Family Travel Association Newsletter

Family Travel Gains in Influence! Will All Parts of the Market Follow?

Week of June 1, 2015

This is the newsletter of the Family Travel Association, a new coalition of leading family travel experts, media and companies coming together to create an industry voice that will transform the way families travel — charting a path for future generations of travelers.


Family Travel Association News

The FTA has assembled a remarkable family-travel brain trust to guide our development – advisors on our board and other councillors, members and partners with many years of travel thought-leadership. Over the coming weeks and months, we will share a bounty of wisdom from their decades of advocacy for and hands-on practice in family travel.

Consumer Advocate Christopher Elliott Lays out the Long-Simmering Debate About Paid Seat Assignments on Planes

Following our inaugural pieces by Keith Bellows, Emeritus Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic Travel; by Kyle McCarthy, Editor of Family Travel Forum; and by Matt Villano, a senior editor of the Expedia Viewfinder travel blog; by Heather Greenwood Davis, an award-winning journalist and feature writer; and by Karin Sheets, an adventurer and special-needs advocate, this week the spotlight turns to consumer advocate and customer service expert Christopher Elliott. He reacts to the ongoing debate, one recent riposte of which was this article, about airlines charging families for the right to sit together on airplanes.

the pop screen - Are You Sure?

For Better or Worse, Let Kids Influence Your Holiday Decisions

In a recent far-reaching survey, HomeAway has found that kids wield a growing influence on vacation planning. These "kidfluencers" have significant decision-making power and a strong point of view on where to go, what to do and who to bring. Rainer Jenss, FTA's founder and president, isn't at all surprised by those findings and shared his thoughts about survey highlights.

Kids enjoying their vacation influence

Family Travel Association Membership

The Family Travel Association membership base continues to expand, drawing in new associations, media outlets, destinations, tour operators, corporate entities, cruise lines, lodgings and travel specialists.

Who Are Our Newest Members?

Africa Travel Association
Africa Travel Association
"We are delighted to work with the FTA to advocate for family travel to Africa. With an abundance of wildlife, nature, culture, and historic sites, Africa is one of the richest destinations for family travel. By collaborating with the FTA, we hope to inspire families to travel to Africa for generations to come."
– Edward Bergman, Executive Director, Africa Travel Association
Costa Rica Monkey Tours
Costa Rica Monkey Tours
Costa Rica Monkey Tours provides guided tours of Central America to adventurous, fun-loving families looking for an authentic and unforgettable vacation. The company specializes in guided tours, including expert guides and professional photographers to capture the best moments of your vacation. Costa Rica Monkey Tours has hand-picked locations, tours and activities for each itinerary and guarantees the best prices.
Western River Expeditions
Western River Expeditions
After 50 years guiding adventurous families through the most spectacular rivers and canyons in the West, Western River Expeditions has carefully crafted some of the best, all-inclusive rafting vacations in the world. Families love discovering the relaxation of drifting down rivers without a care in the world, the exhilaration of America's most legendary whitewater, the exploration of seldom-seen natural wonders and the peaceful reflection of gazing up at the star-studded sky.

Family Travel Association Member News

Hawks Cay Resort, Villas and Marina Undergoes $18 Million Renovation

The $18 million renovation of Hawks Cay, the Florida Keys destination touched nearly every aspect of the resort: a complete lobby redesign with a 1,300-gallon lobby aquarium that will be installed this summer, two all-new luxury penthouses and sixteen family suites, a spa and relaxation lounge and, for families, a fully updated activities center for all ages, called Coral Cay, with a high-tech hangout for teens, a Pirate Ship Pool and Splash Zone and an expanded educational program, including an indoor saltwater touch tank.

Hawks Cay

SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Announce Plans for Bigger and Better Rides

Surfacing in the summer of 2016 at SeaWorld Orlando will be Mako, a 200-foot-tall hypercoaster that will reach 73 mph along 4,760 feet of steel track – nearly a mile long. Named for one of the ocean’s fastest known sharks, Mako will be Orlando’s tallest, fastest and longest roller coaster. Busch Gardens® Tampa will put a spin on family thrills in 2016 with Cobra’s Curse, a spin coaster the only one of its kind in the world – featuring a vertical lift and taking riders on a whirlwind adventure.

