Want to Attend Industry Biggest Convention on Growth Markets? Here's Information about Travel Exchange (Jan 2013) in Orlando, FL U.S.A.

Our organization (NTA) is hosting this January 2013 "Travel Exchange" in Orlando, Florida USA.

Travel Exchange is an annual convention (formerly NTA Convention) with several thousand tourism attendees including tour operators, tourist offices and suppliers.

Growth Markets are a key component of Travel Exchange. At Travel Exchange you'll meet with tour operators, destinations, and attractions involved in various Growth Markets such as:

Adventure, Agritourism, Culinary, Cultural, Cruising, Ecotourism, Faith-based, Family, Fairs & Festivals, Health/Wellness, Sports, Student/Youth, Voluntourism and more.

Travel Exchange will also host a "Faith-based Tourism Leaders Forum" and a "Adventure Travel and Family Tourism Leaders Forum."

1) How can you learn more and register today? Visit http://businessbuilder.ntaonline.com/convention/Home.aspx

2) Here's the full schedule of events http://businessbuilder.ntaonline.com/convention/ScheduleEvents.aspx

3) How can you register?

To register as a Seller visit http://businessbuilder.ntaonline.com/convention/RegistrationHousing/RegisterasaSeller.aspx

To register as a Buyer (tour operator) visit

4) When should you register?
In order to secure th Early-Bird rate and save money - the deadline is just a few weeeks away on Aug 24. 

In addition, the sooner you register - you increase your chances for best possible business appointments. So register today if you can!

5) How can you obtain more information about registering or sponsoring? You can email me. My contact information is listed on this webpage: http://www.ntaonline.com/for-members/leadership/headquarters-staff/

Investors Target Area for Tourism Projects

Hardin County
Two cabins at Timber Ridge Outpost and Cabins opened Memorial Day weekend just off of Karbers Ridge Road a couple of miles away from Garden of the Gods.

Timber Ridge also opened one of their tree houses last week and a larger one now under construction should be finished by Sept. 1.

Elizabeth Canfarelli, one of the owners tells more about the idea for the tree houses.

A video gaming parlor is being planned for the former Fox Cleaners location at the north end of Parker Plaza, according to shopping center's property manager. No application with the state has been filed yet. At least four other establishments have applied for video gaming licenses with the Illinois Gaming Board.

Logan's Roadhouse is wrapping up construction on Halfway Road around the road from a new Panera Bread and another restaurant is looking at the land immediately north of them. The Marion location will be the fourth in Illinois for Logan's.

Mr. Koolz Frozen Yogurt is coming to the former Stevens building on Williamson County Parkway across from Walmart and next door to Black Diamond Harley-Davidson. Rent One has purchased the building and is in the process of remodeling it.

Williamson County Commissioner Brent Gentry is opening the new establishment. According to the store's Facebook page, construction is under way and plans are to open next month in August.

The Southern Illinoisan reported Monday that Martin Schaldemose, owner of the Old Train Depot is planning a major renovation of the historic structure in the 1700 block of West Walnut Street.

The owner said he hoped to begin major reconstruction in two months. He plans to knock out a southwest wall to make space for a larger kitchen. He also said he’s going to build an addition on the west side of the building to increase seating.

He would like to have a café with pastry and fine coffees during the day and transform the space into a “classy and cozy” restaurant with hints of French decorating at night.

A separate building south of the depot would be converted into an ice cream stand and bakery.

Panera Bread Co. Breaks Ground in Marion

Panera Bread broke ground last week next door to Drury Inn. They've been reportedly looking at the area in detail for the last few months, but have been viewing Marion as a possible expansion site for years.

Company spokesperson Kelli Nicholson told Southern Illinois Tourism News today that they hope to open by the Christmas shopping season.

"We are still in process of nailing down a grand opening date, but it’s looking like it will open mid to late November 2012," Nicholson said. "We have been looking for the perfect opportunity in Marion for several years, and now we feel we have a great location to serve the Marion community."

"We have a successful café located in Carbondale, IL that has a lot of customers that travel from Marion to Carbondale to eat at Panera several times per week, so we’re hoping we’ll be well received in Marion! The new café will have a nice patio with plenty of parking. Additionally, we offer a great catering service, where we offer a special menu for larger groups and delivery is available."

