Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Travel Expo, Presses "Think Adventure"

The Adventures in Travel Expo had its NYC run at the Unconvention Center at Pier 94, January 12 -13, 2008. It was an interesting way to pass a winter weekend. In the midst of chilly harbor winds and threats of snow fall, visitors dream of vacations in warmer climes. Isn't that the usual for New Yorkers--think about snow in the summer and palm trees in the winter?

The exhibitors were set up in the usual rows. If you're not certain of your destination or the kind of experience sought, it may at first seem daunting. Everyone is welcoming and ready to describe their brand of "moments that really do last a lifetime." Each day, bands featuring the musical flavors of the Earth's regions perform and beg for you to dance. Saturday, travel raconteur Arthur Frommer held court on fantastic budget trips and tips. Hands on adventure activities like scuba diving and rock climbing were enjoyed by many.

Adventures in Travel Expo's thrust was opening travelers--families, groups, and singles--to experiencing the world beyond the conventional cruise or all inclusive hotel experience. Rather, think spa & wellness, volunteer activity, ecotouring, cultural immersion, biking or safari. Ashish Sanghrajka of Big Five Tours and Expedition presented "How to Plan the Perfect Journey to Africa and Beyond." His knowledge base is solidly in East Africa's bush and plains. A Kenyan national, Ashish coaxed the crowd to begin travel plans by simply dreaming. Write the dreams down or as he said, "List what you want to do, even if it's exhaustive." Dream first and then think about your budget. He believes that the vacation should be "an amazing life-changing experience." He calmed listeners' concerns about political unrest in Kenya by explaining that "roads, parks and stores were open." Elections tended to be dramatic in the developing world.

While it was interesting to think of safari routes in terms of "animals following the rains," it was noticeable that meeting people and visiting cities weren't promoted. In fact, Ashish believes only South Africa's tourism infrastructure can support that type of travel experience. Has he visited Lome, Togo, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, Dakar in Senegal or Casablanca in Morocco? Does he know Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, is the home of the biennial international film festival called FESPACO? Fortunately, African destinations were promoted by such groups as CC Africa, Earthwatch Institute, Ethiopia Journeys, Sylvia's Children and Africa Travel Associations.

In sum, the exposition evenly covered all parts of the globe and had people think about travel and adventure in a different way. Visitors considered budget levels and risk levels. Visitors considered climates, helping others or indulging their passions. The 2008 Directory is a keeper. If you missed the New York event, there's Chicago, Long Beach and Washington DC events to look forward to. To get the dates for these shows visit http://www.adventureexpo.com/.

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