There’s no place like New York City, a metropolis built on the backs of giant dreams. Every nationality and social class imaginable lives in close proximity in Manhattan, creating a bustling and intense dynamic. And where on Earth do you find a better pastrami sandwich? So when we had the opportunity to attend America’s largest travel trade show, The New York Times Travel Show, it was a wonderful opportunity to re-visit one of the world’s greatest cities for the first time in several years.
We’ve previously attended World Travel Market in London, which is the world’s largest travel trade show in the English language. By comparison, The New York Times Travel Show is significantly smaller, but it still draws an attendance of over 20,000 people, ranging from trade professionals, media and travelers. There were over 500 exhibition booths, 150 travel industry speakers, 100 cultural presentations and over 600 travel media in attendance (that included both Bell and I). The event was held at the Javits Center in Midtown Manhattan, near the Lincoln Tunnel.
I attended a press conference held by Atlantic City, which has historically been a favorite stomping ground of New Yorkers looking to gamble. Because of increased gaming competition and the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Atlantic City’s economy has been hit hard over the last few years and several big casinos have closed down. This has forced the city to reinvent itself as a more family friendly destination, where in addition to casinos, there’s lots of festivals, attractions and great restaurants to enjoy. A local businessman said he expected the negative stories about Atlantic City to continue but requested from the press that “for every one negative story you write on Atlantic City, write two positive stories.” The Miss America Pageant is returning to Atlantic City on an annual basis, so Miss America herself, Kira Kazantsev spoke on behalf of the city and posed for photos with attending press afterwards.
In terms of travel stalls, highlights included Sea World’s exhibition that featured penguins, an owl and a lemur (there wasn’t enough room for an orka) and on Saturday, the Dominican Republic had someone hand rolling cigars to give away to anyone willing to queue for around 15 minutes. It’s always appreciated when stalls do something to stand out from the crowd. Given the amount of competition in the travel world, it was disappointing that more vendors did not give out more than pens, notepads, tote bags, candy or chocolate. The small things are appreciated, but offering something like a hand rolled cigar really draws attention, as does showcasing people in costume, like South Korea did.
We throughly enjoyed conversations with representatives from some tourism boards and companies. With the Greek tourism board, we spoke to Dimy who informed us that she’s been living in the Upper East Side of Manhattan for 39 years. She praised the life she’s led in New York because “had I emigrated to a country like Switzerland, I would have always been considered an immigrant, but in New York, nobody cares.” Conversations that dives deeper into the human experience, are a highlight of events like these, in our opinion.
Would we return to the New York Times Travel Show? Yes. And we’ll most likely re-visit New York from Boston in the same fashion we traveled, via the largest growing sector of American travel- private bus. The New York Times Travel Show was open to the general public for a cost of $17 for the weekend or $35 pre-booked for the trade only event on Friday ($45 at the door).