Posts tagged with "tourism"

Travelers Are Looking for Adventure

When it comes to adventure travelers, China is an untapped market totaling USD $8.2B per year, according to new research from Bannikin Travel and Tourism, a leading travel consultancy based in Toronto and Hong Kong. The China Adventure Tourism Market Study, which surveyed more than 300 Chinese travelers over the age of 18 who had taken a trip in the past year, determined that 16.3% of respondents ­­— 23.49 million people — chose an adventure trip for their last holiday. For a market with outbound tourism numbers continuing to see double digit growth, this means there are considerable opportunities for adventure travel brands looking to expand their product offerings for Chinese adventurers.

“This report delves deep into who Chinese adventure travelers are—their planning habits, income, spending habits and dream destinations,” said Natasha Martin, managing director of Bannikin Asia. “We’ve never had better insight into how to market towards the Asian travel market and break into one of the largest tourism spends out there.” The 2019 study found that 2.7% of departures could be categorized as ‘hard adventure,’ while 13.6% pursued ‘soft adventure’ experiences. Though Chinese consumers do not necessarily associate adventure travel with risk-taking activities, such as rafting or mountain biking, they do associate it with remote destinations that can be perceived as exotic and potentially dangerous.

The survey was sent with the objective of discovering how many Chinese travelers actively seek-out adventure while on vacation. Here are the report’s main findings: The total adventure market size for China (based on accommodation spending only) is USD $8.2B per year. Adventure travel spend from China represents 0.64% of total international tourism spend. The top destinations for adventure travelers were United States, Thailand, Australia and Japan.Time in nature, camping and backpacking are some of the most popular activities for Chinese adventure tourists. 72% of Chinese adventure travelers spend between 4-10 days abroad, lower than Western adventure travelers. Bannikin Travel & Tourism runs a leading travel trade development satellite office in Hong Kong, with a team of Asia market experts to assist destinations and tour operators on how to tap into the burgeoning Asia adventure marketplace.

UNLOCK JAPAN’S GOLDEN SEASON

SHINING ADVENTURES FOR JAPAN’S GOLDEN SEASON

Savour the magic of Japan’s golden season in parks of autumnal colour and streets lit with twinkling lights.

From snow-draped temples, sensational shopping and warming winter cuisine, discover Kyoto and Tokyo’s best-kept secrets with Four Seasons.

BOOK NOW

Gaze at golden ginkgos and experience warming cuisine as twinkling lights bring Tokyo to life.

Marvel at tranquil illuminated temples and snow-topped shrines before savouring Kyoto’s winter gourmet delights.

Fall in love with two cities this golden season, with just one bullet train connection.

Learn More

A Guide to Eating & Drinking in the Loire Valley

The Loire Valley is known for its incredible food and wine, as the home of Sancerre and Chinon, as well as some of France’s best goat cheese and other local delicacies. 2019 is the ideal time to taste the specialties of the region, when more than 500 events are taking place in honor of the 500th anniversary of the French Renaissance, some of which transport guests back to the Renaissance period. Below is a sampling of some of the best food and wine experiences for travelers to sample this year:
RENAISSANCE-PERIOD TASTINGS

A Taste of the Renaissance (“Goût de Renaissance”)
Inspired by the anniversary this year, 42 different restaurants throughout the Loire Valley are offering special menus and dishes inspired by the Renaissance in order to transport guests back to da Vinci’s time. Dishes include fried eggs with rosemary, lemon chicken fricassee, and poached pears in a red wine sauce. The Loire Valley region, in partnership with the European Institute of History and Food Cultures (IEHCA of Tours), has also published a book of 25 recipes and dishes from the period to help travelers understand French cuisine during the Renaissance. Find more information here.

Recipes from Catherine de Medici at Chateau de Chenonceau
Christophe Canati, the chef from Chateau de Chenonceau’s L’Orangerie restaurant, has created a number of dishes inspired by the French Renaissance period, some of which were inspired by Catherine de Medici, who resided in the chateau. Visitors will also have an opportunity to share their own ideas for recipes inspired by their visit to the chateau. Dishes include artichoke beignets, crispy sweetbreads, carp stuffed with bacon, and a lemon and violet tart. The book of recipes can be purchased here. Visitors to Chenonceau can also visit Catherine de Medici’s recreated apothecary in honor of the anniversary.

Renaissance Reenactments on the Ile d’Or
On September 28 and 29, the Ile d’Or (an island in the Loire River) in Amboise will be transported back to the Renaissance, bringing together 500 volunteers who will reenact history, acting as medieval warriors in infantry units or soldiers bivouacking on the island. Visitors will be able to get a glimpse of daily life during the Renaissance period, while also experiencing a local crafts and gourmet food market. Find more information here.

