Entries in Tourism (10)


Royal Baby Promises to Boost England’s Economy

iStockphoto(LONDON) -- England's tourism industry is happily awaiting the soon-to-be royal baby as the Duchess of Cambridge prepares to give birth.

Proceeds from tourism and product sales related to the birth are expected to pump nearly $400 million dollars into the British economy, ABC's Bianna Golodryga reports.

Experts are predicting that $90 million alone will be spent on some three million bottles of champagne purchased to toast the baby's birth.

“It's very important for the economy, because it generates a lot of people coming to this country, particularly from America, that are fascinated with anything to do with the royal family,” said Steve Margo with the Athenaeum Hotel, which is right across the street from Buckingham Palace.

“From a business point of view, the Royal family is one of our best exports,” Margo added.

Margo said that more than two thirds of the Athenaeum Hotel’s guests come from The United States, and he expects a large number of guest this summer are coming specifically because of the royal baby, hoping that they’ll be able get a glance.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


British Tourists Charged $84 for Four Ice Cream Cones in Rome

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ROME) -- We all scream for ice cream, but one would hope that’s not because of the price.

An ice cream parlor near the Spanish Steps in Rome ignited the wrath of the world this week after it charged four British tourists a seemingly exorbitant amount of money for ice cream.

The story went viral after the two British couples snapped a photo of their bill. They had been charged 64 Euros, or $84 for four cones.

Such was the outrage over the high price of everyone’s favorite frozen treat that the mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, apologized to the tourists and offered them a free trip back to Rome.

However, expensive ice cream is not that unusual. The server at the Antica Roma Gelateria, where the tourists purchased the ice cream, says $20 for four big scoops in within the range of “normal.”

In part that’s because the overall ice cream experience including the quality of ingredients, location, uniqueness, plays a part in the price.

"You're not buying the ice cream,” lecturer in marketing at Glasgow Caledonian University Ronnie Ballantyne told BBC News. “You're buying Rome."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Newfoundland Pitches Tourism With a Goat on a Horse

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEWFOUNDLAND, Canada) -- If nothing says spend your vacation at the most easterly edge of North America more than a goat on top of a horse, then Newfoundland and Labrador should prepare for an influx of tourists.

The province, known until now as the place where the sun rises first, will now likely be best known for something else entirely, for having what could be the most unusual tourism ad to date — a baby goat riding around on a white horse as music plays in the background.

The best part of it all is that the commercial was not staged, but was just something that actually  happens in the rural province with a population of  a little more than 500,000.

 “While the film crew was on their way to film in the St. Mary’s area, they spotted the goat on the horse on the side of the road,” Newfoundland’s Minister for Tourism, Culture and  Recreation, the Honorable Terry French, told Friday.

“They stopped and said, ‘Did anybody see this? We have to stop and get this,’” he said.  “If this doesn’t play into us being a unique place, we’ve got to get this.”

The random bit of nature in action was spotted and filmed by the crew in 2011.  When they pitched it to French for the province’s ongoing “Find Yourself” ad campaign to promote tourism, French said no.

“I thought it was fun to watch but said, ‘Oh, I’m not so sure,’” he recalled.

French’s mind was changed this month when his social media team noticed that goats were trending online.  The team presented its priceless goat video to him again and said, according to French, “Goats are trending online.  Why don’t we use the footage we have?’”

This time, French said yes.

“We all sat around a board room table for a while and laughed,  and said, ‘Let’s do it,’” he said.  “So we did.”

The resulting 35-second video was posted to YouTube Tuesday and already has nearly 100,000 views.  Titled, very literally, “Goat on a Horse, Newfoundland and Labrador,” the ad opens with the question, “What else would you expect from a place with its very own time zone?”

“We know that we’re not Disney World and we don’t try to be,” French said of his province’s tack on attracting tourists.

The tourism department’s “Find Yourself” ad campaign has produced 16 television ads since it began in 2007, racking up more than 180 international and national awards for excellence.

This goat on a horse video, however, could be the one, however, that the province will become most known for.

“It is what it is,” French said.  “You get people watching it online. People get a real good look at us and then say, ‘Maybe this is a place we should visit someday.

“We tell everyone it’s a place that should be on everyone’s bucket list,” he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


First Underwater Spa Opens in the Maldives

Huvafen Fushi resort(MALE, Maldives) -- Why bother with a seaside massage when you can have an under-the-sea massage?

Huvafen Fushi, a luxury resort in the Maldives, is home to what it claims is the world's first underwater spa. The spa, named LIME, has added new treatments like Lose It, Tone It; Cellulite Therapy and Stress Buster.

There are also above-water treatment rooms for those who would rather be pampered above sea level.

The underwater treatment rooms took 12 months to construct and are made of a solid-cast resin to create an underwater structure that could be set in the open ocean with minimal disturbance to the ecosystem of the Maldives. The resin is five inches thick, which, the hotel said, "provides infinitely better clarity than the cheaper option of laminated glass."

The Maldives is also home to the world's first underwater restaurant: Ithaa at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. The restaurant is 16 feet below sea level and has 180-degree views of reef and marine life.

