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Industry Outlook

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Music has the power to move us, make us dance. In some cases it can prompt us to travel across cities, states, and even countries to be in the presence of our favorite live performances. According to Expedia’s annual travel report, the “tour tourism” trend that spiked last year is not taking a bow anytime soon. In fact, an encore is anticipated this year.

Tour tourism is popular for many reasons, no less than the shared experiences it creates for people: gathering in a group to partake in the same music and entertainment. It is a trend expected to continue for the foreseeable future, according to the numbers. It also has very real economic dividends.

Take last year for example: It’s estimated that fans of Taylor Swift—also known as “Swifties”—averaged $1,300 in travel spending, including food and hotel stays, during the singer’s Eras Tour. Combined, Swifties have directly impacted the economy by spending about $5 billion in destination trips around the U.S., according to the U.S. Travel Association—although it says that calculation is likely a conservative estimate and the actual value could be closer to $10 billion. “That amount of spending is on par with the Super Bowl, but this time it happened on 53 different nights in 20 different locations over the course of five months,” according to the Association. “Downtowns across the country have enjoyed an influx of visitors—and a spending boost—thanks to Taylor Swift.”

But music fans are not only traveling distances for big-name shows; they are also willing to go farther for music festivals and other types of live entertainment. Expect these trends to continue. Future Marketing Insight, for instance, projects the global music tourism market will top $14 billion by 2033, up from $5.91 billion in 2023.

Group travel organizations have an advantage while planning entertainment-focused trips because they can create packages that cater to the trends. In doing so, group planners should stay abreast of entertainment options—including where concerts and festivals are being planned and which ones attract a higher number of visitors—so they can plan trips accordingly. Since more people continue to spend money on these types of trips, it makes sense for group tour planners and operators to ensure their organizations have some of the available offerings.

Promoting entertainment travel options on social media also can help group tour planners and operators plan for more festival-oriented trips. According to American Express, 75% of recent travelers have been inspired by social media to a specific destination.

Another trend expected in the travel industry is something dubbed “dry tripping,” or non-imbibing getaways in which alcohol is off the itinerary. Expedia says more than 40% of respondents to its travel trends survey responded by saying “they’re likely to book a detox trip” this year, with more than half of travelers noting they “would be interested in staying at a hotel that offers easily accessible alcohol-free options such as mocktails.”

Several of these “dry tripping” stays, curated by Hotel.com, are overseas, but at least a couple of domestic destinations are also on the list: the Ette Hotel in Orlando, Florida, and Wynn Las Vegas in Nevada.

Overall, 64% of travelers surveyed by Hilton say they plan to reduce areas of personal spending and “prioritize leisure travel” this year. “This is especially true for Gen Z and Millennials, who also plan to spend more on travel in 2024.”


By Andrew Weeks

Main Image: Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Credit: Meet Minneapolis/Nikolas Liepins

Major Airlines Offer Increased Flights to Las Vegas for Super Bowl

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With Super Bowl LVIII on the horizon, American, Southwest, and United airlines are expecting to see an influx of passengers headed from Kansas to Las Vegas, Nevada, this week. As a result, the airlines have increased the number of flights to be offered from Harry Reid International Airport in Vegas and Kansas City International Airport.

American Airlines added five flights between the two airports from Feb. 8 to Feb. 12. United Airlines added six roundtrip flights within the same window. Southwest Airlines has added 16 roundtrip flights.

The NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers are set to square off on Sunday, Feb. 11. Athletics aside, the carriers are also attributing the anticipated influx of enthusiasm for the matchup thanks to the high-profile relationship between Taylor Swift and Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce. Some of the added flight numbers even contain subtle nods to the relationship. For example, flight AA 1989 is named after Swift’s fifth album, and flight AA 87 is a tribute to Kelce’s jersey number.

Flights out of San Francisco, California, have also been increased. Delta Air Lines and American Airlines added temporary nonstop flights during Super Bowl weekend. United, which operates a hub at San Francisco International Airport, added two more flights. Southwest announced that up to 68 nonstop options will be offered from San Francisco, Oakland International Airport and San José Mineta International Airport between Feb. 8 and Feb. 10. During the return period on Feb. 12 and Feb. 13, up to 45 nonstop flights will be scheduled from Las Vegas to the Bay Area.


