Travelweek - January 12th, 2023

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Canada’s Travel Trade News Juanuary 12, 2023 NEW ADVENTURES WHAT'S IN STORE IN SAUDI ARABIA Page 3 MEXICO BOOKINGS STAY STRONG Page 9 FAM FUN IN BARBADOS Page 15 - 17
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A new year, and a new destination on the horizon, with caveats: Saudi Arabia is like nothing you’ve seen before

RIYADH — Until very recently, tourism wasn’t really a thing in Saudi Arabia.

It was only in 2019 that the country started issuing a true tourism visa, for the first time inviting visitors to explore their country for non-religious purposes. Those who have arrived since have experienced a country very much in transition, with cultural norms evolving quickly, and a leadership determined to make tourism a primary industry in the Kingdom.

They’ve put the bucks behind their sweeping public statements, committing $1 trillion in spending for tourism infrastructure over the next decade. They have plans to make Riyadh a major international flight hub, adding six runways to the airport. Money is pouring into developing ‘giga-projects,’ sites centred around major attractions that cost billions, each.

And on a recent visit, I saw that it’s more than talk - all over the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), work is underway, with the big cities of Riyadh and Jeddah feeling like massive construction sites. New malls, hotels, restaurants and other amenities, opening every day.

This is a nation long closed, that is in the process of becoming. A visit here involves not just experiencing what’s open and available now, but envisioning what’s coming together for the near future. The ride can be both bumpy, and worthwhile. For those planning and booking trips to the KSA, here are a few important things to know.

YOU’LL HEAR A LOT ABOUT VISION 2030

This is the main plan guiding the country into the future. Announced in 2016 with goals set for the year 2030, Vision 2030 aims to diversify KSA’s economy away from just oil, with investments in health, education, recreation and tourism. Part of this: improving the Kingdom’s image abroad, and the leadership has initiated a number of reforms and improvements on human rights as part of this vision (more on this below.)

THE GIGA-PROJECTS

Around the country, planning and construction are underway on a number of projects so massive that ‘mega’ doesn’t quite capture it. ‘Giga-project’

has become a buzzword, and the size and scale of each one is actually astonishing.

On the outskirts of the capital, Riyadh, Diryah Gate is a $20 billion project that aims to eventually welcome 25 million tourists annually. It’s all built around the ruins at At-Turaif, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an Emirate under the first Saudi dynasty. Around it, a whole world will rise, including 38 hotels (most of them in the luxury category) and more than 100 restaurants and cafes. The site itself, and some of the amenities, are already open.

And the one you’ll hear the most about in the coming months and years: Neom. Set in a desert region fringing the Red Sea, this will be both tourist attraction and a plan for a new kind of urban life. Some argue that the plans are maybe a little too lofty to be realistic. It already has its own airport with direct fl ights to Dubai and other regional destinations. The plans include the only ski resort on the Arabian peninsula, plus a resort island with three luxury hotels. And most noteworthy, The Line, a linear city that may someday house nine million residents.

NO ALCOHOL

This country has some of the strictest alcohol laws in the world. Unlike neighbours Dubai and Qatar, which allow drinks to be served in hotels and other controlled tourist environments, the booze ban here remains total. Don’t even ask about it. When I did, I was given a stiff, usually standard response: “Sir, we abide by the laws of this nation.”

If you see something that looks like a bar, don’t get too excited. Hotels

TOP NEWS January 12, 2023 | TRAVELWEEK | 3
ABDUL RAOUF KHALIL MUSEUM, JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA

and restaurants serve mocktails, complete with no-alcohol imitations of spirits like rum, whiskey and vodka, poured out of bottles made to look like the real thing. Don’t be fooled, and come prepared for a dry vacation.

IT’S VERY CONSERVATIVE, BUT MAYBE NOT WHAT YOU EXPECT

When it comes to gender relations and women’s rights, this country remains one of the most conservative in the world. But things are changing, quickly. When I arrived, I expected to see rigid rules enforced to keep non-married men and women apart. But the guys who used to be employed for that task, the morality police, have been largely subdued and sidelined.

Under Vision 2030, women now have more rights - they can drive a car, get passports and travel abroad without a male sponsor, and generally live more easily, independently. They’re employed in various workplaces - in fact, upon my arrival, all the border guards were female.

Vision 2030 calls for the workplace to be 30% women within a decade, but the news outlet France 24 recently reported that number is already 36%. Princess Haifa, a member of the Saudi royal family, is the assistant minister of tourism. She told the World Economic Forum in Davos that she foresees women in every job type, and that 42% of small to medium businesses in KSA are already women-owned.

Just looking around in public spaces, men and women seem to interact Got

fairly freely. However, strong social norms (and some of the old rules) remain. While a relatively small number of women have chosen to wear only a headscarf, most appear in public with a niqab (veil) over their faces, plus a full abaya (robe). Conservative dress is expected, across the board - generally speaking, for men and women, even visitors, knees and shoulders should remain covered. And notable: for women, wearing swimsuits in a public pool or the sea isn’t generally allowed, something that, along with that alcohol ban, could throw a serious wrench into any sunny beach vacation.

YOU CAN SEE MORE THAN THE MODERN

Driving across big cities here, it feels like everything is new, or under construction. Sparkling new malls filled with Gucci and Louis Vuitton and other luxury brands are popping up everywhere. Construction cranes line the landscape.

But you’ll find the old, the classic, the historic, if you know where to look. Case in point: Jeddah’s old town. On my visit to Al-Balad, many of the buildings were in the process of being renovated, but an afternoon tour revealed tucked-away galleries and rooftop cafes serving Saudi coffee. And once the sun set, the place came alive, the lights coming up, with small shops opening and the labyrinth of lanes filling with locals.

And while development is also underway there, the crown jewel of KSA’s tourism will take you far from the hustle and bustle of the cities. AlUla is an ancient city that sat along the main trade route between India and Europe. A visit here will include the ancient walled city of the same name, which is filled with mud-brick houses, as well as the archaeological site

at Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s the second-largest centre of the first-century Nabatean Kingdom, after Petra in Jordan.

IT’S UNFINISHED - AND THAT CAN BE FRUSTRATING

As with all new destinations, those who travel the Saudi Arabia in the coming months will probably experience some bumps.

Service standards can be very uneven in hotels and restaurants, and transportation plans do develop wrinkles, with taxi drivers unfamiliar with newer destinations. Many of the top sites are still a work in progress.

So if you plan to visit soon, bring along patience, a sense of humour and an understanding that frustrations often make for the best travel stories.

Where to stay, and getting there

One of several new hotels that’s recently opened in Riyadh, I stayed at the Jareed. A small property set in the middle of a development called The Boulevard that includes restaurants, shops and even a food truck specializing in gourmet hamburgers, the rooms here are massive and luxurious.

Even the entry-level room includes a five-piece bathroom with deep-soaker, free-standing tub and more than 500 square feet of space. Many rooms and suites offer large balconies with views to Riyadh’s brand-new skyline. There’s a fitness centre, full-service spa, and The Living Room, a cushy, comfortable lounge open to all hotel guests. The on-site Gallery restaurant is very good, with local and international dishes.

