Tour Operators Focus on ‘Live Like a Local’ Immersive Experiences

‘Travel Together’ Program Launch Includes Travel to England Facebook Sweepstakes

The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) is on a mission to share with all travelers the rich and engaging off-the-beaten path experiences enjoyed by the more than 6.5 million people who travel with its tour operator members each year. Through its newly launched Travel Together campaign, a thoughtfully curated collection of experiential videos and blog posts, USTOA will bring travelers “live like a local” moments that delve deeply into immersive cultural experiences in featured destinations across the globe.

And to inspire travelers to check it out, USTOA is giving travelers the chance to win a trip for two to England.

“Our tour operator members are uniquely suited to help make bucket-list destinations such as Egypt and South Africa accessible and within reach, and by harnessing local connections and expertise, they create extraordinary opportunities to immerse travelers in local culture and customs,” said USTOA President and CEO Terry Dale. “The Travel Together moments shared are the definition of ‘experiential’ travel.”

Egypt and South Africa are the first Travel Together destinations, in partnership with USTOA members Abercrombie & Kent in Egypt and Collette and Swain Destinations in South Africa, with videos from travel expert and video journalist Kelley Ferro and in-depth blog posts from a team of Ambassadors from AFAR magazine.  Each shares a number of local connections accessible through USTOA tour operator members that use knowledgeable, on-the-ground experts throughout the destinations, from native Egyptologists to resident guides to artisanal businesses and schools in Soweto and game preserve conservationists locating the “big five” at an animal preserve in South Africa.

Travel Together videos and blog stories can be found at www.youtube.com/user/ustoanyc and www.ustoa.com/blog, as well as www.ustoa.com/travel-together. Consumers can follow the adventures on Twitter by using #traveltogether and joining Facebook chats at www.facebook.com/USTourOperatorsAssoc with the media team scheduled throughout the coming months.

“That is really the heart and soul of why we travel: to share experiences with travel companions and make connections with the native people in the local markets, restaurants, museums, sites, and attractions visited,” Dale said.  “Travel Together provides insider looks at travelers sharing singular experiences to meet with shopkeepers, learn how to make native foods, share a meal with a family in their home, see how carpets are woven, explore the backroads and even visit local schools, among so many others, because of the access provided by USTOA members.”

Win a Trip to England

As part of the Travel Together launch, USTOA is giving travelers the chance to win a trip for two to England courtesy of Worldwide Traveler and Delta with local experiences such as a private tasting of award-winning Somerset ciders and a visit to the picturesque village of Lacock, the filming location of Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice.  The six-night trip includes roundtrip coach airfare, transfers, accommodations, scheduled meals, local transportation and tour leader.  To enter the sweepstakes, visit http://bit.ly/USTOA-Sweeps.

Among the highlights in Egypt, Kelley Ferro and AFAR Ambassador Alison Cornford-Matheson recount how Abercrombie & Kent’s Egyptologists shared their passion for antiquities and how they bring history to life. They learned about spices from a shopkeeper in Luxor, the ancient art of carpet weaving at a school in Sakkara as well as where to find the best falafel being made in Cairo, and the wonders of a riverboat cruise along the Nile.

With Collette, South Africa AFAR blogger Nina Dietzel shares a look at Soweto’s vibrant life including a thriving family restaurant that started in a car port and now actively involves four generations, and her visit to a preschool in Knysna provides an unfiltered look at modern-day township life. Swain Destinations took travel expert and video journalist Kelley Ferro inside the teaching kitchens and on safari in Singita game preserve, as well as to the insider spots of Cape Town.

A frequent contributor to Tripfilms, the travel video channel created by real travelers for real travelers, Kelley Ferro and a cadre of AFAR Ambassadors will visit and chronicle the extraordinary opportunities to meet and engage with locals in each destination. Following the June launch, videos and blogs about new destinations visited with USTOA tour operator members will be added monthly, which include Australia’s Northern Territory with Goway, Taiwan with Ritz Tours, Croatia with VBT Bicycling & Walking Vacations and Delta, Manitoba with Tauck, and Colombia with Avanti Destinations.