The building permit shows an estimated cost of $801,000 for the new restaurant's construction.

Adventure Travel - Current News Stories

Check out some of the latest news stories in adventure travel making the rounds:


Lake George New York—Adventure Getaways

Who to contact for more information?
1) Lake George Area in New York's Adirondacks
2) The Georgian Resort
3) Lake George Steamboat Company


Overseas Visitors Seeking Manitoba Adventures Behind Tourism Boost

Who to contact for more information?
1) Travel Manitoba
2) Frontiers North, Inc.


Summertime Adventures in Durango, Colorado

Who to contact for more information?
1) Durango Area Tourism Office
2) Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Movement Made in Marion STAR Bonds

Since the two-year anniversary of Gov. Pat Quinn's signing of the STAR Bonds legislation for Marion in June, more details are slowly coming out about two of three key components about the project.

I reported in The Daily Register of Harrisburg on July 10, "Quietly, progress made in STAR Bonds deal" with both Marion Mayor Bob Butler and state Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, confirming a high-level meeting at Rent One Park between local officials, Holland officials and developers.

Both guarded their comments due to a two-page confidentiality agreement they signed at the meeting, but both were definitely brighter and more upbeat than their comments made a year ago.

Now, there's "two principals showing great interest," according to Marion Mayor Bob Butler. "Everything's coming along as well as could be expected at this point."

A few days later Chad Holland spoke to the Southern Illinoisan and WSIL-TV with additional information. He didn't name names, but at least identified what categories the "two principals" would fill in the development.

As the television station reported July 17:

"Right now we're working with a destination user and a destination hotel, which is a water park hotel," said Chad Holland of Holland Construction, lead developer on the project.

The groups are still negotiating a deal, but Holland said they're serious about coming.

"They've been to Marion a couple of times. They're doing economic impact studies, they're doing site plans. I talked to the destination user on Wednesday last week, and they're deciding what size store they want to build."

To put that in context, those would be something along the lines of a Great Wolf Lodge for the hotel and a Cabela's or Bass Pro Shop for the destination user. I have no idea if those are the companies involved, but those have been the names bandied about two years ago when the Hollands were still giving examples.

The STAR Bonds legislation set a requirement of at least one (and no more than two) destination user(s) or major retailers, and one entertainment user (theme park or other major tourist destination driver) in order for the district to be activated. The destination hotel was something added to the Marion legislation that wasn't in the Glen Carbon version of the bill. It's not required to kick-start the project, but its tourist draw makes it an indirect requirement since the legislation allows for a smaller entertainment user than the early versions of the legislation required.

The whole idea behind the STAR Bonds is that it only makes sense for the state to subsidize the associated retail development if the shoppers are mostly from surrounding states and not simply cannibalizing existing in-state stores. Thus the need for the tourist attractions.

Holland told the Southern Illinoisan additional information about the number of times the developers have visited Marion.

The destination user has been to Marion twice, the company’s owner once and representative of the water park hotel have visited the city twice, Holland said.

“Things are progressing, right now we’re at their mercy,” he said. “They move as fast as they want to move.”

... Holland said the owner of a destination user told him he loved the spot, wanted to build in Marion and wanted to fore-go a letter of intent in favor of committing to a lease or sales contract.

The developers of both projects are currently doing site studies and economic analyzes to determine the site of their stores. Both media outlets reported Holland expecting some announcements in the next couple of months.

No word yet on an entertainment user, which suggests they've already got something lined up.

In order to be approved by the Illinois Department of Revenue the law requires a master plan must be developed showing at least $100 million in investments that would generate at least $100 million in annual sales taxes as well as the creation of a minimum of 500 jobs.

New Growth Market: Traveling in Small Group Tours

One of the latest trends we're seeing among tour operators is the debut of escorted "small group tours".

