Category Archives: Benefits of Travel & Tourism

Lindblad Expeditions Celebrates the Blessing of National Geographic Islander ll Before Inaugural Galapagos Voyage

Lindblad Expeditions celebrated the blessing of National Geographic Islander ll before its inaugural Galapagos voyage. Ecuador’s Minister of Tourism, Niels Olsen, commended Lindblad Expeditions as a “great example of how to use tourism as a vehicle for conservation and development.”

NEW YORK, NY, AUGUST 3, 2022 — Lindblad Expeditions celebrated the official blessing of the newest addition to their award-winning fleet, National Geographic Islander ll in Salinas, Ecuador this past weekend.  Attendees included Ecuador’s Minister of Tourism, Niels Olsen, and Gustavo Manrique, Minister of the Environment, Water and Ecological Transition, industry colleagues, local partners, and members of Lindblad’s beloved crew. The 26-suite best-in-class expedition vessel will make her inaugural Galápagos voyage on August 19, 2022, for year-round expeditions in the islands.   

The traditional blessing was administered by a local priest, followed by short speeches from the Ministries and a toast offered by Ana Esteves, Lindblad’s Vice President of Hotel Operations, and ship Captain Gonzalo Cifuentes. Both Ministers’ speeches highlighted Lindblad’s commitment to Galápagos and conservation. 

“Lindblad Expeditions is a great example of how to use tourism as a vehicle for conservation and development  how they are buying supplies from the local communities, employing people from Ecuador to connect with the local cultures, and introducing their guests to our amazing cuisine,” stated Minister Olsen.

Minister Manrique applauded “this kind of investment in Ecuador that is something between tourism, investigation, science, and education” and thanked Lindblad for “trusting in Ecuador.”

Guests enjoyed Ecuadorian cuisine, and tours of the 48-guest vessel that showcased her elegantly appointed suites, bridge, the Science Hub, the Global Gallery, new Marina, impressive Observation Deck, and ship wide enhancements that will elevate the Lindblad guest experience to an entirely new level.

The event was followed the next day by a special reception for members of the ship’s crew and officers, capped off by an exuberant welcome by dozens of small fishing boats in the area for the local Santa Rosa festivities. 

“We pioneered expedition travel in Galápagos, and National Geographic Islander ll is truly the best of both worlds,” stated Ana Esteves, Vice President of Hotel Operations.  “She’s gracious like a private yacht, offers space and comfort, a culinary program that highlights the regions of Ecuador with locally sourced ingredients, a spa and a 1-1 guest-to-crew ratio.  But she is also a world class expedition vessel designed for active exploration, with a fleet of kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, a glass-bottom Zodiac, snorkel gear for all guests, and a flotilla of Zodiacs. We are so ready to head to the Galápagos Islands and could not be more excited,”

For reservations or additional information on Lindblad Expeditions voyages to some of the most beautiful and fascinating places on Earth, visit www.expeditions.com, call 1-800-EXPEDITION (1-800-397-3348) or contact your travel advisor.

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National Plan for Vacation Day is Jan 25: Battle Burnout by Taking Time to Plan

Family at Grand Teton National Park. January 25, 2022 is National Plan for Vacation Day. “After nearly two years of living with the pandemic, Americans are in serious need of the reset that a vacation offers, no matter how near or far it may take you,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “National Plan for Vacation Day is the perfect opportunity to sit down with family and friends and make plans for much-needed time off for the rest of the year.” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

After nearly two years of pandemic-related stressors, Americans workers are burned out—and new data proves it.

To help battle burnout and spur Americans to take some much-needed vacation, thousands of travel organizations around the United States are highlighting the annual National Plan for Vacation Day (NPVD) on January 25 to encourage Americans to plan all of their time off for the year at the start of the year.

More than two-thirds (68%) of American workers feel at least moderately burned out and 13% are extremely burned out. Further, more than half (53%) of remote workers are working more hours now than they were in the office and 61% find it more difficult to unplug from work and take a vacation.

Despite the latest wave of the pandemic, data from Destination Analysts found that the majority of Americans polled are in a “ready to travel” state of mind and are eager to plan a trip: 

  • 81% of Americans are excited to plan a vacation in the next six months
  • Nearly six in 10 (59%) agree that travel is more important than ever and 61% plan to make travel a top budget priority in 2022

Historically, NPVD was intended to help address the problem of Americans failing to utilize all of their earned time off each year, however, the challenges of the pandemic have given NPVD new significance: a time to plan ahead for brighter days and to unplug from the stressors of daily life. 

