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

AIR

With the addition of all-new Airbus A321neoLRs to its fleet this winter, Air Transat will offer new destinations out of Vancouver. As of December, the carrier will fly direct from YVR to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., while also adding departures to Liberia and San Jose, Costa Rica, as well as a direct flight to Punta Cana, DR.

Aira, a leading-edge assistive technology designed to help travellers with sight loss, is now available at Toronto Pearson. Using the Aira iPhone or Android mobile phone application, passengers can connect to a specially trained human agent, for navigational assistance as they journey through the airport. Toronto Pearson is the first airport in Canada to offer Aira to its passengers.

British Airways customers will soon be able to take advantage of a simpler luggage check-in process through a partnership with ViewTag, a re-usable, electronic bag tag that securely attaches to luggage allowing customers to tag their own bags before they arrive at the airport. ViewTag is equipped with radio frequency identification (RFID), and a digital display that shows the same flight information as traditional paper-based bag tags. Using the BA mobile app, passengers can check-in to get their boarding pass and synchronize that information to their electronic bag tag with a Bluetooth LE connection using their smart phone.

DEALS

Couples that book their destination wedding with Sunwing before Dec. 10 for travel between June 1 and Dec. 10, 2020 will receive a $500 future travel voucher when they book a minimum of 10 rooms and a 10% discount on wedding planning services. Additional perks include complimentary access to Plaza Premium airport lounges, located in airports across Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Vancouver, as well as free excess baggage allowance and a Wedding Couple Attire Care Program to ensure the couple’s wedding wear arrives at their destination in perfect condition. The wedding couple and their guests can benefit from instant group savings of up to $400 per couple and groups will receive complimentary upgrades to Elite Plus on Sunwing Airlines and private transfers to their selected resort. Other resort-specific offers may also apply.

Booking 10 adults or more with Air Canada Vacations by Aug. 31 for travel Nov. 1-April 30, 2020, qualifies the group for an $1,500 discount and for a consecutive year, ACV will honour the original contract price for any additional passengers if their group size increases by up to 20%. Plus, wedding groups receive a $500 flight credit per group for bookings made by Oct. 31, 2020.

Paul Gauguin Cruises, which operates the longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific, the m/s Paul Gauguin, is offering guests up to $3,750 p.p. off select 2019 and ‘20 Tahiti, French Polynesia, and South Pacific voyages when booked by Aug. 17. Roundtrip airfare between Los Angeles or San Francisco and Papeete, Tahiti, is also included.

TOURS

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Hippos in Colombia? Surprising, yes, and participants in True Colombia Travel’s True Adventures will get a chance to view the majestic creatures – learn how and why they got there – on the tour operator’s True Adventure tour, which includes a ride down the Corncorna Sur river, the hippos habitat (photo). Destination management company TCT specializes in offering fully customized cultural, culinary and environmental tours throughout the rural and urban regions of Colombia.

Busabout has launched its 2020 USA & Canada brochure with three new guided adventures and a 3 Stop Hop-on Hop-off Pass on its West Coast coach travel network. The travel operator launched into North America for the first time in 2019 and is venturing further afield in 2020, adding more adventures along the East Coast of Canada and the US. They include the eight-day Northeast Highlights, four-day Poutine & The Falls Adventure and East USA & Canada Adventure

Canadian outfitter Wild Women Expeditions will offer a new trip to Peru in 2020 as part of its 30th year celebrations. The 11-day Colca Canyon Riding Adventure starts at the gateway city of Arequipa and continues onto the high Andean plains at a traditional ranch. Highlights include hiking through rock formations called “stone cathedrals,” visiting a well-preserved pre-Incan village, traditional foods, cooking classes, meet-ups with a women’s embroidery collective creating traditional Colcan clothing and an optional camp-out. Tours run April 29-May 9, June 17-27, Oct. 7-17 and Nov. 3-12, priced at US$3,995 p.p.

HOTELS

Novotel will expand its presence in Mexico City with the opening of Novotel Mexico City Fórum in 2020 and Novotel Mexico City Insurgentes in 2021, the second and third Novotel properties in Mexico City, and third and fourth for the brand across the country. The new Novotel properties are a part of a larger expansion story for Accor in Mexico, joining a growing group of more than 25 Accor hotels countrywide.

Located at the site of the annual Hidari Daimonji fire ritual, Aman Kyoto will offer a new option to visitors in the ancient Japanese city when it opens in November. The hotel's latticed pavilions are a contemporary homage to the traditional Japanese ryokan inn, featuring minimalist geometry and an emphasis on the hotel's natural surroundings, while a signature restaurant will showcase the culinary tradition of Japanese haute cuisine. A spa will utilize traditional onsen bathing facilities along with a range of natural Japanese treatments.

InterContinental Hotels Group is celebrating its 100-plus Hotel Indigo properties around the world with the launch of a shoppable hotel room that allows anyone to buy directly from the best artists and craftspeople from around the world, in one place, on social media. The Shop the Neighbourhood with Hotel Inidigo initiative shines a spotlight on the local neighbourhood stories that inspire the distinctive designs of each property and features curated artisans and local makers in the shoppable room. Visit HERE.

RESORTS

AMResorts’ Reflect Cancun & Spa has renovated its Explorer’s Club for kids and Core Zone for teens. The newly refreshed spaces feature fully supervised programs with fun crafts and games for kids aged 3-12 and a pool table, air hockey, foosball, videogames and sports tournaments for teens aged 13-17. The Mexican resort also has four swimming pools, including a kids pool.

