Make a date with Visit USA

Agents should make a date with Visit USA this autumn.

VUSA

The 2017 Visit USA Roadshow will this year visit Edinburgh (Tuesday October 3), Liverpool (Wednesday October 4) and Reading (Thursday October 5).

More than 30 Visit USA members will be on hand to update agents on their latest news and ideas to inspire travel to the USA, and there will be fantastic prizes to be won at each event.

For more information on the Roadshow contact info@visitusaroadshow.com

Registration will opening soon at visitusaroadshow.com

Universal’s new park erupts

Volcano Bay, Universal Orlando’s third theme park, opened on May 25.

Universal

The South Pacific-themed park welcomed its first guests to much fanfare and a ceremony featuring performances by an array of Maori water dancers and ‘Haka’ war dancers.

Spanning 25 acres Volcano Bay is being billed as the ‘next-level’ water theme park and combines storytelling and immersive guest experiences with innovative technology.

It features more than 30 experiences including 18 separate attractions such as a multi-directional wave pool with sandy beaches, a peaceful winding river, twisting multi-rider raft rides, speeding body slides that drop from the top of the volcano into the waters below and more.

Guests to the Volcano Bay can take advantage of the park’s new TapuTapu wearable.

Among its many features are the ability for guests to enjoy many 'TapTu Play' experiences throughout the park - like controlling streams of water spurting from whales in Tot Tiki Reef, shooting water cannons at guests snaking down Kopiko Wai Winding River or illuminating images in the volcano’s hidden caves. Guests can make purchases throughout the entire park with their TapuTapu wearable, eliminating the need to carry cash, credit cards or a wallet throughout the park.

Over the last seven years, 25 new experiences – entire themed areas, attractions, restaurants, and hotels – have been added across Universal Orlando and the theme park now has 5,600 rooms across its five (soon to be six) on-site hotels.

universalorlando.com

Siesta is top U.S. beach

Siesta Beach has again won the 'crown' of America's top beach.

Siesta

On Florida's Gulf Coast, Siesta Beach came out top in Dr. Stephen Leatherman’s (aka 'Dr. Beach'), annual poll of the country’s best stretches of sand.

Beaches are chosen according to beach safety and environmental protection, with extra points awarded for the adoption of non-smoking laws.

“Siesta Beach has some of the finest, whitest sand in the world, which attracts sand collectors and beach lovers from all over,” says Dr. Stephen Leatherman.

“Siesta Beach is not only a beautiful location for beachgoers, but it is also an environmentally healthy beach and offers first-rate beach safety for its visitors,” he added.

The destination first took the no.1 spot on Dr. Beach’s annual list back in 2011.

Virginia J. Haley, President of Visit Sarasota County, said: "The investments by Sarasota County to improve the amenities offered at the beach have paid off with this number one ranking.

"Since we held the top spot in 2011, Sarasota County has invested more than $21 million to renovate the amenities offered at the beach. These include additional free parking spaces, a playground, extended picnic areas and more. These investments only add to the pristine beauty of Siesta Beach."

visitsarasota.org

Grand total eclipse

Grand American Adventures has added an additional trip for clients looking to take in the natural spectacle of the 2017 total solar eclipse.

Grand American Adventures

The 12-day Deep South Solar Eclipse tour will depart Atlanta on August 11 on a journey that will trace the roots of American music.

Clients of the specialist operator in small group tours will experience the cultural landscape and history of the Deep South that gave birth to the blues, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll by visiting New Orleans, Memphis, Elvis’ birthplace at Tupelo and Nashville, where on August 21 the tour’s leader will secure one of the best spots to take in the rare celestial wonder of a total eclipse of the sun.

All participants will be provided with equipment for safe viewing and Grand American Adventures’ tour leaders will have the technology at hand, including the latest weather reports and tracking information, as well as a private vehicle that will seek out the centre line of the eclipse track, to ensure the best viewing.

Prices start from £2,439 (tour only).

grandamericanadventures.co.uk

Avis Budget has new buddy

Avis Budget UK has launched a brand-new website for the UK travel trade.

Avis

The site - abgbeep.com - brings the company’s Avis Car Rental and Budget Car Rental brands on to the same platform, providing a one-stop shop for travel professionals.

The portal also features destination and driving guides and training tools for agents.

Avis, with approximately 5,500 locations in approximately 170 countries including throughout the U.S, is bookable on the Beep portal, meaning agents can conveniently and quickly offer customers the full range of products and services that Avis provides.

Budget is also available through Beep, providing travel agents commissionable booking access to value vehicles at approximately 3,500 locations in more than 120 countries.

Avis Budget has 1,417 branches across the U.S.

New UK mascot, Buddy the Budget Dog, has also been designed to help - by getting his paws on some of the best and most affordable driving routes and travel deals available.

Mini Buddys are currently in production and will be making their way to agents’ desks soon.

Agents will receive commission when they make a booking through Beep and there will be monthly incentives and competitions for agents: including the chance to win an Amazon Echo every month. Travel agent concessionary rates can also be accessed on Beep.

To sign up on Beep agents should register on abgbeep.com

Tampa Bay secures funding

Tampa Bay has created Florida’s first ‘Tourism Marketing District’ to protect and boost future funds for tourism marketing.

Tampa

Visit Tampa Bay and 13 hotel partners have created the district to attract more overnight visitors to downtown Tampa and historic Ybor City.

The scheme moves Florida into the ranks of California and other high-tourism states that use Tourism Marketing Districts to fund tourism campaigns and initiatives around the world.

Under the agreement, participating hotels – such as Aloft Tampa Downtown, Courtyard by Marriott Tampa Downtown, Hilton Garden Inn Tampa Ybor, Le Méridien Tampa, Hilton Tampa Downtown and Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel - will collect $1.50 per room-night from the properties in the district.

A committee will determine how best to spend the money to supplement existing destination marketing.

Travel industry analyst Tourism Economics and Civitas Advisors, which has created similar districts in other U.S. states, estimates the extra funding could generate an addition 90,000 room-nights a year for local hotels and a return-on-investment of $10 for every dollar spent.

Popular attractions include Busch Gardens Tampa, Lowry Park Zoo, Museum of Science of Industry and the Florida Aquarium. Both Tampa and Ybor City have lively Cuban areas, which are experienced in several restaurants and bars.

visittampabay.com

GCH Hoovers up flight seers

Grand Canyon Helicopters, part of the Papillon Group, is now offering tours from its new Hoover Dam heliport

Grand Canyon Helicopters

The four brand-new tours, including a three-minute taster flight, make it easier than ever for guests to enjoy a flightseeing experience of the world-famous Hoover Dam.

From the heliport, located next to the Hoover Dam Lodge Hotel & Casino on U.S. 93, GCH flies guests closer to the dam than previously and also offers views of Lake Mead and the volcanic terrain of Black Canyon.

The new tours range from just the blink-and-it-will-be-over three-minute flight to a two-hour adventure, with prices starting at $39pp for the three-minute flight.

Papillon, whose other brands include Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, Grand Canyon Scenic Airlines and Grand Canyon Coaches, is the only company that flies the entire length of the Grand Canyon, with bases in Las Vegas; Boulder City, Hoover Dam; Grand Canyon West; Grand Canyon National Park and Page, Arizona.

Papillon.com