12 MAY 2019: In case you missed it, and even if you didn’t, here’s a quick round up of some of last week’s need-to-know travel news:

AIR

Air Transat will add New Orleans to its portfolio of fall and winter destinations with two direct flights a week from Montreal on Thursdays and Sundays beginning Nov. 3.

New service between Toronto and Milan marks Air Italy’s first route from Canada and fifth North America destination overall. Flights operate six times weekly (daily except Thursday) seasonally until Oct. 25 on Airbus A330-200 aircraft with 24 fully flatbed seats in Business Class and 228 seats in Economy Class.

Guests of WestJet now have convenient access from Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) to seven cities in France, Italy and Greece through an expansion to its codeshare relationship with Air France. The enhanced partnership also provides greater access to Canada for travellers originating from these European points.

DEALS

Canadian residents have an opportunity to save at SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, and Adventure Island Tampa Bay thanks to extended Special Canadian Resident Pricing at the Central Florida theme parks. Now available through Sept. 30, Canadian residents can save up to $30 off single-day tickets to SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and $50 off a two-park visit.

Until May 17, Sunwing is offering savings of up to $1,500 per couple at top-rated resorts across the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. Sample properties include the Royalton Suites Cancun Resort and spa, Riu Palace Tropical Bay in Negril, and Riu Republica in Punta Cana.

Holland America Line’s new Early Booking Bonus promotion for 2020-21 cruises or Alaska Land+Sea Journeys will receive perks valued at up to US$1,200. Benefits include a Signature Beverage Package, dinner at Pinnacle Grill, 50% reduced deposit, and free or reduced fares for kids (or adults) in the same stateroom sailing as third or fourth guests. Guests who reserve a suite also receive US$200 onboard spending money in addition. Bookings must be made by May 31.

TOURS

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Popular Nova Scotia musical group the Barra MacNeils will be joining One Ocean Expeditions’ “Fins and Fiddles” voyage July 10-20 as OOE hosts a high-energy ‘kitchen party’ at sea. Andrew Prossin, OOE’s Managing Director, also hails from Cape Breton, and with the company having home ports in both Sydney and Louisbourg, felt it was a natural fit to add the family group as a cultural touch to the voyage. The cruise has been designated a Canadian Signature Experience by Destination Canada.

With the first performances of Oberammergau’s once-a-decade Passion Play still a year away, Tauck is issuing “last call” for anyone who wants to experience the spectacle. Tauck is featuring the Passion Play on three of its 2020 land tours and three of its river cruise itineraries next year, and of the six journeys, the only one left with available space is the company’s new “Swiss Highlands & Bavarian Alps” land tour.

Canada-based women-only adventure travel outfitter Wild Women Expeditions (which also only employs women), will celebrate its 30th anniversary year in 2020 with trips in 30 separate countries. “We’re riding high on a global tidal wave of interest in women-only adventure travel,” says Jennifer Haddow, owner and director. “In just a decade we’ve gone from hosting Canada-only trips to having multi-day programs in 30 countries!” Featured in 2020 will be two new trips to Nepal and Peru.

HOTELS

Coffee shops at Virgin Hotels are now selling actor Hugh Jackman’s Laughing Man coffees with a portion of sales supports the Laughing Man Foundation, whose mission is to support coffee farming communities. The partnership is being brought to life by a new Virgin Hotels brand-wide concept called Funny Library Coffee Shop – a communal work space within each Virgin Hotels that houses an assortment of inspirational books and ample room to work and recharge. The first has opened in the brand's newest property in San Francisco.

This summer, the 5-star Merrion Hotel in Dublin will again present "Opera in the Garden" in The Merrion's own private gardens in the heart of Dublin. Held in partnership with the Wexford Festival Opera (WFO), the exclusive June 5 and 6 performances will preview of one of WFO’s 2019 ShortWork opera productions: Georges Bizet's one-act comic operette, Le Docteur Miracle. The black-tie event begins with a Champagne reception on the terrace, followed by the performance, and concludes with a private dinner (with wine) in the Georgian salons of The Merrion. Tickets are limited to 100 per night, and are priced at €295 ($444) p.p.

