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Fake hotel websites lure up to 15 million travellers every year. Up to 15 million travelers a year are duped by third-party websites into thinking they are booking direct with a hotel. Hotel trade group the American Hotel & Lodging Association recently conducted a consumer survey of 1,000 people. It found 6% of customers booked a room which they thought was directly with a hotel, but found they had actually made a reservation through a third-party site. "These findings clearly show that online hotel-booking scams have eroded consumer confidence among third-party vendors," said Katherine Lugar, president and chief executive of the lodging association. The AH&LA paints a bleak picture for third party bookings, with no guarantees customers get the room they reserved, may be charged undisclosed hidden fees and more commonly, may not be able to earn loyalty points with the hotel. The group also says customers may fall victim to identity theft. In some cases bookings made through 'rogue' third-party sites simply do not exist. The American Society of Travel Agents played down the danger of booking through an intermediary, championing the service offered by professional travel agents. "The expertise, knowledge and wisdom of our members helps ensure consumers avoid the worries and undesirable experiences they might otherwise face," an ASTA statement said. (TravelMode)
WestJet today announced it will launch new non-stop service next spring to London (Gatwick) a total of four times daily from six Canadian cities: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and St. John's. These new routes represent WestJet's first non-stop service to London, and the only non-stop service from Winnipeg to the United Kingdom.
Porter Taking Off To Florida Porter Airlines is set to take off to Florida for the first time, introducing seasonal service to Orlando-Melbourne International Airport. Flights begin Dec. 19, 2015 and continue to April 30, 2016, with Porter offering weekly, non-stop flights between Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (BBTCA) and Orlando-Melbourne International Airport. The carrier's introductory fares start at CDN$392 for a round-trip
SkyGreece trustee sets up website where consumers can file claims online SkyGreece trustee, Ernst & Young Inc., has set up a website where customers affected by the airline’s decision to suspend operations can file claims online. The carrier said it is hoping to resume services. “SkyGreece is working with the trustee to develop a restructuring plan. Although the success of the company’s restructuring effort cannot be assured, the restructuring proceedings are the best way to see that all parties, including passengers, are compensated fairly,” said the carrier in a release. Customers can go to http://documentcentre.eycan.com/Pages/Main.aspx?SID=346 to make a claim.
Olive oil tourism in California is growing. The state produces 99 percent of the extra-virgin olive oil in the United States and 4 percent globally, according to the California Olive Oil Council, a trade association. Many artisan labels are within a few hours’ drive of San Francisco and have recently opened their estates to the public. The founders of the six-year-old brand Grove 45 in Napa Valley, Nena Talcott and Bonnie Storm, started private tours this year that they lead together. Guests stroll the groves, learn about the different olive trees and taste the oil in dishes at lunch. (Tours, offered through October, are $200 for two. Also in Napa Valley, Round Pond Estate has small group tours of its orchards and olive mill. Sampling the nine kinds of oils it makes with foods like homegrown vegetables and learning how to use them at home are highlights of the 90-minute excursion. The cost is $65 a person. Seka Hills in the Capay Valley, two hours northeast of San Francisco and run by the Indian tribe Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, has three oil varieties and shows guests how they are made. The tours include an oil sampling, a visit to the mill where the olives are pressed and bottled, and a stroll through the 82-acre orchards. Seeing the orchards and olive mill are part of the two-hour group tours at the family-run McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma, but guests also learn the techniques used to grow trees for the oil the company makes. (Tours are $35, by appointment). The hilltop Trattore Farms in Geysersville, in Sonoma County, has a 90-minute “Get Your Boots Dirty” group tour: Visitors learn how the 1,500 olive trees are sustainably grown, attend a session on making oils and can try the dozen oils the company produces (including one flavored with Persian lime). The cost is $40 a person. Parkwood Travel 905 432 2828
WestJet Vacations can accommodate those seeking a Yucatan Peninsula vacation that's doesn't involve hugely popular Cancun and the Riviera Maya. The tour operator advised that WestJet will begin non-stop service from Toronto to the interior Yucatan city of Merida Dec. 15 and WestJet Vacations in turn has a program that will send people to Merida and the nearby Gulf of Mexico for those who want a saltwater-fronting resort. Among WestJet Vacations hotel options in Merida – dubbed the White City because of the white stone used in many of its long-standing buildings – is a Hyatt. Beach-fronting Progreso is 40 minutes away and the Progreso area is home to the all-inclusive Reef Yucatan resort, which WestJet Vacations is offering. The tour operator can combine a Yucatan vacation that features both the Reef Yucatan and a hotel in Merida.