Gifts from the Renaissance
As part of the Loire Valley’s celebrations, a number of special local gifts inspired by the time period are being produced around the region, including a collection of “historical perfumes” from Nicolas de Barry, who has recreated a line of perfumes and cosmetics used during the Renaissance period. His creations include pomanders, jewelry such as necklaces, bracelets and belts, which are scented with perfume. Another gift from the past is a signature bottle of wine created by the Chateau du Clos-Lucé, produced using the grape varieties of Chenin and Côt, which date back to the time of Leonardo da Vinci.

EXPERIENCING THE LOCAL WINE REGIONS

Sancerre
Travelers can try the Loire Valley’s famous Sancerre wine at Maison des Sancerre, an ideal spot to sample top local wines of the region. Travelers can also stop by a local farm to pair the wine with Chavignol, one of the five goat cheese appellations from the region.

Valençay
Valençay is the name for both a goat cheese (which is lightly salted and coated in ash) and wine from the region. Travelers in the area can also stop by the Chateau De Valençay, which is hosting a series of evening candle-lit jazz concerts throughout August.

Between Touraine and Orléans
Top wine produced in this area includes Chinon, Vouvray, Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil, Bourgueil, Montlouis-sur-Loire, Cheverny, Cour-Cheverny, Valençay, Orléans, Orléans-Cléry and Coteaux du Giennois. Unique experiences for travelers include a Wine Escape Game at Domain PB Couly, relaxation workshops held right in the vineyards of Ame Wine in Touraine, and a multimedia art exhibit held in the historic wine cellars Caves Monmousseau, creating incredible projections onto the cave from pictorial stained glass techniques that retrace the history and origins of the cellar.

Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny
Located in Cour-Cheverny, The Domaine des Huards has been making wine since 1846, and today only produces organic and biodynamic wine. The winemakers produce wine made from 100% Romorantin grapes, which is a grape that dates back to the Renaissance period. Travelers to this area can also sample local wines at the Maison de Vins de Chevernylocated by the entrance to the Chateau du Cheverny, and at the Maison de Vins de Chambord, located on the Chambord Estate.

RENAISSANCE EVENTS

“Message in a Bottle” Exhibit in Bourges (until November 24)
As 2019 is also the International Year of the World’s Indigenous People, the Bourges Natural History Museum invites visitors to question our impact on climate change by comparing the climate of the 16th century (early Ice Age) with the 22nd century. Find more information here.

Fluxshow2019: An Italian Year at the Fondation du Doute (until November 2019)
This exhibition of “spectacular artistic machines” by Nam June Paik and Wolf Vostell offers a comparative presentation of works by French and Italian artists, including the creation of a wheeled machine from one ton of waste technology products.

A Contemporary Homage to Leonardo da Vinci (until November 3, 2019)
This exhibit will present the many facets of Leonardo da Vinci’s work as seen through thirty well-known contemporary artists. They will focus on his self-portraits, portraits of women, extraordinary machines, drapery, anatomy, historical painting, codices and scenery. Chateau du Rivau is a medieval castle owned by a French family, who transformed the massive grounds into fairytale-inspired gardens, with incredible grand artworks displayed throughout; in September 2018, they unveiled seven guest rooms in the castle’s former stables.

The Hotel Concord Receives AAA’s Four Diamond Rating

Just 6.3 percent of more than 27,000 AAA Inspected & Approved hotels receive the prestigious rating


The Hotel Concord, the Capital City’s newest boutique hotel, has received the coveted AAA Four Diamond designation. Opened in August 2018,  The Hotel Concord  is honored with this prestigious designation in its first year in operation.

“From its inception, The Hotel Concord was conceived as a premier property with high-end amenities and a premium level of service,” said David V. Shamoian, President & CEO of the Bravo Zulu Hospitality Group. “We are exceptionally proud of the work the ownership group, the design team, and the hotel staff has put into making The Hotel Concord a standout property.”

Hotels at this level are committed to providing every guest with a high degree of hospitality and attentive service in upscale surroundings, according to AAA. Four Diamond rated properties typically offer an extensive array of amenities and guest services.

The Hotel Concord is part of a select group of establishments within North America. Currently, just 1,722 hotels hold the AAA Four Diamond designation and is one of only 8 hotels in New Hampshire

“AAA is pleased to recognize The Hotel Concord as a Four Diamond hotel,” said Michael Petrone, director of AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings. “These establishments dedicate a significant amount of attention to detail that helps ensure a consistent and memorable guest experience. To uphold the exceptionally high standards required on a daily basis to attain this rating is an outstanding achievement.”

The Hotel Concord is a 38-room boutique hotel located on the fourth and sixth floor of the Capital Commons building in the heart of downtown Concord. It was conceived by developer Michael J. Simchik, managing partner of NH-based 100 Market Group, and is run by Bravo Zulu Hospitality Group, headed by David V. Shamoian, who has brought his 40 years of hospitality industry expertise to the new property, making it the premier hotel in Concord.

