2013 is winding down and with that comes the usual “year-in-review” lists. So here’s another to add to the pile – this one highlights some events and developments in the travel industry from the past year.
Travel Bloggers Unite in Toronto
T-shirt from the TBEX conference in Toronto
TBEX, the world’s largest gathering of travel bloggers and new media content creators, held its 2013 North American Conference in Toronto in June. Organizers offered over 1,200 bloggers from around the world sightseeing tours of some of the city’s most popular neighbourhoods; boat tours to Toronto Islands; and industry-sponsored parties, including a fabulous opening night soiree at Roy Thompson Hall that showcased our city’s multicultural cuisine.
In terms of scheduled programming, daytime activities at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre included an open marketplace and conference speakers from well-known media outlets such as Lonely Planet and the Huffington Post. There was also a writers’ workshop where panelists offered insightful writing tips. Many bloggers also met up informally at local coffee shops over the course of the four-day event to exchange ideas as well as Twitter handles.
All in all, TBEX organizers did a great job of showing the travel bloggers (and the rest of the world, for that matter) what the City of Toronto is really about.
Eaux, the Humanity!
Toronto floods, July 2013
Mother Nature hasn’t exactly gone easy on us this year. Currently, in the aftermath of a wicked ice storm affecting Toronto and Eastern Canada, many are doing their best to celebrate the holidays despite being without any power. And…Canadians in different parts of the country were grumbling about our rather lackluster summer weather when in June, Calgary was hit with a record-breaking flood that devastated many homes and businesses. The following month, Toronto experienced its own flood which also temporarily upended many local residents (though not nearly to the same extent as Calgary). At times like this, things are definitely put into perspective. What was most heartwarming, though, was the manner in which travel companies, hotels and airlines (Calgary’s WestJet and the Toronto Sheraton, to name just two) stepped up and offered donations and discounted rates to displaced individuals. It was also inspiring to see how resilient we Canadians were. Case-in-point: Alberta’s largest tourist attraction, the Calgary Stampede, was able to go on this year with the appropriately-named theme, “Come Hell or High Water.”
Sizeism in the Airline Industry
As of this past year, certain airline passengers not only have to worry about their luggage weight, but their body weight as well. In April, Air Samoa became the first airline to charge people according to their weight. It also introduced “XL” seating for heavier passengers. Not to be outdone, India’s GoAir came up with its own like-minded policy in June, when it publicly stated that it planned on only hiring female (ergo, lighter) flight attendants in an effort to cut down on fuel costs. Well, hopefully this trend won’t “spread” to other parts of the world. But in case it does, Toronto’s Pearson International Airport has already got your back(side). The airport opened up its very own Good Life fitness location to give travellers a chance to burn off those last few calories before any obligatory weigh-ins.
Phones on a Plane
In October, the Federal Aviation Agency announced that airlines could safely allow passengers to use mobile devices during all phases of a flight. Though it remains to be seen which airlines actually will implement gate-to-gate cell phone usage policies, many members of the public have already voiced their opinion against the idea – quite loudly, in fact.
But, all in all, it was a very exciting year in travel….Here’s to a fantastic 2014….Happy Trails!