They are the CLIO awards of the hospitality, travel and tourism industry – a gigantic segment of the US economy and culture which people don’t readily recognize as being so integral to everyday life, so fundamental to local economies and communities. But these are the advertising, public relations and digital marketing campaigns that excite, engage, inform and ultimately spur millions of us to venture out and experience new places, people and activities. Travel bolster local, state and national economies, creates an economic underpinning that sustains heritage, culture and the environment, while travelers are themselves enriched, often with life-enhancing, life-changing experiences; they become ambassadors, opening lines of communication and understanding between people that break down the barriers that promote conflict. And going back to the age of Marco Polo, travelers help the free exchange and spread of ideas and innovations.
The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) hosted its 61st annual Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis, celebrating innovators in hospitality advertising, digital marketing, and public relations before more than 800 industry professionals. A highlight was a look back at the organization’s 90 year-history in promoting standards for hospitality and innovations in marketing campaigns that inspire travel.
“HSMAI applauds this evening’s winners for their ingenuity and hard work,” said Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHA, president and CEO of HSMAI. He added, “Adrian Awards winners spark innovation throughout the entire hospitality industry.”
Established in 1956, the Adrian Awards recognize marketing achievements in hospitality across multiple segments of the industry. Award winners are selected from more than 1,200 entries by senior industry and media experts, for four main entry divisions: advertising, digital marketing, public relations, and—newly added—integrated marketing. Gold Award winners across these categories were recognized during the Adrian Awards Dinner Reception, which was co-sponsored by HSMAI, Google, and TravelClick. Platinum winners were selected from exceptional Gold Award winners.
The judges speak of authenticity, engagement, blurring of lines among media, emotionality, innovation and creativity, visual beauty, quality of content, storytelling, and most significantly measureable results in distinguishing the winners.
The stakes are huge: these advertising, marketing and public relations campaigns are a key part of the travel and tourism industry that generates $2.3 trillion in economic output (2.7% of the nation’s GDP) from domestic and international visitors. Travel expenditures support 15.3 million American jobs (8 million directly); account for $221.7 billion in wages, and generate $141.5 billion in tax revenues to federal, state and local governments, levels that increased significantly over the past decade, and have been a significant factor lifting the nation out of the Great Recession to “full” employment. International visitors to the United States in 2016 generated $212.3 billion, 9.5% of exports, but were forecast to fall by 0.6% in 2017, largely due to the political climate, travel ban, and concern over gun violence (which has accounted for several countries posting travel warnings). These are the kind of issues that the travel marketers address.
Travel and tourism is vital globally: Travel & Tourism generated $7.6 trillion (10.2% of global GDP) and 292 million jobs in 2016, equivalent to 1 in 10 jobs in the global economy. The sector accounted for 6.6% of total global exports and almost 30% of total global service exports. Travel and tourism doesn’t just improve lives, but is critical to livelihoods.
The United Nations has designated 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. “As one of the world’s largest economic sectors, Travel & Tourism creates jobs, drives exports, and generates prosperity across the world. The International Year provides an enormous opportunity to further showcase the tremendous economic, social, cultural, environmental, and heritage value that the sector can bring.”
The winner of the eighth annual Leader in Sustainable Tourism Award, presented by HSMAI and National Geographic Traveler, was Terranea Resort.
Here are the award winners:
Best of Show Awards, the pinnacle of the evening, were presented to Platinum Award winners from three divisions—advertising, digital marketing, and public relations—as follows:
(Tie) Advertising “Best of Show” – Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism and its agency, Target: “Off the Beaten Path” Geo-Targeted Campaign
(Tie) Advertising “Best of Show” – Marriott International and its agency, GREY New York: “You Are Here” Campaign
Digital Marketing “Best of Show” – Amelia Island and its agency, Paradise Advertising and Marketing: “Destination Dysfunction” Video
Public Relations “Best of Show” – Mexico City Tourism Board and its agency, Weber Shandwick: “From Humble to Haute: Changing Perceptions of Mexico City”
Platinum Award winners in the advertising, digital marketing, public relations, and integrated marketing divisions are:
Advertising Platinum Winners:
Space Florida; Paradise Advertising and Marketing
VisitBritain; Expedia Media Solutions
Maine Office of Tourism; BVK
NewFoundland and Labrador Tourism; TargetMarriott International; GREY New York
Digital Marketing Platinum Winners:
Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown; Connelly Partners
Best Western Hotels & Resorts; Ideas Collide
Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism; Target
Amelia Island; Paradise Advertising and Marketing
Orlando Magic; Net Conversion
Aruba Tourism Authority; Concept Farm
Public Relations Platinum Winners
Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau; Finn Partners
Singita; Imagine Communications
Marriott Hotels; Catalyst PR
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Finger Lakes Tourism Promotion Agency; Quinn
Xanterra Parks & Resorts/Grand Canyon National Park Lodges; Percepture
Mexico City Tourism Board; Weber Shandwick
Visit Salt Lake
Integrated Marketing Platinum Winner
Hilton Hotels + Resorts
Gold Award winners’ submissions were showcased on digital displays at the Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and featured during the Gala stage presentations. “Right in line with this year’s theme, ‘be a travel marketing superhero,’ the Adrian Award-winning campaigns demonstrated boldness, resolve, and charisma,” said Fran Brasseux, HSMAI Executive Vice President.
