Highlights from the 2017 New York Times Travel Show

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It’s our second year as a media partner of the annual New York Times Travel Show, which was took over the Jacob K. Javit’s Convention Center from January 27 – 29, 2017 in New York City.  We absolutely love this show because it attracts all the likely candidates that make great destinations from America’s East Coast like the Caribbean and Europe, but also countries that are more of a hike, like South Africa and Taiwan who have a big presence every year.

Our friends from Argentina were there as well. Did I mention that they always serve fabulous Argentinian wine at their booth? It’s worth going to the show to talk about (and sip) Malbecs with them alone. Imagine fabulous steaks, great vino, dancing in the streets and some of the most breathtaking mountains you’ll ever see!

One of my favorite parts of the show is the cultural dance performances that many destinations participate in — be sure to see my video wrap-up at the bottom of this post for more highlights.

The show provides a great opportunity to not just learn about what to do in some of the most romantic, adventurous, glamorous or family-friendly destinations around the globe, but to also meet some of the people behind the scenes, from heads of tourism boards, travel agents and tour companies to cruise lines, safari companies and activity organizers.

It’s a fabulous event for conversations to begin and flourish, all under one roof in the heart of the Big Apple. From some of my favorite spots in the Caribbean, South America and Central America to Southeast Asia, Africa, and North America, I learned about new excursions, African adventures and cruise routes added, including ones to more remote spots like Papua New Guinea and Antarctica, both of which are high on my bucket list. Other new discoveries for me include the Cook Islands and the Seychelles, both of which I knew very little about before this show and now, both on the must visit list.

On my must list is exploring the food, nature and underwater opportunities in the Philippines. Beyond Manila, there’s so much to discover, such as the coral island of Mactan, east of Cebu City, the majestic volcanic landscapes and tropical mountain rain forests of Negros, and the archipelago of Bohol, which is made up of a main island and 61 stunning smaller islands.  Bohol is known for their famous Chocolate  Hills, which are a series of eroded limestone cone-shaped hills 30-50 meters high that originated from the sea. Stay tuned for more as I hope to visit this pristine destination sometime this year.

While I’m no newcomer to South Africa having led a group of writers there prior to the World Cup and having lived there twice, it has been seven years since my last return. Given that it’s one of my favorite destinations of all time, a return visit is a must sometime in the next year or so. And, remember that Stellenbosch has incredible wines not to mention natural beauty and incredible romantic getaways.

India also had mesmerizing music, tours, expeditions and photos as did China and Malaysia. Of course India is known for yoga retreats and ashrams, however there are also other wellness travel options that are enticing for people who may not be serious yogis. I always love visiting the Malaysia booth at the show since they give you an opportunity to dress up in beautifully adorned costumes. If you think this exercise is only fun if you’re ten, think again! This has become a tradition for me and yes, I had fun getting “dressed up” again for the third or quite possibly fourth year in a row.

I visited the Curacao folks since I had such a great time with them a couple of years ago to hear what new properties and excursions have popped up recently. This past year,  I had my fill of clear blue waters, snorkeling, great food and stunning beaches in the Turks & Caicos and the Dominican Republic and the year before, hitting some lovely yoga stays in Jamaica. I’m hoping to head to Aruba this year as well as the Pacific to take in some snorkeling in Tahiti.

Other temptations? I’d also like to return to Egypt and go a bit off the beaten path this time around; there was no shortage of itineraries to choose from whether you’re interested in a tour or opt to travel solo.

Brazil which has long been on my list, had a big presence and they had reps from national and regional as well as from Rio de Janeiro (below). From the glorious beaches in the north to dancing my way through the streets of Rio, I’m excited about the prospect of exploring any part of this beautiful country. While not as pristine as the beach getaways in the north of the country, even Rio has its famed Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, the frequently photographed Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado and Sugarloaf Mountain, a granite peak where you can take cable cars to its summit. And, let’s not forget Carnaval of course, which has no shortage of parade floats, flamboyant costumes and samba dancers.

Jiří and my pals from the Czech Republic were also at the show and if you haven’t been, it’s time for a visit. I had a blast this past fall, from eating my way through Prague, including at a top notch michelin star restaurant and visiting hotels and resorts that focused on wellness to pure luxury in the gorgeous countryside.

Let’s not forget the good ole USA and given that I’ve been to 47 states now, I’ve only got three more to hit. That said, a few states are calling me BACK for a visit, including Maine, Montana, Alaska (so much to see there) and Louisiana as my only exposure to the state is the oh so fun city of New Orleans.

