TOURISM IS BOOMING WITH MORE LIFT CAPACITY, RECORD ARRIVALS
Pictured above: The Israel Government Tourist Office’s Ellen Melman, Gal Hana and Jerry Adler.
Tourism arrivals to Israel are booming with 4.5 million visitors recorded in 2019. To celebrate the third consecutive record-breaking year for the destination, which included 100,000 Canadian travellers, the Israel Government Tourist Office held an event in Toronto giving participants a taste of the destination with a lavish breakfast spread at Parallel restaurant.
“It’s the conclusion of 2019, which was the best year in history in regards to tourism to Israel,” Gal Hana, the new director for Canada for the Israel Government Tourist Office told Travel Courier. “What better way to experience what we’re talking about all the time than to eat an Israeli breakfast – it’s our signature food. It’s a great culinary destination.”
The event highlighted Israel as the ultimate experiential destination for leisure, adventure, sports, culinary, history, and faith.
In terms of lift, El Al Airlines will increase the frequency of flights from Toronto from three times a week to five times a week in 2020. Air Canada has also increased its frequency to six flights a week from Toronto.
As for accommodations, Mandarin Oriental has announced plans for a new hotel and residences in Tel Aviv by the end of 2023 with 225 rooms, 44 of which will be suites, five restaurants and bars, outdoor pool, pool club, fitness centre and spa.
With 38 rooms, Nobu Tel Aviv is scheduled to open in 2020 complete with a fitness centre, pool, private rooftop and the signature Nobu restaurant.
Set to reopen on Jan. 15 following a renovation is the Mizpe Hayamim Hotel in the Galilee, part of the Isrotel chain, along with the 163-room Kedma Hotel in Sde Boker by Isrotel later in 2020. The hotel will provide a home base for families and tourists looking to discover the Negev Desert.
As of spring 2020, travellers and locals alike will be able to spend the night overlooking the Old City through an urban camping site in Jerusalem launched by the Israel Ministry of Tourism. The site is within walking distance from the First Station Compound, City of David and the Western Wall.
Hana urged attendees to push Israel to more Canadians, particularly those looking for authentic experiences.
“[Canadians] are looking for something different, not only sea and sun, they are looking for something diverse, the seniors are looking for something more sophisticated, Israel has it all,” he said.
TIME TO EXPLORE THE FLORIDA KEYS
Ashley Serrate says there’s nothing wrong with divers having wrecked vacations.
The Florida Keys spokeswoman said during a recent Toronto gathering that the Florida Keys, found off of southernmost Florida, is great for scuba divers, thanks to their having numerous dive operators and many intriguing dive sites.
Some of those sites include sunken ships that collectively make up the Wreck Trek, with two of the wrecks being former US naval ships that were decommissioned and then scuttled, with the submerged vessels now serving as artificial reefs that attract fish and other marine life divers can spot.
Divers may explore two Wreck Trek sites a day, if they choose, and can be issued a “passport” that their dive operators will stamp, verifying that they were there.
Serrate notes that those wanting to learn to dive or brush up on their diving skills can easily do so in the Keys because of the many dive operators found there.
The Keys are also notable because of their having the only barrier coral reef in the continental US.
Divers and other watersports enthusiasts can explore the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which encompasses 2,900 square nautical miles of water.
Serrate says her destination has newish lodging options, including the Grassy Flats Resort & Beach Club, with Serrate saying the “eco-sustainable” property uses the likes of solar power.
The Keys are tackling environmental issues, having released the “10 ‘Keymandments” for ecology conscious visitors, 10 tips on how visitors can help safeguard the local environment.
“Instead of leaving behind an (environmental) footprint, leave an (environmental) fingerprint,” Serrate says of a destination that’s decided to come to terms with the likes of single-use plastics and sunscreens that can be harmful to marine life.
Serrate adds that the Keys proudly march to the beat of their own drummer, adding that decades ago the destination decided to secede from the United States because of annoyance with what was seen as heavy-handed behavior from some American authorities. Serrate says her destination “promptly rejoined the union” but the brief fling with independence is still celebrated annually in later April, with “Conch Republic flags” being displayed.
GOWAY IN A FESTIVE MOOD
A number of children in low income Toronto families can look forward to a Merry Christmas thanks to Goway’s generosity.
Company staffers were thanking people in the travel industry earlier this month for their support and displaying plush animal toys – among them a monkey, a lion, a panda and a bulldog – that are representative of the different parts of the world Goway visits. Goway capped the visits by donating the critters to Toy Mountain, which is collecting Christmas gifts for Toronto children who might otherwise go without presents.
The different animals underscored that Goway doesn’t simply offer the South Pacific, but has a worldwide presence.
Meanwhile, Goway’s Aubrey Schmidt (sporting the Naughty-ish shirt) and Sam Cottar (wearing the Nice-ish shirt) note that December enables travel agents to double down on Goway rewards card. “Still time to win on the Passport to a free fam… Rumour had it, they are heading DU (Down Under),” Schmidt and Cottar said.
Next year marks Goway’s 50th anniversary and the company’s lineup includes Journeys of a Lifetime and two special signature trips.
Journeys of a Lifetime include Cape to Cairo, which begins in Cape Town in September and ends in Cairo in October, visiting Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, and Ethiopia inbetween South Africa and Egypt.