Among two of the latest companies to debut programs and itineraries specific to this trend are Brendan Worldwide Vacations and Gate 1 Travel.  Here are the stories:


Gate 1 Travel Unveils New Brand - Discovery Tours

New company offers "small groups for less;" promises unique itineraries and best value


FORT WASHINGTON, Pa., Jul 16, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Gate 1 Travel, a leader in international escorted and independent travel packages, recently launched a small-group tours company, Discovery Tours by Gate 1 Travel. The new company will limit its group sizes to 18 passengers, offering an advantage for small group seekers in a travel market that typically caps group sizes at 24.

Discovery Tours is premiering its small group line with nine itineraries for 2013 -China, Southeast Asia, Nepal, southern Africa, Morocco, Turkey, Italy, Peru and Ireland. Each trip features distinct cultural offerings and active outdoor experiences and includes visits to locales far from the typical tourist circuit.

Read the rest of the Gate 1 story by clicking link above.


Brendan Vacations rolls out small group tours for 2013


In response to changing travel trends, Brendan Vacations is embracing a new style of travel with its 2013 offerings of small group tours called Boutique Journeys to exotic destinations such as Mexico, Vietnam, South Africa, India and Columbia.

Originally focused on traditional tours and packages to Ireland, Brendan Vacations began to explore new types of itineraries when the tour operator introduced Boutique Journeys to Ireland. These guaranteed departures with a maximum of 24 passengers featured upscale Irish hotels, castles and manor homes, as well as more immersive activities.
Read the rest of the Brendan Vacations story by clicking link above.

Holy Echmiadzin Promotes Religious Tourism in Armenia (Armenian News Agency)

I had the wonderful honor of visiting and touring Armenia several years ago, as I worked together with Armenian tourism authories in regards to developing the faith-based tourism market.

As such, I was thrilled to come across the article below just this week. Armenia has so much to offer and is such a remarkable destination for religious tourism - especially with its incredible history and heritage of faith through the centuries. I believe it will be one of the great new destinations for people in faith.

After you read the article below, I encourage you to visit the official tourist office website for Armenia:

Holy Echmiadzin promotes religious tourism in Armenia

Article link:

 11 July, 2012
YEREVAN, JULY 11, ARMENPRESS: Gevorgyan Seminary Celebrations Hall of Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin hosted discussions  entitled  ‘’ Holy Echmiadzin in the religious and cultural  crosswords’’ on July 10.
As information department briefed Armenpress, administrative department  head of the Holy See of Echmiadzin Bishop Edward Babayan came up with an opening speech.
Referring to the need for the development of religious tourism, the Bishop emphasized the launch of such seminaries stating they will be of continuous nature. The spiritual representative also presented the efforts of Holy See made  in that direction aimed at acquainting its pilgrims and tourists with Armenian people national and spiritual values.
Then Ara Petrosyan , Deputy Minister of Economy of the Republic of Armenia  expressed his gratitude to the Holy See for the development of such importance tourism industry branch, stating such meetings are also strengthening the cooperation between the companies involved in  this sector and the Holy See.
The meeting was concluded by the reception in newly opened ‘’Agape’’ pilgrimage hall.

Family Travel Magazine Reveals Top Five Summer Family Travel Destinations

Read full release at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/6/prweb9640299.htm

Top 5 Destinations Featured:
1. Canada
2. San Diego (San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau)
3. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
4. Colorado
5. Vermont Department of Tourism, Vermont Tourism Network

Family Travel Magazine reveals their top five summer family travel destinations for 2012.
June 27, 2012

With so many vacation destinations to choose from, it’s tough to narrow it down, but the experts at Family Travel Magazine are here to help. There is still time to book a last-minute vacation to any of the five hand-picked travel destinations profiled by Family Travel Magazine, revealing the top five summer family travel destinations for 2012:

1.    Canada. Canada is a unique nearby family vacation destination because the weather is generally warm but not too hot, with plenty of historical and cultural opportunities. From Vancover to Halifax, and Banff to Quebec City, there are many Canadian cities ideal for a family vacation. [Editor’s note: Jodi and family will be visiting Halifax and St. John this summer on the Carnival Glory, and will be posting full reviews in July.]

2.    San Diego. The weather is always sunny and beautiful at this oceanside destination and second largest city in California. Guests can enjoy a variety of family-friendly attractions, including Legoland, the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, and Disneyland, all in one vacation. Family Travel Magazine recommends finding a hotel on the beautiful waterfront of San Diego, or consider visiting a San Diego suburb, such as Carlsbad.

