06 MAY 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

WestJet officially began its new 787-9 Dreamliner service on April 29 with a flight between Calgary and London, Gatwick. "Today is a fantastic day for WestJet as we take this important step in our journey to become a full-service global network airline," said WestJet CCO Arved von zur Muehlen.

Porter Airlines reports seasonal flights to Mont Tremblant, Que., from Toronto will return beginning June 21, continuing until Sept. 22. Flights operate up to four times weekly starting July 28 through Labour Day, and two times weekly for the remainder of the season. Flight time between Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and Mont Tremblant International Airport is 70 minutes.

Saskatoon and Kelowna airports have received $840,000 in federal funding to jointly promote tourism and trade by developing and sustaining trans-border air routes for both facilities. The initiatives will target airlines while also market Saskatoon and Kelowna as tourist destinations in major US cities.

DEALS

Dubbed Transat’s biggest South promo ever, the tour company is offering clients who book by June 30 the opportunity to pay only a $100 deposit, Price Drop Guarantee, the ability to change travel dates up to 21 days before, an upgrade to Option Plus, as well as a $50 voucher for future travel. Travel must be taken between Nov. 1 and April 30, 2020. Agents also have a chance to win $5,000 towards their own vacation and bonus Bonbon points.

Clients choosing a winter vacation with Air Canada Vacations can save up to $500, receive free travel protection and put only $50 down when booking by June 30. The Winter Early Bird Sale applies on departures to select destinations in Mexico & the Caribbean, South and Central America from Nov. 1 to April 30, 2020. (Some conditions apply).

Greater Fort Lauderdale’s ‘Vacation Like a VIP’ promotion features special offers and VIP hotel packages at the destination's top-tier properties. Along with the Summer Savings (with hotel stays starting at $159), the programs run through Sept. 30. Find the details under “deals” on the sunny.org web site.

TOURS

LWTM-natural habitat adventures

Colorado-based Natural Habitat Adventures, the world's first 100% carbon-neutral travel company, will now offset the carbon emissions stemming from all its guests’ air travel – effectively counteracting approximately 20,000 metric tons of CO2 in a single year. The decision is expected to boost the company’s total offsets by approximately 300-400% annually – and decrease the carbon footprint of nearly 8,000 travellers each year.

The 2019/2020 editions of the Sunwing and Signature Collection by Sunwing brochures are now available featuring 55 popular vacation hotspots across the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America and including two new destinations: Tobago and Grenada. New arrivals include the Lopesan Costa Bavaro Resort, Spa & Casino and Royal Antigua Resort and Spa, plus several properties slated to open soon, such as Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Cancun and Royalton Grenada Resort and Spa.

Manchester is more than a city in northern England – it’s a hub, with greater numbers of visitors than ever travelling through its airport. As such, the city is capturing and catering to transit passengers through a of number of sightseeing tours from the facility, ranging from city hop-on/off tours to destinations a little further afield, like Chester, Liverpool and even York. The excursions are bookable and offer as much as 20% commissions to the trade. Go HERE.

HOTELS

LWTM-TWA hotel NYC

The long-awaited TWA Hotel (photo) at John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens, New York, is set to open on May 15. Dedicated to the “jet age,” the 512-room luxury property hotel (in the former TWA flight centre) features six restaurants and eight bars, and guests can explore “Connie,” a 1958 Starline airplane repurposed as a retro cocktail lounge out on the tarmac.

The world’s largest hotel company, Marriott, is staking a claim in the home-share market. Homes & Villas by Marriott International offers 2,000 premium and luxury homes located in over 100 destinations throughout the US, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America and gives clients the option of staying in “highly-curated” rental homes, and for Marriott Bonvoy loyalty members, earning points by doing so. The program was tested in Europe in 2018 and was shown to appeal predominantly to leisure travellers travelling with family or friends and staying on average three times longer than an average hotel stay. For more details or to book, go HERE.

With a portfolio spanning across 75 countries, including 27 hotel properties with 37 projects in different phases of development, Hard Rock International continues intensifying its international presence with the announcement of Hard Rock Hotel Bangalore, slated to open in Fall 2020. Joining Hard Rock Hotel Goa, the second Hard Rock Hotel in India will be located in bustling Bangalore.

RESORTS

Another tourism company – Beaches Resorts – has been certified as “autism friendly.” The official ACAC designation is believed to be the first for a resort company and applies to all three Beaches Resorts – Beaches Negril Beach Resort & Spa and Beaches Ocho Rios Spa, Golf & Waterpark Resort in Jamaica, and Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa in Turks & Caicos.

CRUISE

LWTM-Roberto Fusaro, MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises president Roberto Fusaro (photo) was on hand to help open the company’s new office in Canada on May 1. With 15 full-time employees, it is the first fully-staffed cruise line office in the country and is fully bilingual. Under the direction of newly appointed MSC Canada country manager (and former director of business development), Ian Patterson, the office offers a bilingual call centre, groups and sales support for guests and travel agents, and an expanded array of bilingual marketing materials such as brochures and flyers. In conjunction with the Canada launch, the cruise line can now be booked in Canadian dollars and has dedicated Canadian web sites.

