Last week, devastating wildfires in Maui dominated the late week news. Other things: China snubbed Canada in blow to inbound tourism, IATA reported the air sector has nearly reached pre-pandemic levels, Virgin Galactic got its first tourist to space, and Europe forecast a dramatic shift in future tourism patterns as global warming continues to take effect.
Wildfires ravaged Maui last week causing dozens of deaths, mass evacuations of visitors and residents, and the near total destruction of historic Lahaina town. Visitors were advised to avoid non-essential travel and to check with their hotels and airlines ahead of future travel.
China has increased the number of countries that its big-spending tourist groups can visit by more than 75 following the lifting of its last COVID-19 travel restrictions. But in a blow to this Canada’s tourism industry, this country was not among them. Canada, which continues to navigate strained political relations with the China over several issues including Canadian claims the country attempted to interfere in the last federal election, joins Saudi Arabia has the only G20 countries to lack approved status.
In the face of global warming and record-shattering heat in Europe this summer,
a new report by the European Union says tourists may soon begin trading the Greek Islands for western Wales, and Italy for Sweden – and doing so in April rather that July. Generally, the report forecasts that a temperature rise of 3°C or 4°C will reduce the number of summer tourists by almost 10% in southern coastal regions, and raise demand for northern coasts by 5%, the report’s projections show.
BY THE NUMBERS
IATA announced that the post-COVID recovery momentum continued in June for passenger markets with total traffic (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) rising 31.0% compared to June 2022. Globally, traffic is now at 94.2% of pre-COVID levels. North American carriers saw traffic climb 23.3% in June 2023 versus the 2022 period. Capacity increased 19.5%, and load factor rose 2.7 percentage points to 90.2%, which was the highest amongst global regions.
WestJet is boosting flight service to Mexico this winter, boasting a 14% increase in capacity from Vancouver International Airport, as well as adding weekly non-stop service between Vancouver and Ixtapa. The carrier says it will be offering more seat to Mexico from Vancouver than any other carrier and cites additional regional flights from the lower mainland by Sunwing. Meanwhile, new Abbotsford service includes Los Cabos, 1x weekly, from Dec. 4, and Puerto Vallarta, 2x weekly, from Dec. 5.
New Distribution Capability content from British Airways is now live on the Travelport+ platform, enabling the carrier to give simplified access to NDC content to agents, so that travel retailers can easily book and service NDC offers for their customers. The content is available in the UK and Ireland and will be followed by a global rollout for Travelport+ users around the world.
Azores Airlines is boosting its international and domestic air operations to the city of Porto and this winter will operate six international multi-leg flights to Porto (via the Azores). New weekly direct service from Toronto to Porto (same aircraft with a technical stop in Ponta Delgada) will operate Nov. 23-May 24, 2024. And summer 2024 (June 1-Sept. 24) will feature weekly, non-stop flights from Toronto to Porto.
Virgin Galactic rocketed to the edge of space with its first tourists Thursday, including a former British Olympian who bought his ticket 18 years ago and a mother-daughter duo from the Caribbean. The space plane glided back to a runway landing at Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert, after a brief flight that gave passengers a few minutes of weightlessness. This first private customer flight had been delayed for years; its success means Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic can now start offering monthly rides, joining Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX in the space tourism business.
Clients can save up to $250 when booking Collette’s “Flavors of Portugal and Spain” exploration tour (photo), departing Jan. 28, 2024. The 16-day experience sees travellers venture throughout the Iberian Peninsula, sampling different vintage wines and taking in the rich culture learning about bullfighting in Pamplona, touring a Spanish cider house, and taking part in a petiscos cooking class in the Douro River Valley.
To meet increasing demand from travel advisors and their clients, Riviera River Cruises says its adding a new ship and new itinerary on the Douro River in Portugal and Spain for 2024. The MS Porto Mirante will sail 10 departures of the “Highlights of the Douro Valley and Salamanca River Cruise” from July to October starting next year. The Porto Mirante will join Riviera’s MS Douro Elegance and MS Douro Splendour, which sail the Douro, Porto, and Salamanca River Cruise.
Bestselling author Frances Mayes, whose memoir “Under the Tuscan Sun” was made into an acclaimed Hollywood film, will share reflections of her 30 years in Italy with Tauck guests on selected departures of the company’s eight-day, small-group “A Week In… Tuscany and Umbria” itinerary. Mayes will join with Tauck guests on more than a dozen 2023 and 2024 tours when they visit the author’s adopted Tuscan town of Cortona, where the principal events of the book and its film adaptation took place. While in Cortona, Tauck guests will also enjoy a guided walking tour in town and a lunch of local specialties prepared by a Michelin-starred chef who is also a close friend of Mayes.
