Canadians appear eager to take off for sun destinations despite ongoing COVID-19 challenges

From CBC News – link to source story

Increased demand for bookings, as Ottawa still advising Canadians to stay home

Geoff Nixon · CBC News · Posted: Sep 19, 2021

A row of beach chairs in Varadero, Cuba, is empty of sun-seekers in March 2021. Cuba is relaxing restrictions for incoming Canadian tourists starting in mid-November. (Ramon Espinosa/The Associated Press)

Michel Dubois has packed his bags, even though his planned trip to Cuba is still more than two months away.

That’s because the retired TV cameraman and editor from Saint-Jérome, Que., is eager for a break from the monotony of pandemic life.

“After a year and a half of sitting in front of my TV and computer, it’s time to move on,” said Dubois, 70, who plans to do some scuba diving and enjoy the sun.

Trips like the one Dubois has booked are giving airlines and tour operators something to look forward to as well — seemingly better business prospects after months of severely hampered operations due to pandemic-related border closures and travel restrictions.

Some key travel players are reporting increased demand for bookings to sun destinations, despite the ongoing challenges of a global pandemic that has yet to end inside or outside Canada’s borders.

Better days ahead?

The onset of the pandemic prompted governments — including Canada’s — to urge people to stay home to stem the spread of the coronavirus and its variants.

It’s a stance Ottawa still holds, even though the government recently loosened restrictions for incoming travellers who are vaccinated.

Tourists relax on a beach in Cancun, Mexico, last month. (Marco Ugarte/The Associated Press)

“We continue to advise against non-essential travel outside of Canada,” Global Affairs Canada said in an email on Friday, noting that this applies to all countries around the globe.

The department also pointed to practical concerns for those who choose to go abroad.

“Additional travel restrictions can be imposed suddenly. Airlines can suspend or reduce flights without notice. Travel plans may be severely disrupted, making it difficult to return home.”

Canada walks fine line as border reopens during fourth wave

Indeed, COVID-19 travel restrictions vary from country to country, with vaccine passports gaining traction with some governments. Prior to the current federal election campaign, Ottawa had announced plans to develop such documentation for international travel.

Then and now

Ambarish Chandra, an associate professor of economics at the University of Toronto, says that while the government actively discouraged travel last winter, that didn’t deter all people from going abroad — such as snowbirds who went to Florida.

With the progress on vaccination that has been made, Chandra said he believes Ottawa’s stance on leisure travel may have to shift.

“I don’t think it would be reasonable for the government to go a second winter season saying: ‘Don’t travel,'” Chandra said in an interview.

A mask-wearing pilot at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in March 2020, the same month the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. Many border closures and travel restrictions were soon put into effect in countries around the world. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

Jörg Fritz, an associate professor in the microbiology and immunology department at Montreal’s McGill University, says that as travel picks up, Canada will have to keep a close eye on what strains of the virus are circulating here and around the globe.

“We simply need to face that this virus will not go away that quickly,” he said.

“The danger that new variants arise that might escape vaccine-induced immunity is still there and will be there for quite a while.”

It’s also key for Canada to continue increasing its vaccination rate and to ensure that children are protected as soon as that is possible, Fritz said.

A desire to get away

Air Canada says the upcoming fall and winter looks promising for travel to sun destinations.

“When looking to the sun market, we are very optimistic about our recovery,” airline spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick told CBC News in a recent email, adding that “we are currently observing demand growth that is above 2019 levels.”

Sunwing Travel Group says it’s seeing ‘encouraging demand’ for sun-destination bookings compared with last fall. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Meanwhile, Sunwing Travel Group reports seeing “encouraging demand” compared with last fall, which spokesperson Melanie Anne Filipp says shows Canadians are growing more confident about travelling again.

“The rise in vaccinations across the country and easing border measures have without a doubt contributed to Canadians’ increasing interest in travel to sun destinations,” said Filipp, who noted that business remains below pre-pandemic levels.

Montreal-based Air Transat is currently flying passengers to a mix of domestic and international locations. Some of its sun destinations include Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico.

“We confirm that demand is doing well, and we clearly feel that the urge to travel is back,” Air Transat spokesperson Debbie Cabana said via email.

“However, because of the uncertainty that still exists when traveling abroad, bookings are being made more last minute than before the pandemic.”