The other is called Natural Selec-tion and includes Ecuador and its Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu, Peru. The trips can be done back to back with each other.
BERMUDA: IT’S ALWAYS IN SEASON
Fresh off three straight years of double-digit tourism growth, Bermuda continues to add to its infrastructure and welcoming visitors year-round.
Bermuda tourism officials and partners hosted an industry event in Toronto last night to update the trade on all that’s new. Speaking with PressToday, Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer for the Bermuda Tourism Authority, credited the positive tourism numbers to a concerted effort to introduce the island to a new generation of travellers. She noted that 85% of the increased visitor arrivals came from travellers aged 45 and younger. She said key markets include adventure seekers, enthusiasts and active families.
“The essence of the island is very youthful. Bermuda is an open-air playground, you’re never very far from the water. The whole island is your resort,” said Isley.
She noted that Bermuda is a year-round destination with the average daily temperatures in January, February and March hovering around 70 degrees F.
Popular activities include sailing, kite surfing, diving (there are more than 300 ship wrecks that can be explored) and golf.
“Bermuda is an island set apart by its location [about a 2.5-hour flight from Toronto] and culture,” added Isley. “Activities and sport are a way of life.”
Access from Canada is easy with both Air Canada and WestJet offering direct flights.
Isley noted that a new airport terminal is on time and on budget, and scheduled to open in July 2020. Accommodation options are also on the rise with the recent opening of the Azura Hotel (48 villas), and the Bermudiana Beach Resort (78 units) and a new St. Regis Hotel on the horizon.
CANADA’S ICE HOTEL MARKS 20 YEARS
The Quebec City area is on the verge of reaching a totally cool anniversary that has repeatedly avoided Mother Nature-responsible meltdowns.
The Hotel de Glace – which translates as Ice Hotel – will this winter be inviting those in the area to stay in the winter-alone structure for the 20th time, with North America’s lone hotel literally made from ice getting ready to mark two decades of hosting those who don’t feel the need to crank the room temperature up before climbing into their hotel bed for the night.
Hotel de Glace is slated to officially reopen Jan. 2 (a late-December preopening is planned) and continue hosting guests through March 29 (the hotel will be demolished after that date because of concerns that warming weather and subsequent melting would make it a hazard) and Frederic Johansen of Valcartier Parcs/Hotels/Spa – which includes the property in its perimeter – says his area is eagerly awaiting the hotel’s 20th seasonal appearance.
“Next year’s 20/20 season – with 20/20 a reflection of the hotel’s 20th anniversary falling in the year 2020 – will see the hotel offer 20 suites and 20 standard rooms, along with the tagline “20 years of magic,” Johansen said during a recent Quebec Original event in Toronto.
Jan. 17 will see an official celebration featuring bands and fireworks.
VACATION SHAMING KEEPING CANADIANS OFF THE ROAD?
TRAVEL COURIER STAFF
Are you taking your allotted holiday time? It seems not everyone is.
As a nation, Canadians value their time off work. But are they actually taking the vacation time they’re entitled to? According to a new study commissioned by travel company Skyscanner, 96% of Canadians say it’s important for them to take time off work, but only 66% take all of the time they’re owed – which may be attributed to a rising workplace trend called “vacation shaming.”
The study of 1,000 Canadians and 500 Americans, conducted by research firm Maru/Blue, showed that 50% of Canadians have experienced vacation shaming, wherein co-workers or bosses use guilt or peer pressure to discourage employees from using their vacation time. The trend is most prevalent among millennials, with nearly two-thirds (62%) saying they’ve encountered vacation shaming in the workplace.
When it comes to vacation shaming, not all provinces are created equal. Regionally, Quebeckers and British Columbians are least likely to have experienced vacation shaming, at 26% and 41% respectively. Trends differ south of the border, too, with only 57% of Americans taking all their vacation time, and 58% saying they’ve experienced vacation shaming, an increase of eight per cent over Canadians.
“Many of us assume that taking time off will negatively impact our career trajectory, but evidence suggests employees that take their vacation have increased productivity, creativity, and decreased stress and risk of burnout, making them more likely to get promotions and raises,” said Dr. Lisa Bélanger, a behaviour change expert who specializes in helping employees maximize their mental and physical well-being. “Ultimately, the payoffs are significant for both the employer and the employee.”
In pursuit of rest and relaxation, the process of requesting time off can be a stressor itself. Millennials across Canada are most likely to feel nervous, stressed, worried, guilty or ashamed when asking for time off work (33%), compared to Gen X at 17% and Boomers at 12%. They were also least likely to say they use all their vacation time, with only 60% taking all the time they’ve earned.
When asked why they don’t use all their vacation time, Canadians cited several concerns, including being too busy at work (22%), being unable to afford to take a vacation (17%), and not wanting to have more work waiting for them when they get back (eight per cent).
“Despite the proven benefits of taking time off work, the reality is that due to vacation shaming or perceived lack of affordability, not everyone feels empowered to take their vacation time,” said Tahiana Rodrigues at Skyscanner. “Skyscanner makes it easier to turn ‘vacation shaming’ into ‘vacation claiming’ by offering an affordable range of flight, hotel and car rental options for every traveller.”