Author Archives: TravelPulse.com Features & Advice Headlines

Adventure Travel Is Roaring Back: Here’s What’s New

Adventure travel took its knocks in 2020, just like most other sectors of the tourism industry.It’s also poised to recover along with the rest of the industry, but many operators in the sector are expecting to draw distinct benefits from travelers’ extended hiatus.ADVERTISINGShannon Stowell, CEO of the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) expects what he calls “passion-driven” travel niches to come back faster because their activities are central to the travelers’ identities. “It’s part of how those travelers define themselves,” he explains. A birder or hiker who is driven by that passion might prioritize travel higher than a casual leisure traveler who might commoditize travel purchases in comparison with other buys, like a new car. Trending Now In Costa Rica, where adventure travel is a sizable portion of the visitor industry, Tom Ranieri calls it out as an outlet for travelers to further explore new interests they might have discovered while in lockdown. As the owner of the Pacuare Outdoor Center, he hears from clients who are ready to travel to spend time out in the natural world.“There’s been somewhat of a snowball effect of interest in the outdoors,” he notes, saying that he’s been hearing from potential travelers who might have gotten into hiking or decided to buy paddleboards while in lockdown, and are now eager to take their new passions on the road—first domestically, then further afield when border restrictions further relax.In particular, he’s seen an increase in travelers wanting to SUPSurf—that is, surfing on a Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP). It can be an easier way to pick up surfing than the traditional method, which generally uses a smaller board and requires more strength and balance. Packrafts, or inflatable rafts that can be carried in a backpack and inflated with a small electric pump, are also growing in popularity among hikers.Travel advisors have also seen interest in adventure travel pop. Betsy Donley, a travel advisor at Camelback Odyssey Travel, a Virtuoso agency, agrees the market is growing, “What was considered ‘off the wall’ or different a few years ago is now considered the thing to do. Travelers are more willing than ever to consider doing something out of their comfort zone". She gave examples like family bubble trips to dude ranches, small fly-fishing groups in Montana, or mountain climbing at Ted Turner’s Vermejo Ranch in New Mexico.Another new passion adventure travelers seem to be pursuing post-lockdown is travel to the most remote corners of the globe. Gina Gabbard, Chief Sales Office at Lindblad Expeditions (which operates in partnership with The National Geographic Society) explains that “the pandemic has brought to life travelers’ desire to plan longer, slower trips now, instead of putting them off. [Interest in] bucket list itineraries in Antarctica, The Galapagos, Arctic and Alaska remain strong.”One of those new sailings is Lindblad’s new 22-day Northwest Passage sailing from Greenland to Nome, Alaska, meandering through the passages of Canada’s High Arctic onboard the Expedition vessel National Geographic Resolution. “[Travelers] have a greater sense of the fragility of the planet,” says Gabbard, explaining that they’re looking to “combine private, remote places and the wildlife in those regions, with the knowledge and understanding of the people and cultures that have shaped these remote parts of the globe.”The French luxury small ship and expedition cruise operator PONANT also noted traveler interest in remote destinations, in particular Iceland, Spitzbergen, and Antarctica.Navin Sawhney, CEO Americas, says that while this is hardly new for PONANT, there are still exciting itineraries on the horizon, “For more than thirty years, we have taken our guests to some of the world’s most remote sites, where other vessels do not venture. We will introduce our latest ship, Le Commandant-Charcot, the world’s first luxury hybrid electric polar exploration vessel later this year.”The new vessel, which runs on electric batteries and cleaner-burning liquefied natural gas, will “venture to the true geographic North Pole and parts of Antarctica where fewer people have been than the moon.” In addition to spectacular scenery, onboard amenities include heated indoor and outdoor pools (the outdoor pool deck also has a fire pit), a spa and wellness lounge, and multiple restaurants turning out fine French cuisine.Whether adventure travel takes the form of a luxury yacht to the North Pole or an inflatable raft to navigate rapids in Costa Rica, Betsy Donley also offers some universal advice: “Make sure you have the correct COVID test (if required), purchase travel insurance to cover medical emergencies, and know the rules—they change frequently.” Adblock test (Why?)

