Agents' Choice 2018

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.

Toronto’s tourism trade is on a roll

A growing number of Mexicans and other Latin Americans are saying si to the idea of visiting Toronto and that sort of interest in the city from points afar is helping fuel record-breaking numbers of visitors to the Ontario capital… Read >>

ACV has Europe covered from A to Z
Tour operator offers 15% commission on bookings

Air Canada Vacations’ new Europe program covers Europe from A(msterdam) to Z(agreb). The tour operator last week held a Europe product launch in Toronto that showcased a vast European region reaching from Iceland to Croatia, with the latter among new additions to its program… Read >>

Hockey in the Himalayas
Now this is one for the record books – Guinness, that is

Adam Sherlip is inviting people to take in a little Hockey Night in Ladakh, with entire games certain to be true high-lights. Sherlip is executive director of The Hockey Foundation, which “uses hockey to change lives around the world” for the better, and the foundation is touting the Feb. 5–7 Hockey Goes Higher tournament in the lofty Indian region of Ladakh… Read >>

Tourists are safe in MoBay, tourist board says

The Jamaica Tourism Board’s Canadian office acknowledges that the state of emergency the Jamaican government imposed on the parish home to the tourism cornerstone of Montego Bay will lead to negative images among some of the travelling public but insists tourists shouldn’t be nervous about visiting the famed seaside locale… Read >>

Mauna Kea visits may leave visitors starry-eyed

Maile Brown says those visiting the Hawaiian island of Hawaii may end up feeling a little star-struck. Brown, speaking on behalf of both the islands of Hawaii and Kauai during a recent Hawaii promotion in Toronto, told the audience Hawaii’s 4,205-metre-high Mauna Kea Mountain enables people to “actually see 90% of all visible stars.”.. Read >>

Security remains sound in Jordan

Visit Jordan says people shouldn’t assume that Jordan’s unsafe because of what happens outside its borders. Visit Jordan Canadian representative Avril Matthews says violence is a common occurrence in bordering countries, but not in Jordan itself… Read >>

Porter brings Florida’s Space Coast closer to home
Region offers 72 miles of beaches, close to theme parks

Porter Airlines is delivering Ontario residents wanting to flee winter weather to a Florida destination that’s seen as cool, but not cold. The carrier now has winter service to Atlantic Ocean-fronting Florida’s Space Coast from Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor, with Toronto service continuing until April 7 and Ottawa and Windsor service running through March… Read >>

Major events mark milestone year for Ontario Parks

Bruce Bateman knows of some great parking spots. The Ontario Parks director noted during a Jan. 9 Toronto gathering that this year marks the 125th anniversary of Ontario’s provincial parks system, which has grown from one park – Algonquin Provincial Park, this country’s oldest provincial park – to over 330 covering almost 8% of the province’s territory or over 8.2 million hectares of land. That amounts to more territory than Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island combined… Read >>

Jordan is an Epicurean’s dream

Expect to dine well in Jordan. Food is very much part of Jordanian culture, with serving it often seen as a demonstration of hospitality in a country where hospitality is seen as all-important… Read >>

A toucan’s-eye view of Ecuador’s Cloud Forest

Ecuador’s Mashpi Lodge is inviting pedal-pushers and their possibly less-energetic companions to enjoy a toucan’s-eye view of the surrounding cloud forest. National Geographic-affiliated Mashpi’s attractions include the Sky Bike, which has cloud forest explorers travel for some 200 metres both through and above trees two at a time… Read >>

Cloud forest lodge’s staff knows its feathered friends

Anyone skeptical that the staff at Ecuador’s Mashpi Lodge don’t know their stuff need only look at tour guide Nestor Paladines. Paladines, a guide at the National Geographic-affiliated property, can identify some 1,068 bird species in his country by their English and Spanish names and about 400 by their scientific monikers… Read >>

‘We’re still here’
Florida Keys work to win back tourists

A publicist for The Florida Keys & Key West says the tourism infrastructure in the island archipelago off Florida’s southern coast is steadily rebounding after parts of it were battered by this fall’s Hurricane Irma… Read >>

