporarily suspend operations to over a dozen sun destinations effective Jan. 24, lasting until April 30. However, the tour operator is quick to note that operations to 23 destinations are being maintained and only 7% of customers will be impacted. Affected destinations include Antigua, Aruba, Samaná, Curaçao, Exuma, Grenada, Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo, Bermuda, Grand Cayman, Havana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Martin/Sint Maarten, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

DEALS

The “Escape Back to the Blue” Wave season campaign by Celestyal Cruises offers 30% select 2022 sailings in the Greek Islands and eastern Med through March 31. Additionally, children 12 years and younger sharing the same stateroom with their parents sail for free. Solo travellers also receive a reduced solo supplement on select sailings.

TOURS

To celebrate its status as a launch partner for the re-opening of the ancient Trans Bhutan Trail (after 60 years), G Adventures will offer two tours along the route in the Himalayan nation starting May 1. The active trekking itineraries (photo) include the 11-day “Camp the Trans Bhutan Trail” trip, which features camping and homestays, and a 12-day “Highlights of the Trans Bhutan Trail” itinerary with accommodation in homestays, locally owned guest houses, and hotels. Both packages feature three to four hours of hiking per day along the best portions of the 403-km trail, while engaging with locals along the way.

CRUISE

Tradewind Voyages has confirmed its full program for the 2022/23 season, with the world’s newest and largest tall ship, Golden Horizon, making her inaugural journey in the Caribbean in Barbados next November. Complementing the debut in the Mediterranean in May 2022, the following year’s season will feature sailings starting from Portugal in April 2023. The Caribbean season offers an extensive selection of voyages that span the Grenadines, St Vincent, St Lucia, Guadeloupe, British Virgin Islands, St Kitts, St Barts, Antigua and more. Early booking incentives are available through Jan. 31. In Canada, call 437- 826-9600.

Summer 2023 cruises in Europe are now open for booking with Royal Caribbean. The newly announced program features nine ships visiting more than two dozen countries across 35 itineraries and featuring destinations from the Amalfi Coast to the Holy Land, and Iceland to the Adriatic islands of Croatia, British Isles, Canary Islands and Greek Isles. Departures will begin in May.

RESORTS

H10 Hotels has inaugurated Ocean Eden Bay, a newly built 444-room five-star resort in Trelawney, Jamaica. The adults-only luxury hotel is located on the seafront at Coral Spring, adjacent to the Ocean Coral Spring resort that the company opened in December 2019. The complex has six restaurants, four bars, a private beach area with sun loungers, and a large designer swimming pool overlooking the sea. Guests will also have access to all Ocean Coral Spring’s spaces and services. The hotel is H10’s second in Jamaica and seventh in the Caribbean, with three resorts in the Riviera Maya and two more in Punta Cana, all of them five-star with prime seafront locations.

Four Seasons Resort Lanai is welcoming a new observatory to its property this winter. The resort’s Love Lanai Cultural Advisors, working with the Imiloa Astronomy Center on the Island of Hawaii, are developing an accompanying observatory program about the history of Pacific Ocean voyaging, native Hawaiian traditions, and the methodology of traditional wayfinding, providing an overview of astronomy as it relates to Hawaii and parallels with Hawaiian culture. Resort guests in small groups can participate in observatory programming, which will be offered weekly. The new facility’s state-of-the-art, fully automated one-metre-class telescope observatory system features a direct-drive altitude-azimuth mounting system.

HOTELS

Rendering of the future Hotel Riu Plaza Chicago

Construction will begin this spring in Chicago on Riu Hotels and Resorts’ next urban Riu Plaza property. The new-build skyscraper, located in Streetville, the city’s commercial and cultural centre and close to the Magnificent Mile, will house a hotel with 28 floors and more than 350 rooms. Construction is expected to last for around two years.

The first-ever NYC Hotel Week has kicked off in New York. Running until Feb. 13, visitors will receive a 22% discount off the standard room rate at more than 110 hotels in the city (including all five boroughs), including properties such as The Beekman Hotel; Lotte New York Palace; The Pierre New York; The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue; Opera House Hotel; Hilton Garden Inn New York/Staten Island; The Rockaway Hotel; and The William Vale. Hotel weeks is part of NYC Winter Outing, which includes NYC Restaurant Week, NYC Broadway Week and NYC Must-See Week, running from Jan. 18 to Feb. 13. Hotel week reservations can be made HERE.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Lunar New Year at Disney California Adventure commemorates traditions of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures. The festival is filled with multicultural performances, kid-friendly crafts, culinary delights, beautiful décor, celebratory merchandise, and live musical entertainment, from Jan. 21 through Feb. 13. Not surprisingly, taking stage in 2022 – the Year of the Tiger – will be Tigger, joined by other popular Disney characters including Mulan and Mushu, Mickey and Minnie, and the Three Little Pigs – all donning their festive attire. Lunar New Year traditions include the Lucky Wishes Wall and “Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession,” a performance that honours family, friendship, and the potential for a fortune-filled new year.

Mardi Gras celebrations kick off at Universal Studios Florida from Feb. 5. The family-friendly version of the iconic Big Easy bash runs through April 24 and features a grand nighttime parade featuring uniquely themed floats and tons of beads, star-studded concerts on select nights, and authentic Cajun-style cuisine from New Orleans.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

David McKenna is the new president and CEO of Rocky Mountaineer, having taken office Jan. 4. The Canadian tourism veteran is a prominent leader in the domestic tourism industry who also serves as board chair of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC). Prior to joining Rocky Mountaineer, McKenna was president at the Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit where he led tourism expansion and acquisition projects in the Canadian Rockies.

EVENTS

A new season of ‘Irie Hour’ resumes Tuesday (Jan. 11) at 2:30 p.m. EST. Joining the Jamaica Tourist Board for the session is special guest Nina Spencer, a motivational speaker coach and speaker who will help inspire and motivate travel agents during these tough times. The topic for this one-hour coaching session will be “2022 Bring it ON! Forward Thinking: Profoundly Practical Strategies for Protecting Your Professional Passion and Building Great Client Relationships Despite Pandemic Times.” To register, click HERE.

DESTINATIONS

Canada’s largest food and drink festival, Dine Out Vancouver, reports that it has only been “slightly impacted” by the omicron outbreak and is moving ahead with its 20th anniversary season. From Jan. 14 to 31, hundreds of restaurants, breweries, and winemakers will present the best of the West Coast and international culinary arts with multi-course fixed-price menus starting at only $20. Festival organizers say that capacity limits and maximum seating adjustments will be made to indoor ticketed events; meanwhile outdoor events like Street Food City are not affected.

The Louisiana Great River Road Museum and Interpretive Center on the grounds of Houmas House Estate and Gardens is the newest member of the Great River Road network of museums and interpretive centres. The 3,300-sq.-m. museum is a state-of-the-art, $15-million facility chronicling the history and telling life stories along the lower Mississippi River from Baton Rouge through New Orleans to the mouth of the river. To date, there are more than 74 centres in the Great River Road Network interpreting the stories of the Mississippi River. These centres reside along the 10-state stretch of the river and include museums, parks, aquariums, and nature centres along with historic and prehistoric sites.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

ROUND-UP:Dec. 13-17, 2021

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Canada has advised again against non-essential travel; Canada Jetlines hopes to be airborne in Q2; new hotels and resorts continue to open; and the Jamaica Tourist Board celebrated its top agent specialists at an on-island gala.

NEWS

With the Omicron variant rising, the Canadian government re-imposed its warning against all non-essential international travel. The move comes less than two months after the warning was lifted.

Travel industry experts say Ottawa’s advisory to avoid all non-essential travel could have significant impacts on travel insurance, with some plans specifically excluding coverage as a result. They are warning Canadians to double-check their insurance coverage before leaving the country.

After signing a Definitive Lease Agreement for its first Airbus A320-200 aircraft, Canada Jetlines says it expects the aircraft to be delivered by February, which will put it on track to be airborne in Q2.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

Seasonal service to Mont-Tremblant, Que from Porter Airlines started on Friday. The non-stop service from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to Mont-Tremblant International Airport, will operate until March 28.

