Current News

Check out the latest news from around the world by the industry's movers and shakers.

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COVID-19 Resource Centre

We have compiled a list of sources to help you access the latest information regarding COVID-19. Details and information surrounding COVID-19 are constantly changing. We will continue to monitor the situation and post relevant resources as they come in.

 

Current News

January 15, 2021
Hard Rock Hotels® Partners with Historic London, Ontario Property with Plans for New Hotel Development

Newly Signed Agreement with Dora Hotel Company and The Cribbage Group Advances Hard Rock Hotels' Expansion of its North American Portfolio 

LONDON, Ontario - Hard Rock Hotels today announced plans to locate a new property in London, Ontario, as the iconic global brand continues to expand its reach with another world-class hotel and entertainment venue in North America. Working in tandem with managing partners at Dora Hotel Company and The Cribbage Group, Hard Rock will transform the historic site of the former Kellogg's Canada Factory into a unique location that brings the brand's world-renowned music and entertainment offerings to the region. Hard Rock Hotel London, Ontario will greatly complement existing tourist activities in the region and create a wide variety of educational, cultural and historical experiences for guests of all ages to enjoy. 

Located at 100 Kellogg Lane, the planned 353-room hotel will be completed in two phases, with an initial 163-room opening planned for late 2022 and final site completion in 2025. Embracing historical aspects of this site, the design will embody luxury industrial elements that preserve the original atmosphere and charm of the site. This includes the original courtyard that is highlighted by a building developed by Albert Khan, widely acknowledged as the foremost industrial architect of his time and the "Architect of Detroit." 

"We are thrilled to partner with the Dora Hotel Company and The Cribbage Group on this project, bringing Hard Rock's world-class entertainment experiences to an already-bustling area in Ontario," said Todd Hricko, SVP of Hotel Development at Hard Rock International. "This property will provide a multitude of local attractions and unique on-property activities sure to create lasting memories for all who visit." 

"Signing the agreement for the creation of Hard Rock Hotel London, Ontario is the beginning of what is sure to be an extraordinary partnership between The Dora Hotel Company, Hard Rock International, The Cribbage Group and the city of London," said Tim Dora, President of The Dora Hotel Company. "We are excited to begin work on this property and bring to life the unparalleled energy of Hard Rock. There is no doubt this hotel will be a game changer for Canadians and those traveling from around the globe to Ontario for this Hard Rock Hotel experience."

Located on the property are a plethora of delicious restaurants and fun attractions for guests of all ages. The property features the future home of London Children's Museum, the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, the highest indoor ropes course in North America, 145-foot ziplines, a 75-foot freefall and more than 20,000 square feet of trampoline park at The Factory, as well as food and beverage offerings such as Powerhouse Brewery, Paradigm Spirits Co., The Canteen and The Club House. Close in proximity to the hotel are local attractions such as Budweiser Gardens, RBC Place London and other sports and entertainment facilities.

The hotel will feature Hard Rock's signature amenities such as The Sound of Your Stay® program, a three-part offering that gets guests in the groove with an in-room Crosley vinyl player delivered to their door, a Heritage guitar delivery complete with amp and headphones for jam sessions and a choice of carefully curated playlists that are available for guests to stream or download. Other signature Hard Rock amenities on-property include Body Rock® Fitness, a cutting-edge workout with innovative training systems just steps away from all rooms, and The Rock Spa®, which welcomes guests to treat themselves to rest and relaxation in various forms. 

Through music appreciation and an imaginative environment, Hard Rock Hotels delivers products for the varied aspects of life – work, play and personal sanctuary. For more information or to book a stay at any of the Hard Rock Hotel properties, please visit www.hardrockhotels.com.

About Hard Rock Hotels®

Hard Rock Hotels is an award-winning internationally recognized leader in the hospitality industry – offering world-class entertainment, contemporary designs, incomparable service and one-of-a-kind brand amenities, catering to modern travelers who seek a reprieve from traditional, predictable properties. Driven by integrity, philanthropy and unparalleled guest experiences, the brand adorns 33 distinctive hotels in the world's most enviable destinations. Hard Rock Hotels continue to provide amazing live music, dining options that make guests' taste buds sing, head-to-toe wellness services and many more amenities, all while practicing social distance guidelines and adhering to SAFE+ SOUND protocols. For more information on Hard Rock Hotels, please visit www.hardrockhotels.com.

January 11, 2021
Porter Airlines updates tentative restart of flights to March 29

TORONTO - Porter Airlines is establishing March 29 as a revised tentative date for restarting flights based on the continuing surge in COVID-19 cases and corresponding public health measures.

"With the introduction of vaccines, we are more optimistic about determining a date in the near-term to reintroduce flights than at any point since the pandemic began," said Michael Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines. "More time is needed to assess the vaccine's influence on current travel restrictions and when it is appropriate to begin operations again. We expect to establish a timeline for this to happen in the first part of 2021."

A further update will be provided this winter based on the status of the pandemic and the evolution of government measures that may promote greater freedom to travel.

Porter temporarily suspended operations on March 21, 2020, due to COVID-19.

About Porter Airlines

Porter Airlines has revolutionized short-haul flying with a warm and effortless approach to
hospitality, restoring glamour and refinement to air travel. Porter is an Official 4 Star Airline®
in the World Airline Star Rating®.

Visit www.flyporter.com or follow @porterairlines on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

January 11, 2021
CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau Presents Tête-à-Tête -- a Free Day of Learning and Connecting For Event Planners and Association Professionals on February 10, 2021

CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau is rolling out its most popular event, Tête-à-Tête, in a new virtual format on February 10, 2021. Meeting and event planners, association and not-for-profit leaders, and government procurers from across the country can attend this event – free!

“This year’s program has been carefully created to provide attendees with many unique opportunities to explore best practices and learn about products and services that will help them succeed in the year ahead, despite some unique challenges they’re facing,” says CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau network chair, Christine James M.A, CAE.  “We’re really excited that with a virtual format, the event will be easily attended by professionals from across Canada.”

Immerse yourself in “all things association” at Tête-à-Tête, now in its 31st year. The schedule is packed with informative roundtable discussions, expert panel presentations and engaging speakers. And, of course, you’ll get to know more than 75 exhibitors with products and services that can help you meet your goals.

Dr. David Fisman, renowned Toronto epidemiologist, wraps up the event as the closing keynote speaker. He’ll discuss how upcoming vaccinations will affect the path of the disease through 2021. Don’t miss this chance to learn how you can prepare for an uncertain future. 

Register now for Tête-à-Tête >

ABOUT CSAE

Incorporated in 1962, the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE) is Canada’s only member-based not-for-profit organization committed to delivering the knowledge, resources and environment to advance association excellence. CSAE, also known as an “association of associations,” offers robust networking and learning opportunities, including an education program leading to the Certified Association Executive (CAE®) designation. With a current membership of approximately 3,000, CSAE has central operations in Toronto and seven regional networks in BC, Alberta, Manitoba, the GTA/Golden Horseshoe, Ottawa-Gatineau, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Visit www.csae.com and follow CSAE on Twitter @csaeconnect.

January 11, 2021
Sadly announcing IMEX cancellation, May

It is with regret that we announce the cancellation of IMEX in Frankfurt 2021, due to take place at Messe Frankfurt from 25 – 27 May.

We know the timing of our announcement comes as a blow so early in 2021. More than anything, and like you, we’re eager to deliver some good news and mark a fresh start.

When we were compelled to cancel IMEX in Frankfurt and IMEX America last year we hoped 2021 would see the early recovery of the industry and the IMEX shows. We still believe wholeheartedly that a resurgence will come, but sadly we do not believe it will happen in time for us to deliver a strong and successful event in May.

IMEX in Frankfurt is a hugely global event – our exhibitors and buyers represent 150+ countries – and we are, therefore, reliant on international travel routes being open in the coming weeks to allow our buyers and exhibitors from across the world to confirm their participation.

All that said, we are genuinely positive about the future.

Industry prospects

The vaccine roll-out and improvements in rapid testing programmes give us great confidence for the prospects of our industry and of travel in general. We are very confident that we’ll be able to deliver a successful IMEX America in Las Vegas from 9-11 November; as well as the 20th anniversary edition of IMEX in Frankfurt in 2022 (26-28 April). The IMEX Team is already working hard with our partners in both locations to create and deliver successful shows that will drive the future growth and prosperity of our industry.

