Posts Tagged :

Canada

GRAND GATEWAY: Much ado about makeover for Toronto airport hotel

1080 494 wttc2

Just in time for the return of travel (and the holidays), the Sheraton Gateway, Toronto-Pearson airport’s only directly-connected hotel, has unveiled a $30-million makeover – it’s first since 2003.

Constructed in 1991 as a Swissotel, the Sheraton Gateway consistently ranks among the most visited hotels in Canada due to its coveted location adjacent to Terminal 3 at YYZ , but after 30 years, and hosting hundreds of thousands of guests, it was time for a major refresh, acknowledge hotel officials.

The makeover of the 484-room property, which will be fully complete in February (two floors are still in the final stages of overhaul) follows the purchase of the property in November 2019 by Toronto-based Knightstone Capital Management, which immediately embraced Sheraton’s sophisticated new brand vision and ensured that the Gateway is one of the first properties in the world to bring the vibe to life “top to bottom.”

“Except for the bricks, this truly is a new hotel,” director of operations Greg Macneil said during a recent press preview attended by Travel Industry Today.

“The transformation is nothing short of a metamorphosis,” added director of sales an marketing Jennifer Kazlauskis. “Our loyal guests who’ve recently returned are blown away. You can see it on their faces as they walk in. They can’t believe they’ve stepped across the terminal and into the same hotel. The difference is night and day.”

PUBLIC SQUARE

At the heart of the new experience is the lobby. It has been re-imagined as the “European-style public square” of the hotel – a holistic, wide-open space that invites people to join together, or be alone amongst others, creating a sense of energy and belonging. With a flow that is natural, intuitive, and uncomplicated, guests have what they need within arm’s reach, all set against an inviting backdrop that feels completely refined.

The well-lit lobby is graced with soaring ceilings and ample room for effortless social distancing. The sprawling space also features a restaurant, coffee bar, co-working spaces, and glass-walled soundproof booths for personal calls. Toronto’s Moncur Design Associates were tasked to implement Sheraton’s new brand updates and inject a distinctly Canadian sensibility into this “global hub” by creating a welcoming space that effectively invites guests to linger.

Moreover, “there’s connectivity everywhere,” noted hotel marketing manager Andrea Jaikaran during a site inspection as she pointed to charging outlets embedded into the lobby’s sofas.

ROOMS

King suite

Stepping into the generously sized, light-filled guest rooms that span nearly 37 sq. m., guests are greeted by a warm, residential appeal, composed of soft finishes and natural wood tones. Platform beds (in 1 King and 2 Queen configurations) are topped with luxurious Sheraton Sleep Experience mattresses and wrapped in crisp white linens. A 55-inch television is mounted to noise cancelling, woven fabric panels that make for an equally functional and stylish statement wall. A height adjustable table enables a quick transition to a standing desk. And a bench running beneath the TV provides additional seating and quick storage.

Bathrooms feature a modern walk-in shower or bath with amenities by Gilchrist & Soames. The space is surrounded with neutral porcelain walls, while a light wood vanity, backlit mirror, polished chrome fixtures, and black accents complement the guest room design.

The only thing that hasn’t changed here are the views. All rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows offering dramatic city or runway views, a thrill for any aviation fan.

CLUB LOUNGE

The Sheraton Club Lounge – moved to the lobby level – is open 24/7. The exclusive space for Marriott Bonvoy Elite members and Sheraton Club level guests and offers updated food and beverage option, access to complimentary amenities, and enhanced connectivity in an upgraded private environment.

FOOD & BEVERAGE

Gateway Gin & Tonics

Executive Chef Pravin Kumar Bagali has conceived a diverse menu designed to appeal to a wide range of tastes. Part cocktail bar, part coffee bar serving favourite Starbucks drinks, part grab-and-go market, the &More concept is more than a restaurant – it’s a central pillar of the new Sheraton vision with food and beverage options available day and night that are locally-sourced, easy to consume while working, and accommodating of varied tastes and time schedules.

A highlight is the hotel’s signature Gateway Gin & Tonic, or GG&T, which enables guests to design their own cocktails, with six gin choices and various flavours and garnishes. The drink even turns colours as it is concocted by the mixologist.

AMENITIES

The hotel also boasts nearly 1,700 sq. m. of flexible, updated meeting spaces, a fully equipped fitness centre, indoor heated swimming pool, and whirlpool. Additionally, a dedicated Peloton studio in the works that will house a pair of bikes available to guests 24/7.

NEW REALITIES

Sheraton Hotels are following Marriott International’s Commitment to Clean protocols, created in partnership with leading experts in food and water safety, hygiene and infection prevention, and hotel operations. Protocols include mandated mask wearing for all associates within the hotel, and the use of disinfectants to sanitize all surfaces.

IN OTHER NEWS

Having completed phase one of its own renovations, the Sheraton Centre Toronto is welcoming guests again following the first closure in its nearly 50-year history. A signature hotel in the city, located directly across from Toronto City (and beside the Eaton Centre), the property’s full re-fit will be completed in the first half of 2022.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

ROUND-UP:Nov. 15-19, 2021

1080 494 wttc2

A new airline is set to take flight next year in Canada; international borders continue to re-open while cross-border Canadians get a break; Black Friday deals; and the news all Ontarians have been waiting for: buying booze at the LCBO now earns Aeroplan points.

NEWS

A new ultra-low-cost airline, Lynx Air is set to start flying sometime next year. Formerly known as Enerjet, the Calgary-based charter airline that announced in 2018 that it intended to transform itself into a commercial discount carrier, it plans to operate a fleet of Boeing’s new 737 aircraft and start with domestic service before eventually expanding to offer trans-border and international routes.

Aeroplan members can now earn one Aeroplan point for every $4 spent at LCBO retail stores in Ontario, in addition to bonus points and promotional offers. And soon they can also be used for LCBO gift cards, starting at 1,000 Aeroplan points for a $10 gift card through the Aeroplan eStore. New members will receive 250 bonus Aeroplan points on their first LCBO retail store purchase when they join through Nov. 28. Plus, all Aeroplan members will earn 2X the base points on their first purchase of $50 or more made through the same date.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

Carnival Cruise Line resumed guest operations last week (Nov. 14) from Tampa, Fla. with Carnival Pride. A second ship, Carnival Paradise, will join Carnival Pride, in March 2022. Similarly, Norwegian Cruise Line began sailing again from Orlando with the Norwegian Escape the 8th NCL ship (of 17) to come back into service post-pandemic.

Cuba and India both re-opened their borders last week to fully vaccinated travellers.

