Travelweek - May 18 2023

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May 18, 2023


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Canada’s Travel Trade News
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TORONTO — The crystal ball that everyone wished for during the pandemic would sure come in handy right now, as questions persist about the readiness of Canada’s biggest airport, and airlines, heading into the busiest travel season of the year.

With the Victoria Day long weekend just ahead, and with the school year wrapping up in just six weeks, this next stretch of spring and summer travel will be the true test of lessons learned, or not, from the chaos of 2022.

For travel advisors who have worked with clients to fulfill their long-awaited travel dreams after years of pandemic restrictions, it’s personal.

Robert Townshend, President and Founder of Total Advantage Travel & Tours in Toronto, says: “I had a group of 40 kids, all members of a local soccer club going to Madrid last summer to compete in a competition, and they had a major flight delay. When they finally left, they were advised by the captain 30 minutes prior to landing that they had to leave Pearson without any baggage at all on the flight.

“He told the passengers, ‘We either had to leave without baggage or cancel the flight due to crew rest limitations so I made the decision to leave without baggage’. Can you imagine the soccer club arriving there without their uniforms or equipment? It was the biggest letdown for a group that had this planned a year in advance! They didn’t get their luggage until day 5.”

Townshend says he’s hearing from a lot of clients who are concerned about air travel arrangements in the months ahead, especially out of Pearson. “A lot of people are concerned about flying

this summer. In particular they don’t want a repeat of what happened last summer.  There were a lot of flight delays last summer due to crew shortages and many other delays due to lack of baggage handlers.”


With so many new entrants, Canada’s not lacking for airlines, but labour shortages persist. The scarcity of workers continues to impact airports too. And Canada’s airlines and airports all point out that not every delay is within their control. The National Airlines Council recently released a report calling on Ottawa to implement “shared accountability” in aviation, with the goal of smoother

travel – and across-the-board responsibility for flight disruptions.

Last summer, while many of Canada’s biggest airports struggled to keep up with demand, Pearson Airport was really in the crosshairs. The head of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority has laid out the GTAA’s plans and strategies for making travel experiences this spring and summer at Pearson Airport as smooth as possible.

“Last summer was challenging for passengers, and we have responded with a full suite of process improvements and practices with our partners to deliver a more customer-centric and reliable experience,” said Deborah Flint, GTAA President and CEO.

The GTAA’s modernization plans have been fast-tracked, and new approaches include more resources,

TOP NEWS May 18, 2023 | TRAVELWEEK | 3
Hand-holding, savvy tips and common sense advice as travel advisors help clients navigate air travel in busy summer 2023

transparency, and resiliency planning, Flint added.

The GTAA’s self-service infrastructure means contactless check-in and boarding processes; a new partnership with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to deploy biometric e-gates, expediting customs clearance for travellers; and new digital technology at check-in, gates and baggage areas to replace the current generation of self-service tech.

The GTAA is also expanding hours for pre-booking spaces in security lines and putting it into service at every security screening point, and deploying enhanced digital mapping tools.

An upgraded baggage system featuring AI is supposed to anticipate overloading and detect potential breakdowns before they occur. Better staffing aims to reduce baggage recirculation, maintain baggage system capacity, prevent bag jams and reduce related delays at check-in and departure. The GTAA has also created a resource pool of employees and contracted staff who would be available to move bags by hand during irregular operations.


Luxury travel specialist Jennifer Gaskell, who runs Pink Palm Travel in Oakville, ON, says she’s had good experiences coming through Pearson, not just this year, but last year too: “I travelled multiple times internationally, and each and every time - moving through security departing Pearson went smoothly with no delays. And

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arriving back home, there were many times when I stepped off the plane and was at my car within 20 minutes.”

Gaskell says she only had a handful of clients who were impacted by delays at Pearson last summer. That said, “if I could describe the situation in one word, that word would be ‘unpredictable’,” says Gaskell. “This summer I intend on continuing to tell clients to arrive at YYZ three hours ahead of their flight. I also recommend that they stay up-to-date with airline schedule changes by downloading the appropriate apps and enabling push notifications so that they are receiving information as it becomes available.”

She adds: “One trend that I am noticing is that flight schedules are changing (often leaving earlier in the morning than originally noted when originally booked) so I still advise clients to make plans to be at Pearson with enough time to be able to relax at the gate. It’s the best way to be prepared.”

Judith Coates, travel advisor and founder of Wired for Travel (and one of the founding members of ACITA), tells Travelweek she’s travelled a lot since last summer, and says she’s noticed some “definite improvements” at Pearson. “Specifically in security, with the implementation of YYZ Express. Clients just need to book a time slot for going through security, and they bypass the lineup. I tell all my clients about it when I send them a ‘bon voyage’ email, and it makes me look like a hero,” says Coates.

“They have also streamlined the process at security once you actually go through it. I’ve noticed a huge improvement since last summer,” says Coates.