The Hotel Concord stands out in the Capital City for its unique rooms and high-end amenities. Each of the spacious rooms is a different shape and size offering guests a distinctive luxury experience, with high-tech features like state-of-the-art climate control systems, wall mounted flat screen televisions, high-speed internet and Amazon Echo Dots. To ensure the highest level of guest comfort, the rooms are also sound-proofed and feature luxury bed linens and bathrobes, California-style closets, mini fridges and well-appointed oversized bathrooms. Some rooms feature balconies with views of New Hampshire’s Capitol Building, Concord’s Main Street and the Merrimack River.

At The Hotel Concord, guests will enjoy a welcoming lobby, comfortable lounge and The Lobbyist Bar, where a light breakfast is served each morning. Executive lounges, function rooms, on-site restaurant O Steaks and Seafood, 24-hour gym and 24-hour certified chief concierge service aim to provide guests of The Hotel Concord with all their travel needs during their stay.

Those interested in an upcoming stay at The Hotel Concord can find booking information at www.hotelconcordnh.com, or by calling 603-504-3500.

About AAA Inspections

For more than 80 years, AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property evaluations. AAA offers the only rating system using comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant evaluations guided by member priorities. With a far greater inventory than any other rating entity, AAA’s rating system covers the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments and inspector insight in AAA’s trip planning products: the AAA Mobile app, the online AAA Travel Guides and Travel Planner and the AAA TourBook guides available to members at AAA offices.

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 35 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

About the Hotel Concord

Michael Simchik, the developer of The Capital Commons office building, had a vision for a multi-use building complex with a hotel being the last component of his master plan. The Hotel Concord, along with O’s Steak and Seafood, corporate meeting and event facilities, Red River Theater, attached covered parking, and premier  executive office space completes this landmark development.    https://www.hotelconcordnh.com

One Hour Translation: Google Wins the Battle of Real Time Voice Translators

OHT used expert in-house linguists to compare the performance of Skype Translator, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri in translating business and tourism expressions from English into Japanese, French, German and Spanish and vice versa

On average across languages, Google scored the highest – 4.54 out of 6, Skype second (4.32) and Siri third (4.09). Google was the best in Japanese (4.01), German (4.5) and Spanish (4.8), while Siri led in French (4.87) 

Google Assistant is the top performing real time voice translator, according to a benchmark conducted by One Hour Translation (OHT), an online platform which provides translations in more than 100 languages and 3,000 language pairs.

With demand for real time voice translation on the rise, OHT decided to test out the leading services: Skype Translator (run by Microsoft Translate), Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri, and rank them for accuracy.

With the help of expert in-house linguists OHT took 16 business and 10 tourism expressions and translated them from English into Japanese, French, German and Spanish and vice versa. The same sentences were then given to real time voice translator devices, apps and digital assistants to see just how they performed. The results were rated by the linguists on a scale of 0 to 6.

On average across languages, Google scored the highest – 4.54 out of 6, Skype second (4.32) and Siri third (4.09). Google was the best in three out of the four languages – Japanese (4.01), German (4.5) and Spanish (4.8), while Siri led in French (4.87).  Overall Japanese was the hardest language to translate with an average score of 3.7.  French was the easiest language for the instant voice translator devices to translate with an average of 4.75, followed by Spanish (4.54) and German (4.41).

“The real time voice translators were more accurate in translating tourism related experssions in comparison to business expressions” said Yaron Kaufman, chief marketing officer and co-founder of OHT. He attributed this to the use of a lot of business-related abbreviations which are not easily recognized by real time voice devices. Kaufman added that “despite the recent improvements in all of the assistants we tested, real time voice translations still cannot be relied on for business related content.”

Some examples of the sentences: “Stay on budget for this campaign, we can’t have it affecting our ROI”; “R&D are cutting too many corners, the product is undeployable”;  “Schedule a meeting between your CMO and our product manager”; “Do you have any allergies? This dish contains peanuts and avocado”; “I need to find the fastest way to the airport, my plane is leaving soon”; “My travel insurance should cover that bill.”

There are also new developments on the horizon in the field of real time voice translation. Among other advancements, Amazon is planning to release a DIY toolkit for creating translation apps and Xiaomi has released a new and advanced physical device for real time translations.

About One Hour Translation

One Hour Translation (OHT) believes that businesses should be able to reach any customer, anywhere, anytime, with no language barriers.

One Hour Translation’s AI powered cloud-based translation management platform, HALO,  helps enterprise customers reduce overhead by automating their translation process and workflow. HALO combines automated workflows, Neural Machine Translation (NMT) and professional translation services, to process all of the enterprise content quickly and easily via API/WEB. A dedicated NMT engine is automatically trained as the translations proceed and as a result the project’s cost keeps decreasing while translation speed improves. HALO is easy to implement and use, encrypted, secured and allows the enterprise to use any mix of its translators and reviewers with those of OHT, as well as any mix of NMTs for optimal quality and cost. The platform also allows OHT to manage a company’s resources and in-house budgets earmarked for translation in order to obtain the best possible results.

