26 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

Tobago will once again be offered by Sunwing this winter with direct flights from YYZ starting Dec. 19 and continuing through April 16. The smaller of the two islands that make up the nation of Trinidad and Tobago offers lush landscapes, untouched beaches and tropical rainforests that “will continue to be a big draw for our customers this coming season,” according to Sunwing president Andrew Dawson.

Weekly WestJet flights to Roatán, Honduras, will begin from Toronto on Dec. 15. The new non-stop seasonal service will be operated on WestJet's Boeing 737 aircraft through April 19. Roatán is recognized as a diving and snorkelling paradise with great beaches. In other news, WestJet Link, will begin operating non-stop flights between Vancouver and Cranbrook, BC, on Oct. 27.

Brazilian airline Ocean Air Linhas Aéreas S/A, (formerly Avianca Brasil), will formally leave Star Alliance on Sept. 1, 2019, reducing the alliance’s membership to 27 carriers. Ocean Air's withdrawal follows several months of bankruptcy protection and the withdrawal of its Air Operator Certificate by Brazilian regulators. Eleven Star Alliance member airlines including Air Canada continue to offer direct services to and from Brazil.

DEALS

For a limited time, travellers and travel agents alike can take advantage of a special offer by TravelBrands Cruises, by Encore Cruises on Royal Caribbean International (RCI) sailings for September (excluding China). Travellers can receive free prepaid gratuities (first and second guests) and a $250 air credit while travel agents will be able to earn 10x Loyalty Rewards points on qualifying bookings.

Club Med is offering a back-to-school package for all Canadian travellers starting at $1,549 air-inclusive booked by Aug. 28 for travel through Feb. 15 (some blackout dates applicable) at the following resorts: Punta Cana, Cancun Yucatan, Colombus Isle, Buccaneer’s Creek, Ixtaxpa Pacific, Sandpiper Bay, La Caravelle. The deal includes a free room upgrade and free first checked luggage as well as no single supplement. Kids under four years old stay for free.

Up to 40% off and free room upgrades are being offered on select Princess Cruises voyages from December to May 2020. The sale, available through Sept. 9, includes cruises to top destinations like the Caribbean, Mexico, Panama Canal, Hawaii, and California Coast. Guests can book the special cruise deal in select stateroom categories with a deposit of only 10% per guest.

TOURS

Fifty percent more vacations and five new escorted group tours highlight Globus’s 2020 tour line-up of South Pacific vacations, including Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. The new tours range from nine to 25 days and include Wild Tasmania (nine days), Great Sights of Australia (12-days), Best Kept Secret: Western Australia (19 days), Australian Safari (21 days), and South Pacific by Land & Sea (25 days). A 5% EBB is available before April 28, 2020.

A range of new combo vacations from Goway combine Australia and/or New Zealand with the South Pacific island destinations of French Polynesia (Tahiti), Fiji, or the Cook Islands. Among the options, clients can fly on Air Tahiti Nui from Los Angeles and spend four nights in Auckland and three nights in Tahiti (including transfers and sightseeing) for $1,999. Another package bundles Australia, New Zealand and Fiji for 14 nights from $3,299 p.p.  All new bookings are eligible for agent incentives of $30 per couple on air-land bookings. The offer must be booked by Sept. 23.

Five new Small Group Adventures across India, Nepal, Vietnam and Japan highlight Contiki’s newly released 2020 Asia program. The new itineraries will have clients uncovering more of South East and Southern Asia than before, hitting up some of the top spots for each country like trekking in Kathmandu, bullet trains in Tokyo, Chitwan National Park in Nepal and a Ganges sunrise boat ride in India – all in 10 days or less. A 15% EBB is available through Sept. 2.

HOTELS

LWTM-philadelphia marriott

A newly renovated and rebranded Philadelphia Marriott Old City has opened in the heart of the city’s historic neighborhood (photo). Within walking distance of the Liberty Bell, National Constitution Center and Betsy Ross House, the new flagship property features 364 redesigned rooms as well as a new food and drink concept called Society Commons, which offers a lively all-day space where guests can eat, drink, play and work.

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants will unveil its first properties in Mexico in 2020 with the opening of two high-end boutique hotels in the upscale neighborhood of Polanco in Mexico City.

Open:

The 129 all-suite Wilson Hotel, a Residence Inn by Marriott, is the first major-brand hotel in the ski and summer resort community of Big Sky, Montana, and the closest Marriott property to Yellowstone National Park’s West Entrance, its busiest entry point.

RESORTS

Palace Resorts’ Moon Palace Punta Cana plans to expand by 1,200 rooms. Construction has begun at the five-star resort, which when complete will feature 2,150 rooms, 20 restaurants, nine bars; seven swimming pools, a Water Park; Greg Norman Eco Signature Design Golf Course, 75-booth spa; casino; and convention centre.

Zanzibar, Tanzania, is an emerging destination for RIU Hotels & Resorts, the mammoth Spanish hotel chain, better known in these parts for its sun resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean. RIU has acquired a second hotel on the island of the African nation and has acquired land for a third, with RIU stating its belief that Africa is becoming a “new tourist destination.” The company now has a dozen hotels/sites on the continent, including Morocco, Cape Verde, and Senegal. The latest Zanzibar hotel is located in the Nungwi Beach area near the existing Riu Palace Zanzibar and will be marketed as part of the Riu Palace range.

