There are many ways to look at Cuba. From a strictly-business point of view, it’s a sad story. There’s never been any question that there has been huge pent-up demand by Americans to travel to Cuba. After more than half a century of being prohibited by their own government from traveling to what used to be considered one of the hottest vacation destinations in the world, of course there is demand. It’s 90 miles from Florida, a heavenly tropical Caribbean destination. But for practical purposes it’s blackened off the tourist map.
There’s never been any situation that compares to it. Americans can travel pretty much anywhere. Americans are not dictated to by their government as to where they can travel. They can travel to America’s Cold War nemeses, Russia and China, even to Vietnam. But not Cuba. Read the rest of this entry »
I noticed recently that Expedia is using the slogan, “It matters who you travel with.” I found that to be a curious choice for the mega online travel agency. I agree with the statement wholeheartedly, but applying it to Expedia is a mismatch. It would be appropriate if you applied the slogan to the American Society of Travel Advisors.
ASTA used to use the slogan, “Without a travel agent, you’re on your own.” And it was, ironically, Expedia who taught me the truth of that statement. It was a hard lesson.
It’s surprising to me that after so many years Expedia still has customers. I have to think that the people who still book with Expedia have never had anything go wrong on a trip. Because if you book with Expedia, and something does go wrong, you really are on your own. At least that was the case in my experience. Read the rest of this entry »
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” said Juliet Capulet, according to William Shakespeare. Times change, names change. Peking became Beijing. We got used to it. It doesn’t really matter.
Bombay is now Mumbai. Canton is now Guangzhou. Saigon is Ho Chi Minh City. St. Petersburg became Petrograd, then Leningrad, and now is St. Petersburg again. Constantinople is Istanbul. Natal province in South Africa became KwaZulu-Natal. New Amsterdam became New York. Cross Keys, Pennsylvania, became… Intercourse? I swear. It did. Look it up.
Now travel agents are known as travel advisors. Or travel advisers, depending on what you are reading. The reason for the change in nomenclature was, of course, to break from the past and emphasize that travel retailers don’t just turn over tickets for airlines Read the rest of this entry »
After a year of being locked down, it’s understandable that people may want to double up on their bucket list trips to make up for lost time. But Africa and Antarctica in the same trip? That seems a stretch.
When I first learned that two tour operators, Wilderness Safaris and White Desert, joined forces to offer two trips that combine an African safari with an Antarctic expedition, my reaction was that the combination was incongruous at best. In my mind, they seemed to be two separate worlds, almost like two opposite poles of experience. But, when I looked closer, I found that it makes perfect sense. Read the rest of this entry »
Richard Branson, still cutting a charismatic figure at 70, flew to space and made it safely back again with his space tourism company Virgin Galactic. It was another milestone for Branson, who first made his fortune in the record business with Virgin Records in the early 1970s.
It’s been a long time since Branson embarked on his space enterprise, founding Virgin Galactic in 2004. In February 2007 I attended a ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., at which 45 Virtuoso travel agents were certified as Accredited Space Agents, after completing Virgin Galactic’s training regimen.
Anything to do with Branson is going to be done with top notch PR, and holding the event at Cape Canaveral was a brilliant stroke. Having dinner under a giant Saturn 5 Rocket created a heady atmosphere for travel agents tasked with introducing space flight to the public.
It gave the event a great boost to connect with the US space program Read the rest of this entry »
After a year of being pent up, the Great Release is upon us, and now it seems sudden. Things are opening faster than predicted just a few months ago.
In March 2020, the COVID pandemic submerged us in the exponential growth of new infections and, before we could comprehend what was happening, we were virtually imprisoned, taking shelter to save our lives. We settled in and got used to being confined. Now the release is happening all around us. And it seems to be happening faster than almost anyone expected.
The demand for travel is, unsurprisingly, going through the roof. But to say “it’s complicated” is to vastly understate the circumstances. World travel now is an extremely tangled web. Read the rest of this entry »
As the world moves unsteadily toward eliminating the threat of COVID-19, navigating the world can seem like moving across a map on which all the countries are different colors. The pandemic has been global, but the response to it is highly fragmented. There is no standard international code for how to create a safe environment while COVID continues to be present. Every country is going about it in its own way.
That’s great for the spirit of independence, but it creates a whole lot of annoying complications for travelers who, a couple of years ago, used to cross many international borders with ease. For Dan Austin, president of Austin Adventures, an operator of tour programs on several continents, it has become like an endless series of changing conditions Read the rest of this entry »