Posts tagged with "tourism"

Camera illustration by Allison Christensen

Six Steps to the Perfect Selfie in Seattle

By: Patrick T. Cooper

Patrick must admit – he has not mastered the perfect selfie. However, he thinks that Seattle in September could be the remedy for any travel woes as we pardon summer and welcome the fall. Considering that social media isn’t losing momentum, it is becoming increasingly evident that one must embrace society’s online culture. Time stamping oneself at destinations as proof of global citizenship is a necessity.

Seattle is a phenomenal location to let the eye wander. Ignite a bit of envy in ]coworkers, family, and friends with selfies in this majestic Northwestern city. Discovering the United States is paramount, especially when considering the effects of the pandemic. To that end, he is authoring this easy guide to exploring this travel destination gem.

Dismiss any stereotypes about this region being inundated with rain and overcast skies – Seattle is sizzling! Unseasonably warm and record high temperatures are paired with the city’s cultural heat. Seattle’s thriving art scene, architecture and delicious cuisine options make this city a must-visit. Hopefully Patrick’s article will prompt readers to shed their COVID-19 concerns and explore the world with care and caution.

The World of Hyatt

Selfie #1! The obligatory hotel check-in selfie challenge. Hyatt has the block sewn up in downtown Seattle! Everywhere one looks from the corner of 8th and Pine Street, they can find either The Grand Hyatt, The Hyatt Regency, or the Hyatt Olive 8. All of these destinations will make a stay in Seattle sweet. Each facility has discerning characteristics for ­the global citizen, with The Grand Hyatt being the mothership of sophistication and elegance. The Hyatt Regency is the true gift to the business traveler with its convenient positioning near the city’s new convention center. Finally, The Hyatt Olive 8, possesses a swanky, eclectic boutique feel. Hyatt’s CEO’s, Mark Hoplamaziam’s, philosophy of growing with internet is clearly visible in the hospitality that is delivered by the staff and the entire team.

Patrick bit intoTIDAL+ Burger as the first capture on his journey! The mind-blowing seasoning of this burger makes for a mouthful. Trust Patrick, foodies and travelers alike will want to share their initial bite with the world. Promise him to dip the corner of the sandwich in the signature black garlic aioli prior to indulgence. Hold up – thats not all! One must indulge in a proper night cap. March over to Andare Kitchen & Bar to sip the Triveri Blanc de Blancs Brut as a welcome to Seattle.

The Space Needle

Selfie # 2! What was once a man’s doodle became a defining destination and central figure for the 1962 World’s Fair. Still standing today is synonymous with the Seattle skyline, and remains a staple that never disappoints. To visit, take a brisk elevator ride towards heaven. Regardless of the day’s weather, the view from the space needle is astonishing! Dare to step out on The Loupe – the world’s first, and only, revolving glass floor. Ready for the perfect selfie above Seattle? Honestly, Patrick was mortified about standing on the glass flooring. Thankfully, he conquered my fear and embraced a wonderful experience.

The Public Market

Selfie #3! Catch some live fish throwing at the Public Market! This is an invigorating opportunity, to say the least. The Public Market is always jumping with a slew of activities, so one will never be bored. Fresh seafood or a brief coffee break are manifestations of Seattle’s cultural tapestry – and also make for gorgeous selfie backgrounds. Dusk is the best time to catch the neon glow of the Public Market signage. Bring a camera and become a part of the Seattle skyline.

The Nest Rooftop Bar

Selfie #4! Cocktails and bites are why everyone travels, correct? At least, that is part of Patrick’s ministry. The Nest Rooftop Bar is elegantly perched above the Thompson Seattle Hotel. This bar makes for a splendid city view, whether it’s day or night. Additionally, the restaurant’s lush, green garden wall creates an outstanding optic opportunity.

Heads up! The Seattle Great Wheel illuminates the night sky from the restaurant’s vantage point.

The Seattle Museum of Art

Selfie#5! Refined yet welcoming, visiting the Seattle Museum of Art (SAM) is a moment to adore. Spend the day absorbing cultural education while viewing works of art from around the world. The Seattle Asian Art Museum is the SAM’s original home, and without a doubt the 1933 art-deco elements will be pleasing to viewer’s eyes. There are countless locations within the walls of this building for picturesque selfies.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Selfie #6! Glamour behind glass at the Seattle Center. Upon visiting, one should expect nothing less than phenomenal from the native Washingtonian Dale Chihuly. Chihuly Garden and Glass presents spectacular landscapes for viewing, including the atrium’s ceiling art. One’s eyes will marvel at the plethora of hand-blown glass sculptures. Chihuly’s colorful artwork makes for an excellent back drop in his selfie repertoire.

Say cheese!

About Patrick T. Cooper

From wardrobe stylist to CEO, Patrick T. Cooper’s career encompasses over 20 years in design. His prowess for defining creative strategies to fuel brands is what continually ignites Patrick. Innate artistic aptitude makes him a highly sought-after partner for Fortune 500 companies looking to garner consumer brand loyalty. Patrick’s diverse body of work includes corporate partners like Masonite as well as entertainment clients American Idol season 3 winner Fantasia Barrino, rock band 3 Doors Down, and legendary mogul Sean Combs. Patrick T. Cooper’s cutting-edge sense of style and genius allows him to envision beyond the predictable to create thought-provoking content that positively impacts diverse audiences globally.

As an African American man and LGBTQ advocate, Patrick is the epitome of the convergence of eclectic style, art, culture and people. As the official Chief Encouragement Officer, he’s committed to living authentically and celebrating originality. Patrick’s mantra, “Being a trailblazer isn’t enough if we don’t encourage others to find and live in their purpose!”

Seattle image via Patrick Thomas Cooper for use by 360 Magazine

Seattle Public Market image via Patrick Thomas Cooper for use by 360 Magazine

Seattle Museum of Art image via Patrick Thomas Cooper for use by 360 Magazine

The Nest Seattle image via Patrick Thomas Cooper for use by 360 Magazine

Seattle image via Patrick Thomas Cooper for use by 360 Magazine

Tokyo via Tokyo Tourism for use by 360 Magazine

Reasons to Visit Tokyo this Summer

There are plenty of reasons to come to Tokyo this summer. Even during these hot and humid days, there are plenty of ways to appreciate and enjoy this season in Tokyo. If you decide to go, there are plenty of unique ways of immersing in and succumbing to this time of year.

