MSC Group Converts Ferry Into Floating Hospital

Grandi Navi Veloci (GNV), a ferry operator that is part of MSC Group, has converted the ferry ship Splendid into a floating hospital equipped for patients with and recovering from COVID-19.

Stationed in the ferry terminal in Genoa, Italy, it has 25 beds in single cabins, although it is possible to equip up to 400 beds. The floating hospital also features a heliport and dedicated areas to healthcare personnel and crew.

GNV started working on the project with classification society RINA in early March, in coordination with Italy’s Liguria Health System and Civil Protection. RINA verified that the floating hospital complied with current regulations, identifying the balance between safety protection, naval regulations, the medical needs of a hospital and the regional health care authority.

In the U.S., Carnival Corp. has offered ships to serve as hospitals for non-COVID-19 patients, to free up space in hospitals. Also, American Queen Steamboat Co. and Victory Cruises have offered idled ships to the military to house personnel who need to be quarantined.

Also, the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) launched a new initiative called “Hotels for Hope” to help find lodging in more than 6,500 properties for first responders and health-care workers as the COVID-19 crisis grows.

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Small Group Festive Holiday Programme ·

Small Group Festive Holiday Programme

Albatross Tours have just released their 2020/21 European Christmas, New Year, and Northern Lights tour programme now featuring small group sizes up to a maximum of 28.

Previously capped at 40, this change further enhances their more personal style of touring and allows an even more authentic European travel experience for travellers.

Albatross Tours Managing Director and Tour Designer, Euan Landsborough, said, “From experience, I know the value of touring with smaller groups and the benefits are even greater over the Christmas Festive season. Just like on our hugely successful European Summer Tours programme, we will now cap our group size at 28 travellers, with an average of just 22. And, you still have the peace of mind that we guarantee they will run on as little as 10! Our small groups ensure travellers will have the very best time in that perfect, festive winter wonderland.”

New for 2020/21 are three adventure packed festive holidays, including the 12 day ‘Swiss Alpine Christmas Markets’ and ‘Christmas in a Swiss Spa Resort’ tours, plus the 14 day ‘Swiss Alps and Christmas in Bavaria’ tours. Filled with exciting bucket list experiences, each of these tours are designed to capture the magic of the European festive season.

With spaces limited to just 28 on each of their 2020/21 European Festive Tours, agents are encouraged to book soon to avoid missing out.

Brochures are now available from TIFs.

Call Albatross Tours on 1300 135 015 or visit

About Albatross Tours: Albatross Tours is a European tour operator based in Brisbane, Australia. Albatross Tours has been designing, creating and operating European escorted tours for Australians and New Zealanders since 1995. Offering longer stays in each destination, small group sizes and genuine inclusions, Albatross tours are jam packed with included excursions, entrances and feature dinners. As part of The Albatross Group the company manage in excess of 5,000 tour groups in Europe every year.

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BWH Hotel Group announces first Aiden in Australasia ·

BWH Hotel Group announces first Aiden in Australasia

BWH Hotel Group and property developer iHHL are delighted to announce that Aiden by Best Western @ Darling Harbour will be opening in late 2020. This key milestone will be the first Aiden by Best Western in Australasia.

BWH Hotel Group Australasia Managing Director Graham Perry and iHHL’s Nicolas Chen jointly announced the 88 room, 8 storey property which will include a café, bar and retail shop on the ground floor.

“Where better to open our first Aiden to Australasia than in the centre of Sydney’s iconic leisure precinct, Darling Harbour,” says Perry.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with iHHL, who are undertaking the conversion of this iconic Sydney building which will become a superb lifestyle hotel offering high quality affordable accommodation for modern travellers.”

Aiden by Best Western @ Darling Harbour will be a refurbished 1930s art deco building located on the western side of Darling Harbour, directly opposite the pedestrian Pyrmont Bridge and metres from the entrance of the Harbourside shopping complex.

