Abdalah Castillo of the D.R. Ministry of Tourism with VoX’s Sue Webb and
Mike Miguel of Westjet
Face-from-the-past Bernie O’Donnell with Vanessa Lee
Bon vivants Dan Langevin,
Grant Oddleifson and John Kennedy
Katia Ortiz and Nieves Ricardo of The Cuba Tourist Board
Those clever people at VoX.Â They know that, as much as we all love the festive season, by the time mid-January rolls around, weâ€™re partied out and dealing with the post-Christmas blahs including snow shovelling and credit card bills.
Why not hold a party?
Thatâ€™s just what Susan Webb and her team did recently, in the spacious VoX offices overlooking the lights of Toronto from their 26th floor perch at Yonge and Bloor.
As Susan put it, â€œItâ€™s a great way for us â€“ and our friends at Occidental Resorts â€“ to say thank you to all of our clients and friends in the business for all of their support over the past year.â€
On hand to ring in the new year, albeit a teensy bit late, were dozens of heavy hitters in the industry, from tourist boards and retailers to tour ops staffers and suppliers. In the crowd we spotted industry bold-facers Mary Heron, John Kennedy, John Kirk, Ron Webb, Deana Murphy, Michele Palma, Jacques Gilbert, Jill Wykes, Lorraine Brisbois, and more.Â A veritable whoâ€™s-who of the industry in T.O.!
And since at Open Jaw we can never resist a poll, we asked what people were predicting for 2010.
Both Kim Clarke of Globus and Pina Malfara of CAA â€“ whose last holiday was a river cruise to Vietnam and Cambodia â€“ think that river cruising is going to continue to be a hot trend. At the (literally) other end of the spectrum, Vanessa Lee had good words about the massive new Oasis: â€œItâ€™s going to revolutionize the cruise industry.â€Â
Gail Stewart pointed to a new trend for wellness and medical tourism in Barbados; while Julio Santos Perez of Occidental Hotels and Resorts said that Cuba will continue to grow â€“ after all, the destination was up a whopping 11% from Canada last year. And to the all-important question:Â â€œWhat about the Americans?â€ he only replied, â€œNot this year.â€Â
And â€“ clearly hedging his bets â€“ Dan Langevin of Softvoyage predicted the merger of Sunwing and Signature.
But perhaps the most interesting comment of the evening came from Rob Stockman, regional manager of corporate stores for TS in Ontario. â€œLook at us all â€“ weâ€™re survivors. Thatâ€™s why weâ€™re here tonight.Â Itâ€™s refreshing to see how we re-invent ourselves, and all survive in difficult times.â€
Now thatâ€™s worth celebrating!