With the resumption of WestJet flights to Antigua and Barbuda on Nov. 21 after a long pandemic pause, the two-island nation notes the following COVID-19 protocols are now in effect: All arriving passengers over 18 are required to have received at least one dose of a WHO-approved two-dose vaccine; fully vaccinated arriving passengers must present a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR or an approved rapid antigen negative test result within three days of their flight or fewer; partially vaccinated passengers will require a negative PCR test taken within four days of their flight or fewer; children below the age of five do not require a PCR test. Masks are mandatory in public places.

AIR

WestJet has announced it will add non-stop 787 Dreamliner service to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) beginning early Spring 2022.

Edmonton-based Flair Airlines is launching service to Mexico. The discount carrier says it will begin non-stop flights to Cancun and Los Cabos this winter from five Canadian cities. It’s part of an aggressive expansion effort by the airline. Flair serves 18 Canadian cities and is launching new US routes this spring.

Canada Jetlines and Global Crossing Airlines have announced the launch of their partnership on the sale of public charter flights between Toronto and Florida. Round-trip charter flights are expected to operate from Toronto to Miami and Fort Lauderdale weekly beginning in March 2022.

Flights between Canada and Colombia begin in December with thrice-weekly service on Avianca between Toronto and Bogota. The flights – Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays – will be operated in Airbus A320 aircraft with capacity for 150 passengers. Passengers can connect on to other destinations in Latin America through the Bogota hub, where Avianca operates 99 routes.

BY THE NUMBERS

Canada’s second-busiest airport is getting a little busier. On average, between 26,000 and 29,000 people are travelling through Vancouver International Airport each day. In comparison, a regular September or October day would see 65,000 to 70,000. Last summer and fall, there were only about 10,000 people daily.

TRAVEL AGENTS

Canadian members of Direct Travel’s leisure leadership team recently attended the Virtuoso Symposium in Vienna for the luxury consortium’s annual Thought Leadership meetings – for many attendees it was their first international trip in almost two years. Pictured at the closing event gala ball at Vienna’s legendary Spanish Riding school were Direct Travel’s Vivienne Kouba, Gerard Bellino, Rene Schneeberger and Stephen Smith, with Virtuoso’s Tony Logan and Una O’Leary. Direct Travel does business in Canada as Vision Travel.

DEALS

A Black Friday promo from Transat, valid on new individual bookings made between Nov. 19 and 28, offers up to $600 in savings on South packages, as well as discount flight fares to the South, Florida, and Europe when travelling between Dec. 1 and April 30. Some exceptions apply.

Already in effect, Sunwing’s annual Black Friday sale offers savings of up to 40% on all-inclusive vacation packages when booked by Dec. 6 for travel through April 30, 2022. Clients will be benefit from no change fees up to seven days prior to departure and free COVID-19 emergency medical coverage on applicable packages.

Savings of up to 50% off reservations are being offered at Discovery Cove in Orlando for bookings made by Nov. 26. The tropical attraction and all-inclusive day resort, which is part of the SeaWorld family, enables guests to swim with dolphins, snorkel among thousands of tropical fish and rays, hand-feed exotic birds, strut alongside flamingos, and more. Set amid a tropical oasis in the heart of Central Florida, Discovery Cove provides guests with the opportunity to relax in a beautiful, safe, outdoor environment.

TOURS

Starting Jan. 1, African Travel guests travelling in non-family groups of 10-plus and on set group departures will need to provide proof of an approved COVID-19 vaccination (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or one dose of Johnson & Johnson), before joining their safari and upon arrival to their destination. Guests will also need to comply with specific PCR testing requirements imposed by airlines and/or governments, which may differ from country to country. The Travel Corp. brand offers safari vacation packages to Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, and Southern Africa.

With the winter return of the manatees, Florida’s Plantation on Crystal River is offering an overnight “Swim with the Manatees” package starting at US$299 for two guests, including overnight accommodations in a garden view room; manatee snorkeling tour for two from the Plantation Adventure Center with all equipment provided (mask, snorkel, and wetsuit); breakfast for two at West 82⁰ Bar & Grill; and a welcome bag with plush manatee toy, fun facts, and manatee interaction guidelines. The riverfront resort, on the Crystal River on the state’s east coast, is the only location in North America where it is legal to swim alongside and interact with these “sea cows” in the wild.

HOTELS

Located in the heart of downtown, the newly opened Hyatt Centric Downtown Denver has 264 rooms decorated in a modern urban style designed to reflect the personality and style of the city in which it resides. Guests have easy access to the city’s top destinations including the Colorado Convention Center, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Coors Field, Ball Arena, Union Station, and the bustling Larimer Square. A highlight is the hotel’s spacious rooftop terrace boasting cityscape views, plush seating and outdoor fireplaces for guests can embrace Denver’s countless days of sunshine. There’s also seasonally inspired restaurant, Apple Blossom.

Located in the historic Crown Building on 5th Avenue, the first home of Museum of Modern Art, Aman New York is set to open “soon.” A luxurious sanctuary that celebrates the building’s striking architecture and significant history, the hotel will offer restaurants, a Garden Terrace & Bar, a private members club, the three-floor Aman Spa, and a Jazz Club and Wine Room.

RESORTS

After extensive renovations totaling more than US$6 million, Viva Wyndham Azteca reopened its doors to guests on Nov. 1, 2021. The reopening of the all-inclusive, oceanfront resort located in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, also coincides with the reopening of Viva Wyndham’s V Heavens Resort located in the Playa Dorada complex in Puerto Plata, DR. The two resort openings complete the reopening of all eight of Viva Wyndham resorts across its portfolio.

Set to open in December, Meliá Phuket Mai Khao, a 30-suite and 70-villa resort on 3.2 hectares of Phuket, Thailand’s northwestern coastline overlooking the Andaman Sea. Fronting Phuket’s longest stretch of sand, the resort on Mai Khao Beach is close to an array of attractions such as Sirinat National Park, Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, and Wat Phra Thong temple. Phuket International Airport is a 15-minute drive.

CRUISE

Guests sailing on Windstar Cruises now have a choice between paying a single all-inclusive rate that includes amenities such as alcohol, gratuities, and other onboard services, or adding items à la carte as they go. For Windstar, all-inclusive means unlimited wine, beer, and cocktails, Wi-Fi, all gratuities, as well as the cruise fare. The new fare is available for the Wind Class yachts as well.