BY THE NUMBERS

Miami International Airport is finally seeing more passengers than it served before the pandemic and set new records for Thanksgiving holiday travel despite growing concerns about the spread of the omicron variant. About 3.9 million passengers passed through security last month, a 6% rise from 3.7 million ticketed passengers in November 2019, airport officials report. And during the entire 12-day Thanksgiving travel period, 1.7 million passengers passed through the airport, 14% more than the same period in 2019. The airport expects record-high passenger volume to continue through December.

AIR

Air Transat has announced the extension of its route between Toronto and Faro, Portugal to the summer of 2022. The route, which was initially offered from Jan. 18 to the end of April, will now be operated until Oct. 25 on a weekly basis, every Tuesday, with its new Airbus A321neoLR aircraft.

Known since December 1948 as McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas’ international airport was officially renamed Harry Reid International Airport after an influential former US senator last week. The airport code remains LAS.

Travelport and Cathay Pacific have a renewed and expanded multi-source content distribution agreement that includes a commitment towards advancing New Distribution Capability (NDC) initiatives. Travelport-connected agencies around the world with real-time access to search, sell, and book its Cathay content and inventory. The agreement will also see the content available to agents progressively expanded, to include a larger range of fares as well as ancillaries than had previously been unavailable.

Flair Airlines plans to expand its fleet to 30 aircraft by mid-2023, more than double the current size as it strives for a 50-plane fleet within five years. The ultra-low-cost carrier says it will lease an additional 14 new Boeing 737 Max jetliners in the next year and a half. The new planes would come on top of the dozen currently on hand as well as the four already slated for arrival next year. Edmonton-based Flair whose fleet was down to one plane last April, says it expects to have see 20 aircraft flying to Canadian cities ranging from Victoria to St. John’s, N.L., by next summer.

DEALS

From Jan. 18 to Feb. 13, NYC Winter Outing, presented by NYC & Company and preferred payment partner Mastercard, will offer New York wintertime experiences at an attractive price point across hotels, dining, Broadway, museums, cultural institutions, attractions, performing arts, and tours. The program will bring together NYC & Company’s three signature programs, NYC Restaurant Week, NYC Broadway Week and NYC Must-See Week, and introduce a new program, the first-ever NYC Hotel Week to create ultimate value across the five boroughs. Offers include 22% off hotel stays; 2-for-1 tickets to Broadway shows, attractions, museums, cultural institutions, performing arts and tours; and prix-fixe menus at hundreds of restaurants. Hotel week bookings open Jan. 4, the others, Jan. 11.

TOURS

Preparing to meet the increased demand for open spaces and off-the-beaten-path travel, Costsaver is expanding to two additional destinations with new itineraries in Australia and New Zealand for 2022 and ‘23. Among the options are the nine-day “Cosmopolitan Sydney and Melbourne,” the adventurous “Tropical Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef,” and “The Essence of Southern New Zealand.” The three tours also feature 40 optional experiences to enable clients to personalize their travels.

Fans of the new Matrix movie can take a walk in Neo’s footsteps and into the rabbit hole with a new self-guided tour created by the San Francisco Travel Association (SF Travel) based on filming locations in the city. Portions of the fourth Matrix installment were filmed in early 2020 in San Francisco’s Financial District, Chinatown, North Beach, Russian Hill, and South of Market (SOMA) neighbourhoods. The Matrix Resurrections film locations tour guides visitors through diverse and charming neighbourhoods into downtown and ends on the waterfront. To access a digital map, click HERE.

RESORTS
AMR Collection’s Breathless Cancun Soul Resort & Spa celebrated its grand opening Dec. 7 (photo). Located in the hotel zone on the Cancun strip, the 429-suite beachfront resort offers vibrant, contemporary décor and includes three pool, gourmet dining options, 11 bars and lounges, fitness centre, luxury spa, fire pit plaza for up to 35 people, and a pet playground. Also celebrating its grand opening was Zoëtry Casa del Mar Los Cabos on Dec. 15.

Located on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Club Med Ixtapa, has officially re-opened. The family-friendly all-inclusive resort is nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the green mountains of the southern Sierra Madre. Spread across 15 hectares and situated along a 730-m. stretch of white sand beach, the resort offers guests plenty of room to roam and enjoy unlimited refined culinary options, 25-plus land and water activities like pickleball, sailing, and flying trapeze, immersive destination excursions like deep sea fishing, and highly-customized kids’ clubs to keep kids busy while adults enjoy some R&R at the spa.

HOTELS

The Margaritaville Beach House Key West is now open, following an ongoing multi-million investment. Previously the Barbary Beach House Key West, the rebranded and upgraded south Florida resort sits oceanfront along Smathers Beach and offers 186 spacious suites, a lagoon-style pool, and lounging hammocks throughout the grounds. Amenities include poolside entertainment, daily refreshments, a 24-hour fitness centre, kids’ activities, lawn games, and easy access to the beach. The resort is located a mile from Key West International Airport, and provides complimentary shuttle service to the airport, Duval Street, and the Downtown Seaport Harbor.

Choice Hotels’ upscale Cambria brand continues to expand in the US with the opening of the newest location, the Cambria Hotel Louisville Downtown-Whiskey Row. The five-story, 128-room hotel is the second Cambria to open this month, following the Cambria Hotel Nashville Airport. Located at 120 South Floyd St. in the heart of downtown and its vibrant entertainment district, the hotel is close to Waterfront Park, Louisville Slugger Field, and nightlife, restaurants and bars on the famed Whiskey Row, once home to the Kentucky Bourbon industry.

CRUISE

Carnival Cruise Line has reopened Camp Ocean, its supervised children’s program for fully vaccinated children ages 5 to 11, for the first time since its ships have resumed service. Additionally, Circle “C” and Club O2 will continue to be open for vaccinated early teens ages 12 to 14 and for vaccinated teens ages 15 to 17, respectively.

Thanks to a multi-year agreement with the Panama Tourism Authority, Norwegian Cruise Line will homeport seasonally in Panama starting next spring, the first cruise line to due so. As such, roundtrip voyages will be offered from the Central American country by NCL starting on March 20.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment will open the new seven-hectare Sesame Place San Diego in March. It’s the second Sesame Place location in the country and the first located on the West Coast. Highlighted by the Elmo’s Rockin’ Rockets ride, the park will feature an interactive Sesame Street Neighbourhood complete with the iconic 123 Stoop, where kids can play in a world that plays back through immersive physical and digital character experiences. By summer, guests will be able to splash through 11 water attractions including a one of the largest wave pools in Southern California.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

Angella Bennett, Regional Director, Canada, Jamaica Tourist Board (far left) pictured with some of the top-selling Canadian Jamaica Travel Specialists

The Jamaica Tourist Board recently rewarded its top-selling North American Jamaica Travel Specialists, including 20 Canadians, with a three-night, all-inclusive trip to Jamaica, culminating in an awards gala ceremony. Canadian agents were: Amanda Elizabeth Beaver – Glow Travel; Amy Marie Wood – Romantic Planet; Cheryl Jaster-Rhyno – Your Travel Boss; Dawn Ann Fairbanks – Grand Travel; Heather Kearns – Destination Weddings Travel Group; Jen Langlois – Suite Trip Travel TPI; Karen Lippett – Latitudes Plus/Smart Travels; Lois Barbour – Travel Time TPI Inc.; Melissa Jane Britton – Love Voyage; Michelle Lynn Adams – All Ways Travel; Pauline Blacoe – Shine Travel; Ramona L Noor-Ramdeo – Countryside Travel Centre Holidays; Sharon Boissonneault – House of Travel; Sigfie Constantine Salmon – TTAND; Tamara Graae – Ixtapa Travel; Tanja Steinbock – Barrett & Carlysle Travel; Theresa Annmarie Stephenson – TK Travel by Design; Valerie McEneny – Battlefield Travel; Vanessa Elizabeth Martinez – Unforgettable Escapes; and Yvonne Campbell – Yvonne’s Travel and Tours.