Open:

The new 191-room Aloft Shanghai Zhangjiang Hotel is the brand’s first in Shangahi and the first international hotel located in the central area of Zhangjiang Hi-tech Park Pudong. The tech-oriented hotel, governed by design philosophy noted for its open, social spaces that connect next generation travellers, is also located within a short drive from the New International Expo Center and Shanghai Disney Resort among other attractions.

RESORTS

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To celebrate the launch of KIDZ BOP at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya (photo), the KIDZ BOP Kids will make a special visit to the resort Aug. 12-16 for the “Ultimate KIDZ BOP Live Fan Experience,” a celebration filled with events, activities, meet-and-greets and a live performance on Aug. 14. The KIDZ BOP experience, which features a host of ongoing music- and dance-related activities, is also available at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana. Having sold 20 million albums and generated over 2.7 billion streams, KIDZ BOP is the No. 1 music brand for kids in the U.S., featuring hits "sung by kids for kids."

The Government of Grenada has announced intentions to develop the La Sagesse area in St David's, an unspoilt area of remarkable natural beauty with two beautiful beaches. The master-planned development located 15 minutes' drive from Grenada's airport will feature two luxury five-star hotels, oceanfront villas, spas, retail and watersports facilities. The first of the luxury hotels, to open in 2022, will be the Six Senses La Sagesse, set on a promontory boasting two beaches and a lake.

CRUISE

Carnival Cruise Line’s new “Loyalty Rocks: Learn and Earn” training program is designed to recognize and reward advisors for investing in their professional development. The easy-to-use training content, which replaces Carnival Passport (credits will be transferred), is video-based and puts travel advisors on an 80% faster path to graduation. Featuring Gold, Platinum and Diamond levels, agents can better support their clients while earning rewards and perks for themselves, including monthly seven-day Caribbean cruise awards for graduates. Travel advisors use their GoCCL.com ID and password, eliminating an additional password to access Carnival training.

German chef Harald Wohlfahrt has been introduced as the latest in a long line of award-winning chef partners by MSC Cruises. The 3-star Michelin chef will develop a new menu for the private Yacht Club restaurant of MSC Meraviglia, MSC Splendida and MSC Preziosa while the ships are sailing in Northern Europe, as well as two different main courses for Elegant Night, and will also train MSC chefs to recreate his own signature dishes. Voted one of the top 10 chefs in the world, Wohlfahrt held a 3-star Michelin rating for 25 years in a row.

Cunard’s second annual Voyage Du Vin will take place aboard the Queen Victoria on Sept. 6 with three noted wine connoisseurs and oenologists accompanying the two-week round-trip journey from Southampton, U.K. to some of the leading wine regions of France, Spain and Italy. Along with talks from the experts, guests will experience daily wine tastings, pairings and fine dining, featuring over 400 wines from 23 countries.

THEME PARKS

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Disneyland Resort will bring a new event to guests of all ages this Halloween season with Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party at Disney California Adventure Park (photo). Derived from "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas” and replacing Mickey’s Halloween Party, the separate-ticket event (on sale now) will take place on 20 select nights during Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort, running from Sept. 6 through Oct. 31. Highlights include a new "World of Color" spectacular, dance party, stage show with Mickey Mouse, treats trail, parade and more. Ticket holders can enter the park three hours early.

Montreal’s La Ronde, the largest theme park in Eastern Canada. (inaugurated during Expo 67) opened for the season on the weekend with a new attraction, the giant loop roller coaster, Chaos. Riders are sent back and forth and launched upside down through a series of 360-degree revolutions. In addition to more than 40 rides and attractions, guests can take advantage of Family Days, L'International des Feux Loto-Québec, Bavarian Weekends, La Nuit Blanche and the Fright Fest.

