First-timers and repeat visitors will be mesmerized by Korea’s transformation, from a nose-to-the-grindstone economic miracle during grim, post-war days to an innovator, inventor and savvy global brand maker and marketer, leaping as it were, from staple fare of fermented kimchi (cabbage swilling in hot spices) to an expanding roster of restaurants along trendy Garosugil lined with international cuisines and wine bars.
While you read this month’s Destinations by JAX FAX, think of Christopher Ames from US Airways. The director of product development is holed up in Las Vegas scouting hotels, restaurants, and enough local lore to baffle 30 travel agents in the upcoming 2014 US Airways Las Vegas Scavenger Hunt. While he gathers ‘intel’ on this famous gambling hub, JAX FAX looks back on Reno, NV, the second of three scavenger hunts held last October by Ames and his trusty cohorts.
The city of Dubrovnik, a UNESCO World Heritage site since the 1970s, is one of the jewels in Croatia’s tourism crown. The intact Medieval walled city on the Adriatic Sea, as well as Split, the largest city in the scenic region of Dalmatia, contain fascinating medieval, Renaissance and Baroque historical sites that draw millions of tourists each year. Many arrive on cruise ships in the heat of mid-summer, drawn to the beautiful beaches, breathtaking views and the city’s unique architecture. But, while most of the attention is focused on these seaside villages and towns and islands off the coast of Croatia, there is so much more to see. especially in spring and fall, before and after the busiest part of the travel season, when the crowds thin, streets and hotels empty and there’s room to breathe, to take in the unique beauty, ancient culture and complex modern history of this small country.
With its ancient hilltop castle, picturesque river and cobblestone squares lined with ornate architecture, Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Yet what sets it apart for many visitors is the wonderful music that fills the city’s churches, concert halls and streets.
Your clients already have images of Scandinavia: fjords, Vikings, reindeer, colorful fishing villages, northern lights, maybe a stave church. This much they know, but you can introduce them to Scandinavia in 2014, and to a few things they may not
For decades, Lima, Peru’s great capital by the Pacific, languished, beset by crime, political unrest and triple-digit inflation. The once-proud city became a way station for Americans headed east to Machu Picchu or north to the Amazon. But times have changed. In the past decade, a committed leadership has worked to wipe out gang violence, strengthen U.S. trade agreements and upgrade the city’s infrastructure.
Safer and more welcoming, Lima retains the elegance of its Spanish colonial past. Grand plazas are lined with ornate churches, and stylish European-style cafés where Limeños savor cocktails made from pisco, the heady national drink, and ceviche made from the Pacific’s freshest fish. Only a three-hour drive down the coast, tour the Paracas National Reserve, home of Humboldt penguins, sea lions and blue-footed boobies, and follow the Pisco Trail to Hacienda La Caravedo, the oldest distillery in the Americas and birthplace of premium Pisco Portón.
Costa Rica is generally regarded as the first eco-tourism destination in South America. Its long history of sustainability includes setting aside an impressive 26% of its land mass for protected areas, including nearly 30 national parks.
New upscale options offer visitors the opportunity to combine “green” with luxury, especially in the Papagayo peninsula of the northwest Pacific coast, which is experiencing growth and change.
It’s common to feel like a stranger in a strange land sometimes when traveling. The local language, dress, conduct, and other customs can give you the feeling of not being part of the “in” crowd, like in high school. Fortunately, I did not feel like an outsider at all when I stayed in the beautiful island country of St. Lucia. Instead, I felt like a beloved family member returning home after a long journey abroad.
As soon as I landed at Hewanorra International Airport, an employee warmly greeted me with “Welcome back.” It was my first time in this neck of Caribbean paradise, but this simple greeting set the tone for the rest of my stay.
It was a frenzy of activity at the new Paradisus Palma Real Convention Center in Punta Cana as buyers and sellers walked the trade floor meeting, greeting and deal-making. The most anticipated trade event in the country, DATE or the Dominican Annual Tourist Exchange is organized by the Association of Hotels and Tourism of the Dominican Republic (ASONAHORES) and co-sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the three-day show was the epicenter of action for tour operators, travel agents, wholesalers, hoteliers, airline representatives and government officials from the US, Canada, Europe and South America. “Last year was an extraordinary year,” said Radhames Martinez-Aponte, vice minister of tourism. “Our arrivals grew by 3.6 percent compared to the entire Caribbean, which grew by only one percent.” Last year, the DR welcomed 4.7 million stay over visitors with the US the largest source market with 1.6 million arrivals, followed by Canada with nearly 700,000.
Flat, dry and just seventeen miles north of Venezuela, Aruba is one of the most revisited islands in the Caribbean. Four hours by air from New York and under three from Miami, flights are plenty from all the major gateways and with US pre-clearance at the international airport, getting home is a breeze as the only Customs officer is the one on island. “Fifty percent of our guests have been here before and many come back generation after generation, “said Sjeidy Feliciano, director of public relations for the Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA). “Our accessibility to the US is one reason we get so many return guests, as well as our multicultural diversity which appeals to tourists coming from the US, Canada, South America and Europe.”
Sitting outside the hurricane belt (that season officially starts on June 1), the island that marries Dutch charm with American ease is popular with a myriad of travelers from adventure junkies, foodies and beach lovers to relaxation seekers, serious shoppers, casino players and those who can afford to spoil themselves in swanky seaside suites . www.aruba.com