Selected by a panel of senior industry executives, The HSMAI Top 25: Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales, Marketing, Revenue Optimization for 2017 were honored by HSMAI in a reception co-hosted by Questex Hospitality + Travel and also recognized on stage during the Gala.
Additionally, the distinguished careers of two industry leaders were celebrated with HSMAI Lifetime Achievement awards. Edwin “Ed” Fuller, president, Laguna Strategic Advisors, was honored with the 2017 Albert E. Koehl Award and Terence “Terry” Gallagher, president, Lou Hammond Group, New York, was honored with the 2017 Winthrop W. Grice Award for Public Relations.
“I’d like to thank HSMAI for giving me an honor that I wouldn’t have imagined possible more than 30 years ago when I began my own professional career,” said Gallagher, at the awards ceremony. “I’ve been blessed to be in what I feel is the greatest industry and it’s because of some wonderful people who taught me so much along the way.”
After expressing gratitude for his award, Koehl Award recipient Ed Fuller shared some advice to his industry colleagues in attendance, “Remember to work on developing your people and investing in the people you are growing.”
The Pioneer in Visual Storytelling Award, presented by HSMAI and Libris by PhotoShelter, went to Aruba Tourism Authority and its agency, Concept Farm.
Selected as one of the Top 100 Events in New York by BizBash, this year’s superhero-themed Adrian Awards incorporated eye-catching, comic book-inspired imagery and numerous other superhero references, which set an upbeat, playful tone for the evening.
The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) is committed to growing business for hotels and their partners, and is the industry’s leading advocate for intelligent, sustainable hotel revenue growth. The association provides hotel professionals and their partners with tools, insights, and expertise to fuel sales, inspire marketing, and optimize revenue through programs such as HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference, Adrian Awards, and Revenue Optimization Conference. Founded in 1927 and celebrating 90 years in 2017, HSMAI is a membership organization comprising more than 5,000 members worldwide, with 40 chapters in the Americas Region.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy are tethered together in peoples’ minds, and not only because they both were assassinated within two months of each other in that fateful year of 1968. A new, remarkable exhibit that has just opened at the New-York Historical Society commemorates the 50th anniversary of those events, examines their conjoined legacy and makes some interesting discoveries: their lives had a kind of parallel trajectory, yet, they consciously steered separate courses, intersecting finally in death.
On view through May 20, 2018, Rebel Spirits: Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. showcases 61 photographs and 30 documents and artifacts that reveal the relationship between these historic figures. The exhibit is based in part on The Promise and the Dream, written by Vanity Fair contributing editor and New York Times writer David Margolick and produced by Lawrence Schiller for National Geographic Publishers. Schiller, a photojournalist who covered many of the significant events throughout the 1960s, conceived of the project and collected 21,000 photographs, sifting them down to 3,000, then 2,000, and ultimately, over the course of just three days, laid out the photographs that are presented much like a 20-page photo essay in Life Magazine, where Schiller worked, would have produced.
But in the course of gathering that material, an essential question arose: why were there so few photos of King and Kennedy together? The exhibit has just one where the two men were at the same event, with then-Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Another instance where they would have been together was when King testified to a Senate Committee which included Robert Kennedy, in which he stated that the millions of dollars that were being sent to support the war in Vietnam should better be spent to revitalize America’s ghettoes (a photo is taken from behind King). Significantly, while Kennedy supported the idea of spending more in cities, he was forced for political reasons (like the fact that his brother, as President, dramatically escalated America’s role in Vietnam) to disassociate himself from King’s anti-Vietnam stance.
Margolick, who researched and wrote the book in a mere seven months time, started off with no pre-conceived notion, but wanted to come up with some original construct about these two lions of American history.
Indeed, if news is the first draft of history, books provide the room for reflection and context.
The big idea of the book and the exhibit is that “Robert Kennedy was a political person and Martin Luther King Jr. a spiritual person; they respected one another but there was a limit how closely they could ally,” Margolick said at the press opening of the exhibit.
The two men had reason to be wary of one another.
Robert Kennedy was at his core a politician from a political family; on top of that, his brother, as president, had made key decisions including significantly involving the US in war in Vietnam, and was skittish about making civil rights a key focus of his administration; as JFK’s Attorney General, Robert Kennedy had signed off on J. Edgar Hoover’s request to surveil King, whom Hoover was convinced was a Communist. But Kennedy also sent US Marshals to force school integration.
King, for his part, was a spiritual man for whom civil rights was not merely a political issue but a matter of everyday survival for millions of people who could be brutalized without repercussion under a Jim Crow regimen.
“They were initially wary of each other,” Margolick said. “There was an enormous chasm which gradually shrank, but did not entirely disappear.”
“RFK felt MLK a liability, he couldn’t get close.” There was that special night, when Robert Kennedy, who made a concerted effort to embed himself into black communities when he realized he did not have more than a superficial understanding of issues, was in “black” Indianapolis for a campaign speech and gets notice that King has just been killed, and instead of rushing away, he spoke compassionately to the crowd. “That was a special night. Death was the only time Kennedy actually embraced [the idea] of King. Kennedy was dead two months later. There was no time to carry torch of MLK.
“But even in limited time, Kennedy was reluctant to embrace King. The Kennedys were politicians King was a spiritual man. Kennedy considers the political implications of everything. Part of the purpose of this book is to examine and correct the revisionist idea that were together – really was there was always space between them.”
