This month, we’ve put a focus on seeing the USA with a variety of “Vacation America” product to help keep travel dollars moving around here at home and put a focus on domestic travel entities that are so rich with history, spectacular scenery and value. Our feature “Sailing America’s Rivers,” for example, highlights a product that could very well be a good sell for those clients who’ve enjoyed river cruising in Europe, Asia and South America. As Jennifer Cody, marketing manager for American Cruise Lines points out, “Now that we’re starting in the Pacific Northwest this summer—we have so many people from the West Coast who love to come and see New England and Maine and the Deep South—and now we have all these people on the East Coast who maybe haven’t seen the Pacific Northwest, yet—the mountains and everything. I personally haven’t been out there myself, but I want to go now after reading the literature. I mean in the Columbia Gorge, there are like 70 waterfalls. It sounds just beautiful.” Still she adds, “I do think the popularity of worldwide cruising has helped us. And, of course, unfortunately for them, so many other U.S. small ship companies have gone under due to the recession, now we’re sitting in such a nice spot we can bring people to these special places because we’re still around and going strong.” The same applies to this month’s feature, “Exploring the Deep South,” a compendium of articles highlighting niche-oriented product in Mississippi and Louisiana. Charming little towns like Natchitoches, Louisiana, which, oddly enough, became a tourist destination as early as 1714 and yet today, most people outside of the region have probably never heard of it. We also sometimes overlook how towns like Biloxi, Mississippi, have attractions and events that draw thousands of people over and above their primary draw—in this case, gaming—and which fill their tourism coffers. For example, Kay Miller, the downtown services manager for the city of Biloxi, says the city is finishing up a multi-million dollar art museum. “The Frank Gehry-designed Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art—Ohr is a famous Biloxi pottery artist—is going to open Nov. 5,” she explains. “That’s going to be another fabulous cultural benefit for us here. The museum was started before Katrina and they chose to go on—it’s right on the beach under our beautiful giant oak trees. In the fall, we have our Cruising the Coast program where people come from all over the country. We’ve had people come down from Canada and Alaska and all over. They bring their old vintage cars and they cruise up and down the beach and each city has its own venue. We’re back up to between 4,000 to 5,000 cars—I mean they’re everywhere. That week all the hotels and the campgrounds are filled.” The point is, there’s plenty of travel product right here under our noses and if your clients are feeling a bit squeamish about heading out of the country this year, you don’t have to lose that vacation sale. Tell them there’s no place like home for a great vacation experience.
next month We’ve got a big line up next month of unique features that focus on niche markets around the globe, including a feature on specialty cruising. We’ll also be combining our annual Continental Airlines Guide to the Caribbean and Continental Airlines Guide to Mexicounder one umbrella. In the meantime, have a great read.