Voices of Travel

COVID-19 Update: A Message From Ontario Registrar

News From Hornblower, CTO, ACV And More

Ontario Registrar Has A Message On COVID-19

In a message to Ontario travel industry registrants, TICO CEO and registrar, Richard Smart writes:

“These are unprecedented and dire times for travellers and the entire travel industry. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the people who have been affected by this unparalleled event and we appreciate the healthcare workers, local communities and governments around the world who are on the front-lines working to contain the coronavirus/COVID-19.”

Smart continues: “For our registrants, we acknowledge the extreme challenges underway for your businesses and employees, and recognize the incredible support you’re providing to assist consumers.”

He notes that: “For consumers, we know the stress that comes with the uncertainty of cancelling or rebooking your existing travel plans. We’ve been hearing from many of you about the long wait times to speak with your travel provider. It’s a stressful time and Ontario’s travel agencies, websites and tour operators are here to support you. If your departure is not imminent, please consider waiting to call as requests are being processed based on the date of departure. These circumstances are unprecedented and travel companies are working to assist you as quickly as possible.”

Smart also makes it clear that: “TICO is vigilantly monitoring the COVID-19 situation around the clock and considering all options. At TICO, we have implemented measures to ensure our operations and staff remain available to provide service to consumers and registrants, while respecting the hygiene and social distancing practices requested by the authorities.”

And he points out that: “Fortunately, our technologies allow our team to work from our office, or remotely, as the situation dictates. During this time, to get in touch with TICO, please email tico@tico.ca or call 1-888-451-TICO (8426).”

And he advises that: “For credible information on how to protect yourself, what to do if you’re sick and how to recognize possible symptoms, check out Ontario.ca/coronavirus.”

Smart concluded: “While we all work together to contain this virus, TICO will continue to support consumers with information, direction and support while also working with registrants with compassion and flexibility. We will continue to post any updates on our website as they become available.”

Registrants can go to https://www.tico.ca/news/registrar-bulletins/388-registrar-bulletin-coronavirus.html for more.

And they can direct their clients to https://www.tico.ca/blog/happens-health-incident-like-coronavirus-impacts-travel-plans

Hornblower Niagara Cruises Postpone Season Opening

To ensure the health and safety of all staff and guests and following the recommendation of the government of Ontario, Hornblower Niagara Cruises will be postponing the opening of its 7th operating season, with tentative plans to open on Monday, April 6, 2020.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, has recommended the immediate suspension of all indoor gatherings over 250 people to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Hornblower Niagara Cruises joins The Niagara Parks Commission, and Ontario’s other attraction agencies and convention centres in responding to this recommendation.

Mory DiMaurizio, Hornblower Niagara Cruises vice-president and general manager, explained that: “While we were looking forward to our earliest opening ever on March 28th, the health and safety of our guests and our staff is our priority. Hornblower Niagara Cruises is committed to doing its part to help contain the spread of COVID-19.”

DiMaurizio continued: “Hornblower Niagara Cruises supports the Government of Ontario’s priority on ensuring the health of Ontarians and visitors to the province. We will continue to monitor ongoing events and undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts and will be providing updates as the situation with COVID-19 evolves.”

Hornblower Niagara Cruises will be contacting guests who have booked tickets to arrange for refunds or adjust their cruise tickets to a later date.

Go to www.niagaracruises.com for more.

CTO Postpones 10th Tourism HR Conference

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is postponing its 10th Tourism Resources Conference, which was scheduled to take place in May. The new date for the event, being organized in collaboration with the Nevis ministry of tourism, is Nov. 25 to Nov. 27, 2020.

Sharon Banfield, the CTO’s director of resource mobilisation and development, said that: “In light of the constantly changing nature of the coronavirus crisis and in the wake of the decision by the World Health Organization to declare COVID-19 a pandemic, the CTO and the government of Nevis have decided that postponing the conference is the best course of action.”

The CTO will continue to diligently monitor the situation and pay close attention to guidance from regional public health officials.

For more, go to www.onecaribbean.org .

ACV Is Offering Four Ways to Enter Booking Details

Air Canada Vacations is offering four way to enter booking details online.

Dana Gain, senior director sales, groups & partnerships for ACV, said: “It’s a rapidly evolving situation we’re in at the moment. We are working at warp speed to ensure our travel partners are assisted in every way possible. In providing these additional pathways for our trade partners to follow, we’re aiming to create a more efficient way of providing this support.”

