IITA Insights Newsletter - August 2, 2017
View this email in your browser


Our committees are off to work with your interests in mind focusing on our strategic goals for education, advocacy and business development. Here’s a quick summary of what they’re working on for you:
Membership Committee is engaging inbound operators through a series of local events to grow the ranks of inbound operator membership, advance thought leadership on inbound travel and maintain a robust organization.
Summit Committee is deep in planning our annual Summit in Portland, February 4-7. They’re developing a rich education program, improving the Marketplace and planning lots of FUN networking.
Advocacy Committee identified key issues to monitor and weigh in on that are impacting our industry, like visa and entry processes, national parks access and funding and open skies agreements.
Marketing Committee is looking at ways to engage members through social media and our website, as well as continuing to bring to life the IITA brand.
You’re still welcome to volunteer for one of these committees – just let us know what you’re interested in and we’ll put you to work!
As you know, I represent you on the US Travel Association Board of Directors and last week I attended its Summer Board Retreat in my neck of the wood at the beautiful Broadmoor Hotel/Spa in Colorado Springs.  Many board members came with their families to enjoy the great Colorado Outdoors! 
US Travel reported that current federal budget drafts include funding for Brand USA – good news for our industry! They continue to advocate for issues related to visas, immigration and immigration reform and keeping Open Skies Agreements in full force.  Roger Dow stated that they appreciate all of the advocacy support we provide to US Travel and that they recognize IITA has our own advocacy issues that they back 100%. We value our partnership with US Travel to address issues important to our members.
-Gary Schluter, Chairman
 Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours

August 27-29, 2017
Destinations Group Travel Show and New York FAM Tour
More Information
August 29-31, 2017
La Cita
More Information
October 11-13, 2017
Arival: The In-Destination Event
More Information
2018 IITA Summit
February 4-7, 2018
More Information
Advocacy Committee Report
Last week Chairman Gerrit De Vos and the advocacy committee met to discuss the key issues impacting the inbound industry. The IITA Board of Directors previously identified three advocacy priorities: 1) Brand USA funding, 2) Executive Order Travel Ban and 3) National Park Service access/funding. However, as issues are fluid and evolving, the Committee’s role is to monitor issues impacting inbound travel and advise on priority issues.
Visas and Entry Processes: The June 21, 2017 Presidential Executive Order on Visa Processing which amended Executive Order 13597 (Establishing Visa and Foreign Visitor Processing Goals and the Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness), eliminated a Department of State policy to ensure that 80 percent of nonimmigrant visa applicants are interviewed within three weeks of submitting a visa application. 
Committee members reported that they were hearing about and experiencing more visa rejections. For example, one committee member reported that visa rejections in India were at 10-15%, when previously most visas had been approved. This is especially concerning with 2017 being the India - U.S. Tourism Year. Committee members also noted longer airport processing and wait times, which may be related to greater scrutiny and understaffing.

IITA will continue to speak out to congress on behalf of members on these critical issues and alert members on opportunities for them to take action.   
National Parks: IITA is continuing to work with Donald Leadbetter, tourism manager for the National Park Service, to establish communication channels between individual parks and the travel industry. Recently individual parks have been tasked with developing their own usage plans and as a result some have introduced fee increases, new fees and other potential access restrictions without sufficient notice to the industry. The Park Service is working on a process and timeline to introduce changes as proposals for public/industry comment.
IITA will continue to work toward keeping communications flowing between the industry and National Parks.
India - U.S. Tourism Year Provides Major Inbound Travel Focus
By: Stephen B. Richer, IITA Consultant

2017 is the year in which the United States and India are strategically developing new ways to increase visitation between the two nations.
Following on the heals of the highly success China-US Tourism Year in 2016, the pairing of India with the United States offers a second country with a massive growing middle class within a national population exceeding a billion and a high desire to experience travel to America.
Between the years 2008 and 2015, arrivals from India to the United States increased from 559,000 to 1,126,000 or an 88% increase. This represented a growth in tourism receipts from India of $6.7 billion to $11.8 billion over those years according to the U. S. Department of Commerce's National Office of Travel and Tourism In-Flight Survey. The NOTT projects that India has the capacity to surpass China in total arrivals within a decade at the current rate of growth.
The kickoff for the Indo - U.S. Tourism Year took place in February at the gigantic Indian tourism fair, SATTE, held annually in New Delhi. Led by CEO Chris Thompson of Brand USA and NOTT Deputy Director Isabel Hill, the United States delegation hosted a magnificent dinner with approximately 300 key Indian travel leaders to get activities for the year started.  Among the attendees from the United States was Fred Dixon, President of NYC & Company, the leading city destination for the Indian market.

IITA Would Like to Recognize Our Newest Members: 
American Tours International LLC
Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau
Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau
Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau
Joy Holiday
New York Hilton Midtown
The Madison Square Garden
Tours Limited
Visit Durango
Visit Williamsburg