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Wildlife Photography to Raise Awareness

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  • July 18, 2018
Wildlife Conservation Photography

Wildlife Photographers Raising Awareness
Wildlife Photographer Laura Crawford Williams utilizes her skills to bring awareness to wildlife conservation. 

Wildlife Photography to Raise Awareness

An Interview With Laura Crawford Williams, award-winning professional wildlife photographer 

Laura Crawford Williams has served as an advocate for wildlife and conservation for 18 years. She won national and international awards as she has established a reputation for beautiful to impactful photography. You can see her collection of photographs in “Wildlife in Wild Lands Photography for Conservation in Southern South America
By Laura Crawford Williams in cooperation with Fundación Parques Nacionales de Argentina

Wildlife Conservation Photography
Laura Crawford Williams photographs speak to her love of nature and interest in protecting it.

How did your affinity for wildlife progress?

I always had a love of nature and enjoyed my childhood as a true-to-heart tomboy growing up in southern Louisiana. Fortunately, my father and brother were true outdoorsmen and brought me along whenever they could. My father would care for injured or abandoned animals such as alligator, opossum, and raccoon at home as well. As a result, my love of nature spurred my interest in protecting it at a very young age.

I believe we are all connected to the natural world from birth. It is our heritage. I have yet to meet a child who does not experience a deep sense of wonder, adventure, and inspiration when exploring in nature. This is especially true when that child is led by an enthusiastic guide who teaches the secrets, connections, and behaviors of that world.

What is the correlation between wildlife photography and conservation and how does photography raise awareness? How does photography encourage conservation?

Humans are visual creatures. We respond to what is seen with judgment as well as emotion, using both the logical and emotional side of the brain. A successful image is one that stimulates both. The aesthetic appeal of an image is important, but not nearly enough. The successful photographer is able to take an image from interesting or beautiful to impactful. Emotional reaction is crucial, especially in wildlife conservation photography where you are trying to impress and persuade the viewer to care.

If I am a successful photographer, I will bring attention to things you miss in your everyday life, introduce you to the things you never knew existed, and nudge you toward appreciating each a little more. I will tell a story in a fraction of a second, that you may not have known, but will intuitively understand in the same amount of time. Once the brain is engaged in this way, we usually want to learn more about what we are seeing (and feeling). The successful image engages and invites the viewer to care, be curious, and remember.

How did you make the plunge from photographer to photographer/activist and how has that role been received by your colleagues?

Before my life as a wildlife photographer, I worked for a newly established software company. The hours were long, the work was intense, and by the time the company was sold in 1999, I was thoroughly burned-out. To recharge my depleted battery, I would walk with my dogs in the forests and prairies surrounding my home. A creative spark was ignited and I began carrying a camera as I walked. In 2001, my first published images appeared in National Wildlife magazine and by 2007, I had been published in National Geographic magazine. It felt like the pinnacle of success. But, the truth is, I never intended to become a professional wildlife photographer. I was simply doing what I love to do. My friends, family, and co-workers were very envious of the transition. Who wouldn’t want to give up a stressful corporate existence for the allure of the wild? I have been very fortunate in life so far.

How has photography changed the way you view some of the world’s most beautiful destinations and its indigenous animals? 

When you spend time with a subject researching, tracking, observing and engaging you can’t help but develop a special appreciation. I do everything I can to be a respectful, quiet observer. Not to interfere or change behavior with my presence. The gift I am given is a unique insight into the life of another creature. More often than not, I feel empathy, inspiration, wonder, and/or awe. My world seems bigger as a result and I am reminded that we are not alone, we are a part of something larger, and just as miraculous, as ourselves.

When did you begin your relationships with magazines such as National Geographic, The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife, and Nature’s Best and how have those relationships changed your life and career?

The very first of my images to be published appeared in National Wildlife magazine in 2001. The senior editor at the time, John Nuhn, said he had never seen another photographer come so far from “out of nowhere” and have such a grand entrance into the world of wildlife photography. By 2007, I was published in National Geographic magazine. I thought it was the pinnacle of success at the time. It was certainly a milestone that changed how I was perceived as a professional. But, the truth is, I never intended to become a professional wildlife photographer. I was simply doing what I love to do.

What does the invitation to the BBC’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibit at the Museum of Texas Tech University represent to you?

I moved with my mother from New Orleans to Texas when I was 14 years old. I attended Texas Tech University at age 16, after graduating a year early from a local high school. Going back was an amazing experience and I loved seeing familiar faces I hadn’t seen on over 20 years. The fact that the event was tied to the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year simply made it that much more important and special to me. Many of the winning images being exhibited were created by friends and acquaintances I’ve made in the last 18 years. I suppose it was a bit like watching your past and your present collide in one big celebration!

Wildlife Conservation Photography
Laura Crawford Williams has incredible stories to tell from her travels all over North America and Southern South America.

What’s next for you? Are you currently working on projects? 

With so much content, I’d love to produce another book. I have two projects in mind:

Audiences have thoroughly enjoyed hearing stories about being on the road in some of the most remote areas of the world, as well as about working with exotic species in the wild. They can’t believe some of the uncomfortable challenges we had to overcome. After eight years of traveling all over southern South America, there are incredible stories to tell.

I also have a large collection of images taken while living and working in the prairies of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota for 12 years. I’d like to showcase the best of this collection and inspire people to appreciate the subtle and fragile beauty found in our prairie ecosystems. This less dramatic landscape is easily overlooked and often under-appreciated.

What are some of your answers to questions audiences ask during gallery talks and lectures?

Audiences always like hearing about the adventure of wildlife photography, especially when working in wild and exotic locations. The moments that happen “between frames” contain some of the best stories — these are the things I am asked about most. People have a very romanticized view of wildlife photography. They focus on the excitement of travel or working with exotic species and discount the reality of difficulty and discomfort. Most are amazed at the amount of time, effort, and planning it takes to pull these trips together.