In the meantime, we remain committed to value creation. We’ll be working with industry partners on digital activations and experiences that deliver on our mission of uniting and advancing the business events industry – doing everything we can to educate, innovate and help you to make powerful connections with the right people.

You can count on IMEX

We remain at the service of the industry and cannot wait to see all our industry friends again in person. When we do deliver another IMEX show – you can count on it being one worth waiting for.

Ray Bloom, Chairman, IMEX Group

Carina Bauer, CEO, IMEX Group

January 08, 2021
WestJet Slashes Capacity in Response to Rushed Government Testing Regime

WestJet Group to stand down equivalent of 1,000 employees and reduce capacity by a third

CALGARY, AB - WestJet today announced further cuts to its schedule as the airline continues to face volatile demand and instability in the face of continuing federal government travel advisories and restrictions.

As a result of the reduction in capacity, the equivalent of 1,000 employees across the WestJet Group of Companies will be impacted through a combination of furloughs, temporary layoffs, unpaid leaves and reduced hours. There will also be a hiring freeze implemented.

"Immediately following the federal government's inbound testing announcement on December 31, and with the continuation of the 14-day quarantine, we saw significant reductions in new bookings and unprecedented cancellations," said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. "The entire travel industry and its customers are again on the receiving end of incoherent and inconsistent government policy. We have advocated over the past 10 months for a coordinated testing regime on Canadian soil, but this hasty new measure is causing Canadian travellers unnecessary stress and confusion and may make travel unaffordable, unfeasible and inaccessible for Canadians for years to come." 

"Regrettably, this new policy leaves us with no other option but to again place a large number of our employees on leave, while impacting the pay of others," continued Sims. "This is a cruel outcome for loyal and hardworking staff who have been diligently working through the pandemic."          

With today's announcement the airline will remove approximately 30 per cent of its currently planned February and March capacity from the schedule, a more than 80 per cent reduction year over year. In addition, the airline will reduce domestic frequencies by 160 departures as frequently evolving advisories, travel restrictions and guidance continue to negatively impact demand trends. Any impacted guests will be contacted directly.   

Network impact by the numbers:

  • With the planned reductions, WestJet will operate at a more than 80 per cent reduction year over year.
  • Specific to international markets, capacity will be down 93 per cent year over year where the airline will be operating only five daily flights compared to 100 last year
  • Elimination of more than 230 weekly departures (including 160 domestic) and removal of more than 30 per cent of capacity versus prior months.
  • Suspension of 11 routes (Edmonton-Cancun, Edmonton- Puerto Vallarta, Edmonton-Phoenix, Vancouver-Cancun, Vancouver-Phoenix, Vancouver-Puerto Vallarta, Vancouver-Cabo, Vancouver-Los Angeles, Vancouver-Palm Springs, Calgary-Las Vegas, Calgary-Orlando).
  • Seasonal suspension of 13 international and transborder destinations (Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Huatulco, Ixtapa, London (Gatwick), Mazatlán, Nassau (Bahamas), Port of Spain, San Jose (Costa Rica), Tampa, and Turks and Caicos.
  • The airline will operate approximately 150 daily departures, returning to levels not seen since June 2001.

About WestJet 
Since the start of the pandemic the WestJet Group of Companies has built a layered framework of safety measures to ensure Canadians can continue to travel safely and responsibly through the airline's Safety Above All hygiene program. During this time, WestJet has maintained its status as one of the top-10 on-time airlines in North America as named by Cirium.

For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com.

January 06, 2021
Vancouver Convention Centre awarded 2020 Clean Air Award for excellence in air filtration

The Vancouver Convention Centre has been awarded a 2020 Clean Air Award by the National Air Filtration Association. The NAFA Clean Air Award recognizes excellence in air filtration as well as outstanding effort in maintaining a clean and healthy indoor environment.

With a comprehensive approach to maintaining and improving air quality throughout the facility, the Convention Centre received this award for attributes that include maintaining a comprehensive record-keeping program around the regular replacing of air filters, installing gaskets between air filters to prevent bypassing, installing instrumentation to measure pressure drop across air filters and more.

Notably, the upgrading of air filters to extend their lifespan from yearly to every two years provided additional benefit resulting in significant energy utilization savings for the building’s operation. This is in line with the Vancouver Convention Centre’s commitment to sustainability as the world’s first double LEED® Platinum certified convention centre

“We are proud to receive this award from the National Air Filtration Association and be recognized for our efforts towards creating a safe environment for our guests and staff,” said Craig Lehto, General Manager, Vancouver Convention Centre. 

“2020 has shown us that there is no limit on the need to prioritize air quality when striving to create clean and healthy environments within facilities like ours. We will continue to look for ways to further these efforts as air filtration becomes even more foundational to hosting events and visitors in the future.”

After extensive consultation with health authorities and other partners, the Convention Centre has implemented a comprehensive safety plan to inform the execution of business activity held at the facility. This includes a wide range of protective measures, including set-up designed to adhere to physical distancing; enhanced cleaning and sanitization procedures; use of protective barriers where necessary; specialized training for Convention Centre staff; availability of hand sanitizers throughout the facility; educational signage throughout the facility and more.

About the Vancouver Convention Centre

Located on Vancouver’s downtown waterfront with a dramatic mountain backdrop, the world’s first double LEED® Platinum certified convention centre offers one of the most beautiful settings in the world. The award-winning Vancouver Convention Centre features two connected buildings with a combined total of 466,500 ft2 (43,340 m2) of flexible meeting, exhibition, ballroom and plenary space. The facility is committed to environmental sustainability as well as unparalleled service, technology offerings and culinary excellence.

January 06, 2021
WestJet announces 737 MAX return-to-service plan

First guest flight set for January 21 pending Transport Canada opening of skies

CALGARY, AB - WestJet today announced its intent to return its fleet of 737 MAX aircraft to passenger service in a phased and transparent approach. The airline's plans follow an announcement from Transport Canada (TC) on December 17, 2020 where TC safety experts validated the aircraft design changes and outlined requirements for Canadian carriers.
Transport Canada's validation followed that of the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) on November 18, 2020.

"As we continue working with Transport Canada on the additional Canadian requirements, our first MAX will be ready to return safely to service as of January 21," said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. "While we don't have final confirmation on when TC will open Canadian airspace to the 737 MAX aircraft, in the interest of transparency we are sharing our intent to fly once this confirmation is received."

"The FAA, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and numerous other regulatory bodies around the world have spent more than a year examining the MAX aircraft to provide recommended changes to software, pilot training and maintenance requirements. We are confident with the changes they have mandated," continued Sims. "In particular, the deliberate, detailed and independent scrutiny applied by Transport Canada's National Aircraft Certification team, which prescribed additional requirements to pilot procedures and training, provides further confidence in the aircraft and its safe return."

WestJet will take a phased approach to re-entry for its MAX aircraft beginning with non-commercial test flights that are anticipated to start in mid January. On January 21, pending Transport Canada's reopening of the Canadian airspace to commercial flights for the 737 MAX, the airline plans to operate three roundtrip flights, per week, between Calgary and Toronto. The schedule will remain in place for four weeks, while evaluating further routes and additional frequencies. WestJet currently operates six daily flights between the two cities.

“We are dedicated to restoring guest confidence in this aircraft through our safe operation, while providing the transparency and the flexibility that some of our guests may still require," concluded Sims. "We will be forthcoming with our guests on where the MAX aircraft are flying, and we will be flexible with our change and cancel policy to ensure our guests can make their travel plans confidently."

WestJet has created a variety of resources to assist guests in feeling comfortable, including a behind-the-scenes video looking at the pilot and maintenance team efforts that went into safely returning the aircraft to the skies. Details can be found on the website: www.westjet.com/maxinfo.

About WestJet
Since the start of the pandemic the WestJet Group of Companies has built a layered framework of safety measures to ensure Canadians can continue to travel safely and responsibly through the airline's Safety Above All hygiene program. During this time, WestJet has maintained its status as one of the top-10 on-time airlines in North America as named by Cirium.

