shine at the 2019 New York Times’ Travel Show
Cooking for new destinations to visit or places to return to this year? The New York Times Travel Show has set the 2019 trends for globetrotters by making its way back to the New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center from January 25 through January 27. Considered the largest and longest-running trade and consumer travel show in North America, the 16th edition featured 610 exhibitors representing more than 170 destinations globally. With more than 30 thousand travelers and industry professional attendees, more than 280 travel industry speakers and experts, and new and old exhibitors, the show also featured hundreds of cultural presentations from around the world.
According to the latest statistics, Italy welcomed around 58 millions tourists in 2017, being the fifth most visited country after France, Spain, the United States, and China. The Bel Paese was well represented at the show within the Europe Pavilion. Three regional booths – Puglia, Campania, and Calabria – and a tour operator from Sicily. With the ribbon cutting ceremony happening on Friday afternoon, sponsor representatives officially opened the show, including a series of events, panels, representations on the cultural stages taking place throughout the three days. Italy was on the spotlight with a moment dedicated to Rome, another on how to make a quick journey through the country and how to enjoy the most of the trip; a performance by The Puglia’s Pizzica Music and Dance Show with members from the acclaimed Pizzica masters Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino; and a dance from Experience Sicily presenting Sicilian folk music.
We talked to Irenella Sardone, Head of Communications of PugliaPromozione. The region eventually made its debut at the show and the outcome couldn’t be more exciting: “This is for us a great opportunity to get visibility, as we made contacts with the press, influencers, opinion leaders, and food writers. We hope to be part of this next year too, by doubling the efforts and making sure we can bring also local companies who can promote themselves.” And added: “As a first time in the United States, it was a big success because many visitors stopped by our booth and they were curious to know about our region, which is not very well known, yet. Puglia is still seen as an exotic place by most of the American audience. We know that the luxury sector is now leading the industry, however we hope other operators can follow the example and open up their business to visitors.”
Cultural traditions are at the core of Puglia’s heritage, as shown by the presence of the Pizzica Masters Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino. “Puglia is trying to promote our land through food, tourism, and culture. In the last few years, our group has been in touch with PugliaPromozione in different situations and being here is an opportunity to take our performance on stage and share it with the rest of the world. We were surprised to see how, as soon as we gave the first beat at our tamburello, everybody got attracted and could not hold back from being part of our dance and music.”
La Pizzica – Traditional Dance
The Campania region was present at the show for the first time and, together with local tour operators, they all got the opportunity to promote unique places, traditions, and culture. One of the goals of the trip was also to promote the new direct flight from Naples to New York, which is now operated by United after a long time of absence. According to Antonio Campiglia, General Director for Cultural Policies and Tourism, “Our presence here is crucial, because we want to raise the number of flights from Naples to New York throughout the year. We have twenty-two tour operators with us promoting the territory, their business, the Ischia Film Festival, and much more. When we think of Campania, we cannot only look at Capri and Naples because we have excellence also in other towns.” For those considering new destinations in Italy, beyond Naples and the Costiera, one of the most interesting places promoted during the show is the Cammino di San Guglielmo, the path taken by the hermit living along the Apennine ridge that joins the area of Campania to the Piana Pugliese from 1085 to 1142. The walk can be taken at any time of the year, at spring time or in the summer, as well as in the fall when chestnuts, walnuts, olives, and grapes harvests start.
Michelangelo Messina, the Founder and Artistic Director of Ischia Film Festival, explained his presence at the show: “Many actors and directors from New York come to our festival. For the last 17 years, the festival has been an important opportunity for an international audience and we are now organizing tours especially for the American visitors to experience the island most recognizable locations from the movie industry. We have put together the beauty of our land with the international cinematography, from Cleopatra to My Brilliant Friend, the talented Mr Ripley, and so on.” Experience Sicily and its founder Allison Scola joined the New York Times Travel Show for the second year: “We had lots of traffic to our booth and we went on stage twice with some Sicilian music. My grandparents were Sicilian and they immigrated to the US back in the day. My family has kept strong relations with relatives in Sicily and I am myself always in touch with my cousins in Bagheria. When I first went there in 1996, I fell in love with it and got a great passion for everything there. I really wanted other people to experience the same.”
Allison’s goal is to share what she knows about Sicily with other Americans at an organic level. “We offer the opportunity to see the Unesco sites, but also to learn about unknown places, interact with the locals, in the countryside or in small towns. We have visitors make cheese, taste the local sausage, and buy ingredients at the farmer’s markets with grandmoms and cook with them. One of my cousins in Sicily takes care of my clients traveling there, so we have the best of both worlds.” One mission of the company is to support Sicilians and the local economy, as well as women who want to their own business. Mrs Scola concluded: “The island is different compared to the ‘90s and it’s exciting to see how much change we can drive. Everything is so vibrant and it’s an exciting time to be and work there, for sure”.