Hurtigruten Appoints Global Director, Charter & Incentive Sales

Robert Cao, Hurtigruten

WHY IT RATES: Cao has more than 30 years of sales experience, 20 of which have been within the cruise industry. —Janeen Christoff, TravelPulse Senior Writer

Hurtigruten, the world’s largest expedition cruise operator, has appointed Robert Cao as their new global director of charter and incentive sales. He is based in Miami and a member of the Americas’ leadership team, reporting through Hurtigruten Americas president, William Harber.

For Hurtigruten, Cao will oversee the successful sales and delivery of full-ship charters, as well as incentive programs and on-site corporate experiences on the company’s state-of-the-art expedition ships.


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Cao has over 30 years of sales experience, including 20 in the cruise industry, most recently from a successful career with prestigious Landry & Kling Global Cruise Events, true trailblazers and one of the world’s leading companies focusing on cruise industry meetings and events. He served in prior roles as charter, groups and incentive sales director U.S.A. for Club Med; as Mexico Country sales director for Club Med; and as international sales manager for NCL and Orient Lines.

“Robert is a global sales resource and we’re pleased to welcome him on board as Hurtigruten’s new global director. He brings incredible experience, creativity, and drive, and I’m excited to see how we can expand our charter and incentive business in collaboration with shipboard and shoreside teams,” notes William Harber.

Hurtigruten has 125 years of know-how and provides immersive experiences to some of the world’s most pristine and remote destinations, including Antarctica, Alaska, Arctic Canada and the Northwest Passage, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Svalbard, and more. Among Hurtigruten’s many charter opportunities, three stand-out itineraries include the 10-day Svalbard Voyage–In the Realm of the Polar Bear, the nine-day West Coast Highlights–San Diego to Vancouver, and the eight-day Northeast U.S. and Atlantic Canada–Fall Foliage Discovery.

“Hurtigruten is the most innovative and experienced expedition cruise operator in the world. I’m thrilled to work with an organization that places such an emphasis on exploring new destinations aboard state-of-the-art vessels. This is the beginning of a great new adventure for me,” says Cao.

SOURCE: Hurtigruten press release.

25 Ways to Save Money on a Tropical Cruise This Winter


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Save Big on Your Warm Weather Escape

If you’re tired of the cold and snow and craving a change of scenery, a warm weather cruise to the Caribbean or Mexico may be exactly what you need. These 25 tips can help you score the tropical getaway you deserve without wrecking your travel budget.

Knysna, South Africa's Adventure Capital

The coastline at Swartvlei Beach

One of the most popular areas in the Rainbow Nation, South Africa is the country’s Garden Route, which stretches for hundreds of miles along the southwestern coastline. The area is vast, with many picturesque cities along the highway.

We chose Knysna as our headquarters for a recent trip, and its central location on this part of the Indian Ocean coast served us well. The drive from Cape Town to Knysna took about five hours in total, although you could stretch that out even longer if you linger in some of the other towns along the way.

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Knysna itself is a naturalist’s paradise, with an extensive lagoon/estuary system that attracts bird watchers the world over. Visitors to this part of the country have an abundance of outdoor activities from which to choose, including hang gliding, bungee jumping, boating and more. We tried a bit of everything, but these were our three favorite adventures:

1. Knysna Elephant Park—This wonderful experience brings visitors close enough to actually touch wild elephants. Daily tours depart every 30 minutes, and you’re taken to an area where you can feed the elephants, who are fairly wary of humans.

After that, guides take small groups of a few people each to interact with one of the elephants. It takes months or years for the elephants to accept and trust the guides, and you’re instructed exactly where to stand and what you can do, so as not to spook the animals.

I referred to the park as a sanctuary, and the guide quickly corrected me. The park, he said, tries to rescue and rehabilitate the animals and re-introduce them to the wild. The goal isn’t to keep them there forever. There are also breakfast picnic walks available as well as group packages, wedding options and even a lodge for “elephant sleep-overs.”

Paul Heney - Knysna Elephant Park

2. Whale watching—Ocean Odyssey charters run a number of eco-tours in the estuary and ocean waters all around Knysna. We chose the whale watching close encounter tour, which generally runs 90 minutes to two hours in length.

Our crew was fantastic and very knowledgeable about the local wildlife. They quickly spotted a breaching humpback whale and her calf, wowing the entire boat for about 15 minutes. We also saw a Bryde’s whale, three different species of dolphins, Cape fur seals and even penguins.

The crew was also very cognizant of people who were on the “wrong” side of the boat for the various encounters and made sure people close to the action were sitting, so others could stand for better views—as well as photographs.

A humpback whale breeches during an Ocean Odyssey tour

3. Beach walk with a naturalist—We spent a few hours with Mark Dixon of AMD Odyssey Tours and they were incredibly insightful and memorable. Dixon is one of those people who seems to know endless amounts of information about every part of the natural world, from marine life to geology to fossils. But he’s so genuinely excited to share his knowledge that it never comes across as lecturing—learning and teaching is just his passion.

Dixon has degrees in animal husbandry and livestock science, as well as a masters in ichthyology and fishery science. He has done research in Antarctica as a scientific observer and in the Pantanal on jaguars. Throw in eight years of avifaunal research on wind farms and a citizen science study on ghost fishing and you see what a busy guy he’s been.

AMD, which started in 2004, has three tour lengths as well as a moonlight meander, a night-time tour. It also does itineraries for multi-day tours, from two days up to 10 days. One itinerary starts in Cape Town and participants do 10 hikes in total. There is also a five-day coastal trail, which is the Garden Route coastal trail from Wilderness through to Brenton on Sea. There’s also a lot of birdwatching to be done in this part of the world, so AMD has a lake bird tour.

If that’s not enough, the company also offers snorkeling, stand up paddle boarding, photographic walking tours, forest walks and biking excursions.

