ROUND-UP: June 26-30, 2023

While there was more air travel disruptions in US last week, and smoke got in our eyes here at home, emerging Canadian travel stats continued to be positive, while car rental rates news was less so. Also in the news: A welcome new flight to Ottawa, launch news for Porter, and a surprise departure from Lynx.


Following a chaotic week of delays due to weather and other issues, flights in the US could be disrupted further this week because some planes lack updated equipment to prevent interference from transmissions by wireless companies, which are now allowed to boost their C-Band, 5G signals. The warning was issued by US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a letter to the trade group Airlines for America, warning that only planes retrofitted with the right equipment will be allowed to land when visibility is poor, such as during bad weather.

Strong demand and supply-side issues will push up car rental rates in North America and other regions of the world during the next year, according to American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), with the travel management company projecting year-on-year car rental rate hikes of 5 percent in Canada and the US. Rates will also jump in Germany (7%), the UK (6.5%) and France (5%) for the 12-month period ending in March 2024, forecasts GBT.

As air quality in many Canadian and US cities hit dubious new levels – including Toronto having rated the worst air quality in the world – NASA reported that that smoke from wildfires in northern Quebec had reached Europe. The American space agency said satellite imagery showed smoke extending across the North Atlantic Ocean to the Iberian Peninsula, France, and other parts of western Europe. NASA says that air quality in Europe has not deteriorated to the extent seen in Canada because of the height of the smoke in the atmosphere.


New figures from Statistics Canada show Canadians are taking more trips outside the country this year compared with 2022, but travel hasn’t yet returned to pre-pandemic levels. The agency says Canadians residents took 875,900 return trips overseas in April, up 23.6% from the same month in 2022. In comparison, the federal statistics agency says Canadians took 1.2 million trips abroad in April 2019, before the pandemic. Canadian travel across the border to the United States is also on the rise: 3.2 million trips in April, up 53.4% from the number of trips taken in April 2022, representing 83.7% of the level from the same month in 2019.


Air France inaugurated its new five-times-weekly non-stop flight between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Ottawa, making the carrier the only company to operate direct flights between the capital and Europe. With the arrival of arrival of flight AF 328 on Tuesday, Ottawa became Air France’s fifth Canadian destination after Montreal (since 1950), Toronto (1976), Vancouver (2015) and Quebec City (2022).

Porter Airlines’ newest route with its Embraer E195-E2 aircraft is between Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and St. John’s International Airport (YYT). Service begins Sept. 7, with one daily non-stop roundtrip flight. The route will also connect Porter’s east coast network to its new west coast destinations via Toronto Pearson, including Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg.

Meanwhile, Porter continues to expand its presence in Western Canada with the addition of Victoria to its network. Flights between Toronto Pearson (YYZ) and YYJ will start Sept. 20 with one daily roundtrip flight.

Non-stop, year-round service between Toronto and Yellowknife will be launched by Air Canada in December. The new, three-times weekly service will provide convenient connections between eastern Canada and the capital of the Northwest Territories. Customers will also be able to seamlessly connect onward from Yellowknife on Air Canada’s interline partner, Canadian North.


Travel counsellors can help their clients lock in savings of up to $400 per pair with Sunwing’s limited time offer on early winter bookings to sought-after sun destinations. Available through July 12 for departures Nov. 1 to April 30, the incentive applies to packages to Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Antigua and more, while agents earn STAR Agent Rewards Points that convert to cash on all vacation bookings made during this time.


New Canadian travel company Dinosaur Trips, which offers group departures and tailor-made private itineraries across the globe centred around dinosaur digs, discoveries, experts, and access into the world of our prehistoric planet through dinosaurs, is offering the unique “Pickaxes & Pitchforks ’23,” a five-day city expedition from July 19-23 that combines Chicago’s exceptional paleontology centres – including the renowned Field Museum – with the top curated music festival going: the Pitchfork Music Festival at Union Park. For full itinerary and details, plus upcoming excursions, click HERE.

Travellers will be able to “double the fun” with Globus in 2024, with the tour operator saying it is offering twice the number of included excursions than the typical tour. That includes 12 “Choice Tours” across Europe and North America – eight of which are new for 2024 – plus two or three days of included YourChoice excursion options. “From nature walks and flamenco stomps to boat cruises and wine flights, the options are endless and included in the package price,” says Globus’ Ainsley Erickson, who adds that the feature is a great selling point for advisors, who can earn an average of $1,000 commission on each Choice Touring by Globus booking.”


Iconic Graycliff Hotel, in The Bahamas (photo), is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023. Originally constructed in 1740 as the private residence of Captain John Howard Graysmith, Graycliff is located in the heart of Nassau, and now boasts 20 luxurious guest rooms and suites, award-winning restaurant, and renowned cigar-making factory. In honour of its milestone, the hotel has planned a series of events and initiatives that include Special Anniversary Packages with perks such as spa treatments, private tours, and exclusive tastings; and producing a series of limited-edition cigars, each of which is hand-crafted using a unique blend of tobacco and aged for five years.

