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.

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 >>

A Floor With A View
CN Tower unveils changes to enhance the experience

Toronto’s CN Tower believes that looking way down is very uplifting. And so it’s given visitors added opportunities to do just that. The iconic attraction this week showcased enhancements to its lofty Lookout Level, which included the addition of a glass floor that’s directly above the glass floor on the level immediately below,.. Read >>

Frontiers North gets travellers up close to nature’s wonders
Belugas, Bears And Blooms

Hitting the right sub-surface notes can enable those visiting the Churchill, Man., area to get up close and personal with some weighty aquatic creatures that some see as having a musical bent… Read >>

Arctic Kingdom: Let your clients just go with the ‘floe’

Arctic Kingdom is inviting people to go with the floe. The Ontario-based tour operator, which sends people to northern locales, will next year have clients camping on an ice floe in Navy Board Inlet, Nunavut, an area it says is certain to appeal to nature enthusiasts… Read >>

Discovering the luxury of Barbados

A weighty name in Caribbean tourism circles is adding clout to Barbados’ hotel room inventory. Peter Mayers, Canadian director for Barbados Tourism Marketing, says those vacationing on his island can get the “royal treatment at Sandals Royal Barbados,” an all-suite resort that features several firsts for Sandals, including the first rooftop pool and bar… Read >>

UIA takes off from Toronto

Ukraine International Airlines has begun a long-awaited goal of serving as an airborne link between this country and Ukraine. June 6 saw the airline begin non-stop Toronto-Kiev service, with the Monday, Wednesday and Saturday flights using B767-300ER aircraft with three classes of service… Read >>

Experience an uplifting drop in Costa Rica

Nelvin Duarte and Mariam Romero note their employer can provide guests with an up-and-down experience. Duarte and Romero work with Pure Trek, which says that its half-day canyoning experience offers those visiting the Arenal area of Costa Rica the “ultimate waterfall rappel,” with participants rappelling down one rock wall and three waterfalls,.. Read >>

Quite an achievement
Goway founder receives W.H. Baxter Lifetime Achievement Award

Bruce Hodge, who founded Toronto-based Goway Travel nearly 50 years ago, received the W.H.Baxter Lifetime Achievement Award at the Agents’ Choice Gala, an award that paid tribute to a man who has been shaping travel in this country for nearly half a century… Read >>

Take a dive off Costa Rica’s Cocos Island

Daniel Berrocal is understandably no fan of the blockbuster movie, Jaws. Berrocal is with Dive Costa Rica Islands, which sends people on 10-day shipborne packages to Costa Rica’s Cocos Island, where they’ll spend a week diving with rays, whales, dolphins and schools of fish… Read >>

Take a sip of Costa Rica coffee tour

Tourists going on Costa Rica’s Mi Cafecito Coffee Tour can have a cup of Joe that other tourists may have played a key role in. The tours, found near interior Costa Rica’s Poas Volcano, can have visitors both plant coffee and pick coffee beans, says the attraction’s Verónica Cubilo… Read >>

A-wandering this hotel will go

Thierry Tessier is a man on the move and so is his hotel. The veteran French hotelier’s latest project has him preparing to open what he and Small Luxury Hotels of the World says will be the world’s first “wandering hotel,” with the property expected to open in Salento, Italy, this fall then move to Siem Reap, Cambodia, followed by other destinations… Read >>

Fast-growing popularity sees hotel boom in the region
Riviera Nayarit

Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit is preparing to add more hotel rooms as the fast-growing region’s popularity shows no signs of abating. The Pacific Coast region now has some 15,000 hotel rooms, and says Carlos Eguiarte,.. Read >>

Aeromexico happy with its Canadian network
Pleasing results

Growing air links between this country and Mexico aren’t alarming Aeromexico, one of the several carriers carrying people between Canada and the Latin American country. Aeromexico joins Air Canada and Interjet in delivering Canadians to Mexico City, and there are also several airlines linking points in Canada with other destinations in Mexico… Read >>

Thailand keeps it fresh
Tourism Authority of Thailand has new Toronto office

There’s always something new under the sun when that celestial body is shining over tourists exploring Thailand, famed in part because of its tropical beaches, but offering numerous other tourist experiences as well… Read >>

Where there’s no such thing as the summertime blues

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has found a cure for the summertime blues when those blues are brought on by the approaching end of that season. The oceanside destination has been promoting what it calls 60 more days of summer… Read >>

Philadelphia – It all started here

Philadelphia tourism officials are inviting people to explore a city that literally dates back to the United States’ earliest days. Donna Schorr, spokeswoman for Visit Philadelphia, told a recent Toronto gathering that her city is steeped in American history, much of which is on display for visitors… Read >>

Desire enables cruisers to be as bare as they dare

Mexico’s Original Group is inviting uninhibited sorts to doff some or all of their duds at sea.
The Cancun-based company – best known for its properties on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, some of them clothing-optional, while others allow women to go topless if they choose… Read >>

Cuba on show: Cayo Santa Maria hosts annual FITCuba

Cuban tourism authorities have just held the country’s annual tourism show in a venue that’s a showcase for the very type of vacation experience that’s at the cornerstone of the country’s tourist trade… Read >>

Cowabunga, amigo!