Fun Spot America in Orlando is adding a 370-sq.-m. splash pad this summer, offering 30 interactive features from fountains to moving sprays for children to run around in. Admission will be included in the attraction's all-day arm-band pass.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

For the month of May, Sunwing is offering agents 2X STAR Agent Reward Points on all new bookings made by May 31 for departures between July 12 and Oct. 31 to Royalton, Memories, Grand Memories and Starfish resorts in Cuba. In addition, every time an agent makes a booking at one of the participating resorts, they’ll be entered into a weekly draw for a chance to win a seven-night vacation for two at a select resort plus a free Sunwing Experiences excursion. Travellers will also receive room upgrades and special pricing at select properties and groups can also take advantage of special pricing at select resorts between July 12 and April 30, 2020.

The “My Dream Itinerary” contest by Rail Europe and Eurail invites Canadian travel agents (excluding Quebec) to create their own ideal itinerary using the new Eurail Globus Pass for a chance to win their own dream rail trip. Among the four final itineraries chosen, one will be voted the best overall itinerary and become the actual mini-FAM for the four winning travel agents (who will also receive other prizes). Entries must be submitted by May 22 and will be voted on by consumers and members of the trade. Find the Official Online Entry Form HERE.

EVENTS

A weekly webinar series (30 minutes each) from Sandals continues throughout May: May 17 – Sandals Ochi Beach Resort, 1:30 p.m. EST; May 21 – Groups (French), 2 p.m.; May 24 – Sandals Royal Bahamian, 1:30-2 p.m.; and May 31 – Sandals Royal Caribbean, 1:30-2 p.m. To register, send an email with IATA number to webinars@uvisandals.ca. By registering, agents will also receive a recorded version post-webinar that they can play back any time.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Caribbean Tourism Organization secretary general Hugh Riley has gone on pre-retirement leave ahead of his official retirement in June. The well-respected Riley is remembered in Canada as a former head of the Barbados Tourism Authority in this country earlier in his career. The CTO is looking for a successor for the post, which will be temporarily manned by CTO director of finance, Neil Walters.

Transat’s winners for its Europe for the World contest are: Alicia Spiers (CAA Travel Thornhill-Ontario), Elizabeth Johnston (Jubilee Tours & Travel-Burnaby, BC) and Dominique Lachance (Club Voyages Albatros-Quebec).

BY THE NUMBERS

Total Q1 visitor arrivals in Hawaii in increased by 2.6% to 2,542,269 visitors, according to preliminary statistics released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA). Canada visits by air edged up 0.9% year over year to 209,525 with stays in rental homes leading the way at +14.5%, followed by timeshares at +3.3%. Fewer Canadian visitors stayed in hotels (-1.0%) and condominiums (-5.2%). Lift from Canada increased 12%.

DESTINATIONS

Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil, has created a new project that will open a huge pyramid venue in Montréal’s Old Port neighbourhood in June. PY1 will feature larger-than-life multimedia shows, including their opening production of Through the Echoes, which explores that power of human connection through space and time. The pyramid venue can hold up to 1,000 people and will also host DJs and other shows.

Steam Whistle’s iconic Roundhouse brewery in Toronto will welcome a new beer garden this spring. The Biergärten will be a space inspired by the atmosphere, food and drink of the traditional bier gartens and bier halls in Munich. Like a traditional bier hall, the Steam Whistle Biergärten will feature beer that adheres to the strict standards of the Bavarian Purity Act of 1516, with traditional German fare like pretzel, schnitzel and roast chicken.

The Norman Rockwell Museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with three exhibitions from June 8 through Oct. 27, all of them dedicated to the celebrated American painter/author’s art, life, and legacy and featuring photographs, digital media, and artifacts. The museum is located in Stockbridge, Mass., in the Western Berkshires near the New York border.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com.

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Michael Baginski

Editor at Large, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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