Regenerating The Red Sea

Located on the west coast of Saudi Arabia, the Red Sea is evolving as a year-round destination with a key focus on regeneration through sustainable practices that include 100% commitment to renewable energy, modern technology to provide personalized digital services, and immersive experiences for a “true Arabian” adventure.  

The Red Sea will start welcoming guests in 2023 with 16 world-class resorts opening in the first phase of development. These include 11 resorts on hub island Shura, two resorts on the Ummahat islands, one resort on Sheybarah Island, and two inland resorts at Desert Rock and Southern Dunes.  

The second phase of development will conclude in 2030 with 50 resort openings and 1,000+ residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. Each resort has its own unique attributes whether it be its architectural design or activities and attractions around the property.  

Each island is located just a short distance from the mainland and the Red Sea International Airport by airplane or boat ride.  

Keep reading for a sneak peek of what Saudi Arabia has in store for regenerating the Red Sea…

Sustainable Practices 

The Red Sea is home to one of the last thriving coral reef ecosystems on the planet. With an unwavering commitment to protecting and enhancing the natural, cultural, and historical environments, the Red Sea will be the first tourism project of its size to be powered solely by renewable energy.  The Red Sea embraces the “Neo-Saudi Explorer,” someone who is respectful of ancient culture, discovering new territories in a safe, secure and crafted manner. 

The Red Sea Development environmental initiatives include:  

  • Less than 1% of the entire area of the destination will be developed  
  • 75% of the islands will remain untouched  
  • Nine islands designated as special conservation zones  
  • Development of a sustainable food supply  
  • Visitors capped at 1 million people per year  
  • Single-use plastics banned once fully operational  
  • On-site landscape nursery will provide more than 25 million plants  
  • 100% renewable energy (24 hours a day via solar power)  
  • Smart sensors to detect environmental impact  
  • Zero waste to landfill Zero carbon footprint 
  • Alignment with all 17 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 

Saudi Arabia’s long-term goal is to achieve a 30 percent net conservation benefit by 2040 by enhancing biologically diverse habitats including mangroves, seagrass, corals, and land vegetation. With many of these initiatives already in place for 2023, this long-term goal is well on track to be achieved.  

Immersive Experiences 

With desert rock mountains, sweeping sand dunes, and overwater villas with hues of blue and green, The Red Sea offers spectacular views and activities for travelers of all interests.  

Marvel under the night sky while camping under the Milky Way. Look up and learn the traditional importance of astronomy to Islamic practices and the way life has been guided for centuries in Saudi. 

Hike through canyons, sweeping dunes and rugged mountains, or bike through ancient volcanic lava fields, with their cinder cones and craters.   

Take an aquatic adventure by night diving, reef diving, or heritage diving among some of the world’s most thriving corals. There is also plenty to see while snorkeling or kayaking in crystal blue seas over carefully protected coral reefs. 

Smart Systems  

The Red Sea is implementing an extensive smart digital system to allow visitors to have the most seamless and modern travel experience throughout their stay. Highly personalized digital systems include: 

  • Virtual concierge services complemented by the highest level of personal attention  
  • Luggage sent from The Red Sea’s iconic airport straight to guest’s hotels, dispensing with the need for immigration and customs queues 

With all these developments in the works, The Red Sea will rapidly become a highly sought-after destination starting next year. What would you explore while visiting? The opportunities are endless.  

For more information about The Red Sea visit www.visitredsea.com.  


10 surprising things you can do in Manitoba

Discover hidden gems in the middle of Canada. Manitoba has rich cultural roots, breathtaking landscapes, world-class museums and opportunities for incredible encounters with polar bears, bison and northern lights. Read on for 10 amazing adventures in the province where Canada’s heart beats.  

  1. Go on an arctic safari 

No roads lead to the remote subarctic town of Churchill, Manitoba. Getting there is part of the adventure with options to travel by train or plane. Once you arrive, you’ll find a warm and welcoming community plus the opportunity to check off plenty of bucket list experiences. 

In fall, see polar bears roam the Hudson Bay coastline, spot arctic wildlife and marvel at the beauty of the tundra and the majestic northern lights at night. 

Photo Courtesy of Travel Manitoba
Take a ride on Frontiers North Adventures’ electric Tundra Buggy® to their Thanadelthur Lounge to see the northern lights dance in the night sky.
  1. Travel the tundra in an electric vehicle 

Churchill, the polar bear capital of the world, is one of the few human settlements where these majestic mammals can be viewed in the wild. Now you can get up close and personal with these kingly giants in an electric Tundra Buggy® with Frontiers North Adventures. Due to zero-emission vehicle technology, this new type of Tundra Buggy® means minimal disruption to the bears and their natural habitat.  

Liz Tran Photography, Photo Courtesy of Travel Manitoba  
A polar bear basks in the sunshine on the tundra in Churchill, Manitoba.
  1. Walk with polar bears 

You can greet the world’s largest carnivore from the comfort of Churchill Wild’s remote eco-wilderness lodges or, best of all, walk among them with a guide and photograph them in their natural habitat. On a guided walking safari, you might encounter polar bears and other wildlife like arctic hare, wolves, arctic and coloured fox and moose. 

