Podcast

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.
  

  

Playa Mujeres: It’s going to be huge
The promotion manager of the Cancun, Puerto Morelos & Isla Mujeres Hotel Association is upbeat about Cancun-area Playa Mujeres’ prospects. Israel Urbina says the district will be seeing steady hotel openings as developers look for new area sites as the hugely popular hotel zone in Cancun has been running out of space for some time… Read >>
  
Discover the wonders of winter in Switzerland
Jack Frost’s impending arrival has Switzerland Tourism suggesting that those who enjoy true winter vacations to experience one in the country where winter tourism began. Pascal Prinz, who oversees Switzerland Tourism’s Canadian office, told a recent Toronto gathering that the concept of winter wonderland holidays began in the 19th century when British tourists began vacationing in a snow-clad St. Moritz… Read >>
  
Tom can name those names
Tom Kovacs routinely delivers unforgettable performances while sailing with Adventure Canada in Nunavut and Greenland waters. The Ontario-based entertainer, who on some nights plays guitar for ship guests while singing songs written by the likes of Paul Simon, Tom Petty and Elvis Presley, also dazzles passengers by regularly recalling their first names… Read >>
  
Palm Beach County
Luxury for all budgets

Tourism officials in Florida’s Palm Beach County want to dispel any notion that the oceanside jurisdiction is a retreat for the rich and famous alone. The destination does have wealthy areas, but Veronica Arrieta, spokeswoman for Discover The Palm Beaches – the county’s tourism promotion board – says those who have relatively modest travel budgets will be easily accommodated there as well… Read >>
  
Los Cabos on a roll in the Canadian market
Canadian appreciation of Los Cabos is showing no sign of diminishing. In fact, the exact opposite is true, with interest in the sun-soaked destination in this country clearly on an upswing.
Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board, reports Canadian visitations during the January-July period were up 17%, with Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto among cities sending sharp increases in the number of visitors to Los Cabos… Read >>


Thai sisters raise Thailand’s golf profile

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is using a talented sister act to convince tourists that Thailand is a great place for golfers to hit the links. The tourism authority held a recent Toronto event that featured Thai golfers Moriya Jutanugarn and her sister Ariya, both winners on the LPGA tour, with Ariya having been ranked the top female golfer in the world and Moriya eighth… Read >>


Let’s go surfing
Every holiday is a surfing holiday

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And, adds Craig Wachholz, when in ocean-ringed Australia, do as the watersports-loving Australians do. And that, Wachholz continues, includes hopping on a surfboard and riding some waves… Read >>


Back to school with Adventure Canada
Passengers can learn Inuktitut on High Arctic cruise

Adventure Canada clients who sail through Nunavut waters have a good shot at spotting a natsiq or a nanook, while scanning the terrain on any given day. And, if those clients accept Adventure Canada’s invitation to dabble in the language of the descendants of the territory’s first inhabitants on their sailing, they may be able to converse with them to some degree in their own tongue as well… Read >>


Tourist boards praised for commitment to Canada

The president of Baxter Media has thanked the different foreign tourist boards represented in this country for the contribution they make to Canada’s travel industry. David McClung told a Tuesday Toronto lunch jointly sponsored by Baxter Media, the Globus Family of Brands and Torstar that their presence here is a major plus for the travel industry… Read >>


Memories of Newfoundlanders’ good deeds help boost tourism

Swan, product development manager for Adventure Central Newfoundland, notes it was her region that inspired Come From Away, the musical work that’s won acclaim within and outside this country, recounting how people in the Gander area rallied to the assistance of those on dozens of commercial airplanes suddenly diverted to the interior Newfoundland city in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks… Read >>


Brew up a great initiative with Kaapittiaq coffee
Adventure Canada, Cambridge Bay

Adventure Canada clients can help residents of the Nunavut community of Cambridge Bay brush up on their traditional language skills when having a cup of Joe while sailing northern waterways.
The tour company, which has several cruises in Nunavut waters, is now helping the smallish Inuit community mark and sell its own brand of coffee, with 75% of the money earned reinvested in Cambridge Bay programs aimed at helping future generations keep their culture… Read >>