For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com.

January 06, 2021
GBTA Launches New Global Committee Focusing on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

Alexandria, VA - The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the world’s largest business travel association, announces the launch of a new global committee. The Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Committee, comprised of global members, will strive to bring to light many of the issues facing travelers and coworkers in the workplace, whilst traveling or attending meetings, or handling travel needs.

Committee Chair J. Grant Caplan, U.S. and Vice Chair Carol Fergus, U.K, along with Vice Chairs from Canada and Latin America (to be named) will lead the first-of-its-kind globally formed GBTA Committee. Today, GBTA sent out the committee application to its global community.  The committee will provide the resources, education and support to enable the travel industry to embrace and drive diversity, equality and inclusion within organizations.

“Our goal is to be the industry voice advocating for diversity, equality and inclusion, and to raise the profile for all individuals from all walks of life, religion, race, age, gender, sexual orientation and disabilities, mental health and invisible illnesses. We want to challenge the status quo and provide a visible platform to raise and address these issues in our industry,” said Dave Hilfman, interim Executive Director GBTA, adding “by tackling the uncomfortable, we want to foster an open, transparent, and welcoming arm, where trust and integrity will be at the forefront of our agenda.”

 

CONTACT:        

David Leibowitz (NORAM), 602-317-1414, david@leibowitzsolo.com

Nikki Stimson (EMEA), +44(0) 7764 618199, nstimson@gbta.org

 

About the Global Business Travel Association

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) is the world’s premier business travel and meetings trade organization headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area with operations on six continents. GBTA’s 9,000-plus members manage more than $345 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually. GBTA delivers world-class education, events, research, advocacy and media to a growing global network of more than 28,000 travel professionals and 125,000 active contacts. To learn how business travel drives lasting business growth, visit www.gbta.org.

January 04, 2021
Organizational Update from CSAE

CSAE is starting the year with some exciting news!

Thanks to our technology infrastructure, the CSAE team transitioned seamlessly to remote work when the pandemic hit. Like many of you, we have learned a great deal over the past 10 months about sustaining productivity while connecting virtually with our members and partners. Our success has enabled us to adopt a permanent virtual model, and we will be vacating our offices at 10 King Street East in Toronto later this month.

What does this transition to a virtual CSAE office mean for members and partners?
CSAE will continue with business as usual, delivering the knowledge, resources and environment to advance association excellence. The only change will be that – when it is safe to meet again in person -- meetings will no longer be held at the King Street office. CSAE is securing alternative space for meetings, occasional work and storage. Meanwhile, you can continue to send any snail mail to our King Street address through January 22. We will share our new mailing address in the near future.
 
Book Inventory & Sale
With this transition, CSAE is reducing our stored inventory. We are therefore streamlining the titles available in our bookstore, and providing a time-limited opportunity for you to purchase a selection of discontinued titles. CSAE members will enjoy a very special discount of 80 per cent, while non-members will receive 60 per cent off. The clearance prices are already reflected in the bookstore
This sale runs from January 5 to 15, 2021.

CSAE will keep you updated on our progress as we shift to virtual operations. As the hub for Canadian associations, we are excited about the year ahead and what we will achieve together!  csae.com

December 21, 2020
Minister Garneau directs the Canadian Transportation Agency to develop a new regulation to address future large-scale flight cancellations

OTTAWA, ON - The Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, issued this statement today on a new Ministerial Direction to the Canadian Transportation Agency to ensure that the interests of Canadians are protected when they travel by air:


"Air travel is essential to Canada's economic growth and prosperity, and when Canadians buy an airline ticket, they expect airlines to meet their obligations. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a gap in the air passenger protection framework, which did not foresee the potential for large-scale and lengthy flight cancellations and groundings of air carrier fleets not only in Canada but globally. In the event of a future situation that causes similar large-scale flight cancellations, this gap needs to be closed so that travellers are treated fairly.


"Today I issued a Ministerial Direction to provide the Canadian Transportation Agency with the authority to develop a new regulation on the issue of refunds to passengers. This new regulation will apply to future flights that are cancelled for reasons outside an air carrier's control, such as a pandemic, and where it is not possible for the carrier to complete the passenger's itinerary within a reasonable timeframe.


"This updated regulation should be made in a manner that is fair and reasonable to passengers, and to the extent possible not impose an undue financial burden on air carriers that could lead to their insolvency. As I announced on November 8, 2020, the Government of Canada is developing a package of assistance to Canadian airlines, airports and the aerospace sector that will include strict conditions to protect Canadians and the public interest, including issuing refunds for flights cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new regulation will ensure that a similar situation doesn't occur again in the future."


Transport Canada is online at www.tc.gc.ca. Subscribe to e-news or stay connected through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to keep up to date on the latest from Transport Canada.

December 18, 2020
MPI Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal/Québec Chapters: the EVENT 2021 Programming Request

Programming request for proposals is calling all speakers and experience providers

Toronto – For the third time, three MEETING PROFESSIONALS INTERNATIONAL (MPI) CHAPTERS have partnered together to offer their memberships something bigger and better. Bringing together three unique meeting communities will give event participants the chance to expand network circles while strengthening existing ones.

the EVENT, April 13-16, 2021 – Stronger, Wiser and Safer (#SWS21) – will be fully virtual and will offer participants a variety of enhanced experiences.

the EVENT Objective: Learning, Networking, Evolving! the EVENT is an opportunity to utilize peer to peer learning techniques and technology to foster collaboration and the elevation of the meeting industry as a whole.

“Simply put, the EVENT shall push boundaries of a traditional conference by providing different experiences for the attendee. Come cultivate with us!”

With these opportunities in mind, we ask speakers and experience providers to consider responding to our 2021 Programming Request for Proposals (RFP).

All submissions should complete the online form and send all supplementary materials including:

  • a short biography (150 words max)
  • headshot (hi res JPG or PNG only)
  • session description (including 3 learning outcomes or session takeaways)
  • sample video of your virtual presentation

Proposals will be accepted until Thursday, January 7, 2021 and you will be contacted by Friday, January 29, 2021.

Call is open to both MPI members and non-members. We welcome submissions in both French and English and in any format desired.

Contact: Leslie Wright -  leslie@the-event.ca
Web: the-event.ca

December 17, 2020
Marriott International Announces Covid-19 Testing Availability and Optional Health Protocols for Groups In Expansion of Connect with Confidence Initiative

As part of ongoing steps to help instill confidence and provide exceptional experiences and solutions for meeting professionals and attendees, Marriott International has identified health protocol options, including COVID-19 testing, which meeting professionals may select for group meetings at certain Marriott branded hotels in the United States beginning in January 2021. These optional health protocols build upon initiatives already in place as part of the recent launch of Connect with Confidence, a program empowering meeting professionals to identify and tailor solutions that best meet the needs of their attendees.

Meeting professionals may select optional health protocols for meetings and events at Gaylord Hotels and Resorts in Florida, Tennessee, Texas, and Colorado as soon as January 2021. In the weeks that follow, the health protocols are expected to be available for selection at certain other Marriott branded hotels throughout the United States.

Optional health protocols for meeting professionals to consider include:

  • Self-administered COVID-19 tests taken by the guest prior to travel
  • COVID-19 testing administered by a third-party testing provider on site at the hotel
  • Daily and/or pre-arrival health screening questions via a dedicated mobile application
  • Daily temperature checks to enter the event area

Marriott introduced its Global Cleanliness Council and Commitment to Clean earlier this year. The new health options will supplement existing protocols and features already in place at Marriott hotels in the United States, including guest and associate face covering requirements, social distancing policies, reduced seating capacity for meetings, frequent cleaning of high-touch areas, hand sanitizing stations throughout the hotel, mobile technology and hybrid meeting options.

“These new health protocols provide options for meeting professionals as they plan and host meetings, conferences, and events,” said Tammy Routh, Senior Vice President, Global Sales Organization for Marriott International. “Building upon the work of our Global Cleanliness Council, we engaged industry-leading experts and through a thorough review process, identified third party providers capable of offering the health protocols that meeting professionals want and need for future events.”