Unagi Day

Doyo No Ushi No Hi, “the Ox Day during Doyo,” is a day in mid July, this year falling on July 28, dedicated to eating unagi or eel. This tradition began in the Edo period. At that time, it was believed that eating unagi during summer would boost stamina and relieve oneself from the oppressive heat and humidity. According to legend, there was an unagi restaurant owner whose business struggled due to his trouble selling unagi in the hot summer. The owner asked a friend, Hiraga Gennai (1728~1780), a well-known physician and pharmacologist, for help. Gennai advised him to place an advertisement in front of the restaurant stating, “Doyo No Ushi No Hi” or Eat Unagi Today, and You Will Never Suffer from Summer Heat.” The restaurant became successful, and soon other restaurants followed. This may be the first instance of commercial copywriting in Japan.

WATERS Takeshiba

In olden days, Tokyo was a city of crisscrossing waterways, often known as the “Venice of the East.” Water transportation became the norm, as warehouses and markets sprung up at each wharf. The surrounding area was soon crowded with workers and residents, as depicted in ubiquitous Ukiyoe woodblock prints of the time. Culturally, people also enjoyed waterside attractions, such as fireworks, which became a popular summertime evening pastime, watched from both the shore and boats. WATERS Takeshiba is the latest waterfront complex that is a modern interpretation of Tokyo’s waterside culture. Ferries and cruise ships depart from this wharf to waterfront neighborhoods. The adjacent buildings also house the fashionable new lifestyle hotel, the Mesm Tokyo, Autograph Collection, as well as restaurants, shops, and three dedicated theaters for the Shiki Theatre Company. WATERS Takeshiba is a not-to-be-missed new Tokyo experience.

Tokyo Tourist Information Centers Are Ready to Welcome Foreign Guests

Tourist information centers inside and outside the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics venues have worked long and hard to prepare for the event and are now welcoming foreign guests.

Village Plaza, a brand-new facility built to host the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics athletes, opened on July 13 in Harumi, Tokyo. To support the life of the athletes and supporting staff during their stay, Village Plaza provides many services such as an internet lounge, café, and post office. Here also is Tokyo City Information, a tourist information center where the smiling staff, all of whom are expert guides of Tokyo tourism, welcome guests and introduce them to Tokyo.

“We know this is a very important time for athletes and other people who stay here,” said the staff, “so we will try to provide the best hospitality and do everything we can to make them feel at ease. And while its not possible for people to visit Tokyo freely at the moment, we will do our best to provide information about the charms and attractions of the city, so that when it becomes safe to travel again people might want to come back.”

Among the special projects to promote future travel to Tokyo is an origami in the shape of Mt. Fuji containing a collection of QR codes of websites that provide a variety of information about Tokyo. Along with the Tokyo City Information facility, they are distributed in two other temporary information centers in Tokyo. The hope is that people will take them home as a souvenir until the next time they visit Japan.

The five Tokyo Tourist Information centers operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government have completed their preparations for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

While the number of people visiting the facility has greatly decreased since the spreading of COVID-19, the staff continues to offer guidance and assistance to Japanese and foreign travelers. The staff is also offering online assistance through the multilingual service “Online Tourist Guide,” where people can use their device to speak with a tourist guide expert that will answer their questions. The Online Tourist Guide is currently available in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean.

The information center is also mindful of accessible tourism, offering special guidance to people with hearing disabilities and providing information about accessibility in Tokyo.

With the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the priority of the Tokyo Tourist Information centers is to ensure that visitors have a safe stay by providing up-to-date information about places in Tokyo. In addition to this, dedicated spaces have been set up with Olympics-related materials and information.

“When the whole situation calms down and people will be able to travel again,” says a staff member, “we would love for them to experience all the different aspects of Tokyo. The traditional atmosphere of places like Asakusa, the modernity and nightlife of Roppongi, even the everyday experiences of punctual trains and peopleʼs good manners are all things that we want to help people discover when they come here.”

For the safety of visitors, all Tokyo Tourist Information centers are implementing measures to prevent the spreading of COVID-19, such as hand sanitizing, social distance, air ventilation and mask use. We appreciate your cooperation with these measures.

 

Sweden Open Air Bar illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

World’s Largest Open-Air Bar

Sweden Creates the World’s Largest Open-Air Bar

Following the success of the 2019 Edible Country campaign is the launch of Drinkable Country – the largest, open-air, world-class bar led by internationally acclaimed team at Tjoget, and other leading Swedish beverage experts. Starting June 15, visitors can book a seat at more than 16 tables located in some of Sweden’s most beautiful natural landscapes for a chance to enjoy a selection of drinks and DIY recipes reflecting the country’s 100-million-acre natural pantry.

The world’s largest, outdoor, socially distanced bar is opening this summer in Swedish nature. In 2019, Sweden launched The Edible Country, the world’s largest DIY gourmet restaurant, with recipes developed by Guide Michelin-awarded chefs. The concept, which until now, consisted only of food, is being expanded to include an incredible drinking experience. Drinkable Country features a combination of ready-made beverages that reflect local nature and produce alongside drinks those visitors can mix themselves with ingredients found in the surroundings based on recipes provided by Sweden’s foremost beverage experts. When booking a Drinkable Country experience, guests will have the opportunity to explore the area with local guides while collecting and mixing the ingredients, and then enjoy the various drinks.

“The DIY recipes enable visitors to explore Swedish nature through world-class taste experiences,” says Jens Heed, Program Director Food Travel at Visit Sweden. “The country’s 100-million-acre pantry of fruit, berries, vegetables, and crystal-clear spring water is open to everyone. We call it the Drinkable Country – the world’s largest open-air bar.”

The recipes have been developed in collaboration with four different beverage experts, each of whom has been given the responsibility to represent different regions in Sweden. Rebecka Lithander represents southern Sweden. Lithander has experience from the two-Michelin-star restaurant Daniel Berlin, where she raised the non-alcohol drink packages to the same high level as the food. The tables on the west coast are represented by Bar Bruno, a local gem of a cocktail bar; while on the east coast, it is the world-famous bar Tjoget that will compose the drink menu. Emil Åreng, a nationally and internationally acclaimed bartender and author of the world’s best cocktail book in 2016, represents the northern part of Sweden.

“It is a thirst-quenching journey through Swedish nature that is a completely new and fascinating way to experience cocktails and to discover the country and its natural environment,” says Leo Lahti, Bar Manager at Tjoget.

In Sweden, nature is everyone’s playground. It’s a place to linger – as long as you do not disturb or destroy it – thanks to the unique Allemansrätt – Swedens’s “freedom to roam.” With the Drinkable Country, Sweden invites everyone to experience their close-to-nature lifestyle over world-class food and drink.

