Archive for February, 2019

Where to Go in 2019: USTOA Reveals Top Destinations, Travel Trends

February 7, 2019
Venice_082518_576e2(c) Karen Rubin

Venice, Italy. USTOA named Italy as the top destination for 2019, but also raised concern about the impact of overtourism in the most popular places, like Venice. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Tour operator members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) named Italy the most popular or “hot” destination for travelers in 2019, in a recent survey conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC).

The top 10 “hot” destinations for the coming year also included Iceland, which ranked second, followed by Japan, Vietnam, Australia, France, Spain, Colombia, Cambodia and Portugal.

USTOA tour operator members also identified their top 10 off-the-beaten path or emerging destinations that they see gaining popularity in 2019: Iceland ranked first, Cambodia ranked second, followed by Croatia, Colombia, Vietnam, Portugal, Bhutan, Bolivia, Myanmar, and Ethiopia.

“It’s interesting see five destinations – Iceland, Cambodia, Colombia, Vietnam and Portugal – appear on both the hot destinations and emerging destinations lists,” added Terry Dale, President and CEO of USTOA. “This tells us that off-the-beaten path travel experiences continue to grow in popularity among travelers.”

Demand for immersive, culturally rich travel programs continue to remain high. Roughly 82% of members offer art and culture travel experiences. The art and culture category was also the highest ranked experiential program for travelers in 2017, based on volume of sales. Two thirds of membership offer honeymoon and romance programs, 63% of members offer adventure programs, and more than half (56%) offer multi-generational family programs.

Economic Impact and Growth Ahead

According to the study, the tour operator members of USTOA project to close out 2018 with sales reaching $18.7 billion dollars, representing 9.8 million individual travelers.

Furthermore, member operators are extremely confident about business in the year ahead: 100% of responding tour operator members anticipate growth in sales in 2019.

“Since the first PwC study was commissioned in 2012, it’s the first time we’ve seen such a bullish response with our entire membership projecting growth ahead,” said Dale. “It’s even more encouraging that more than half of members (56%) forecast growth of sales ranging from seven to 10% or more in 2019, indicating a potential boom year.”

While the Active Members of USTOA view the upcoming year with optimism, they also addressed the global risks that could impact the industry over the next three years. Terrorism topped the list with 17% of members responding they are “extremely concerned.”  However, this level of concern is a considerable drop compared to the 2016 PwC study when more than half of member (59%) were “extremely concerned.”

Political instability and overtourism, a new category this year, were the next two global risks that members were “extremely concerned” about, as named by 13% of survey respondents.

In addition, tour operator members projected that roughly 63% of total packages sold in 2018 were through travel agencies, “Reinforcing the critical role of travel advisors in the continued success of members’ businesses,” Dale cited.

When asked whose traveling, tour operator members responded that about half (48%) of their customer base are 51 to 70 years of age. The next largest category was age 36 to 50 years representing 20% of customers. Gender is split evenly with 51% female and 49% male.  Within the escorted/guided and custom tour category, female passengers were represented slightly higher at 59%.

The research was released at USTOA’s 40th Annual Conference & Marketplace, held at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge in Phoenix AZ, November 26-30, 2018.

U.S. Tour Operators Association members, representing nearly $19 billion in revenue, provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow 9.8 million travelers annually access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe. Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business.  As a voice for the tour operator industry for more than 40 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents.

For more information on USTOA, visit www.ustoa.com, call 212-599-6599, or email information@ustoa.com.

 

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Kennebunkport Resort Collection Unveils Igloo Ice Lounge for Paint the Town Red Festivities

February 6, 2019

KENNEBUNKPORT, ME– Paint the Town Red officially kicks off Saturday, February 2 at The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel’s “Frosted! A Freezing Good Time” Ice Bar celebration hosted by Portland, Maine native Chelsea Roy of The Bachelor Season 22 and Bachelor in Paradise.

The Kennebunkport Inn is taking the Paint the Town Red festivities to a new level with its Igloo Ice Lounge. Each igloo can host up to eight guests who can enjoy small plates and specialty cocktails while wrapped in cozy throw blankets on fur lined seats. The Igloo Ice Lounge also offers outdoor fire pit seating, a heart-shaped Cornhole board and board games to keep guests fully entertained. Igloos can be reserved for private events for $275 each.