Every audience asks about “close calls” or “scary moments” in the field. While I have had a few of these, I prefer not to put emphasis here. They are almost always a result of someone making a mistake or miscalculation. I don’t want people to focus on the “fear factor”. Too many people are afraid of nature as it is. We should admire and respect nature first. I consider it a terrible failure should I find myself in a difficult or dangerous situation.

Where do you call home?

I have called Delray Beach, Florida my home since 2013. Before that, I spent eight years living half of the year in Argentina and the other half in South Dakota.

A Partial List of Awards 

Images for Conservation Pro Tournament: 3rd place out of 20 professional photographers; $21,500 cash prize; month long, invitation-only event for professionals. (2011)

 Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice Awards: Honorable Mention in ‘Birds’, professional division

(Exhibited at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum) (2009)

 Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice Awards: Two images received ‘Highly Honored’ in ‘Birds’ (Exhibited at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum) (2007)

 Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice Awards: Winner of ‘Animal Antics’ (Exhibited at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum) also received a ‘Highly Honored’ image in ‘Birds’ category (2006)

Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice Awards: Honorable Mention in ‘Birds’ category (2013)

Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice Awards: Honorable Mention in ‘Small World’ category (2011)

International Wild Bird Photographer: Winner of the ‘Best Artistic Image’ (2006)

National Wildlife Magazine: Honorable Mention in ‘Birds’ category (2010)

National Wildlife Magazine: Second place in ‘Birds’, professional division (2008)

North American Nature Photographers Association Member Competition: ‘Top 10’ from 4,120 images, as judged by professional photographers of the North American Nature Photographers Association (2009)


Visit to read more about Laura Crawford Williams and her photography.

You can purchase a copy of her book on when you click on this link.


Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase but at no additional cost to you. I have experience with all of these companies and by linking to their product or a party that sells their products, I recommend the product based on their helpful and useful nature, and definitely not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.

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99 Epic Guidebook Series America travel destinations Lifestyle Places to visit in St. Augustine St. Augustine Guidebook What is America's oldest continually occupied town?

St. Augustine: Epic Adventures

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  • July 16, 2018
99 EPIC THINGS TO DO: ST. AUGUSTINE, FL is a complete guide to this historic city. Photos courtesy of Christina and Philip Benjamin



Christina Benjamin is a bestselling and award-winning author of the Young Adult fantasy series, “The Geneva Project.”

“99 EPIC THINGS TO DO: ST. AUGUSTINE, FL” was published in 2016 and is the first in a series of “99 EPIC” travel guides Benjamin and her husband, Philip Benjamin, a graphic designer, plan to co-publish.

So why did Christina decide to jump into travel writing? Because the couple wants to help you enjoy your travels and make each adventure EPIC.  They’re Florida residents and helping you, the traveler, see the best of the best in St. Augustine is part of their life’s mission. Most of the couple’s spare time is spent traveling to destinations where they can spend time on the water.

Their motto is “So wherever you are, go out and be EPIC,” and they’ve selected their extreme favorites from among St. Augustine’s incredible array of eateries, shops, arts, entertainment options, and places to worship. St. Augustine is America’s oldest continually occupied town (in the nation) and it’s also where they began their journeys as college students.

Throughout the guide, you’ll find a brief history, a noteworthy quote to inspire you, and a local tip. Fort Castillo de San Marcos, for example, is one of the best places to view the sunrise and the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States.  They refer to Creekside Dinery as a hidden gem nestled among beautiful magnolia trees on Gonzales Creek. Take the time to read this well-thought-out and innovative guide and you won’t be at a loss for information when you plan your St. Augustine adventure.

St. Augustine Florida Travel Guide
Christina and Philip Benjamin want to make your trip to St. Augustine EPIC. Photos courtesy of Christina and Philip Benjamin

“Give Back” is a section of the book where Christina and Philip offer readers an opportunity to give back. “If you’re looking for a way to give back in St. Augustine, donate to the St. Francis House, a shelter for the homeless, on Washington Street,” they point out.  In fact, they cite a quote from Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give,” to drive home the point.

99 Epic Things to Do: St. Augustine, FL is indeed a top-notch guide and customizable with space for you to jot down notes about each location you visit.

What’s on the horizon for Christina and Philip?

99 EPIC NEW ORLEANS is in the works as Chrissy makes her way through “The Big Easy.” Visit 99EPIC.COM to keep up with  Christina and Philip’s travels.

Shopping for this book is easy. Click on the link below to buy your copy.


One or more of the links on this page are affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase but at no additional cost to you. I have experience with all of these companies and by linking to their product or a party that sells their products, I recommend the product based on their helpful and useful nature, and definitely not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.

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Books by Skyhorse Publilshing Lifestyle Outdoor Travel Safety Tips Wilderness Survival Tips

Key Survival Tips: Lost and Stranded

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  • July 13, 2018
Wilderness Survival Tips
Wilderness Survival Tips
Timothy Sprinkle offers expert advice to keep you safe in the wilderness.

How fast can the average Grizzly Bear run and what can you do to avoid an encounter with one?

Author and full-time journalist Timothy Sprinkle wants you to be safe if you are “Lost and Stranded” alone in the wilderness and you’ll want to read his book to learn the answer to my Grizzly Bear question.

Sprinkle offers 247 pages of vital information about how you can overcome obstacles if you’re by yourself in the face of danger. If you’ve planned a day hiking who knows what you’ll encounter along the way? What are some circumstances that can turn the peace and quiet in the woods into a nightmare?