OHT is the leader in translations for enterprise customers, currently serving over 60 percent of the Fortune 500 companies, including Coca-Cola, Deutsche Bank, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, HP, Xerox, Acer, Shell, Deloitte, HSBC, Procter & Gamble, IKEA, 3M, McCann, Allianz, Xiaomi and many other organizations.

One Hour Translation specializes in translation for 30 expert domains, including law, technology, marketing, website translation, applications, software and more.

Company Website

Twitter

Facebook

ONEs – OHT NMT Evaluation Score

Rising Isreal Tourism

Israel Tourism continues to rise, as more travelers are choosing the country as their next travel destination. In 2019 so far, the country has seen a total of 1.9 million visitors, compared with 1.75 million during the same period in 2018. This past May, 440,000 tourists entered Israel, marking an increase of 11.3% over the previous year, and a 26.8% increase when compared with May 2017.

“The May 2019 tourism statistics continue the consistent upward momentum and record-breaking trend in incoming tourism to Israel,” stated Tourism Minister Yariv Levin

Below are some of the latest hospitality updates in Israel:

NEW DEVELOPMENTS & RENOVATIONS:

  • Dan Caesarea Unveils Renovations: After eight months of renovations, the Dan Caesarea Hotel has reopened. The hotel underwent a NIS 80 million renovation to attract a younger generation, upgrading 116 rooms and suites, the lobby, dining room, event halls, spa, children’s club and public areas with sleeker options.
  • Jordache Enterprises Group to Open Six New Hotels: Jordache Enterprises group is expanding its hotel business in Israel by opening six new hotels in Israel in 2019. The group will open three new four and five-star hotels under the Herbert Samuel brand: the 162-room Milos Dead Sea Hotel; the 110-room Opera Tel Aviv Hotel, and the 30-room Boutique Tel Aviv Hotel. In addition, the Setai hotel brand will also open three hotels with a five-star rating.  
  • Isrotel Announces Plans to Open 11 New Hotels in Israel: Isrotel announced that it has plans to open 11 hotels in Israel, eight of which will be built by 2022. Five hotels will be in Tel Aviv, with others being built in Eilat, Jaffa, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and the Negev Desert.

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE:

  • Ben-Gurion Airport to be Expanded: Israel’s Transportation Ministry approved a NIS 3 billion expansion plan of Ben-Gurion Airport, expanding Terminal 3 by 80,000 square-meters, adding 90 new check-in counters, four new baggage hall conveyor belts, and expanding immigration checkpoints and parking facilities. In addition, a fifth passenger concourse will be constructed to accommodate additional aircrafts. This expansion will allow the airport to increase to accommodate up to 30 million more passengers a year.
  • Bubble On-Demand Shuttle Service Launches in Tel Aviv: Bubble, a new on-demand van shuttle service, has launched in collaboration with the Dan Bus Company in Israel to bring easier transportation to travelers in Tel Aviv. Passengers can now be picked up and dropped off at existing bus stops in Tel Aviv by ordering through the app.
  • New Bus Line Connecting Ben-Gurion Airport and Tel Aviv Hotels: Kavim has launched a new public bus route, 445, which will operate 24 hours a day, Sunday through Thursday, to connect the Ben-Gurion Airport and Tel Aviv’s hotel areas. Stops will include Ben Yehuda Street, Yehuda Halevi Street, Menachem Begin Street and the railway complex.

OTHER NEWS:

  • Neil Patrick Harris Appointed Tel Aviv Pride Ambassador: American actor, writer, producer, magician and singer, Neil Patrick Harris, was honored as the official International Ambassador for Tel Aviv Pride 2019, joined by husband, chef and actor, David Burtka. Download images here. Photo credit: Ilan Spira.
  • Israel Ministry of Tourism Introduces Interactive Map: The new interactive map of Israel displays thousands of items of information, including attractions, hotels, restaurants, hiking routes and other accommodation options. Tourists can filter and search items to easier allow them to navigate the country. In addition, the site is translated into 11 languages.
  • Mobile App Released to Make Old City Jerusalem More Accessible for the Visually Impaired: The Tower of David Museum and the Center for the Blind in Israel partnered to launch a mobile app that provides guided tours and routes for the visually impaired to experience Old City Jerusalem. The app provides evocative descriptions of the sights and encourages the listener to physically interact with the area through touch.

About the Israel Ministry of Tourism:

The Israel Ministry of Tourism (IMOT), is Israel’s national tourism agency responsible for planning and implementing marketing and promotional initiatives to position Israel as a preferred travel destination. IMOT aims to increase tourism traffic to contribute to Israel’s economy, and to enhance and diversify the visiting experience. IMOT works to promote Israel’s impressive assortment of historical, cultural, culinary and religious attractions – each the perfect blend of tradition and modernity.  IMOT offices in North America are located in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago and Toronto.

