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Ana Figueroa

Ana Figueroa Tourism Blog


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Travel and Tourism Resources

Friday May 30, 2014

Tourism Boards can be great resources for those of us in the travel and tourism industry.

That's why we've tried to provide info about boards in different parts of the world. We plan to keep doing so in articles, even though we'll no longer be promoting them in blogs.

(In case you missed our recent post, About.com is discontinuing blogs as of June 1.)

Here's a list of some of our more popular Tourism Board stories thus far:

South American Tourism Boards

Official Tourism Boards of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea

Central American Tourism Boards

Tourism Boards of the PRC

North American Boards of Travel

Tourism's Driving Forces

Thursday May 29, 2014

Interesting destinations are the life's blood of tourism. But I'm more curious about the people and personalities that make things work.

I make it a point to seek out innovative thinkers behind the companies, trends and traditions that we all talk about.

In the past few years, I've chatted with best-selling author and G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip; AmaWaterways co-founder Kristin Karst and the families behind Lueftner Cruises and CroisiEurope.

I've met female ship captains, airline pilots and Alaskan dog mushers.

Travel is constantly opening new doors for me, and I'm happy to share the adventures with you on our site.



Farewell To Our Blog

Thursday May 29, 2014

AnaMaya.JPGWe'll no longer have a blog here at About.com as of June 1.

We're sad to see it go, but will be writing and updating you on travel and tourism news just as before. In these last postings, I thought it would be fun to look back on some of the stories we've promoted in blog posts over the past few years.

It's a chronicle of our favorite travel destinations.

We've explored New Zealand's North Island and toured Machu Picchu; spent Christmas in Kauai and on a Viking River Cruises Longship.

This year we've sailed regattas in Colombia and wine cruises with AmaWaterways.

And there's much more to come. So stay tuned to our site and newsletter.

Photo Courtesy South Creek Media

Reporting from Vegas Uncork'd

Friday May 9, 2014

Few food fests compare to Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appetit in terms of setting, excitement and sheer star power (Michelin and otherwise).

Thus far, the event has proven to be a feast for all the senses.

At yesterday's opening Saber Off event, I saw Buddy Valastro of† TLC's "Cake Boss" fame introducing himself to the likes of Thomas Kellar and Daniel Boulud.

Later that evening, Buddy told me how honored he was to be in the company of the culinary legends. And he wasn't referring simply to the festival. He's opened both a restaurant and a bakery at the Venetian Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, joining the likes of Boulud, Keller and Mario Batali's mega B&B Hospitality Group.

During last night's East Meets West event, the Venetian's Doge's Palace transformed into an Asian-themed food carnival.

Renowned chefs stood in front of their stands doling out steamed dumplings and oysters and sliced Peking Duck.

Behind them, a volcano spewed lava every few seconds, lighting up the Venetian canals. And a troupe of Asian acrobats performed gracefully in the background.

How can any other food festival compete with that ?

Images Courtesy South Creek Media


Food, Wine and Travel

Wednesday April 30, 2014

American Cruise Lines' grilled alligator sausage and apple onion relishI'm a big advocate of the small-ship cruise experience. It's one of the best ways I can think of to soak up local flavors, both figuratively and literally.

Last month I spent a great time with AmaWaterways' Kristin Karst on her line's first wine cruise of the season.

Spring made its appearance in magnificent fashion this year. I didn't quite time it right for King's Day in the Netherlands, but I understand the line's Tulip Time cruisers weren't disappointed.

Here at home, American Cruise Lines deserves a big shout-out as well. They've implemented their "Cruise Local. Eat Local." concept, with an emphasis on sustainability.

Also here at home, I'm off next week to Vegas Uncork'd, the fabulous food festival sponsored by Bon Apetit. I'm eager to check out the Club at LAS, one of the ALD Independent  Shared-Use Airport Lounges. I'll also be writing and blogging from some of the city's AAA Five Diamond and AAA Four Diamond hotels.

Will I see you there?

Photo Courtesy American Cruise Lines

Temples of Angkor on Google Earth

Monday April 14, 2014

Angkor WatIf you sell travel, you sell imagery. You sell to clients the imaginary picture of themselves in faraway settings.

It's a skill that draws upon our own creativity, imagination and enthusiasm for a place.