“Expert Advice on How to Survive Being Alone in the Wilderness” highlights the common and not-so-common threats from stinging insects, weather events, hazardous terrain, and injury and illness. You might think you know how to treat a spider or snake bite or fend off a territorial animal that feels threatened by your presence but chances are you won’t remember those basic survival tips you learned in scouting years ago. Perhaps, you’re new to outdoor travel and reading Sprinkle’s book could help to save your life. Lost and Stranded is both a refresher and a Wilderness 101 course.

Sprinkle addresses questions readers might have related to more than two dozen scenarios and he utilizes advice from experts in a variety of fields from medical doctors to first responders. Test your skills and knowledge by answering the following questions.

Is a Mountain Lion perched on the side of a mountain a threat?

What’s the most dangerous wild animal you’ll find in the woods?

Why should you avoid crossing a stream that’s above your knee?

What are some symptoms of tick-borne diseases?

Each hazard is presented with (real-life) examples that are based on actual events.

Sprinkle is a full-time journalist and author with expertise in sports, business, travel, and lifestyle. Lost and Stranded was published by Skyhorse Publishing, New York, NY.

Buy Lost and Stranded: Expert Advice on How to Survive Being Alone in the Wilderness by clicking on the Amazon link below.



Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase but at no additional cost to you. I have experience with all of these companies and by linking to their product or a party that sells their products, I recommend the product based on their helpful and useful nature, and definitely not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.

Use this form to reach out to me with your questions.

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Learn Japanese Culture Before You Go

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  • July 11, 2018
Japanese culture

If a trip to Japan is in your future, you should set aside some time to check out  ThisIsAmericaTV. Watch host Dennis Wholey delve into a culture that’s both very modern but also deeply rooted in traditions. Wholey also covers a plethora of other topics related to other countries. In particular, Episode 1822 “ Japan: Tradition & Culture,” describes so beautifully Wholey’s “experiences with “the profound cultural depth of Japan.”

The show notes highlight Wholey’s accounts of what he refers to as “one of the most modern countries on earth.”

“Japan is still rooted in its traditions and culture. Segments focus on meditation in the mountain temples of Koyasan, traditional Washoku cuisine in Kyoto and Shinto beliefs at the Meiji Shrine in the heart of Tokyo.”

With a name like “Matsui,” you can surmise why I continue to be so intrigued by Japanese culture. My husband was born and raised in Japan. Visit my website to see examples of Chigirie, the Japanese art of painting with paper. During our month-long visits to the “Land of the Rising Sun,” we visited close to 30 temples and shrines. Japanese temples exude spirituality, harmony with nature, and a culture that is often times mysterious. This video is a great place to begin your Japanese cultural immersion.

I’d love to read your comments after you’ve viewed this video.

Did Wholey reinforce your opinions of Japan? If yes, why?

Japanese temples shrines
Experience centuries’-old architecture and culture in Japanese temples and shrines.


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Cruise Lines Culinary Travel Culinary Travel Travel and Leisure

Moveable Feasts: The Growing World of Culinary Travel

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  • July 10, 2018
Moveable Feasts: The Growing World of Culinary Travel

Culinary travel is an outstanding opportunity to showcase your company’s food and wine. This article from Travel Pulse is a must-read. Read the highlights of the original post here and follow the link below to read the information in its entirety.

Culinary travel is on the menu for growing numbers of travelers.


One of today’s most powerful niches is culinary travel—whether that involves a food-related activity or two, or a longer trip focused entirely on food and wine. Given its ever-growing popularity, culinary travel shouldn’t be hard to sell, but agents still need to know the best way to break into the niche.

“Many agents are finding success by partnering with local restaurants and wineries that keep a database of client information,” said Debby Hughes of Distinct Journeys in Loveland, Ohio. “Chefs or sommeliers are often great Pied Pipers, and cruise nights at their locations can stimulate interest and bookings. Many cruise lines can arrange onboard wine tastings, pairings and cooking classes to be led by the chef or sommelier.”

Advice on Selling Culinary Vacations


“You have to assess clients and decide if they are more mainstream and would just enjoy a tour that has some culinary focus or if they want something more specialized. There are companies that do specialize, but I find that many suppliers can provide a one-day or one-week program.”

Stephanie Turner, Brentwood Travel


“Some cruise lines offer food-and-wine programs and excursions that are more comprehensive than others, so it’s important to build a list of your own preferred suppliers and work closely with the BDMs to create a unique product for your groups.”

Debby Hughes, Distinct Journeys


“You may end up with a client who doesn’t want a cruise. There are also escorted tours that focus on beer, wine, and food. You really have to ask your clients what type of experience they want. There are so many to choose from.”

Lisa Brasgalla, Travel Leaders

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America's oldest zoo American Zoo Exhibits American Zoos Animals at the Philadelphia Zoo Art Exhibits Art in America Arts and Entertainment Exhibits The Philadelphia Zoo Visit the Philadelphia Zoo What's happening at the Philadelphia Zoo? Zoo Exhibits

America’s Oldest Zoo Up Close

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  • July 8, 2018
Philadelphia Zoo exhibits

An Afternoon at The Philadelphia Zoo

Celebrate Animals, Watch, Listen, and Learn 

America’s oldest zoo has always been one of my favorite “go-to” places as a child, adult, and parent. I’m referring to The Philadelphia Zoo, an urban animal paradise that opened on July 1, 1874, in the city’s Centennial District on the west bank of the Schuylkill River.

Philadelphia Zoo Primates
I’m convinced large primates love to put on a show for their guests. The primate habitat is always one of my first stops. Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui

A visit to The Philadelphia Zoo is sheer pleasure. Even if you are not a fan of zoos, it’s a destination you and your child should experience together. After all, many children might never have an opportunity to catch a glimpse of and observe animals from around the world in a safe setting. The zoo houses at last count almost 1,300 animals and many are rare and endangered species. More than 1.2 million visitors come through the gates every year to watch, learn, and be entertained. One of the zoo’s primary goals is to educate children and adults about animal and environmental conservation. The world’s premier animal travel and exploration trail system, Zoo360, provides animals with ample space to roam and is one of the most thoughtfully-designed zoo attractions I’ve seen. If you go, small primates swinging from treetop to treetop, large primates eager to entertain and keep an eye on the crowds below, and the lions, tigers, jaguars, pumas, and other big cats are among the species you’ll discover. Need a break from the sun, you can seek refuge indoors in “The Reptile and Amphibian House,” opened in 1875 and regarded as the United States oldest zoo building.

Throughout the zoo’s 42-acre campus, you’ll find a variety of animal exhibits and each one is designed with a personalized experience in mind.  Many of the exhibits allow you and your children to stand within several inches – close enough to watch the residents interact with their peers. Children giggling at the primates’ shenanigans, lions basking in the sun, and the busy giraffe foraging for food are recurring scenes. 

What’s the best time to visit the zoo?

If you have young children, from birth to pre-school, schedule your visit for late spring, early summer, and fall mornings. You probably won’t find the large crowds you might encounter during peak summer hours and you’ll avoid long ticket lines at the gate.  If you don’t so you can watch the animals feed but if the kids have the zoo at the top of their priority list, you’re guaranteed a top-notch learning environment throughout most of the year. From mid-day until mid-afternoon, you could find some or maybe most of the animals napping so you’ll need to plan your day with your own goals in mind.

Philadelphia Zoo Current Exhibits
Obey rules and policies established to protect you and the animals you’ll discover at The Philadelphia Zoo. Be prepared to meet the resident geese who aren’t shy about begging for food.

Two New Exhibits You Won’t Want to Miss

The Philadelphia Zoo has added, “Penguin Point” and “Water is Life” to its list of incredible new exhibits since my last visit. Giant otters, Humboldt penguins, and red pandas are among the characters you’ll meet in a natural setting.

“Monkey Junction,” “PECO Primate Reserve,” and the “Reptile and Amphibian House” are three existing exhibits I never miss during my visits to the zoo. A snake sighting sends chills up my spine but yet, I can’t keep my eyes off them. Watching them make their way from water to land is an opportunity to study their lifestyle.


There is typically an on-site dining area within close proximity in case you want to break for a meal or snack while the animals are feeding or napping. Watching them graze or gobble down their meals might trigger your hunger pangs and zoo cuisine has evolved to include a wide variety of choices for young and old alike.

The name, “Mane Fare,” encompasses the selection of eateries located throughout the grounds. Tiger Terrace, Eagles Roost, World Tacos are three of your food and beverage choices that offer palette-pleasing meals from pizza, burgers, chicken,  and tacos, and other staples most picky eaters will try.  Visitors who have not experienced the famous Philadelphia pretzel sold by street vendors throughout the city, you can find a slightly modified version in the pretzel bites sold at the “Philly Pretzel Factory.” You and your family should not leave the City of Brotherly Love before you experience a pretzel and cheesesteak.

Eating your meals with a clear view of an exhibit is part of the fun associated with a day at The Philadelphia Zoo.  Hours and availability vary seasonally so be sure to check the zoo’s website for more information.  Among other perks, zoo members receive a 10 percent discount on food and beverage throughout the park.

Let’s Talk Conservation

Zoos have gotten a bad rap over the years from organizations that believe animals should be allowed to roam free in their indigenous habitats but when conservation and preservation of species are the main focus, species that might otherwise be extinct due to illegal hunting and poaching are protected, a zoo offers a solution.  The Philadelphia Zoo has a conservation program in place that offers many of our world’s most endangered species a program that allows them to thrive, procreate, and also educate visitors. You can learn more about conservation and protection plans in place at or visit the “Rare Animal Conservation Center.” 

Not surprisingly, my sons who are now teenagers, enjoy a trip to the zoo and partly because we made a zoo visit part of many family vacations we’ve taken since they were infants. My oldest son accompanied me to The Philadelphia Zoo during my a recent assignment. I hope you’ll plant a seed of love and respect for animals and all mankind.


My admission to The Philadelphia Zoo was comped but my opinions are my own.


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European Travel Security while traveling to Europe Travel and Leisure Traveler Information

Security Union: A European Travel Information and Authorisation System – Questions & Answers

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  • July 5, 2018

I think you’ll find this article interesting. It’s a detailed summary of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System that strengthens security checks for individuals who travel visa-free to the EU. Follow the link below where you’ll find the original article. It’s so informative I had to share.

Let me know your thoughts.


1. What is the ETIAS? What is the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)? In November 2016, the Commission proposed to establish a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) to strengthen security checks on those persons who travel visa-free to the EU, currently nationals from over 60 […]

1. What is the ETIAS?

What is the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)?

In November 2016, the Commission proposed to establish a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) to strengthen security checks on those persons who travel visa-free to the EU, currently nationals from over 60 countries (full list here).

The ETIAS will be an automated IT system created to identify any security or irregular migratory risks posed by visa-exempt visitors travelling to the Schengen area, whilst at the same time facilitate crossing borders for the vast majority of travellers who do not pose such risks. All non-EU nationals who do not need a visa to travel to the Schengen area will have to apply for a travel authorisation through the ETIAS system prior to their trip. The information gathered via the ETIAS will allow, in full respect of fundamental rights and data protection principles, for advance verification of potential security or irregular migration risks.

After filling in an online application form, the system will conduct checks against EU information systems for borders and security and, in the vast majority of cases, issue a travel authorisation within minutes. The ETIAS travel authorisation will be a mandatory pre-condition for entry to the Schengen area. It will be checked together with the travel documents by the border guards when crossing the EU border. This prior verification of visa exempt non-EU citizens will facilitate border checks; avoid bureaucracy and delays for travellers when presenting themselves at the borders; ensure a coordinated and harmonised risk assessment of third-country nationals; and substantially reduce the number of refusals of entry at border crossing points.