Tradewind Voyages has released the full program and prices for the Mediterranean debut of the world’s largest tall ship, Golden Horizon. Beginning in Palma on May 1, 2022, there are 23 voyages offered across the region, spanning Spain, France, Italy, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, and Turkey. The inaugural Med season concludes with the 14-night Canaries to the Caribbean Voyage, arriving in Barbados for the start of winter 2022/23 and yet another debut for the ship.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

The best-selling holiday artist of all time, Mannheim Steamroller, returns to Universal Studios Florida to fill the air with the sounds of the season. Guests can attend live performances at the Music Plaza Stage on the following nights: Dec. 4, 5, 11 and 12.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

To celebrate the return of Canadians and in appreciation of the travel agents who book them, Visit Myrtle Beach is running a trivia contest for Canadian travel counsellors in which one grand prize winner will receive a $500 Visa gift card while five others will receive destination swag bags. The contest ends Nov. 30; to enter, click HERE.

Experience Kissimmee is holding a Faceboo contest for Canadian travel advisors. To enter, simply become friends with Denise Graham – Facebook on the official Experience Kissimmee Facebook page for Canadian travel advisors before the end of November. After that, tag fellow travel advisors not already following the page in the contest post to help the page reach 1,000 followers and to be automatically entered into a draw to win a $100 VI prepaid gift card for every travel advisor who follows the page. The final draw will take place on Dec. 1 and the winner will be announced on Facebook.

EVENTS

Nov. 24: Following a successful inaugural in July, the Jamaica Tourist Board is hosting a second Virtual Product Showcase, first hosted in July, on Wednesday, Nov. 24 from 1 to 3 p.m. EST. Designed to “educate, entertain, and inspire,” the free industry event will give agents an opportunity to hear the latest destination updates from Jamaica and see presentations from top tour operators and travel suppliers, including Sunwing Vacations, Transat, WestJet Vacations, Swoop Airlines, Iberostar, H10 Hotels, RIU Hotels, and many more. The event will also feature trivia games with great prizes up for grabs. To register, click HERE.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Toronto-based Discover the World has announced the appointment of Savio Pires to the position of National Sales Manager – Canada. In his new role at Discover the World, Pires will be responsible for Indian airline Vistara’s sales operations in Canada and will work with the Discover the World team to strategically grow partners brand equity, overall sales and marketing activities.

DESTINATIONS

The Imperial War Museum in London has completed a massive £30.5-million expansion, featuring with new Second World War and Holocaust galleries.

The US National Park Service has partnered with a tourism association to ensure the contributions, cultures and traditions of Native Americans are incorporated into exhibits and programming at sites across the country. The Park service says it highlights the history of Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians throughout the year. The five-year agreement with the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association will expand opportunities, officials said.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

HITTING NEW HEIGHTS IN NYC

1080 494 wttc2

Whether jumping into marriage or faux jumping off a skyscraper, New York has a couple of new attractions that will literally guarantee visitors will hit new heights in the city.

Launched earlier this month, Edge at Hudson Yards’ City Climb is the highest external building climb in the world. Located above Edge, the aerial adventure invites climbers to scale the outside of a 366-m. supertall building, then lean out from the outdoor platform at the top of the skyscraper.

Dubbed “the ultimate skyscraping adventure,” City Climb offers guests unparalleled views of New York, while traversing open edged platforms and stairways. Following a comprehensive safety briefing, climbers are fitted with specially designed safety harnesses, and secured into the course by City Climb guides via two cables attached to a trolley that seamlessly move with the climber throughout the entire journey.

After ascending 32 steps to The Cliff, and looking down 350 m. to the city below, climbers approach The Stair, which consists of 161 steps on an approximately 45-degree incline. Once they reach The Apex at 387 m., climbers will have the opportunity to lean out and hang over the platform.

The experience culminates with a celebratory medal for inaugural guests and a victory lap on Edge’s outdoor viewing area on the 100th floor, where climbers can experience a glass floor, angled glass walls, outdoor skyline steps, or a champagne toast in the sky to their bucket list accomplishment.

The attraction is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Opening hours will change seasonally. Tickets are currently US$185 and include the City Climb experience, entry to Edge, and a digital Edge image.

EMPIRE STATE BUILDING

Happily Ever Empire Engagement Package

Meanwhile, for those ready to jump into marriage, the Empire State Building has launched “Happily Ever Empire” – an unforgettable proposal package that provides couples with VIP access to the Observatory Experience. Ticket holders are invited to pop the question at a prime, dedicated corner of the building’s iconic, open-air 86th Floor Observatory and pop a bottle of Champagne to celebrate the memorable moment.

The exclusive package – priced at US$1,000 per couple (one should be sure that he, she or they will say, we guess) – includes a private guided tour through the Empire State Building’s immersive exhibits, which feature the building’s history and the classic love stories that have taken place within. After couples have celebrated their engagement on the world-famous 86th Floor Observatory, they’re invited to head up to the 102nd Floor Observatory, with its floor-to-ceiling windows for breathtaking photos with stunning 360-degree views.

“There is no better place to celebrate love than the World’s Most Romantic Building,” said Jean-Yves Ghazi, president of the Empire State Building Observatory. “The Empire State Building has played host to so many love stories in its history, and we are delighted to now offer an exclusive, romantic, and customizable proposal experience for couples from around the world.”

The Empire State Building’s Observatory Experience recently underwent a top-to-bottom overhaul that includes a dedicated guest entrance, a 930-sq.-m. digital and tactile museum that celebrates the icon from the moment it was conceived to its current place in pop-culture, and the completely re-imagined 102nd Floor Observatory.

Tickets are available on the ESB website (21 and older) and the package must be booked at least 24 hours in advance, with limited reservations available each day. Photographers, family, and friends must purchase Express tickets separately.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

WINE AND LACE: One of the most beautiful towns in Italy

1080 364 wttc2

If Ascoli Piceno is considered the diamond of Italy’s Marche region, you need to check out their neighbor, Offida – which outshines other ancient hilltop towns. Offida (pop. around 5,000) is deemed one of Italy’s most beautiful towns. It overflows with tradition, and history just oozes from its 13th century walls.

The compact Old Town center is an amiable stroll, with cobbled streets, appealing alleyways, striking architecture, and bursts of color. Top it all off with an old-world vibe, genuinely friendly locals, and great food.

The main triangular-shaped Piazza al Popolo, is fringed by a Renaissance-style town hall, which is adorned with arcades and crenellations; the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta; and the towns lavish 19th century Serpente Aureo Theatre.

Pizza al Popolo is where it all happens. This is where Offida’s big annual Carnevale happens (mid-January). The main event is the Bove Finto which is a ‘running of the bulls’ kind of event, but using a fake bull made of wood and carried on the shoulders of volunteers, who buck and charge with it in a riotous affair of man versus beast, until the bull is finally ‘killed’, and its horns lifted ceremoniously to touch the column of the town hall. The whole event is fuelled with copious amounts of the ‘Rosso Piceno’ – the local red wine.

