April 11-12 conference in Andorra to look at mountain tourism in emerging countries
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Mountain tourism has a long and storied tradition in places like the Alps of Europe and Colorado, but countries with emerging econonmies are also trying to get into the game.
The UN’s World Tourism Organization will hold a two-day conference (April 11-12) in Andorra to spotlight mountain and snow tourism, with presentations on emerging resorts in Bulgaria and Serbia, as well as a case study involving Pyeongchang, the South Korean city hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics. The full agenda is online at the conference website.
The 7th World Congress on Snow and Mountain Tourism will also focus on providing a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities of the snow and mountain destinations and to acquire an overview of successful business models, innovation, the impact of climate change and tourism marketing during.
“The Snow and Mountain Tourism World Congress is a great opportunity for tourist experts and professionals, and especially those related to this important market, to meet, to analyse the evolution and to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the future,” said Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation. “The Congress is a platform for the representatives of traditional and emerging mountain resorts of the whole world to exchange best practices in product development, promotion and human resources.”
“The 2012 edition of the Snow and Mountain Tourism World Congress … will particularly stress how the new technologies are changing the sector and providing a long range tool in promoting and developing destinations. The subjects, including how tourists book and consider their stays, and the importance of on-line promotion, will undoubtedly be important in an ever more competitive market.”
A few bullet points from the agenda:
“All-season” Chinese resorts: what are their key success factors?
The example of Sun Mountain Yabuli and Adventure Mountain Chanchun, in China The company Mountain China Resorts is developing mountain resorts in China, proposing tourist activities throughout the year. It has managed to put two top-quality resorts on the market, which are competitive on an international scale.
The Serb initiative to develop the mountain tourism.
The Serb Government wants to make better use of its tourism potential. It has managed to find investors and operators for one of its mountain tourism treasures in the region of “Stara Planina”. The State is involved in the project by providing the infrastructure.
Bansko as a destination: what makes it unique and how to spread the word?
Bansko lies in the South-west of Bulgaria, a commune rich in cultural heritage and close to a large national park. It has become an international ski resort in recent years and a focus of autonomous growth in a country that is still undergoing a transition. It combines a traditional summer resort with plans to build a ski resort from scratch.
Five Mountain Tourism 2.0 strategies:
Unique experiences in new habits of consumption
Consumption habits have changed. Tourists have come into the game of the offer and demand on the Internet, and the great competitiveness between tourist companies forces operators to offer attractive destinations at reasonable prices to catch the visitors’ attention. The snow and mountain resorts must be positioned in this technological game, but with unique experiences that create alliances with visitors and by reinventing the mountain tourist offer throughout the year.
Loyalty-building through the social networks
The social networks have become an instrument to gain loyalty and also an element of personalisation to know visitors’ concerns. There is a need to create virtual communities to accompany visitors before, during and after their trip and thus to enhance the snow and mountain destinations. Empathy and connection must be achieved with the visitors using the social networks to identify their tastes, to reinvent the offer and to maintain two-way communication aimed at gaining their loyalty. The new mobile devices come into play.
The number of different messages and the excessive amount of information on the Internet are a danger to tourist operators. A destination’s Internet positioning is more important than ever to avoid it going unnoticed. An attractive product in a dreamy destination to which different emotions can be bound, all managed with good marketing strategies including video marketing amongst other things, is essential for good positioning on the net and for gaining visitors’ loyalty.
Reinventing oneself all year round
One of the aspects that will be discussed in the Congress is the reinvention of snow and mountain tourism to offer an attractive programme of activities over the four seasons. Although in winter skiing and its derivatives take the priority, in the summer an attractive product can also be offered to turn it into a unique destination 365 days a year.
Applying success strategies on the Internet
The Internet is a communicational alternative. However, excessive information can prevent the message from reaching the receiver. Mountain tourism must obviously be in these surroundings, but it is also necessary to know the success strategies in order to not to fall into ostracism and the dangers of the virtual world. Knowing in advance how to present oneself and what to offer on the net to form part of the 2.0 environment is one of the keys to success.
