In the January 2016 Issue
Paris Attacks Dim Festival of Lights, But Lyon Still Shines with Potential
by Anna Gawel
After the Islamic State rampage that killed 130 people and injured over 350 in Paris on Nov. 13, the famed City of Lights was shrouded in darkness. That darkness also descended over France's third-largest city, Lyon, which had to cancel its popular Festival of Lights less than a month after the carnage.
Reeling from the worst attack on France's soil since World War II, Lyon nevertheless represented a microcosm of the country's resilience as it transformed its annual light show extravaganza into a more subdued but no less poignant tribute to the victims of the Paris massacre. Instead of welcoming an estimated 3 million people to gather in public spaces, which would have been a security nightmare in the wake of the attacks, city officials distributed and sold 200,000 candles that residents lit in windows across Lyon on Dec. 8 as part of an illuminating act of defiance against terrorism. Proceeds from the sales go to the families of the Paris victims as well as to the children's charity Rêves.
Several iconic buildings and the historic Fourvière Hill that overlooks the city were still lit up, and one of the original installations went ahead as planned but was re-imagined as an homage to the terrorist attack victims, whose names were projected along the quay of the Saône River as part of the fresco "Regards" by Daniel Knipper.
In the July 2015 Issue
U.S. Airlines Cry Foul as Cash-Rich Gulf Carriers Grab More Business
by Larry Luxner
Several months ago, a clever 60-second radio spot began airing on WTOP, Washington's all-news FM station. It starts with a female announcer warning: "Ladies and gentlemen, please proceed to Gate 17. American jobs now departing for Dubai."
The advertisement — some would say scare tactic — goes on to describe how the oil-rich states of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have subsidized their national air carriers to the tune of $42 billion since 2004, giving them an unfair edge and threatening the livelihoods of thousands of U.S. airline employees in the process.
Americans for Fair Skies, which paid for the radio spots, has a similar ad campaign running in newspapers, TV and online. But the Gulf carriers are hitting back with their own PR blitz, one of which is called "Keep the Skies Open." They argue that the perennially troubled American carriers are simply being out-competed, accusing them of protectionism. In addition to offering customers superior service, Gulf carriers say they have positioned themselves to better serve the burgeoning market of travelers from emerging economies. They also point out that they contribute significant jobs and money to the American economy — and major U.S. corporations like Boeing back up their claims.
In the April 2015 Issue
Travel & Adventure Show Offers Mini-Getaway Packed with Ideas
by Kate Oczypok
With peak travel season fast approaching, many winter-weary Washingtonians are counting down the days until the coveted summer slowdown. Just in time, the Travel & Adventure Show came to town to offer them a respite from the cold — and a place to dream about their next escape.
Now in its 11th year, the multicity show gives travel lovers ideas and tips for their upcoming vacations — whether it's Alaska, India or New Zealand — along with cultural performances, tastings and other hands-on activities. It also offers an all-star lineup of experts such as Rick Steves and Samantha Brown, and serves as a convenient one-stop shop to meet with companies that can help trip planners save time and money. Held March 7 and 8, the D.C. leg of the show attracted hundreds of people to the Washington Convention Center.
John Golicz, founder and CEO of the Travel & Adventure Show, introduced a new feature this year, the Savvy Traveler Theater. Visitors could attend seminars like "How to Fix Your Trip When it Breaks" and "Travel Skills, Tips and Tricks: Know Before You Go." Journalist and Travelchannel.com host Ryan Van Duzer encouraged attendees to "Get Off the Couch and Get Out There!"
In the October 2014 Issue
Falling into D.C.
City Offers Rich Bounty of Seasonal Sights, Activities
by Stephanie Kanowitz
Fall is many Washingtonians' favorite season. It could be simply that it has the good fortune of bringing milder temperatures following the oppressive heat of a D.C. summer, but autumn also kicks off the holiday season, gorgeous fall foliage and a bounty of festivals.
The Washington metro area offers plenty of opportunities for residents and visitors to take advantage of fall. There's apple picking and pumpkin patches for families, hiking among the colorful leaves for adventurers and wine tastings for those seeking a more leisurely excursion. We asked the concierges at four popular area hotels for their top fall picks. Here's what they said:
In the April 2014 Issue
Cherry Blossoms Are Welcome Sight For Winter-Weary Washingtonians
by Anna Gawel
Washington, D.C., is fertile ground for international culture, but in the spring, one country's influence rises above the rest. Japan's fruitful gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the United States in 1912 has sparked more than a century of cultural goodwill and critical tourist dollars for the city.
