16 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.


Non-stop Air Canada flights from Ottawa to London-Heathrow will be upgraded to Boeing 787 Dreamliner service beginning March 29, 2020 giving customers the option to fly in premium economy or in the airline’s Signature cabin with fully lie-flat suites. Air Canada also announced that it is suspending its summer Ottawa-Frankfurt service reflecting the introduction of new seasonal service by Star Alliance partner Lufthansa (see next item). The last AC flight goes on Oct. 24.

Lufthansa will begin Ottawa-Frankfurt on May 16, 2020 joining Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary in the LH route network. The summer seasonal service will run five times a week (no Wednesdays or Fridays) through Oct. 24 on Airbus A340-300 aircraft.

Vancouver’s airport improvement fee (AIF) will increase to $25 from $20 effective Jan. 1, 2020 for passengers travelling to destinations outside of BC. The increase is designed “to meet forecasted growth and ensure the airport's long-term financial health,” according to YVR execs, who note that the charge will still be the second lowest among Canada’s eight major airports.


The new ‘Book Now, Beach Later’ promotion by Transat enables clients who book a winter package by Sept. 30 to pay only a $100 deposit for travel between Jan. 3 and April 30, 2020 plus receive up to $400 per couple back if their price drops. Travellers who book South packages also benefit from a $50 future travel voucher, free seat selection, while those booking Florida, New Orleans, Spain, Portugal, Duo packages or guided tours get the $50 future travel voucher. Meanwhile, travel agents will receive extra BONBON rewards with every booking.

Through Oct. 31, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is offering free airfare on select spring sailings. The offer applies to over 50 departure dates on 16 itineraries throughout Central Europe, France, Italy, and Russia on new bookings only. Plus, travellers can receive additional savings with the current 10% early booking discount by Sept. 30.

Seven-day air-inclusive escapes from $1,599 per adult per week are available at Club Med resorts when booked by Oct. 23 for travel through May 2. The deal also includes free first checked luggage, no single supplement and kids under the age of four stay free. Participating resorts include Punta Cana, Cancun Yucatan, Ixtapa Pacific, Sandpiper Bay, Columbus Isle, Turkoise, La Caravelle, Buccaneer’s Creek, and Miches Playa Esmeralda.


LWTM-exodus - Chernoble - photo, GettyImages

With interest in Chernobyl peaking thanks to HBO’s namesake TV show, Exodus Travels will visit the site of the infamous 1986 nuclear accident in the Ukrainian city on a four-day ‘Chernoble & Kiev Long Weekend’ tour that takes guests inside the isolated confines of Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone, the evacuated town of Pripyat, and the New Safe Confinement structure that surrounds Reactor 4—the cause of the explosion that led to the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Exodus Travels is one of the only tour operators with a permit to the site. The first departure will be Nov.  7, priced from $1,249 p.p. double.

In 2020, Globus and Cosmos are unveiling three new tours in their ‘Undiscovered’ series, which aims to showcase “tucked-away towns, lesser-known nooks and secluded seafronts” across Britain and Italy. The latest addition to the portfolio includes ‘Southern Italy & Greece with 4-Night Cruise’ (19 days, priced from $4,099) and ‘Scottish Highland Fling’ (10 days, priced from $3,569) from Globus, and ‘Sicily’ (8 days, priced from $1,589) from Cosmos.

The 2020 USA & Canada brochure from Busabout features three new guided tours – ‘Northeast Highlights’ (8 days); ‘Poutine & the Falls Adventure’ (4 days); and ‘East USA & Canada Adventure’ (11 days) – 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 in 2020, adding more options in the US and along the East Coast of Canada. Clients can save 10% off 2020 USA & Canada adventures when they book before Sept.  30.


The former Hooters Casino Hotel in Las Vegas will soon become the flagship property for OYO Hotels & Homes, the world’s third-largest and fastest-growing hotel chain. After an extensive renovation this fall, OYO Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, located near the corner of the Strip on Tropicana Ave., will feature 657 rooms across 19 floors and a 3,250-sq.-m. casino. Additional amenities include two signature restaurants, four bars, fitness centre, and an outdoor pool.

The 25hours Hotel Company will open a first-of-its-kind 173-room hotel in Florence next summer 2020. The 25hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino follows the brand’s recent Paris opening, 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord earlier this year. With a mandate to be “irreverent, smart, and authentic,” the Florence property will celebrate the wanderings of the exiled Dante Alighieri along with other Florentine businesses and local heroes. 25hours Hotels continues to expand in a strategic partnership with Accor hotels, with future openings in Dubai and Copenhagen slated for 2020 and 2021, respectively.


The Rosewood Washington, DC has reopened in the heart of Georgetown with the debut of CUT DC and its newly revamped rooftop lounge, CUT Above, both concepts by Wolfgang Puck. There are also new dining venues as well as a reimagined lobby and library.


