Nice show on the weekend down at the Toronto Convention Centre on Front. St., with lots of folks learning about places ranging from the Caribbean to Estonia to India, and more.
"We just finished our food and wine festival, and we're starting the jazz in Barbados festival," said Marcelle Bennett of the Barbados Tourism Authority.
Tammy van Zyl from the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism told me things are warming up nicely down in the Caymans.
"We usually have a Christmas breeze, and everyone puts on their sweaters at night," she said. "But now the days are warmer so it's wonderful."
(Insert your own line, all you freezing Torontonians, about that chilly "Christmas breeze" they have in the Caribbean!)
Jamaica will be celebrating its 50th anniversary of independence next year, so expect big things down Jamaica way, said Dan Hamilton of the island's tourist board.
Of course, there was plenty of Canadian content. Newfoundland and Labrador (awesome places) had a huge display, with cooking and dancing and all sorts of good stuff. They do know how to have a good time, and God love them for it.
Tourism spokesman Sandy Hickman told me things are going well in Newfoundland and that the "Republic of Doyle" TV show has helped bring more tourists.
One display that caught my attention was for Tauck travel. I don't know much about them but they do cruises and tours all over the world and put out some pretty spiffy brochures.
"It's family company that's been around 85 years," said Melisa Colabella, who's based in Montreal. "We own our own boats for our river cruises, and we contract with the small ships."
Colabella said they do multi-generational tours and also run what they call "Culturious" tours for boomers who want to do soft-adventure stuff such as kayaking in Provence or cycling in Tuscany. Everything on board their ships is part of the price, excluding alcohol on some occasions, she said.
They even have U.S. civil war and western U.S. tours with TV moviemaking legend Ken Burns, and that sounds pretty cool.
Finally, I had a good laugh at the booth that featured folks from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. The tourism people from Latvia and Estonia were giving out brochures titled "Top 10 sites," or words to that effect. But a girl representing Lithuania handed me a pamphlet that said "15 reasons to visit Lithuania."
I guess it's 50 per cent better than the other Baltic countries???
AIR JAMAICA VALUES
Air Jamaica is offering "every-day value fares" for travel between Pearson International and both Montego Bay and Kingston, Jamaica, starting at $180 one-way per person in what they call their "Lovebird Economy Class."
Hospitality includes complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, with an allowance for TWO pieces of checked luggage up to 50 lbs each and one carry on item
For more information, go to www.airjamaica.com
SPIRIT AIRLINES NIAGARA-FT. LAUDERDALE
Spirit Airlines last week began flying from Niagara Falls, New York to Ft. lauderdale, with three non-stop flights per week. They'll also begin flights between Niagara and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, starting May 5.
Just for fun, I went on the website - www.spirit.com - and booked a pretend return flight in February for $170.
Good deal, sure, but you have to remember THEY CHARGE FOR CARRY-ON BAGS. Not for personal items like a purse or a knapsack, but for small suitcases that would go in the overhead bin. It's quite complicated, but you can pay up to $45 for that carry-on bag so be careful. Checked bags also are subject to fees of as much as $90.
ALSO: Be warned that planes leaving Niagara do so at the ungodly hour of 1:55 a.m., arriving early morning in Ft. Lauderdale.
Don't say you weren't warned.