Main Image: American Airlines airplanes, Credit: Adobe/Markus Mainka

Richmond Region Tourism

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Visit Richmond
Skyline Sunset
Skyline Sunset

We’ve got history, art at every corner, major shopping, a great range of hotels, and more than 900 restaurants. We’re featured on more “must-visit” lists every day. And we have a whole team of tourism professionals who are here to help group travel planners bring their clients the best experience ever, with free services, on-site support, and incentive funds. Use our comprehensive resources to create a first-class travel package or motorcoach tour, tapping into the very best the Richmond region has to offer. No matter what size your group or your budget, we’re here for you.

Memberships: ABA, NTA, SYTA, US Travel, Heritage Clubs, Connect Meetings, Southeast Tourism Society, Greater Northeast Motorcoach Association, Virginia Motorcoach Association, Pennsylvania Bus Association, North Carolina Motorcoach Association

Nearby attractions:

  • American Civil War Museum-Historic Tredegar
  • St. John’s Historic Church, Poe Museum
  • Virginia Museum of History and Culture
  • The Valentine Museum
  • Black History Museum and Cultural Center
  • Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
  • Virginia Holocaust Museum
  • Keystone Antique Truck & Tractor Museum
  • Henricus Historical Park
  • Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
  • Kings Dominion Amusement Park
  • Colonial Downs Horse Racing

Type of Receptive: Destination Marketing Organization

Features/Services Offered: Experiential Itineraries, pre-trip marketing, Richmond Region image library, group meet and greets, gifts for your guests, incentive funds.


Richmond Region Tourism
401 N Third Street
Richmond, Virginia 23226
Group Sales Contact: Toni Bastian
Group Sales Phone: 804-783-7454
Email: tbastian@visitrichmondva.com
Web: visitrichmondva.com

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Martin and Sue King Railroad Heritage Museum

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Martin and Sue King Railroad Heritage Museum

115 South Bayou Avenue
Cleveland, Mississippi 38732
Phone: 662-843-3377
Email: anna.sledge@cityofclevelandms.com
Web: cityofclevelandms.com

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New Orleans Named No. 1 Food Destination in U.S. 

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In Tripadvisor’s recently released Best of the Best Destinations list, the travel company named New Orleans, Louisiana, as the best domestic, food-focused travel destination. The designation is based on the “quality and quantity of reviews” received at restaurants in the city between October 2022 and September 2023.  

Groups that visit The Big Easy will be met with a smorgasbord of culinary delights that include gumbo, crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, beignets, po-boys, fried seafood, and so much more. For some of the top culinary destinations within the iconic city, visit the Faubourg Marigny, Garden District, or Uptown neighborhoods for myriad French, Spanish, Caribbean, Sicilian, African, and Cajun offerings. 

“With its famed culinary scene, New Orleans has held onto its title [of] No. 1 Food Destination in the U.S. for a second year in a row,” Tripadvisor explains in its report. “Overall, Southern destinations rank highly among foodies on Tripadvisor, with six of the top 10 cities in the American South.”  

Also included on the list of top culinary destinations are Charleston, South Carolina; Maui, Hawaii; New York City, New York; Savannah, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; Miami Beach, Florida; Boston, Massachusetts; Asheville, North Carolina; and San Diego, California.


Main Image: An assortment of New Orleans culinary dishes, Credit: Adobe/Peter

Experience Lake Life

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Mackinac Island view from Fort Mackinac in Michigan
View from Fort Mackinac Photo Credit: Adobe/Davslens Photography

Mackinac Island, Michigan, stands as an ideal group tour destination, capturing the hearts of both travelers and tour operators alike. The island’s allure lies not only in its breathtaking beauty but also in the seamless experience it offers to those exploring its wonders in a group setting.

For travelers, the appeal of group tours to Mackinac Island lies in the convenience of having a professional coordinator handle every aspect of their journey. From transportation and lodging to dining and activities, visitors can immerse themselves in the island’s charm without worrying about logistical details. This allows them to focus solely on savoring the unique atmosphere and attractions that Mackinac Island has to offer.

Mackinac Island Michigan - Main Street
Main Street
Photo Credit: Adobe/Craig Zerbe

Tour operators find Mackinac Island to be a compelling choice due to its status as the No. 1 Best Island in the Continental U.S. This accolade serves as a powerful selling point, attracting customers seeking an exceptional destination. Moreover, the island provides a diverse range of accommodations, catering to various budgets. Whether emphasizing value or offering upscale experiences, Mackinac Island ensures that group tours can be tailored to meet different financial preferences.

One of Mackinac Island’s standout features is its year-round appeal. While the peak season, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, offers perfect summer weather, spring introduces visitors to the island’s awakening from winter slumber before the crowds arrive. Autumn graces the island with spectacular fall colors, including the iconic Halloween Weekend celebration. The island’s diverse attractions—including horse-drawn carriage tours, historic Fort Mackinac, and world-famous Mackinac Island fudge—cater to a wide audience, making it an ideal destination for group tours of all ages.

