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Family Engagement the Focus at Fernwood

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  • September 7, 2018
Fernwood Resort Lodging
If the kids are happy, mom and dad are typically more relaxed. Fernwood’s lodging offers guests spacious accommodations that exceed a small or large family’s needs.

Fernwood Resort: Creating Year-Round Family Experiences

Family Engagement the Focus at Fernwood

Family fun…Have you taken the time to create lasting memories with your family? You likely won’t hear any complaints of boredom from your kids or partner while you’re vacationing at Fernwood. The resort is surrounded by woods in a peaceful setting that’s ideal for hiking, foraging among the trees, or participation in a variety of activities.

Creating an experience that’s all-encompassing for families and guests of all ages is one of the challenges Gina Bertucci, Fernwood Resort co-owner, embraces.

Gina Bertucci
Gina Bertucci, co-owner, Fernwood Resort

With more than 18,000 member families, Fernwood Resort and the Villas at Tree Tops & Fairway®, 2157 River Rd, East Stroudsburg, PA, is part of RCI and is one of the largest vacation ownership properties in the Mid-Atlantic region with 650 beautifully-appointed villas.

“We have both timeshares and rentals so we’re a mixed-use property,” Bertucci explained. Lodging options range from one-to-four bedrooms with accommodations for every taste, with a home-like feeling and amenities from simple and economical to deluxe and spacious.

When you’re ready to venture out onto the property, you’ll also see why Fernwood has received “green” awards.

According to Bertucci, “As a business, when we were looking at how to develop these pieces of property, what did we do?”

The Pocono TreeVentures and zip line courses are examples of the extraordinary measures Bertucci and her partners have taken to preserve the beauty and nature on the property.

 

family
The Matsui family receives instruction before beginning the Pocono TreeVentures course. Photo submitted by Fernwood Resort.

“We looked at ways to preserve this property. There’s a stream that goes through it, but really when you’re up in the trees, you really do appreciate the nature and the beauty of this region.”

Everywhere you turn at Fernwood, there’s an activity that encourages family engagement. A few of the free on-site activities are swimming and weekly pool parties, summer family movie nights, picnics and BBQ nights. At an additional cost, try horseback riding at Bushkill Stables, Pocono TreeVentures Ropes and Zipline courses, Blue and White Lightning Tubing and Paintball. Visit Fernwood Resort’s website for prices and hours of operation.

 

family
Kento Matsui enjoys an afternoon of swimming at Fernwood Resort’s outdoor pool.

 


 

Family Resorts
Discover the countryside surrounding Fernwood Resort. You can explore on foot or by horseback at Bushkill Riding Stables. Reserve your horse and saddle by clicking here

Approximately 17 years ago, Bertucci and other businesses affiliated with the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau got together to answer the question, how can we continue to showcase the Poconos as a region to explore and enjoy, and at the same time, preserve its natural beauty?

The Fernwood partners, for example, utilized approximately 10 acres of gorgeous farmland for the TreeVentures and Zip Line courses.

“It’s beautiful and challenging and when you’re finished, you think I just did something and it’s great exercise. It’s about authenticity,” commented Bertucci. “And not everyone has had a chance to try horseback riding? For other people, it’s shopping at the Crossings (Premium Outlets), canoeing on the Delaware River, bike riding, seeing nearby Bushkill Falls or following a lovely natural walking path at the 77,000-acre at the Delaware Water Gap National Historic site.”

 

What’s our recommendation for off-site family engagement?

Don’t leave the Poconos without a stop at Bushkill Falls, known as “The Niagara of Pennsylvania.” With each season the landscape changes, providing a unique experience each time you visit. We suggest you reserve a half-day for your adventure.

 

family
Preservation of our natural scenic wonders is top-priority for Gina Bertucci, Fernwood Resort, representatives from other businesses and resorts and members of the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau. Visit Bushkill Falls but please follow the rules as shown above. Observe and appreciate but hands-off plants and wildlife.

family
Bushkill Falls is host to many family adventures, schools, and group tours, weddings and is a fantastic photo op. I guarantee you will get your workout while on your trek up and down the steps leading to and from the basin. Grab a bite to eat at the snack bar and then stock-up on keepsakes and souvenirs at the gift shop.

 

 

family
When you need to cool off on a warm summer day, you will appreciate the cool mist of water from the cascading falls and the shady areas provided along the trail leading to the basin.

 Bushkill Falls is the “Niagara of Pennsylvania”


Why should you plan a trip to the Pocono Mountains’ region?

