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CARNIVAL MAKES WAVES WITH MARDI GRAS LAUNCH

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Carnival Cruise Line’s celebrated a return to cruising from Florida after a 16-month pandemic pause with the launch of the maiden voyage of its new flagship ship, Mardi Gras, on Saturday from its home base in Port Canaveral. Cruise line president Christine Duffy and ship captain Giuseppe Giusa led a “Back to Fun” ribbon-cutting ceremony officially welcoming guests on board.

“Mardi Gras has been five years in the making so to finally welcome guests on board to experience this one-of-a-kind ship is something that we’ve been looking forward to for a very long time,” Duffy said.

As the line’s newest flagship, the 5,282-passenger Mardi Gras is the first cruise ship in the Americas to be powered by eco-friendly Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and the first to feature a roller coaster. The 180,000-ton ship boasts six distinct themed zones with a variety of food, beverage, and entertainment options, including dining venues from Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri, Rudi Sodamin, and its “Chief Fun Officer” (and former basketball great) Shaquille O’Neal.

Foremost among the zones is the “Ultimate Playground,” encompassing the ship’s top three decks and featuring the largest water park in the fleet, along with three slides, a suspended ropes course, and mini-golf course.

It is the setting for the first-ever roller coaster at sea: BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster, an all-electric coaster an all-electric roller coaster encompassing an elevated track across Mardi Gras upper decks with 245 m. of twists, drops and turns, including a hairpin turn around the ship’s funnel. Riders can achieve speeds of up to 65 kph as they enjoy views to the sea 57 m. below.

On Saturday (July 31), Mardi Gras set sail from Port Canaveral for a week-long cruise with stops in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; and Nassau. It is the fifth Carnival Cruise Line ship to resume service with additional vessels set to restart operations soon. By Oct., 15 Carnival anticipates that it will be sailing more than half its fleet.

Carnival Mardi Gras

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

ROUND-UP:July 26-30, 2021

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Canadian airlines and cruise lines are soaring and sailing again; three’s the charm for travellers in Quebec; WestJet and KLM make news; and a flip-flop at Pearson…

NEWS

The Quebec government says fully vaccinated residents who have received the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine can receive a third dose of an mRNA vaccine before travelling, but recipients are on their own for weighing the risks of doing so. The extra shots are being offered because some countries don’t recognize the version of the vaccine made at the Serum Institute of India, and Canadians who have received it could find themselves barred from entry.

Both Transat and Sunwing launched their first flights Friday after a six-month pandemic pause.

ENTRY UPDATES

From Aug. 1, tourists who have received their two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will no longer be required to show proof of their travel medical insurance policy to enter Costa Rica. People under the age of 18, as well as those who are fully vaccinated can enter Costa Rica as tourists, providing they have received their second dose of an approved vaccine at least 14 days prior to arrival in the country. Approved vaccines are Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson and travellers will need to show proof of vaccine that includes the full name of the person, the date of each dose, the formula, and the lot number.

To the benefit of Canadians, the government of Antigua & Barbuda’s has approved the mixing of the AstraZeneca vaccine with either Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or the mixing of a Moderna and a Pfizer vaccine. As such, visitors who have had mixed doses of vaccines as noted above will be able to enter the country. Antigua & Barbuda had already been welcoming fully vaccinated travellers who have received both doses of a World Health Organization (WHO) approved two-dose Covid 19 vaccine.

AIR

WestJet is strengthening its codeshare relationship with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines through the placement of its “WS” codeshare on KLM-operated flights. Clients will now have access via Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (AMS) to 18 cities across Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the UK. The enhanced partnership builds on the airline’s new non-stop 787 Dreamliner service between Amsterdam and Calgary.

Toronto’s Pearson International Airport says it will longer be splitting passengers coming from the US or other international destinations into vaccinated and partially or non-vaccinated queues to help streamline the border clearance process. The process proved to show little benefit, said the airport.

DEALS

Sun-seekers booking with Sunwing by Aug. 9 can take advantage of last-minute deals, including complimentary Price Drop Cash Back of up to $800 per couple, reduced deposits of just $100 p.p. and the flexibility to change or cancel their plans with ease.

Through Aug. 4, Contiki clients can save up to 25% off worldwide trips with the brand’s “Bucket List Sale.” A deposit of $99 is required.

CRUISE

Arnold Donald, President & CEO Carnival Corp., Jan Swartz, President of Princess Cruises, and Gus Antorcha, President of Holland America Line, in front of Majestic Princess in the Port of Seattle.

The 2021 Alaska season kicked off for Holland America with Nieuw Amsterdam setting sail July 24, while for Princess Cruises, Majestic Princess sailed on July 25. Each line will operate 10 cruises sailing out of Seattle through September. The departures marked the return to cruising and Alaska for both lines, which combined have more than 125 years of experience sailing to the state. Historically, one in two guests who cruise to Alaska sail on Princess or Holland America.

Carnival, which also began its Alaska season out of Seattle last week, launched both its newest ship, the Mardi Gras, and cruises out of Florida again on Saturday.

Norwegian Cruise Line commemorated its cruise comeback with a double debut: Norwegian Jade was not only the first of its 17-ship fleet to welcome guests after 500 days in July 25, it also made NCL history as the first vessel to homeport in Athens (Piraeus).

The official restart of river itineraries in France by Viking, marking the latest milestone as the company resumes operations in Europe. Guests are now embarking on journeys on the Seine and Rhône rivers for the “Paris & the Heart of Normandy,” “Lyon & Provence,” and “France’s Finest” itineraries. Viking’s voyage in Bordeaux, “Chateaux, Rivers and Wine,” will resume in August.