They also came from completely different worlds: Kennedy chose to take up the fight; the fight chose King.
Over the course of researching the book, Margolick said, “my point of view was constantly evolving. I wanted it to be as original as it could. I looked at newspapers no one had; primary documents not examined before. I came to realize the most precious thing was to talk to dwindling supply of people who knew both men – very few knew both: Andrew Young, William Vanden Heuval and some behind scenes intermediaries.
Margolick realized that an excellent source would be the photographers who photographed both – including Harry Benson, Steve Shapiro – who could even describe how differently they interacted with crowds.
“Both men had a sense of their mortality – they knew they were doomed.” One of the photographers, he thinks it was Harry Benson, said that when King was in a crowd, he would look it over carefully, mindful of his safety. He never stayed in one place longer than he had to.”
But, he adds, “Robert Kennedy didn’t care. He had a premonition of death but approached it differently. He told his security force he didn’t want precautions. There were reporters who never left RFK’s side because they expected he would be assassinated and wanted to be there when it happened.”
Lawrence Schiller, who organized the project and curated the exhibit, was one of those photographers who helped document history beginning in the 1960s. He was assigned to Robert Kennedy and followed him for the last 40 days of his life. Schiller was at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles the night that Robert Kennedy delivered his last speech, tried to hurry out by going through the kitchen, where he was met by Sirhan Sirhan who shot him dead. (The portrait that opens the exhibit was taken by Schiller on board Kennedy’s plane en route to California just days before the speech.)
He was just 26 years old working as a photojournalist on a fateful day in 1963 when he was summoned from Los Angeles to Dallas after President John F. Kennedy was shot. He was in the police station when, as it happened, the police were booking Lee Harvey Oswald.
“The elevator opened to reveal Oswald, who was only 24 years old. It shocked me that evil could be in such a person – a kid my age had caused this tragedy.”
Schiller, who has several photos in the exhibit, called upon many of the photographers he knew who are represented, but there are many which had not been published before.
The exhibit is laid out chronologically for the most part, but in some cases “emotionally chronologically”, as when a portrait of Robert Kennedy, photographed on Feb. 26, 1962, with a movie slate, is juxtaposed next to a police mug shot of King from Feb. 22, 1956, upon which someone had scrawled “DEAD 4-4-68”; and in a case with artifacts, the Time Magazine editions with each on the cover, is displayed. ”King’s ‘Man of the Year’ drove people crazy,” Schiller remarks.
Asked which photo was the most impactful, Schiller points to one of a man with a broom, sweeping the blood from outside King’s hotel room in Memphis, a photo which he said had never been published; another shows the hotel room. Schiller says that people came in and collected vials of blood to keep as a memento.
The exhibit starts with Rosa Parks and ends in a field after Kennedy’s assassination, where people are holding a sign, “So long Bobby.” Several of the photos don’t feature King or Kennedy at all, but provide context: the KKK, US Marshals, Freedom Riders, the march after Medgar Evers was assassinated in June 1963, just five months before JFK was assassinated, in eerie similarity to the one-two King-Kennedy assassinations.
There is great intimacy of the experience – the photos, which were printed all at the same time in the same lab from negatives and then scanned – are 8 x 10 and smaller, the room is compact, so you are close to the images, can easily read the captions and notes.
“The insight we came to early on emerged from the question: Why were there not more photos of the two together?” Margolick said. “The book tries to fill the gap, why there were no more photos of the two together. They kept apart. We are documenting, explaining the absence of something.”
One notable absence is a still photo of Robert F. Kennedy addressing a black audience in Indianapolis the night that King was killed, which in itself, says a lot.
“No one knew how important that speech by Kennedy would be, the night MLK was killed,” Margolick said. “The event that became so important was so scantily covered, there were just two still photographers there from local papers. It was only a 6-7 minute speech, but there is no film of the entire speech.” But it was at that point that Kennedy most fulsomely embraced King. (A portion of the video is displayed.) There’s a monument in Indianapolis commemorating the event.
Born Worlds Apart
Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) and Robert F. Kennedy (November 20, 1925 –June 6, 1968) were born worlds apart—culturally, geographically, racially, financially, and politically—but by the time they were killed within months of each another in 1968, their worlds had come together. As their concerns expanded beyond civil rights (King) and organized crime (Kennedy), their ties deepened to encompass shared interests in supporting the poor and opposing the war in Vietnam. This unprecedented exhibition explores the overlapping paths of their lives through images taken by some of the most renowned photojournalists of the era, including Bob Adelman, Danny Lyon, Henri Dauman, Jacques Lowe, Spider Martin, Steve Schapiro, Lawrence Schiller, and Paul Schutzer, alongside original correspondence, publications, and ephemera.
“The year 1968 rocked the nation in many ways, but it would be difficult to point to anything that shocked and sickened Americans more that year than the senseless and tragic deaths of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “Fifty years later, the legacies of Kennedy and King still reverberate. This timely exhibition underscores the two men’s lasting impact on our nation while drawing attention to the ways in which their lives intersected. ”
Exhibition highlights include images of King and his son looking at the charred remains of a cross the Ku Klux Klan burned outside his Atlanta home in 1960, King’s mug shot after being indicted for the 1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Kennedy being swarmed by an adoring crowd during his 1968 presidential campaign. Also on view are posters reading “Honor King: End Racism!” and “I Am a Man” that were carried in a Memphis march led by widow Coretta Scott King and her children on April 8, 1968, as well as a black and white “Kennedy/King” button worn by a New Yorker in memory of the two slain leaders.