Crystal Symphony, the second Crystal ship to relaunch following Crystal Serenity’s recent return to service, successfully completed sea trials in anticipation of its inaugural cruise from Athens on Sept. 1. The refurbished vessel will spend the rest of the summer in Europe before repositioning to Africa in October and then hosting voyages in Australia and Asia.
MSC Cruises has opened sales for its winter 2024/25 season with more than 150 global sailings now available to book. Six ships will serve the Caribbean Sea, while the MSC World Europe will sail the Mediterranean, and MSC Euribia undertakes a new deployment in the Middle East. The world’s fastest-growing cruise line says it will offer established both favourite destinations and new hotspots, plus short mini cruises and enriching long cruises, all providing varied options across hemispheres and “ensuring there is something for everyone.”
Riu Hotels & Resorts has made its UK debut with the opening of the Riu Plaza London Victoria, a new four-star 435-room establishment located in the heart of Westminster near Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. The hotel is also beside Victoria Station, a strategic transportation hub in the British capital that links directly to Gatwick Airport. The 12-storey building was originally built in the 1960s and was completely renovated in the 1990s and features appealing design and quality finishes, prompting most characteristic features to be maintained during the refurbishment.
The St. James Hotel, originally built in the Gaslamp District in 1912, has been reimagined as the Palihotel San Diego. The redesign brings Palisociety’s signature California quirky sensibility with nautical inspired charm to each of its 122 guest rooms. The hotel also features Saint James French Diner, an all-day dining room that blends the approachable nature of an American diner with the subtle elegance of a French bistro.
Zoëtry Marigot Bay St. Lucia is offering a new beach experience with a touch of island charm. Guests are transported via a short pontoon ride to the LaBas beach where they are provided an immersive and elevated beach visit that includes concierge service, personalized wait service, and relaxation amenities such as a tote bag, plush towels, and comfortable beach loungers. The excursion adds Dolittles restaurant for an additional charge. The resort is also now extending a complimentary sunset cruise on Thursdays from for all guests who book a Master Suite Residence with Plunge Pool or higher for a minimum of four nights.
An extensive enhancement project has started at Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa in the Dominican Republic with work to be done in phases. The resort says appropriate steps will be taken to minimize the impact for guests with all the work complete by year’s end.
ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS
Minion Land on Illumination Avenue officially opened to guests last week (Aug. 11) at Universal Studios Florida. Previously open in preview, the one-of-a-kind land expands upon the popular ‘Despicable Me Minion Mayhem’ attraction, bringing a new collection of humorous adventures inspired by the beloved Minions franchise.
The Tourism Industry Association (TIAC) has opened registration for the Canadian Tourism Congress 2023, taking place Nov. 21-22 at the Westin Ottawa. The annual event brings together industry leaders and peers from across the country, and features motivational speakers, expert panellists, and networking opportunities. Learn more at tiac-aitc.ca/congress .
Since 2022, the Opernhaus Zürich (photo) has been performing the four operas of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen individually as part of the first full production of the Ring Cycle in the Swiss city in 20 years (all together the pieces play for 16 hours). The theatrical feat represents the culmination of years of preparation and takes place in the city where it was first performed in 1853. The fourth instalment – Götterdämmerung will debut on Nov. 5. And the complete Cycle of the operas will be performed over eight days in spring 2024. At the same time, Opernhaus Zürich will be cooperating with Zürich Tourism to allow audience members to relive Wagner’s experiences in Zürich with a guided tour of the city featuring his most frequented spots.
Declaring it good “not only for Arizona but for the planet,” President Joe Biden signed a national monument designation for the greater Grand Canyon, turning the decades-long visions of Native American tribes and environmentalists into reality. The move will help preserve about 4,046 sq. km. just to the north and south of Grand Canyon National Park. It encompasses canyons, plateaus and tributaries that feed a range of plants and wildlife, including bison, elk, desert bighorn sheep and rare species of cactus, and it is Biden’s fifth monument designation.
LAST WEEK IN TRAVEL HISTORY
In 1949, the first commercial jet plane to fly in the Western Hemisphere made its maiden flight over the Malton airport (now Pearson International) outside Toronto. The Jetliner C-102 was designed in Canada by an Englishman, James Floyd, and built by Avro of Toronto. It was never produced commercially.
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First published at Travel Industry Today