As for flights, while you can’t fly directly from Canada to Riyadh or Jeddah, you can get there with one connection. Two popular options: fly via Frankfurt on Lufthansa, or via New York on Saudia, the national carrier.

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“Agents love sending their clients here”: Interview with D.R.’s Tourism Minister David Collado

TORONTO — The Dominican Republic’s tourism bounce-back is one of travel’s biggest success stories coming out of the pandemic.

The D.R.’s already-soaring numbers got a boost from Canada starting this past September, when the destination dropped mandatory PCR testing for Canadians.

In fact September was ‘a month to remember’ for the D.R., a record breaker, with a higher number of arrivals than in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

By November, Minister of Tourism David Collado was in Toronto for the D.R.’s second official visit to the country in just six months, with an important message: that Canadians are a key market for the DR and that the government is proactively working to support local partners.

Now as 2023 gets underway, Travelweek is checking in with Minister Collado again to get the latest great news about this much-loved sun destination.

Travelweek: What stats can you share with us that underline the D.R.'s strong recovery from the Canadian market?

Minister Collado: “Since the beginning of the year, more than 600,000 Canadians have made the Dominican Republic their favorite destination. And the numbers continue to climb. My wish is to become the number one destination for Canadians. The tourism sector is vital. It employs nearly 180,000 people in the Dominican Republic and represents approximately 15% of GDP.”

Travelweek: Why do Canadians have such an affinity for the D.R.? What makes the D.R. such a winwin sell for travel agents booking the D.R. for their clients?

Minister Collado: “Prior to the pandemic, the Dominican Republic was

enjoying record-breaking tourism numbers with nearly 1 million Canadians visiting in 2019. This made the D.R. the number one destination in the Caribbean for Canadians. Visitors flock here for the sunshine, beautiful, pristine beaches, our rich history, vibrant culture, and fusion-style cuisine.

“Agents love sending their clients here for many reasons, not the least of which is because of our generous flight capacity. There are many direct flights departing from and returning to Canada daily. Agents also love the variety of accommodations available - from the most luxurious all-inclusive to off-the-grid self-catering options, there’s something for everyone in the Dominican Republic.”

Travelweek: What other details can you give us about lift to the D.R. from Canada for this winter?

Minister Collado: “Our air connectivity from Canada has proven to be resiliently strong. There are regular, direct flights offered by Canada’s

TOP NEWS 6 | TRAVELWEEK | January 12, 2023
THE D.R.’S TOURISM MINISTER, DAVID COLLADO
MY WISH IS TO BECOME THE NUMBER ONE DESTINATION FOR CANADIANS. THE TOURISM SECTOR IS VITAL.

biggest carriers to Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, La Romana, and Samaná.

“Last week, Sunwing even announced it was adding two weekly flights from Kitchener/Waterloo to the D.R. thanks to a surge in demand. In total, there will be an additional 500 flights to the D.R. from Canada this winter. Travellers across the country will have many options to escape the cold and soak in the sun in the Dominican Republic.”

Travelweek: The D.R. was recently honored by the UNWTO for its recovery and handling of the pandemic. Are travellers to the D.R. feeling good about the safety protocols in place and has this confidence helped with recovery?

Minister Collado: “Earlier this year I was honoured to stand in front of

representatives of the United Nations to accept an award from the World Tourism Organization for our successful recovery in tourism. The UNWTO secretary-general highlighted the management and sanitary protocols applied in the Dominican Republic to guarantee safe tourism, thus achieving the most successful recovery of the industry in the entire region, reaching record figures in tourist arrivals. We spared no effort to achieve this recovery and are well-positioned to welcome even more visitors this year!

“Canadian customer satisfaction is very high, with 9 out of 10 exit polls showing guests would return in the future. Hotels and excellent beaches were the elements respondents cited most in customer satisfaction surveys.”

Travelweek: Statistics from Forward Keys show that the D.R. is leading the Caribbean's recovery. Does that mean that occupancy levels are sky-high, and should travellers keep that in mind if they're eyeing a D.R. getaway this winter?

Minister Collado: “Data from Forward Keys, an industry reference for global travel trends and insights, proves the unstoppable popularity of both the Caribbean as a region and the Dominican Republic as a preferred destination. In Q4 the tourism numbers are accelerating even further with the Dominican Republic leading the way in terms of overseas arrivals, up a staggering 40% on 2019 levels. My advice to all Canadians: book now to avoid disappointment!

“Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the north and the Caribbean Sea on the south, our lush tropical island paradise boasts nearly 1,600 km of coastline, 400 km of the world’s top beaches, magnificent resorts and hotels, and a variety of sports, recreation, and entertainment options.”

For more information about travel to the D.R. see godominicanrepublic.com.

TOP NEWS January 12, 2023 | TRAVELWEEK | 7
KITESURFING IN CABARETE, D.R.

AIRLINES

A new low-cost airline is in ‘play’ in Canada, with flights to Europe set to take off in summer 2023. PLAY, which operates flights between Iceland and Europe, has announced new service in Canada starting on June 22, 2023 from John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport. Lowcost carriers typically don’t pay travel agent commission, and Travelweek asked PLAY’s reps if it pays agent commission, or if it plans to work with travel agents. There was no confirmation either way by press time. PLAY’s CEO, Birgir Jonsson, was deputy CEO at WOW Air, another Reykjavik-based LCC, which stranded passengers on both sides of the Atlantic when it ceased operations in March 2019. PLAY’s bookings have opened for tickets from Hamilton to 26 European destinations including London, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Dublin and more.

POLICIES

The U.S. has extended its COVID-19 vaccination requirement for non-U.S. air travellers entering the U.S. As outlined in an Emergency Amendment document filed by the TSA, for flights departing at or after 00:01 EST Jan. 9, 2023, non-U.S. passengers entering the U.S. by air must provide proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The order has been extended through April 10, 2023. Foreign carriers must have proof from each non-U.S. passenger of their COVID vaccination. Those passengers who cannot show proof of vaccination can’t board the plane. This is the latest extension of COVID vaccination mandates for air travel into the U.S. by nonU.S. passengers.

CRUISING

Four of the biggest names in cruising have been ordered to pay more than US$400 million after their brief foray into Cuba sailings a few years ago. Carnival, NCL, MSC and Royal Caribbean were all ordered by a U.S. judge to pay the U.S. company that operated Cuba’s Havana Docks millions of dollars in damages and legal fees. A Carnival Corp. rep is quoted as saying: “Carnival Corporation engaged in lawful travel explicitly licensed, authorized and encouraged by the U.S. government. We strongly disagree with both the ruling and the judgment, and plan to appeal these decisions.” In 2015 the Obama administration eased rules for U.S. citizens wishing to travel to Cuba, however by 2019 President Trump had banned Cuba stops by cruise ships and ending a heavily used form of educational travel.