In August, Marriott announced digital content and best practices to help meeting professionals execute future events. In November, the first in a global series of hybrid virtual and in-person events was held in Virginia, demonstrating how to Connect with Confidence. The event showcased Marriott’s reimagined processes and meetings spaces, while reinforcing the company’s commitment to help meeting professionals in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information and resources related to the enhanced meeting and event offerings, visit www.marriottbonvoyevents.com.

About Marriott International
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 7,500 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 132 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company offers Marriott Bonvoy™, its highly-awarded travel program. For more information, please visit our website at www.marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com.

December 10, 2020
Incentive Travel Industry Index Releases Results

Incentive Travel Professionals Optimistic About Industry Recovery
COVID-19 creates pent-up travel demand and greater emphasis on qualifier engagement
 
Chicago – The newly released 2020 Incentive Travel Industry Index (ITII) survey found that two-thirds of incentive travel buyers and suppliers expect incentive travel to recover within one to two years, once post-COVID conditions have been reached. Post-COVID conditions were defined as those in which travel can occur safe from COVID, such as with widely available vaccine(s) or disease containment.
 
“While our industry has witnessed widespread impact due to the pandemic, those professionals have responded not only with structural changes to incentives such as program delays and implementing alternative rewards, but also new investment,” said Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) President Stephanie Harris. “The industry has built important capabilities to position it for future success, such as improved digital marketing and a renewed focus on the motivational power of travel rewards. This shows the continued commitment to and high perceived value of incentive travel.”
 
The desire to travel is the greatest positive factor expected to influence the recovery, with 64% citing greater appreciation for travel after being restricted from doing so. Most senior-management stakeholders (83%) who sponsor incentive travel remain committed to incentive travel, although many buyers expect incentive travel will need to fundamentally change to reduce risks. Key impediments to this recovery include company risk aversion to travel and qualifier reluctance to travel post COVID-19.
 
“Once recovered, 77% of survey respondents expect incentive travel to be very similar or moderately changed relative to pre-COVID conditions,” said Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals (FICP) Executive Director Steve Bova, CAE. “Sanitation and health security will be permanently more important risk management strategies. Within the financial and insurance industry, we see greater optimism about recovery and stronger desire to travel, but this is counter-balanced by greater reluctance among qualifiers to travel and higher company risk aversion. Given the more conservative nature of our sector, it is not surprising to see a significant shift toward participant safety.”
 
In addition to new risk management strategies, future destination selections and program characteristics and activities are also anticipated to shift as a result of the pandemic.
 
“Regarding destination selection, the survey confirms what we’ve been hearing anecdotally for some time: in the short to mid-term, domestic and close-by destinations will replace trans-continental and international destinations. However, there’s also a decisive shift away from buzzy urban locations to quiet countryside retreats and a definite preference for ‘the road less travelled’,” said the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) Chief Marketing Officer, Pádraic Gilligan. “Not surprisingly, destinations with a low incidence of COVID-19, or those perceived to have dealt effectively with it, rank very high - even if they’re long haul - with the Caribbean, Abu Dhabi / Dubai, Canada and South East Asia, coming in the top five for UK buyers.”
 
In the post-COVID world, incentive travel buyers also anticipate “soft power” benefits such as improved engagement, enhanced customer satisfaction and better relationship-building both between employees and management and among fellow employees to be among the greatest benefits of incentive travel. This marks a shift from 2019, when company sales and profits were top-ranked benefits. A renewed focus on experiences that will delight the individual traveler, with fewer corporate obligations such as group dining and team building, was seen in post-COVID incentive program activities.
 
For additional key findings from the 2020 ITII survey or previous-year data, visit https://www.incentiveindex.com/
 
###
About the ITII
This is the third year of the collaboration between FICP, IRF and SITE Foundation on the Incentive Travel Industry Index. With research partner Oxford Economics, the organizations have again created an indispensable annual report on the state of incentive travel, providing data on current and future evolution.

The 2020 online survey, fielded September 10-October 28, 2020, was customized for five distinct incentive travel persona representing buyer and seller roles. Incentive travel professionals were invited to participate. Nearly 2,900 industry professionals, representing 19 industry verticals, 41 source markets and 91 destinations, participated in the survey.

December 03, 2020
The Palais des congrès de Montréal inaugurates OASIS immersion and becomes the world’s first convention centre to permanently house immersive rooms
Montréal – As hybrid events continue to assert themselves as the current standard, the Palais des congrès de Montréal keeps innovating by adding three immersive rooms to its permanent facilities – a world first among convention centres. This new feature comes in the wake of the launch of OASIS immersion, a 2,000+ m2 space that will be rentable for events, and will also host a rich array of walkthrough exhibits for the general public.
 
A spectacular canvas ready to welcome you
The three new immersive rooms are housed on the main floor of the Palais. They include 105 laser projectors and 119 surround sound speakers. All part of the state-of-the-art equipment making possible  360° projections on walls and floors that will capture the imagination of one and all. These spectacular settings, which are also entirely customizable, are perfect for hybrid conferences or training events, for film shoots, or even for corporate events looking for something out of the ordinary.
 
Organizers will be able to choose from personalized or turnkey packages that will include various options of impactful visual settings developed by the OASIS immersion creative team.
 
Available as of December 14, 2020, these rooms will be subject to the same exacting health and safety standards of the Palais, and any gatherings held there will have to adhere to the government directives in effect in order to ensure the health and safety of the participants. Currently, in accordance with social distancing rules, the rooms can accommodate:
·         Ambient Room: 30 people
·         Teleportation Room: 30 people
·         Mega Room: 60 people
 
The Palais broadens its hybrid event expertise
The new OASIS immersion rooms serve as an organic extension of the services being provided by Palais Média Propulsion, which launched in Summer 2020 for customers looking to organize hybrid events or create compelling content for their social media.
 
A reminder that the Palais also recently introduced Prism, a studio built for four to five people and specifically designed for interviews and podcasts, plus three spaces modeled after major television production sets for hosting hybrid conferences or speaker panels.
 
To learn more about the immersive rooms and Palais Média Propulsionhttps://congresmtl.com/en/palais-studio-media-propulsion/
 
To see the lineup of OASIS immersion public exhibitshttps://oasis.im/en/.
 
 
“Business tourism is crucial to the vitality of the city’s tourism, especially when you consider that prior to the pandemic, Montréal was the top host city in North America for conferences and major corporate events. With its permanent addition of immersive venues, the Palais des congrès has once again demonstrated its ability to lead the way by innovating and by continually elevating the quality of its offering to remarkably new levels. Congratulations to everyone at the Palais and the teams behind the OASIS immersion initiative, which I am sure will become a must-see attraction, both for the general public, and when the time comes, for business tourists.”
– Caroline Proulx, Minister of Tourism
 
“I am proud to present to you this new milestone on our path towards the Palais des congrès of tomorrow! The spectacular rooms that are OASIS immersion will set the Palais and Montréal apart on the world stage, and will help business restart efforts.”
– Robert Mercure, CEO of the Palais des congrès de Montréal
 
“With this ambitious initiative that stretches the boundaries of event trends, the Palais and OASIS immersion are playing an active role in the economic and cultural vitality of Montréal. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to showcase local creativity to participants from all over the world who will be assembling at the Palais.”
– Nicolas Lassonde, Senior Vice President, Business Strategy and Cofounder of OASIS immersion
 
About the Palais des congrès de Montréal
The Palais des congrès de Montréal convention centre continues to respond proactively to the event hosting requirements prompted by COVID-19. A new leader in hybrid events, it houses various state-of-the-art studios as part of its Palais Média Propulsion service. Through PROGRESS, its Palais Reopening Operating Guide to Running Events with Safety Standards, the Palais is adhering to the new health standards ratified by the appropriate governmental authorities, at no additional cost to its customers.
 
The Palais stands in the heart of the top host city in the Americas for international events, as ranked in 2019 by the Union of International Associations. It is the recipient of the highest quality standards certification in the industry, awarded by the International Association of Convention Centres (AIPC), and also a finalist for the prestigious Apex award honouring the “world’s best customer satisfaction ratings.” In 2019-2020, the Palais generated $228 million in economic benefits along with an invaluable amount of intellectual wealth via the 339 events it hosted. A trailblazer, it operates its own events lab, CITÉ, which houses Montréal startups that are helping redefine how conferences are held. The Palais is among the first convention centres in the world to operate a carbon neutral building, and is also BOMA BEST certified. Visit congresmtl.com.
 
