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Monday, July 29, 2013

Youth Sports Tourism Bringing Big Bucks to Counties

Sports Bringing Big Bucks to Bucks County

Article link:

By  Senior Reporter- Philadelphia Business Journal

Several key stats and highlights from the story:

* 3 big youth sporting events bringing 22,000 spectators and participants to Bucks County in Pennsylvania and filling 7,000 hotel rooms.

* Tournaments expected to generate $3.7 million in economic activity

* Generating $900,000 in hotel room revenues

New Mexico Tourism Debuts Travel Planning Resource Dedicated to Where Movies Have Been Filmed (such The Lone Ranger, Transformers and Indiana Jones!)

SANTA FE, N.M. – Groups can now choose which sweeping New Mexico landscape to visit based on what film or television series it was featured on with the state’s New Mexico Film Trails site at www.newmexico.org/filmtrails. The state’s tourism department created this travel planning resource to offer special itineraries based on film history and lore.

New Mexico has attracted more than 600 film and television productions over the past 100 years. Most recently, Disney’s “The Lone Ranger” featured scenes filmed in various locations across the state.

“With breathtaking backdrops carved out by nature and history, temperate climate and unique blend of culture, New Mexico has always been a natural filming location,” said New Mexico governor Susana Martinez. “Now, we’re thrilled to share these views with filmgoers who will see Disney’s ‘The Lone Ranger.’”

“The Lone Ranger” filmmakers chose New Mexico’s Rio Puerco as their Wild West town and the Cimarron Canyon near Angel Fire for the movie’s train sequence. Since 2003, more than 185 major productions have been shot in New Mexico, including “Transformers” on the dunes of White Sands National Monument.

Other past films include “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” along the Cumbres Toltec Railroad outside of Chama and “No Country for Old Men” in Albuquerque. “Breaking Bad,” “Lonely Are the Brave” and “Grapes of Wrath” are also featured in the film trails itineraries. Groups can even learn which hotels and restaurants their favorite stars used through the new site.

For more information, visit www.newmexico.org/filmtrails.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Courier Publication Features Various Growth Markets in Tourism Articles

The August edition of Courier reports on NTA-member travel product in the Pacific Northwest, Hawai‘i, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. You'llCourierAug13 also find a range of professional development topics, including more information about the inbound Taiwanese traveler and social media strategies from our popular columnist Catherine Heeg.

Member essays are a highlight in this issue: Edita Krunic of Select International Tours explains how her company has focused on identifying its ideal client, and you'll enjoy reading about Misha Jovanovich's interest in a Nikola Tesla trail. Past Chairman and CEO Bob Hoelscher, CTP, shares a milestone in his quest to visit all 401 National Park Service sites in our end-page Q&A. Travel Alberta and Tempest Tours both offer their expertise in the adventure travel market, and our Theater and Broadway Shows special section highlights the variety of experiences offered by NTA members and offers a sneak peek at the hot shows for the 2013-14 season.

Monday, July 22, 2013

North American Outdoor Drama and Plays of Interest to Faith Travelers (by Ruth Hill with Faith Travel Focus)

The following article is by Ruth Hill with Faith Travel Focus

Click here to view original article link and source at Faith Travel Focus: http://www.faithtravelfocus.com/north-american-outdoor-drama/

Current and long-running North American outdoor drama of interest to faith travelers include these:

The Great Passion Play: With its Ozark Mountain setting in Eureka Springs, AK., this drama about the life of Jesus Christ has attracted over seven million people since 1969. The Institute of Outdoor Drama has named it America’s number one outdoor drama for attendance.

Running this year through October, the stage action isn’t the only attraction on the grounds of the amphitheater. Included are Christ of the Ozarks, the third tallest statue of Jesus in the world at 67 feet. The Bible Museum has over 7,000 Bibles in 625 languages and dialects, along with a collection of parchments and rare Bibles like an original 1611 King James Bible. The Sacred Arts Center features works of religious art in 64 different forms.

This year’s roster includes several weekly performances through October 26.

Visit Them Here: Great Passion Play

The Shepherd of the Hills: One of Branson, MO.’s most lasting stories has been around for over a century, since the book of the same name by Kansas minister Harold Bell Wright published in 1907.

The outdoor drama commenced in 1960. Based on a homestead, its occupants and life events, Shepherd offers action, intrigue, and romance as the drama unfolds under the Ozark stars and skies. A troupe of 90 actors, horses, sheep and a burning cabin bring the Ross Family’s homesteading story to life.

Inspiration Tower on the show site was erected in 1989 for the centennial celebration of Wright’s first visit to the area. Glass elevators transport visitors to the observation deck where they get panoramic views of 90 miles out on good weather days. Branson’s big Christmas season has the tower lit up during November and December.

The Shepherd of the Hills drama continues its production schedule this year through October 19.
Visit Them Here: Shepherd of the Hills

Canadian Badlands Passion Play: The Badlands of south central Alberta province make for a dramatic and photogenic outdoor setting amid a repository of fossils and bones from millions of years ago.