HOTELS

Chicago’s newest Vista Tower skyscraper, the third-tallest building in Chicago, is being rebranded as The St. Regis Chicago, including a luxury hotel that will open later this year. Amenities will include a fine dining restaurant with an outdoor terrace, an all-day restaurant and lounge overlooking the Chicago River, and a bar with an outdoor terrace as part of the luxury hotel.

AC Hotel by Marriott Maui Wailea is the first AC branded property in Hawaii and one of the state’s newest hotels. The property features 110 guestrooms, an infinity-edge pool, ocean-view bar and restaurant offering guests international- and Hawaiian-inspired cuisine. The hotel also includes a library and 24-hour fitness centre. Guestrooms feature hardwood floors and a private lanai.

RESORTS

A multi-million-dollar complete renovation of Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail, phased over the past three years and marking the most significant investment the resort has undergone since its inception in 2010, will be completed this summer. Enhancements includes a “mountain chic” refresh and remodel of all hotel guest rooms, plus redesigned lobby and all public spaces. Located in Vail village at the base of Vail Mountain in the Colorado Rockies, the resort is a two-hour drive from Denver International Airport.

BY THE NUMBERS

New research from Expedia Group suggests the influence of inclusion and diversity on post-pandemic booking decisions. The global survey, which included Canadians, said nearly two-thirds of travellers (65%) say they are more willing to book accommodations that have policies focused on diversity and inclusion. However, there is a significant generational gap when it comes to how much booking choices are influenced by whether or not accommodations have inclusive policies: 57% of respondents over the age of 40 say they are likely to book inclusive accommodations, while 77% of those under the age of 40 say that they are likely to do the same.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

The Dollywood Company is embarking on an ambitious investment strategy that will see the Smoky Mountain vacation destination invest more than half a billion dollars over the next 10 years across its properties. One of the first projects is Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort, a 302-room property currently under construction and due to open in 2023. Adjacent to Dollywood near Knoxville, Tenn., it will serve the three million annual visitors to the Dolly Parton theme park and Splash Country water park.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

Discover the World Canada is now representing Cobblestone Freeway Tours, a small group tour operator specializing in culturally rich tours to Central and Eastern Europe, and agents are invited to take part in a nine-day fam to the Ukraine departing Oct. 9 designed to introduce the company and the country. Details at discovertheworld.com or by calling 1-800-684-7014.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Former Toronto Tourism president and CEO David Whittaker, who served in the city for eight years from 2007 before taking a similar role at Choose Chicago is now heading home to Miami, where he spent 17 years (1990-2007) at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB). He returns as president and CEO starting in August.

DESTINATIONS

Tourists are once again able to hike Peru’s Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu. After more than a year closed, the reopening of the hiking route is part of a new stage in the tourist reactivation of Cusco and Peru. The Inca Trail joins other hiking trails in the region, most of which reopened in July 2020, that are part of the Qhapaq Nan – a network of roads that once united the far reaches of the Inca empire.

NYC Restaurant Week has returned to in-person dining after 18 months. Continuing through Aug. 22, the program includes nearly 530 participating restaurants offering more than 50 distinct cuisines in 75 neighborhoods across all five New York boroughs, as well as updated, inclusive pricing with lunches priced at either US$21 or $39 and dinners priced at either $21 or $39 (both inclusive of one entrée and at least one side and aligned to the individual restaurant price points). Check out the website HERE.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

BATTERED IN BATH

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The impatience to travel again has inspired destinations and their marketing groups to ramp up their social media postings. There are daily images of places and activities I love and can’t visit. It’s almost cruel.

Like a post by Canada’s VisitBritain rep, Cathy Stapells. Cathy is not just a Facebook friend, we’re real-world friends having cruised with Holland America from Boston to Montreal, participated in a golf-spa-and-whisky tour of Scotland, as well as a Daphne Du Maurier themed trip to Cornwall. So when Cathy posted images of Bath on her Facebook page, many of our friends and colleagues wrote dreamy remembrances of Jane Austen and hot actors who played Mr. Darcy

While many basked in the glorious, sunny olde England of romance fiction, afternoon tea, boating, virile young aristocrats and gauzy dresses for young women I thought of hospitals and health care.

My first trip to Bath was in the back of an ambulance. I spent a sunny June afternoon in the ER, with doctors on each side of me in a Humpty Dumpty-type debate about whether to stitch or glue me together again.

Medical professionals can be unsettlingly graphic. I raised my hand and asked if I could be wheeled out of the room because their conversation was making me ill.

I was there because of a cycling accident. The day began in an idyllic manner, with me cycling along the lilac-scented Kennet and Avon Canal, where the only sound was the splashing of ducks and swans. I had lunch at the canal-side Somerset Arms where an older gentleman on a motorized scooter asked if I would bring him a pint of Badger’s Gold. I approached the woman behind the bar and said, “A gentleman with a white dog …” when she cut me off. “Ah, right, it’s that time. He’ll be wanting a Gold.”

Back outside a couple had stopped at the old gentleman’s table. They had their dog, he had his. They were pushing a red cart I thought contained ice cream. In fact, they were The Royal Mail. I delivered his pint, they delivered his mail. He smiled at us all.