“After nearly two years of living with the pandemic, Americans are in serious need of the reset that a vacation offers, no matter how near or far it may take you,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “National Plan for Vacation Day is the perfect opportunity to sit down with family and friends and make plans for much-needed time off for the rest of the year.”

Even the simple act of planning a vacation can help to chase away the winter blues. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of planners reported being extremely or very happy anticipating and planning vacations for the coming year versus just four in 10 of non-planners.

However, work-related barriers—such as heavy workloads and staff shortages—are some of the top reasons preventing Americans from using their time off. 

“Rested and recharged workers create a better, more productive workplace,” Dow added. “I encourage business leaders and team members to make vacation planning a priority, particularly frontline employees who have been working harder than ever during the pandemic.”

Social media content for National Plan for Vacation Day will be tagged using #PlanForVacation.

Click here to see a fact sheet that includes more data on the importance of planning for vacation.

U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry. In 2020, travel generated $1.5 trillion in economic output and supported 11 million jobs, a drastic decline from pre-pandemic figures. U.S. Travel’s mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit ustravel.org for information.

National Travel and Tourism Week 2021 (May 2-8) Celebrates ‘the Power of Travel’

Discovering the delights of the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park. National Travel and Tourism Week 2021 reminds people of the importance of the $2.6 trillion travel industry that supports 17 million jobs and an infinite number of life-long memories and experiences © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) taking place May 2-8 is the annual celebration of the contributions of the U.S. travel industry. This year, it spotlights the critical role that travel will play in driving economic recovery efforts and building the path forward through the theme Power of Travel.

Celebrated annually the first full week in May, NTTW was created by Congress in 1983 to elevate the economic power of travel in the U.S. This year, the 38th annual NTTW arrives at an opportune moment to recognize the importance to the U.S. economy of initiating a post-pandemic travel recovery.

“NTTW takes on a special significance this year as the travel industry looks to rebound quickly from the pandemic and accelerate recovery efforts,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “The past year was incredibly challenging, but we saw the full power of the travel industry on display in the way we united and supported one another through this crisis.”

“Before the pandemic, travel generated $2.6 trillion in economic output, supported 17 million American jobs and delivered a $51 billion trade surplus to the U.S.—evidence of the outsized role the industry will play in America’s broader economic recovery,” said Dow.

However, this vital revenue source stemming from business and leisure travelers was severely diminished amid the pandemic.

In 2020, the entire U.S. travel industry lost half a trillion dollars in travel-related spending—10 times the economic impact of 9/11. Nationally, total travel-supported jobs accounted for a staggering 65% of all U.S. jobs lost amid the pandemic.

With such disparate losses, it is clear that a broader economic recovery hinges on a recovery within the travel industry.

“While the rapid pace of vaccinations has provided hope that a return to normal is on the horizon, a resurgence in travel demand is not inevitable,” the USTA said in a statement. “Without aggressive federal action to reopen the travel economy and spur demand, the travel industry’s recovery is expected to take as long as five years—far too long to wait for the workers whose livelihoods depend on this vital industry.

“But with the right measures in place, we can get people moving again in a safe and healthy way, restore our workforce and help power a broader economic recovery. The travel industry needs sustained relief to ensure businesses can maintain operation and workers can stay on payrolls until sustained demand can truly take hold.

“Importantly, policymakers must also identify the path to reopening our borders and safely restarting international inbound travel, as well as restarting professional meetings and events; these are crucial segments of our local economy, without which we cannot fully recover.

“The road ahead is challenging, but the travel industry is resilient and has an incredible ability to bounce back from hard times. We recovered after 9/11, after the 2008 financial meltdown, and after health scares such as Zika, Ebola and SARS. This is the toughest challenge the U.S. travel industry has ever faced, but we know  travel is one of the best-equipped industries to lead a revival.

“If lawmakers act now to jumpstart recovery efforts and get Americans moving, then all of us can get back to doing what we do best more quickly—providing quality job opportunities for Americans of all background, reconnecting family and friends, and showing the world what makes the U.S. the best place to visit.”

