This Week in Travel News

Happy Earth Day From Willamette Intl Travel!

The Czech Republic Is Getting a New Nick Name
The Czech Republic, formed when Czechoslovakia split into two nations in 1993, has struggled to find an official nickname that is universally recognized. Sport teams and national beers have often displayed “Czech,” but grammarians will know that the word is an adjective, not a place, so it’s not technically correct. The government’s solution? Make a new name and do their darnedest to have it catch on. Last week Czech authorities, including the president and prime minister, unveiled Czechia (pronounced CHEH-khiya) as the new official short name for the Czech Republic and they have wasted no time in campaigning for its widespread adoption. The country will retain its full name but Czechia will become the official short geographic name.

Club Med To Open Second Ski Resort In China
The all-inclusive operator already has four Chinese Club Med resorts and its fifth, Club Med Beidahu, will be its second ski resort in the country. Situated in the Jilin province, two hours from Beijing, it is available for bookings from early December. The newly-redeveloped resort offers 176 rooms, a fitness room, spa and Jacuzzi. The ski area consists of 19 slopes. Club Med Beidahu follows the opening of Club Med Sanya in January and the Dong’ao Island last year. The resort will go on sale on May 3.

US To Grant More Norwegian Air Flights
The US Department of Transportation has announced it intends to grant flying rights to Norwegian Air Shuttle’s Irish unit. The DOT said it would give opponents three weeks to file objections. US airlines and unions have said the subsidiary, Norwegian Air International, would undermine US wages and working standards. The decision paves the way for increased competition across the Atlantic and for more travellers to buy the cheap tickets that Norwegian can afford to offer, as its operating costs are low.

A Virtual Tour Of The New Panama Canal Locks
The Panama Canal Authority has produced an 11-minute video demonstrating in detail how the new Neopanamax locks will operate within the expanded Panama Canal once inaugurated on Sunday, June 26, 2016. Using a combination of video clips and animation, it visually illustrates a virtual tour of a Neopanamax vessel’s transit through the newly expanded Canal and provides information of new lock dimensions and transit process. The Panama Canal Authority is collaborating with Seatrade to produce a Special Souvenir Guide to mark the official opening of the third set of locks at the Panama Canal, publishing in June. You can see the video here:

7.8 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Ecuador
On 16 April 2016, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck northwestern Ecuador. The epicenter was located approximately 15 mi/25 km south-southeast of Muisne, or about 105 mi/170 km west-northwest of Quito. The earthquake caused considerable damage throughout Ecuador. Infrastructural damage occurred in Guayaquil, where an overpass collapsed and buildings were destroyed. Shaking was felt in Quito, and there were reports of the walls of six houses collapsing in the capital. No injuries were reported in the city. Additionally, the earthquake caused rockslides on roads leading to Quito. More than 10 roads were closed in Ecuador overall due to landslides. Operations at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport (SEQM/UIO) were temporarily interrupted, but an investigation by the airport’s Crisis Coordination Committee revealed no damage, and Ecuador’s Civil Aeronautical Authority approved the resumption of flight operations. The Spanish Red Cross currently estimates that as many as 100,000 people need assistance, including approximately 5,000 who have lost their homes. At least 10,000 troops and some 3,500 police officers have been deployed to the affected areas as residents continue their search for survivors. The quake has been called the worst natural disaster to hit Ecuador since a 1949 earthquake struck the city of Ambato, killing 5,000 people. 

NCL to Create the First Go-Kart Track at Sea
Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Joy will feature the world’s first go-kart track at sea. The 833-foot-long two-level track will fill out the mid deck and stretch the length of over two football fields. Ten karts will race at a time, with a starting speed of 15 miles per hour.

Marriott Rolls Out New Benefits for Loyalty Program Members
One week after launching exclusive Member Rates for Marriott Rewards members who book direct, Marriott International has announced the rollout of a trio of new benefits which are set to become available to the company’s loyalty program members later this spring, include an experiences marketplace, Elite concierge service and guaranteed late checkout. Opening to all members in late May 2016, the experiences marketplace will allow members additional opportunities to redeem their points for once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The unique collection of events will include tickets to hit Broadway shows, private cooking lessons with world-class chefs, concerts and sporting events. Also set to launch in late May 2016, an initial group of Elite Marriott Rewards members will be provided access to concierge service before, during and after their stay with the group providing feedback throughout for future enhancements.