BEYOND YOUR BUCKET LIST × SOUTH AFRICA

Go Beyond Your Bucket List in South Africa

With United Airlines’ new direct flight launching from Newark to Cape Town this December, South Africa is becoming more accessible than ever before. As an increasing number of travelers move beyond typical bucket list trips and seek out meaningful, unique experiences, they will find South Africa has everything they’re looking for. The South African Tourism Board has launched the #MeetSouthAfricaMondays campaign to introduce travelers to some of the country’s lesser-known but most compelling experiences, curated by long-term citizens and lovers of South Africa.

• Accessible Art in Woodstock

• Rediscover Durban

• Johannesburg’s Revitalized Art Scene

• Marine Life of the South African Coast

• Adventures in Drakensburg

• Panoramic Views on the Panorama Route

• World-Class Winelands

• Tastes of a Township: 4Roomed eKasi Culture

The Urban: Arts and Culture Redefined

Accessible Art in Woodstock
All across Woodstock, a suburb of Cape Town, buildings are covered in colorful art, painted by local and international artists. “The movement was founded by a longstanding group of artists that were painting in Woodstock but who wanted to take their art from the studios into the streets,” says Juma Mkwela, a tour guide who leads visitors on street art walking tours of the area. “We wanted to inspire, we wanted to educate, and we wanted to tell stories that hadn’t been told. Today, we have more than 100 pieces here by local and international artists.” High-end restaurants like The Test Kitchen and bustling, artsy watering holes like Casa Woodstock Bar populate the neighborhood, creating a vibrancy to match that of Woodstock’s colorful painted buildings. 

Rediscover Durban

Undergoing its second wave of urban revitalisation, Durban has elements that appeal to every kind of tourist — everything from beautiful beaches and perfect weather to high-caliber musicians, fusion food, and world-class distilleries can be found along the city’s streets. According to Jonas Barausse, urban storyteller and Durban local, “Durban really appeals to someone who wants to discover, who wants to peel back the layers of a city. Entrepreneurs are doing some really amazing stuff.” Florida Road, one of Durban’s main strips, is full of life, energy, and color, embodying the city’s spirit. The road is lined with local coffee places and Durban dining staples for travelers who love the bustling atmosphere of city life. Durban’s proximity to coastline, mountains, and some of the world’s best game parks and wildlife make it a perfect stop on a South African vacation.

Johannesburg’s Revitalized Art Scene

One of South Africa’s more well-visited areas, Jo’burg is known for its social life, spirit, and history. Maboneng is the modern center of the art scene in Johannesburg, populated by galleries, boutiques, bars, and restaurants. For a lesser known side of Jo’burg, Charles Nbube suggests visiting his home township of Soweto. “Despite past struggles, it’s a very progressive township, full of historical sights and activities and reignited life,” Charles says. “There’s bungee jumping and quad biking at the Soweto Towers; cycling and tuk tuk tours from Leto’s Backpackers. And there’s Hector Pieterson Memorial, where you can learn about the 1976 Soweto Uprising. The wounds are the scars of the past are still open in this township, but nobody’s crying here.”

The Wild Side: Pursuing Natural Splendors Beyond the Safari

Marine Life of the South African Coast

Take a safari path less traveled by hopping on a boat. Voyage around the Dyer Island system in Gansbaai to spot the Marine Big Five: the great white shark, African penguin, southern right whale, cape fur seal and dolphins. “I challenge anyone to find another place on Earth that can offer such diversity so close to shore,” says Alison Towner, marine expert and guide with Marine Dynamics. For the ultimate shark cage diving experience, try to visit from May to September when they’re in the highest density. Also according to Alison, “peak season for southern right whale watching is October and November.”

Adventures in Drakensberg

South African topography is much more than its famed safari plains. The mountains and valleys of the Drakensberg contain the largest concentration of hiking trails in South Africa, as well as around 300 species of plants that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. Beyond hiking, the mountains are the perfect host for adventure activities such as rock climbing, ziplining, horseback riding, paragliding, whitewater rafting, hot air ballooning, and abseiling. According to James Seymour, a South African mountaineering guide, the mountains’ most “unmissable” activity is a helicopter trip over the Drakensberg. Unique flora and fauna, dense population of antelopes, and ancient rock art hidden in stunning vistas make the Drakensberg one of only 20 places in the world that have been recognized twice by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

Panoramic Views on the Panorama Route

The most scenic and diverse geographical features of South Africa can be found along the Panorama Route, an aptly named 1,242 miles of road in the often-overlooked province of Mpumalanga. The road passes around the Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world and provides access to unique geographical features such as Lisbon Falls, Graskop Gorge, and Bourke’s Luck Potholes. From God’s Window, a viewpoint 2,297 feet above the lush forest below, it is said that on a clear day you can see to the ocean in Mozambique. Beyond natural marvels, the Panorama Route allows a glimpse of local culture outside of urban centers. “Support the local community by buying their arts and crafts that they sell at sights along The Panorama Route,” suggests David Quihampton, who has been a Mpumalanga tour guide for fifteen years.

