23 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.



Copa Airlines in collaboration with the Consulate General of Argentina and delegates from the Argentine provinces of Mendoza and Salta, called in Canada for trade events in Montreal and Toronto recently (photo) to promote Copa connections to the destinations. Canadians can fly to Mendoza, Salta, Rosario, Cordoba and Buenos Aires with Copa via the carrier’s hub in Panama City.  "This important Canadian mission to promote Argentina to the travel trade, tour operators and the MICE market represents another step to continue strengthening our operations in Latin America and on Copa Airlines,” said Laura Marin, Copa’s Sales Manager Canada. Salta is known for its colonial architecture, bohemian spirit and impressive landscape, while Mendoza boasts some of Argentina’s best wines.

Sunwing is offering new weekly flights to Mazatlán and Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo from Victoria. Flights to Mazatlán will go Saturdays starting Dec. 21 until March 28, 2020 and to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo on Sundays Dec.  22-March 29, 2020.

Air Canada will introduce new year-round service between Montreal and Bogotá, Colombia beginning June 2, 2020. Flights will operate three times weekly onboard Air Canada Rouge Boeing 767-300ER aircraft offering a choice of premium and economy service


New Zealand-bound clients can choose from three new air-inclusive Goway packages, each including reduced rates and free domestic flights in New Zealand. The 10-day “Discover Auckland and Queenstown” package checks in with $520 p.p. savings while “New Zealand North Island Highlights” is priced from $2,239, representing $380 off. And The 13-day “Discover Auckland, Rotorua and Queenstown” tour is reduced by even more: $600 p.p. The offers are available through Oct. 10.

To mark the re-opening of the Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun on Oct. 11, AMResorts’ “Grand Relaunch Special” is offering guests discounted room rates starting at $117 p.p., $400 in resort coupons, and complimentary access to the hydrotherapy circuit when they book one of the five new room categories. The promotion must be booked by Oct. 31 with travel before Dec. 26.

More than 30 Los Angeles-area hotels are now offering “Endless Summer” deals with discounts of up to 35% off. Full details available HERE.

Until Sept. 27, Sunwing’s Beach for Every Budget Sale offers up to 35% savings on select winter beach vacation packages across the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. Vacation deals are available in three different price categories to suit all budgets: under $899, under $1,299 and $1,395 and up.


Collette’s new 2020-21 Agent Resource and Worldwide Travel Guide season features information on the latest digital resources, tips for finding itinerary highlights, the Travel Agent Network, and more ways to earn money as a travel professional. Celebrating its 102nd year, North America’s oldest tour operator also offers details on differentiators, FAM tours, its loyalty program, and over 20 new tours, including “The Azores Jewels of Portugal,” “Spotlight on Nashville,” and “Greece Island Hopper.”

Three new trips in two new destinations, Namibia and Botswana, highlight Contiki’s newly released Africa program for 2020-21. The three new itineraries –13-day “Okavango Delta and Deserts,” “Southern Africa Safari” and “Cape Town Explorer,” feature unique treehouse and private Safari Camp accommodation, additional departure dates, and new local experiences. The new trips join Contiki’s eight existing itineraries in Africa.

In line with its JoinTrafalgar sustainability initiatives, Trafalgar is introducing a new 2020 trip solely focused in immersing guests in Native American history and culture in the USA. The “Southwest Native Trails” tour, available in the tour operator’s recently released USA & Canada brochure, takes travellers off the beaten path to ruins, dwellings, and places of great significance including Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly National Monument, providing access to each area’s original peoples communities and traditions across an entire itinerary.


Next summer will see the first W Hotel open in Toronto after a $40-million redesign of the former Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville. The nine-story, 255-room property located at 90 Bloor St. E. in city’s fashionable Yorkville neighbourhood will feature multiple food and beverage venues including an indoor/outdoor lobby bar and lounge equipped with a DJ booth/recording studio for collaborating, broadcasting and recording podcasts; a specialty restaurant and a 9th floor rooftop restaurant accessible from street level with a glass exterior elevator; and a unique coffee and cocktail bar. W Toronto joins Marriott’s seven luxury properties in Canada with more to be announced soon.


AC Hotel by Marriott in Kingston has opened its doors as the newest lifestyle hotel in Jamaica, adding 219 rooms to the overall inventory in the capital city. The property (developed by Sandals) is situated on 2.4 hectares within the city’s golden triangle, catering to business and leisure travellers.

A new hotel, the SCHLOSS Roxburghe, has opened in the Scottish Borders. Located amidst the south of Scotland’s incredible landscape, the hotel is the second house of the SCHLOSS brand. After extensive refurbishment, the historic manor house has 20 individually decorated rooms with Scottish inspired interiors, combining traditional and contemporary design. The hotel also boasts a bar, a championship golf course and restaurant.


Enhancements at Riu Emerald Bay in Mazatlan, Mexico, include a brand-new section with an additional 312 modern guestrooms and a Splash Water World water park. Sunwing flies to Mazatlan from 11 gateways across Canada, including new flights from Quebec City, Ottawa and Victoria. Meanwhile, Riu Ocho Rios in Jamaica will reopen to the public this month after a complete refurbishment of its 790 rooms, and the addition of 45 new family rooms.


Starting in March, a newly “amplified” Freedom of the Seas will set sail from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Royal Caribbean says that after a $116-million renovation, the “bolder and re-imagined” vessel will include two waterslides, redesigned poolscape, new-look Italian restaurant, completely transformed kids and teens spaces, and more. Freedom joins Independence of the Seas, as part of the Royal Amplified fleet modernization effort during which more than $1 billion will spent across 10 ships in four years.

