Dream Destinations Travel Show 2023
What better way to shake off the grey, rainy early Spring blues than a little fantasy vacation planning? Maybe something tropical, you know, sunny, warm and sandy, drinks with umbrellas and a little Carnivale party action. Or, perhaps something a little more local — keep the sun and the sand but throw in good old Yankee comfort food.
For many gamblers at the MGM Casino Sunday, the Dream Destinations Travel Show in the Aria Ballroom, sponsored by the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com, made planning that getaway a whole lot easier by bringing all the best spots to one place.
“We haven’t been to Barbados,” Yanitca Nogue said when asked where she wants to go.
Nogue shuffled through brochures at the Barbados booth, one of about 50 at the Dream show Sunday afternoon. She and her husband, Mike Grey, carefully poured over the choices.
“We go on vacation every year. We have been to Jamaica and Aruba, Antigua, Mexico, Dominican Republic but not Barbados.”
That’s fine with Deborah Millington. She represents her home country at shows much like Sunday’s Dream Destinations all across the Northeast. She lives in New Jersey right now but in a lilting accent, she proudly staked her claim to her birthright.
“I was born and bred in Barbados,” she said, “and now I work for the Barbados Tourism Marketing, Inc. promoting Barbados.”
All the Caribbean islands have tropical shores with clear water and blue skies and lots of sun. How is a traveler to choose between them? Millington said it’s in the culture. Barbados loves to celebrate.
“Yes, definitely. In the Spring we have a festival called Gospel Fest, and then there is a festival, more like a street party every Friday night in Barbados, called Oistins. It’s a historical point in Barbados when we signed a treaty with England. We have a weekly celebration of that,” she said. “And then during the Easter Holiday there was the Oistins fishing festival commemorating the landing of the fishing fleet, all the men and women who go out into the deep waters and bring back fresh fish, especially the flying fish and real delicacy for us.”
There are no flying fish in New Hampshire and Colleen Westcott does not seem to have an accent, but she, like Millington, is ready to promote her home. She lives in Hampton, near the famous beach.
“We represent the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce,” she said. “A lot of people know about Hampton down here and they come to the beach a lot. What we are here for is to show our calendar with a lot of free activities and events and festivals on the beach.”
Indeed, Hampton Beach is well known for is sand sculpture contests, its Country Music festival and of course its seafood festival. But Westcott said she is still not taking any chances.
“We keep reminding everybody because we don’t want people to make this year the year they don’t come and see us.”
Terry Petersen grew up in Alabama so places like Plimoth Plantation take on special meaning. She grabbed a brochure from the Plymouth County booth.
“That’s kind of cool,” she said. “We didn’t have anything like that when I was growing up.”
Petersen said she was at Sturbridge Village once years ago.
“We actually did take the kids there when they were little bitty,” she said. “But, having three toddlers and doing that I didn’t really get to see much. It might be worth it to go back.”
And with that, she took another brochure from the second of four Massachusetts booths.
Petersen’s friend Gina Salvatore is looking far beyond the Bay State’s borders.
“We were looking at a few cruises,” she said. “We are thinking about a joint vacation with the Petersens and we were thinking maybe something tropical would be nice.”
Salvatore checked in with Christina Basumo and her East Granby business, www. thetravelingbuddies.com for a rundown of possible trips. Basumo was the only travel agency represented at the MGM Dream Destinations show. There was a time when travel agencies were supposed to be made obsolete by the internet, but Basumo said she is thriving. She said people want to take their vacation but not have to plan it.
“I take care of everything for you, so you don’t have to worry about anything. Just tell me where you want to go, how much you want to spend and we find something for you,” she said. “We take care of the whole kit and caboodle, so you don’t have to do anything except pay the bill.”
Dave and Kathy Martorella were keeping their options open as they browsed the various booths.
“We were looking at the New Hampshire sites and thinking about going toward the water up there,” Kathy said. “Old Sturbridge Village, I haven’t been there since I was a kid, so I was thinking about that.”
Mary Maloney and Nicholas Zeo are headed out toward middle New York state for an upcoming wedding, so they stopped at the Finger Lakes booth for information. Maloney noticed an overabundance of booths for New York destinations.
“There is a lot for New York here,” she said. “So many sections of New York.”
Of the 50 or so booths at Sunday’s show, New York state destinations took up about a dozen. Duchess, Cortland, Old Forge, Ulster, The Northern Catskills of Greene County, Columbia and Sullivan counties each had their own booth set out to entice tourists to their particular area, and that doesn’t include cities like Ithaca, Schenectady, Syracuse, and Saratoga, and regions like the Finger Lakes. The New York State Tourist Industries Association covering tourism in all the state’s counties made it a baker’s dozen.
New Jersey promoted what they called, “The Jersey Cape.” Wait, you may demand! There is only one Cape! Regional parochialism aside they do have Cape May which sticks out from the very bottom of the state, and Rachael Clarke says it is really good.
“We are a family-friendly resort destination. Wildwood is great for kids, Cape May is great for adults who are looking for a laid-back kind of vacation with a lot of good fishing and beaches,” she said. “We have 17 miles of shoreline on the bay side and 29 miles of beachfront.”
Clarke said she enjoys Sea Isle City right on the coast.
“It has my favorite beaches, that’s where I go. It has good restaurants and good places to grab a cocktail.”
If New Jersey isn’t exotic enough, Miami had its own booth as did Aruba, Antigua, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and the aforementioned Barbados.
Smugglers Notch Resort, in far northern Vermont, known by most in southern New England for its epic skiing highlighted its four-season resort amenities. The resort offers studio lodging and eight swimming pools four waterslides and hot tubs in the summer, great foliage views in the fall and of course, lift tickets with each reservation in ski season.
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Dream Destinations Travel Show 2023