Being able to back out

A last-minute travel buy was not the story for Dubois, the retired TV cameraman, who booked his own trip back in January.

But he also bought a ticket that will allow him to cancel his plans up to 24 hours before departure, with a full refund.

Tourists take a break at a restaurant in Havana, Cuba, in August 2019. Seven months later, the global pandemic was declared, bringing an end to most leisure travel throughout the world. (Fernando Medina/Reuters)

On prior trips, he hadn’t tended to pencil in the possibility of needing to cancel — but that was before COVID-19.

“Before now, no,” said Dubois, who worked for both CBC and Radio-Canada during his career. “Now, definitely.”

The University of Toronto’s Chandra says the more flexible arrangements being offered by airlines reflects the fact that some customers won’t be willing to book expensive tickets if there’s a chance they will lose their money.

Rolling out the welcome mat

Dubois is heading to Cuba at the end of November, and by that time, travel restrictions will have been eased.

The Cuban Tourism Ministry recently announced that as of Nov. 15, Canadians with proof of vaccination won’t have to take a test before heading to the country. They’ll also be able to travel across the island.

Vacationers take to the water at a Club Med resort in the Dominican Republic before the pandemic. With the progress on vaccination that has been made, one expert says he believes Ottawa’s restrictive stance on leisure travel may have to shift. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

Sunwing’s Filipp said that “numerous sun destinations are already open for travel,” and like Cuba, other destinations are expected to ease restrictions of their own as vaccination rates rise and COVID-19 cases decline.

Chandra says he’s doubtful that differing rules between sun destinations will have much of an effect on travel patterns.

That’s because a lot of sun seekers — and snowbirds in particular — are likely to “stick to their choices” when it comes to their desired winter getaways. “They’re not going to go other places,” he said.

They’re also unlikely to go to other regions because they head south to take advantage of the better weather, he said.

Sunwing announces its return to Cuba – a perennial favourite among Canadians – with flights from gateways across the country

TORONTO, Sept. 14, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Amid easing entry requirements and soaring vaccination rates in Cuba, along with competitive pricing for pre-departure PCR tests at $30 USD per person, Sunwing is pleased to announce that it will be offering weekly flights to the Canadian favourite destinations of Varadero and Cayo Coco. Flight service will be available from several gateways across Canada starting in October and November, including Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton. As winter progresses, more Canadian departure gateways and popular Cuban destinations are expected to be added to reflect evolving consumer demand.

“We’re thrilled to be helping our customers head back to the sunny shores of Cuba this fall under our wing,” commented Andrew Dawson, President of Tour Operations at Sunwing. “Cuba has been an integral part of our operations ever since our inaugural flight took off from Toronto to Varadero in 2005. Our Cuba program has continued to grow since then, and has been one of our most popular destinations over the past decade. The resort towns of Varadero and Cayo Coco both offer serene beach locations and secluded tourist areas for a relaxing retreat, away from the hustle and bustle of larger cities.”

The flight schedule will be as follows:

  • Between Toronto and Varadero, Fridays starting October 8, 2021
  • Between Toronto and Cayo Coco, Saturdays starting October 9, 2021
  • Between Montreal and Varadero, Fridays starting October 8, 2021
  • Between Montreal and Cayo Coco, Saturdays starting October 16, 2021
  • Between Calgary and Varadero, Tuesdays starting November 2, 2021
  • Between Edmonton and Varadero, Tuesdays starting November 2, 2021

With its pristine beaches, warm weather and a wide variety of resorts for every travel style, it’s no wonder that Canadian sun-seekers return to Cuba year after year. Grand Memories Varadero is a popular choice with fun-filled activities and a sprawling beach that’s perfect for soaking up the sun and building sandcastles. Vacationers headed to Cayo Coco may choose to stay at Iberostar Selection Playa Pilar, with oceanfront suites and the area’s only water playground; or Memories Flamenco Beach Resort, offering a range of water sports like snorkelling and catamaran rides.

Plus, all vacation packages booked by October 15, 2021 for departures between now and October 31, 2021 will include complimentary COVID-19 coverage at no additional charge.

About Sunwing
The largest integrated travel company in North America, Sunwing has more flights to the south than any other leisure carrier with convenient direct service from airports across Canada to popular sun destinations across the U.S.A., Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. This scale enables Sunwing to offer customers exclusive deals at top-rated resorts in the most popular vacation destinations as well as cruise packages and seasonal domestic flight service. Sunwing customers benefit from the assistance of the company’s own knowledgeable destination representatives, who greet them upon arrival and support them throughout their vacation journey. The company supports the communities where it operates through the Sunwing Foundation, a charitable initiative focused on the support and development of youth and humanitarian aid.

