Canadians Head Abroad While Americans Stay Home: This Week's JimBits

PHOTO: Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (photo via Sean Pavone / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
by Jim Byers
Last updated: 2:11 PM ET, Thu October 24, 2019

Canadians More Adventurous Than Americans

KAYAK, the world's leading travel search engine, has released its 2019 Holiday Travel Trend Forecast revealing where Canadians are jet-setting to and the best time to book for a great price.

KAYAK data illustrates that Canadians have more ambitious holiday travel plans than their U.S. neighbours with far-flung cities like Bangkok, Tokyo, London and Puerto Vallarta topping this year's list of popular cities. For Canadians, the appearance of Bangkok and Tokyo indicate an appetite for Asia - a difference compared to Americans holiday travel plans that include primarily domestic cities like Orlando, New York, Las Vegas, Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

"We're seeing Canadian travel habits shift this holiday season compared to last year, especially when it comes to New Year's Eve travel," said Steve Sintra, KAYAK's Regional Director for North America. "Europe, for example, had a bigger presence last year likely due to the entrance of low-cost carriers to the market, but has been replaced this year by Caribbean hotspots like Bermuda, Curacao, Jamaica and Aruba."

But, despite vast differences in travel preferences, one thing is for certain - St. Lucia is gaining momentum. Snagging the number one spot on the New Year's Eve top trending list for both Canadian and American travellers, St. Lucia is top of mind with travel interest up 300+ per cent. This can likely be attributed to new flight routes and increased marketing efforts from St. Lucia tourism, officials said.

Star Trek Actor Heads Out With Cunard

Celebrated actor, author and activist George Takei will headline the holiday voyage on Cunard's flagship liner Queen Mary 2 as part of the luxury cruise line's renowned Insights program, December 22, 2019 - Jan 3, 2020 (M001).

While sailing on the 12-night Caribbean Celebration voyage, roundtrip out of New York, George will be offering two presentations, a Q&A, and a book signing for guests. His first talk will focus on American history and his childhood spent in a Japanese American internment camp during WWII. In his second lecture, George will discuss his favorite Hollywood moments and behind-the-scenes anecdotes with some of his famous friends such as Tom Hanks, Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, Cary Grant, Brad Pitt, Howard Stern, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart and Jane Fonda.

"I am looking forward to spending the holidays onboard the magnificent ocean liner Queen Mary 2 this December," Takei said. "I have sailed on this ship before - the staff go above and beyond to make every day memorable and the guests are engaging and interested to hear about my life and work. I have no doubt this will be another exceptional experience."

An internationally beloved figure, George is most notably known for his role as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise, in the acclaimed TV series Star Trek.

Billy Stewart, G Adventures

Leading small-group adventure operator, G Adventures, announces the appointment of Billy Stewart to the position of Global Purpose Specialist, Southern BC & The Island. He joins the company from Topdeck Travel where he spent eight years supporting agency sales.

Based in Vancouver, Stewart is responsible for growing G Adventures' presence in British Columbia, and building and fostering relationships with agent partners in the market.

"I'm really excited and proud to be joining such a diverse, innovative and socially responsible Canadian company," says Stewart. "I look forward to supporting and working with our valued agent partners in Southern BC and The Island, and creating fun and innovative ways to get the agent community excited about G Adventures."

No stranger to adventure travel, Stewart has visited 65 countries and counts Barcelona, New York City and Mexico City as his favourite cites. He has an obsession with airplane food and credits his mother for his passion for travel.

"She opened a TEFL school in Thailand and that helped ignite my desire to explore the world. I embarked on my first backpacking jaunt through Thailand and Cambodia, and never looked back," shares Stewart. "As soon as I returned from that trip, I got a job as a travel agent selling the dream. After three years of selling people their own dream trips, I sold myself a one-way ticket to Asia, where I taught English for 18 months."

Stewart joins a team of seven Global Purpose Specialists across Canada.

WestJet Dreamliner to London

Starting this week, WestJet's state-of-the-art aircraft, the 787-9 Dreamliner, will be operating its inaugural Toronto-London (Gatwick) route giving guests on both sides of the Atlantic the opportunity to experience the airline's new Business and Premium service between two large financial and tourism centres.

"This is a significant first for our guests who now have access to the WestJet Dreamliner nonstop between Toronto and London, U.K.," said Brian Znotins, WestJet Vice-President Network Planning and Alliances. "The Dreamliner was built for transoceanic routes with technology that reduces jetlag and leaves travellers feeling more refreshed upon arrival. We are proud to welcome guests on board the most comfortable aircraft we have ever operated."

"We are so pleased with WestJet's continued expansion of their Dreamliner service from Toronto Pearson to London, Gatwick," said Scott Collier, Vice President of Customer and Terminal Services, Greater Toronto Airports Authority. "Toronto Pearson is proud to be part of WestJet's growth and we know that passengers travelling between Toronto and the UK will be very pleased with this enhanced travel experience."

WestJet's daily, year-round Dreamliner service replaces the airline's existing Toronto-London service operated on the Boeing 767 and complements WestJet's existing Calgary-London (Gatwick) and the recently announced Vancouver-London (Gatwick) Dreamliner service, which starts April 26, 2020.

Silversea Saint Lucia Enrichment

Departing in December 2019, two Silversea voyages will be enriched by immersive new shore experiences, which guests will enjoy on a complimentary basis.