This year's National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 20 to April 13, with dozens of events celebrating the cherry blossoms that line the Tidal Basin. (Experts predict the trees will be in peak bloom between April 8 and 12.)
The spectacular burst of pink is certainly pretty to look at, but the blossoms are also big business for the area's hotels, which roll out a slew of special packages, discounts and themed offerings to capitalize on the springtime extravaganza.
In the January 2014 Issue
The Good Life
Luxury Still Abounds in Italy, But So Do Simplicity, Spirituality
by Kathy Kemper
The year 2013 marked the "Anno della Cultura Italiana," a massive celebration of Italian culture throughout the United States. While hundreds of events were held in more than a dozen American cities to fête the occasion, my family and I believed there was no better way to honor the U.S.-Italian friendship than to travel to Italy. We wanted to experience the country's essence, learn about its history, absorb its cultural heritage, and feel its soul.
And we wanted to go beyond the average tourist experience, just as "2013: The Year of Italian Culture in the United States" sought to present a deeper understanding of the country. That's why the nationwide showcase focused not only on the obvious — Italy's storied cultural achievements — but also on its legacy of innovation, discovery and research, including the leading scientists, engineers and economists who are poised to leave their mark on 21st-century civilization. Likewise, we set out to explore the country's present-day dynamism and how historic Italy is connected to modern Italy.
In the October 2013 Issue
Neat Little Package
Airlines Offer One-Stop Shop To Simplify Vacation Planning
by Stephanie Kanowitz
Leisure travel is, by its name, supposed to be leisurely. But planning a vacation can be anything but. Even after you've selected the destination, you still have to find a hotel, arrange tours and book transportation.
Airlines have long offered travel packages in an effort to take some out of the planning out of vacation planning. Extremely popular about 20 years ago but eclipsed by Expedia and other online services, they still offer plentiful options and are usually an effortless, safe bet, especially for novice travelers. Third-party contractors usually oversee the packages department, but the goal is universal: to provide a one-stop shop for popular destinations.
In the April 2013 Issue
Move Over Paris
A Quick Jaunt from Washington, Montreal Has Francophone Flair
by David Tobenkin
Montreal is a bit of France without crossing the Atlantic. The commercial and cultural capital of the Canadian province of Quebec, bounded by the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers, the city lies just 40 miles north of the U.S.-Canadian border and a one-hour flight from Washington, D.C.
Average temperatures in the winter dip down to 22 degrees Fahrenheit, but in the spring and summertime, they range from a pleasant 65 degrees to 79 degrees, offering a temperate escape from Washington's unpredictable spring and typically sweltering summer.
What awaits visitors is remarkable cuisine and couture, style, history and a francophone city where nearly everyone still speaks English — and, unlike Paris, doesn't resent speaking it to help tourists.
If not a world capital in the league of Paris, Montreal has its own distinct advantages. Perhaps, most important, one won't feel daunted by seeing all of the city's A-list sights, a real dilemma for those visiting the City of Lights for brief jaunts. Everyone agrees on the top 10 to 15 tourist sights in Montreal and there is no Louvre-like blockbuster among them.
In the January 2013 Issue
Visiting Cradle of Mankind Gives Birth to Newfound Respect
by Kathy Kemper
Last summer, my lifelong pursuit of responsible world citizenship continued with a family trip to one of the cradles of mankind: Southern Africa.
Gaining a better understanding of the world and an appreciation for different cultures starts with leaving your comfort zone — which is why, every two years, we head overseas for six weeks of adventure travel, alternating between camps and castles, between roughing it and luxuriating in five-star hotels.
We started nearly 10 years ago in 2002 when our daughters Kelsey and Christina were 10 and 12 with a trip to England, Ireland and Belgium. In 2004, we trekked to South America; in 2006, India; in 2008, China and Southeast Asia; and in 2010, Egypt and the Middle East. This year, we decided to go to Botswana, South Africa and Zambia.
In the October 2012 Issue
Four Seasons Leads Renaissance of Baltimore's Harbor East District
by Larry Luxner
BALTIMORE — A Japanese restaurant that has the East Coast's largest selection of sake. A 10,200-square-foot spa featuring 11 treatment rooms offering everything from salt scrubs to aromatherapy massage. And a commanding view of the Inner Harbor from Baltimore's most spectacular infinity pool.