I was doing a brilliant three-day serviced cycle trip in Wiltshire offered by a company called History on Your Handlebars. It was operated by a retired stockbroker, who I believe has taken his second retirement. But when it operated he met you at the Chippenham train station, where he traded maps and bike for my luggage. Each day I would leave my assigned B&B along a route developed to match my interests and he would pick up my bags and drive them to the next stop about 30 miles away. I cycled through a quiet, bucolic countryside familiar to novelists and Merchant-Ivory films.

It was Friday afternoon, I was returning to a B&B in Bradford-on-Avon, and to get out of growing bank-holiday traffic, I decided to ride on the open sidewalk. Alas, it’s an old story of the wheel and curb not being in harmony. The bike went one way, while I did an OMG-slow-motion head-first dive to the pavement. I’m still uncertain if I hit a telephone pole or not. I knew I wasn’t about to die because my life didn’t flash before me, instead every curse word in every language I ever heard did.

After the initial impact I remember attempting to get off the ground before anyone saw my stupidity.

On the upside, two off-duty nurses witnessed the whole thing. Before I could move someone was wrapping me in a blanket and holding an umbrella to keep the mid-day sun off me, while another voice called for an ambulance.

Since this was my first ride in an ambulance I was annoyed that the paramedics wouldn’t put on the siren.

After a few hours in the ER, where I had tetanus shots and eight stitches, I had a £50 cab ride back to the B&B. At breakfast the next morning two men asked what happened. I filled them in on the few details I could remember. They generously went out to search ditches for my bike, which they found and returned to the B&B. This was supremely kind of them since one of this tuxedoed pair was getting married in two hours!

I dragged my battered self to the station to get a train to Bath. At the hotel I was greeted by an overly cheerful clerk, who through her smile asked if I had had a mishap? I felt like saying, “No, I usually look like hell.” I had eight stitches in my forehead, the white of my eyes were red, which stood out against the two black eyes and scraped cheeks. I could see only because of a separate pair of prescription sunglasses and to not offend people with my wounds wore a golf cap gently pulled down almost to my nose.

That afternoon I had to have my dressings checked at a local clinic. The clinic clerk was scandalized by a £25 ($43.45) charge for the visit because Canada didn’t have a reciprocal health agreement with the UK (always sell travel insurance!). To rectify this she decided I looked Australian and put that down on my appointment card, sparing me the charge.

Saving £25 improved my mood and I signed on for the Bizarre Bath Walk. Their advertising and guide explicitly explain the walk “has nothing to do with Bath. We don’t bore you with history or facts or any of that rubbish.”

Bike Walk, blindfolded guide

Instead our Austen-free experience was more like a type of walking vaudeville show, which was so (in)famous locals interacted with it. Mostly they tried to trip up the guide. For example, for the first part of the tour the guide is blindfolded. Just as he undid his blindfold a teenaged cyclist rode through our group with his arms outstretched and face covered by his t-shirt. Our guide was speechless.

From Bath I returned to London where VisitBritain had provided accommodations in a Red Carnation property, The Montague on the Gardens. The Montague is like a country house in the city. My stay coincided with Ascot race week. All the Montague’s other guests had passes to the Royal Enclosure.

On Ladies Day, when the world’s most fantastical hats are on display, female guests rode the elevator one at a time. There was no room for others. Doors were held for them as they deftly slid into the cavernous backseats of the chauffeured Rolls Royces and Bentleys which lined the street.

Meanwhile I still looked like the victim of a serious mugging.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

FULL SILVER MOON: A Silversea Sister with Her Own Personality

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Silver Moon has been officially christened as the ninth vessel in the ultra-luxury Silversea Cruises fleet and is sailing in the Greek Isles this summer. In a ceremony in Athens, godmother Gaia Gaja made the long-awaited naming of the ship that was due to begin service in 2020, but was delayed by the cruise industry shutdown.

Silver Moon’s christening in Greece represents “‘not only the birth of a new vessel but the rebirth of cruising,” said Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain. The ship is sailing inaugural Greek Isles cruises from Piraeus, the port for Athens.

Read it all in The Cruisington Times.

SALT Bar on The Silver Moon

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

ROUND-UP:July 19-23, 2021

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Canada finally has plan to open its border, the US does not; the Inca Trail is open again; Bezos blasted into space, and Bureau’s back – all among last week’s news…

NEWS

Canada announced that it will re-open its borders to fully vaccinated travellers on Aug. 9 (US) and internationally (Sept. 7) respectively. The US did not reciprocate the gesture, leaving Canadians crossing at land borders for non-essential purposes barred until at least Aug. 21. A flurry of response, both pro and con, ensued on both sides of the border to the non-concurrent, but related, announcements.

In final preparations for the launch of consumer space travel, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos blasted into space July 20 on his rocket company’s first flight with people on board. Joining him were his brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands, and an 82-year-old aviation pioneer from Texas – the youngest and oldest to ever fly in space.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

The Disney Dream will kick off the long-awaited return to cruising for Disney Cruise Line from the US on Aug. 9. Voyages will include tropical trips to the Bahamas departing from Port Canaveral, Fla. Three- and four-night cruises will include a visit to the private island, Castaway Cay.

US headquartered small ship cruise line Windstar Cruises resumed cruising in French Polynesia/the Islands of Tahiti with vaccinated guests and crew aboard the line’s 148-passenger Wind Spirit sailing ship. Half of the line’s six yacht fleet is now back in the water cruising.

AIR

A new phased-in flight schedule to the US from Air Canada starting Aug. 1 encompasses 220 daily flights on 55 routes to 34 destinations. The airline also notes that its app will enable customers to scan, upload, and validate COVID-19 test results on all flights to Canada. Service to all 57 previously offered US destinations will be restored “as conditions allow” says the airline.