More information about the experience: Visit Sweden

The Beverage Experts

  • Southern Sweden: Rebecka Lithander is an acclaimed sommelier who now works at the locally praised restaurant Mutantur in Malmö. Before joining Mutantur she worked at the two-star Guide Michelin restaurant Daniel Berlin.
  • Western Sweden: Bar Bruno, a small cosy bar that serves innovative cocktails with a home-bar feel.
  • Eastern Sweden: For the past five years, Tjoget has been on the list of the World’s 50 Best Bars.
  • Northern Sweden: Emil Åreng with roots in Norrland was named Sweden’s best bartender in 2015 and has also won several international awards. Emil most recently came from Cardier Baren at the historic Grand Hôtel in Stockholm, where he was Creative Director. He is the author of the cocktail book Salongs i Norrland, which was named Best Cocktail Book in the World in 2016.

The Edible Country

The Edible Country’ is an initiative from Visit Sweden to highlight the natural and healthy pantry that Swedish nature has to offer. The menu suggestions of the do-it-yourself dining experiences are co-created with four of Sweden’s top chefs: Titti Qvarnström, Niklas Ekstedt, Anton Bjuhr and Jacob Holmström. The dishes are created with inspiration from Sweden’s varied landscape and shifting seasons. The over 20 tables are placed in Swedish Lapland, Stockholm Archipelago, the High Coast, Dalarna, Gävleborg, Sörmland, Värmland, Västsverige, Småland, Halland, Skåne and Gotland and you can find more information about the regions on our webpage. The initiative is an open invitation for everyone to experience the Swedish ‘close-to-nature’ lifestyle and take pleasure in the natural pantry that Sweden has to offer. Add-on services that will help you during your experience, for example, your very own personal guide or chef and a basket with the necessary ingredients to create the drinks or cook the recipes outdoors are available to book online.

About Visit Sweden

Visit Sweden is Sweden’s marketing company. Visit Sweden markets Sweden abroad as a destination to contribute to more jobs and economic growth. The company also provides and sells communication and knowledge services related to the hospitality industry, tourism, and travel. Foreign tourists spend approximately SEK 144 billion annually in Sweden and approximately 172,400 people are employed in the hospitality industry’s companies alone. Visit Sweden is owned by the Swedish state through the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation.

Image courtesy of Geoffrey Weill Associates for use by 360 Magazine

Zürich Hoteliers Celebrate the Start of Summer Travel

ZÜRICH HOTELIERS TAKE A DIP IN THE LAKE TO KICK OFF SUMMER TRAVEL

As Europe begins opening its borders to international travelers, Zürich Tourism has launched a travel campaign in partnership with 75 of the city’s hotels. The campaign, titled Zürich Weeks, started with a bang: a group of hoteliers gathered for a swim in the city’s favorite pool, Lake Zürich, in a display of optimism and solidarity. 

VACCINATED AMERICANS CAN VISIT SWITZERLAND FROM JUNE 28

Seebad Enge Swimming Area

As part of the campaign, Zürich hotels are offering discounted nightly rates, inviting holiday-goers from across Europe (and, as of June 28, vaccinated Americans) to experience the city’s summer season. Through August 31, 2021, 75 hotels, including the Widder Hotel and Storchen Zürich, are offering four-night stays in four price categories, from CHF 499 to 1499 (approximately US$556 to $1,671)*. 

In addition to discounted nightly rates, travelers can expect many warm-weather appeals in the Swiss metropolis. These include water activities (such as outdoor swimming pools, paddleboarding on the river, and boat cruising); and active pursuits, such as hiking through the spectacular landscapes accessible just beyond the city limits. Foodies can sample Zürich’s iconic ice cream parlors and lakeside restaurants, and visit the Lindt Home of Chocolate, which opened its doors last fall. 

For more information, please visit the Zürich website

*The price applies for 4 nights in a double room for 2 people, incl. breakfast and VAT. The local tourist fee of CHF 2.50 per person per night is not included, and must be paid locally at the hotel as an additional charge. Booking period: 1 June to 25 August 2021 Travel period: 3 June to 31 August 2021 (final arrival day is 27 August 2021) The offer is limited and subject to availability.

Art by Symara of 360 for use by 360 Magazine

Four Seasons Hotel Boston Launches Seasons in the Town and Country

As a continuation of the highly successful Seasons in the Town and Country programming, Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street, Boston ushers in the latest seasonal offering – Summer in the Town and Country in celebration of the Summer Equinox. This seasonal update highlights the very best scenic destinations in Boston and New England throughout the summer with a dedicated Summer Insiders’ Guide, curated by the One Dalton Hotel team.

As the second of three seasonal offerings throughout the year, Summer in the Town and Country includes a seasonal welcome amenity on arrival; a personalised picnic for two including a bottle of wine; complimentary overnight valet parking and a curated Summer Insiders’ Guide designed to maximise the fun and enjoyment of exploring some unknown locations in the city and surrounding countryside during the warmest time of the year in New England.

Renowned for being one of the most scenic destinations within the country, New England boasts a stunning Atlantic coastline, rugged mountain ranges, and quaint seaside towns. The city of Boston sits at the heart of New England and acts as the cultural hub within the region. Boston is a charming and extremely walkable city and offers a fascinating window into the nation’s history, making it an ideal base for exploration.

The team at Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street, Boston has thoughtfully curated a selection of their favourite destinations in the city of Boston and the surrounding New England Area in the Summer Insiders’ Guide. Local city highlights include kayaking on the Charles River, day trip to Boston Harbor Islands, a visit to Fenway Park with a behind-the-scenes tour, and treasure hunting and antiquing at the SoWa Art + Design District.

For guests interested in exploring a little further afield, some great options include a day trip to Newport, Rhode Island to explore The Cliff Walk and the Gilded Age mansions; a drive to Walden Pond to see the nature that inspired Henry David Thoreau; a beautiful day out in Newburyport and Plum Island to taste some of the best seafood the coast has to offer; and a day or overnight trip to Nantucket to enjoy idyllic beaches and luxury shopping on a quintessential New England island.

Designed by the culinary team at One Dalton and perfectly packaged to enjoy while exploring by bike or foot in the city or by car for those longer distances, the Summer Picnic Menu includes a delicious seasonal selection of salads and sandwiches or wraps, accompanied by a variety of sides. Salad options include farfalle pasta salad, watermelon and feta salad, arugula salad and a five-bean salad. Sandwich options include a Maine lobster cobb wrap; turkey and Vermont cheddar on a brioche bun; local Massachusetts meats muffuletta; grilled organic chicken breast and crumbled feta with zucchini, red pepper flakes, cucumber and mint on local ciabatta. Every Spring Picnic hamper includes Natalie’s handcrafted lemonade, house-made spiced potato chips and One Dalton’s own pistachio-cherry-chocolate cookies.

Spring in the Town and Country is available for stays from June 21 to August 31, 2021 with rates starting at just USD 745 per night. Bookings can be made online.

