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The New York Times Travel Show – so many visitors, so little time, so much fun!

The New York Times Travel Show – so many visitors, so little time, so much fun!

Once again recently Silk Road Treasure Tours was part of this annual extravaganza of dream travel. It’s always a whirlwind of fun and inspiration!

And the visitors! So many enthusiastic, curious travelers “roaming the world” in a day, stopping by and taking away great ideas for new destinations along the Silk Road with us. Many took advantage of the discounts we offered during the show and we’re looking forward to welcoming them to our part of the world which are Central Asia, Caucasus, China and beyond.

With over 30,000 visitors to the show over three days, our two presentations on the Asia stage were well-received. We had a packed audience for Uzbekistan guest dance artist Zamira Salim and then again for the dancers from the Georgian Cultural Center the following day. Gorgeous costumes and thrilling music played backdrop to my presentations on Uzbekistan and Central Asia and the countries of the Caucasus. 

Guests were full of questions and I truly enjoyed speaking with them. Most travelers are looking for “the authentic experience”. They want inspiration and challenge and the chance to explore this region so long closed off to the West. That’s certainly something that we have in Central Asia - plenty of authenticity and fabulous, transformative experiences! Just look at our current tours!

The first day of the show is exclusive to the travel industry and was filled with opportunities to meet other travel agents and operators, photographers, journalists and travel writers. Interest in Central Asia is high right now. Many of the professionals we met said clients are looking for new destinations to explore, citing frequent requests for the Silk Road and the Caucasus. Many were happy to know that Silk Road Treasure Tours is a US-based company, ensuring organizational details and easy access to experts that much less complicated. The fact that I have trusted multi-lingual staff and have overseen the staff training is a bonus. Many of the travel agents themselves are keen to go!

FullSizeRender2Here are some of my favorite questions from the weekend:

1.  “Can we visit Central Asia or the Caucasus without being part of a large group tour?”

Absolutely! At Silk Road Treasure Tours, we specialize in the niche traveler, that’s how we started so many years ago - from couples and small groups celebrating special occasions, to a few friends with common interests, solo travelers, or women-only tours. Special events and specific enthusiasms, we do that! Festivals and feasts, shoppers and fashion designers, university professors and students, textile and fine arts lovers, nature and adventure seekers, cooks and gourmands, archaeologists, history lovers, and religious groups. Did you know that one of the oldest Jewish communities is in Bukhara, Uzbekistan? And Georgia is the new go-to place for gourmets with the Pheasant’s Tears Winery on everyone’s list.

Millennials – we’ve got you covered. Traveling light and maximizing experiences, we can help you with transit visas and adventure plans for as many countries as possible, extending visits to include volunteer opportunities, engaging with local residents and really immersing in a culture. You won’t miss a thing!

Baby Boomers and retirees have the time to really appreciate everything this region has to offer, and our flexible guides are happy to help you spend as much time as you like in any particular destination.

A terrific number of travelers seem to have been bitten by the photography bug and I’m pleased to say we are working with professional photographers to develop more itineraries focusing on this!  

2. Is it safe to bring kids to Central Asia?

Of course! Your entire family will be welcomed everywhere and your children made much of. Central Asia and the Caucasus are safe and hospitable destinations whose cultures center on the family and community. We have created tours for children and adults of all ages.

Multigenerational trips are on the rise and several families attending the show have signed on to visit our locations. We offer visits with schools, local families and communities everywhere as well as a Young Ambassadors program in Uzbekistan for peer-to-peer opportunities. In a town or nomadic village, from a game of ball or chess, going horseback riding or cooking together, this is what families want to do. Parents understand how important it is for their children to experience life in the larger world. These interactions bolster global citizenship through international friendships and children and young adults are natural ambassadors with a fresh, unbiased outlook on learning and sharing. Go ahead, broaden their horizons!

3. Does Central Asia have a luxury infrastructure?

Boutique, exotic, authentic…these words often go together in queries from luxury tour travelers. Yes, we do that, too! Special interests, private experiences, gorgeous accommodations and fascinating destinations are on their lists. Champagne overlooking the lights of the city, a gourmet dinner at the chef’s table, a privately curated museum tour, appointments with local fashion designers and jewelry workshops, desert photography at sunset, a stop at a local caviar supplier… Yes, we can do that. If you can think it, we can make it happen. That’s what decades in the business, an extensive network of contacts and our sterling reputation does for our clients.

4. Where can we see Soviet influences?

Since 1991, much of Central Asia has been “de-Sovietizing” but there is still plenty of older Soviet bloc architecture remaining, like the TSUM department store as well as the later Modernist style like the Republican Palace in Almaty, KZ or the Tashkent Circus building. There’s a Soviet steam train on display in Tashkent and the metro there is a gorgeous example of Russian public art. The Baikonur Cosmodrone in Kazakhstan is a must-see for those interested in the space program and the Savitsky Museum of Art in Uzbekistan is home to a fabulous collection of “forbidden” Avant Garde art. There are a few statues of Lenin left in places like Bishkek and Ashgabat and bits and pieces of military surplus can be found in most of the bazaars.

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