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I recently attended The New York Times Travel Show in New York, where I was part of an on-stage discussion about family travel. Moderated by Rainer Jenss, founder and president of the Family Travel Association (FTA), and including travel advisor Sally Black of VacationKids.com and Amanda Dunning of G Adventures, it was a great panel that covered a wide range of topics.
One question that came up was about why Costa Rica has become so popular with families. Black had the best response.
“They’re kids — and animals are awesome,” she said.
She went on to explain that with the diversity of wildlife experiences in Costa Rica, the entire family comes home with stories they can share for years to come.
The “they’re kids, and animals are awesome” philosophy is probably a winning formula for a lot of family travel planners. However, as you’ll read in this issue’s cover story (“Wild About Animals,” page 12), this basic concept has become more complicated. Many experiences that were staples of trips in the past are now recognized as being harmful to animals.
We all agree that travel provides a great education for kids. Advisors need to make sure they are providing activities that will help inspire kids to be thoughtful stewards of the environment in the future.
Another note about the FTA: It recently launched an advocacy campaign called #TakeFamilyTime, which is designed to encourage parents to use all the vacation time they accumulate (see page 8). At its booth at the The New York Times show, the FTA even had visitors take a pledge to join the #TakeFamilyTime movement. This worthy effort can be a huge win for the travel industry but, more importantly, it benefits parents and kids, as well.