WestJet says it is not seeking financial aid from the federal government after months of talks between Ottawa and the airline. It says each party has agreed to shift focus to restarting the travel and tourism sector, given encouraging vaccination rates.

Porter Airlines is adding new ways to pay as it prepares to restart flights in September and add jet services next year. The regional airline says passengers who use the company’s website will be able to use PayPal and WeChat and adds that new channels may be added. Purchases of $300 or more can also be financed using Uplift. The total trip cost will be seen at the time of booking, along with the monthly payment amount. There are no late fees or prepayment penalties, and customers can travel even before they are finished making their prepayments. Travel agents may also select payment financing for their clients when booking through Porter.

BY THE NUMBERS

Air Canada reported improving but still big losses in the second quarter as travel demand started to rise. The airline says it lost $1.17 billion compared with a loss of $1.75 billion a year earlier, however the airline sees a positive trend ahead. Revenues for the airline during the three months ended June 30 surged 58.8% to $837 million from $527 million in the second quarter of 2020 based in part based on an increase of seat capacity by 78%, compared with the prior year’s quarter when capacity was reduced by 86% from the second quarter of 2019. It plans to increase available seat miles 85% in the third quarter.

DEALS

The Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort is inviting guests to relax and rejuvenate with the Heavenly Spa Package which includes a US$150 spa credit and 20% off services to use at the resort’s spa, which includes a hair and nail salon, new men’s services, separate men’s and women’s hot tubs, steam rooms and relaxation lounges. The offer requires a minimum stay of two nights.

The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority has created a one-stop shop online for love birds, detailing a wide range of romantic hotel packages. The site has links to deals for couples looking to tie the knot, renew their romance or just take that trip abroad together that might have been postponed due to the pandemic. To see the full list of romance packages and offers, click HERE.

TOURS

Self-guided motorcycle tours fulfilled by Hertz Ride can now be booked through TravelBrands. To kick off the program, the premium motorcycles experiences will be offered in Portugal, north and south. When booked through TravelBrands, tours include 4-star accommodations, a top brand motorcycle, and daily breakfast. Through Aug. 31, travel agents will earn 3x the Loyalty Rewards Points for any self-ride itinerary booked.

Air Canada Vacations has released its new lineup of 2021/22 flights from Western Canada, featuring Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Mexico City, and Ixtapa. Service begins in November with gateways including Vancouver, Calgary, and Winnipeg (directly or connecting). There are also options to Hawaii and Las Vegas, the latter via non-stop flights from Vancouver and Calgary. Customers who book by Aug. 22 for travel until Dec. 15 can benefit from 50% off travel protection.

HOTELS

San Diego’s iconic Hotel Del Coronado is embarking this month on a US$400- multi-year, multi-phase plan that, when complete, will have touched every aspect of the property. Among the renovations will be a restoration of the historic hotel’s original front porch, an updated lawn and landscaping, lobby restorations, and much more.

Now open, the new Hard Rock Hotel Madrid, located in the city’s Triangulo
de Oro del Arte, caters to both business and leisure travellers with 161 contemporary rooms. At the heart of the property, guests will find a dramatic architectural hanging guitar sculpture, as well as music memorabilia and vibrant artwork throughout the hotel, including a life-size pink ‘Las Meninas’ adorned with Rosalía lyrics, inspired by Diego Velázquez’s masterpiece hanging in the Prado Museum, and mural in GMT+1 bar inspired by the La Movida movement in Madrid.

RESORTS

The second hotel project from Xcaret Hotels in Riviera Maya, Hotel Xcaret Art, has officially opened its doors to guests. The adults-only hotel features 900 luxury suites designed as an homage to the arts of Mexico with an impressive investment of $427 million supporting the tourism industry in Riviera Maya and highlighting Mexican traditions through art. The hotel integrates the brand’s “All-Fun Inclusive” concept, offering hotel guests unlimited access to Grupo Xcaret’s Parks and the most attractive experiences in Cancún and Riviera Maya. The hotel is also home to an exclusive Culinary Collective, representing eight internationally renowned chefs combining different culinary traditions that originate from different cultures.

CRUISE

Silversea Cruises has opened an exclusive pre-sale on its World Cruise 2024, entitled ‘Far East-West.’ The 132-day journey throughout the Pacific Ocean will visit 65 destinations across 14 countries, including 40 new destinations for a Silversea World Cruise. Plus, 23 overnight stays will unlock deeper cultural immersion. Hosted aboard the 388-guest Silver Shadow, the voyage will depart San Francisco on Jan. 15, 2024, on a round-trip itinerary that will encompass most of the Pacific Rim, and back across the Pacific to Alaska, Canada, and California. Featured for the first time will be the volcanic Russian Far East and Alaska.

Three more ships Carnival Cruise Line ships will resume operations in September, and another four in October – bringing the total number of ships to 15 – as the line’s restart of operations continues to ramp up. They are Carnival Glory from New Orleans, starting Sept. 5; Pride from Baltimore, Sept. 12; Dream from Galveston, Sept. 19; Conquest from Miami, Oct. 8; Freedom from Miami, Oct. 9; Elation from Port Canaveral, Oct. 11; and Sensation from Mobile, Oct. 21.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

The CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto are now open to visitors. The Blue Jays begin playing in the city again on Friday (July 30) with a capacity of 15,000.