Transat To Charge $25 for First Checked Bag for US Travel Clients flying to the US with Transat as of Nov. 1 they will have to shell out a little more. Starting Sept. 8, travellers purchasing Air Transat’s Economy Class fare for travel to the United States as of Nov. 1 will be charged $25 for a first checked bag. The maximum weight of the baggage will increase from 20 kg to 23 kg. Transat’s no-fee policy for checked bags for all other destinations in the South and Europe remains unchanged. Travellers who book a cruise departing from the US will continue to be able to take advantage of the 25 kg luggage allowance, free of charge. Clients who purchase Option Plus for extra privileges in Economy Class are entitled to one piece of luggage with a total weight of 28kg when travelling to the US. Option Plus also includes seat selection, as well as priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling and other special perks onboard. Club Class passengers can take advantage of a baggage allowance of two pieces of luggage with a total weight of 40 kg when travelling to the US, as well as complimentary seat selection, wider leather seats and more. The new first checked bag rates will apply to all of Air Transat’s destinations in the United States, including Orlando and Fort Lauderdale in Florida and Las Vegas in Nevada.
Ten years after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the city’s tourism has not only rebounded. It’s practically been reinvented. New Orleans, the largest city of Louisiana state, had just 3.7 million visitors in 2006, the first full year after Katrina. Last year, there were 9.5 million visitors. The city has 600 more restaurants than 10 years ago. And hotel occupancy rates are higher than they were before the levees broke Aug. 29, 2005, flooding 80 per cent of the city and killing hundreds. Attractions have blossomed beyond classics like the French Quarter, Garden District and The National World War II Museum. Today’s must-sees include the hipster Bywater neighbourhood, the new Crescent Park along the Mississippi River and a rebuilt historic market, St. Roch, that was destroyed by the flood. Bourbon Street is still packed with tourists, and live music once more spills out of seemingly every door on Frenchmen Street in the nearby Marigny neighbourhood. But now visitors flock to the art houses on St. Claude Avenue too. The city had 9.5 million visitors last year compared to 10.1 million in 2004, the year before Katrina, according to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. The city now has nearly 39,000 hotel rooms, according to the visitors bureau, a few hundred more than it had in 2004 and 10,000 more than at the end of 2005. New Orleans has always been known for its unique food: Gulf seafood, Creole cuisine, beignets, po’boys and gumbo. But now the ethnic and contemporary restaurant scenes, less noticed by many visitors before the storm, are booming too, making the city even more of an international foodie mecca.
Pedestrian Tunnel Opens at Billy Bishop Airport Passengers travelling via Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport no longer have to take the 90-second ferry across Lake Ontario to get to and from the city. A pedestrian tunnel connecting the airport to mainland Toronto opened yesterday (July 30) with a ribbon cutting ceremony featuring mayor John Tory, transportation minister Lisa Raitt and chairman of PortsToronto Mark McQueen. “Travellers can now enjoy a fast, convenient and reliable way to access the Billy Bishop Airport and no longer have to rely on taking the ferry as the only means of reaching the island airport,” said Tory, at the event. “For those of course who continue to need or want to take the ferry, it will continue to operate, transporting vehicles and travellers who chose to use it.” In construction since 2012, the $82.5 million tunnel connects travellers through a combination of elevators, automated sidewalks and escalators (or stairs) within six minutes. “Travellers will be able to reach the mainland in minutes and they'll have that peace of mind that they won't be late for their flights because of missing a ferry,” said Raitt. “More than two million business and leisure travellers come into this airport every year.”
Canada Number One Canada has been named as having the world’s best reputation, ahead of Norway in second place and Sweden in third spot, according to the Reputation Institute’s 2015 Country RepTrak report. Canada came out as the number one country to visit, live, study and work, as well as placing second as a destination to invest in and attend or organize events. Key drivers in the rankings were Canada being a safe and beautiful country, with friendly and welcoming people as well as an appealing lifestyle. “People across the globe perceive Canada positively based on their direct experiences and through the lens of others, and those perceptions translate into economic benefits,” says Fernando Prado, Reputation Institute managing partner. “That’s because a country’s reputation dictates supportive behaviours such as the desire of people to visit that country, invest in that country, as well as live, work or study there.” “Canada’s spectacular natural beauty, world-class attractions and solid economy have earned us one of the strongest country brands in the world,” added Maxime Bernier, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism, and Agriculture). “This important recognition will attract visitors from around the world, which will generate jobs and opportunities for all Canadians.”