Paul Heney beach walk with partner and AMD in South Africa

Where Your State Wants to Travel the Most

Map of the United States, most mentioned travel destinations

It’s no secret that Americans want to travel the world in 2019. But where does your state want to go in the New Year?

The folks over at recently analyzed geotagged tweets including hashtag #vacation, #travel and similar terms (more than 200,000 tweets) over the last month to determine each state’s most mentioned travel destination. Keep in mind that any place from within its own state was omitted to avoid false positives such as people visiting New York City tweeting about being there.

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The results suggest that Americans’ most preferred vacation destination is actually located within the U.S. as Hawaii was the top destination for more than one-third of the 49 eligible states.

Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming all pointed to the 50th U.S. state as their ideal 2019 getaway.

Meanwhile, 10 percent of the country wants to vacation in Italy, with Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Washington dreaming of the European hotspot more than any other place. Florida wasn’t far behind Italy, conquering the hearts and minds of four states across the country, including Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi and Rhode Island.

In addition to Hawaii and Florida, California (Ohio), New York (Florida and Nevada) and Tennessee (Alabama) have captured Americans imaginations this year. The latter is arguably the most head-scratching as Tennessee and Alabama literally share a border.

At least three states—Kansas, Montana and Oregon—mentioned Thailand more than any other place when referring to vacation travel.

It should come as no surprise though that residents of frigid Minnesota are eyeing the Bahamas this year while it’s only fitting (and funny) that the cannabis-friendly state of Colorado is drawn to the birthplace of Rastafarianism, Jamaica. Nonetheless, the Caribbean destination has a ton to offer American visitors looking to escape the cold, including amazing beaches and natural attractions, phenomenal cuisine and a whole lot more.

Map of the United States, most mentioned travel destinations

Other destinations stealing U.S. states’ hearts in 2019 include Costa Rica (Idaho), France (Michigan), Greece (New York), Iceland (Vermont and Utah) Mexico (California), Scotland (Arkansas), Spain (South Carolina) and Sweden (Alaska).

While 18 states have Hawaii on the brain in 2019, the Aloha State is most interested in something much more specific in Yellowstone National Park, which is the nation’s first national park and one that should be on every travelers’ radar this year.

South Dakota has its sights set on the Grand Canyon in the New Year while Louisiana and Missouri covet Walt Disney World more than any other travel destination.

So, where will you go in 2019?

Popular Travel Apps Allegedly Shared User Data with Facebook

Girl on cell phone

A new report from London-based watchdog group Privacy International claims that several popular travel apps, including Kayak and TripAdvisor, are sharing user information with Facebook without consent.

The Boston Globe reported the researchers tested more than 30 popular Android smartphone apps and determined that about 20 of them, including Skyscanner, Yelp and others, shared user information with the social network the moment they were launched even if the user didn’t have a Facebook account.

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Privacy International said that Facebook would receive a unique code to identify the specific phone that was running the app and that, after collecting data for months or years, it could gain insights into the specific user’s travel habits.

The Kayak app reportedly shared users’ travel dates, flight and destination search history, cabin class and whether they were traveling with children.

“For most people it’ll come as a big surprise that an app that doesn’t have anything to do with Facebook is sending your data to Facebook,” Privacy International researcher Frederike Kaltheuner told The Globe. “It’s definitely a violation of the spirit of the law,” she added, referring to a new European Union law requiring companies to ask permission before sharing a user’s data with third parties.

“The technical issues raised by Privacy International are extremely complex and we respectfully consider the statements they have made to be somewhat oversimplified,” TripAdvisor said in a response to the report. The company also promised to discuss the issue with the watchdog group.

Facebook also responded to the report by shifting responsibility to the app developers.

“Developers can choose to collect app events automatically, to not collect them at all, or to delay collecting them until consent is obtained, depending on their particular circumstances,” the company said in a statement via The Globe. “We also require developers to ensure they have an appropriate legal basis to collect and process users’ information.”

Kaltheuner admitted that “we obviously don’t know what Facebook is doing with the data” and added that the group plans to run the same test with Apple iPhone apps.

The report comes just a few months after TripAdvisor announced changes to its app and website.

Rollout for the GNTB Campaign

Berlin, Germany

WHY IT RATES: There will be several projects to promote this important event. —Codie Liermann, Associate Editor

The German National Tourist Board starts the year 2019 with its worldwide campaign on the Centenary of the foundation of the legendary Bauhaus movement in Weimar.

In cooperation with their partners, such as the office of the Bauhaus consortium as well as the regional marketing organizations of all German states, the GNTB is initiating numerous activities to market this important event on a cultural tourism level.

With various digital projects, the GNTB highlights the experience-oriented character of the Bauhaus Centenary. For example, a landing page in German, English and French provides the core messages of the campaign.

An animation movie deals with the multifaceted nature of the Bauhaus heritage in design, architecture, arts and crafts. The movie refers to the most important places of the Bauhaus accomplishments in Weimar, Dessau and Berlin as well as in the numerous places that are relevant to the topic in the states.

A digital replica of the legendary Director’s office of Walter Gropius in Weimar will be used worldwide as a virtual reality project at trade and press events of the GNTB and allows a realistic impression of the Bauhaus.

One project that the GNTB promotes internationally as part of the Bauhaus Centenary is the Grand Tour of the Modern Era. This allows cultural tourists to experience the topic Bauhaus on a specifically designed travel route through Germany.

“The Centenary of the Bauhaus foundation is extremely suitable to strengthen the position of Germany as the No. 1 cultural destination for the Europeans,” Petra Hedorfer, Chair of the Board of GNTB explains at the launch of the campaign.

“Through the use of digital technologies and innovative event formats, we emphasize the dynamic heritage of the Bauhaus movement in Germany.”