Cuban company can teach tourists some fancy footwork

Think of this as Cuba’s version of Dancing With the Stars. Havana-based firm Paradiso is happy to teach tourists Cuban dancing, including salsa dancing in a salsa-mad country. Classes can be one to three hours, says Paradiso’s Araceli Camacho… Read >>


MedallionClass makes cruising a breeze

The company’s MedallionClass provides each guest with the Ocean-Medallion, a small, free device that’s the key to all MedallionClass benefits. The OceanMedallion can be worn on a necklace, sport band or placed in a pocket and, Princess notes, once a guest has it with him or her, “their door unlocks automatically, they can order things, pay for them, find their family or friends and plan their day.”.. Read >>


Why use a travel advisor?
Just ask Carnival, it can give your clients lots of reasons

Perez, senior vice-president, global sales and trade marketing for Carnival Cruise Line, sports a tattoo on his left shoulder that reads Travel Agents Rock, underscoring his belief in the importance of the travel agency community, a belief on display in Toronto receantly when the cruise company held one of the four Why Use A Travel Advisor campaign events it’s hosting in North America this year… Read >>


Riviera Nayarit proud of its natural attributes

Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit views itself as a crossroads between resorts that are often at the upscale end of the lodging spectrum and Mother Nature. Richard Zarkin, spokesman for the Riviera Nayarit Convention & Visitors Bureau, says numerous upscale hotel companies – such as St. Regis and Four Seasons – decided upon a Riviera Nayarit presence, and that presence is a fitting one… Read >>


Ethiopian Airlines taking business class to new heights

Ethiopian Airlines believes its Cloud 9 service is heavenly. The carrier has five-times-a-week Toronto service, and passengers can choose between economy and business class service, with the latter called Cloud 9… Read >>


Discover Havana’s garden of delights

The Havana-area National Botanic Garden amounts to a Garden of [tropical, desert and Japanese] Delights. The facility, found some 25 kms from downtown Havana, is reportedly one of the 10 largest botanical gardens in the world at 550 hectares and has greenhouses showcasing the likes of tropical plants and others from dry climates, with vegetation from Yemen’s desert-like landscapes among those in the latter category… Read >>


Camaguey is a showplace for Cuba’s past

The Cuban city of Camaguey is making Havana look like something of a youngster. Havana is this year celebrating its 500th anniversary, but Luis Viamontes Borras of tourist promotion office Infotur’s Camaguey office notes his city has already surpassed that milestone. “We celebrated the city’s 505th anniversary last February,” he notes of a destination founded in 1514… Read >>


Tundra North offers visitors a memorable experience

Northwest Territories tour company Tundra North Tours is inviting those who want to see see the northernmost fringes of mainland Canada during winter a form of accommodation that’s pretty cool, but which won’t stand the test of time… Read >>


A remarkable past, a golden future
Dawson City

Paul Robitaille, marketing and events manager for the Klondike Visitors Association, Dawson City’s tourism promotion board, notes that among available libations for those visiting the Yukon’s “city of gold” is the sourtoe cocktail, with people visiting The Downtown Hotel’s Sourdough Saloon drinking alcohol from a glass that also contains an embalmed human toe… Read >>


Anderson Vacations expands its reach

Anderson Vacations clients can see another sea. The Calgary-based tour operator includes among its Tours of Distinction one that travels up the Dempster Highway – which links Dawson City, Yukon Territory, with the Arctic community of Inuvik, NWT – and then heads farther north still on a highway that opened last year, linking Inuvik with coastal Tuktoyaktuk… Read >>


DESIRE clients can doff their duds at times

Desire Cruises says passengers on its upcoming Red Carpet Cruise can at times dress up if they choose. And, at other times, they needn’t dress at all. May 2020’s Red Carpet Cruise through Mediterranean waters is the latest sailing from the Mexican company that has clothing-optional areas for uninhibited sorts… Read >>


Major growth expected for Great Lakes cruise industry

The Great Lakes’ cruise potential is seen as great. Tourism officials from both sides of the Canada-US Border gathered in Toronto May 31 to praise the massive water bodies for the opportunities they offer those who enjoy vacationing by boat. The event was organized by Cruise the Great Lakes, an international partnership aimed at attracting more cruise passengers to the lakes… Read >>