Sunwing unveils its inaugural Best of the Best List

A curated selection of top travel experiences and resorts for the 2021-2022 season

TORONTO, Sept. 07, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As part of its ongoing commitment to developing customer-centric content and offering seamless travel experiences, Sunwing has released its first annual Best of the Best List. Designed to help Canadians have the best travel experience possible, the new program will be unveiled every year in the fall and is based on a combination of guest reviews and travel expert recommendations. The inaugural list highlights a curated selection of the best resorts across the most popular sun destinations, the most luxurious room categories, the top beaches to explore and more.

To celebrate the first-ever Best of the Best List, the tour operator will be offering savings of up to 40% on some of the most coveted vacation packages from now until September 13, 2021. With limited inventory available for some of the most popular travel experiences, sun-seekers will want to book now to ensure they secure their preferred resort, destination and departure date.

“After over a year and a half without travel, customers aren’t just looking for ordinary vacation experiences, they’re seeking out the best of the best, from the hottest resorts to bucket-list destinations and top rated experiences,” commented Samantha Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer at Sunwing. “With so many vacation packages available from gateways across Canada, we wanted to make the planning experience as frictionless as possible. With the launch of our inaugural Best of the Best List, customers can get a first look at the most enticing travel experience to select from, and can look forward to a new list every year featuring the best hotels, destinations and more.”

This year’s list features 12 categories highlighting dozens of coveted resorts and travel experiences. Some of the categories featured for the 2021-2022 season include:

The Best Resorts in Mexico featuring Planet Hollywood Cancun and Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas
The Best Resorts for Families including Family Club at Grand Bavaro Princess and Royalton Splash Punta Cana
The Best Luxury Suites from private overwater bungalows to rooftop terrace suites
The Best Culinary Experiences such as Cocina de Autor helmed by a Michelin star chef at Grand Velas Los Cabos
The full list can be viewed at http://www.sunwing.ca/best-of-the-best.

About Sunwing
The largest integrated travel company in North America, Sunwing has more flights to the south than any other leisure carrier with convenient direct service from airports across Canada to popular sun destinations across the U.S.A., Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. This scale enables Sunwing to offer customers exclusive deals at top-rated resorts in the most popular vacation destinations as well as cruise packages and seasonal domestic flight service. Sunwing customers benefit from the assistance of the company’s own knowledgeable destination representatives, who greet them upon arrival and support them throughout their vacation journey. The company supports the communities where it operates through the Sunwing Foundation, a charitable initiative focused on the support and development of youth and humanitarian aid.

Sunwing announces mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for all new and existing employees

TORONTO, Sept. 02, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As part of Sunwing’s enduring commitment to health and safety, the company has announced it is requiring that all new and existing employees across all Canadian divisions be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The new policy aligns with the Government of Canada’s recent announcement that it intends to require vaccination across all federally regulated industries later this fall. Employees will have until September 13, 2021 to provide proof of their full vaccination status or their intention to vaccinate. For employees who are not yet vaccinated and plan to get vaccinated, they will also be required to provide proof of their full vaccination status no later than October 18, 2021.

“The health and safety of our employees and customers is our top priority at Sunwing,” commented Stephen Hunter, CEO of Sunwing Travel Group. “Vaccinations are proven to be the most effective tool in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting broader public health. As a Canadian company, we want to continue to do our part to help end this pandemic, protect our families and those vacationing with us, and to support the travel industry’s full recovery.”

The policy will apply to employees across all Canadian divisions, including those who will be working from home on a part time or full time basis, as per vaccination guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada for the entire population. Accommodations will be made for those with qualifying medical or religious exemptions.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Sunwing has been committed to ensuring health and safety in the workplace and throughout the customer’s vacation experience. The Safe with Sunwing program was developed last summer under the advisement of global healthcare leader Medcan. In addition to advising on the Safe with Sunwing program, Medcan experts led by Dr. Peter Nord, Chief Medical Officer at Medcan and Sunwing’s acting Chief Medical Advisor, also provide ongoing support for employee and customer health and safety. What’s more, Sunwing was the first Canadian airline to use AEGIS Microbe Shield® treatment on all its aircraft and has hosted vaccination awareness sessions for employees in the winter and spring, with additional sessions expected in the coming weeks.