3.    Colonial Williamsburg. This city offers kids a chance to learn about history and a chance to have fun. Family Travel Magazine recommends the Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg complete with indoor waterparks and kid-friendly amenities; Busch Gardens and Virginia Beach are also a quick trip from the hotel.

4.    Colorado. From the Grand Canyon to dude ranches and national parks to outdoor adventure activities, Colorado offers mild temperatures, magnificent views, and a chance to spend family time outdoors in some of the nation’s most beautiful landscapes.

5.    Vermont. Vermont offers some of the nation’s best family resorts, including Stoweflake and Smugglers’ Notch, featuring outdoor activities, food tours, bus tours to Quebec and Montreal, and adventure sports to participate in.

For families with summer vacation plans still up in the air, these top five places are destinations loaded with family fun activities and are all geographically beautiful, and highly recommended by Family Travel Magazine. For more traveling tips, click to subscribe to the magazine’s monthly family travel newsletter.
About Family Travel Magazine: Passionate about promoting family vacations that help a family bond, Family Travel Magazine ( http://www.familytravelmagazine.com/) reviews hotels, destinations and attractions and reveals special deals and promotions at hotels across the U.S. Because mom and dad sometimes need to get away alone, the magazine also features destinations for parents only. Jodi Grundig, mom of two with an MBA and ten years in corporate finance, is a sought-after brand ambassador, travel writer, mom blogger (since 2007) and brand consultant. An avid traveler and travel blogger, Jodi has written about some of the nation’s best family hotspots, including Hawaii, Freeport, Maine, Lake George, NY, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and Martha’s Vineyard. Jodi is a member of NATJA (North American Travel Journalists Association), and served two years on the popular Walt Disney World Moms Panel, and is a member of the Yahoo! Mother Board

Growth Market Extraordinaire: Space Tourism and Virgin Galactic

Space tourism is truly one of the  most fitting topics regarding "Growth Markets in Travel".

You may have seen stories appear in the national news from time to time on space tourism. So what's the latest now regarding this "last frontier" of tourism? Here's some brief info on Virgin Galactic, one of the leaders at the forefront of space travel and tourism:

+ Company: Virgin Galactic
+ Company website: http://www.virgingalactic.com/
+ Company overview: Virgin Galactic is at forefront of bringing tourists into space in 2013 and with commercial flights by 2016.
+ Article from this past week (see excerpt and hyperlink to full article below):

Virgin Galactic a GO! Branson tells crowd at Farnborough Air Show that passenger space flights on SpaceShipTwo will launch in 2013 
By Victoria Cavaliere / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS July 12, 2012

Richard Branson's space company Virgin Galactic will begin shuttling passengers into the cosmos beginning in December 2013, the British entrepreneur announced.

Branson also announced the development of "LauncherOne," a new air-launched rocket specifically designed to deliver small satellites into orbit. Commercial flights of the vehicle are expected to begin by 2016.

Read full article at:

Fodor's Announces Best New Culinary Cruise Experiences!

Among winners of Fodor's Best New Culinary Cruise Experiences include tour operator TAUCK WORLD DISCOVERY and NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE.

Read full story here:
Best New Culinary Cruise Experiences: Tauck and Norwegian Cruise Line (Fodor's)

How to contact the winners?
Tauck World Discovery
Norwegian Cruise Line

Here's excerpts from above article:

Tauck's new "A Taste of France" cruises on the Rhône River showcase the best of the French culinary tradition, with 9-night itineraries—crafted in partnership with culinary tour specialists Churchill & Turen, Ltd.—that incorporate cooking demos, market visits, wine tastings, guest lecturers, and more.

Norwegian Cruise Line debuted a high-end onboard gourmet "Chef's Table" experience in March, with one such exclusive dining experience available to discerning guests on each and every Norwegian cruise. Being billed as a nine-course "culinary adventure," the intimate 12-person, two-and-a-half-hour dinners start with champagne and continue with a menu that features dishes like vodka and jalapeno ravioli and plantain-crusted pan-seared sea bass. Meals are accompanied by fine wines selected by the line's master sommelier. The cover charge for the Chef's Table dining experience is $75 per person, which also includes a galley tour, commemorative photos, and gratuities. Starting sample fares for 7-night Norwegian Cruise Line sailings to Europe and the Caribbean start from $399 per person.

