AUSTRALIA'S first ever travel expos for Latin America will include a fundraising drive for victims of the recent earthquake in Ecuador.
Organised by the Australian Travel Association for Latin America (ATALA), the free Latin America Travel Shows will open from 10am-4pm at the Sydney Town Hall on May 15, and 10am-4pm at Melbourne Town Hall on May 22.
Those attending will be invited to donate gold coins to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees' Ecuador Earthquake Appeal.
Visitors will also go into the draw to win a $40,000 Argentina and Antarctica holiday for two including return flights with LATAM Airlines, five nights in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia in Argentina and a 10-night cruise to Antarctica.
To enter, you need to register for the contest on www.latintravelexpo.com.au and then visit the travel show to complete an entry form.
The shows will bring together - for the first time - airlines, hotels, cruise lines, tour and travel operators, tourism bodies and specialist agents from Australia and Latin America, showcasing 21 countries in South and Central America.
Among the 52 exhibitors will be the tourism bodies of Peru, Chile, Brazil and Colombia, which have never fronted an Australian travel show before.
In the one venue, you will be able to gain information on travel to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Galapagos, Falkland Islands, The Guianas, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, as well as Central America, Cuba and Mexico. Cruises to Antarctica will also be featured.
Each show will feature presentations by Latin America travel experts, live music and displays of samba and tango dancing. There will also be special offers and discounts.
Chairman of ATALA's organisational committee, Ted Dziadkiewicz, said the expos were aimed at increasing awareness of Latin America as a travel destination.
"More Australians are looking at South and Central America as holiday destinations with a sizeable increase in airline capacity in recent years, the Rio Olympics, more packaged tours and positive marketing all helping to fuel travel to Latin America," Mr Dziadkiewicz said.
"South America is full of wonder and excitement - from the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu, the splendour of Iguazu Falls, the mysterious Amazon jungle, and the spectacular peaks of Patagonia, to the mighty glaciers of Chile, the buzz of beautiful Rio, the elegance of Buenos Aires and the exotic wildlife of the Galapagos Islands.
"There's the sun-kissed Mexican Riviera, the Caribbean island of Cuba, the breathtaking expanse of Antarctica and colourful, friendly and welcoming cultures right across the continent. "