Canadians will travel/Frommers on board/New York woes/Red Roof gay deals
Lots going on today in the world of travel. First off comes results from what's called the TD First Class Adventures Poll, which found that 84 per cent of Canadians plan to travel this summer. I don't know how that compares with last year, but it seems pretty good to me.
Of those surveyed, a full 66 per cent said they plan to travel within Canada, followed by 33 per cent who will visit the U.S. (and take advantage of the strength of the loonie). Ten per cent plan to hit the shores of Europe and seven per cent are headed to the Caribbean or Mexico, which would of course get more business in the colder months of the year, not that yesterday's weather here in Southern Ontario didn't have me dreaming of a day at the beach.
The poll found that 27 per cent of Canadians dream of a cultural experience for their vacation; great cities, fine art and beautiful hotels. Another 28 per cent dream of a luxury beach vacation with the family. Which got me thinking (and this is always dangerous with only one cup of coffee) - what would be the ideal location that gives a combination of the two?
I'd have to say Los Angeles would be up there: the Getty museum, the county art museum, great hotels for sure and miles of Pacific Ocean coastline. There's a report in USA Today that California expects tourism to grow a bit this year, so perhaps the word is out.
I honestly don't know that much about Sydney's cultural offerings other than the Opera House, but it's certainly a great city with miles of great beaches.
And here's one that might throw you a little bit: New York. There are tons of great beaches on Long Island and down the Jersey shore, albeit not with palm trees. Also springing to mind: Barcelona, which definitely has great art and hotels and lots of palm trees. The beaches north of the city, up towards the border with France, are stunningly beautiful. I loved Tossa del Mar when I was there about, oh, 15 years ago.
I guess some folks might give Miami a vote or two. Me? I think Honolulu has some great history, what with Pearl Harbor and the rich history of native Hawaiian kings mixing with British naval visitors, the influx of the missionary families, the ultimate joining of the United States and the mixture of peoples from Portugal, Japan, China, the Philippines and more. The food is spectacular at some of the new fusion spots, and you can't beat grand hotels like the Royal Hawaiian; the pink lady on the beach (featured in the photo above). On the other hand, as our new travel columnist Arthur Frommer has pointed out, you can't beat the Ohana chain in Honolulu. You can often snag a decent room for $80 U.S., and you're often only a block or two from Waikiki Beach and right in the middle of the shopping.
There are several big sales on the island of Oahu right now. For information, go to www.facebook.com/OahuHawaii.
For those who missed it, we now have both Arthur Frommer and his daughter, Pauline Frommer, featured at Star travel. It's a big coup for us, as Frommer is the biggest name in world travel,with more than 300 travel guides issued and some 2.5 million in annual sales. Arthur Frommer will weigh in with his 20 top vacation deals each week, while Pauline Frommer will focus on budget travel; surely a huge draw in today's troubled economic climate. Check them out on our site.
Both of them have blogs of their own, and they do a great job. Pauline today talked about identify theft; sadly from a first-person point of view. But she's got excellent advice, so click here to check that out.
Arthur Frommer today was talking about something that a couple of us travel types were thinking of the other day, which is what happens if the Iceland volcano keeps erupting. The last few weeks were scary, but it could've been - and could get - a lot worse. Check out Arthur Frommer's blog today for more thoughts on the subject.
A BITE OUT OF THE BIG APPLE? APPARENTLY NOT...
I spotted a story in the morning papers today to say that the state of New York is undergoing budget problems (who isn't, aside from Canwest newspaper purchaser Paul Godfrey) and has pulled this year's funding for a 30-year-old matching funds program that county tourism folks use to promote their smaller destinations in various parts of the state. Apparently the state wants to cut tourism funding from $12.2 million U.S. to $10.6 million U.S.; a drop of 13 per cent.
New York City, I'm sure, will be fine. A spokesman for NYC and Co. this morning called me to say they won't be affected. He also said the cancellation of a press conference next week at a U.S. tourism/travel conference in Orlando has nothing to do with budget woes, or with the recent Time Square incident. So my apologies for the earlier slip-up on my first posting of the day.
I'm told New York City will be out in full force at Pow Wow with big presentations and lots of glam, which is no surprise. But I feel kinda bad for smaller cities that might get affected by the cut in state matching funds.
As for New York, I spotted a story a few minutes ago that dispels any notion of trouble for NYC. Reuters reports 6,700 hotel rooms will open in greater New York City this year, the most since at least 2002. The number of new hotel rooms will jump nearly 10 per cent in Manhattan, they said, although that seems awfully high to me.
"Analysts say the increased supply of hotel rooms won’t go to waste, as demand is growing quickly, particularly in the luxury sector," Reuters said. "However, the new supply could result in some deals for travellers in periods of typically weaker demand like late spring and early fall."
At 607 rooms, the InterContinental Times Square will be the largest new hotel to open this year. Other notable new properties include the luxury Trump SoHo New York hotel, which opened in April, and The Setai New York, set for a late-2010 debut.
RED ROOF DISCOUNT FOR GAY TRAVELLERS
Here's a new, and very progressive step: Red Roof has partnered with the international Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) to offer chain-wide discounts to the Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transgendered (LGBT) Community and Association members.
IGLTA members can take advantage of a 15 per cent discount at 350 locations across the U.S. by going to www.redroof.com or calling 1-800-RED-ROOF and mentioning VP+@code #600446.
"By staying at one of our properties, LGBT travelers can save a few extra dollars and spend more on the things they love while traveling," said Jeff Maurer, National Account Executive.
Two thoughts occur to me. One is that this is quite progressive and good for them. Number two is, maybe they can sign up Toronto mayoral candidate Rob Ford as their new spokesman.