As for the rest of the year, Offida is a quiet country town, known for its delicate hand-made bobbin lace making. It’s a tradition dating back to the 1400s, which has been passed down the generations. To honor their lace-making heritage, below the castle wall there’s a gorgeous water fountain/monument which embodies the crafts history.

Offida is known the world over for is its vino. Using grapes found only on its hills, vignerons cultivate some of Italy’s most highly prized wines – Pecorino, Passerina, and Rosso Piceno, all nectar of the Gods.

In the beginning

Offida came about in the Bronze Age, when the Pelasgians first arrived in the region, bringing with them civilization.

The history of Offida had a sure start in 578AD, when it became a royal seat, and the construction of a fortified castle began. It was a military fortress, consisting of an important city wall and square towers. The town appears by name in a document of the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Farfa, dating back to about that time. That’s 914 years before Columbus discovered America!

What to see

• The Church of Santa Maria della Rocca (built 1039AD) must be the ‘poster church’ of churches. It dramatically clings to a cliff’s edge and is made of Romanesque-Gothic brick and has trefoil arches. From 1047AD it was occupied by Benedictine monks. The enormous church, considered one of the main architectural features of the whole Marche region, is surrounded on three sides by deep precipices that dominate the surrounding valleys. The upper church has a single nave, according to the order of the beggars, and has a ceiling of wooden beams, two side altars and several frescoes of Giotto influence. There’s also a staircase to the crypt. The central apse has a double row of brick columns in Lombard style, with rounded corners, and round arches.

• The restored Roman-Gothic styled church of San Marco (1359AD), on Piazza Baroncelli, is adjacent to the Franciscan monastery of the same name. The interiors are Baroque in style, with a wooden crucifix with imbedded precious stones. There’s also a painting of the ‘Madonna Addolorata with four Saints’. Benedictine nuns have been living here since 1655.

• A stone’s throw from the church is the 19th century Palazzo De Castellotti-Pagnanelli, home to the Bobbin Lace Museum, the G. Allevi Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Popular Traditions, and the Municipal Art Gallery.

• The little Tombolo Lace Museum is a tribute to humble artisans. Expect to see tools for processing, yarns, drawings, wedding kits, jewels, and photographs. The most surprising piece is the dress worn by Naomi Campbell in London in 1997.

• The intriguing Museum of Popular Traditions illustrates an insight into the lives of Offida’s ancestors – a kitchen from yesteryear, tools for agricultural work, ancient craft shops, furniture, and clothing of the time, spinning machinery, and a loom for fabric production.

• The Municipal Art Gallery has numerous pieces of period furniture and paintings.

• To deepen your understanding of the local wines, head to Spazio Vino, found in the former convent of San Francesco (Via Garibaldi 75). This is currently the seat of the regional Enoteca, focusing on small wine producers, offering a wine-by-the-glass tasting facilities.

Curiosities about Offida

• Ask a local about the legend of the mythical Golden Snake that crossed the city along the main street, now aptly named Corso Serpente Aureo.

• Bobbin lace making is a popular Offida tradition which, thanks to the Benedictine nuns of 1665, flourishes still.

• In the chapel of Sant’Agostino (1338AD) you can admire the remnants of the 1273AD ‘Eucharistic Miracle’, in which the host was converted into living flesh.

• In 2008 Offida was nominated as ‘one the most beautiful villages in Italy’.

Don’t miss

• The Aldo Sergiacomi Museum is the former workshop of the famed Offida sculptor. It houses a collection of his drawings, plaster casts, terracotta and bronze objects, and photographs of his works.

• On the outskirts of Offida is the Sanctuary of Beato Bernardo, originally built in 1614AD by Capuchin friars. It has dramatic views of the sea and the mountains. The great musician Joseph Haydn composed the ‘Missa Sancti Bemardi de Offida’ in honor of Brother Bernardo.

• The 14th century Church of the Suffragio has a rectangular structure in travertine limestone, the interiors is breath-taking.

• Next to the church of the Addolorata there is the 14th century rectangular structure of the Church of the Suffragio, complete with Romanesque-styled terracotta friezes; Byzantine friezes; a wooden skeleton; a 15th century art piece showing the ‘Madonna del Soccorso’; and the symbol of God’s name on stone.

• Take a walk through the streets at night. Offida has a different persona in the small hours. You may see shadowy figures that aren’t there during daylight hours.

The town of Offida has gorgeous observation points, interesting places to see, and an excellent artisanal food and wine scene. Here you’ll finds ancient fortresses and benches with soft views across deep valleys and at least a hundred reasons to stay.

www.turismoffida.com

Practicalities

• Getting there: Offida is 250km due east of Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport and a mere 20km from the Adriatic Sea.

• Where to stay: Although there is a hotel in Offida, I urge you to go the Air B&B route instead. Find somewhere authentic in Offida’s Old Town www.airbnb.com.

• Getting around: To get a feel for the region hire a Vespa for €70/day. You’re officially urged to partake in a (tailor-made) group tour, taking in off-piste locations, unforgettable experiences, and creating memories that’ll last a lifetime. Tour prices start at €30/pp +39 324 5454279 www.vespatourmarche.it.

Ciù Ciù – A romantic wine story of passion and tradition

In the soft green hills around Offida, you’d be forgiven to think that time has stopped. Here, nothing much changes, other than the occasional slow movement of a tractor in the vineyards. Here, grapes and olive are what it’s all about.

Paolo Agostinelli, wine aficionado, and Export Manager of Ciù Ciù, gives me the backstory.

“On the outskirts of Offida and near the Adriatic, the sea air sweeps between the hills (250 metres above sea level) and blends with the earthy aromas of the soil. This creates the magical terroir for our grapes and the production of some of Italy’s finest wines.

The Ciù Ciù organic winery was born in the heart of Offida’s Picene hills with vineyards extending over 150 hectares. In 1970, before ‘organic’ became a thing, Natalino and Anna Bartolomei, themselves from share-cropping farming stock, found the ideal patch of land to plant the first organic grapes bearing the Ciù Ciù name.

Forbes, one of the America’s most prestigious and influential magazines, included the multi award-winning Ciù Ciù’s Bacchus Rosso Piceno DOP in their list of the best ten European wines priced under $20 dollars a bottle.”

Ciù Ciù wines are an authentic expression of Italian winemaking traditions. This, coupled with research, good terroir, and state-of-art cellars, all go to enhancing their natural viticultural ecosystem.