"Swamp People" Reality TV Show Attracting Tourists to Louisiana

Atchafalaya Attraction: Reality TV shows drive tourists to basin's ecosystem

Read full story at: http://www.theadvertiser.com/article/20120702/NEWS01/120702001/Atchafalaya-Attraction-Reality-TV-shows-drive-tourists-basin-s-ecosystem

Here's a couple excerpts from the article:

Though Lake Martin isn’t technically connected to the Atchafalaya Basin, it’s in the geographic footprint of the basin, and its swampy landscape mirrors the basin’s terrain. Tourists like the Parishes have flocked to the basin and this region to get a taste of what Louisiana is really like after handfuls of reality TV shows thrust the state into a national spotlight in recent years.

The basin’s unique beauty offers an array of tourism opportunities, from the swamp tours to outdoor activities, and state and local tourism officials are capitalizing on Louisiana’s recent TV fame by getting visitors to boost the Pelican State’s economy.

For more information, contact:
1) Lafayette Convention & Visitors Bureau
2) Louisiana Travel Promotion Association
3) Louisiana Office of Tourism

Africa Travel Association (ATA) - Continent Full of Growth Markets in Tourism

Today I attended a meeting with Edward Bergman, Africa Travel Association (ATA). I've actually personally known Edward and ATA for a number of years.

ATA does tremendous work and represents an exciting continent which is full of growth markets. They also have a wonderful staff including Sharon Roling who serves as Vice President / Director of Media & Communications for ATA. As such, I encourage you to learn more about the Africa Travel Association including their mission, events and opportunities for involvement/engagement with the association.

Here's a brief overview of the Africa Travel Association:

Website: http://www.africatravelassociation.org/
 Email address: info@africatravelassociation.org

ATA International Headquarters
152 Madison Avenue, Suite 1702
New York, NY 10016 USA 
Tel: +1.212.447.1357
USA Toll Free: 1.888.439.0478

To bring the world to Africa and Africa to the world.

The Africa Travel Association (ATA) was established as an international travel industry trade association in 1975 to promote travel, tourism and transport to and within Africa, and to strengthen intra-Africa partnerships. ATA partners with the African Union Commission (AUC) to promote the sustainable development of tourism to and across Africa. ATA's annual events in Africa and the United States bring together industry and government leaders to shape Africa's tourism agenda.

As the world’s premier travel industry trade association promoting tourism to Africa, ATA provides services to a broad range of members including: African governments, their tourism ministers, tourism bureaus and boards, airlines, hoteliers, travel agents, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, front-line travel sellers and providers, tour operators, travel trade media, public relations firms, consulting companies, non-profit organizations, businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises, and other organizations engaged in tourism promotion.

While ATA is a global association, it is registered as a 501(c)6 non-profit trade association in the U.S., with its headquarters in New York. ATA is overseen by an International Board of Directors. ATA’s daily operations are run by an Executive Director and a management team.
  • Advocate for Africa as a leading global travel destination
  • Raise awareness of Destination Africa's diverse travel products
  • Promote positive news on Destination Africa
  • Develop and promote travel programs to and across Africa
  • Assist country and private sector members with marketing and promotions
  • Serve as a liaison on tourism matters in Africa between member countries
  • Present opportunities for members to market and showcase their products and services
  • Offer members continuing education, training and learning opportunities
  • Help members increase business through exposure, networking and referrals
  • Organize events where tourism stakeholders meet to discuss issues of common interest and concern
  • Conduct research with partner organizations on tourism matters in Africa

Faith-based Tourism: Israel Launches Program to Attract Christian Travelers

Read original story at:: Israel Launches Program to Attract Christian Visitors
For  more information, contact Israel Ministry of Tourism www.goisrrael.com

New York - Reported by Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine
The Israel Ministry of Tourism is mounting an advertising campaign directed at North American Christians this summer, as part of its ongoing effort to increase the number of visitors to the land that is uniquely both "The Holy Land" as well as "The Jewish State."

