The week’s round-up news includes WestJet taking a winter break on YYZ-YUL flights and revealing its Sunwing integration date; Porter Airlines California-bound; and Saudia returning to Canada. Non-airline highlights” TICO released its long-awaited reform proposals – including fee changes for members, Royal Caribbean revealed the name of its newest ship, and an Ontario hotel earned a singular honour.
After conducting a comprehensive funding framework review, including the Compensation Fund, the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) has released its proposals for a future funding model. They include lower annual fees for most members (but higher for some others), the removal of end-supplier coverage of airlines and cruise ships, and – controversially – no consumer pay model. TICO has developed a detailed guide of each proposal, along with key insights and survey data from the funding framework review. Consultation sessions and an online survey will give TICO members a chance to give their feedback; info on the TICO website.
With planning and integration activities “well underway,” the WestJet Group says its goal is to complete the integration of Sunwing Airlines into its mainline business by October, 2024. The move would see all of the airlines’ 727 aircraft moved into the same AOC (air operator certificate) as well as a seamless transition of the company’s 2,000 employees. The move will have no impact on Sunwing Vacations Group and its associated vacations brands, says WestJet, which notes that its integration of its own subsidiary Swoop will be fully completed by Oct. 28, 2023.
The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) and Destination Canada have announced that they secured a significant US$100,000 investment from Expedia Group to help boost Indigenous tourism across Canada. The investment marks a major milestone in advancing Indigenous tourism in Canada and supporting Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action #92, says Destination Canada.
BY THE NUMBERS
According the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, global tourism is on track to recover 80% and 95% international arrival numbers by the end of 2023. Notably, however, a recent YouGov survey found that 66% of tourists believe that travelling to a place that provides familiarity is important. Just under half of respondents feel uncomfortable travelling to places they know little about. This is despite the fact that, of those that do travel to new destinations, 83% agree that they come back with a changed or broadened perspective.
WestJet is halting flights between Toronto and Montreal for the winter in a continuation of its retreat from short-haul routes in Eastern Canada to retrench in the West. The route will be suspended for six months, starting late October and resuming in late April. WestJet spokeswoman Madison Kruger says the decision was made as a result of performance and is in line with the airline’s strategy to take on more of the longer routes between Eastern and Western Canada.
Porter Airlines is launching its first two western US destinations in California with daily roundtrip service connecting Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ). Flights begin Jan. 16 and 25 respectively.
Saudia, formerly known as Saudi Arabian Airlines, will fly three times a week between Jeddah and Toronto’s Pearson International Airport starting Dec. 2. Transport Canada says it’s the first time there have been direct routes between the two countries since 2018, when Saudi Arabia suspended flights as it protested the Canada’s loud condemnation of its human-rights record.
AmaWaterways has extended its ‘20% Savings’ offer until Dec. 31, valid on select 2023 and ‘24 Europe and Mekong river cruise itineraries. Solo travellers also qualify for 20% of the single supplement. Both offers can be combined with the AirPlus promotion allowing Canadian travellers (from all gateways) economy airfare to Europe for CDN$1,099, Premium Economy airfare at $2,999 or Business Class airfare at $4,999 on select dates in 2023 and 2024.
Citing a whopping 80% increase in bookings this year for Portugal, Globus family of brands is introducing new tours, a new Suite Ship and river cruise for the European hotspot in 2024. Among them is the new 11-day “Taste of Portugal” tour from Lisbon to Portugal. Also new are two extensions to Atlantic islands of Madeira (photo) and the Azores. Meanwhile, Avalon Waterways will also make its Portugal debut in 2024 with its new, Suite Ship, the Avalon Alegria, which will sale the eight-day “Vida Portugal: Vineyards & Villages Along the Douro” itinerary.
G Adventures has launched “Trees for Days,” an initiative “bringing the protection of the environment and empowerment of local communities closer together to enact powerful change through travel and tourism,” while at the same time enabling clients to support tree planting in their most cherished destinations. Over one million trees are already being grown, as the small group adventure operator has backdated the planting of trees for every day a traveller has joined a trip since January 01. And soon, travellers will be able to contribute beyond the end date of their G Adventures trip by continuing to purchase trees in a region of their choice whenever they travel, via their G Adventures account.
The Bruce Hotel in Stratford, Ont. has received a coveted CAA/AAA Five Diamond designation making it the only boutique hotel in Canada to hold the honour. The hotel previously held CAA/AAA Four Diamond since opening. Noted for world class luxury and service, the most recent AAA Five Diamond list comprised 133 properties, less than 0.5% of the 27,000 properties AAA rates. To earn the distinctive AAA Five Diamond designation, hotels and restaurants must pass a rigorous evaluation that includes unannounced, in-person inspections, anonymous overnight stays for hotels, and, finally, review by a panel of experts as an additional step to ensure credibility.