EVENTS

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has announced its next Annual Summit will be held live and in-person from March 22 to 25, 2022 in Ras Al Khaimah, the northern most Emirate in the United Arab Emirates. The event will be the first time that the not-for-profit travel trade association, which serves government, tourism offices, hotels, airlines, and other travel-related companies with interests in the Asia Pacific region, will host its Annual Summit in West Asia.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Urszula Gut of The Travel Agent Next Door was the winner of the grand prize at the recent Europe Travel Xpo. The trip is a Castle & Country Ireland trip for two, sponsored by Tourism Ireland and Royal Irish Tours. The grand prize was awarded in a random draw of participants at Europe Travel Xpo – a virtual event held on Dec. 2.

Five organizations and individuals have been recognized by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada for “creativity, diversity and originality found in tourism.” Recipients of the 2021 Canadian Tourism Awards, presented at the recent TIAC congress in Ottawa include Hôtel de Glace, Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, Que. (Air Canada Business Excellence Award); Squamish Lilwat Cultural Centre, Whistler, BC (ITAC Indigenous Tourism Award); Ocean Quest Inc., St. John’s, Nfld. (VIA Rail Canada Sustainable Tourism Award); Sally MacInnis, Ingonish Beach, NS (Tourism HR Canada Appreciation Award); William R. Fatt – posthumously awarded (Canadian Tourism Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Destination Toronto).

DESTINATIONS

The 39th annual Ontario Power Generation (OPG) Winter Festival of Lights, Canada’s largest free outdoor light festival, is extending its duration to illuminate Niagara Falls for a total of 101 nights, ending Feb. 21. With over 3 million lights and 75-plus spectacular displays providing colourful visuals, Niagara Falls will be transformed into a twinkling winter wonderland along the Niagara Parkway, Dufferin Islands, and across the tourism districts. Visitors to this popular annual festival can walk or drive through the Festival route to explore the self-guided experience.

Fully vaccinated international travellers, nationals and locals arriving by air into St. Kitts and Nevis are no longer required to test upon arrival or quarantine for 24-hours while awaiting test results. Fully vaccinated cruise passengers upon arrival at Port Zante, Charlestown or South Friars are also now allowed to fully integrate (free flow into the Federation). Only vaccinated travellers, 12 and over may visit St. Kitts and Nevis; exemptions apply for citizens and children 11 and under who are accompanying their fully vaccinated parents or guardians. All travellers must submit negative test results from an RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

I LOVE NEW YORK

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After a recent visit to The Big Apple, I’m happy to report that you don’t have to be related to the Rockefellers to enjoy this mult-faceted metropolis. From freebies to bargains to a few well-deserved indulgences, here’s where to save and splurge in the city that never sleeps. For all indoor dining and venues, proof of Covid vaccinations is required.

All prices approximated in U.S. dollars.

The “Cheap Thrills” Save List

Soho Arlo
Located near Hudson and Canal Streets in Soho, the Arlo Soho offers good value. Rooms are a bit snug for two but well designed and everything is modern and new. Perks in the Urban Resort Fee ($20 per person per day) include use of bicycles, free local and long-distance phone calls and fitness sessions. For libations, there’s a cool rooftop bar, Lindens restaurant and a convenient deli/candy bodega
www.arlohotels.com

Cross Over the Bridge
A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour is a fun and informative way to spend an afternoon. First stop was Grimaldi’s located just under the Brooklyn Bridge. This landmark has been serving up thin-crusted Neapolitan-style pies in the coal-fired oven since 1990. The bus then took us to lots of locations where movies were filmed, including Saturday Night Fever, Goodfellas, and The French Connection.

Our next stop was L&B Spumoni Gardens for a couple of slices of Sicilian-style pizza. This one is rectangular with a thick, soft crust, lots of long-simmered tomato sauce and cheese. After a stroll along the boardwalk at Coney Island, we headed back to Manhattan while our guide regaled us with tales and videos of the many famous folks who hailed from Brooklyn such as Mae West, Jerry Seinfeld, Al Capone and Barbara Streisand. Tour lasts about four hours and costs $80 per adult.
www.asliceofbrooklyn.com

Caffeine Buzz
I’m a self-confessed coffee snob who goes out of her way to find the best brews in whatever city I’m visiting. In New York, if you’re in Little Italy, get your java jolt at Caffe Reggio (119 MacDougal Street).
www.caffereggio.com

In the lower level of Rockefeller Center, as well as several other locations, Blue Bottle does great espresso-based drinks as well as divine drips.
www.bluebottlecoffee.com

Take a Pass
Buy a New York City Pass ($136 for adults) and save more than forty percent on admission to the town’s top attractions such as The Empire State Building, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Top of the Rock Observation Deck and ferry to the Statue of Liberty. Your Pass is valid for nine days so that gives you plenty of time to see six sights, often skipping the lines. Reservations may be required
www.citypass.com

The House that Herring Built
“Russ & Daughters occupies that rare and tiny place on the mountaintop reserved for those who are not just the oldest and the last—but also the best.” That’s fine praise from celebrity travelling chef, the late Anthony Bourdain. In 1907, Joel Russ immigrated from the shtetl of Strzyzow, now part of modern-day Poland. He got his start selling schmaltz herring out of a barrel to the throngs of Eastern European Jews on the Lower East Side. It took him seven years to work his way up from that first herring barrel to having a pushcart operation, a horse and wagon, and then, in 1914, a brick-and-mortar store. In 1920, he moved to 179 East Houston Street, where the business has thrived ever since. Four generations later, Russ & Daughters is still serving the best smoked salmon, herring, caviar, bagels and borscht you can imagine.
www.russanddaughters.com


Choose your Hood
Pick your neighbourhood (Harlem, Greenwich Village or Brooklyn, for example) and take a stroll with a Free Tours By Foot guide. Our tour of Soho, Little Italy and Chinatown included the history of the cast iron buildings in Soho, some mafia and movie locations and where to buy Peking duck. Tours are free but tipping is appreciated. You need to complete the registration form on their website.
www.freetoursbyfoot.com

Gramma-style Pasta
Nonna Beppa, named in honour of his grandmother, is the proud establishment run by chef Giancarlo Cacciatori. The menu features authentic dishes from the Emilia-Romagna area of Italy, including handmade tortellini filled with cured meats, fresh pork and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Yum!
www.nonnabeppa.com

Island on the Island
One of Manhattan’s newest attractions is Little Island, a public park in the Hudson River with entrances at West 13th and 14th Streets. Bring a picnic or buy something from the food trucks and enjoy live performances offered free by various artists and musicians in the amphitheatre or around the landscaped greenspace.
www.littleisland.org

The “You Only Live Once” Splurge List

Bring on the Bubbles
No trip to New York is complete without a visit to The Plaza Hotel (managed by Fairmont), Manhattan’s Grand Dame overlooking Central Park. The Champagne Bar began as the Champagne Porch in 1907, has been patronized by the likes of Diamond Jim Brady and the Prince of Wales. After a shopping workout on Fifth Avenue, I recommend a few reviving bubbles.
www.fairmont.com/the-plaza-new-york


Anthony Bourdain Would Approve
I was a huge fan of the late great Anthony Bourdain and his TV shows. Often Tony would invite his buddy Eric Ripert to join him on an episode. Ripert is chef of the Michelin three-starred Le Bernardin restaurant specializing in seafood. For a table in the dining room, you need to book a couple of months in advance, and I recommend splurging on the tasting menu. But here’s an insider tip: the Lounge opens at 5:00 p.m. and tables are available on a first come/first served basis. We enjoyed some posh bubbles and a few fabulous seafood appetizers. Patrons of the Lounge may also order from the dining room menu.
www.le-bernardin.com

Piscean Platters
The Chelsea Market is my favourite place to graze on Saturday mornings. The former Oreo Cookie factory is now home to boutiques and eateries galore. If you’ve got a fetish for fish, head to the Lobster Place Seafood Market. This Piscean emporium offers sushi, freshly shucked oysters, chowders and steamed whopper lobsters.
www.lobsterplace.com

www.nycgo.co

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

STRANGE BUT TRUE: Tales of the weird and wack

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‘Tis the season for a whole lot of Christmas craziness, plus scandal at a Saudi beauty pageant (for camels), hippos that have COVID, a beautiful brownie, and KFC news you simply won’t believe – all here in this week’s weird and wacky…

BAH, HUMBUG!

