Travelweek APRIL 11 2024

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RETAIL GROUPS TAKE ON SKILLS GAP, LABOUR SHORTAGE Page 3

TRAVELBRANDS' NEW INCENTIVE FOR AGENTS Page 6

AVALON ALEGRIA SETS SAIL Page 22

MORE LEARNING, MORE EARNING

Canada’s Travel Trade News April 11, 2024
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Creative initiatives, new programs spring up as lack of skilled labour hampers growth for the retail travel industry

TORONTO — Travel agency owners and managers already strapped for staff don’t just need employees.

They need trained agents who can hit the ground running and sell product knowledgeably, and effectively.

It’s a tall order, stemming from a labour shortage that travel retailers have been grappling with for years, exacerbated by the retirement of more and more senior travel advisors (as well as the ramp-up in travel demand post-pandemic).

The need for new travel advisors coming into the industry has never been greater.

And Increasingly retailers are taking matters into their own hands, developing training programs for new-to-industry agents.

Some programs have been around

for years. Training newcomers is one of many tasks for Rhonda Stanley, who’s led the New Agent Program at The Travel Agent Next Door as VP, Talent Development for a decade now.

Other programs are brand new.

Just last week, the CAA Club Group of Companies (CCG) announced it will launch the CCG Travel Academy this spring, to help bridge the skills gap.

Also last week, TRAVELSAVERS Canada announced it is introducing its KORE educational program to the Canadian market.

IMPACT ON TRAVEL AGENCY GROWTH

ACTA President Wendy Paradis tells Travelweek that although the retail travel industry’s labour shortage has improved over the past years, the feedback Paradis hears from ACTA members is that “the lack of skilled labour is still one of the most critical issues impacting travel agency growth.”

Years ago, travel and tourism programs at local colleges aimed specifically at travel agent training were plentiful. That’s no longer the case, says Paradis.

“ACTA collaborates with many colleges across Canada. Over the past decade we have seen a dramatic shift from specific travel advisor programs to more generalized travel and tourism programs. Some community colleges still offer a few ‘travel agent’-related subjects within their curriculum. With colleges and universities now predominantly offering generalized travel and tourism courses, there is a notable gap in specific training for travel agents,” she says.

In 2019, ACTA developed its own educational program. In consultation with members, ACTA updated the national occupational standards for the travel advisor profession and developed an online course called Travel Agent Essentials.

Available in both English and French, the course offers step-bystep training tailored specifically for new entrants to the industry. ACTA also developed an employment and independent travel advisor matching program for graduates of the Travel Agent Essentials program.

Many ACTA members, travel agencies and host agencies are tapping into ACTA’s Travel Advisor Essentials Program to train new travel agencies or have developed their own training program specific to their needs, says Paradis.

She adds: “Our members are also telling us that they are seeing great interest from individuals interested in becoming a travel advisor part-time or as a second career.”

“CHALLENGING TO MEET EXPECTATIONS”

Travelweek also reached out to CAA and TRAVELSAVERS Canada, to find out more about their new educational programs.

CAA's CCG Travel Academy is a paid two-month program that will run twice in 2024 and then quarterly in 2025 onward, and includes a mix of classroom education and on-the-job training. New hires will automatically join the Academy that is scheduled closest to their hire date.

Catherine Sieniewicz, VP, Travel and

April 11, 2024 | TRAVELWEEK | 3 TOP NEWS

Retail, CAA Club Group of Companies, says the company’s top priority is always to deliver exceptional service to CAA members. “While our Associates have been working diligently to deliver on that, it is challenging to meet expectations when you have a shortage of people. We hope that this plan will really help build the bench strength we need to maintain the level of care and service that we are known for.”

Asked about the goals for CAA’s new program, Sieniewicz said the company is hoping to recruit and train close to 20 new Associates in the Academy during the first year.

“This is a completely new approach for us at CAA Club Group of Companies,” she adds. “We are a leader in Associate training and development, delivering hundreds of in-house courses every year. What makes this different is that we aren’t only training on our approach, processes and systems but also industry knowledge so that someone with zero experience can learn from the ground up.”

“THE ART OF SELLING”

Jane Clementino, SVP and General Manager of TRAVELSAVERS Canada, tells Travelweek that agency owners talking not just about getting new entrants into the industry, but also ensuring those entrants are trained in a way that addresses the specific needs of the Canadian market, especially as consumer demand for travel professionals has increased post-pandemic.

“We hear two different reasons for labour requirements,” Clementino

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Questions or comments?

Write to Kathryn Folliott at kfolliott@travelweek.ca

tells Travelweek. “First is the need to replace advisor positions that are vacant due to the changes that occurred during the pandemic. The second need is the desire to have their business grow.”

Demand continues to be strong and resources are limited, “so the work-life juggle continues,” she adds. “That’s why we’re thrilled to introduce KORE, in hopes that this valuable education tool can fill this gap in the travel trade industry.”

KORE connects unaffiliated students with personal mentors who are agency owners and managers. It even offers post-graduation job placement. KORE launched in the U.S. in 2021 and is now coming to Canada.

Clementino likes that KORE is a fully digital college-level platform with a self-paced curriculum. “Whether you’re new to the industry, an individual looking for a career change, or an agency owner looking to brush up on important skills or train new staff - KORE is a valuable educational tool that can be used across the board in the travel trade,” she says.

KORE participants get access to a personal mentor “who’s a wellversed travel expert,” a certificate of

completion and material that’s been fine-tuned by industry professionals for the needs of the Canadian market.

She also likes the time-efficiency aspect of the program. KORE takes about 135 hours to complete.

Existing TRAVELSAVERS affiliate agencies can enlist not only new recruits to complete the KORE program, but also any staff who might be interested in brushing up on their skills in the evolving industry of travel, says Clementino. “We’ve also seen a great interest in agency owners looking to be a part of the mentorship program in Canada,” she adds.

Travelweek asked both Clementino and Sieniewicz for their take on the three most important skills for a travel advisor, at any level.

“The art of selling, geography, and learning and adopting new technologies, inclusive of AI,” says Clementino.

An affinity for technology is on Sieniewicz’s list too. “Exceptional customer service skills, an ability to leverage and navigate technology, and problem-solving skills,” she says.

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“The world is their oyster”: TravelBrands’ Nathalie Tanious on travel advisor tools & selling tips

TORONTO — Bookings for TravelBrands are booming, which is why the company is intent on reaching out to those who are largely to thank – travel advisors.

Speaking with Travelweek ahead of TravelBrands’ Agent Appreciation Events in Toronto and Montreal this week, Nathalie Tanious, TravelBrands’ President & CEO, says that the company had a “very good winter” and that “summer is looking extremely strong,” with travellers booking longer trips, tons of cruises and departures later into the season. All this, she says, can be credited to pent-up demand, yes, but also to the efforts and continued support of travel advisors.

