North Carolina meets UK folk

A North Carolina tourism team visited the UK to meet with the trade and show off the state's musical heritage at the Cambridge Folk Festival


Officials from Visit North Carolina, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, Visit Cabarrus and Visit Raleigh conducted training with key trade partners before heading off to one of the world’s longest-running folk festivals.

North Carolina has a rich musical heritage that includes folk, bluegrass, blues, jazz and, latterly, ‘Americana’.

The Appalachian mountains and foothills of Western North Carolina are known for their ‘old-time’ and bluegrass music and still ring with the sounds of the fiddle, banjo and string bands.

The Blue Ridge Music Trails, launched in 2003, points visitors in the direction of live music in venues that include front porches, festival stages and town squares.

In Asheville, the annual Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, started in in 1928, is the oldest continuous folk festival in the U.S.

In the east of the state visitors can experience North African American musical heritage by following stops on the African American Music Trail

Staged each May, Carolina Rebellion is an annual hard rock and metal festival at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Rock City Campgrounds — featuring 65 bands over three days.

Visit North Carolina's Heidi Waters said she hoped attendance at the Cambridge Folk Festival, along with trade partnership promotions and media activity, would boost UK visitor numbers to around 100,000 a year.

“People are looking for destinations that offer authentic experiences such as seeing live music. It is very important for the NC team to come to the UK because it is our largest overseas market, with two daily non-stop flights from London and a seasonal flight from Dublin,” she said.

Premier rewards for agents

Agents can earn shopping vouchers in Premier's summer Discover America campaign.


The promotion, which is running until the end of September, sees agents earning between £25 and £150 in shopping vouchers for each booking to any of a host of U.S. destinations.

The campaign is designed to encourage agents to sell more of the country’s ‘lesser-visited destinations’ such as Philadelphia, the Countryside of Philadelphia, Scottsdale, Illinois, Tucson, Florida Keys and Key West.

Agents have been provided with promotional material to get behind the campaign, with posters featuring captivating images for display in shop windows, flyers showcasing each destination and social media assets available to download from Premier’s trade website.

Premier’s tailor-made holiday offers include an eight-night Philadelphia, Valley Forge and Chicago itinerary, priced from £1,199pp, with flights from Heathrow, three days’ car hire and is based on two adults sharing for travel in November.

A Miami and Key West twin-centre leads in at £1,979pp, including three nights in Miami and seven nights in Florida’s Key West, eight days’ car hire and flights, based on two adults sharing.

Travel is for next month (September 2018).

Virginia feels the benefits

A new flight from the UK, new hotels and attractions and an expanded train service will help boost UK visitor arrivals in Virginia.


Rita McClenny, President/CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, said that low-cost airline Primera’s service between Stansted and Washington Dulles (in Virginia), which begins on August 22, gave “155 new reasons to visit Virginia” (one-way prices for the flight start at £155).

“The flight is timely because from the mountains to the coast there is so much going on in the state,” said McClenny, speaking during a Commonwealth of Virginia trade mission to the UK.

Key developments include an expanded Amtrak service to Roanoke, which makes it easier to travel across the state by train. It can be caught in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City and makes stops in the Virginian towns of Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Culpepper and Manassas.

Roanoke is a jumping off point for The Crooked Road, a self-drive tour that takes in musical genres such as gospel, blues, bluegrass and more. Several towns, like Floyd, Galax and the Meadows of Dan, host their own country and bluegrass events.

On the coast, in Virginia Beach (pictured) the Cavalier Hotel reopened its oceanfront doors in March after a $78-million restoration.

Across Virginia is an emerging network of ‘beer routes’, such as the Richmond Beer Trail, with more than 20 craft breweries.

Virginia’s UK trade mission was led by the state’s Governor Ralph Northam, who reassured an audience of key tour operators that Virginia 'recognises the value of international tourists'.