As the nights turn chillier and the leaves that adorn the trees of the Pocono Mountains fall to the ground and create a gentle blanket of vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange, celebrate fall by tuning into the sounds of freshly fallen leaves underfoot. Celebrate the four seasons in the Pocono Mountains.

“There’s something for everyone in the Pocono Mountains. It’s all here and that’s fortunate for us. Family time is part of the fabric of our lives. You remember those moments together.” Gina Bertucci, Fernwood Resort.


Disclosure:

My stay at Fernwood Resort was comped but my opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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smartphone travel photography Travel and Leisure Travel Photography

World Photography Day—here are some tips for smartphone travel photography

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  • August 19, 2018
World Photography Day—here are some tips for smartphone travel photography

Focus on World Photography Day

Celebrate the Simplicity of Smartphone Photography

World Photography Day celebrate smartphone photography
How could I improve this smartphone photo if I were to take it again? Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui, freelance travel writer and photographer, along the Lackawanna Valley Heritage Carbondale to Simpson heritage trail.

Do you plan to take your camera out in the woods to shoot nature photos or are you packing for your next travel adventure?

As simple as smartphones are to use, there are what we commonly refer to as “hacks” or techniques that can turn a so-so photo into one you probably won’t believe was shot with your smartphone. Image quality varies from phone to phone but it’s safe to say the image quality has improved with each new model.

You’ve likely seen a photo in your own library that could be improved with a few tweaks. I certainly have and as much as photography is second nature to me after nearly 45 years with a camera in my hands, take a few minutes to learn some tips from Panchali Dey|Times Travel Editor|TRAVEL TRENDS, WORLD. 

World Photography Day—here are some tips for smartphone travel photography

A traveller by choice, Panchali from the North East India finds mountain echoes calling back again and again.

‘A picture speaks a thousand words,’ which simply means a picture is worth a thousand words. In today’s scenario, we can’t just agree more. We all are photographers to […]

Today’s social media is an example to this. The platforms enable even an amateur to grab eyeballs and enjoy some instant fame. Now, if you are not aware of white balance and shutter speed, that does not just mean that your pictures won’t be great. At times ‘fluke’ too can work wonders and take you places; the only important thing is―never stop trying.

And to give wings to your passions, your smartphone will serve your purpose, it is better than you think. This article will be focussing on two things, travel and photography. So, here comes some tips to take better travel photos with your smartphones, which will help you improve your result dramatically. And the timing cannot be more appropriate than World Photography Day, which is celebrated on August 19.

Let’s start with basics; and the first thing to note is wipe the lens. Since most of our phones don’t have a sacred case, they are casually kept in pockets or in our handbags, thereby collecting all the dust. While travelling, a fleeting moment has to be captured with great finesse, and during that moment, you just can’t stop to clean your lenses; so better be prepared.

Know the limits of your smartphone
First, understand what your smartphone is capable of doing. Stop yourself from over-expecting. While most cell phones have a single lens and wide-angle focal length, there are models with dual lens in which you get a bit more versatility with the slight zoom. Either way, know what you are zooming at. If you think your smartphone can zoom into the top of Eiffel Tower, you will face only disappointed as the resulting image will be pixelated close-up.

Then shuffle around the ‘settings’ to learn their specific functions and experiment how they will affect your photos. Check if you can shoot in ‘manual’ option, which helps in turning images from grainy to great.

Opt for natural light condition
There may be times when you capture images via a cell phone, the result is incredible, however, there is something called low-light conditions, where most of us struggle. Most smartphones are not enhanced with high-end technology to counteract a dark environment without reducing the quality of images. But, if it becomes absolutely necessary to take a photo at night, try to click with some artificial light.

Get a better camera app
Yes, one of the hacks of capturing great travel images is to download a third-party camera app instead of using the one that comes installed on a phone. The third-party apps are enhanced with high-end features enabling your smartphone to shoot a bit like a DSLR with manual settings and option to shoot RAW, which is basically an uncompressed type of file allowing you more flexibility to edit your images.

Grab some additional smartphone accessories
Your phone is called smartphone for a reason, and with appropriate accessories, you can expand the functionalities of your phone beyond expectation. Some accessories that you can consider adding to your shopping cart are flexible tripod, wide angle pro lens, Bluetooth remote control, and extra memory card.

