Agent Issues TIA readies battle plan to reassure consumers By Michael Milligan / January 15, 2003 Share 1 -- WASHINGTON -- Crediting the travel industry for working together in the difficult period following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the new chairman of the Travel Industry Association called on the industry to channel that heightened sense of unity to reassure consumers in the event of war in the Middle East. "TIA is completing work on a war response plan," said John Marks."We must be prepared to act quickly and forcefully," Marks said. "We'll have an industry message created by a broad group of travel industry communicators ... and we'll have a plan to get that message out, leveraging CEOs and industry communications staffs nationwide."Marks, who also heads the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau, made his remarks to a packed audience of travel executives during the TIA's annual State of Industry luncheon here.In meantime, Marks urged the industry to adopt the TIA's SeeAmerica marketing campaign. Originally designed to encourage overseas travelers to visit the U.S., the TIA intends to use the marketing effort to also spur Americans to visit domestic destinations.SeeAmerica is backed up by a Web site, as well as sales offices in Japan, Great Britain and Brazil."The SeeAmerica national brand and Web site may be the broadest partnership in travel industry history," Marks said. "By the end of this year, we'll have proven that it supports domestic travel equally well."Another priority for Marks is to bring the lobbying power of a unified travel industry to bear on the federal government.He said, "I want federal lawmakers and the administration to take us seriously. I want them to acknowledge the economic, cultural and social contributions our industry makes to this nation every single day."When we speak with one voice, we flex the muscle of the nation's third-largest retail sales industry," he said. "And when we speak with one voice, we maximize the power of the nearly $100 billion we contribute to federal, state and local tax coffers annually."But there's no way we can go to Capitol Hill or to the Administration and ask for their support unless we are united,"Marks said. "The stakes are especially high this year" because a five-year authorization for highway spending is on the agenda. Congress is slated to act on the highway bill, referred to as TEA-21, in September."I don't have to tell you how important this legislation is," Marks said. "Three-quarters of our customers nationwide arrive at their destinations by car, truck or recreational vehicle."