June 6, 2016
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As many of you have experienced, IPW was an intense show for us all. It is looking like a great success for IITA. Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • 120 people attended the IITA reception prior to the IPW opening event.
  • We had a total of 47 appointments and we made many additional contacts with prospective ITO and Associate members.
  • Lisa Simon and I presented IITA to the 40+ US Commercial Service representatives attending IPW.
  • The Executive Committee met with representatives from Brand USA to discuss opportunities for collaboration .

I would like to give a huge THANK YOU to Lisa and team. They did an excellent job representing IITA through the reception and on the IPW floor. We will see some great memberships and partnerships coming from this show.  Thank you U.S. Travel Association and Malcolm Smith for putting on another excellent program for us all. 
As soon as I returned to my office from NOLA I was on a flight to Washington, D.C. for my first official US-Travel and Tourism Advisory Board function. The morning began with a welcome from the Secretary of Commerce, The Honorable Secretary Penny Pritzker.  The group was sworn in and opening remarks were given by Board Chairman John Sprouls (Executive Vice President/Chief Administration Officer at Universal Parks and Resorts) and Vice Chair Margaret McKeough (Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority).  Reports were also given by Brand USA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of State.  A lot of emphasis was placed on the growth of tourism expected for the current year and the goal of 100 Million inbound travelers by 2021!  Every board member is expected to serve on a sub-committee(Visa Facilitation, Travel Security and Customer Experience, Key Market Engagement and Research) I should hear soon which committee I was assigned to. As always, if anyone has any input for me to pass along to my committee and the overall TTAB board, please do let me know.

-Gary Schluter, Chairman
 Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours

From the Inside with...Gabriel Martinez

Gabriel Martinez, senior manager of international sales & marketing since 2012, oversees more than 50 receptive accounts based mostly on the East Coast, helping them showcase the SeaWorld Parks all over the world. Before joining SEA, Gabriel worked for Disney Destinations as sales manager for Mexico and Latin emerging markets.  SEA is a Sustaining Member of IITA, where the company occupies a seat on the Board of Directors.
What is your analysis of the Latin American markets?
The movement of currencies and economies is sudden but not unprecedented. Take Brazil as an example. Some may see the numbers from Brazil from a few years ago and not understand what’s going on. Brazil is going through a profound structural crisis, but it’s not unusual. There has been a rise of the dollar but also political and social unrest. A lot of folks have come out of the lower class into the middle class and wonder if they will stay there.
This won’t last forever. It’s a temporary crisis. I don’t have a crystal ball to tell when it will be over, but Brazil has 200 million people who can get to many of our markets in one flight. If even 10 percent of them can travel, that’s a lot of people.
We have a team in Brazil and remain optimistic. My advice to my industry colleagues is to take a long view. Develop and keep relationships now so when the economy picks back up, you aren’t scrambling to find connections.
There are still a lot of people willing to travel. In a lot of Latin countries, if things are going great, people say “Let’s travel.” And if things aren’t going great, they still say “Let’s travel.”
If companies have invested in the last five years, they may have to pare down their investment but don’t disappear. Stay present as much as possible.
Has the strong U.S. dollar affected travel from Brazil and the rest of Latin America?
Yes, it impacts everywhere and is an adjustment period. Eventually, Latin American travelers will review their budgets, see this as the new price and will reshape their budgets. 
In Latin America, people are used to the dollar being expensive and the fact that travel is an investment. Also, Ecuador and Panama accepted the dollar as their currency years ago, so it insulates them some from fluctuations.
Are there any countries on the radar for future growth?
Argentina is doing really well. I’m very optimistic. There is a little devaluation of the currency, but it has become the new normal, and the currency has stabilized. They can get to New York City, Miami and Orlando fairly easily and are willing to travel on longer, multi-city trips. They would be willing to listen to new itineraries – maybe West Coast destinations and skiing.
India and China are places for double-digit growth. But we also focus on mature markets such as the UK. Single-digit growth in such bulk numbers also is important. Keeping balanced in multiple markets is a good strategy.

On the Move

We are pleased to share that IITA Board Member, Lisa Cully has been appointed to the head of sales leisure travel North America for Best Western Hotels and Resorts. Lisa has nearly 31 years of experience in the travel and tourism industry. Beginning her career with Trusthouse Forte Hotels, Lisa worked her way up, breaking records all along the way. In 2014, Lisa was named Travel Professional of the year by IITA. Most recently, Lisa played an instrumental role in the rebranding of organization. She serves on the board and marketing committee with a contagious energy. Way to go Lisa!