Even before the start of the Centenary year, the GNTB placed significant emphasis on the topic with the second Incoming and Brand Summit at the end of October in Weimar to interactively discuss Bauhaus with experts, media representatives and influencers from 20 countries.

One project that the GNTB uses in selected markets to campaign for the Bauhaus Centenary is a Tiny(BAU)haus. As a 3D print made of recycled plastic, it uses innovative technologies and materials and extents the concept of sustainability.

The central element is an accessible cuboidal block with a surface of 86 square feet. Within the object, visitors can experience the world of Bauhaus with all of their senses. Interactive picture installations story tell how visitors can experience Bauhaus in Germany.

The tiny(BAU)haus will be presented for the first time in Rotterdam in February. After that, it will be used in additional markets as part of a cross-media campaign at press events and presentations by the GNTB. Videos and blogs with the hashtag CelebratingBauhaus will document its journey on social media channels.

In addition to the Centenary Bauhaus campaign, the GNTB is developing marketing campaigns as well as market specific campaigns on the major trends of culture and nature.

In 2019 the “German Summer Cities,” the touristic offerings of larger cities and those in more rural areas, take center stage as part of a worldwide marketing offensive. Contents of the campaign are the five clusters Urban city, Romantic Germany, Seaside Vacations, Sightseeing as well as Arts and Culture.

SOURCE: Germany Tourism press release.

Guyana Records Record Number of Arrivals

Sunset over Mobai Pond

The small South American nation of Guyana recorded a record number of visitors in 2018, according to recent visitation reports.

Guyana recorded a total number of visitor arrivals of 286,732 passengers; a 15.93 percent increase from the 247,330 visitors Guyana welcomed in 2017.

Guyana’s Tourism Authority has worked hard to raise the country’s profile in the minds of travelers and the efforts are clearly paying off.

The Guyana Tourism Authority has increased product development and awareness, promoting the country at important trade shows such as ITB and World Travel Market and transforming marketing efforts in 2018.

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The country now has a new destination website and social media strategy as well as market representation in core source destinations, including the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Canada. The Guyana Tourism Authority also welcomed trade and media representatives, as well as influencers, on fam trips to increase awareness of the destination, which delivers on trends travelers are currently seeking, including authenticity, nature, adventure and cultural experiences.

The added exposure has increased visitation from core markets. Visitors coming from the U.S. increased by 8.3 percent, European visitation increased by nearly 12 percent and Caribbean visitors increased by 28 percent.

Travelers who visit Guyana will find pristine rainforest, golden savannahs, eco-lodges, nature resorts and more.

Brian T. Mullis, director of the Guyana Tourism Authority noted that “this is a great achievement for Guyana.

“We are beginning to attract an increasing number of travelers seeking our authentic nature, culture and adventure experiences within our core markets,” Mullis added. “Increased visitation means increased income into Guyana that provides benefits across sectors. Tourism is the third largest export market in Guyana. Looking forward, we aim to increase the volume of visitors and the value they each represent to further amplify the positive impacts from tourism.”

The Evolution of Traveling for Queer Families

gay couple with young child

In recent years, a lot of the media coverage on queer travel has focused on queer couples and honeymoon destinations. That’s natural in the years following the legalization of same-sex marriage in all 50 states, as well as in some other countries across the globe. But gay couples often welcome children into their family, and these queer families are becoming another focus that the travel industry needs to watch.

According to a Community Marketing & Insights 2017 report on LGBTQ tourism, 85 percent of queer parents with children under 18 have taken one trip or more in the past year. But how are these families feeling about traveling today in an out and proud way? We asked a few for their thoughts.



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David Molino Dunn, a New Jersey-based flight attendant who’s married with a two-year-old son, takes about 10 trips per year, thanks to his airline job. Dunn thinks the world is definitely changing.

“I think people are becoming more accepting of LGBTQ travelers. At the end of the day, most people are respectful as long as you are respectful in return. It’s a two-way street,” he said.

“On the last night of our Transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2, an older gentleman approached us to comment on how wonderful it was that we live in a time where a family of our makeup is possible. He told us we were doing a wonderful job and that he had enjoyed watching us onboard the ship for the past week. It was such a sweet interaction.”

Jason Howe and Adrián Pérez Boluda, married for a decade, live in Los Angeles with their six-year-old twins, Clara and Olivia. They generally take about four family trips in an average year, Howe said.

“Maybe two road trips here in California and two involving airplanes. We visit Spain to visit my husband’s family once or twice a year and try to do a couple of road trips while we’re there. Our goal is to do at least one other international trip a year, but we haven’t been very good about achieving it,” he said.

“Last year, we took the girls to Yellowstone to witness the total solar eclipse and this year, we did a quick trip to Mexico City over Memorial Day weekend. We crammed a lot into our three days—Teotihuacan, Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul, the Ballet Folklórico—it was the sort of vacation you need a vacation to recover from, but the girls are still talking about the pyramids and have caught the travel bug, so it was worth it.”

Howe feels that gay families that do travel face an easier climate than in years past.

“While we’ve never had any negative experiences related to being LGBT, I can’t help but think that attitudes have improved for LGBT travelers as our community’s legal and social victories have mounted,” he said. “Oddly, I was most nervous about our trip to Wyoming—a quick Facebook check of our Airbnb host showed that she appeared to be a conservative Christian. But she was lovely, and we had a great stay.”

And Dawn Ennis, who is widowed with three children, ages 12, 16 and 19, also is a frequent traveler with the kids, often taking 10 trips per year. Based in Connecticut, Ennis has found some better attitudes overseas, but overall, her experience has been mixed.

