Travel Best Jobs

Ian Stalker

Senior Writer

I was born in Quebec but I have also lived in Alberta, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
Favorite part of the job may well be doing the Ask the Agent feature in Canadian Travel Press as it enables me to directly learn what travel agents are thinking about topical issues.
I believe that I have travelled to some 42 countries.
Best travel memories would have to include entering King Tut’s tomb in Luxor, Egypt; arriving at Machu Picchu after hiking the Inca Trail; wandering the old quarter of Marrakech, Morocco; climbing temples in Tikal, Guatemala, and Palenque, Mexico; seeing the Petra by Night performance in Petra, Jordan; Angel Falls, Venezuela; the Hotel Nacional in Havana; and heading south on the Dempster Highway between Inuvik, N.W.T.; and Dawson City, Y.T.
My bucket list would have to include Potosi, Bolivia. By all reports its fascinating.

Reports say Mexico ready to close tourist board offices

Two veteran Toronto-area travel agents are predicting that the reported impending closures of Mexico Tourism Board offices in Canada and elsewhere will be damaging to Mexican efforts to attract foreign visitors, while one tour operator expects such a move would have little effect on its Mexico program… Read >>

Istanbul ‘ultimate meeting point’ between east and west

Two notable emperors were bullish about Istanbul. Napoleon demonstrated his appreciation for the city when he stated that, “If Earth was a single state, its capital would be Constantinople,” as Istanbul was called for much of its existence, while Roman emperor Constantine made it the capital of the Roman Empire, choosing it for that role in part because of the city’s location, which sees part of the city in Europe and part in Asia… Read >>

Carrier’s Canada-Istanbul link could see more flights

Turkish Airlines is eager to serve as a modern-day Orient express for those wanting to travel from this country to Istanbul. The carrier now has six weekly non-stop flights from Toronto to a city that straddles the dividing line between Europe and the Orient, and three a week from Montreal, and Mustafa Dogan… Read >>

Cuba city displays its creative style
The art of Camaguey

Camaguey, Cuba, has an artistic bent. Luis Viamontes Borras of Infotur says the city is home to many theatrical companies and many artists, who frequently display their creations in local galleries. “The local government has been smart enough to promote them,” Viamontes Borras says of creative city residents.. Read >>

Coastal Florida airport offers quick access to Orlando theme parks

Lori Booker says the coastal Florida airport she promotes offers quicker access to Mickey Mouse’s home turf than the larger airport found in Walt Disney World’s backyard… Read >>

Georgia seeks to make inroads in Canada

Tracy Vaughan and her colleagues are holding out a hand of friendship to Canadians making a vacation journey by car to Florida or who decide that they simply would like a road journey that’s a little shorter… Read >>

Going solo made easy with Just You

Just You – which uses the tagline “solo adventures together” – is the only tour operator in Canada specifically catering to those who wish to travel with a group, but without a roommate, he says. The company, which doesn’t charge single supplements, won’t book two people into the same room. Those wanting to share a room with a partner must book separate rooms, although they can still share a room, something that would leave one of the booked rooms empty… Read >>

Mother Nature has smiled on Belize

You too can see a toucan in Belize. The ecology-minded country has protected more than 40% of its terrain from development, and that in turn has provided a shelter for a host of exotic birds such as toucans, says Deborah Gilharry of the Belize Tourism Board, the logo of which actually has a toucan on it… Read >>

Curaҫao is a painter’s paradise

CuraÇao can be picture perfect for people wanting to brush up on their art skills. The CuraÇao Tourist Board held a recent event in Toronto overseen by prominent Curacao artist Garrick Marchena, whose island has long-established ties to Holland, which produced such household names in art as Rembrandt and van Gogh, and has a flourishing art scene, underscored by murals that are appearing on the island… Read >>

Cuba is accommodating visitors with a new flair

Canadians planning to flee to Cuba in the coming months to escape Old Man Winter’s icy grip will arrive in a Caribbean country home to a number of enhancements to its tourism infrastructure.
Janet Ayala of Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism told a recent Toronto gathering that Cuba has seen a number of recent hotel openings, among them Varadero’s Meliá Hotel Internacional; .. Read >>

Run Barbados: Fun, festive and definitely world class

Barbados is happy to host people who are on the move. Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. is promoting Dec. 7-9’s Run Barbados festival, which features a one-mile walk and 5K, 10K and half-marathon running races, a celebration of athleticism in a destination best known for its sun-splashed beaches… Read >>

The Great Outdoors lies on Phoenix’s doorstep

Douglas MacKenzie doesn’t believe his landlocked state is at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting tourists because it doesn’t front ocean. MacKenzie is spokesman for Visit Phoenix and says those vacationing in his Arizona city of Phoenix who want to cool off in water can easily do so in a swimming pool… Read >>

Tidings of joy from Kissimmee

The Central Florida city of Kissimmee is spreading some Tidings of Comfort and Joy to those who dream of fleeing upcoming winter weather. The city, a stone’s throw from Orlando, hosted an event in Toronto recently that featured a Christmas tree, a reminder that Christmas and winter are drawing nearer… Read >>