This week, TSA reported the highest number of travelers coming through airports, 1.6 million, while car rentals, hotels, AirBnBs and attractions, especially those around national parks, are booking up, a clear demonstration of pent-up demand being unleashed. Now the question is whether the industry will be able to accommodate it and how long it will be sustained. That will depend largely on the ability of the nation to vaccinate as many people as possible, so that travelers and workers feel safe and venues can increase capacity and operating hours.

National Travel and Tourism Week also reminds travelers of the pleasures and value of travel – of getting together, sharing the delight in exploring and learning and doing new things, meeting new people where they live, embracing other cultures and environments, and sharing memorable, even life-changing experiences.

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Travel Experts to Discuss Lessons from COVID-19 on Tourism in a Changing Climate

Jokulsarlon Glacier, Iceland. The travel and tourism industry, which sustains environments, cultures and economies in communities around the world, faces twin crises of climate change and COVID-19. The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) is hosting a free 2020 World Tourism Day Webinar on Tuesday, September 29 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.

Join the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) for a 2020 World Tourism Day Webinar entitled Lessons from COVID-19 for Tourism in a Changing Climate, Tuesday, September 29, 11:00 am–12:30 pm EST

Registration for this free event is now open, and space is limited.

CREST’s annual meta-analysis, The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics, will share key studies on COVID-19 and climate change and the lessons that may be applied from the former to meet the challenges of the latter. CREST’s World Tourism Day Webinar will share the report’s key findings and will bring together experts to discuss consumer, business, and destination trends in the context of recovery. 

Distinguished speakers will explore the unprecedented opportunity to mitigate two existential threats, climate change and COVID-19, with one coordinated approach, truly making the world a safer, more equitable, and more resilient place for all.

Panelists will include:

The latest report, The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2020, a special edition on lessons from COVID-19 for tourism in a changing climate, comes at an unprecedented time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has highlighted the immense need and value of tourism, while fundamentally changing the way destinations, businesses, and travelers will plan, manage, and experience tourism. At the same time, climate change remains an existential threat that has real consequences for destinations and communities everywhere.

The report includes a special focus on the two major crises facing our world today: climate change and COVID-19. Sharing cutting-edge research and examples, the report describes how travelers, tourism businesses, and destinations are implementing workable, sustainable solutions to support our planet and its people. The report also provides an overview of what consumers, businesses, and destinations are experiencing during COVID-19 and offers sustainable solutions that can help the tourism industry on a road to responsible recovery.

“Crisis often breeds innovation, and destination communities and businesses must now take the time to reconsider the path forward,” said Gregory Miller, Executive Director of CREST. “As we look to the future of tourism, the same rigor and dedication that is needed to adapt to the pandemic must also be applied to neutralize the threat of climate change.”

Trends & Statistics 2020 updates CREST’s previous industry studies, released every year since 2013. This year’s report was prepared in collaboration with more than 30 leading organizations, researchers, and institutions, including the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The full report is available at responsibletravel.org.

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NYS to Invest $300 Million to “Reimagine” Erie Canal, Expand Recreational Activities, Finish 750-Mile Empire State Trail

As part of the $300 million plan to “Reimagine” the Erie Canal, a 750-mile Empire State Trail will be completed, including closing gaps of Erie Canalway that makes possible the annual  eight-day, 400-mile, Cycle the Erie bike tour (registration now open) © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

This is huge for New York State’s tourism and recreational opportunities: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s is proposing a $300 million plan to reimagine the Erie Canal by creating recreational activities on the Canal to boost tourism and recreational fishing, mitigate flooding, enhance irrigation and restore wetlands. 

“When the Erie Canal was created in the 19th century it set the state and the nation on a path to prosperity, and this year we will repurpose the canal to fit our state’s 21st century needs,” Governor Cuomo said. “This bold and visionary plan to transform this historic waterway will build on the success of the Empire State Trail (750 miles of connected bikeways), grow tourism across Upstate New York, improve resilience of today’s Canal communities and ensure the economic sustainability of the waterway into the future.”

“The canals have played a crucial role in New York’s history and growth, and with the implementation of these new exciting projects, the canals will remain a vital force and make a positive contribution to the economic well-being and quality of life in the 225 communities they travel through,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

A first phase of funding starting this year – through the New York Power Authority Board which oversees the Canal Corporation as a subsidiary –  includes a $100 million economic development fund to invest in communities along the Canal and a separate $65 million investment in solutions that will help prevent ice jams and related flooding in the Schenectady area.