Art by Mina Tocalini for use by 360 Magazine

Lake Arbor Jazz at National Harbor

Lake Arbor Jazz Festival Gets Re-Born with a Live Intimate Summer Concert Series at National Harbor

The Prince Georges Cultural Arts Foundation, a registered 501(c)3, in partnership with National Harbor, and a variety of returning sponsors led by Xfinity, announced plans to bring back one of the DMV’s top live performance music events, the Lake Arbor Jazz Festival. The format of the LAJF, a historic festival now in its 11th year, will be modified to a summer outdoor concert series. This concert series has been formatted to reflect music lovers’ appetite to slowly return to live performances in an intimate, safe environment at one of the most accessible, family-friendly and popular entertainment destinations in the region.

Hosted again by seasoned DMV broadcast personality Tony Richards, this much anticipated Summer Concert Series will be held over a five-week period beginning on Thursday, July 1, 2021 through Sunday, August 1 from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at National Harbor’s majestic outdoor venue, Southpointe (701 National Harbor Blvd.) Under a covered tent overlooking the National Harbor Marina, this year’s performers are a who’s who of smooth jazz and R&B that include Najee, Avery Sunshine, Jeff Bradshaw, Maysa, Nick Collione, Gerald Albright, Norman Brown along with DMV region favorites Brian Lenair, the String Queens, Pink Palish and Phaze II. 

After a challenging year of pivoting, planning and prayer, LAJF, along with our like-minded community partners, wanted to play a leading role in carefully shepherding our residents and music enthusiasts across the region, back into a welcoming and safe setting to relax and allow the power of music to bring us all back to a place of healing, joy and peace, said Kevin Alexander, LAJF founder and president of the Prince Georges Cultural Arts Foundation.

We’re very excited to have this great musical lineup at National Harbor to enhance our summer of music, said Jackie Saunders, AVP of marketing for National Harbor. Guests can pair a concert with dining, shopping and all of the other attractions around National Harbor to make it a full summer getaway experience. And it couldn’t be better timing with Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center re-opening July 1—right next door to the concert venue. National Harbor has a variety of overnight packages and offers.

For over a decade, LAJF has become the region’s preferred jazz destination featuring noted national jazz recording artists along with some of the region’s most accomplished musicians. Since its inception in 2010, LAJF has drawn over 50,000 attendees and awarded more than $40,000 in educational scholarships to deserving Prince George’s County students pursuing college education in the visual and performing arts. This one-of-a-kind event brings together a diverse audience of contemporary and traditional jazz music lovers, young and old, for an unforgettable music experience with fans coming from as far away as New York and North Carolina.

Event sponsors to date include the Lake Arbor Foundation, Wellspring Manor & Spa and Prince George’s Arts & Humanities Council. For information on performances, dates, times and ticket information, please visit Lake Arbor Jazz’s website.

About Lake Arbor Jazz and the Prince Georges Cultural Arts Foundation

The Prince Georges Cultural Arts Foundation, a nonprofit, volunteer-led organization supports the growth and enrichment of arts and culture in Prince George’s County, Md., through the development of collaborative programs and community partnerships that promote music, drama, the fine arts, entertainment, sports, recreation and other activities. The Lake Arbor Jazz Summer Concert Series is a program of the Prince Georges Cultural Arts Foundation. For more information, visit their website.

About National Harbor

Situated on the banks of the historic Potomac River and just minutes from the nation’s capital, National Harbor is a waterfront resort destination unlike any other. National Harbor is home to eight hotels including two of Maryland’s Four Diamond rated hotels—Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center and MGM National Harbor. Also within National Harbor is Tanger Outlets’ 85 designer brands. The vibrant Waterfront District at National Harbor features boutique shops, restaurants and entertainment options along picturesque promenades as well as the iconic Capital Wheel, a 180-ft observation wheel and the Guide by Cell outdoor art gallery tour. National Harbor typically welcomes more than 14 million visitors a year. For more information, visit their website.

Photo by JNTO for use by 360 Magazine

Japan’s Sightseeing and Museums

Japan, A Culture Expressed Through Art and Nature. 

For more information on JNTO visit their website here. Be sure to also check out all of the attractions listed here.

Although it is globally renowned for technological innovation, Japan’s history, traditions and cultures have always been intrinsically linked to the country’s rich and varied natural landscapes.

From the best places to observe springtime Shibazakura, pink moss, and where to embrace the art of Shinrin-yoku, forest bathing, to exhibitions and glamping which celebrate the strength, beauty and versatility of natural materials. Japan’s wealth of natural treasures, including one of the best stargazing spots in the Northern Hemisphere, is a must-do, must-see on any itinerary.

We invite you to travel outside of the city limits of Tokyo to the glorious regions beyond, all of which have their insider secrets. Here we have rounded up eight of the exciting cultural and outdoor experiences for you to enjoy. We promise that our time apart will make travel experiences all the more exciting when cross-border travel is resumed. We are looking forward to seeing you in Japan.

Nature: Flower Trip Across Japan

Sunflowers, wisteria, tulips, hydrangeas, violets, camellias. The nation’s famed cherry blossom is not the only flower worth travelling to Japan to see. The nation celebrates a range of scene-stealing flowers in different locations throughout the year.

For a burst of sunshine, head to Hokkaido’s Hokuryu Sunflower Village, home to an epic sweep of 2 million sunflowers which burst into bloom beneath blue skies every summer. Whereas in Tonami Tulip Park in central Japan (Toyama Prefecture), red, white and purple tulips take center stage at every spring; while ajisai hydrangeas, marking the arrival of the rainy scene early summer, are celebrated at countless nationwide festivals (Bunkyo Ajisai Festival at Tokyo’s Hakusan Shrine is a highlight).

Another unmissable bloom is the nation’s treasured pink moss, known as Shibazakura, which comes alive on mountain slopes during spring as seen in the above photograph taken in front of Mount Fuji, Yamanashi Prefecture.

One event worth timing a visit to Japan for is the Fuji Shibazakura Festival (normally from mid-April to mid-May, Yamanashi Prefecture) with as many as 520,000 pink moss spanning the base of Mount Fuji, whose snow-capped triangular peak looms tall above the blooms.

Shibazakura Takinoue Park in the northernmost Hokkaido region is also worth visiting because the park transforms every spring (from early May to early June) into an otherworldly 100,000 square-meter expanse of gradated shades of pink, accompanied by a string of local festivities and food markets.

Another of Japan’s most scenic Shibazakura spots is the Chausuyama Highlands in Aichi Prefecture, a two-hour drive from Nagoya, a popular snow-covered ski destination during the winter months, with ski lifts carrying springtime visitors above hillside fields of 400,000-plus pink moss flowers (from early May to early June).

