Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
TORONTO — Sunwing is cancelling its St. Maarten flights out of Toronto and Montreal right through until April 30, 2018, putting its program to the popular Caribbean destination on hold for the fall/winter 2017-2018 season while the island rebuilds following the devastation from Hurricane Irma.
Sunwing reconfirmed that it has added additional flying on the same day of travel, from Toronto to Montego Bay and Montreal to Cancun in order to offer customers more options.
“Impacted customers have been provided the option of re-booking alternative vacation packages at a special rate, choosing from other available options or cancelling for a full refund. Customers who booked with their travel agent are encouraged to contact them directly to make arrangements,” says Sunwing.
Meanwhile Air Canada Vacations has updated its post-Irma destination information from its Sept. 13 Sun Collection product launch. ACV has announced it will send 25 Product Specialists from its Montreal and Toronto offices to assess its sun destinations in order to ensure all hotels receiving guests continue to meet the company’s precise quality standards.
The ACV Product Specialists will visit Turks and Caicos, Cuba and a number of other destinations in order to conduct local, on-site inspections. The review will encompass hotel amenities, beaches, as well as road and relevant utility infrastructure.
“Our goal is to ensure that our travel agent partners can book these hotels with confidence and that our guests return home with a positive vacation experience,” said Nino Montagnese, Managing Director at Air Canada Vacations. “In order to ensure this, we wanted to compliment the information we have received from our hotel and tourist board partners with our own, in-person site inspections.”
A goodwill policy remains in effect for customers to delay or change vacations. Affected customers may rebook an alternate Air Canada Vacations package by Oct.15, 2017 for travel anytime.
Travel agents will retain their original commission if a booking has not yet been rebooked and remains an in-house credit. Travel agents will receive the difference in commission if a travel package is rebooked for a higher value than the original booking.
For any cancelled bookings, travel agents will no longer receive the commission.
Air Canada is resuming flights back into Fort Myers today and to Sarasota tomorrow. The airline resumed its full schedule to Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa on Sept. 13.
“Customers are advised that aircraft are very full on outgoing flights from Florida and, while Air Canada is adding additional capacity, space may be limited initially. However, Air Canada is committed to add extra capacity in order to transport customers who wish to travel.”
Air Canada resumed service to Havana on Sept. 13. Other destinations in Cuba remain cancelled with plans to resume services to most destinations later this month, subject to the safety and security of airports and infrastructure. The airports serving Cayo Coco and Santa Clara are presently closed until Oct. 31.
Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge have also resumed scheduled service to other destinations in the Caribbean.
Meliá Hotels International has issued an update on its operations in Cuba, where the northern coast saw the most damage from Irma. “[Our] hotels in Havana, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba and Cayo Largo are fully operational,” says Melia. “As for the situation in Varadero, our hotels have suffered minor damages and most of them are already operating normally, whilst the rest will reestablish their services in the next 24/48 hours.”
Most of the recovery work can be completed in a short time, and in cases where major improvements are needed, they are expected to be finalized prior to the start of the peak season, noted Melia.
Regarding the situation on Cuba’s north coast, “it is too soon to make evaluations until we have a proper inventory, but the company intends to begin operations in Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo and Cayo Santa María as soon as possible, with hotels less affected.”
Melia adds that its resorts in Puerto Rico, the D.R., Bahamas, Orlando and Miami are 100% operational.