“There wouldn’t be any TravelBrands without travel advisors,” says Tanious. “We are fully reliant on travel advisors and we cater to and serve travel advisors across all our different product lines and workstreams.”

“We’re seeing more and more advisors seeking support and, specifically,

training; they’re sponging in all this information,” says Tanious. “I always say, ‘We’re just as good as what we can offer in the marketplace.’ And today, we have a plethora of products and tools for travel advisors, and we’re constantly adding new ones. And when I say ‘products,’ I mean new technology, new initiatives within technology platforms to help advisors close that sale. And for us, that’s key.”

TOOLS FOR TRAVEL ADVISORS

TravelBrands has been working on two major travel advisor platforms over the last two years: GiGi, which soft launched less than a year ago, and Access+, launched in February 2023 as a revamped and enhanced version of the Access platform.

GiGi, an air and consolidation platform described by Tanious as “avant-garde,” features ‘the calculator,’ which allows advisors to calculate fares, provide best rates for clients, and email documents and itineraries. A designated GiGi room will be featured at both the Toronto and Montreal events to allow advisors to experience it firsthand.

“It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s simple and you have 80 different airline partners and then some, all in one single platform,” says Tanious. “The feedback has been extremely good because advisors no longer have to go to different partners to book their air. Whether they’re booking air only or booking with a land component and so forth, it’s all sitting under the one umbrella.”

GiGi is located on the newly enhanced Access+ platform, considered the hub of everything TravelBrands. New enhancements on Access+ include an improved hotel search

widget, dynamic fly & drive packages, dynamic cancellation penalties, Loyalty Rewards points in the booking flow, and the capability to book river cruises online.

AI: A STRATEGIC APPROACH

News broke in February that TraveBrands is partnering with Travelweek on AI-based educational programs, products and services for both travel advisors and suppliers. Noting that artificial intelligence “isn’t going anywhere,” Tanious says, like many travel companies and travel agencies, TravelBrands is fully embracing AI technologies and is currently focused on acquiring data analytics, a measured approach that will serve the company well in the long run.

“Do people really know what AI will do for them? We ourselves are constantly asking the same question, but you have to start strategically. So for us, we’re starting with data analytics, then the next phase will be a chatbot (coming in summer 2024), then after that it’ll be about content and bringing that to the forefront. We have to do it strategically, in phases, and be intelligent when applying AI into our business as well as make sure we’re compliant with regards to privacy laws and everything in between,” says Tanious.

WHAT’S SELLING?

Following a “very good winter” that saw strong bookings, Tanious says post-pandemic pent-up demand continues to drive sales. Destinations across TravelBrands’ diverse portfolio have been selling well, particularly long-stays in Spain and Portugal, Italy and Greece, as well as cruising, which

6 | TRAVELWEEK | April 11, 2024 TOP NEWS
NATHALIE TANIOUS

is available at price points that are hard to beat. Tanious also notes that more and more travellers are travelling to Europe in off-shoulder months, well into the end of October and early November.

“There’s no doubt in the last three summers that Europe has been very busy, which has led to big crowds. People are now saying they still want to go but they don’t want to have to deal with the crowds, so they’re pushing their vacations back a bit,” says Tanious.

“Long-stays have also been phenomenal through our Exotik Journeys division. We’re seeing lots of longstays to Spain and Portugal, even in the winter months,” she adds.

ONE BIG TIP F OR TRAVEL ADVISORS

For travel advisors who’ve been slow to recover their business post-pandemic, Tanious has these words of advice:

“Don’t be afraid to upsell. There’s so much product out there. If you’re client is looking for ‘X’, offer them ‘X’ but also offer them ‘Y’ because customers want a travel advisor’s ideas and suggestions.

“I think travel advisors today have a huge opportunity to show their value. If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that travel advisors are so important.

“With all the different flights and options that are out there, nothing is

unavailable or inaccessible. Hotels are back to their full capacities, a lot of the airlines have grown and they’re ready now with new routes in the marketplace. For travel advisors today, the world is their oyster.”

“OUR SUCCESS HAS BEEN THANKS TO YOU”

TravelBrands’ 2024 Agent Appreciation Events came with a new booking incentive for travel advisors.

Tanious opened the Toronto event with a heartfelt message to travel partners and advisors, highlighting the company’s commitment to excellence and innovation.

“Our success has been thanks to your outstanding support through thick and thin.

You’ve been with us, supported us and grown with us,” she said.

To show the company’s appreciation, Tanious announced the launch of ‘The Amazing Agent Race’ campaign,

an incentive initiative designed to recognize and reward top-performing travel advisors. As part of the campaign, the #1 top-selling advisor during the month of April (until April 26) will win the grand prize of one million Loyalty Rewards points. Points can be redeemed for various rewards including merchandise, travel, gift cards and the ability to donate to foundations and charities.

Additionally, the second-place winner will secure roundtrip airfare with Air Canada, while the third-place winner will receive a $500 future travel voucher.

The winners of ‘The Amazing Agent Race’ will be officially announced on May 1 in celebration of Travel Agent Day.

Qualifying bookings can be made at www.travelbrandsaccess.com.

“TravelBrands is thrilled to launch ‘The Amazing Agent Race’ campaign, which serves as a testament to our ongoing dedication to supporting and rewarding our valued travel agents,” says Tanious. “We believe that this initiative will not only incentivize excellence but also foster a sense of excitement and celebration within the travel agent community.”

Also announced at the Toronto event was the return of TravelBrands’ ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ service, which offers 24/7 in-destination support for clients.

The evening also highlighted TravelBrands’ diverse product offerings, from vacation rentals and car rentals, including electric vehicles in the U.S. and Canada, to add-ons and attractions that include commission for travel advisors.

April 11, 2024 | TRAVELWEEK | 7 TOP NEWS
TRAVELBRANDS' AGENT APPRECIATION EVENT IN TORONTO

GLOBAL TOURISM

CRUISING

Viking Holdings Ltd, parent company of Viking Cruises, aims to go public. Viking Holdings has publicly filed a registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to a proposed initial public offering. The number of ordinary shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined. The proposed offering is subject to market and other conditions. Financial news Barron’s says the IPO could be valued at more than US$10 billion. Viking intends to list its ordinary shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ‘VIK.’

HOTELS

The family-friendly, all-inclusive Dreams Estrella del Mar Mazatlan Golf & Spa Resort is now open. The opening of the luxury all-suite resort marks the first Hyatt hotel in Mazatlan. Part of Hyatt’s Inclusive Collection, the resort is in line with Hyatt’s strategic brand expansion. “We are thrilled to introduce guests and World of Hyatt members to the pearl of Mexico’s pacific coast. The opening of Dreams Estrella del Mar Mazatlán Golf & Spa Resort represents an opportunity to contribute greater value to Hyatt’s existing portfolio in the rapidly growing market by offering guests the first Hyatt resort in this brand-new destination,” said Gabriel Felip, President, Latin America & Caribbean.