About Sunwing
The largest integrated travel company in North America, Sunwing has more flights to the south than any other leisure carrier with convenient direct service from airports across Canada to popular sun destinations across the U.S.A., Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. This scale enables Sunwing to offer customers exclusive deals at top-rated resorts in the most popular vacation destinations as well as cruise packages and seasonal domestic flight service. Sunwing customers benefit from the assistance of the company’s own knowledgeable destination representatives, who greet them upon arrival and support them throughout their vacation journey. The company supports the communities where it operates through the Sunwing Foundation, a charitable initiative focused on the support and development of youth and humanitarian aid.

For more information:
Melanie Anne Filipp
Director, Corporate Communications & Media Relations
Sunwing Travel Group
1-800-387-5602 | media@sunwing.ca

https://www.facebook.com/SunwingVacations
https://twitter.com/SunwingVacay 
https://www.instagram.com/sunwingvacations

Sunwing returns to Québec City with weekly flights to popular sun destinations starting in November

Tour operator returns to the provincial capital and gateway for its 15th anniversary

TORONTO, Aug. 30, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —

Sunwing has announced it will be offering convenient weekly flights to ten different sun destinations this winter from Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport, right in time for the holidays. The news follows on the heels of a recent survey commissioned by Sunwing which revealed that 51% of Quebec respondents plan on returning to travel within the next 12 months, with 65% interested in an all inclusive vacation and 39% expressing their intent to travel this upcoming holiday season. As part of Sunwing’s commitment to the Quebec market, flights for the 2021-2022 season from Québec City will commence on November 1, 2021 and will run weekly until April 25, 2022, with additional routes available from Montreal and Saguenay-Bagotville.

This season marks Sunwing’s 15-year anniversary with Québec City, after its first flight from the gateway took off on December 18, 2006 for La Romana in the Dominican Republic. The tour operator has a longstanding presence in the province, with two planes based for the season out of Québec City and nearly 100 airline crew. Sunwing also recently invested further in the local community by moving its Quebec headquarters into a new building in Laval that provides a home base for hundreds of employees across various divisions.

“The Québec market has been an integral part of our operations since Sunwing’s inaugural flights from the region in 2006, and our convenient flights are well loved by consumers and travel agencies alike,” commented Sam Char, Vice President for Sunwing Quebec. “By offering three Québécois gateways this season – Montreal, Quebec City and Saguenay-Bagotville – travellers will have even more options to choose from under our wing. We pride ourselves on offering frictionless travel experiences and look forward to helping make vacation dreams come true for another 15 years and beyond.”

The flight schedule from Québec City will be as follows:

  • Between Québec City and Cayo Coco, Cuba, Sundays from November 7, 2021 until April 10, 2022; and Wednesdays from December 8, 2021 until April 20, 2022
  • Between Québec City and Holguin, Cuba, Sundays from December 5, 2021 until April 10, 2022
  • Between Québec City and Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba, Saturdays from November 6, 2021 until April 9, 2022; and Wednesdays from December 8, 2021 until April 20, 2022
  • Between Québec City and Varadero, Cuba, Mondays and Fridays from November 1, 2021 until April 25, 2022; and Wednesdays and Saturdays from December 8, 2021 until April 13, 2022
  • Between Québec City and Cancun, Mexico, Fridays and Sundays from November 5, 2021 until April 24, 2022; and Mondays from November 22, 2021 until April 11, 2022
  • Between Québec City and Mazatlán, Mexico, Tuesdays from December 14, 2021 until April 12, 2022
  • Between Québec City and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Fridays from December 17, 2021 until April 15, 2022
  • Between Québec City and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, Thursdays and Saturdays from November 4, 2021 until April 21, 2022
  • Between Québec City and Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, Tuesdays from December 2, 2021 until April 12, 2022
  • Between Québec City and Miami, Florida, Saturdays from January 8, 2022 until April 16, 2022

“We are delighted that Sunwing is returning to Québec City this winter with flights to sun destinations that are well loved by Quebecois customers, including Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Miami,” said Stéphane Poirier, President and CEO of Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB). “We appreciate Sunwing’s confidence in our market and look forward to continuing this long-standing relationship. We are excited to welcome Sunwing passengers back to YQB as the departure gateway for their next vacation.”