New kid on the block
Interjet keen on new Canadian routes

Mexican carrier Interjet is upbeat about its prospects in the Canadian market, despite being the new kid on the aviation block in this country. This year has seen the airline begin linking Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver with both Mexico City and Cancun, and an airline that has traditionally had a somewhat low profile in Canada says it has a couple of aces up its sleeve when it comes to attracting Canadian clients… Read >>

Have an ‘amazing experience’ in Belize

Archeology enthusiasts are certain to be in their element in Belize. Deborah Gilharry of the Belize Tourist Board told a recent Toronto event that the Central American country was the “heartland” of the Maya civilization and is now home to “the highest concentration of Maya sites in Central America.”.. Read >>

Congratulations!! They’re elephants!

Thailand’s Baanchang Elephant Park is looking a little like a maternity ward these days. The Chiang Mai-area park is home to around 45 Asian elephants, including two comparative youngsters, with their arrivals a welcome development, as elephants are often slow to reproduce, says the park’s Weerayut Punpu… Read >>

Snowmass at 50 – ‘It’s going to be fun!’

Aspen-Snowmass’ largest skiing option is getting ready to mark its first half-century of hosting schussers.
The Colorado ski hill of Snowmass – one of four hills that collectively make up Aspen-Snowmass … Read >>

Arctic tours to take the high road

Anderson Vacations has a Canada program that reaches from sea to sea – to frozen sea. The tour operator – which has been sending people to jurisdictions ranging from Newfoundland to British Columbia – plans to use a new gravel highway linking Inuvik, NWT, with Tuktoyaktuk, .. Read >>

Out of the world getaway in Florida

Orlando Melbourne International Airport users who time their Florida vacations right can see NASA light up the night in an awe-inspiring manner. The airport serves an area that’s home to the Kennedy Space Center, from which in 2018 NASA will launch at least 32 rockets, .. Read >>

Real cowboys are ‘the only kind we have’

Tia Troy is inviting tourists to experience some close encounters of the eye-catchingly dramatic kind. Troy, a spokeswoman for the Wyoming Office of Tourism, notes 2017 is the 40th anniversary of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, in which iconic Wyoming landmark The Devil’s Tower featured prominently… Read >>

Air New Zealand finds favour with Canadians

Air New Zealand is marking a decade of linking this country with its home base, with Maureen Kam – the carrier’s country manager, Canada – praising her airline’s “growing strength in the Canadian market” during a recent Toronto gathering… Read >>

Make tracks to Machu Picchu

Hiram Bingham’s grueling slogs through the Andes in search of the Lost City of the Incas needn’t be replicated by those wishing to see Machu Picchu in this day and age. Bingham, the American university professor who first brought word of Machu Picchu to the outside world a century ago after being directed to it by area Indians while he was searching for Vilcambamba … Read >>

Something is always happening in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is looking ahead to a major milestone and wants tourists to join in the year-long celebration. Javier Aranda Pedrero, director of the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board, notes 2018 will be the 100th anniversary of the Pacific Ocean-fronting city being designated as a municipality and says there will be 12 months of festivities, adding celebrations are hardly unusual in his festive city… Read >>

Costa Rica stays true to its nature

Those visiting Costa Rica can expect to see the likes of sloths, monkeys and toucans, if they venture into any of the country’s many national parks during their vacation. But they shouldn’t count on seeing any velociraptors or T-Rexes, says Michel Aranda of Costa Rican tour company Neo Travel… Read >>

Suites offer luxury in the sky

Peru’s Skylodge Adventure Suites is inviting fearless folks to truly hang around with intrepid individuals. The unusual lodging option has three mostly glass “luxury capsules” visitors sleep in that are attached to a rockface 400 metres above ground in Andean Peru’s Sacred Valley… Read >>

Vermont welcomes skiers seeking a winter wonderland

Those in Vermont’s tourism trade say going downhill in their state can be uplifting. Vermont tourism officials held a recent Toronto gathering touting Vermont as a great ski retreat that offers a wide selection of ski resorts, some close enough to the Quebec border that they can be visited on day trips from Montreal… Read >>