December 02, 2020
Building Calgary’s future – BMO Centre at Stampede Park enters a new phase of construction

CALGARY, AB  Committed to creating a world-class, year-round gathering place for the community, the Calgary Stampede and development partner Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) are excited to move forward with a new phase of construction in the BMO Convention Centre expansion. Exhibition Hall F, the newly constructed 100,000 SF exhibition space on the north side of the existing convention centre is now complete, marking a key milestone in the enabling works for this project and the future of Stampede Park.

“Over the past 18 months, our project team has made significant progress on the preparatory work required to support the successful delivery of the BMO Centre expansion,” says Kate Thompson, President and CEO, CMLC. “While we’ve certainly had to adapt and respond to health guidelines brought forward from the pandemic, we are now moving into the next stage which lays the groundwork for the expansion to be built – it’s a major step for the project and the realization of Calgary’s Culture & Entertainment District.”

The visually stunning BMO Centre expansion, valued at $500 million, will significantly grow and modernize the facility and enable Calgary to host major conventions on a global scale. Funded equally by the federal, provincial and municipal governments, the BMO Centre will become the largest convention centre in western Canada and will significantly increase Calgary’s profile in the international meetings and conventions industry. The project will also create thousands of jobs for the community, both during construction and after its completion.  

The next phase of the project will see significant visible change at Stampede Park beginning this month, with the removal of the Stampede Corral and BMO Centre Exhibition Hall A. In preparation for the external demolition, crews have been working to remove materials from the interior of both buildings, upgrading and relocating underground utilities and technology services, and removing the Plus 15 walkway on the south side of the Corral.

“As we prepare to say goodbye to the Corral, we are proud to be building the future of Stampede Park with the BMO Centre as a catalyst for Calgary’s continued economic growth and diversity.” says Jim Laurendeau, Vice President of Park Planning & Development, Calgary Stampede. "We continue to recieve interest from around the world, with the unique western culture and community spirit of Calgary a significant attraction for those planning future events. Despite the current challenges, there remains no better way to learn and share ideas than to do so gathered together in person."

The memories and memorabilia of the Stampede Corral have been carefully preserved and placed in storage by a dedicated team of Calgary Stampede volunteers. Several items that could not be saved - such as the neon cowboy and the large concrete figures that graced the building’s exterior – have been digitally chronicled to allow them to be recreated in the future.

The ground-breaking for construction of the BMO Centre expansion remains on schedule for Spring of 2021, with project completion in 2024.

December 01, 2020
Marriott International Named One of the Top 10 Companies for Executive Women

Marriott International has been named one of the 2020+ Top 10 Companies for Executive Women by Working Mother Media, for the 17th year. The list celebrates companies that champion women’s advancement, with a focus on succession planning, profit-and-loss roles, gender pay parity, and programs that support work-life integration.

Marriott International’s founders, J.W. and Alice S. Marriott, were partners in every sense, with Alice Marriott being a force behind every major decision and a “woman of firsts,” as the company’s first woman vice president and board director. She set a high standard for the role women would play in company leadership. “As a leader, I am proud of our long-standing commitment to carry on that legacy by building a workplace with opportunity, community and purpose where women hold many of the most senior and influential roles in our company,” said David Rodriguez, executive vice president and chief human resources officer.

As a leader in diversity, equity and inclusion, Marriott has firmly established its commitment to women’s advancement:

  • Nearly two decades ago, Marriott established a board of directors’ committee focused on accountability and advancing inclusive opportunities for women, people of color and other stakeholders. The committee is chaired by Debra Lee, Marriott board of directors’ member and former CEO BET Networks and comprised of other board members and Marriott senior executives.
  • Marriott’s Women’s Leadership Development Initiative, established over 20 years ago, focuses on increasing the presence of women at the highest level of management and in other decision-making positions. Core components of the initiative include leadership development, networking and mentoring, and responsive workplace policies that promote work-life integration.
  • The Emerging Leader Program is Marriott’s 12-month program launched in 2014 to ensure the development of high-performing front-line leaders, senior leaders and other managers who demonstrate the ability to excel to higher levels. The program has been instrumental in increasing the number of women and people of color in leadership roles with 100 percent of program participants promoted or selected for strategic developmental roles.

About Marriott International
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 7,500 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 132 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company offers Marriott Bonvoy™, its highly-awarded travel program. For more information, please visit our website at www.marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com.

December 01, 2020
MMBC Encouraged by Ottawa's Fall Economic Statement

Meetings Mean Business Canada is encouraged by new support measures proposed as part of the 2020 Fall Economic Statement (FES), presented November 30 by Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

"Many in the meetings and business events sector are fighting for survival," says Clark Grue, chair, Meetings Mean Business Canada. "We're gratified that the federal government has recognized the economic hardships facing key sectors of the visitor economy. As we go forward, we're committed to working with government representatives to ensure quick roll-out of the proposals and we will continue to work closely with leaders from every sector of the tourism and hospitality industry to ensure our voices are heard and relief is provided to the hardest hit businesses."

The federal update entitled "Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19," included the following commitments:

The Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP), a new program offering 100% government-guaranteed financing for the hardest-hit businesses, and low-interest loans of up to $1 million over extended terms, up to 10 years.

Increasing the maximum wage subsidy rate to 75% during the period from December 20, 2020 to March 13, 2021.

Providing greater certainty to businesses by extending, to March 13, 2021, the current subsidy rates of the government’s fixed cost relief program (the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy). 

$500 million in additional funding to the Regional Development Agencies to provide financing support to local businesses that are unable to access other federal financial assistance.

Applying the GST/HST to all platform-based short-term rental accommodations in Canada.

MMBC is a committed partner with the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, the Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable and the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses in advocating for federal and provincial support in the areas of increased wage subsidies, relief from fixed costs and access to liquidity.

November 25, 2020
The 2021 Canadian travel forecast is firmly focused on domestic adventure

A COVID-19 vaccine, heightened airline precautions and comprehensive travel health insurance are among the prerequisites required before Canadians venture far from home

TORONTO - A recent survey conducted by the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THIA) found that 80 per cent of Canadians plan to travel in 2021, but most do not plan to cross borders anytime soon. The survey of 1,000 Canadians revealed that 53 per cent of Canadians will only begin making cross-border travel plans when a COVID-19 vaccine is available.

Results found that barring a vaccine, 74 per cent of respondents want carriers, from airlines to trains, to block off seating or operate below maximum capacity to allow for physical distancing before they feel comfortable booking any travel. 

Sixty-two per cent of Canadians also want assurances from their travel health insurance providers that they have appropriate coverage should they or their travel companions' contract COVID-19 while on vacation.

"The travel health insurance industry evolved dramatically at the pandemic's outset when March Break travel was interrupted. Support centres became the only resource for travellers scrambling to return," says Will McAleer, THIA's Executive Director and spokesperson. "The travel insurance industry is responding to consumers' needs for assurances and a growing number of our members are offering specialized COVID-19 coverage, either within or as a rider to their policies. Many companies are waiting for the Canadian government to reduce the level three travel advisory before offering new insurance products."

Twenty-nine per cent of survey respondents are willing to travel outside of Canada. Their biggest concern with travelling outside of Canada includes questions around returning safely. Of those who said they plan to travel in 2021, 25 per cent said that they would answer untruthfully to COVID-19 screening questions in order to board their flight home.

When the government's travel advisory is likely to be lifted or modified, remains unclear. But, while the advisory remains in effect, there are still options for Canadians who choose to travel. It is more important now than ever to ensure that travellers understand their travel health insurance coverage and have the necessary coverage. THIA recommends always following the golden rules of travel health insurance before you leave for your vacation:

  1. Know your policy – Insurance providers have staff available to answer any questions related to policies. Make sure to ask your provider about extended coverage options for COVID-19, recent policy updates or changes. 
  2. Know your health and consult a health care provider if you have any questions. 
  3. Know your trip - How long will you be gone? Are you a snowbird? Will you be travelling many times during the year? Do you plan to scuba dive? Find a policy that is specifically tailored to your trip. 
  4. Know your rights - the Bill of Rights and Responsibilities will help provide all travelling Canadians with additional confidence in their travel insurance purchase knowing their company is supporting their rights as a consumer and making them aware of their responsibilities. 