A Roman Catholic diocese in Sicily publicly apologized to outraged parents after its bishop told a group of children that there’s no Santa Claus. Italian news reports quoted Rev. Alessandro Stagliano as saying during a recent religious festival that Santa doesn’t exist and that his red costume was created by the Coca-Cola company for publicity. The diocese countered that he was merely trying to underline the true meaning of Christmas and the story of St. Nicholas, a bishop who gave gifts to the poor and was persecuted by a Roman emperor.

But, if the public comments were any indication, Sicilian parents weren’t having any of it. While several welcomed the bishop’s attempt to focus on the Catholic meaning of Christmas, others faulted Stagliano for interfering with family traditions and celebrations and crushing the spirits of children whose early years were disrupted by the pandemic.

I DON’T WANT A HIPPOPOTMUS FOR CHRISTMAS

A Belgian zoo says that a pair of hippopotamuses in its care are in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, possibly the first time ever such animals have caught the disease. Belgium’s national veterinary lab has confirmed that Antwerp Zoo’s two hippos – Imani, aged 14, and 41-year-old Hermien – contracted COVID-19. It’s unclear how they caught it. Both the giant semiaquatic herbivores are well, apart from exceptionally runny noses. Keepers have tightened virus restrictions around the zoo.

SANTA CLAUS IS SKIING TO TOWN

More than 230 skiing and snowboarding Kris Kringles took to a western Maine resort last Sunday to raise money for charity. The jolly ol’ St. Nicks took a break last year because of the global pandemic, but they returned to kick off the ski season in full holiday garb, including white beards, red hats and red outfits. The event took place in the western Maine town of Newry, home to the Sunday River Ski Resort, the state’s busiest.

A sea of red Santa suits descended the mountain, carving wide turns as their beards fluttered in the icy wind. At least one green-costumed Grinch snuck his way into the mix, disguised in Santa’s coat and hat. Before dashing through the snow, the Santas must all donate a minimum of $20, which helps support local education and recreation programs.

BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF… OH, NEVER MIND

Saudi authorities using “advanced and specialized technology” have conducted their biggest-ever crackdown on “enhanced” camel beauty contestants that received Botox injections and other artificial touch-ups, with over 40 camels disqualified from the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival this month.

Breeders compete for some $66 million in prize money, but Botox injections, face lifts and other cosmetic alterations to make the camels more attractive are strictly prohibited. Jurors decide the winner based on the shape of the camels’ heads, necks, humps, dress, and postures.

This year, authorities discovered dozens of breeders had stretched out the lips and noses of camels, used hormones to boost the beasts’ muscles, injected camels’ heads and lips with Botox to make them bigger, inflated body parts with rubber bands, and used fillers to relax their faces. Camel breeding is a multimillion-dollar industry and similar events take place across the region.

BROWNIE DELIGHT

A Massachusetts cannabis company celebrated National Brownie Day on Wednesday with what it believes is the “largest THC-infused brownie ever made.” MariMed Inc. said the massive confection is .9 m. by .9 m. square and 38 cm. tall, weighs 385 kg, and contains 20,000 mg of THC.

What happens to the brownie now? Company spokesperson Howard Schacter said it will be sent to its Middleborough dispensary and ultimately sold to a medical marijuana patient. As to what the customer plans to do with it, Schacter couldn’t say. The purchase price is still being determined, he said.

IS NOWHERE SAFE?

US federal agents are investigating voyeurism incidents at Grand Canyon National Park. National Park Service special agents with the Investigative Services Branch said they were working to identify potential female victims of surreptitious recordings taken in bathroom facilities in the canyon’s backcountry. In September 2020, park visitors at Phantom Ranch reported that they believed a maintenance worker had recorded them while using a toilet. Authorities said that worker was subsequently fired and removed from the park. There is no indication so far that the images were shared or distributed by the suspect, according to authorities, who said the voyeurism incidents remain an active and open criminal matter.

YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP

And finally, in the spirit of the season, or something, we offer this press release, presented verbatim (we dare not tamper with perfection), from Kentucky Fried Chicken (lord help us):

“Seasoned greetings are officially upon us with the return of KFC’s 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog, the one-and-only fried chicken-scented beacon of the holidays. Spark up one of KFC’s coveted Firelogs, because the intoxicating aroma of the Colonel’s iconic secret recipe makes everything jollier. KFC’s 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog will be available exclusively at Canadian Tire stores across the country and online, while quantities last.

“After selling out year-after-year in the US, the Firelog made its Canadian debut in 2020, becoming an instant classic, keeping hearths aglow and noses ring-ting-tingling across the country. This year the Firelog returns, bringing the promise of savoury scents with it. To take this seasonal sensation one step further, we recommend satisfying the taste factor by picking up one of KFC Canada’s Festive Double Bucket specials at your local restaurant.

“’Last year, we captured the hearts and senses of our Canadian fans with our 11 Herbs & Spices Firelogs. We are excited to bring them back this year and spread finger-lickin’ good cheer,’ said Katherine Debicki, Chief Marketing Officer, KFC Canada. ‘The holiday season is full of so many treats for the senses, we’re so happy our 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog is one of them: gift it, gaze at it, just be sure not to eat it.’”

The logs are available for $19.99 (less than a bucket, and probably healthier, we might add).

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

PUBS, PATIOS & BARS: The highs and lows of Yorkshire’s Tan Hill Inn

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Being stuck in a pub for three days sounds like a dream, but recent patrons at the Tan Hill Inn recently learned the low point about Britain’s highest pub – it’s susceptible to the weather. And when the north of England was recently buffeted by a late autumn blizzard, 61 people were stranded as snow and felled power cables blocked roads.

Located in the Yorkshire Dales, 435 km. north of London, the pub sits 528 m. above sea level and is used to being cut off by bad weather.

Manager Nicola Townsend said staff had organized movies, a quiz night and karaoke for the stranded guests, who were also entertained by an Oasis cover band, Noasis, also stuck at the pub after their Friday night gig.

Townsend said the guests were “in really good spirits. They’ve formed quite a friendship… like a big family is the best way I can describe it. One lady actually said, ‘I don’t want to leave.’”

And some didn’t – choosing to stay for a further night after guests were dug out after three days.

In better weather, the Inn – dubbed “top pub” – is a mecca for hikers, walkers, and cyclists due to proximity to the Pennine Way, and the occasional celebrity visit, according to management. Dating to the 17th-century and featuring exposed beams, stone-flagged floor and a welcoming fire, the venue also notably boasts spectacular views across the countryside.

Serving the “best ales from the dales,” patrons can sample featured names like Tan Hill Ewe Juice, Black Sheep (there’s a theme here), and Theakston Old Peculiar, along with occasional guest brews like The Who-themed My Generation Session Pale Ale. There is also a large range of bottled ciders, spirits, and wines.

Dining dome

Food is served from noon to 8:30 p.m. and menus vary according to season. Reservations can be made to eat outdoors in a private geometric “dining dome.”

After a bite and beer, guests can also choose to stay for a night (or three) with four different room categories (including bunk beds) available, and there’s plenty of space outside to pitch a tent for £10. The entire Inn is also pet friendly and dogs are provided with their own bed, snacks, treats and water bowl (also £10).

Other accommodation can be found nearby, some of the venues listed on the Inn’s website.

Live music takes place Thursdays through Saturdays, the former open to all as “buskers’ night,” and various seasonal events liven things up for locals, despite the remote location.

The Tan Hill Inn’s address is listed as Reeth, Richmond, Swaledale, North Yorkshire Dales, and from this side of the pond would be considered approximately between Leeds and Newcastle, leaning a little towards the Lake District. In Yorkshire, its simply the pub at the top of the hill.

With glass purposefully in hand, we at Travel Industry Today continue our series on some of the planet’s best bars, patios and rooftop venues. For more articles in the series, click here:

PREVIOUS ARTICLES: https://travelindustrytoday.com/pub-patio/

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

ROUND-UP:Nov. 29 – Dec. 03, 2021

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Last week was all about Omicron, but the travel world continued to turn in other ways, including VIA introducing its new train, Carnival extending commission tier rates, ACV boosting agent self-serve tools, plenty of news from CATO’s recent AGM, and Bermuda loosening entry protocols.