The Gourmet: Wine and Food

World-Class Winelands

Less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town, South Africa’s Cape Winelands are “the best wine destination in the world,” according to Andre Morgenthal, who has worked in the wine industry for nearly thirty years. Within a three-hour radius visitors can easily see ten different wine regions, from Constantia to Stellenbosch, each with their own specialty varietals. Like other wine power-houses of the world, the Winelands have a long history of excellence. In recent decades, however, the Winelands have redefined themselves, bringing together European influence with their own country’s flair. “Pinotage is our national grape,” says Andre, claiming the grape as the region’s flag bearer for red wine. “It’s producing beautiful, world-acclaimed wines.”

Tastes of a Township

For authentic South African cuisine, visit the Cape Town restaurant 4Roomed eKasi Culture. The restaurant’s founder, Abigail Mbalo, a contestant on Master Chef South Africa, named her restaurant in  honor of the standard four-roomed homes found in townships across the country. “With our cuisine, we want to tell stories about growing up in a township. We want to evoke nostalgia and pride,” Abigail says. Her restaurant revamps traditional recipes with fresh ideas and fresh ingredients from the backyard garden. Guests enjoy offerings such as a pumpkin and pap dish called umqa, to which Abigail adds butternut, nutmeg, and truffle oil, or the dessert, amkhekhe, based on a popular scone and made modern with citrus, chocolate, and a yuzu syrup. Surrounded by fast food and frantic lifestyles, the restaurant allows guests to slow down and get a delicious taste of South Africa’s history and culture.   

Taste the Roads Less Traveled in California’s Wine Country this Summer

California is home to dozens of distinct wine regions, including some of the world’s most famous destinations. But hidden among even the high-profile appellations are the wine roads less traveled, featuring stunning rural scenery, delicious wines and, often, fewer visitors. To help wine lovers discover new wine roads and wineries this summer, Wine Institute’s California Wine Country Back Roads series highlights off-the-beaten-path wine roads and regions. The five-part series begins with the back roads of California’s North Coast.

SONOMA COUNTY

Home to nearly 500 wineries, plus green valleys, rolling hills, regal redwoods and 55 miles of spectacular coastline, Sonoma County is one of the most well-known wine regions in California. Even so, there’s always something new to explore along Sonoma’s rural roads.

TASTE: The region is best known for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon, but Sonoma’s diversity of climate and soils allows vintners to grow dozens of other varieties as well. You’ll find a more relaxed pace in the Alexander Valley where winding country roads lead to some of the county’s most delicious Cabernet Sauvignon wines, known for their elegant style. As one of Sonoma’s larger appellations in terms of vineyard acres, Alexander Valley’s back roads include more than two dozen wineries. Hidden treasures can also be found in the nearby Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley.

TOUR: On June 22-23, Experience Alexander Valley invites small groups of 20 or less to experience everything from blending seminars with winemakers to ravioli-making workshops to bocce in the vineyards. Also on June 8 – July 14 is the Art of Wine with a Vintage Palette at the Healdsburg Center for the Arts, featuring 60 artists celebrating the wine country culture of the North Bay. The free opening reception is June 8.

For more information on lodging, dining and upcoming events, see Sonoma Tourism.

NAPA VALLEY

A small region with a deservedly large reputation, the Napa Valley is known the world over for its acclaimed wines—primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and other Bordeaux varieties—and a thriving culinary scene that includes Michelin star restaurants, delicious food truck fare and every level of cuisine in between.

TASTE: Bordered by two mountain ranges—the Vaca on the east and the Mayacamas on the west—the Napa Valley is rich with less-traveled mountain roads that invite visitors to meander and discover. Spring Mountain Road, just a few minutes off busy highway 29, is a rural respite of family owned and operated wineries, along with 1,000 acres of gorgeous hillside vineyards. Likewise, Mount Veeder, Atlas Peak, Howell Mountain and Diamond Mountainreward travelers with mountain vistas and limited-production wines. (Due to their remote locations, some wineries require advance appointments.)

TOUR: Festival Napa Valley is in July, featuring performers SEAL, Patti Lupone, jazz artists the Yellow Jackets, and a full slate of the finest concerts, operas, and fabulous winery parties. Free outdoor concerts will be at the St. Helena Concert Series, held on alternating Thursdays, June-August, in Lyman Park. Wind down the summer season at the Calistoga Harvest Table on Sept. 8, where local restaurants and 40-plus wineries team up to produce an epic feast laid out on 1,000 feet of tables in the center of Calistoga’s picturesque downtown.

For more information on lodging, dining and upcoming events, see Visit Napa Valley.

MENDOCINO COUNTY

Fifty miles north of Healdsburg lies ruggedly beautiful Mendocino County, home to towering redwoods and a foggy coast. More than 90 percent of the land is wild and undeveloped, and the region is known for its small-town vibe and relaxed hospitality.

