[ AGENTS REPORT LOW DEMAND ]
of Cuba cruises
See CUBA on Page 30
While the lists are not limited to just those
who identify as travel agents or advisers —
tour operators, destination management
companies and even some other business
models appear on each — agents do make
up a healthy portion of the lists.
“I think it’s just a sort of badge of honor
for people to be recognized for the work that
they do,” said Paul Brady, senior editor at
Conde Nast Traveler, which publishes an annual list of travel specialists.
By Jamie Biesiada
Every year, a handful of lists are published
naming a number of top travel specialists
by either destination or specialty. Getting
named to one of the lists is not only something most agents consider an honor, it is a
designation that also becomes a useful marketing tool for them, an acknowledgement
that helps further establish their credibility
as sellers of travel.
Making a top-agents list bestows credibility
Jim Augerinos, president of Perfect Honeymoons, agreed. This year, he was named
to Travel + Leisure’s A-List, the 15th year it
has been published. The A-List features 137
travel specialists, and Augerinos won a spot
based on his expertise in honeymoons as
well as his adeptness in working with millennials, according to the list citation.
He said that being on the list made him
feel like he had an advanced degree in travel.
See LISTS on Page 32
By Tom Stieghorst
Travel agents have begun selling
cruises to Cuba set to sail in the
first half of 2017, but some said
the limited number of itineraries
approved so far by the Cuban government makes it hard for them to
justify a marketing campaign.
Royal Caribbean International has three
cruises to Havana firmly scheduled, while
Norwegian Cruise Line has five.
“There’s definite interest in it, but it’s not
something that as of yet is a hot seller,” said
John Rice, president of Vacation Tour and
Cruise, in Tampa. “We have a lot of people
asking about it. We’ve only done a couple of
[sales] at this point in time.”
While six brands were authorized in De-
cember to carry passengers on a handful of
cruises to Cuba, no U.S. cruise line has per-
mission to sail there after the end of May, al-
though most have applied.
And in the U.S., the volatile politics of rapprochement with Cuba could very well signal
an end to relaxed travel rules with the change
in administrations this month.
That uncertainty is hampering what otherwise might have been a great new market
for agents, Rice said.
“Right now, our big problem is we have
‘It’s tough to operate in an envi-
ronment where you don’t know
what the future’s going to hold.’
— John Rice, Vacation Tour and Cruise
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NYC & Co. CEO Fred Dixon: How New York
tourism succeeded in a very tough year. 4
Culinary travelers are drawn to Juneau for
its breweries and award-winning chefs. 21
Foreign carriers’ contracts with agencies
tend to be poorly written and one-sided. 7
Travel industry insiders are an interesting bunch. But
one group particularly intrigues me. 12
A Kiev-based holiday may include a
daytrip to Chernobyl, a visit to the
Museum of Corruption and the discovery of a little-known European
culture. (P.S.: It’s a bargain.)
REPORT AND PHOTOS BY
ARNIE WEISSMANN PAGE 14
The soul of