Editor's Notes: July 2009

Welcome to our adventure issue, a collection of some of the most exciting active worldwide vacation options your clients could ever hope for—from heart-stopping adventures in New Zealand and seafaring voyages off the shores of Chile, to some hair-raising fun in Mexico, and more sedate cultural explorations in Peru and South Korea, not to mention unforgettable safari experiences in South Africa.

Our safari adventure on page 40 began at the end of our visit to INDABA, South Africa’s annual trade show that drew more than 12,000 exhibitors, buyers, journalists and visitors alike. INDABA, South Africa’s annual showcase of all the best tourism product and then some the country has to offer, is truly one of the most unique travel shows on the African continent. It’s an enormous venue that last year broke record attendance records.

This year, tourism officials admitted attendance did drop by a little over 7 percent, a relatively small figure off of a record year and a strong indication the majority of tourism suppliers and buyers are confident of a healthy rebound in 2010, buoyed mostly by the potential of the record number of tourists arriving for the 2010 World Cup competition held in 10 cities throughout South Africa.

Mark Williams, the regional director of the U.S. and the U.K. market, and Sthu Zungu, president, South Africa Tourism North America-USA, did say North American visitorship had dropped about 4 percent since the beginning of the recession. Still, those numbers show the destination is still very much a viable sell for agents, made all the more bulletproof for its appeal to the high-end market. They also cited the boost SAA Vacations—managed by Lion World Tours—had given tourism with last year’s air-inclusive, lead-in pricing of $1,870 that included some of the best product South Africa had to offer in the Cape Town region and Kruger National Park.

Agents should also note that the South African Tourism execs pointed out that despite the dip it’s taken this year, it is not affecting its major promotional push for 2010 and the fact that the tourism board is in for the long haul in the North American marketplace, confident they can build even more business for travel agents. There will be more road shows for agents this year, plans for a renovated and more interactive FUNDI education program for agents and the multi-million dollar advertising and marketing program aimed at enticing consumers to the World Cup. More information on these and other travel agent opportunities are available on their updated website at southafrica.net.

Still another feature this month focuses on Rail Europe, maybe a little less adventurous than bunjee jumping in New Zealand or a safari in South Africa, but believe us, traveling by rail in Europe can be an adventure, especially for your more independent clients who enjoy setting their own itineraries and truly enjoy the feeling of traveling within the culture of the destination they’re visiting. As our feature on page 36 points out, rail travel anywhere in Europe is easy, fun and relatively inexpensive—a valuable sales closer in our current economic climate.

And a definite must-read for agents who send their clients to the slopes every winter is our skiing in Utah cover feature, which starts on page 14. Our in-house ski expert took to the slopes and what he found was some of the best slopes and powder for skiing and snowboarding in the world. And talk about accessible—as the article points out, Utah offers first-rate mountains that are accessible via scenic, easy and relatively short drives from the Salt Lake City airport.

next month August will feature onsites spanning the globe, as well as our annual Central America Special Section. There will also be a feature on pre- and post-cruise options for your river cruising clients. So don’t miss it. In the meantime, have a great read.