A FIRST FOR CANADA
Latest facial recognition tech rolled out at YVR
In a “first” for Canada, a new proprietary line of self-service, biometric-enabled kiosks, called BorderXpress, have been installed at Vancouver International Airport.
These have been configured to meet the requirements of the modernized NEXUS program by the Canada Border Service Agency’s (CBSA). The BorderXpress system by Innovative Travel Solutions (ITS) features “tap-and-go” RFID technology and utilizes leading-edge facial recognition software to verify members’ identity. This replaces the old iris recognition technology.
“Being able to offer NEXUS members an enhanced and more seamless border clearance process is another big first for us,” said Craig Richmond, president and CEO of Vancouver Airport Authority. “I know that the frequent travellers who utilize NEXUS will be pleased with this modernized solution.”
YVR introduced 11 next-generation NEXUS kiosks in October. To use the new kiosks, NEXUS members will tap or scan their NEXUS card and will then be photographed to verify their identity using facial recognition technology, before proceeding to a CBSA officer for final inspection. Declarations must be done verbally, to an officer, at a marked area in the customs hall after using the kiosk.
This new facial biometric verification system not only gives NEXUS travellers a simplified method of being identified, but also meets the CBSA objective to modernize the NEXUS program – and it supports the CBSA goal to increase efficiencies without compromising security.
In addition to YVR, the BorderXpress NEXUS solution has been sold to Halifax Stanfield International Airport and Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, with deployments scheduled for later this year.
AIR TRANSAT SET FOR SUMMER 2020
Air Transat has unveiled an expansive program for the summer of 2020, with more destinations offered from Montreal and Toronto.
The airline will operate 150 flights a week to 27 European cities and increase its offering to the South and the United States. Numerous domestic and connecting flights will also benefit Canadian travellers across the country. New summer destinations include Copenhagen, Denmark; Faro, Portugal; and San Diego and New Orleans in the US.
“The arrival of our Airbus A321neoLRs marks the dawn of a new era for us,” says Annick Guérard, chief operating officer of Transat. “Along with our wide-body fleet, these aircraft help us become more flexible by increasing the options to reach Europe from major Canadian airports. Travellers win big, with more holiday choices and increased frequencies.”
Following its success in 2019, TGV AIR will be back for the summer of 2020. In partnership with SNCF, France’s national rail service, Air Transat offers travellers a one-stop shop allowing them to combine a flight to Paris with rail travel from Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport, giving them access 18 French cities and Brussels, Belgium.
In 2020, Air Transat will operate 17 flights a week to Paris from Montreal, three more than in 2019, and will once again offer service to Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Toulouse, and Basel-Mulhouse.
Most of these French destinations will also be available from Quebec City, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, thanks to connecting flights. In total, Air Transat will have direct flights to 20 European cities from Montreal. It will also fly to Paris from Toronto five times a week.
CATHAY BRINGS THE A350-1000 TO TORONTO
Cathay Pacific is marking a quarter of a century of offering same-plane service between Toronto and the carrier’s home base of Hong Kong by introducing the A350-1000 to the route.
Cathay began using the plane to link Ontario’s capital with Hong Kong on Oct. 27. The A350-1000 can carry 334 passengers in Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins, 54 more passengers than the A350-900s in its fleet can accommodate.
The airline now has 10 weekly non-stop Toronto-Hong Kong flights. It also links Vancouver and Hong Kong.
The A350-1000 has new Economy Class seating with a larger, higher definition personal television; LED mood lighting; enhanced WiFi; cabins that are 50% quieter in perceived levels of noise; and a “higher cabin pressure that supplies more oxygen to lower the effective cabin cruising altitude to 6,000 feet, which reduces passenger fatigue.”
CLIA OPENS ENROLMENT FOR 2020
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has opened enrolment for its 2020 Travel Agency Membership (TAM) and Individual Agent Membership (IAM) programs.
The cruise industry plays a leadership role in tourism and is a mainstream vacation choice in major markets throughout the world. CLIA Membership elevates the credibility and reputation of agencies and their individual agents within the travel industry and is built to help members navigate the cruise industry, attract more clients and increase earnings. Enrolment for 2020 CLIA membership is now open, for membership valid through Dec. 31, 2020.
CLIA Membership establishes agents as a cruise travel authority in the eyes of consumers and provides instant industry recognition with booking credentials (agency) and the CLIA EMBARC ID (agents). It also affords access to industry-leading professional development, cruise line bonus commissions, training and webinars, as well as exclusive personal travel perks and discounts. New for 2020, CLIA is augmenting its business-building benefits by launching an affinity program, as well as expanded professional development offerings.
Travel agencies interested in joining can apply for a Travel Agency Membership. Individual Agent Membership is open to travel agents associated with a 2020 CLIA Travel Agency Member.
UK SEES STRONG GROWTH FROM CANADA
Canadians love the UK as shown by new figures released by VisitBritain, which show strong growth in visitor arrivals from Canada to the UK during the first six months of 2019.
There were 406,000 visits from Canada to the UK between January and June, up 11% over the same period in 2018. Canadians spent £380 million from January to June across the UK.
There was particularly strong growth in visits from Canada to the UK from April to June this year with 277,000 visits, up 17% on the same period in 2018 and setting a new record for quarter two.
VisitBritain executive vice-president, The Americas, Gavin Landry commented, “2019 is off to an exceptional start for Canadian inbound tourism to the UK. These strong numbers show how much Canadians enjoy exploring the culture, heritage, cities and countryside of Britain. With its connections of family and friends, Britain is a favourite destination for Canadians.”
He added, “Feedback from tour operators show numbers are better than ever, and we attribute some of that to the current exchange rate. Canadians see value for money; and it is a great time to visit the UK, particularly in the off-season, when favourite attractions are less-crowded and your dollar goes further.”
Since May, Canadian citizens can use ePassport gates, giving easier and faster entry into the UK, boosting the country’s competitive tourism offer and its message of welcome.
UNIVERSAL’S ‘THE BOURNE STUNTACULAR’ TO DEBUT IN SPRING
Universal Orlando Resort has revealed that The Bourne Stuntacular will debut at Universal Studios Florida in spring 2020.
According to officials, the cutting-edge live-action stunt show based on Universal Pictures’ blockbuster Bourne film franchise will blur the lines between stage and cinema in a hybrid form of entertainment that has never been seen before.
The Bourne Stuntacular will follow the character of Jason Bourne around the globe as sinister characters pursue him. Everything fans have come to expect from the action-packed Bourne film franchise – thrilling chase scenes, punishing fistfights, death-defying leaps and danger at every turn – will happen right in front of guests with live performers, high-tech props and an immense LED screen, making it impossible to discern where the live action ends and the cinema begins.
The Bourne Stuntacular will be located on the streets of Hollywood at Universal Studios Florida, in the former location of Terminator 2: 3-D.