At Everglades National Park, the all-new Flamingo Lodge & Restaurant is slated to open early this fall, featuring 24 units with kitchenettes including studios and one- and two-bedroom suites fronting Florida Bay. The park’s fully renovated (and pink) Visitor Center – with interactive exhibits, a gift shop and expansive views overlooking Florida Bay – is also scheduled to open in fall. The lodge is located about a 50-minute drive from the park’s entrance in Homestead, Fla.


Fond Doux Eco Resort in St. Lucia, a certified organic estate and a Green Globe-certified property, is offering 40% off clients’ stays, plus complimentary breakfast and the educational “Taste of Fond Doux Tour,” a guided experience during which visitors get to taste some of the fresh, tasty fruits the plantation produces. The incentive is valid through Sept. 30 for travel until Dec. 21.

In Barbados, O2 Beach Club & Spa’s new Proposal Concierge program features an array of amorous offerings such as a ‘bubble on the beach’ dinner for two, personal photographer, a violinist, customized dessert surprise, and a free night towards the couple’s next stay. Beyond the on-property arrangements, the professional and discreet team at O2 have partnered with local jewelry company, Diamonds International Barbados to provide guests with special access to their Exclusive Crown of Light & D Diamond Jewelry, as well as personalized shopping support (virtual or in-person) to make the proposal extra special.


A powerhouse line up of speakers for the Seabourn Conversations program during the cruise line’s summer and fall 2023 seasons. Designed to enlighten, inform, and entertain guests, the complimentary onboard enrichment program offers guests the chance to interact with some of the finest minds in science, history, culture and dining. Scheduled speakers include Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak; Royal Butler Grant Harrold; former head of MI5, Dame Stella Rimington; Michelin Star Chef Robert Thompson; and more. The conversations will take place on Seabourn voyages between June and November 2023.

The UNWTO is working with the MSC Foundation to deliver a series of sustainability-related education courses on board the MSC Euribia cruise ship. The initiative builds on the success of the first Global Youth Tourism Summit, held in Sorrento, Italy, in 2022, and will see the creation of the MSC Foundation Youth Lab, a specially equipped venue on the advanced new eco-ship. The program will deliver 12 daily two-hour activity sessions on key subjects ranging from ocean health, recycling and climate change to sustainable tourism and social media, all focused on the “sustainability challenge”. The activities have been designed to leave youth free to learn, create and express themselves according to their interests and ideas for the future.


SeaWorld has opened a massive new aquatic life park in the Abu Dhabi, its first outside the United States. The US$1.2-billion venture features the world’s largest aquarium and a cylindrical LED screen. The new facility gives the Orlando, Fla.-based company a foothold in a fast-growing international tourism destination and for the United Arab Emirates – home to the world’s tallest skyscraper, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi – yet another major tourist attraction.


The luxury lifestyle brand of the MSC Group, Explora Journeys, wants to recognize and reward travel advisors who have embraced the brand “from the start” by booking at least one cruise during the brand’s inaugural year of operation. Agents who do so will be awarded “Pioneer” status and will receive an invitation for two to join a complimentary Educational Insider First Look journey between July 17 and May 31, 2024, as well as access to Explora Journeys’ Travel Advisor Fares for personal travel.


Delegates at Travel Market Place, Toronto

Following its successful event in Vancouver in March, Travel Market Place welcomed over 600 attendees, including 425 agents and 80 suppliers in Toronto late last month at its largest event yet. Delegates took part in two days of comprehensive panels, workshops, receptions, and trade show, highlighting the latest news and trends in the industry, as well helpful insights and selling tips from industry and supplier experts. Next year’s events will be held at the Parq Vancouver on March 5 and 6 and Delta Hotel in Toronto, June 25-26.

VoX International in collaboration with several Caribbean tourist boards and hotel groups, are organizing a new event for meeting and incentive planners – Caribbean ConnEX Canada, set to take place in Toronto on Nov. 1. The event is designed bring together Caribbean suppliers and Canadian MICE planners to promote travel to the Caribbean. Contact for details.


Lynx Air says president and CEO Merren McArthur is stepping down for personal reasons. The Calgary-based airline says its founding CEO will continue in the role until the end of September to allow time to find her replacement. Lynx Air says McArthur led the airline to its first flight launch in April 2022, and through a successful first year of operations.


More than two dozen Trans Canada Trail sections have been accessibility-mapped and added to the AccessNow app, available on the Apple app store and Google Play. Trans Canada Trail’s Accessibility Mapping Program, started in 2020 to share information and improve accessibility on the Trail, works with trail users with disabilities to collect and disseminate information through AccessNow technology. Trail users in 54 communities, across every province and territory, can now obtain accessibility information for at least one trail in their area.

An Amsterdam museum that severed ties with St. Petersburg’s Hermitage collection after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year has been renamed and on Monday announced partnerships with renowned galleries in London, Paris and Washington, DC. Starting in September, the Hermitage Amsterdam will be called H’ART Museum. It has established partnerships with the British Museum, Centre Pompidou and the Smithsonian American Art Museum to bring art to the historic building on the banks of the Dutch capital’s Amstel River.


In 1914, the era of airplane food began when a full meal with wines was served during a trial flight of a Russian-built airliner from Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) to Kyiv.

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First published at Travel Industry Today


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