The Los Angeles Times Travel & Adventure Show was held at the Convention Center in downtown L.A. on March 19th & 20th. Talk about sensory overload—it was like taking a vacation around the world in just a few hours! There were roughly five hundred booths representing every corner of the globe. There were places in attendance I didn’t even know promoted tourism (Greenland or Papua New Guinea, anyone?) It was my first travel show, but certainly not my last. I plan on writing individual posts about some of the booths I visited, but here’s a wrap-up of my overall impressions.
The travel show was arranged geographically in the West Hall of the convention center, with local destinations in California (such as Ventura, Palm Springs, and Morro Bay) to the far left. The next couple rows were dedicated to the rest of the United States and Canada. In the middle was a huge station for one of the sponsors, The Automobile Club of Southern California, with several travel agents on hand to answer questions and even book vacations right then and there. All of the major regions of the world had their tourist bureaus grouped together. Asian countries such as China, Indonesia, Taiwan, Philippines, Nepal, and India were in one section. Various Caribbean hot spots such as Barbados, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, and Antigua & Barbuda were in another. South American nations like Ecuador, Brasil, Argentina, and Peru were grouped together as well. Oceania was represented by Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Tahiti, among others. Booths I visited for European destinations included the Czech Republic, Germany, and Turkey (where I traveled to last year.) There were a few countries from the Middle East in attendance, including Israel, Jordan and Egypt, and to the far right were the African destinations, mainly promoting safaris to Tanzania, Kenya, and South Africa. I met many very friendly and outgoing specialists who were eager to share why their destination should be my next vacation.
The travel show offered several fun activities too. I really enjoyed zip-lining high above the convention floor, sponsored by the Ecuador Ministry of Tourism and provided by GoZip. Also, I climbed up and rappelled down an enormous rock wall twice, which was provided by Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite. Another big highlight was taking part in a photography class taught by Mark Boster, one of the staff photographers from the LA Times. Finally, it took me a dozen tries, but I eventually lassoed a “steer” at a booth sponsored by Coyote Springs Ranch. The Israel Ministry of Tourism had a green screen set up so I posed in front of the Wailing Wall. I look forward to actually visiting the real one in Jerusalem someday. In wake of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, Japan chose not to represent itself this year. A vacant red pagoda “area of reflection” was set up in its place.
Like I said in my earlier post, there were several speakers on hand like Samantha Brown, Rick Steves, and Arthur Frommer. Unfortunately, I missed them since I had to drive up north for a wedding later that day.
Next year, it seems there will be two competing travel shows. The Los Angeles Times will hold its Travel Show at the L.A. Convention Center again from January 27th to 29th, 2012. Unicom, the organizers of this year’s Travel and Adventure show, will migrate south to the Long Beach Convention Center. Their show for 2012 will take place January 14th to 15th with new partnerships with Los Angeles magazine and NBC LA. They both look like fun—I can’t wait!