Baltimore ready to put on the charm

Baltimore is looking forward to establishing itself as a 'must do' east coast destination for travellers after joining the Visit USA Association (UK).

"We see our Visit USA membership as a great way to communicate with the UK trade and consumers, thanks to members' access to the association's extensive database of users and the opportunities to participate in trade and consumer activities, including events, roadshows and e-marketing opportunities. Through these activities we look forward to educating and spreading awareness of Baltimore's many draws and attractions," said Tilly Grace, Senior Account Executive at MMGY Hills Balfour, Baltimore's UK rep.

Served by daily British Airways direct flights, Baltimore's unique history and heritage and array of visitor attractions and experiences will appeal to UK visitors in search of Americana experiences, said Grace.

Originally nicknamed 'Monumental City' - a tag thought to have been given after the first Washington Monument in the US was erected in Baltimore - today it is best known mainly as 'Charm City', a nod to the city's hidden charm, history and vibrant culture, which are best discovered through exploring its many distinctive and welcoming neighbourhoods.

"Fell's Point is one of Baltimore's oldest and most beloved neighbourhoods, with its charming stone streets and waterfront restaurants. And don't miss Federal Hill, a historic district known for its picturesque views of the Inner Harbour, museums and the famous Cross Street Market."

City highlights include historic sites such as Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine and the Washington Monument; visiting the Baltimore Museum of Art, one of the city’s most beloved treasures which is suitable for all ages; catching a baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, one of the most beautiful stadiums in the country; and discovering the city's thriving culinary scene (Baltimore is known for its Maryland blue crabs).

"When planning a trip to Baltimore, three or four nights would be our recommendation. This will allow visitors enough time to discover the sights, food and culture that make the city unique," says Grace.

"While it’s impossible to explore the entirety of Charm City in this amount of time, you can certainly check several attractions off your list. Just a one-hour drive or 30-minute train ride from Washington DC; an under two hour journey from Philadelphia; and a quick and affordable two-hour and 45-minute Amtrak train journey from New York, it's easy to fit Baltimore into any east coast itinerary. " is a rich source of information for agents wanting to learn more and offers a variety of useful guides and suggestions on what to eat, see and do in Baltimore.

ITV series will explore Florida for every taste

Locations across Florida will be showcasing their culinary delights during a run of programmes on ITV this week.

Jimmy’s Taste of Florida is a five-episode food travelogue series that will air on the channel between February 12-16, 2024 at 14.00.

TV presenter and farmer Jimmy Doherty will be seen cooking and eating his way around the Sunshine State, sharing food stories with an astronaut at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, racing the fastest oyster shucker in the USA in Panama City Beach, zipping through the Everglades on an airboat, and 'playing cowboys' Florida-style at the Westgate River Ranch in Central Florida.

In the series which takes him to 10 Florida locations, including Miami, Tampa, Universal Orlando, Anna Maria Island and St. Petersburg, he explores Florida’s culinary influences from Southern, Creole, Caribbean, Hispanic and European cuisines, which provide the inspiration as he serves up dishes from kitchens in Pensacola and Orlando and a campfire in New Smyrna Beach.

Jimmy Doherty said: “I love the USA but didn’t know Florida well, so I jumped at the chance to explore a favourite holiday destination for Brits through its food…and it didn’t disappoint!

"From boiled peanuts to Michelin-starred fine dining and everything in between, Florida has a great food story to tell. I’m a cook rather than a chef, so I was on the lookout for simple, accessible, easy dishes that anyone can have a go at, and of course, I met some great characters along the way too!”

Episode four takes him to Westgate River Ranch and Anna Maria Island, a destination offered by America As You Like It which has a seven-night package priced from £1,245pp, based on two adults.

Flights are with Virgin from London Heathrow to Orlando in mid-September (flexible departure dates), with three night's room-only at the Westgate River Ranch, Central Florida, and four night's B&B at the Silver Surf Gulf Beach Resort on Anna Maria Island. Seven day's fully-inclusive car hire is included.

New Jersey nets 2026 World Cup Final

Both New York City and New Jersey are celebrating after the region was announced as the venue for the FIFA World Cup Final in 2026.

The champion-crowning game and seven other matches across the tournament will be held at New York New Jersey Stadium (MetLife Stadium) in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

New York City and New Jersey expect that the tournament will bring over one million visitors to the region, roughly half of whom will be non-ticket holders.

“As an advocate for this region, and a lifelong soccer fan, I am thrilled that FIFA chose to place their trust in New York New Jersey to host the historic FIFA World Cup 26 Final,” said New Jersey's Governor Phil Murphy.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our entire region; hosting the final provides NYNJ an unparalleled platform to brilliantly showcase what we stand for — diversity, equality, access, and inclusion.”

Added New York City Mayor, Eric Adams: “The FIFA World Cup 26 Final will be a generation-defining moment for New York New Jersey, and there’s no better place to host the world’s biggest game than the world’s biggest stage.

“New York New Jersey is ready for North America to be the centre of the soccer world, and the history we’ll be making in 2026 will create lifetime memories for fans, provide new opportunities for our communities, infuse billions into our economy, and help shape our region and propel it forward for decades to come.”

The 2026 World Cup will be the largest ever, with an expanded format lasting 10 days longer than the tournament in Qatar in 2022 and involving three host countries – the U.S., Canada and Mexico – 16 host cities, 48 teams and 104 matches.

Each match at the MetLife Stadium, home to American Football teams the New York Jets and the New York Giants, will welcome 82,500 fans.

The other U.S. host cities will be Philadelphia, Houston, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Boston, Dallas and Atlanta.

The 2026 version will be the first World Cup where the host countries' capitals (Washington D.C. and Ottawa) were not selected as tournament venues.