In addition to flights from Quebec City, residents of the province can explore 20 different destinations from Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport including the vacation hotspots of Los Cabos and St. Maarten, and four different destinations from Saguenay-Bagotville Airport. No matter where they take off from, customers can travel with peace of mind knowing that the highest Canadian standards are in place throughout their entire vacation experience as part of the Safe with Sunwing commitment.

About Sunwing

The largest integrated travel company in North America, Sunwing has more flights to the south than any other leisure carrier with convenient direct service from airports across Canada to popular sun destinations across the U.S.A., Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. This scale enables Sunwing to offer customers exclusive deals at top-rated resorts in the most popular vacation destinations as well as cruise packages and seasonal domestic flight service. Sunwing customers benefit from the assistance of the company’s own knowledgeable destination representatives, who greet them upon arrival and support them throughout their vacation journey. The company supports the communities where it operates through the Sunwing Foundation, a charitable initiative focused on the support and development of youth and humanitarian aid.

Sunwing returns to Ottawa International Airport this winter with flights to 11 vacation destinations

TORONTO, Aug. 25, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Residents of the nation’s capital will have plenty of options to choose from for their tropical getaway this year, as Sunwing has announced it will be returning to Ottawa International Airport for the 2021-2022 winter season. Sun-seekers from the Ottawa-Gatineau region can return to paradise with ease with 11 different destinations being offered across the Caribbean and Mexico. Flights will begin in November 2021 and run weekly until April 2022.

“After a trying year, we’re looking forward to bringing residents of the capital back to the tropics under our wing,” commented Andrew Dawson, President of Tour Operations for Sunwing. “With 11 different destinations to choose from, we’ll be offering more routes to the south than any other tour operator from the gateway. Whether travellers want to explore the exotic coast of Los Cabos or the sunny shores of Punta Cana, there’s something for every travel style.”

The flight schedule from Ottawa will be as follows:

  • Between Ottawa and Montego Bay, Sundays from December 12, 2021 until April 10, 2022
  • Between Ottawa and Puerto Plata, Tuesdays from December 7, 2021 until April 12, 2022
  • Between Ottawa and Punta Cana, Saturdays and Wednesdays from November 6, 2021 until April 9, 2022; and Mondays from December 13, 2021 until April 11, 2022
  • Between Ottawa and Cancun, Saturdays from November 6, 2021 until April 9, 2022; and Mondays and Fridays from December 13, 2021 until April 11, 2022
  • Between Ottawa and Puerto Vallarta, Sundays from December 19, 2021 until March 27, 2022
  • Between Ottawa and Los Cabos, Thursdays from December 16, 2021 until March 31, 2022
  • Between Ottawa and Mazatlán, Tuesdays from December 14, 2021 until April 12, 2022
  • Between Ottawa and Cayo Santa Maria, Fridays from November 12, 2021 until April 8, 2022
  • Between Ottawa and Varadero, Sundays and Thursdays from November 14, 2021 until April 7, 2022
  • Between Ottawa and Cayo Coco, Tuesdays from November 16, 2021 until April 12, 2022
  • Between Ottawa and Holguin, Tuesdays from December 14, 2021 until April 12, 2022

“Sunwing has always been popular with Ottawa-Gatineau vacationers,” said Mark Laroche, President and CEO of the Ottawa International Airport Authority. “With pent-up travel demand growing and travel restrictions easing, Sunwing’s wide variety of destinations and all-inclusive packages will be well-received by travellers who are anxious to escape on a long-awaited winter vacation.”

Vacationers can choose from a range of resorts for every travel style and budget from Ottawa. Grand Sunset Princess All Suites and Spa Resort in Riviera Maya is a perennial favourite, featuring sprawling pools and a range of dining options. Lopesan Costa Bavaro Resort Spa and Casino is another popular choice for sun-seekers, located on the world-famous shores of Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana with endless entertainment options along The Boulevard, the resort’s recreation complex. Vacationers can take their budget further at the newly renovated Riu Ocho Rios in Jamaica, with exclusive RIU-topia inclusions for Sunwing guests like unlimited reservation-free dining and complimentary Wi-Fi.