  1. Take your knowledge of aviation history to new heights 

Experience one of the most significant global collections of bush planes at the new location of the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada. It’s also home to a large collection of aircraft ranging from bush flying, military, passenger, experimental aircraft and thousands of aviation artifacts. 

Photo Courtesy of Travel Manitoba
The Leaf–Canada’s Diversity Gardens is a new garden attraction in Winnipeg that celebrates natural and cultural diversity with indoor and outdoor spaces, including over 30-acres of gardens that explore the universal connections between people and plants.  
  1. Stop to smell the flowers at The Leaf–Canada’s Diversity Gardens 

The Leaf–Canada’s Diversity Gardens is one of Manitoba’s newest attractions with indoor and outdoor spaces that explore connections between people and plants. The Gardens at The Leaf is a 30-acre revitalized outdoor space divided into six uniquely themed gardens touching on connections with food, our senses and Indigenous cultures and languages.  

JP Media Works, Photo Courtesy of Travel Manitoba
Winnipeg Art Gallery’s newest addition, Qaumajuq, houses more than 14,000 pieces of contemporary Inuit art, about one-third of the collection is visible in a three-story glass vault. 
  1. View thousands of pieces of Inuit art in one place 

Qaumajuq is a stunning addition to the Winnipeg Art Gallery in the city’s downtown area. Its architecture was inspired by Canada’s northern landscape and the centre holds the world’s largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art at over 14,000 pieces, each piece representing the story of Canada’s North.  

  1. Discover new exhibits at the Manitoba Museum 

In recent years, the Manitoba Museum has updated several of its core nine galleries. The new Prairies Gallery tells the story of Indigenous Peoples in Manitoba using a beautiful plains tipi, a Red River cabin and cart and other artifacts. 

Photo Courtesy of Travel Manitoba
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is an icon of the Winnipeg skyline, designed by
Antoine Predock Architect of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Predock has described the building as “carved into the earth and dissolving into the sky”. 
  1. Visit the Canadian Museum for Human Rights 

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is impressive not only for its innovative architecture it’s also the world’s only museum dedicated to the topic of global human rights issues. Through ten permanent galleries, learn and reflect on the triumphs and failures of the human spirit. You’ll leave inspired to make the world a better place.  

  1. Dine under the aurora borealis 

Dan’s Diner, located across the frozen Churchill River away from the town, is a remote dining experience and culinary adventure like none other. Enjoy delicious regional and local fare in a mobile Tundra Buggy® while northern lights dance overhead. 

  1. Explore an urban natural oasis  

At FortWhyte Alive, a short drive from downtown Winnipeg, you can get up close with North America’s largest land mammal—the bison—in their natural habitat. Follow the path to find adventure in over 660 acres of forests, lakes and multi-use trails. You may spot whitetail deer, waterfowl and countless other wildlife while you explore.  

About Travel Manitoba

Travel Manitoba is a source of trip inspiration for bucket-list adventurers, outdoors enthusiasts and arts and culture explorers. Manitoba is located in the center of Canada and is home to a thriving urban hub in capital city Winnipeg, wide-open landscapes and pristine wilderness throughout the province. 

About the Author: Melanie Swenarchuk is Senior Market Development Manager and an expert on all things Manitoba. See travelmanitoba.com for more information.   


Wine Experiences Beyond the Tasting Room

By: Audley Travel

From rustic tables in a South African vineyard to ultramodern bars in Napa Valley, tasting rooms are the classic way to sample new vintages and learn more about the wine’s terroir. But what if you want something a little different? The country specialists at Audley have scoured the world for unusual ways for you to enjoy your wine — here are five of their favorites. 

  1. La Rioja, Spain: stay at a hotel with a wine spa 

Nestled among the seemingly endless vineyards of La Rioja, the avant garde Hotel Marques de Riscal is a shimmering oasis of luxury. The hotel, which was designed by celebrity architect Frank Gehry, is home to SPA Vinothérapie Caudalie, where all the treatments on the menu draw from elements of the wine-making process. You can indulge in a pomace massage or relax in a bath spiked with red-wine extracts. 

Photo of the Hotel Marques de Riscal
Photo Courtesy of Audley Travel
  1. California, USA: ride the Wine Train 

All aboard this fully restored historic train, which runs through California’s renowned Napa Valley. Burnished brass, buttery leather, plush upholstery, and gleaming woodwork set an elegant stage for your journey through the heart of the valley, with stops at various wine estates for tastings and tours. You’ll also enjoy an exquisitely prepared meal (with wine pairings, of course).  

Photo of the Wine Train
Photo Courtesy of Audley Travel
  1. Bordeaux, France: learn to blend your own wine 

As oenophiles know, Bordeaux wine is a blend rather than a single grape. If you want to learn the gentle art of wine blending, we suggest this workshop, held in a reclaimed Bordeaux townhouse. You’ll start with an introduction to the nuances of Bordeaux wines and a refresher course in how to taste wine like a professional sommelier. Finally, you’ll mix your own bottle, using your preferred ratios of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to create the perfect blend for you to take home as a souvenir.  

  1. Barolo, Italy: visit a wine museum in a castle 

The history of wine is deeply entwined with the history of Italy, and nowhere is this more apparent than at the WiMu Museo del Vino a Barolo. Tucked inside a 1,000-year-old castle in the Langhe, the museum explores the history and culture of wine through emotive, interactive exhibits. In the cellar, Regional Enoteca of Barolo (a wine bar) offers a chance to sample the local goods. And just outside, the whimsical Corkscrew Museum displays more than 600 examples, ranging from the historic to the hilarious.  