What is the difference between a Schengen visa and an ETIAS travel authorisation?

The ETIAS authorisation is not a visa. Nationals of visa liberalisation countries will continue to travel the EU without a visa but will simply be required to obtain a travel authorisation via ETIAS prior to their travel. ETIAS will be a simple, fast and visitor-friendly system, which will, in more than 95% of cases, result in a positive answer within a few minutes.

An ETIAS travel authorisation does not reintroduce visa-like obligations. There is no need to go to a consulate to make an application, no biometric data is collected and significantly less information is gathered than during a visa application procedure. Whereas, as a general rule, a Schengen visa procedure can take up to 15 days, and can in some cases be extended up to 30 or 60 days, the online ETIAS application only takes a few minutes to fill in. The validity will be for a period of three years, significantly longer than the validity of a Schengen visa. An ETIAS authorisation will be valid for an unlimited number of entries.

The ETIAS travel authorisation will be a necessary and small procedural step for all visa-exempt travellers which will allow them to avoid bureaucracy and delays when presenting themselves at the borders. ETIAS will fully respect this visa-free status; facilitate the crossing of the Schengen external border; and allow visa free visitors to fully enjoy their status.

What is the impact of ETIAS on the common visa policy?

Visa liberalisation is an important tool in building partnerships with third countries and in increasing the attractiveness of the EU for business and tourism. Mandatory advance verification and assessments of potential security or irregular migration risks related to visa-exempt travellers through the ETIAS, while fully respecting their visa-free status, will help to safeguard and complement the success of the EU’s visa liberalisation policy. Adding this layer of information and risk assessment will allow visitors to fully enjoy their visa-free status, and at the same time enhance the security and safety within the Schengen area. Travellers will also have an early indication of their possible entry into the Schengen area, allowing them to better plan their visit.

As visa liberalisation dialogues with third countries continue to progress, the ETIAS will strengthen the EU’s capacity to assess and manage the potential migration and security risks whilst at the same time facilitate the crossing of the Schengen external borders.

2. How will ETIAS work in practice?

What will visa-exempt travellers have to do before their travel?

Travellers will have to complete an online application via a dedicated website or an application for mobile devices. Filling in the application should not take more than 10 minutes and should not require any documentation beyond a travel document (a passport or other equivalent document). In case of an inability to apply (due to age, literacy level, access to and competence on information technology etc.) applications may be submitted by a third person.

An electronic payment of a €7 fee for each application will be required for all applicants between the ages of 18 and 70. The electronic payment methods will take into account technological advancements in the visa-free countries in order to avoid hindering visa-free third country nationals who may not have access to certain payment means.

The automated assessment process will start after the fee collection is confirmed. The vast majority of applicants (expected to be more than 95% of all cases) will be given automated approval which will be communicated to them within minutes of payment. If there is a hit against any of the searched databases or an undecided outcome of the automated process, manual handling of the application will take place by a Central Unit in the European Border and Coast Guard Agency or by a Member State team. This can prolong the response time to the visa-exempt third country national by up to 96 hours. In very exceptional circumstances further information may be asked of applicants and further procedural steps may be necessary, but in all cases a final decision shall be taken within four weeks of their application.

Of the roughly 5% of applications which produce a hit, it is expected that 3-4% will receive a positive decision after ETIAS Central Unit verifies the data, with the remaining 1-2% being transferred to ETIAS National Units for manual processing. After the decision applicants will be given a response by email with a valid travel authorisation, or a justification for the refusal.

What happens if a person has been refused travel authorisation from ETIAS?

If the travel authorisation is refused, the applicant retains the right to appeal. Appeals can be launched in the Member State that has taken the decision on the application and in accordance with the national law of that Member State. The applicant will be informed which national authority is responsible for the processing and decision on his or her travel authorisation, as well as information regarding the procedure to be followed in the event of an appeal. If the traveller considers their treatment to have been unfair, he/she is also given the right to seek redress or request access to the information through the national authority.

What is the validity of an ETIAS travel authorisation?

The validity of the travel authorisation will be three years (or until the expiry date of the travel document).

What are the obligations for the carriers?

Prior to boarding, air and sea carriers, as well as carriers transporting groups overland by coach will have to verify the status of the travel document required for entering the Schengen Area, including the requirement to hold a valid ETIAS travel authorisation. A transitional period is foreseen for carriers transporting groups overland by coach during which it will not be obligatory for them to check the presence of a valid travel authorisation.

What will happen at the border crossing point?

Upon arrival at a Schengen area border crossing point, the border guard will electronically read the travel document data, thereby triggering a query to different databases, including a query to ETIAS in the case of visa-exempt travellers. If there is no valid ETIAS travel authorisation, the border guards will refuse entry and record the traveller and the refusal of entry in the Entry Exit System.

If there is a valid travel authorisation, the border control process will be conducted and the traveller may be authorised to enter the Schengen area if all entry conditions are fulfilled or refused access as provided by the Schengen Border Code.

Can a travel authorisation be revoked?

Although the travel authorisation is valid for 3 years, it may be revoked or annulled should the conditions for issuing the travel authorisation no longer apply.

3. Closing information gaps and enhancing security

How will ETIAS address existing information gaps?

Currently, border and law enforcement authorities have little information on travellers who are crossing the EU borders visa-free. This is not the case for people travelling with a Schengen visa, whose information can be cross-checked by the border guards in the Visa Information System (VIS). By ensuring that all visitors are checked prior to their arrival, theETIAS will close an important information gap. It will help identify potential security or irregular migration risks before visa-free travellers arrive at the EU border and better monitor who is crossing the EU borders.