Couples Resorts Jamaica has announced plans to renovate its Couples Sans Souci luxury all-inclusive property in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The $7-million project will begin May 1, 2020 and is scheduled for completion in late October. The property will close completely on May 1 and partially reopen July 1.

Hard Rock International has opened its first Maldivian property as part of CROSSROADS Maldives – the country's first and only integrated resort. Situated across the Emboodhoo lagoon, the music-infused Hard Rock Hotel Maldives has 178 guestrooms, ranging from beach villas and family suites to one and two-bedroom overwater villas.


Premier yacht charter company The Moorings has released its new brochure for 2020. Available online only, the guide showcases the company’s fleet of leading-edge charter yachts and the 20-plus travel destinations where they are available across the globe. Also featured are new sail and power catamarans, new crewed yacht models, and new destinations. Check it out HERE.

Travellers cruising with Crystal can now add insurance from Allianz Global Assistance thanks to a recently announced partnership between the two companies.

MSC Cruises is continuing to expand its presence in the North American region with the introduction of Tampa as a new homeport for the MSC Armonia, effective Nov. 11, when the vessel begins sailing from the Florida city to the Caribbean, Mexico and The Bahamas year-round, with a full winter season (Nov. 2020 – April 2021) of four- to five-night short cruises followed by a summer season (May-Nov. 2021) of week-long cruise options.


LWTM-seaworld coaster

SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will both introduce new attractions in Spring, 2020. At SeaWorld, the Ice Breaker (photo), will feature four launches, both backwards and forwards, culminating in a reverse launch into the steepest beyond vertical drop in Florida — a 23-metre tall spike with 100-degree angle. Meanwhile, Iron Gwazi at Busch will be the steepest hybrid coaster in the world at 63 metres tall with a 91-degree drop, 12 airtime hills and reach top speeds of 122 kph, while Solar Vortex will be America’s first dual-tailspin water slide.


An enhanced partnership between TL Network Canada and ACTA will support collaboration on initiatives to enhance the certification, education and professional development of TLN members, along with other benefits including preferred rates on newly activated Certified Travel Counsellor (CTC) or Certified Travel Manager (CTM) registrations.

Flight Centre Travel Group has acquired Ixtapa Travel, an independent contractor business based in Saskatoon. Established 30 years ago, Ixtapa Travel operates two travel agencies in Saskatoon and Winnipeg, along with a number of independent contractors.


A surge in tourism numbers is welcome news in Dominica, which is still feeling the lingering effects of Hurricane Maria in 2017. In the first quarter of this year, 23,444 visitors stayed over – an 87.5% increase compared to the same period last year. The number even exceeded pre-Maria levels by 11.2%.


On Sept. 12, TravelBrands hosted its sixth annual Charity Golf Classic to raise awareness and funds for the SickKids Foundation. With CP Rail contributing $275,000, TravelBrands raised a total of $553,000 for the SickKids Cardiac Operating Room. The total donation amount was announced and presented to SickKids at the end of the tournament.

A 30-minute webinar will be conducted by Collette on Sept. 19 at 2 p.m. ET to give an in-depth look at the tour operator’s new 2020-2021 Agent Resource and Worldwide Travel Guide, as well as what sets Collette apart from the competition. Agents and their clients are welcome. To register, click HERE.


LWTM-switzerland award

Global luxury travel network Virtuoso named Switzerland Tourism as its “Tourism Board of the Year” at its recent 31th annual Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas (photo). Shown receiving the trophy are (l-r) Martin Oester, Sales & Marketing Manager North America, Swiss Travel System; Claudio Zemp, Director Americas Switzerland Tourism; and Mirko Capodanno, Manager Western USA ST.

Industry veteran Mike Miguel has joined Air Georgian as VP of Commercial Markets and Strategy. Miguel held several management roles with WestJet between 2003 and 2018 in business development, and strategic and commercial sales and previously spent 13 years with Eastern Airlines and American Airlines. Air Georgian is based in Toronto and Calgary.


San Francisco’s new Crosstown Trail offers the chance to bike, hike, and run along a 30-km route that crosses diagonally through San Francisco past well-known neighbourhoods, parks and cultural sites. Depending on one’s mobility, interests, and fitness level, some segments will be better than others. Some pathways are shared between bikers and hikers, while others were designed to be wheelchair accessible. For info, including maps, visit HERE.

Safe or sorry? A government program in Portugal has added 15 new monuments and historic sites to the list of properties available for private investment targeting their conversion into hotels and other investment opportunities. The Revive program’s new list includes forts, palaces, convents and schools and a former government office in the heart of Lisbon.

A new app has been developed to showcase the many attractions across the Scottish Borders and Midlothian. The app, ‘Scotland Starts Here,’ includes interactive routes, maps and itineraries ranging from walking, cycling and equestrian trails to driving and railway routes. Users are able to filter by interests to see where to go, what to do and where to eat, and can build their own itineraries based on these interests. The app also has an audio feature which tells the many stories and myths of the region.

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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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