09 SEP 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 Canada will begin new year-round service between Toronto and Brussels starting May 1, 2020. Up to five weekly non-stop flights will be operated with Air Canada's Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. The airline will also introduce year-round service between Montreal and Toulouse starting June 4, 2020. The five-times weekly flights will provide the only year-round service between the two cities and will be operated with Air Canada's Airbus A330-300 fleet. Special introductory fares start from $729.

New, non-stop seasonal service between Montréal and Brussels, Belgium will begin in March 2020 by Brussels Airlines, a member of the Lufthansa Group. Service will be offered five times per week between Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport and Brussels Airport, with onward connections to Europe and Israel. Brussels Airlines’ Toronto-Brussels service will be discontinued on Jan. 7, 2020. Passengers already booked on flights after that date will be offered alternative travel solutions.

Tickets are now available to purchase for the first-ever non-stop service by a US. carrier between New York/Newark and Cape Town, South Africa. United Airlines will begin three-times weekly non-stop service on Dec. 15.


Canadians looking to get a head start on booking their winter escape can take advantage of Sunwing’s Buy One Get One half price offer on select packages when booked by Sept. 13. The promotion allows 50% off for the second adult at resorts across the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America, such as Riu Republica in Punta Cana or Iberostar Playa Alameda in Varadero.

A special $1,249 travel fare from Vancouver is available from Air New Zealand to mark the launch of Tourism New Zealand’s latest campaign, “100% Pure Welcome – 100% Pure New Zealand,” which features a new video every day demonstrating the welcoming nature of New Zealanders and shown across various social media channels. The travel windows to redeem the fare are Oct 21-24 and Feb 17-Jun 18, 2020.

The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority’s new ‘Cool Card’ gives users access to special offers and benefits on the islands, such as discounted hotels, restaurant tours and activities. Available through Oct. 31, the card is available for download on the official website for the Tourism Authority.


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National Geographic Expeditions has entered into its fifth year in partnership with G Adventures and has added eight new trips to its National Geographic Journeys small group tour collection. Designed to provide an enriching, in-depth look at the history, culture, and natural heritage of a destination through hands-on experiences, local connections, and optional activities meant to make truly memorable moments, the newly announced itineraries add three new countries in 2020: Ireland, Singapore and Greece. The new additions, which start from $2,599 p.p., visit multiple countries on three continents and range from eight to 22 days.

Two new India itineraries – “Discover Southern India and Kerala” and “Highlights of Northern India” – will be introduced by Cosmos in 2020 as the tour operator continues its “re-emergence” in exotic destinations. The latter tour includes visits to the Taj Mahal, the red sandstone walls of Agra Fort, Mughal’s Palace’s hall of mirrors, the Amber Fort, 17th-century Mughal Red Fort, Jama Masjid (the largest mosque in Asia) and Qutub Minar. Meanwhile, highlights of the former include the ancient city of Chennai; Fort St. George, Mahabalipuram, Tanjore, time on a spice plantation in Thekkady and an overnight cruise on the backwaters of Kerala.

The Travel Corporation (TTC) has unveiled an evolved customer loyalty program across its Trafalgar, Costsaver, Insight, Contiki, Luxury Gold, Uniworld, and U River Cruises brands. The program builds on the group’s existing loyalty offering by introducing a simple two-tiered rewards system for 2020 and beyond with Tier One recognizing all past clients who have travelled one to four times with benefits such as priority access, up to 5% discount on some trips/dates, private secret sales and special recognition while on the trips. Tier Two recognizes all past clients who have travelled five times or more with the same benefits on any trip, any time.


The Vista Tower has recently taken the spot as the third largest building in Chicago. When completed, this Jeanne Gang-designed building will house the Wanda Vista Hotel, a 192-room contemporary hotel located in the low-rise portion of the tower. The hotel is scheduled to open October 2020 in the New East Side neighbourhood.