Tradition: Pottery developed by Nature

Japan has long been famed for its ceramic heritage, shaped through the centuries by the nation’s deep ties with nature. From organically finished earthenware to the smooth sheen of white porcelain, a spectrum of ceramic styles has been nurtured in Japan. The above photograph shows Arita ceramics crafted by Sakaida Kakiemon, Inoue Manji and Imaizumi Imaemon.

Highlights include the works of Japan’s Six Ancient Kilns, including Bizen-yaki, from Bizen in Okayama Prefecture, famed for its glaze-free abstractions, fired at intensely high temperatures.

Among Japan’s oldest pottery hubs is Shigaraki in Shiga Prefecture, a one-and-a-half-hour train ride from Kyoto, long esteemed for its quality stoneware, in particular large vessels crafted from strong local clay.

Mashiko in Tochigi Prefecture, reachable from Tokyo by train in as little as two-and-a-half-hours, is another mecca for pottery lovers, with more than 250 studios and 50 ceramics shops (it’s also home to the serene former home and studio of deeply influential Shoji Hamada, designated as a Living National Treasure and a member of Japan’s mingei crafts movement).

Arita, Saga Prefecture, is the place to head in southern Japan and it is only a one-and-a-half hour train or bus ride from Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Saga airports. The word Arita means one thing in Japan: white porcelain. The small town in Kyushu is renowned for more than four centuries of exquisite porcelain heritage and admirers of Japanese crafts and ceramics would do well to plan ahead for a visit to Arita Ceramics Fair between the last week of April and the first week of May. One of Japan’s largest ceramics markets, a network of around 500 stalls typically stretches from the main station and through the center of the town, showcasing an eclectic range of ceramics from top local kilns.

Innovative contemporary projects have also placed Arita firmly on the global creative map in recent years. The projects that have done this range from the respected series of Arita Collection 1616 / arita japan brand, by designer Teruhiro Yanagihara (who recently opened a sleekly designed showroom in Arita) to the Creative Residency Arita program which attracts artists and designers from across the globe.

Nature: Stargazing in Kozushima

One good place to take in starry spectacles is in the Northern Hemisphere, in areas with as little light pollution as possible. That could now include Kozushima Island that is a pine-painted volcanic island orbited by white sand beaches in the Izu Islands, a one-hour flight or four-hour jet-ferry ride from Tokyo.

After removing more than 400 streetlights in the summer of 2020, the island was made an official Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association on December 1, 2020, the second in the country following Iriomote-Ishigaki Island in the southern Okinawa Prefecture.

Kozushima Island’s top observation points might include the summit of Mount Tenjo or the gentle sands of Nagahama beach, with its picnic spots, barbecue pits and natural hot springs, but anywhere outside of the main town should do the trick.

The main annual event is the Perseid meteor shower in the middle of August each year. This is when planet Earth passes through the sparkly tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet, producing up to 60 shooting stars an hour as small meteors burn up, skimming the upper atmosphere.

For more information on JNTO visit their website here. Be sure to also check out all of the attractions listed here

Nature: Treeful Treehouses Sustainable Resort

Hidden in the wilds of sub-tropical Okinawa, on a bend in the Genka River, is Treeful, a collection of four fantastical treehouses to be opened in June. Comfortably situated in nature, all have floor-to-ceiling windows, air-conditioning and wooden decks with beautiful views across a forest of banyan trees and ficus. At dusk, sit on your suspended terrace surrounded by rare wildflowers.

The entire Treeful Treehouse Sustainable Resort has been designed to be as sustainable as possible; the team are rebuilding a 19th-century water mill at nearby Shizogumui waterfall and helping to save rare Ryukyu mountain turtles.

Everything is solar-powered, and the resort is also wheelchair accessible, including the communal Aerohouse which connects to the rooms via a series of floating walkways.

Inside the Aerohouse there are relaxation spaces, a kitchen and dining area, as well as toilets and showers (ecologically designed but not in an obvious way). Wake up early and head out onto your balcony to watch the sunrise over the jungle canopy.

Later, you can try yoga, stand-up paddle board at a golden beach or kayak to a nearby island for a piña colada. Nights should be dedicated to stargazing. Look out for Ryukyu flying foxes and puppy-faced fruit bats.

The best place to take in starry spectacles is in the Northern Hemisphere, in areas with as little light pollution as possible. That now includes Kozushima Island, which is a pine-painted volcanic isle orbited by white sand beaches a one-hour flight from Tokyo.

Relaxation: Hot Spring Bathing

It’s hard to keep your clothes on when travelling around Japan’s famed onsen hubs, and there are many of them.

One example is Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma Prefecture, where guests can walk along old streets in cotton yukata gowns before soaking in a string of public onsen baths, including the famously restorative steaming Yubatake hot water fields. Because the water temperature in Yubatake is too hot for bathing, staff stir the hot water with a wooden paddle in a traditional cooling practice known as Yumomi. You can see a Yumomi show or even try it out for yourself at the Netsunoyu bathhouse. 

Meanwhile, Nozawa Onsen in Nagano Prefecture, a popular ski hub with a bathing heritage dating back more than 1,000 years, offers the best possible après-ski activity, a free soak in 13 public onsen facilities scattered across the town.

Beppu in Oita Prefecture is a southern city wrapped in volcanic mountains on one side and a bay on the other, home to a network of more than 2,000 hot spring onsen baths of ten-plus various spring qualities, which are all celebrated annually in the springtime Beppu Hatto Onsen Festival.It’s worth noting April as a good time to visit the region, when it will stage the five-day festival which kicks off on onsen thanksgiving day.

The decades-old event’s dramatic scene stealer is Ogiyama Fire Festival which involves setting fire to a large swathe of Mount Ogi behind Beppu to alert (not very subtly) the onsen gods to the end of winter and start of spring. Hot spring soaking also takes center stage with the Beppu Bath Marathon encouraging visitors to take a dip in 42 onsen baths in the space of five days, while those who manage 88 baths are hailed as onsen masters.  Those who are less ambitious can simply enjoy a soak in the restorative hot waters of their choice at around 100 local onsen, which are open for free during the festival.

The main highlight for many, however, is the climax of the event: the iconic Yu-Bukkake Matsuri festival procession, with traditional dancing and portable mikoshi shrines paraded down streets before being sprayed with, you’ve guessed it, onsen water.

Art: Culture Gateway to Japan

A string of bold new artworks will greet future visitors when they arrive at airports across Japan, as part of Culture Gate to Japan, a cultural program organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan.