Paolo escorts me the Ciù Ciù wine showroom in the heart of Offida’s old town. We’re seated in an ancient room used for tasting, savouring the traditional Marche wines. As with most of Offida’s buildings, the one Ciù Ciù Wines is housed in is deceptive large. Inside it’s elegant, and historic, with enormous cellar rooms – ideal for a taste experience in both food and wine as their organic wines are combined with traditional Marche cheeses, cured hams, olives – and wait till you sample their bruschetta dipped in their farm grown extra virgin olive oil! The tasting will set you back € 6.00/pp.

www.ciuciuvini.it

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

CHRISTMAS IS COMING: Germany fetes festive season

1080 494 wttc2

Getting together again was like Christmas, literally, for the German National Tourist Office as it celebrated its first in-person trade event since the start of the pandemic at a gathering in Toronto late last week. Themed around the upcoming festive season in Germany, the tourist board also publicly unwrapped its new Canadian director, Anja Brokjans, now about six months into her tenure.

GNTO Americas director Ricarda Linder flew in from New York for the occasion, telling Travel Industry Today that she was thrilled to be able to do so again and remarked how seamless the travel experience was at Pearson – a good sign for a return to travel.

Linder shared with guests the news that fully vaccinated Canadians are welcome again (without COVID testing requirements) in Germany, which is expecting to see a strong tourism rebound in 2022, not least with the delayed Oberammergau Passion Play at last taking centre stage for its once-a-decade performances.

In the spirit of the moment, and in the glow of the first Christmas tree of the season, Brokjans introduced the evening’s theme, declaring, “The good news is: Christmas markets are back on again!” and noting that almost every town in Germany has one.

Many of the Weihnachtsmarkt/Christkindlesmarkts start as early as next week and continue until just before Christmas (in some cases a few days after).

Typical German traditions for the festive season, winter activities in the great outdoors, and selected Christmas markets are all showcased in the latest promotional campaign from the GNTO, with the hopes of providing inspiration for visits to Germany in the run-up to Christmas.

The 2021 Christmas campaign is designed to “whet the appetite for travel to Germany” by highlighting typical customs and traditions in various regions and offering fresh ideas for city breaks and cultural tourism.

In a distinct sign of the times, the tourist board also makes a point of declaring, “All the markets and travel ideas promoted in the campaign are subject to rules specifically adapted to the latest coronavirus situation, ensuring that this season will be enjoyable, safe and relaxed.”

At the heart of the ‘Christmas sparkle’ campaign is a landing page (click HERE – https://www.bit.ly/3n75uee) with links to the regularly updated websites of the biggest Christmas markets, plus activities and events during the festive season, and winter offers. The campaign began Nov. 8 via social media, programmatic advertising, search engines and newsletters, and includes activation in the Canadian market.

“Last year, Germany was able to retain its position as the leading destination for cultural and city travel for Europeans, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The unique atmosphere associated with the festive season in Germany’s towns, cities, and regions was a particular draw,” says German National Tourist Board CEO Petra Hedorfer. “We are delighted that the current coronavirus situation means we can open Christmas markets and welcome international visitors again at this special time of year. Our campaign offers specific tips to whet the appetite for cultural travel to Germany.”

Munster Christmas Market

Here, courtesy of the GNTO, are just some of the Christmas-time traditions in Germany that visitors can discover:

Baden-Württemberg

A leisurely tour of the extravagantly decorated royal chambers at Burg Hohenzollern, a fairytale castle located on the edge of the Swabian Alb, is a real treat at this time of year. And Schwetzingen Palace is also awash with Yuletide charm. During the festive season, light artists transform this former royal residence into a Christmas wonderland with illuminated gardens.

Bavaria

Every winter, the landlady at Hündeleskopfhütte in the Allgäu Alps prepares the two-kilometre toboggan run from her mountain restaurant. Armed with head torches, her more adventurous guests can then ride their sleds back down, but there are also torch-lit walks for those who would rather venture out on foot at night.

Berlin

Must-sees include the sparkling Christmas tree at the Brandenburg Gate, the tree-lined avenue Unter den Linden decorated with fairy lights, and the shining stars in Lichtenberg. The Christmas Garden Berlin in the Botanic Gardens is another fairytale setting with light installations and a tree with wish lists hanging from its illuminated branches.

Brandenburg

During the festive season, Potsdam, a former royal seat of power, offers a special ‘Potsdam Christmas stories’ tour. Starting at the old market square, the tour explores the historical city centre and continues to the Dutch quarter, while the guide recounts anecdotes about Baby Jesus and Father Christmas. The historical trams serving glühwein are a popular means of travel between the Christmas markets. The absolute highlight is a stroll around the ‘Blauer Lichterglanz’ Christmas village.

Bremen

At Christmas time, Germany’s bakeries are a hive of activity. The Hanseatic city of Bremen, in particular, is known for its irresistible klaben fruit loaf. This Christmas cake, which was first mentioned by Bremen’s council in 1593, is made with yeast dough, sultanas and almonds, and flavoured with cardamom. Anyone can bake this delicious cake, but only klaben made in Bremen is allowed to use ‘original,’ or genuine, in the name.

Hamburg

In Hamburg, even Christmas has a maritime edge to it. During the traditional ‘Tannenbaumwerfen,’ or conifer throwing, a barge full of trees cruises around Hamburg’s port. The trees are then thrown onto the bigger ships so that the sailors on board can enjoy Christmas even when they are far from home.

Hessen

Berlepsch Castle, perched on the hills of the Werra valley, is part of the German Fairytale Route and the perfect setting for an atmospheric Christmas market. The centuries-old fortress is a riot of traditional decorations and offers medieval music, mulled wine, street entertainers and handmade treats. The fairytale readings are a real hit with the kids, as are the fairytale days throughout the year.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

On those days when snowflakes dot the air and the low sun bathes everything in a soft light, a winter walk along one of the ten thalassotherapy trails in the seaside resort of Warnemünde, the Stoltera nature conservation area or Rostock Heath will lift your spirits. Visitors with an interest in culture should head for the Ahrenshoop art trail, a circular walk that features works by renowned artists from the Ahrenshoop artists’ colony founded in 1892.

Lower Saxony

In the run-up to Christmas, many homes in Lower Saxony are filled with the smell of baking. In Bentheim, flat cakes called schoosollen (shoe soles) are baked over an open fire, while Lüneburg Heath is known for its heidesand biscuits. On the North Sea coast, thin treats known as rullerkes or neejahskoken are made in a waffle iron and often enjoyed around New Year with a cup of East Frisian tea.