WTTC Announces Leadership Shakeup, Names Julia Simpson as New CEO

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) announced major leadership changes, including the departure of longtime CEO Gloria Guevara.WTTC officials revealed Guevara has departed the organization after four years in charge, in which she led a transformational agenda that included the sector’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.ADVERTISING Trending Now “It is with a heavy heart that I leave WTTC,” Guevara said. “I am very proud to have led this diverse and talented team and to have worked with so many amazing industry leaders, who are WTTC’s Members, and built strong relationships with government heads of tourism around the world.”While Guevara deserves immense credit for guiding the global travel sector through its most challenging year in history, the group will be moving forward with International Airlines Group (IAG) Executive Committee Member Julia Simpson as its President and CEO.Starting on August 15, Simpson will bring her experience with British Airways, Iberia, IAG and the United Kingdom Government to properly represent the global Travel & Tourism private sector.“The Travel & Tourism sector has shown real leadership in ‘reopening’ the world safely and securely; and I look forward to shaping and driving the sector’s ambitious agenda to achieve long-term sustainable and inclusive growth,” Simpson said.Carnival Corporation President and WTTC Chair Arnold Donald paid tribute to Guevara and welcomed Simpson to her new role.“I would like to first thank Gloria for her dedication and commitment to WTTC, especially in these difficult times,” Donald said. “Her contributions have been immeasurable, from helping to unite the sector as it manages and recovers from the pandemic, to providing a clear voice and direction for the safe restart of international travel. And I and the entire executive committee are grateful for Gloria’s continued help through this transition and her support to WTTC.”"I am delighted to welcome Julia Simpson, an exceptional leader with experience both in the private sector and in government, to help guide WTTC at this critical juncture of the Travel & Tourism sector,” Donald continued. “I look forward to working with Julia in my role as Chair, to continue building on WTTC’s many successful initiatives.” Adblock test (Why?)

2021 Travel Hacker Guide Reveals Summer Trends and Hotspot Destinations

With COVID-19 vaccination efforts well underway and “herd immunity” visible on the horizon, Americans are optimistic about summer travel, as evidenced by a soaring number of internet searches.Online travel company Kayak reports that summer travel searches are up as much as 70 percent, month over month, as pent-up travel demand is slowly being unleashed. In response, the metasearch engine has just released its ‘Return to Travel’ Hacker Guide to help prospective post-pandemic travelers figure out what summer hotspot destinations will best suit them as the world starts to reopen.ADVERTISING Trending Now Because trip planning can be overwhelming, Kayak even created a ‘Matchmaker Quiz’, which pairs users with one of the destinations featured in the 2021 Travel Hacker Guide after taking several factors into consideration, like how many vacation days they have available, which type of 2020 trip they were most bummed to cancel and what they spent their pandemic doing.Travelers are matched with a domestic or international destination pulled from one of Kayak’s three “top 10” lists for 2021: the top 10 "vaxication" destinations (i.e., those accepting vaccinated travelers), top 10 spots for solo travelers and top 10 picks for that epic group getaway you’ve spent over a year yearning to take.The Travel Hacker Guide is also staying on top of the world’s continually changing travel conditions, as reopenings and fresh lockdowns affect availability and demand. To keep travelers updated, the guide also lists the top-trending global destinations, detailing their increases seen in search volume, and the median costs of flights and hotel stays in each. The aim is to keep users abreast of emerging signs of interest in new locations and help them get a jump on deals for flights, hotel stays and car rentals.For instance, "In the last couple of days, we've seen a huge surge in rental car searches and prices compared to 2019, particularly in outdoorsy spots like Florida, Alaska, Montana, and Hawaii," said Matt Clarke, Vice President of North America Marketing at Kayak. "If you're considering one of these destinations for your next trip, we recommend booking your rental car about two months in advance before prices start to increase."Highlights from this year’s Hacker Guide include:—The Caribbean Is Calling To Vaxicationers: Just in the past week, the Caribbean has shown great signs of recovery, with online travel searches only 16 percent below 2019 levels. Out of the top 10 most-searched-for destinations open to U.S. tourists, half are in the Caribbean: Cancun, Punta Cana, Montego Bay, Aruba and The Bahamas.—Solo Travelers Are Heading South: There is a good deal of interest in solo travel post-pandemic, with 68 percent of searches within the first three months of 2021 having been for solo travel experiences. South America emerged as a particularly sought-after destination, likely due to loosened travel restrictions and more affordable airfare prices. Cartagena, Lima and Medellin accounted for 80 percent of flight searches for a single passenger.—Group Travel Is Booming: Friends and family are looking to travel together or reunite in warm-weather and beach destinations that have plenty of available outdoor activities. Honolulu, Las Vegas and Orlando are among the most-searched-for destinations for groups of three or more.—Americans Are Eager To Go Overseas: The recent news that Europe will likely reopen to U.S. visitors by summer caused a spike in searches for travel to the Continent, indicating that Americans are eager for E.U. borders to reopen and Transatlantic travel to resume. Even prior to the announcement, searches for European destinations were heating up, with the biggest search increases month over month seen for spots like Dubrovnik, Croatia; Zurich, Switzerland; Prague, Czech Republic; and Reykjavik, Iceland. For more information, visit kayak.com/travelhacker. Adblock test (Why?)

