Where are U.S. travelers heading to in our own backyard? According to Tommy Ryder, head of sales for Bedsonline/TravelBound, “Nashville, New Orleans, San Francisco, and the National Parks—Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon have been trending this year.
“For 2019, we are anticipating a continued rise in travel to the National Parks, San Francisco, Hawaii and Alaska. However, the reason behind traveling to these destinations continues to change as travelers are seeking authentic, local or eco-friendly experiences…. Travelers no longer want to just see renowned monuments—they are looking to immerse themselves in the authentic elements that give character to the city they’re visiting.
“We have noticed that travel advisors are increasingly booking their clients on experiential tours that focus heavily on culture—these tours range from ‘foodie’ tours, to in-depth neighborhood and historic tours. The rise of ‘foodie’ tours, in fact, has created a steady increase in travel to New Orleans over the last few years,” adds Ryder.
“Our guests really want to experience destinations as a local would,” notes Collette’s president Jaclyn Leibl-Cote, “attending major global events in that location or taking part in authentic culinary tourism.”
For this reason, New Orleans, Nashville and Key West are on many tour operators’ radars.
Irene Vecchi of GOGO Vacations, manager of USA product, says that, “In these destinations you can still find non-polished, non-tourist bars where you will find a great band playing and local restaurants with amazing food. Music is the thread that binds many of these places together.”
Says Leibl-Cote, “One of the common themes for these destinations are that they are unlike other cities in the U.S. They are each known for annual celebrations and festivals and are generally warm weather climates that many escape to during colder winter months. Specifically in New Orleans, events like Mardi Gras and the Jazz and Heritage Festival are known for drawing large crowds. Also, distinct music and creole cuisine is making it one of the top destinations domestically.”
Vecchi adds that, “The over-arching reasons for the popularity of secondary destinations is that they offer a more authentic experience at a reasonable price point.”
“Nashville’s welcoming spirit, exceptional restaurants, fun nightlife and musical heritage make it a desirable destination for families, groups and girls’ getaways,” says Vanessa Parrish, channel marketing manager for the Globus family of brands.
“When the national TV spotlight shined on this city with the “Nashville” TV show in 2012, Americans were introduced to both the glitz and the hometown hospitality this charming destination offers. From musical concerts at the ‘mother church’ of music, the Ryman Auditorium, to the Country Hall of Fame and the Grand Old Opry, travelers can find something for everyone in this city. In addition, Nashville has quickly become one of the country’s most popular foodie destinations, with concepts by world-famous chefs and classic Southern favorites,”
She says that for Globus, “Travelers look to see the ‘must-see’ sites in Nashville that contribute to its ‘Music City’ name, but also to be immersed in the local culture. Our Globus tour provides the ease of taking care of all the logistics, including purchasing tickets and providing behind-the-scenes access at some of the most renowned musical sites. Our local guides bring the sites to life for travelers, giving them insider insight into what makes each site special and the legendary musicians who have graced Nashville’s hallowed stages. Guests will also have the opportunity to stroll down Broadway, famous for its plethora of musical venues (known as honky tonks) that showcase everything from rock & roll and bluegrass to country.”
Recommend clients book Globus’ Music Cities: Nashville & Memphis itinerary,
where they’ll get to see what makes Music City famous with Globus’ VIP access and
In addition, Globus is offering a special rate until Nov. 27, 2018 where travelers can save 10 percent on 2019 North America tours.
New Orleans is Foodie Central
“In New Orleans,” says Leibl-Cote, “guests may set out on a steamboat harbor cruise in the morning, head to the St. Louis Cathedral in the afternoon or the garden district walking tour, visit a cemetery or ghost tour in the early evening and then finish up the evening with the French Quarter Jazz Club.”
She notes that Collette’s guests are loving Spotlight on New Orleans, priced at $1,299 pp. Highlights of the tour include a cooking class featuring popular dishes of the city, dinner at a French-Creole restaurant, and a walking tour featuring the St. Louis Cathedral and the French Marketplace, as well as a cruise tour of the bayous, and time at the National World War II Museum or Mardi Gras World.
Vecchi adds that for GOGO, “Immersive foodie/cocktail experiences” are popular, including the New Orleans Cocktail Tour, the French Quarter Food tour or a tour that incorporates all, including the Jazz tour.”
Key West Always Delivers
For Key West, Vecchi says that “the new ferry from Marco Island to Key West has certainly been a welcomed addition for travel within Florida. It is only two hours between the two spots and enables vacationers to visit both while in Florida.
“Key West has a rich history,” she adds, “and the entertainment and dining options are plentiful. GOGO Vacations has definitely put an emphasis on promoting these destinations in response to the increasing customer demand and evolution of the tourism offerings here.
“In Key West, historic tours (Hemingway, Duval Street) are very popular, with watersports and activities also showing strong demand,” she notes.