In Melbourne, the cruise line's guests will discover Australia's enthralling operatic culture at an exclusive performance from the country's most beloved tenor, Mark Vincent.

In Castries, St. Lucia, travellers will delve deeper into local tradition at a bespoke, entertainment-filled beach party at the iconic Pigeon Island National Landmark.

"We are delighted to expand our shore-side offering on these two voyages further, by unlocking these exclusive new experiences for our guests," said Adria Bono, Silversea's Senior Director of Destination Experiences. "In Melbourne and Castries, our guests will be immersed into authentic local cultures, as they enjoy extraordinary local talent and traditions."

New Brazil Tourism Campaign

The Brazilian Tourism Board (Embratur) launched this week "The King of Role", their newest international promotional campaign. The competition will encourage international visitors to compete to win a trip of a lifetime to Brazil, for 30 days, all expenses covered. "Role" is a Brazilian expression that loosely translates to "going for a fun walk." Going for a "role" means to hang out, to make new friends and to enjoy life.

"We are launching an international online competition to choose an international visitor who will spend 30 days traveling around the country. This will include visiting destinations in all regions of Brazil and even meeting with President Jair Bolsonaro," explains Embratur President Gilson Machado Neto. According to Mr. Neto, participants should send videos of up to 1 minute, explaining why they should be chosen to spend win a free 30 days trip to Brazil.

According to Embratur Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Osvaldo Matos, the "King of Role" will also become the star of his own reality show. An Embratur team will accompany the lucky winner to document and post the adventures on Visit Brasil's social media channels. "The traveler will be filmed from the moment they leave home in their native country. All episodes will be broadcast on social networks and will be available on the site created exclusively for the promotion," said Matos.

According to Embratur's president, the campaign will have the support of Brazilian airlines and hotels. The estimated cost is $3 million Brazilian Reais (approximately USD$720,000). The goal is for the winner to be in Brazil during next year's Carnival and take a tour of the events in Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco, Bahia, and Sao Paulo.

The promotion is being advertised mainly in countries that have been granted visas waives for entry into Brazil: the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan

Carnival Alaska Options

Carnival Cruiise Line will increase its presence in Alaska, deploying Freedom from Seattle beginning in April 2021, operating 's popular week-long Glacier Route voyages, and joining Miracle which will operate 10- and 11-day Alaska cruises from San Francisco beginning in May 2021.

"Alaska is a 'bucket list' destination that offers a unique combination of fascinating wildlife and unique cultural and sightseeing opportunities. We're delighted to provide our guests with even more opportunities to Choose Fun as they experience and explore the beauty and majesty of Alaska," said Christine Duffy, president of Cruise Line.

Carnival Freedom's Week-Long Alaska Voyages from Seattle

Carnival Freedom will operate 21 Alaska cruises from the Port of Seattle April 27 to Sept. 22, 2021, departing every Tuesday. Port calls on the week-long Glacier Route voyages include Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, as well as Victoria, B.C., and scenic cruising of Tracy Arm Fjord. There's also an eight-day cruise featuring Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Victoria and cruising Tracy Arm Fjord.

Carnival Freedom offers a wide range of onboard amenities, including dining venues ranging from casual choices like Bonsai Sushi Express and Guy's Burger Joint developed in partnership with Food Network star Guy Fieri to an elegant reservations-only steakhouse, along with a luxurious spa and a spectacular WaterWorks aqua park. Hundreds of balcony staterooms and suites -- perfect for watching the passing scenery -- are available as well.

Chile Safety Clarification

The Undersecretary of Tourism and the National Tourism Board (SERNATUR) of Chile on Thursday said the majority of the tourism businesses and activities throughout the country continue to operate as normal despite political protests.

The group said that includes the most visited destinations such as San Pedro de Atacama, Elqui Valley, Rapa Nui, Juan Fernández Island, the Chilean Patagonia and Torres del Paine National Park. Furthermore, the cities of Valparaíso, Concepción, Coquimbo and Rancagua continue to operate business and transportation normally, although accessibility from Santiago may be impacted.

The capital city of Santiago will have limited public transportation and commercial activity while the situation with protests continues.

The Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport is operating as usual; however, some airlines have rescheduled flights to and from the capital, causing impacts to travel. The airports in all other regions of the country are fully-operational. Travelers are encouraged to contact the airlines directly to confirm if flights have been impacted. Bus terminals throughout the entire country are operating as normal.

Transfers and taxis to Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport are operating partially, and passengers should expect delays in travel to and from the airport. In the event that the authorities restrict transit on public roads, travelers are recommended to have passport and copy of boarding pass readily available to ensure passage to and from the airport.

The Undersecretary of Tourism and the National Tourism Board encourages tourists to be well-informed of the situation and act accordingly. Be familiar with the destinations to which you are traveling, and be respectful of the rules stipulated by local authorities. Use official taxi services at the airports and tourist service providers certified by SERNATUR. Tourists may contact the Tourist Information Offices for further information and inquiries.

This week's JimBits roundup looks at a fascinating study from KAYAK on how Canadians travel differently from Americans, as well as news from Carnival, WestJet, Brazil Tourism, G Adventures, Silversea, Chile and a Cunard trip with a Star Trek guest.

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Jim Byers

Senior Editorial Director

Jim Byers was travel editor for five years at the Toronto Star, which has the largest travel section in North America. He has...

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