"We are open and inclusive, and know the benefits of enlightenment that travel brings - rather than the insular thinking being shown by the current incumbent of the White House,” he said.

BA heads to Pittsburgh

British Airways is to launch a Heathrow-Pittsburgh service next year.


Beginning April 2, 2019, the year-round, four-times-weekly service will be the only direct flight from the UK to the former Pennsylvania steel town that is enjoying a major renaissance and looking to boost its international visitor arrivals.

The flights will operate on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, leaving Heathrow at 17.00 and landing into Pittsburgh at 20.15. The return flight will leave Pittsburgh at 21.50, arriving into London at 10.25 the following morning.

The route will be operated by one of BA’s newest aircraft, the Boeing 787-8, with return fares starting from £600 in World Traveller and £1,068 in World Traveller Plus.

Craig Davis, CEO of VisitPITTSBURGH, commented: “This is a momentous thing for the city….with so much to offer the UK traveller, including culture, river-life, sports, and an incredible food scene, Pittsburgh is an ideal leisure destination.”

Located in western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh attractions include the Andy Warhol Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Downtown Cultural District with a burgeoning food scene.

Among the developments currently transforming the city is a $1 billion-dollar modernisation plan for Pittsburgh international Airport and a spate of new hotel openings.

These include the Distrikt Hotel – housed in the former Salvation Army headquarters – and the Drury Plaza, in the historic Federal Reserve Bank building.

Due to open this summer on the city’s North Shore is the Rivers Casino Hotel.

Highway 1 back on the road

A significant section of California’s most-driven highway, Highway 1, has reopened near Big Sur after an 18-month closure.

Highway 1

The opening, which came much sooner than expected, once again allows visitors to drive one of the most scenic stretches of one of the USA’s most breathtaking roads.

A section of the road was closed last May, at the appropriately named Mud Creek, following some of the most catastrophic slides in the state’s history caused by heavy rainfall.

More than than six million cubic yards of material were dumped onto the roadway and into the ocean.

But now a new quarter-mile roadway that bypasses the site of the Mud Creek landslide makes it possible for travellers to continue their drive between San Luis Obispo and Monterey, in the north of the state, along the coast.

The process of reconstructing the road was a major engineering feat in itself: a 2,000-foot-long, 40-foot-tall rock retaining wall at the shoreline was created, using engineered embankments, catchments, culverts, netting and more to create a new roadway on top of the slide material.

Highway 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, is a coast-hugging 655-mile road that runs from San Diego in the south of the state to San Francisco and beyond in the north.

Highlights include soaring cliffs and vineyards, pristine beaches and pretty coastal towns.

Grand American thrills

Grand American Adventures' new ‘In-Depth USA’ tours put the emphasis firmly on challenging excursions for thrill-seeking clients.

Grand American

Examples include the six-day sea kayaking with dolphins in Alaska on the Alaska & Kenai Peninsula In-Depth tour.

Guests get to sea kayak through the Alaskan wilderness, against snow-capped mountains and forests, with the likelihood of bald eagles circling overhead.

“We are committed to working in partnership with agents and, if the agent is prepared to work with us, then we are prepared to invest in them,” he added.

The very peacefulness of Kachemak Bay makes it a common place to spot sea otters, dolphins and porpoises. Other excursions on the trip include hiking across Exit Glacier to the Harding Icefield.

The lead-in price is £2769pp, which includes two unique lodge nights, two resort nights, one hotel night, five breakfasts, one lunch, two dinners, a professional tour leader, local guides and private transportation. Departures are from June to September 2019.

The seven-night Appalachian Trail In-Depth option includes a 40-mile trek across the Appalachian Mountains.

Clients will leave civilisation behind as they explore the trail’s White Mountains National Forest section, accompanied by dedicated guides. This is true backcountry hiking and although not for the faint-hearted, the rewarding scenery will be well worth the sweat.

The tour is priced from from £1649pp, with departures from until September 2019.