  1. Franschhoek, South Africa: wine tasting on horseback 

A little over an hour west of Cape Town, South Africa’s Winelands make a great destination for a daytrip. But, there’s so much to see (and sip) that we recommend spending a few nights. One of the best places to base yourself is Franschhoek, home of Paradise Stables. Here, you can mount purebred Arabian horses for an ambling ride through the valley’s vineyards and over the mountains, with plenty of stops to admire the views. And, of course, you’ll pause at wineries for tastings and tours.  

About Audley Travel

At Audley Travel, our passion is creating trips that change your world by helping you see the world your way. For 25 years, we’ve listened to you, and crafted individual trips designed to help you experience destinations in a way that feels most meaningful to you. 

Our specialists travel regularly to their destination to renew their passion and keep their knowledge up to date. They’ll draw on this first-hand experience to shape your trip around what interests you, sharing tips and advice you won’t find in a guide book, whether that’s their favorite local vineyard or the restaurant with the best wine cellar.  


For Queen and Country: How Has Travel Changed in 70 Years? 

By: Katie Thompson – Marketing Manager at The Group Company


This content was written prior to the sad passing of Her Majesty the Queen on September 8, 2022. As a recipient of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2018, The Group Company has been particularly affected by this tragic event. We would like to express our sincerest condolences to the Royal Family and wish King Charles III well in his new role.


From natural disasters to economic collapse, few industries are as resilient as travel. While the last two years have brought about perhaps the biggest changes in travel we’ll ever see, they are by no means the first. 

In 2022, the United Kingdom paid tribute to Her Majesty the Queen, who celebrated 70 years on the throne. It’s a fitting metaphor for the travel industry itself – remaining strong as the world continues to pose ever more challenges. 

Her Majesty’s Jubilee celebrations were watched by more than a billion viewers around the world. It gave us time to reflect not only on her reign, but the changing state of the world around us. So, what have we learned from the last 70 years, and what can we expect to change? 

From the golden age onward 

Back in 1953, the world was immersed in the “golden age of travel.” It was a luxury, with air travel being likened to a 5* hotel experience rather than a journey. Picture silver service, smoking on planes and up to six inches more legroom. 

Of course, while these “luxuries” are no longer common, we have more affordability and flexibility. In fact, in the period between 2000 and 2010, international arrivals to the US almost doubled – echoing the post-war economic boom between 1950 and 1980.  

Our choice in travel diversified, too. Since the start of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, for example, international interest in Asia and the Pacific has steadily risen. Modes of transport have also changed. In 1972, the launch of InterRail spelled a boon for European tourism. Meanwhile, Japan’s Shinkansen “bullet train” and Shanghai’s Maglev reach eye-watering speeds. 

Access to travel  

In the last 70 years, travel has become more accessible the world over. InterRail opened up new opportunities for young people, while one in five of us now travels for business. The advent of low-cost airlines has helped. In the 1950s, just 2% of the UK population would travel abroad – compared to 56% today. 

As ever, technology has had a huge role to play in improving our access to travel. Terrorism threats saw a 33% decline in air travel at the turn of the century. Today, flight safety and security are at their peak, thanks to full-body scanners, e-passport gates, and advanced luggage scanning. 

Likewise, we are traveling more because we have more knowledge. In the UK, for example, 1969 saw the introduction of the Development of Tourism Act. Since then, Britain has launched marketing campaigns in more than 22 countries. A stand-out campaign in 1994 encouraged US travelers to commemorate the 50th anniversary of D-Day. 

What do we want from our experiences? 

Another key development in travel is changing consumer tastes. Back in the 50s, “traveling like a tourist” was very much the norm – often leading to stereotyping and poor experiences.  

Today’s traveler wants to “live like a local,” underpinned by other trends such as sustainability and social consciousness. Younger generations are embracing authentic experiences, and so too are groups. At The Group Company, founded in 2006, we have noticed an upward trend in these “experiences” – for example, international cooking classes. 

Travel today is not simply for leisure, but to experience, transform, and learn. We’re also making our decisions based on factors such as green travel, opting for lower-carbon flights or electric rental cars.  

What’s next for the world of travel? 

Seventy years is a long time in travel, and there’s no doubt that the next will be even more transformational. Technology is enhancing our connectivity, our browsing, and our access to never-before-seen destinations. In the coming years, we should expect developments such as: 

  • Hygiene as a marketing tool: from hotel rooms to beaches, cleanliness is a key concern 
  • Shrewder searching: augmented and virtual reality will aid travel campaigns 
  • Green travel: price may not be as influential a factor as concerns like carbon emissions. 

One thing that has stayed consistent for 70 years, however, is the need for good customer service. Social media and third-party review sites are helping customers connect on a deeper level. 

Travel has had its highs and lows in the last seven decades – but customer service will always be consistent. 

All Images: ©Adobe Stock

About The Group Company

The Group Company is a UK-based wholesaler working with tour operators throughout the US, UK, and Europe. We provide tailor-made touring itineraries throughout these three destinations, working exclusively with groups. We sell to tour operators only, contracting all suppliers directly for a fast response, competitive rates, and outstanding customer service. With more than 15 years’ experience, we make group travel easy for our clients.