The $1.5 million campaign will include print, radio and Internet messages in a variety of media reaching specific niche markets that include Evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics. Separate advertising messages will be directed to Hispanic audiences. In Canada, advertising will also appear on cable television in specific markets.

"Tourism to Israel is breaking all records," says Haim Gutin, Israel Tourism Commissioner for North and South America, "with 2009, 2010 and 2011 the best years ever for travel to Israel, and with 2012 projected to show an additional 5% increase."

It is estimated that some 40% of American tourists to Israel are Christian travelers touring the Holy Land. The advertising messages will underscore the Ministry of Tourism's campaign theme "Visit Israel. You'll never be the same."

Sports Tourism News - Bahamas and Baton Rouge (LA)

Here are two news stories on Sports Tourism - one in reference to a country's efforts (Bahamas) and the other a city (Baton Rouge, LA).

Story #1
Bahamas Sports Tourism Eyes $13 Million for Economy
Website/Contact info to destination:

Story #2
 Still a Hero for Baton Rouge Sports Tourism
Website/Contact info to destination:

Culinary Tourism News Stories: Atlantic Canada and Norwegian Cruise Line

Here are a couple of great stories on Culinary Tourism currently circulating in the news.

For your convenience , I've also provided a link below each news story to the tourist offices or destinations represented in the articles. This provides you an opportunity to contact the respective tourism officials/representatives for more information.

Tourist Offices to contact for more information:

Food Network Star Chef Geoffrey Zakarian to Open Restaurant on Norwegian Cruise Line Breakaway
For more information about Norwegian Cruise Line or to contact their representatives, here's their website: Norwegian Cruise Line

Survey: Agents lagging in growing faith-based travel market (Source: Travel Weekly)

Article by Michelle Baran

Below are several excerpts from the article, however, click here to read the full story:

+ The religious travel market is once again growing, but a recent survey reveals that travel agents continue to hold a smaller share of the market than other competing venues, especially churches.
Likely Venues For Future Religious Vacations
+ The 2011 results showed that of potential religious travelers, 47% are likely to book directly through their church, 38% online, 35% through a travel agent and 28% directly through a tour operator. Of past religious travelers, 52% said they were likely to make future bookings through their church, 34% would likely book directly through an operator, 33% would book online and 30% would book through an agent.

+ In 2007, three years after Globus launched its religious travel division, the outlook for the faith-based travel market was very hopeful, with travel companies, religious organizations and the media reporting it had great potential. That same year, the World Religious Travel Association (WRTA) was launched, adding to the segment's perceived potential.

Latest Headlines: Adventure, Culinary, Faith-based and Sports Tourism

Check out some of the latest news stories in tourism's growth markets. For more information about each destination, click on the "NTA Member to contact" link below it.


10 Ecotourism Opportunities in Florida
NTA member to contact: Florida's Space Coast Office of Tourism, VISIT FLORIDA

Birds Mean Business in New York: Fastest Growing Outdoor Recreation Generates $1.6 Billion Annually
NTA Member to contact: New York State Division of Tourism

Family-friendly Cycling Tours in the Toronto Region
NTA member to contact: Tourism Toronto, Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation and Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau


A New Menu for Tourism in Atlantic Canada
NTA members to contact: New Brunswick Tourism and Parks, Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism, Nova Scotia Dept. of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, Tourism Prince Edward Island

Food Network Star Chef Geoffrey Zakarian to Open Restaurant on Norwegian Cruise Line Breakaway
NTA member to contact: Norwegian Cruise Line

Israel Launches Program to Attract Christian Visitors
NTA member to contact: Israel Ministry of Tourism

Religious Pilgrimages: 14 of the World's Most Spiritual Destinations
NTA members to contact: Mexico Tourism Board, Turkish Culture and Tourism Office


Bahamas Sports Tourism Eyes $13 Million for Economy
NTA member to contact: Bahamas Ministry of Tourism

Still a Hero for Baton Rouge Sports Tourism
NTA member to contact: Baton Rouge Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Louisiana Travel Promotion Association
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