PowWow brings all things America under one roof. But with five days of appointments and more than 5,000 delegates jostling for space, it can be a daunting experience, with everyone from Alcatraz to Arkansas vying for 10 minutes of your time.
You’ll need comfortable shoes to cover the whole marketplace, but to help you out we’ve selected a few highlights.
With advance bookings down by 20% this summer, the Sunshine State will be anxious to showcase its wares.
In Orlando, the $100 million Disney attraction Expedition Everest (see right) has just opened and at a heady 200ft, will be the highest ‘mountain’ in Florida. For surf dudes, the Ron Jon Surfpark – the world’s first wavepark designed for surfing – opens mid 2006 and will create waves up to 8ft high. SeaWorld starts the Shamu Believe Show next month; the official launch is directly after PowWow.
World-class hotels continue to sprout up in Miami and South Beach continues to lead the way in cutting-edge hotels and bars, and the nightlife rivals anywhere in the US. The new Setai is one of the most stylish of the area’s glittering array of properties.
If you’ve ever wondered what goes on in those hurricane centres we see on the news, then now’s your chance to find out. Visitors to the Florida Keys can take a free weather tour at the new National Weather Service forecast office in Key West. The $5.1 million centre opened in March and is the newest weather office in the US.
Pennsylvania will focus on outdoor adventure with the launch of a golf guide highlighting the top courses around the state.
Philadelphia CVB will be promoting tax-free shopping and the shopping voucher programme. The city will be launching a movie tour (initially for groups only) and Pennsylvania Dutch region is focusing on FlavorFest, which offers culinary tours highlighting local produce and Amish signature dishes.
It’s been a tough time for New Orleans and Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina but the recovery has been amazing.
Mardi Gras went off without a hitch and the city now has more than 27,000 rooms and 1,000 restaurants open for business. All the hotels in the tourist areas have reopened except the Fairmont and the Ritz-Carlton, both of which are undergoing refurbishments. All the major attractions are open, apart from the Aquarium.
Apart from New Orleans and the surrounding coastal areas, the rest of the state was unaffected by Katrina. Baton Rouge is bustling with new restaurants and the forthcoming release of All the King’s Men with Sean Penn, Jude Law and Kate Winslett should boost interest in both New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
The controversial Skywalk will finally open later this year. The glass bridge that will hang on the edge of the Grand Canyon has attracted some criticism, but visitors will soon be able to judge for themselves – and maybe also take lunch at the underground restaurant.
The new $100 million Mesa Arts Center is up and running in downtown Mesa and is now Arizona’s largest entertainment complex.
Pink Jeep Tours, Sedona’s oldest jeep tour company, has launched its most luxurious tour – The Grand Canyon in Grand Style. Guests are transported in vehicles that seat 14 passengers and are equipped with plush leather reclining captain’s chairs, oversized viewing windows and a flat-screen TV and DVD player.
W Hotel is coming to Arizona with openings in Scottsdale (2007) and Phoenix (2008). The much-anticipated Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa is now open.
Muhammad Ali fans can now go a couple of rounds with the Greatest in the interactive ring at the Muhammad Ali Museum, which opened in Louisville last November. Boxing is not the only sport in town with the Kentucky Derby taking place on the first Saturday in May, and 2008 sees the 37th Ryder Cup come to Louisville’s Valhalla Golf Club.
With the introduction of all-business-class MAXjet for a launch price of £445, Washington and the Capital Region might just be this year’s hot destination.
For this summer, the Capital Region (Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC) is promoting Maryland’s great outdoor water-related events including the Baltimore Waterfront Festival in April/May and Crab Days in July. Virginia is launching its Jamestown 2007 big 400th anniversary plans and Washington, DC has an American Originals programme promoting US culture across museums, theatres and attractions with special hotel discounts.
More than 6.7 million international visitors hit the Big Apple in 2005 and even more are expected this year.
Hotel prices have rocketed over the past couple of years but with more than 5,000 new and renovated rooms coming on-stream this year, operators are hoping prices will stabilise.
Lovers of grand vistas who don’t want to queue for the Empire State Building should check out the recently opened Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Plaza, with its timed-entry ticketing system. The observation deck offers visitors 360º views of the city from a unique vantage point.
This autumn the Hard Rock Café empire will expand with the opening of the 610-room Hard Rock Hotel hot on the heels of the Hard Rock Café in Times Square. The restaurant has a 1,800 sq ft Rock Shop with authentic merchandise and a live concert venue for performances.
The NYC Heritage Tourism Center, which opened in historic City Hall Park in July 2005, will have detailed information on history-themed tours, and activities and events for historic sites city-wide.
Across the water on Staten Island progress is being made on the National Lighthouse Museum, which will open later in the year. In October, three state-of-the-art ferries and a major renovation to the ferry terminal will mark the 100th anniversary of the Staten Island Ferry.
In May, Robert Redford will bring an outpost of his Sundance Film Festival to Brooklyn. In collaboration with the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Sundance Institute will host a series of film screenings, performances, discussions and special events under the name of Creative Latitude.
Hard Rock has announced plans for a new concept attraction – the Hard Rock Park – which will celebrate the spirit of rock n’ roll. It is due to open in Myrtle Beach in 2008.
The Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour opened last October in Everett, 20 miles north of Seattle. The new 73,000 sq ft commercial jet interpretive centre will have an aviation gallery with interactive exhibits on commercial aviation, a theatre and a rooftop observation deck to view the airport’s take-offs and landings at the nearby Boeing plant.
The Flying Heritage Collection at Arlington Airport, 40 miles north of Seattle, showcases rare and restored military aircraft from World Wars I and II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. The collection, owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, features historic aircraft from the US, UK, Germany, Japan and Russia that have been restored to flying condition. The centre hosts regular fly days featuring fly-pasts by vintage war aircraft.
Lovers of the TV series Dallas will be delighted to learn that a movie version is set to shoot soon and South Fork Ranch will be open for visitors.
Dallas developers have invested $95 million in the past five years with a further $13 million cash injection planned in the rundown downtown Main Street area. The investment is paying off with more than 30,000 residents now living in the area, which has plenty of bars, clubs, restaurants and cafés.
New hotels include Joule on Main St, W Dallas Victory Hotel and, in 2007, a Ritz-Carlton.
Highway 50, dubbed the loneliest road in the US, now has its own guidebook. Nevada Tourism has produced The Highway 50 Survival Guide for those who want to undertake the road less travelled.
An all-new production of Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular, opens at the new $40 million theatre at the Venetian in June.
The Stratosphere Casino Hotel and Tower has transformed the Top of the World Lounge into Romance at the Top of the World. The lounge features 12 VIP sections with sweeping views of Las Vegas and the Strip, more than 800 feet below. Couples can sip a cocktail in the bar on level 107.