After more than a year of virtual races, runners will return to racing at Walt Disney World in Orlando this fall, kicking off the runDisney 2021-22 race season. The season will include four race weekends: Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend, Nov. 4-7; Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, Jan. 5-9, 2022; Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, Feb. 24-27, 2022; run Disney Springtime Surprise Weekend, March 31-April 3, 2022.

EVENTS

July 28: VisitBritain is inviting the Canadian travel trade to an ‘Explore the West Midlands, the heart of England’ virtual event on Wednesday (4 p.m. EST) marking ‘One Year to Go’ until the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Updated information on the region, which includes Stratford-upon-Avon, plus top attractions and key highlights will be presented, as well as a fun quiz. To register click HERE.

Sept. 27: Skal Toronto is inviting Skal members, plus industry friends and family to its annual golf tournament, to be held at the Royal Ontario Golf Club on Monday, Sept. 27. The COVID-sensitive event day will include 18 holes of golf, shared golf cart (private carts will be available at an extra cost), lunch, dinner and one drink ticket. There are hole sponsorships available and sponsors are welcome. Registration deadline is Aug. 15 and spots are limited so it is advised to register soon. For information or to register, click HERE.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Duncan Bureau has joined Canada Jetlines as Chief Commercial Officer, tasked with building the various commercial platforms and distribution networks for the organization, which plans to operate, pending CTA approval, as an airline and tour operator with flights into sun destinations in the US and Mexico. Well known in the Canadian travel industry as an executive at WestJet and later VP for Air Canada and president of Rouge, Bureau has also worked abroad at Malaysia Airlines and most recently as Sr. VP Sales & Distribution at Etihad in Abu Dhabi.

Transat has announced two changes to its Commercial team: Lindsay Merrill is appointed Sales Manager, Ontario, Atlantic and Western Canada and Marjorie Larose has been named Sales Manager, Quebec and Ottawa. Merrill has over 14 years of experience in various roles at Transat, including as Inside Sales Supervisor in Ontario since October 2016, while Larose, who joined the company in 2005 has been a Business Development Representative since 2017. Emails: Lindsay.merrill@transat.com and Marjorie Larose at marjorie.larose@transat.com.

DESTINATIONS

Eilat, photo – Rony Balahsan

Israel’s ministry of tourism reports that the global Miss Universe pageant will be held for the first time in its history in Israel, in the city of Eilat. The competition, taking place for several weeks in December will mark the organization’s 70th anniversary and delegations from over 100 countries plus thousands of pageant enthusiasts and tourists are expected to attend. The final pageant will air in over 170 countries across the globe.

Nevis has reduced the reduced Vacation in Place period for fully vaccinated international visitors from nine days to four, with testing on day four and the ability to fully integrate into the island upon receipt of a negative test result.

The Château du Clos Lucé in France’s Loire Valley continues to build on its mission to showcase the many facets of Leonardo da Vinci’s universe by unveiling a new 500-sq.m. cultural centre and museum. The immersive experience features a virtual gallery that screens an animated display of 17 masterpieces by da Vinci, combined with his drawings. The interactive space will feature 3D experiences, video games and more dedicated to the artist, who spent the last years of his life at the Clos Lucé.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT: Help mission to save monarchs

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Canadians are invited to help monarch butterfly conservation by taking part in the fifth annual International Monarch Monitoring Blitz, which kicks off today (July 23) and runs for 10 days through Aug. 1. Administered by the Insectarium de Montréal, Mission Monarch simply asks people to observe monarch populations by spotting eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, and butterflies on milkweed plants.

The event, held simultaneously in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, allows researchers to identify priority areas for monarch conservation measures in North America. The annual monarch snapshots and the presence of milkweeds help gain a better understanding of the dynamics between the summer generations and their breeding habitat.

Now in its fifth year, the Blitz has collected over 4,000 observations to date. The data collected is uploaded to the Trinational Monarch Knowledge Network website, where it is available for anyone to consult or download.
How to participate?

Taking part in the Blitz is easy: Simply find milkweed, verify presence of a monarch, write your observations, and sign up and send data to one of the participating community science programs, which in Canada is the Mission Monarch program of the Insectarium (part of the Montréal Space for Life institution).

Facts about the Monarch

• Monarchs weigh less than a gram
• There are two recognized migratory routes in North America: eastern and western
• Migration covers 3,000-5,000 km across three countries
• The eastern migratory population has declined by more than 80% in 20 years
• The western population has declined by 99% since the 1980s
• Montreal has been a Monarch-friendly city since 2017

Evolution of the population

Monarch overwintering sites were first recorded by scientists in California over 200 years ago and in Mexico in 1975. Since then, the monarch, which moves between the three countries, has become an iconic species in North America.

After an alarming decline in monarch populations over the past 20 years, the eastern monarch population, which winters in central Mexico, showed a significant increase in 2018-19 over the previous year. However, this population has experienced two consecutive declines in the last two years (53% in 2019-2020 and 26% in 2020-21 compared to the previous year), and remains well below historical levels, indicating that conservation efforts are still needed in order to reverse the trend.

Meanwhile, the western monarch population, which breeds west of the Rockies and winters on the California coast, is close to extinction with only 1,914 monarchs reported in the most recent Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count, a shocking 99.9% decline since the 1980s. Public participation in community science programs on the West Coast is more important than ever in order to elucidate and address this dramatic population decline.

Important collaboration

The Blitz is an initiative of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) Trinational Monarch Conservation Science Partnership. Through the Blitz, scientists from the Montréal Space for Life Insectarium, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Monarch Joint Venture, Journey North, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas are inviting the public to help them learn about the distribution of monarchs and milkweeds across North America.