Air Canada Vacations has launched its 2015/2016 Sun Collection brochure, the largest in the company’s 35-year history. The collection includes 525 three- to five-star hotels and resorts – 73 of which are new to the tour operator – and more than 40 destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. The brochure also features the brand’s new and exclusive Play Collection, a vacation package designed just for families. Guests who book an air-inclusive package from the Play Collection by Oct. 31, 2015 can choose from 75 family-friendly resorts where kids aged 12 and under eat, play and stay for free. Families also enjoy free seat selection for the whole family, pre-boarding privileges, and a $10 in-flight meal voucher for every member of the family on board Air Canada and Air Canada rouge flights. Family Collection resorts—200-plus in the 2015/2016 Sun Collection—features special offers for kids, as well as supervised clubs, and kids’ pools. Many have additional options such as kid-friendly menus, entertainment and activities, plus rooms for families of five and double, triple or quadruple adjoining rooms.
Walkout at New York Airports A walkout among some baggage handlers, security guards and other workers at New York’s two major airports has been averted after the subcontractor they work for reached a deal with the union that seeks to represent them.
Porter Extends Ontario Service into North Bay Beginning Oct. 7, Porter will offer daily flights between Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and North Bay Jack Garland Airport. A second route featuring service between North Bay and Timmins, Ont., is also being introduced. Initial round-trip prices are $238 for North Bay-Toronto and $220 for North Bay-Timmins.
Airport Disruptions Possible at NYC Airports Travellers to New York City are being advised to be prepare for possible disruptions as more than 1,000 security officers, baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants are expected to walk off the job for 24 hours at both John F. Kennedy and La Guardia airports. It's reported that workers will start walking off the job at 10 p.m. tonight (July 22) and will picket at both JFK and LGA. Airlines Delta, American and United do not expect the job action to cause significant impact.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Aspiring young princesses and knights are in for a treat when Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique debuts on the Disney Magic this fall! This whimsical salon for children ages three to 12 is coming to Deck 10 in the forward part of the ship. Young Disney Cruise Line Guests can choose from several looks, including a Disney Princess, royal knight and more. On pirate party night, this boutique becomes The Pirates League where pirates of all ages can be transformed from landlubber to buccaneer. Tweens are also in store for new adventures when Edge moves to Deck 9 midship. This super cool space, reserved just for 11-14 year-olds, will feature a dance floor and high-tech gaming stations. Cruisers on the transatlantic voyage from Spain to Miami, departing Sept.19, will be the first to enjoy these enhancements. The Disney Magic will then sail 4- and 5-night voyages from Miami to the Bahamas and Caribbean throughout the fall. Parkwood Travel 905 432 2828
Airline passengers around the world are now banned from carrying e-cigarettes in checked baggage because of risks that the heating elements will catch fire. The International Civil Aviation Organization says it has amended rules governing the transportation of dangerous goods to prohibit both passengers and crew from putting e-cigarettes and other battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices in checked bags. The change also bars recharging the devices in aircraft cabins.
IMPORTANT Information:IATA has announced a new initiative to optimize – and ultimately standardize - the accommodation of carry-on bags on its member airlines, which currently have differing policies. In tandem with member airlines and aircraft manufacturers, IATA has come up with an optimum size guideline for carry-on bags: 55 x 35 x 20 cm (or 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches) was selected because theoretically at that size everyone should have a chance to store their carry-on bags on board aircraft of 120 seats or larger. An “IATA Cabin OK” logo to signify to airline staff that a bag meets the agreed size guidelines has been developed. And the organization says a number of major international airlines have signaled interest to join the initiative and plan to implement the guidelines into their operations.
Carnival Cruise Line said it will put new limits on the type and quantity of beverages that passengers can bring with them when boarding a cruise. Effective with cruises departing July 9, passengers will no longer be able to bring beverages packaged in bottles, with the exception of a single bottle of fine wine or champagne. Beverages packaged in cans or cartons, including sodas, waters and juices, will be permitted but limited to 12 or less brought aboard in carry-on luggage. Carnival said it was making the change because bottled beverages have become a main method for smuggling unauthorized alcohol onto ships. In recent years, some passengers have started bringing multiple cases of bottled water onboard. Inspecting the contents of the bottles is slowing down embarkation, Carnival said. Passengers who smuggle liquor are more difficult to monitor for excess consumption, Carnival said. Incidents of bad behavior on cruises have often been traced back to smuggled alcohol, the cruise line said. Concurrent with the policy change, Carnival said it will lower the price of bottled water on its ships to $2.99 per 12-pack if pre-ordered and $4.99 once the cruise begins. Current prices are around $12 per 12-pack, with higher per-bottle prices for individual bottles. The pre-ordered 12-packs will be delivered to a customer’s stateroom, Carnival said. Carnival will also restrict the size of coolers that can be brought aboard to 12x12x12 inches. It said screening and movement of large coolers through embarkation is an impediment to the boarding and security process. Carnival said it doesn’t expect the changes to result in any net new revenue. The policy change has been under consideration and review for many months, and Carnival said that it was confident it had arrived at a permanent solution. "We sincerely apologize for any disappointment these changes may cause,” wrote senior director of solutions and special services Arlene Marichal in a letter that will go out to booked passengers explaining the change. “However, we firmly believe this will result in a safer environment while also improving the embarkation process and the overall guest experience.