Largest LA ad campaign is now playing

The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (LA Tourism) has kicked off its largest-ever global promotional campaign.

The "Now Playing" initiative is the largest campaign ever for LA Tourism, with ads in the UK and Ireland across various media that includes television, out of home, video on demand, social, native/display, online video, audio, in-flight video, and search.

Highlights include LA street artist Mister Cartoon designing a Los Angeles mural outside London nightclub Village Underground in Shoreditch, LED boards pitch-side at upcoming Premier League and FA Cup football matches, and an LA takeover at Manchester Victoria station.

The campaign comes as Los Angeles expects to achieve 93.8% of 2019 international tourism recovery levels by year-end.

The City of Angels expects to see 370,000 visitors from the UK and Ireland in 2024, an increase of 12.1% compared to 2023’s projected total of 330,000 visitors. This makes the UK and Ireland the third largest market for overseas visitors to LA after China and Australia/New Zealand.

Francine Sheridan, Regional Vice President, Europe and ME, LA Tourism, said: “We are thrilled to continue our investment in the UK and Ireland with the next phase of the Now Playing campaign, inspiring visitors to choose LA for their next holiday. The UK and Ireland remain a key focus for LA Tourism in 2024 - the 25th anniversary year of LA Tourism’s UK office.”

Los Angeles will receive the Olympic torch from Paris this summer for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is also a host city for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and Super Bowl LXI in 2027.

Aer Lingus offers a 'more seamless' Chicago experience

Aer Lingus says switching its operations in Chicago to a different terminal has created a more efficient travel and customer experience for those travelling to the Windy City.

The airline moved from Terminal 5 to Terminal 3 at O’Hare International Airport last month, a move it says offers an enhanced seamless travel experience and easier onward connections in North America on the American Airlines network, also located in Terminal 3.

American Airlines will offer connections from O’Hare to 117 domestic destinations at the peak of this summer’s travel season.

Aer Lingus said in a statement: "There is now a better experience for customers, with easy transfers to terminals 1, 2 and 3 and with no need for further security screening. Customers are greeted by six dedicated Aer Lingus check-in desks conveniently located in the departure terminal.

"In addition, Business Class customers, AerClub Concierge and Platinum customers will have access to the AA Flagship and Admiral lounges, conveniently located for the boarding gates, all providing a greatly enhanced customer experience."

Ireland’s status as a pre-clearance country for U.S. Customs and Border Protection allows customers to go through U.S. customs in Ireland before departing for the U.S. without needing to be screened upon arrival - a procedure that is also proving popular with UK travellers who choose the Irish carrier to cross the Atlantic.

Aer Lingus operates direct flights from Dublin to O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Chicago, nine times a week, and will increase this to 14 times weekly in March ahead of the summer travel season.

Philadelphia gets set to bloom

Philadelphia is gearing up to hosting one of the world's longest running and largest horticultural shows next month (March 2-10).

Photo by Pel Productions

The Philadelphia Flower show was first held in 1829 and now attracts 250,000 attendees from across the globe, in the process raising $1 million for Philadelphia Horticultural Society programmes.

There's a new theme each year, which attracts leading floral and landscape designers to bring dazzling displays to life, with this year's show billed as “United by Flowers”.

Organisers say the theme is a celebration of “the colourful community that comes together to share in their love of gardening, flowers, and plants, and the impact they make on our lives all year round.”

In addition to impressive floral displays, the 2024 show will also feature the world’s largest houseplant and indoor plant competition. Both expert and amateur horticulturalists are encouraged to enter their displays, which will be judged by experts from around the world.

As well as the flower exhibits, other events and activities at the show this year include a new Behind the Blooms tour, where participants will learn about the show's diverse and sustainable plant varieties as well as garden design concepts, and Butterflies Live, where visitors will see hundreds of native and exotic butterflies surrounded by flowering plants.

There is also a Kids Cocoon activities area for children who can have a go at planting a seedling, read a story, and enjoy various activities.

Orlando invites Brits to feel the warmth

Visit Orlando has augmented its Winter Doesn’t Exist campaign in the UK by running an interactive heated Orlando mural in London.

Until March 3, an Orlando-inspired mural will be located on 83 Redchurch Street in Shoreditch - and passers-by can enter to win a trip to Orlando by posing for a photo that makes it look like they are floating down a lazy river enjoying a sunny Orlando day.

They then submit the photo through the prize draw page.

The prize includes: a five-day/four-night stay for the winner and three guests at Evermore Orlando Resort featuring 20 acres of beaches and swimming areas, return tickets from London Gatwick to Orlando International Airport provided by Norse Atlantic Airways, one full-size rental vehicle from Enterprise Rent-A-Car for up to five days and a $2,000 gift card for use at selected theme parks, attractions and other Orlando experiences.

The 'Wall of Warm' also invites visitors to warm up as between 13.00 and 20.00 heaters are placed on the top of the mural.

The mural image showcases experiences across the destination, including rollercoasters and a waterslide equipped with a rubber ring that offers a photo opportunity. The caption, ‘Feel the warmth of Orlando from here,’ appears alongside Visit Orlando branding.

“The Wall of Warm activation is helping to keep Orlando top of mind in the UK, our top overseas market, during the weeks when where Brits will likely be looking to escape the cold,” said Casandra Matej, president & and CEO of Visit Orlando.

“Our destination – where winter doesn’t exist – is brimming with new experiences, from movie-inspired attractions and a launch coaster with snowmobile-style cars to a luxury beach-like resort with an eight-acre crystal lagoon, making Orlando the ideal winter sun destination.”

Additional elements of Visit Orlando’s broader Winter Doesn’t Exist campaign include advertising placements. The campaign’s call-to-action drives consumers to Visit Orlando’s UK website for travel inspiration, information on theme parks, things to do and see, and more.