AIRLINES

Turkish Airlines achieved a new milestone in 2023, carrying 83.4 million passengers. The company increased its domestic passenger capacity by 23.5% compared to 2022, with the number of passengers surpassing 30 million. On international routes, capacity rose by 16%, and Turkish Airlines carried 53 million passengers, an increase of 14%. The carrier also notes that as a result of Türkiye’s investments in aviation infrastructure, Istanbul Airport emerged as the leading European airport in terms of daily number of flights. Aiming to expand its fleet to 800 aircraft by 2033 as part of its 100th anniversary strategy, Turkish Airlines increased its number of aircraft by 12% to 440 in 2023, despite global challenges in aircraft procurement and bottlenecks in aircraft production. The carrier is aiming to increase its revenue to over US$50 billion and to carry more than 170 million passengers by its 100th anniversary in 2033.

The World Travel & Tourism Council is projecting a recordbreaking year for travel and tourism in 2024, with the sector’s global economic contribution set to reach an all-time high of US$11.1 trillion. According to the global tourism body’s 2024 Economic Impact Research, travel and tourism will contribute an additional $770 billion over its previous record, stamping its authority as a global economic powerhouse, generating one in every 10 dollars worldwide. International visitor spending is expected to come within touching distance of the 2019 peak, to reach $1.89 trillion, while domestic tourists are forecast to spend more than in any year on record to hit $5.4 trillion.

NEXUS

Travellers looking to fast-track it across the border by signing up for Nexus could pay more than twice the current price to apply after September. Starting Oct. 1, Canadian authorities say applicants to the program, which allows pre-approved travellers to cross between Canada and the U.S. more quickly, might have to fork over US$120 rather than the US$50 fee that’s been in place since Nexus launched in 2002. The fee hike remains subject to approval of regulatory changes in Canada and the U.S.

DREAMS ESTRELLA DEL MAR MAZATLAN GOLF & SPA RESORT WORLD NEWS
Canada

is “a

significant part of

our business”: Direct Travel CEO Bemont

TORONTO — Direct Travel’s travel advisors here in Canada will benefit from more growth and more opportunities in the wake of the recent acquisition news.

That’s the word from Christal Bemont, the new CEO of Direct Travel.

Travelweek reached out to Bemont after the announcement that Direct Travel will be acquired by a team of investors led by venture capitalist (and founder of the world’s largest travel and expense management company, Concur), Steve Singh.

As Bemont told Travelweek, when asked about the impact on Direct Travel’s Canadian travel advisors: “We have very strong ambitions to emerge as leaders in the market. As we invest to grow our business and flourish, we expect employees to benefit from even greater opportunities for career development and advancement as part of a stronger, rapidly growing organization.”

Bemont was formerly CEO of Talend, and before that she served as the CRO of SAP Concur. She has extensive travel industry experience, having spent over 15 years at SAP Concur.

At Direct Travel, Bemont takes over from long-serving CEO Ed Adams, who founded the company in 2011 and helped establish it as a market leader, and who now plans to retire.

Travelweek asked Bemont what’s exciting about the acquisition.

“Our goal is simple - deliver a dramatically better value proposition to business travellers, the companies they work for, and the travel providers that serve them,” she told Travelweek.

“Our vision is to build the most admired and innovative travel management company in the world. We will execute on that vision by investing to

meet our customers’ current needs, grow our customer base in each of the markets we serve, methodically expand the number of markets we serve, and the breadth of products we deliver to our clients - this will be in part through our own innovations and in part through our partnerships with Spotnana, Center, and Troop,” she added.

Singh, who will serve as Executive Chairman of Direct Travel, says Spotnana, Center and Troop “are re-inventing and dramatically improving core elements of the travel technology stack.” Spotnana is a Travel-asa-Service platform, Center is a cardfirst expense management platform and Troop is a group meetings and events platform.

Direct Travel is one of the world’s largest travel management companies, serving over 4,500 mid-market and enterprise clients. The company “sets the bar for customer experience,” said Singh in a statement. Singh’s vision for ‘The Perfect Trip’ is a guiding principle for the company going forward.

Direct Travel has thousands of clients across North America and the EU, ranging in size from middle market businesses to some of the largest companies in the world.

Bemont tells Travelweek that Canada “represents a significant part of our business with over one-third of our business derived from serving our customers in the region.”

Travelweek also reached out to Brian Robertson, President, Canada West at Direct Travel, for his take on the acquisition.

“This is indeed very exciting news

for us at DT! It is very positive for our front-line advisors as it will bring new customer focused innovations, technology and resources to deliver ‘Whatever it Takes’ to our valued clients,” Robertson told Travelweek.

Air Canada’s new VancouverSingapore route takes off

MONTREAL — Air Canada is celebrating the launch of its newest Pacific route: Vancouver to Singapore.

Stretching 12,818 kilometres, the route is Air Canada’s longest flight measured by distance, with a flying time of up to 16 hours and five minutes.

“Air Canada is thrilled to welcome customers onboard our newest route linking Canada and Singapore from our Pacific hub in Vancouver. These new Singapore flights are part of our strategic expansion at YVR, which together with an efficient and seamless in-transit connection process, further position the airport as the preferred North American gateway to Asia,” said Mark Galardo, Executive Vice President, Revenue and Network Planning at Air Canada.

“Singapore is also an important gateway to beyond destinations. Customers have a multitude of connection options travelling to Southeast Asia, Southern India and Western Australia with our longstanding

April 11, 2024 | TRAVELWEEK | 9
NEWS

codeshare and Star Alliance partner, Singapore Airlines,” he added.

The Vancouver-Singapore route is operated with Boeing 787-Dreamliners featuring three cabins: Air Canada Signature Class with lie-flat individual pods, Premium Economy with larger seats, additional leg room and premium services, and Economy with complimentary meals, wines and beverages. All cabins have award-winning in-flight entertainment. Customers can also purchase WiFi connectivity, while all Air Canada Aeroplan members enjoy free texting onboard WiFi-equipped aircraft.

RateHawk’s online booking system targets Canadian agents

TORONTO — RateHawk, an online system for booking hotels, air tickets, and transfers for travel professionals, is making its mark in the Canadian market.

Recognizing the potential of the B2B

People

THE MARKET RECEPTION HAS BEEN OVERWHELMINGLY POSITIVE

travel sector in Canada, RateHawk has focused its efforts on building a new team from the ground up to manage operations within the country.

With a newly dedicated commercial team, the company aims to triple both its number of partners and the net booking value in the region in 2024.

Following its successful performance in Europe and the Middle East, RateHawk will offer local travel agents, operators, TMCs, and other professionals a full range of travel services on one platform.

The B2B platform boasts more than 2.5 million accommodations worldwide from over 230 suppliers, including almost 90,000 directly contracted properties.

For the convenience of travel agents, the B2B platform also offers flights from over 400 airlines, transfers in 150 countries, car rentals, and other travel-related services.