In Dubai, plans for an underwater hotel are in the works. Current designs call for the sleeping rooms to be underwater but the common areas to be above sea level. The design is comprised of discs, some located nearly 100 feet beneath the surface of the sea. Each is composed of 21 hotel rooms adjacent to the underwater dive center and a bar.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


‘Las Vegasdotcom’ Star of New Sin City Campaign VEGAS) -- For a city that’s known for the fast life, choosing an average Joe to represent it in a new marketing campaign may seem an odd choice.

He’s 45 years old. He sells insurance. And his name is Las. Las Vegasdotcom. Everything was fine, you see, before the explosion of the Internet. Now everyone thinks he’s a website. And now everyone wants Las to hook them up with the very best of Vegas.

The new campaign debuted Monday.

The ad’s goal, of course, is to tell viewers about all the cool things Vegas has to offer and ultimately drive potential visitors to the website and convince them to book.

One video shows Las being accosted on the street by a man who wants to know about the secret pizza place inside the Cosmopolitan hotel. “What’s secret about it?” he asks. “That nobody tells you where it is? Or they don’t even tell you what the toppings are and you just sort of get a grab bag of toppings?”

Another asks, “So the sharks at Mandalay Bay? Like, have you swam with them? Do I need insurance for that?”

“The new website and ad campaign are based on comprehensive research about our visitors and what they want,” said Courtney Fitzgerald, spokesperson for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. "Based on our research, we know we have two audiences: the ‘core’ and the ‘persuade.”’

Each audience represents more than 40 million potential visitors a year.

Fans of Sin City’s famous “What Happens Here Stays Here” campaign need not worry — the famous slogan isn’t going anywhere. The new campaign is designed to “compliment” what’s already in place, Fitzgerald said.

The character Las Vegasdotcom isn’t too far off the typical Sin City visitor. ABC built a profile of the typical Las Vegas visitor based on data from the LVCVA. If you’re a married white male, late 40s, employed making over $100,000 per year and love to gamble, it seems Las Vegas is your vacation spot of choice.


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Traveling Overseas: Best Bang for Your Buck?

Nick M Do/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- While a growing euro storm may be brewing, the dollar has increased in value -- much to the delight of American tourists.

The trend over the past few months is clear: the dollar is worth more against the euro. And that means more bang for each tourist buck.

"Americans traveling in Europe have had a tough time with the weak dollar over recent decades," says market analyst Alec Young. "But we do get bouts where the dollar firms up."

"We've recently had a very nice run for the dollar and that would benefit the U.S. tourist traveling around the world," he says.

With the euro woes expected to linger, this summer might prove to be a great bargain for Americans heading overseas.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hawaii Tourism Rebounds; The New and Notable

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) -- Hawaii's tourism industry has rebounded to 2007 levels, reports The Wall Street Journal. This is good news for the island chain battered by a recession, significant air service reductions, the departure of two cruise ships and a downturn in Japanese tourists thanks to the March 2010 earthquake and tsunami.

The fiftieth state is perhaps seen -- at least by travelers -- as our nation’s most exotic destination. Longer flights mean higher ticket prices. Still, if you’re going all the way to Hawaii, you might as well stay awhile. According to travel booking site Travelocity, the average length of stay in Honolulu was eight days in 2011, compared to five days in South Florida, another popular beach destination.  All those nights in a hotel room add up fast -- and add to the perception that the Aloha State is a dream destination.  In other words, Hawaii may not be the first vacation destination when you’re watching your spending.

Whether it’s been a few years since your last visit or you’re planning your very first trip, there’s no denying that the islands are back on travelers’ “must-visit” list. Here’s what’s new in Hawaii over the last few years:


Hawaiian Airlines will introduce a new non-stop flight between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Honolulu International Airport starting June 5. Alaska Airlines has increased its service to Hawaii in the last few years and will begin daily service from Honolulu to San Jose and Oakland on April 10.

For travelers who want to make Hawaii a stopover on their way to Asia, Hawaiian Airlines has expanded its route network to include three cities in Asia including Haneda International Airport (Tokyo, Japan), Incheon International Airport (Seoul, South Korea), and Kansai International Airport (Osaka, Japan).  Hawaiian Airlines will also begin service to Fukuoka, Japan beginning in April.


After two years of construction, the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center on Oahu opened in November 2010. The $58 million facility houses five sites that make up the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. Also on Oahu, the Polynesian Cultural Center has begun a $38 million renovation to include new restaurants, shows and activities.


On Kauai’s North Shore, the St. Regis Princeville Resort (previously the Princeville Resort ) opened in 2009. It houses Hawaii’s first Jean-Georges restaurant, the Kauai Grill. The same year, the 121-room Koa Kea Hotel & Resort opened on Poipu Beach. Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk also opened in 2009.

In 2010, the former Waikiki Edition re-opened as The Modern Honolulu complete with Morimoto Waikiki, a new restaurant by the world-renowned Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

In 2011, Disney opened it's first property in Hawaii on Oahu. Aulani, a 21-acre resort, features both guest rooms and Disney Vacation Club villas. Also on Poipu Beach, the Koloa Landing at Poipu Beach officially opened in April 2011 and is still under construction. The hotel’s website offers special rates due to construction.