The works of 29 creatives from across the spectrum, from contemporary installations to manga, are exhibited at seven airports and one cruise terminal. Exhibits are called names such as Memory, Patterns and Motion. They include a color-drenched exhibit in southern Okinawa, exploring the region’s unique heritage; a showcase of eight works by manga artists at Kansai International Airport; an exhibit in Fukuoka, tapping into its rich ceramics and textile heritage; and contemporary works at Chubu Centrair International Airport in Aichi Prefecture, inspired by samurai and ninja warriors.

One standout highlight is Vision Gate, an exhibition of works by eight artists. It is curated by Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Guests arriving from faraway countries will be welcome into a new way of thinking and making, influenced by ancient wisdom and projected towards the future, explains Antonelli.

Exhibits include an innovative installation transforming vision to sound by artist Yuri Suzuki and Miyu Hosoi at Haneda, comprising a distillation of the hiragana phonetics alphabet.

Other artworks include a series of six video installations, by six different artists, broadcast in synchronized sequence along an arrival gate pathway, including Mariko Mori, Jun Inoue and Sachiko Kodama. Vision Gate can be seen across Tokyo’s two main airports Haneda in Tokyo and Narita in Chiba Prefecture.

Nature: A Land of Forests

Inhale and exhale. Japan’s magical world of forest bathing, known as shinrin-yoku, has perhaps never felt more alluring in the current global climate. The therapeutic benefits of full nature immersion, breathing in the scent of trees while placing one foot in front of the other, are well documented, from boosting moods and alleviating stress to improving physical ailments. Spring, when temperatures rise and early flowers bloom, is one of the most popular times of year to head into the forest. Japan has long embraced this concept.

Today Japan is home to 62 official Forest Therapy Bases, selected by the Forest Therapy Society, a certified NPO supported by many local government organizations. Devoted to the art of forest bathing, the network is selected on the basis of scientific research by forest experts and is as expansive as it is geographically diverse.

Forest-bathing hotspots include the magical primal forests, streams and wildlife of Tsubetsu-cho on northernmost island Hokkaido; Ueno Village in Gunma Prefecture, located two to three hours from Tokyo by train or car, with its peaceful Japanese beech and oak forests; and the giant trees and dense valleys of Okutama (the only official forest-bathing spot included in the Tokyo region). Another must-see spot is Oguni town, wedged between mountains in southwestern Yamagata Prefecture. Accessible by a one-hour bus ride from Yamagata Airport.

Outdoor: Glamping on Whale Island

Keen to get back to nature? Head to Kujira-jima in the Seto Inland Sea, which has been transformed into 21st-century camping nirvana. Kujira means whale in Japanese and is so named by locals due to its distinct forested silhouette, which brings to mind the shape of a whale.

Today, the entire, uninhabited island, about 30 minutes by boat from Uno Port in Okayama Prefecture, itself a two-hour train ride from Osaka, is a camp with visitors able to choose different sleeping options, ranging from a simple canvas tent on a wooden deck facing the sea, to a stylishly-decked out Glamping tent, complete with indoor plants and design pieces. Another option is bedding down in one of their chic cottages, complete with wood-burning stove.

Activities are as plentiful as the experience is deeply tied to nature. In addition to exploring its empty beaches and forests, guests can take part in a string of activities, such as kayaking, SUP, beach-tent saunas, fishing, night star gazing, sunset cruising and sitting by campfires, among others. Food is another highlight, with visitors able to relax a notch and buy DIY barbecue beef sets as well as breakfast spreads, while an in-house chef can also rustle up a raft of Japanese-style treats

For more information on JNTO visit their website here. Be sure to also look at all of the attractions listed here.

ESJ Capital Jungle Island image by Melinda Sherwood at Kreps PR & Marketing for use by 360 Magazine

MIAMI’S ECO-ADVENTURE PARK AND RESORT

ESJ CAPITAL PARTNERS TO DEVELOP SOUTH FLORIDA’S FIRST-EVER TRUE ECO-ADVENTURE PARK AND RESORT IN MIAMI

Opening in 2022, the $300 million re-imagined “Jungle Island” will feature a thrilling aerial adventure course with zip lines, up-close animal encounters, water attractions, one-of-a-kind entertainment and nightlife, and a new hotel, just minutes from downtown Miami and Miami Beach.

ESJ Capital Partners (hereinafter: ‘ESJ”), an Aventura, Florida-based commercial real estate firm and a registered Investment Advisor, has secured the final approvals necessary to move forward with developing a one-of-a-kind eco-adventure destination and hotel on 18.5 acres of prime waterfront in Miami.

The $300 million project is an ambitious re-imagining of the historic “Jungle Island,” a zoological theme park and botanical gardens built in 1936 that once boasted the largest and rarest collection of exotic animals and birds. It is located on Watson Island, roughly five minutes from both downtown Miami and the world-renowned South Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach, surrounded by the crystal blue waters of Biscayne Bay.

Inspired by some of the world’s most successful eco-adventure destinations and conceived by a team of the top hospitality/nature attraction experts, ESJ’s master-plan for redevelopment of the park caters to the 21st-century guest, while still preserving historic elements that has made the Jungle Island experience a favorite landmark for nearly a century – including an unparalleled collection of over 50 parrot species in its multi-story aviary.

Set to re-open in mid-2022 as “Jungle Island: Miami’s Adventure Oasis,” the redesigned park will include the only aerial adventure course in South Florida featuring zip lines, ropes courses, bridges, and climbing nets suspended up to 60-feet in the treetops; a 19,000-square-foot trampoline park; interactive and hands-on animal nature tours that allow guests to get up-close and personal with over 100 species of wild animals, such as swimming with capybaras; a 1,200-seat outdoor amphitheater with new and unique, family- friendly entertainment featuring aerialists and acrobats; elevated dining and nightlife experiences; a Mediterranean-style beach club and cocktail lounge on Miami’s only private beach; and several water features including a new 900-foot “lazy river”  that meanders through the park’s lush green and animal habitats.

A key component of the park will be a new 300-key, family-friendly eco-resort, scheduled to open in late 2024 or early 2025.

Based on market research, ESJ expects to draw more than 500,000 guests during its first year of operation, comprising a 50-50 mix of both local/domestic visitors and out-of-market travelers.

“Florida is finally getting its first true eco-adventure park, where nature and wildlife provide inspiration for guests to explore, play, challenge themselves physically, or simply relax,” said Arnaud Sitbon, CEO of ESJ. “Best of all, it’s going to be in a city that is one of the world’s top-rated travel destinations, just minutes from Miami’s top-rated beaches and attractions. It’s a privilege to have the honor of breathing new life into this much-beloved landmark, and our hope is that it will spark appreciation and respect for nature and our planet’s precious wildlife.”