It's almost enough to convince visitors they're not really in Charm City at all.
But then again, Baltimore — Maryland's largest city — has changed dramatically in the last few decades, evolving from a gritty, blue-collar manufacturing hub into a revitalized waterfront destination, anchored by the bustling Harborplace retail complex that opened in 1980.
But Baltimore is taking that transformation up another notch, adding a level of luxury and sophistication not often associated with a city that's still proudly rough around the edges — and the gleaming new Four Seasons Hotel is a cornerstone of those high-end ambitions.
In the July 2012 Issue
Campaigns Highlight Economic Importance of Tourism to U.S.
by Stephanie Kanowitz
The word "travel" conjures up different meanings for different people. For some, it's associated with luxurious escapes to exotic new locales. For others, it's a part of everyday business operations. But for a huge percentage of U.S. workers — and the cities in which they live — the travel industry is a source of income.
"For every 33 visitors we welcome to the United States, that creates one American job," said Blain Rethmeier, senior vice president for public affairs and government relations at the U.S. Travel Association, a national nonprofit with 1,200-plus members that works to increase travel to and within the country. "It's really taking it from that fun and frivolous notion and putting some solid research and some economic relevance behind what the travel industry actually provides everyday Americans."
EU Carbon Tax Scheme Riles Up U.S. Airlines
by Suzanne Kurtz
Tensions are continuing to escalate between the European Union and countries around the globe as the EU maintains its implementation of the Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), which went into effect for airlines on January 1 of this year.
The ETS is the EU's attempt to combat climate change through the regulation of aviation greenhouse gases, assigning a carbon emissions tax on non-EU airlines flying into and out of its member states. The EU has said that its goal is for airlines to cut their emissions from their 2006 levels by 3 percent by 2013 and 5 percent by 2020. Two percent of all global man-made carbon emissions are attributed to aviation.
In the January 2012 Issue
Escape the Cold With D.C.'s Season-Round Oases
by David Tobenkin
Ah, the depths of a Washington winter. The skies are blue and one could almost, almost forget the icy hand of Old Man Winter. That is until one steps outside, inhales a frosty breath, and looks around to see nary a leaf on the forlorn trees.
Of course, not everyone can escape the nation's capital for warmer climes. So wouldn't it be nice to stay in Washington in a place where one could be outside, not cooped up, yet not subjected to the rigors of the season? A sort of in-city vacation from winter. Is such a combination possible?
Fortunately, there are two Washington locations that combine outdoor-indoor beauty, are jam-packed with other sensory and intellectual payoffs, are located near other tourism icons, and, better yet, are absolutely free.
In the October 2011 Issue
Convention Business Mixed, But Overall Tourism Outlook for D.C. Looks Bright
by Martin Austermuhle
As the seat of the U.S. government and heart of American democracy, Washington, D.C., is a city that relies heavily on the tourism industry — so much so that visitors regularly generate more than half of the city's annual sales taxes.
So it should come as something of a relief to city officials, especially after a year in which they were forced to close a $322 million budget gap, that the $5 billion tourism industry grew strongly in 2010 and is expected to close out 2011 on a high note. Regardless, a weaker forecast for conventions means the city will have to continue drawing in leisure travelers, with more and more of them coming from abroad, while picking up the convention pace in the coming years.
"In 2012 we won't realize as many citywide [conventions] as we did in 2011, however we're optimistic as we're going to focus our efforts and initiatives on going after the domestic market and the international visitors market," said Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC, the city's tourism marketing agency.
Ridership Rises at Area Airports, But Turbulence May Lie Ahead
by Lois Kapila
Photo: Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
For the first time since 2007, all Washington area airports saw a growth in ridership in 2010, a reflection of the area's general economic health and of specific gains at its three major airports. But this year, rising oil prices may make for a bumpier ride.
Reagan National in D.C. served 18.1 million passengers in 2010, a 3.1 percent increase over 2009, while Washington Dulles International in Virginia served 23.7 million passengers in 2010, a 2.3 percent increase on 2009 figures.
But the biggest jump was at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport (BWI) in Maryland, one of only two major U.S. airports to show growth in 2009. In 2010, BWI set an annual passenger record, with 21.9 millions riders — a 4.7 percent increase on the previous year.
Driving the growth, according to BWI spokesman Jonathan Dean, is "the strength of the region. The Washington-Baltimore region remains attractive to airlines due to the strength and growth in this market."