By Greg Aragon
Spring is around the corner and summer is just up the road. In other words, it’s a great time to plan a vacation. But if you are like most people, the mountainous minutia of organizing a big trip can be daunting.
This is where a large travel fair, with hundreds of travel professionals and exhibits can help. One of my favorites is the Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show, which will be held this weekend, Feb. 16 & 17, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
This year’s programming includes a variety of brand new interactive experiences, celebrity speakers, and first-time exhibitors that will be sure to elevate and expand the range of opportunities available for anyone interested in seeing more of California and the world.
Thousands of destinations will be represented for guests to explore, with free on-site experiences including the Visit Billings, Montana Photo Booth, the Discover Yosemite Virtual Reality Activity Pavilion, a climbing wall, opportunities to win prizes and trips, and a heated dive pool where attendees can receive free scuba lessons.
I experienced the free scuba booth at the travel show a couple years ago and it was awesome. To take part, guests are encouraged to “bring their bathing suits and a sense of adventure,” and the dive team will supply the rest, including towels, wet suits, masks, air tanks and hair dryers. Once suited up, guests can hop into a 4-foot-deep pool, where they will receive free lessons from a certified dive instructor. All participants will get a free digital picture of their experience.
At Discover Yosemite’s Virtual Reality Activity Pavilion, guests can immerse themselves in the unbelievable and embark on a journey through the magical seasons of this wonderful California destination. This 360-degree virtual reality experience will transport visitors to a wonderland, where they can ski, bike and paddle from adventure to adventure and if lucky, they might even see a flying dragon or a giant, roaming mammoth.
Some of the world’s top travel experts and celebrities, including Samantha Brown, Josh Gates, Pauline Frommer and Rick Steves will also be at the event to answer questions on all things travel. Guests will have the opportunity to interact one-on-one with many of these travel celebrities at the show.
“Part of what makes this show so engaging every year is the broad variety of cultural experience and expertise that come together in one room,” says Travel & Adventure Show CEO John Golicz. “Whether it is a travel icon, master chef, or unique travel destination, we want to welcome both old and new faces to the largest travel show in the country.”
MSC Cruises and Switzerland Tourism, both new for 2019, are major sponsors along with The European Tour Operators Association. Supporting sponsors include Rick Steves’ Europe, Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Wonderful Indonesia and Discover Yosemite. Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, is the event’s contributing sponsor, while Aer Lingus is the official airline sponsor. The Virtual Reality Activity Pavilion is sponsored by Discover Yosemite, while the Destination Theater sponsor is Lonely Planet.
Other exhibitors of note include Cook Islands, Taiwan, Baja Norte, Alaska Land & Sea Adventures, Tourism Fiji, and more.
The travel show will also feature a Global Beats Stage, where live cultural performances representing different destinations from around the world will perform. Highlights will include the Tonga Cultural Dance Group, a Flemenco group, as well as traditional dancers from Taiwan, Indonesia, the Middle East and Panama
What I like most about travel shows such as this is the opportunity to meet so many interesting and nice people for all over the world. Just walk into any booth and you can make a new friend from Greece, China, Tanzania or Costa Rica. You can also discover that places you never thought about visiting are suddenly on your must-see list.
The Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show will be held Feb. 16 and 17, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Los Angeles Convention Center (South Halls GHJ), 1201 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, 90015. One day tickets are $15, and two day tickets are $22. Onsite garage parking is $20. For more information, call (213) 741-1151 or visit travelshows.com.