RateHawk enters the market with a team of six experienced commercial managers and plans to further

Colin Wood takes on new role at VoX International

Travel industry veteran Colin Wood has rejoined the team at VoX International. Wood, who brings with him extensive travel and tourism experience with Air Miles, Sunwing, CAA and Travel Cuts, has been named VoX’s Senior Account & Business Strategy Director. He will be leading the Hawaii Tourism account and supporting overall client strategy and business development for VoX. “We are thrilled to welcome Colin back to the VoX team,” said Susan Webb, President of VoX International. “Colin brings an extensive experience in the travel and tourism industry, and I have no doubt that Colin will significantly contribute to Vox in his role as Senior Account & Business Strategy Director.” On his new role, Wood added: “I am very excited to be rejoining the VoX international team. I look forward to utilizing my experience as I direct the Hawaii Tourism account and help with overall client strategy and business development.” Wood can be reached at colin@voxinternational.com.

expand this team in 2024. The team includes: Davar Alam, Tabatha Bradley, Pankaj Mahindru as sales managers, and Namira McBride as an account manager.

The team is led by the Country Manager David Marathakis, who has more than 10 years of experience in the travel industry. Having previously worked as a head of sales at tour operators and other leading companies in the tourism sector, Marathakis will be responsible for strengthening the company’s position in Canada and driving new business.

The RateHawk platform is available in English and French languages. In addition to the desktop version, RateHawk provides a mobile app available for free on Android and iOS devices. The functionality of the mobile app offers a full range of services available at RateHawk’s desktop version, including booking hotels, flights, and transfers; managing orders; and contacting the support team, among others. For the convenience of local travel agents, RateHawk offers a 24/7 multi-language support line.

“The first market reception has been overwhelmingly positive, with RateHawk gaining popularity for booking both domestic and outbound destinations, such as UAE, the U.S., the D.R., and various European countries like Spain, Italy and France,” said Marathakis.

He added: “We see great potential in the Canadian tourism market, with a high concentration of travel agents with whom we plan to collaborate. RateHawk is perfectly positioned to meet the needs of both large travel operators and medium to small-sized agencies. Our ambition for 2024 is to make RateHawk the preferred travel tool for the majority of local travel professionals. Now, with a fully assembled team, we are well-positioned to achieve it.”

10 | TRAVELWEEK | April 11, 2024
NEWS

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CAERNARFON CASTLE, WALES CREDIT: VISITBRITAIN, LEE BEEL
SPOTLIGHT

Lights, Camera, Action! Britain’s film & TV tourism industry is a top draw

Britain’s rich history, culture and breathtaking landscapes have long served as the backdrop for some of the world’s most beloved television shows and films, from fan favourites "Harry Potter" to "Outlander" and “Ted Lasso.”

With Netflix's latest hit series "One Day" captivating audiences worldwide, fans can explore the charming city of Edinburgh where main characters Emma and Dexter's story began. They can hike up to the top of Arthur’s Seat, as Emma and Dexter did after the night they first met, visit Grassmarket where Dexter chases down Emma, or walk up the Royal Mile and visit iconic attractions like Real Mary King’s Close.

Fans of Netflix’s new sensation, “The Gentlemen,” can explore filming locations scattered throughout England, including Badminton Estate in South Gloucestershire, home of the Duke and Duchess of Beaufort. For those seeking the quintessential English country estate getaway, they can also check out iconic venues like Cliveden House in Berkshire or Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland.

Coming to theaters on May 10 is “Back to Black,” a cinematic journey through the life of famed singer Amy

Winehouse. Fans can visit iconic London locations that shaped Winehouse’s rise to fame, including Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club where she took the stage early in her career and the Stables Market in Camden Town where the Amy Winehouse Statue stands.

And as fans await the two-part Season 3 premiere of “Bridgerton” on May 16 and June 13, they can visit various filming spots across England, including the opulent Hampton Court Palace in Surrey, once home to King Henry VIII and now the on-screen residence of Queen Charlotte, as well as the restored No. 1 Royal Crescent in Bath, doubling as the Featheringtons’ home.

Film and television have proven to be a powerful motivator for travel, says VisitBritain, whose research shows that almost a third of potential visitors are keen to visit locations used in filming and seen-on-screen. VisitBritain will be launching a ‘Starring GREAT Britain’ international campaign later this year across its major visitor markets to shine the spotlight on film and TV-inspired experiences that travellers can only find in Britain.

For more details go to visitbritain.com.

14 | TRAVELWEEK | April 11, 2024
DUDLEY, WEST MIDLANDS, ENGLAND CONDOR AIRLINES, BUSINESS CLASS EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND ROYAL CRESCENT, BATH, SOMERSET, ENGLAND
SPOTLIGHT
Credit Photo from top-left to bottom-right: Black Country Living Museum; VisitBritain, Andrew Welsher; VisitBritain, Simon Winnall.

Condor Airlines to return to Calgary this spring

Condor is offering more options to fly to Europe from Western Canada this year.

The Germany-based airline will be offering two weekly flights from Calgary to Frankfurt starting in May 2024. It will be sending its brand new flagship A330-900neo to the home hub of its longstanding partner, WestJet, covering all three major cities in Western Canada: Vancouver, Edmonton and now, also, Calgary.

Flights to Frankfurt will seamlessly connect to WestJet’s flights in Calgary and to partner airlines in Frankfurt, with onward services to more than 100 destinations across Europe. Planes feature a world-class Business Class with full lie-flat seats and four of its signature Prime Seats with space for two.

“With our growing fleet of A330neos, we can provide better travel options to more and more Canadians every year. I am particularly proud to see Calgary return to our network next summer, and to invite everyone to try out our newest and most luxurious in-flight experience ever,” said Ralf Teckentrup, CEO of Condor. “The Calgary flights will operate into our Frankfurt hub in the heart of Europe where travellers can enjoy the best touristic sites of Germany or travel beyond conveniently by air, road or rail.”

Chris Dinsdale, President & CEO of The Calgary Airport Authority, added: “Condor’s 2024 summer offerings at YYC signals the continued strength of the industry’s confidence in our airport and region. We look forward to once again working with Condor to deliver elevated experiences for our guests and bringing more economic benefits to our communities.”

In summer 2024, Condor will operate from five Canadian cities to Frankfurt: Vancouver (YVR), Calgary (YYC), Edmonton (YEG), Toronto (YYZ) and Halifax (YHZ). Flights are optimally timed for inbound connections on WestJet and onward connections in Frankfurt.

By next spring, Condor’s entire long-haul fleet will consist of next-generation A330neo aircraft, one of the most sustainable aircraft in the skies. The A330neo accommodates 310 passengers and features four Prime Seats, 26 seats in Business Class, 64 seats in Premium Economy Class, and 216 seats in Economy Class. It also boasts the quietest cabin in the sky and offers more personal space, larger overhead bins, a new lighting system and the latest in-flight entertainment.