An adjunct display showcases the bronze sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr.―one of five existing casts created by Harlem Renaissance artist Charles Alston (1907– 1997), on loan from the Community Church of New York. Rebel Spirits is based in part on The Promise and the Dream, written by David Margolick and produced by Lawrence Schiller for National Geographic Publishers. The exhibition was curated by Lawrence Schiller, Cristian Panaite, and Marilyn Kushner. It was produced by Wiener Schiller Productions, Inc. in association with Susan Bloom International with support from Getty Images, The Jacques Lowe Estate, and Steve Schapiro.
Published by National Geographic and written by David Margolick, The Promise and the Dream: The Interrupted Lives of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. features an introduction by historian Douglas Brinkley. The book is available at the NYHistory Store.
Several public programs will provide further insights into the exhibition and its time period. On March 6, eminent legal experts survey the evolution of the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretations of the 14th Amendment—in commemoration of its 150th anniversary—and civil rights throughout American history, highlighting landmark cases such as Brown v. Board of Education. On April 23, scholar Randall Kennedy discusses the Supreme Court and Martin Luther King Jr. On May 21, journalist Chris Matthews sits down to explore the rebel spirit of Robert Kennedy.
The New-York Historical Society has a variety of fascinating exhibits, some short term and some ongoing.
The Vietnam War: 1945 – 1975 on view through April 22, 2018 is particularly timely in conjunction with the “Rebel Spirits.” Featuring interpretive displays, digital media, artwork, artifacts, photographs, and documents, the exhibit provides an enlightening account of the causes, progression, and impact of the war. Spanning the duration of U.S. involvement in Indochina, the narrative incorporates perspectives covering both the home and the war fronts.Displays touch upon the Cold War, the draft, military campaigns initiated by both sides, the growth of the antiwar movement, the role of the president, and the loss of political consensus. The exhibition explores themes of patriotism, duty, and citizenship. Key objects include a troopship berthing unit, interactive murals, vibrant antiwar posters, artwork by Vietnam vets, a Viet Cong bicycle, the Pentagon Papers, and news and film clips.
Gallery of Tiffany Lamps
Step into the Gallery of Tiffany Lamps, a permanent exhibit which is the centerpiece of a newly designed fourth floor, and you are aglow in light and beauty. The exhibit features more than 100 illuminated Tiffany lamps from N-YHS’s spectacular collection displayed within a dramatically lit jewel-like two-story space (the glass staircase is exquisite).
The presentation is breathtaking, and so insightful: it was only in the last decade that it was learned through a series of letters that some of Tiffany’s most famous and prized lamps, featuring nature imagery like wisteria, dragonflies, spider webs, were designed by Clara Driscoll, who headed the Women’s Glass Cutting Department of some 45-55 young women (mainly 16-17 year olds who would work until they went off to be engaged).
The redesigned fourth floor also offers exhibitions and interactive media that explore American history. Themed displays in the North Gallery present a variety of topics—such as slavery, war, infrastructure, childhood, recreation, and 9/11—offering unexpected and surprising perspectives on collection highlights. Touchscreens and interactive kiosks allow visitors to explore American history and engage with objects like never before. When I visit, a docent is discussing the Industrial Revolution with high school students.
Women’s Rights & Social Activism
A new Center for Women’s History enables visitors to discover hidden connections among exceptional and unknown women who left their mark on New York and the nation with the multimedia digital installation, Women’s Voices, and through rotating exhibitions in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery. Objects from the Billie Jean King Archive are also on view.
Hotbed, a special exhibit on view through March 25, 2018, is about Greenwich Village in the early 20th century, when it was a hotbedof political activism and social change—where men and women joined forces across the boundaries of class and race to fight for a better world. At the heart of the downtown radicals’ crusade lay women’s rights: to control their own bodies, to do meaningful work, and above all, to vote. Celebrating the centennial of women’s right to vote in New York and on view in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery, Hotbed features immersive installations and more than 100 artifacts and images—drawn from New-York Historical’s archives and several private collections—that bring to life the neighborhood’s bohemian scene and energetic activist spirit.
Collecting the Women’s Marches, on view through June 3, 2018, documents January 21, 2017, when hundreds of thousands rallied at the Women’s March on Washington for diverse issues including women’s rights, racial equality, and the environment. Counting more than 500 sister marches across the United States, it was the largest single-day protest in the nation’s history. As part of its History Responds program, the New-York Historical Society collected a range of artifacts, including signs, sashes, pussyhats, and colorful props, to document the moment. One year later, Collecting the Women’s Marches highlights some of the political and visual themes that emerged, as well as the efforts of individuals and groups that worked behind the scenes. An adjunct display of protest clothing by Olek (Agata Oleksiak), an artist who works in crochet, and Brick x Brick, a public art performance group, is also on view. It is odd to have an exhibit of a major historic event so recent, and to actually have been there.