“Our experiences in Ireland were outstanding, and I felt a little less welcomed in Scotland (the U.K.),” she said. “I felt people were a little more suspicious and standoffish. In the United States, I think gay-haters and transphobes feel they can be more outspoken—and I’ve experienced this kind of hate personally, especially in states like Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. I’ve traveled the U.S. extensively and been welcomed in California, Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana and throughout the mid-Atlantic and New England.”

Meanwhile, Dunn said that today’s politics, however, represented an unfortunate turn for queer families—and a specific worry for his own household.

“As far as the U.S. goes, even though we have yet to experience any specific discrimination, the current political climate concerns us,” he said. “More people feel enabled to come out and say hurtful and hateful things. The president has not encouraged any sort of unity or message of love and inclusion.”

ASTA and Partners Ask Industry to Switch From Agent to Advisor

Travel Agent

Change is hard, but today, the American Society of Travel Advisors and its many partners have asked the industry to make the switch: call travel agents travel advisors.

In an open letter, the organization says that the term “advisor” more accurately reflects travel agents current value to the marketplace.

“Today’s travel agents are no longer mere booking intermediaries. They have become trusted advisors—akin to financial planners and CPAs—who make the overall travel experience better and provide both leisure and business travelers maximum value for their travel dollar,” ASTA’s leaders and partners say in an open letter.

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ASTA took the unprecedented step of changing its name to reflect the change last year, and the letter highlights that terminology matters.

“In order to fully realize the benefits of this change, however, it is critical that all industry stakeholders speak with one voice when it comes to describing our business,” said the letter’s signatories, which include ASTA’s president and CEO Zane Kerby; Eric Altschul, CEO ABC Global Services; Ernesto Lavandero, Director, U.S. Network American Express Travel; Chris Dane, president of Hickory Global Partners; Bobby Godwin, vice president, Leisure Travel Alliance; John Werner, president and COO of MAST Travel Network; Alex Sharpe, president and CEO of Signature Travel Network; Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group; Kathryn Mazza-Burney, executive vice president, sales for Travelsavers, Matthew Upchurch, chairman and CEO of Virtuoso and Mike Estill, COO of Western Assoc. of Travel Agencies.

The complete letter is below:

In August 2018, our industry’s national trade association, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), announced to the world that it had rebranded as the American Society of Travel Advisors. This name change, the Society’s first in almost 75 years, embodies the revitalization of our part of the travel industry that has been taking place for several years and sends a critical message to the traveling public and the broader industry.

Today’s travel agents are no longer mere booking intermediaries. They have become trusted advisors—akin to financial planners and CPAs—who make the overall travel experience better and provide both leisure and business travelers maximum value for their travel dollar. The term “advisor” not only more accurately describes the value our members provide to consumers but also serves as a distinct declaration of who we work for: the traveling public. What’s more exciting is that the consumer media and, more importantly, travelers themselves are embracing this shift from agent to advisor.

In order to fully realize the benefits of this change, however, it is critical that all industry stakeholders speak with one voice when it comes to describing our business.

To that end, we are encouraging our member companies, supplier partners and anyone doing meaningful business through the travel advisor channel to add their name to the growing list of organizations (attached) that have made or are in the process of making the switch from “travel agent” to “travel advisor” in their consumer and trade communications.

We are experiencing a true renaissance in our industry, with consumers increasingly coming back to our members for the comparison shopping, unbiased advice, destination expertise and personal support that only a trusted travel advisor can provide. That said, terminology still matters and we hope you will join us as we move from agent to advisor.

Priceline and US Department of Defense Launch Military Travel Booking Site

Military bags

Online travel agency Priceline and the United States Department of Defense have partnered up to create a travel site for U.S. military personnel.

Dubbed “American Forces Travel,” this new site is open to current and retired military personnel to find hotel, flight, car rental, cruise deals and negotiated prices on vacation homes, apartments and packages with an up to 60 percent savings.

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The main difference between American Forces Travel and the regular Priceline site is that military users will be able to book deals, flights, rental cars and hotels with the names of the travel suppliers fully disclosed. Regular Priceline users are not able to see things like the name of the hotel with the “opaque” pricing set up on the travel site.

About 6.5 million active and retired members in every branch of the U.S. armed forces will have access to 1 million hotel deals in more than 71,000 destinations worldwide on American Forces Travel. Department of Defense civilians in the U.S. and abroad can also sign up.

Medal of Honor recipients, American Red Cross and USO paid personnel serving outside of the USA can also be eligible. Family members of these groups will also have access to the site.

To use the site, all you have to do is verify your eligibility with the Department of Defense through a secure process.

The commission created through American Forces Travel will be used to support quality of life programs within different branches of services like Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs on military bases. The DoD and Priceline would not disclose that percentage.

Members of the military “have dedicated themselves to service and deserve our thanks and our respect. To honor that service, we have negotiated deep discounts for personal travel, across flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises and more,” says Brett Keller, CEO of Priceline.

Enterprise Drives Value with Supplier Diversity Program

Young Woman Driving Rental Car

WHY IT RATES: Enterprise continues to hold the supplier diversity program of high importance.—Codie Liermann, Associate Editor


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Five years after establishing its Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) Certification Assistance Program, Enterprise Holdings is reaffirming its commitment to its supplier diversity program.

The ACDBE program provides Enterprise Holdings’ diverse suppliers with a third-party consultant to assist with the certification process and address any challenges they might face in obtaining an ACDBE certification, including denials and appeals.

“We developed this certification assistance program to create value for our existing diverse suppliers, helping these businesses obtain new opportunities and thrive in today’s airport industry,” said Lee Lewis, Supplier Diversity Manager for Enterprise Holdings.

“From a business standpoint it helps drive value, and from a community standpoint it creates opportunity by driving economic inclusion, wealth-building and job growth.”

Since the program’s inception, Enterprise has reached out to more than 15,000 diverse suppliers through quarterly mailings. The company has also hosted several webinars to offer suppliers a forum to ask questions.

