At the opening gong on Trade Day, Recommend’s Ed Wetschler and myself—Caribbean and Latin America editors, respectively—were lined up behind the starting “gate,” at the ready for the marathon course through the New York Times Travel Show on “trade day,” Jan. 8. Ed tends to do his job thoroughly, hence giving his Caribbean beat in-depth coverage in Recommend Weekly’s Jan. 13 posting, plus contributing to this edition. I, while dedicated to Latin American destinations, tend to meander about the world. The following is just a small sampling of what we discovered and experienced among 523 exhibitors from 150 destinations, visited by 8,300 travel trade attendees—and eventually 29,050 consumers.
National Park-Hopping with Collette
Collette’s best-selling programs for 2016 are in North America. And there are many good reasons for that, according to district sales manager Jennifer Baumann: North American destinations are perfectly suited to family travel; the favorable currency exchange of $1.40 (Canadian) to $1.00 (U.S.); and the celebration this year of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Collette’s top offering in the U.S. is the National Parks of America, a 12-day escorted odyssey featuring five parks—Zion Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton and Yellowstone; additional highlights include overnight stays in the parks’ lodges, drives through Bighorn Mountains and Sioux Nations Territory, dinner with the Lakota Native Americans, and a breakfast cruise on Lake Powell, priced from $3,349 pp dbl. A 9-day Canadian Rockies by Rail vacation, priced from $3,009 pp dbl, starts in Vancouver and ends in Calgary, along the way taking a walk on the Glacier Sidewalk and staying two nights at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. For more information, call (855) 355-8687 or visit gocollette.com.
Discovering the “New” Rio
The Brazil stand was bursting with activity. The “new” Rio topped the headlines for Brazil, and Michael Nagy, commercial director of the Rio Convention & Visitors Bureau, was there to tell us all about the updated happenings his famous city has in place for the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics (Aug. 5 to 21). Here’s a sampling: Onsite clients will find that Rio has expanded the subway (five new stops south of Ipanema and running all the way to Gavea—with bus service extension to the Summer Olympic sites at Barra de Tijuca), and opened the Museu do Amanha (Museum of Tomorrow)—the icon of the new waterfront restoration. For more information, go to visit.rio.
Additionally, Nagy—and all other Brazilian tourism partners—are hoping that the visa waiver for travel to Brazil (in effect June 1 to Sept. 18, and designed to ease the demand for travelers to the Summer Olympics from the U.S. and Canada) will be extended. “But in the meantime,” said Nagy, “this waiver leaves travel agents a window of opportunity before the August Olympics to sell Brazil travel visa-free and visa-fee ($160) free.” According to Jose Giraldo, commercial director of Windsor Hotels, with the reopening of the five-star Miramar Hotel by Windsor, the Windsor family has grown to 19 properties, all in Rio, except the two in Brasilia. Totally renovated in contemporary style, Miramar’s 200 rooms and suites all come with Trissardi sheets, Occitane amenities and butler service. On the rooftop, guests find an infinity pool with commanding views of Copacabana Beach. For more information, visit windsorhoteis.com.
Adam Carter, president of Brazil Nuts, the original creator of Brazil Like a Native Tours, reported that his hottest South American destinations are Chile and Patagonia. For more information, call (800) 553-9956 or visit brazilnuts.com.
Araras Eco-Lodge owner Andre Thuronyi was in town from Brazil’s leading wildlife zone and jaguar-watching capital, the Pantanal. At the Travel Show, he advised Recommend that July, August, September and October are optimum months for jaguar sightings, as the prey congregate around diminishing waterholes. For more information, visit araraslodge.com.br.
The Iguassu Convention and Visitors Bureau is looking forward to welcoming some 1,000 travel professionals who will be attending the 40th TravelMart Latin America Sept. 14-17, 2016. “We are really excited about showing off our destination, which is a natural extension for all clients looking for spectacular waterfalls and ecotourism experiences after the samba nights of Rio,” said Basileu Tavares, executive director of the visitors bureau.” And he jumps on the bandwagon of Brazilian tourism partners who hope that travel agents discover those “visa-free months of June and July prior to the Summer Olympics offer prime-times to sell Brazil and Iguassu Falls.” For more information, visit ibtmworld.com.
Dance with Me Henry
You may not know the song (a pity), but you have to know Henry—or more correctly, HENRY. As explained at The New York Times Travel Show by Brennan Quesnele, v.p. of marketing for GOGO Vacations, HENRY is an acronym for High Earners Not Rich Yet, and this group has become a major focus of his company’s marketing. The 22.5 million HENRY’s in the United States encompass all age groups, he said, but from millennials to retirees, they share certain characteristics: “Fitting between the middle class and the truly affluent,” he explained, “they earn between $100 and $250 thousand a year.” They love the Caribbean, where they’re likely to book a good suite, albeit not a villa. “They have the financial wherewithal to afford upscale travel, which they view as a sign of success,” Quesnele added, “and they’re looking for quality, authenticity, history, and experiences—not mass-produced products.” No doubt, many of your clients are classic HENRY’s. Now that you’ve been formally introduced, go ahead and dance. For more information, visit gogoworldwidevacations.com.
Ed Wetschler contributed to this article.