How does ETIAS complement existing information systems for borders and security?

In line with the interoperability strategy proposed in the Communication on Stronger and Smarter Information Systems for Borders and Security of 6 April 2016, ETIAS is designed to be interoperable with existing systems, and systems currently being developed, such as the Entry Exit System (EES).

To the maximum extent possible and when technically feasible, the ETIAS will reuse the hardware and software components of the EES and its communication infrastructure. Interoperability will also be established with the other information systems to be consulted by ETIAS such as the Visa Information System (VIS), Europol data, the Schengen Information System (SIS), Eurodac and the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS).

What databases will be checked by ETIAS?

When verifying and assessing the information submitted by visa-exempt travellers, the system will automatically cross-check each application against:

–       the existing EU information systems:

o    the Schengen Information System (SIS),

o    the Visa Information System (VIS),

o    Europol data,

o    the Eurodac database,

–       proposed future EU information systems:

o    the Entry/Exit System (EES),

–       Interpol databases:

o    the Interpol Stolen and Lost Travel Document database (SLTD),

o    the Interpol Travel Documents Associated with Notices database (TDAWN),

–       a dedicated ETIAS watch list and specific risk indicators.

Pending the approval of the Commission’s proposal to exchange information regarding criminal records in the EU to third-country nationals (ECRIS-TCNs), ETIAS should in the future also be able to query ECRIS-TCNs.

How will ETIAS improve the security of EU citizens?

By providing vital information on security, irregular migration and public health, ETIAS will significantly contribute to closing existing security information gaps. It will help Member States’ authorities to spot individuals that may pose risks and take action before they reach Schengen’s external borders.

More specifically, the system will improve the detection of human trafficking (particularly in the case of minors), help tackle cross border criminality, and more generally will facilitate the identification of persons whose presence in the Schengen area could pose an internal security threat. The data stored in ETIAS, in respect of fundamental rights and data protection, may also be made available to national law enforcement authorities and Europol if necessary for the prevention, detection or investigation of a terrorist offence, or other serious criminal offences.

How will ETIAS ensure and guarantee the respect for fundamental rights and data protection?

The Commission’s proposal fully complies with the Charter of Fundamental Rights and contains all appropriate safeguards, ensuring that ETIAS is developed in line with the highest standards of data protection, in particular regarding data access, which is strictly limited. The proposal foresees individuals’ right of redress, particularly as regards the right to a judicial remedy and the supervision of processing operations by public independent authorities.

Personal data recorded in the ETIAS will not be kept for longer than is necessary for its purpose. Data shall be stored for:

– the period of validity of the travel authorisation or,

– five years from the last decision to refuse, revoke or annul the travel authorisation.

The data could be stored for an additional period of no more than three years after the end of the period of validity of the travel authorisation if the applicant freely and explicitly consents to keep his or her data longer. After the expiry of the data retention period, the application file and personal data will be automatically deleted from the ETIAS Central System.

Member States’ law enforcement authorities and Europol will have access to ETIAS, under strictly-defined conditions, for the prevention, detection or investigation of terrorist offences or other serious criminal offences. The designated authorities and Europol should only request access to ETIAS when they have reasonable grounds to believe that such access will substantially help them in carrying out their duties.

4. ETIAS structure and development

How will ETIAS be structured?

The ETIAS will be composed of the ETIAS Information System, the ETIAS Central Unit and the ETIAS National Units.

The ETIAS Information System will comprise of:

  • a Central System to process the applications;
  • a National Uniform Interface in each Member State connecting the Central System and the national infrastructures;
  • a secure Communication Infrastructure between the Central System and the National Uniform Interfaces;
  • a public website and a mobile app for mobile devices;
  • an email service as well as a number of tools for applicants, such as an account service, a verification tool and a tool to provide or withdraw the consent for data retention beyond the general period.

The ETIAS Central Unit will be established within and managed by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, and will be part of its legal and policy framework. Operating on a 24/7 basis, the ETIAS Central Unit will have four central tasks:

  • ensuring that the data stored in the application files and the data recorded are correct and up to date;
  • where necessary, verifying the travel authorisation applications with regards to a traveller’s identity in cases of a hit obtained during the automated process;
  • defining, testing, implementing, evaluating and revising specific risk indicators of the ETIAS screening rules;
  • carrying out regular audits on the management of applications and on the implementation of the ETIAS screening rules, particularly as regards their impact on fundamental rights, privacy rules and data protection.

ETIAS National Units will be established in each Member State, and will have the primary responsibility of conducting the risk assessment and deciding on travel authorisation for applications rejected by the automated application process. National Units will also provide applicants with information regarding the procedure to be followed in the event of an appeal.

An ETIAS Screening Board, established within the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, will have an advisory function and will be consulted on the definition, evaluation and revision of the risk indicators as well as for the implementation of the ETIAS watchlist. The Board will be composed of a representative of each ETIAS National Unit, Europol and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.

A Fundamental Rights Guidance Board will bean independent advisory body composed of representatives from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, the European Data Protection Supervisor, the European Data Protection Board and the Fundamental Rights Agency. It will assess the impact of processing of applications and the screening rules on fundamental rights, and provide guidance to the ETIAS Screening Board.

What is the ETIAS watchlist?

Information provided by applicants for an ETIAS authorisation will be cross-checked against different EU databases including the ETIAS watchlist.

The watchlist will consist of data related to persons who are suspected of having committed or taken part in a serious criminal offence or persons regarding whom there are factual indications or reasonable grounds to believe that they will commit terrorist or other serious criminal offences. The watchlist will be established on the basis of information provided by Member States and Europol.

What will the role of Europol be?

Europol, as an EU security information hub, is in a unique position to combine information that is not available to individual Member States or in other EU databases. It will, together with the Member States, enter data into the ETIAS watchlist and be responsible for keeping the entered data updated.