The remaining $135 million of the plan’s funding will subsequently be allocated to research recommended by the Reimagine Task Force, as well as to solutionsrelated to flood mitigation, invasive species prevention and ecosystem restoration.

New Economic Development Fund for Canal Communities

In the first phase of the program, a $100 million economic development fund will support projects that adaptively reuse canal infrastructure to enhance water recreation, tie the Canal’s new recreational improvements to the Governor’s Empire State Trail, celebrate historic canal structures, and develop unique canalside attractions and activities. Roughly $25 million of that will be allocated immediately to a set of initial projects:

Connecting Communities: The “Brockport Loop” project in Monroe County will connect SUNY College at Brockport to the Empire State Trailand the village of Brockport through the transformation of a canal guard-gate into a pedestrian bridge and overlook, with a supporting grant of $2 million from the Ralph Wilson Foundation. 

Celebrating “Iconic Infrastructure”: Interactive, hydro-powered illumination of Canal “movable dams” – initially in Amsterdam and Canajoharie in the Mohawk River valley – will celebrate the Canal’s heritage and its history as an engineering marvel.

Expanding Water Recreation: A new whitewater destination, at the north end of Cayuga Lake near Seneca Falls, will rely on existing water control infrastructure to construct an active water sports course adjacent to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, to increase eco-tourism and sport visitors to the region.

Adapting Industrial Property for New Uses: Winner of the Reimagine the Canals competition, a canalside pocket neighborhood, will be developed by Madison County in Central New York at a former industrial property in Canastota along the Old Erie Canal – demonstrating a new model for 21st century canalside living.

Developing Destination Accommodations: The historic Guy Park Manor, on the Mohawk River in Amsterdam, will be reborn as a hospitality destination and a pedestrian bridge constructed across the already-existing Canal lock will provide access to additional overnight accommodation along the Empire State Trail on the opposite side of the river.

World-Class Fishing and Restored Wetlands 

To create world-class fishing in Western New York, the new plan recommends managing water releases from the Canal to enhance fish habitat, improve angling opportunities, and extend the fall fishing season in Lake Ontario tributaries. It also includes funding to expand public fishing access along key streams in Orleans, Monroe and Niagara Counties. In addition, it identifies a program to divert Canal water to restore and re-nourish wetlands in Central New York that were compromised a century ago by the Canal’s construction. This will allow areas in close proximity to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, a migratory stopover for more than 1 million birds each year, to be significantly enhanced to further attract naturalists, locals, and visitors from throughout the region and beyond. 

Ideas in this plan originated from the Reimagine the Canals Task Force recommendations,  launched by Governor Cuomo in May of 2019 to pursue a comprehensive investigation of how the 195-year-old Erie Canal could be reimagined for the 21st century. The Reimagine the Canals Task Force Report  was just released.

The Task Force engaged with municipal leaders, stakeholders, local business owners, scientists and other experts, along with community members, to identify opportunities and solutions that support a new vision for future investments in the waterway. Many of the ideas that the Task Force explored came from the completed Reimagine the Canals competition, held last year by the New York Power Authority and New York State Canal Corporation. SUNY’s Rockefeller Institute of Government, on behalf of the Task Force, conducted a series of outreach sessions during the summer in five canal communities – Lockport, Brockport, Schenectady, Utica and Syracuse – to solicit new ideas from the public at large. Ideas were also solicited on a Reimagine the Canals website, offering more distant canal users an opportunity to provide their views to the Task Force.

The “Reimagine” initiative builds on successful efforts by Governor Cuomo to invest in the canal corridor, including the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative and successful Taste NY program, which have stoked new industries, businesses and housing in canal communities. Harnessing the Canal’s full potential to attract more tourism and recreation is a key focus of the Initiative. Governor Cuomo and state agency and authority staff will collaborate with Empire Line communities and continue to consult with Task Force members and other stakeholders to ensure the success of projects as they move forward. 

There are 1.6 million trips taken annually on the Erie Canal Trailway, the former towpath used by mules and horses to pull barges in the canals’ early days. The Trailway is part of Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Trail, which at 750 miles will be the largest state multi-use trail network when completed in late 2020. Governor DeWitt Clinton began work on the original Erie Canal on July 4, 1817. 

