Calling operators & buyers

Visit USA is making a last call for tour operators and buyers to sign up for the popular Unite Visit USA event.


Taking place on Thursday, March 15, at The Mermaid Conference & Events Centre, Blackfriars, London EC4V 3DB, this event provides the opportunity to set up face-to-face conversations with key product suppliers for 2018 and beyond.

Operators and buyers are invited to register free of charge. They can meet up to 50 USA product suppliers during a series of pre-arranged 20 minute appointments.

Says Tracey Spuyman, CEO, Visit USA (UK): “Our annual Unite Visit USA event continues to be very popular since it is a very efficient way of doing business while networking with key players in the USA travel and tourism community.

"The list of those attending is almost full but we can find space for some last-minute additions if buyers register now.”

To register and receive further information contact

Hotels boost for Sarasota

Sarasota County on Florida’s Gulf Coast will welcome four new hotels in 2018 as it begins a period of re-development.


Three of the new properties are located in the heart of downtown Sarasota, within walking distance of the cultural attractions, dining options and seafront, while the fourth is a ten-minute drive away.

Opening first is The Art Ovation – a luxury Marriott Autograph property. It will open its doors in March, with 160 rooms, curated art exhibitions and a rooftop pool.

Due to open in April 2018, the 100-room Carlisle Inn will be set in the peaceful Pinecraft district, home to the Amish and Mennonite communities.

Back in downtown, the 18-storey Embassy Suites by Hilton will open in June 2018 with 180 rooms, followed by boutique 89-room hotel The Sarasota Modern.

Sarasota welcomed a new Westin hotel last year, a 255-room property with a rooftop pool overlooking Sarasota Bay.

Tennessee guides the way

The Tennessee Office of Tourism launched its 2018 Official Tennessee Vacation Guide on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day (January 15).


The cover features an artistic rendering of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. along with the Lorraine Motel, the site of his assassination, which is now home to the National Civil Rights Museum.

Fifty years ago, Dr. King was in Memphis, where he marched with striking sanitation workers who demanded safer working conditions and fair pay, and carried signs declaring, “I AM A MAN,”.

While in Memphis, King delivered his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech.

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis is continuing its year-long MLK50 commemoration with exhibits showcasing four decades of Civil Rights stories, educational seminars and live performances.

The Tennessee Vacation Guide spotlights Civil Rights sites across the state, while other highlights include ‘What’s New’ in Tennessee (like Anakeesta Aerial Adventure Park in Gatlinburg) and the 2018 opening of the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville, as well as milestones like Tennessee Theatre’s 90th Anniversary in Knoxville.

The guide highlights Tennessee’s music with spotlights on Graceland and Elvis Presley’s Memphis, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, Songbirds Guitar Museum, Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium.

Tennessee’s scenic beauty, culinary excellence, history and culture are highlighted and there are sections on The Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways and the Tennessee Whiskey Trail.

Download your guide at, or email to request copies.

Icelandair's U.S. hat-trick

Icelandair will introduce a new service to Kansas City in May and recommence flights to San Francisco and Baltimore.


The airline will take off with a three-times-weekly service between Reykjavik and Kansas City International Airport, Missouri, on May 25.

Four-times-weekly flights to Baltimore, Maryland, will begin on May 28 and to San Francisco on June 1. It has been over a decade since Icelandair ceased operations to both destinations.

UK travellers can connect with the new services on Icelandair flights from six UK airports.

“The time is right for Icelandair to return to Baltimore and San Francisco,” says Icelandair CEO Björgólfur Jóhannsson.

“Icelandair has been in operation for over 80 years, and these cities have played an important role in that history.”

He continues: “The third addition to our network marks the first time in its history that Icelandair will offer non-stop flights to and from the heart of America.”

The airline now serves 23 North American destinations.

Premier fam up for grabs

Agents have the chance to win a fam trip to the U.S. and earn up to £150 for every inclusive Deep South booking made with Premier Holidays.


The turn-of-year campaign has been designed to highlight what's on offer in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee with the use of deals, promotional materials and videos.

Travel agents who support the campaign with bookings have the chance to win a place on a Premier Holidays fam trip to the Deep South in November.

They can also earn up to £150 for every inclusive Deep South booking, depending on value.

Deep South offers include a 10-night self-drive from £1,245pp taking in Nashville, Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery and New Orleans.

Agents can also book a 12-night Southern States self-drive from £1,799p, stopping in New Orleans, Lafayette, Natchez, Memphis and Louisville.

Tactical offers include return flights from London Heathrow, car hire with insurance and accommodation, based on two adults sharing. They are valid for booking until February 28th.

Chicago posts record numbers

Chicago welcomed 55.2 million visitors in 2017, up 2.5%, and surpassed its target of 55 million arrivals two years ahead of schedule.


Five new hotels opened in the city last year and another eight are scheduled to open in 2018.

Among them is the boutique Hotel Zachary. Inspired by visionary Wrigley Field architect and Chicagoan Zachary Taylor Davis, it promises to be a "place of rest, revelry and rejuvenation", nestled in the heart of Chicago's famous Lakeview Neighbourhood.

The Windy City will also benefit from a new daily flight from London Gatwick from March 25, with fares on the Norwegian services starting from £149.99 one-way.

"Our goal now will be to harness this momentum and continue to build upon it," says Desiree Rogers, board chair of Choose Chicago.

The wider state of Illinois is celebrating its 200th birthday in 2018 with events marking the milestone taking place throughout the year until December 3.

Activities will highlight the state's influence on the world through music, sports, agriculture, literature, commerce, history, technology, art and architecture.