How a Commercial Airline can Stay Committed to Sustainability and Cleaner Skies

6 ways Singapore Airlines integrates sustainability into its operations, and takes eco-friendliness from a trend to a core value 

When you think of “going-green” you may think of household composting, sorting your recyclables, or riding your bike to work, but there are many ways a commercial airline can also make an impact. Singapore Airlines (SIA) has identified several areas where we can eliminate waste and work towards reducing our carbon footprint, all while maintaining operational and safety standards. 

Economy Class Meal Service
Photo Courtesy of Singapore Airlines

1. Waste reduction: SIA is reducing single-use plastics onboard, including becoming entirely plastic-straw free, replacing plastic swizzle sticks with wood-based ones, and swapping polybags from children’s toys with recyclable paper packaging.  We have introduced an economy class meal concept which uses sustainable paper packaging and bamboo cutlery, reducing the use of single-use plastics by 80% and halving the weight of meal packaging. SIA has also teamed up with Singapore-based food waste management start-up Lumitics to help use advanced analytics and machine learning to optimize ordering, usage, and to ultimately minimize the amount of food waste the airline generates. 

2. Sustainable fuel initiatives: An obvious challenge to sustainability in aviation is reducing an aircraft’s carbon emissions from using jet fuel. SIA has participated in several alternative fuel pilot programs over the years in an effort to source viable fuel alternatives and most recently has selected ExxonMobil for a new pilot with support from the Civil Aviation authority of Singapore and Temasek, to supply and deliver sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), derived from used cooking oil and animal fat waste, blended with refined jet fuel. This project is just a start but over the one-year pilot is expected to reduce about 2,500 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. 

3. Carbon Off-setting:  Voluntary carbon offsetting is now commonplace for airline passengers and corporate customers to help voluntarily neutralize their individual portion of emissions from their journey by paying a small amount to invest in other carbon reduction projects. SIA offers these programs and for those who wish to participate, they can use cash or miles to invest in meaningful projects such protecting forests in Indonesia, supporting renewable solar energy projects in India, and providing efficient, clean burning cookstoves for rural families in Nepal. 

AeroFarms – New Jersey Facility
Photo Courtesy of AeroFarms

4. Local Sourcing: You may have heard of “farm-to-table” but have you heard of “farm-to-plane”? Sourcing local products for onboard consumption is part of SIA’s farm-to-plane strategy whereby we work with local suppliers to bring fresh and delicious products to our customers. Shortening supply chains reduces carbon emissions but it also allows a company to work with partners who are using innovative technologies to locally produce ingredients to provide socially and environmentally friendly offerings.  One of these partners is AeroFarms, the world’s largest indoor vertical farm of its kind, which uses aeroponic farming to produce salad greens for onboard meals, just down the road from Newark-Liberty International Airport in New Jersey

5. Reforestation Projects: Companies have a social responsibility to give back to the communities they do business in. One way that SIA does this is through an ongoing conservation project with one of the few remaining lowland forests in Indonesia, the Harapan Rainforest, which has 98,555 hectares covered by an ecosystem restoration concession. So far 2,787 trees replanted under the Harapan Rainforest Initiative, with 260 hectares of forest restored. 

Airbus A350-900 Aircraft

6. Fleet Modernization: The largest source of carbon emissions from an airline is from fuel burn during flight, making maintaining a young and modern fleet, the most effective way to reduce emissions. SIA has always championed its commitment to this as it serves the environment, as well as customers, by delivering the latest in aircraft technology and comfort. We have invested in the most fuel-efficient aircraft, such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787, which are known for their advanced technology and high fuel-efficient performance. These newer-generation aircraft help to boost fuel efficiency by up to 30% over previous-generation aircraft.  

About Singapore Airlines  

The SIA Group’s history dates back to 1947 with the maiden flight of Malayan Airways Limited. The airline was later renamed Malaysian Airways Limited and then Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (MSA). In 1972, MSA split into Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Malaysian Airline System. Initially operating a modest fleet of 10 aircraft to 22 cities in 18 countries, SIA has grown to be a world-class international airline group that is committed to the constant enhancement of the three main pillars of its brand promise: Service Excellence, Product Leadership and Network Connectivity. For more information, please visit www.singaporeair.com.  We invest in large-scale initiatives that progress the company and the communities in which we operate towards a sustainable future. 


Tips for Being a More Responsible/Sustainable Traveler 

Every travel decision you make has the potential to move the needle toward a more sustainable future for people and our planet. Sure, you want to minimize any negative impacts of traipsing around the globe. But responsible tourism is all about considering how to do the most good, too, by visiting places that depend on tourism right when they need you most.  