Havana looks forward to its 500th year

Those wielding brooms and brushes are out in force as Cuba’s largest city gears up for a major milestone. Cuban tourism minister Manuel Marrero visited Toronto recently, providing an update on all that’s happening in his homeland, including preparations for Havana’s celebrating its 500th anniversary in 2019… Read >>

Mexican hotelfirm upbeat about Cuba debut
Doors open

Mexican hotel company Grupo Posadas will make its debut outside its homeland with twin openings in Cuba on Nov. 1. The company, which has different hotel brands and properties throughout Mexico, will open resorts in Varadero and Holguin at the start of next month… Read >>

Australia: There’s nothing like it!
Canadian agents invited to become Aussie specialists and win

Tourism Australia is seeking a talented Canadian travel agent to become a part of a new VIP program. The tourism body is inviting those who have completed introductory modules of its Aussie Specialist Program (ASP) to be one of the country’s first-ever Aussie Specialist Ambassadors, the rewards of which will include a free fam to the country next spring… Read >>

Education looms large at TLN Regionals
School’s not out for members of Travel Leaders Network

The network hosted its second 2018 Ontario regional in Toronto last week, and will hold similar events in Calgary and Edmonton later in October. Christine James, Travel Leaders Network’s vice president Canada, says the annual gatherings benefit Travel Leaders Networks members who attend, among other things providing an educational component that will translate into more money in their bank accounts… Read >>

Mullen trades moguls for Mexico

Former national ski team member Cary Mullen has gone from life in winter’s extremely fast lane to now hosting winter-weary refugees in a sun-soaked part of the world that will never experience the sort of snow Mullen saw growing up in Banff… Read >>

Kenya: Home to the wonders of Africa

Tunai, governor of Kenya’s Narok County, told a recent The Travel Corporation/ME to WE gathering in Toronto that his Kenyan jurisdiction is home to the likes of lions, frequently dubbed the king of the beasts; leopards; elephants; giraffes; and other creatures that lure wildlife enthusiasts, and he promised that Narok County is taking steps to protect them at a time when much of African wildlife populations are dwindling because of poaching and human encroachment… Read >>

Experience wildlife from A to Z

Goway’s Africa program spans a range of wildlife ranging from A(ardvark) to Z(ebra).
Moira Smith of Goway’s Africa program told a recent Toronto gathering that the program features 22 countries, with many of those countries having predominantly wildlife-based tourism, .. Read >>

China Eastern Airlines wants to make inroads in Toronto

China Eastern Airlines wants to build the same kind of reputation among the general public in the Toronto area as it has among expatriate Chinese living in the Ontario capital.
The Shanghai-based airline has daily Toronto-Shanghai service, offering passengers a choice of First, Business and Economy Class service on the B777-300s it uses on the route… Read >>

ANA upbeat about its use of Tokyo airport

ANA has gone from being an operation that began with two helicopters to one that has a very weighty presence in both Japanese and international airspace.
Kana Watanabe, assistant manager of passenger sales in ANA’s Vancouver office, reports that her carrier is the largest in Japan,.. Read >>

TIAC talks cannabis legalization

Don’t expect tourism authorities in this country to reach out to marijuana enthusiasts who like to take the high road when they travel abroad.
In fact at a recent TIAC town hall gathering in Toronto, officials from TIAC and other tourism organizations weighed in on the Oct. 17 legalization of cannabis in this country,.. Read >>

Old meets new in Cuba’s capital
Gaviota upbeat about luxury Havana hotels

Cuba’s Gaviota Tourism Group has put a new face on an Old Havana landmark that it says adds another upscale dimension to the Cuban capital.
Gaviota’s vice-president of marketing Frank Pais Oltuski Rodriguez told a Toronto audience last week that developments for the Cuban tourism powerhouse include the just-opened 321-room Iberostar Grand Hotel Packard,.. Read >>

It’s bottoms up when the sun goes down

Cricket Wagner of St. Pete Beach, Florida’s, Sirata Beach Resort says resort guests needn’t be thirsty when they gather during the evening to watch the sun lower itself in the sky.
The Gulf Coast-fronting resort this year began posting the times of area sunsets, and inviting guests to enjoy 30 minutes of free beer, wine or rum punches as they watch the nightly spectacle… Read >>

Vietnam proud of its distinctive cuisine

A Vietnamese tourism delegation visited Toronto recently, promoting the attributes of the southeast Asian country, which includes a food scene that drew international attention when the late food enthusiast Anthony Bourdain and former U.S. president Barack Obama had lunch together in modest but popular Hanoi restaurant Bun Cha, which serves the likes of pho, a hugely popular dish in Vietnamese cuisine… Read >>

Cuban history lives on in Santiago de Cuba

Tourism officials say the city of Santiago de Cuba can lay a rightful claim to playing a pivotal role in the Cuban Revolution, with the eastern city being home to the structure that saw the first shots fired in that multi-year guerrilla campaign… Read >>