Havana celebrates its first 500 years

Havana is now throwing a lively and lengthy birthday bash, and you’re invited.Cuba’s capital is this year marking its 500th year, with the actual date of that milestone being Nov. 16. But, as Cuban tourism minister Manuel Marrero noted at this year’s FITCuba tourism show, festivities are running throughout the year. “It is no longer [just] Nov. 16,” he said of the ongoing tributes. “It is every day.”.. Read >>


Aeromexico restarting Calgary service

Aeromexico aircraft can again be spotted in southern Alberta skies. The carrier restarts Mexico City-Calgary service May 31, “starting a bit less ambitious” than the earlier service, with four weekly flights planned in the May-September period, compared to the previous daily operation… Read >>


New tour operator promotes ‘truly authentic’ experiences

Lisa Lau and Michael Yiptong believe size matters. The co-founders of new Ontario-based tour operator, Okushu Tours, say it’s limiting group size to 16 clients and their guide, and they’re adamant that they will hold to that number, saying there’s good reason for doing so… Read >>


Indigenous tourism seen as major plus for Canada

Destination Canada’s president has high hopes for the tourism trade in our home and native land. And David Goldstein’s hopes are fueled in part by tourism experiences offered by the descendants of Canada’s first inhabitants that he says gives Canada a foot up on its competitors… Read >>


Philadelphia ready to welcome a Four Seasons

Philadelphia’s hotel scene is on the verge of reaching new heights. A Four Seasons will be opening in the city in mid-August, occupying the 48th to 60th levels of a 60-floor building… Read >>


Discover the ‘natural side’ of The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel

Harriet has her haven. The manatee mascot for Florida’s The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel put in a recent Toronto appearance, saying her Gulf of Mexico destination offers “warmth and tranquility,” with Gulf of Mexico water warmer than that found on Florida’s Atlantic coast.“It’s a great place when it comes to nature. That’s why my friends chose to live there,” she said… Read >>


Night time is the right time for stargazers in Utah

Becki Lewis says those who visit her southwestern Utah destination may end up feeling a little star-struck. Lewis, with Visit Cedar City told a recent Toronto gathering promoting Utah that those who visit her area can easily enjoy outdoor pursuits, such as mountain biking, and such natural retreats as Zion National Park are nearby… Read >>


There’s plenty brewing in Flanders

Those who appreciate that which is produced in breweries can “grin and beer” it in the Flanders region of Belgium. Marco Frank of VISITFLANDERS notes that Stella Artois – which has built a worldwide following – is from Flanders, but is just one of many beers from there… Read >>


Xavage teaches families the ropes
X marks the park

Mexico’s Grupo Xcaret is inviting people to engage in some X-rated family activities. Xcaret has nine parks and tours on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, each eager to host families and all beginning with the letter X. Indeed, even its tours that showcase cenotes – the underground water bodies found through the Yucatan – and excursions to the Mayan archeological site of Chichen Itza – are labelled Xenotes and Xichen, respectively… Read >>


Havana milestone has Cubans upbeat about tourism prospects

It would take an awful lot of birthday cake candles to accurately reflect the number of centuries Havana is celebrating this year. Cuba’s largest city is now marking 500 years of existence, and Cuban tourism authorities are hopeful that ongoing tributes to the civic milestone will help the Latin country set a new record for tourist arrivals… Read >>


AMResorts making Dreams come true in Acapulco

AMResorts has truly lofty plans for Acapulco, which it hopes will help reattract foreign visitors to Mexico’s first major resort destination. The company has acquired the Grand Hotel, a high-rise property found on downtown Acapulco’s main street and which overlooks Acapulco Bay… Read >>


Tobago promotes its ‘untouched’ side

The CEO of the Tobago Tourism Agency says his destination amounts to something of anti-mainstream Caribbean retreat that is markedly different than much of the rest of the Caribbean. Louis Lewis told a recent Toronto gathering that his island hasn’t seen the massive tourism infrastructure development that some other parts of the Caribbean have… Read >>


Meliá proud of its upscale presence in Punta Cana

Meliá Hotels Inter-national says there’s plenty that’s Grand about one of its Punta Cana properties. The Grand Reserve among other things has 108 guest units with swim-up pools for those eager to experience a luxury vacation in the Dominican destination… Read >>


Canadians find Thailand refreshing, reguvenating

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says Thailand is a “fitting” place for those interested in their physical well-being. Puangpen Klanwari, director of the tourism authority’s Toronto office, told a Toronto gathering last week that her homeland is “known for a lot of things – our diverse landscapes, delicious dishes, Thai smiles, our Thai way of life, but most of all, Thai-land is a world-renowned destination for wellness.”.. Read >>


Acapulco upbeat about AMResorts’ pending arrival

Acapulco’s on the verge of seeing a very weighty name in all-inclusive lodging arrive in the Pacific Coast destination, with tourism officials expecting it will provide a big boost to a city that has seen its share of foreign tourists vacationing in Mexico fall in recent years… Read >>


Best Partners Ever!