In addition to investing $300 million in the Canal System, there are also plans to create two new state parks in the Hudson Valley, add 4,000 acres of land to parks and introduce a $3 billion “Restore Mother Nature” bond act.

Meanwhile, registration has opened for the 22nd Annual Cycle the Erie, eight-day 400-mile, fully supported biking/camping trip, from Buffalo to Albany, operated by Parks & Trails NY, taking place July 12-19, 2020. For information on Cycle the Erie Canal, call Parks & Trails New York, 518-434-1583, email eriecanaltour@ptny.org or visit www.ptny.org/cycle-the-erie-canal.

(See our series on Cycle the Erie, at goingplacesfarandnear.com)

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Country Walkers Offers Responsible Travel Itineraries That Support Conservation, Charitable Projects

Porto, a delightfully walkable city in northern Portugal, is featured on Country Walkers’ Porto-Lisbon tour which also supports “Farming for the Future” initiative © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Williston, VT –By 2030, 1.8 billion people – about 20 percent of the global population – are predicted to be tourists traveling the world. As the demand for global travel increases, consumers are faced with numerous decisions on how to make their trips more sustainable, including where to go, what to pack and how to get there. Country Walkers, a leading provider of walking adventures and a leader in responsible tourism for decades, offers travelers the opportunity to contribute to a more sustainable world through preserving indigenous cultures, supporting local economies, conserving wildlife and protecting the environment. 

“At Country Walkers, we are committed to a healthier planet and to giving back to the destinations we explore,” said Timo Shaw, President of Country Walkers. “Sustainability is one of our core values, from staying in locally owned and operated hotels whenever possible and seeking out environmentally and socially responsible accommodations, to our ardent support of the Slow Food movement in order to preserve culinary traditions and support biodiversity. As a result, those who travel with us contribute to a more sustainable world as well.” 

To further support special conservation and charitable projects in communities and habitats worldwide, Country Walkers created The Travelers Fund, which makes a donation on behalf of every traveler who books a specific tour. More than half of Country Walkers’ tours are associated with an initiative, including:

Mountain Rescue at Club Alpino Italiano (Country Walkers tour: Italy: The Amalfi Coast & Capri). Safety comes first on the Amalfi Coast with a donation to the local mountain rescue team, which primarily relies on volunteers and donations to obtain and maintain equipment for rapid emergency response for visitors and locals.

Wildlife Conservation in the Rocky Mountains (Country Walkers tours: Montana: Glacier National Park and Wyoming: Grand Teton & Yellowstone[KG1] ). The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative seeks to re-connect segments of land that have been separated by development, allowing animals to safely move from region to region on wildlife-friendly highway overpasses. Contributions are used towards constructing one of these wildlife structures.

Therapeutic Travel for Cancer Survivors in Quebec (Country Walkers tour: Quebec: Quebec City & the Saguenay Fjord). Country Walkers supports the Fondation Sur La Pointe des Pieds (“On the Tip of the Toes”), which provides young people ages 14 to 29 living with cancer with an opportunity to regain their sense of well-being through therapeutic adventure expeditions.

Assisting Pilgrims on Camino de Santiago (Country Walkers tour: Spain: Classic Camino de Santiago). The Federación Española de Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago coordinates a vast national network of hostels, volunteers, parishes, churches and shelters in an effort to keep more than 200,000 pilgrims safe, healthy and informed as they walk the Camino de Santiago.  

Clean Water in Zambia (Country Walkers tour: Zambia Safari: Exclusive Camps & Bush Walks). In Africa, currently 345 million people live without access to clean drinking water. Together with local partners in Zambia at Charity Begins Home, Country Walkers supports the “Commit to Clean Water” Fund, an initiative that seeks to transform rural communities by drilling wells into deep aquifers and pumping potable water to the surface.

Maintaining the Long Trail in Vermont (Country Walkers tour: Vermont: Fall Foliage). A highlight of the tour is walking along one of the most spectacular portions of the legendary 270-mile Long Trail, the nation’s first long-distance hiking trail. Country Walkers supports the Green Mountain Club, the stewards of this “footpath through the wilderness,” who also promote conservation of and education about Vermont’s mountains and rural land.

Advocacy for Small Businesses in Palermo (Country Walkers tour: Italy: Sicily). Country Walkers supports the nonprofit Addiopizzo movement, a grassroots coalition of over 850 shopkeepers aimed at squashing corruption in Sicily and educating locals about ethical business practices.