If you’re ready to take steps, large and small, that can have a significant impact on the natural environments and the communities you encounter along your way, take these tips to heart: 

Understand Your Transportation Options 

Your usual local modes of travel may not be the gentlest-on-the-planet way to go, so take yourself off autopilot. Rent a hybrid or electric vehicle. Check to see if a shuttle or bus might be an alternative before you hail a cab or ride service. Frequent cafes and restaurants within walking or cycling distance of your lodging. And, when selecting an airline, consider more than price and frequent flier miles. United has invested more in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) globally than any other airline, and they’re so committed to combating climate change, they’re on a path toward reducing 100% of their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 

Support Local Communities 

Many communities rely on the inward flow of tourism dollars. Take exotic Tenerife, largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, which has fast become a world-class destination thanks to its welcoming residents, unbeatable climate, and vast offerings for visitors. Recognized as a Certified Biosphere Destination for its sustainable tourism initiatives, Tenerife is one of many places where tourist dollars have a positive impact not only on the local economy but on efforts to preserve natural expanses. Nearly half of its territory is categorized as protected. Seek out these places, but don’t just go. Pack lightly, and purchase what you need when you arrive. Eat local food. Stay a few extra nights. And consider an off-season visit, when your support is most needed. 

Tour Wisely 

A bit of research will help you choose a tour operator that shares your sustainable travel ambitions. Many USTOA members have been inspired by the organization’s goal of preserving the globe’s human, natural, and cultural assets, and they’re working diligently to make positive changes. What innovative things are they doing? Everything from designing unique itineraries that address overtourism to implementing animal welfare policies. Some are creating opportunities for travelers to give back to the destinations they visit. A few are actively pursuing carbon neutrality. 

Open Your Mind to New Destinations 

If your dream destination list only includes the usual suspects, consider broadening your horizons. There are countries making great “green” strides that don’t show up on every “top 10” list, so they might not be on your radar… yet. Imagine snacking on fried cod tongue—a delicacy that aligns with the nose-to-tail culinary movement—and racing silently across the frozen terrain of the starkly lovely Lyngen Alps on a snowmobile safari. Norway, where electric cars and electric snowmobiles are all the rage, has been recognized by the United Nations as “a leader in the global transition towards an inclusive green economy.” If a slower pace suits you, board a ferry to South Korea’s volcanic Jeju Island: the world’s first recipient of UNESCO’s triple crown of designations (Biosphere Reserve, World Natural Heritage Site, Global Geopark). Here, you can walk the Olle Trail, discover lava tubes and waterfalls, bask on white sand beaches, and savor black pig, which is unlike any pork you’ve ever tasted. 

Act Like a Sustainability Superhero 

Wherever your adventures take you, there are simple things you can do to leave a place better than you found it: Reduce your use of plastics, pick up trash, recycle, skip printed maps and brochures, reuse your towels, respect local customs, volunteer, donate to local causes. It’s all about treading lightly, and sensitively, as you step out in the world. Go one step further by telling friends about your sustainability efforts. Share photos on social media of eco-destinations, “green” experiences, artisanal products, and mouthwatering local cuisine. You just might entice others to follow the trail you’ve blazed. 

Click here to meet USTOA’s Sustainable Superhero.

Header Image Courtesy of Anders Gjengedal and Visit Norway


Why Purchase Travel Insurance: The importance of protecting your next trip

Booking a vacation is exciting. You are most likely concerned with picking the right destination and packing your suitcase, but are you also concerned with purchasing travel insurance? Many travelers think that insurance is only necessary for oversees vacations or expensive travel, but travel insurance can be a valuable investment for all vacations.  

Photo Courtesy of Redpoint Travel Insurance

No one purchases a vacation with the intention to cancel, but sometimes the unexpected event happens. Travel insurance programs provide valuable protection against these incidents. One of the most popular benefits of purchasing travel insurance is the Trip Cancellation benefit. For example, if you experience an unforeseen sickness or injury before travelling you could be covered. This coverage can provide reimbursement for unused, non-refundable pre-paid travel arrangement if you cancel for a listed covered reason. 

Comprehensive travel protection plans also provide coverage in the event a traveler incurs medical expenses while traveling. Many travelers are unsure whether their health-care plan will cover medical expenses while traveling.  Purchasing medical expense coverage for a specific trip ensures you receive quality care while on your vacation. Many comprehensive travel insurance products also include a medical evacuation component. This coverage can provide transportation services if you or your family member needs hospitalization. Redpoint Travel Protection will arrange and pay for all evacuation services to occur with no out-of-pocket cost for the traveler. 

Photo Courtesy of Redpoint Travel Insurance

Air travel can also be unpredictable with the potential for a flight delay, missed connection, or lost luggage. Travel insurance provides added assurance that reasonable expenses you incur due to these types of mishaps could be reimbursed. Make sure to keep all receipts and file a claim when you return home.  

Okay, so you have decided to purchase travel insurance, when is the best time to buy? As soon as you purchase your trip! Many travel insurance programs include early purchase benefits. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, purchasing within a specified time frame can waive those conditions. If you forget to purchase coverage within the early purchase window, you are likely still eligible for coverage. Purchasing travel insurance before departure can let you rest assured knowing you are covered in the event you need to cancel your trip for a covered reason.  

Make sure you do your research before purchasing. Policies may vary and it is imperative that you examine the key benefits to confirm the policy meets your travel needs. Travelers should also always review the policy’s listed coverage as well as the limitations and exclusions.  Understanding your travel insurance policy will ensure that you are not disappointed in the event you must file a claim  

The information presented in this article is a brief description of travel insurance coverage and is for information use only. Please read your specific policy carefully to fully understand the coverage, terms, conditions, limitations, and exclusions.  