RAIL

VIA Rail has apologized for its holiday travel delays and train cancellations. VIA cancelled trains running between Ottawa,

Montreal and Toronto over the Christmas weekend after it said a CN trail derailed on a set of tracks. Passengers travelling on a train between Ottawa and Toronto were stuck for upwards of 20 hours. Last week a parliamentary committee voted to launch a study into the causes behind Canada’s chaotic holiday travel season. “We didn’t meet your expectations and for that we apologize. We are truly sorry for letting our passengers down,” said Martin R. Landry, President and CEO at VIA Rail Canada, in the statement.

DESTINATIONS

Dubai has launched its Dubai Economic Agenda, ‘D33’, with a key priority to make Dubai one of the top three international destinations for tourism and business by 2033. The ‘D33’ agenda aims to enhance the city’s position as a fast growing and attractive business hub with world-class quality of life.

WORLD NEWS

Business as usual for Mexico bookings despite Mazatlan unrest, say agents

TORONTO — Travel agents are keeping their cool and, more importantly, keeping their clients calm and excited about future travel to Mexico amid headlines about cartel violence in Mazatlan on the Pacific coast.

Travelweek reached out to several travel agents to get their take on the situation.

“We have had a few calls from clients concerned about travel to Mexico but we haven’t had any cancellation requests. I am concerned that we will start getting those. We have explained to clients the distance from Mazatlan to places like the Mayan Riviera – that’s about all we can do right now. Tour operators are not offering flexibility on other Mexico destination bookings,” says Valerie Murphy, Vision Travel, Waterloo, ON. Marianne Vogel, Just for You Travel & Consulting, Dundas, ON, told Travelweek:

“I have a number of passengers going to Mexico in February that are panicking completely, not realizing that Mazatlan is a 36-hour drive from Cancun. All I can do as the travel professional is reassure them that the situation does not affect their destination and is far away from where they’ll be, and that their hotel/resort is secure and will do their ultimate best to keep them safe.”

And Cindy Gaudet, Fareconnect Travel in Winnipeg, said: “I do have clients impacted by the situation in Mazatlan and we have managed to rebook them to a different destination

immediately and save their vacation. Everyone reacts differently, and I explain to clients that the location they are travelling to, like Puerto Vallarta, is a wonderful choice and is not affected. We’ve had no cancellations.”

Sunwing issues apology as agents cry foul over lost commissions

TORONTO — Sunwing has apologized for its disruptions in operations, amid calls from the federal government for Sunwing to publicly explain what caused travel chaos for thousands of Canadians over the holidays.

Sunwing’s cancellations and operational challenges stemmed not just from the winter weather over the holiday break, but also its decision to cancel its winter sun flights out of Saskatoon and Regina through Feb. 3. Both impacted travellers as well as travel advisors.

Still reeling from Sunwing’s unexpected cancellations out of

Saskatchewan, and overwhelmed by frantic phone calls and emails from impacted clients, travel advisors are facing lost commissions at a time when many agencies are still struggling to get back on sure footing.

“Every penny of our commission recalled. It is abhorrent,” Jamie Milton, co-owner, Uniglobe Carefree Travel, told Travelweek. Milton’s agency is based in Saskatoon and was hit hard by Sunwing’s decision.

“As agents, this is a financial loss we will not be able to recoup so easily. Sunwing is recalling our commissions for their error. Our work has been nonstop. We did our part and had their backs, now is the time Sunwing needs to have ours,” added Regina-based travel advisor, Carrie Anne Gillespie.

Sunwing’s statement was signed by Stephen Hunter, CEO, Sunwing Travel Group and Len Corrado, President, Sunwing Airlines. The statement notes that Sunwing is actively accepting eligible claims for compensation.

The statement read in part: “Sunwing was founded on a promise to help make Canadians’ vacation dreams come true with affordable all inclusive getaways to dozens of highly rated vacation destinations. We are astutely aware that, for too many Canadians, we failed to live up to that promise this holiday season. We are incredibly sorry for letting our customers down.”

January 12, 2023 | TRAVELWEEK | 9
WE'VE HAD A FEW CALLS FROM CONCERNED CLIENTS BUT WE HAVEN’T HAD ANY CANCELLATIONS
NEWS
MAZATLAN, MEXICO

TICO announces closure of long-time tour op Active Journeys Inc.

TORONTO — Active Journeys Inc., which operated as both a travel retailer and travel wholesaler, has had its registration under the Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002 revoked, as of Nov. 4, 2022.

According to TICO, the travel agency and tour operator, located in Etobicoke, ON, is no longer in business. It specialized in organizing biking, hiking, kayaking, rafting and multi-sport holidays in Asia, Africa, United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia.

TICO has provided the following guidelines for Ontario travel agencies that have booked clients on a tour through Active Journeys Inc., to assist them with claims against the Ontario Travel Industry Compensation Fund:

WHO CAN FILE A CLAIM WITH THE COMP FUND?

Consumers who purchased their travel services directly from Active Journeys Inc. (Ontario registered travel retailer) and who have not travelled and/or have unredeemed future travel credits or an outstanding refund: Consumers who purchased travel services directly from Active Journeys Inc. and who have unredeemed future travel credits or have not received a refund for cancelled travel services may request a claim form from TICO. Please call 1-888-451-8426 or (905) 624-6241 or email tico@tico.ca.

Consumers who purchased Active Journeys Inc. travel services through an Ontario registered travel agency (other than Active Journeys Inc.) and who have unredeemed future travel credits or have not received a refund for cancelled travel services should contact their travel agent for information and assistance. Consumers

may also request a claim form from TICO against the Compensation Fund. Please call 1-888-451-8426 or (905) 624-6241 or email tico@tico.ca.

Consumers who purchased Active Journeys Inc. travel services from a travel agency located outside of Ontario: Unfortunately, there is no provision under Ontario Regulation 26/05 of the Travel Industry Act, 2002 for a consumer to claim on the Compensation Fund if they purchased travel services from an out-of-province travel agency. TICO recommends that these travellers contact the travel agency they purchased from for further assistance.

There is a legislated six-month filing deadline for claims on the Compensation Fund. The filing deadline date is May 5, 2023. Claims received by TICO after the filing deadline date will not be valid.

FILING A CLAIM AGAINST THE COMP FUND

The legislation requires claimants to explore all other possible options for reimbursement as part of the claims process. Claimants who paid by credit

card and who were charged by Active Journeys Inc. for their travel services not provided, are required to do the following:

Contact their credit card company and dispute the Active Journeys Inc. charge and request a refund (credit/reversal of the charge on their account).

If for some reason the credit card company refuses to provide a credit refund, the traveller will be required to obtain a letter from the credit card company stating that a credit refund will not be provided.

The letter from the credit card company must be submitted with the claim against the Comp Fund.

Says TICO: “If you are unable to obtain a refund (chargeback) from your credit card company or obtain all the documentation required to substantiate your claim in a timely manner, please submit your claim form to TICO prior to the filing deadline date.”

Any additional documentation that is required to complete the claim can be sent to TICO when it is obtained.

