Multicultural Travel News

Multicultural Travel News newsletter (MTN) covers travel news of interest to ethnic and niche travelers and those who market to them. We write about destinations that interest multicultural travelers or have outreach campaigns to travelers of Hispanic, African American, Asian American and other cultural backgrounds; women; LGBT travelers and people with disabilities.
Multicultural Travel News is also written for leisure and business travelers looking for what to see and do and for marketing executives interested in ideas, best practices and the business case for targeting so-called "minority" travelers. We cover cities and countries, hotels, airlines, cruise lines, convention and visitor bureaus, tour operators and other travel marketers with a multicultural angle. Multicultural Travel news is written and edited by Lisa Skriloff.

Burn the “old year” to start a New Year in Ecuador

On New Year’s Eve in Ecuador, people around the country bring effigies of politicians, pop culture figures and other icons of the year to torch in the streets. This powerful communal tradition of burning the “año viejo” ("old year") is symbolic of cleansing the bad habits from the previous 12 months. Most effigies are made of cloth and filled either with paper, old clothes, sawdust, ground cardboard, straw or leaves. This tradition is widespread throughout the country and each region creates effigies with cultural and social experiences specific to their area. The tradition is the strongest in the Pacific coast where the effigies are quite often the largest and the displays are more elaborate. The cities of Quito and Guayaquil also host large public demonstrations and competitions organized by local newspapers. El Universo newspaper in Guayaquil and Diario Hoy in Quito organize, judge, and award prizes to the winners of the best “años viejos” in their cities. In Quito, the event is witnessed by hundreds of thousands of spectators who visit Amazonas Avenue to observe a wrap-up of the year’s events via the “año viejo” displays. During the day, most cars drive around with effigies tied to the front or on the roof. At midnight, the effigies are burned as a ritual of purification and renewal, a cleansing of old, negative energy, individual and collective failures, regrets, bad habits, bad luck and evil from the previous year. Oftentimes, the effigies are heaped together in big piles to create large fires in the middle of the streets. It is said that jumping over the burning effigies brings good luck to those who successfully accomplish this feat. For more information on Ecuador, please visit www.allyouneedisecuador.com


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Sri Panwa Phuket Introduces Cultural New Year’s Package

Sri Panwa Phuket, one of the top properties in Thailand, perched high atop Cape Panwa will offer a New Year’s package that celebrates Thai culture with local and authentic experiences. Included are excursions into the historic city of Phuket Old Town, local markets and historic temples such as Chalong Temple and Big Buddha Temple, a monkey show and other leisure activities at Kinnaree House. In addition, participants can try traditional Thai dining at local restaurants, Raya and Kan Eang. On site, guests become students of local chefs at Sri panwa’s Baba Cooking School. Guests can also relax in an intimate tropical setting at Cool Spa, which houses a five-sense experience in four spacious treatment rooms, a private salon and a floating yoga deck – all of which enjoy panoramic ocean views. The package is available between December 15, 2014 and January 31, 2015. For further information on Sri panwa, visit www.sripanwa.com.


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Philadelphia's New Americans Tour launched by VISIT PHILADELPHIA® in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant & Multicultural Affairs

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant & Multicultural Affairs (MOIMA) launched Philadelphia’s New Americans Tour, a self-guided excursion—available in multiple languages—through the sites and attractions that tell the story of the nation’s founding for new citizens and those studying to be citizens. The 13-site tour includes stops at Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell Center, the Betsy Ross House, National Constitution Center and other Historic Philadelphia locations, where answers to more than half the questions on the study guide for the U.S. citizenship test can be found. The tour also features Philadelphia attractions that tell the immigration story such as the National Museum of American Jewish History, the African American Museum in Philadelphia and the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent. VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, formerly known as Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases the number of visitors, the number of nights they stay and the number of things they do in the five-county area. Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com make up the most-visited website network out of the 10 biggest U.S. cities. Philadelphia’s New Americans brochure is available at the Independence Visitor Center or at any of the 13 tour locations. Download it in English at visitphilly.com/newamericans and in Spanish, French and Mandarin at phila.gov/ima.


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Native Trails: Free Noontime Festivals Showcase Talents of American Indian Dancers of All Ages

The resounding drumbeat of American Indian culture in the Southwest will grow louder January through April 2015 with the return of Native Trails, presented by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and produced by the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. For the first time in its 13-year history, this series of free lunchtime performances in Scottsdale Civic Center Park will focus on passing the tradition of singing and dancing from one generation to the next. Derrick Suwaima Davis (Hopi/Choctaw), artistic director for Native Trails and seven-time hoop dance world champion and other performers from the Hopi, Diné (Navajo), Hualapai and San Carlos Apache tribes will take the outdoor stage from 12 to 1 p.m. most Thursdays and Saturdays Jan. 8 through April 4, 2015. On Saturdays, youth performers will join the festivities as the dancers demonstrate the Eagle Dance, the Southwest Horse Dance, and inter-tribal pow wow dances. Attendees are encouraged to stay for the finale, the audience-participation Round Dance, which celebrates the connection of all people and cultures. Song and dance are not the only traditions living on in the tribes. Throughout history, American Indians have used crafts and art as forms of cultural expression. Artisans and vendors will sell jewelry, baskets, pottery, instruments and paintings during the festivals. Each Saturday a featured artist will demonstrate his or her craft live before the crowd. This year’s events will also highlight giving to others in need, another cultural belief emphasized in American Indian culture. Each week, Homebase Youth Services Native American Connections, which provides income-based and affordable housing to those in need, will be collecting donations during Native Trails. For more information on Native Trails, visit www.ScottsdaleNativeTrails.com or contact the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau at 480-421-1004 or toll-free at 800-782-1117.