Conserving a Historic Chapel in Monterosso (Country Walkers tour: Italy: Portofino & Cinque Terre[KG2] ). In 2013, severe landslides destroyed the grounds of the historic Convento dei Cappuccini chapel and monastery. “Let’s Rebuild Monterosso’s Paradise” raises funds for the restoration, a cost far beyond the modest means of the town or diocese.

Cornwall Coastal Preservation (Country Walkers tour: England: The Cornwall Coast). The South West Coast Path Association advocates for improvements to more than 630 miles of this historic coastal trail system. As maintenance is costly, donations from Country Walkers on behalf of guests help maintain these paths that are heavily utilized on the tour.

Farming for the Future (Country Walkers tours: Portugal: Sintra, Óbidos & the Coast and Portugal: Porto to Lisbon). The Herdade do Freio do Meio farm applies principles of sustainability within the context of the Portuguese montado, a traditional pastoral agricultural system in which reducing reliance on fossil fuels and marketing regionally to provide fresh foods and minimize transport costs are key policies. The farm processes and sells many products on site, providing training and employment for locals.

Campobello Whale Rescue Team (Country Walkers tour: New Brunswick: Bay of Fundy & Campobello Island). Created by Mackie Green, the same captain who offers a whale watching excursion and boat transfers on the Country Walkers tour, the team is trained to dive and rescue whales trapped in fish netting. Donations support equipment and training.

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Country Walkers tour: England: The Cotswolds). Stretching over 790 square miles, the Cotswolds is the largest recognized Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England due to its breathtaking scenery and rolling hills. Country Walkers supports efforts to keep the area well-preserved on behalf of every Cotswolds guest.

For more information on The Travelers Fund and Country Walkers’ sustainable travel initiatives, visit www.countrywalkers.com/sustainable-travel/ or call 800-234-6900.

For more than 40 years, Country Walkers has provided active, experiential, and stunning travel experiences on five continents. Based in Williston, Vt., the company’s specialized adventures and insider access bring the beating heart of a destination to life with well-crafted itineraries for Guided Walking and Self-Guided Walking. All walking trips highlight local cuisine, authentic accommodations, and immersive cultural experiences. Country Walkers is recognized as one of the leading providers of Walking Adventures worldwide, having garnered countless awards including National Geographic Traveler’s “50 Tours of a Lifetime” and Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best” Awards.

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World’s First Museum Devoted to Startups Opens in Vilnius, Lithuania

The newly-opened museum of startups in Vilnius, Lithuania is showcasing the success stories of twelve home-grown startups, including the first Lithuanian unicorn Vinted (Kleiderkreisel). The museum aims to inspire locals and tourists alike while celebrating the city’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Vilnius, Lithuania – The world’s first museum devoted to start-ups has opened in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.

Startup Museum hosts twelve stories of local startups that managed to reach global success. The list includes the first Lithuanian unicorn, pre-loved fashion marketplace Vinted (Kleiderkreisel), nanosatellite manufacturer Nanoavionics, image editing software developer Pixelmator, along with Trafi (Jelbi)DeeperBored PandaTesonetOberloCityBeeBrolis SemiconductorsMailerLite and CGTrader.

The displayed startups come from a broad range of fields – from online platforms and software to space exploration and laser manufacturing.

The aim of the museum is to tell the untold stories of startups that not only found their way to success but also made contributions to improving the business culture within the city. Through the stories of individual startups, the visitors will get to experience the drastic improvement that the startup scene in Vilnius made in recent years, too.

“Opening a startup museum is a great way to highlight how welcoming and progressive our city is, creating the needed environment for businesses to thrive,” says Remigijus Šimašius, the mayor of Vilnius. “At the same time, the museum will honour the brave entrepreneurs that are true ambassadors of Vilnius around the globe. This museum is also a good reminder that it isn’t just ideas and investments that matter – persistence, heart, and a strong team are as crucial.”

Each startup highlighted in the museum is presented through its journey to success, including the lessons learned and challenges conquered. Next to each company’s timeline and story, visitors have a chance to see physical artefacts that each startup sees as representations of their journey, work culture and values.

For example, the pop culture magazine Bored Panda has a panda costume on display to celebrate their company culture – which was worn by one of the current employees when he came to apply for the job. While CGTrader, the world’s largest source for stock and custom 3D models, are showcasing a bucket that was used to collect water in the early days of the company when they worked in an office with a leaky roof. Vinted’s exhibition will feature, among other artefacts, a toy unicorn representing its status as a first home-grown startup to reach EUR 1 billion in market valuation.

At the museum, guests can also get familiar with the state of the startup ecosystem in Vilnius and get informed about the upcoming startup-related events and awards.

Each year, the museum will add four additional Vilnius-based startups that made the most significant strides in that particular year.

The Startup museum was established by Go Vilnius, the official business development agency of Vilnius, together with a coworking space Talent Garden Vilnius.

There are currently 35 startup-dedicated spaces in Vilnius: twelve startup incubators and centres, eleven business accelerators and the same amount of investment organizations, five sandboxes dedicated to fintech, energy-related and real estate fields. Finally, the open data policy of the Vilnius city municipality allows businesses to test their products by using real financial, procurement, real estate, transport and other types of data.

Go Vilnius is the official tourism and business development agency of the City of Vilnius. The agency provides visitors, investors, relocating talent, entrepreneurs and businesses with all the essential information they need to know about the Lithuanian capital. Go Vilnius offers information on everything from real estate to leisure activities in Vilnius, simplifying the process of travelling, relocating to, or investing in Vilnius.

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TreadRight Foundation Announces New Project Partnership with Seville’s Cristina Heeren Foundation to Support Flamenco Dance

The Travel Corporation’s non-profit foundation, Treadright,  welcomes new project partnership in Seville, Spain with The Cristina Heeren Foundation of Flamenco Art to support the conservation of flamenco dance.

Cypress, Calif.- The TreadRight Foundation, a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of award-winning brands, including Trafalgar, Uniworld, Insight Vacations, Contiki and Red Carnation Hotels, has announced a new project partnership with The Cristina Heeren Foundation of Flamenco Art in Seville, Spain. The new project falls under TreadRight’s ‘People’ pillar, which encourages the cultures, traditions and arts of the communities TTC visits.

 The Cristina Heeren Foundation of Flamenco Art is a private, non-profit entity, created in 1993 in Seville by Cristina Heeren, Hispanist and American patron. Its aims are the promotion, the teaching and the conservation of flamenco both in Andalusia and Spain, as well as internationally.

The TreadRight Foundation is supporting The Cristina Heeren Foundation of Flamenco Art by establishing four scholarships for advanced guitar, singing and dance students at the Foundation. The TreadRight scholarships will be dedicated to advanced students who need financial assistance to complete their third or fourth year of training. These higher-level students display great skill and competence in their disciplines, however, they often struggle to find the funds to continue or complete their training. The TreadRight scholarship will now allow them to see their training through to its completion.

In addition, Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold guests will have a culturally immersive and unique experience while visiting The Cristina Heeren Foundation on select trips. They will start with a flamenco dance class before taking front-seats for a fiery performance of flamenco to truly embrace the artform.

“Anyone who has ever had the chance to experience a flamenco performance can’t help but be moved by the centuries old artistic tradition. It is obvious why UNESCO recognized flamenco as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2010,” says Brett Tollman, Chief Executive, TTC and Founder, The TreadRight Foundation. “It represents such an incredible and indelible contribution to Spanish culture and heritage, as well as world culture and heritage. We are delighted to be partnering with The Cristina Heeren Foundation to help support the brilliant young artists working to keep this beautiful tradition alive and thriving.”

“That our friends at the TreadRight Foundation should have understood the importance of Flamenco, a unique art form, is close to miraculous,” shared Cristina Heeren, President of The Cristina Heeren Foundation of Flamenco Art. “Indeed, few people realize that flamenco is unique, being a product of the numerous ethnic influences left behind by those groups that settled in southern Spain over the centuries. Now, thanks to the TreadRight scholarships, our most promising students will be able to enter the professional world,” she continued.

Since 1996, the prestigious school has trained more than 6,000 youths from around the world in song, dance and guitar. It has been recognized with the Flamenco in the Classroom Prize from the Andalusian Government, the Order of Alfonso X from Spain’s Ministry of Culture, the National Teaching Prize from the Chair of Flamencology in Jerez and the distinction Flamenco Thursdays from the Cajasol Foundation, among other honors.