10 | TRAVELWEEK | January 12, 2023
NEWS
TICO HAS GUIDELINES FOR ONTARIO TRAVEL AGENCIES THAT BOOKED CLIENTS THROUGH ACTIVE JOURNEYS INC.

TICO approves 43 claims, brings back renewal fees, assessments

MISSISSAUGA — TICO has announced that it approved 43 claims against the Ontario Travel Compensation Fund on Dec. 20, 2022.

Totalling $201,928, the approved claims will assist 86 consumers who did not receive the travel services for which they paid.

The claims are as follows:

Jacco Tours: 12 claims to assist 26 consumers, totalling $11,515

Jet Airways: 2 claims to assist 8 consumers, totalling $12,386

Sunmed Holidays Inc.: 1 claim to assist 2 consumers, totalling $800 Crystal Cruises: 28 claims to assist 50 consumers, totalling $177,227

In addition, one claim was denied: Crystal Cruises: 1 claim for 2 consumers totalling $10,000, as the services were available to have been received and a credit was issued as a goodwill gesture

REMINDER: RENEWAL FEES

TICO is also reminding registrants that renewal fees and Comp Fund assessments will be resuming on April 1, 2023.

For three years, TICO has waived registrants’ annual registration renewal fees and Compensation Fund assessments, made possible thanks to funding provided by the Ontario government, which will come to an end on March 31, 2023.

As of April 1, 2023, TICO will temporarily revert to the fee structure that was in place prior to the pandemic. This will be in effect until the comprehensive funding framework review is complete.

All registrations with a year-end or six-month period-end on or after Jan. 1, 2023, will have fees owing starting on April 1, 2023:

Coming winter 2023: Dreams Flora Resort & Spa

TORONTO — The Inclusive Collection, part of World of Hyatt, has introduced its newest Dreams Resort in Punta Cana – Dreams Flora Resort & Spa.

Opening in winter 2023 and perfect for families and couples alike, the resort is located on Cabeza de Toro beach and will feature 520 rooms and suites with modern Caribbean décor, each with a private terrace or balcony.

Other resort highlights include a rejuvenating spa and a waterpark complete with racer and toboggan slides. And with the Unlimited-Luxury concept, guests can enjoy gourmet restaurants and topshelf drinks and endless day and night activities. Those who wish to elevate their stay can upgrade to the Preferred Club for access to a premium room location, a private lounge, a member-only à la carte restaurant and more.

For couples looking to tie the

knot, Dreams Flora provides the perfect backdrop for any destination wedding. There are several romance and wedding packages available that cater to most budgets and group sizes, with a maximum capacity of up to 150 guests. Five options are available for weddings and events, including a wedding gazebo, the beach, a beach gazebo, a ballroom and by the pool.

Dreams Flora is also committed to making the world a greener place. The resort staff works together to promote a socially responsible environment for guests, and is involved in various green initiatives.

To celebrate the opening, the resort has announced the Dream Big package, priced at US$199. The package includes an in-room welcome gift; a 25-minute couples massage; a dessert party in room or a romantic dinner for two, and more.

For more information go to www. amrcollection.com.

January 12, 2023 | TRAVELWEEK | 11
NEWS
DREAMS FLORA RESORT & SPA, PUNTA CANA

Registration renewal fees: Payable 90 days after fiscal year-end

Compensation Fund assessments: Payable semi-annually (Payment 1: 90 days after fiscal year-end; Payment 2: 90 days after fiscal half-year-end)

Renewal fee amounts are based on sales volume (Ontario gross sales).

The renewal fees are for a one-year period and are based on reported gross sales in Ontario during the last fiscal year.

The retail rate remains at 25 cents per $1,000 of retail sales and the wholesale rate also remains at 25 cents per $1,000 of wholesale sales. They are based on reported gross sales in Ontario during the last half-fiscal year.

IATA says restrictions for travellers from China are “kneejerk” measures

GENEVA — IATA has responded to newly introduced border and COVID-19 testing measures implemented by several countries, including Canada, for travellers from China.

Canada announced on Dec. 31, 2022 that all air travellers aged two and older coming from China, Hong

Kong and Macao will have to test negative for COVID-19 before leaving for Canada, starting on Jan. 5, 2023.

Several countries, including the United States and Britain, have also reintroduced pre-flight COVID-19 testing mandates for people flying from China, while others like Japan and Italy are requiring testing upon arrival and quarantine measures for those who test positive for COVID-19.

Said Willie Walsh, IATA Director General: “Several countries are introducing COVID-19 testing and other measures for travellers from China, even though the virus is already circulating widely within their borders. It is extremely disappointing to see this knee-jerk reinstatement of measures that have proven ineffective over the last three years.

“Research undertaken around the arrival of the Omicron variant concluded that putting barriers in the way of travel made no difference to the peak spread of infections. At most, restrictions delayed that peak by a few days. If a new variant emerges in any part of the world, the same situation would be expected.

“That’s why governments should listen to the advice of experts, including the WHO, that advise against travel restrictions. We have the tools to manage COVID-19 without resorting to ineffective measures that cut off international connectivity, damage economies and destroy jobs. Governments must base their decisions on ‘science facts’ rather than ‘science politics’.”

Experts have also come forward to question Ottawa’s move to restrict travel from China, saying that compulsory COVID-19 testing are politically motivated and will not help in preventing new variants or the spread of the virus.

Several EU nations are currently fine-tuning a coordinated response to China’s COVID-19 crisis and are zeroing in on travel restrictions. China has already vehemently rejected travel restrictions that some EU nations have started to impose and has warned of “countermeasures” if such actions should be expanded in coming days.

A Chinese government spokesperson said “we sincerely hope that all parties will focus on fighting the epidemic itself [and] avoid the politicization of COVID.”

Italy, Morocco, South Africa and Costa Rica all trending for Collette in 2023

TORONTO — Collette is offering the trade a sneak peek at its trending destinations and tours for 2023.

The company, North America’s longest-running tour operator, says travellers are flocking to Italy, Africa, and Central America.

Topping the list, Collette’s new ‘Best of Italy’ Small Groups Explorations Tour allows travellers to experience Venice, the Romagna countryside, Florence and Rome while immersing themselves into the country’s culture. Travellers can book their spot on ‘Best of Italy’ for as early as April 23, 2023, for prices starting at Cdn$5,741.10 per person.

“Our ‘Best of Italy’ Small Groups Explorations Tour is a fantastic way for travellers to enjoy Italian culture. On this new tour, they’ll be able to make their own decisions on what they’d

12 | TRAVELWEEK | January 12, 2023
NEWS
BEIJING'S FORBIDDEN CITY

like to experience during their trip,” said Jaclyn Leibl-Cote, Collette’s President and Chief Brand Officer.

Collette’s 15-day ‘Colors of Morocco’ small group explorations tour, which got rave reviews in 2022, is still going strong for 2023. Last year a total of 155 different travellers left feedback on the tour, rating the experience as only-excellent 85% of the time. For 2023, spots on tours are available from Jan. 26 through Feb. 9, 2023 with prices starting at $4,510.57 per person.

