The weekend’s spring-like weather seemed to have many thinking about summer vacations and flocking to the Ottawa Travel and Vacation Show at Lansdowne Park.

Show manager Halina Player estimated 17,000 came to check out some 160 booths with representatives from more than 40 countries, sample Cuban mojitos, or watch Thai fruit and vegetable carving.

Whether travellers were planning major vacations to Africa, Europe or Australia, or just weekend jaunts to Montreal or Kingston, Player emphasized the human touch of the show.

“When people come here,” she said, “it’s not just coming and picking up brochures. They ask questions, which means they’re really interested.”

Some countries have the additional lure of special events coming this year, like South Africa, host of the FIFA World Cup, or China, home of Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

Newfoundland went big with a huge 10-booth exhibit, complete with live music and local food. St. John’s chef Steve Watson, host of the TV show One Chef One Critic, whipped up pan-fried cod stuffed with smoked salmon.

“I want to give them a bit of our flavour and a bit of our culture as well,” Watson said.

Exhibitors showcased not only vacation destinations, but countless ways of getting to and around those destinations, whether bus tours of North America, Europe by rail or, for the adventurous, a 60-day Range Rover caravan from Istanbul to Beijing.

Go RVing Canada wooed budget-minded travellers with a new cost-comparison study touting the advantages of vacationing in campers and trailers.

“Especially for families of four, when you RV, you can save up to 70, 75 per cent on your vacation,” said Go RVing’s Angele Lapointe. “If you’re thinking of flying and then renting a car and then going to restaurants every night, RVing really is one of the most affordable ways to travel.”

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