For more details go to condor.com/us.

16 | TRAVELWEEK | April 11, 2024
CONDOR AIRLINES' PRIME SEAT SPOTLIGHT
CALGARY

Ovadias Tours offers red carpet treatment

If your clients are looking for VIP treatment, Ovadias Tours delivers on all fronts.

Known across Canada as ‘Triaena-Poseidon tours,’ Ovadias specializes in luxury vacations to Greece and VIP-celebrity services, including:

• Deluxe VIP programs

• VIP private red carpet services

• Luxury car rentals

• Limousine with driver

• Personal executive secretary escorts

• Security escorts

• Bodyguard service

• Mega yacht & yacht hire

• Helicopter and Lear jets

• Private city guide service

• Exclusive assistance

• Tours

• Luxurious hotels & villas

Ovadias has a long history in Canada, serving as the consolidators of Air Canada exclusively for Greece in the 1990s with its consolidator company, P.I.Club. Started in 1959, the tour operator is known for being highly skilled in planning and arranging tour packages with full privacy (using code number), luxury suites or spacious bungalows at high-end hotels and residences, and transfers with escorts in limousines. Personalized services begin from the first moment of arrival at the airport, with an escort meeting clients at the bridge to guarantee privacy and red carpet treatment.

For more information go to ovadiastours.com.

18 | TRAVELWEEK | April 11, 2024
SANTORINI, GREECE
SPOTLIGHT
SANTORINI, GREECE

The perfect family playground

At the contemporary Catalonia Grand Costa Mujeres in the new Cancun North area, there’s never a dull moment for families, with a stunning beach and daily activities program for children and teens ages 4 to 17.

This 5-star, 4-diamond AAA resort also features spacious suites welcoming up to 6 guests and special rates for the kids.

Transat Tours Canada Inc., registered as a travel wholesaler in Quebec (reg. #754241) with offices at 300 Léo-Pariseau Street, Suite 200, Montreal (QC) H2X 4C2; in Ontario (reg. #50009486) with offices at 5915 Airport Road, Suite 910 Mississauga (ON) L4V 1T1; and in British Columbia (reg. #2454) with offices at 11900 Haney Place, Unit 151, Maple Ridge (BC) V2X 8R9.

BermudAir has direct flights from Toronto, Halifax to Bermuda

TORONTO — BermudAir is expanding into Canada with brand new flights from Toronto and Halifax to Bermuda.

Bermuda’s premier boutique airline, which launched in fall 2023, will launch nonstop service from Toronto Pearson (YYZ) on May 17, and from Halifax Stanfield (YHZ) on May 25, to Bermuda’s L.F. Wade International Airport (BDA). Toronto service will run 3x/week (Tuesday, Friday and Sunday), while Halifax will run weekly (Saturday).

People

Brand USA announces new President & CEO

Both routes will operate on Embraer E175 aircraft featuring a dual-class cabin, with 14 seats in business and 52 seats in economy. Both cabins will offer complimentary food and beverage service (inclusive of alcohol), while business cabin service will offer additional booking flexibility, higher checked baggage allowances, preferential fare conditions for changes and cancellations, and more.

“There has been strong demand for travel between Bermuda and Canada and we’re proud to continue delivering on our commitment to provide additional connectivity with these new routes,” said Adam Scott, Founder & CEO of BermudAir. “Toronto and Halifax are currently underserved, and this expansion aligns with our mission to provide year-round service, meeting the needs of both Bermudians and travellers from Canada.”

There’s a new President and CEO at the helm of Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the United States.

As part of a planned succession process, Fred Dixon will step into the role on July 15, taking over the reins from Christopher Thompson who announced his retirement in July 2023 after serving as President & CEO from 2012 to 2024. Thompson will continue to work with Brand USA through Sept. 30 as an advisor to facilitate a seamless transition.

Dixon joins the company with significant experience in the travel industry, currently serving as President and CEO of NYC Tourism + Conventions, New York City’s official destination marketing organization. He will oversee all of Brand USA’s operations as the company prepares for its next phase of growth.

The addition of Toronto and Halifax reinforces BermudAir’s role as a key connector between Bermuda and North America. With the Toronto and Halifax routes, BermudAir’s full schedule will operate 2,700 flights over a 12-month period, offering 178,000 seats that were not previously available to/from Bermuda.

Canada Jetlines’ new TorontoMiami route starts June 29

TORONTO — Canada Jetlines has announced a new route linking Toronto and Miami.

The new weekly flights start June 29.

“We are thrilled to introduce direct flights from Toronto to Miami, offering our customers greater options when planning their travels,” said Canada Jetlines’ CEO, Eddy Doyle.

Jetlines Vacations summer escape packages in Orlando and central Florida departing from Halifax or Toronto are also available.

Air Transat launches offseason travel promotion

MONTREAL — Air Transat is sweetening the deal for off-season travel with a brand new promotion.

Running until April 23, the ‘All to yourself’ promotion allows travellers to take advantage of the best rates on flights to Europe, the South and Florida during off-season months in spring and autumn.

From Quebec, flights to Europe start at $699 roundtrip, $499 roundtrip to the South, and $199 one-way to Florida.

20 | TRAVELWEEK | April 11, 2024
NEWS
BERMUDAIR

Adults-Only Paradise in Costa Mujeres

Discover a luxurious, oceanfront resort tucked away in one of Cancun’s most idyllic locations.

Secrets® Playa Blanca Costa Mujeres offers pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and breathtaking natural surroundings. From snorkelling, kitesurfing, and cuba diving to cooking classes, wine tastings, spa treatments and more, this is the ultimate vacation experience to enjoy with friends or your one true love.

Transat Tours Canada Inc., registered as a travel wholesaler in Quebec (reg. #754241) with offices at 300 Léo-Pariseau Street, Suite 200, Montreal (QC) H2X 4C2; in Ontario (reg. #50009486) with offices at 5915 Airport Road, Suite 910 Mississauga (ON) L4V 1T1; and in British Columbia (reg. #2454) with offices at 11900 Haney Place, Unit 151, Maple Ridge (BC) V2X 8R9.
Rendering

From Ontario, flights to Europe start at $549 roundtrip to Europe, and $339 roundtrip to the South.

These sales apply to individual bookings of selected flights to Europe, the South, and Florida (departing from Quebec) made by April 23 for travel by June 20 and between Sept. 1 and Dec. 15. Conditions apply.

Avalon Alegria sets sail: A new era of cruising on Portugal’s Douro River

PORTUGAL — In the heart of Portugal’s Douro Valley, known for its breathtaking landscapes, historic villages and the wine region specializing in Port, Avalon Waterways celebrated its new ship Avalon Alegria.

The christening by actress and comedienne Cheri Oteri marked a new chapter for Avalon Waterways with its first ship in Portugal, and first SkyDeck pool.

The Avalon Alegria, which means happiness in Portuguese, was introduced to the world in Pinhão, Portugal amid the hilly vineyards that typify

People

this beautiful region.