Meanwhile Collette’s ‘Exploring South Africa, Victoria Falls & Botswana’ small group Explorations tour, also 15 days, has been another trending product into 2023.

“Travellers are flocking to explore Africa with Collette’s explorations tours,” said Jeff Roy, Executive Vice President of Revenue Management and Pricing at Collette.  “What makes Collette’s Africa tours unique is that on top of the opportunity to explore the wildlife, travellers have

the chance to enjoy the unique and rich culture of Africa. We’re happy that travellers have been taking the opportunity to plan life-changing experiences with Collette.”

Diana Ditto, Senior Director of Product Marketing, points to Collette’s 13day small group tour, ‘Costa Rica: A World of Nature’, as another winner. The popular tour features two nights at a remote resort in the heart of Tortuguero National Park.

Says Ditto: “This is a chance to take in Costa Rica from many angles with a focus on all the beauty and wildlife the country has to offer. The incredible experiences in Tortuguero National Park truly set this tour apart.”

When clients add Collette’s Travel Protection Plan, they get a full money-back refund if they need to cancel – up to 24 hours before departure. Travel advisors also earn advanced commission.

January 12, 2023 | TRAVELWEEK | 13
NEWS
WE’RE HAPPY THAT TRAVELLERS HAVE BEEN TAKING THE OPPORTUNITY TO PLAN LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCES WITH COLLETTE
Sun Packages starting at $889 COME BACK CHANGED PROMO Ask your Travel Professional for details. The “Come Back Changed” promotion is valid on new individual bookings of select South packages made between January 10 and 30, 2023, for select departure and return dates between January 10, 2023, and October 31, 2023. The savings are in double occupancy and apply to the Barcelo Solymar Resort hotel, in a superior room, for a departure from Toronto on April 10, 2023. The promotion is limited to 20 seats at the indicated fares per departure and is subject to change without notice. Subject to availability at time of booking. Savings are calculated before taxes and fees and reflected in system prices. Not combinable with any other offers. Not applicable to groups, air only, à la carte accommodations, United States or Duo packages. Travel agency fees may apply. For full descriptions and terms and conditions, refer to transat.com. All prices are per person in Canadian dollars. Flights operated by Air Transat in Economy Class at the Eco Budget fare and offered by Transat Tours Canada Inc., registered as a travel wholesaler in Ontario (reg. #50009486) with offices at 5915 Airport Road, Suite 910, Mississauga (ON) L4V 1T1.

With its beaches and balmy weather, Barbados hits the mark with travel agent FAM

It should come as no surprise that Canadians have long enjoyed a love affair with the island of Barbados. It’s an affection that spans decades, and rightfully so. After all, what’s not to love?

Barbados isn’t just the birthplace of rum and celebrity singer Rihanna. It’s also home to some of the most idyllic unspoiled beaches in the world, set against tropical breezes and warm Bajan hospitality.

Travelweek recently co-hosted an exclusive fam with BTMI, with a select group of 10 travel professionals from across Canada heading to Barbados to experience an off-the-beaten-path itineraryproving there is much more than sun and sand to love in this Caribbean gem.

The itinerary included a mix of physical challenges, learning experiences, culinary tastings and contributing to a local cause.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Giving back to a community project was an integral and empowering element of the fam itinerary, adding a shine to everyone’s week.

A group visit to the Irving Wilson School in St. Michael permitted a first-hand tour and interactive moments with the children in their classroom settings. Santia Bradshaw, Deputy PM and MP, Minister of Transport, Works and Water Resources and MP for St Michael South East, and Armed Alleyne, Principal of Irving Wilson School, were on hand to greet everyone with a warm welcome and some kind words.

“I want to say a heartfelt thank you to you. It’s very touching that groups from abroad, coming to Barbados, take the opportunity to give, and it pleases me significantly that you’ve chosen a special needs institution. There’s so much to do here,” said Minister Bradshaw.

The group’s generous donations

were very much appreciated and will go a long way towards the school’s construction of a new play park.

TRIED, TRUE & NEW

If the glorious beaches and balmy weather weren’t tempting enough, here are some hands-down FAM-tested highlights and favourites shared by the group.

• Newly opened ziplining and obstacle course challenge at Harrison’s Cave

• Friday night dinner and dancing at the Oistins open-air fish fry dinner, snorkelling and watching a sunset on a Catamaran

• Early Saturday morning breakfast and shopping at Brighton’s Farmers Market

• Tree planting at King George V recreational park

• Learning the history and process of rum making at a local distillery

• Walk/run in the Run Barbados race weekend

It was pleasure partnering with Travelweek to host the agents on island for the return of the Run Barbados marathon. I think it’s always great for those who are on the frontline selling the destination to get a chance to experience the product firsthand. The stories they can share and the personal insight they can give, can go a very long way when closing the deal. The food is always amazing, the beaches are forever gorgeous, but the Bajan personality remains unmatched, and I believe everyone on the trip could certainly speak to that. The timing was great as the island in on the rebound following the pandemic and all covid restrictions have all been lifted. I’m sure Barbados has left its mark on each of them in a very positive light.”

BTMI Toronto

RunBarbados RunBarbados

What an unforgetable FAM trip with TravelWeek. Top notch experiences from beginning to end, from the time we landed in Barbados until our flights home. From the warmth of the sun, beautiful beaches, food, activities and the smiles of the local people, Barbados is a beautiful island that everyone needs to experience!”

2022
2022
Deb Howe Travel Best Bets – Kelowna BC

Polar voyages reduced by up to 45% with Quark Expeditions’ Escape Sale

SEATTLE — Polar adventure specialist Quark Expeditions is celebrating the new year with its brand new Escape Sale, with polar voyages reduced by up to 45%.

“We’re very excited about our recently-launched Escape Sale as it enables a cross-section of travellers to take advantage of deep savings that match their travel tastes,” said VP Sales, Thomas Lennartz. “The special offers - and perks - in our Escape Sale appeal to solo travellers, couples and groups.”

Featured itineraries include some of the more popular voyages in Quark Expeditions’ portfolio.

“Guests can enjoy incredible savings on some of the more active trips in the Arctic such as our Greenland Adventure: Explore by Land, Sea and

Air itinerary, as well as shorter voyages such as Antarctic Express: Fly the Drake,” said Lennartz. “In addition, we’re also waiving the single supplement on multiple voyages 2023 voyages.”

He added: “We know from past promotions that a large number of travellers will appreciate the free transfer package offered on select Arctic 2023 voyages. This includes charter flights, hotel and ground transportation (between airport and hotel), as well as hotel accommodation. Polar travellers place high value

People

Aruba’s ATA promotes Dijkhoff-Feliciano to Area Director, North America

The Aruba Tourism Authority has named Sjiedy Dijkhoff-Feliciano to the position of Area Director, North America. In her new role DijkhoffFeliciano will oversee the tourism board’s regional sales and marketing teams. Dijkhoff-Feliciano joined the ATA in 2002 and previously served as Communications Manager.

