Visit USA takes to the road

The Visit USA Roadshow took place last week in Glasgow, Leeds and London, introducing hundreds of agents to 30 exhibitors.

VUSA

The speed networking events were hosted by Jon Biggs, the former voice of Siri and The Weakest Link. Visit USA gave a warm welcome to all those attending, which included several ex-Thomas Cook agents who were there as independents.

Tracey Spuyman, CEO Visit USA (UK), said: “It’s been a very successful few days with great attendance across all three cities. With 30 exhibiting members, it’s a fantastic opportunity for agents to learn more and for Visit USA members to spread the word about the range of experiences on offer in the U.S.

“Our message to agents this year is continue to learn more about the diverse range of adventures waiting for visitors to the USA. Explore beyond the gateways - while the main cities are fantastic places there's a whole host of adventures waiting in every U.S. state. Something for everyone and so much, you have to visit more than once! It’s important that agents have the confidence to persuade clients to take advantage of everything the U.S. has to offer - it's events like this that help build that.”

There were 30 exhibitors including Universal Parks and Resorts, Santa Monica Travel and Tourism, Tennessee Tourism, Visit West Hollywood, Bradley International Airport and Experience Kissimmee.

“It’s been brilliant to see so many different agents, but all great quality and with the same mindset – a genuine passion for selling the U.S.,” said James White, representing Tennessee Tourism.

Agents had the chance to win goodie bags and there was a grand prize awarded at each evening: a New York holiday in Glasgow, a Las Vegas holiday in Leeds and a Boston holiday in London.

Visit USA is planning to continue its Roadshow in 2020.

Bourbon, brews & blues!

Grand American Adventures has announced the launch of its 2020 brochure with a collection of new trips across the USA.

Grand American

The new tours include beer tasting on both the east and west coasts, a tour of a Kentucky Bourbon distillery and a musical journey from New Orleans to New York.

Richard Hanson, Managing Director of Grand American Adventures, says: “These new tours are quite literally adding more flavours and sounds to our already colourful portfolio of adventures to North America.

“From backcountry jeep adventures to jazz tours in New Orleans, our goal is to continue to ensure that our clients meet with locals and really immerse themselves in undiscovered parts of the USA, as well as taking in the bucket list locations along the way.”

Included in the new brochure is the eight-day Cities, Sights & Craft Beer Delights (East) tour, starting from £2,059pp, visiting New York City, Boston, Washington DC, Atlanta and Ashville.

Highlights include visiting local breweries, the Capital City Brewing Company for a Prohibition Porter, hiking opportunities in Vermont, and beer crafting at the Hill Farmstead Brewery.

For those wanting to head west, The Cities, Sights & Craft Beer Delights (West) tour takes beer-loving travellers through Washington State, Oregon and California.

Expect a BrewCycle tour in Portland, a starlight canoe tour in Bend (Oregon), a driving tour of Mt Hood and hiking opportunities at Bodega Bay and Crater Lake National Park. Prices start from £1,979pp.

grandamericanadventures.com

Tricks at Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is inviting families to enjoy some Halloween fun on weekends in October.

Busch Gardens

Each weekend throughout the month Tricks, Treats and More is featuring popular Sesame Street characters, crafts and ‘fun autumn activities’.

Included in daily park admission at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, families can go trick-or-treating with a special theme each weekend of the event.

Plus, children can dress up in costume and partake in a variety of activities.

These include The Not-Too-Spooky Howl-O-Ween Radio Show, which sees Count von Count act as the master of scare-emonies as he leads his pals through some crowd-pleasing tunes featuring song-and-dance numbers. With help from Sesame Street friends like Abby Cadabby, Zoe, Grover, Oscar and Elmo, the Count produces a not-too-spooky Halloween show.

Autumn-themed activities include a hay maze, pumpkin ring toss and more while visitors can also hang out with other Sesame Street pals like Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Cookie Monster, Grover and Rosita who host dance parties while dressed in Halloween attire.

Also throughout October, visitors to Busch Gardens can upgrade their experience to include Sunday Breakfast with Elmo & Friends that includes a photo opportunity.

The additional cost is $12.99 per child (ages three to nine) and $19.99 per adult.

seaworldparks.co.uk

Georgia trail's high notes

Visitors to Georgia now have a new music trail to follow.

Georgia

The Macon Music Trail, an online resource and directory of Macon’s local music history, current scene and tourism opportunities, taps into the city’s rich musical history and legacy.