A new tower will alter the profile of the Occidental Nuevo Vallarta resort in Mexico when it opens in the first quarter of next year. The $8- million project will add 92 rooms to the inventory of the all-inclusive resort, each with stunning Pacific Coast views of Bahía de Banderas. The popular resort for Canadians is located 30 minutes from the Puerto Vallarta International airport in the Riviera Nayarit.

CRUISE
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A Total Solar Eclipse off the coast of Argentina on Dec. 14, 2020 will highlight Princess Cruises’ 15-day Cape Horn & Strait of Magellan itinerary on Coral Princess. The cruise is part of Princess’s 2020-21 South America and Antarctica (photo), which features two ships (Coral Princess and Pacific, sailing to 35 destinations in 17 countries on eight unique itineraries). Cruises can be booked now with EBBs in effect through Nov. 30.

A classic expedition linking three countries with a rich history, breathtaking scenery and fascinating communities, highlights a series of new voyages to be offered by One Ocean Expeditions (OOE) in 2020. Path of the Vikings: Iceland, Greenland & Canada, follows in the footsteps of early Vikings across the Atlantic on their quest of discovery 1,000 years ago. Also available will be “Journey into the North: Labrador, Torngats & Greenland,” and “Viking Explore: Greenland & Eastern Canada.” Adding to the lineup are two notable EPIC voyages, including the company’s first ever trans-Atlantic crossing: “A Journey to New Worlds – A Trans-Atlantic Epic” from Edinburgh, Scotland to Sydney, NS, and “Across the Arctic – Epic,” both trips a combination of two existing voyages.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has entered into an agreement with shipbuilder Meyer Turku to order a third Icon-class ship for delivery in 2025. The ship will join its two sister ships – to be delivered in 2022 and 2024, respectively – in the RCI fleet.

THEME PARKS

A new state-of-the-art Disney Skyliner gondola system will take flight at Walt Disney World Resort on Sept. 29. Featuring custom cabins that glide through the air, the new mode of transportation will conveniently transport guests from Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot to four resort hotels – Disney's Art of Animation Resort, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney's Pop Century Resort and the new Disney's Riviera Resort, scheduled to open in December.

EVENTS

Goway Travel’s annual Africa Roadshow will return to Toronto, Edmonton, and Calgary in September, with 24 suppliers from 12 different countries in attendance. This year’s events will be for agents only, with suppliers presenting in a theatre-style setting, followed by a trade show. Dinner is included. The countries represented are South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Israel, Dubai, and Egypt. The Toronto event will be held on Sept. 16, Edmonton on the Sept 18, and Sept. 19 in Calgary. Go to the events page on Goway’s agent site to register or e-mail wendygriffin@goway.com.

FAMS/INCENTIVES

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Wales will be the focus of a fall FAM trip by Royal Irish Tours in conjunction with Visit Wales. A growing destination for RIT in recent years, the tiny UK country will be highlighted Nov. 4-12, with visits to Snowdonia & Pembrokeshire (photo), Cardiff and two nights at the stunning Chateau Rhianfa in Anglesey. There will also be free time and a final night in London. Cost is $1,200 p.p. including air from YYZ (supplement from other gateways). E-mail agentfam@ritvacations.com for details.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Carolina Bellina has been named Senior Director of Canadian Sales and Consortia Relations for AMResorts, which has 66 resorts across eight brands, from Breathless to Zoetry. Canada is AMR’s second largest market. Bellina recently held a similar position for Occidental Hotels & Resorts in Canada.

TRAVELSAVERS Canada has named Julie Virgilio to the role of Director, Strategic Partnerships. Based in Toronto, Virgilio brings to TRAVELSAVERS over 28 years of wholesale and retail industry experience, including Transat Tours Canada, Flight Network and Transat Distribution Canada. In her new position, Virgilio will work closely with TRAVELSAVERS preferred suppliers, to develop targeted and strategic marketing programs to support a diverse range of travel segments and products.

BY THE NUMBERS

Canadian arrivals to Hawaii increased by nearly 2% in the first half of 2019, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Overall, visitor arrivals jumped 4.2% with Oahu and Maui up, but the Big Island and Kauai down. More 310,000 Canadians made the journey.

DESTINATIONS

A new public market has opened in Québec City’s up-and-coming Limoilou district. Le Grand Marché allows locals and visitors to meet with and sample from over a hundred regional producers and artisans. The market is open daily, and features a family zone, food courts and seasonal activities, including tastings, workshops, and live entertainment. The two-storey, $20-million project is part of plans to revitalize the area around the Videotron Centre arena.

Mexico’s state of Yucatán is shaping a program designed to immerse travellers into the ancient indigenous Maya culture, which still thrives on the peninsula today. Through one-, two- or three-day immersive experiences, visitors can live beside and learn from the Mayan people in the area. The program is expected to launch in 2020.

The fourth annual Hawaii Island Festival of Birds is set for Oct. 24-28, headquartered at the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay on the island of Hawaii. The festival's 2019 theme, “Wanderers and Migrants – Hawai'i's Unique Avian Visitors,” highlights the migratory and accidental avian visitors arriving in the Islands each year. Festival events and activities include Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument educational sessions, a reception, a film festival, guided birding excursions on land and at sea, a bird fair and a gala. The festival's beneficiaries are the Hawaii Wildlife Center and the Hawaiʻi Island Coast-to-Coast Birding Trail.



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Michael Baginski

Editor, 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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