ROUND-UP: May 1-5, 2023

WestJet made all kinds of news last week, while Canadian passport office and some border staff were back at it as federal workers settled their two-week strike. Amongst the other round-up items: an interesting opinion on the prospects of the Canadian airline industry and – wait for it – the US finally ended vaccine requirements at the Canada-US border.


Effective May 12, the US is officially lifting COVID-19 vaccination requirements for foreign air travellers and at the Canada-US border. May 11 will mark the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency the US imposed back in 2020 as the world was coming to grips with the scale of the pandemic.

The WestJet Group announced the completion of its acquisition of Sunwing Vacations and Sunwing Airlines. The transaction, which will see the two brands maintain independent operations, includes the appointment of now former Sunwing CEO Stephen Hunter as CEO of the WestJet Group’s Vacations Business, responsible for all tour operating and vacation package businesses of both brands. In other news, the first collective bargaining agreement between WestJet and the Unifor bargaining unit at YYZ was ratified by Unifor’s members. Unifor is the certified union representing WestJet airport employees at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Passport workers and some border staff were back at work with the announcement that the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) had reached a tentative contract agreement with the Treasury Board covering more than 120,000 federal government workers across the country.


Japan lifted most of its coronavirus border controls, including a requirement that entrants show proof of three vaccinations or a pre-departure negative test.

After May 9, testing of those with symptoms upon arrival will be voluntary. Japan’s government dropped its requests for mask wearing in March, leaving it up to each person’s discretion.

Travellers entering China no longer need to provide a negative PCR test result in another easing of China’s “zero COVID” policies. Travellers can instead show a negative antigen test result taken within 48 hours before boarding. Airlines will no longer be required to check test results before departure.


Vacation deprivation levels have reached a 10-year high as working adults navigate inflation, workplace labour shortages, and busy schedules, according to a new report by Expedia. Key findings amongst Canadian respondents include: 57% of Canadian working adults, 74% of Gen Z, and 37% of Baby Boomers.


Air Canada and Dreams Take Flight, with the support of numerous Air Canada employee volunteers, conducted their third flight of the year, transporting a plane load of children from Toronto Orlando (plane). The plane was carrying many children who were meant to experience the once-in-a-lifetime trip in 2020 but were unable to due to the global pandemic. Five more flights from across Canada will depart from Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, and Ottawa throughout 2023.

WestJet’s conducted its first-ever flight to Asia, with WS80 from Calgary arriving at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport on May 1. The service will operate three times per week through Oct. 28 on the airline’s 787 Dreamliner and will return in Spring 2024.

Flair Airlines has established a new base of operations at the Calgary International Airport as part of its ongoing aggressive expansion plans. The company, which had just three aircraft at the start of 2021, will have a total fleet of 21 Boeing 737s by this summer with service to over 30 cities across Canada, the US and Mexico. At the opening of the base, Flair CEO Stephen Jones said he doesn’t believe all the suddenly numerous Canadian airlines will survive.


To celebrate of its new ‘Time to go’ marketing campaign, Air Transat is offering prices on round-trip flights to Europe and US, including flights to the former starting at $799, and one-way flights from Toronto to Florida starting at $149, and one-way flights from Montreal to California from $249.


G Adventures is planning the world’s biggest community tourism summit Sept. 22-28 in Peru. The multi-day mega-event will include the inaugural GX summit, the first World Community Tourism Summit, and G’s 2023 Change Makers event and will be a travel convention “unlike any the travel industry has seen before.” The event will be attended by travel agents, suppliers, media, and travellers from around the globe “to experience firsthand what an incredible impact community tourism can have on a destination.”

TravelBrands reports electric Tesla vehicles are now available for rental in Canada and the US. Traveller can choose from three zero-emission models: the Tesla Model 3 SR Plus Electric, Tesla Model 3 LR Electric, and Tesla Model Y. As an added bonus, travel agents who make new electric vehicle rental bookings in May, will receive 5X Loyalty Rewards points and be entered for a chance to win a three-day Tesla rental.


Two prominent hotel brands are headed for Belize. Margaritaville, scheduled to open this year, will be a full-service resort with spa, gym, convenience store, and more. It is registered to have over 70 Villas, and Suites available. And Four Seasons is under construction, with an expected opening date in mid-2024. Amenities will include a nine-hole golf course, approximately 100 luxury villas, private residential options, and other luxury amenities. Meanwhile renovation and expansions are under way at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza, Radisson Fort George Hotel, and Princess Ramada Hotel.

Quebec’s Fairmont Tremblant is getting an outdoor makeover: The Fairmont Tremblant’s outdoor pool deck will undergo major renovations this summer. Until work is completed in the fall of 2023, the Moment Spa, located in the hotel, will be open, as will the renowned establishment’s indoor aquatic facilities.