Family Travel

This year, they featured a number of family-friendly activities that are fun for kids.  Their new Family Travel Pavilion, is a dedicated area divided into exhibit space, a Presentation stage and a Kids demonstration area, where kids could experience culinary classes, arts and crafts projects, face painting and travel-related activities. The pavilion also showcased leading players in the Family Travel space, including lodges, resorts, destinations, cruise lines and dude ranches.

Lebanese cuisine culinary star and PBS personality Julie Taboulie took kids on a creative, colorful and culinary exploration of fresh flavors from the Finger Lakes region and Travel to Ukraine welcomed families to discover varenyky — a Ukrainian traditional dish, which was dished out by East Village based Veselka Testaurant.

Photo credit: Stephanie Alleyne.

International Expeditions’ experts discussed options to reconnect with nature in the Amazon rain forest which we applaud. I’m a huge fan of connecting kids with nature as early as you can and on foreign soil as well to deepen their appreciation for protecting the planet. For family foodies, it’s worth noting that chef Justin Timineri provided culinary travel tips for people who want to make better food choices while vacationing in Florida and celebrity chef Art Smith and his daughter provided tips on baking their favorite family chocolate cake. Additionally, the Georgia Aquarium had a great selfie station where children could snap photos under the sea.

Wellness Travel

We were thrilled that the New York Times Travel Show committed to a Wellness Pavilion for a second year in a row. We wrote about the wellness exhibitors last year as we do a lot of wellness travel; you’ll note that we have been increasing our coverage of wellness and will continue to in 2017 and beyond.

The folks from Art of Living Retreat Center were on-site offering a personal Ayurvedic Pulse Diagnosis followed by a customized energy treatment.

Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts were offering massages plus the ability to enter to win a three-night retreat and Monastère des Augustine from Quebec City showcased Canada’s newest wellness retreat with roots dating back to the 1600’s.

Also exhibiting were Retreats Unlimited who offer a collection of influencer-hosted wellness retreats in a variety of locations, Columbia Skin CareHolistic Hotels of the World (their CEO Anne Biging spoke about Why Holistic and Why Now? on the Best Life Stage), Butterfield & Robinson, which offers walking and cycling tours, and Spa Eastman, one of Canada’s premiere and original spa and wellness retreats.

Connecting with Travel Writers & Bloggers

Off-site and after hours, there was also a fun travel blogger meet-up hosted by the fabulous Deb and Dave of The Planet D.

The Keynotes, Sessions & the Data

Keynotes were given by veteran travel journalist and editor James Shillinglaw with: CEO of Travel Leaders Group Ninan Chacko; Arnold Donald, President and CEO of Carnival Corporation; Alejandro Zozaya, CEO of Apple Leisure Group; and Brian King, Global Officer for Digital, Distribution, Revenue Management and Global Sales, Marriott International. There was also a Taste of the World Pavilion hosted by Costa Rica.

There were sessions and talks in break-out rooms outside the exhibition floor that covered a wide variety of topics, including Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, Culinary Tourism (one of our faves), Tours, Small Ship Cruising, Wellness Travel, All-Inclusive Resorts, LGBT Travel, Florida (they always have a big presence every year), Cuba, and Adventure Travel to name a few.

Apparently the show reached a new record of 30,099 participants—the highest attendance in the Show’s history. Attendance included 9,253 travel trade and 20,846 consumer attendees during the three-day event. The number of participating exhibitors also hit a new record with 560 companies representing over 170 countries, a 4 percent increase from last year’s Show. Bravo!

A L’il Video Action

Check out my video summary here — it’s a 3 minute take on the show. Enjoy!

Behind the Scenes & the Details

Top sponsors included South African Tourism, Allianz, MSC Cruises and Visit Florida and the Greece Tourism Board served as their Cultural Stage Sponsor.

Industry Sponsors included: Adventure Cycling Association, Adventure Travel Trade Association, Africa Travel Association, American Society of Travel Agents, Association for the Promotion of Tourism to Africa, Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Education Foundation, Caribbean Tourism Organization, The Costa Rica Tourism Board, Cruise Lines International Association, Cruise Planners: An American Express Company, Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Specialists Association, Family Travel Association, International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, Millennials in Travel, National Association of Railroad Passengers, New York State Tourism (I Love New York), Pacific Asia Travel Association, Professional Travel Bloggers Association, Society of American Travel Writers, United States Tour Operators Association and Well-Being Travel.

We were proud to be a media partner again this year as we love the quality of their exhibitors, caliber of their speakers and broad range of activities and travel topics you can discover at their show. Their list of media partners included Go Nomad, Healthy Aging Magazine, ManAboutWorld, Off Metro, Passport, travAlliancemedia, Travel-to-Wellness, Travel Market Report, Wander Magazine, We Blog the World, Where Traveler, WNET-TV and WVVH-TV.

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