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As New Year’s Day quickly approaches, men and women all across the United States prepare for another year of “work hard, play harder.” Americans love to travel, and one of our best online destinations for the latest and greatest travel deals is definitely Travelzoo. Every week, they release a brand new set of travel steals, and there truly is something for every person and every budget. In the spirit of a new year and new beginnings, the experts at Travelzoo have predicted these five places as the hot spots for 2012.
In 2012, you can cruise through Europe for less than $100 per night! There’s never been a more affordable way to tour top international destinations such as Italy, Spain and Greece. Major cruise lines are set to send a record number of ships to Europe in 2012, so what are you waiting for?! With the ever increasing prices of airfare, choosing an adventure at sea is definitely the way to go!
As Thailand begins to recuperate from the worst floods in more than 50 years, this exotic portion of the world is hungry for tourists! More than ever, hotels and tourist groups are releasing major deals and steals to charm the adventure/travel seeker into the country’s sacred temples, beautiful beaches, and many more tempting attractions. Hot on the list to see in Thailand are spots such as Phuket, Koh Samui and Chaing Mai.
Orlando remains a prime destination for theme-park-lovin’ families. With deals on hotels, timeshares and condos, one could end up saving nearly 65%! In addition to Disneyland, Orlando also boasts the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Walt Disney World’s Fantasyland, scheduled to open in 2012.
Did you know that Costa Rica prides itself on being “The Happiest Country in the World”? Me neither! The airlines and travel agencies sure caught wind of this little tid-bit though, as reasonable airfare isn’t too terribly hard to find! An additional bonus for U.S. travelers is that the U.S. Dollar actually carries some weight in this exotic paradise.
With the devastation from the tsunami and earthquake in her rear view mirror, the proud country of Japan is more than ready for another great year of tourism. Even though the Japanese rarely give discounts, vacations can be found on Travelzoo that could save you up to $600!
Red Roof upgrades get guest input
If you could redesign your hotel room, what would you include?
Red Roof Inn, one of the nation’s largest budget hotel chains, launched a $90-million redesign effort this month for its nearly 350 hotels across the country based on the comments of thousands of guests in Texas, Georgia and Ohio.
The data were collected from email surveys taken over the last 12 to 18 months.
The top request by guests was for more electrical outlets in each room to power smartphones, e-readers and other mobile electronic devices. The chain said it would add a minimum of four extra outlets per room as part of the redesign project.
The second most requested change was to install flat-screen TVs. The hotel chain plans to put 32- and 37-inch flat-screen TVs in every hotel room nationwide by the end of 2012.
Other changes coming as a result of the guest survey are new wood-like flooring instead of carpeting, more powerful shower heads and more bathroom counter space.
“When someone is traveling, they want to feel at home, or better,” Red Roof President Andrew Alexander said in a statement.
The Red Roof Miami Airport hotel will be the first to get the upgrade. The chain’s 12 hotels in California should be redone by the end of 2014.
TSA’S precheck program to grow
In the two months since the federal government began letting fliers who provide background information to zip through special airport security checkpoints, more than 120,000 passengers have taken advantage of the program.
Fliers who participate in the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program don’t have to remove shoes, belts or coats at designated airport checkpoints. So far, the TSA has invited only some frequent fliers with Delta and American airlines to participate in PreCheck at airports in Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit and Miami.
The number of passengers using PreCheck is expected to grow quickly because TSA Administrator John Pistole announced last week that first-class and other “elite” passengers on United and Continental airlines will be allowed to participate in the program next year.
United and Continental are set to merge by March to create the nation’s largest airline.
The program also is expected to expand to airports in Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Los Angeles early next year. The idea behind the program is to allow TSA agents to devote more resources to checking high-risk passengers and travelers the agency knows little about.
Sunny spots rank high for holidays
Americans may be dreaming of a white Christmas, but warm, sunny destinations are among the most popular vacation spots for the Christmas holiday, according to statistics from the travel website Orbitz.