ETIAS National Units will consult Europol in the follow up to a hit that occurred during the ETIAS automated processing with data held by Europol. The Agency will also be involved in the definition of ETIAS screening rules.

What will the role of eu-LISA be?

Eu-LISA, the Agency for the operational management of large-scale information systems in the area of freedom, security and justice, will develop the ETIAS Information System and ensure its technical management. Among others, the Agency will be responsible for the creation of a public website and a mobile app for ETIAS applications, where applicants will be able for instance to check the status of their application.

How much will it cost to develop ETIAS?

To be as efficient as possible, ETIAS will build on the basis of the existing information systems and in sync with those that are still to be developed i.e. Entry / Exit System (EES). The development and implementation of EES and ETIAS should be carried out together and in parallel, which will ensure significant savings on set up and operational costs.

The cost for developing ETIAS is estimated at €212.1 million and the average annual operations cost at €85 million. ETIAS will be financially self-sustaining, as the annual operations costs will be covered by the fee revenue.

What is the territorial scope of ETIAS?

The ETIAS legislation will apply to Member States that are part of the Schengen area, including those which do not yet fully apply the Schengen acquis, i.e. Croatia, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania.

When will ETIAS be ready?

ETIAS is expected to be operational after three years of development, i.e. in early 2021.

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Lifestyle The New York Times Travel Shows Travel Services

2019 New York Times Travel Show Details

  • By
  • June 26, 2018
The 2019 New York Times Travel Show

New York Times Travel Show Organizers Announce 2019 Show Dates

Mark your calendar for Jan. 25-27 if you don’t want to miss The 2019 New York Times Travel Show, a spectacular travel event that can help you find your ideal getaway and plan your journeys.

Tickets for the show will be available in Fall 2018.

You’ll find the details below in this press release issued by the travel show organizers. The New York Times travel show is the largest travel trade and consumer convention in North America. 

NEW YORK, June 25, 2018 – The 2019 New York Times Travel Show will take place Jan. 25-27, 2019, at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City.

Next year’s Travel Show will open with a Trade Day, open exclusively to travel industry professionals and writers, on Friday, Jan. 25, Saturday, Jan. 26, and Sunday, Jan. 27. will be open to the general public, as well as travel professionals and media.

Overall attendance at the 2018 Travel Show—its commemorative 15th anniversary year—was 32,398, the highest in the history of the Travel Show and represented an increase in confidence and interest in leisure travel. These consumer traveler attendees estimated that they would spend more than $100 million in travel trips in the next 12 months, according to Travel Show survey results.

Trade attendance was once again strong at more than 10,268, an 11% increase from the previous year. The estimated volume of travel business represented by travel agents in attendance was a record $3.3 billion, according to Travel Show survey results.

Participating exhibitors also hit a new record with 610 companies representing over 176 countries. In addition to networking and negotiating new deals with travel agents, the 2018 exhibitors estimated that they created additional consumer traveler sales of approximately $7.5 million, on-site or shortly thereafter, according to Travel Show survey results.

Over 1,300 members of domestic and international media – covering all seven continents and dozens of nations and regions – attended the 2018 Travel Show to gain insights from industry-focused seminars and conferences, in addition to two days of consumer events that featured 276 travel industry speakers and experts.

In the coming months, The New York Times Travel Show will announce a variety of dynamic speakers and performers, interactive conference sessions, and other presentations for the 2019 Show. Please visit and follow @NYTTravelShow for the latest New York Times Travel Show news.

For photos of the 2018 New York Times Travel Show, visit here.

For exhibition opportunities at The New York Times Travel Show, email

For speaking opportunities, email

Visit Florida is a Silver sponsor of the 2019 Travel Show; I Love New York is a Bronze sponsor.

Industry Sponsors include: Adventure Travel Trade Association, Africa Travel Association, American Society of Travel Agents, Association for the Promotion of Tourism to Africa, Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association Education Foundation, Caribbean Tourism Organization, Cruise Lines International Association, Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Specialists Association, Family Travel Association, International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, Millennials in Travel, Pacific Asia Travel Association, Professional Travel Bloggers Association, Society of American Travel Writers, United States Tour Operators Association and Well-Being Travel

Media Sponsors include:  GoNomad, Healthy Aging Magazine, Insider Travel Report, ManAboutWorld, Passport Magazine, TA Connect, travAlliancemedia, Travel Market Report.

For sponsorship opportunities, email Brad Kolodny at

The New York Times Travel Show is the largest trade and consumer travel show in North America.

About The New York Times Travel Show (

The Travel Show is the largest and longest-running trade and consumer travel show in North America, featuring the Travel Industry Conference, Consumer Seminars, Meet The Experts Pavilion and an interactive Exhibition including more than 600 exhibitors representing travel to all seven continents, positioned within 16 pavilions (including Adventure, Africa, Asia, Australia/South Pacific, Canada, Caribbean, Cruise, Europe, Family, Global, Latin America, L.G.B.T.Q., Mexico, River Cruise, Travel Products, U.S and Wellness USA Pavilions). In addition to discounts and special offers, the show provides educational seminars and live entertainment for families, individuals and couples. Join the conversation and follow @NYTTravelShow for the latest Travel Show news. 

About The New York Times Company

The New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT) is a global media organization dedicated to enhancing society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news and information. The company includes The New York Times, and related properties. It is known globally for excellence in its journalism, and innovation in its print and digital storytelling and its business model. Follow news about the company at @NYTimesPR.

Press Contact

Adenike Olanrewaju,

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Travel and Leisure

Adventure Travel Rapidly Expanding, According to New Survey

  • By
  • June 26, 2018
Adventure Travel

Adventurers are spending more time in pursuit of their dream travel. This is a particularly informative article I thought I should share with my readers. Anyone who is involved in hospitality or tourism should take a moment to review travel trends.