SeaWorld Orlando's Mako hypercoaster

Maui's Fairmont Kea Lani Introduces Hawaiian Culture Selfie Scavenger Hunt

As hotels seek novel ways to engage and educate its younger guests, the Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui has launched a self-guided Selfie Scavenger Hunt. The 10-clue hunt takes guests to various locations around the 22-acre property while offering facts and insight into Hawaiian culture and history. At each spot, the guest snaps a selfie and tags the hotel on social media channels. At the end of the scavenger hunt, the selfies are presented at the resort’s Caffe Ciao bakery where the guest picks up a prize.

Kids Sea Camp Included in a USA Today’s "10 Best Adventure Camps For The Tiniest Travelers"

For kids who love to get active on vacation, this is a list of exciting and educational camps designed especially for young travelers. It includes Family Dive Adventures' week-long Kids Sea Camp on the Caribbean island of Bonaire, a "perfect place for families and children to learn how to scuba dive."

Kids underwater at Family Dive Advnetures' Kids Sea Camp

Journeys International Receives $50,000 Grant to Expand Nepal Relief Efforts

Thanks to a $50,000 grant by The Peat Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation, Journeys International is expanding its efforts to aid Nepal earthquake victims. This grant, along with additional funds donated by clients and supporters, enables the Earth Preservation Fund (EPF), the nonprofit arm of Journeys, to provide critical and urgent support where it is most needed: providing immediate and critical relief and bypassing roadblocks that larger NGOs have to navigate.

Family Travel Industry News

U.S. Families to Audition for Free 30-Day Trip Around the World Starting in Hangzhou, China

The Hangzhou Tourism Commission (HTC) has just announced the official launch of a social media campaign, called Global Tour 2015, which will send one U.S. and one Chinese family, along with a media "Storyteller," on an all-expenses-paid 30-day trip around the globe from July 24th through August 22nd. Families interested in entering for the Global Tour 2015 must complete a questionnaire and submit a short video audition. Do you know a family that would qualify? Act now! Family and storyteller auditions are from May 27 to June 11 with the winners announced on June 18.

Hangzhou Global Tour 2015

Travel Channel Launches New Family Travel Series: Big Crazy Family Adventures

The Kirkby family is on an extraordinary adventure halfway around the globe – and inviting everyone to come along. Travel Channel’s new series, Big Crazy Family Adventure, premiering Sunday, June 21, with back-to-back episodes at 9:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, follows wilderness guide, writer and award-winning photographer Bruce Kirkby throughout an epic trip – from his home in Kimberley, British Columbia (Canada), to a remote monastery in the Himalaya – with his wife, Christine Pitkanen, and their two young boys: Bodi, 7, and Taj, 3. There’s just one catch: on their 13,000-mile adventure they won’t be taking ANY airplanes.

Big Crazy Family Adventure
Explora NYC con Dora

New York City Announces New Family Ambassador in its First-Ever Bilingual Tourism Campaign

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC & Company, together with Nickelodeon, announced Dora is returning as the seventh Official NYC Family Ambassador. As part of the yearlong campaign, the world’s most beloved explorer, Dora, will encourage family travel to the City’s five boroughs by highlighting New York City as a family-friendly destination. For the first time ever, the family ambassador program will include English and Spanish content that features activities and destinations for families to enjoy.

Family-Friendly Travel Packages on Tap in Several Caribbean Destinations

This summer some of the Caribbean’s best family destinations are offering travel packages featuring free nights, discounted rates and special services and amenities. Here's a great selection from which to choose.

Family Getaways

Other Industry Stories Through Travel Age West

As part of a collaboration with Travel Age West, we are sharing selected items of interest from their family travel news desk.

Inside Scoop From TMS Family Travel Summit
According to the annual TMS Family Travel Summit, the growing Latino market and the power of social media are among major marketplace trends.

Leisure Travel Down, But Spending Increases
New report shows an overall improvement in consumer attitudes toward travel.

Supporting Ecotourism With Phare, The Cambodian Circus
Phare, The Cambodian Circus gives travelers a taste of local arts while providing opportunities to underprivileged children.
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