More information about Travel Together destinations can be found at www.ustoa.com/travel-together.

Representing more than $11 billion in revenue, the member companies of U.S. Tour Operators Association provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow six million travelers annually unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe.  Each member company is required to meet the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business.  As a voice for the tour operator industry for 40 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents.

For more information about USTOA, visit ustoa.com, call 212.599.6599 or email information@ustoa.com.

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© 2014 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/eclectic-traveler-in-long-island/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures.

Tour Operators Offer Programs Commemorating 70th Anniversary of D-Day

 

Several USTOA member tour companies are offering special tours this year enabling travelers to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

This June marks 70 years since allied forces invaded Normandy, a crucial turning point in the war against Nazi Germany, and people from all around the globe will come together to honor the brave soldiers who fought during World War II. At the invitation of French President François Hollande, dignitaries and world leaders including President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II will visit Normandy to celebrate the occasion, which will also be marked with firework displays along the coast at main D-Day sites, military parades, parachute drops and more. Travelers too can honor the courageous veterans who fought with visits to the infamous beaches of Normandy and other influential WWII sites through tour programs and packages from tour operator members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA).

“Most people have been exposed to the beaches of Normandy, whether through old newsreels in history class or mainstream films such as Saving Private Ryan which depicts the Omaha Beach assault in opening scenes, yet not everyone has had the opportunity to set foot on the historic beaches,” said Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA. “Our members provide limitless opportunities to delve into the history of WWII and commemorate the 70th Anniversary of this significant and solemn occasion.”

Here is a sampling of itineraries enabling travelers to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of the allied troops who fought during WWII:

Travelers on “Normandy, Brittany & the Loire Valley,” a nine-day tour from Grand European Travel, will drive along the beaches of the D-Day landings, reflect at the American Military Cemetery of St. Laurent near Omaha Beach and learn more about the historic battle at the D-Day Invasion Landings’ Museum. Other trip highlights include a visit to the charming fishing village of Honfleur, wine tasting with an expert in the Loire Valley, and the opportunity to see many of Paris’ greatest delights, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Arc de Triomphe. Available April through October 2014, prices start at $2,875 per person.  Visit www.getours.com for more information.

Created exclusively for the 70th Anniversary of the epic D-Day landings, Collette’s tour “Memorials of War: Normandy & Paris” takes travelers to the landmarks of D-Day, including Pointe du Hoc, Omaha and Utah beaches, and Caen Memorial Peach Museum. Guests also visit the imposing La Roche-Guyon Castle, former headquarters of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, the man responsible for Germany’s imposing Atlantic Wall, and Chartres Cathedral, spared during the war by an American officer who questioned the need to destroy it. Priced from $2,549 per person, land only, this 10-day journey is available May 2014 through April 2015. Visit www.gocollette.com for additional details.

On AHI Travel’s “Normandy: 70th Anniversary of D-Day” tour, guests will see the contrast between the American Military Cemetery of St. Laurent and the German Cemetery at La Cambe while staying in Honfleur, a classic French town with narrow streets nestled against a striking 17th century harbor. Other WWII sites visited include Omaha Beach, Pointe du Hoc and the Caen Peace Memorial, among others. Available over 34 separate departures April through October 2014, prices start at $2,995 per person, double occupancy, land only. Visit www.ahitravel.com for more.

Explore France via bike and gain insight into Normandy’s rich history during VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacation’s eight-night “Bicycling France: Normandy & Brittany.” In addition to visiting the sandy shores of Arromanches and Omaha Beach, D-Day Museum, and American Cemetery, guests will savor award-winning cider during a farm visit in Normandy, discover Dinan, a fairy-tale-like medieval walled city overlooking the River Rance, and connect with local residents. Available May 16, 23; June 13,20,25,27; July 2,4,9,11,16,18; September 12,19, 26 and October 3,10 and 17, land only prices from $2,695 and air packages from $3,945. More details can be found at www.VBT.com.