Created as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of brands, The TreadRight Foundation is a not-for-profit working to safeguard the planet, wildlife & people for generations to come. TreadRight’s mission is to #MakeTravelMatter through conservation, leadership and support for communities. To date, TreadRight has supported over 55+ sustainable tourism projects in 280+ communities worldwide. Foundation priorities are set by the Steering Committee. Past project partners include WWF, Conservation International, WildAid, The Travel Foundation and The National Trust in the UK. Current initiatives include the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Big Cat fund, WE.org and inspiring nature advocates like Céline Cousteau, Costas Christ and Terri Irwin. To learn more about our past and current work at TreadRight, please visit us at treadright.org and follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter using our hashtag #MakeTravelMatter.

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Devastating Hurricane Dorian Reminds of Vital Link Between Climate Action, Tourism & Sustainable Economy

Tourism creates jobs, provides a sustainable economy that preserves heritage and environment © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

On World Tourism Day 2019, Patricia Affonso-Dass, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association offered this message:

The theme of this year’s World Tourism Day, “Tourism and Jobs: A better future for all”, is particularly relevant for the Caribbean because no other sector creates more jobs or more opportunities in a wider variety of professions and skills. 

In addition to the 2.5 million people employed directly, many more benefit indirectly from the industry’s contributions to Caribbean health, wealth, education and the environment. Our infrastructure, schools, hospitals, public services, and parks and recreation facilities are all helped by this dynamic and growing industry – already the world’s largest sector but also its fastest growing.

The 2017 hurricanes and Hurricane Dorian that devastated some of our destinations reinforced the indispensable role of tourism in our lives. They remind us that for each tourism employee unable to work because of the storms, many members of their families were also affected.

Initiatives such as “Tourism Jobs for Bahamians”, just launched by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) together with the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), are finding interim jobs for displaced industry professionals.

There will be more jobs as tourism recovers from the hurricanes and the industry resumes its healthy growth trend, and our task is to spread the benefits more equitably to a wider cross section of our people. We want to ensure women, youth, minorities, and the differently abled have open gateways to employment, ownership and leadership within the industry. There are over 1,000 different job and career paths in the industry, a fifth of which are at supervisory and management levels. Increasing diversity always strengthens companies and organizations, especially in tourism. Our visitors come from a wide range of backgrounds, so our people who welcome visitors to our shores should also reflect the full spectrum of our rich human diversity.

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, with the support of many of the region’s local associations and our members, is earnest about its mandate to develop our industry’s human resources. Well over 500 Caribbean nationals have received higher education scholarships through the CHTA Education Foundation. More than 1,000 chefs and several hundred bartenders have honed their skills through professional development opportunities that CHTA and the industry have provided through our Taste of the Caribbean initiative. 

Thousands of employees have benefited from industry-sponsored professional development training, including over 500 who attended “diversity in the workplace” courses over the past year. Earlier this year, CHTA launched its Young Leaders Initiative, in which dozens of young people are developing their leadership skills and their understanding of the industry and the opportunities it offers. 

This does not include the additional investments that independent hotels, resort brands, airlines, tour operators, attractions, taxi and transportation providers, vendors and other industry stakeholders, with their human resource professionals and employees, are making every day to deliver exceptional hospitality. 

Building upon a rich foundation, we have the responsibility to make more opportunities to develop our people and our industry, anticipating technological and consumer demand-driven changes which are now a constant. The recent collapse of the world’s oldest travel agency offers more lessons. While never losing sight of the fundamentals of hospitality, the dynamics of our industry demands our adaptability and responsiveness to change if we are not to face a similar fate.

Tourism can benefit every corner of our region and so on this World Tourism Day, we celebrate the importance of the industry and the employment and entrepreneurial opportunities it represents. We resolve individually and collectively, as businesses, governments and education and training institutions, to continue to invest in our people. 

In the Caribbean, “Tourism is Everyone’s Business”.

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is the Caribbean’s leading association representing the interests of national hotel and tourism associations. For more than 50 years, CHTA has been the backbone of the Caribbean hospitality industry. Working with some 1,000 hotel and allied members, and 33 National Hotel Associations, CHTA is shaping the Caribbean’s future and helping members to grow their businesses. Whether helping to navigate critical issues in sales and marketing, sustainability, legislative issues, emerging technologies, climate change, data and intelligence or, looking for avenues and ideas to better market and manage businesses, CHTA is helping members on issues which matter most.

For further information, visit www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com.