Landscape photography
It is often considered one of the most important things of travel photography. Capturing landscape images via a smartphone can be quite easy. The most important thing to consider while trying to get a good shoot is exposure control. Exposure typically means how light or dark you image will come out overall.

Want to read more tips from Panchali? Click here to view original web page at timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Leave your own smartphone photography tips and advice in the comment box below.

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Guest Bloggers Hiking Hiking Health Benefits Lifestyle Travel and Leisure

8 Reasons Hiking Is Healthy

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  • July 31, 2018
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Hiking Health Benefits
Hiking Health Benefits
Guest blogger, Elizabeth Mathu, gives you “8 Great Reasons to Get Out on Your Favorite Hiking Trail.”

Get Out On Your Favorite Hiking Trail TODAY

Health Benefits Accrued From Hiking

Text by Elizabeth Mathu, guest blogger for https://joanmatsuitravelwriter.com 
Edited by Joan Mead-Matsui, publisher

Beat Boredom and Refresh

There is nothing that gets the boredom and refreshes your mind more than a refreshingly cool time in the woods. The challenging trails, rough terrains, and frightening woodlands make you freak out while having fun. This is what you need to do when you feel like taking a breakaway from your rigorous daily activities. Maybe you wish to do so every day, but you cannot. Or can you? Depending on where you live and your threshold for heat and cold, even a daily trek to the top of your favorite mountain is a goal that’s attainable.

However, when you have some free moments to lighten your daily load, plan for fun and adventure and reap the mental and physical benefits of hiking. What are the benefits of trekking? They are immeasurable, so it’s up to you to have that energizing moment that propels you outside. Get off the couch or away from your computer.

Here are some of the health benefits of hiking.

  1. Improved Body Fitness

Hiking improves your health immensely. It doesn’t have to be rough and tough, no! The simple hiking you undertake helps build some maneuverability and strength. You are experiencing long challenging journeys in the wilderness, but you are walking for fitness. While having fun, you challenge your body’s stamina in a new environment. You’re building agility and strength as you exercise your body as much as possible.

Undeniably, the gym cannot beat the fitness and mental acuity accrued in the wilderness; You are hiking for health. The adrenaline rush tests your resilience and endurance and adds to the superfluous fitness.

  1. Reduced Stress

Stress Relief
Looking for ways to relieve stress in your life? Hiking can help.

Stress is one bad human health condition. If overeating or binging is your way of dealing with that overwhelmed feeling, you have to find a way to get healthy and get your weight under control. One of the most effective ways of doing away with stress is breaking away from the stressors. And the best way it is to embark on an adventure somewhere and have fun. If you have something that is weighing on your mind and resulting in sleepless nights, a hike is one way to effectively sort your problems.

Why let stress wreck your life and upset your “apple cart?” Have you heard of a “walking meditation?” Try it! Use your time wisely to deal with your issues. Find a meditation practice on the internet and download it to your smartphone before you leave home.

Thank you to 10revs.com for creating this infographic “cheat sheet” for you. Visit the website to read more about hiking and camping.

8 Hiking Health Benefits
Elizabeth and her team have provided you with a “Healthy Hiking” Cheat Sheet as a reminder to stay on track.

3. Cardiovascular Strength

‘Muscles and bones are the corner pillars of your body’ and they have to be strong at all times. Staying put all day in your job is the opposite of strong cardio; hiking outdoor is the solution. Yes, we are talking of strong bones and healthy muscles. When you hike, you’re using core muscles and giving your body overall fitness.

During this time when the body is on the move, the muscles stretch evenly and refresh. Besides, the tough get going when it’s difficult to endure. The outdoor expedition is therefore very useful to a person’s cardio.

  1. Weight Control

Hiking is the solution to the tummy or the “tires” that have been a nuisance to you. Every moment you stay indoors, fat and cholesterol gradually add up. Show the world and set an example for your friends. Excess body weight is daunting and you might be trying other exercises with no success. Try hiking!

On a normal hike, the body tends to lose about 400 calories per hour. At this rate, you tend to lose the unnecessary body weight without much difficulty. An extended hike on easy to rough terrain is enough to rid you of some excess body weight.

  1. Boosts Vitamin D in the Body

One of the health benefits of hiking is the Vitamin D boost. This vitamin is vital for building strong bones. Kids and adults need to supplement their Vitamin D by being outdoors. The morning sunshine is the perfect vitamin D source.

While hiking early in the morning, your vitamin D levels go up. You can also enjoy the benefits of a morning walk with kids to ensure they grow up healthy.

