Europe Presents A Feast For The Senses

with Caroline Booth

Brad Ford, Contiki; Tony Celio, Air Canada; Laura Pena, ETC / Embassy of Spain; Jeff Element, The Travel Corporation; Doug Patterson, Trafalgar; Cris David, Insight Vacations

Pre presentation cocktail hour and mingling.

Lionel Lionel Ansermet, Switzerland Tourism

Alegria Narvaez & Laura Pena, Embassy of Spain

Maurizio Mazzola & Rares Dumitru, Trafalgar

Hot & cold buffet featuring a variety of European food.

“63% of international tourist arrivals take place in Europe," said Laura Pena, Chairwoman for the European Tourism Commission in Canada. “It's the world's #1 tourist destination and the 3 rd most important destination for Canadians after the U.S. and China." Visitor numbers have been growing steadily for the past decade and the upward trajectory is expected to continue for years to come, Pena added.

There's no doubt that the facts and figures are impressive, but what is it exactly about this multi faceted destination that commands such a strong allure? From the discovery of ancient history and ancestral roots, the majestic landscapes and sunny skies, to haute couture shopping and riveting sport, Europe really does awaken the senses and offers its visitors a full spectrum of experiences. And the food, oh the food! If nothing else, go for the food.

Food was the main topic of discussion recently when The Travel Corporation, in collaboration with the ETC hosted an evening of wining and dining at Toronto's Casa Loma. Agents had the opportunity to chat with a few of the ETC member countries, catch up on new product, and learn a bit about the influence that food has on making each European destination so unique.

In Italy this year, Milan will showcase itself to the world with Expo 2015. From May 1 st to October 31st events will focus on the theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life which explores technology, innovation, culture and traditions and how they relate to food and diet.

Culture and tradition is the theme in Germany this year as well, which of course can be explored through the country's many culinary specialties. Have you heard of or ever tried Currywurst? It's a popular dish in Berlin with its very own museum. And here's a tip for travellers who make their way to Cologne to taste the local Köln - keep your coaster on your glass to avoid unexpected refills and an inflated bill!

Those looking to try their hand at pouring a pint or 2 should visit the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin where they can learn some proper techniques and the history behind the stout. With festivals, food trails and cooking schools throughout the region, there is every opportunity to experience the local, fresh ingredients that Ireland has to offer.

“Gastronomy is key to our destination and way of life," said Pena, who also spoke on behalf of Spain this evening. Aside from the many Michelin starred restaurants and the award winning food prepared by famed chefs such as Ferran Adria and Sergi Arola, the simple act of going out for tapas with friends and family is a social habit throughout the region.

And finally, adding a Switzerland stay to any European itinerary is completely feasible thanks to its central location. The Grand Tour takes travellers to mountain tops, down to the lakes and through quaint little towns. At the end of the Tour gather around the table to try some fondue. According to Lionel Ansermet of Switzerland Tourism, it's a very social meal as people eat from a shared plate, so strike up a conversation and make some new friends.

Europe lends itself very well to immersion experiences and The Travel Corporation's coach tour brands are experts at making it happen. From the youth oriented Contiki no regrets adventures, the couples and family focused Trafalgar Insider Experiences and the upscale Signature Experiences available through Insight Vacations, travellers are sure to feel their senses come alive..

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