The new 2020 Voyages brochure by Paul Gauguin Cruises features Tahiti, French Polynesia, Fiji, and South Pacific itineraries. The brochure presents sailings by The Gauguin, including an exotic 16-night Fiji to Bali itinerary, and 12- and 13-night Fiji, Tonga, Cook & Society Islands sailings.

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours and National Geographic Expeditions are kicking off their third season as river cruise partners with an expanded line up that will now be available in the Canadian market. Canadian travel agents and consumers will be able to book these experiential cruises – with a 2020 line up of itineraries that will now include sailings in Russia, Egypt, France’s Rhône River and a Rhine Christmas cruise. The new offerings, along with the existing sailings on the Rhine, Danube, Main and Moselle Rivers, and Portugal’s Douro Valley, will combine Scenic’s all-inclusive luxury river cruise experience with National Geographic's 130-year legacy of science, conservation, and exploration.

THEME PARKS

Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort celebrated its 30th anniversary in a grand style on May 1. The day began with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse leading a cavalcade of Disney characters down Hollywood Boulevard, followed by the introduction of a new logo for the park, concluding with the debut of a new projection show on the iconic Chinese Theatre.

Based on its successful “Universal Monsters” experience, Universal Studios theme parks in both Hollywood and Orlando will introduce the all-new maze, “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man,” this year during Halloween Horror Nights. Loosely based on Universal’s 1943 horror movie of the same name, this reimagined tale for the 21st century takes guests on a terrifying journey that bears witness to a deadly confrontation between these two horror icons.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

Travel Agent Day (May 1), prompted a host of agent incentives from Canadian suppliers, some of them extending beyond the actual day. Here’s a sample:

Air Canada Vacations: is offering 3X ACV&ME for bookings on all product lines through May 8 for travel before July 31. Agents can also qualify to win a two-night trip to Wynn Las Vegas for bookings made to the hotel in May.

AMResorts: The 2nd annual Amazing May campaign includes exclusive Master Agent Rates for stays booked at 28 participating resorts through Dec. 22; 10 winners of $500 in the Share Your Story contest; and a five-night stay at Secrets for May’s top booking agent. Click HERE for details.

Azmara Club Cruises:  Throughout May, the "We Appreciate You" Sweepstakes gives agents a chance to win a trip for two on a 2019 Azamara Quest Alaska voyage in a Club Oceanview stateroom, plus a $1,000 Azamara Air credit, as well as tuition to register and become a certified travel associate. Advisors who have registered and attended a live taping, or a pre-recorded version of the Travel Advisor Appreciation Month webinar, will receive promotional emails to enter the sweepstake.

Carnival Cruise Line’s “Most Trusted Travel Advisor” contest invites consumers to brag why their travel advisor is the best in the business. The winning agent and their client nominator will be awarded a cruise on Mardi Gras and roundtrip airfare, and the agent also will receive a $1,000 bonus and the commission from their client’s Mardi Gras cruise. To nominate a travel advisor, clients must visit wuatacontest.com to submit a short story on why their travel advisor deserves the title by recalling a time when they saved the day, made them feel extra special or went above and beyond the call of duty. The contest is open until Oct. 29 and the winner will be announced on Nov. 13.


Exodus Travels: In honour of Travel Agent Appreciation Day, Exodus is working with women’s health organization The Freedom Kit Bag Project to bring eco-friendly sanitary wear to underserved communities across Nepal – and donating a Freedom Kit Bag for every booking made in the US and Canada throughout May.

G Adventures: The top-selling Canadian agent during the month of May will win a G Adventures tour valued at $2,000 in the tour operators’ Travel Agent Day contest.

WestJet: Travel Agents can enter to win prizes every day throughout the month of May with winners announced weekly beginning May 15.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

The Globus family of brands has announced that director of marketing, Patrice Geske will retire at the end of June. Geske joined the company in 2009 as marketing manager. The search for a director of marketing replacement is currently underway.

Kristina Wilson is the new Stakeholder Relations Manager for TICO replacing Priya Ramsingh. Wilson comes from the Real Estate Council of Ontario.

DESTINATIONS

Buddha’s Birthday will be celebrated in Hong Kong May 6-12 with a week of carnivals and spiritual experiences. A common ritual is “Bathing the Buddha,” where worshippers wash Buddha statues with water to show respect. Then there’s the Celebration Carnival for Buddha’s Birthday in Victoria Park, the Buddhist Birthday Charity Concert at the Hong Kong Coliseum, and various events at Po Lin Monastery, on lush Lantau Island.

After 11 years, Donny and Marie Osmond are calling it quits on their residency at the Flamingo Las Vegas. Last date for the popular show is Nov. 16.

PrideFest in San Francisco is the largest gathering of the LGBT community and allies in US The celebration, to be held this year June 29 and 30, features parades, creative and colourful costumes, live entertainment and directly supports local non-profit LGBT organizations. Meanwhile, the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, Aug. 9-11, is the city’s best celebration of music, craft beer and wine, and food. Top acts this summer include The Weeknd, Janet Jackson, N.E.R.D., Odesza, Florence and The Machine, Future, and Janelle Monae.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com.



author

Michael Baginski

Editor at Large, 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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