6. Boosts Your Creativity

Hiking outdoors raises your creativity levels. A mountaintop, spectacular vista, cascading waterfall, or a healthy picnic lunch alongside a creek, can create an adrenaline rush through your body. It boosts your self-confidence, gives you a brighter outlook, and can boost your management skills which are all vital to a person’s creativity.

When hiking, your mind adjusts enabling you to think better and make informed decisions. Without technology and media out there, you can focus on other things thus opening up the mind for new ideas and thoughts.

7. Better Perception Of The World

Bonding to the world is possible through hiking. Perhaps you’ve been having bad thoughts about life. Hiking can cure that malady. The outdoor is full of beauty that can alter your mood and leave you wanting more and more recreation time. So get out there on the trail and relieve your mind from all the negativities in your life and the world. It is a way of cleansing your body and rejuvenating for a better life.

8. Great way of Controlling Diabetes

Controlling diabetes is one of the major hiking benefits. A study found that hiking is a therapy for diabetic people.

  1. It helps reduce your blood sugar levels  Walking for fitness is a great step towards recovery.
  2. The workout improves oxygen uptake and blood flow in the body, thereby reducing the blood sugar levels.

Conclusion:

We can conclude that the benefits of hiking are numerous and undeniable. Hiking improves both the body, soul, and mind and should be a regular practice. If you feel something in your life is causing you grief, try getting out and I BET things will start falling into place.

AUTHOR BIO

Elizabeth Mathu is a hiking enthusiast with more than five years of experience in composing articles, blogs, web and social media content in the outdoors’ niche.

Do you have questions for Elizabeth Mathu or the team at joanmatsuitravelwriter.com. Feel free to comment here. What do you love about this article? Where’s your favorite hike?

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Newfoundland Travel and Leisure

Travel: On the Viking Trail in Canada

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  • July 22, 2018
Travel: On the Viking Trail in Canada
https://joanmatsuitravelwriter.com Publisher’s Note About This Article:

The outstanding photography and Lori Erickson’s descriptions beckon me to visit Newfoundland.  Let me know your thoughts or experiences if you’ve visited the Viking Trail or a few reasons why you’d want to see the 270-mile route. The words “picturesque fishing villages, dramatic fjords and mountains, and sweeping sea vistas framed by a rocky coastline” were all I needed to read. 

With a last name of Erickson, it’s not surprising that I’d be warmly welcomed in L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. After all, my ancestor Leif made quite a splash when he arrived a thousand years ago.

“Erickson?” repeated a guide when I told him my name. “You must be related to Leif. If we’d have known you were coming, we’d have had wine ready for you.”

Even without the wine, my trip to L’Anse aux Meadows was a bucket-list experience. Anyone with a passion for Scandinavian history dreams of going to this remote spot that’s the only authenticated Viking site in North America.

Bob Sessions photos Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, anchors the southern portion of the 270-mile Viking Trail in Newfoundland.Bob Sessions photos Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, anchors the southern portion of the 270-mile Viking Trail in Newfoundland.

As I discovered on a recent visit, an added bonus is the scenic road that leads to it. Known as the Viking Trail, the 270-mile route is lined with picturesque fishing villages, dramatic fjords and mountains, and sweeping sea vistas framed by a rocky coastline.

“The Viking Trail that runs up the western coast of Newfoundland is anchored by two UNESCO World Heritage Sites,” said Andre Myers, business manager for the Viking Trail Tourism Association. “At the south end is Gros Morne National Park, which has some of the most spectacular landscapes in Canada, and at the north end is L’Anse aux Meadows. Visitors are also likely to see some of the 10,000 whales that pass by Newfoundland every year. And from May to July, we have icebergs floating by, headed south from the Arctic.”

On my way north I enjoyed all those sights (plus several moose that stood looking curiously from the edge of the forest at passing cars). But L’Anse aux Meadows beckoned me ever onward. I was eager to see the site that’s brought worldwide fame to the windswept tip of northeastern Newfoundland.

I knew that descriptions of the Norse explorations in North America are found in the Icelandic Sagas, stories written down in the 13th century that detail the exploits of the Vikings who settled Iceland and Greenland. For many years, these tales were thought to be mainly fictional. But in the early 1960s, researchers used clues in the text to find the remains of a Norse settlement in Newfoundland.

