A year ago this week I was enjoying the energy of New York City, catching up with travel pals and destination organizations at the New York Times Travel Show. Unfortunately, the show organizers have cancelled this year’s show due to current constraints related to COVID-19. So instead I’m joining a three-day Virtual International Media Marketplace (IMM) North America event. While we may not yet be able to drink as deeply from the travel well as we desire, we can still dream about and plan for our future travels right now.
Safe and Responsible Travel
Any good traveler knows the value of familiarizing oneself with local guidelines and regulations as a matter of showing respect for the destination and its residents. From San Francisco to Ojai, from the Central Coast to Palm Springs, Visit California, a sponsor of the 2021 Virtual IMM gathering, invites visitors to read and follow the state’s Travel Code, “How to Travel Responsibly.” Together, these seven principles define R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Roam Responsibly, Educate Myself, Safety First, Preserve California, Embrace Community, Celebrate Culture, and Teach Others. For a detailed description of the guidelines, check out the Visit California website.
As COVID restrictions ease in the months ahead, visitors can expect safety protocols like social distancing to continue but vary depending on local conditions.
Caroline Beteta, President & CEO of the non-profit organization, says California has used this travel downtime to not only implement new safety guidelines but to improve visitor experiences as well. A number of new attractions have opened as well as new hotels in Napa, Annaheim, and Oceanside in the last year. In the spirit of “resilience and ingenuity,” there has been a surge in outdoor experiences, ski resorts have gained in popularity, and travel operators have packaged specialty tours, like private or small group bikes and hikes, gondola rides, surf lessons, wine tastings, and even helicopter tours.
What Hasn’t Changed
While California experienced its worst fire season on record in 2020, a loss of roughly 4 million acres, the total represents but 4% of the state’s forests, according to Beteta. Wine is grown over the entire state, with the majority of vineyards untouched by the wildfires. As a result, the visitor experience remains largely intact.
Where are your travel dreams taking you, wanderboomers?