Montréal Space for Life

Montréal Space for Life is made up of five major attractions: the Biodôme, the Biosphère, the Insectarium, the Jardin botanique and the Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan, together comprising Canada’s largest natural science museum complex. Their mission: to launch a daring, creative urban movement that encourages all of us to rethink the connection between humankind and nature and cultivate a new way of living.

For more details on Mission Monarch, click HERE.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

PEELING BACK THE LAYERS ON A BERMUDA INSTITUTION

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With the prospect of returning to Bermuda at hand thanks to the return of Air Canada flights starting Aug. 6, thoughts of very important travel logistics arise — not least, where to go for a good on-island pint. A requisite choice is at the Royal Naval Dockyard, one of the island’s top tourism spots and home to a host of boutiques, restaurants, and bars, not least The Frog & Onion.

The Dockyard is a cruise port, flush with history and also providing an endless list of activities, from bike rentals to snorkelling cruises, mini golf, dolphin encounters and more – but not one of them that would not be enhanced by a call at the Frog.

Never mind the grog (we’ll get to that), the British pub is uniquely situated in a converted 18th-century stone cooperage that once provided barrels for Britain’s Royal Navy. The décor drips with military history and nautical memorabilia, and one can imagine blacksmiths at work at the large, authentic stone fireplace in the dining room .
A famous and favourite west end pub for locals and tourists, the Frog naturally pulls a cruise crowd when ships are in port, which is acknowledged with a line of international flags, including Canada’s, hanging from the ceiling. There is also outdoor seating in a beer garden and guests are treated to live music in the summer.

And the beer… the onsite Dockyard Brewing Co., Bermuda’s only craft brewery, produces half a dozen beers and ales, including the signature Somers Amber ale, a traditional English bitter, while a sampler offers a taste of all six. Souvenir-seekers can keep the glass if ordering the 50-ouncer, pulled perfectly by expert barmen.

The pub also says it is the only establishment in Bermuda to specially blend its own rum, dubbed “Frog Grog,” comprised of four parts rum and one part water – a recipe they say was officially coined as “grog” by British sailors in the 1700s.

Meanwhile, traditional pub grub is served, including British favourites like savoury pies, bangers and mash, home-made pot pies, Cornish pasties, and weekend roast with prime rib and Yorkshire pudding. There is also a British Pub Curry menu, plus plenty of less exotic fare, from burgers to calamari and fish sandwiches and chowder. Kids have their own menu.

Located a short walk from King’s and Heritage wharfs in the Royal Naval Dockyard, the Frog & Onion is open every day from 11:30 a.m. to midnight (hours may vary during pandemic). WiFi is free.

By the way, if you’re wondering about the name, the founders of the establishment in 1992 explain that it reflects their heritage: one a Bermudian and the other a Frenchman.

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.

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THE WRITE STUFF: Park Hyatt Toronto set for September return

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One of Toronto’s best-known hotels, the Park Hyatt, is set to open its doors again in September after being closed for nearly four years. Fully restored, the famed luxury property promises a return to former glory with a distinctive nod to Canadian heritage, art deco, and especially literature.

Located at Bloor Street and Avenue Road in Yorkville, across the street from the Royal Ontario Museum and University of Toronto, the hotel opened as the Park Plaza in 1936, before joining the Hyatt fold in 1999. Considered past its prime and surpassed by the neighbouring Four Seasons, which itself had opened a new flagship property a block from its original location in 2012, it closed for renovations in 2017.

In 2021, the re-imagined Park Hyatt Toronto will introduce luxury, sophistication, and glamour courtesy of noted designer Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge, who drew inspiration from Canada’s striking seasons and natural landscapes.

A former haunt for the literary set in the city, the hotel will also be rooted in celebrating the sophistication of the arts, its “historical significance as a gathering spot for great minds,” and the amazing views of the Toronto skyline.

For example, the iconic 17th-floor cocktail bar, familiar to Torontonians and international travellers alike, will be known as the “Writers Room,” paying homage to the history of literary legends that patronized the hotel in the past, such as Margaret Attwood, Mordecai Richler, and Hugh Garner.

The hotel will announce a new culinary destination, influenced by the spirit of Toronto’s vibrant arts and culture scene, in the coming weeks.

The restoration of the hotel comes as part of a wider redevelopment of the site into a mixed-use destination by its owner, Oxford Properties. In addition to Park Hyatt Toronto guest suites, the redevelopment has created 65 luxury rental apartments in the heritage-designated south tower, which has been completely restored and retained, making it one of the largest heritage restoration projects in Canada.

The complex will also feature 6,100 sq. m. of prime retail over two floors in the restored south tower with 30 m. of frontage along each of Bloor Street and Avenue Road.

“We felt a deep sense of obligation to create a destination that not only respects and embraces Park Hyatt Toronto’s storied history, but one that also reflects Toronto’s emergence as a truly global city,” says Oxford Properties head of hotels, Tyler Seaman. “This project is a celebration of the best of Canada. It’s reflected in its design palette, which is influenced by the Group of Seven, the curated art on display, and right down to the materials we used including limestone-flooring from Owen Sound (Ont.) It will be one of the best hotel experiences in Canada and the finest address in the city to live at.”

The hotel will feature a significant permanent art collection highlighting spectacular pieces from noteworthy Canadian and indigenous artists. The lobby features a large-scale tapestry designed by Canadian artist Shannon Bool, while the 219 guest rooms – including 40 luxurious suites – will balance residential comfort with contemporary design.