TripAdvisor Forced To Apologize for Insensitive Review of Auschwitz

TripAdvisor, the travel website known for its user-driven online reviews, has been forced to apologize for an insensitive review of the Auschwitz Museum in Poland.The reviewer who posted about the former Nazi concentration camp, one of the most horrific and somber sites in the world, wrote that they went to Auschwitz to “test the (gas) chamber” and called the museum “fun for the family.”ADVERTISINGMORE Features & Advice The travel website initially said the review complied with its submission guidelines but later backed down after the museum asked TripAdvisor to reconsider.TripAdvisor officials relented and removed the review and banned the author.More than one million people, most of them Jews, were killed at Auschwitz by the Nazis during World War II. More than six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust after Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933.TripAdvisor said it uses “a blend of technology and people” in reviewing posts, and that in this case “our initial screening failed to identify this review as promoting intolerance.”“Through our escalation process, this review was removed,” the company said. “We always aim to get it right the first time and we apologize to the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum, the Jewish community at large, and all communities and individuals affected by this initial miss.” Adblock test (Why?)

Planeterra Launches ‘Around The World’ Fundraiser

Planeterra, the world’s foremost supporter of community tourism initiatives, has launched the Around the World Challenge to raise money for community tourism enterprises that have been hit hard during the pandemic.Participants can walk, run or bike around six miles each day between May 17-26 to raise money for community tourism. Altogether, the participants will be able to collectively travel the entire globe, or 24,909 miles. Registration is $25 per person.ADVERTISINGOver the ten-day period, participants will learn about different regions of the world, including India, Bolivia and Rwanda, as well as those destinations’ cultures, foods and more. The goal is to raise $40,087 for emerging community tourism initiatives that are part of Planeterra’s Global Community Tourism Network, which was created in early May to support community tourism across the globe. It provides resources, online training, marketing and promotion to these enterprises.Planeterra will match $1,500 of the funds raised to support its partners in India as they grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.“Planeterra just launched the Global Community Tourism Network last week, having more than doubled our community partnerships since December and we now work with communities in over 65 countries,” says president of Planeterra, Jamie Sweeting. “We thought it was the perfect time to highlight these new community partners, and help Planeterra support them as they prepare to recover and the world prepares to travel again.” Please visit Planeterra to learn more and to register. Adblock test (Why?)

Expert Advice for Traveling Abroad With a Disability

Traveling internationally can be a daunting idea for many people for a variety of reasons: pricing, long travel times, language barriers and more. But for people with disabilities, traveling internationally can sometimes feel like an impossible experience.However, that isn’t necessarily the case. Cory Lee is an Accessible Travel Blogger at CurbFreeWithCoryLee.com, where he writes about his personal experiences traveling domestically and abroad in a wheelchair. A vacation to the Bahamas as a teenager fueled his desire to see the rest of the world, and he made traveling not only his passion but also his career.ADVERTISING“I would encourage any new travelers to start small and work their way up to bigger trips. Go on a weekend getaway to a nearby city. This will give you a chance to get familiar with what you need in terms of accessibility. Then, you could take a short plane ride to get familiar with the ins-and-outs of air travel with a disability,” said Lee. MORE Features & Advice “Once you feel comfortable, you can then travel internationally and you’ll be much more prepared and feel more confident in your ability. There are also a ton of resources online to better prepare you for travel. Some of my favorites are accessible travel blogs and Facebook groups (Accessible Travel Club is a great one!),” he said.Besides starting small, Lee also stresses the importance of knowing what every traveler needs to focus on in terms of accessibility. Whether it be finding accessible tours or making a handy list of nearby hospitals in case of an emergency, the Internet can provide avid researchers with a wealth of information.“When traveling internationally, I think it’s most important to have a positive attitude and expect the unexpected. On almost any trip, especially as a wheelchair user, something is going to go wrong. When that happens, it’s important to stay calm and know that for every problem, there is a solution,” he said. “Be prepared by researching as much as possible before the trip -- this could include looking up wheelchair repair shops within the destination and having that list handy or knowing various accessible transportation companies in case you need alternative transportation quickly.”Travel insurance is also incredibly important to have for those with preexisting conditions, but not all travel insurance plans are equal or even cover preexisting conditions.“I think travel insurance is important for every traveler, but especially people with disabilities. I use Allianz Travel Insurance’s annual plan, which does cover preexisting conditions. It has proven to be well worth the annual fee. In 2019, I suffered a skull fracture while on a trip in New Mexico. Without the travel insurance, I would’ve been stuck with some huge hospital bills,” Lee said.According to the latest CDC data, 61 million Americans live with a disability, which is about one in four individuals.The Open Doors Organization found that in 2018 and 2019, 27 million Americans with disabilities took 81 million trips, spending $58.7 billion on their travel expenses. Those with disabilities play an important role in the travel and tourism economy, and providing them with the knowledge and ability to travel where they choose is paramount.That’s partly where travel advisors come in. Travel advisors can, like their title suggests, advise those with disabilities on the best travel insurance plans, accessible tours, methods of transportation and even accommodations that fit the specific client’s needs. They can also take some of the pressure to research these important factors off of the client’s shoulders.As an advisor, it’s important to understand exactly what challenges clients with disabilities face, so they can successfully plan a vacation without any snags: “The word ‘accessible’ means something different to every person with a disability. It’s important to ask specifically what each person needs in terms of accessibility, instead of just assuming that what’s accessible for one person is accessible for all,” said Lee.David W. Hartman, Luxury Travel Advisor for Fantastic Endeavors, Inc. is also an accessible travel advocate. “Advisors have access to resources beyond what is offered to travelers. Our preferred relationship with suppliers is critical in obtaining the appropriate type of accessible accommodation or service for the traveler,” said Hartman.Traveling abroad with a disability is not impossible; it simply presents challenges that, when combined with the knowledge of a seasoned travel advisor, can be solved. Adblock test (Why?)