About Sunwing
The largest integrated travel company in North America, Sunwing has more flights to the south than any other leisure carrier with convenient direct service from airports across Canada to popular sun destinations across the U.S.A., Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. This scale enables Sunwing to offer customers exclusive deals at top-rated resorts in the most popular vacation destinations as well as cruise packages and seasonal domestic flight service. Sunwing customers benefit from the assistance of the company’s own knowledgeable destination representatives, who greet them upon arrival and support them throughout their vacation journey. The company supports the communities where it operates through the Sunwing Foundation, a charitable initiative focused on the support and development of youth and humanitarian aid.

Sunwing expands flight service from Toronto and Montreal after returning to the skies last month

TORONTO, Aug. 24, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Following an overwhelmingly positive response to its return to service on July 30, Sunwing has announced it will be offering Canadians even more ways to head to the tropics this fall. The tour operator will be adding several new routes from its two largest gateways, Toronto and Montreal, with direct flights to the vacation hotspots of St. Maarten, Aruba and Los Cabos.

“Following positive customer demand for our initial destinations of Cancun, Punta Cana and Montego Bay, and based on increasing demand to travel in the early fall, we decided to expand our flight service and destination offerings ahead of schedule,” commented Andrew Dawson, President of Tour Operations at Sunwing. “Our customers are looking for even more choice and flexibility. We’re excited to help them plan their dream getaway with ease under our wing, and we look forward to announcing additional flight routes in the near future.”

“In addition to seeking out the frictionless travel experiences we provide, we’re seeing more Canadians searching for bucket list destinations and exotic islands that are off the beaten path,” commented Samantha Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer at Sunwing. “By adding Los Cabos, Aruba and St. Maarten to our offerings, customers will have even more options to choose from so they can personalize their vacation to their travel style.”

The flight schedule for the three additional destinations will be as follows:

  • Between Toronto and Los Cabos, Thursdays starting September 16, 2021
  • Between Toronto and Aruba, Mondays starting September 20, 2021
  • Between Toronto and St. Maarten, Thursdays starting September 30, 2021
  • Between Montreal and St. Maarten, Thursdays starting November 4, 2021
  • Between Montreal and Los Cabos, Thursdays starting November 11, 2021

Vacationers can choose from a range of popular resorts across these exotic destinations. In Aruba, guests can stay on the world-famous shores of Palm Beach at Riu Palace Aruba, an elegant resort offering activities and amenities for all ages. Sun-seekers can explore all that St. Maarten has to offer while staying at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Casino and Spa, an all inclusive oasis just steps from local shops and nightlife. Couples and friends headed to Los Cabos can stay at the adults only Riu Palace Baja California, where they can lounge by glamorous infinity pools overlooking the coast and enjoy complimentary access to the weekly RIU Pool Parties.

To help Canadians make their return to paradise, Sunwing is offering incredible last minute vacation deals. Travellers can enjoy flexible booking options including reduced deposits of just $100 per person (down from $250 per person), an extended final payment window of 25 days before departure and monthly payment options through Uplift.

Plus, customers who book their getaway by September 9, 2021 for departures between now and October 31, 2021 will receive complimentary COVID-19 Coverage underwritten by Manulife included in their package (terms and conditions apply).

About Sunwing
The largest integrated travel company in North America, Sunwing has more flights to the south than any other leisure carrier with convenient direct service from airports across Canada to popular sun destinations across the U.S.A., Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. This scale enables Sunwing to offer customers exclusive deals at top-rated resorts in the most popular vacation destinations as well as cruise packages and seasonal domestic flight service. Sunwing customers benefit from the assistance of the company’s own knowledgeable destination representatives, who greet them upon arrival and support them throughout their vacation journey. The company supports the communities where it operates through the Sunwing Foundation, a charitable initiative focused on the support and development of youth and humanitarian aid.

Sunwing partners with Wattpad to leverage the power of storytelling with its #MissedMilestones Writing Contest

TORONTO, Aug. 09, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Sunwing has announced a partnership with Wattpad, the global multi-platform entertainment company for original stories and leading social storytelling platform, to host a Canadian writing contest. The #MissedMilestones Writing Contest is on from now through August 24, 2021, with the goal to curate a collection of firsthand stories from customers featuring travel moments and milestones that they missed out on during the pandemic, including how they would celebrate those moments in the tropics. The winner will receive an all inclusive vacation for two to Royalton Punta Cana Resort & Casino and will be featured on the @Travel profile on Wattpad.