North Rhine-Westphalia

Germany’s most unusual, and possibly most beautiful, ice rink can be found at Zollverein mine, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Essen. Every year in December, what was once the world’s largest coal mine is transformed into a 150-m.-long ice rink along the large coking ovens and chimneys. The rink is a sparkling delight at night, while the winter village next door ensures you won’t go hungry.

Rhineland-Palatinate

A winter walk near Wasserliesch, an area renowned for its wildflowers, is particularly romantic at Christmas time. Follow the Moselsteig trail to Löschem Chapel, which stands high up on the edge of a slope and offers stunning views of the Moselle valley and the Eifel and Hunsrück mountains. Torch-lit walks around Andernach and Neuwied on the river Rhine are another popular winter activity.

Saxony

It’s always Christmas in Seiffen in the Erzgebirge mountains. The town is famous for the handcrafted Christmas pyramids, nutcrackers, angels, candle arches and incense smokers that have been made here for generations and are sold throughout the year. In the run-up to Christmas, the spa resort dons its finest festive threads and invites visitors to the Seiffen Christmas market and the Nativity play in Seiffen church, which is often depicted in regional artwork.

Saxony-Anhalt

As Christmas approaches, Magdeburg switches on 1.2 million little lights. The city is transformed into a glittering wonderland of decorated streetlights, large baubles you can walk around in, twinkling holy figures and a festively illuminated cathedral square. Elsewhere, a ride on the Harz narrow-gauge railway offers a touch of nostalgia. The historical steam engines set off from Wernigerode through a snowy winter landscape to climb Mount Brocken.

Schleswig-Holstein

Lübeck is northern Germany’s Christmas city. Home to the famous Holsten Gate and magnificent churches, this Hanseatic city is especially beautiful during the festive season. In addition to Christmas markets, there is a fairytale forest at the foot of the Church of St Mary, a Yuletide wonderland at the European Hansemuseum featuring elf huts and a kissing arch, and the ‘Lübsche Wiehnacht’ craft market. And no Christmas is complete without Lübeck’s most famous product, marzipan.

Thuringia

Lauscha, a small town in the Thuringian Forest, is the birthplace of the baubles that feature on Christmas trees around the world. Legend has it that the local glassblowers could not afford nuts and apples to decorate their Christmas trees with, so they made decorations out of glass instead. The traditional glassworks in Lauscha are open to visitors all year round, and the decorations can be bought from the workshop studios. Anyone with a particular interest in this traditional craft is encouraged to explore the 15-km Lauscha glassblowers’ trail. A romantic ride on the illuminated mountain railway through the forests of the Schwarza valley is also highly recommended.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

MEET GOWAY 2.0: Tour operator looks ahead to next 50 years

1080 364 wttc2

Despite largely having to largely skip celebrations of a 50th anniversary milestone last year while enduring the “most difficult” period he’s ever seen in the business, Bruce Hodge says he’s determined that Goway will come out of the global health crisis (and subsequent travel downturn) even stronger than it was nearly two years ago.

To that end, Hodge has invoked the words of Winston Churchill in the aftermath of WWII – “Never let a good crisis go to waste” – as an opportunity to reinvent the business he founded a half century ago for the next 50 years.

In particular, the company has spent its pandemic downtime investing heavily in new technologies, including a new phone system, online training program and customized reservation system, all designed to make its destination specialist staff better experts and its varied product line “more attractive and easier to sell.”

Hodge points to the company’s recently introduced ‘Your Next Journey: The Best of Goway Travel’ interactive digital travel brochure as encapsulating the brand’s fresh approach to “doing business in a post-pandemic world.”

He adds, “All areas of our company have been refreshed and revitalized.”

Company VP Craig Canvin says Goway’s pandemic downtime also saw a product revamp, which he says now includes over a thousand “totally reimagined” tours in the system, and now divided into three price tiers: moderate, first class and deluxe – as well as boasting consistency across all divisions, from Australia to Africa, Europe, and South America.

With an added focus on luxury experiences, which includes private guided tours, agents will have a wider range of travel styles to offer clients, he says, but at the same time still having access to Goway’s “tried and true” product.

Other enhancements include private transfers on every tour.

“We’re not just a head in a bed and bum in the seat,” Canvin says, noting that many of the tour upgrades reflect customer demands. “This is what clients have been looking for and the traveller demands – to (travel) on their own terms.”

Agents can also take advantage of Goway’s tech enhancements via a new three-way Zoom feature that allows a company destination specialist to liaise with the agent and their client, which allows the customer to be involved in the planning process.

Of the changes, Canvin says, “We’re calling it Goway 2.0,” and adds, “It sets the stage for growth.”

Goway trio: Rourke, Saba, and Norton

Accompanying the product changes are some new team members (including the recently announced addition of Rares Dumitru as National Account Manager for Canada), as well as transitional changes to the company’s senior management team, effective Jan. 1, including the promotion of Anthony Saba to VP of Downunder & South Pacific, taking over from Shirley Rourke, who becomes VP of Groups. The latter move reflects the retirement of Barbara Norton next April after 38 years at the company.

Until then, Norton and Rourke will continue to work together to reinvent Goway’s Holidays of a Lifetime program, which will be incorporated into the refreshed Groups Only division.

More changes to the new Goway “50+ management team” are expected in the New Year.

At the same time, Goway, always active south of the border, has announced a partnership with the prominent Signature Travel Network, which boasts 11,000 members, in order to expand its reach in the US.

As for the winter and into 2022, VP Canvin says bookings are booming, especially for exotic destinations, or “idyllic retreats” as Goway calls them, with the top three destinations being The Maldives, Tahiti, and Dubai, with the latter’s Expo 2020 commanding great interest. Similarly doing “extremely well” is Europe, he says.

Another trend amongst clients is staying longer and upgrading amenities, from flights to hotel rooms.

“As soon as a luxury destination opens up,” enthuses Canvin, “it is booked.”

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

NOT THE BEST NEWS: COVID threatens Christmas in Europe

1080 364 wttc2

Nearly two years into a global health crisis that has killed more than 5 million people, infections are again sweeping across parts of Western Europe, a region with relatively high vaccination rates and good health care systems but where lockdown measures are largely a thing of the past.

The World Health Organization said coronavirus deaths rose by 10% in Europe in the past week, and an agency official declared last week that the continent was “back at the epicenter of the pandemic.” Much of that is being driven by spiralling outbreaks in Russia and Eastern Europe — where vaccination rates tend to be low — but countries in the west such as Germany and Britain recorded some of the highest new case tolls in the world.

While nations in Western Europe all have vaccination rates over 60% — and some like Portugal and Spain are much higher — that still leaves a significant portion of their populations without protection.