Interest in European Travel Grows

It’s more than a possibility that Americans will be able to travel to Europe in the near future, with countries like Greece and France to start lifting travel bans for travelers this month, while the European Union is looking to welcome fully vaccinated travelers into Europe later this summer.While this good news circulates the globe, a new survey from smarTours found that Europe is the most desired destination American travelers want to visit this year. More than 40 percent polled that they’d choose Europe, while only seven percent wanted to travel domestically.ADVERTISING Trending Now Sixty-one percent of Americans surveyed are ready to travel this year, while 57 percent said they would love to cross off a bucket list-type destination the next time they travel. Exploration and socialization are the main things travelers want to do on their next vacations, instead of taking the beach trips that were so popular earlier this year. Thirty-five percent want their next vacation to be with their friends.Two travel advisors have noticed this burgeoning interest in European travel. David W. Hartman, Luxury Travel Advisor for Fantastic Endeavors, Inc. believes pent-up demand and the recent news are two of the main factors driving this interest. He sees Italy as the most popular destination among his clients. Their main concerns, though, are missing out on iconic landmarks due to venue closures and local travel restrictions.He offers this piece of advice: “Travelers to Europe this summer may experience issues with limited flights, high airfares and restrictions with travel to select countries and destinations. For example, Munich recently canceled Oktoberfest 2021 for several reasons related to the phased reopening of Germany. Numerous clients are rescheduling to summer 2022 due to these reasons, including a group that booked Oktoberfest 2020, rescheduled to 2021 and now booked Oktoberfest 2022.”Claire Schoeder, Luxury Travel Consultant for Elevations Travel in Atlanta, Georgia, has had numerous client inquiries about traveling to the countries that are set to reopen or already have reopened. Schoeder says her vaccinated clients are more optimistic about traveling and want to plan travel more than her non-vaccinated clients. The most desired destinations for her clients are Iceland, Greece and Italy.“Across the board, my clients are concerned about the slow vaccination rates in the EU and how that might affect them. I have had clients ask if hotel staff will be vaccinated along with others, such as restaurant staff who will have close contact with them. They are also asking about mask requirements, social distancing and how countries will handle visitors to landmark sites such as the Colosseum. Summing up they are concerned about health safety more than anything right now...” said Schoeder.“Hotels and DMCs have been great about answering questions, but some details need to be shared by the governments involved. I do not simply sell a destination. I give my clients the best information and advice that I have to help them make the decision that best suits them. And if that means recommending a longer wait to travel to Europe then that is what I will do,” Schoeder concluded.There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but there are still many questions that need to be answered. For now, however, we hold fast to the hope that Europe will once again reopen for us to explore. Adblock test (Why?)