Located near the small town of  Drumheller, the 30-acre canyon bowl forms a natural amphitheater in which the biblical drama unfolds. The drama honors the medieval European passion play traditions in the telling of Jesus’ life, miracles, and resurrection. The set recreates the ancient Bible lands for the cast of 150 professional and amateur actors, choir, and orchestra to perform. Local Alberta cowboys transform into Roman soldiers on horseback, and are among over 500 volunteers from across western
Canada who make the play possible.

Running through July 21st this year, the show has been a sold-out success since 1994 and named an Alberta Top Cultural Attraction and one of North America’s Top 100 Events.

Visit Them Here: Canadian Badlands

The Living Word Outdoor Drama: The old city of Jerusalem comes alive in this Cambridge, OH. drama that recounts Jesus life and teachings. Founded in 1975 by Harvey and Hazel Harvey, the drama is the only outdoor production that invites the audience to be part of the performance, as they are invited to join the cast as extras.

Performances run Fridays and Saturdays through September 28 in 2013.

A special performance by Larry Gatlin of The Gatlin Brothers gospel and country group performs in the Living Word Amphitheater Saturday, August 3rd for one night only

Visit Them Here:  The Living Word Outdoor Drama

The Picture in Scripture Amphitheater: Biblical productions like this summer’s “The Elijah Factor” fill the stage in this 1,000-seat Disney, OK. Theater..
Picture In Scripture
Picture In Scripture

The current show runs through Friday and Saturday night through July 27, with an array of colorful costumes, special effects and sound, pyrotechnics and live animals. The Bible stories of Queen Jezebel, King Ahab and their evil deeds come on the scene, with the prophet Elijah performing miracles and fire falling from heaven.

Linda and Bill Goldner opened the theater in 1985 as part of their ministry that includes church pastorates, and a home for teenage girls.

The above article is by Ruth Hill with Faith Travel Focus

Click here to view original article link and source at Faith Travel Focus: http://www.faithtravelfocus.com/north-american-outdoor-drama/

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Choice, FamilyFun Survey: More Families Will Travel This Summer

Article link:
Opening Excerpt:
A survey conducted by Choice Hotels International and FamilyFun Magazine found that the improving economy will result in a boost in family travel this summer. More than four out of five respondents (83 percent) said they plan to take an overnight leisure trip of more than 100 miles roundtrip this summer, up from last year’s survey (78 percent). The majority of these travelers (53 percent) expect to take two or more leisure trips this summer.


Interview: Southern Hospitality Expands into New Touring Experiences

Article link: http://www.ntaonline.com/articles/index.cfm?action=view&articleID=2651&menuID=791#Headline1

Member Voices: Southern Hospitality  

Savannah, Georgia, offers its 12 million visitors a wealth of ways to tour the city, and according to Mindy Shea of Visit Savannah, the options for tours are expanding.Mindy Shea
"The motorcoach is still the primary way groups tour our city, but we're seeing that groups aren't always satisfied to just sit and look out the window at key sites. They want to stop more often, get a closer look at attractions and have an interactive experience at the attractions. They frequently request a "behind-the-scenes" experience: something the average visitor doesn't have access to.
"For individual travelers, self-guided and walking tours are definitely on the rise. Walking tours give visitors a chance not only to see the city close-up, but to take popular niche tours such as craft brew tours, culinary tours and haunted tours. These tours don't always work as well for senior groups, as there are often mobility issues. We've also seen an increase, especially among older visitors, in the use of smartphone apps for self-guided tours." 

Shea added that overview tours are popular with seniors, while school groups gravitate toward Civil War tours, African-American tours and eco-tours.

Ask the Tour Operator: How Do You Approach Adventure Travel for Women?

Article link:

Debra Asberry and her Maryland-based company, Women Traveling Together, take clients on tours that include adventurous activities: ziplining in Costa Rica, jet-boat riding in New Zealand, hiking in Montana and diving in South Florida. Because her clientele is female, Asberry looks at this type of travel differently, so we asked:

How do you approach adventure travel for women?
"We prefer ‘experiential travel,' because ‘adventure' scares people off, particularly women," Asberry said. "It is good to get outside your comfort zone—to try something different—and we help take women there."

Asberry said the adventure experience isn't necessarily the focus of the tour, but a special experience—a taste. "It's all about the taste, where we introduce our travelers to kayaking or horseback riding," she said. "If you work these types of experiences into existing product, you'll attract different clients."

For more insight from Asberry, see this Q&A with her in the May issue of Courier magazine.

Faith-Based Travel 101 (Published by Church Executive)

Article link: http://churchexecutive.com/archives/faith-based-travel-101
Author: RaeAnn Slaybaugh
Published by: Church Executive

Despite the recent recession, religious travel remains a priority among church groups.