By continuing to identify, utilize and increase the number of minority-owned, women-owned and other socially or economically disadvantaged small businesses that work to supply goods for its business, Enterprise is driving value in innovative ways.

Each U.S. airport is required to demonstrate its efforts toward meeting the federal government’s ACDBE goals, and all concessionaires—including Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car—are thus required to report their efforts to each airport.

The ACDBE Certification Assistance Program is part of Enterprise Holdings’ supplier diversity program, which develops supply-side business partnerships with companies that are one or more of the following:



—Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB)

—Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB certified)

—ACDBE certified; 8(a) certified

—LGBT enterprises

—Women Business Enterprise (WBE certified)

—Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB)

—Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE certified)

—HUBZone certified

Championing Diverse Suppliers in Canada

As a representative of Enterprise Holdings, Lewis was recently recognized by WEConnect International as the 2018 Canadian Supplier Diversity Champion of the Year. The award honors Lewis’ and Enterprise’s commitment to supplier diversity and advancing women-owned businesses in Canada.

“This award demonstrates the power, effectiveness and relevance of our supplier diversity program,” said Gary Cunningham, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Holdings. “It celebrates not only the partnerships we’ve established with minority-owned, women-owned and other socially or economically disadvantaged small businesses, but also the growth we’ve achieved by working together.”

In his role, Lewis advocates for businesses like privately owned, Toronto-based Everyday Office Supplies—which is a WEConnect International Certified Women’s Business Enterprise. The company supplies more than 50,000 competitively priced, high-quality office products to businesses of all sizes, including Enterprise.

“Diverse suppliers bring a unique level of agility, flexibility and innovation,” says Lewis. “They’re on the cutting edge of new technologies, and they have new ways of doing business that make a big difference for us.”

SOURCE: Enterprise Rent-A-Car press release.

Walt Disney World is the Place to Eat in 2019


Breakfast from the Grand Floridian Cafe

Eat at Disney

When it comes to dining, there’s no better food than theme park food. And while many of us still think about burgers, hot dogs and the occasional giant pretzel, there’s so much more, especially at the Walt Disney World Resort. Epcot is hosting quite a few festivals this year, new restaurants are popping up at Disney Springs, and some restaurants are even getting a whole new concept for guests to enjoy.

Global Mega-trends Are Shaping New Imperatives for Travel

Traveler with suitcase in airport (Photo via / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

As global forces continue to converge and trigger unprecedented change, the future of travel and tourism will be shaped by those companies and destinations that offer unique and meaningful experiences.

Providing personal service to sustainability-minded customers will also be critical in the evolving travel and tourism industry of the future, as will having trustworthy and responsible leadership in place.

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These are the key takeaways from a new report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) titled “World, Transformed: Megatrends and their implications for Travel & Tourism.”

The report, produced in partnership with Bloomberg, examined how powerful global demographic, political, economic and technological forces are impacting the travel and tourism landscape. It also covers how such forces are producing different expectations among consumers and creating different obligations for businesses and policymakers in order to succeed.

One of the fastest growing sectors, travel and tourism accounts for more than 10 percent of global GDP, the WTTC said.

Sustaining such growth and reaching industry forecasts, such as the eight billion air travelers predicted by 2037, will require continuous innovation and reinvention, according to the new report.

“We live in an era of rapidly accelerating change. Powerful, global forces are fundamentally changing the way we live, work and travel at a rate we have never witnessed before. These converging forces—or megatrends—present immense opportunities for those who recognize them and adapt their strategies,” said Gloria Guevara, WTTC president, and CEO, at the launch of the report at the FITUR travel fair in Madrid.

“The challenge is for destinations and businesses to embrace the opportunities of this changing global landscape and the expectations of tomorrow’s consumers.”

Additional key report takeaways include:

—Consumers are increasingly moving beyond experiences as social currency to seeking shared experiences to deliver meaning, self-improvement and stronger connections.

—Millennials and Generation Z have little loyalty to employers or brands and are more likely to rely on personal networks than experts.

—Consumers value technology but are uncomfortable with over-automation, which seeks to replace customer interaction with intelligent bots.

—Consumers want to be treated as individuals by companies that trust their privacy, share their values, and provide authenticity.

—Travel and tourism companies will succeed by responding to the rise of ethical consumption trends and protecting the very destinations they promote.

“As these implications converge, organizations in the travel and tourism industry will need to make investments to take advantage of the new realities,” said Andrew Benett, chief commercial officer, Bloomberg Media Group. “Businesses will need to dramatically enhance their understanding of their customers—present and future—and ensure that they are maintaining a competitive edge by establishing a voice within the global conversation.”

The report outlines five areas where change will be most profound in the travel and tourism industry.

Reality, Enhanced

As people, communities, and businesses become more sophisticated in adapting new technologies for analog experiences, new ideas and beliefs are emerging about how best to live a connected life.

Online and offline experiences, as a result, are becoming increasingly integrated. More than $8.2 trillion in global expenditure is forecasted for the experience economy, in addition to an increased emphasis on physical and mental wellbeing.

With experiences at the core of travel and tourism, the sector has the potential to design meaningful, unique, frictionless and even unplugged journeys that directly respond to these changing values.

Life, Restructured

The growth of tech-powered economies such as the “gig economy” and “sharing economy” continues to create new expectations for work, life and culture.

Twenty-five percent of workers in the US and EU engage in independent work today, and the independent workforce is only going to rise. As the structure of people’s lives become more fluid and self-directed, travel will become more of a lifestyle, mobility will increasingly become communal and service-based, and businesses will need to rethink their workforce.

Data, Revolutionized

The power of data will drive a new frontier of innovation and deliver unprecedented ability to better understand and predict outcomes.