US Travel Struggles Without International Visitors and Business Travelers

The travel industry is still struggling to recoup the jobs lost during the pandemic. Despite a bounce back in travel, the industry’s unemployment numbers remain high.According to data from the U.S. Travel Association, the leisure and hospitality industry gained 331,000 jobs in April—outperforming the overall U.S. jobs increase of 266,000 and offsetting job losses in other sectors.ADVERTISING Trending Now The travel industry’s unemployment rate continues to decline. In January, it hovered at 15.9 percent and declined to 13 percent in March and, in April, it sits at 10.8 percent. However, this is significantly worse than overall U.S. unemployment, which is reported to be around six percent.Despite the gains in recent months, 17 percent of Leisure & Hospitality jobs have been lost (and not yet recovered), the U.S. Travel Association reports. The leisure and hospitality sector also accounts for 35 percent of all U.S. jobs still lost since February of last year.One area of the industry that is hindering the recovery is the ongoing loss of international visitors and business travelers.“Leisure and hospitality is significantly outperforming overall job creation even though travel in the U.S. is only operating at just over half strength,” said U.S. Travel Association executive vice president for public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes. “International travel and business travel accounted for 41 percent of all travel spending in 2019, but those two segments remain virtually halted.“This disappointing jobs report would have been significantly worse without leisure and hospitality,” added Barnes. “We’re missing a huge opportunity to restore jobs by not prioritizing the reopening of two key segments of the travel industry.” Adblock test (Why?)

Gen Z Is Ditching Cliché Travel Posts on Social Media, Survey Shows

According to the results of a new consumer study by group tour operator Topdeck Travel, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the youngest generation of U.S. adults to alter their perspective on and approach to travel.So, while Gen Z-ers are as keen as the rest of us to get going on their post-COVID vacations, many are determined to ditch the pre-pandemic era’s social media travel clichés—staged social media snaps, trite captions and stale hashtags—once they get the opportunity to travel again.ADVERTISING Trending Now Having been cooped up at home for more than a year with the internet and social media as their only windows to the outside world, 37 percent of 18- to 25-year-old Americans surveyed said that social media posts with cliché captions such as ‘catch flights, not feelings’ and ‘my Monday is better than yours’ were their biggest pet peeves and would not appear in their own feeds when they themselves next travel.The next most-hated travel social media posts among Gen Z-ers were the ubiquitously staged ‘copy and paste’ tourist poses (like ‘leaning’ on the Leaning Tower of Pisa), according to 34 percent of participants.Next, 31 percent of survey respondents felt that photos posted of food or cocktails were particularly irksome; while 30 percent said that overdone photos of iconic landmarks and attractions were annoying to view repeatedly on social media streams.Twenty-nine percent of the survey group said snaps of hotel rooms were especially tiresome, while pics taken from the plane window and selfies showing off tan lines each took 28 percent of the vote.Specializing in youth travel, Topdeck Travel commissioned the research to gain an understanding of how Gen Z’s priorities and attitudes regarding travel have been affected by the pandemic experience. Its findings revealed that young people share a robust optimism about future travel.Ninety-six percent of survey respondents reported that they already have plans for upcoming travel, and 28 percent said they’d be heading to a nearby destination just to get away. When it came to future plans, 29 percent said their purpose in traveling would be to relax and recuperate, while 27 percent were itching to experience a dream destination; 27 percent prioritized outdoor exploration, and another 27 percent wanted time off to take an extended trip.Getting out to explore the world and gain rich new experiences emerged as Gen Z participants’ top priorities, and it seems the pandemic gave them time to reflect on past trips and the ways in which they felt they’d perhaps not made the most of them.One in three said they felt they hadn’t explored enough of the destination’s nightlife on their past trips, and another 33 percent said that they hadn’t spent enough time meeting and interacting with the locals. One-third also said they wish they had made friends with their fellow travelers on past trips.“It has been a challenging year for young adults, but our findings show that they are resilient and are ready to bounce back with new travel experiences that focus on meeting new friends and exploring new destinations like a local,” said Charles Knowlton, Global General Manager at Topdeck Travel. “Gen Z is fed up with the overly-curated Insta-worthy experiences that we’ve become overexposed to today. Instead, they seek authentic travel experiences that liberate them from the rules of normal life, once travel restrictions are lifted." For more information, visit topdeck.travel. Adblock test (Why?)

11 Ways To Stay Safe While Traveling This Summer

Research shows that confidence is growing and Americans are ready to travel again this summer. However, summer vacations will look slightly different in the time of COVID-19. Fortunately, there are many ways to protect yourself and others and travel safely and responsibly this summer. Here's some notable expert advice to consider before you leave home. Adblock test (Why?)