NEWS

All air travellers entering or returning to Canada, except for those coming from the United States, will now need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at the airport and isolate until they get their results, even if they are fully vaccinated against the virus. The new measures come as public health officials around the world warn of the potentially dangerous new Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Effective this week, all travellers to the US, regardless of nationality or vaccination status, will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test (rapid antigen acceptable) within one day of boarding flights. That compares with three days now for those who have been vaccinated. The White House has shelved tougher options such as requiring post-arrival testing or requiring quarantines upon arrival in the US.

Unvaccinated travellers over the age of 12 officially are now officially barred from boarding a plane or passenger train in Canada, and a negative COVID-19 test no longer serves as a substitute for most people. The strict requirement took effect yesterday after a transition period to the policy announced on Oct. 30 expired.

CATO

In its effort to strive toward being more inclusive, accessible, and representative – and to attract new members – the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO) is reducing membership fees: to $800 for tour operators under $10 million in gross Canada sales; and $2,000 over $10 million. And to further accommodate existing and prospective members during the pandemic, 2022 fees are being deferred until July 1, 2022. CATO also says a new website will be unveiled in February. (See “People” category below for more).

At its recent AGM, CATO also announced the appointment of Stéphanie Bishop as Vice Chair and Joanne Dhue as CATO’s appointed TICO Director. Rounding out the CATO executive team is Brett Walker, Chair; Richard Edwards, Treasurer; and Nicole Bursey, CATO-appointed TICO Director.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

Fiji welcomed back its first tourists in more than 600 days on Dec. 1 after pushing ahead with reopening plans despite the threat posed by the newly detected omicron variant of the coronavirus. More than 75,000 travellers are expected in the next couple of months.

Crowds will once again fill New York’s Times Square this New Year’s Eve, albeit with proof of COVID-19 vaccination required for revellers who want to watch the famous ball drop in person. New York mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed this week that the celebration is still currently scheduled to take place despite the discovery of the Omicron variant.

DELAYED/ CANCELLED

A ban by Japan on new incoming international flight bookings to defend against the new variant of the coronavirus was rescinded only a day after the policy was announced, following criticisms that it was an overreaction.

BY THE NUMBERS

According to the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report, 46 destinations (21% of all destinations worldwide) currently have their borders completely closed to tourists. Of these, 26 destinations have had their borders completely closed since at least the end of April 2020. A further 55 (25% of all global destinations) continue to have their borders partially closed to international tourism, and 112 destinations (52% of all destinations) require international tourists to present a PCR or antigen test upon arrival. Just four destinations have so far lifted all COVID-19-related restrictions completely (Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Mexico).

AIR
A new Toronto-Bogota route from Avianca took flight Dec. 3, the latest in the carrier’s expansion, which will see 50 new routes by 2013 (having already added 16 this year). The thrice-weekly service takes place Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, departing at 22:50 outbound (YYZ) and returning at 15:20.

Porter Airlines has partnered with Allianz Global Assistance as its new travel insurance provider, offering a variety of insurance products and options for customers. The new travel insurance plans can be included at the time of booking flights or Porter Escape vacation packages. Available plans may also be purchased after booking, through the Porter website or the Allianz call centre.

WestJet has announced route details for its new non-stop service to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR), from Calgary. Flights will operate four-times weekly, beginning March 26, 2022, outbound on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, returning a day later in each case.

RAIL

VIA Rail introduced the first trainset of its state-of-the-art new fleet that will serve the Québec City-Windsor corridor beginning late next year. Unveiled in Ottawa, the train is the first of 32 in VIA’s new corridor fleet, which is part of a federally funded billion-dollar modernization program for the national rail company. Key features of the new barrier-free, environmentally friendly train include wider aisles, automatic touchless interior doors, ergonomic seats, and high-speed reliable data connection.

DEALS

Trees4Travel has created a special digital Christmas card, enabling anyone looking for a unique gift this holiday season to send a real tree to their friends, family, or clients for the price of a regular greeting card. All trees gifted will be planted in a developing country on behalf of the recipient, helping to restore the world’s forests and biodiversity, and to support impoverished communities. Christmas tree recipients can follow the progress of their planting projects on the Trees4Travel website once they receive their gift card. The tree gifted will also be backed by the Trees4Travel ‘double up’ claim which ensures every tree planted is mirrored by an equal investment to fund renewable, clean energy. For more details, visit the Trees4Travel web site.

TOURS

Air Canada Vacations has increased its self-service tools to allow travel agents to manage their client’s bookings through its website. To help agents save time, the tour operator has enhanced its self-serve tools through TripBook for bookings made online. Enhancements include the ability to view and print bookings, access location maps, travel guides and e-documents, add payments and seat selections, cancel bookings, and edit passenger information. Additionally, online submission forms are available for some requests previously only available through the call centre, including requests for cancellations under CareFlexPlus or with a reduced deposit of $50, and requests for a refund under its Price Drop Guarantee.

Nashville, Tenn., is the latest location for the Underground Donut Tour, joining Philadelphia, New York City, Portland, Seattle, Boston and original home, Chicago. Designed to showcase the best donuts each city has to offer, the walking tour calls at four of the best donut shops in the city, sharing the history of each location, local sights, and history along the route, and most importantly, plenty of samples. Tours run year-round, initially twice a day on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. For tickets, https://www.undergrounddonuttour.com

HOTELS

New on-site rapid COVID-19 testing has been introduced at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport. In partnership with accredited Bon Voyage Medical, various testing services can be booked, including PCR tests and BC’s first 20-minute PCR test for asymptomatic travellers. Hotel guests also have the option to book an in-room test appointment through Bon Voyage Medical.

Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts  has announced it will be adding a fourth hotel to its collection of rustic mountain lodges in the Canadian Rockies with the acquisition of the Relais & Chateaux Post Hotel & Spa in Lake Louise. CRMR also owns Buffalo Mountain Lodge in Banff, Deer Lodge in Lake Louise, and Emerald Lake Lodge on Emerald Lake as well as Urban Butcher and The Lake House in Calgary.

RESORTS

With the re-opening the Riu Sri Lanka following the standstill caused by the pandemic, RIU Hotels & Resorts reports that it is “back up and running” in all 20 countries in which it operates.

Club Med, which opened its first resort in Canada last week in Quebec, announced that it will expand its mountain concept resorts roster with a new property at Snowbasin Resort in Huntsville, Utah. The resort, located about 50 km from Salt Lake City, is slated to open in December 2024, and will be the first US opening in more than 20 years.

CRUISE

Carnival Jubilee (rendering)

Carnival Cruise Line reports its third Excel-class ship – to be named Carnival Jubilee – will be delivered in 2023 and based in Galveston, Texas. The cruise line has also confirmed that all 22 of its US-based ships will be back in guest operations by March 2022.

Meanwhile, Carnival Corp. says its North American brands will maintain travel advisors’ current commission tiers earned through 2023. The five brands – Carnival Cruise Line, Cunard, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn – had previously announced that commission tiers would be maintained through 2022.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

Continuing until Dec. 17, the Jamaica Tourist Board is giving away dozens of daily prizes during holiday contest for Canadian travel advisors. The “12 Jammin’ Days of Christmas” incentive is designed celebrate the festive spirit by offering multiple chances to win a variety of special travel-themed gifts every weekday for 12 days with a total of 78 prizes for grabs throughout the contest. Daily prizes will be revealed each morning on the Visit Jamaica Canada Travel Agent Facebook page and agents will be invited to submit their official contest entries online at www.visitjamaica.com/canada/contest. Prize winners will be selected at random and shared in the Facebook group.

EVENTS

Tahiti specialists (and those still working towards certification) are invited to take part in Tahiti Tourisme North America’s first virtual Tahiti Specialist Conference, Jan. 11-13, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. PST. The three-day virtual conference will consist of educational sessions, product training sessions, tradeshow, and 1:1 meetings with suppliers and preferred tour operators. Visit or register at TahitiSpecialist.org.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Hyatt Place Kelowna has named Klint and Associates as its new in-market representative in Canada. Toronto-based Annika Klint and Sana Keller will work with the Hyatt Place Kelowna team to increase brand awareness and ensure that the new property, located in the centre of the BC city, is prominently positioned with the travel trade, and key distribution media channels across Canada. This will include the development and implementation of a strategic trade, marketing, and communications program to increase the profile of Hyatt Place Kelowna, maximize media opportunities and keep this new hotel top of mind.

