Tag Archives: USA

Swim with sharks and feed the stingrays!

Sharks often bring fear to your mind. You are often warned to stay away from waters where sharks are at large. News of fatal shark attacks often come from beaches down under. But are all sharks so dreadful? How would react to an opportunity o swim with sharks? Have you ever envisioned yourself swimming amongst sharks? If not then you can, or you should try it once. Guests visiting tropical day resort Discovery Cove in Orlando can now do just that – if they wish.

In celebration of Shark Awareness Day guests at Discovery Cove can now take part in exclusive new animal experiences at the park. Discovery Cove has always been known for its memorable dolphin interactions, and now guests can enhance their visit with one of-a-kind, hands-on encounters with sharks and stingrays. The awe-inspiring Shark Swim program provides closer-than-ever encounters with legendary predators. While guests have always been able to view park’s sharks, the new program takes them on a daring next step – swimming freely among five species: Pacific blacktip, reef whitetip, nurse shark, zebra shark, and a spotted wobbegong.

The immersive session is divided into two unique interactions and begins as guests meet with the park’s shark team and head into the water. Through hands-on interaction, guests learn about shark anatomy and the threats the animals face in the wild. Guests can also join the sharks in the deeper part of their habitat and embark on an exhilarating snorkel experience.

Discovery Cove works to dispel myths about sharks and to inspire guests to learn more about these mysterious creatures. As top predators, sharks play an essential role in maintaining the balance of ocean ecosystems worldwide by monitoring fish populations. Sadly, shark finning and overfishing threaten many shark species and disrupt that natural balance. Guests who take part in the new Shark Swim program will walk away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for these fascinating ocean ambassadors.

The Shark Swim experience is available to Discovery Cove guests ages 10 and older. The cost is US$85 per person. For every shark swim package purchased, SeaWorld will donate 5% of the proceeds to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) in support of shark conservation and research.

In addition to the Shark Swim program, Discovery Cove has launched a new Ray Feeding experience. This exclusive opportunity gives guests the chance to feed the stingrays during a private tour of the Grand Reef. Guided by one of the park’s aquarists, guests ages 6 and older spend their session in the Grand Reef learning all about the species of rays as they hand-feed the incredible creatures. The Ray Feeding program is US$50 per person. The new interaction programs require a Dolphin Swim or Day Resort reservation at Discovery Cove to participate. Space for each program is limited and guests are encouraged to book in advance.

Discovery Cove® in Orlando is an all-inclusive day resort where guests can enjoy a one-of-a-kind opportunity to swim with dolphins, snorkel among thousands of tropical fish and rays, hand-feed exotic birds, and encounter playful otters and curious marmosets. At the park, guests can relax and explore rocky lagoons surrounded by lush landscaping, tropical reefs, winding rivers and white, sandy beaches. Freshly prepared meals, snacks and beverages throughout the day and swim gear are included, plus unlimited, 14-day admission to SeaWorld® Orlando and Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark®. Guests will experience the most exciting animal encounters the world has to offer in a breathtaking tropical atmosphere.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioral training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 30,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

Want to see a video of tourists swimming with sharks? Watch it on my channel by clicking the thumbnail below-

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Get up-close and personal with killer whales!

These are close encounters of different kind. Visitors to SeaWorld Orlando in US now have the opportunity to experience the park’s majestic killer whales in a brand-new way. The Killer Whale Up-Close Tour gives guests the opportunity to meet the park’s killer whales in ways never before offered at the park. The 45-minute tour includes learning from the park’s killer whale trainers, meeting the whales and understanding their unique personalities and even taking part in an interaction with one of the whales.

During the tour, which takes place daily, SeaWorld’s trainers share stories and information about the killer whales, demonstrate how the whales take part in voluntary husbandry sessions and discuss their healthcare, feeding habits and more. The engaging and interactive tour also gives participants the chance to try their hand at a session with the whales alongside a trainer. Throughout the entire experience, guests can take photos to help forever preserve the memory of the one-of-a-kind experience.