“The best advice I give clients is to use common sense. Arrive earlier than you normally would (for an international flight, arrive 3.5 - 4 hours before your flight time). And pack extra patience.”

WestJet pre-emptively cancelling flights ahead of Friday’s strike deadline

CALGARY — WestJet has begun taking down its network, as WestJet Group prepares for labour action by WestJet and Swoop pilots.

WestJet says that pre-emptively cancelling flights ensures the airline can avoid abandoning aircraft in remote locations without support, and enables proactive communication with passengers and crew to minimize the potential for being stranded.

The airline says its decision to cancel flights comes as the WestJet Group remains in a stalemate with the union regarding unreasonable wage expectations that if realized would permanently damage the financial viability of the group's future.

WestJet and the ALPA are in round-the-clock negotiations as the clock ticks towards the Friday strike deadline. On May 17 WestJet’s CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech said there was still a “massive gap” between the two sides.

The WestJet Group is parking the majority of its 737 and 787 fleet, in a measured, phased and safe approach, he added. WestJet Encore, WestJet Link as well as limited 737 flights will continue to operate during this time

"We remain at the bargaining table, unequivocally committed to achieving a deal as soon as possible, but are equally ready to weather labour action for as long as it takes to arrive at a reasonable outcome," said von Hoensbroech.

TOP NEWS 4 | TRAVELWEEK | May 18, 2023 TRAVELWEEK Tel: 416.365.1500 Toll-free: 1.855.392.8820 Web: CONTENTS COPYRIGHTED We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada. SUBSCRIPTION RATES (PER YEAR) Canada: $85 Canadian + $4.25 GST per year United States & International: $100 US per year SOCIAL MEDIA For circulation inquiries please email


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PEI’s Stewart Travel Group promotes exclusive Colin James sailing onboard AmaCello

CHARLOTTETOWN — Multi-Juno award winner Colin James will be sailing the Rhône and Saône Rivers with Stewart Travel Group in October 2024, just in time for a 10th anniversary celebration for the Prince Edward Island travel agency.

The sailing follows up from Stewart Travel Group’s two successful full-charter European river cruises in 2022 with Canadian musician Jim Cuddy, and with another sold-out cruise scheduled for November 2023 with Blue Rodeo.

The exclusive Stewart Travel Group river cruise with James will be onboard AmaWaterways’ 72-stateroom AmaCello, sailing through Burgundy and Provence Oct. 24-31, 2024. The itinerary will include two performances by James and his fellow musicians

and longtime collaborators, Steve Marriner on bass and harmonica, and Chris Caddell on guitar. Pricing for the sailing starts at $5,275 per person and includes gratuities. Details on the cruise are available at

There will also be a songwriters’ circle and a fundraising dinner with the trio, to support Hospice PEI (https://

James is one of Canada’s best-known musicians, with a career spanning 30+ years. His self-titled debut album in 1988 was the fastest-selling album in Canadian history, and with songs like Five Long Years and Voodoo Thing, it garnered him his first Juno award and an opening spot on tour with Keith Richards. His second album, Sudden Stop, with its hit song Just Came Back, saw him win his second Juno.

James now has 20 studio albums and eight Juno awards, along with multiple other accolades like 20 Maple Blue awards, and multi-platinum record sales. His sound evolved, gaining him new fans along the way. James is credited with launching the swing

revival, and in 2016, James found himself on new charts – this time for the blues. Blue Highways spent 10 weeks at number one on the Roots Music Report’s Blues Chart, and one of his biggest hits, Riding in the Moonlight, has millions of hits on Spotify.


Stewart Travel Group now has 14 travel advisors across the Maritimes. The travel agency, which recently added a business manager to their team, has become known for unique travel experiences.

As Travis Stewart tells it, he never could have foreseen his company’s evolution 10 years ago. In his Charlottetown home office in 2014 with nothing but a laptop, a phone, and the phone book, and having quit his secure travel management job, “I stared at the phone that first morning, and thought ‘What have I done?’” says Stewart. “Paula [co-owner of Stewart Travel Group] opened [the phone book] up and started to find names of folks we knew, and I just started calling.”

TOP NEWS 6 | TRAVELWEEK | May 18, 2023

Register now for May 31 ‘Future of Travel: Agent Appreciation’, with 100 prizes up for grabs

TORONTO — Travel’s recovery is in full swing, and it couldn’t have happened without the hard work, dedication and sheer perseverance of travel advisors.

That’s why Travelweek Group’s upcoming Future of Travel virtual event is celebrating the retail travel community - with 100 prizes to be won.

‘Future of Travel: Agent Appreciation’ will take place Wednesday, May 31, from 1 - 3 p.m. EST. Registration for the online event is now open at: http://

Tour operators, tourism boards, hoteliers and more will offer their take on the industry’s recovery year, and share their gratitude for their travel advisor partners.