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Spain Hosted World's First-Ever International Halal Tourism Conference

The Halal Tourism Conference was being held on September 22-23 in Andalucia, Spain. It brought the world’s tourism industry together to discuss the opportunities and challenges that halal tourism presents. Halal tourism was valued $140 billion last year and is now one of the fastest growing sectors in the industry. It is expected to grow to $192 billion by 2020. The conference was represented by every level of the industry from tourism boards, hotel groups, tour operators and tourism marketers from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, UAE, Turkey, France and UK. There was a confirmed full speaker line up of industry experts across various disciplines which showcased how a country should organise its infrastructure to cater for the halal tourism boom. The two-day event also featured seminars from industry experts, workshops, networking sessions and an exhibition. Speakers at the event included Fazal Bahardeen, Founder of global halal travel experts Crescent Rating; Elnur Seyidli, co-founder of HalalBooking.com; Rafi-Uddin Shikoh, CEO and Managing Director of Islamic industry research experts DinarStandard; and Anas Kasak, Director of global marketing agency McCann Reach. The conference also saw the launch of the Muslim Travel Index Europe 2014 which uses travel research from residents from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Malaysian residents. The Halal Tourism Conference was followed by a two day tour of the region of Andalucia to provide businesses with a live case study of a region that is becoming more Muslim friendly and is actively working to meet the needs of Muslim travellers. For more information on the event visit the website www.htc2014.com or email info@cmmedia.co.uk.


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Japanese Cultural Encounter: Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo Offers Kimono Rentals

Japanese Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, one-of-a-kind, iconic five-star property, has launched an unusual new service for guests, both ladies and gentlemen - traditional kimono rentals and fittings. Kimono, which has made Japan's traditional garment for over 1,000 years, represents Japanese culture and spirit. Some Japanese still wear a kimono daily, but many wear it only for special occasions and traditional activities, such as weddings, tea ceremonies and Kabuki theater-going. To launch the service, the hotel has partnered with Hakubi Kyoto Kimono Institute, an establishment that teaches people how to dress in kimono. A kimono expert from the Institute will visit a guest's room and help with putting on the kimono, between 9:00 am and 8:00 pm on weekdays. The kimono can be returned the next morning, so guests can have dinner or other outings dressed in kimono. Guests are required to make an appointment a week in advance. Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo is known for its historic heritage as well as its renowned Japanese botanical garden, a massive greenery in the middle of Tokyo, which is a perfect backdrop for wearing kimono. Guests can also participate in a traditional tea ceremony in kimono at the hotel's authentic teahouse, a registered national asset. The hotel also offers other options, such as a tea ceremony experience in kimono at the hotel's authentic teahouse, a registered national asset, at an additional cost. Detailed information is available at http://www.hotel-chinzanso-tokyo.com/view-events/1278.


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American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association Presents 16th Annual Conference in Marksville, La., September 14 - 18

The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) presents the 16th Annual American Indian Tourism Conference (AITC) "Introducing America's Native Nations to the World," September 14 - 18, 2014, held at the Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, La. The annual AITC provides attendees with an educational forum to help tribes and organizations with travel and tourism initiatives. As tradition, the conference will kick off exploring the culture and history of the host and surrounding tribes through interactive workshops with the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, the Coushatta Tribe, and the Chitimacha Tribe and United Houma Nation. "AIANTA strives to inspire tribes across the nation to take advantage of the vast opportunities for economic development that cultural tourism presents," said Camille Ferguson, AIANTA Executive Director. Attendees will learn more about tribal tourism and business development, best practices, tourism marketing, tribal museums and cultural centers, the international tourism market, protection of tribal intellectual and cultural property, federal resources and programs, and more. With the rise of culinary tourism trends and as a result of its previous success, AIANTA will present a culinary cultural trends session. The event gives an opportunity to recognize the "best of" the tribal hospitality and tourism industry, accompanied by dinner, entertainment and a silent auction, featuring extraordinary items, which include works of art from renowned Native artists from around the country and special travel and vacation packages. Featured speakers on the 16th Annual AITC Agenda include: Edward H Hall III of Bureau of Indian Affairs; Jim Dion of National Geographic Society; Ron Erdmann of U.S. Department of Commerce, National Travel & Tourism Office; Carolyn McClellan of Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian; Christopher James of U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Native American Affairs; Diane Chalfant of National Park Service; Ernest Stevens III of Native American Tourism of Wisconsin (NATOW), and more. To learn more about the 16th Annual AITC visit http://aianta.org/conference-home.aspx.