About Redpoint 

Redpoint  Travel Protection provides travelers with the industry’s best, most comprehensive and flexible array of insurances and services that include trip cancellation/ interruption, property loss, medical and travel assistance, and evacuation. Redpoint Travel Protection’s suite of products ensures the right plan is available for all travel. To ensure the best possible partner experience, Redpoint uniquely owns and provides all key aspects of its offerings: travel assistance, evacuation, claims management and payment, and insurance underwriting.  This means Redpoint can create customized programs for our partners and actively collaborate to provide the best customer experience in the industry. 


My Favorite Portuguese Finds and Where to Get them Now that I am Back Home

By: Margaret Campbell, Sr. Director of Marketing at Mayflower Cruises & Tours 

All Photos Courtesy of Margaret Campbell

Olá! I’m Margaret the Sr. Director of Marketing at Mayflower Cruises & Tours and last November I traveled Portugal for the first time to experience the Douro River valley at the height of the autumn foliage. I cruised onboard our parent company’s luxurious Scenic Azure for 10 days and indulged in all of the famed Portuguese specialties along my journey. Today, I am going to share my top five favorite things I picked up in Portugal and where I find them now that I am back home in the states.  

Wine 

This one is the obvious choice given the region. The Douro is world famous for its Port wine. Port is a fortified wine, or wine to which brandy has been added to stop the fermentation process and ultimately leaving the wine a bit sweeter and with a higher ABV, typically around 20%.  This sweet treat comes in many varieties and is often served with dessert, but I found the port tonic cocktails that our bartender onboard was serving up to be my favorite! So, whether you are looking for a Ruby, White, Rose or Tawny, try your local liquor store for bottle of Cockburns, Sandman, Croft or my favorite…Morgadio Da Calcada.  

Maybe Port wine isn’t for you, don’t let that stop you from traveling to the Douro Valley for a wine adventure. This UNESCO World Heritage area is one of the oldest wine producing areas in the world and is home to more than 80 types of grapes and the quintas here produces many delicious whites, reds, roses and even green wines. Before traveling to Portugal, I had never heard of green wine but after tasting my first Vinho Verde at the Quinta da Aveleda I was converted. Their delicious sparkling Aveleda Fonte White is light, crisp and refreshing. I was pleasantly surprised by not just the Green but the white, red and rose table wines of the Douro Valley. Since being home my favorite place to pick up these regional favorites is at the Chicago land-based Binny’s stores, they have a great selection and I love sharing my finds with my friends now that the weather is finally warming up.  

Sardines  

Portugal is seafood obsessed and sardines reign supreme. Fresh, tinned, however you enjoy them, you can have them.  The legend is that sardines gained their popularity thanks in part to St. Anthony, Patron St. of Lisbon. The story goes, St. Anthony was on expedition and while trying to gain the attention of the locals, he turned to the fish and started preaching, he captured their attention and from then on, the sardines were legendary.  

Ceramic Sardines

Soap 

Soap making is a time-honored tradition in Portugal dating back to Claus Porto the country’s first soap maker in 1887. Since then, the people of Portugal have been producing some of the best soaps in the world and packaging them in the most beautiful wrappings. My favorites include the Castelbel White Crane. I picked up a bar while shopping in Porto and it was gone almost immediately after I returned home. I haven’t gotten my hands on another bar yet, but I have been keeping my eyes out for one. I have however found quite a few other scents by Castelbels at Homegoods and World Market. These make great gifts or just nice additions to your everyday home uses.  

Cork  

Portugal is the largest producer of cork in the world. Now the vast majority of the world’s cork supply that comes from Portugal is made into wine stoppers, there are many other things that you may be surprised to learn are made from cork… While doing some shopping in Porto, I picked up a pair of ASPORTUGUESAS slip-on shoes, they are made from cork and wool and are 100% sustainable but did you know that Birkenstocks soles are also made using cork?  

Douro Valley Vineyards and Olive Trees 

Olives  

Olive trees play an important role in the vineyards of the Douro Valley, helping to hold the steep walls of the valley in place and protecting the vineyards from washing away during the rainy season. What I found so fascinating was at each Quinta we visited the families each told stories of harvesting the olives by hand with their nets and sticks when the fruit was at the correct ripeness, either green or black. Then sharing for olive oil or eating fresh. Portuguese olives and olive oil are delicious, but they have proven to be the hardest things to find since being home. Luckily for me we live in the age of the internet and there is a wonderful Portuguese market located just outside of Boston. The Portugalia Marketplace has it all and they ship.  

My time spent on the Douro on the Scenic Azure with Mayflower Cruises & Tours was amazing. I loved experiencing the culture, people and food. I cannot wait to plan my return trip to pick up a few more of my favorites and find my next five!  

Find your dream vacation to Portugal with a USTOA tour operator here https://ustoa.travelstride.com/trip-list/portugal

About Mayflower Cruises & Tours

Mayflower Cruises & Tours is a division of The Scenic Group. The Midwest based tour operator has been providing travelers world-class guided holidays around the world for over 40 years. Today, Mayflower has over 100 itineraries, travels to six continents and offers many different travel styles, including river cruising, special events departures, national parks adventures, seasonal excursions, domestic and international guided holidays and more. For more information about Mayflower Cruises & Tours, visit www.mayflowercruisesandtours.comor call 800-323-7604 


Berlin’s Exhibition Culture is Evolving

Author: Dagmar von Schönfeld, Content Editor & Senior Key Account Manager Culture by visitBerlin

In Berlin, art has risen from the walls, transformed itself and conquered new spaces. At the same time our whole world is changing rapidly: digitization, global networking, social upheaval, new perspectives on the past. In order to be part of the change, art must be communicated in a new way, exhibition spaces must evolve into spaces of experience. The creative hub Berlin shows new approaches.

