19 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

Sunwing is bringing two of its most popular vacation destinations a little closer to its customers in the London, Ont. area this coming winter. The travel company is returning to London International Airport for a 14th consecutive season and introducing weekly flight services to Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba, and Punta Cana, DR – the former featuring weekly flights from Dec. 18 to April 1, 2020, and the latter from Dec. 17 until April 7, 2020. Also returning to London will be Montego Bay and Varadero service.

Clients with young children flying Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or Air Canada Express will soon be able to take advantage of dedicated check-in counters at major hubs, including a new counter at Calgary International Airport, new complimentary on-board travel goodies, and new children's meal options. In addition, customers can also register their children for free online at Air Canada Altitude Skyriders. Children will receive a kit containing a welcome letter, an exclusive Skyriders luggage tag and a logbook to chart their flights. Every time the child travels, he or she will also earn printable badges online to commemorate special milestones or achievements.

The new Harvey Milk Terminal 1 has opened at SFO – the first airport facility in the world named after an LGBTQ+ leader. The first phase has a new nine-gate boarding area, including a museum exhibit titled: Harvey Milk: Messenger of Hope, featuring crowdsourced images in combination with those of other photographers and items from archival collections at the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) and the GLBT Historical Society. Subsequent phases will add exterior terminal facade signage, a dedication plaque, and a publicly accessible inglenook honouring the life and legacy of Harvey Milk.

DEALS

Until Sept. 15 clients can book 2020 Busabout Europe vacations at 2019 pricing, with additional savings of up to 10% off on a selection of European adventures.

Holland America Line’s annual Explore4 promotion features four offers on nearly 600 cruises and Alaska Land+Sea Journeys from summer 2020 through spring 2021. Perks include up to $800 in onboard spending money per stateroom, a complimentary Pinnacle Grill dinner, 50% reduced deposits, and a $25 Beverage Card for kids or extra guests travelling as the third and fourth guests in the same stateroom. Verandah stateroom and suite bookings also receive a Premium Internet Package. Guests receive the benefits when bookings are made by Oct. 31, 2019.

Guests can dine on haute cuisine without burning through their budget during Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month (Aug. 23-Sep. 30), when more than 100 of Central Florida's top restaurants feature three-course, prix fixe dinner menus for US$35.

TOURS

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Clients can adventure far from any trace of light pollution for a week of saunas, shoeing and “snowscooters” in the isolated north on Exodus’ new eight-day Snowshoeing and Northern Lights tour in Finland (photo). Hiking across Oulanka National Park, tour participants will learn bush craft skills from a survival leader, track elk and reindeer along the Russian border zone, and escape for two days to a remote hunting cabin with an open fire. And, of course, see the “best show in town” at night as the Northern Lights begin to shine. The tour runs Dec. 29-Jan.  05, 2020, and is priced from $2,195.

Canada’s national tourism marketing organization Destination Canada has added three new members to its Canadian Signature Experiences. It is a curated collection of over 200 “unforgettable travel experiences offered by Canadians who are passionate to share their extraordinary part of the country with international visitors.” They include:

• Guided Tour of the Historic Village Val-Jalbert, offering visitors an insight into life in 1920s Quebec, with guided tours of a genuine company town complete with 40 or so original period buildings;

• A five-day fly-fishing adventure at Kasba Lake Lodge, Northwest Territories enables guests to fish for lake trout and arctic grayling, feast on fresh caught fish, and keep the camera poised for grizzlies, moose, wolves and incredible bird life.

• A hands-on culinary excursion at four restaurants at Fairmont Banff Springs, with Alberta Food Tours that brings the stories of the “castle” to life.

HOTELS

Margaritaville is going west. Expected to open in 2020, the Margaritaville Island Resort San Diego will be the Jimmy Buffet-inspired lifestyle brand’s first west coast property. It will be located on Vacation Island in Mission Bay, 10 minutes from downtown San Diego on the site of the current Paradise Point Resort & Spa.

Since acquiring the Raffles brand in 2016, Accor has announced plans to almost double the iconic collection, with recent openings including Raffles Maldives Meradhoo and Raffles Shenzhen, as well as upcoming projects including Raffles Udaipur and Raffles Jaipur. Put two more projects in the pipeline with Raffles Bali set to open in 2020 and Raffles Sentosa Resort & Spa Singapore planned for 2022.

Now Open:

Located in the heart of the Spanish capital, Aloft Madrid Gran Vía is a stone's throw from hotspots including the Plaza de España, the hip neighbourhood of Malasaña and Chueca, and the shopping district of Gran Via. Aloft Hotels is Marriott International's hotel brand for music fans and tech-savvy travellers.

RESORTS

It’s hard to imagine that Europe’s oldest luxury hotel chain Kempinski Hotels, which was founded in 1897 would, in 2019 be setting up shopping in Dominica. But that’s the case with the upcoming opening of the Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica on the Caribbean’s “Nature Island” on Oct. 14. The resort, to feature 151 rooms with a nature-inspired design, will be Kempinski's second Caribbean venture and Dominica's first-ever five-star resort.

CRUISE

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Seabourn’s 2021 World Cruise: Extraordinary Oceans will sail around the world for 140 days visiting 60 ports and destinations in 32 countries on six continents. Scheduled to depart Miami on Jan. 3, 2021, the Seabourn Sojourn World Cruise will sail east-to-west visiting Central America, the west coast of South America, the islands of the South Pacific, Australia, Indonesia, and Africa, before ending in Barcelona, Spain, on May 24, 2021. Shorter segments ranging from 21 to 81 days can also be booked. The cruise is now open for sale, and the entire itinerary, plus a list of EBBs (for those booking by May 31, 2020) is available to peruse on Seabourn's website.

