Welcome to our April issue. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on specialty travel this month and it’s interesting to note that the growth of specialty and niche travel has come about as tastes change and people have moved beyond just the simple need to travel and embraced the idea of combining their personal interests with their vacation needs. Photography trips—thanks to the popularity of digital cameras, no doubt—and culinary programs are probably the two most popular specialty products, although girlfriend and guy trips—usually bonding over golf or some other sports activity in the men’s case, with wellness, culinary and shopping seeming to top the women’s list—are gaining ground in the specialty area, as well. As always, though, cultural interests are always the big lure, particularly in foreign travel. For example, in this issue we have a feature on Minorca in Spain’s Balearic Islands. On this pristine island, travelers forego the frantic and rowdy pace that’s front and center on the party circuits of sister islands Ibiza and Majorca, in favor of the more subdued pursuit of agritourism where they can actually take part in a variety of farm-style chores from planting crops to harvesting vegetables. Even in Israel, as you’ll see on page 20, once your clients have run the gamut of religious and archaeology attractions, you can point your more secular and adventurous clientele to desert adventures and photography workshops. Specialty cruising, too (page 14), is big on photography, and Cruise West says it’s one of its most popular programs in its North American itineraries, along with gastronomy and wine themes. Hands-on cultural tourism is the main theme on Cruise West’s new global voyages aboard its new Spirit of Oceanus, giving passengers the opportunity to not only mingle with people in the different countries they explore, but actually participate in ceremonies and rituals. The big cruise lines like MSC use theme cruises to not only fill their ships, but to draw baseball fans, music aficionados, big band enthusiasts and even comedy club fans who may not have cruised before but came aboard to pursue their interests and then wound up becoming cruise enthusiasts. It’s a great way to develop new business and a very lucrative group sales opportunity for you, as well.
For Asian cultural enthusiasts, point them toward Japan and the island of Shikoku—a destination adventure that’s like a step back in time where clients will have the opportunity to savor the more serene and spiritual Japan. This is an Asian destination as it once was, without the glaring neon and the bustling cities choked with too many people and too much traffic. Want to provide a spa vacation experience that goes beyond the usual massage? You can book your spa-going folks a premier vacation right here in the U.S. at the Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa Miami Beach, where wellness takes center stage on a stunning beachfront setting (see page 80). And that’s just a few of the fabulous vacation programs we’ve lined up for you in this issue.
In our May issue, we’re going to take you river cruising in Asia, golfing around the world and give you first-hand looks at both Taiwan and Jordan. And you definitely don’t want to miss our upcoming Mexico Wedding Planner. So hasta la vista, readers, “We’ll be baaack.” In the meantime, have a great read.