On June 6, the Union Pearson Express (UP Express) will officially open for business, providing a fast and simple route between downtown and the airport. On June 3, media were treated to a special preview ride, complete with presentation and treats from station retailers. “We’re here in the heart of Union Station and the Skywalk. There are so many passengers that scurry through here in the run of a day – about 240,000 passengers a day, 65 million passengers a year,” said Kathy Haley, president, UP Express. “And now once and for all, we will connect it with the second busiest transportation hub, Toronto Pearson International Airport – about 40 million passengers.” The UP Express will travel this 25 km, 25-minute journey along a rail corridor between Union Station and Toronto Pearson Terminal 1, with trains departing every 15 minutes, 19.5 hours a day. A new three-kilometre connecting “spur line” connects the Kitchener Corridor directly to the UP Express Pearson Station. The spur is entirely elevated and gives visitors spectacular views of the city. The trains, stations and even uniforms were designed to give a sense of place, including a sense of Ontario’s geography and creative and manufacturing history.
Lovers in Paris, beware: City authorities are taking down thousands of padlocks affixed to the famed Pont des Arts bridge. The city says the locks, usually hung by couples to express eternal love, are causing long-term damage to Paris heritage sites. Last summer a chunk of fencing fell off under their weight. Authorities began dismantling the metal grills along the sides of the bridge Monday and plan to remove 45 tons of padlocks in all. Some residents had campaigned against the locks, which started appearing about a decade ago and now cover sites across the French capital.The Pont des Arts bridge will soon have padlock-proof plexiglass panels instead, while the city explores other ways for Paris visitors to express their "amour," including street art on the subject.
The most expensive hotel in the world is located in Utah, according to a recent survey from Luxury-Hotels.com. The survey compared luxury hotels around the globe based on their average rates for a standard double room. The summer time period of June to August 2015 served as the basis of comparison. 1. Amangiri (Canyon Point, Utah, USA) $1889 2. Hotel Cala di Volpe (Sardinia, Italy) $1789 3. Explora Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile) $1733 4. Cap Estel (Cote d'Azur, France) $1679 5. Montage Kapalua Bay (Maui, United States) $1554 6. Hotel Pitrizza (Sardinia, Italy) $1543 7. Explora Atacama (Atacama, Chile) $1533 8. Aman Canal Grande (Venice, Italy) $1489 9. Villa del Parco, Forte Village Resort (Sardinia, Italy) $1439 10. La Réserve, Ramatuelle (Cote d'Azur, France) $1369
New York City always lives up to its name. It's constantly evolving with new attractions, hotels, restaurants and bars hitting the scene. Fourteen years after the 9/11 tragedy, visitors will once again be able to gaze upon the New York City skyline from the World Trade Center. The observatory on floors 100 to 102 at One World Trade Center will open to the public on May 29. Visitors will be able to see all of New York from 1,250 feet above. The observatory will also feature three dining options and interactive exhibits. Even the elevator walls will tell a story with high-definition monitors showing a time lapse of 500 years' worth of lower Manhattan's history.
Air Canada will start ensuring that all carry-on bags meet required size dimensions in a new program rolling out next week. The new initiative will start May 25 at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, expanding to other airports throughout June. Air Canada will have staff at both check-in and security checkpoints to confirm and tag bags that meet existing carry-on dimensions. According to a statement from the carrier, the new policy was enacted to make it easier and safer to stow personal items on board, may help reduce wait times at security, and will help avoid flight delays caused by larger bags being checked at the gate. Travellers who reach security and are required to check a bag will receive a special card allowing them to return to a check-in agent.
Due to popular demand, Adventures by Disney® announces two additional departures of its first-ever river cruising itinerary along the Danube River. Beginning today, the following dates are available to book: Aug. 4-11, 2016 (Budapest to Vilshofen) Dec. 15-22, 2016 (Vilshofen to Budapest) – As this sailing takes place during the holiday season, there are a few variations in the itinerary, including trips to Christmas markets. Sailing with AmaWaterways, the travel industry’s premier luxury river cruise line, Adventures by Disney river cruises offer a new way for your Clients to experience the heart of Europe in a way that is active, immersive and easy.