Also read: Seaworld returns two more Sea Turtles to the Ocean

The Killer Whale Up-Close Tour is the latest in the SeaWorld’s collection of memorable, educational and inspirational tours. Popular guest experiences, including the Dolphin Up-Close Tour and Penguin Up-Close Tour provide hands-on interactions with some of the park’s most popular animals while encouraging guests to care about all of the animals found in the oceans. The Behind-the-Scenes Tour, a guest favorite, provides an inside look at the park’s amazing animal rescue operation and ends with the opportunity to touch a shark and meet a Magellanic penguin. The Killer Whale Up-Close Tour begins at 10:00 a.m. and lasts approximately 45 minutes. Space is limited, and guests are encouraged to make reservations online in advance. Prices start at $79 per person.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioral training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 30,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

SeaWorld returns two more Sea turtles to the Ocean

Two loggerhead sea turtles are back home in the wild thanks to SeaWorld Orlando’s Rescue Team. In partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) the turtles were returned to the ocean at Pineda Beach Park on Wednesday morning.

Rescued in December 2016, a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle was transported to SeaWorld Orlando from Massachusetts, where the animal received initial treatment from the New England Aquarium. Upon intake, the turtle had a dangerously low body temperature and a large wound under its right flipper. As a part of the turtle’s wound care, SeaWorld utilized radiographs, antibiotics, and laser therapy to heal the injury.

The second turtle released, a sub-adult loggerhead, came to SeaWorld in March after it was found upside down in the surf at Port Canaveral. The animal was covered in barnacles, emaciated, and lethargic. At SeaWorld, the veterinary team discovered blockage in the turtle’s digestive track caused from seashells. Through fluid therapy, the team helped the animal pass the impaction and gain 28 healthy pounds.

With two more sea turtles back in the ocean, SeaWorld has now returned 14 total turtles this year. In partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued nearly 2,000 sea turtles since 1980.

It is critical that beachgoers are mindful of the impact they leave on Florida coastlines as sea turtle nesting season is in full swing now through October. Debris and trash left on beaches can threaten the survival of sea turtles during this vulnerable time of year.

The successful rehabilitation of endangered sea turtles is another great example of SeaWorld’s commitment to protecting sea life. For more than 50 years, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has helped animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. More than 30,000 animals have been rescued by the expert animal rescue team that is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioral training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 30,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

Want to see the video of the release? Please click to link below on my YouTube channel-

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

Fall in Love in MIAMI for the first time or all over again

Miami_LoveIf you haven’t been to Miami lately, you haven’t been to Miami! The destination is fast evolving welcoming a growing numbers of visitors each year to enjoy favourite classic spots as well as many new museums, cultural attractions and even whole neighbourhoods. From hotel, restaurant and spa packages to paint nights, contests and a wedding showcase, The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) celebrates its sixth annual Miami Romance Month and invites locals and visitors to take advantage.

When it comes to planning a romantic milestone from engagements and bridal party celebrations to weddings and honeymoons, Miami and the Beaches is more popular than ever.  Pristine beaches combined with world class accommodations, restaurants, cultural attractions and emerging neighbourhoods make for a rare destination offering. Marrying romantic beach resorts with all the benefits of a sophisticated cosmopolitan is truly unique.

A sampling of Miami Romance Month experiences include:

Miami_BeachA Day of Rest, Renewal and Romance: Fontainebleau Miami Beach is offerings couples an all-new RELAX + INDULGE + SUN + SWIM day package.  Guests can recharge by spending a full day poolside and at the iconic 40,000-squre-foot Lapis Spa.

Couple Close-up: The Zoological Wildlife Foundation is giving couples a chance to get close with an outdoor photo session.  Featuring the natural and tropical surroundings found in South Florida, the offer is available for $500 with the code Miami Romance Month.

The Couple who Paints Together: Pair wine with art to create an inspiring date night at Bottle & Bottega throughout the month.  Future Van Gogh’s can enjoy an interactive evening with personal attention from an art instructor while sipping spirits. All supplies and ice/wine buckets to keep BYOB selections at the perfect temperature provided.  Enjoy a Buy One, Get One 50% off special using Romance as the code.