A spa and wellness destination will host personalized treatments with a collection of highly curated relaxation services to treat the body and calm the mind.

Park Hyatt currently operates 45 hotels around the globe, with destination ranging from Abu Dhabi to Zurich, Switzerland.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

ROUND-UP:July 12-16, 2021

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American visitors may soon be welcome in Canada, cruise ships can return after Nov. 1, Ireland eases requirements for Canadians, and big plans from Porter Airlines highlight last week’s notable travel industry news.

NEWS

The federal government is aiming to re-open the US border to allow fully vaccinated US citizens into Canada again by as early as mid-August. And if the current vaccination rate remains on its upward trajectory, fully vaccinated travellers from around the world could begin arriving by early September as well, Justin Trudeau says.

The federal government is offering easy financing for the country’s beleaguered tourism operators; this includes a mix of non-repayable grants of up to $100,000 or no-interest loans of up to $500,000 to finance capital improvements.

The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) reports that Jet Airways, operating out of Mumbai, India, and which suspended operations effective April 17, 2019, became officially insolvent on June 22 when the company was sold (asset purchase only. The new company will operate as Jet Airways 2.0. Consumers who purchased Jet Airways travel services from an Ontario-registered travel agency or website and did not receive their travel services due to the cessation of the airline may file a claim from the Ontario Travel Industry Compensation Fund for reimbursement via TICO. The claim deadline is Dec. 23, 2021.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

Starting today (July 19), Ireland begins welcoming visitors from Canada who have valid proof of vaccination. For those that are fully vaccinated, no travel-related testing or quarantine is necessary.

The federal government has lifted the prohibition on cruise ships operating in Canadian waters Nov. 1, effectively paving the way for a return to cruising in 2022. Operators will be required to fully comply with public health requirements.

Carnegie Hall in New York will resume performances in October following a 1-1/2-year closure caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but with a limited schedule of recitals and small ensembles until large orchestras return in January. The Hall initially intended to open the season with a virtual gala, but planning is now underway for a live opening concert at full capacity.

BY THE NUMBERS

The latest figures from IATA show that demand at North American carriers in May demand fell 74.4% compared to the 2019 period, an improvement over the 77.6% decline in April versus two years ago. Capacity sagged 58.5%, and load factor dropped 32.2 percentage points to 51.7%. (Due to the pandemic, IATA does not use 2020 figures as a basis of normality).

AIR

Toronto-based airline Porter Airlines says it will introduce up to 80 state-of-the-art Embraer E195-E2 aircraft into its fleet starting in the second half of 2022. The planes, which will notably operate from Toronto Pearson instead of the airline’s traditional home at Billy Bishop island airport, have transcontinental range, which will enable Porter to reach potential markets coast to coast in Canada, along with destinations in the US, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

The new airline Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA), or Italy Air Transport, which is being created to replace the long financially ailing Alitalia will take off on Oct. 15 with its first flights. Precisely what name or logo will be on the new airline’s planes has not yet been determined

United Airlines is ordering 200 Boeing Max jets and 70 Airbus planes so it can replace some of its aging planes and grow after the pandemic eases.

DEALS

Victory Cruise Lines, operated by American Queen Steamboat Company, is offering up to US$2,000 savings per stateroom on its new immersive Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula itineraries on Victory I. The line’s “FREEDOM” sale is available on four 11-day cruise and land tours taking place in January 2022 departing Cancun roundtrip for reservations made by Aug. 31.

Taking place now through Aug. 31, Miami Spa Months offers guests up to 50% off a variety of treatments – from open-air spa facials to Swedish or Balu fusion massage, or a private couple’s mud bath treatment. Participating venues include The Palms AVEDA, Esencia Spa at Nobu Eden Roc Hotel Miami Beach, Valmont for the Spa at the Setai, and the Spa at Carillion Miami Beach.

TOURS

G Adventures, which celebrated the departure of its 250th trip since re-start on July 11 is extending its current sale offering up to 25% off more than 100 itineraries across seven travel styles, for trips booked by July 31 and departing before Oct. 31. G notes that it will conduct 165 trips in July and more than 200 in August.

New sustainable travel experiences in Europe designed to benefit local communities are being introduced by Intrepid Travel, designed in partnership with the MEET Network Association, which works with protected areas in the Mediterranean to create ecotourism products that support nature conservation efforts and benefit local communities. Intrepid’s two new tours incorporating MEET experiences include the five-day “Croatia: Sibenik & the Kornati Islands,” and “Highlights of Crete,” both departing from Aug. 14.

HOTELS
Baillie Lodges’ new-look Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge on Vancouver Island has re-opened following an extended closure due to the pandemic, which has offered an opportunity for the luxury lodge operator to complete a $2-million makeover on the property. Upgrades include a full renovation of interiors for the property’s 25 luxury tents plus a refreshed itinerary of wilderness adventures, such as horse-riding, whale and bear-spotting, canyoning, and scenic helicopter flights, which are included in the rate.

Quebec hotel chain Times Hôtels is now welcoming guests at a brand new 143-room landmark hotel in Laval. The fifth property for the group, Grand Hôtel Times Laval is situated at the corner of St Martin and Jeanne-Mance close to the Centropolis business, retail, and entertainment hub. The 12-storey hotel features contemporary rooms and suites and an array of amenities including an indoor pool and fitness centre, chic VIP lounge, and a 150-seat Pizzeria Sofia location specializing in fine Italian cuisine. The second phase of the development project, slated to start construction in Spring 2022, will include an additional tower with more than 150 rooms

RESORTS

In celebration of its opening, the Barbados COVID Lab at The Crane Resort is offering a “Fast Track Testing” package for Canadians for US$229 that includes personal VIP service, being whisked through customs, immigration, and the various Ministry of Health processes at the airport, a one-way transfer to resort, a PCR test on both arrival and departure, and a luxury “isolation suite” at no charge in the unlikely event a fully vaccinated visitor tests positive.