Tourist boards and tour operators alike are singing the praises of this country’s travel agents, saying the work they do is nothing less than invaluable. With May 1 Travel Agent Day looming, agents’ travel industry counterparts are eager to show their appreciation for those who direct clients their way on a daily basis… Read >>


Zipline can be an Acapulco highlight

I joined others visiting Acapulco for Tianguis – Mexico’s annual tourism show – where we were invited to try XTASEA, billed as the world’s longest zipline over water. Participants leave from a lofty tower, crossing over an ocean bay and then once again find themselves above terra firma before coming to a stop… Read >>


Discover the undiscovered in New York State

The New York State Division of Tourism wants to draw attention to parts of New York State that are at times overshadowed by the bright lights of New York City… Read >>


Badlands are great lands for nature enthusiasts

Katelyn Richter says there’s nothing bad about South Dakota’s Badlands. In fact, they’re actually an intriguing sort of place that have landscapes that often seem lunar-like and are marked by buttes, canyons, pinnacles and spires, says South Dakota Department of Tourism spokeswoman Richter, noting the state’s Badlands National Park is marking its 80th anniversary this year… Read >>


Minor brings a touch of Thailand to Portugal

Thailand’s Minor Hotels added Portugal’s Tivoli Hotels & Resorts to its brand inventory and also brought a weighty brand name in Thai resort circles to the Iberian country, introducing elements of Thailand hospitality and culture to southern Europe… Read >>


So amazing, visitors can hardly bear it

Jacinthe Doucet says the part of Quebec she promotes is offering those who would be absolutely giddy about the prospect of seeing free-roaming bruins in the wild an opportunity to grin and bear it. Doucet promotes the Lanaudiere and Mauricie regions – dubbed Authentic Quebec – which includes large wilderness tracts, among them La Mauricie National Park… Read >>


Pennsylvania has a thriving whiskey scene

Pennsylvania as its epicentre. Pennsylvania tourism officials say an app will be in place in July for the Whiskey Rebellion Trail, which begins in Washington DC and works its ways through southern Pennsylvania, ultimately reaching Pittsburgh… Read >>


Cancun resort proud of its Mexican ambience

Cancun’s Park Royal Beach Resort can offer its clientele both a Mexican vacation experience or a very Mexican vacation experience, with those guests able to choose the degree of familiarization they wish to have with the Latin American country… Read >>


Switzerland welcomes alpine explorers

Switzerland Tourism is promoting hiking opportunities in the alpine nation, with CEO Martin Nydegger noting during a recent Toronto visit that his homeland has 65,000 km of marked hiking tails, which nearly matches the 70,000 km of roads in the country and, if linked together, would circle the globe 1.5 times… Read >>


Inland Quintana Roo offers great vacation experiences

Carlos Joaquin would like to see those vacationing in Caribbean Sea-fronting Cancun and Playa del Carmen step inland for part of their holiday. Joaquin, governor of the state of Quintana Roo, home to Mexico’s most popular beach destinations, says his jurisdiction has a host of other tourism attributes in addition to its famed sandy shores… Read >>


Peruvian resort upbeat about its new menu

Chilean resort company explora, which has a lodge in Andean Peru’s Sacred Valley, has teamed up with a prominent Peruvian chef who has created a menu featuring many Andean ingredients that reflect the valley’s biodiversity… Read >>


Le Boat makes houseboat cruising a breeze

Lisa McLean says those who might be nervous about the prospect of guiding one of Le Boat’s houseboats along Ontario’s Rideau Canal this year should simply look at her own experience doing so… Read >>


Peru: More than meets the eye

Elisabeth Hakim of Peruvian tourist board PromPeru told a recent Toronto gathering that “everyone associates Peru” with Machu Picchu, the mountaintop Inca site that has earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status and has become an iconic symbol of the Latin American country… Read >>


Agent voices concerns about Mexico’s annual tourism show
Uncertain future?

A Toronto-based Uniglobe travel agent who frequently visits Mexico and is a familiar face at the country’s annual tourism show Tianguis says she’s far from certain that the early-April exhibition will continue to be a fixture on Mexico’s tourism scene… Read >>


Hanoi tour vehicles a reminder of the Vietnam War

Goway’s Vietnam program has dropped what would certainly have been a terrible gas-guzzler that served as a reminder of the Vietnam War but tour operator clients visiting Hanoi can explore the city in another vehicle that also recalls that long-running conflict… Read >>


Checking in at the Sun & Sea

The Barcelo Hotel Group’s Solymar property in Varadero lives up to its translated name. The resort’s name in English would be Sun and Sea, a fitting description of a resort in sun-soaked Varadero and which lies on the type of ocean-fronting beach Varadero is famed for… Read >>


Partners for life
Trafalgar makes agents a priority

Trafalgar proudly notes that it has been befriending travel agents for more than 70 years, and its parent company has established a terrific rapport with them as well. Wolf Paunic, who oversees Trafalgar’s Canadian operation, says the tour operator continually reaches out to the travel agency community… Read >>


US CBP executive clears up some misconceptions

The man who oversees US Customs and Border Protection’s presence at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport says the United States remains a welcoming nation for both those wanting to visit it for vacations and people needing to travel there for business and uses CBP statistics to demonstrate that… Read >>


Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar offers shopping on a grand scale

Hakan Baykara says those planning to visit Istanbul’s famed Grand Bazaar needn’t fear that they may end up spending days in something of a maze. Baykara says rumors of people getting lost in the massive shopping complex are groundless, and, in fact, it’s relatively easy for visitors to navigate around it, thanks to some very orderly planning… Read >>


Diplomatic missions will now promote Mexico

The longtime director of the Mexico Tourism Board’s Toronto office has offered a parting thank you to the travel trade for its support, as Mexico’s new government is undertaking a radically different approach to tourism promotion… Read >>


Aeromexico connects Canadians to more than Mexico
Beyond expectations

Aeromexico is eager to be a bridge between this country and destinations south of its homeland, with the Mexican carrier serving 18 points in Central and South America, reaching cities as far south as Quito and Lima… Read >>


Discover an ocean ‘teeming with life’ with Adventure Canada

The Adventure Canada employee among other things oversees the tour operator’s diving program, which has participants don dry suits and then enter frigid Nunavut, Greenland and Newfoundland waters during the company’s June-October northern cruise season… Read >>


Telling the stories of Canada’s north
Adventure Canada

Jason Edmunds is eager to show people his childhood backyard and other northerly locales relatively few Canadians venture to. Edmunds is an expedition leader with Mississauga, Ont.-based Adventure Canada, which has a program that features the East Coast, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nunavut, along with the likes of Greenland and parts of Europe… Read >>


Cruising Havana in a classic car is cool

Do the rugged American-made vehicles that have been rolling along Havana streets for over half a century look pretty in pink? Apparently many of those who chauffeur foreign tourists around the Cuban capital think that’s the case, as do plenty of visitors… Read >>


Operator fears China dispute could hurt travel to other destinations

Tour operator Silk Holidays says the current dispute between Ottawa and Beijing is already cutting into Canadian visitations to China and warns that other Asian destinations’ tourist trades could suffer as well if those tensions drag on… Read >>


Austrian has Canada covered
Charming way to fly

Austrian Airlines reports its aircraft will continue to be visible in Canadian airspace this summer, even as codeshare partner Air Canada’s planes will be the ones physically linking Toronto and Vienna… Read >>


It’s all about location, location, location
Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski

Those staying in Old Havana’s Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski will have no trouble following in some of Ernest Hemingway’s storied footsteps… Read >>


Former director upset by upcoming Mexico Tourism Board office closing
Que Pasa, Mexico?