WestJet has announced the appointment of Karl Schuster, as the airline’s Executive Vice-President and Chief Loyalty Officer (CLO). Schuster will join the WestJet executive leadership team in the newly created position in early 2022. Schuster has over 19 years of loyalty experience, including six years as CEO of Velocity Frequent Flyer, Virgin Australia’s award-winning loyalty program. Prior to his time at Velocity, Schuster lead multi-year loyalty programs for Qantas, British Airways and Malaysian Airlines and provided consulting advice to a diverse range of airlines in his nearly 15 years at Aimia Inc.

Huntington Travel group has announced the appointment of Jennifer Zammit as Manager Business Development for Canada and USA. Zammit has been working in the travel industry for more than 25 years with travel companies such as Bedsonline, Travel Bound, Time Zone One (marketing Brand USA) and most recently as a BDM for Globus Family of Brands.

DESTINATIONS

It is not necessary to present vaccination cards, or negative tests for COVID-19 to enter the Dominican Republic. Such requirements are also not necessary at hotels, or to take excursions. Random tests are being carried out at the airports upon entry to the country. To enter establishments outside of hotels, such as bars, restaurants, shops and other closed establishments, the presentation of a vaccination card is required.

Canadians can travel again to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) starting today (Dec. 6) with the resumption of non-stop Air Canada flight service. Weekly flights will depart on Mondays on board Air Canada’s mainline 737Max. Fully vaccinated travellers must arrive with proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test completed no more than 72 hours or three days before arrival. No retests or quarantine are required. The islands’ tourist board has also relaunched a revamped web site at DiscoverSVG.com.

Fully vaccinated visitors to Bermuda now only to need pass an antigen test upon arrival with no follow-up test required on-island, reports the Bermuda Tourism Authority. It is the first significant loosening of COVID-19 border protocols since the island reopened in July 2020.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

AN ITALIAN VESPA ROAD TRIP: Handpicked towns and villages in the Marche region

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Leaving Rome and Venice to the sightseers, I head off the well-trodden tourist path to Italy’s Marche region. Specifically, the hilltop wine regions in the Province of Fermo – on a Vespa. I’d heard via the grapevine about the Marche Full Experience and their tailor-made Vespa tours and tagged along with a bunch of crazy girls on a bachelorette party.

We met at Vespa dealer, Luzi Racing, in Porto San Giorgio, a small seaside town facing the Adriatic Sea.

I had a quick mooch around Porto San Giorgio, which first appeared in nautical charts back to the early Middle Ages as a trade transit point between Fermo and Venice. Now it’s a gorgeous seaside resort with unspoiled blue-flag beaches, beach bars, seafront restaurants and a marina bursting with super yachts. And as you’d expect of Italy, the town is brimming with 13th century architecture.

Back with the Vespa tour group, our paperwork checked (to drive a 125 cc Vespa, a regular car driving license is sufficient), we saddled up, and headed into the fertile vine-clad hills around Fermo.

It’s been a few years since I’ve ridden a motorbike (the last one was a 1000cc Can-Am Spyder Roadster) so you may understand that I got off to a wobbly start, but within a few (terrifying) minutes managed to propel myself in a relatively straight line.

Riding through small agricultural hamlets felt like I was time warped in a renaissance painting.

There are numerous touristy scooter excursion companies, most have the visitor sitting pillion whilst the driver is the guide. However, the Marche Full Experience  give you the chance to ride the scooter yourself.

Our first stop was Torre di Palme  where, taking pride of place, is a medieval castle clinging to a rocky outcrop.

This preserved 6th century town must be one of the most romantic locations in all of Italy – narrow cobbled streets, terracotta facades, hanging archways, frescoes, blossoming bougainvillea, a small bell tower and the Gothic Church of Sant’Agostino. The views are broad and framed from a panoramic balcony looking out across the Adriatic. Under my own steam, I later returned to sample the gastronomic delights at Ristorante La Fonte di Mose, which arrived in waves of gastronomic delight. I see a Michelin Star coming here!

Leading the charge further up the hill, our guide, and proprietor of the Marche Full Experience , Alessia Brugnoni Tomassini, stopped off at Lapedona . This small village holds great religious significance to Catholicism as here, in 1100AD, the Congregation of the Clareni Friars arose – one of first eremitical communities of central Italy.

The parish church of Santa Maria houses a collection of preserved artworks, vestments, sacred objects, tabernacles, procession lamps and votive offerings, including a priceless piece by Vittore Crivelli entitled ‘Polyptych’ and signed, at the base of Madonna’s throne, by the artist in 1489. In the western world you’d expect such objects to receive 24-hour armed security. But here the church stands open.

In Altidona, archaeologists found traces of the ancient ‘Pelasgians’ – a Greek tribe of some 150,000 years ago. Then came the Piceni, and in 485BC the Romans showed up.

Altidona’s first castle sank into the sea, then in the 12th century, townsfolk built a new one on the hill, whose medieval walls have been painstakingly preserved.

Have a look at the ancient art inside the Belvedere, a medieval watchtower overlooking the Aso Valley and the beautiful villas, dotted between pine forests and millenary palm trees.

Unlike the other villages in the region, in Petriolo (, with sweeping views across the peaks of the Sibillini, and Gran Sasso d’Italia, to the Adriatic Sea, there is no typical main square with a town hall and government buildings. Within the castle walls medieval buildings line the narrow, paved streets. They’re crammed with craft workshops, quirky museums, ancient churches, coffee bars, eateries like Osteria Delle Cornacchie serving Italian home cooking (try their Vincisgrassi), and for dessert, Bar Gelateria Tre Archi serves the best ice-cream you’re likely to sample in Italy. But town’s crowning glory is their theatre. Think London’s Royal Opera House, but a fraction of the size, complete with a Sistine chapel-type ceiling.

I’m not much into slopping around museums or art galleries, but often I find an exception. In this instance it was Antica Stamperia Fabiani – a living museum of beautifully restored, fully functional, 19th century printing presses.

Proprietor, Giancarlo Fabiani, introduced me to his machines and printed a few samples using original cherrywood characters. “This was the type of printing press the New York Times used back in the day when they produced 20,000 copies of their daily newspaper.” This fact gladdened his heart. “But what blows the minds of my workshop students is that this was the same system used by Gutenberg when he printed the first Bible – the earliest major book printed using mass-produced moveable metal type in Europe.”

A local spoke of Petriolo’s collection of ghosts. The most feared is the German nun from a local monastery. It is said that those who acquire properties that she once owned are tormented to madness by spirit. Another claim is that on the road between Petriolo and neighbouring Moresco, witches prevent safe passage from one town to the next. The council office records of year 1600 noted they’d burned the witches at the stake.

What immediately identifies Moresco  is its 12th-century heptagonal tower, and innumerable archways that frame jaw-dropping landscape views. Moresco was first recorded in 1083 – evidence was found on parchment paper of that time. Since then, its castle has been home to colorful occupants from Lords and Counts to clergy and a military garrison.

Gianni Angelini, resident artist and Town Mayor, says their 16th-century church bell still chimes every day in alternate succession with the bell on the Clock tower, which was built to guard what was the entrance to the castle. Legend has it that the church of was built to commemorate the mother of St. Sofia, who was born in the castle. Check out the interesting fresco Carlo Crivrelli.

Moresco’s historic center has just 50 inhabitants, including a bakery who create fig pizzas around Christmastime each year, which draws people from across the country. In April 2022 a B&B is opening in the historic center – Palazzo Della Torre.

Whilst we stood around, admiring the view, a restored ‘denim’ Vespa rolled up and parked beside our shiny new red models. This Vespa was a serious celebration of denim on wheels and what Vespa’s looked like back in the day – old time rock ‘n roll.

In the saddle was Giovanni Cicchine, wearing a tuxedo, and bearing a huge bunch of red roses for Erica, the bride-to-be. He extracted a kiss from her then got chatting with the girls. He then decided to join the bachelorette party, fancying himself as an escort perhaps, overseeing proceedings.

He asked if I’d like to hop onto the back of his scooter so I can video the girls riding behind us. No need to ask me twice, I got on, sitting back to front, facing the girls as they followed us.