The 184-room Barbary Beach House Key West is to transform into Margaritaville Beach House Key West, this fall, offering poolside entertainment, daily refreshments, a 24-hour fitness centre, activities for kids, lawn games, lounging hammocks throughout resort grounds, and Hobie catamarans, paddleboards and kayaks. Barbary Beach House, the former Sheraton Suites Key West, opened in June 2020 after undergoing an $18-million renovation. The resort is at 2001 S. Roosevelt Blvd., located across a half-mile shoreline stretch of Smathers Beach and about a mile from Key West International Airport.

CRUISE

Declaring Venice’s waterways a “national monument,” Italy has banned mammoth cruise liners from sailing into the Italian lagoon city, which risked being declared an imperiled world heritage site by the United Nations later this month.

Luxury river cruise operator AmaWaterways has announced a new partnership with leading family history and consumer genomics company, Ancestry. The collaboration provides a unique opportunity for guests to discover details pertaining to their specific family history while cruising with Ama with a special Ancestry Experience package that provides travellers with a pre-cruise private consultation and family history research, onboard presentations, and curated excursions accompanied by an expert genealogist throughout the cruise. The first cruise departs from Amsterdam on July 20, 2022, aboard the AmaStella, visiting Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Switzerland.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort returns Sept. 3-Oct. 31 with Halloween events and themes throughout Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. Downtown Disney District gets in the spirit as well, from Sept. 9- to Oct. 31, with seasonal décor, treats and an all-new Halloween-themed pumpkin hunt, Pluto’s Pumpkin Pursuit.

EVENTS

July 20: Agents from coast to coast are invited to join the Jamaica Tourist Board’s inaugural Virtual Product Showcase on July 20 from 1 to 3 p.m. On tap will be timely destination updates, the opportunity to connect with travel suppliers, “some unique island fun,” plus games and giveaways. To register for the Zoom event, click HERE.

TL Network is set to relaunch in-person “mixers” between members and suppliers starting later this summer. In all, 14 events are scheduled in the second half of 2021 and are free to members. Events, with full safety protocols and limited numbers, feature mini-trade show, presentations, and dinner. Dates include Aug. 31, Winnipeg; Sept. 14, Vancouver; Sept. 15, Mississauga; Sept. 21, Calgary; Sept. 22, Kitchener-Waterloo; Sept. 28, Halifax; Sept. 29, St. John’s; Sept. 30, Edmonton; Oct. 5, Saskatoon; Nov. 23, Winnipeg and Montreal; Nov. 24, Ottawa; Dec. 1, St. Catharines; and Dec. 14, Vancouver.

DESTINATIONS

Effective July 12 St. Kitts & Nevis’s “Vacation in Place” period for fully vaccinated international air travellers was reduced from nine days to three days, with testing on day four and the ability to fully integrate into the Federation upon receipt of a negative test result.

A massive installation dubbed “Beyond Monet” will make its world premiere Aug. 5 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The exhibit will transform more than 400 paintings, covering 4,600 sq. m. into larger-than-life images, including well-known masterpieces from the “Water Lilies” series. Tickets start at $39.99 for adults and $29.99 for children and are available at monettoronto.com.

London’s Science Museum and the Cambridge University library have acquired a large collection of items belonging to late physicist Stephen Hawking, from his personalized wheelchairs to landmark papers on theoretical physics and his scripts from his appearance on “The Simpsons.” Many of the artifacts will be preserved as part of the collection belonging to the Science Museum Group and will go on display at the museum early next year. Museum officials are also hoping to create a touring exhibition in the UK before setting up a permanent display in London.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

BACK TO WORK: American recalling flight attendants to handle travel crowds

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American Airlines is cancelling extended leaves for about 3,300 flight attendants and telling them to come back to work in time for the holiday season. And the carrier plans to hire 800 new flight attendants by next March, according to an airline executive.

The moves are the latest indication that leisure travel in the US is recovering more quickly from the pandemic than airlines expected.

“Increasing customer demand and new routes starting later this year mean we need more flight attendants to operate the airline,” Brady Byrnes, the airline’s vice president of flight service, told flight attendants in a memo Thursday.

Byrnes said cabin crews who are coming back from leave will return to flights in November or December.

Last year, American offered long-term leaves of absence to flight attendants and other employees to cut costs while it struggled with a steep drop in travel caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Other airlines did the same thing. Now they need people.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said this week that his airline expects to hire between 4,000 and 5,000 workers this year. Delta plans to add 1,300 reservations agents by this fall to reduce long waits on hold for customers who call the airline. It’s also adding customer service, cargo and airport workers and plans to hire more than 1,000 pilots before next summer.

When the pandemic hit, the number of people flying in the US plunged below 100,000 on some days, a level not seen in decades. This year, it has climbed from less than 700,000 a day in early February to 2 million a day in July.

Help wanted

In other sectors of tourism and travel the issue of understaffing is looming large. Restaurants, hotels, and some travel companies wholesale and retail are having difficulties getting adequate numbers of staff as bookings increase and lockdown restrictions are lifted.

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News