I’m going to hazard a guess that most readers will not know where the Vanilla Islands are or what they are. At least not under that name.
The “Vanilla Islands” is actually a brand name used for marketing tourism to the seven Indian Ocean island countries of the Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Maldives, Mayotte, Reunion, and the Comoros. Most baby boomers will certainly be familiar with the Seychelles, Madagascar, Maldives, and Mauritius, though they may know less about Mayotte, Reunion and the Comoros.
I think it’s a wonderful idea for island countries spread widely across the Indian Ocean to join together for marketing purposes. (The brand name was established in 2010 and the grouping has since grown from four to seven.)
One of their goals is to reduce paperwork and join together in other ways to make it easier to visit… Continue reading
Traditionally, some of the most painful experiences in traveling internationally have taken place before the trips even begin.
No, I’m not talking about buying the plane tickets, though that can be painful as well. I’m not even talking about packing your bags to satisfy TSA requirements.
I am talking about obtaining visas, especially for certain countries that seem to do everything they can think of to discourage visitors from actually coming and spending money within their borders — just about as short-sighted a policy as you can get, since tourism is now the world’s number one industry.
And yes, the U.S. is one of those countries. I wrote about Brazil sparring with the U.S. over mutually restrictive visa requirements in an earlier post.
But now, things are loosening up a bit, according to a report… Continue reading
From time to time I like to call attention to tourism bureaus and marketers using creative visuals to reach potential visitors.
A recent example is Bushmills in Northern Ireland painting faux people and animals on abandoned houses and shops to make it appear the town is more prosperous than it actually is. And with tourism increasing, it seems to be working.
Queensland residents are encouraged to send in their photos for Jester to post on Instagram between September 9 and 15. (Lacking opposable thumbs, Jester will be aided in this endeavor by regional photographer and a park ranger, but he will apparently be barking out his… Continue reading
If you start to see Chinese-style rice porridge appearing in your hotel’s breakfast buffet, don’t be surprised — it just means that hotels are catching on to the skyrocketing spending power of the sheer numbers of Chinese tourists now washing over American (and other) shores.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, Chinese tourists spent more than $100 billion worldwide last year, up by more than third since 2011, during the course of some 83 million trips out of China. That’s more than any other nationality.
While the bulk of those statistics reflect travel within other parts of Asia, the U.S. is also seeing an influx of Chinese visitors — some 1.5 million of them in 2012, spending nearly $9 billion here. That’s an average of $6,000 spent per trip — also more than any other nationality.
The rise… Continue reading
Along with Switzerland, New Zealand is my favorite place to hike.
The “tracks,” as hiking trails are known there, lead along mountain ridges, lakes, and rivers and through valleys and rainforests. The scenery is, well, choose your cliche: spectacular, breathtaking, unforgettable.
Some of the tracks are relatively easy, while others can literally take your breath away.
A Kiwi-owned company, New Zealand Trails, makes it easy for baby boomers — about two-thirds of its customers are in the 49 to 67 boomer age range — to experience several of the tracks as well as other South Island highlights, such as a train journey across the Southern Alps, a glowworm cave, a kayak trip through a coastal lagoon, a scenic helicopter ride, a lake cruise, and a boat trip across Milford Sound.
Hiking trails include a… Continue reading
The news that Zimbabwe is planning a Disneyland-style theme park near Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, is yet another example that Robert Mugabe’s corrupt, brutal and clueless rule is ruining that beautiful central African country — for both its citizens and tourists.
One writer has likened it to building casinos next to the Pyramids in Egypt, and I can’t disagree. (Cairo has enough tacky papyrus shops near the Pyramids as it is.)
I’ve been lucky enough to twice visit Vic Falls — also known in local tradition as “The Smoke That Thunders” — and consider it among the most stunning places I’ve ever seen, on a par with Arizona’s Grand Canyon or China’s mist-enveloped, multi-peaked Mt. Huangshan.
The last time I visited Vic Falls, I saw Mugabe speak, shortly after he… Continue reading
Today I received a disheartening email from the director of the Cyprus Tourism Organization office in New York City.
The CTO is permanently closing the office as an apparent money-saving measure.
The Republic of Cyprus, like Greece and some other southern European countries, has been undergoing fiscal crisis of late, and I’m sure that keeping a New York office in operation has proved expensive.
Still, this action seems incredibly short-sighted to me.
Cyprus is one of the most alluring countries to visit in all of Europe, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s off the beaten track and overlooked by most Americans.
The island is a popular sun-and-sea escape for northern Europeans, but there’s much more to see and do there than beach life.
It has an amazing history, occupying a… Continue reading
I was surprised to read a few days ago that Tourism New Zealand — the organization charged with luring travelers to kiwi land and making their visits more enjoyable — has just launched its first mobile app.
Called “Essential New Zealand,” the new app can be downloaded for free and used to access travel advice throughout the country without having to have a WiFi connection.
Among its current features you’ll find:
The top 10 New Zealand experiences;
“must-do” experiences for 26 regions and many popular locations;
photos, descriptions and prices for hundreds of activities and attractions;
contact details and detailed map locations for activities and information centers;
and ways to plan, save and share your favorite activities.
More features are planned for future versions.
Smartphone usage is reported to have increased by 28 percent in New Zealand… Continue reading
The last two times I visited Brazil, I loved lazing on the beaches of Rio, cruising down the Amazon, hiking through the rainforests and touring the remarkable opera house in Manaus.
But jumping through the bureaucratic hoops to get there in the first place almost convinced me I’d never make it down. Brazil seems to do everything it can to discourage American visitors by making visas expensive and annoying to get.
The regulations keep changing. One time I had to wait in a long line at the Brazilian consulate in New York City, then go next door to a particular bank to deposit $100 cash and get a receipt for same, then return to stand in another long line to hand that in along with my completed visa application, only to be told I would have… Continue reading