A former director of the Mexico Tourism Board’s Toronto office says he has no doubt that the apparently imminent closing of that office will be damaging to Mexico’s efforts to attract Canadian tourists… Read >>


Korea proving popular with Canadians

John Park, director of the Korea Tourism Organization’s Toronto office, says a sporting spectacular seen as glitch-free and which showcased Korea to the world, is expected to help lead to more than 200,000 Canadians visiting the Asian nation this year… Read >>


Costa Rica proud of it’s natural side

Costa Rica is great for nature enthusiasts wanting to indulge in a little monkey business. The Central American country, a pioneer in the ecotourism movement, is home to different types of primates, a Toronto audience was told recently… Read >>


Florida destination weather’s October hurricane

Hurricane Michael huffed and puffed, but it didn’t come anywhere close to dealing a knockout blow to the tourist trade in the coastal Florida city of Panama City Beach. The Oct. 10 hurricane only lead to “minimal structural damage” in the northwestern Florida destination, which was “90% up and running” as of Dec. 4, says Jayna Leach, vice-president of marketing for Visit Panama City Beach, the local tourism promotion body… Read >>


Nature befriends Florida’s Lee County

Nighttime isn’t always the right time – at least when it comes to those who shun the nightlife scene when on vacation. Tamara Pigott, executive director of Florida’s Lee County Convention & Visitor Bureau, says her Gulf of Mexico-fronting destination isn’t interested in becoming a lively and perhaps raucous destination… Read >>


Vow renewals: a lucrative opportunity for agents

Geri Bain says travel agents who’ve benefited financially by booking destination weddings and honeymoons for clients can benefit once again if their clients remain smitten with one another long after initially tying the knot… Read >>


Tour operators suggest US airport users arrive early

Two tour operators that send clients to the United States are suggesting that clients who are nervous about possible lengthy lineups at security clearances at US airports during the US government shutdown should make a point of arriving earlier than normal for the checks… Read >>


Financial incentives offered to Florida-bound Canadians

VISIT FLORIDA is touting the Power Play Parity Program, which Staci Mellman of VISIT FLORIDA’s head office said during a Jan. 15 Toronto gathering offers “more than 100 great deals on travel” to her state for Canadians… Read >>


Tour operator says spat’s not yet harming its China program

One of the tour operators sending Canadians to China says it hasn’t yet seen any sign that the current tensions between Ottawa and Beijing that began when Chinese phone manufacturer Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver is curtailing its China business… Read >>


Quebec happy to host Old Man Winter

Isabelle Cyr says it isn’t just Jack Frost who will appreciate being outdoors in Quebec these days. Cyr, spokeswoman for Quebec Original, which promotes Quebec’s tourist offerings, says Quebec is once again a seasonal winter wonderland, with outdoor enthusiasts able to enjoy the likes of skiing, dog-sledding, snowshoeing and a host of other activities… Read >>


Azores Airlines offering agents more choice

Azores Airlines is preparing to offer travel agents more money and their clients departing from Toronto more choices. The carrier, which will close out 2019 with four weekly flights between Toronto and the Azores’ Ponta Delgada, will have daily service between the destinations during the peak May-September summer season, a Toronto gathering was told last week… Read >>


All-inclusive option adds another dimension to Florida Keys

The Bungalows Key Largo resort – slated to open in December in the Florida Keys’ Key Largo – will be offering all-inclusive stays, becoming the only property in the area to do so, a spokeswoman for The Florida Keys & Key West, said during a recent Toronto gathering… Read >>


Turkish Airlines using technology to put trainees in the pilot’s seat

Turkish Airlines has gone the high-tech route to help determine whether aspiring pilots can weather bad weather. The company’s Istanbul training facility includes simulators that are virtually identical to the cockpits in the aircraft in Turkish Airlines’ fleet, with students able to use them for the likes of learning how to land the carrier’s planes… Read >>


Let there be lights

Kalin Pallett wants to truly high-light some dazzling lights for inquisitive sorts. Pallett is with the Whitehorse-based Aurora/360 Experience, which this February plans to carry people in a charter B737 to a height of 11,000 metres, providing what it says will be a particularly spectacular airborne viewing of the Northern Lights… Read >>


Acapulco official upset by plan to close tourism offices

A long-time promoter of Acapulco tourism says she has little doubt that the seemingly probable closure of Mexico Tourism Board offices in Canada and others will be damaging to Mexico’s efforts to attract tourists to the Latin American country… Read >>


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 >>

 

 

 

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