About the Survey

The 2020 Smart Traveller Survey was conducted in October 2020, polling 1,000 responses across Canada, ranging from ages 18 to 60+.

About the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THiA) 

Founded in 1998, the Travel Health Insurance Association (THiA) is the national organization representing travel insurers, brokers, underwriters, re-insurers, emergency assistance companies, air ambulance companies and allied services in the travel insurance field. THiA is the leading voice of the travel insurance industry in Canadaand is engaged in public education and issues relating to regulatory affairs and member communications.

November 24, 2020
GBTA Completes Acquisition of ACTE

Alison Taylor and Steve Sitto to join the GBTA Board of Directors; Christle Johnson and Greeley Koch to co-chair new Integration and Brand re-activation committee
 
Alexandria, Virginia - The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the world’s largest business travel association, has completed its acquisition of key assets of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), continuing its pledge to unify the industry and help lead business travel out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
“We are beyond thrilled to bring GBTA and ACTE together, creating one home for the thousands of business travel professionals who will collectively bring back business travel bigger and better than ever,” said Bhart Sarin, President of GBTA.
 
“The addition of an amazing brand like ACTE will give GBTA members the absolute best opportunities for education, networking, research and advocacy. We look forward to combining the best attributes of both associations with our Ready. Safe. Travel campaign as we continue to advocate for business travel’s path to recovery,” said Dave Hilfman, Interim Executive Director of GBTA.
 
As part of the integration effort, two former ACTE Board members will join the GBTA Global Board of directors effective immediately.  Alison Taylor, Chief Customer Officer of American Airlines, will serve the remainder of the vacant ALC Vice Presidency. Steve Sitto, Sr. Manager, Global Travel and Events for Tesla, Inc., will serve the remainder of the vacant Direct Member At-Large term. Both terms will be completed at the time of the GBTA Convention in July 2021.
 
In addition, a committee led by GBTA Chairman Christle Johnson and former ACTE Executive Director and current DigitTravel Consulting Senior Vice President Greeley Koch will work together with GBTA staff and industry volunteers to identify the best value a combined GBTA and ACTE can deliver to its members.
 
“This very challenging year has presented us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Sarin, “We look forward to creating the world’s best association for travel professionals to learn, network, and grow.”
 
About the Global Business Travel Association
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) is the world’s premier business travel and meetings trade organization headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area with operations on six continents. GBTA’s 9,000-plus members manage more than $345 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually. GBTA delivers world-class education, events, research, advocacy, and media to a growing global network of more than 28,000 travel professionals and 125,000 active contacts. To learn how business travel drives lasting business growth, visit www.gbta.org.
 
About the Association of Corporate Travel Executives
The Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) represented the global business travel industry through international advocacy efforts, executive level educational programs, and independent industry research. ACTE's membership consisted of senior travel industry executives from 82 countries and delivered educational programs in key business centers throughout the world.

November 20, 2020
YQB Achieves Global Accreditation for Excellence of its Practices

QUÉBEC CITY The health measures in place at Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic have earned it the Airport Health Accreditation global seal of excellence from Airports Council International (ACI).

"The health and safety of our passengers and employees is always a top priority at YQB. From the very beginning of the pandemic, we quickly deployed proactive measures to ensure that the Québec City airport remained a safe place. We continue to hold regular biosafety discussions with our business partners. Together, we have an obligation to be prepared and proactive," stated Stéphane Poirier, President and CEO of YQB. 

The Airport Health Accreditation recognizes the implementation of health standards at airports, in line with the recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) Aviation Recovery Task Force. Accreditation is granted following a rigorous evaluation based on cleaning and disinfection standards, social distancing, protection of employees, layout of the premises and communications to passengers. 

Reminder of the current measures at YQB

Since the beginning of the pandemic, YQB has been proactive: 

  • Cleaning procedures have been enhanced; 
  • The number of available luggage carts has been reduced so that they can be cleaned more often; 
  • Hand sanitizer kiosks have been set up along passengers' route through the terminal; 
  • Signage and floor markings have been installed as a reminder of hygiene and social distancing measures; 
  • Wearing a mask is mandatory at all times in the terminal; 
  • Access to the terminal building has been restricted to same-day passengers and airport employees; 
  • Temperature screening of passengers and non-passengers takes place at checkpoints by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA).

In addition, we strongly encourage all passengers to check in online prior to their flight to reduce human interaction in the terminal.

More information

About Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB)
YQB is managed by Aéroport de Québec Inc., a private corporation responsible for the airport's management, operation, maintenance and development since November 1, 2000. Around a dozen carriers offer flights from YQB to destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico and Europe, and daily flights to the main hubs in eastern North America

November 19, 2020
WestJet to offer approved pre-flight testing for Hawaii travel

Program exempts travellers from Hawaii quarantine and becomes Canada's first safe air travel corridor 

CALGARY, AB  WestJet today announced it has collaborated with the State of Hawaii to begin offering a pre-flight COVID-19 testing program for guests travelling to the islands. A negative test result, from WestJet laboratory partner DynaLIFE, is required within 72-hours of departure to Hawaii and will exempt the guest from the state's required 14-day quarantine upon arrival. 

"Safety remains our number one priority and we thank Governor Ige and the State of Hawaii for providing this opportunity for Canadians to enjoy all that the islands have to offer while safely supporting the tourism industry," said Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. "WestJet's teams are working hard to rebuild confidence in air travel through important partnerships like this one with Hawaii's Trusted Travel Partner program and DynaLIFE. With pre-departure and arrivals testing now available through the collaborative efforts of the Governments of Canada, the Government of Albertaand the YYC Calgary International Airport, our guests have a wonderful opportunity to enjoy safe and enjoyable travel without the rigorous quarantine requirements." 

"Many Canadians love to visit Hawaiʻi during the winter months to escape the cold weather, so the timing for this works well. Hawaiʻi has the most rigorous pre-travel testing program in the United States, and we're grateful to WestJet for making it available to their passengers," said Hawaii's Governor David Ige.

The airline will begin the testing program in partnership with DynaLIFE in Alberta for guests holding a WestJet-ticketed itinerary to Hawaii within 72-hours. Details can be found here: westjet.com/covidtesting. While the testing, which costs $150 CAD per person and is payable by the guest, is currently only available in Alberta, the testing is open to all Canadian residents. Guests travelling to Hawaii are responsible for ensuring they receive a test within 72-hours of their flight departing to Hawaii in order to avoid quarantine and will be required to display their negative test result prior to boarding. If test results are not available before boarding the final leg of the trip, the traveller must quarantine for 14 days or the length of the stay, whichever is shorter.

All visitors intending to visit Hawaii must register prior to travel: Hawaii entrance requirements are found at https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel/

On November 2, YYC Calgary International Airport began hosting the COVID-19 testing trial supported by the Governments of Canada and Alberta, trialing a reduced quarantine period upon arrival in Alberta with a negative test result, while protecting Canadians from COVID-19. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, WestJet has implemented more than 20 additional health and safety measures during the travel journey and continues to evolve its cleaning protocols to meet the needs of guests and WestJetters through its Safety Above All program

About WestJet 
Since the start of the pandemic the WestJet Group of Companies has built a layered framework of safety measures to ensure Canadians can continue to travel safely and responsibly through the airline's Safety Above All hygiene program. During this time, WestJet has maintained its status as one of the top-10 on-time airlines in North America as named by Cirium.

For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com

November 17, 2020
McMaster HealthLabs Releases Interim Report on COVID-19 Study of Arriving International Travellers

Preliminary findings provide important data for policy makers

TORONTO - McMaster Health Labs (MHL) has released its Canadian International COVID-19 Surveillance Border Study interim report, which was conducted with support from the Government of Canada and in partnership with Air Canada and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA). Independent analysis of the Border Study's interim results has been conducted by the study team; additional analysis and full results are expected to be shared in January 2021.

The MHL study was established to gather data on COVID-19 infection rates of incoming international travellers, to help determine if an airport-based surveillance program is feasible, to determine whether self-collection of COVID-19 testing is effective, and to explore options regarding the 14-day quarantine for international travellers. 

