World Travel Market: Belfast, Tahiti, Minsk, Spain and More

After traveling to London for the World Travel Market, and spending time in some the Mayfair, Jena Tesse Fox is sharing some more tidbits from the trade show floor at the ExCel Centre:

*    Belfast will be the destination of choice for history buffs and Titanic-philes alike in the next few years when the Titanic Quarter, the new museum dedicated to the legendary ship, opens on the same docks where the original was built. In a similar historical theme, a new public record office is set to open in February or March of next year to help visitors track down their Northern Irish ancestors. New hotels are opening, as well: A new Premiere Inn opened this week close to where the Titanic Quarter will be. 

*    Like every other country, Tahiti has seen a downturn in visitors in recent years, but Tekura Mulluez, general manager of Tekura Tahiti Travel (and a local Tahitian) says that the U.S. market has recovered in 2010. Promotions and discounts by hotels and tour operators have helped bring business back. The small islands will never see a million visitors per year, she acknowledged, but, with special promotions for repeat guests, more may start coming back. “Tahiti cannot be compared to any other island in French Polynesia,” she declared. “None have the culture that we have.”


*    In Minsk, the Hotel Europe opened in 2007 and has been building up a following since. It mostly attracts European business travelers now, but as the only five-star hotel in the city (for now), it is starting to see more leisure visitors. The building was originally from the 19th century, was destroyed in World War II, and was rebuilt as a hotel. 

*    Best Westerns are not generally considered five-star properties, but the Best Western Premier brand may just change that. The brand now includes 117 hotels, including one in India that looks just gorgeous. The Best Western Premier Vedic Village Spa Resort is just outside of Kolkata, and is earning a reputation as a medical spa. As MJ Robertson explained, the resort’s doctors can treat insomnia, stomach disorders...even Parkinsons, he said. A cool design touch: Several of the buildings are made of earth, and rise right up out of the ground with grass on the outer walls. The natural materials used in the construction--and the lack of chemicals--means that the resort has become a haven for birds and butterflies as well as honeymooners and people attending the medical spa. 

*    Spain’s Costa del Sol seems poised to get a bump in traffic soon when Malaga’s airport gets a new terminal and a new runway. In addition to air arrivals, new berths in Malaga’s port are attracting cruise business, including Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas, according to promotion executive Natalia Boveda. The port is within walking distance to the city center, and with the high-speed AVE train right there, visitors can be in Madrid less than three hours after stepping off their ships.

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