When we got to the bottom of the hill Giovanni’s scooter gave a cough then died. Everyone stopped. I hoped off and waited for Giovanni to revive his beast. We left Giovanni to sort it out and proceeded to the next village.

Monterubbiano, once home to the famed renaissance painter, Vincenzo Pagani, outshines all the other cobblestoned hilltop towns and villages. It’s the kind of place that will have you simultaneously catch your breath and have it taken away.

Surrounded by Castellane walls, there are three access gates which are well worth seeing. The 13th century Jewish Ghetto is something to behold. Back then the Jewish community manufactured textiles and tanned leather. Now they’ve practically disappeared but the remains of the ancient synagogue, the tiny houses, and the shops, once all connected to one other, are still there.

Bizarrely, at the archway entrance to Via dei Segreti, a transit ban sign for military wagons has remained. In consideration, it’s not all that surprising as Monterubbiano was here three centuries before Christ!

Spend some time in Parco di San Rocco – an immense green garden which once housed the church of San Rocco (destroyed by barbarian invaders). From here the panoramic views across the Sibillini mountains and Adriatic are breathtaking.

We had lunch at an outdoor restaurant named Il Coccaro, and where Giovanni was waiting for us, proudly standing beside his vintage Vespa.

The simplicity of rustic staples, it’s love at first bite.

There is only one true way to get to know a regions food. And that’s to go there. To eat the food amongst the people who cook it and eat it every day. That way its seasoned with a sense of the place, the landscape, the culture, and the traditions. With the simplicity of rustic staples, it’s guaranteed love at first bite. Which was exactly what we all experienced when presented with Chef’s speciality – Tagiatelle frittes. Soon the wine flowed, conversation flourished, which was interspersed with moments of hilarity at a joke shared.

Back on Giovanni’s Vespa, which fired up on ignition, I was propelled down the mountain in a series of blue explosions. The girls breezed along quietly behind us on their sparkling new Vespa’s.

Heading back to basecamp, tootling along in a stately lack of haste, we made one final stop at Vini Centanni a vineyard canteen in Montefiore, where we had a wine tasting. Again, the vino flowed, the conversation was light, and friendships reaffirmed. This is a winey where you’ll be spoilt for choice. Each wine is as good as the next and will leave you to ponder which one to take home. Save yourself the stress, get one of each.

With repeated attempts at invasion by the Turks, evil witches, and demented ghosts, I was half expecting a fire-breathing dragon to swoop down from the clouded mountain tops.

These mountain villages are rare places. I walked the cobbled passageways agog at such a concentration of perfection. I never once saw a street I wouldn’t want to live on, a pub I wouldn’t like to get to know, a view I wouldn’t wish to call my own. It was hard to accept that it was real – and that people came home to these houses every night, shopped in these tiny shops, walked their dogs on these streets, and went through life thinking that this is the way of the world.

Funny thing is a Vespa, in how it unites people.

This bespoke half-day Vespa tour did more than take us to lesser-known areas, and fabulous locations. It built relationships with locals, who showed us never-ending generosity of spirit, and demonstrated the nations culture and love of the simpler things in life. Being relatively local I know I’ll repeatedly return, with visiting friends.

The Marche Full Experience is in partnership with Luzi Racing  who provide the Vespa’s.

www.marchefullexperience.it WhatsApp +39 3245454279
Prices start at €30($43.50)/pp

Lessons learned whilst riding a scooter

What to wear/take along: Sunglasses don’t only shield your eyes from the sun but provide protection if flying insects buzz under your visor. Lip-gloss is like having flypaper on your face. Keep a small towel in your Vespa (and wet wipes) – it’ll help to mop up rain/sweat/clean dirt. Get a good pair of gloves with reinforced palms and knuckle protectors. Always carry your rental papers and license with you. You and your passenger must always wear a helmet – and Covid protect yourself with a paper bonnet to wear under the helmet. Even in the summer, always wear a jacket when riding a scooter and if possible, cover your legs.

Parking: The best place to park is in scooter a designated parking space. You’ll be fined if you park in blue bays – these are paying car spots. Ditto delivery van bays. Bays marked by white lines are the best alternative to designated scooter parking spots.

Riding: Overtake on the left when driving your scooter and give plenty of warning when changing lanes or stopping. If you’re riding at a moderate speed and have a car that wants to overtake you, move slightly right of center so it can pass. You risk a fine if you drive in a bus or taxi lane. Don’t drive the wrong way up streets despite what you see other scooter riders do. Scooters can ride in historical centers and access many areas that cars can’t – just make sure you’re driving a model which complies with the emissions stipulated by law.

Safety tips for the Vespa: Cobblestones are treacherous in the wet. Go slow after a shower and brake as slowly as possible, ideally by releasing the throttle or very gently squeezing the brake levers. Riding with your wheel in-line with the tram tracks is looking for an accident. If you need to cross rails, cut across them diagonally. Don’t ride in high heels.

In nearby San Pietro Vecchio is L’Oro di Loriana , a third-generation olive oil press. Here the Abbruzzetti family have been caretakers of the land for more than a hundred years, it’s in their DNA.

Standing in their olive grove, you can smell the salt of the nearby Adriatic, the sweet aromas of the olive trees and savor it in an olive oil tasting, with their own bread.

Locals bring their olive harvests to the traditional Abbruzzetti oil press installations for processing.

Co-owner, Loriana Abbruzzetti, her brother Silvio, and his wife Maria Pia have created a range of luxury olive oil-based skincare products, which is available on site and online. Loriana commissions the inmates of a regional women’s prison to make the lacy adornments for the bottles, jars and boxes.

The Abbruzzetti’s also have an onsite restaurant serving traditional peasant dishes, with ingredients sourced from their own and other local farms. They also have an adjacent agri-camp site

In 2003 Loriana created an olive oil association for women – Associazione Pandolea . She considers female sensitivity and passion to be highly attuned to the environment, and that woman have a progressive view about sustainable agriculture. The association shares knowledge, work, and experiences to promote the olive oil culture in Italy and around the world. They organize activities for students from cooking schools, agriculture, and Food & Beverage management.

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

ROUND-UP:Nov. 15-19, 2021

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A new airline is set to take flight next year in Canada; international borders continue to re-open while cross-border Canadians get a break; Black Friday deals; and the news all Ontarians have been waiting for: buying booze at the LCBO now earns Aeroplan points.

NEWS

A new ultra-low-cost airline, Lynx Air is set to start flying sometime next year. Formerly known as Enerjet, the Calgary-based charter airline that announced in 2018 that it intended to transform itself into a commercial discount carrier, it plans to operate a fleet of Boeing’s new 737 aircraft and start with domestic service before eventually expanding to offer trans-border and international routes.

Aeroplan members can now earn one Aeroplan point for every $4 spent at LCBO retail stores in Ontario, in addition to bonus points and promotional offers. And soon they can also be used for LCBO gift cards, starting at 1,000 Aeroplan points for a $10 gift card through the Aeroplan eStore. New members will receive 250 bonus Aeroplan points on their first LCBO retail store purchase when they join through Nov. 28. Plus, all Aeroplan members will earn 2X the base points on their first purchase of $50 or more made through the same date.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

Carnival Cruise Line resumed guest operations last week (Nov. 14) from Tampa, Fla. with Carnival Pride. A second ship, Carnival Paradise, will join Carnival Pride, in March 2022. Similarly, Norwegian Cruise Line began sailing again from Orlando with the Norwegian Escape the 8th NCL ship (of 17) to come back into service post-pandemic.

Cuba and India both re-opened their borders last week to fully vaccinated travellers.

With the resumption of WestJet flights to Antigua and Barbuda on Nov. 21 after a long pandemic pause, the two-island nation notes the following COVID-19 protocols are now in effect: All arriving passengers over 18 are required to have received at least one dose of a WHO-approved two-dose vaccine; fully vaccinated arriving passengers must present a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR or an approved rapid antigen negative test result within three days of their flight or fewer; partially vaccinated passengers will require a negative PCR test taken within four days of their flight or fewer; children below the age of five do not require a PCR test. Masks are mandatory in public places.

AIR

WestJet has announced it will add non-stop 787 Dreamliner service to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) beginning early Spring 2022.