The top ten adventure travel destinations are noted below but here’s a peek at the top five, according to PRNewswire. See the full story below with links to the article source.

  • Western Europe (FranceItalyGermany, U.K., NorwaySwitzerland, etc.
  • Central America (BelizeCosta RicaGuatemala)
  • North America (U.S. and Canada)
  • Caribbean
  • South Pacific (New ZealandAustraliaFijiSamoa, Tahiti)

Adventure Travel Rapidly Expanding, According to New Survey

You just read:

Adventure Travel Rapidly Expanding, According to New Survey


Travel Leaders Group Jun 21, 2018, 17:05 ET

Click here to view the original web page at
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Art in America Artists' Interviews California Artists Interviews Lifestyle Sculpture in America

Randy Morgan: Sculpture Drawn from Nature

  • By
  • June 24, 2018
Randy Morgan Sculptor Nature
Randy Morgan Sculpture
Randy Morgan is an award-winning bronze sculpture artist who specializes in handcrafted bronze doors, architectural elements, and public art pieces. Photos submitted by the artist.

Burning With A Passion for the Arts

An Interview with Randy Morgan

Randy Morgan Sculpture
In addition to designing custom doors and tiles, Randy receives commissions for works of art.

Home and business owners and organizations looking to make a bold, creative statement will be astounded by the depth of detailing  Randy Morgan incorporates into each of his sculptures. Randy is an award-winning bronze sculpture artist who specializes in handcrafted bronze doors, architectural elements, and public art pieces. His works are inspired by his love for nature, history and unique art mediums.

In addition to designing custom doors and tiles, Randy receives commissions for works of art and a few of those are a bronzed wall depicting the history and natural beauty of the Sacramento River region for the Lundberg Family Farms visitors’ center; “The Waterman’s Wall” – a bronzed mural depicting local coastal heroes enjoying a day in the life for the City of Laguna Beach, California; and, a colorful mural celebrating the region’s agricultural heritage for the City of Upland, California.

Meet Randy Morgan

I interviewed Randy by email and understand why art enthusiasts fall madly in love with his work. If his sculptures strike a chord with you, feel free to comment and share this interview.

How does sculpture enhance our landscape and interact with nature?

Sculpture is innately drawn from the shapes and images of nature. Have you ever stared at a pile of rocks until they became dancing gnomes or clouds? Plus the patinas (colors) that are used in sculpture are basically stains and all derivatives of earth tones and more natural colors than paint.

Randy Morgan Interview Nature Sculpture
“Art is my life,” Randy Morgan noted.

What’s the number one reason you chose sculpture as your medium?

As far back as I can remember, I have burned with a passion for the arts. My talents were first recognized at five-years-old by my teacher when she entered my “Painting of a Horse” at the LA County Fair where it won 1st place and a blue ribbon. As a child, my father would bring home large rolls of paper from his print shop and quickly find me immersed in a drawing project. I would spend hour upon hour drawing landscapes and portraits of my sports heroes, cowboys, and Indians.

Destiny eventually paired me with Carl Abel, a world-renowned wood carver in Laguna Beach, California. Abel took an interest in my artistic sense and taught me the ancient art. In 1975, I took a life-changing trip to Mexico where I studied art and was drawn to the works of Diego Rivera and Jorge Orosco. Over the next several years, I combined Abel’s techniques with my own evolving artistic sense and a newfound love for bronze casting. I soon found his works gracing residential, commercial and public arenas throughout the world. Although very satisfied with drawing and painting, when I found sculpture I was thrilled to take my drawing to the next level. Being a child I loved building things and getting dirty. I have been called one of the world’s premiere bas-relief sculptors. The definition of bas-relief is drawing in sculpture so it was just a natural progression for me from drawing and painting.

What percentage of your sculpture is created with nature in mind?

 All of it. Art to me is a mimicking of our universe and the natural world. I create my art with the viewer in mind and trying to evoke some sort of feeling or emotional response.

What are a few of your upcoming projects and what are you working on now?

I am concentrating now on my “Road Map of Art Walls” which are a series of large bas-relief murals that tell a historical story in the communities in which they are placed. Whether it’s icons, the characters, the flora and fauna, the historical landmarks and the stories therein. We round out the story of the making of the art through the magic of film making. You can check these out on my web page at I am currently working on a public art monument in Laguna Beach, California, a Motown industrialization mural in Detroit, Michigan, early next year a wall mural in San Diego, California and we are always evaluating future sites with my fantastic team at Randy Morgan Art.

What motivates you to create on days when you don’t feel particularly creative?

Some days you just have to chop wood (ha ha!) Seriously I love making art. It’s what I do and what I love to do. These days I try to balance my life with my spirituality, my art, and a lot of laughter and the quest for joy and peace.

How does art fit into your life?

Without sounding too cliche, art is my life. Art to me is hard work, planning and a leaving little bit of room at the end of the process for magic.

What’s your all-time favorite project? 

The next one! That’s a tough question it’s like choosing between your children. If I had to just pick one it would have to be the Art Hotel project in Laguna Beach, CA for my friend Gail Duncan at her hotel. This 70 by 10 foot mural around the pool is pure Laguna Beach. I would like to add that we as artists need art patrons. Without art, patrons to share our vision with there would be no Sistine Chapel. I could not have created a single mural on my “Roadmap of Walls” without the support of art patrons. I have been fortunate enough to collaborate with some really extraordinary art patrons without whom my “Roadmap of Art Walls would not be possible.

Artists who would like to be featured on my websites (,, and should send a bio, at least five (malware and virus-free) images, an artist’s statement, and a list of recent projects. Interviews will be conducted by email, unless otherwise determined, and the posts will be published at my convenience and according to my editorial calendar.

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