The study is the largest of its kind in the world.  Most other border testing studies have used a "test and release" approach.  The MHL study is unique in collecting COVID-19 test data from individuals at three different time points: upon arrival and at days seven and fourteen, which provides a comprehensive data set for policy makers.  

The study was conducted between September 3 and November 14, 2020. It is anticipated that the final report will be based on more than 16,000 participants completing more than 40,000 tests.

Interim results are based on more than 20,000 tests conducted on more than 8,600 study participants recruited from September 3 to October 2, 2020.  

The interim results indicate: 

  • 99% of study participants tested negative for COVID-19 with 1% testing positive 
  • Of the 1% testing positive for COVID 19: 
    • 0.7% detected on arrival 
    • 0.3% detected on day 7 
    • <0.1% detected on day 14 
  • The pilot phase has demonstrated the feasibility of airport-based testing with self-collected nasal/oral swabs as well as home-based collection during quarantine

"Interim results from the border study support a test and reduced quarantine approach such as that being piloted in Calgary," said Dr. Vivek Goel, co-principal investigator of the study, professor at the University of Toronto and a former CEO of Public Health Ontario. "Testing upon arrival with a follow-up test to catch later positive results could provide a reasonable path forward to help keep borders and the economy open while maintaining public safety."

Experts agree that COVID-19 will be with us for some time and that testing will be a critical part of the strategy needed to keep borders open and to stop restrictive lockdowns to contain the virus – even if a vaccine emerges. 

"The border study provides public health officials with critical information to support decision making through the pandemic," said Dr. Marek Smieja, MHL scientific director, co-principal investigator of the study and a professor of pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster University. "In addition to demonstrating the feasibility of conducting COVID-19 testing at the airport, the study has also shown the effectiveness of a self-collected COVID-19 sample using a cheek and nasal swab that is completed in minutes."  

"These interim results are very encouraging and provide robust data for governments to make science-based policy decisions with respect to safely reopening our country. The updated results strongly suggest that some form of a testing regime can provide a viable alternative to a blanket, 14-day quarantine requirement and also provide a mechanism to reduce travel restrictions more generally," said Dr. Jim Chung, Air Canada's Chief Medical Officer. 

"The Greater Toronto Airports Authority remains committed to protecting the health and wellbeing of passengers and airport workers, using a science-based approach," said Deborah Flint, President and CEO. "Today's announcement by McMaster HealthLabs shows that the current response to COVID-19 can be refined based on scientific findings, including these from the largest COVID-19 study of its kind in the world. We welcome the opportunity to continue collaborating with the Government of Canada, determining the next steps toward a safe, responsible resumption of international travel."

The Border Study has been conducted in accordance with research ethics board-approved scientific protocols. Consenting participants provided a sample to MHL researchers before leaving the airport and then supplied two additional samples self-collected at seven and fourteen days after arrival, coinciding with Canada's current quarantine period. Study samples have been analyzed at the Research Institute of St. Joe's Hamilton using the gold standard PCR testing for COVID-19 detection. 

A final report of the Border Study will be available in January 2021 and will include information on infection rates within age groups and across genders, as well as data on the psychological impact of quarantine. 

About McMaster HealthLabs
McMaster HealthLabs (MHL) is a non-profit organization that develops COVID-19 research initiatives and testing solutions to keep Canadians safe and to get them back to work. MHL works with a team of scientists and doctors from McMaster University, the Research Institute of St. Joe's Hamilton in Ontario, and other Canadian universities and research organizations. MHL partners with Verto Health, leveraging its innovative digital twin technology solutions in MHL research initiatives. MHL collaborates with Deloitte Canada for strategic and operational advisory support on this study. MHL is focused on curbing the human, economic and social costs of COVID-19 by creating scientific research initiatives that help Canadian leaders make evidence-based decisions. For more information, please visit mcmasterhealthlabs.ca.

November 16, 2020
WestJet adds holiday heat to December schedule

Airline adds flights for sun seekers to the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbeanand Costa Rica
More domestic flights available to meet Canadians' travel needs during the holidays

CALGARY, AB - WestJet today released its updated December schedule featuring up to 55 daily flights to sun destinations in the Caribbean, the United States (including Hawaii) and Mexico. The schedule also highlights increased domestic frequencies for travel starting December 5, 2020 through to January 4, 2021.

"While this winter travel season looks quite different from years past, we are pleased to be able to offer our guests a variety of flights during the holidays," said Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. "Whatever the reason for travel, WestJet continues to safely connect Canadians to destinations across our network and will continue to make changes to the schedule to meet the ever-changing needs of our guests and airline."

For sun seekers the airline is adding December flights to Liberia(Costa Rica), Punta Cana, Puerto Plata (Dominican Republic), Bridgetown (Barbados), Mazatlán (Mexico), Huatulco (Mexico), Orlando, Las Vegas, Honolulu (Oahu) and Kahului (Maui).

WestJet continues to operate at a reduced schedule and has removed over 63 per cent capacity year over year, including approximately 73 per cent capacity from the December schedule alone. During the holiday season, the airline will offer flights to 54 destinations including 33 in Canada, nine in the U.S. including Hawaii, five in Mexico, five in the Caribbean, one in Europe and one in Central America. Frequencies will increase throughout the month of December, full details at bottom of the release.

Canadians travelling back through Calgary see benefits of post-travel testing trial

On November 2, YYC Calgary International Airport began the COVID-19 testing trial supported by the Governments of Canada and Alberta, trialing a reduced quarantine period in Alberta, while protecting Canadians from COVID-19.

"Many Canadians are seeking alternatives to the 14-day quarantine and the testing trial at Calgary International Airport is a welcome first step," continued von zur Muehlen. "We are optimistic in the early results of the YYC COVID testing trial and hope to see future expansion of testing opportunities closely follow at airports across the country."

Canadians travelling abroad are still subject to a 14-day quarantine upon their return to the country if not eligible for Alberta's COVID-19 testing trial program.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, WestJet has implemented more than 20 additional health and safety measures during the travel journey and continues to evolve its cleaning to meet the needs of guests and WestJetters through its Safety Above All program.

About WestJet
Since the start of the pandemic the WestJet Group of Companies has built a layered framework of safety measures to ensure Canadians can continue to travel safely and responsibly through the airline's Safety Above All hygiene program. During this time, WestJet has maintained its status as one of the top-10 on-time airlines in North America as named by Cirium.   

For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com.

November 11, 2020
Atlantis Paradise Island Resumes Operations December 10th

Resort Will Reopen With Renovated Guestrooms, Reimagined Guest Experiences, New Flight Package And A Limited-Time Offer: Complimentary First Night

~ The Most Remarkable Destination Resort in the World Welcomes Back Guests with Authentic Bahamian Hospitality, Five Miles of White Sand Beaches, Atlantis Casino, Marina, Mandara Spa, Fine Dining by Nobu and Todd English's Olives, Aquaventure Slides plus Atlantis Clean & Safe Promise and More ~ 

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas -- Atlantis Paradise Island announces the world's most remarkable resort destination, beloved and rooted in its famous Bahamian hospitality, will resume operations on December 10th, just in time for the winter holiday and festive season. Returning guests will delight in Atlantis' renovated Royal East Tower guestrooms, Harborside Resort villas, and The Reef residential-style studios and suites (opening December 17th), along with Dolphin Cay's personalized guest experiences, a new family package, and much more. In celebration of Atlantis' reopening, guests can take advantage of the limited-time, first-night free offer, bookable between November 10th – 22nd, and valid for stays between December 10th – 17th with a two-night minimum length of stay.

To further ensure the safety, health, and well-being of their guests and resort team, visitors to Atlantis Paradise Island will be opting-in to vacation in place throughout the duration of their stay. The resort spans close to 200 acres with five miles of white sand beaches and tranquil azure waters, multiple pools, diverse dining, spa, golf, shopping, reimagined experiences customized with guests' safety in mind, a multitude of attractions, and other luxury amenities at their fingertips.  Guests have more than enough to keep them entertained without ever having to leave the resort. Travelers can immerse themselves in the resort's popular amenities, including Atlantis Casino, the Marina, Mandara Spa, Ocean Club Golf Course, fine dining at Nobu, and Todd English's Olives, Crystal Court shops, Marina Village, Aquaventure, Dolphin Cay, the world's largest open-air marine habitat encompassing over 50,000 aquatic animals, and more – all with physical distancing measures in place.