The new options include:

  • All Individual Cancellations Within 7 Days of Departure (excluding cruises): For all cancellations within 7 days of departure excluding cruises, please cancel using your existing GDS system and then self-report the cancellation by following this link — https://aircanadavacations.formstack.com/forms/flextravelpolicy_selfserve — Please note: Bookings cancelled by travel agents via a GDS platform must be self-reported by following the link above. Bookings not self-reported via this link will not receive a future travel credit.
  • SUN Cancellations Outside 7 days — For any SUN departures outside of 7 days prior to departure, please follow the link below to register your booking for a Future Travel Credit — https://aircanadavacations.formstack.com/forms/sunflextravelpolicy
  • CRUISE Cancellations Outside 14 days — For any CRUISE departures outside of 14 days prior to departure, please follow the link below to register your booking for a Future Travel Credit — https://aircanadavacations.formstack.com/forms/flextravelpolicy_cruise
  • Groups Departing by April 30, 2020 — Our flexible group terms have been expanded to include groups traveling within 21 days. Travel agents holding groups with all departure dates up to April 30, 2020 may register their group change or future travel credit by following the link below — https://aircanadavacations.formstack.com/forms/flextravelpolicy_group —  Please note: Online submissions for group travel must be received no later than 3 business days prior to departure. For departures inside 3 business days please contact your group coordinator.

For agents’ convenience ACV has included the bilingual general terms and conditions on each landing page. Once submitted, it is not necessary to contact ACV to verify; agents will receive an automated email response to confirm their submission has been received. ACV is processing files based on departure date and agents will receive an invoice with the Future Travel Credit in the coming days and weeks.

Sunwing Expands Change Policies

Sunwing is expanding its flexible change policies to assist customers who have concerns about travelling due to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Customers who booked their vacation prior to March 4, 2020 and did not purchase travel insurance or a Sunwing Worry Free Cancellation Waiver can cancel and receive a future travel voucher in the value of the original package price paid.

This policy applies to customers who booked travel for departures between March 14, 2020 and April 30, 2020. Vouchers can be redeemed against future travel for departures up to and including March 31, 2021. All cancellations are subject to an administration fee of $100 per person, which will be collected at the time of cancellation.

In addition, the tour operator is waiving any administration fees associated with the first change for bookings made between March 4 and March 13, 2020. This applies to all new bookings with a departure date from now up to and including June 24, 2020. New travel dates must be specified at the time of change and any change must be requested at least 7 days prior to travel or normal conditions will apply.

For new bookings made between March 14, 2020 and March 31, 2020, the tour operator will allow customers to cancel their bookings and receive a future travel voucher. This applies to all new bookings with departures dates from now up to and including June 24, 2020. A $100 per person change administration fee will apply and any change must be requested at least 7 days prior to travel or normal conditions will apply.

These policies are applicable for regular as well as group bookings. Customers who are looking to make a booking change can do so on the Sunwing website.

For more information about COVID-19 and to learn how Sunwing is working to keep their customers and employees safe please visit Sunwing’s FAQ page.

BVI Bans Cruise Ships For 30 Days

The British Virgin Islands has closed the Tortola cruise port, allowing no cruise ships to call on the territory for a 30 day period in an effort to protect the Territory from COVID-19. At present there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the islands.

As well, the number of international ports of entry into the British Virgin Islands (BVI) have been limited to facilitate the effective screening of passengers.

The three ports that remain open are Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport, Road Town and West End Ferry Terminals, and one cargo port of entry – Port Purcell.

The entry of passengers and crew members who have travelled to, from or through COVID- 19 affected countries as specified in a list of countries of special interest within a period of 14 days or less, will not be allowed.

Additionally, the entry of passengers and crew members who have travelled to, from or through COVID-19 affected countries classified as a high-risk country within a period of 14 days or less immediately preceding their arrival in the territory, will be subject to advanced screening procedures and may be quarantined for a period of up to 14 days based on the outcome of the risk assessment.

Locally, any mass gatherings or festivals that were scheduled to take place in the BVI during the next month will be postponed until further notice.

This includes the 2020 BVI Spring Regatta, scheduled for March 30 to April 5 and the Virgin Gorda Easter Festival scheduled for April 11-13.

Honourable Andrew A. Fahie, Premier, Minister of Finance & Minister responsible for Tourism, said: “After extensive consideration, the British Virgin Islands made the prudent decision to put stringent measures in place to temporarily enhance the protocols for entry into the Territory until April 13. It is imperative that we prioritize our limited resources to safeguard our residents and our guests. Tourism is our mainstay and it is important that we take measures to ensure our long-term sustainability.”

Premier Fahie continued: “Our tourism industry has faced many crises before, from natural disasters to epidemics, and we have always come out strong on the other side. After much anticipation, we are at the start of a big celebratory year as many of our beloved resort products are finally reopening following extensive rebuilding. We also expect this summer to be busy in the BVI with rerouting of cruises and airline service in and out of the Caribbean.”

Go to https://bvi.gov.vg/covid-19 for more.

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