While over 180 ZB of data is expected to be generated by 2025, consumers remain uneasy when it comes to their security and privacy. These technologies offer tremendous opportunities for the travel and tourism sector, including leveraging data to build a fluid, cohesive travel experience, implementing large-scale Internet of Things, facial recognition and use of voice assistants to streamline travel.

Businesses will need to lean into brand values to guide their innovation and prioritize transparency with their consumers.

Power, Redistributed

Significant shifts in power dynamics will have dramatic effects on both local culture and global markets as technology, globalization, and population growth continue to redistribute power. These forces create new centers of social and economic influence in the East and South.

For travel and tourism organizations, merely establishing a presence in new markets won’t be enough as it will be critical to understand the future consumer. Businesses will need to invest in creating sharable moments, strive for customer service excellence and ensure their brand has a point of view in the global, social discussion.

Consumption, Reimagined

As the availability of resources and health of our planet are increasingly threatened, there is a need for responsibly balancing short and long-term priorities.

By 2050, the global population will exceed 9.7 billion and consumption of natural resources will triple. Sustainable business practices and aligning brand stories to sustainable solutions can become the core of a robust growth strategy for the travel and tourism sector. Safeguarding destinations, environmental leadership, and community health will, therefore, be integral to the customer experience.

Hotel Cancels Fan's Reservation Before Super Bowl

Hotel room door

With less than a month before the Super Bowl, Michael Marshall was informed that a hotel reservation he made for the big game nearly a year ago was canceled.

“I was just in shock,” Michael Marshall told WSBV TV Channel 2’s Michael Seiden.

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In addition to being a corporate travel agent, Marshall makes additional money as a stagehand, and he’s doing so behind the scenes at Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show in Atlanta, but not without difficulty.

“I made my hotel reservations last February, so February of 2018, and everything was booked and confirmed,” Marshall explained.

Marshall had booked a room at the JW Marriott Atlanta Buckhead, but earlier this month, he received a call from the manager with bad news.

“The hotel called me and said that the corporation bought out the entire hotel a week after I made my reservation, so they waited an entire year to tell me,” he said. Apparently, the hotel is serving as a team hotel for the Los Angeles Rams.

The hotel manager apologized in a letter for the cancellation sent to Marshal on January 4th. The manager offered to honor the rate at a less luxurious property.

“They did offer me 10,000 points. I suggested more like 50,000, which is enough for one free night and they didn’t really go for that,” Marshall said.

Marshall isn’t the only one to be upset or subjected to this cancellation.

WSBV TV Channel 2 contacted the governor’s Office of Consumer Protection and received a reply from a spokesperson that read:

“We have received two complaints regarding hotels. Consumers involved in a dispute over lodging should first attempt to work with the business directly to resolve the matter. We will be reviewing closely any complaints we receive regarding this issue.”

JW Marriott never charged Marshall for the room, but he wishes they had told him about the cancellation a year ago when the corporation bought out the entire hotel a week after he made his reservation.

Because of their poor notification policies, Marshall has to stay at four different hotels over the next week, rather than just enjoying the Super Bowl game.

Princess Cruises Debuts Largest Balconies at Sea

Princess Cruises Debuts Largest Balconies at Sea

WHY IT RATES: .Measuring 1,012 square feet (starboard side Sky Suite) and 947 square feet (port side Sky Suite), the new balconies provide private vantage of the ship’s Movie Under the Stars screenings and create the ultimate space for entertaining. —Mia Taylor, TravelPulse Senior Writer

Princess Cruises, a pioneer in building cruise ships specifically designed to include an array of the most sought-after shipboard features—the private balcony—continues to innovate by introducing the cruise industry’s largest balconies at sea, available when sailing in the Sky Suites onboard the new Sky Princess, launching in October 2019.

Two Sky Suites accommodations available now for booking onboard Sky Princess, as well as the cruise line’s next new ship, Enchanted Princess, are centrally located on the top decks—the apex of the ship and feature the largest private balconies ever offered by any cruise line.

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Measuring 1,012 square feet (starboard side Sky Suite) and 947 square feet (port side Sky Suite), the furnished balconies will provide a private vantage of the ship’s Movie Under the Stars screen and create the ultimate space for entertaining.

The two suites will also offer 270-degree panorama views and have a sleeping capacity for five guests, and more room for gathering—making them ideal for families.

“We’ve led the way on many innovations in the cruise industry, evolving to meet the needs of today’s vacationer and of all of our new stateroom innovations, we’ve never seen such immediate demand as we are for these Sky Suites,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president.

“Our global fleet offers one of the highest percentages of balcony staterooms in the industry, across all cabin categories and now we’re eager for the arrival of the industry’s largest balconies at sea, inviting guests to relax privately or host their very own en-suite celebrations in style.”

Sky Suites feature two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a dining area with a skylight to the stars.

Before Sky Suite guests board their cruise ship, they can take advantage of a pre-cruise, shoreside concierge. Once onboard, guests will also enjoy Sanctuary services on their balcony, a private suite experience manager, complimentary access to the Lotus Spa’s Enclave, enhanced ultimate balcony dining and even a deluxe telescope for Discovery Stargazing at Sea. More exclusive Sky Suites services will be announced in the coming months.

Sky Princess debuts in the Mediterranean in October 2019 and Enchanted Princess sets sail in Europe in 2020. Both cruise ships, carrying 3,660 guests, will include the best of the stunning features found on—Royal Princess, Regal Princess, and Majestic Princess—as well as new offerings that represent an evolution of the current ships’ designs.

Additional Sky Princess features include:

Princess MedallionClass making your vacation experience better because it’s easier resulting in an effortless, enjoyable and memorable experiences on the first vessel built from the ground up to deliver a new level of personalized service. Enabled by the OceanMedallion, this complimentary wearable device will elevate the guest experience by allowing guests more time to enjoy doing what they love on a cruise vacation.