Two Royal Caribbean Ships to Position In Bayonne in 2017
For the first time ever, Royal Caribbean will position two ships in its Cape Liberty, Bayonne cruise port. Both Anthem of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas will sail Caribbean itineraries during the summer of 2017. Rhapsody of the Seas will sail seven-night Bahamas cruises and a five-night Canada and New England cruise in the summer. It also will sail a 12-night fall foliage cruise and 13-night Southern Caribbean cruise before repositioning to Tampa for the winter. Anthem of the Seas will continue to call at Bermuda, the Bahamas and Caribbean throughout the summer, in addition to sailing a offering of Canada and New England cruises.

Airlines May Have to Refund Some Checked Bag Fees
One of the items in the new bill that authorizes the FAA is the refunding of checked bag fees when the luggage is delayed or lost. The Senate version of the bill would require airlines to automatically refund baggage fees if luggage is not received within six hours of arrival on a domestic flight and 12 hours of arrival on an international flight, while the House bill would implement a 24-hour deadline without an automatic refund. The bill has passed the Senate and is headed to the House.

Denver’s International Airport Gets A Rail Link To The City
The new 23-mile electric commuter rail line, to be called the University of Colorado A Line (thanks to a sponsorship agreement), will run every 15 minutes and allow Denver residents and visitors to make the trip from the airport to Denver’s downtown Union Station in about 40 minutes for a fare of $9. It’s been a long wait, but today Denver gets what Seattle, Minneapolis, Portland, Salt Lake City and more than a dozen other U.S. cities have: rail service between the airport and downtown. Until now, the options for getting between the city and the airport have been taxis (average fare: about $70), an often-crowded bus, car or, as of late 2014, ride-hailing services. Denver has planned two days of events to celebrate the opening. The rail connection between the airport and the city is being hailed as not just a convenience for travelers, but also as a competitive, economic booster for Denver.

New Adults-Only, All-Inclusive Resort Coming To Paradise Island, Bahamas
Warwick International Hotels has invested $28 million to create the four-star Warwick Paradise Island Bahamas, which is set to welcome guests this summer as The Bahamas’ premier adults-only, all-inclusive resort. Set along Nassau Harbour with views of Nassau and Paradise Island, the 12-floor, 244-room Warwick Paradise Island Bahamas has been designed to provide adult guests (18 years and older) with an unpretentious all-inclusive vacation experience with service dedicated to pampering travelers. At Warwick Paradise Island Bahamas, singles, couples, friends, adult families and groups will enjoy a private escape in a modern facility. All-inclusive rates include all meals and snacks; alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages; standard Wi-Fi internet access from the “beach to the bedroom;” daily activities and nightly entertainment; non-motorized water sports; use of the fully-equipped fitness centre; and gratuities, taxes, surcharges and 7.5% VAT.

American Airlines and Alaska Airlines Expand Codeshare Agreement
American Airlines and Alaska Airlines announced that the two airlines are strengthening their relationship by adding new codeshare routes that will offer customers even more choices and benefits when traveling throughout the United States. The codeshare flights are available for purchase today for travel beginning Feb. 7, 2013. The codeshare expansion will allow American to place its code on 22 new Alaska routes that provide Bay Area travelers with access to Hawaii and will increase the options for transcontinental flights for travelers in the Pacific Northwest and San Diego to Boston, Washington, D.C. and Orlando, Fla. Under the agreement, Alaska will place its code on 19 American routes, which will provide better access for Alaska customers on flights between Los Angeles and US cities such as Washington, DC, Orlando and Houston.

Hurtigruten Orders Two New Ships for 2018 and 2019
Hurtigruten, which operates a number of vessels on the coast of Norway and in expedition regions, has placed an order for two new ships for deliveries in 2018 and 2019. The agreement includes an option for two additional vessels. Kleven Verft, a shipyard in Norway, will build the 600-passenger vessels. The new ships will be designed by Rolls-Royce, which offers an integrated small-ship platform for cruise lines that can be scaled.

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