Tel Aviv-born hotel group Brown Hotels plans to open seven new properties in 2019 and 2020 in key cities across Israel, including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ashdod. The hotels will join the original Brown TLV Urban Hotel in Tel Aviv and will range from upscale and five-star to affordable alternatives including capsule hotels. Properties include the already soft-opened TLV in Tel Aviv, as well as The Theodor, Hôtel BoBo, Deborah Brown, Brown JLM, WOM Allenby, and Brown Machneyuda.


Occupying the uppermost floors of what is now the city’s tallest building and 10th highest in the United States, the new Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center is now open. Located between the building’s 48th and 60th stories, every one of 180 rooms and suites boasts unobstructed floor-to-ceiling views of the city and beyond. Guests are welcomed to their guest room by soundscapes from noted musician Brian Eno, created exclusively for the hotel. All rooms and suites also offer the X1 Video Experience, including approximately 300 channel options and a complimentary library of more than 50,000 movies and shows on demand, all searchable with the X1 voice remote.


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The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun recently announced the opening of a new picture-perfect spot bringing Mexico’s quaint culture and traditional cuisine together to the resort. Guests can now enjoy “El Pueblito,” a recreation of a traditional Mexican town set up behind the lobby at the Sun Terrace, that offers a variety of traditional gastronomic options such as a cantina, taco stand, grill, and unique ice cream offerings (photo) every evening. Looking to complete the experience, El Pueblito also brings Mexican traditional music, dance, exclusive performances, and mariachis.

The luxury, adults-only Bungalows Key Largo will officially reopen its teal-hued doors on Dec. 19, as the only all-inclusive resort in The Florida Keys. Located on the Northernmost island, 100 km south of Miami, the boutique, waterfront property is now accepting reservations for late December and beyond.


MSC Grandiosa, the newest ship in the MSC Cruises fleet set to launch in November, will host an immersive art and dining experience featuring “Degas Danse Dessin.” Housed in a purpose-built installation, the Edgar Degas exhibition is the first curation of this unique collection on board a cruise ship. The Danse Dessin series presents 26 studies of movement and dance and was previously exhibited in major international galleries and museums. Degas’ work encapsulates the soul of a romantic Paris, fitting the setting of the new French Bistro on board MSC Grandiosa, which will become the new flagship in the MSC Cruises fleet when she launches.

Ireland and Britain specialist CIE Tours has expanded its offerings to include its first-ever river cruise collection with sailings on the Rhine and Danube. The new river cruises visit Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland and Hungary and feature the continent’s youngest fleet. Sample offerings include the eight-day one-way Rhine Cruise to Switzerland from Cologne to Basel, priced from C$3,470, and the Eight-day round-trip The Blue Danbue from Budapest to Linz from $2,027. Those booking a 2020 cruise by Sept. 30 will receive a C$300 air credit per couple.


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An all-new light projection experience, “Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle,” will debut at Universal Orlando Resort – on Sept. 14. Utilizing state-of-the-art projection mapping, special effects and lighting (photo), Dark Arts will run on select nights in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter through Nov. 15. UOR has also announced enhancements to its popular The Wizarding World of Harry Potter vacation package. Included are hotel accommodations and admission to three theme parks at UOR, breakfast at signature restaurants within WWHP, and more. Plus, package holders will receive new specialty items such as an exclusive photo at Shutterbutton’s Photography Studio and a specially themed keepsake box filled with items to get them ready for their trip. Rates start at US$135 p.p. per night, based on a party of four, for travel until the end of 2020.


Through Dec. 15, agents can go Down Under with Goway at a savings of over $900. Priced at $2,399 (based on current exchange rates) the package includes round trip airfares from Los Angeles to Sydney with Fiji Airways, return hotel transfers, four nights accommodation in Sydney with a panoramic city sights, full-day Blue Mountains tour, domestic flights between Sydney and Cairns, three nights in Cairns including a full day classic Kuranda tour with scenic railway and rainforest cableway, and a Quicksilver Outer Barrier Reef Cruise. A valid IATA card is required and all pricing is net with no commission payable. Contact Goway for details.