Award-winning entertainment offerings, including a new jazz lounge named Take Five, the popular Vista Lounge, an enhanced Princess Theatre, and new exclusive entertainment options.

World-class dining with more than 25 restaurants and bars onboard. From the World Fresh Marketplace to guest favorites like the Crown Grill Steakhouse and Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria, offering the Northern Italian flavors of acclaimed chef, Angelo Auriana.

Contemporary-Designed Sanctuary with eight private cabanas—offering an adults-only area for rest and relaxation.

The Enclave at Lotus Spa. Sky Princess will include Princess’s largest thermal suite at sea—featuring a stunning hydrotherapy pool, heated stone beds, Turkish bath, and dry, steam, and aromatherapy chambers.

SOURCE: Princess Cruises press release

10 Instagram-Worthy Destinations for 2019 Travels

Cars driving on the Bixby Creek Bridge on California's Big Sur coast

Wondering where to plan your first trip in 2019? The travel experts at Jucy, in conjunction with a few top travel influencers, have curated a list of some of the most photogenic destinations in the U.S. for travelers to add to their list of locales for 2019. An added bonus: Jucy RVs makes it easy to check these destinations off.

“This list captures some of nature’s most beautiful spots, along with a few manmade showstoppers,” said Hiron Menon, Jucy’s general manager. “Jucy vans make it easy to truly immerse yourself in the culture of a destination while checking off those bucket list trips.”

Topping the list is Big Sur’s Bixby Bridge. This is one of California’s most iconic sights and can be found on one of the state’s most scenic drives.

Oregon’s Rowena Crest is number two on the list.

“Rowena Crest is the kind of location that Instagram dreams are made of, especially when you visit this gem at golden hour,” said Nicola Easterby of Polkadot Passport.

“Once you’ve got a photo in front of the very-Instagrammable bend road at the Rowena Crest Viewpoint, cross over the road, and you’ll find the most beautiful meadows with amazing views over the Columbia River Gorge. In springtime, the meadows are brimming with wildflowers. It is the kind of place where it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo.”

In the number three spot is Antelope Canyon in Arizona. The backdrop of surreal colors and shapes makes this landscape seem otherworldly.

The Venice Beach Boardwalk is a California classic where travelers can photograph beautiful wall murals, street art and spectacular seaside panoramas.

Utah’s Monument Valley rounds out the top five.

“Driving through Monument Valley makes you feel as though you’ve just traveled back in time. It combines old country western feel with road trip vibes, and offers some of the most perfectly framed photo ops that are totally ‘Instaworthy.’ It was one of the top spots to visit on my JUCY road trip and did not disappoint!” Said Katie Purling of My Colourful World.

Below is the full list of 10 destinations:

Bixby Bridge, Big Sur, California

Rowena Crest, Oregon

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Venice Beach Boardwalk, Venice, California

Monument Valley, Utah

Yosemite National Park, California

Angel’s Landing, Zion, Utah

Sequoia National Park, California

Salvation Mountain, Calipatria, California

25 Best Rides at Universal Studios Orlando Theme Parks


Universal Studios in Orlando, FL

Three Parks for Three Times the Fun

Universal Orlando has three exceptional theme parks—Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay. Opened in 2017, Volcano Bay is Universal’s water theme park. Although Universal Studios may be best known for their interactive Wizarding World of Harry Potter areas—Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios—the rides throughout the rest of the parks are filled with just as many thrills and entertainment.

2018 Gay Travel Award Winners Announced

Grand Hyatt Kauai Outdoor

WHY IT RATES: The awards recognize travel industry partners that welcome LGBTQ travelers. 鈥擩aneen Christoff, TravelPulse Senior Writer, a trusted resource for LGBTQ travelers across the globe, announced the winners of the 2018 Gay Travel Awards.

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The mission of the Gay Travel Awards is to recognize and promote select LGBTQ welcoming properties, events, destinations and travel-related companies around the globe. These distinguished organizations lead by example and help to inspire other companies and brands around the world to follow their spirit of inclusiveness and acceptance.

This year, 25 winners were selected from over 100 nominees.

“The Gay Travel Awards support and promote LGBTQ travel and tourism by identifying and rewarding select organizations which exemplify a spirit of inclusiveness, acceptance, exemplary customer service and hospitality excellence. We are delighted to reveal all of this year鈥檚 winners鈥?said Stephen Prisco, Vice President of

A complete list of this year’s categories and winners are listed alphabetically below:

Bed & Breakfast 鈥?Mauger Estate B&B

Car Rental 鈥?Advantage Rent A Car

Casino Resort 鈥?The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

Destination, Domestic 鈥?Miami, FL

Destination Honeymoon 鈥?Riviera Maya, Mexico

Destination International 鈥?Paris, France

Gay Bar 鈥?Cafe Lafitte in Exile, New Orleans

Gay Pride 鈥?Vallarta Pride

Glamping 鈥?Patagonia Camp, Chile

Hotel, Best Restaurant 鈥?The Restaurant, Meadowood, CA

Hotel, Boutique 鈥?The Orlando Hotel, West Hollywood

Hotel, City Domestic 鈥?The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square

Hotel, City International 鈥?The St Regis Mexico City

Hotel, Beach Resort 鈥?The St. Regis Punta Mita

Hotel Luxury, Europe 鈥?Hotel Romazzino, Costa Smeralda, Italy

Hotel Luxury, Mexico 鈥?The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun

Hotel Luxury, US 鈥?Monarch Beach Resort, CA

Hotel, Pet-Friendly 鈥?Atlantic Hotel & Spa, Fort Lauderdale

Hotel, Seasonal 鈥?AWOL, Provincetown, MA

Hotel, Spa 鈥?Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Puerto Rico

Hotel, Value 鈥?Best Western Plus Inn Of Sedona

Hotel, Wedding 鈥?Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa

LGBT Event 鈥?Life Ball Vienna

LGBT Friendly Cruise 鈥?Celebrity Cruises

LGBT Tour Operator 鈥?Venture Out

SOURCE: press release.