History still unfolding in Axum

Ethiopian tourism officials are inviting tourists to follow in some regal footsteps they proudly state also belonged to a storied Biblical figure. Those officials boast that the city of Axum stands on a site where the Queen of Sheba once held sway, and those visiting it will see long-standing reminders of its past greatness – along with another reminder of its glorious history that unfortunately is no longer standing… Read >>

Little works are a big deal for elephant conservation

Puangpen Klanwari, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Canadian office, holds a colourful Elephant Parade carving. With Klanwari are her colleagues Viktor Spysak and Kayla Shubert… Read >>

St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ tourism takes off with new airport

Last year’s opening of Argyle International Airport has given the tourist trade in St. Vincent and the Grenadines a major shot in the arm, with Canadians among others giving more attention to a destination that has become easier for us to reach… Read >>

Barbados makes inroads in all-inclusives market

Barbados Tourism Marketing wants to dispel any belief that Barbados can’t cater to those who like to vacation at all-inclusive resorts, a vacation experience that has built a huge following in the Canadian market… Read >>

TIAC town hall takes on the issues in Toronto

Several prominent people in the tourism trade want people outside their industry to show a little more love for travel and tourism. Tourism Toronto head Johanne Belanger told a recent TIAC town hall session in Toronto that the “lack of understanding of the value of tourism outside of the industry” is baffling to her… Read >>

Mother Nature has been kind to Baja
Blessed by nature

The head of the Los Cabos tourist board says the area his destination is in has clearly been blessed by nature. Rodrigo Esponda said during Mexico’s annual tourism show Tianguis that the region has “desert, mountains and two seas,” with those seas being the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortes,.. Read >>

Chicago pizza tours a tasty treat

Steve Dolinsky isn’t the least bit bothered by the fact that his Chicago tours are remarkably cheesy. Dolinsky – in Toronto recently for a Chicago promotional event – launched Pizza City, USA in May, which has tours showcasing the city’s pizza offerings,.. Read >>

Puerto Rico pleased with post-Maria progress

Hurricane Maria huffed and puffed, but tourism officials say it couldn’t knock Puerto Rico’s tourism trade down for the count. Those officials say power is once again up and running throughout the country, tourists visiting will find plenty of hotels and attractions to choose from… Read >>

New Zealand launches another daredevil attraction

New Zealand’s newest thrill attraction is expected to fling people from far-flung locales.
The latest venture for Henry van Asch – who cofounded AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand – is the Nevis Catapult, which flings people into the air in the remote Nevis Valley… Read >>

Weakened Lane moves away from Hawai‘i

Hawaiian tourism officials were telling those vacationing in Hawai‘i Monday they should continue to be cautious, even as Hurricane Lane weakened dramatically and was moving away from the state… Read >>

Celestial displays make Chilean desert sparkle
Atacama – simply amazing

Those visiting northern Chile’s Atacama Desert may find themselves feeling a little star-struck.
Travel journalist Joe Yogerst told a Chile Tourism Board reception in Toronto recently that Atacama – considered the driest place on the planet – has spectacular nighttime celestial displays,.. Read >>

Artisans create fashion by Recycling
Crafted with care

Stephen Martinelli believes the interior Costa Rican community of El Roble de Sarapiqui is looking a little more spic and span these days thanks to a couple of local artisans. Martinelli, working in Costa Rica with the U.S. Peace Corps, notes Ligia Ecalante and Mayela Lara are fashioning crafts for tourists out of items that might otherwise end up as litter in local streets… Read >>

Discover the Czech Republic in the heart of Europe

Jiri Duzar of Czech Tourism says his homeland is smack-dab in the middle of Europe, something that he says well serves visitors wanting to explore different countries on that continent… Read >>

Tour Operators regret suspension of Saudia Toronto Service

Saudi Arabian Airlines’ decision to suspend Toronto service in the wake of an ongoing diplomatic feud between Ottawa and Saudi Arabia has disappointed tour operators that send people to the Middle East, even as those tour operators note there are numerous alternatives for those planning to travel to the region… Read >>

The Hawai‘ian Islands – distinctly different

Colin Wood says Hawai‘i vacations never need to amount to more of the same.
Wood, Account Director for Hawai‘i Tourism Canada, notes those considering a Hawai‘i vacation have a choice of islands, with differences in those islands quickly becoming apparent to those that visit them… Read >>

Experience, reliability is what apto is all about

A new alliance comprised of tour companies working in inbound tourism proudly states its members collectively have considerable expertise. The Toronto-based Alliance of Pioneer Travel Operators now has some 30 members from destinations as diverse as Iceland, Peru, Greece, Hungary, Guatemala, India, Egypt, Turkey, and Spain… Read >>

Trafalgar launches new ‘First Look’ initiative
Program allows clients to lock in pricing travel dates

The tour operator unveiled its First Look concept in mid-July, saying the agent-focused initiative enables loyal partners to offer clients an exclusive “First Look” to book and provides 10% savings on the tour operator’s 2019 tours in Europe and Britain… Read >>