Maui’s secluded eastern shore is the new home of Travaasan Hana, made up of 70 cottages and suites with an all-inclusive and a la carte option for guests. Opening in June 2011, the hotel's all-inclusive option also includes a daily spa treatment.

Other notable renovations include the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa and Kauai Marriott Resort on Kalapaki Beach (Kauai); the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort and The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort (Oahu); The Fairmont Kea Lani and Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa (Maui); and The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (Big Island).

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


America Already No. 1 In International Tourist Spending

John Foxx/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- With a quintessential icon of American tourism, Disney World’s Cinderella Castle, rising prominently behind him, President Obama declared Thursday that his goal was to make America the “top tourist destination in the world.”

But in terms of tourism dollars spent, the United States is already No. 1.

According to the World Tourism Organization, international tourists spent more than $103 billion in the U.S. in 2010, nearly double the next highest-grossing country, Spain.

When it comes to the sheer number of visitors, though, America falls to second place, with France attracting about 17 million more tourists in 2010 than the U.S.

It is this number, a White House official told ABC’s Jake Tapper, that the president aims to improve by making it easier and faster for people from countries like China, India and Brazil to get tourist visas.

“This effort is about making sure that we are taking the right steps to position America to capitalize on the changing dynamics in international travel and tourism, where there is increased competition from other countries to attract travelers from emerging economies with growing middle classes,” the official said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio 


Made in America: Visa Process Slows Down Tourism  

John Foxx/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In the decade between 2000 and 2010, the number of foreign overseas tourists traveling the world grew by an astounding 60 million. You would think the numbers would grow in the United States as well, but they haven't. Ten years ago 26 million overseas visitors visited the U.S. In 2010: 26.4 million, according to the U.S. Travel Association, a trade group. That's hardly any growth at all.

Take a look at the numbers. The average Chinese tourist who visits America spends $6,243 while they're here, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Visitors from India spend $6,131. Brazilian tourists coming to America spend $4,940.

"I want to go to New York and California, maybe Las Vegas -- the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone Park," said one man waiting for a visa in Rio de Janiero.

But there is a catch, and it's a big one. There is no guarantee he or any other foreign tourists will get to come and spend their money here.

In fact, last year, tourists from Brazil had to wait up to 145 days just to interview for the required piece of paper.

In China, there are 1.3 billion people and only five places where you can even get an American visa. This year, the wait time has been up to 120 days just to get an interview.

"You're talking about visas simply to visit the U.S., not to stay here," said Hal Sirkin, a senior partner at the Boston Consulting Group. "Yes, this is not about people staying here. This is people who come, may spend two weeks, may spend a lot of money, creating American jobs, and then go back to the countries they came from."

Why, with tens of millions of travelers worldwide, have America's numbers stayed the same?

"We don't have the people to process them, and we don't have the facilities and the locations to process them," said Sirkin. "This could all be changed, and this could create literally millions of jobs in the United States."

In New York City, the W Hotel is trying lure Chinese travelers by catering to Chinese culture.

The hotel has entire menus in Mandarin, as well as tea kettles and the customary slippers.

"The U.S. is the number-one outbound destination of choice for Chinese travelers today," said Frits van Paasschen, CEO of Starwood Hotels.

But, because they can't get here, he said, they go to Europe.

All around the world, in Brazil, India and China, the fast-growing middle classes look to travel to the U.S., but only 13 percent actually come here, according to the U.S. Travel Association -- some say, because it's so difficult to get a visa. Thirty-eight percent travel to Europe instead because it's easier.

In the last decade, the U.S. lost out on 78 million overseas visitors -- that's $606 billion in spending -- in stores, malls, tourist destinations right here in America -- enough to add nearly half a million jobs every year.

The State Department told ABC News that safety and security comes first, but acknowledged they're working on the problem.

"We don't want anyone to wait, but we believe that most of those who are waiting will be coming," said David Donahue, deputy assistant secretary of state for visas, who added they are sending additional consular officers to both Brazil and China this year to increase processing capacity.

"It takes time to build new facilities, to grow," Donahue said. "This is a rather new phenomenon in China, that this many people want to come to the United States, and we have to address that need, but it takes time to grow to meet the growth in China."

In the meantime, those lines are growing and so, say economists, are the missed opportunities.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


American Tourism to London Up 20% for Royal Wedding, Experts Say

Niall Carson - WPA Pool / Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- From coast to coast, on British and U.S. airlines alike, Americans are heading to Great Britain in droves.

An estimated 600,000 tourists are expected in London this week because of the royal wedding, and many of them are from the United States. The number of Americans visiting London is up 20 percent this month, thanks to Prince William and Kate Middleton, tourism experts say.

For most U.S. tourists, the journey won't come cheap. Roundtrip tickets start at about $800 and hotel rooms can cost several hundred a night.

But those looking to cut costs can rough it at Camp Royale, London's official wedding campground. For $121, travelers can camp for three nights and have access to hot showers, clean toilets and free tea. They can also glam up that experience by renting luxury tents -- complete with service -- that start at about $1,800 for three nights.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio