Thailand Travel Mart 2016 commenced with an address by Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports, who expressed confidence in the country’s continuing tourism growth. She noted that 60% of visitors are return travelers drawn to the friendly Thai people in addition to the locale’s gorgeous beaches, natural beauty, rich history and superb food. Wattanavrangkul stated that Discover Thailand 2016 reflects the genuine Thai lifestyle, activities and attractions. The annual event took place for the first time in Chiang Mai instead of the capital Bangkok, evidence of the destination’s new focus.
The 2016 Visit Japan Travel Mart (www.vjtm.jp) held September 21-23 at Tokyo Big Sight, included 450 domestic sellers and 358 buyers from overseas. Many of the domestic exhibitors were new, locally-based experiential travel companies offering unique hands-on and off-the-beaten track cultural and adventure experiences that can be packaged by US travel companies.
Think China and you might envision pagodas and farmers wearing coolie hats. Forget that! Today the country abounds with McDonalds, KFCs, Starbucks, Hooters and capitalism. Tiffany’s is walking distance from Tiananmen Square. Next to the Regent Hotel is a Rolls Royce, Lamborghini and Maserati dealership.
Beijing is honking horns, trucks, cars, bikes, motorcycle and huge chunks of humanity. It’s not the place to have enochlophobia -- a fear of crowds. Just when you think you’ve found tranquility in a garden, fluttering, colored flags appear, bull horns sound, and a maddening crowd of tourists appear.
Alongside the road, a man lathers himself with soap and a bucket of water. It’s a unique photo op. From the shanty window his wife shouts, “Have him take off his pants. It would make a better picture!”
Tahiti, which refers to the largest island in French Polynesia and her 118 sister islands, draws visitors from around the globe attracted to her natural beauty, rich culture and sensory delights. Think silken sand beaches, swaying palms, turquoise lagoons, tropical foliage, coconuts, pineapples and friendly people.
Interest in cruises on Asia’s rivers has been fueled by clients who either have “been there, done that” and/or want something more exotic than the usual European river experience. The demand is being met with added ships - many, if not most, have been specifically built to sail the region - as well as expanded itineraries. Also noteworthy: the level of luxury has been kicked up substantially with such features as spas, fully equipped fitness centers, butlers and menus created by celebrity chefs.
India always promises a fascinating journey. Majestic palaces, ancient temples and forts punctuate the diverse terrain. The riot of colors, flavors, aromas and sounds that make up everyday life are unforgettable. Cars, sacred cows and three wheeled tuk-tuk moto-taxis share the streets with food carts and pedestrians in turbans, business suits, dhotis and saris. With outstanding accommodations, top destination spas, excellent cuisine and famous sights, there’s something for everyone.
Australia gives visitors a diverse array of exciting offerings, from gourmet cuisine paired with fine wines, to stunning landscapes and top luxury resorts. This vast country with a unique mix of wide open spaces and culturally rich cities deserves a minimum of two weeks to explore and enjoy. Many who go become captivated and come back time and again
Formerly off-limits to tourists, Myanmar has recently opened its borders to tourism. And now is the time to visit: Myanmar is in a sweet spot, welcoming to curious visitors, but still unspoiled by tourist trade, maintaining its own authentic culture. While some remote areas remain off-limits to tourists, there are myriad delights to be enjoyed in the more accessible regions. Three major cities and their surrounding areas offer a diverse experience of Burmese culture through vibrant urban life (Mandalay, for example); stunning architectural and spiritual sites, such Yangon’s Shwedagon Paya; and pristine lakes and beaches in the southern regions. Known for its rich resources of jade, sapphires, and emeralds, Myanmar has many other jewels on offer, and now is the time to see them.
As one of the world's most ancient civilizations, China is on just about every modern traveler's bucket list. It has catapulted into the 21st century at lightening quick speed, making it all the more fascinating.
Even though China has modernized, traditional life continues in provinces like Sichuan where stores open on to the streets, senior citizens play Go and Mahjong, grandmothers carry babies in straw baskets strapped to their backs and people squat at roadsides to inspect vegetables while quibbling over prices