The Igloo Ice Lounge is open 4 to 8 pm Sunday through Thursday and 4 to 9pm on Friday and Saturday through March 31, 2019.

The Kennebunkport Inn is offering an Igloo Stay & Play Package, starting at $395 which includes a two-night stay at the Kennebunkport Inn, snowshoe rentals for two, an L.L.Bean boat tote filled with winter themed goodies and two complimentary Igloo Ice Lounge drink tickets. The package is available for travel through March 31, 2019 and can be reserved online or over the phone at 1(800) 573-7186.

The celebrations continue each weekend all month long with a full line-up of culinary experiences scheduled at various properties and restaurants in the Kennebunkport Resort Collection (KRC). The roster includes an oyster shucking class with local bivalves and wine pairings, sushi making demonstration with sake tasting, a tap takeover with Biddeford’s Banded Brewing Co. and an Earth at Hidden Pond pop-up dinner.

Cupid’s Love Shuttle can be booked for KRC guests needing transportation to and from the Portland International Jetport for $40 per person (one way). KRC guests can take advantage of the Love KPT hotel packages starting at $479 for a two-night stay, three course dinner, while the Put A Ring On It package puts KRC’s Cupid Concierge in charge of curating of a romantic proposal. The Cupid Concierge is available to curate a romantic rendezvous for couples staying at a KRC property throughout February and can be reached at cupid@lovekpt.com or 207-967-1517.

Throughout February Dock Square in downtown Kennebunkport will be decked out in sparkling red lights and “#LoveYourSelfie” photo stations will be positioned throughout town for love birds to stop and snap a selfie. Paint the Town Red celebrations continue all month welcoming sweethearts with a calendar of special events and stay packages.

KRC Stay Packages

  • The Love KPTpackage starts at $479 and includes a two-night stay at The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel, the Kennebunkport Inn or the Grand Hotel, arrival goodies of red wine and chocolate-covered strawberries, a three course dinner for two and late check-out. The package is available for travel through March 31, 2019 and can be reserved online the individual property’s website.
  • For those looking for an over-the-top engagement, KRC’s Put A Ring On It puts the Cupid Concierge on speed dial to help curate perfect romance. Beginning with luxury accommodations, the package includes an original love poem, bottle of Dom Pérignon in Waterford crystal champagne flutes, a personal photographer to capture the “big ask,” four dozen red roses and chocolate covered strawberries. Plus, KRC recently partnered with luxury honeymoon travel specialists, CIRE Travel, who will waive all planning fees for couples (valued at $1,000) booking the Put A Ring On It package. To really ramp up the romance cupid can also provide a custom engagement ring (valued up to $8,000) from a local jeweler. Available through February 28, 2019, the package can be booked by phone at 1-(800) 573-7186.

Red Hot Events

 

Red Plate Dinner Series

  • Saturday, February 16: Sushi Making Demo, Sake Tasting + Dinner at The Boathouse Restaurant – An interactive demonstration on the art of sushi making paired with light bites and sake tasting, a three course meal and sushi rolling kit to take home; 4-6pm; $50 per person.
  • Saturday, February 9Earth Winter Dinner Pop-Up at Ocean – Hosted by Chef Joe Schafer, this not-to-be-missed event provides a first taste of the of the 2019 Earth menu. The evening begins with welcome cocktails and appetizers followed by a three course dinner with plated appetizer, family style entrees, plated dessert and additional surprises. Tickets are $135 per person and include food, cocktails, wine pairings with dinner and gratuity; 6-9pm.
  • Thursday, February 14Valentine’s Day Dinner at The Burleigh and The Boathouse Waterfront Restaurant.
  • Saturday, February 23Tap Takeover & Beer Dinner with Banded Brewing Co. – Biddeford’s Banded Brewing Co. takes over the taps at The Burleigh. Chef Eric will serve light bites followed by a four-course dinner paired with four of the brewery’s most popular beers; 5-9 pm; $75 per person.

To purchase event tickets, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/kennebunkport-resort-collection-8295220906

Paint the Town Red exclusive offers and experiences are available from February 1 through February 28, 2019. Sweethearts can follow the love on social media using #lovekpt. For more information, visit: http://destinationkennebunkport.com/paint-town-red-february-kennebunkport/

 

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