The website’s ranking of the top Christmas destinations found that seven of the 10 most popular Christmas vacation spots are warm climate cities — Los Angeles; Cancun, Mexico; Phoenix; and the Florida cities of Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa Bay.
The same trend holds for travel for the New Year’s celebration, with a few changes in the top 10.
And if you’re looking to save money on holiday travel, the Orbitz ranking found that Tampa Bay will have the lowest combination of airfares and hotel rates of the top 10 Christmas vacation spots and Orlando will have the best deals over the New Year’s holiday.
The average airline ticket to Tampa Bay from Dec. 23 to Dec. 27 will be $423 and the average hotel rate will be $75 a night, according to Orbitz. In contrast, the most expensive of the top 10 Christmas destinations will be Cancun, with average airfares of $720 and daily hotel rates of $283.
Over New Year’s weekend, the average airfare to Orlando will be $307, with average daily hotel rates of $94, according to Orbitz. Among the most expensive, Honolulu tops the list with average airfares of $726 and average daily hotel rates of $119.
Ky. offering eagle watching tours
FRANKFORT, Ky. —The Kentucky State Parks are offering eagle watching tours in January and February.
The park system sponsors wildlife-watching opportunity as bald eagles gather around the major lakes of Western Kentucky looking for food. The park tours allow visitors to observe and learn about the eagles.
The tours take place at three resort parks during weekends on an excursion yacht and by van. They are led by state park naturalists and Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists.
Ticket prices for the tours range from $20 to $55 a person.
The tours at Kentucky Dam Village, Lake Barkley and Kenlake will include an option to view eagles from the CQ Princess, a 96-foot yacht. Guests can view eagles from inside the CQ Princess or from outside decks.
W. Maine ski lodge eschews fossil fuels
GREENWOOD, Maine —Mount Abram in Greenwood is going all green to heat its ski lodge.
The western Maine ski resort is using locally produced wood pellets, and no fossil fuels, to warm up its lodge.
Mount Abram has taken delivery of a wood-pellet boiler that will heat the 5,500-square-foot base lodge using wood pellets delivered from a local distribution center. It means Mount Abram will no longer require 12,000 gallons of No. 2 heating oil per year to heat its lodge.
Mount Abram says the new boiler is the first installed at a ski area by Maine Energy Systems, the renewable heating company founded by Les Otten in 2008. Otten is a former Maine gubernatorial candidate who’s also been involved in Maine’s ski industry.
Mount Abram plans to open for the season Dec. 17.
Feds, SF tussle over America’s Cup use of Alcatraz
SAN FRANCISCO — The latest battle for control of Alcatraz Island is under way.
Many have laid claim to the wind-swept rock in the middle of the San Francisco Bay since the last prisoner left the federal land in 1963. American Indians occupied the island for 19 months ending in 1972. And politicians have floated the idea of building a casino or even a new San Francisco 49ers football stadium on Alcatraz.
Today, the National Park Service and organizers of the America’s Cup are tussling over Alcatraz’s role in the Super Bowl of yacht racing. The island will offer some of the best views of the most prestigious competition when multimillion dollar boats take to the San Francisco Bay in 2012 and 2013. Alcatraz sits almost directly in the middle of the proposed racecourse and offers 360-degree views of the bay.
But the island already receives 1.4 million visitors a year and is at capacity during the summer tourist season. Therein lies one of the main sources of tension over how to balance competing priorities that arose when San Francisco was selected to host the 34th America’s Cup contest.
The National Park Service manages the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which includes Alcatraz and much of the racecourse. The city of San Francisco is in charge of satisfying environmental regulations, securing government permits and spearheading planning for the event.
The two got off to a rocky start when the city released a draft environmental impact report over the summer stating Alcatraz would be closed to the public and given over to well-heeled event sponsors and other VIPs for private viewing of the race. The report also made similar claims about Fort Baker at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. Both are popular tourist destinations.