© Getty Images, photo: Marcello Zerletti / EyeEm

A fresh breeze in Berlin’s museums and exhibition halls 

The Neue Nationalgalerie is a world-renowned museum. The famous steel and glass architecture with its wide, light-flooded exhibition hall has been displaying paintings and sculptures of classical modernism for over 50 years. Recently, it has been brought to life in a new way: performances transform the exhibition hall into a dynamic sensual experience. Architecture, sculpture, music, and dance merge in unique artistic actions. Further dance performances this year also involve the outdoor areas of the Neue Nationalgalerie. 

© visitBerlin, photo: mulinarius

The new Humboldt Forum in the heart of Berlin is another spectacular venue for art and culture with huge exhibition spaces. One with a special offer: visitors and professional dancers open up the spaces together – with dance and theater, performances, accompanied by sound installations. The science exhibition After Nature does not need long text panels to convey the sensitivity of ecological systems: As soon as you enter, large schools of fish on huge projection screens react sensitively and collectively to every human movement.  

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin © schnellebuntebilder / Phillipp Plum

Berlin’s Museum für Naturkunde (Museum of Natural History) is not only an exhibition venue for thousands of animal specimens, but also a renowned research institution. Now the boundaries between visitors and science, between research and art, are falling. For the new Science Variety Show, researchers and artists have developed evening show programs in which research results are conveyed through music, artistry and storytelling, and in which people from different backgrounds talk about science at eye level. 

© Stefan Tietz

Old industrial buildings, breweries, party grounds: Experiencing art in unusual places 

Located in the heart of the capital, they are gigantic spaces with impressive room heights: For years, thousands of people danced to club sounds in the former combined heat and power station, Kraftwerk. And until today, they dance in the legendary Berghain, a former hall of a freight station and the center of Berlin’s techno culture since the 1990s. Both venues are now also dedicated to art. The Berlin art platform Light Art Space experiments with excitingly innovative exhibition formats in the eternally dim halls. It fuses art, science and technology into deep sensory experiences – whether it’s about artificial intelligence, Berlin’s origins as a former swampland or the motive of collective imagination. All performances come together under the leitmotif of light. 

Jakob Kudsk Steensen, ‘Berl-Berl’, Halle am Berghain, 2021 © Timo Ohler

In the 20-meter-high boiler house of the former brewery the KINDL, international artists show installations and performances, films and videos, sculptures and paintings. Recently, it was stuffed with human body shells made of black latex: they hung motionless from the ceiling, tried to climb rope ladders, dangled from steel girders and brick walls, or lay powerlessly stretched out on the concrete floor. The installation was accompanied by a soundtrack modelled on the human pulse, the “ultrasound”. 

Alexandra Bircken, Fair Game 2021, Installation view Kesselhaus © Jens Ziehe

Whether in the former minting plant Alte Münze, right on Alexanderplatz, the Lighthouse of Digital Art, on the site of an old railroad workshop, or the light installation Dark Matter on a former factory premises: sensory journeys of discovery through soundscapes, virtual reality and light imaginaries deeply touch and offer a new experience of art and space for the visitor. 

Berlin exhibitions: New themes and critical views 

Paul Gauguin is one of the most important French painters, famous for his South Sea paintings created in the 19th century. This year, the master and his artworks were viewed from an unusual angle in an exhibition at the Alte Nationalgalerie on Museum Island Berlin: It follows the question of how much were his exotic and erotic depictions influenced by the western-colonial thinking of the time? And how do artists from Samoa or Tahiti actually perceive Gauguin’s paintings today? 

Critical perspectives are currently shaping several exhibitions in Berlin: The Brücke Museum, with its focus on Expressionist art, devoted an entire exhibition to the question of how much the work of the artists was intertwined with the colonial era, its power relations, and racist ideas. In the Neue Nationalgalerie, similar questions are raised and the problem of the relationship of male artists to young female models is touched. Since last year, the Humboldt Forum has been displaying Berlin’s extensive collections of art and cultural historical objects from all over the world while focusing on the origins of the artefacts, often looted from other countries in colonial times. 

© C/O Berlin, photo: David von Becker

However, it’s not just about the past. Today, the global metropolis of Berlin stands for a lived and practiced tolerance and openness. Accordingly, Berlin’s museums and exhibition venues are taking up current social discourses, confronting contradictions and challenges. The renowned exhibition house for photography C|O Berlin in 2022 dedicates itself to the topic of queerness, the Gropius Bau recently focused on the life of the black LGBTQIA community in South Africa. At Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin’s museum for contemporary art, an exhibition explored the brutal processes of nation-building. The themes of diversity and roots, of belonging and being different have arrived in the Berlin art and exhibition scene and do reflect the current social awakening. 