Tourism New Zealand’s Explore PLUS Independent FAM program is back with new deals and opportunities for advisors to design their own trip to New Zealand. More than 500 air, land, accommodation, and attraction discounts are available to qualified advisors in the theme of each New Zealand Next itinerary. The first 50 agents to design and take an independent FAM are eligible to receive a $500 Trip Credit cash award. To qualify, agents must hold a current NZSP certification – either Bronze, Silver or Gold.


Visit Orlando, Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, and other suppliers will reveal all the latest news about Orlando, including theme parks, new attractions, accommodations, shopping, and dining (attendees will also have a chance to meet an astronaut) during its Canada Mission 2019: Toronto (Oct. 1, Paramount Event Space), Ottawa (Oct. 2, Sheraton Ottawa) and Montreal (Oct. 3, Chateau Royal, Laval). Registration and trade show will begin at 5 p.m. and food and drink will be served and prizes offered. Space is limited; RSVP HERE by Sept. 24.


Transat has announced the appointment of Robin Danes as Sales Manager, Ontario & Atlantic Canada. Based in Toronto, the industry veteran, most recently, the Director of Sales Canada for The Bermuda Tourism Authority, will be responsible for managing the team of business development representatives in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

Prominent Ontario travel agent and industry veteran Louise Gardiner is joining The Agency Solution, a new division of The Travel Agent Next Door as vice president. Gardiner will oversee the strategic development and sales of the new storefront agency services network. She will recruit agencies in the $3 million and under range that are “seeking relief from the cost and workload of their admin and back office functions.” Gardiner was most recently an exec at Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

After more than 10 years heading Club Med Canada and Mexico, Carolyne Doyon has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer Club Med North America. At the same time, Marketing and Communications Director for Canada Amélie Brouhard has been promoted to VP, Canada and Mexico.


Visit North Carolina is searching for North Carolina's first dog travel agent to help tell the world about the state's woof-worthy destinations. The campaign aims to drive travel to North Carolina among dogs and their humans who live in drive and target markets. The campaign will go beyond dog-friendly to inspire endless firsts for dogs and their humans to experience together. The search for the First Dog Travel Agent, which went live on National Dog Day continues with applications being accepted until Sept. 15. Alas, only canine applicants from North Carolina are eligible.


With Canada contributing a 5% increase in visitors in the first half of the year, Germany posted an overall gain of 3.7% over the year previous, according to the IPK International World Travel Monitor. According to provisional figures from the Federal Statistical Office, 39.8 million international overnights were registered across hotels and accommodation establishments with more than 10 beds between January and June. At the same time, there was a 4.7% increase on comparative figures of the previous year in flight bookings made by overseas visitors throughout the first half of 2019. Additionally, Munich Airport registered a new record of 22.7 million air passengers.


The Channel Island of Jersey has launched a new campaign this fall inviting visitors to reconnect with nature over a short island break. The 'Rediscover Yourself' campaign is designed to “evoke wanderlust” to the island by urging travellers to “escape the city, the commute, and the digital overload; take a moment to indulge mind, body and spirit with enchanting experiences set to relax and revitalize.” Local suppliers will offer bookable visitor experiences to help support the message.

Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin recently paid a visit to Northern Ireland, one of the key filming locations for the hit HBO show based on Martin’s books. His visit included Castle Ward in County Down, the “real life” version of Winterfell. “This is only the second time I've visited Castle Ward. It's like Winterfell is coming to life here,” he said. Other GOT film locations – and, correspondingly, places for fans to visit include: Cushendun Caves (A Cove in the Stormlands); Inch Abbey (Robb Stark’s Camp, Riverrun); Binevenagh (The Dothraki Grasslands); (Downhill Beach (Dragonstone); Ballintoy (Lordsport Harbour & Pyke); and Tollymore Forest (lands around Winterfell). Check out the video of Martin’s visit HERE.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic masterpiece, the Frederick C. Robie House in Chicago has re-emerged fully restored after a $3-million interior restoration revealing Wright’s original 1910 vision. Considered one of the 20th century’s most significant buildings, Robie House is the consummate expression of Wright’s Prairie style of architecture and a showcase of his groundbreaking architectural philosophy. The Frederick C. Robie House has recently been inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List.


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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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