Honeymoon Magic in Coral Gables:

For those saying “I do” at the Westin Colonnade in majestic Coral Gables this month, a complimentary honeymoon is being offered.  Newlyweds also receive one Starwood Rewards Point for each dollar they spend.

Connect at Emena Spa

Couples relax side-by-side during massages followed by individual facials created to make any couple glow.  Each couple will receive a complimentary Organic Apricot Body/Massage Oil.

Wedding showcase

The annual Wedding Showcase brings future brides and grooms access to more than 60 wedding exhibitors to help with planning nuptials in Miami and The Beaches. With new additions including a bridal accessory shop, make-over salon and interactive panel discussions, saying “I do” in the destination is easier than ever. The Wedding Showcase will run from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. on Wednesday, February 24th at the Coral Gables Country Club.  Guests can expect exclusive giveaways throughout the evening from local retailers, hotels and more!

Ultimate #MiamiRomance Staycation

The GMCVB and the Palms Hotel & Spa have teamed up to give one deserving duo a chance to win the ultimate staycation in Greater Miami and The Beaches. One lucky couple will receive 4 day, 3 night accommodations in an Oceanfront room at The Palms Hotel & Spa, a bottle of Prosecco as a welcome amenity, and daily full American breakfast buffet for two.

Miami_Beach_CafeMiami Romance Month is part of the GMCVB’s increasingly popular Miami Temptations Program, which takes a thematic focus on the best that Miami has to offer throughout the year at attractive prices. Other programs include Miami Cruise Month (January), Shop Miami Month (March), Miami Sports Month (April), Miami Museum Month (May), Miami Film Month (June), Miami Spa Month (July-August), Miami Spice Restaurant Month (August-September), Miami Attractions Month (October), Miami Live Month (November) and Miami Heritage Month (December).

Celebrate the Holiday Season in the Sunshine State

This season, the state of Florida will shine extra bright with holiday spirit as millions of Christmas lights delicately cover the land and water, and the smell of delicious delicacies fill the air. As angels illuminate the bow of magnificently decorated boats and tiny lights decorate palm trees, locals and visitors alike will enjoy Florida’s unique and magical holiday season.

StAugustine-nights-of-lightsHistoric Holidays – While it may not snow in St. Augustine, the Nation’s oldest city turns into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. As the Annual Nights of Lights celebration takes over the city from November 21 to January 31, 2016, the historic district will be lit with more than 3 million white lights from the ground up to the rooftops. Tracing its origins to the Spanish tradition of displaying a white candle in the window during the Christmas holidays, the spectacular lighting display reflects the city’s 450-year history and illuminates the beautiful ancient city. Holiday music and the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree add to the splendour of one of the world’s greatest holiday light displays.

There are many ways to enjoy Nights of Lights, including on foot, by bicycle or pedicab, on the Old Town Holly Jolly Trolly, aboard Ripley’s Red Train or by horse and carriage. Local attractions also offer special Nights of Lights tours, in which visitors can appreciate the remarkable display from the water aboard the Schooner Freedom, the Osprey or with Ripple Effects Eco Tours, or by air with St. Augustine Bi-Plane Tours.

Historic Fernandina Beach-Centre Street, Books Plus Bookstore and Palace Saloon
Historic Fernandina Beach-Centre Street, Books Plus Bookstore and Palace Saloon

Santa & Sweets – Further north of St. Augustine, not quite to the North Pole, is another historic district belonging to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island where visitors will go back in time to old Victorian Christmas traditions. With Chestnuts roasting, carolers strolling and Saint Nick arriving, an enchanted Victorian experience awaits visitors on Centre Street in downtown Fernandina Beach. Satisfy holiday cravings and catch the spirit of the season at the Annual Amelia Island Bed and Breakfast Holiday Cookie Tour on Saturday, December 12, 2015. During this delicious tour, guests will sample a signature cookie from each Inn, take home a beautifully printed recipe card and gather inspiring decorating ideas just in time for the Holidays. With so much to do and see, visitors can extend their Amelia Island Holiday experience with these great Holiday Stay Packages.