“All lands and facilities in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, including Alcatraz and Fort Baker, will remain open to the public throughout the entire period of the races,” park officials declared in rejecting that proposal.
Today, the city’s America’s Cup project manager says the episode was a misunderstanding rooted in poorly written passages in the report.
New Kan. casino may draw 2 million-plus visitors opening night
MULVANE, Kan. — The Kansas Star casino is making last-minute preparations as its Dec. 26 opening date nears.
General manager Scott Cooper told reporters Friday during a tour of the site of a temporary casino that the casino is expected to draw more than 2 million people and ring up some $150 million in revenues in its first year.
The casino has already signed up nearly 26,000 players from 39 states for its Players Club promotion.
Meanwhile, construction of the much larger permanent casino is under way. The 170-acre site will eventually include five restaurants, a 300-room hotel and an equestrian center.
Cooper says the Kansas Star is expected to draw 3 million people a year once the entire project is completed.
Written by Randol White
SAN FRANCISCO (EDE) — The number of gay travelers jumped as much as 3 percent over the past year, according to an annual report by Community Marketing, Inc.
“After two years of decreased travel spending within the LGBT community because of the recession, it was encouraging to see an increase in the October 2011 survey,” said David Paisley, Senior Research Director for Community Marketing. “Nearly all destinations in our report saw an increase in LGBT visitors over the previous year, which may indicate pent-up demand for the coming year.”
New York increased its lead as the No. 1 place for members of the gay community to travel. It topped the survey’s three main categories; actual visits to the destination in past 12 months, most gay-friendly destination in the world and personal favorite destination. Las Vegas, San Francisco and London also scored well in all three indicators.
The gay vacation resort towns of Provincetown, Key West and Palm Springs also scored extremely well. If you would analyze the data by the number of hotel rooms in a destination, these three spots would rank at the top.
The top 10 (multiple ties) LGBT Business and Leisure Destinations:
Source: Community Marketing, Inc.
The survey also looked at some nuances of gay travel, including:
- LGBT travelers, and especially gay men, are much more likely to describe themselves as “urban core travelers” than “eco travelers” or “outdoor adventure travelers.”
- Survey results suggest the mid-range market is the biggest group among LGBT travelers, followed by economy/budget, and then luxury.
- Once gay men or lesbians have children, family-friendly travel preferences become more important than LGBT-friendly travel preferences by a 2-1 margin.
Technology is changing the way people travel, especially gay men. According to the report, 71% of gay men and 62% of lesbians own a smart phone, and 60% of LGBT smartphone owners use their smartphones during their trips to finds local tourism resources.
Community Marketing, Inc.’s (CMI) 16th Annual Gay Lesbian Tourism Study
OTHER STORIES YOU MAY ENJOY:
Photo credit: Downtown San Francisco as seen from Twin Peaks – Randol White
Copyright 2011 – Eat Drink Explore Media
Travelzoo has picked its top destinations for hot deals in 2012, and only one U.S. city, Orlando, Fla., made the cut.
“We anticipate higher airfare prices, jaw-dropping hotel deals and an oversupply of cruise cabins,” senior editor Gabe Saglie said in a statement about what the company calls its Wow Deal Destinations of 2012. “Based on our extensive market research, we predict that Costa Rica, Japan, the Mediterranean, Orlando and Thailand will offer the most outstanding deals next year.”
Wow, indeed. That’s a pretty disparate list. The company researched deals and interviewed travel executives during the past three months in making these predictions. Here’s some of what it found.
–Orlando: It’s easy to think the city has an endless stream of families churning through to see Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando, the Harry Potter park and more. But Travelzoo says Orlando might start to feel the impact of a soft convention market and a slowdown in European tourism. If so, that could mean lots of hotel beds to fill — at bargain prices.
–Costa Rica: Some airlines are increasing the number of flights to Costa Rica, which could signal more competition and more deals for consumers. That fits nicely with the fact the U.S. dollar goes a long way in Costa Rica.
