Review: The New York Times Travel Show January, 21-22 at the Javits Center

South Africa had the ‘wow!’ factor © Tokyoracer for WhereNYC

Cover image: Beauty in Wonderful Indonesia © WhereNYC

With over 500 exhibitor booths, destination seminars, live entertainment, cooking demos by famous chefs and tourism rep boards, the new layout of NYT Travel Show allowed for better access inside North America’s largest travel tradeshow.

Travel Experts Chica Travelista were fully mapped for the event. © WhereNYC

Drawing a recording breaking 30,099 participants and nearly 30,000 consumer attendees during the three-day expo, the buzz at the New York Times Travel Show at the Javits Center was tremendous.

While there were some well-loved clichés such as tropical weddings in the Caribbean, the 2017 Travel Show also had new surprises.

Destination Wedding-themed Antigua & Barbuda © WhereNYC

In Asia there were familiar friends with some tasty treats. Queues of visitors amassed at the colorful Incredible India booth to sample delicious hot samosas (but no mint chutney!) while chatting with reps about new package tours. Japan served freshly grilled mini Hiroshima-style layered okonomiyaki. And Taiwan’s poured a Formosan favorite, ultra-sweet bubble tea with tiny, chewy tapioca balls.

Okonomiyaki © WhereNYC

There were no shortage of colorful displays drawing crowds, South Africa perched in front of the show had by far the most vibrant booth. In Southeast Asia, models sporting traditional, shimmering Indonesian and Malaysian costumes posed for pictures in front of backdrop of the Javanese mountains and Kuala Lumpur. And of course, there was live entertainment including a theatrical Korean Taekwondo demonstration.

Tour Malaysia © WhereNYC

While many cities such as Tokyo, Honolulu, Rome and Nassau will always remain popular destinations for travelers, the trend this year is get off the beaten path and explore something less touristy. Rather than stick a predictable safe choice, many of booths promoted both more culturally authentic and slightly more remote places ideal for couples or families seeking an intimate and personalized style of holiday.

Take me to the Bahamas © WhereNYC

While in the Bahamas, the all-inclusive resorts of Nassau and Atlantis still are abuzz, this year’s ideal choices for a tropical getaway steer towards to the outer Exumas, Bimini and Cat islands that offer tranquility away from the usual tourist mobs.

This year Kaua’i joined by Maui and virtually each Hawaiian island had its own travel booth showcasing the splendidly exotic, yet often overlooked spots in American Polynesia.

NYT Travel Show

Beauty & charm of Kaua’i © WhereNYC

//////////Rather than touting the usual frenzied Waikiki beachside resort hotel packages, O’ahu revealed some of its best secrets including the tranquil Paradise Cove and Ko Olina resorts and the North Shore, including Turtle Bay, an ideal spot for younger couples or families.

O’ahu © WhereNYC

Indulging in local food culture with a dash of ecotourism makes another interesting option for the traveler mixing nature with gastronomy. The obvious choices for gourmand gastronauts include Mediterranean favorites:  Italian Days Food Experience and family-run Liv Italy Tours, which both offer small, personalized adventures and include rustic wine, shopping, dining, truffle hunting and tours that will send you to gourmet heaven.

Eat, indulge and love in Italy © WhereNYC

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If looking for beautiful beaches with a seaside European flair away from the usual French and Italian rivieras, the Dalmatia Central in Croatia has seriously some of the most beautiful coasts in Europe mixed with a rich heritage of antiquities and is often less crowded.

If food hunting in Latin America, there are a couple attractive options to consider.

Croatia © WhereNYC

Costa Rica, known for its pristine beaches and lush jungles, is also famous for its rich, dark coffee. Finca Rosa Blanca plantation invites caffeine aficionados a relaxing resort retreat in a authentic boutique hotel with tours, workshops, hiking by volcanoes and outdoor activities at the Cinco Ceibas Rainforest Park.

Costa Rica @ WhereNYC

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If nature is your thing, but with a touch of tropical luxury, the Napo Wildlife Center in Ecuador run by the Añagu Kichwa community, offers intimate lodges, outdoor eco-friendly tours and interaction with wildlife including playful river otters. Or for a secluded option, the Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa in the San Pedro oasis has comfortable accommodation with the all the mod luxes of saunas, steam baths, and massage therapy.  Further south, for adult travelers looking for a little refinement, Chilean Malbec wines are among the world’s best and Marmot Meets Chile has the perfect tour of the authentic, local vineyards outside of Santiago.

The Shires of Vermont © WhereNYC

The rise of craft beers and artisanal cheeses in the Northeast has also helped boost locavore food-lovers to Vermont and the Northeastern United States, which have some of the country’s best farmstead products. Skiing, kayaking and hiking are also among Vermont’s iconic outdoor activities which draw visitors year round. Don’t forget to see the American revolutionary landmarks and quaint village feel surrounded by beautiful meadows and mountains, in the Shires of Vermont. For couples looking for a relaxing weekend getaway in the rustic, coziness of a bed & breakfast and tasting local cuisine made by passionate individuals, consider Bennington or Manchester on the road trip itinerary.

Wild West City @ WhereNYC

While virtually every U.S. state had its own booth, there was a larger theme of promoting authentic Americana with a slight quirkiness. For a taste of the West, Wild West City in Dodge City, Kansas offers a historical and entertaining experience with a nostalgic flair of frontier America.

Silk Road Treasure Tours © WhereNYC

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For adventurous history buffs, Silk Road Treasure Tours explores the rugged but charming Caucasus and Central Asia tracing the steps through Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Georgia, and more in the ancient world’s longest trade route. Some of the historical places date over 3000 years!

In spite of the political showdown between President Trump’s Iran travel ban and the federal court, the mood at the Iranian booth was jubilant as ever handing out pistachios and other goodies to visitors.

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Travel to Persia © WhereNYC

Along with India, Japan and Taiwan were among the big contenders vying for putting on the best displays. In addition to the tastings, each had a unique pull to attract more visitors.

Visit Japan! © WhereNYC

While the top three destinations remain Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, Japan’s hidden treasures such as Hida Takayama in Gifu, Hokkaido and Okinawa have risen to prominence thanks in part to the efforts of the Japanese National Tourism Organization and local governments.  In spite of Japan and Taiwan’s distance from the U.S., travel is getting easier with ANA direct flights from JFK to Haneda in Southern Tokyo.

Affordable mobile Internet access by Telecom Square © WhereNYC

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For those with limited mobility, Accessible Japan offers comfortable tours for seniors and the disabled throughout the Nippon islands.  Speaking of ultra convenience, Global Mobile hotspot provider Telecom Square helps travelers stay connected without roaming charges in Japan and elsewhere. Use promo code: NYTTS17 until June 30, 2017.

With so much on show at the the NYT Travel Show from vibrant shows, talks, tastings and special deals, visitors channeled their inner travel bug to step and explore somewhere exciting and unusual. Bon voyage!

Spirikal