New York through the Lens of George Kalinsky on view through June 3, 2018 is an amazing photo exhibition of some of New York’s most iconic cultural moments over the past 50 years as captured by George Kalinsky. Serving as Madison Square Garden’s official photographer, Kalinsky has turned truly memorable moments―sporting events, legendary performances, and notable occasions―into lasting images that have defined the city. Among the quintessential photographs on view are Pope John Paul II hoisting a seven-year-old child onto the Popemobile in Madison Square Garden, Bill Bradley celebrating a New York Knicks victory, Sloane Stephens winning the 2017 US Open, and Jesse Orosco falling to his knees on the mound as the Mets won the 1986 World Series.
Collector’s Choice: Highlights from the Permanent Collection, ongoing: Since 1804, the New-York Historical Society has been welcoming to its collection some of the most esteemed artworks of the modern world. Collector’s Choice: Highlights from the Permanent Collection showcases a selection of paintings that reflect the individual tastes of several New York City collectors who donated their holdings to New-York Historical. Joining Picasso’s Le Tricorne ballet curtain are featured American and European masterpieces spanning the 14th through the 21st centuries from Luman Reed, Thomas Jefferson Bryan, and Robert L. Stuart, including colonial portraits of children, marine and maritime subjects, and an installation showcasing recently collected contemporary works.
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 10 am – 6 pm; Friday: 10 am – 8 pm; Saturday: 10 am – 6 pm; Sunday: 11 am – 5 pm Admission: Adults: $21; Teachers and Seniors: $16; Students: $13; Children (5–13): $6; Children (4 and under): Free. The museum has a pay-as-you-wish policy on Fridays from 6-8 pm.
The 2018 Lunar New Year festivities got underway in Chinatown, in Lower Manhattan, with the traditional Firecracker Ceremony and Festival to welcome the Year of the Dog. Thousands lined Sara d. Roosevelt Park on Friday, February 16, to be thrilled as some 600,000 explosions were set off to ward off bad spirits.
Along the warren of streets through Chinatown you could see groups of lion dancers – performers who mimic a lion’s movements in a lion costume to bring good luck and fortune – entreating shopkeepers and celebrants for treats and tips.
At the Lunar New Year, Chinatown becomes a fantastic street party with vendors, food and festivities, and heritage and ancient traditions on view: decorations like lanterns feature the color red which is a symbol of good luck in Chinese culture; many wear traditional Chinese costumes with colorful silks to represent joy and good fortune. Many visit Chinese temples to pray for good luck and burn incense sticks.
The celebrations conclude with a fabulous Lunar New Year Parade through Chinatown on Sunday, February 25, beginning at noon, a colorful pan-Asian procession that incorporates Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Malaysian, and even Hispanic floats and cultural performances. Arrive early to snag a good spot. Some half-million people line the route.
Through the 10 days of celebration, people honor household and heavenly deities, as well as their ancestors, and devote the holiday as a time for family to come together. Children expect get treats.
“Lunar New Year is the liveliest and most important celebration in Chinese culture and Chinatown is the place to experience it!
New York City’s Chinatown, two square miles in lower east side of Manhattan, is the largest Chinatown in the United States and the site of the largest concentration of Chinese in the western hemisphere. Manhattan’s Chinatown is also one of the oldest ethnic Chinese communities outside of Asia.
The Museum of China in the Americas (MOCA) offers a walking tour that takes visitors through Chinatown to learn about holiday traditions and customs observed by Chinese households. Witness how the neighborhood transforms itself in preparation for the New Year and discover the characteristics that make this holiday unique.”
Tours are conducted in English and are led by MoCA docents with personal or family roots in the neighborhood. In case of inclement weather, tours will be held in the galleries. Advance reservations are required. For information and reservations call 212-619-4785 or purchase tickets online, www.mocanyc.org. (Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street New York, NY 10013, 855-955-MOCA).
After President Obama threw down barriers for Americans to travel to Cuba, the island nation saw a surge in tourism – US airlines launched new flights, cruiselines set up calls, and hotel companies were looking to build. Then the Trump Administration reversed the Obama policy, creating confusion about Americans’ ability to travel, which even travel professionals say they are having a hard time deciphering.
“Tourist travel to Cuba remains prohibited. You must obtain a license from the Department of Treasury or your travel must fall into one of 12 categories of authorized travel,” a spokesman for the US Department of State said.
“Travel to Cuba is regulated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Anyone located in the United States, regardless of citizenship and nationality, must comply with these regulations. Individuals seeking to travel to Cuba are not required to obtain licenses from OFAC if their travel is covered by a general license. If travel is not covered by a general license, you must seek OFAC authorization in the form of a specific license. Travelers who fail to comply with regulations may face penalties and criminal prosecution.” See the Department of Treasury webpage; also OFAC’s FAQl: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_faqs_new.pdf
The change in policy specifically impacts independent travelers’ ability to visit under a broad People to People policy without joining some kind of licensed group – which those who have been advocating for opening travel to Cuba for decades say is not a surmountable problem.
Meanwhile, cruise lines like Norwegian are still coming in and even benefiting from the restrictions. “All of our ships are covered under People to People provisions,” Andy Stuart, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, said at the New York Times Travel Show industry panel. “The fact we are still going, added capacity, tells the story that this is fantastic way to visit, There is still pent-up demand. We have doubled capacity –we have the two largest ships that can sail into Havana harbor. We are excited about it. We have to get the word out that Americans can still go to Cuba.”
But USA-Cuba travel professionals argue that the Trump policy is only a blip that can easily be overcome by anyone who is interested in visiting.
“Yes You Can Still Go to Cuba!”