“Our partnership with Wattpad is the latest step in our marketing transformation at Sunwing,” commented Samantha Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer at Sunwing. “Since the start of the pandemic, we have focused our efforts on refining and elevating the customer experience, and tapping into user-generated content is a key pillar of our marketing strategy. By partnering with Wattpad on this writing contest, we’ll be able to leverage the power of storytelling to engage with customers in a more authentic, relevant way, offering them an even more seamless customer journey under our wing.”

The brand synergy is Sunwing’s latest endeavour into creating relevant and inspirational content. With a global community of more than 90 million people, including 1.6 million Canadians, Wattpad is home to some of the most diverse and creative writers worldwide. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, more people have turned to reading and writing online as a form of escapism and self-expression. At the same time, more Canadians are dreaming about their future vacation after being stuck at home for over a year, which has been reflected in the growing demand that Sunwing has seen over recent months.

Sunwing will work with Wattpad Brand Partnerships to adapt the winning story into a short film or video. The inspirational content will then be distributed across both brands’ channels including YouTube and their respective social media platforms.

“Creativity, connection and expression are core features of Generation Z,” said Chris Stefanyk, Head of Brand Partnerships at Wattpad. “After more than a year of lockdowns around the world, Gen Zers have turned to creative platforms like Wattpad to share their experiences like never before. We’re thrilled to partner with Sunwing to engage our massive Gen Z community, turning missed milestones into inspired narratives.”

Eligible participants are invited to submit a short story in 500 words or less about their #MissedMilestones from the past year and the role that travelling to the tropics would play in making them epic. From beach getaways with friends to family celebrations in the tropics and destination weddings, writers are invited to get creative with their entries and post them to their Wattpad profile using the #MissedMilestones hashtag. The official contest rules can be found on Wattpad’s website.

About Sunwing
The largest integrated travel company in North America, Sunwing has more flights to the south than any other leisure carrier with convenient direct service from airports across Canada to popular sun destinations across the U.S.A., Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. This scale enables Sunwing to offer customers exclusive deals at top-rated resorts in the most popular vacation destinations as well as cruise packages and seasonal domestic flight service. Sunwing customers benefit from the assistance of the company’s own knowledgeable destination representatives, who greet them upon arrival and support them throughout their vacation journey. The company supports the communities where it operates through the Sunwing Foundation, a charitable initiative focused on the support and development of youth and humanitarian aid.

Sunwing resumes flight service to popular sun destinations amid increasing demand for travel

TORONTO, July 30, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The first Sunwing Airlines flights to the sun since January took off today from Toronto Pearson International Airport and Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. The inaugural flights mark Sunwing’s partial return to service amid Canada’s soaring vaccination rates, easing border measures and increasing demand for travel. Weekly service will initially be offered from Toronto and Montreal, with additional routes expected to follow.

“After a long seven months, we’re thrilled to be returning to the skies and bringing our customers back to the tropics,” commented Mark Williams, President of Sunwing Airlines. “Our team has been working hard to prepare for our partial return to service and we’re looking forward to making even more vacation dreams come true over the coming months with flights to some of our most popular destinations.”

Initial service is being offered from Toronto to Cancun, Punta Cana and Montego Bay, and from Montreal to Cancun and Punta Cana. Sunwing will be operating additional gateways and destinations for the fall and winter season, with departures from numerous other Canadian cities beginning in October 2021.

“With vaccination rates continuing to climb nationwide, we’re seeing more pent-up demand for travel as Canadians plan their much-anticipated getaways,” said Andrew Dawson, President of Tour Operations at Sunwing. “Following more than a year of uncertainty and stress, customers are seeking out the kind of seamless vacation experiences that we provide more than ever before, and we’re already seeing unprecedented bookings for the most popular resorts. We’re looking forward to offering customers frictionless travel every step of the way.”

The resumption of flights follows on the heels of a recent survey commissioned by Sunwing, which uncovered that more than half of Canadians (58%) are interested in returning to travel within the next 12 months, with over two-thirds (68%) expressing a desire to plan an all inclusive vacation. With demand for travel quickly outpacing availability, customers interested in headed south over the next few months should book now to reserve their spot at their preferred resort.