“It has never been more clear just how important travel advisors are, and how the work they do keeps Canadians travelling - and supplier product flying off the shelves!” says Travelweek’s Publisher, Devin Kinasz.

Kinasz continued: “Travel Agent Day, celebrated every May, got its start right here in Canada and one



of the keynote speakers for ‘Future of Travel: Agent Appreciation’ on May 31 is the President of the travel agency where it all began. So many suppliers celebrate travel advisors all month long and we’re taking this chance to show our appreciation for agents. Register now for your chance to win one of 100 prizes during the show! We’ve never had a prize giveaway like this in the history of our ‘Future of Travel’ series. With the demand for travel hitting record highs, and with travel advisors working as hard as ever getting clients where they need to go, it’s time to say thank you to Canada’s travel advisors with our biggest

prize giveaway ever.”

Keynote speakers slated to join host Kinasz and Travelweek’s editorial team for interviews for ‘Future of Travel: Agent Appreciation’ include:

• Kristin Karst, Co-Owner and Executive Vice-President, AmaWaterways

• Guy Young, Chief Engagement Officer, The Travel Corporation

• Lorine Charles-St. Jules, CEO, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority

• Armando Mendonca, President, AMpm Canada / Trade Liason, Canada for the Vienna Tourist Board

• Elke Bachner, B2B Relations, Vienna Tourist Board

• Amanda Morris, Director of Sales, Canada for Playa Resorts

• Casey Canevari, Senior Manager, Global Trade, Brand USA

• Jamie Milton, President, Uniglobe Carefree Travel, the founding travel agency of Travel Agent Day

Also taking part in ‘Future of Travel: Agent Appreciation’ are Hyatt Hotels, Canada Jetlines, G Adventures, Palladium Hotel Group, Sunwing, Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority, Tourism Ireland, VISITFLANDERS and Visit Portugal, plus the Jamaica Tourist Board, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation, SATA Azores Airlines, VIA Rail and Wyoming Office of Tourism.

Registration for the May 31, 2023 event is now open; see http://www.

TOP NEWS May 18, 2023 | TRAVELWEEK | 7


Virgin Voyages’ third ship, Resilient Lady, is making its debut this week with a seven-night Greek Islands voyage. The ship departed May 14 from Athens and sails to Santorini, Rhodes, Bodrum, with an overnight in Mykonos, before returning to Athens this coming Sunday. Also debuting this season is the ‘Adriatic Sea & Greek Gems’ itinerary, sailing along Croatia’s coastline and visiting the Greek Islands. After its inaugural season in Greece, Resilient Lady will embark on a trans-continental voyage, arriving at Station Pier in Port Melbourne, Victoria, setting sail through Australia and New Zealand from Dec. 11, 2023 - March 27, 2024. Resilient Lady is the third ship to join Virgin Voyages’ fleet in the span of just two years. Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady both launched in 2022, while Brilliant Lady is set to debut later this year following Resilient Lady.

Princess Cruises has locked on a name for its second Sphere Class cruise ship – Star Princess. Currently under construction at Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, Star Princess is scheduled to debut on Aug. 4, 2025, after which it will sail an inaugural season of Mediterranean voyages. Star Princess cruises will go on sale with Princess’ larger Europe 2025 program release on June 1, 2023. Upon completion, Star Princess will join Sun Princess as the largest ships ever built for Princess at 175,000 tons, carrying 4,300 guests.


Canadians will be able to apply to renew their passports online beginning this fall. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser says made the announcement at an unveiling of the federal government’s new design for Canada’s passport, with updated security features. Fraser said Canadians will be able to upload the necessary documents and passport photo on a secure government website. Those applying for new passports, including children, will still need to go through the traditional application process with Service Canada. Social Development Minister Karina Gould says vast majority of applications the government receives are for new passports, but she expects a surge in passport renewals over the next year as the first 10-year passports issued in 2013 are set to expire.


The World Travel & Tourism Council’s 2023 Economic Impact Research shows that the Canadian travel and tourism sector continues to show strong

signs of post-pandemic recovery. According to the latest EIR, the sector is set to contribute $162.6 billion to the Canadian economy this year, up 17.2% from last year and within touching distance of the previous peak of $173.9 billion in 2019. WTTC is also forecasting that travel and tourism will create 90,000 jobs this year, recovering almost all of the jobs lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic to reach 1.64 million. Last year also saw the return of international travelers heading to Canada, with spending from overseas visitors growing 64% to reach almost $23 billion. However, this is still 47% below the 2019 peak of $42.9 billion.


Jamaica has been selected to host the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s 42nd Caribbean Travel Marketplace, set to take place in May 2024 in Montego Bay. The announcement was made jointly by Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett and CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig at CHTA Marketplace in Barbados. The two-day regional tourism event provides tourism suppliers with the opportunity to meet face-to-face with wholesalers from around the world that sell Caribbean vacation travel.


