With isolationist political developments taking place in the US over the past few months, it would be easy to think generating tourism was not high on the nation’s agenda. Nothing could be further from the truth. Lucie Robson investigates
The popular tourist centres in The Americas are as welcoming as ever to travellers from all corners of the globe, and MENA visitors in particular are being catered for with cosmopolitan care. Northern neighbour Canada also has its arms wide open with both countries offering a range of visitor experiences to suit all tastes.
EVERYONE IS WELCOME
Indeed, at the end of Q1 this year, New York made a public stance on its open doors policy to global travellers. The city’s official tourism marketing organisation, NYC & Company, launched a media campaign with the strapline ‘New York City, Welcoming the World’ to tell would-be visitors that, despite what may have been going on in the White House, its doors are still wide open.
“It’s important now more than ever to reinforce our commitment and do all we can to welcome the world,” said CEO, NYC & Company, Fred Dixon.
With regards to guests visiting from the Middle East and North Africa, general manager, The Benjamin, New York, Gul Turkmenoglu told TTG: “I feel they will find a most sincere welcome to our city as visitors have always had. New Yorkers are global citizens and are therefore very welcoming to many cultures. Due to the city’s diversity, Halal tourism is strong.”
New York is not the only American city to try to counter the potential effects of political fallout. On the other side of the nation, the Los Angeles tourism board promoted the vibrant city with its ‘We Welcome Everyone’ campaign in April.
Speaking about this important message, director of sales and marketing, Intercontinental Los Angeles Century City, Jake Megrikian told TTG that the hotel continues to create a home-away-from-home for MENA visitors – one of its important market niches.
“From our Middle Eastern breakfast options to our Arabic Speaking Guest Relations Ambassador, Arabic television channels and a holy Quran available if requested, we want our guests to feel at ease here in Los Angeles,” he declared. “Additionally, we partner with local businesses, such as Westfield Century City to provide a custom-shopping experience for MENA region travellers.”
Meanwhile, both the US and Canada are promoting ways visitors can enjoy various experiences in these vastly diverse countries. In America, the Visit The USA agency has launched a new USA trip planner. This online facility allows tourists to plan a customised itinerary. Kid-friendly options and museums, as well as culture and shopping are included in the planning.
North of the border, Destination Canada’s Canadian Signature Experiences collection showcases the diversity of this stunning country. The collection offers an introduction to the best Canada has to offer.
Getting to the US and Canada from the MENA region is also becoming more convenient, with the region’s most respected aviation entities providing seamless connectivity to these eclectic destinations.
For those seeking the ultimate in luxury and comfort, this summer, Crystal Cruises welcomed Crystal Skye, a spacious jet that can fly 88 guests non-stop for 19.5 hours, so even the furthest corners of the continent can be reached in one convenient journey.
“Crystal Skye is the largest privately-owned Boeing 777 tour jet in the world and is deployed for chartered service, accommodating some of the world’s most discerning groups and travellers,” vice president of international sales and marketing, Crystal Cruises, Helen Beck told TTG.
The Boeing 777 has bespoke seating that converts to 180-degree lie-flat beds, and an expansive social lounge with a stand-up bar is ideal for socialising while cuisine is prepared by an executive chef.
From luxury aviation to luxury stays, the US has just about every experience on offer that any MENA visitor could want. Honing into Beverly Hills, this destination is all about the ultimate exclusive experience.
Chief executive, Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau, Julie Wagner has noticed from the organisation’s global trend report that consumers are reverting back to traditional concepts such as private members clubs, meeting places for connoisseurs, organic and locally-sourced dining, and exclusive tailoring.
“Tourists from the Middle East and North Africa want a safe environment and welcoming community,” Wagner told TTG. “We understand their desire to have easy access to luxury goods and services, and we are able to provide all of this to them here. We also understand that people of this region prefer to shop and experience the city in the late afternoon early evening, which is what helped to inspire our summer BOLD (Beverly Hills Open Later Days) programming.”
This trend towards more exclusive experiences is extending to accommodation. Vice president of luxury division, The Chatwal, New York, Ashish Verma explained that in New York, there is a movement towards luxury boutique hotels and attention to guests’ needs has seen even the hotel offer bathroom facilities tailored towards MENA visitors.
“A trend I believe is here to stay for a long time is towards more personalised, more unique, independent and curated luxury boutique hospitality experiences,” Verma told TTG. “Typical MENA travellers need larger spaces, as they mostly travel with families. Suites, often with kitchens, could be a preference for them. They also often have children travelling with them, therefore, amenities and services suitable for young adults, teenagers and children become desirable.”
Guests have the choice of a butler service as well. “My personal philosophy inspiring our team towards our guests’ requests is ‘Yes is the answer, now what is the question?’.”
The tourism sector in the Americas is more vibrant, progressive and accommodating than ever, with a welcoming message echoing across the entire continent to the world.