Despite Trump’s hard-line speech to shut down relations with Cuba last June in Miami, Americans can still travel to Cuba.
“All types of purposeful travel authorized by the Obama Administration remain legal,” stated John McAuliff, Executive Director & Founder of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development (www.ffrd.org).
Travel with groups and on cruises are unaffected by the policy.
“Even hotel restrictions have a legal work-around,” he maintains.
Independent travel by individuals, families and friends is also largely unchanged but now falls under the re-written license category of “Support for the Cuban People” instead of “People to People.”
The withdrawal of 60 percent of US diplomats in October was connected to a still unexplained medical problem that affected only US and Canadian diplomats. “It is totally unknown what happened and who is responsible, but the goal of cooling relations succeeded.” On the other hand, Canada did not withdraw its diplomats.
“There has not been a single confirmed case of similar health symptoms from the 4 million visitors to Cuba last year, including 650,000 Americans. No other country has issued any kind of health advisory.
Indeed, the International Tourism Fair in Madrid recently judged Cuba “Safest Destination in the World.”
The State Department, under internal rules, issued a Travel Warning because with the reduced staff, it could not provide the normal level of citizen services.
Those who want to travel to Cuba on their own can. Here are tips:
Book a ticket nonstop on JetBlue from JFK or United from Newark (about $300).
Select “Support for the Cuban People” as the type of travel you are undertaking.
Use AirBnB to reserve a room or an apartment (known as casa particular) from a private owner.
You can dine in a private restaurant (paladar).
You can buy handicrafts and other items from self-employed shop keepers (cuenta propistas). (The Trump Administration was hysterical about Americans traveling to Cuba because tourism dollars, they say, support the military state and maintain the Communist regime.)
You can hire a guide privately, such as Enrique Nunez, an art historian, singer-songwriter, artistic director and ‘lecturer on wheels” who drives you around in an old Soviet Lada (“The Car of the Cuban Survivor”; firstname.lastname@example.org.)
As much as possible, use private taxis, which are also available for travel between cities.
“Whatever you do, wherever you go, be intentional and responsible that your goal is ‘a full-time schedule of activities that enhance contact with the Cuban people…and that result in meaningful interactions with individuals in Cuba’.” (What that means is up to you.)
Keep a journal or list of your “meaningful interactions” for five years.
Some two dozen travel entities were at the New York Times Travel Show with services related to Cuba travel, including Cuba/US People to People Partnership, Fund for Reconciliation & Development; Cuban Guru, LLC; Intrepid Travel; Access Trips Culinary Tours; Celestyal Cruises; New York Times Journeys; REI Adventures; Norwegian Cruise Line/Crown Cruise Vacations; International Expeditions; Intrepid Travel; Diving Unlimited International; smarTours; Dream Yacht Charter; Wild Frontiers; African Ventures.
McAuliff advises that the best, most economical group tour for Americans to get an overview of Cuba is on a fully inclusive one week cruise offered by Celestyal. Now in its fifth year, the cruise departs from Havana or Montego Bay, Jamaica, and visits three ports in distinctive regions: Santiago, Havana and Cienfuegos. (Passengers boarding in Havana have the option of creating their own program before or after the cruise.)
“A unique feature is that more than 60 Cubans are with you for the whole voyage including lecturers from the University of Havana, musicians, dancers, animators, chefs, waiters, and room attendants.”
FFRD is circulating a petition to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs thomas Shannon, Donald Trump, House members and Senators:
“We urge the State Department to immediately rescind its politically motivated Travel Warning on Cuba and suspension of issuing US visitor and migrant visas in Havana.
“The freedom of independent and group travel to Cuba by all US citizens must also be protected by regulation and by law.”
Travel professionals at the New York Times Travel Show had somewhat mixed feelings to the US State Department’s new travel advisory and alert system (travel.state.gov) because of the newness and how consumers are processing the information. Some said they appreciated the greater specificity, but others felt that destinations were unfairly tarnished. But they observed with some amazement at the resilience of American travelers to return to destinations that have had some crisis like a natural disaster or terror attack.
“When we had those [terror attacks] in London last summer, within 48 hours we were back to normal booking patterns,” said Guy Young, global brand engagement officer of The Travel Corporation.
Jennifer Tombaugh, president of Tauck Tours, said the tour operator used to plan for up to 12 months for tourism to recover to an area that suffered from some kind of travel disruptor. Now, it only takes three months for a rebound.
“We see, whether it’s been a natural disaster or a terrorism event or just overall economic disruption that all of our guests are rebounding much, much more quickly than they did in the past,” Tombaugh said.
“For better or for worse, there is a resilience about the American traveler that we haven’t seen in a long time,” she said. “I think we’re sort of redefining what uncertainty means, and I’m not quite sure if that word even resonates for people even more. I think they’re saying, ‘The world is crazy. Life is short. Let’s go out and explore.'”
But resilience might actually reflect the high degree of confidence that travelers have in travel professionals – the tour operators, cruiselines and travel agents who are there to advise them more accurately when they book, provide more security when they travel and handle emergencies should they arise.
Citing robust advance bookings, the panel – reflecting a cross-section of travel entities – were all highly optimistic of strong sales for 2018, coming off a record 2017 for just about every destination, bolstered by a strong global economy. However, the United States, was one of only two destinations showing a downturn, with international arrivals down about 4 to 6 percent –representing a $4.5 billion hit to the economy and loss of some 46,000 jobs. They said inbound travel was hurt by Trump’s rhetoric, the travel ban, concern about gun violence, and a general discomfort to visit the US. The United States, once the most desirable destination for international travels, slipped to #3, and dropped the 8 in terms of international arrivals.