Court grants Travel Leaders Group right to use Travel Leaders name in Canada

ALEXANDRIA, VA — Travel Leaders Group, LLC has won the right to use the Travel Leaders trademark in Canada.

The win is a major victory for the company, and caps a six-year legal battle.

In a decision handed down in early March, the Federal Court of Canada determined that the Travel Leaders trademark registration, owned by an Ontario numbered company since 2011, had been abandoned and should be cancelled.

“We’re extremely gratified by the court’s decision,” said Roger E. Block, President, Travel Leaders Network. “This is a tremendous win for our company. Our brand is vitally important to us, and we’ve invested a great deal of time and energy defending it. We’ve already spoken to our Canadian members, and they’re excited to start using the full official Travel Leaders Network name.”

Travel Leaders Group, a division of Internova Travel Group, has filed new applications in Canada for the Travel Leaders trademark and has a pending application for the Travel Leaders Network trademark. Out of an abundance of caution, Travel Leaders Group will not be adopting the trademark in Canada until the decision is

final. The Ontario numbered company has sought an extension of time to file an appeal but has failed to retain counsel and is unlikely to be allowed to proceed without counsel.

Travel Leaders Network expects to issue a further update once the appeal motion is resolved. In the meantime, the ability to use the Travel Leaders brand name in Canada has been granted by the court in unequivocal terms. Planning is underway to use the single Travel Leaders brand throughout North America in the future.

The news was a highlight of Travel Leaders Network’s annual EDGE conference in Nashville. Some 1,700 TLN members, staff and supplier partners were in attendance, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

Canadian travel agencies honoured at the ‘Power of the Partnership (POP) Awards’ event during EDGE included: Chairman’s Pinnacle Award: Travel Best Bets, Burnaby, BC; Chairman’s Elite Award: KVI Travel, Victoria, BC; Chairman’s Host Award: Centre Holiday Inc., Mississauga, ON; President’s

Circle Award, Large agency: Northstar Travel, Kitchener, ON; President’s Circle Award, Midsize agency: Cruise Holidays, Oakville, ON; President’s Circle Award, Small agency: McPhail Travel, Moosomin, SK; Member of the Year Award: The Travel Agent Next Door Inc., Surrey, BC; and New Member Award: 510 Travel, Scarborough, ON.

On the supplier side, winners were chosen based on providing tremendous support in areas of agent interest such as marketing, technology, sales support and education and training.

This year’s Sales and Service Partner of the Year was awarded to TravelBrands, while the Overall Support Partner of the Year went to Sunwing. Other supplier winners included: Mass Market Tour Partner - WestJet Vacations; Escorted Tour Partner of the Year - Globus family of brands; Top Resort/Hotel Partner - Sandals Resorts; Adventure Tour Partner - G Adventures; Best Educational Programmes - Manulife; and Most Creative Marketing - AmaWaterways.

“This year’s supplier partner honorees continually go above and beyond for our TL Network Canada agencies and their clients,” said Christine James, Vice President of Travel Leaders Network Canada. “These awards are voted in by our membership, recognizing these suppliers for their commitment to our industry and our Travel Leaders Network family as inspiring, powerful and woven within our most cherished value – our partnerships.”

May 18, 2023 | TRAVELWEEK | 9

Transat Distribution Canada announces organizational changes

MONTREAL — A notice from Karine Gagnon, General Manager, Transat Distribution Canada offers a heads up about organizational changes within TDC.

“To align with our goals and with the objective of improving efficiency and synergies within our organization, I am announcing some changes to TDC’s current structure,” says Gagnon.

The news comes following the retirement of Susan Bowman, who was TDC’s VP, Marketing and Industry


Relations until her departure from the company in early April.

Anthony Mormina is promoted to Senior Director, Sales & Corporate Operations.  In his new role, Mormina is responsible for leading and strengthening sales & operations for all TDC’s company owned and managed retail points of sale, pursuing the company’s objectives. This includes TDC’s Loyalty partners & Club Voyages Affaire division, Voyages Transat, and Transat Travel agencies across Canada, as well as the Agent@Home sector.

Colette Girard is promoted to Director, Franchise and Affiliate members. Girard has been managing relationships with TDC’s members in Québec for over 11 years, and Gagnon says Girard’s extensive experience as a leader in both travel retail and tour operating, as well as solid relationships established over time with TDC members, make her the ideal candidate. Girard will take on the director role, overseeing the same

Emirates appoints Country Manager in Canada

Emirates has appointed Shaz Peshimam as its Country Manager for Canada, in a new role following the airline’s plans to expand its operations in the country.

As Country Manager, Peshimam will be responsible for leading the airline’s operations, driving growth and strengthening Emirates’ footprint in the country.

