After nearly five years of construction, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts reopens its doors on May 1. With a 165,000-square-foot expansion, the Richmond facility will be one of the ten largest art museums in the United States. Among its new features are a “main street” connecting the recently finished building with a library, museum shop, cafe, and galleries.
Washington-area residents in need of a midwinter thaw will soon be in luck. On February 11, AirTran Airways will launch nonstop service between BWI Airport and Montego Bay, Jamaica. The airline regularly features weekly deals on its Web site, with round-trip fares from BWI to the Caribbean destination starting at $290. Air Jamaica, the country’s national carrier, also operates direct flights between Baltimore and Montego Bay starting at $440 round-trip.
According to a report issued this week by the UN World Tourism Organization, global tourism is expected to rebound strongly in 2010, with growth predicted between 3 and 4 percent. Hindered by the economic crisis and fears of H1N1 flu, the world’s tourism industry took a 4-percent hit last year. The report noted that North American and European countries have been lagging behind those in Asia and the Middle East in tourism growth since the fourth quarter of 2009.
Fodor’s guidebooks recently released a new online travel planner called 80 Degrees, which uses a questionnaire to help users plan vacations. The interactive tool asks a series of questions such as “What kind of place would you like to visit?” and “How do you like to travel?” to locate activities and attractions that may interest vacationers. Currently, 80 Degrees is equipped to locate only tropical winter escapes (hence the name), but there are plans to launch a European version this spring followed by another for those looking to hit the ski slopes.