The Costa Rican community of Puerto Viejo is building a tourist following, many of them young surfing dudes and dudettes drawn by the waves off its Caribbean Sea-fronting shores. Puerto Viejo was populated in part by people whose forefathers were from Caribbean islands, with English last names common in the community… Read >>

Costa Rica committed to staying green

Costa Rica’s tourism minister says a country that has become synonymous with ecotourism will be careful not to kill the goose that laid the golden egg, as it further develops its vacation offerings in a time of heightened environmental concerns… Read >>

Costa Rica’s curious crocodiles

Costa Rican guide Maurice Motte Simpson guarantees that those who sail along Costa Rica’s Sarapiqui River won’t spot any velociraptors. But that doesn’t mean they won’t see any large predators, as they ply the waterway… Read >>

India Tourism prepares to shutter Toronto office

One tour operator that sends people to Asia says the apparently imminent closing of India Tourism’s long-running Canadian office will be a significant setback, while another doubts that it will have much impact on Canadian visitations to the Asian nation… Read >>

Thai island is ‘energized by the moon’

The party-hearty crowd put the Thai island of Koh Phangan on the international tourism map, but those involved in the island’s tourist trade say there are weeks of blissful peace between each raucous gathering of thousands of young people… Read >>

Chocolate tours provide insights into a once-regal confection

Would Carolina Lizana snicker at the thought of a Snickers bar being called a chocolate bar? Quite possibly, given that the Costa Rican chocolate enthusiast is quite particular when it comes to using that description… Read >>

Attraction aims to make the world a more ant-friendly place

Sergio Marin is hoping that those who visit one of the attractions at interior Costa Rica’s Aguas Bravas will be a little more careful about where they place their feet while walking.
Marin, one of the guides at the facility, found in the province of Heredia, notes among its attractions is a carefully created one that provides a showcase for leafcutter ants, … Read >>

Providence: Coolest city that ‘you’ve never been to’

A new Air Canada route will enable Ontario residents to see some old structures that have thankfully survived the wrecker’s ball. The airline will soon begin daily non-stop service between Toronto and Providence, Rhode Island, with plans now calling for the service to run from May 17 to Oct. 18, and Providence tourism officials are hopeful that Air Canada will decide to make it year-round… Read >>

Tourism Authority of Thailand upbeat about its new Canadian office

The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s first dedicated Canadian office is up and running, a development expected to lead to a quick jump in the number of Canadians vacationing in Thailand… Read >>

Yesteryear’s mining helps town’s tourist trade

The tourism trade in the Mexican town of El Rosario is clearly benefiting from what’s truly a silver lining. El Rosario, found 76 km from the Pacific coast city of Mazatlan, was founded in 1655, and over the centuries, the mining of silver was a major component of its economy… Read >>

Tianguis Turistico puts Mazatlan on show
City expected to benefit

Mexican tourism authorities this month put the Pacific coastal city of Mazatlan squarely in the tourism limelight and, in doing so, helped promote a city that’s one of a number of destinations they believe is well worthy of large numbers of vacationers, but which is also overshadowed by such better-known locales as Cancun and Acapulco… Read >>

Discover the value
New Hampshire can easily host the ‘shop till you drop’ crowd

New Hampshire tourism authorities are selling a destination in which buying is a prime attraction. The state promotes itself as a shopping mecca, thanks in part to its being one of only five US states that don’t have a sales tax, and tourism officials say that helps offset the current gap between the Canadian and US dollars… Read >>

Mother Nature is part of the allure of the Fort Myers area

You shall see shells… The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel spokeswoman Francesca Donlan pulls no punches when she says her Florida destination is particularly suited for those who love gathering seashells on ocean vacations… Read >>

Growth is in the air
Japan buoyed by new Air Canada service

The Japan National Tourism Organization is welcoming an upcoming air link between this country and Japan, service the JNTO believes will help it move nearer to reaching an ambitious goal it has set for itself by the change of the decade… Read >>

Thailand’s tourism authority opens Toronto office
Reason for celebration

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has opened a downtown Toronto office, a move that reflects the growing importance it attaches to the Canadian market and one which bucks a trend in recent years that sees many tourism boards opting to have their staff work from home… Read >>

Ethiopian city believed to be home to long-lost ark
Exploring a mystery

Does a smallish sanctuary in the Ethiopian city of Axum hold the answer to one of religion’s great enduring mysteries? Ethiopians certainly believe that’s the case… Read >>

Nicaragua: I like you just as you are

Nicaragua is hot literally and figuratively. Those vacationing in the Central American country can expect the hot, tropical weather sun-seekers want, and Ana Garcia of the Nicaraguan Tourism Board told a recent Toronto gathering that Canadian interest in her homeland is soaring,.. Read >>

Babra launches FareLink.com
New company only deals with travel agents

Travel industry veteran Surjit Babra is back in the industry with a new firm and a familiar promise. Babra, best known in the travel agency community as the founder and ex-owner of SkyLink Travel, has a new venture called FareLink.com, which he says provides the industry with a single platform for searching multiple vendors and a common user interface for pre- and post-sales service… Read >>

Korea looks to build on Olympic success

John Hyungkwan Park is inviting Canadian schussers to hit the same Korean slopes that Olympic gold medalists have won glory on. Park, director of the Korea Tourism Corporation’s Canadian office, says the glitch-free PyeongChang Winter Olympics have provided his homeland with opportunities to make further inroads in the Canadian market… Read >>

Vienna invites tourists to step on to dance floors

Austrian tourism officials say it’s easy for tourists to have a ball in Vienna. And that’s particularly true for those visiting at the beginning of each year at the height of the season when the Viennese like to dress in an elegant manner and take to dance floors… Read >>

Experience the wonders of Spain

Laura Pena Alberdi is promoting her homeland in an artful manner. Pena, who oversees the Tourist Office of Spain’s Canadian operation, says a country that draws huge numbers of European sun-seekers to its long coast is also keen to showcase its cultural side, including its having been home to the likes of Goya, Picasso and El Greco, who became household names in the art world… Read >>