Peshimam was previously Emirates’ Manager of UAE Sales, Dubai & Northern Emirates since 2008. In his new role, he will report to Essa Sulaiman Ahmad, Emirates’ Divisional Vice President-USA and Canada.

Sulaiman said:“ Canada is an important market for Emirates and [Peshimam’s] wealth of experience in sales will surely be an asset to us. With the recent enhancements in bilateral relations between the United Arab Emirates and Canada, Emirates is pleased to revitalize its emphasis on Canada, as a crucial part of its growth strategy in the Americas.”

Peshimam joined Emirates in 2006 as Sales Manager-Western India based in Mumbai. He was promoted in 2008, to his most recent role in UAE Sales, based in Emirates’ headquarters in Dubai.

Emirates has been operating to Canada since 2007 and provides daily passenger services to Toronto onboard its flagship A380 aircraft. From July, Emirates will introduce services to Montréal, with daily service utilizing a Boeing 777 aircraft. Emirates’ operations connect customers to more than 130 destinations via Dubai.

territory, with the support of a manager, for which a recruitment process is underway.

Gagnon adds: “As the team gradually transitions into their new roles, Anthony will continue to be involved with our members in the coming weeks, ensuring a smooth transition with Colette, until a new manager is nominated. I, myself, will oversee our corporate agencies operations in the interim.”

Meanwhile Sandra Wesson, Director, Product & Industry Relations, previously reporting to the marketing sector, now reports to Gagnon as a member of TDC’s leadership team. To support Wesson, a new role of Product & Industry Relations Specialist is created, and a recruitment process is under way.

And as previously announced, Marc Pelletier has joined TDC as Senior Director, Marketing, Communications and Events and will report to Gagnon. Pelletier is responsible for the development and implementation of the marketing strategy and programs for all TDC brands. He will also oversee communications as well as events. Marie-Annick Lalande, Senior Communications Advisor and Paul Savoie, Manager, Events, now report to Pelletier.

Kimberley Wood remains in her role of National Director, Franchises and Affiliates, and also continues to oversee the Network Support team.

10 | TRAVELWEEK | May 18, 2023
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Tourism’s resilience still strong, on track for full recovery: UNWTO

MADRID — The latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer shows that the travel and tourism sector’s quick recovery has continued into 2023.

Overall, international arrivals reached 80% of pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2023, with an estimated 235 million tourists travelling internationally in the first three months of this year. That’s more than double the same period of 2022.

Not only that, but the UNWTO’s revised data for 2022 shows over 960 million tourists travelling internationally last year, meaning two-thirds (66%) of pre-pandemic numbers were recovered.

Region by region, in Q1 2023, the Americas reached 85% of 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels. Europe reached 90%, Africa 88% and Asia Pacific, 54%. The Asia Pacific region’s upward trend is set to accelerate now that most destinations, particularly China, have re-opened. Meanwhile the Middle East exceeded 2019 arrivals (+15%) and was the first to recover pre-pandemic numbers in a full quarter.

“The start of the year has shown again tourism’s unique ability to bounce back. In many places, we are close to or even above pre-pandemic levels of arrivals,” says UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “However, we must remain alert to challenges ranging from geopolitical insecurity, staffing shortages, and the potential impact of the cost-of-living

crisis on tourism, and we must ensure tourism’s return delivers on its responsibilities as a solution to the climate emergency and as a driver of inclusive development.”

International tourism receipts recovered too, reaching the US$1 trillion mark in 2022, and growing 50% in real terms compared to 2021. International travel was the big driver. Europe saw the best results in 2022 with nearly US$550 billion in tourism receipts (87% of pre-pandemic levels). Due to prolonged border shutdowns, Asian destinations earned about 28%. Africa recovered 75% of its pre-pandemic receipts, the Middle East 70% and the Americas 68%.


UNWTO’s forward-looking scenarios for 2023 project international arrivals to recover 80% to 95% of pre-pandemic levels.

Of course, there are challenges, including the economic situation, with high inflation and rising oil prices translating into higher transport and accommodations costs. The UNWTO says travellers are expected to increasingly seek value for money and travel closer to home.

Ever-present geopolitical tensions also continue to represent downside risks.


Virtuoso welcomes seven Canadian travel agencies to global network

TORONTO — Seven Canadian travel agencies have been added to Virtuoso’s global roster of agencies in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

These new additions include: BST Vacations/Blowes & Stewart Travel Group Ltd., Peterborough, ON; CWT Harvey’s Travel, St. John’s; Groupe Voyages VP, Montreal; Kerrisdale Cruise & Vacation Travel, Vancouver; Omega Travel Service Ltd., Vancouver; Vacances Le Faubourg, Boisbriand, QC; and Victor Travel, Concord, ON.

As a Virtuoso member, these agencies will enjoy a host of benefits through Virtuoso’s preferred partner portfolio, which includes more than 2,300 hotels and resorts, cruise lines, tour operators, destination management companies and premier destinations. They’ll also gain access to sales and marketing initiatives, Virtuoso’s professional development program.