According to the Washington Post, pilgrimages, missionary trips and fellowship excursions taken by North American religious tourists comprise an estimated $10 billion of the overall travel industry. World Tourism Organization estimates that as many as 330 million pilgrims visit the world’s key religious sites every year. And, Travel Intermediaries Association reports that 25 percent of travelers say they’re interested in taking a “spiritual vacation.”

So, the will to take a faith-based trip is intact. What’s not so clear is the way.

To help pastors navigate the decision-making and planning process, Church Executive spoke with Kevin J. Wright, director of growth markets for National Tour Association (NTA) in Lexington, KY. Wright is a well-known authority in the tourism industry — an entrepreneur, published author, speaker, consultant and blogger.

Church Executive: What does the market for faith-based travel look like today?
Kevin Wright: The answer to this question is “diverse.”
Today, it’s quite common to see a church community offering trips ranging from conferences, to getaway ski trips, to missionary work, to overseas pilgrimages, to faith-based cruises. The Great

Recession has led to this increase of diverse travel choices and preferences as people of faith seek out experiences that are most conducive to their new financial situations and reorganized priorities.
Additionally, the Great Recession has led to some travelers shortening the duration/length of their trips to save costs.

CE: Are there certain destinations that have gained popularity in the past several years?
Wright: The countries of Israel and Jordan have remained among the most popular international destinations for faith-based travelers. In fact, the Israel Ministry of Tourism has experienced record numbers of visitors in the past three years.

The next most popular faith-based trip and itinerary to emerge in recent years is the trend of travelers choosing to retrace the footsteps of Apostle Paul through Greece and Turkey. Italy is experiencing a resurgence among Catholic visitors, due in part to the recent papal election.
Germany also continues to grow in popularity, especially in relation to travelers visiting the sites of the Reformation and Martin Luther.

In the United States, people of faith continue to visit Christian attractions in ever greater numbers, such as the biblically based Sight & Sound Theatres in Lancaster, PA and Branson, MO.

CE: What are pastors’ most common motivations for — and expectations of — a faith-based group trip?
Wright: The desire to experience one’s faith “in person” is the No. 1 driving motive. Only through travel can someone experience his or her faith from every dimension of the human being: socially, spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and physically. As one pastor who has visited the Holy Land likes to say, “It’s one thing to read about the Sea of Galilee in the Bible; it’s another thing to actually sail across it, as Jesus did.”

Other commonly cited motivations include a desire to learn more about one’s religious heritage, to stand in the presence of a holy site or event, to provide missionary and humanitarian assistance, or simply to experience one’s faith in a more intimate and focused way.

CE: Generally speaking, when should pastors and church groups start fundraising?
Wright: Fundraising should begin at least one year in advance of the trip, if not sooner. However, the first step is for any pastor or group leader is to choose a travel company, an itinerary and a trip price. Once these steps are completed, then fundraising can begin.

Most tour operators and travel agents require a per-person deposit at time of booking to secure space. Full payment is often due 30 to 60 days prior to departure. For this reason, even if fundraising begins a full 12 months before the trip begins, the monies need to be earned in the first 10 months to ensure full on-time payment to the travel provider. This is why many church groups will begin fundraising efforts even 18 to 24 months prior to the first day of travel. You can almost never begin fundraising too soon.

CE: How can pastors ensure they’re getting the best possible value when choosing a group trip?
Wright: As group tours are complex undertakings, it’s imperative that pastors and group leaders first choose quality travel organizations and professionals who specialize in such work.

Second, it’s recommended that pastors and group leaders contact a minimum of three travel companies when researching and selecting tour operators or travel agents. As each company has its own unique specialties and pricing structures, this act of “shopping around” will ensure your chances of selecting the right professional for your travel wants, needs and preferences.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

North Dakota’s Agritourism Experiences Continue to Grow with New Providers (Groups Today)

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Published by
Groups Today

Article Summary:
National interest in connecting with the rural way of life continues to increase, making North Dakota a prime destination. As a result of the interest, North Dakota’s agritourism offerings continue to grow as more of the state’s providers open their doors to visitors. Agritourism is the practice of inviting guests to visit and/or participate in working farm or ranch activities.

Opening Excerpt:
According to Dean Ihla, tourism development manager at North Dakota Department of Commerce Tourism Division, it’s an opportunity to educate visitors on current farm and ranch operations while showcasing our rich agricultural heritage. “Farms and ranches participating in agritourism activities provide urban residents with hands-on experience and an up-close-and-personal snapshot of rural life,” Ihla said.

North Dakota Tourism has been promoting agritourism experiences for a number of years, but a formal program began in 2010. When registered in North Dakota Tourism’s program, the agritourism provider receives promotional assistance and greater limited liability protection. Of North Dakota’s forty-eight agritourism providers, twenty-seven are registered with North Dakota Tourism.

Ihla noted that interest in offering agritourism experiences is strong and continues to grow. “Right now, I’m aware of thirty-seven providers who are considering adding it to their operation.”

Read rest of story at