"The trail will serve as a portal for the world to experience our culture,” said President and CEO of Visit Macon, Gary Wheat.

“The website allows users to interact with Macon’s music scene both past and present, creating their own unique experience”.

Macon’s music scene has been a vibrant one ever since the city was founded in 1823 on the banks of the Ocmulgee River.

Key influences include the tootle-toot flute melodies of noted native poet Sidney Lanier, the 'wop-bop-a-loo-bop' of native son Little Richard, the chords of Sacred Harp patriarch, Raymond Hamrick,the ‘Got-ta, Got-ta” of the King of Soul, Otis Redding, and the Southern Rock music of the Allman Brothers.

For most travellers, wherever they travel in Georgia music will likely never be too far from their minds.

In Athens, which produced acts like R.E.M. the B-52s and the Indigo Girls, a popular self-guided tour includes stops at the iconic 40 Watt Club music haunt, legendary music venue the Georgia Theatre, and the Foundry, which hosts live music acts almost every night.

In Augusta James Brown and Lady Antebellum both have auditoriums named after them while Dahlonega, an hour north of Atlanta in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, has long been a haven for musicians steeped in the traditions of Appalachian music.

Visitors can often find local musicians performing locally at Crimson Moon. A good time to visit Dahlonega is April, for the annual Bear on the Square music festival.

exploregeorgia.org

Alabama has a yarn to spin

Alabama is commemorating the 200th anniversary of its statehood in 2019 with a year of special events that will culminate in December.

Alabama

Created from the Mississippi Territory in 1817, the Alabama Territory became the nation’s 22nd state on December 14, 1819.

ALABAMA 200, the state’s official bicentennial commemoration, is inviting visitors from all over to help celebrate the state’s 200th by attending key events such as travelling exhibitions, community festivals, genealogy workshops, historical gardens, reunions and even ‘cemetery surveys’.

The ‘Alabama Pastport’ project lets visitors tick off historic, cultural, natural history and entertainment sites they visit across a state that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico in the south to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the north.

The Pastport is available in book form and as a smart phone app. Huntsville’s Constitution Village has undergone a $2 million renovation for the Bicentennial celebration. It was on this spot that state leaders signed Alabama’s first constitution in 1819.

Visitors can see and hear exactly what those times were like thanks to re-enactors of all ages who work in Constitution Village’s half dozen or so wooden and brick buildings.

Wearing authentic clothing of the period, they show visitors how people of that time spun wool into yarn, printed documents, made furniture, baked and played children’s games. There is even an attorney dispensing 1819 legal advice.

Events are taking place throughout Alabama leading up to a bicentennial celebration on December 13-15 at the state capitol in Montgomery.

The celebration will include fireworks, a laser light show, the dedication of a Bicentennial Park and free admission to most of the area’s historic attractions.

Alabama.travel
deep-south-usa.com/alabama

Polaris is the United way

United’s long-previewed Polaris product is now available on all flights between London Heathrow and New York/Newark.

Polaris

Forty-six United Polaris Business Seats and 22 United Premium Plus seats feature on the five daily services operated by newly reconfigured Boeing 767-300ER aircraft.

The aircraft are also fitted with 52 regular Economy and 48 Economy Plus seats (with an additional five inches of legroom). Polaris will also feature on all three daily services between Heathrow and Chicago by the end of the year, possibly as early as November, said Bob Schumacher, United’s Managing Director of Sales for the UK and Ireland.

He added: “By the start of next year we will have a fleet of 17 767-300ER aircraft - that is half of our total operation out of Heathrow - locked into either New York or Chicago. And by the end of 2020 the rest of the fleet on our London services will be done as we convert our fleet of 787 -8, 9 and 10 aircraft.”

Features of the Polaris cabin include Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, amenity kits with products from Sunday Riley, ‘elevated’ food and beverages and access to the Polaris lounge at Newark Liberty International and the arrivals lounge and United Club at Heathrow.

Premium Plus customers receive Premier access check in, complimentary checked bags, more spacious seats, upgraded dining, an amenity kit and Saks Fifth Avenue bedding.

“We have played our part in shedding the old image of U.S. carriers as being behind other airlines when it comes to top-class products and putting the customer first,” said Schumacher.

United also flies from Heathrow to Washington/Dulles, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver, which this winter converts from a summer-only service to a year-round route.

united.com