Adventures by Disney invites travelers to visit Omaha Beach and take a privately guided tour of the Normandy American Cemetery, create their own impressionistic work of art after a tour of Claude Monet’s home in picturesque Giverny, ride bikes along the famous Deauville seaside boardwalk, and learn to prepare classic French dishes in a private cooking class using fresh ingredients collected at an open-air market, among other activities, on its “France – Eight Days/Seven Nights – Paris, Versailles & Normandy” tour. Available May 24, May 31, June 14, June 28, July 5, July 19, August 2 and August 9, 2014, land only prices start at $5,889 for adults and $5,609 for kids. Visit www.adventuresbydisney.com for more.

“Northern France,” a private journey from Cox & Kings available March through October 2014, invites travelers to relive June 6, 1944. Guests will follow roads taken by allied forces while listening to anecdotes from a local guide and learn about the most vicious fighting of WWII at Omaha Beach before stopping at the American Cemetery, Caen Memorial, and other locations related to the war. History is the focus as guests also learn about French royalty at the Palace of Versailles and the Mont-Saint-Michel, an island commune erected in the 8th century. Prices for this seven-day journey start at $8,995 per person, based on double occupancy. More details can be found at www.coxandkingsusa.com.

Accompanied by a WWII expert, travelers on Abercrombie & Kent’s special “Loire Valley & D-Day 70 Years Later” tour will visit the Omaha sector of the D-Day landing beaches and the American Military Cemetery at Saint Laurent Sur Mer, before proceeding to Pointe du Hoc, a scene of ferocious fighting on June 6, 1944, and home to a new exhibition that recounts the battle through the eyes of American soldiers. Other trip highlights include a private tour of a 17th-centure manor house that produces cider and Calvados (brandy), for which Normandy is famous, a wine tasting at Vouvray wine estate, and a visits to Château d’Usee, which is said to have inspired the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. Available May22-June 1, 2014, this 11-day journey starts at $11,895 per person based on double occupancy. More details are available at www.abercrombiekent.com.

USTOA Travelers Assistance Program 

Representing more than $11 billion in revenue, the member companies of U.S. Tour Operators Association provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow six million travelers annually unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe.   Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business. 

As a voice for the tour operator industry for 40 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents. For more information about USTOA, visit ustoa.com, call 212.599.6599 or email information@ustoa.com.

For more travel features, visit:

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Twitter: @TravelFeatures

‘Live Like a Local’ on Off-the-Tourist-Beaten-Path Vacations Tailored by USTOA Member Tour Operators

Iceland: visiting with a local artist are among the “off the beaten” path adventures that USTOA member companies are arranging for their guests © 2013 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

For travelers seeking greater fulfillment and a deeper understanding of the regions they visit, taking the opportunity to journey off the tourist-beaten path and “live like a local” – by tasting honey at an artisanal beekeeper’s shop in Morocco, dressing in traditional mahout attire and learning to command and bathe elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand or visiting galleries with a local artist along the Akureyri Art Trail in Iceland – adds a meaningful and memorable component to a vacation.  Trafalgar and other tour operator members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) are offering inspiring global tour programs and packages that allow guests to forge deeper cultural connections to the people, traditions and customs of the places they are visiting.

“Today’s travelers want more than to just see a destination and check the major attractions off their bucket list, they want an intimate look at life beyond the main tourist sites. USTOA member tour operators provide limitless opportunities to do just that, along with the peace-of-mind that each program has been developed by knowledgeable and experienced professionals,” said USTOA’s President and CEO Terry Dale.