Built exclusively for the Douro River and slightly smaller than Avalon’s other European river cruise ships, the Avalon Alegria serves as a gateway to the treasures and traditions of Portugal. The new 262-foot, 102-passenger ship offers 14 deluxe staterooms and 37 Panorama suites, and is the first Suite Ship from Avalon Waterways to set sail in Portugal.

At the heart of Avalon Alegria’s allure are its Panorama Suites. These award-winning accommodations are designed with Avalon’s signature Open–Air Balconies, offering guests unrivalled views of the Douro Valley from their beds. The Panorama Suites are an innovative approach to maximizing the views and cabin space, providing the widest waterfront view in the industry. Floor-to-ceiling

Winner announced for Playa Hotels & Resorts contest

Congratulations are in order for the grand prize winner of Playa Hotels & Resorts’ recent contest.

Hosted by Travelweek, the contest has awarded Katherine Deagle of GOwithHIPPO Travel a four-night stay for two at the adults-only Wyndham Alltra Playa Del Carmen or Hilton Playa del Carmen.

Playa Hotels & Resorts offers luxury oceanfront properties in Mexico and the Caribbean, each styled to fit the destination’s surroundings. Destinations include Cancun, Los Cabos, Montego Bay, Puerto Vallarta, Playa del Carmen and Cap Cana.

windows that open 11 feet wide invite the outside in, basically turning the entire cabin into an open-air balcony.

“Today, the Avalon Alegria joins an entire fleet of Suite Ships in Europe and Southeast Asia,” said Pamela Hoffee, President of Avalon Waterways. “Each features our boutique-hotel inspired Panorama Suites, the industry’s only Open-Air Balconies with the widest-opening windows in cruising and decadent Comfort Collection beds that face the ever-changing scenery. Glass balcony panels on the Avalon Alegria provide an extra, exciting cruising outlook with completely unobstructed views, as does our first Sky Deck pool, inviting guests to enjoy panoramic views, soaking in the vineyard-lined vistas of Portugal. Even seasoned travellers have never seen – or experienced – the world like this.”

Another highlight of the Avalon Alegria is undoubtedly its Sky Deck, where guests can bask in the sunshine around Avalon’s first-ever SkyDeck pool. Designed for panoramic enjoyment of the Douro Valley’s vistas, it offers a relaxed and casual area to lounge, plus food and bar services.

“We’ve waited a long time for the perfect opportunity to add Portugal to our robust vacation portfolio and that day has finally arrived,” said Hoffee. “Inviting our guests to sail the Douro for the first time, we’re bringing the Suite Ships of Avalon, the grandest views in cruising and whim-powered itineraries to southwestern Europe. We’re thrilled to officially set sail on the Douro!”

22 | TRAVELWEEK | April 11, 2024
NEWS
CHERI OTERI (LEFT) AND PAMELA HOFFEE ONBOARD AVALON ALEGRIA

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Sandals Saint Vincent and the Grenadines makes its debut

BUCCAMENT, SVG — Sandals Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has opened its doors.

The new resort has views straight to the Caribbean Sea, and offers guests a nature-forward experience big on island inspiration and ‘Sandals Firsts’, from built-in programming celebrating the island’s illustrious botanical gardens to the introduction of new dining concepts like Buccan, a large-format style dining experience that creates conversation and connection over locally harvested food roasted in an open hearth.

This is the 18th resort for Sandals and its first in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The property offers 301 rooms and suites across 50 lush acres.

“With its dramatic blues and incredible beauty, the Caribbean sea was meant to be explored. But at more than a million square miles, it was also meant to be discovered,” said Adam Stewart, Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International.

Stewart added: “Sandals Saint Vincent unveils a little-known wonder

we are proud to bring forward, not only for its show-stopping beauty but for the warmth and grace of its people. There is a joy here that pulses throughout and beyond 32 incredible islands. Sandals Saint Vincent was designed to honour that spirit, encouraging carefree exploration, pampered relaxation, and deep connection.”

A 300-foot linear pool connects the flora-framed lobby terrace to the horizon. Along the way, cabanas and cocktails beckon, with three other pools set among lush vegetation.

The resort’s Vincy Overwater Two-Story Villas, a pioneering concept for the brand, feature expansive spaces spanning two storeys above the

sea, as well as dedicated villa perks including an exclusive table at Buccan.

Beachfront Villas meanwhile offer a tranquil retreat steps from the sand. Many of the resort’s suites also feature elevated amenities – from a dedicated media room and private pool to a personal fitness room with exercise bikes, yoga mats and a library of fitness classes. The brand’s signature butler service adds an additional level of luxury.

For dining, Sandals Saint Vincent has 11 culinary concepts, including five that are new to the brand. In addition to the immersive family-style, open-air culinary journey that is Buccan, there’s also Scrimshaw, a venue that taps into the island’s abundant access to fresh seafood. Parisol is an open-air beach club and kitchen, and Imoro, a Sandals First ‘grab-and-go’ concept, is named after the Arawak term for ‘green,’ serving up healthy, veggie-focused bowls.

At night, hand-picked vinyl classics provide the perfect sound experience at Three Jewels rum bar, with a selection of 32 rums inspired by the destination’s 32 islands within 32 miles. It’s one of five bars around the resort.

24 | TRAVELWEEK | April 11, 2024
THERE IS WONDER AND JOY HERE
TAP AIR PORTUGAL AND VISIT MADEIRA RECENTLY HOSTED A FAM TO THE ISLAND OF MADEIRA. THE FAM GROUP INCLUDED SEVERAL CANADIAN TRAVEL COMPANIES. PICTURED HERE ARE (LEFT TO RIGHT): ROSA CABRAL, MARTOUR; IRINA KANEVSKY, CG JOURNEYS; CARMEN ALVAREZ, MAJESTIC TOURS; ALBERT NUNES, SUVARA TRAVELS; KATY LEMELEV, PEERLESS
LILIANA VIEIRA, TAP AIR PORTUGAL; CANDACE HARDIE, CLARKE-WAY TRAVEL; RAJIV CALPAKAM, DIRECT TRAVEL AND ANABELA DOS SANTOS, GLOBUS FAMILY BRANDS.
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Festivals, exhibits on Visit Seattle’s list for 2024 travel must-do’s

From arts and culture highlights, to can’t-miss festivals, there’s never been a better time to visit Seattle.

In celebration of the exciting year ahead, Visit Seattle has compiled a sampling of some of the 2024 happenings around the city.