On the other hand, outbound travel by Americans is strong.
Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group; Alejandro Zozaya, CEO of Apple Leisure Group; Andy Stuart, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line; Guy Young, global brand engagement officer of the Travel Corporation; and Tombaugh of Tauck reported the strongest advanced bookings in years – with travelers booking as much as a year ahead.
“2018 looks like a fantastic year, the best on record if bookings continue at the same pace,” said Guy Young, global brand engagement officer of the Travel Corporation, which has 30 brands in its portfolio, ranging from youth travel to luxury travel, and travel products all over the world. “Every destination is up except for the United States. In a given year, some brands are up, others are down, but in 2018, everything is up. It will be a phenomenal year.”
Get a Passport: Hilton Passport Project
It turns out that having a passport is good for you.
Hilton Hotels & Resorts undertook a study and found that 53% of Americans with passports are content with their lives, compared to 34% of those who do not possess a passport.
Hilton, in collaboration with the US State Department, has launched the Hilton Passport Project, an initiative aimed at inspiring more Americans to apply for passports.
“For nearly 100 years, we’ve witnessed the profound impact travel has on the lives of our guests,” said Stuart Foster, vice president, global brand marketing. “With more than 570 hotels in the heart of the world’s most incredible destinations, Hilton Hotels & Resorts makes travel within reach. The Hilton Passport Project is our way of helping more Americans unlock the power of travel and realize the benefits a passport can bring them – whether that’s becoming more content with their lives or enjoying new experiences and opportunities.”
Every few weeks, a Hilton location in the United States hosts a Passport Concierge booth, where guests and the general public can have their passport pictures taken for free and apply for or renew a passport. Between one and three employees from the State Department will be on hand to answer passport-related questions and help fill out applications. For a list of coming locations, visit facebook.com/Hilton.
First-time applicants pay $110 and a $25 application fee. Passport renewals cost $110 and expedited passports are an additional $60. If you’re renewing your passport, you can do it by mail, but if you’re getting a new passport or if yours has been lost or stolen, you must apply in person.
There are more than 8,000 passport application locations around the country. Around 60 percent are post offices while the rest are courthouses and libraries. Visit the State Department’s Where to Apply link for more details. In addition, there are 27 passport agencies, where travelers can apply for rush passports – for example, if you are traveling within two weeks’ time.
On January 10, 2018, the Department of State launched changes in how information is shared with U.S. travelers, replacing Travel Alerts and Warnings for countries that warrant them to a new system where every country has a Travel Advisory with a level ranging from 1 to 4. The advisories are hosted in a redesigned hub for traveler information, travel.state.gov.
“These changes are intended to provide U.S. citizens with clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information worldwide,” the State Department stated in a press advisory.
Level 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions: This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk. There is some risk in any international travel. Conditions in other countries may differ from those in the United States and may change at any time.
Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution: Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.
Level 3 – Reconsider Travel: Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.
Level 4 – Do Not Travel: This is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens not travel to the country or leave as soon as it is safe to do so. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.
The Travel Advisories for each country replace previous Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts. While the State Department will issue an overall Travel Advisory level for every country, levels of advice may vary for specific locations or areas within a country. For instance, U.S. citizens may be advised to “Exercise Increased Caution” (Level 2) in a country, but to “Reconsider Travel” (Level 3) to a particular area within the country. Detailed Travel Advisories also will provide clear reasons for the level assigned, using established risk indicators, and offer specific advice to U.S. citizens who choose to travel there:
C – Crime: Widespread violent or organized crime is present in areas of the country. Local law enforcement may have limited ability to respond to serious crimes.
T – Terrorism: Terrorist attacks have occurred and/or specific threats against civilians, groups, or other targets may exist.
U – Civil Unrest: Political, economic, religious, and/or ethnic instability exists and may cause violence, major disruptions, and/or safety risks.
H – Health: Health risks, including current disease outbreaks or a crisis that disrupts a country’s medical infrastructure, are present. The issuance of a Centers for Disease Control Travel Notice may be a factor.
N – Natural Disaster: A natural disaster, or its aftermath, poses danger.
E – Time-limited Event: A short-term event, such as an election, sporting event, or other incident that may pose a safety risk.
O – Other: There are potential risks not covered by previous risk indicators. Read the country’s Travel Advisory for details.
The State Department stated it will review and update each Travel Advisory as needed, based on changes to security and safety information. Additionally, U.S. embassies and consulates will now issue Alerts to replace the current Emergency Messages and Security Messages. Alerts will inform U.S. citizens of specific safety and security concerns in a country, such as demonstrations, crime trends, and weather events.
Revamped Website, Travel.State.Gov
The Department’s newly-redesigned hub for traveler information,travel.state.gov, will host all Travel Advisories, recent Alerts issued for each country, and an interactive map in mobile friendly formats.
Country pages on the site will continue to include all travel information currently available, including details about entry/exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, transportation, and other relevant topics.
To receive security and other important updates while traveling, U.S. citizens can enroll their travel plans in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (step.state.gov), and follow on Twitter (@travelgov) and Facebook (facebook.com/travelgov).