“We are thrilled that Sjeidy is stepping into her next role of Area Director of North America and continues to grow within the ATA,” said the ATA’s CEO, Ronella Croes. “Sjeidy is a senior tourism professional well respected both within our organization and among our many external stakeholders within and outside the tourism industry. Of her many career milestones, she played a critical role in managing Aruba’s crisis communication strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic, later shifting her focus to communicating the island’s re-opening, healthy and safety procedures and visitor travel requirements.” “As a proud Aruban who has represented the destination internationally for many years, I am passionate about my country and honored to continue my career with the ATA,” said Dijkhoff-Feliciano. "I am eager to take on this new role and continue to promote the One happy island to travellers across North America during this exciting time for the destination.”

on these extras. Factor in the additional 10% savings when guests pay in full, and our Escape Sale is even more appealing to travelers who’ve long wanted to explore the Arctic or Antarctic with the best expedition team in the Polar Regions.”

Quark’s Escape Sale runs through April 3, 2023.

Holland America heads to the Arctic Circle with longer cruises for Alaska 2024 season

SEATTLE — Holland America Line is sharing details of its 2024 Alaska season, including a new 28-day Arctic Circle itinerary that includes 12 Alaska ports, longer 14-day voyages and 117 week-long journeys.

Holland America has more than 75 years of Alaska exploration - longer than any other cruise line - and offers more sailings to Glacier Bay National Park than any other cruise line, plus it’s the only cruise line to include the Yukon plus Denali on overland Cruisetours.

“Holland America Line is proud of our rich history of bringing the best service at sea to Alaska, and we’re excited to reveal details of our 2024 season including a new monthlong Arctic Circle itinerary that is the most immersive we’ve ever offered in this region,” said Chief Commercial Officer, Beth Bodensteiner. “With six ships serving Alaska and the only cruise line with owned land operations in Denali and the Yukon, no one does Alaska better than Holland America Line.”

From April through September 2024, guests can embark on Holland America Line’s cruises to Alaska aboard Eurodam, Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Westerdam and Zaandam.

18 | TRAVELWEEK | January 12, 2023
NEWS
GUESTS CAN ENJOY INCREDIBLE SAVINGS ON SOME OF THE MORE ACTIVE TRIPS IN THE ARCTIC

The line’s 2024 cruises are now open for booking, and 2024 Cruisetours, which combine an Alaska cruise with an overland expedition to Denali and the Yukon, are scheduled to be available in February.

For a limited time, when clients book Alaska 2024 cruises with the Have It All premium package, they will receive a free bonus upgrade to the Elite Beverage Package and Premium WiFi, as well as free prepaid Crew Appreciation.

The standard Have it All package also includes amenities of shore excursions and specialty dining along with the Signature Beverage and Surf WiFi packages.

Swoop starts 2023 with record-breaking travel day

CALGARY — For the first time in its history, Swoop has transported over 10,000 travellers in a single day.

The milestone was reached on Jan. 1, 2023, the ultra-low-cost airline’s single-largest travel day during which 64 flights were operated, carrying 10,268 passengers. On this day, Swoop flew 37 flights across Canada, 14 to the United States, and 13 to sun destinations across Mexico and the Caribbean.

“We are incredibly proud of this accomplishment and grateful to our team of Swoopsters and all our travellers for helping us reach this milestone,” said Bob Cummings, President of Swoop. “This past year posed

unprecedented challenges for the entire aviation industry, but our airline expanded to reach new heights and so we’re thrilled to kick off 2023 with a signal of that growth.”

Cummings added that this holiday season was “undeniably the most difficult” the airline has faced in its five-year history, with storms reported across British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

“We sincerely thank all travellers for their patience and understanding as we recovered, and are proud to share that we have successfully operated 96.5% of scheduled flights since Dec. 23 when the cold weather and storms subsided.”

This past year, Swoop experienced rapid growth, with significant network expansions into Abbotsford, Hamilton, London, Toronto and across eastern Canada, supported by a fleet increase of 60%. In 2023, which marks the carrier’s fifth year of service, Swoop will operate over 100 flights per week to 13 vacation destinations, with Swoop flights available through WestJet Vacations’ all-inclusive packages as well as through Swoop Getaways.

New York City is back, with more than 56 million visitors in 2022

NEW YORK CITY — New York City made significant gains in 2022 with an anticipated 56.4 million travellers arriving in the city by the end of the year.

This, says NYC & Company, represents a 71.4% increase over 2021. The city will see 47.4 million domestic and 8.9 million international travellers visit its five boroughs, with international visitation alone more than tripling over 2021, marking the return of 85% of the city’s record 2019 visitation levels.

Riding this momentum, New York City is on pace to attract 61.7 million visitors in 2023.

“New York City is not coming back – we are back,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “After being the hardest hit of any city in the country during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 57 million travellers visited the greatest city in the world this year, and that’s because every day we show more creative energy and success. And thanks to a booming tourism industry, our city continues to be a vital economic engine that supports the nation’s overall recovery, accounting for 410,000 jobs for New Yorkers and US$60 billion in economic impact across all five boroughs.

January 12, 2023 | TRAVELWEEK | 19
WE CAN’T WAIT TO WELCOME EVEN MORE VISITORS IN 2023. I HAVE ONE MESSAGE FOR THEM ALL: SPEND MONEY! NEWS
LOWER MANHATTAN, NYC

“We can’t wait to welcome even more visitors in 2023, but I have one message for them all: Spend money!”

Several factors contributed to the city’s tourism rebound last year. Throughout 2022, New York City saw a steady return of visitors across all five boroughs with travel activity beginning to return to pre-pandemic patterns. The demand for hotels remained strong and was supported by a steady increase in midweek business travel. Meetings and conventions activity increased citywide with the Javits Center seeing a 15% increase from August to December 2022 as compared to the same period in 2021.

In addition, the resumption of airline service routes, the continuation of infrastructure investments throughout the pandemic, and the addition of new tourism offerings, programs and major events across the five boroughs have been critical to attracting visitors back to the City and encouraging spending activity.

Hotel performance grew throughout 2022 and is forecast to reach nearly 32 million room nights sold, just 20% below 2019 record levels. New York City is again among the top 25 U.S. markets and was the highest-performing hotel city in the country in November and December 2022. For the week ending Dec. 10, hotel demand recovered 96% of the 2019 benchmark with over 800,000 room nights sold. Hotel occupancy was over 90% and the Average Daily Rate (ADR) was over $400, which

ONGOING INVESTMENT ACROSS NEW YORK CITY’S FIVE BOROUGHS WILL SUPPORT ONGOING TOURISM GROWTH

translates to a recovery of 124% of 2019 rates.