“A nature-oriented destination of this magnitude in the heart of Miami’s urban core is truly remarkable,” said Micha Dubernard, Senior Vice President of ESJ Capital Partners. “In addition to providing a unique attraction that enhances Miami’s reputation for tourism and culture, Jungle Island’s lush habitat will also serve an important ecological role by helping absorb some of the city’s carbon emissions and serving as a natural preserve for Florida’s wading birds and other wildlife.”

According to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), there is substantial demand for this type of venue.  “We are extremely pleased to add such a compelling attraction to our community,” said William D. Talbert III, President & CEO of the GMCVB.  “We look forward to continue working with the Jungle Island team.”

In 2019, Greater Miami attracted a record-breaking 16.3 million overnight visitors and an additional 7.9 million day tripper, for a record number of 24.2 million total visitors with a total economic impact close to $18 billion, according to the GMCVB. Industry experts expect Miami’s hospitality and tourism industry to recover steadily over the next year, in conjunction with COVID-19 vaccine roll outs.

In addition to the adventure park and nature attractions, Jungle Island will also feature a strong corporate appeal, with more than 10 indoor and outdoor meeting and event spaces, catering to small or large groups, and ranging from small celebrations to 1000+-person gatherings.

ESJ acquired Jungle Island in April 2017, which involved the transfer of the existing land lease on the City of Miami-owned Watson Island to ESJ.  In August 2018, Miami voters approved a city charter amendment to waive competitive bidding and allow ESJ to modify Jungle Island’s lease and allow the construction of a 300-room hotel. In February 2021, the City of Miami provided final approval on a long-awaited land-use ordinance change and special area plan, both necessary to redevelop the 18-acre property with a hotel and additional recreation amenities. ESJ plans to begin construction on the new adventure park this summer, and will break ground on the new $100+ million hotel in 2022, pending a final building permit.

To lead Jungle Island’s transformation, ESJ has pulled in some of the world’s leading hospitality, attraction, entertainment and construction experts. These include IDEAS Brand & Experience Design, led by 25-year Disney executive Bob Allen; HKS Architects, an interdisciplinary global design firm which recently completed Royal Caribbean’s $250 million redevelopment of CocoCay Island; EoAan award-winning design firm; Gardiner & Theobald, an independent construction and property consultancy noted for its development of Miami’s acclaimed Faena District and the $4 billion Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas, the largest resort development in the Western Hemisphere; and several additional specialists in the field of animal entertainment and education.

For more information about Jungle Island updates, bookings and hours of operations please visit Jungle Island’s website.

About ESJ Capital Partners

ESJ Capital Partners, founded in 2008, is a diversified, institutional vertically integrated, real estate investment firm. ESJ utilizes its breadth of experience and expertise to invest in attractive opportunities throughout the United States. For more information, please visit this website.

About Jungle Island

A favorite South Florida landmark since 1936, Jungle Island is located across from the cruise ports, between Downtown Miami and South Beach. Miami’s premier eco-adventure park proudly takes guests on an epic journey through adventure, nature and play. From thrilling attractions, behind-the-scenes VIP tours, elevated dining experiences at a waterfront restaurant & lounge to unforgettable interactions with some of the world’s most fascinating animals, Jungle Island offers guests a variety of real-life jungle adventures. For regular updates, follow Jungle Island on social media and visit their website.

Get Loud! illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Get Loud!

GET LOUD! SUMMER CONCERT SERIES TO BRING LIVE MUSIC EVENTS BACK TO W.C. HANDY PARK ON WORLD FAMOUS BEALE STREET IN MEMPHIS

PJ Morton to Headline FREE Concert Series Kickoff on Saturday, June 5


Get Loud! Get Live! Get Here! Marketing Campaign to Feature Summer Anthem from Memphis Artists & GRAMMY-Winning Producer Boo Mitchell

Memphis Tourism, in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Tourist DevelopmentDowntown Memphis Commission and Beale Street, will launch a 10-week outdoor music series “Get Loud!” on Beale Street’s biggest stage in downtown Memphis. The LIVE music series kicks off Saturday, June 5 with GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter PJ Morton at the newly renovated W.C. Handy Park outdoor performance space. GET LOUD! will follow with 10 Thursday night concerts starting June 10th and culminating August 12th, 2021. Additional headliners include St. Paul & The Broken BonesDavid Ryan HarrisRebirth Brass BandPaul ThornSon Little and Marc Broussard. The performances will be free and open to the public, pairing a touring headline act with a Memphis based band as opening act.

The GET LOUD! initiative helps ensure the Memphis destination delivers on the brand promise of live and local music for visitors. It also allows Memphis artists, musicians and event production personnel to get back to work all over our city. Memphis Tourism is partnering with existing live music events to designate them as additional Get Loud! activations throughout the year.

“Our goal is to create a unique opportunity to showcase Memphis music by putting silenced artists and musicians back to work and delivering the core motivator that drives visitors to the Memphis destination, and that is music,” said Kevin Kane, President & CEO of Memphis Tourism. “This activation of the Beale Street entertainment district will not only create activity on the street, but in turn, increase overall hotel occupancy, fill our restaurants and venues and extend the length of stay.”

Made possible by Tennessee Department of Tourist Development funding, Memphis Tourism and the State worked together to develop strategic initiatives that will motivate travel and bring visitors back to a state known around the world for multiple genres of music.

“The Soundtrack of America is made in Tennessee, and we’re excited to see our stages and venues filled with fans again and artists back to doing what they love,” said Commissioner Mark Ezell, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “Tourism is vital to our state’s economy. Bringing music back to historic Beale Street every day is an important step in restoring our industry, as well as celebrating the identity and culture that make Memphis so special. We’re grateful to Memphis Tourism and all who helped bring the ‘Get Loud!’ summer concert series to life.”

The lineup for the GET LOUD! concert series features a variety of headline acts, many with connections to Memphis, along with local bands serving as opening acts in the concert series set for Beale Street’s W.C. Handy Park. The thoughtful approach to booking acts has produced a soulful lineup sure to entertain both visitors and locals who visit Beale Street for the concert series. Additional headline, and a full slate of opening acts, will be announced in the coming days. For the most up to date schedule as acts are announced, visit Memphis Travel.