July 29
Early Bird Registration Ends

July 28 

August 18 

August 31-September 1
La Cita

February 5-8
IITA Summit

Open Skies Decision Will Accelerate Goal of 100 Million Visitors to the U.S
The International Inbound Travel Association applauds the Obama Administration for preserving existing Open Skies agreements and refusing to freeze service from Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways. In recent reports, the State Department confirmed that the Administration would not initiate formal consultations between the U.S. and the UAE and Qatar nor freeze new routes from the Middle Eastern airlines despite demands from the Big 3 legacy airlines. 

“We applaud the State Department for supporting Open Skies as it will help visitors from the Middle East and connecting passengers from Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa to make the US their destination of choice,” said Chairman Gary Schluter, General Manager of Rocky Mountain Holidays Tours. “Open Skies agreements have vastly expanded international flights and visitation to the United States particularly from underserved markets, which is critical in reaching the goal set in the National Travel and Tourism Strategy of welcoming 100 million international visitors by 2021.”
IITA has advocated for this outcome since Open Skies came under attack last year, issuing statements to Secretaries Kerry, Fox and Pritzker that such a misguided change in policy would create sever economic instability in the U.S. travel and tourism industry, specifically inbound travel – the nation’s number one services export. “We’re thrilled with the outcome,” added Schluter. “And urge the Administration to consider expanding Open Skies to more foreign carriers.”

IITA had an amazing showing at IPW. Things got started with a member reception at Basin St. Station, hosted in partnership with Mississippi Gulf Coast and Visit Mississippi. Over 100 members and partners attendeddouble decker hop-on-hop-off buses. Throughout the week the new IITA logo could be seen hanging around attendees necks on mardi gras beads, at member booths with our new acrylic member signsevery edition of the IPW daily. Countless people stopped by our booth to check out our new look and gather information on becoming a member and attending Summit. The new brand was received as clean, modern and in step with the industry. It was noted that IITA was headed in the right direction and people want to be part of the movement. If you did not have an opportunity to see us at IPW you can find us at LaCita in August!
IITA Summit 2017
Early Bird Registration for Summit is open now through July 29th! Register early to save as much as $300 off regular member rates. This year’s Summit is going to be better than ever. We’ve shaken up the schedule to allow you to get the most out of every event. You can learn more here. In addition to attending the IITA Summit, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is a beautiful place to visit. Located at the southernmost part of Mississippi, the Gulf Coast sits between Mobile, Alabama & New Orleans, Louisiana. You can easily access the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport from most major cities. Make your plans to attend today! Please click here to register.
Did you miss the first webinar on the LATAM market hosted by Rick Still, Founder of La Cita and Ron Erdmann, Deputy Director of Research with the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration? Don’t worry we are bringing it to you again!
Understanding the LATAM Market
In addition to an overview on the LATAM market, Erdmann will share the new 2015 statistics. This engaging webinar will also help you learn more about how to meet, build partnerships and facilitate inbound travel from key markets in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2014, Latin America (visitors from Mexico, Central, South America & the Caribbean) generated a record 24.8 million visitors of the record 75 million arrivals to the United States, more than 33% of all visitors to the country, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. Spending in the United States by all Latin countries generated a record $53.1 billion of the record $221 billion spent by international travelers, up 111% since 2005. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Please click here to reserve your spot!
Date: July 28th
Time: 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Specifics: We will send the webinar link and dial in information directly to each individual who registers.
Up Next…. LGBT Tourism and the Impact of Religious Freedom Laws
The global LGBT market generates more than $200 billion in tourism spend annually. The USA is the number one country destination for LGBT travelers worldwide and New York City is the top city destination for the market. Studies show that giving LGBT people full equality is not only a social issue, it can have substantial economic benefits as well. About 1.3 million additional LGBT visitors are expected to choose to vacation in the US over the coming three years as a direct result of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 same-sex marriage ruling, and these tourists will spend at least $4.25 billion during that period. Recently, Mississippi and North Carolina passed Religious Freedom laws directly as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage (a federal judge has since granted a preliminary injunction on the Mississippi law), that could jeopardize travel and tourism to those states.
Join us for this engaging webinar to learn about the importance of the LGBT market and hear the results of a just released study by the US Travel Association on the impact these laws can have on travel and tourism. This session will be presented by John Tanzella, President and CEO of IGLTA, Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Company, and Malcolm Smith, Senior Vice President of the U.S. Travel Association. You won’t want to miss this! Please click here to reserve your spot today.
Date: August 18th
Time: 2:00pm – 3:00pm
Specifics: We will send the webinar link and dial in information directly to each individual who registers.