Direct from Miami Beach, the famous Fontainebleau brand takes residence in Las Vegas as of Dec. 13, the first incarnation of the hotel outside Florida. At 67 storeys, the 3,644-room hotel, which promises “a new take on Las Vegas luxury” will be the tallest building on the Strip, and will feature 34 restaurants and bars, seven pools, lavish spa, and a LIV nightclub. Reservations are now open.
Barbados’ O2 Beach Club & Spa will be hosting celebrity chefs Anne Burrell and Renee Blackman for two special events Oct. 20 and 21 during Barbados Food & Rum Festival, which runs Oct. 19-22. The boutique, luxury hotel as well as its family-friendly counterpart, Sea Breeze Beach House, are official host hotels for the island’s premier culinary event. Travellers can get 60% off their stay when booking through Ocean Hotel’s Food & Rum Festival special. Booking details can be found HERE.
Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, is on the verge completing a multi-million-dollar, property-wide refresh, marking the most extensive renovation since its launch more than 30 years ago. The popular Maui resort, perched along 16 hectares of lush, tropical gardens fronting Maui’s Wailea Beach, will be completely reimagined including refreshed public spaces, new food & beverage venues featuring local ingredients, upgraded guest rooms and suites, and a complete transformation of its stunning, 4,645 sq.-m. spa.
Silversea’s Summer 2025 Voyage Collection is now open for booking. Sailing between March and November 2025, Silversea’s 12 ultra-luxury ships will offer 206 new voyages exploring 409 destinations in 60 countries, including 24 maiden calls.
Royal Caribbean International has revealed the name of the next Icon Class ship: Star of the Seas, which will debut in summer of 2025.
FAMS & INCENTIVES
To celebrate the launch of Sandals Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, set to open on March 27, 2024, the top two Canadian travel advisors with the highest earnings from bookings made with Unique Vacations Canada Inc. or with a Canadian tour operator (and registered bookings on the Sandals Travel Agent Portal) to Sandals Saint Vincent and The Grenadines from Sept. 27 to Oct. 31, 2023 (and for travel March 27, 2024 – Dec. 31, 2025) will be rewarded with a six–day/five-night stay in a Butler Suite at the all-new destination. For contest rules, visit: www.sandals.com/disclaimers/sandalssaintvincentcontest/.
Save the date: Hawaii Tourism Canada (HTCAN) announced Dec. 5 to 7 as dates for its next ‘Aloha Canada Road Show,’ which will touch down in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. Invited travel advisors and key industry partners will attend an informative tradeshow event and evening dinner featuring presentations and networking opportunities. Travel agents will learn about the newest Hawaii happenings, sustainability initiatives and what’s new for 2024, including information on the Mālama Hawai‘i program. The show will also include Hawai‘i cultural practitioners, musicians and performers.
Jordon McGrowder has been named Business Development Manager, Alberta, Manitoba, and Northwest Territories for Sandals/Beaches. He replaces Donné Nixon, who is moving to Toronto to become Human Resources Manager at UVC headquarters. Travel advisors can contact Calgary-based McGrowder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 587-336-1841.
TTC Tour Brands North America has announced the appointment of Lora Hamre as the new Groups Business Development Manager, Canada effective immediately. A familiar face in the Canadian travel industry, Hamre brings over 20 years of sales experience – including an earlier position as BDM with Trafalgar, Costsaver, and Brendan Vacations – to the newly created role.
Egypt is seeking to double the number of visitors to the country in the next five years with a goal of reaching 30 million visitors by 2028, as its once-thriving tourism sector recovers from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and the grinding war in Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The country’s Tourism and Antiquities Minister Ahmed Issa says Egypt had received 10 million tourists in the first eight months of 2023, and is “well on track to achieve around 15 million this year, which is going to be a record year for the tourism industry.”
Canada has another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tr’ondëk-Klondike, located in the homeland of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in in the Yukon, was inscribed on the prestigious United Nations list at the recent 45th session of the World Heritage Committee in Saudi Arabia. It is the 22nd site in this country to earn the designation since Canada joined the World Heritage Convention in 1976.
LAST WEEK IN TRAVEL HISTORY
In 2001, Swissair, long considered one of the world’s premier airlines, was grounded after filing for bankruptcy protection.
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First published at Travel Industry Today