CWT Expands Mobile Air Bookings

Mobile payment, Man using mobile payments online shopping (Photo via ipopba / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

WHY IT RATES: The new offering gives added flexibility to clients and travelers. —Janeen Christoff, TravelPulse Senior Writer

Carlson Wagonlit Travel, the global travel management company, has expanded its mobile air booking offering in 20 key markets around the world, giving travelers the option of booking their flights directly on the myCWT app.

“Travelers can now do everything they need to do right on their smartphone,” said Amir Kirshenboim, CWT’s chief technology officer, digital. “The process is simple, fast and easy, and clients have full control over what their travelers can book – so travelers save time, and companies save money.”

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The service was originally piloted in early 2017 and launched commercially in Q2 2018. Mobile air booking is now being rolled out to some of the largest markets around the world, including the US, Germany, France, the UK, Canada, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Australia, Poland, Brazil, Denmark, Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

A typical domestic booking can take as little as 60 seconds from start to finish. Early analysis shows that clients with air booking capability have seen a 30 percent shift from offline to online, saving on fees. CWT’s mobile air booking supports global distribution system (GDS) and low-cost carrier content, as well as client rates and preferred airlines.

The air booking capability has a set of innovative features, including a “best time to book” indicator, which alerts travelers when prices are expected to increase, and recommends an optimal time to book. That generates savings and encourages early booking.

A 24-hour search function gives travelers a complete list of options, including cheaper flights outside a specified window. This simplifies the booking experience for travelers, while again saving costs for their employers.

CWT’s award-winning myCWT app already features check-in functionality for most major airlines, as well as notifications for flight delays, cancellations, gate changes, and safety and security travel alerts. It also offers mobile hotel bookings for 850,000 hotels worldwide, calendar synching, traveler profile integration with loyalty programs and advanced sharing functionality. Since launching in 2013, more than 1.2 million travelers have signed up for myCWT.

SOURCE: Carlson Wagonlit Travel press release.

Travel Agents Believe 2019 Will Bring a Boom in Business

Traveler's desk with a working computer

It’s shaping up to be a banner year for the travel business. If you are a travel agent, presumably you are betting on your clients increased wealth and social media channels to inspire them to book more vacations this year.

Research from global marketing communications firm Strategic Vision shows that 44 percent of companies surveyed in their annual Pulse of the Industry Survey indicated that their clients are optimistic about international travel, and 54 percent are optimistic about domestic travel. This is a major jump from last year, during which just 19 percent of respondents were optimistic about international travel and 29 percent for domestic.

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In fact, this year, very few people are cautious about traveling internationally, just 16 percent.

For luxury travel firms that cater to these travel advisors, this means 2019 could be one for the record books.

“The luxury travel industry is poised for yet another banner year in 2019,” says Peter Bates, president and founder of Strategic Vision, which services the luxury travel and lifestyle industries. “Travel and tourism is already the world’s largest industry—contributing $8.3 trillion to the global economy—and it continues to grow. The combination of social media, affordable flights, greater wealth, and globalization have created a new Age of Exploration. Of course, I should add, as a cautionary note, that in today’s political and economic climate, conditions can change quickly and unpredictably.”

Clients’ financial standings are one of the main factors buoying the industry. More than half of those surveyed indicated that the continued strength of the economy has led to more disposable income. However, high consumer confidence is also boosted by an increased determination to see the world.

“Our clients are always going to travel,” says Lia Bakin, Co-Founder of In The Know Experiences. “Politics, weather, terrorism… it’s all a part of everyday life now. People want to live life and enjoy themselves.”

The idea that clients are determined to travel is good news for destinations around the world but especially those that have been affected by recent tourism challenges, putting them on track to see major comebacks.

There was a significant drop in travel to the Caribbean last year as the region recovered from multiple hurricanes but the future looks brighter. Survey results show that 68 percent of respondents said that clients have planned or are planning a trip. Just 22 percent of those surveyed said that their clients were waiting for specific islands or resorts to recover.

Concerns about Zika have also subsided. Only only 2 percent of respondents said that the virus kept clients from booking Caribbean vacations. In last year’s survey, that number reached 10 percent.

In terms of what trips travelers are looking for in 2019, experiential travel ranks high among clients as does cruising.

When it comes to where travelers want to go, Italy remains at the top of the heap, even when other emerging destinations gain steam.

Panoramic view of Amalfi and harbor, Italy, Europe

“Italy remains untouchable,” says Kimberly Wilson Wetty, Co-Owner & Co-President of Valerie Wilson Travel. “Whether a first trip or your 20th, everyone always wants Italy. There is comfort in the consistency of what Italy offers from the great food and wine to amazing hotels and sightseeing, as well as the romance of the Italian people and culture.”

Other trending destinations, which fall in line with other surveys, include Japan, which is hosting the 2020 Olympic Games. Namibia, Botswana, and gorilla- trekking regions like Rwanda are popular in Africa and Egypt is making a comeback. Ireland, like Italy, is a safe destination that traveler enjoy over and over again, and Southeast Asia remains popular for its value and is front-of-mind once again after the soaring popularity of the film “Crazy Rich Asians.”

Also still topping travelers’ bucket lists is Iceland.

“Runaway success shows with Iceland as a backdrop such as ‘Game of Thrones’ created a buzz and an awareness among travelers everywhere. Social media hummed with increased awareness and interest in Iceland and its culture,” says Bell de Souza, vice president and COO of Mansour Travel Company.