New York City remains the largest point of entry to the U.S. and a top destination for international travellers. International visitation, which accounts for nearly half of visitor spending, rebounded in 2022 with arrivals tripling over 2021 for a total of nearly 9 million travellers. Western European visitation rebounded significantly in 2022 after travel restrictions were removed at the end of 2021. In 2022, New York City’s five largest international markets were the United Kingdom (754,000), Canada (656,000), France (607,000), Brazil (520,000) and Spain (413,000).    Ongoing investment across New York City’s five boroughs will support ongoing tourism growth. These projects include a multibillion-dollar slate of improvements at LaGuardia, Newark-Liberty and John F. Kennedy airports; a new Moynihan Train Hall; and an expanded Javits Center to host business meetings and conventions. More than 11,000 hotel rooms will be added to the city’s inventory in the next three years and new attractions, museums, tours and other offerings

continue to launch across the City. New York City will also benefit from major events in the coming years, including the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop beginning in 2023 and the hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2026.

AQV’s 2023 Winter Savings Event on now, with free roundtrip airfare and more

FORT LAUDERDALE American Queen Voyages has launched its 2023 Winter Savings Event, offering up to US$2,500 in savings plus free roundtrip air from select Canadian and U.S. gateways.

The deal applies to select voyages in 2023. New for this year, American Queen Voyages is adding both value and convenience with newly enhanced all-inclusive fares bundling pre-paid gratuities, port taxes and fees for the first time, along with brand favorite inclusions such as a one-night pre-cruise hotel stay, unlimited guided tours, unlimited beverages and more. The 2023 season features new itineraries, innovative and enriching themed cruises, a resident Lakelorian program on the Great Lakes and more.

20 | TRAVELWEEK | January 12, 2023
THE STATUE OF LIBERTY IN NEW YORK HARBOR NEWS

JAMAICA IT’S EVERYTHING

YOU LOVE Experience the vibrancy and diversity of a world renowned destination at Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa and Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort & Spa , ideally situated between Negril and Montego Bay. Introducing the NEW Superior Suites offering private plunge pools with an ocean view backdrop, guests can plunge in to luxury accommodations, casual and fi ne dining, the Zentropia Palladium Spa & Wellness Center and excellent entertainment. Inspire unforgettable moments at our expansive oceanfront resorts in Jamaica. Enjoy your stay with Infi nite Indulgence ®. It’s all included. For more information, please contact your preferred travel partner, visit PALLADIUMHOTELGROUP.COM or call 1.866.685.8524 Travel agents earn cash rewards by joining our partnership program at PALLADIUMCONNECT.COM
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“We are looking forward to an exciting kickoff to Wave season and 2023, where American Queen Voyages will be offering even more extraordinary experiences for our guests who are looking to deeply discover North America with us,” says AQV’s President, Cindy D’Aoust. “Travellers can expect the same incredible Rivers, Lakes & Oceans, and Expedition voyages, now elevated with even more inclusions.”

In addition to the savings and free air from select gateways, travellers can take advantage of a $300 per person travel credit instead of taking advantage of free roundtrip air. The offer expires Feb. 28.

American Queen Voyages’ all-inclusive fares include a one-night precruise hotel stay, ground transfers between the hotel and vessel, unlimited guided tours and experiences, unlimited beverages, open bars and lounges, acclaimed cuisine in multiple venues, in-room dining, unlimited WiFi,

live daily onboard entertainment and enrichment, and hiking sticks. Bicycles are included on river voyages. Additionally, AQV introduced enhanced inclusions with port taxes and fees and pre-paid gratuities added to the list of amenities.

In 2023, American Queen Voyages’ new Lakelorian program will debut on Ocean Voyager and Ocean Navigator Great Lakes itineraries. The Lakelorian program will be similar to the Riverlorian program, providing guests with stories about the history and culture of the region. This program is in partnership with The National

Museum of the Great Lakes, and will feature an exclusive lecture dedicated to an exhibit currently on display in the museum.

The cruise line is also debuting new City Stay packages in 2023 spanning the Pacific Northwest, Northeast, and Southeast U.S.A., including a 2023 Official Glacier National Park Pre-Cruise Experience. The Official Vancouver/Victoria Post-Cruise Experience will take travellers to scenic and iconic destinations in each city, including Butchart Gardens & Butterfly Gardens. There will also be post-cruise experiences offered in

22 | TRAVELWEEK | January 12, 2023
CAN EXPECT
SAME INCREDIBLE VOYAGES, NOW ELEVATED WITH EVEN MORE INCLUSIONS TOKYO TOURISM E-LEARNING PROGRAM Complete all themes by Feb. 28 for a chance to win an air ticket to Japan! Register Now NEWS
TRAVELLERS
THE

Boston, Louisville and St. Louis, for guests who want a deeper discovery of the disembarkation destination.

Comprehensive themed voyages and special events cruises are also on the agenda for 2023 and will allow guests to explore a region more indepth with added enrichment. American Queen Voyages will offer Culinary Cruises with Culinary Ambassador Regina Charboneau where dining experiences and storytelling are equally plentiful. On the river, guests can enjoy wine cruises, bourbon cruises, and Holidays on the River cruises. D’Aoust will host guests for sailings on President’s Cruises with special friends including company founder John Waggoner.

TourRadar’s Climate Action Plan sets a goal for all tour ops to have sustainability plans by 2030

VIENNA — TourRadar, the adventure booking platform (ABP) with more than 50,000 organized adventures, has released its Climate Action Plan with the goal of all its active operators having sustainability initiatives in place by 2030, and developing an impact measurement tool to simplify carbon measurement and reporting.

With more than 2,500 operators, all with different levels of sustainability initiatives, TourRadar’s CEO Travis Pittman said the company saw an opportunity to create and nurture a community and ecosystem around shared values and goals, to define its main and most achievable purpose to bring the industry together to work collaboratively on solutions to the challenges of the climate crisis, and to raise awareness about sustainable travel in the organized adventure category.

“By leveraging our position at the center of the adventure booking platform ecosystem, we can educate and drive sustainability initiatives and rebuild travel in a better way,” said Pittman.

Currently, the organized adventure sector has no centralized, standardized hub or tool to measure and report on its CO2 emissions. The Impact Measurement Tool, which TourRadar aims to develop in collaboration with its partners, will provide a simple and centralized way of carbon measurement and reporting, allowing operators and industry supply chains to focus more energy and efforts on decarbonizing and mitigating the footprint of their adventures and operations. This tool will be available as an opensource solution in the TourRadar Operator Dashboard.

“As a signatory to the Glasgow Declaration, and with this ambitious plan in place, TourRadar is demonstrating the type of leadership we need; not simply focusing on its own climate impact, but on supporting the multi-day tour sector to accelerate its journey towards Net Zero, through innovation and collaborative action. We look forward to supporting TourRadar’s efforts and working together to achieve real impact,” said Jeremy Sampson, CEO of The Travel Foundation and co-author of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism.

Another key part of the sustainability plan is to support and encourage operators to run sustainably organized adventures. TourRadar will

showcase how tour operators incorporate sustainability into their itineraries, allowing travelers to know the impact of their adventures. Travellers will be able to choose organized adventures operated by companies with initiatives to reduce carbon emissions and animal welfare guidelines in place. They will be able to choose tours led by locals or locally owned that support community development and environmental projects. The company has set a goal that by 2030, all active operators on the ABP will have sustainability initiatives in place.