Harbor at Mackinac island on Lake Michigan
Harbor at Mackinac
Photo Credit: Adobe/Michael Deemer

The Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau plays a crucial role in facilitating group tours to the island. Interested operators can contact the bureau’s “group tour diva” for guidance on navigating the logistics of bringing a group to Mackinac Island. The bureau’s group tour planner assists in creating a comprehensive itinerary, highlighting activities, accommodation options, and general price points.

To streamline the planning process, the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau takes care of sending out Request for Proposals to partners on the island. This ensures that operators receive specific package pricing tailored to the dates of their group’s visit. Following this, operators can fine-tune and finalize their itineraries, reaching out to chosen places to stay and attractions.

In essence, Mackinac Island stands out as a group tour haven, providing an unforgettable experience for travelers and a lucrative opportunity for tour operators. With its natural beauty, diverse activities, and seamless planning process facilitated by the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau, group tours to this Michigan gem are destined to be a resounding success.

Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau
906-847-3783
mackinacisland.org

Featured image:
View from Fort Mackinac
Photo Credit: Adobe/Davslens Photography

Nevada Debuts New State Park

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On Jan. 20, Nevada State Parks officially opened the gates to Ice Age Fossils State Park, a 315-acre protected area about half an hour from the Las Vegas Strip. The establishment of the park was announced in 2017 as part of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s “Explore Your Nevada Initiative.”

Rich in paleontological and historical resources, Ice Age Fossils State Park is a mecca for scientific research. The land was once home to Columbian mammoths, American lions, camels, dire wolves, and ground sloths. The abundance of fossils discovered on-site led to the famous “Big Dig” of 1962-1963, the largest inter-disciplinary scientific expedition of its kind at the time, according to the Nevada State Parks website.

Visitors to the park will find a large group area complete with a shade structure and picnic tables; the Visitor Center, featuring exhibits, a gift shop, and more; various educational programs, including group tours; the 0.3-mile Megafauna Trail, featuring metal sculptures of historic megafauna found at the site; the Las Vegas Wash Trail, a 1.5-mile loop; and the Big Dig Trail, a 1.2-mile loop.

The state park is open on weekends from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The entrance fee is $3. Children under 12 enter for free.


Main Image: Ice Age Fossils State Park, Credit: Nevada State Parks

Oak Grove Tourism Commission & Valor Hall Conference & Event Center

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Oak Grove Tourism Commission

Oak Grove Tourism Commission & Valor Hall Conference & Event Center
105 Walter Garrett Lane
P.O. Box 756
Oak Grove, Kentucky 42262
Phone: (270)439-5675
Email: operations@visitoakgroveky.com
Web: visitoakgroveky.com

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World Expeditions Joins Adventure Travel Conservation Fund

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To promote global conservation efforts, World Expeditions, an adventure travel and ecotourism company, has become a member of the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund (ATCF). The ACTF is an international nonprofit focused on funding on-the-ground conservation projects around the world.

“Adventure and outdoor organizations have an opportunity to come together as members of the ATCF to protect international travel destinations where we all love to explore, learn, and play,” says Soraya Shattuck, ATCF’s executive director, in a prepared statement. “Without the conservation of these unique environments, cultures, and communities, we risk losing the very experiences that we seek when we travel.”

Naturally, the adventure tourism industry is highly dependent on conserving the world’s resources; this is the driving force behind ATCF and World Expeditions’ mission.

“The adventure travel community has the power, the resources, and the responsibility to make an incredible impact on the world,” says outdoor industry pioneer Steve Barker, founder of Eagle Creek and ATCF board chair, in a prepared statement. “Through ATCF, companies around the globe unite their influence and passion to support organizations that protect, preserve, and improve destinations, resources, and Indigenous cultures so they’ll be around for years to come.”

Nathalie Gauthier, World Expeditions’ North American director, says sustainability has been a guiding principle in all the company’s endeavors since its establishment in 1975. “Given the escalating threats to pristine environments and the livelihoods of secluded communities, our commitment is stronger than ever to make a meaningful impact through our expanding programs.”


Main Image: Adventure traveler on a rope bridge, Credit: Adobe/Sondem

Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou-Bayou LaFourche Parish

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Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou- Bayou LaFourche Parish
PO Box 340
4484 Highway 1
Raceland, Louisiana 70394
Phone: 985-537-5800
Fax: 985-537-5831
Email: iwallis@lacajunbayou.com
Web: www.lacajunbayou.com

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