After successfully launching Egypt cruise-tour packages this year, Emerald Waterways is now taking bookings for Egypt itineraries through 2021, as well as a brand new seven-day Israel extension that will take guests to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Galilee.

With the successful completion of sea trials, Sky Princess has returned to the Fincantieri Shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy for final fittings ahead of its maiden voyage on Oct. 20. The ship will sail a series of Mediterranean voyages before debuting in North America on Dec. 1, for sailing a season of Caribbean cruises from Ft. Lauderdale.


The Impossible Burger is coming to menus at all SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Sesame Place and water parks (Aquatica, Adventure Island and Water Country USA) across the US – a culinary addition designed to help protect the environment. The company has previously eliminated all single-use plastic straws and shopping bags and is replacing all polystyrene-foam dinnerware with products made from 100% recyclable material at its 12 theme parks. Plant-based Impossible Burgers use 96% less land, generate 89% less greenhouse gases, and use 87% less water than traditional burgers.

Six Flags’ La Ronde park in Montreal will introduce the first-ever free-fly coaster in Canada, for the 2020 season. Vipère will send riders on a tumbling journey with unexpected drops, vertical free-falls and gravity-defying somersaults giving guests the feeling of weightlessness as they soar outside the confines of a traditional track. The coaster features a massive serpentine track frame in which winged vehicles begin their journey by travelling up a vertical 30-m. elevator-type lift before being released on an exhilarating course that includes undulating track, multiple free falls and 360-degree head-over-heels flips.


NARAT’s 12-day “Ultimate Japan – Cherry Blossom” FAM will introduce travel counsellors to “the essence of Japan,” in midst of Sakura season in Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe, Nagoya, Himeji, Mt. Fuji, Nara, Hakone and Osaka, among other locations. Accommodation is in deluxe hotels, Japanese ryokans (traditional inns), and includes an overnight in Buddhist temple in the temple city of Koyasan. Participants may extend the program with a four-day traditional farmhouse stay in Shirakawa-go, with a visit to Kanazawa and its Samurai District and agents travelling from Toronto may have the ability to include a stopover in Seoul, Korea. The FAM will run March 27-April 7, 2020 and is priced at US$2,850 p.p., plus US$650 (flight tax) and includes international flights from Canada. A single supplement is available subject to availability and one companion is allowed. E-mail fams@narat.org.



More than 200 travel counsellors turned out for Tourism Ireland’s recently completed Fall 2019 sales mission, which featured Irish suppliers and Canadian partners conducting workshops at events in London (photo), Ottawa and Montreal. “Travel agents and tour operators continue to be an important booking channel for Canadian holidaymakers and a key element of our strategy is working closely with the travel trade, both online and offline,” said Tourism Ireland manager for Canada, Dana Welch.


The Globus family of brands has namde Chuck Edwards BDM for Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Edwards brings with him 12 years of experience in the industry, working for WestJet and WestJet Vacations and also as host of the CAA Talks Travel Show in Winnipeg. Former BDM for Manitoba and Saskatchewan Connie Szerba will remain with the company in a newly created sales-related position.

Sandra Joaquim is the new Account Manager, Strategic Partnerships for Red Label Vacations. The 24-year industry veteran (most recently at Transat Distribution Company) will support and develop strategic partnerships along with key preferred suppliers for RLV’s retail brands. Also, Marni Otis has joined the company as RLV’s director of e-commerce and marketing for its retail divisions.


It’s business as usual in Bermuda after Hurricane Humberto, a category 3 storm, passed about 120 km to the north of the island last week, giving the island a healthy dose of wind and rain, but causing minimal damage.

The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) has re-launched TICO Talk, its quarterly newsletter for Ontario’s travel industry, as an online magazine. To celebrate the publication’s 20th anniversary, TICO Talk has been revamped into a new, highly visual format, designed to be as easy to read on a phone or tablet as it is a desktop computer. See the latest edition HERE.


Canadian travellers to Chicago increased by 8% in 2018, rising from 485,000 to 524,000 visitors, says Choose Chicago. Overall the city welcomed 2.2 million international visitors, an increase of 4.9 percent over the previous year with Canada proving to be Chicago’s third fastest growing international market behind the UK (15.2%) and India (8.9%).


Xi'an, the 3,100 year-old ancient capital city of China's Shaanxi province known for its Terracotta Warriors and Horses, will launch 30 nighttime tour routes by next year. In addition to several song and dance performances, the city will also introduce local operatic Qin cavity performances (photo), shadow puppetry, ancient-style concerts, nearly 100-night markets, decorated lighting on avenues, plus, improved transportation options and enhanced outdoor hiking trails.

An online version of Jamaica’s Immigration and Customs Declaration form for arriving visitors at the island’s international airports has been launched. The new format allows passengers to be processed more seamlessly, leading to a reduction in wait times at both immigration and customs.

The annual Masquerade March in Key West, Fla., attracts thousands of masked and costumed revellers each year to dance, promenade and strut their stuff in the madcap march along the island’s scenic streets. The event is scheduled Friday, Oct. 25, as part of Key West’s 40th annual Fantasy Fest celebration, which spans 10 days from Oct. 18 to 27. Starting at 5:30 p.m. at Key West Cemetery’s Frances Street entrance, the 2019 “chorus line of craziness” will proceed along Fleming Street, with marchers stopping for libations at guesthouses and inns along the way. More than 70,000 people are expected at the Fantasy Fest Parade, which features dozens of glittering motorized floats, costumed marching groups and lively island bands.

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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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