TourRadar’s ABP connects operators to travellers, travel advisors, and other partners through proprietary technology.

TourRadar launched its commissionable Adventure Booking Platform for travel advisors in 2021, and by mid-2022, close to 2,000 travel advisors had signed up. Travel agents can sign up for free at the TourRadar Partner Portal.

January 12, 2023 | TRAVELWEEK | 23
NEWS
WE CAN EDUCATE AND DRIVE SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVES

Star Clippers’ wave season offer includes complimentary onboard credit

MIAMI — Star Clippers has unveiled a new wave season offer that includes an onboard credit on select sailings.

Guests who book select sailings onboard Star Clipper and Star Flyer by Feb. 15, 2023 will receive US$230 complimentary onboard credit per person, which can be used for purchasing drinks, massages, WiFi packages, clothing and other items from the Sloop Shop, or to book excursions.

Available for residents of North, Central and South America only, the offer is good on select sailings through November 2024, and includes Mediterranean destinations like the Greek Islands, Rome and the Amalfi Coast, Spain and the Balearic Islands, or the French and Italian Rivieras.

For closer-to-home getaways, travellers can also choose from Caribbean sailings on Star Flyer roundtrip from St. Maarten to the British Virgin Islands, St. Barths, Antigua and more, or Central America sailings on Star Clipper along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica with ports of call in Panama.

Star Clippers operates three of the world’s largest and tallest sailing vessels: Star Clipper and Star Flyer, both

traditional clipper ships with modern amenities and carrying 166 guests each, and the 227-guest Royal Clipper, which holds the Guinness World Record for being the largest and only five-masted, full-rigged sailing ship in service today. All three ships feature expansive teak decks, swimming pools, informal dining, tropical bars and piano lounges.

European Waterways seeing 45% increase in private charter bookings

TORONTO — European Waterways is reporting record sales of its luxury hotel barge cruises as post-pandemic concerns continue to drive major trends.

With some travellers still preferring to create a “travel bubble” composed of families and small groups, for example, the company says that its private charter bookings have increased more than 45%. Travellers are also seeking experiences that take them “off the beaten path”; they want to be more than observers, but also become immersed in the local culture, gastronomy, and history of the region.

“We had a record year in 2022, with bookings 16% higher than our previous record, because our cruises tick all the boxes,” said Derek Banks, European Waterways’ managing director. “We offer exclusive ‘slow travel’ and ‘relaxed luxury’ experiences that are consistently among the most frequently cited industry trends.”

During the many years helping to grow the canal cruising market, European Waterways has developed close relationships with many local businesses, vineyards, personalities, and restaurants along their routes. These have proven essential in creating highly curated experiences for their guests that have become a hallmark of European Waterways cruises. For example, guests aboard La Bella Vita on Italy’s River Po can enjoy a private lunch with a Countess at her legendary villa, while cruising the Champagne region on Panache, they’ll embark on a private tour, wine tasting and gastronomic meal at the boutique Grand Cru winery of Frerejean Frères.

Throughout all this, guests enjoy private chauffeured transportation in air-conditioned Mercedes-Benz minibuses to and from their excursions. Onboard their hotel barge, highlights include meals every day prepared by a master chef, including wine pairings from local vintages. Barges also include onboard amenities such as spa pools and bicycles, available for guests’ use.

“Our 2023 bookings are already on another record pace,” said Banks. “We’re also seeing strong bookings for 2024 and even 2025. It reflects another travel trend of people feeling more confident about the future and booking their dream, ‘bucket list’ vacations far in advance.”

Banks added: “More and more travellers are discovering the ‘joys of luxury hotel barge cruising,’ and we are thrilled and honoured to be recognized as a pioneer and standard-bearer for the industry.”

24 | TRAVELWEEK | January 12, 2023
NEWS
STAR CLIPPER

Winners announced in VISIT FLORIDA’s Certified Florida Travel Pro contest

TORONTO — Five lucky travel advisors won Florida gift boxes featuring items from Spartina 449, thanks to a recent contest with VISIT FLORIDA.

The promotion ran this past November and offered travel advisors who completed the steps to become a Certified Florida Travel Pro the chance to win one of the five specially curated Florida gift boxes with items from upscale accessories specialist Spartina 449. The gift boxes were valued at US$200 each.

Travel advisors had to complete all

eight modules of the VISIT FLORIDA Travel Pro Specialist Program in order to qualify for a chance to win.

The five winners are Mylène Laflèche - Voyages Gendron; Marie Claude Fournier- Transat Travel; Neomi D’Souza - Cruises.ca; Josée Sasseville – Voyages Michel Barrette; and Marielle Tesnier – Plaisirs Vacances.

The Sunshine State offers every type of adventure, experience, and entertainment, but many would say its most alluring assets are its 1,000+ kilometres of sun-kissed beaches and 2,000 kilometres of coastline. Clients will never run out of things to do in Florida, a state packed with nature trails, parks, roller coasters, museums and much more.

The VISIT FLORIDA Travel Pro Specialist Program is designed to showcase different aspects of destinations within Florida including, but not limited to, attractions, shopping, art and culture, nightlife, music and theatre, festivals and events,

accommodations, beaches and water activities, spas, and golf.

The program offers a wealth of information that will assist travel advisors with expanded knowledge on the state of Florida, and help pave the way to becoming a Florida expert.

The Florida Travel Pro program includes Essential Modules, Specialization Modules and Partner Programs.

Benefits for certified Florida Travel Pros include: personalized VISIT FLORIDA Travel Pro diploma and use of the official Florida Travel Pro logo; qualify for participation in destination FAMs, and priority invitations for additional training and special events; access to an exclutsive Florida Travel Pro toolkit which includes an interactive directory, maps, images, and videos for promotional use.

More information is at visitflorida travelpro.com/travelweek.

comparing host agencies?

January 12, 2023 | TRAVELWEEK | 25 Click here to compare!
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INTRODUCING OUR NEWEST DREAMS RESORT IN PUNTA CANA

AN INVITING TROPICAL OASIS

Located on the stunning Cabeza de Toro beach in Punta Cana, Dreams Flora boasts 520 rooms and suites offering a private terrace or balcony amid the striking natural flora and fauna. Clients can spend each moment exactly as they please, whether relaxing poolside with attentive service or indulging at the rejuvenating spa. The waterpark provides a perfect family day activity with something for everyone—a pool, thrilling racer slides and fun-filled toboggan slides.

Unlimited-Luxury® ensures everything is included in their stay from best-in-class service, gourmet restaurants and top-shelf drinks to endless day and nighttime activities. Elevate clients’ stay with the Preferred Club. They will enjoy a premium room location, access to a private lounge, a Preferred Club member-only á la carte restaurant and so much more! There are beautiful views everywhere with the surrounding lush gardens, sparkling pools and shimmering ocean.

Discover Dreams Flora Resort & Spa DreamsResorts.com/DreamsFlora