The Coraland Music Fest 2023 is set to take place at Blue Diamond Resorts in Cayo Santa María, Cuba, May 11-14 and May 18-21. The is an electronic music festival highlights a line-up of Cuban and international DJs, along with beach parties. Participating hotels include Starfish Cayo Santa Maria Hotel, Grand Memories Santa Maria Hotel, Sanctuary at Grand Memories Santa Maria Hotel and Memories Paradise Beach Resort, and packages are available with Sunwing. The fest is free for guests.

La Société Immobilière du Massif de Charlevoix has unveiled its new apartment-hotel project named Le Camp de Base – Secteur Grande Pointe. The $40-million real estate project at the foot of the mountain will offer a residential ski-in/ski-out experience as well as several hotel services, including an outdoor pool. The delivery of the first units is scheduled for the fall of 2025.


Viking has taken delivery of the company’s newest ocean ship, the Viking Saturn. Viking also announced that the vessel will be officially named in New York City on June 6, by her ceremonial godmother, Ann Ziff, the philanthropist and Chairman of the Metropolitan Opera who is a long-time Viking cultural partner. Following the naming ceremony, the ship will spend her inaugural summer sailing two new Viking voyages: “Iconic Iceland, Greenland & Canada,” between New York City and Reykjavík, and “Iceland & Norway’s Arctic Explorer,” between Reykjavík and Bergen.

Silversea Cruises’ ‘Suite Upgrades’ promotion for new bookings made by May 31 offers guests to a two-category suite upgrade on select voyages, for selected suite categories and a US$1,000 shipboard credit per suite. Plus, Silversea’s door-to-door all-inclusive fares feature a refundable, reduced 15% deposit and price guarantee, as well as private executive transfers between home and airport, international flights and Business Class upgrades, and in-country air and hotels when required by the itinerary, as well as airport transfers and luggage handling.


Canada’s Wonderland opened on the weekend with a full lineup of events and entertainment in store for the 2023 season. The popular theme park, located in Vaughan, just north of Toronto, will feature two new rides: Tundra Twister, a giant 360-degree spinning swing ride coming to Frontier Canada. The only one of its kind in the world, Tundra Twister will have guests spinning, twisting, and twirling upside-down at heights of 47 m. and speeds of 75 km/h.


In celebration of Travel Agent Appreciation Month, Royal Irish Tours (RIT) has revealed an incentive for travel counsellors in May: every booking in May will be added to a draw to win a grand prize of an eight-day familiarization trip to Ireland or Scotland in 2023/24. Multiple bookings mean multiple entries in the draw.

The Globus family of brands launched a special booking incentive to compliment its existing offers for agents: a $150 gift card for every Globus or Avalon Waterways booking made between mid-April and May 17. In addition to this limited-time incentive for new bookings, travel advisors can earn more through GFOB’s Travel Advisor Discount Program. And, for those advisors who become an Avalon Waterways specialist, the company offers access to Suite Rewards – a program that provides them the opportunity to earn a complimentary FAM.


The Jamaica Tourist Board, in partnership with ACTA, is offering a free Business-building Workshop series with the chance to win trips (for two) from Royalton Negril Resort, DeCameron Club Caribbean, and Secrets St. James Resort. The three hour-long virtual sessions will be as follows (all times 2-3 p.m. EDT): May 9 – Planning Fees for Travel Advisors: Everything you need to know; May 10 – Removing the noise and overwhelm to make space for new leads; and May 11 – Generating new leads for your business. Register at

Tourism Ireland is hosting the following upcoming educational webinars (all at noon, EST) for travel agents: May 10 – ‘Attractions Across the Island of Ireland’; June 7 – ‘Flavours of Ireland’; and June 28 – ‘Explore Northern Ireland.’ Contact the tourist board for details.


Philip Rose – familiar to the Canadian trade as the former head of the Jamaica Tourist Board in this country – has been named Deputy Director of Tourism for the Americas, with responsibility for the US, Caribbean and Latin America.


A walrus that became a global celebrity last year after it was seen frolicking and basking in an Oslo, Norway fjord before it was euthanized by the authorities has been honoured with a life-size bronze sculpture, not far from the place where the actual 600-kg. mammal was seen resting and relaxing during the summer of 2022. The walrus, named Freya, quickly become a popular attraction among Oslo residents but authorities later made a decision to euthanize it – causing public outrage – because they said people hadn’t followed recommendations to keep a safe distance away from the massive animal.


In 1919, airline passenger service was inaugurated when Robert Hewitt flew two women from New York to Atlantic City, N.J.

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First published at Travel Industry Today


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