Nicolas Chen explains his philosophy to put guest’s needs front and centre of all planning and development.

“We’re bringing a touch of Parisian-style hospitality and class to Darling Harbour, featuring well-appointed rooms that focus on the amenities and facilities sought by today’s travellers – including media connectivity and plentiful workspace in our high-end custom designed compact rooms. The end result will be an eminently affordable Sydney CBD-fringe stay in a busy, well located and highly popular precinct.”

“Darling Harbour has developed from its historical roots as wharves and industrial warehouses to become a vibrant residential, commercial and entertainment hub. We selected the location for our development due to its ideal positioning, close to world class attractions including the Australian National Maritime Museum, the International Convention Centre (ICC), the Sydney Fish Market, Cockle Bay Wharf, King Street Wharf and Barangaroo.”

Perry stresses that the new Aiden by Best Western @ Darling Harbour will be in great company.

“Nicolas’s property joins an international network of Aidens across France, Germany, Korea and the US coming together to form a global but uniquely individual collection of trendy laid-back boutique hotels that blend cool, casual charm with an eclectic neighbourly feel”.

About Best Western® Hotels & Resorts and BWH Hotel Group:

Best Western Hotels & Resorts headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, is a privately held hotel brand within the BWH Hotel GroupSM global network. With 16 brands and approximately 4,700 hotels in over 100 countries and territories worldwide*, BWH Hotel Group suits the needs of developers and guests in every market. Brands include Best Western®, Best Western Plus®, Best Western Premier®, Executive Residency by Best Western®, GLō®, Aiden®, Sadie®, BW Premier Collection® and BW Signature Collection®. Through recent acquisition, WorldHotels® Luxury, WorldHotels Elite and WorldHotels Distinctive brands are also offered. Completing the portfolio is SureStay®, SureStay Plus®, SureStay Collection® and SureStay StudioSM franchises**. For more information visit

* Numbers are approximate, may fluctuate, and include hotels currently in the development pipeline.

**All Best Western, WorldHotels and SureStay branded hotels are independently owned and operated.

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Apple Leisure Group Vacations Announces Top Accounts Program

Apple Leisure Group Vacations has announced its new Top Accounts Program. The recently launched program will further recognize and generously reward top-performing travel advisors in new ways.

The Top Accounts Program will also simplify and standardize goals and benefits for ALGV’s three brand recognition clubs, including the Apple Vacations Preferred Partners, Funjet Vacations 500 Club and Travel Impressions Best of the Best programs.


There will be numerous benefits to high-performing agencies with the Top Accounts Program, including exclusive promo codes to help close sales, fast-tracked solutions and expedited handling of requests, and exclusive recognition trips. There will also be a special all-brand Elite Level FAM with ALGV executives.

Additional benefits are also coming. Revenue from sales with United Vacations, Blue Sky Tours and Southwest Vacations, will now be eligible for use towards up to 30 percent of an agency’s total to qualify for Preferred Partners, 500 Club or Best of the Best status starting in 2021.

“These changes introduce new benefits and incremental rewards for our top-performing travel advisor partners while making it easier to qualify for our various brand recognition programs,” said Jim Tedesco, vice president of sales, Apple Leisure Group Vacations.

These new benefits will make it easier for travel advisors to reach their goals.

“Travel advisors can now make the best choices for their clients by taking advantage of incentives with Blue Sky Tours or one of our airline brands without impacting their ability to reach their goal for Preferred Partners, 500 Club or Best of the Best,” Tedesco added.

In addition, a new United Vacations preferred partner program will give travel advisors access to vouchers, United Club Passes, and enhanced club-member customer service features.

The Top Accounts Program will also include elite status with ALGV, a new level joining together the most powerful producers partnering with Apple Vacations, Travel Impressions, Funjet Vacations, United Vacations, Blue Sky Tours, and Southwest Vacations.

Travel agencies need to qualify for each of these programs annually.

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