Event: The 2016 NYT annual travel show & expo at the Jacob Javits Center, New York
Spirikal’s bottom line. A lovely, yet exhausting afternoon going from booth to booth and scoping out the hottest tourist destinations and sampling delicious food from the cooking demonstrations. This one expo worth trekking to on a Saturday afternoon.
Review: Happily the 7 train was working that weekend, and I’d have the chance to see the new station. When I arrived at the end of the line, however, I was miffed that I still had to exit the station and walk to the Javits Center. I don’t why there wasn’t an entrance to the building, but oh well, that’s the MTA for you.
The place was incredibly crowded, and it took a few minutes to get my bearings. After a few agonizing minutes waiting to print out my pass, I joined my two friends who were snapping up brochures and getting the scoop on deals for an upcoming trip.
The expo center is divided by region such as Asia, the Carribbean, Africa, Europe, South and Central America and the United States. All the food tastings and lectures were located in the back, and like last year, the cruises and airlines took the front center.
There were exceptions because Taiwan was located well away from the rest of Asia, and the Peoples’ Republic of China was all the way in back by the European section.
I also ran into some old friends from the Basque Country Tourism. How about a little food tasting, people? Everyone knows the Basque cuisine is among the best in Europe!!
Throughout the convention, travel agents and writers were busy networking and hobnobbing with the visitors.
As far as the buzz went, the travel booths that put a lot of time and effort in their planning got the most attention, whether they were giving away goodies, signing people for raffles or putting on shows.
Among the most animated booths was Japan, including a delegation from Okinawa. There is something inherently pleasant about the Okinawan personality, which I discovered at another event at the Japan Society.
Every visitor got a hanko or stamp on a card. Visit all four sections, and you got to enter their raffle. Of course, I won nothing.
Japan even offered a special tour option for the disabled. Goes to show how the Japanese think of everyone.
The South Korea booth seemed a bit more buzzing than last year, but interestingly some of the tours they offered also included cities in Japan. Not enough going on in their neck of the woods?
Canada set about educating the American audience as if declaring, “Okay, this is Canada! Not the U.S.!”
Indonesia also got my vote for the most enthusiatic team on the planet, the ridiculously adorable gals posed for photos with the attendees.
Antigua, Bahamas and much of the West Indies offered guests chairs to lounge about it with breath-taking backdrops of the Carribbean beaches. I could have gone their already.
There were loads of free goodies including cupcakes from the Antingua and Taiwan serving bubble tea, which wasn’t really my cup of tea. Get it?
The chewy, gelatinous balls with a cold, type-two-dibetes-sweet liquid didn’t agree with my palette unfortunately. Nevertheless, the booth gets serious for the amount of effort and entertainment, which including the Taiwanese dance troop I had seen perform at other events.
There were, however, some stands like poor old Sri Lanka that stood empty. Probably should have put more money it. If you’re going to generate interest, then you’ve make an effort. Apparently no one gave them the memo.
For some places, their presence at the convention is growing. Cuba, which only had had one table last year, had three different tour booths touting cigars and rum.
Interestly, to capitalize on America’s expensive but limited health care system, the Cuban tourist agencies where passing out health tour brochures to the everyone. So if you’re looking for quality but inexpensive medical care, then Cuba might be worth a second glance.
One of my colleagues said that healthcare might be its best growing industry following the lift on travel restrictions for Americans. Remember that you must join a tour like Marazul in order to travel to Cuba. So don’t get all Rick Steeves just yet.
Although France wasn’t there, it’s outer departments were such as Martinique and Guadeloupe. If you’re planning to go to either these places, Norwegian Airlines is offering one way tickets startings at $79.
India had several kinds of agents and promoters including Air India and even a cultural, culinary and volunteer that offers the aged Western hoppie, a different type of experience for tourists. Note that flight costs are not included in the latter’s package.
The cooking demonstrations in the back included: Chef Riccardo Orfino from Eataly doing his paccheri with clams and broccoli rabe pesto. It was good, but need a bit more chili. Anyway, I got the recipe so I’ll follow up with some cookery, but that’s for another story.