Edmonton-based Flair Airlines is launching service to Mexico. The discount carrier says it will begin non-stop flights to Cancun and Los Cabos this winter from five Canadian cities. It’s part of an aggressive expansion effort by the airline. Flair serves 18 Canadian cities and is launching new US routes this spring.

Canada Jetlines and Global Crossing Airlines have announced the launch of their partnership on the sale of public charter flights between Toronto and Florida. Round-trip charter flights are expected to operate from Toronto to Miami and Fort Lauderdale weekly beginning in March 2022.

Flights between Canada and Colombia begin in December with thrice-weekly service on Avianca between Toronto and Bogota. The flights – Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays – will be operated in Airbus A320 aircraft with capacity for 150 passengers. Passengers can connect on to other destinations in Latin America through the Bogota hub, where Avianca operates 99 routes.

BY THE NUMBERS

Canada’s second-busiest airport is getting a little busier. On average, between 26,000 and 29,000 people are travelling through Vancouver International Airport each day. In comparison, a regular September or October day would see 65,000 to 70,000. Last summer and fall, there were only about 10,000 people daily.

TRAVEL AGENTS

Canadian members of Direct Travel’s leisure leadership team recently attended the Virtuoso Symposium in Vienna for the luxury consortium’s annual Thought Leadership meetings – for many attendees it was their first international trip in almost two years. Pictured at the closing event gala ball at Vienna’s legendary Spanish Riding school were Direct Travel’s Vivienne Kouba, Gerard Bellino, Rene Schneeberger and Stephen Smith, with Virtuoso’s Tony Logan and Una O’Leary. Direct Travel does business in Canada as Vision Travel.

DEALS

A Black Friday promo from Transat, valid on new individual bookings made between Nov. 19 and 28, offers up to $600 in savings on South packages, as well as discount flight fares to the South, Florida, and Europe when travelling between Dec. 1 and April 30. Some exceptions apply.

Already in effect, Sunwing’s annual Black Friday sale offers savings of up to 40% on all-inclusive vacation packages when booked by Dec. 6 for travel through April 30, 2022. Clients will be benefit from no change fees up to seven days prior to departure and free COVID-19 emergency medical coverage on applicable packages.

Savings of up to 50% off reservations are being offered at Discovery Cove in Orlando for bookings made by Nov. 26. The tropical attraction and all-inclusive day resort, which is part of the SeaWorld family, enables guests to swim with dolphins, snorkel among thousands of tropical fish and rays, hand-feed exotic birds, strut alongside flamingos, and more. Set amid a tropical oasis in the heart of Central Florida, Discovery Cove provides guests with the opportunity to relax in a beautiful, safe, outdoor environment.

TOURS

Starting Jan. 1, African Travel guests travelling in non-family groups of 10-plus and on set group departures will need to provide proof of an approved COVID-19 vaccination (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or one dose of Johnson & Johnson), before joining their safari and upon arrival to their destination. Guests will also need to comply with specific PCR testing requirements imposed by airlines and/or governments, which may differ from country to country. The Travel Corp. brand offers safari vacation packages to Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, and Southern Africa.

With the winter return of the manatees, Florida’s Plantation on Crystal River is offering an overnight “Swim with the Manatees” package starting at US$299 for two guests, including overnight accommodations in a garden view room; manatee snorkeling tour for two from the Plantation Adventure Center with all equipment provided (mask, snorkel, and wetsuit); breakfast for two at West 82⁰ Bar & Grill; and a welcome bag with plush manatee toy, fun facts, and manatee interaction guidelines. The riverfront resort, on the Crystal River on the state’s east coast, is the only location in North America where it is legal to swim alongside and interact with these “sea cows” in the wild.

HOTELS

Located in the heart of downtown, the newly opened Hyatt Centric Downtown Denver has 264 rooms decorated in a modern urban style designed to reflect the personality and style of the city in which it resides. Guests have easy access to the city’s top destinations including the Colorado Convention Center, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Coors Field, Ball Arena, Union Station, and the bustling Larimer Square. A highlight is the hotel’s spacious rooftop terrace boasting cityscape views, plush seating and outdoor fireplaces for guests can embrace Denver’s countless days of sunshine. There’s also seasonally inspired restaurant, Apple Blossom.

Located in the historic Crown Building on 5th Avenue, the first home of Museum of Modern Art, Aman New York is set to open “soon.” A luxurious sanctuary that celebrates the building’s striking architecture and significant history, 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

After extensive renovations totaling more than US$6 million, Viva Wyndham Azteca reopened its doors to guests on Nov. 1, 2021. The reopening of the all-inclusive, oceanfront resort located in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, also coincides with the reopening of Viva Wyndham’s V Heavens Resort located in the Playa Dorada complex in Puerto Plata, DR. The two resort openings complete the reopening of all eight of Viva Wyndham resorts across its portfolio.

Set to open in December, Meliá Phuket Mai Khao, a 30-suite and 70-villa resort on 3.2 hectares of Phuket, Thailand’s northwestern coastline overlooking the Andaman Sea. Fronting Phuket’s longest stretch of sand, the resort on Mai Khao Beach is close to an array of attractions such as Sirinat National Park, Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, and Wat Phra Thong temple. Phuket International Airport is a 15-minute drive.

CRUISE

Guests sailing on Windstar Cruises now have a choice between paying a single all-inclusive rate that includes amenities such as alcohol, gratuities, and other onboard services, or adding items à la carte as they go. For Windstar, all-inclusive means unlimited wine, beer, and cocktails, Wi-Fi, all gratuities, as well as the cruise fare. The new fare is available for the Wind Class yachts as well.

Tradewind Voyages has released the full program and prices for the Mediterranean debut of the world’s largest tall ship, Golden Horizon. Beginning in Palma on May 1, 2022, there are 23 voyages offered across the region, spanning Spain, France, Italy, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, and Turkey. The inaugural Med season concludes with the 14-night Canaries to the Caribbean Voyage, arriving in Barbados for the start of winter 2022/23 and yet another debut for the ship.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

The best-selling holiday artist of all time, Mannheim Steamroller, returns to Universal Studios Florida to fill the air with the sounds of the season. Guests can attend live performances at the Music Plaza Stage on the following nights: Dec. 4, 5, 11 and 12.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

To celebrate the return of Canadians and in appreciation of the travel agents who book them, Visit Myrtle Beach is running a trivia contest for Canadian travel counsellors in which one grand prize winner will receive a $500 Visa gift card while five others will receive destination swag bags. The contest ends Nov. 30; to enter, click HERE.

Experience Kissimmee is holding a Faceboo contest for Canadian travel advisors. To enter, simply become friends with Denise Graham – Facebook on the official Experience Kissimmee Facebook page for Canadian travel advisors before the end of November. After that, tag fellow travel advisors not already following the page in the contest post to help the page reach 1,000 followers and to be automatically entered into a draw to win a $100 VI prepaid gift card for every travel advisor who follows the page. The final draw will take place on Dec. 1 and the winner will be announced on Facebook.

EVENTS

Nov. 24: Following a successful inaugural in July, the Jamaica Tourist Board is hosting a second Virtual Product Showcase, first hosted in July, on Wednesday, Nov. 24 from 1 to 3 p.m. EST. Designed to “educate, entertain, and inspire,” the free industry event will give agents an opportunity to hear the latest destination updates from Jamaica and see presentations from top tour operators and travel suppliers, including Sunwing Vacations, Transat, WestJet Vacations, Swoop Airlines, Iberostar, H10 Hotels, RIU Hotels, and many more. The event will also feature trivia games with great prizes up for grabs. To register, click HERE.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Toronto-based Discover the World has announced the appointment of Savio Pires to the position of National Sales Manager – Canada. In his new role at Discover the World, Pires will be responsible for Indian airline Vistara’s sales operations in Canada and will work with the Discover the World team to strategically grow partners brand equity, overall sales and marketing activities.

DESTINATIONS

The Imperial War Museum in London has completed a massive £30.5-million expansion, featuring with new Second World War and Holocaust galleries.

The US National Park Service has partnered with a tourism association to ensure the contributions, cultures and traditions of Native Americans are incorporated into exhibits and programming at sites across the country. The Park service says it highlights the history of Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians throughout the year. The five-year agreement with the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association will expand opportunities, officials said.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News