TASTE: Drive along Highway 128 in the Anderson Valley and find more than two dozen small wineries producing everything from crisp sparkling wines to gorgeous cool-climate Pinot Noir to aromatic whites. The region’s producers are proudly “green,” with a high percentage of wineries using sustainable, organic or Biodynamic methods.

TOUR: Celebrate Father’s Day weekend June 15-16 with A Taste of Redwood Valley, a chance to sample library wines, small-production lots and even spirits. Anderson Valley wineries host their Barrel Tasting Weekend July 20-21, featuring previews of new wines and tastes of current releases.

For more information on lodging, dining and upcoming events, see Visit Mendocino.

LAKE COUNTY

Bordering Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties, Lake County was named for the region’s many picturesque lakes. Vineyards are planted throughout the county, from the agriculturally rich valley at 1,370 feet elevation to the rocky red soil around Mt. Konocti—a dormant volcano—at elevations above 2,000 feet.

TASTE: Home to more than 30 wineries, Lake County is known for its high-elevation Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc wines. Mini-tours around Clear Lake include Upper Lake and Lakeport, Nice and Clearlake Oaks, Lower Lake, Middletown, and the volcanic slopes of the Red Hills American Viticultural Area.

TOUR: On June 16, the Lake County Beer, Wine & Swine Baconfest brings together dad-friendly favorites for Father’s Day. Red, White, & Blues celebrates the best of Lake County wines on July 6 at Langtry Estate Vineyards in Middletown.

For more information on lodging, dining and upcoming events, see Lake County Wineries.
For all of the wine regions included in this series, use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens and picnic areas, and view winery events around the state.

Women Dominating the World of Travel

Badass Women Who Are Dominating the World of Adventure Travel

In honor of International Women’s Day, Friday March 8, 2019, these inspiring travel professionals are working to make outdoor travel a more balanced place for women around the world.

This Mar. 8, 2019 is International Women’s Day (IWD), and the theme is #BalanceforBetter, focusing on how a more gender-balanced world will create a better working environment for everyone. It couldn’t come at a better time; in the outdoor travel industry, women have been historically under-represented – particularly in leadership positions. According to The Adventure Travel Trade Association’s report “Out in Front: Tracking Women’s Leadership in Adventure Travel,” while women make up 60-70% of the travel industry, only 38% of board positions are held by females in the adventure sector, and there are significantly fewer female guides on average, especially in developing destinations.

However, women are beginning to break down the barriers of this male-dominated sector, and along with “The Rise of the Female Adventurer” and women’s-only travel providers comes a marked increase in women taking on more leadership roles, and challenging the status quo.  

Here are just a handful of driven, fearless women from around the world who are working every day to make their mark in adventure travel:

Payal Mehta

Expedition Leader – India, Nepal & Bhutan

Natural Habitat Adventures

Payal Mehta may have spent her childhood in urban Mumbai, but her lifelong love for the outdoors has led her to become a Nat Hab Expedition Leader, guiding travelers throughout the remote and wild areas of India, Nepal and Bhutan. Once a member of an elite training program for India safari guides, Payal started leading tours in India’s Kanha National Park, and is now a multi-disciplined wilderness specialist and trained mountaineer. As a Nat Hab guide, Payal interprets the nature and local culture she and her groups explore together, as well as being a translator, teacher and storyteller – all while ensuring the trip runs smoothly.

Badass Claim to Fame: “I was part of an all-women mountaineering expedition up the 6420-metre-high Mt. White Sail in the Himalayas. We ended up in a serious rescue situation on our way back when our guide suffered high altitude pulmonary edema. But we all made it back alive!”

Future Goals: “I’d love to have my own wildlife tourism project near a forest. One that is much more than a commercial outfit, that truly involves everyone in the local community, is a center for learning and is run with high standards of environmental consciousness.”

What IWD Means to Payal: “It’s saluting and celebrating all the women of the past who fought for women’s place in society, and because of whom I get to enjoy my life as it is today. It also brings a hope that the message will continue to spread and there will be further change in attitudes in the future.”

Maritza Chacacanta

Deputy Operations Manager – Treks, Inca Trail

Exodus Travels

Maritza Chacanta is a proud single mother and a former Inca Trail Guide who has worked her way up to become the Deputy Operations Manager for Exodus Travels. When Maritza was first told how challenging it was to become an Exodus guide (applicants have to take special training courses and be among the best guides in order to be hired), she became determined to secure the coveted role. After years of hard work and dedication, Maritza made good on her promise to herself – and is now not only leading Exodus Travels’ signature Inca treks, but managing the operations from start to finish while collaborating with porters, horse wranglers, and guides.

Badass Claim to Fame: “Being a single mom is one of the things I’m proudest of. Nowadays, women do not need a man to push ahead. To the single mothers out there: it’s important to know that you are not alone. You can have a successful career while being a successful mom.”

Future Goals: “To develop some projects related to the environment (reforestation, clean campaigns, etc.), and train our staff on how important it is to take care the environment – not only to benefit our treks, but to share the results with our communities.”