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Hispanic Heritage Month in Philly

Fun, food, arts and cultural activities highlight this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month festivities that will take place in Philadelphia, September 15-October 15. Chocolate lovers can barter cacao seeds in an Aztec Market at the Academy of Natural Sciences, while revelers can catch the celebratory spirit at Penn’s Landing’s Mexican Independence Day Festival and the Puerto Rican Day Parade on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Fiesta en la Calle 9 (Party on 9th Street) features food, musical performances, crafts and brings flavor, music and vibrant colors to the East Passyunk section of South Philadelphia, September 21, philahispanicchamber.org; Artists Maya Escobar and Andria Morales merge their talents in the exhibition Yo Soy Oro (I Am Gold), September 21-October 18, tallerpr.org; The National Constitution Center celebrates Hispanic-American Trailblazers all month long, constitutioncenter.org; ¡Qué Viva la Herencia Latina! (Viva Latina Heritage), the second annual Musical & Culinary Arts Explosion presents the bi-monthly Tertulia gatherings, September 26, raicesculturales.org; The Barnes Foundation celebrates Hispanic arts and culture with two events taking place the first weekend in October. Flamenco dancing and guitar is on the agenda for Flamenco Fiesta, a First Friday presentation (October 3), while a talk and book signing by artist/author Gilberto Gonzalez and Al Dia’s Sabrina Vourvoulias (October 5) fills the calendar for First Sunday, barnesfoundation.org; The Philadelphia Phillies keep a long-standing tradition going when they celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month during the 13th Annual Goya Latino Family Celebration at Citizens Bank Park, September 27, phillies.com/themenights; Community leaders, social activists and trendsetters from the region’s Hispanic community are honored during the Hispanic Choice Awards, October 11, hcaphilly.com. For event updates, follow @PhillyTeAma on Twitter for all of Philly’s Hispanic Heritage Month happenings. For more information visit visitphilly.com.


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News Blurb: Best Western’s Study on Travel Habits of U.S. Hispanics Shows Heavy Mobile Usage to Book Reservations and Research Travel Options

A Best Western survey on the travel habits of U.S. Hispanics has revealed that mobile is a critical tool for Hispanic travelers on the go, with more than 25% using their mobile phone to book their travel reservations and many use it to research travel options and discover nearby attractions. With the convenience of search engines, travel search sites, social media, online travel agencies and brand websites, more than 90% of travelers research their options online before booking. Other survey findings showed that 85% of Latino travelers are typically traveling for leisure – either for vacation or to visit friends and family. 70% of Hispanic travelers said in the past year they have traveled with a family member from a younger generation, and 60% have traveled with a family member from an older generation. Of those who primarily travel for business, more than 50% are very likely to bring family members on a business trip. Almost 60% of U.S. Hispanic travelers are also very likely to extend a business trip by one or more days to add leisure time to the trip. Almost 50% of travelers, who said the primary reason for the majority of their travel was business, stayed in hotels five or more times in the past year, compared to 18% of respondents who said they mostly travel on vacation. The survey also highlighted that when traveling, access to free Wi-Fi is most important, followed by complimentary breakfast and/or happy hour specials. Of those who travel with a family member who is part of an older generation, 71% do the travel research, and 44% primarily pay for the trip.


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The Festival Of The Gauchos In Argentina

Once a year in the historical town of San Antonio de Areco in Argentina, gauchos from all over the country gather to show off their skills in a week-long Festival. This year the Festival is from November 1 to 9 and marks its 75th year. The gaucho experience is one of the best reservoirs for the culture and history of Argentina. Gauchos were nomad Argentine cowboys who led lonely lives on estancias in the 1800s. These large cattle ranches also acted as forts in the Pampas, the grasslands of the country, and the gauchos were their caretakers and fighters. The Gaucho Games are a main attraction – the highlight of which is the Jineteada, Argentine bronco riding in which the gaucho must maintain his seat on a fiery horse between 6-15 seconds. Corrida de sortija is the ring race where a horseman rides at breakneck speed to thread a needle through a wedding-ring size ring, hanging between two posts. In addition to the competitions, there is folk music, dances and exhibitions of local craftwork which include Argentina’s signature silver and leather materials. Asada con cuero, a huge barbeque, is cooked around a fire each day for the midday meal in the Parque Criollo. On the final day or Dia de la Tradicion, hundreds of gauchos in their traditional dress parade on the cobblestoned streets through the center of town. Visitors can stay at La Bamba de Areco which is one of the oldest estancias in Argentina, less than eight miles from the festival. The recently renovated hotel offers 11 air-conditioned rooms and suites, indoor and outdoor dining, library, bar billiards room, massage room and pool. For reservations and additional information, visit www.labambadeareco.com.


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