We posed additional questions to a spokesperson for the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs:
How was the new Travel Advisory system created? How has it been received by travel professionals and travelers?
“Over the past year, we received feedback about our consular safety and security messaging from State Department colleagues throughout the world and from our many outreach activities to the public and other government stakeholders. This feedback helped us tailor our new Travel Advisories to the information travelers need most.
“The revisions to consular safety and security messaging improve the Department’s ability to inform the public in an efficient and comprehensive manner. Information is easier to find, understand, and use. Travel Advisories ensure U.S. citizens receive important advice for every country, applying a consistent worldwide standard.”
“Our goal was to improve our communications with U.S. citizen travelers to provide clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information worldwide. So far, the feedback was been positive.
“One thing I’d point out: it’s important to read the full Travel Advisory for the country your visiting. In some cases, we have different Advisory levels for different parts of the country. Mexico, for example, is a Travel Advisory Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution, but some areas of Mexico are Level 3 and 4. So it’s important to read each Advisory carefully.”
How do you determine the overall level for a country?
“We consider many factors to determine the Travel Advisory level for each country, including crime, terrorist activity, civil unrest, health, natural disaster/weather, and current events. We clearly explain the reason for the Travel Advisory level and describe the safety and security concerns.
“The information used to formulate Travel Advisories is collected from a range of sources, such as crime statistics and other information that is publicly available, information gathered from U.S. government sources, as well as assessments by our embassies and consulates. Travel Advisories also take into account decisions made to protect the security of U.S. government personnel overseas and ensure that U.S. citizens receive appropriate security information.
“This analysis is undertaken without regard to bilateral political or economic considerations. Travel Advisories represent our commitment to protect U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad by providing them important safety and security information.
“Travel Advisories are based on safety and security conditions that could affect the lives and interests of U.S. citizens abroad, not on political considerations.”
During the Obama administration there was an attempt to make it easier for travelers to come into US. How has the Trump Administration changed the way visitors are treated? Travel into the US from abroad is down 4-6% in 2017 – an otherwise a banner year for international travel – which is estimated to cost the US economy $4.5 billion and the loss of 40,000 jobs. Is this something the State Dept is concerned about?
“The Department of State remains committed to efficiently processing applications for legitimate travel to the United States.
“At the same time, every visa decision is a national security decision, and we must ensure that applicants do not pose a security risk to the United States. We have never hesitated to spend additional time evaluating visa applications to this end.
“However, we do recognize the importance of international travel and tourism to the U.S. Economy. 75.6 million visitors traveled to the United States in 2016. These visitors spent $244.7 billion and supported 1.2 million jobs here in the United States in 2016. The U.S. travel industry (international and domestic) is a substantial component of U.S. GDP and employment, contributing $1.6 trillion in economic activity.
“Together with other agencies, we are in contact with industry groups and work with them regularly to discuss concerns and opportunities.”
Some 15 countries around the world have travel alerts about travel to the United States because of gun violence. Can you comment?
“Our responsibility is to provide information for U.S. citizens traveling overseas. We’re aware that some countries have their own travel alerts, including regarding the United States, but we’d have to refer you to those countries for information on how they develop their alerts.”
During the Obama Administration, there also were programs to facilitate and encourage young people to travel abroad, take foreign internships, join programs like Peace Corps, coordinated through the State Department. Can you comment on such programs under the Trump Administration?
“Again this year, the Open Doors student mobility numbers showed an increase in American students studying abroad, topping more than 325,000 American students in academic year 2015/16. Increasingly, U.S. colleges and universities are making study abroad an integral component of the higher education experience for Americans. And more U.S. students than ever before are taking advantage of study abroad opportunities in a wide range of countries.
“To help facilitate this growth, the State Department launched the U.S. Study Abroad Office in 2015 with the goal of further increasing and diversifying U.S. participation in study abroad, including diversity of study, geographic representation and diversity of institutional types, as well as diversity of study abroad destinations around the globe. We work with U.S. and foreign institutions to expand opportunities and highlight the value of studying abroad. Our Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program increases participation in study abroad by providing resources to federal Pell grants recipients, and Critical Language Scholarship Programs provide training in over a dozen foreign languages critical to U.S. foreign policy priorities.
“Study abroad helps students understand the perspectives and values of others, enabling them to succeed in our diverse workplaces, communities and educational institutions. The State Department supports American colleges and universities in their efforts to increase study abroad. You can find more here:https://studyabroad.state.gov.”
What is the position from the State Department about the benefit of international travel – Americans going abroad and foreigners visiting the US – in terms of fostering people-to-people understanding?
“All of us who work in this field know how vital exchange programs and international study is to our shared future. It is one of the key means for the next generation of global leaders to gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in our global economy, foster progress in our societies, and address shared challenges.
“When people go abroad, they make connections that broaden their worldview. They become part of an international network of individuals with the shared experience of navigating new and unfamiliar languages, cultures and institutions, as they gain knowledge and develop resourcefulness and critical thinking skills. This experience is especially crucial for young people who will increasingly compete and interact in an interconnected world.
“The State Department sponsors exchange programs to increase mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, as a goal of U.S. foreign policy. These include the International Visitor Leadership Program and Fulbright Program, our flagship exchanges, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, Critical Language Scholarships, high school exchanges, as well as support for the global network of EducationUSA educational advising centers that provides information on U.S. study to international students worldwide.”