What IWD Means to Maritza: “It means rights and gender equality. [It’s the ability to] make your decisions – and be free from violence and discrimination.” 

Alice Goodridge

Adventure Coordinator – Scotland

Wilderness Scotland

Alice Goodridge keeps a sledgehammer in her car during the winter, so she can go swimming anytime, anywhere – no matter how frozen the lochs may be. That’s because as an extreme cold water swimmer, she isn’t afraid of a little physical discomfort – which is part of what made her want to become an Adventure Coordinator for Wilderness Scotland.

The company runs the type of trips Alice always wanted to experience herself, which means she now combines her love of the great outdoors with her expertise in organizing sustainability and adventure holidays.

Badass Claim to Fame: “My long distance and cold-water swims. I swam the 21-mile English Channel in 2012 and the length of the 22-mile Loch Lomond in 2018, which took place overnight from 6 p.m. – 8 a.m. the next morning. I also completed an Ice Mile last year, which was a mile in water less than 5 C° without a wetsuit.”

Future Goals: “I want to challenge myself in a discipline I am not so familiar with. I am currently working through my sea kayaking qualifications, with the hope of becoming a sea kayak guide in the future. Paddling or swimming… any excuse to spend more time on/in the water! “

What IWD Means to Alice: “There is still a lot of inequality in the outdoor activity sector and International Women’s Day mean taking a closer look and seeing what can be done about it. UK society is 51% female. Yet we know that there are less women and girls participating in the types of outdoor activities likely to lead to the interest, skill and motivation to pursue a career in this area. I would like to see greater equality in the outdoor activity sector and a higher percentage of female guides leading walking, biking and paddling trips in the UK.”

Laura Adams

Explorer, Consultant & Artist – BC, Canada

Adventure Canada

Laura Adams, an Adventure Canada expedition guide, is also a professional member of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and the Canadian Avalanche Association and was the fifth woman in Canada to become a fully certified winter Ski Guide. She also has a Masters degree in Leadership, with her research focused on decision making and risk management in mountain environments. In her spare time, Laura mentors people who aspire to a career in the professional mountain guiding industry, and coaches women in building leadership and backcountry skills.

Badass Claim to Fame: “In January 2019 I lead a small group expedition to Northern China; close to the borders of Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia to experience the ancient Tuvan mountain culture, and to ski-tour amongst the ‘Golden’ mountains of the region. We went during a time when China/Canada relations were tense, which added a great deal to the risk of traveling to this little-known part of the world. We all embraced the challenges with faith and endurance, and were rewarded with a remarkable experience of awe, cooperation, trust, and unity.”   

Future Goals: I am now focusing my career to increasing awareness, stewardship and leadership of these special places and cultures; through expeditions, my art and speaking/presentations.

What IWD Means to Laura: “International Women’s Day calls on us to give thanks and appreciation for the women in our lives and communities who live life with courage, integrity, and grace, who don’t just accept the way things are, and who make a genuine difference in the lives of themselves and others. It’s a day to inspire and cultivate qualities in emerging women around us who have big dreams and can make their ideas real.”

About Bannikin Travel & Tourism

Bannikin is a Toronto and Hong Kong-based travel and tourism consultancy dedicated to enhancing the businesses of niche-focused tour operators, destinations and lodging providers worldwide. Bannikin was built on a great respect for travel-minded visionaries who provide the utmost experiences in the wildest parts of the planet. With a combined 50+ years of experience, Bannikin knows what needs to come together to turn a travel company into the travel company, and a place into a destination.

To know more, visit Bannikin on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

 

Japan Tourism Breaks Record

The Japan National Tourism Organization announced that more than 30 million overseas travelers visited Japan in 2018, an all-time record and an 8.7% increase over 2017 (the previous record year).

“Tourism to Japan from the United States – about 5% of the total – soared 11%,” says Naohito Ise, Executive Director of the Japan National Tourism Organization in New York, “with more and more Americans seeking beyond the classic tourism destinations of Tokyo and Kyoto to discover lesser-known parts of the country.”

In 2018, America’s two most influential travel magazines gave travel to Japan a major thumbs-up, with Travel+Leisure pronouncing Japan the “Destination of the Year” for 2018 and the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards citing Tokyo and Kyoto as the top two big cities in the world.

“American tourism to Japan is expected to continue to rise in 2019 as the country builds up to host major international sporting events,” continued Ise, “with a host of prestigious American media including Japan in their much-valued annual lists of the most recommended places to visit in the coming year.” The list of media is unusually impressive, including the New York Times, theWall Street JournalAFAR, Architectural Digest, Departures, Fodor’s, and Frommer’s.

For more information about travel to Japan, visit JNTO on its WebsiteFacebookInstagram and Twitter. To contact the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) New York office directly, please e-mail jntonyc_press@jnto.go.jp or call 212-757-5641.