DISCOVER INDIE FILMS AT SIFF

Calling all film lovers! Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) will celebrate its 50th year of discovering the world’s best independent films this year, May 9 - 19. New for 2024, the SIFF has recently acquired the beloved Cinerama movie theatre downtown, one of just two operating cinemas in the world capable of screening three-strip Cinerama films on its 97-foot curved screen. The theatre is also known for its chocolate popcorn.

https://www.siff.net/

50 YEARS OF PRIDE

In 2024, Seattle will celebrate its 50th annual pride month celebration with this year’s theme, ‘Now!.’ As one of the country’s largest free Pride festivals, visitors can expect a month filled with events, parades, and festivals including the Seattle Pride Parade and Seattle Pride in the Park.

https://seattlepride.org/seattle-pride-month

REVEL IN MUSICAL THEATRE

Seattle is home to one of the country’s largest and most vibrant theatre communities. Top picks include The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle Rep and The Paramount Theatre.

https://visitseattle.org/things-to-do/arts-culture/ performing-arts/theatre/

SEATTLE SOUNDS AT BUMBERSHOOT

Following a successful return and 50th anniversary celebration in 2023, the beloved Bumbershoot has re-emerged as a major PNW arts and music festival. Music lovers are already eager for the Labour Day weekend festival’s anticipated 2024 return.

https://bumbershoot.com

REFRACT: THE SEATTLE GLASS EXPERIENCE

Seattle is regarded as a global hub for glass art, with 700+ glass artists calling Washington home. From Oct. 17-20, 2024, ‘Refract: The Seattle Glass Experience’ will bring art

enthusiasts and newcomers together to enjoy artist parties, open studio tours, special gallery exhibitions, and exclusively offered intimate glass blowing demonstrations.

https://refractseattle.org

SEATTLE’S ROWING SCENE

In celebration of ‘The Boys in the Boat’ film released December 2023, explore a selection of rare artifacts and photographs related to the 1936 Olympic Gold medalist rowing team from the University of Washington through ‘Pulling Together: A Brief History of Rowing in Seattle’ at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) now through June 2, 2024. https://mohai.org/exhibits/pulling-together-a-brief-history-of-rowing-in-seattle/ (and for Visit Seattle’s Top 10 Ways to Get on the Water in Seattle, check out: https://visitseattle.org/press/press-kit/seattle-on-the-water/

CATCH A SHOW AT CLIMATE PLEDGE ARENA

Climate Pledge Arena, the world’s first net-zero carbon arena, will host critically acclaimed musical artists in 2024 worth travelling for. https://climatepledgearena.com/ (and to book CPA tours check out https://www.climatepledgearena.com/tours/)

Watch for more 2024 travel ideas from Visit Seattle in the May 1 edition of Travelweek. Travel tips and more can be found at VisitSeattle.org.

April 11, 2024 | TRAVELWEEK | 27
READY FOR ‘REFRACT - THE SEATTLE GLASS EXPERIENCE’
A.I. ISSUE SPOTLIGHT
Photo courtesy Megan Swann Photography

Register now for JTB’s ‘Evening with Jamaica’ series

TORONTO — Save the date for an ‘Evening with Jamaica,’ a two-part event series hosted by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).

Travel advisors from across the Greater Toronto Area are invited to take part in an “unforgettable night of destination knowledge, cultural exploration and island hospitality.” In addition to immersive programming and Jamaican food, advisors will be able to network with JTB sales team members and key travel suppliers and partners from the island.

The JTB’s ‘Evening with Jamaica’ events will be hosted on April 16 at 6 p.m. at the Jamaican Canadian Centre, and on April 17 at 6 p.m. at the Audley Recreation Centre. Programming will be the same for both events.

The link to register is visitjamaica. com/Canada/events.

“Jamaica is so much more than a tourist destination; we are a vibrant country with a strong culture and a rich history,” said Angella Bennett,

People

Regional Director, Canada, Jamaica Tourist Board. “This two-part series of engaging in-person events will give advisors the chance to fully immerse themselves in Jamaican culture through our music, food and storytelling, while also providing them with fresh knowledge and resources to sell the destination to their clients.”

Earn more STAR Points with Sunwing’s Partner of the Month

TORONTO — Sunwing Vacations is shining the spotlight on Cuba with April’s Partner of the Month: Iberostar Cuba Hotels & Resorts.

Both travellers and travel agents can benefit from the monthly promotion, on until April 30, 2024.

Agents who book their clients getaways to Iberostar Daiquiri in Cayo Coco, Iberostar Bella Vista Varadero in Varadero or Iberostar Selection Holguin for travel between April 1,

Railbookers adds to Canada team as demand soars

Railbookers Group has responded to unprecedented demand and sales in Canada by adding new members to its Canada-based staff. Ivan Mansanet, who is based in B. C., recently joined RBG in the newly-created role of National Sales Manager for Canada. Aesha King, meanwhile, has been appointed Partnership Marketing Coordinator. Cris David, VP Global Sales, said: “We are excited to welcome Ivan as the latest addition to the Railbookers global sales team. He comes to us with a wealth of experience supporting travel agencies and advisors in all parts of Canada. As the National Sales Manager responsible for increasing brand awareness and growing sales in the Canadian market, we could not have hoped for a more well-liked and widely respected travel professional than Ivan.” RBG is seeing record growth in the Canadian market, with revenue up more than 81% over the same point in 2023. The company has seen 58% jumps in passenger and booking counts as well.

Introducing Emerald Kaia, the newest superyacht from Emerald Cruises

A new chapter in Emerald Cruises’ journey begins with the introduction of the cruise line’s next-generation superyacht, Emerald Kaia.

The third innovative, luxury vessel builds on the success of the first two superyachts and retains the ethos of luxury small-ship cruising.

All three ships - Emerald Kaia as well as Emerald Azzurra and Emerald Sakara - offer an intimate cruising experience, designer touches, and a Marina Deck.

EXPERIENCE THE SUPERYACHT LIFESTYLE

Emerald Kaia passengers will enjoy the luxury of even more generously sized spaces including the Aqua Pool, the gym and Elements Spa, and of course the Suites. The Owner’s Suites now feature a Spa Pool à deux on the private terrace.

The Observation Sun Deck now has more space to welcome sun worshippers, with the addition of a Spa Pool, sun beds and sun lounges.

The larger Sky Deck on Emerald Kaia has been reimagined with an indoor/outdoor Bar & Lounge overlooking the Spa Pool, while the addition of cabanas offers the luxury of a private space to soak up the views.

Make the most of the days at anchor, where warm water cruising truly comes into its own. All three yachts impress with their marina toys and sense of fun but Emerald Kaia now includes a sleek Marina Lounge to relax and refresh after marine adventures.

For more details see EmeraldCruises.ca.

28 | TRAVELWEEK | April 11, 2024
NEWS

2024 and Oct. 31, 2024 will receive 3X STAR points on every booking. Plus, all bookings at Iberostar Cuba Hotels & Resorts properties made during this time will qualify agents for the exclusive chance to win one of three 7-night hotel stays at Iberostar Tainos or iberostar Playa Alameda in Varadero, or Iberostar Selection Esmeralda in Cayo Coco. Clients get benefits too.

Collette introduces 10 new tours for 2025

TORONTO — Collette has announced 10 brand new tours for 2025, spanning four continents with destinations in North America, South America, Europe, and Africa.

The new tours will feature three of Collette’s five travel styles: Classic, Cruising, and small group Explorations.

New offerings include: Gems of Greece: Athens, Naxos, Crete (Explorations); Portugal’s Old World Charms featuring Douro Valley, Alentejo & Lisbon (Explorations); Europe: The Grand Tour and more.

“We value our travellers’ feedback and used that to put together these exciting new experiences in 2025. Collette wants to show travellers more of what they’re looking to see,” said Collette CEO Jaclyn Leibl-Cote.

She added: “We’re always looking for new ways for our travellers to explore the world. Not only do we do that, but we add variety in our travel styles. Building new Classic, Cruising, and Explorations tours helps keep things fresh for all travellers.”

In other news, Collette’s ‘Hello Spring’ sale runs through April 15. Offer code HELLOSPRING24 must be used at the time of booking.

Travellers can save up to 20% off tours worldwide, for travel June 1, 2024 - March 31, 2025. The sale applies to land only and not to any other required supplements or internal air. Other terms and conditions apply.

Discover The Palm Beaches unveils new brand campaign

TORONTO — Discover The Palm Beaches (DTPB) has launched a new brand campaign designed to redefine the visitor experience.

As the tourism marketing organization for Palm Beach County in Southeast Florida, DTPB is highlighting the rich diversity and charm of its 39 cities and towns in ‘The Palm Beaches Collection’ campaign, including the destinations outdoor activities, art & culture, shopping, spa & wellness offerings and delectable dining.

“We are thrilled to introduce ‘The Palm Beaches Collection’ campaign, inviting both seasoned and new visitors to discover and embrace the myriad of offerings that set The Palm Beaches apart from other places to visit,” said Milton Segarra, CDME, president and CEO of DTPB. “Our goal is to inspire everyone to curate their own collection for a perfect getaway. We take immense pride in the fact that our destination authentically caters to a variety of interests, ensuring a truly enriching experience for every visitor.”

As travellers plan their future visits, they can now personalize their vacation experience through an interactive quiz on DTPB’s site, which tailors individualized suggestions of things to do based on specific interests. The site also provides an array

of free tools for vacation planning, including a comprehensive Visitors Guide, a direct hotel booking platform, a calendar of upcoming events, dining recommendations and more.

Save up to $1,000 with CIE Tours’ new

Scotland promo

MORRISTOWN, NJ CIE Tours’ ‘Kick Up Your Kilt’ promotion runs until April 21 and includes savings of up to $1,000 per couple, for travel June 1 - Dec. 31.

Travellers can choose from 14 eligible Scotland or Scotland combination guided tours, as well as custom private driver vacations to Britain.

Notable this year is the return of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo from Aug. 2-24, featuring hundreds of military bands, dancers and musicians from around the world. Guests travelling with CIE Tours during this period on itineraries with overnight stays in Edinburgh will enjoy a prime viewing location of the famed spectacle. Due to the event’s popularity, limited space remains so booking early is advised.

Several of CIE’s most popular guided vacations are eligible for the promotion and incorporate The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

30 | TRAVELWEEK | April 11, 2024
UP YOUR
NEWS
CIE TOURS' KICK
KILT SALE

Hurtigruten offers 10% off all 2025/26 voyages, plus new onboard credit deal

TORONTO — Norway cruising expert Hurtigruten is offering 10% off, plus onboard credit of 5,000 Norwegian kroner, equivalent to about Cdn$620, for passengers who book before July 31.

Clients can choose between all three of Hurtigruten’s coastal journeys, including the recently-launched The Svalbard Express and North Cape Express, as well as the Original Coastal Express, the legacy route it has operated since 1893. As with all itineraries, all three sailings are available in full journeys or half voyages northbound and southbound, respectively.

The Svalbard Express offers 10- to

15-day summertime Arctic itineraries to the Land of the Midnight Sun, from May to September. Voyages travel in both directions between the city of Bergen, mainland Norway, and the settlement of Longyearbyen on the Svalbard island of Spitsbergen, far beyond the Arctic Circle.

The North Cape Express makes multiple wintertime trips along the entire length of Norway from Oslo to the North Cape, with seven- to 14day itineraries between October and April. In the winter, the natural beauty of the Norwegian coast is on full display, as are the Northern Lights

dancing across the night skies.

The Svalbard Express and North Cape Express routes are both serviced by the recently refreshed MS Trollfjord. Passengers benefit from an all-inclusive culinary program, including a beverage package and afternoon tea, along with personalized service. Suite guests get to enjoy all meals in the fine-dining restaurant Røst, which non-suite guests can also enjoy for an additional fee.

The Original Coastal Express is the classic Hurtigruten route. This legacy voyage, ranging from two to 17 days, can include up to 34 different ports, giving guests multiple ways to sail up

32 | TRAVELWEEK | April 11, 2024
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and down the 2,500 nautical miles of the Norwegian coast.

Hurtigruten has added more astronomer-led voyages for 2024/25, following its success this past season. The company also recently appointed the world’s first-ever Chief Aurora Chaser, Tom Kerss, and extended its unique Northern Lights Promise.

New Zealand itineraries are back with Railbookers

TORONTO — Railbookers has launched six New Zealand itineraries. The trips, which range from eight to 19 days, feature scenic train and ferry journeys along with included hotels,

sightseeing and more.

“With New Zealand, we’re thrilled to answer the growing customer demand for independent rail vacations to one of the world’s top bucket-list destinations,” said Railbookers Group President and CEO, Frank Marini. “Our collection of New Zealand trips allow travellers to enjoy everything that the North and South Islands have to offer, without the hassles of driving or figuring out how to make it all work.”

Railbookers’ New Zealand offerings all include three trains: The Northern Explorer, which travels between Auckland and Wellington on the North Island; the Coastal Pacific, traveling between Picton and Christchurch; and the Tranzalpine from Christchurch to Greymouth. In addition, the new itineraries feature the Interislander ferry, which crosses the Cook Strait between the two islands.

“The diversity of experiences New Zealand offers is a true marvel

for travellers worldwide,” said Sarah Handley, Tourism New Zealand’s General Manager – The Americas & Europe. “An itinerary here can take you to national parks, beautiful beaches, thrilling diving spots, stunning fjords, bubbling geothermal areas, exciting adventures, scenic wine regions, and iconic Hollywood film locations.”

Among the sightseeing activities that are featured in Railbookers’ New Zealand trips, travellers will have the chance to experience the Waitomo Caves and Fiordland National Park. They can also take in immersive cultural experiences like a three-course traditional Maori feast.

“Exploring New Zealand by rail reveals hidden scenic gems that often aren’t visible from the road,” added Handley. “It’s an easy and immersive way to see the best of New Zealand’s landscapes. Sit back, relax and soak in the breathtaking views.”

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34 | TRAVELWEEK | April 11, 2024
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