Upon reopening, Atlantis will also unveil new bespoke experiences curated for families, small groups, and couples. From exclusive family adventures at Dolphin Cay and private sunset speedboat tours to art tours, shark and mermaid camps, secluded dinners on the beach, dive-in movie nights, and more, friends and family will be able to reconnect over a wide variety of options, modified to meet new safety protocols. Travelers' safety is reassured with the comprehensive Atlantis Clean & Safe Promise, and the resort's professional team members prepared and trained to attend to every guest's well-being.  

For travelers flying from the New York Tri-State region, Atlantis Paradise Island has partnered with JetBlue on an air and resort package offering non-stop charter flights to Nassau, Bahamas from Newark, NJ. Beginning January 3, 2021, guests who book this package will receive non-stop direct roundtrip air service from Newark to Nassau(Sunday to Sunday flights), seven-night accommodations in Atlantis' renovated Royal East Tower, roundtrip airport transfers and a $75daily dining credit per person. To book these packages call 1-800-ATLANTIS.

"We are so excited to welcome back our loyal guests, families, and new visitors to experience Atlantis Paradise Island and reconnect with themselves and their loved ones. Atlantis will reopen in planned phases, and our highest priority is and will always be to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of our guests, team members, and community. To help reassure travelers, we have implemented our Atlantis Clean & Safe Promise, which meets international and local standards for health and safety protocols," said Audrey Oswell, President and Managing Director, Atlantis Paradise Island. "Our guests will receive heartfelt service and create lifelong memories by being immersed in our authentic Bahamian culture, experiences, and attractions available throughout our lush resort grounds."

Reservations to Atlantis Paradise Island are available now by visiting atlantisbahamas.com or by calling 1-800-ATLANTIS. Room rates begin at $299 per night plus tax and resort fees. Please visit atlantisbahamas.com/travel-info for more information about the reopening. For more information about traveling to The Bahamas, please visit bahamas.com.

About Atlantis Paradise Island: 
Atlantis Paradise Island is a lush, oceanside resort located on Paradise Island in The Bahamas. A dynamic destination that over launched 25 years ago as a first-of-its-kind modern marvel of nature and engineering, Atlantis has embarked on a new chapter tied to a meaningful connection with the ocean, Bahamian culture, and the spirit of the property's beloved team members. The resort's new, immersive programming connects guests to the rich history, art, people, food, and festivities of The Bahamas.

Atlantis features five distinct properties, from the iconic The Royal to The Beach and The Coral to the luxury properties, The Cove and The Reef. The resort is built around Aquaventure, an innovative, 141-acre waterscape of thrilling slides and river rides, pools, and white sand beaches. Home to the largest open-air marine habitat in the world, over 50,000 marine animals from 250 species make their home in the ocean fed environments. From unparalleled meeting and convention space to the luxury Atlantis Marina accommodating yachts up to 220 feet overlooking Marina Village, a Bahamian marketplace, the Atlantis experiences are endless. Other resort amenities include the 30,000 sq ft tranquil Mandara Spa, Atlantis Kids Adventures (AKA) for children ages 3-12, and CRUSH, a cutting-edge teen club. The resort's award-winning 18-hole Tom Weiskopf designed golf course, renowned Atlantis Casino, and duty-free shopping are complemented by the resort's restaurants and lounges with celebrity chef culinary masterpieces including Fish by José Andrés, Nobu, by Nobu Matsuhisa; Olives, by Todd English and Casa D'Angelo by Chef Angelo Elia. 

Dolphin Cay, the resort's 14-acre marine mammal habitat, is a state-of-the-art education center and animal-rescue rehabilitation hospital whose first residents were 17 rescue dolphins from Hurricane Katrina. Visitors to Dolphin Cay can participate in creative, non- disruptive "interactions" that build real awareness, stir emotion, and help fund the resort's conservation efforts. Through these guest participations and those offered through Atlantis Marine Adventures, a portion of the cost of each of the on-property interactions goes back to the Atlantis Blue Project Foundation (ABPF), the resort's nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to saving sea species and their extraordinary habitats throughout The Bahamas and surrounding Caribbean seas.

CONTACT: 
Erika Garcia-Lavyne
Atlantis Paradise Island
954-235-1835
Erika.lavyne@atlantisparadise.com 

November 10, 2020
Air France and KLM Canada provide further details following changes to entry rules into France and The Netherlands
New European Union travel rules regarding Canadians
 

Further to the new restrictions in effect, Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Canada wish to clarify the changes made to the entry rules into France and the Netherlands for Canadians.

“The new European Union rules, and the steps taken by each of the countries involved, are restricting travel possibilities to France and the Netherlands for all Canadians, who are no longer permitted to enter these countries for non-essential reasons,” clarified Catherine Guillemart-Dias, Vice-President and General Manager of Air France KLM Canada. “Nonetheless, as we have been doing since the pandemic’s outset, we are maintaining operations to provide those who need and are able to travel with options, including Canadians exempted from these measures, nationals with a valid passport from the countries involved, and   anyone whose final destination connects via Charles de Gaulle or Schiphol.  Our flights are also available to businesses that need to ship cargo to Europe and elsewhere around the world by air,” added Catherine Guillemart-Dias.
 
The Air France-KLM Group reminds everyone that European Union, Schengen area and UK residents and passport holders can enter France and the Netherlands. Health and safety requirements – negative rapid Covid testing, quarantining – may vary according to origin and destination.

Entry into France and the Netherlands for Canadians
 
With some exceptions, including visa holders and people travelling for specific business needs, humanitarian or medical purposes, Canadian passport holders travelling for non-essential reasons are now forbidden from entering France and the Netherlands.
 
All travellers, regardless of nationality, authorized to fly to France will require to complete an International Travel Certificate to Mainland France and a Sworn Statement of absence of Covid-19 symptoms.  In addition, a negative Covid test is now mandatory to enter France.  It is recommended that a test be taken and the results obtained less than 72 hours prior departing from Canada.  Tests are also available on arrival at Charles-de-Gaulle airport. As for the Netherlands, each visitor must complete a Passenger Health Declaration. 
 
Canadians may still transit through Amsterdam or Paris to travel to other Air France KLM countries they are permitted to enter.  Passengers in transit are submitted to the entry regulations of their final destination country.  Should their connection in Paris or Amsterdam be on a flight operated by another airline, it is recommended to check the rules to transfer to this carrier prior departure.
 
Border openings and closings continue to fluctuate all over the world. Passengers are responsible for all the documents they require for their trip and must ensure they meet all of the destination country’s legal requirements pertaining to immigration and border control. Travellers are advised to check with the country in question as to the rules they must follow both at the time of booking their flight, a few days prior their departure and before leaving home for the airport.
https://airfrance.traveldoc.aero/     https://klm.traveldoc.aero/

Covid testing

The entry requirements for many countries – including France – now include a negative Covid-19 test result.   In France, only RT PCR, RT LAMP or Antigenic tests will be accepted.  Air France and KLM have agreements in place with various laboratories and clinics in Canada, aimed at accelerating the testing process for their customers and making it possible for them to meet the requirements of the countries involved. 

 

Booking with flexibility

To respond to the needs of travellers during these uncertain times, Air France and KLM have adapted their commercial policies and rolled out commercial measures that are 100% flexible.  Customers no longer able to travel as a result of these new rules can rebook in the same booking class for another date – no fee, no reason required. Or if they prefer, they may request a credit voucher.  This policy also applies to all new bookings, whether the cancellation is triggered by changes in rules at the flight destination or a decision to call off the trip, regardless of the reason.

 More information

Air France
 
KLM
 
The health and safety of passengers and crew are paramount for Air France and KLM, which is why the airlines wish to remind travellers that the Level 3 health notice issued by the government of Canada warning against non-essential travel is still in effect for Canadian passport holders, as is the order banning foreign nationals from entering Canada.  The Quarantine Act in effect applies to all travellers entering Canada.