Sometimes, pictures and words alone don't always do justice to a destination. That's why I applaud Google's efforts to capture the world's wonders with its Google Earth projects.

Last year we wrote about the amazing Rob Pacheco from Hawaii Forest & Trail. He strapped on a Google Street View Trekker Cam and led a team around Hawaii, the Big Island. Together, they captured the island's rugged beauty for all to see.

Google Earth's has now completed its Temples of Angkor project. The world's largest ancient city includes the iconic Angkor Wat. It's one of the most memorable places I've ever encountered.

Now everyone can share the experience and perhaps become inspired to go there.

Imagining oneself in a destination just became a little easier.

Photo Courtesy Cambodia Tourism Board


Tourism Numbers Up

Sunday April 13, 2014

Those of us who work with the travel industry know the benefits it delivers to the human spirit.

But we don't always look at it in terms of sheer economic numbers. That's why it's a good idea to keep tabs on the myriad resources the US Department of Commerce makes available. Their frequent reports on the impact of travel and tourism are eye-openers for even the most ardent industry supporters.

The most recent announcement from the National Travel and Tourism Office touts the continued increase in travel and tourism employment in the US. Employment grew in fact at a whole percentage point more than overall employment in the last quarter of 2013. More impressively, employment has grown for the last fifteen quarters.

Tourism spending increased as well.

Go to travel.trade.gov for more details about our industry's impact on the economy.

Let's all make more of an impact in the weeks to come!


Durnstein on the Danube

Saturday March 29, 2014

Durnstein, Austria from DanubeThe apricot trees are in bloom and bright purple wildflowers dot the vineyards. River cruise season on the Danube is starting out under warm sunshine and blue skies.

Here in Austria's famous Wachau Valley, the town of Durnstein is just waking up from winter. As always, the town's two landmarks give an unforgettable first impression.

One, the graceful blue and white baroque church, towers over stone walls and steep cobbled streets.

The other is the crumbled hilltop castle where Richard the Lionheart lay imprisoned during the third Crusade. His countrymen paid a true king's ransom to get him back.

Today, it's a twenty minute walk up to the ruins. It's not for the faint of heart. But for those who can tear themselves away from apricot brandy tastings in the shops, it's worthwhile effort.

The Danube is majestic here, and vineyards line the hills as far as the eye can see.

The view you might say is priceless. Or at least worth a king's ransom.

Photo Courtesy Strategic Travel Media

Wine Cruising with AmaWaterways

Saturday March 29, 2014

Heuriger Austrian wine villageWe sang and danced all† night on the AmaCerto. Austrian heuriger wine taverns, lively music (plus free-flowing wine) turned passengers into friends.

...and Elvis, Billy Joel and Tina Turner once we got back on the ship and the karaoke took over.

I've covered cruise tourism for many years, and I've never had a livelier time on the rivers or the oceans.

This is after all, the Melodies of the Danube itinerary, so music was in the air.

But there's also something pretty special about the AmaWaterways philosophy. They pay close attention to even the smallest detail of passenger comfort.

You can't pre-plan camaraderie, enthusiasm and laughter, however. That either takes hold or not, depending on the crew, the ship, the itinerary and the guests.

On this the first AmaWaterways wine cruise of the season, all came together perfectly.

An ocean line has long used the Fun Ship moniker.

But, anyone about the AmaCerto this week will agree.

That labels belongs to us.

Photo Courtesy Strategic Travel Media




Pursue Your Paradise with Starwood Hawaii

Friday March 28, 2014

St Regis Princeville Hanalei Bay On the islands or on the mainland, it's great to connect with my friends at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Hawaii. They were here in L.A. a few weeks ago, and I was able to chat with them about new trends, renovations and selling points.

Not that it takes much to entice visitors to the eleven Starwood Hawaii properties.

They've some of the most iconic destinations in Hawaii.

A new Pursue Your Paradise package is making them look even more attractive. It's a credit of up to $1,000 that can be used on dining, spa, room upgrades and more.

From what I hear, it's proving a big success with frequent visitors and first-timers as well.

I'm not surprised, though I am a bit jealous. There's nothing like a visit from Hawaiian friends to make you want to return immediately.

Photo Courtesy Strategic Travel Media

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