Sun-seekers who book their return to paradise by August 9, 2021 can take advantage of exclusive last minute deals including complimentary Price Drop Cash Back of up to $800 per couple, reduced deposits of just $100 per person and the flexibility to change or cancel their plans with ease. Plus, customers can travel with peace of mind knowing that the highest Canadian standards are in place throughout their entire vacation experience with the Safe with Sunwing commitment.

About Sunwing
The largest integrated travel company in North America, Sunwing has more flights to the south than any other leisure carrier with convenient direct service from airports across Canada to popular sun destinations across the U.S.A., Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. This scale enables Sunwing to offer customers exclusive deals at top-rated resorts in the most popular vacation destinations as well as cruise packages and seasonal domestic flight service. Sunwing customers benefit from the assistance of the company’s own knowledgeable destination representatives, who greet them upon arrival and support them throughout their vacation journey. The company supports the communities where it operates through the Sunwing Foundation, a charitable initiative focused on the support and development of youth and humanitarian aid.

Sunwing partners with Bentley to donate new and gently used books and bags to schools across the Caribbean and Mexico

TORONTO, July 29, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Sunwing has announced a new partnership with Bentley, a leading luggage and handbag retailer, on a back-to-school initiative to collect new and gently used books and school bags for donation to communities in need. The initiative will focus on supporting children in destinations across the Caribbean and Mexico that have seen a decline in tourism as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Collection boxes will be set up in select Bentley stores beginning on August 2, 2021 through August 15, 2021, and donations collected in store will be flown on board Sunwing Airlines flights to local schools across the Caribbean and Mexico. As an added incentive, customers who donate will receive a $5 Bentley coupon which can be used towards purchases of $20 or more in store, along with a $50 promotional code that can be applied towards a future Sunwing vacation.

“It’s been a trying 16 months for local communities across the Caribbean and Mexico that depend heavily on the tourism industry for support and employment,” commented Samantha Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer at Sunwing. “As we resume operations, we are excited to restart initiatives that support local communities. We’re grateful to Bentley for partnering with us on this important cause, and look forward to helping support local children and schools with these donated resources.”

The donation drive is the latest initiative of the Sunwing Foundation’s Flying Start program, which aims to provide students in the destinations that Sunwing serves with all the essential tools and building blocks for a successful education. The Flying Start initiative has previously supported communities across Jamaica, Tobago, Antigua and the Dominican Republic.

“We are pleased to be working with Sunwing on this important initiative,” said Sandrine Giry, Vice President of Purchasing/Branding at Bentley. “Community support and solidarity are extremely important to us at Bentley. By making donation boxes available in some of our most popular stores in Quebec and Ontario, we hope to make a positive contribution in the communities served by Sunwing.”

Participating store locations include:

  • Dufferin Mall in Toronto, Ontario
  • Toronto Eaton Centre in Toronto, Ontario
  • Bramalea City Centre in Brampton, Ontario
  • Scarborough Town Centre in Scarborough, Ontario
  • Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga, Ontario
  • Dixie Outlet Mall in Mississauga, Ontario
  • Limeridge Mall in Hamilton, Ontario
  • Vaughan Mills in Vaughan, Ontario
  • Cookstown Manufacturer’s Outlet Mall in Cookstown, Ontario
  • White Oaks Mall in London, Ontario
  • Bayshore Shopping Centre in Nepean, Ontario
  • Hawkesbury Centre Outlet in Hawkesbury, Ontario
  • Northgate Shopping Centre in North Bay, Ontario
  • Carrefour Laval in Laval, Quebec
  • Les Promenades Gatineau in Gatineau, Quebec
  • Premium Outlets Montreal in Mirabel, Quebec

More information on the partnership can be found at sunwing.ca/en/bentley.

About Sunwing
The largest integrated travel company in North America, Sunwing has more flights to the south than any other leisure carrier with convenient direct service from airports across Canada to popular sun destinations across the U.S.A., Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. This scale enables Sunwing to offer customers exclusive deals at top-rated resorts in the most popular vacation destinations as well as cruise packages and seasonal domestic flight service. Sunwing customers benefit from the assistance of the company’s own knowledgeable destination representatives, who greet them upon arrival and support them throughout their vacation journey. The company supports the communities where it operates through the Sunwing Foundation, a charitable initiative focused on the support and development of youth and humanitarian aid.

About Bentley
With over thirty years of customer service, Bentley has developed a strong reputation for retailing both travel and everyday bags, becoming synonymous with excellence and providing impeccable customer service in over 160 locations across our country.