“Affiliation with Virtuoso allows our members to build relationships with the world’s best travel providers and bring stronger value and more elevated travel experiences to Canadian travellers,” said Úna O’Leary, general manager, Virtuoso Canada. “We are honoured to welcome these outstanding travel agencies who share our commitment to excellence.”

Virtuoso’s combined annual travel

12 | TRAVELWEEK | May 18, 2023
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sales of $28-$32 billion allow the group to negotiate enhanced advantages. For clients of Virtuoso agencies, this means complimentary upgrades, daily breakfast and personalized amenities, as well as perks like private airport transfers, special dining experiences and spa treatments. These bonuses are valued up to Can$740 per stay at over 1,500 properties in more than 100 countries.

Plus, through the Virtuoso Voyages program, travel advisors can offer exclusive benefits to their clients on a select group of over 800 cruises. These include a dedicated onboard host and their choice of an added-value benefit ranging in value from Can$670 per couple to several thousand dollars, depending on the sailing.

FITCUBA 2023: Canada is Cuba’s top priority, says tourist board

HAVANA— FITCUBA (Feria Internacional de Turismo) 2023 recently took place in Havana, with San Carlos de la Cabana fortress showcasing the opening ceremony and trade floor.

FITCUBA attendees heard what’s new in Cuba, while the rich culture and colourful heritage of Havana were showcased to great effect.

Canada accounted for 51% of visitors to Cuba this past winter, and at FITCUBA, tourism executives said Canada is Cuba’s top priority. Some 80% of the arrivals seen in 2019 were achieved, with an increase in flights believed to be the key to matching that year’s numbers.

Another goal to increase numbers is to make the beautiful and historic city of Trinidad more attractive

to Canadian travellers. Stay tunedthere was discussion of a Canada-only summit to be held in October.

FITCUBA also highlighted Cuba’s cultural offering. Cuba has 340 museums, with 77 in Havana alone. National heritage collections and patriotic collections portraying wars of independence are especially popular. The categories of museums are vast and include general, history, art, archaeological, science & technology, natural history, eco-museums, anthropological, heritage and speciality museums, such as theme museums with a focus on author Ernest Hemingway, who famously lived in Cuba in his later years. More than 100 museums have been declared national monuments, in some cases for the buildings that they’re held within, and many museums are located within World Heritage Sites.

One very special attraction in Havana that visitors should definitely check out is Fábrica de Arte Cubano, or Fábrica, as locals call it. It’s a unique and sprawling facility appropriate for

all ages and nationalities that serves as an art gallery and nightclub. The diverse spaces include a cafe, nightclub, concert venue, bar, cinema, restaurant and art gallery. One could explore all evening and still not cover every space at this can’t miss venue, which was declared ‘One of the World’s 100 Greatest Places’ by Time Magazine in 2019.

Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, which launched new colours and a new logo earlier this year, is celebrating its 30th anniversary in Cuba. The pandemic gave the brand a chance to renovate its properties on the island. Those looking for sun can stay with Iberostar in Varadero and then stay with them again in Havana for some city time. Its centrally located Havana accommodations include the Iberostar Grand Packard and Iberostar Parque Central. The company has 18 hotels total in Cuba.

Media attending FITCUBA 2023 stayed at Hotel Gran Muthu Habana, a five-star MGM Muthu Hotel located near Fifth Avenue.

14 | TRAVELWEEK | May 18, 2023

Marriott International launches new agent incentive program

TORONTO — Marriott International has teamed up with My Booking Rewards (MBR) to launch a brand new incentive program for travel advisors.

With the ‘All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy Incentive Program, advisors can earn Marriott Bonvoy points on all qualified Marriott bookings logged at

With up to 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy points available per room, per night, agents can earn big and redeem points against travel. This includes flights and car rentals, experiences like music, cultural and sports events, and free night stays across Marriott’s more than 8,100 hotels. Advisors can also use their points to add value to client’s stay by redeeming them against upgrades and other added value extras.

Travel advisors can earn up to 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per room, per night on actualized bookings of three nights or more made via the GDS,, com, Marriott’s Customer engagement centre or by calling a Marriott property directly. They can also earn up to 500 Marriott Bonvoy points per room, per night on actualized bookings of three nights or more made through a wholesale partner, tour operator, Online Travel Agent or via Expedia Partner Solutions (EPS).

To be eligible to access the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program via MBR, agents must be affiliated with an agency holding a valid ARC, IATA, IATAN, TIDS or CLIA accreditation. Agents must also have a valid Marriott Bonvoy account.

ACV and Unique Vacations complete cross-country sales blitz

TORONTO —  Air Canada Vacations and Unique Vacations Canada, an affiliate of the worldwide representatives of Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts, have teamed up for a series of agent meet-and-greets across Canada.

