Okay, Columbus - or maybe the Vikings or maybe sailors from Portugal or China or Micronesia, depending on who you believe - already did that. But the folks down south of the border are hoping to make inroads into the Canadian market - and others - with the re-launch of the new discoveramerica.com website.
It's a combo effort by the Travel Industry Association and the U.S. Department of Commerce and offers visitors a "one-stop site" with "content on all 50 states, dozens of cities, the five U.S. territories (can you name them? Answers at bottom of my blog) and a community section where travellers can post messages."
It's a nice site and offers plenty of useful stuff. Apparently, Canadian users last year accounted for 38 per cent of overall traffic, and they're expecting a whopping 330 per cent hike in Canadian traffic this year.
HALIFAX AND OTTAWA AIRPORTS ROCK
The Airports Council International has announced its top airports around the globe. Incheon International in South Korea copped the top spot, while Singapore's Changi was second and Hong Kong International Airport third. Talk about owning the podium; that's a clean sweep for Asia.
Top spot in North America went to Halifax - an airport I've never had the pleasure of checking out. Europe's best was Zurich, which I can attest to as a fine spot with restaurants, great shopping and lots of conveniences, including escalators where you can take your luggage trolley and direct access to local and European trains. Tel Aviv was best in the Middle East, George, South Africa was tops in Africa and the Guayaquil, Ecuador airport was best in Latin America/the Caribbean.
Ottawa came second in the North American category, followed by Austin, Texas, Houston Hobby Airport in Texas and Jacksonville, Florida. Halifax was voted tops of any airport in the world with fewer than five million passengers, with Ottawa taking the silver medal in that category. Halifax was second and Ottawa third in the "best domestic airport" category.
Vancouver was fifth in the 15-25 million passenger a year department.
Not surprisingly, Pearson didn't make any lists. The shopping is mediocre at best, the restaurant choices are far too limiting and the baggage service is nothing short of awful. But that's just my opinion.
While the U.S. casts a covetous eye on Canada (who wouldn't, I mean, Obama loves us, right?), the opposite is happening south of the equator. Travelmole reports Air New Zealand will spend NZ$2.5 million on a major promotional campaign, matching the NZ government’s additional tourism funding for Australia.
“We’re committed to getting international tourists to all of New Zealand, not just the main ports," said Air New Zealand group general manager, Bruce Parton.
Kiwis hate being mistaken for Aussies on the road, much like Canadians can get uppity if some assumes we're Am-ur-uh-cuhns. But they certainly love it when their cousins from across the water come to visit.
The New Zealand dollar is worth about 68 cents Canadian today, making a trip a remarkable bargain if you can find a good air fare.
The folks behind the Shangri-La in Vancouver and the new hotel planned for Toronto are hosting a reception here in T.O on April 6. As we've stated in this corner before, the hotel industry seems more than pumped about opportunities in Toronto, especially for luxury properties.
There are five territories in the U.S.; Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, The U.S. Virgin Islands and
Canada, sorry, the Northern Mariana islands in the Pacific. That last one? I had no idea. There are three main islands; Saipan, Rota and Tinian, and they look like they've got glorious beaches and great diving.