From Peru to Thailand, authentic travel opportunities to “live like a local” offered by USTOA tour operator members include:

South America: Travelers on “Peruvian Legends,” a 12-night Discovery Tour from Gate 1 Travel, will visit a local school in Urumbamba, learn about traditional cuisine in a cooking class in Kenko, hear about local festivals, dances and costumes while eating lunch with the humble Aymara people, enjoy a demonstration on the intricate techniques and coloring of back-strap weaving from native women in Chinchero, and eat dinner in a Cuzco family home. Guests will also have the opportunity to relax in thermo-medicinal baths in Colca, get an intimate view of farming fields while hiking, and explore the picturesque temples and sanctuaries of the famous Machu Picchu. Available over numerous dates throughout 2014, prices start at $2,699 per person based on double occupancy. Visit www.gate1travel.com  for more information.

Europe: Regional arts, tastes and traditions are the focus of General Tours World Traveler’s seven day “Adventures Across Iceland” itinerary, during which groups no larger than 16 people explore the Akureyri Art Trail with a local artist and spend time with residents in their studios, galleries and local cafes. Additionally, while exploring the scenic yet remote northern coast, travelers will engage in authentic encounters with locals eager to share insight into their lives as fishermen, micro-brewers and farmers. Available over several departures dates March through November 2014, prices start at $3,399 per person based on double occupancy. Guests can save $50 to $200 per person when three or more friends and family travel together. For more information visit www.generaltours.com.

Australia: “Australia Uncovered” from SWAIN Tours offers a closer look at the wildlife, traditions and culture Down Under. On this 13 night voyage, available through March 31, 2014, guests help collect data on the population of wild koalas in You Yangs Park, learn about the importance of bush food to the people of central Australia from an Aboriginal host, and experience didgeridoo and firemaking demonstrations in Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Travelers also have the opportunity to see the famous Tjapukai Dance Troupe, take a scenic hot air balloon flight and eat dinner in the historic Colonial Tramcar restaurant. Prices start at $4,545 per person, based on double occupancy. Visit www.swaintours.com for additional information.

Asia: The day-to-day life of elephants and the mahouts, or trainers that take care of them, is the focus of Travel IndoChina’s “Lampang Elephant Conservation Mahout Program” in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Guests will dress in traditional mahout attire, meet the staff and learn the language used to command elephants, before being paired with a designated animal. Guests then bathe their elephant, ride it and participate in an elephant show. Available through March 2015, prices for a full day program start at $286 per person. Two and three-day itineraries are also offered. For more information visit www.travelindochina.com.

Africa: Goway Travel invites travelers to fully immerse themselves in Moroccan life with an insider look at the flavors of the country on the 11 day “Morocco Foodie Tour” itinerary, available November 1, 2013, March 20, 2014, May 1, 2014, June 26, 2014 and September 25, 2014. On this extraordinary journey, guests will visit women-cooperatives to learn about saffron, the most important spice in Moroccan cooking, taste honey at an artisanal beekeeper’s shop, tour a couscous co-op, and compare modern and traditional forms of olive oil production. The tour also includes two cooking demonstrations led by local chefs and grocery shopping in a number of regional markets. Prices from $3,013 per person, based on double occupancy. More details can be found at www.goway.com.

North America: On Trafalgar’s 15-Day “Best of the West” discovery tour, guests will marvel at the sites of the Grand Canyon with a local geologist, learn about local agriculture and try a delicious date shake at the Coachella Valley Preserve, and browse boutique shops and visit local fruit stands in the quaint village of Carmel-by-the-Sea before enjoying a home cooked meal made of locally sourced food with hosts in Monterey. Other highlights a tour of the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, home of the Academy Awards, and a visit to the beautiful red-rock landscape of Sedona. Available January 17, February 14, October 4 and November 1, 2014, prices start at $3,375 per person. Save up to $338 per person if booked and paid in full by November 26, 2013. More information is available at www.trafalgar.com.

Representing more than $10 billion in revenue, the member companies of U.S. Tour Operators Association provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow six million travelers annually unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe. Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business.

For questions and more information on USTOA, visit www.ustoa.com, call 212-599-6599, or email information@ustoa.com.

See also:

Trafalgar reengineers escorted tour to appeal to experience-seeking BabyBoomers

For more travel features, visit:

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Twitter: @TravelFeatures

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© 2013 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/eclectic-traveler-in-long-island/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures.