Friday, February 20

Terroir, Identity and Seduction Symposium

Saskatoon Inn – February 20 to 22, 2009

The conference aims to officially launch a collective reflection on terroir products through workshops and networking. These activities will point the way to introducing and developing collective projects related to the terroir. These projects will allow us to redefine and promote the revitalization of our rural communities as well as our entire community's sense of identity.

A wealth of conference experts in terroir development from around the world will discuss subjects such as:

Rural development initiatives

Food and culture

Marketing terroir products

Tourism and regional development

Dietetics and local products

Pow wows are on the rise as native people rediscover their roots, and Winnipeg, MB’s Manito Ahbee—A Festival for All Nations—is at the centre of it

Pow wows are on the rise as native people rediscover their roots, and Winnipeg, MB’s Manito Ahbee—A Festival for All Nations—is at the centre of it all.

This gathering is one of the biggest, drawing over 800 dancers around the continent. Anyone can join in—just note a few dos and don’ts.

It is Manito Ahbee—“where the Creator Sits,” a sacred, secret site in southern Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park. It’s also the name of the annual continental event of Turtle Island, the Aboriginal name of North America, a 10-day meeting of native minds and hearts held in late October in Winnipeg, MB, that culminates in an explosion of wildly colourful regalia, whirling dance and pounding drums—the International Competition Pow Wow.

Pow wows are sweeping North America as native people have, in recent decades, rediscovered their history and culture. And this is one of the biggest, drawing some 800 dancers from around the continent. Manito Ahbee’s even pulling in mainstream, non-Aboriginal visitors, fascinated by the dancers’ skills and energy.

The Pow Wow’s the butter on the bannock of Métis celebration, conferences, traditional crafts marketplace, and Métis and native music at venues around downtown Winnipeg, as well as at the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards.

These aren’t your grandfather’s soulful chants, though; First Nations music has evolved into an audio kaleidoscope of genres from the hip hop of KrayKree to Ed Peekeekoot’s country styling.

Even so, the Pow Wow is totally traditional, and there are rules. You don’t, as I did, lie on the floor to get a good photo angle (I was admonished gently). You don’t call dancers’ clothing “costumes”—costumes mean Halloween, and these outfits are imbued with serious symbolism.

You do get swept away by the passion of the competition dances that last well into the evening. And when they call out “intertribal dance,” you get to join in—even if you’re like me, a white gal, wearing a decidedly non-festive sweatshirt and sneakers.

Source: Canadian Tourism Commission

A streetcar named desirable

Environmentally friendly trams return to Vancouver in 2010

Was it 2009, or 1959? For a moment there it was hard to tell, as we watched an excavator erase what remained of a once-bustling Vancouver streetcar line. A half-century back, the same scene was unspooling all over the city, as diesel buses replaced an extensive network of trams, tracks and overhead wires in the name of, ah, progress.

But this present-day deconstruction project, near the entrance to Granville Island, will have a happier ending. Turns out the City of Vancouver is working with Canadian tram-builder Bombardier to bring streetcars back to the city—well, at least a tiny piece of it—for the 60 days of the 2010 Winter Games. The company supplies cool "low-floor" electrified trains to Euro-cities such as Milan and Marseille and, come next year, will run a couple of the new trams on a rebuilt 1.8-km (1.12-m) line between Granville Island and the new Canada Line Olympic Village SkyTrain rapid-transit line station.

Which is where the digger comes in. Until recently, the right-of-way in question was a decrepit and crumbling Canadian Pacific Railway branch line; in recent years, the Downtown Historic Railway ran a restored streetcar over the tracks for summer visitors. Vancouver is kicking in $8.5 million to rebuild it for Bombardier's Uber-Trams, then will hand it back to the historians after the athletes head home.

The line has been a whisper of what once was—and come next year, with newly up-to-snuff railbed, track and stations, it will prove itself a glimpse of what, inevitably, the city will be again.

Source: Canadian Tourism Commission

Canadians give travel advice to US President Barack Obama. Catch it on video!

Canadians give travel advice to US President Barack Obama. Catch it on video!

President Obama marked his first international visit to Canada Feb. 19. The CTC and Ottawa Tourism were onsite with video cameras in Ottawa, ON last weekend asking people for personalized welcome messages for the president- what he should experience in Ottawa and what he needs to know about Canada.

Source: Canadian Tourism Commission

Wednesday, February 11

Become a Canada explorer

Here is an interesting new tactic by the Canadian Tourism Commission to entice international tour operators to sell more Canada...

Become a Canada explorer

Welcome to Canada! Did you know that more people are visiting us than ever before? In fact, it's high on their list of must-see places. That's why we've developed a program for you to become an official Canada Explorer! It will only take about 15 minutes, and the more you know about Canada, the better you can sell this popular vacation destination.

Let's get started. Watch a video then start your guided tour and then take the qualifying quiz. You'll be an official Canada Explorer in no time!

