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Florida calls for more Canadians, new discount air options in Canada & more travel news

News of the day, folks. A little of this and a few dashes of that.

CALLING ALL CANADIANS – FLORIDA WANTS YOU!

Florida sunshine will come cheaper this winter.

Florida Governor Rick Scott was in Toronto this week to announce a new Canadian Power Play program that aims to boost the number of visits from Canada this coming winter. The state is offering Canadians up to 20 per cent off package travel deals from VISIT FLORIDA partners.

My friends at Travel Pulse Canada were all over this announcement this week if you want to read more.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is hoping to entice more Canadians with 20 per cent discounts for folks from north of the border.

It’s a great idea and one that definitely should help Canadians struggling with a low loonie. Canadian visits to Florida have dropped a bit the last few years. We still spend a ton of dough in the state, but any kind of a drop is a problem for a state that gets 23 per cent of its international visits from Canada.

MORE LOW COST AIR OPTIONS FOR CANADA

Canada next year will be getting a new “ultra-low-cost” airline. It’s called Swoop and it’s from the folks at WestJet.

The idea is to give Canada a bit of a Ryanair-styled airline, and it’s about time. We also have Canada Jetlines coming along. There’s already Flair. In addition, Wow Airlines has been offering some crazy deals to fly to Europe for a song, with stops in Iceland. On top of that, Primera Airlines (based in Denmark) will soon start flying between Toronto and Europe for less than $500 Cdn. round trip!

Primera is based in Denmark and says they’ll fly from Toronto to London Stansted, Birmingham and Paris perhaps as soon as May of next year. You get one carry-on bag free but pay for anything added. My friends at Travel Pulse Canada did a story on this the other day….

Primera Air plans to fly from Canada to Europe for less than $500, starting next spring.

Meanwhile, WestJet’s Swoop will be launching next year. Fares will be low, but officials say they’ll balance that with extra ancillary fees. A story in the Globe and Mail suggested the average customer will pay roughly double the $19 average that guests on WestJet currently pay on each flight.

WestJet’s Bob Cummings told the Globe that roughly two-thirds of Swoop customers will pay fees of some sort. Those fees should be offset by lower base fares and lower airport charges, he said, which should mean total ticket prices 30 to 40 per cent cheaper than Canadians now pay.

That’s what a lot of us have been hoping to see for some time.

Details are expected to be unveiled in February, including destinations and more on the fees. You can bet there will be some sun destinations, as well as flights that use smaller Canadian airports such as Abbotsford in BC (instead of Vancouver) and Hamilton in Ontario (rather than Toronto Pearson).

AND DON’T PEE IN MY PETUNIAS, EITHER

Okay, this is a little gross. I’ve written in the past few months about over-tourism and too many people in cities like Barcelona and Venice. Now I read a story in The Guardian that talks about poor behaviour from visitors in Amsterdam, many of them rowdy young men.

As one Amsterdammer said, “It’s worse when they throw up in your plant boxes, because you can’t rinse it away– you have to scoop it out.”

VIRGIN CRUISES ON THE WAY – BUT NO KIDS ALLOWED

Sir Richard Branson says the Virgin Cruise line brand, expected to hit the seas in 2020, will be adults-only. Officials also say 86 percent of all cabins will feature a sea terrace and 93 percent an ocean view.

“This is a very big day for Virgin Voyages, as an exciting new holiday option for travelers starts to get ship shape,” Branson said in a story posted on The Caribbean Journal. “She will be the most recognizable ship sailing the seven seas, delivering an irresistible sailor experience. We’re also committed to making sure our crew are the happiest at sea and will be proud to sail with us.”

18 HOUR FLIGHTS – THAT’S A LOT OF PRETZELS

United’s new Los Angeles-Singapore route is the longest flight leaving from the U.S. at a whopping 17 hours, 55 minutes. That’s about eight movies if you look at it that way. And a heckuva lot of pretzels. There’s talk of the airline adding Houston-Singapore flights and maybe someday New York-Sydney. If they can do NYC-Sydney on the big, new planes, then someone (hello, Air Canada) may someday soon be able to offer direct flights between Toronto and Australia.

IS TRUMP BOOSTING THE CANADIAN HOTEL BIZ?

The head of Marriott Hotels is not happy with the American President. In a story I spotted on Bloomberg News, Marriott chief Arne Sorenson said Donald Trump might be pushing customers to Canada.

Large groups of travelers, particularly for conferences, are changing reservations to friendlier cities such as Toronto over U.S. options “with the view that bringing in an international group would be more hassle-free in Canada and maybe a little bit riskier in the U.S.,” Bloomberg quoted Sorenson as saying in an interview in Toronto this week.

Hey, if he’s right it’s good news for Canada.

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