Taking place over the past few months, the in-person visits spanned from Vancouver to Halifax, during which agents learned about the longstanding partnership between the two brands. In fact, Air Canada Vacations is the only Canadian tour operator with direct flights to each and every island destination that is home to a Sandals or Beaches resort.

“Simply put, Sandals and Beaches clients are ACV clients and vice versa,” said Maureen Barnes-Smith, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Unique Vacations Canada. “Canadian travel advisors know that it’s a win-win for their clients who want a quality product and exceptional service when they book a Sandals or Beaches package with Air Canada Vacations. After all, they’re placing their trust in not one, but two strong brands.”

Israel launches new Destination Specialist Program

TORONTO — The Israel Ministry of Tourism has launched its new Destination Specialist Program for travel advisors.

Now live on the Travel Agent Academy, the program aims to educate advisors on Israel’s many offerings in faith-based, multigenerational, heritage and outdoor/adventure travel. Advisors will also learn about culinary and cultural tours, from water adventures and Dead Sea tourism to local cuisine and UNESCO heritage sites. Upon completion, advisors will qualify for up to four continuing education units (CEU) through the Travel Institute.


According to the Israel Ministry of Tourism, a record 8,000 passengers from Canada entered Israel in April 2023. Overall, since the beginning of 2023, 26,000 Canadian tourists have visited the country, a tell-tale sign that tourism from Canada is back and stronger than ever.

“I am excited to see the numbers go up over 2019, our record-breaking year to Israel,” said Gal Hana, Israel Ministry of Tourism’s Consul to

May 18, 2023 | TRAVELWEEK | 15

Canada. “Israel is a destination that offers a truly unique and inspiring experience to all who visit.”

Earn rewards through May with Sunwing & Hyatt

Inclusive Collection

TORONTO — Sunwing and Hyatt Inclusive Collection are teaming up to offer travel agents incredible perks for Travel Agent Appreciation Month.

Agents who book their clients a Hyatt Inclusive Collection vacation package at select Dreams Resorts & Spas and Secrets Resorts & Spas properties by May 31, 2023, for departures by Dec. 15, 2023, will be automatically entered for a chance to win a free seven-night stay at Dreams Sands Cancun Resort and Spa, or Dreams Aventuras Riviera Maya.

Plus, agents will earn 5x STAR Points on eligible bookings.

Travellers can also take advantage of a couple perks when booking during the month of May. Until May 31, 2023, they’ll enjoy reduced Sunwing package rates, plus the chance to win an all-inclusive getaway for two at Secrets Tulum Resort and Beach Club.

Paired with the month-long incentives from Hyatt Inclusive Collection, Canadians can enjoy more value when travelling with Sunwing, including their first checked bag free at a value of $100+ roundtrip. The Sunwing Guarantee also includes transportation from the airport to the hotel and back and the lowest price on change and cancellation protection with Sunwing’s Worry Free coverage options.

For more information go to

Hilton to manage Zemi Miches AllInclusive Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

PUNTA CANA — Hilton has signed on to manage the new-build Zemi Miches All-Inclusive Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton, marking the fi rst all-inclusive Curio Collection by Hilton property in the Dominican Republic.

Located north of Punta Cana in the coastal town of Miches, the brand new, 502-room, all-inclusive resort is expected to open in 2024 as Hilton’s 10th all-inclusive property in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Owned by Zemi Hotels & Resorts, S.R.L., and managed by Hilton, the property is part of Hilton’s plan to nearly triple its portfolio in the Dominican Republic over the next five years. It currently offers five hotels in the destination, with nine more in various stages of development across the country.

“The signing of Zemi Miches All-Inclusive Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton is a momentous addition to our robust pipeline in the broader Caribbean, where we have nearly 30 Hilton properties operating across the region and approximately 30 hotels in development,” said Pablo Maturana, vice president, development, Caribbean and Latin America, Hilton. “

As we work to double our Caribbean portfolio and nearly triple our presence in the Dominican Republic, we are proud to work alongside visionary owners who share our values and support responsible tourism to incredible destinations like Miches,” he added.

Zemi Miches All-Inclusive Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton is situated on a half-mile stretch of Esmeralda Beach, approximately 60 miles from Punta Cana International Airport. The 502 guestrooms are spread across 6 four-storey buildings and 18 free-standing beach bungalows. This includes 123 ground level swimup guestrooms featuring individual plunge pools that connect via a winding pool, allowing guests to swim to other areas of the resort.

Other features include a sprawling pool complex with a water park,

May 18, 2023 | TRAVELWEEK | 17



We appreciate the support you’ve shown our “full house” brands including Luxury Gold, Insight Vacations, Trafalgar, Brendan Vacations, Costsaver and Contiki, in addition, we are stacking the deck with even more tools to ensure you always have the winning hand.