–The Mediterranean: Norwegian, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean cruise lines are collectively putting a record number of ships in European waters, Travelzoo says. With all those cabins to fill, there’s bound to be good, competitive prices. An example: The early-bird price on a 10-night Norwegian Jade sailing that stops in Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt starts at $549 per person, plus tax and fees.
-Japan and Thailand: Both countries will be wooing tourists as they recover from disasters, Travelzoo predicts. The March quake and tsunami in Japan and last fall’s months-long flooding in Thailand have left both countries hungry for tourists. Travelzoo’s Tokyo staff reports some top hotels have cut rates as much as 50%.
Check out Travelzoo’s list – and some real-time deals for those destinations.
If you’ll be booking last-minute airfares for Christmas travel, only one city in America is among the cheapest to fly to or fly from: Chicago.
That’s according to new data released Friday by price-comparison website FareCompare. Chicago was among the lowest-cost destinations, at airfares averaging $521, assuming a Dec. 13 booking. And Chicago was the No. 3 cheapest departure city, at $452. Chicago was the only city to make the top few on both lists, according to FareCompare.
The results jibe with earlier analyses that showed Chicago was among the most affordable for destinations and departures for the entire Thanksgiving-to-New Year’s holiday season, in reports released by such sites as Orbitz.com, Hotwire.com and Priceline.com.
The reason, analysts have said, is that Chicago has a plethora of flight options among its two airports, a competitive climate that keeps prices down.
Nationwide, airfare prices are 10 percent higher than last year, according to FareCompare.
And while procrastinators generally won’t get great deals now, it makes sense to book now rather than wait any longer. Those who can be flexible with flying dates and departure times will save more, said Rick Seaney, chief executive officer of FareCompare.com.
Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, is the cheapest day to fly, according to a FareCompare study of holiday ticket prices between the top 40 cities in the U.S. for holiday departures purchased on Dec. 13. The difference between the average cheapest day and most expensive day, Dec. 22, is $60. For return trips, Dec. 27 is the least-expensive day, on average.
SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Dec. 16, 2011 — /PRNewswire/– Today, FindTheBest—an unbiased, data-driven comparison engine—announced its Smart Badges in the Travel and Lifestyle category, highlighting the top destination spas and all-inclusive resorts in time for the holidays. These top rated travel destinations range anywhere from the sun-soaked beaches of Aruba to tucked away treasures in California’s Napa Valley.
FindTheBest’s Smart Rating is a single rating that reflects both a weighted average of scores from the most trusted experts and the Quantitative Rating, an unbiased scoring of the product or service’s key metrics.
Any destination spa or all-inclusive resort in the top ten smart rated list may claim their smart badge directly from their listing on FindTheBest.
1. Azul Beach (Smart Rating: 97)2. Casa Velas Boutique Hotel (Smart Rating: 95)3. Dreams Los Cabos (Smart Rating: 95)4. Le Blanc Spa Resort (Smart Rating: 93)5. FDR Pebbles (Smart Rating: 91)6. Mango Bay Hotel Beach Club (Smart Rating: 91)7. Divi Aruba All Inclusive (Smart Rating: 91)8. Almond Beach Village (Smart Rating: 91)9. Sandals Royal Bahamian (Smart Rating: 91)10. Bolongo Bay Beach Resort (Smart Rating: 91)
1. Cal-a-Vie Spa (Smart Rating: 94)2. Westin Maui Resort Spa (Smart Rating: 88)3. New Life Hiking Spa (Smart Rating: 88)4. Tennessee Fitness Spa (Smart Rating: 88)5. Copperhood Retreat Spa (Smart Rating: 88)6. The Biggest Loser at Fitness Ridge (Smart Rating: 88)7. The Kerr House (Smart Rating: 88)8. The Plaza Caudalie Spa (Smart Rating: 88)9. Birdwing Spa (Smart Rating: 88)10. Waldorf Astoria Orlando (Smart Rating: 88)
FindTheBest is an unbiased, data-driven comparison engine. We organize and present data in a consumer-friendly format so that you can make quick and informed decisions based on what’s important to you.