Dr. Bharat Pankhania, senior clinical lecturer at Exeter University College of Medicine and Health in Britain, says that the large number of unvaccinated people combined with a widespread post-lockdown resumption of socializing and a slight decline in immunity for people who got their shots months ago is driving up the pace of infections.

Thanks largely to vaccination, hospitals in Western Europe are not under the same pressure they were earlier in the pandemic, but many are still straining to handle rising numbers of COVID patients while also attempting to clear backlogs of tests and surgeries with exhausted or sick staff. Even the countries experiencing the most serious outbreaks in the region recorded far fewer deaths per person over the past four weeks than the United States did, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The question now is if countries can tamp down this latest upswing without resorting to stringent shutdowns that devastated economies, disrupted education, and weighed on mental health. Experts say probably – but authorities can’t avoid all restrictions and must boost vaccination rates.

“I think the era of locking people up in their homes is over because we now have tools to control COVID – the testing, vaccines and therapeutics,” said Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh. “So, I hope people will do the things they have to do, like put on a mask.”

Many European countries now use COVID passes – proof of full vaccination, recovery from the virus or a negative test result – to access venues like bars and restaurants. Pankhania warned that the passes can give a false sense of security since fully vaccinated people can still get infected, though their chances of dying or getting seriously sick are dramatically lower.

But restrictions don’t go much further these days, although the Dutch government on Friday announced a three-week partial lockdown.

“We have a very unpleasant message with very unpleasant and far-reaching decisions,” caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

German lawmakers are mulling legislation that would pave the way for new measures. Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced Friday that unvaccinated people in two regions will only be able to leave home for specified reasons starting Monday, and he is considering implementing similar measures nationwide. But he has said he doesn’t want to impose the restrictions on those who got the shot.

Austria is seeing one of the most serious outbreaks in Western Europe, along with Germany, which has reported a string of record-high infections in recent days.

“We have a real emergency situation right now,” said Christian Drosten, the head of virology at Berlin’s Charite Hospital, which has started cancelling scheduled surgeries.

Duesseldorf’s university hospital said last week that its ICU is full, though many facilities are struggling more with staff shortages than bed space.

Drosten said Germany must increase its vaccination rate of 67% further – and fast. But officials have balked at ordering vaccine mandates and want to avoid any blanket lockdowns.

Health Minister Jens Spahn indicated that Germany could improve its often lax enforcement of COVID pass requirements.

“If my vaccination certificate is checked more often in one day in Rome than it sometimes is in four weeks in Germany, then I think more can be done,” Spahn said recently.

The Netherlands is in a similar bind: The country announced the highest daily tally of new cases since the pandemic began Thursday, hospitals are warning the situation could get worse, but officials are reluctant to clamp down too hard. Amid these concerns, organizers in Utrecht said they couldn’t in good conscience bring tens of thousands of people together to greet Santa at the annual Sinterklaas party beloved of children.

Cities in Germany, by contrast, went ahead with outdoor Carnival celebrations last week. In Cologne celebrations continued though designated “Prince” Sven Oleff cancelled public appearances after testing positive for Covid-19 the day before the start of celebrations on November 11th.

In the United Kingdom, which lifted remaining restrictions in July and has seen big spikes as well as dips in cases since, Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists the country can “live with the virus.” The government will only reimpose restrictions if the health service comes under “unsustainable” pressure, he says.

Spain, once one of Europe’s hardest hit nations, perhaps offers an example of how the risks can be managed.

It has vaccinated 80% of its population, and while face masks are no longer mandatory outdoors, many people still wear them. While infections have ticked up slightly recently, Rafael Bengoa, one of Spain’s leading public health experts, said that given the high vaccination rate, “the virus won’t be able to dominate us again.”

Several countries are hoping that pushing harder on immunizations will get them there. Germany plans to re-open vaccination centers across the country to speed booster shots. France is also pinning its hopes on booster doses while urging holdouts to get their first shots. Italy is also expanding its booster program as numbers edge higher.

Pankhania says that no single measure will control the pandemic.

“To really control it, it has to be multi-layered … avoid crowds, avoid poorly ventilated places, be immunized, wear your mask,” he said.

National Covid Memorial Wall, London, UK

 

 

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

EFFORTS TO SAVE WINTER PROVE FUTILE: Beloved dolphin dies. Aquarium closes today.

1080 459 wttc2

UPDATED: Florida’s Clearwater Marine Aquarium had temporarily closed today (Friday) to treat its most famous resident, Winter, the prosthetic-tailed dolphin that starred in the “Dolphin Tale” movies. The beloved marine mammal is now in critical condition from a suspected infection. Unfortunately their best efforts proved in vain and Winter died last night.

The announcement from the Aquarium:

The earlier story:

The aquarium said in a statement yesterday it was shutting down for the day “to create the best possible environment” for medical staff to treat the 16-year-old female bottlenose dolphin, who is suffering from a gastrointestinal infection.

“The dedicated CMA animal care experts are consulting with top animal care and veterinary specialists in the country and exploring all possible options to save Winter’s life,” the aquarium statement said.

James “Buddy” Powell, president of the aquarium, said the one-day closure will allow staff “to do nothing but focus on Winter’s health.” The aquarium plans to reopen Saturday.

“Winter is adored by the world,” Powell said. “Right now, she’s being docile, but she is moving and responding to people. We’re doing everything we can to take care of her medically.”

Winter was two months old when her tail became entangled in a crab trap near Cape Canaveral, which forced its amputation. “Dolphin Tale,” which was released in 2011, chronicled Winter’s recovery and the unprecedented, lengthy effort to fit her with a prosthetic tail.

The film, starring Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Morgan Freeman and Nathan Gamble, was largely shot at the Clearwater aquarium and surrounding Tampa Bay locations. It put the non-profit aquarium, first opened in 1972 on the site of a former water treatment plant, on the map internationally.

Officials there say Winter’s story has become an inspiration for disabled people around the world and the aquarium has received thousands of messages of support since Winter’s illness became known.

“Many are inspired by her resiliency and this amazing response reminds us of how deeply she has affected millions, including so many on their own health journey,” the aquarium statement said.

A sequel, “Dolphin Tale 2,″ was released three years later starring Winter and Hope, another rescued dolphin cared for by the Clearwater aquarium.

Bottlenose dolphins can live up to 60 years and are considered one of the most intelligent of all animal species.

Winter and Hope are by far the most famous residents of the Clearwater aquarium, which also operates sea turtle and manatee rescue programs.

A US$80 million expansion of the facility was recently completed, including 5.6 million-litre new dolphin complex, to handle the crowds that have descended on the aquarium since “Dolphin Tale” was released a decade ago.