CRUISE
LWTM-princess - vow renewal

Who else but Captain Stubing (photo, centre) would be suitable to officiate the largest vow renewal at sea when Princess Cruises – “The Love Boat” – conducts the ceremony aboard the Regal Princess on its Feb. 9-16, 2020 cruise? Joining Gavin MacLeod (Stubing) will be his TV daughter Vicki (Jill Whelan). “The Love Boat” aired for 10 seasons from 1977 to 1986. Interested couples are encouraged to book now.

AmaWaterways has launched a new mobile app designed to expand the ways guests can engage with and share their AmaWaterways river cruise experiences. Available for download on the App Store or Google Play prior to embarking on all AmaWaterways' European itineraries, the “myAmaCruise” app makes it easy for guests to access information about their itinerary, store their photos in one simple and accessible location and share those memories with family and friends. Noteworthy features include: Live Itinerary Tracking, Mobile Daily Cruiser, Personal Cruise Album, and Email Postcards.

Luxury cruise line Cunard is elevating its art offerings with the introduction of an Artist in Residence to offer guests insight into the world of fine art. The program will launch on board Queen Victoria in September and follow on Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2. Inaugural artist in residence Sherree Valentine-Daines, an internationally acclaimed British artist who was commissioned to produce a painting for Queen Elizabeth for her 90th birthday celebration, will offer live painting demonstrations, hold a book signing event and unveil an original painting on the QM2 from June 7 to 14, 2020.

THEME PARKS

In a gala, star-studded ceremony, The Walt Disney Company opened its long-awaited NBA Experience in Orlando earlier this month. In collaboration with the NBA, the Disney Springs attraction is an immersive, interactive venue packed with 13 different basketball-related activities across 5,000 sq. m. and two floors. Upon entry, guests feel as if they're walking through the players' tunnel at an NBA or WNBA arena. Visitors can experience what it's like to be selected in the NBA Draft and step onto the court to make clutch shots and highlight-worthy slam dunks. NBA Experience also provides ample opportunities to learn more about the NBA and WNBA via interactive displays, films and trivia.

EVENTS

Registration for the 2020 Caribbean Travel Marketplace in the Bahamas is now open. Conducted by The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the Caribbean's largest and longest-standing tourism marketing event is in its 38th year and will take place at Baha Mar in Nassau, Jan. 21-23. CTM gathers hotel and destination representatives as well as other tourism providers; wholesalers and tour operators; online travel agencies; along with media representatives for two intensive days of business meetings, including thousands of pre-scheduled appointments.                                                            Contact events@caribbeanhotelandtourism.com.

FAMS/INCENTIVES

Boutique hotel Locale, Grand Cayman, is offering travel agents an opportunity to experience the new property, which opened earlier in the year. For US$95 per night through Dec. 20, agents can stay at the hip and trendy 42-room property, located in the Seven Mile Beach corridor and a short walk from shopping, dining and nightlife. The property is a brief drive from Owen Roberts International Airport. Contact sales@staylocale.com, or call 866-345-7829.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Canlink Travel Representatives have been selected as the Canadian representatives for Round Hill Hotel and Villas in Montego Bay, Jamaica and will be responsible for all of the property’s sales and marketing activities across the Canada. The 45-hectare private enclave of luxury villas, boutique oceanfront rooms, award-winning seaside dining and luxury spa is nestled in a lush tropical hillside and caters to all demographics. (info@canlinktravel.com)

NEWS

Canada has expanded its existing air transport agreement with Chile. The original Canada-Chile agreement entered into force in February 2005 and provides an unlimited number of direct flights for airlines between both countries. The expanded agreement includes: More flexibility to operate "fifth freedom" passenger services, which allow airlines to stop in third countries to pick up and discharge passengers en route to the final destination in Canada or Chile; a fully open and flexible code-sharing regime, including with third-country airlines; and a fully open all-cargo regime.

BY THE NUMBERS

The July ForwardKeys survey showed international arrivals to The Bahamas increased 13.9% in June with arrivals up 9.4% in the first half of 2019. The forward booking situation for July to September remains positive, with bookings 9.8% ahead for international arrivals.

DESTINATIONS

LWTM-ireland food festival

Taste the Island is a brand-new all-island event highlighting the exceptional level of quality food and drink produced in Ireland and Northern Ireland (photo). The initiative is the first of its kind and will take place from Sept. 6 to Nov. 30 starting with the A Taste of West Cork festival in County Cork. Check it on YouTube or Ireland.com

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the Transportation and Road Safety Ministry’s National Public Transport Authority and the Israel Ministry of Tourism have recently launched a multi-pass public transportation ticket combined with discounted entries to national parks and nature reserves. For details, click HERE.

Witches Brew Tours in New Orleans is giving away a $10,000 cash prize to a lucky winner on Halloween night during its yearly Halloween extravaganza. No purchase is necessary to win the prize and participants can sign up directly for a free chance to win online. Additional chances to win the prize are provided to participants for each ghost tour ticket purchased from Witches Brew Tours.


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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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