Newfoundland preserves the history of its early Scandinavian explorers Norstead, a living history site located adjacent to L’Anse aux Meadows, includes a replica of one of the ships used by the Norse on their journey to Newfoundland. (Bob Sessions photo) With a last name of Erickson, it’s not surprising […]

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Lifestyle Product Review Product Reviews shop Training Travel and Leisure Travel News travel planning Travel Product Travel Services Travel Tips Whole Self World Travel

Ribeiro: Small Business Resource Powerhouse

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  • July 19, 2018
Interview Gabriella Ribeiro Mogul Mom
Interview Gabriella Ribeiro Mogul Mom
Gabriella Ribeiro spearheads The Mogul Mom, an online resource mompreneurs rely on for support and advice.

Meet Gabriella Ribeiro

A Small Business Resource Powerhouse

Ribiero is “The Mogul Mom” editor-in-chief and the woman at the helm of a thriving crusade. She offers mompreneurs ultrapractical daily challenges, advice, tips, and support as they forge their paths through the triumphs and trials working moms often face. She and her team are celebrating 11 years of outstanding success in 2018. If you have additional questions after reading my information-packed email interview with Ribeiro, feel free to contact her via this link or complete the form below and I’ll get answers for you.

What led you to develop The Mogul Mom site and the services you currently offer? Specifically, what are your services?

I acquired it actually back in January of this year. The previous owner is an amazing friend and a true mentor and she was ready to transition and wanted it to land in the hands of someone who could really take it forward. I am honored she passed the baton to me! We are the world’s premier site and community for dynamic women with sparkle who are raising a family, running a business and rocking both. Some members have aspirations of launching their own business so we have a vast amount of resources to help anyone in that space as well.

What words do you believe best describe your role with The Mogul Mom?

I am here to empower, motivate, inspire and share, but most of all to LISTEN to our members and help them in any way possible. I also truly enjoy connecting members to one another so they can build meaningful relationships. If I’ve accomplished all of that, I know I have succeeded in my vision.

What is your background and how does your experience enhance your ability to motivate women to succeed?

I’ve always been a self-starter, I think that came from having an entrepreneurial father and seeing him be able to fix just about any situation while building a business based on natural-born intelligence. I also saw hard times so I believe that helped me shape my vision of how a business should be run, how to be conservative and how to grow within one’s means.  Now that I am a mom, a single one at that, running three businesses, I am living the life I am helping people figure out every single day and that helps build trust. People see me being able to enjoy business success but also dealing with the day to day struggles we all do as moms, juggling schedules, negotiating, dividing and balancing time so that everyone who needs you gets your full attention including your work and when I share that, it brings me closer to the amazing women in the community and it helps to show them this all is possible. It isn’t easy, but it is absolutely possible.

How do your challenges motivate women and what are some of the challenges you’ve created?

I am always brutally honest and open about my own stories- my challenges, my struggles, my wins and my aspirations- I think that opening myself up and letting them know that beyond anything, I have been where they have been in so many regards. I have gone through a pathway myself to building businesses and creating a unique life that fuses my passions so the challenges are meant to be motivational but not authoritative, more so like a strong pair of hands on one’s back propelling someone forward while they are using their own movement as well. We’ve done a “30 Days To Your Best Self” challenge which really had our members examining their headspace, their happiness quotients, their goals, their current network vs the network they strive to have, body image, self-care, and wellness. In the end, I heard so many amazing stories about members really taking the time to think about things they usually try to ignore or put off and it has made a difference in their vision. We’re currently into a Healthy Eating challenge which hopefully is inspiring members to make great choices that work for their individual lifestyle, their body type and also to meld the head with the heart when making choices that are best for their overall life.

I’ve noticed you offer travel advice and tips. What is your role in the travel industry and how/why does travel play a part in a woman’s overall success?

I have two businesses that deal with different segments of the travel industry. One handles sales and creative marketing for hotels and destinations and the other curates unique immersive journeys for travelers that leave a footprint on their soul. Travel is, and always has been my passion so I worked hard to fuse it into business ideas to create a life that thrills me and that I truly love.  I really enjoy pushing people out of their comfort zone and with the journey planning, I get to do that. Now, with The Mogul Mom, I’m doing it for people in a different way, by helping them explore their passions and encouraging them to push themselves to develop the career and the life they have always dreamed of.

Tell me about your accolades, awards, and recognition you’ve received from the media. Do you work with magazines and/or other media to get the word out about The Mogul Mom? Where have you been featured to date?