The Reef Family Splash Zone, now featured onboard Caribbean Princess, offers guests a fun water play pad, newly refurbished pool, Jacuzzi, and bar serving up kid-friendly mocktails. It also features a lounge area, complete with plush seating, for families. Other amenities include photo wall and game zone.

Prospective guests aboard the Celebrity Edge – coming in December – can check out the ship with the Celebrity Edge Access Tour app. Filmed with more than 100 infrared cameras in a custom-built studio, the first-ever augmented reality ship tour is an immersive and intimate view of Celebrity Edge narrated with insights by Celebrity execs. The tour uses binaural audio, soundscaping, and 3-D augmented reality technology to give guests the feeling of a private, behind-the-scenes tour. The Access Tour app is free to download from the Apple App and Google Play stores.

THEME PARKS

For the first time ever, the classic film Ghostbusters is coming to “Halloween Horror Nights” at Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, with the mazes designed to bring the most memorable scenes, characters and supernatural spirits from the iconic 1984 film to life. HHN debuts in September.

The popular Epcot International Food & Wine Festival begins Aug. 29, offering guests flavours from around the globe as they circle the iconic World Showcase. This year’s new additions include make-your-own candy sushi workshops, wine and cheese pairing classes, international specialty dining experiences and more. The festival continues until Nov. 23.

EVENTS

Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) flagship event, Cruise360, will return to Vancouver in 2020. Featuring professional development, ship inspections, general sessions and networking for travel agents, the event will take place May 12-18. Registration for members is $249, for non-members is $369.

FAMS/INCENTIVES

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Solo travel specialist, Just You, recently hosted a group of 17 Canadian agents in Tuscany, Italy (photo) on the tour op’s first-ever Canadian FAM. Agents came from over 10 agencies including CAA, Transat, Ensemble, CWT, TTAND, Travel Savers, and Merit Travel. The FAM combined three of Just You’s best-selling tours into one eight-day itinerary. Guests indulged in a cooking lesson and wine tasting at Fattoria il Poggio, walked from Colle Bassa to San Gimignano, an ancient route between Rome & Canterbury, and enjoyed fully guided tours in Florence, Sienna, and Pisa. Since launching in Canada in 2017, Italy has quickly become one of Just You’s top-selling destinations, in addition to Spain, Croatia and Portugal.

Tourism New Zealand’s campaign, New Zealand Next, empowers travel advisors to book New Zealand as their clients’ next vacation, using interactive planning tools, sharable content, and themed trips. Local guides and operators from across New Zealand have jumped on-board the campaign, extending their famous kiwi hospitality in the form of Good Morning World videos. The shorts provide a glimpse into the lives of the guides, their local knowledge, and the experiences on offer. ALSO Explore PLUS Independent FAM program is for advisors to design their own trip to New Zealand.  The first 50 agents to design and take an Explore PLUS Independent FAM are eligible to receive a $500 Trip Credit cash award. For more details, click HERE.

NEWS

A new Cirque du Soleil show will premiere at Luxor in Las Vegas on Oct. 24. Described as a “ground-breaking live action thriller,” R.U.N will have live action performances, cutting-edge technology and multimedia to explore the world of stunts “through a gritty, cinematic story featuring bold, rebellious and fearless characters [that follows] two clans in an adrenaline-filled adventure…through the fictional dark underground of Las Vegas.”

PEOPLE

WorldHotels has announced the expansion of its leadership team with the appointment of Gregory Habeeb as President, North America. Additionally, Melissa Gan has been promoted to Managing Director, APAC. The WorldHotels Collection delivers proven soft brand solutions for a curated global offering of 300 of fine independent hotels and resorts

BY THE NUMBERS

Stay-over arrivals for the first half of the year in Saint Lucia have jumped 6.5% over last year and June’s 9% increase was the fifth record-breaking month for the year. Canada helped lead the way for the Caribbean island posting a 20% gain, followed by the US, which saw a 17% increase, Europe 9% (not including Germany at 31%), and the Caribbean 7%. Tourism authorities attribute the increase to more lift, including an additional 256 seats from WestJet and Air Canada combined. The island is now forecast to surpass the record 1.2 million visitors it welcomed in 2018.

DESTINATIONS

Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park has been designated as an official International Dark Sky Park. The certification by the International Dark-Sky Association gives Grand Canyon National Park support to continue to grow the park's educational programs and create economic opportunities for neighbouring communities as well through astronomy-based tourism. The amount of lights inventoried and retrofitted in this process makes Grand Canyon National Park one of the largest, most complex, International Dark Sky Parks in the world.

In Hawaii, the Kaua'i Coffee Company's new farm tour escorts guests, via open-air truck, down the red-dirt roads of its plantation, home to more than 4 million coffee trees. During the two-hour tour, guests learn about the production of coffee from seed to cup, including how trees are planted, and how coffee is grown and manufactured. Guests on the tour are also offered an inside look at plantation operations and a chance to plant a coffee tree. The farm tour ends with a cup of coffee grown, harvested and roasted on the estate.

England’s Great West Way and Great Western Railway have teamed up to launch the new GWR Great West Way Discoverer pass. The pass makes travelling the route easy and hassle-free. It includes unlimited off-peak train travel from London Paddington/Waterloo along the route to Bristol Temple Meads via Reading and/or Basingstoke routes. For more go to the Great West Way web site and for international purchases click HERE.



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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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