Header Image © Ralph Larmann

Find your dream vacation to Berlin with a USTOA tour operator here https://ustoa.travelstride.com/trip-list/berlin

About Visit Berlin 

visitBerlin is your one-stop service partner for all B2B inquiries concerning Berlin as a tourism and MICE destination. In this capacity, it offers a wide range of professional services to the travel industry, the MICE Industry, and the media. The Market Management’s core activities include establishing a worldwide network of industry contacts to promote Berlin and offer workshops, FAM trips, and promotional material about the destination. Additionally, it supports press inquiries and organizes press trips to the city. The visitBerlin Convention Office is the first point of contact for the MICE industry and makes official bids for meetings & conventions on behalf of the capital city. Many products, including the Berlin Welcome Card – Berlin’s official tourist pass – can be booked directly through visitBerlin. visitBerlin also operates the Berlin Tourist Info Centers in prominent locations throughout the city. Berlin’s official online tourism platform. https://www.visitberlin.de/en is a useful source of information to prepare a Berlin trip and holds exclusive offers 


Fireside Chat with Singapore Tourism Board’s Rachel Loh

By: Gina Ng, Vice President, MICE and Leisure Trade, Singapore Tourism Board Americas 

Located in the heart of Southeast Asia, Singapore is a vibrant, cosmopolitan, English-speaking city state with a rich tapestry of Asia’s cultures and influences weaved together. With its friendly and passionate population, this forward-thinking destination is constantly evolving and has not sat still throughout the pandemic. Now, Singapore wants to welcome all international fans and friends to embark on a journey through its reimagined tourism products.  

I checked in with my boss, Rachel Loh, Senior Vice President of Singapore Tourism Board Americas, who is currently in Singapore to obtain the latest updates from the Lion City.  

Photo Courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board

Can you share with everyone what’s it like traveling in Singapore right now? What can travelers expect when visiting Singapore?   

Ever since Singapore dropped all testing and quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated travelers in April 2022, it is now truly a breeze to visit Singapore! Life in the city state is also pretty much back to normal, and we are seeing more and more international visitors enjoying themselves at our attractions, restaurants, and hawker centers alongside the locals.  

There are still some safety measures in place, such as the SG Clean certification for businesses and face masks required indoors (it’s optional outdoors), to ensure that everyone’s health is safeguarded while enjoying themselves. As such, I think that now more than ever, Singapore should be a bucket-list destination for everyone who wants safe, authentic, and memorable reimagined experiences.  

Photo Courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board

How do you see international travel change in the post-Covid world, and how would this look like for Singapore? 

We recognize that there is a renewed focus on travelers seeking a respite and connecting with family and friends during their travels, with a focus on authentic nature and wellness experiences. This is why we have worked closely with our tourism partners to develop new products to meet the new travel needs. I’m glad to have experienced some of these new products this time in Singapore!  

I’m envious! Can you share some of these new experiences? 

Definitely! Visitors to Singapore can now easily hop on a scenic yacht cruise (or speedboat if you like the thrill!) from Sentosa to visit Singapore’s southern islands such as Lazarus Island for its beautiful beaches. Visitors can also combine cultural immersion with one of the many biking tours in Singapore, with rides along the Singapore River to discover the bustling Clarke Quay area. On the wellness front, you can now enjoy a serene sunset yoga atop Marina Bay Sands, while taking in amazing 360 views of Singapore.  

Photo Courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board

Travelers are increasingly seeing sustainability as part of their travels, can you share some exciting attractions in Singapore that embrace sustainability and eco-friendliness? 

That’s right, more travelers are looking for a smaller carbon footprint and seeking to incorporate sustainability during their vacations. Singapore already has a reputation of being a leader in sustainability, with even further plans to become a “City in Nature”. Singapore is well poised to meet the needs of these travelers.  

In fact, many first-time visitors are quite surprised that Singapore is very green. Our Gardens by the Bay for one, the largest nature park right in the city center, has also incorporated sustainable functions throughout the park and managed to reduce energy consumption by 20%.  Most of our architecture has weaved in green concepts, bringing the outdoors to the indoors. One example is the latest PARKROYAL Collection Marina Bay which embraced the hotel-in-nature concept with its interior areas brimming with lush foliage.  

Not forgetting our exciting food scene! Michelin rated restaurant, Labyrinth, provides a 90% locally sourced menu, and even green bespoke cocktails are all in the spirit of sustainable practices at Native, for one.  

What else can visitors expect in 2022 and beyond? 

The city has welcomed new and unique hotels including the PARKROYAL Collection Marina Bay, The Clan Hotel Singapore, and the Dusit Thani Laguna resort for golf and wellness enthusiast. The famed Raffles Singapore is also slated to open its new villas-only resort on Sentosa Island in 2023.  

We have also been busy on the culinary side, with the opening of the Analogue for one, with its plant-based foods and sustainable cocktail menu, as well as the restaurant 1-Arden, located on the 51st floor rooftop, and features the world’s highest 1000 sq.ft. food forest. There’s always something new in Singapore to experience.  

Find your dream vacation to Singapore with a USTOA tour operator here https://ustoa.travelstride.com/trip-list/singapore.

For further information: 

Visit Singapore 

Passion Tours in Singapore 

About Singapore Tourism Board

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is the lead development agency for tourism, one of the country’s key service sectors and economic pillars. STB brings the Passion Made Possible brand to life by differentiating Singapore as a vibrant destination that inspires people to share and deepen their passions. The STB Americas offices in New York and San Francisco drive all marketing, business development and travel trade activities in the Americas.