GET LOUD! CONCERT SERIES CALENDAR

Saturday, June 5th

PJ Morton
Marcella & Her Lovers

Thursday, June 10th

St. Paul & The Broken Bones

The MD’s

Thursday, June 17th

David Ryan Harris

Thursday, June 24th

Rebirth Brass Band
Chinese Connection Dub Embassy

Thursday, July 1st

Victor Wooten

Joseph Wooten

Roy “Futureman” Wooten

Regi Wooten

The Wooten Brothers

Dottie

Thursday, July 8th

Paul Thorn

Amy LaVere & Will Sexton

Thursday, July 22nd

Son Little

Thursday, August 12th

Marc Broussard
Turnstyles

“EVERY STORY IS A SONG” MARKETING CAMPAIGN: GET LOUD. GET LIVE. GET HERE

The live music showcase on Beale Street will work in tandem with and be promoted via Memphis Tourism’s planned “Every Story is a Song” digital media campaign, targeting visitors in key drive markets within a 600-mile radius of the Home of the Blues, Soul & Rock ‘n’ Roll.  The soundtrack to the advertising campaign is a summer anthem penned and performed by Memphis artists at world famous Royal Studios, with Grammy award winning producer Boo

Mitchell as producer on the track. The GET LOUD! campaign anthem will be released via digital platforms in early Summer 2021.

“Our community is rooted in music, and the pandemic has made it hard for many of Memphis’ most creative voices to be heard over the last year, whether performing in venues or even creating new music in the studio,” said Boo Mitchell, a Grammy award winning record producer, musician, songwriter, audio engineer, and owner of the legendary Royal Studios in Memphis. “I have a tremendous amount of civic pride in Memphis. When I was approached about getting involved with this project to produce a song that was a musical invitation to visit our amazing city, I didn’t just say yes, I asked, when can we get started.”

Storytelling within the marketing campaign will be inclusive of all audiences through a variety of channels, emphasizing the current Memphis sound, while giving a nod to the legacy sound that made Memphis a world-famous music city.

“Through this music series and marketing campaign, Memphis Tourism is inviting all visitors, the uninitiated and the indoctrinated, to come be a part of our extended family, to share in our city’s stories and our songs,” said Regena Bearden, Chief Marketing Officer for Memphis Tourism. “We’ve all relished anecdotes from visitors who describe feeling a deep connection to the Memphis sound. It touches your soul, creating a familial feeling, echoing who we are as a city and a destination. When you visit, you become a part of our extended musical family, and you may want to dance too.”

The multi-channel digital campaign will focus on the 600-mile radius key drive markets that, driven by data and research, have demonstrated a solid return by generating hotel room night sales, attraction tickets, restaurant and retail sales. In 2019 Memphis & Shelby County welcomed 12.4 million visitors, accounting for a $3.65 billion economic impact in spending from domestic visitors alone. This spend generated $179.5 million in state tax receipts and $101 million in local tax receipts. The leisure and hospitality industry in Shelby County includes over 2-thousand businesses and supports 49-thousand jobs.

Anywhere you go in Memphis, there’s a story waiting to be told, a song that connects to your heart and stays with your soul. Visitors can make a long weekend of it and celebrate that spirit with live music citywide every day this summer, kicking off with the GET LOUD free concert series in Handy Park. With live music, legendary attractions and Beale Street – plus food that’ll feed your soul – planning a visit to Memphis for an unforgettable music experience is effortless with resources available at Memphis Travel, log on today and feel the Memphis beat.

Passport illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Tim Hentschel × HotelPlanner

By: HotelPlanner.com Co-Founder/CEO Tim Hentschel

We all welcomed the news of vaccine rollouts that started in January this year, but what does this specifically mean for the travel and hospitality industry? How do vaccine passports work? And are they ethical?

Experts agree that we will start to see real progress against the spread of Covid once 70 percent of a country’s population is vaccinated. We’re already hearing more optimistic sentiments from many governments, travel organizations and businesses as countries reach 30% to 50% vaccination levels. Still, the rate of vaccinations varies greatly per country, and this is causing daily changes to the do-not-fly list, which makes it extremely challenging to reliably plan international travel.

That said, there is great optimism in our industry. For example, the International Air Transport Association Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac was quoted in March that “personal and leisure travel will return from the 2H2021. ″

Tim Hentschel, CEO and co-founder of HotelPlanner, we are developing the tools to travel safely in Covid, with vaccines on a worldwide rollout, he discusses how this will affect tourism and hospitality locally and across the world.

Vaccine passports become essential

The European Commission has been the latest body to propose vaccine passports. While there are concerns about discrimination against the unvaccinated, an internationally recognized official certification for vaccinated travelers would help to lift quarantine restrictions and ease the processes of entering other countries.

In fact, Singapore Airlines began piloting a digital vaccine passport in December 2020 and has plans to integrate it into their mobile app by mid-2021.

During the pandemic, travel operators have acted quickly to label hotels that have complied with Covid-19 countermeasures and get the word out to their customers.

In the coming months, we expect operators to start implementing new measures based on vaccine passports that will be in line with government regulations. The simplest way is to have travelers include a vaccine certification as part of their personal details for bookings. These details could then be shared with partner airlines and hotels to facilitate a smoother, less restricted travel experience. 

Of note, it’s important to distinguish the vaccine passport initiatives individual countries or international bodies are pursuing versus what some private sector venues are piloting.  For example, the Biden Administration clarified recently that they would not be sponsoring or mandating a country-wide vaccine passport and that any related projects would be up to the private sector. Florida’s Governor also recently banned the use of vaccine passports in the state entirely, which could trend in other states. To date, New York is one of the few states that has piloted what they’re calling an Excelsior Pass to verify vaccine status before entering venues like Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center.

Green lanes and travel bubbles will revive suffering travel destinations in the short term 

Governments should speed up establishing green lanes or travel bubbles with ‘safe’ countries, where travelers are exempt from quarantine. These partnerships will be critical for bringing life back to economies that rely on service-based and labor-based industries.

Thailand, for instance, has seen an 83 percent drop in foreign tourists. This is a devastating blow that contributed to the Thai economy falling by 6.1 percent in 2020, its worst performance since the 1997 Asia financial crisis.

The Thai Hotels Association estimates at least a million workers have been laid off from its hospitality sector as hundreds of hotels have closed. Domestic tourism and the implementation of special tourist visas for long stays have done little to reverse the pandemic’s impact on the industry.

Thailand’s special tourist visa permits foreign visitors to stay up to 90 days, including 14 days of quarantine, with the option for two extensions. It has attracted only a fraction of the expected 1,200 monthly visitors since its launch in October 2020, likely due to the lengthy quarantine requirement.

India is now experiencing a huge spike in Covid infections, and the USA has added them to the list of over 100 countries that US citizens cannot fly to. As India is one of the US’s largest trading partners, this will hurt both countries with similar effect to the tourism devastation in Thailand.

As we look to the future, there is a golden opportunity for the USA and other developed nations of the world, which have successfully implemented vaccine rollouts, to continue to help countries that are still challenged. This will help the USA, EU, and UN reestablish themselves as global leaders. If all goes well, we could be celebrating a return to near normal by the Tokyo Olympics this summer.