SeaWorld-Polar ExpressSplash, Skate, Celebrate – Spend the Holidays with your favorite sea creatures during SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration. Gather with the family to hear the classic Christmas story, as told through the eyes of animals, followed by a wondrous journey to the North Pole aboard The Polar Express to visit Santa Claus. Guests can sit back and relax as they watch Winter Wonderland on Ice, a show-stopping ice-skating extravaganza of skaters gliding across a stage of ice, jewels and light.

Guests can also take a leisurely stroll through The Christmas Village where artisans, festive entertainment and delicious culinary delights create a bustling market that lines Bayside Pathway. Guests can discover one-of-a-kind gifts, enjoy scrumptious holiday treats, encounter playful elves and holiday characters, sing-a-long with musicians, and marvel at a charming model train village.

Circus Nutcracker-SarasotaTraditions with a Twist – The Nutcracker ballet is already a worldwide Christmas tradition on its own; however, the Sarasota Ballet is adding a new twist to the famous performance in their Circus Nutcracker. Bringing the spirit of the holidays to Sarasota, Matthew Hart’s John Ringling’s Circus Nutcracker will enchant audiences at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Set to Tchaikovsky’s beloved score by the Sarasota Orchestra, John Ringling’s Circus Nutcracker entwines the history of John and Mable Ringling and Sarasota’s connection to the circus with Hoffman’s classical Nutcracker.

Boat parades-Palm beachWinter Waterland – What would a Florida holiday be without water and boat parades? This season, Florida’s waterways will be festively aglow with the holiday spirit as boats twinkle with dazzling Christmas lights and displays. Boat parades can be enjoyed across the entire state, from Naples to the Palm Beaches. Along Florida’s Paradise Coast, guests can enjoy a series of boat parades throughout December on Marco Island, Naples Bay and theVillage on Venetian Bay. Moving up the Gulf Coast and across the state, there will be boat parades in Venice, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Stuart and the Palm Beaches, among many other destinations.  With free admission, guests can view the parades from their favourite spots, whether it be a waterfront restaurant or hotel, a park, a bay walk or a cozy chair on the water’s edge.

Canal Cruise-FloridaPrefer to be on the water? Visitors in Punta Gorda can enjoy nightly Christmas Light Canal Cruises from December 4 – 31, 2015. A tradition for more than 30 years, these popular, family-oriented cruises tour the residential canals to view Christmas lights, displays and decorations on homes, boats, seawalls and docks. Guests can even experience the joy of a private Catamaran Christmas Canal Cruise aboard the 47’Smoke and Roses.

From historic districts and theme parks to boat parades and ballets, Florida’s festivities provide unforgettable Holiday experiences for every type of visitor.

(All images courtesy respective owners)

Philadelphia named 1st world heritage city in US

Love park

The City of Philadelphia has become the first World Heritage City in the United States. It received the designation through a vote taken by the XIII World Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities in Arequipa, Peru. The designation comes as the result of a two-year campaign and is expected to enhance the City’s international stature and provide a new growth engine to drive tourism and commerce in the region.

As a World Heritage City, Philadelphia is being officially recognized on the global stage for its wealth of contributions to the world as the epicenter of American democracy and for its enduring commitment to preserving the unique historical and cultural assets in its diverse community.

From its Colonial history to the present day, Philadelphia has rightfully earned its place as one of greatest cities in the world.  Becoming a World Heritage City is a reflection of all that it has accomplished and a confirmation of the fact that the best is yet to come as Philadelphia continues to evolve and transform itself. This opens new doors of opportunity for Philadelphia while raising awareness of the City’s importance in today’s highly competitive global arena.