The Mogul Mom has been so fortunate to have been mentioned in amazing publications and to have been endorsed by some wonderful thought leaders. However, what I am finding now is that the best publicity we ever could hope to receive is the wonderful word of mouth support we get from the members of our community who bring dynamic women into the network and help it grow. At the end of the day, we’re only as good as the level to which we serve our audience so right now my focus truly is on the user experience.  That being said though, we are continuing that trend moving forward with fantastic interviews with thought leaders in various industries that have really also gotten behind us to endorse us and there are some great media hits on the horizon – watch this space!

Visit themogulmom.com to sign up for Ribeiro’s newsletter

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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.

VACATION AGENT  TRAVEL AGENT  ROBIN AMSTER

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

WEIGH THE OPTIONS

“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

WORK WITH BDMS

“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

DETERMINE CLIENT PREFERENCES

“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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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 europa.eu 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.

ETIAS

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.

View the original article at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-18-4362_en.htm.

 

 

 

MEMO

 

 

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Travel and Leisure

Adventure Travel Rapidly Expanding, According to New Survey

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  • 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

NEWS PROVIDED BY

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

Click here to view the original web page at www.prnewswire.com
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Travel and Leisure

You’re Going to Want to Try Their Cocktails

  • By
  • June 19, 2018
Hipsters Are Taking Over This Bangkok Neighborhood — and You're Going to Want to Try Their Cocktails

I’m fascinated with Thailand and it’s cuisine and beverages and I’m adding these stories to my notebook so the first chance I get, I’ll be on my way to this extraordinary kingdom with my itinerary planned well in advance. I hope you’ll find them useful. Be sure to read the full article at travelandleisure.com.

[social_warfare]

What’s your most memorable experience while traveling overseas? Leave your comments here or on social media.

Hipsters Are Taking Over This Bangkok Neighborhood

— and You’re Going to Want to Try Their Cocktails

My father, however, had better ideas. He and I would show up, make our rounds politely, then decamp to the nearby Oriental hotel, now the Mandarin Oriental (doubles from $420), his old friend Nelson in tow. Over cocktails, the men would hatch outlandish plans. They dreamed of launching Bangkok’s first yoga studio, and a hospital-themed aperitif bar called the Pulse. My father, a physician, and Nelson, a flaneur who dressed in crisp linen suits, had no business sense, and when they did eventually put their schemes in motion, both immediately flopped.

If they’d only waited a few decades, their ideas might have gone down better. Because today, Bangrak is the epicenter of Bangkok’s Creative District, a trio of neighborhoods populated by artists, designers, chefs, and musicians. Lured by low rents and a post-industrial aesthetic, these upstart entrepreneurs are renovating shop-houses and using them to reinvent izakaya food, say, or experiment with artisanal spirits. Young and edgy, the Creative District has become the city’s must-visit destination.Hipsters Are Taking Over This Bangkok Neighborhood — and You\'re Going to Want to Try Their Cocktails

Christopher Wise Ask anyone who, like me, grew up in Bangkok in the 1970s, and they’ll tell you about suffering through interminable weddings at a riverside hotel in Bangrak, one of the Thai capital’s oldest districts. In those days, status-obsessed locals would shuffle over to Charoen Krung Road, Bangrak’s […]

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Travel and Leisure

3 Big Tips for Women Who Travel

  • By
  • June 18, 2018
3 big tips for women who travel

SOLO TRAVEL

1. How to keep your identity, money, and valuables safe

Make copies of your passport, itinerary, credit cards, insurance, and important contacts:

  • Besides keeping this information securely on your smartphone, make sure to print this information in case your phone is lost or stolen.
  • Consider keeping this same valuable information in a secured vault accessible through the cloud that you can access from any computer.
  • Send your itinerary to close family and friends so they know where you are at all times. Establish regular check-ins to stay connected.
  • Prepare a list of emergency contacts, including friends and family, insurance and emergency travel assistance, local embassy, hotel and transportation.
  • Keep your passport in the hotel safe, along with copies of your credit card. Keep a copy of your passport and medical/travel insurance with you.
  • If the hotel does not have a safe, or if you are staying in another type of lodging like an Airbnb, keep your important documents with you at all times.Have some cash (i.e. local currency) on you and know your currency exchange rate – not all places will accept credit cards, especially if you are traveling in more remote areas.

    Familiarize yourself with the local ATMs and, of course, avoid using ATMs at night or in deserted areas. Do not keep all your money in one place — keep it in several places in case your wallet is stolen or lost.

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