Starting in mid-November, Europe’s Christmas Markets light up historic town squares and castle courtyards with traditional hand-made folk art crafts and home-baked goods, along with holiday performers in traditional hand-made costumes, even Medieval dress. It’s an ideal time to re-visit favorite cities or discover new ones, and combine the holiday experience with sightseeing, concerts, and, of course, shopping.
Whether it’s freezing winters or sizzling summers clients want to escape, Portugal has an answer. One is its southern coast, the sunny Algarve, a long-time favorite for European snowbirds. The other is a mid-Atlantic archipelago, closer to your US clients and almost undiscovered by tourists - the Azores.
Those nine volcanic islands offer beautiful land and seascapes, from the white beaches and terraced vineyards of Santa Maria to the waterfalls and dazzling volcanic lakes of Flores. In between are windmill-studded Graciosa, the colorful marina and lunar landscapes of Faial, and São Miguel, the largest island with geysers and hot springs.
In the middle of Medellin’s bustling business district exists a Zen-like park dedicated to feet. Barefoot Park is just one of the unique destinations to discover while in Colombia. Hidden between folds of lush Andes landscape, cities throb with visions of yesterday and the future, Botero art and bad traffic. The sprawling countryside really hasn’t changed over the years. It rains often, so flowers are everywhere. You experience a high here, not from its altitude or the drugs that the country is trying hard to eradicate. But because there is so much to learn, see and do.
No other region on Earth bridges two oceans as does Central America. Thanks to modern travel, divers are able to experience marine life in both. Following are the Atlantic and Pacific “hot” spots these countries offer.
Former Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney took to the stage set some 9,350 feet high at Ecuador’s Estadio De Liga stage, belting out a special version of “All You Need is Love,” which is currently being used as the background for a global advertising campaign with the market line, All You Need is Ecuador.
Targeting TV ads to 460 million people worldwide and selling tools to more than 20,000 wholesalers and travel agents on three continents, the small country of Ecuador, no larger than Colorado, is hoping to make a big impact on both visitor arrivals and investments from big businesses. The Eucadorian Minister of Tourism reported visitors to Ecuador grew by five percent in 2013; by June of this year, arrivals increased by 16 percent, fueling the expectation the country will have hosted some 1.6 million visitors by the end of 2014.
Ecuador’s dramatic landscapes range from the cloud forests of the Andes to the tangled mangroves and arid landscapes of the Galapagos Islands and counts five UNESCO World Heritage sites: the city of Quito, the Galapagos Islands, Sangay National Park, the Historic Center of Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca, and the Qhapaq Ñan - an Andean Road System. Ecuador’s cultural diversity is as compelling as its natural beauty as no fewer than 13 languages are spoken here.
The single most important business generator for Jamaica’s tourism industry, Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) is an annual meet and greet between the island’s tourism suppliers and the wholesalers and travel agents who sell the destination. Sponsored by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), the show is much-anticipated moving into high season. “As a signature marketing event combining business appointments and social functions, JAPEX offers the opportunity to buyers and suppliers to reaffirm existing partnerships and to also establish new ones,“ said Nicola Madden-Grieg, president of JAPEX.
When you hear “Cayman Islands,” the words “offshore tax haven” probably come to mind. But the Cayman Islands are so much more than the shelter of unreported income it has come to be recognized for (although, as of last year, the country has eliminated tax loopholes for individuals; this does not apply to corporations - yet).
Embarking on a path of wellness, I began the practice of yoga, armed with a simple book detailing various exercises, or postures. My body responded quickly, becoming stronger and more flexible with each passing day. My breathing became deeper and fuller, and the stress of day-to-day living seemed to evaporate with each session. But I wasn’t content to merely enjoy the physical benefits of yoga. Intent on unlocking the power of mind, body and spirit, I began delving into yoga’s philosophy, absorbing ancient religious texts like the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads and the Vedas, and more modern works like Autobiography of a Yogi and Gandhi’s autobiography. Even as my body grew stronger, my mind began to develop a peaceful clarity.
Agents should advise their shutterbug clients to have camera in hand (or phone) as soon as they land in Taiwan because photo ops show up as soon as they leave the tarmac on the ride from Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport to the capital city of Taipei. The road is flanked by verdant hills with bouquets of Tung flowers spilling down like snow in May; marking the start of so many surprising delights from what the Portuguese called Ilha Formosa, or beautiful island. It has since been called other names, but Taiwan holds sway to this day.
While you might surmise that tourism to the Middle East has taken a decline over the past years, and this is certainly true for some parts of the region, there are areas - primarily the Gulf Region - that continue to see substantial tourism growth.
The magical and beautiful country of Oman is building new airports, hotels, and a state-of-the-art convention center to boost tourism. This is a very calculated move by the government as they try to reduce their reliance on oil revenues, which accounted for 72 percent of Oman’s revenue in 2013. The capital city of Muscat has also begun development on a new passenger terminal at their international airport, looking to receive up to 12 million passengers annually. Figures released by the World Travel and Tourism Council projected that by 2024, 8.2 percent of Oman’s GDP will come from tourism, which contributed to 6.4 percent in 2013.