Philadelphia’s strong case to become the first World Heritage City in the U.S. began with a revolutionary foundation – the fact that the City is the home of Independence Hall, where America’s Founding Fathers forged democratic ideals into the Declaration of Independence and changed the course of history to give birth to a nation in 1776.  It is also where the United States Constitution was written and signed.  Independence Hall became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.  In 2013, Philadelphia was approved as an Observer Member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities. Earlier this year, the World Heritage Philadelphia Executive Committee submitted an application to become a Full Member.  Philadelphia, the fifth-largest U.S. city, joins 266 other World Heritage Cities in the Organization of World Heritage Cities.

At a symposium in Philadelphia last month, the Global Philadelphia Association and the City of Philadelphia invited more than one hundred leaders in the public and private sectors to discuss ideas and strategies that could be implemented following the World Heritage City designation. Now, these partners will develop and coordinate a plan of action in the months to come. As the birthplace of America, with its rich heritage of history, arts and culture and an ideal location on the Northeast coast of the United States, Philadelphia has so much to offer the world. The World Heritage City designation is a great honor for the City. It further enhances the value of our global brand and will help to attract even more tourists and conventions to Philadelphia.

 

 

Land of dreams on a digital mission

Crater Lake Cyclist_Whit Bazemore
Crater Lake Cyclist_Whit Bazemore

USA has always branded itself as a ‘land of dreams’ for travellers around the world. So much so that it even launched a music video ‘Land of Dreams’ by Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal to market itself in potential markets. Interestingly four years after the launch this song still continues to be best showcase for Discover America. But now the dreams are being disseminated digitally as well. At least, that’s what the fourth annual Brand USA mission to India promised.

Grand Teton
Grand Teton

Starting this year, Brand USA, the agency that looks into the marketing and promotion of destination USA in international markets, will commence direct consumer campaigns in the Indian market. These campaigns will be more “digital” in character, with focus on young travellers and undoubtedly many of these campaigns will run through the social media.

Riding upon the success of ‘Land of Dreams’, Brand USA has now also commissioned world famous travel and adventure film makers MacGillivray Freeman Films of ‘Everest’ (1998) fame to make a film on USA’s natural attractions with a special focus on 100th anniversary of National Parks.

Carroll Rheem, Vice President Research & Analytics Brand USA
Carroll Rheem, Vice President Research & Analytics Brand USA

Carroll Rheem, VP – Research & Analytics, Brand USA said in Delhi last week that the agency has created “video assets” for digital campaigns and these will be driven through online platforms, which are frequently visited by travellers for information on US destinations. Brand USA has been running direct consumer campaigns in 10 overseas markets so far, and from next year, these will be expanded to 2 more markets, and India is one of them.

Leading a roadshow of US suppliers in New Delhi, as part of Brand USA’s annual India trade mission, Rheem said that the country is an important source market for the US, and there has been consistent growth in the long-haul share of India to the US over the years. In the last 3 years, this share increased from 20% (2012) to 26% (2014), she added.

While the US is looking for a CAGR growth of 4.2% to achieve its target  inbound figure of 100 million by 2021, the growth in Indian inbound numbers to the US holds a lot of promise with a CAGR growth of 9.6%, and is expected to continue for the next 5 years. Around 9.62 lakh Indians visited the US in 2014, registering a growth of 12% over the previous year. USA expects the Indian inbound to cross the 1,000,000 mark in 2015.

Only concern for USA is extremely volatile currency market and its impact on long-haul travel, but that is still to be watched out for as this Indian currency devaluation has yet not started showing its impact. Generally a devaluation of 10% could be a cause for worry but USA hopes it not to affect outbound travel from India to US.

Brand USA 4th India Mission Delegation
Brand USA 4th India Mission Delegation

US delegation included destinations, attractions, hotels and receptive operators. The Brand USA annual India trade mission recorded participation of 35 suppliers, representing 21 companies from the US. These included tourism boards like Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, San Francisco Travel Association, NYC & Company; Visit Florida, Visit Orlando, Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau, and Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau;  DMCs like 7M Tours, Sans Incredible Vacations, and Maxim Tours; shopping attractions like Simon Shopping Destinations, and Sawgrass Mills; and hotels like Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and The New Tropicana Las Vegas.

The roadshow was held in Chennai and Mumbai, before concluding in New Delhi.