Tourisme Montréal takes a chance with bloggers

Roberto Rocha writes in The Gazette that Marketing Magazine reported that Tourisme Montréal wants to hire a "small army of bloggers, videocasters and networkers to promote tourism in the city."

Specifically, they're looking for five people who will use social media to play up Montreal's main attractions for visitors: food, shopping, nightlife, culture, and the gay scene, according to Rocha.

Each "brand ambassador" will be asked to go out regularly in their field and make regular videos and blog posts. They will also be asked to interact with visitors on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Yahoo Answers.

The most startling job requirement, Rocha goes on, "is carrying a cell phone to take calls from potential tourists.

This will be a a 10-month part-time job from March to December. Rocha says they are looking for people who are "curious, outgoing, have large network in their assigned area, the ability to talk in front of a camera, and can work on deadlines."

"They're saying little else about the campaign until it launches officially. But you can tell already this is a pretty gutsy move from the tourism body, which is trying to save money in anticipation of a soft tourism season," Rocha concludes.

Wednesday, February 4

Endangered sites see boom in 'tourism of doom'

French agency AFP reports that tracking endangered wildlife in politically troubled, impoverished Zimbabwe might not seem the ideal holiday spot but it's in hot demand in the travel industry's latest niche market -- "tourism of doom".

The term was coined by sector specialists for the growing number of travellers flocking to far-flung corners of the planet to see endangered natural wonders before they disappear.

Ken Shapiro, the editor of TravelAge West, a magazine for travel agents, said the destinations can be melting glaciers, shrinking tropical rain forests or other places these travellers believe will be destroyed in a generation due to climate change, overbuilding or other threats to the environment.

"People are travelling to places because they really are convinced that it is going to change and they want to see it before that change happens," he told AFP, saying the trend was first spotted about two years ago.

"We see that a lot now, it has actually become much more mainstream."

Shapiro said travel agents report that clients are increasingly requesting trips to see the melting glaciers of the Antarctic, the threatened coral of Australia's Great Barrier Reef or Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro before it loses its ice cap.

Ross Kennedy, the president of Africa Albida Tourism which took part in the five-day FITUR travel fair that wrapped up on Sunday in Madrid, says the trend towards environmental awareness in travel is boosting business.

"The changing environment that the world is facing does have some relevancy and some people think: 'We have to get this done'," he said.

This logic is partly responsible for a rise in the number of foreign visitors to Africa Albida's safari lodges in Zimbabwe, where the firm operates properties near Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world. The site is well suited as a starting point for safaris along the Zambezi River on Zimbabwe's northern border to see endangered wildlife.

Despite concerns over political unrest, staggering inflation, shortages and a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, the company posted a four percent rise in visitors in 2008, Kennedy said.

The US market -- Africa Albida Tourism's main source of overseas guests -- accounted for 4,035 room stays at its properties last year, a nearly three-fold increase over 2004, he added.

The popularity of visits to the melting glaciers in the Antarctic has also soared so much that cruises must now be reserved well in advance, Shapiro said.

According to the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators, slightly more than 46,000 tourists visited the continent during the 2007-08 tourist season -- more than double the number five seasons ago.

About a third came from the United States while the second largest contingent -- one in six visitors -- travelled from Britain, according to data posted on the body's website.

Juan Kratzmaier, a Barcelona-based Argentinian who has accompanied tourists on more than 30 visits to the southernmost continent, said cruise ship operators have increased the number of their trips to Antarctica in response to the demand."

Antarctica blows your mind with its vastness, its isolation, its pureness and its unique wildlife of countless penguins, seals, birds and whales," the 38-year-old said.

The safaris and Antarctic cruises are not for everyone, however, with price tags that can up to thousands of dollars per person."

Tourism of doom" is even bringing travellers to remote corners like the town of Churchill in northern Canada, the so-called "Polar Bear Capital of the World", in significant numbers for the first time ever, said Shapiro.

Scores of tour operators have sprung up in recent years in the town to guide visitors on trips to view polar bears -- now considered endangered because of shrinking sea ice -- in the wild from the safety of specially modified buses known as "tundra buggies".

"The only reason why Churchill is on the tourist map is because of polar bears," said Shapiro.

WestJet, Air France and KLM Announce Signing of Memorandum of Understanding

Some very good news for travellers today. WestJet, Air France and KLM today announced they have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a new commercial relationship between the three airlines.

"This memorandum of understanding allows the airlines to begin working on building a code-sharing agreement in late 2009 or early 2010. Prior to this, the carriers will contemplate additional opportunities including an interline agreement, namely acceptance of each other's e-tickets, and through check-in of baggage and passengers, technology permitting. Possibilities for future frequent flyer program cooperation will be explored as well.

A code-sharing agreement would involve the Canadian gateways of Calgary, Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver where guests of the three airlines would connect with each other's networks.

This memorandum of understanding is another step in WestJet's strategy to increase connectivity, bringing additional travellers to its network as well as offering more access for its guests to new destinations."