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IITA Newsletter - July 20
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Greetings!

We are well into July and the “heat” of the busy 2016 summer.  The National Park Service Centennial is well underway and keeping many of us very busy—not just for the present summer, but also for bookings coming in for 2017, thanks in part to the Brand USA IMAX Movie, National Park Adventure

As the world continues to change, almost daily it seems, our jobs and association must continue to evolve to stay relevant in the business. Now that we have a new, more encompassing name, vision and mission the IITA board and advisory board will be working on more concrete ways to bring our ideas to fruition. By definition an association is a group of people organized for a joint purpose. Most of you choose to belong to this association because you believed in its purpose. As the leadership of this organization makes decisions impacting the future we want to hear from you, the membership. Last week you were emailed a survey that that board of directors will use to guide their decisions at the upcoming Board retreat. If you have not already completed the
survey please take a few minutes to do so today. You could belong to any association but, you choose to belong to IITA, we value what you have to say.

A special thank you to 
St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches VCB, Visit Florida and Visit Jacksonville for hosting the Board Retreat.
    
-Gary Schluter, Chairman
 Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours

(Gary Schluter with Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker and the TTAB Board)
Centennial Creates Focus on National Parks in Congress and with International Visitor

August 25, 2016, will mark the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS), the federal agency which operates more than 400 units representing what have been called "America's greatest idea."
 
There are individual celebrations planned throughout the national parks by both the National Park Service and many of its "friends" groups at individual parks.  A comprehensive listing can be found at
www.nps.gov/subjects/centennial.
 
The highly successful Brand USA-funded IMAX presentation, "National Parks Adventure," is now playing throughout the U.S. and globally, generating additional enthusiasm to visit our national parks.
 
All of this is very good news for international inbound tourism!
 
There is, however, challenge buried in this very positive centennial anniversary.
 
One hundred years after the National Park Service was created, it’s showing its age. Crumbling roads, rotting historic buildings, impassable trails, outdated public buildings, and safety hazards are all part of a deferred maintenance problem. Due to chronic congressional funding shortfalls, this infrastructure backlog is currently estimated to be at $12 billion, and that forces park superintendents to make tough decisions between funding visitor services or making repairs to the treasures within America’s national parks.
 
Fortunately, Congress has been looking into this and has seen various bills introduced and funding methods proposed.
 
The most important of the bills is one expressly focused on the National Park Service Centennial, called the National Park Service Centennial Act, H. R. 4680, sponsored by Representative Rob Bishop, (R) of Utah, who is the chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources.  Key elements in this bill find new funding by increasing the one time cost of the lifetime "senior parks pass" from $10 to $80, establish a Centennial Challenge Grant program for improvements to parks and programs, and create a Second Century Endowment at the National Park Foundation.
 
Some provisions of the bill are also included in the  Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016, though not the funding mechanisms. Other legislation impacting the National Park Service are appropriations bills for Interior, and the recently enacted Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which included some money for a limited amount of the infrastructure backlog.
Call to Action – We Need Your Help to Secure NPS Funding
With international visitors on the increase and interest in national parks growing with that increase, there are two easy ways you can help secure finding for park maintenance needs:

1. The Centennial bill is a small step forward toward addressing our parks’ infrastructure needs, and it’s a start that international inbound industry should support. Please call your House members and urge them to pass the National Park Service Centennial Act, H.R. 4680. You can find the contact information for your Member of Congress at
http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/.

2. IITA continues to work with other travel industry organizations and national parks advocates  to ensure that NPS has the resources to protect and maintain our national parks for visitors and generations to come.  Please join us, and hundreds of businesses and organizations throughout the nation, in signing on to
the "Restore America's Parks"  letter. Your participation will demonstrate the collective power of our industry.
You're Invited to enjoy a little R & R with Summer Bash

Join the members of over 15 NY area Hospitality, Tourism and Marketing professional associations and their guests for an exciting evening of cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, fun and a little networking at Rock & Reilly's retractable rooftop deck of the Renaissance Hotel Midtown. Summer Bash is about fun, re-connection and rejuvenation. You might even make a contact or two! Pop out your trusty electronic toy, punch in the date and get ready for a little R & R! Rain or shine, we shine. Please click here to register.
July 29
Early Bird Registration Ends - Register Here

July 28 
Understanding the LATAM Market - Register Here 

August 18 
LGBT Tourism and the Impact of Religious Freedom Laws - Register Here

August 31-September 1
La Cita

February 5-8
IITA Summit

From the Inside...with Gary Schluter

IITA members are experts in the international inbound industry. That’s why we’ve asked them to share their expertise and market intelligence with you. Each issue of Insights will include an exclusive feature with a member who has a particular insight into subjects of importance to the industry. Watch for the series “From the Inside with…” in each issue. This week's issue features Gary Schluter. 

Gary Schluter, who serves as chairman of IITA, is general manager of Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours. Schluter started the company 29 years ago to assist international guests with their visits to the USA and the American West. Before that, Schluter worked for the Wyoming Travel Commission, where he received national honors for promoting travel as a regional concept by working with neighboring states and city CVBs in developing and promoting itineraries.
 

For the first time in 26 years, a total solar eclipse will occur in our great country. What should tour operators know about the solar eclipse set for August 2017?
The solar eclipse has generated a lot of interest already and has strong potential as its own booking or to package with other points of interest in states along the path. The eclipse -- which will start Aug. 21 in Oregon, then travel through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kentucky, Tennessee and South Carolina – has a path about 100 miles wide. We’ve found that many hotels in cities along the path, such as Jackson, Casper and Idaho Falls, were sold out in April 2015.
 
What are you suggesting as alternative arrangements to potential clients?
We’re looking at other areas within an hour or so of the path, which will give travelers convenient driving access with plenty of time to view the eclipse. The added bonus is that hotels a short distance away don’t have the $1,000 per night, nonrefundable rates and a three-night minimum that many hotels within the path are requiring.
 
How are you promoting and packaging the experience?
If you have a client interested in the eclipse, urge them to book soon. Most people are booking at least Aug. 20 and Aug. 21, 2017 just for the eclipse. Depending on the interest of your group, you also could incorporate a larger city, such as Portland or Seattle, into the trip; or focus on one of the national parks, such as Yellowstone or Grand Teton, or include a visit to the Black Hills or Mount Rushmore.
 
For some groups, the eclipse is their main purpose, so we are packaging it around the eclipse but creating additional features. For example, we are working with Wind River Hotel and Casino in Wyoming and another tribe in South Dakota not only for lodging but to arrange with tribal leaders to conduct a seminar on Native American views toward the eclipse.

Early Bird Registration for the 2017 IITA Summit closes on July 29th. Register early to save as much as $300!
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