Updated information at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Winter, photo/ Clearwater Marine Aquarium>

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

PUBS, PATIOS & BARS: Greetings from The Bowery, Myrtle Beach

1080 494 wttc2

“Greetings, Andy, from the Myrtle Beach Police Department!” – words I’ll always remember (they’re on video) from a bemused cop who was willing to send a message to an absent friend as my travelling buddy and I exited the South Carolina city’s legendary Bowery bar at some indistinct time during the early 1980s.

Myrtle Beach has changed by leaps and bounds since those days, and I’m not sure whether the police are as accommodating to slightly tipsy tourists, but it is a reassuring constant that The Bowery remains in all its glory.

Located steps from the Atlantic Ocean in the centre of town, the establishment has been welcoming locals and tourists alike since 1944 – a 77-year history highlighted by the presence of country music super group Alabama as house band from 1973 to ‘80, where they merely played for tips.

The Bowery keeps the association close at hand, not least through occasional visits from the band – as recently as 2019 – who still consider it home.

I don’t recall if Alabama was on stage during my visit (they may well have been), but I do recall walking out thinking that I might even like country music, such was the amazing live atmosphere of the place.

And that’s exactly the vibe that continues today where live music amps up every night at about 8:30 (no cover charge), with today’s version of Alabama – The Bounty Hunters – on stage, supported by servers who often deliver multiple mugs of draft by hand (no trays). According to the bar, one of its own, Scuba Obsorne, holds the Guinness Book Records mark for carrying 34 mugs at one time.

All of which is to say, that entertainment is the raison d’etre at the bar, or in local parlance, “Ya can’t beat the fun.”

And did we mention that a mug of Bowery brew only costs a buck-fifty – at least at during happy hour, Monday-Friday 4-7 p.m.

For food, go next door to the affiliated and connected Duffy Tavern (only 50 years young), noted for, as its sign says: “Hot Beer, Lousy Food, Bad Service.” But seriously, try the burgers, and snag a seat outside in the South Carolina sun if you can.

The Bowery/Duffy’s is located at 110 9th Avenue North (just off the boardwalk a couple of blocks from the SkyWheel) and is open from daily from 11 a.m. to “until.” If you can’t find it, just ask a cop – they know!

The band at play

With glass purposefully in hand, we at Travel Industry Today continue our series on some of the planet’s best bars, patios and rooftop venues. For more articles in the series, click here:

PREVIOUS ARTICLES: https://travelindustrytoday.com/pub-patio/

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

MORE THAN JUST MELTING ICE: Loss of glaciers will hurt tourism, power supplies and more

1080 364 wttc2

From the southern border of Germany to the highest peaks in Africa, glaciers around the world have served as moneymaking tourist attractions, natural climate records for scientists and beacons of beliefs for indigenous groups.

With many glaciers rapidly melting because of climate change, the disappearance of the ice sheets is sure to deal a blow to countries and communities that have relied on them for generations – to make electricity, to draw visitors and to uphold ancient spiritual traditions.

The ice masses that formed over millennia from compacted snow have been melting since around the time of the Industrial Revolution, a process that has accelerated in recent years.

The retreat can be seen in Africa, on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the jagged peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains jut into the sky above a green jungle. The peaks once held more than 40 glaciers, but fewer than half of them remained by 2005, and the melting continues. Experts believe the last of the mountains’ glaciers could disappear within 20 years.

The disappearance means trouble for land-locked Uganda, which gets nearly half of its power from hydroelectricity, including the power plants that rely on steady water flow from the Rwenzori glaciers.

“That hydroelectric power runs much better on more regular flows than it does peak and troughs,’” said Richard Taylor, a professor of hydrogeology at the University College in London.

The Pasterz, the largest glacier in Austria, has declined by half since it was first accurately measured in 1851.

A continent away, on the southern edge of Germany’s border with Austria, only half a square kilometer (124 acres) of ice remains on five glaciers combined. Experts estimate that is 88% less than the amount of ice that existed around 1850, and that the remaining glaciers will melt in 10 to 15 years.

That spells bad news for the regional tourism industry that relies on the glaciers, said Christoph Mayer, a senior scientist in the geodesy and glaciology group at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Munich.

“At the moment, tourist agencies can advertise, `You can visit some kind of the highest mountains in Germany with glaciers. You can walk on the glaciers,”’ Mayer said. “People living around these regions really live from tourism … there will be an impact on them if they lose these glaciers.”

The Snows of Kilimanjaro are a story of the past

The same issue faces Tanzania, where experts estimate that Mt. Kilimanjaro – the highest mountain in Africa and one of the country’s main tourism attractions – has lost about 90% of its glacial ice to melting and to sublimation, a process in which solid ice transitions directly to vapor without becoming a liquid first. Travel and tourism accounted for 10.7% of the country’s GDP in 2019.

There are intangible losses for many indigenous communities that reside within sight of glaciers as well, said Rainer Prinz, a glaciologist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

In the history of the local populations, “the ice in the mountains is the seat of god. It has a very spiritual meaning,” he said, discussing communities near Mt. Kilimanjaro. “Losing the glaciers there would also impact spiritual life, I think.”

The layers of ice that make up a glacier can be tens of thousands of years old and contain year-by-year information about past climate conditions, including atmospheric composition, temperature variations and types of vegetation that were present. Researchers take long tube-like ice cores from glaciers to “read” these layers.

During a 2010 research trip to the Carstensz glacier in Indonesia’s western Papua province, oceanographer Dwi Raden Susanto was excited to be part of a team that took a core sample from the remote glaciers. But once the sample was taken, Susanto said, scientists quickly realized the rapid decline of the ice allowed them to get records dating back only to the 1960s.

“It is sad because it’s not only a loss of local or national heritage for Indonesia, but this is also the loss of climate heritage for the world,” Susanto said.

As glaciers vanish, experts say, local ecosystems will begin to change as well – something already being studied at the Humboldt Glacier in Venezuela, which could disappear within the next two decades.

Experts warn that the fate of smaller glaciers offers a warning for larger glaciers.

For example, while many of the world’s smaller glaciers no longer serve as the main freshwater source for countries, some larger glaciers still do, including in Peru, which lost nearly 30% of its glacier mass between 2000 and 2016, said Lauren Vargo, a research fellow at the Antarctic Research Centre in Wellington, New Zealand.

“Those communities are much more dependent on glaciers for having water for their communities,” she said.

Increased melt will also lead to rising seas and changes in weather patterns _ something that is bound to affect society on a global level, Mayer said.

“The disappearance of these small glaciers is really a warning sign of what is coming in the future,” he said. It “should make you aware that something is going on, which is not just peanuts.”

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News