Happy New Year and welcome to our first edition of Recommend for 2010, a turnaround year for everyone, we hope, and a year that’s already showing promise with reports of rejuvenated advanced booking activity from tour operators, more optimism from European destinations and an upsurge in leisure hotel bookings. There was also much optimism at last month’s USTOA conference—some of it guarded, but much of it enthusiastic, as well. Which makes us even more positive about the timing of our 2010 India Travel Planner, which we’ve included in this very edition of Recommend. We are talking about a destination that was enjoying a very hot couple of years in terms of tourism before getting hit with a double whammy. First, the devastating Mumbai attacks in late-November 2008—which scared off a number of potential visitors from around the world—followed by the global financial meltdown that brought much of the rest of the international travel industry to its knees throughout the latter part of 2008 and much of the first eight months of 2009. But it’s a new day and a new opportunity for selling travel to India and the appetite for travel to this most exotic destination is growing and nibbling away at the international leisure traveler. And as you’ll see in our 2010 India Travel Planner, you’ll have all the tools you need to start selling this very hot destination and this is probably the best time you’ll ever have to sell it. As Alistair Ballantine, the newly appointed Oberoi Group senior v.p. of sales and marketing for the Americas, pointed out at the recent USTOA conference, there’s never been a better time to sell India because of the great value pricing that’s available. “It’s cheaper to fly to India than it is to London, right now,” he says. Indeed, finding that value and bringing it into the marketplace is what specialty tour operators to India, such as A&S Travels, do very well. “Everything we do is customized, we don’t have a tour per se,” explains Sheri Fazleabas, president. “The bad thing is, when you customize, it can be very expensive. But with us, it isn’t. Clients pay the same price and sometimes even lower than what you might find in a brochure program. So that’s why we find our clients keep coming back to us and why our market is really growing because people are getting something they really want without paying that much more.” So where are you going to find that value and where are you going to find all the reasons why your clients will really want to go to India? All you have to do is turn to our 2010 India Travel Planner and start making more money selling India again.
corrections In the November issue, in the Tony Taiwan feature (page 32), we refer to the Taiwan Visitors Bureau, but that should actually be the Taiwan Tourism Board. The website that’s listed is correct, but you can also use go2taiwan.net. In the December issue, in the 2010 Mexico Travel Planner, in the Mexico Fresh as Ever feature (page M9), we inadvertently wrote that the Hilton Mexico City Reforma would open by the end of 2010. In fact, the property is already open.
We’re going to take you around the world this month with first-hand accounts from our editors with onsites in Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Papua New Guinea and right here at home in Georgia, as well as an onboard on RCI’s new Oasis of the Seas. In the meantime, have a great read.