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March 30, 2016 Newsletter
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IITA – Now What?
RSAA is now officially the International Inbound Travel Association – what exactly does that mean? To members? To the industry?
The new name was chosen to better reflect the industry represented by the association – specifically, the receptive inbound operators who serve international markets – and to demonstrate IITA’s position as the leading national authority on international inbound travel. And while you may still see the term “receptive” used to define IITA operators - and, you may see “receptive” and “inbound” used interchangeably in describing our members’ businesses, the name simply clarifies that the primary purpose of the organization is advancing the international inbound industry.
“Receptive Services Association of America was often confusing to people, even within the industry,” said IITA Chairman Gary Schluter. “Receptive tour operators can serve domestic markets, so it didn’t specify that our members were international receptives. It didn’t even have the word “travel” in the name to identify us as part of the travel and tourism industry.”
As part of the rebrand, IITA membership categories have also been redefined to provide clarity to members. Please visit the IITA website to learn more about the membership categories. 
 
Chairman's Corner:
I’m delighted to serve as your Chairman this year and look forward to the many opportunities for us to work together to advance our industry and our members’ businesses. I’ve already had the opportunity to present a few sessions on working with inbound tour operators and each session had great reception as industry representatives learn more about our sector of the travel industry.

 -Go West Summit in Alaska: I was on a panel discussing “What to do Following the Summit.” The talk was aimed at first and second time attendees and focused on how to work with receptive operators following the show. This included how most of the tour operators will be doing their bookings. 
 
 -Montana’s Glacier Country B2B Training Program: I gave two talks on “Partners in Profits—Working with Receptive Operators.” I was able to reach over 75 lodging, activity/attraction and DMOs between the two sessions. It is often these smaller communities where training is really needed as the international traveler gets further and further from the mainstream patterns and into the “off the beaten path” locations.
 
It’s going to be a great year and we look forward to moving forward together!

-Gary Schluter
Destination Capitol Hill
Earlier this month, IITA participated as an Industry Partner in the travel industry’s premier legislative fly-in event. More than 300 attendees from 40 states participated in 295 Congressional appointments (which is more than half of Congress!). Key issues discussed with Members of Congress included the importance of the Visa Waiver Program, the FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act and modernization of America’s air travel system.
Members of Congress were urged to remember the importance of the travel industry to the creation of jobs and the nation’s economy, particularly when making quick decisions about security, health and budgetary issues. Travel often inadvertently suffers in the aftermath of rapid decision, which in turn negatively impacts our nation’s economy.
While representatives from many IITA members were there, international inbound tour operators were not well-represented. We urge all IITA members to participate to stay in contact with their congressional leaders so they hear directly from you about the issues impacting your business. Put next year’s event on your calendar now - Destination Capitol Hill 2017: March 28-29.
During the event, US Travel presented the Distinguished Travel Ally Award to Julie Heizer, Deputy Director of Industry Relations, U.S. Department of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office. Other Travel Champion Awards were presented to Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.), Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan.
IPW Update
IITA will play a prominent role at IPW 2016 in New Orleans, June 19-22. First it should be noted that IPW adopted IITA’s definition of an inbound receptive operator to ensure tour companies registering for IPW meet expectations for servicing international markets. At this year’s IPW, IITA will have a booth in the Partner Market Pavilion and hold meetings with international operators to educate them about using the services of IITA inbound tour operators to ensure quality experiences for their travelers. Additionally, we’ll meet with inbound tour operators and US suppliers to inform the industry about our new rand and educate the industry on how to work with receptive operators. Finally, IITA will host a gathering of its members (more to come on time and date).
We look forward to seeing you there – be sure to stop by our booth during the show! Look for more information about IPW activities coming in future newsletter editions.
Attention DMO's: Do you have an itinerary or photo resource you would like to share on the new IITA website? Email us at headquarters@inboundtravel.org!
The International Inbound Travel Association has extended Lisa Simon’s contract naming her Executive Director. Chairman Gary Schluter stated that both, the IITA Board of Directors and the association’s management firm, Associations International, have been beyond impressed with Simon’s leadership, forward thinking and dedication to the organization over the past six months.

Simon was the President of NTA for many years and has 30 years of combined experience in travel and association management. “Lisa is a natural fit for our association. She brings a wealth of knowledge about the tourism industry and association management. Extending her contract as Executive Director will allow IITA to continue our forward momentum in defining the worldwide standard of the U.S. inbound travel industry,” said Schluter.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast will host of the 2017 IITA Summit. Executive Director, Lisa Simon just returned from a site visit to the IP Casino Resort Spa. " Between the IP hotel and the surrounding community there will be a plethora of activities that exceed everyone's expectations," shared Simon. The hotel towers over the scenic Back Bay of Biloxi and offers retail shops, fitness center, swimming pool and spa. Visit the IITA Website for more information.   
Be Social.
Have you like IITA on Facebook? We'd love for you to like us and invite your colleagues to do the same. Please also share stories and photos to our wall. We want to see what our members are doing and stay connected!