As a token of our appreciation, we’re also giving you an exclusive chance to win swag items all month long – plus one lucky winner will receive the ultimate grand prize of a $2,000 travel credit* towards a trip of your choice.

*Terms apply. Please visit site for details. PLAY TO WIN


a fitness centre, juice bar, night club, kids club, retail shops and nine food and drink options. There’ll also be 15,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space as well as a dedicated spa building with 10 treatment rooms, a beauty salon, an indoor pool, sauna, jacuzzi, and an outdoor terrace for yoga and meditation.

Granite Travel Trade Expos schedules crossCanada fall dates

OAKVILLE, ON — New dates have been announced for Granite Travel Trade Expos that will take the travel trade events cross-country to Western Canada, The Maritimes and

additional cities in Ontario this fall.

Following the success of inaugural spring shows last month, the events will visit the following cities during the fall season: Edmonton – Oct. 3; Victoria – Oct. 4; Surrey, BC – Oct. 5; St. John’s – Oct. 16; Halifax – Oct. 18; Moncton – Oct. 19; Ottawa – Nov. 6; Pickering/Ajax, ON – Nov. 7; Vaughan, ON – Nov. 8; Burlington, ON – Nov. 9.

The event series is designed to connect industry suppliers and top-producing travel agents for interactive consultations and presentations. More than 20 travel suppliers, including Tauck, Manulife, St. Kitts, Expedia, Porter, and Bahia Principe Hotels and Resorts, and more than 325 travel agents attended the spring Granite Travel Trade Expos, which took place in the key Ontario markets of Kitchener/Waterloo, Hamilton, Mississauga and Barrie. In each city, 15-minute presentations by suppliers were followed by a trade show, dinner and

prize giveaways.

On the series’ cross-Canada expansion, Bradley Dean, Partner, Granite Productions, said: “The expansion of our Granite Travel Trade Expos is a direct response to the success of our April shows and industry demand to bring it to other markets. The feedback we received from attendees was overwhelmingly positing and we had a lot of agents asking if we were bringing the show to their communities. We’re very excited to do that this fall.”

Joe Scardigno, National Account Manager, Canada at Tauck who attended the spring shows, added: “The energy and buzz from the event in Mississauga were so good to see. It was great to meet so many new people and have face-to-face conversations again. Tauck and I look forward to being a part of future Granite Travel Trade Expos.”

Suppliers are encouraged to register for the fall expos early. For exhibit

May 18, 2023 | TRAVELWEEK | 19
Where is your host agency’s conference being held next year? Join Canada’s most exciting host agency! Click here to learn MORE™ about us! NEWS

and sponsorship opportunities, contact Bradley Dean at

For more info about Granite Travel Trade Expos go to

Play and win rewards points and extra commission with TravelBrands

TORONTO — TravelBrands is inviting travel agents to play three new games for the chance to earn Loyalty Rewards Points and extra commission.

Running through June 9, 2023, the games are accessible on TravelBrands’

all-new and improved all-in-one platform, Access+.

Up to 5,000 Loyalty Rewards Points are up for grabs with the Quiz Game if all questions are answered.

The Treasure Game allows agents to win between 500 and 10,000 Loyalty Rewards Points.

Plus, for each booking made on Access+, travel agents will receive an invitation to play the Casino Game for the chance to win up to 10,000 Loyalty Rewards Points.

Those who complete all three games can also earn the chance to win a $2,500 TravelBrands future travel voucher.

In addition to the three new games, TravelBrands is rewarding agents with a 2% bonus commission for bookings made on Access+ from May 9-June 9, 2023. This offer is valid on TravelGenie packages, hotel only, and add-ons such as tours, transfers and attractions.

“We are thrilled to introduce these

new games to our travel agent partners,” says Nathalie Tanious, COO, TravelBrands. “We recognize the vital role that travel agents play in the success of our company, and we want to show our appreciation by providing them with fun and engaging ways to earn rewards and extra commission.”

To participate in the games, travel agents must log into Access+. For more information go to

20 | TRAVELWEEK | May 18, 2023


Great items up for bidding Support children in Ukraine

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• 7-night Caribbean-Antilles Cruise with MSC Cruises

• 2 Roundtrip WestJet tickets to anywhere they fly except Europe

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• 4-8 Night Caribbean cruise with Virgin Voyages

• 7-night Kenya Safari with African Oasis Safaris


• 7-night Avalon Waterways River Cruise

• VIA RAIL gift cards

• Amazon Gift Card courtesy of Huntington Travel

• Luggage set courtesy of CAA Club Group

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• And much more! BE WON: All items are available to ANYONE to bid on so share with family and friends to join in the fun! Create an account and add your payment method (you only get charged when the bidding closes on May 22, 2023, 9:00 a.m. and if you are the highest bidder). You do NOT need to be a golfer to participate in the Online Auction.
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