Travel writers make the news

The Visit USA Association held its annual Media Awards night on July 4, U.S. Independence Day.


Staged at the St Ermin’s Hotel, London, the event, created 17 years ago, was sponsored by VisitDallas and Fort Worth CVB.

Fifteen travel journalists/organisations were honoured for their ‘exceptional contribution to US media coverage’ over the past year.

Among the winners on the night was freelance journalist Neil Murray (pictured second from left), who landed the Travel Writer of the Year award for his ‘endless commitment to producing quality features on the U.S.’.

For the first time, a Digital Influencer of the Year Award prize was included in the ceremony and it was presented to Ella Buchan and Sarah Lee from Captivate for their US Route 1 campaign.

Billy Connolly’s Track Across America for ITV, which saw the presenter visit 26 states, won the Best Broadcast category. The awards were judged by the Visit USA PR Committee, chaired by Jonathan Sloan (far left).

Visit USA's great outlook

Several Visit USA members were among a strong UK and Irish delegation in Washington D.C. for IPW in early June.


The 49th staging of IPW, the annual showcase of the U.S tourism industry, was held in the nation's capital for the first time.

“It was good to see Visit USA members out in force (at IPW) again this year. We we had great feedback regarding our development work at the Association, both from existing and many potential new members we met over the four days in Washington DC,” commented Tracey Spuyman, CEO, Visit USA UK.

“Overall, the mood at IPW was very positive. The U.S. continues to be a favourite destination for UK travellers.”

The Visit USA Association again held its popular Brits and Irish party on the eve of the show's opening, with tour operators, representation companies and media attending the event at the Capital View at 400, with its impressive views over the iconic Capitol Building.

Florida is a Premier option

Premier Holidays’ agents’ Florida campaign runs until the end of July.


The promotion, in conjunction with three of the state’s tourist boards - Visit Tampa, Experience Kissimmee and The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel - highlights the different experiences on offer in the Sunshine State.

The tour operator has put together a tactical core itinerary which enables clients to experience the Florida Adventure, encompassing Kissimmee for the theme parks, Tampa for the foodie scene and city life and Fort Myers for some beach time.

The 14-night fly drive itinerary starts from £1,599pp and includes a stay at the Disney Area Executive Home in Kissimmee for seven nights, four nights at Wyndham Garden Fort Myers Beach and three nights at the Barrymore Hotel in Tampa.

Available for travel in November 2017, return flights and car hire are included throughout.

Premier is offering agents a number of materials to help them promote the destination. This includes a themed video which agents can share online and on social media, glossy window posters, and a double-sided A4 trade flyer with product information and suggestions on how clients can spend their time in each destination.

Agents can also claim between £25-£150 in shopping vouchers for every inclusive Florida booking.

Virginia plays history card

A delegation from Virginia Tourism visited the UK and Ireland last month for a series of trade events billed ‘VA Loves Jamestown’.


The state’s Governor, Terry McAuliffe, fronted an evening at The Swan at Shakespeare's Globe, London, to celebrate the release of the Sky1 period drama series, Jamestown.

Also present on the night was Jamestown series writer,and series producer Gareth Neame, who both joined the Governor in a Q&A session moderated by TV historian facilitator, broadcaster and historian Professor Kate Williams.

Topics included the TV series focus on the heroism, determination and spirit of the first women settlers in America.

“Jamestown is a great showcase of Virginia’s importance in the early settlement of the US and illustrates the historic nature of many attractions that are popular with modern-day tourists,” said the Governor (pictured).

In 2019 the state will recognise the 400th anniversary of several key historical events that occurred in Virginia.

These include the establishment of the first permanent English Colony in North America, the first representative legislative assembly in the New World, the arrival of the first recorded Africans to English North America, the recruitment of English Women in significant number, and the first official English Thanksgiving in North America.

Aside from The Jamestown Settlement other historic landmarks include Monticello, founding father Thomas Jefferson’s iconic Charlottesville plantation, and Colonial Williamsburg. Both The Jamestown Settlement and Colonial Williamsburg are living-history museums re-enacting Colonial and Revolutionary-era life.

SeaWorld’s summer glow

SeaWorld’s all-new Electric Ocean attraction has this summer transformed the Florida park into a glowing, immersive undersea world.


A dance party at Club Sea Glow features world-class DJs and 35 live performers, specialty acts, puppeteers and entertainers in an outdoor night club for guests of all ages.

And the evenings come to an end when ‘Ignite’ erupts across the park’s lake. This all-new nightly firework display includes synchronised water effects that shoot up to 100 feet in the air, choreographed to a powerful musical score.

The night sky illuminates with brilliant pyrotechnic effects, towering flames and intricate laser projections that dance above the audience.

Electric Ocean extends through the park with summer night entertainment. The return of ‘Sea Lions Tonite’ is a parody skit about a SeaWorld visit through the eyes of sea lion superstars, Clyde and Seamore.

The show also features one of the park’s favorite acts, the SeaWorld Mime, setting the tone for a fun-filled time.

Elsewhere, extended park hours this summer means guests can enjoy SeaWorld’s three iconic coasters under the stars: Mako, Orlando’s tallest, fastest and longest rollercoaster; Manta, a unique flying coaster and Kraken Unleashed, a new virtual reality rollercoaster experience.

Electric Ocean runs daily at SeaWorld Orlando until August 5 2017.

The 3-Park SeaWorld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens Ticket offers 14 days unlimited entry to three parks for the price of two – SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando AND Busch Gardens Tampa – when guests book and visit before 31 December 2018. Ticket also includes free parking at all three parks.

Georgia's glass to Prohibition

The only museum in the U.S. dedicated to the story of Prohibition has opened in Savannah, Georgia.


The American Prohibition Museum is not your typical ‘dry’ museum and tells the story how, during the 1920s and 1930s, alcohol and ‘liquor’ was banned and driven into underground secret drinking clubs.

The interactive museum features 20 intoxicating exhibits that tell the story of how Savannah became known as the “Bootleg Spigot of the South” during an era characterised by gangsters and rum-runners.

The museum explains the Temperance Movement and the propaganda used to vote America dry, the turbulent consequences of the passing of the 18th amendment – which established the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the declaring the production, transport, and sale of alcohol (though not the consumption or private possession) illegal - and even how the role of women changed because of the legislation.

A highlight of the museum is visiting the authentic speakeasy, only accessible by password, where the bartenders teach visitors how to make classic Prohibition cocktails whilst revealing the history behind every pour.

Entry to the museum costs £9 per adult and £7 per child aged four-12. Tickets include entrance to the speakeasy and with a valid ID, a drink ticket can be purchased for £6.