NEW YORK -- A forum hosted by the European Travel Commission here
Dec. 18 will bring together more than 400 government and travel
industry participants -- including former President Bill Clinton
and top airline executives -- for a brainstorming session on how to
rebuild U.S. travel to Europe in 2003.
Featured speakers joining Clinton at the Trans-Atlantic Travel
Marketing Conference, to be held at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel,
include Gordon Bethune, chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines;
Xabier de Irala, chairman and CEO of Iberia Airlines; and Helen
Marano, director of the U.S. Commerce Department's Office of Travel
and Tourism Industries.
The ETC's chairman in the U.S., Einar Gustavsson -- also
director for the Americas at the Icelandic Tourist Board -- said
bookings to Europe for next year look encouraging, and there's no
time like the present to address traveler fears with a positive
message and to plan for calmer times.
"War may be looming, but it's happened before and people just
can't hunker down and do nothing," he said.
"The ETC felt as a group that we have to address that
The ETC -- which represents 33 European national tourist boards
-- felt the conference required a high-profile speaker to draw
media and industry attention.
"[Clinton's] speech will be general, addressing the world
situation today, but also will go into what people can do to
improve the current tourism situation," said Gustavsson.
One hot topic at the forum, he added, will be the transatlantic
airlift situation; many tourist boards blame a lack of sufficient
flights for a sluggish recovery in arrivals from the U.S. this
"I think most ETC countries are looking at higher numbers in
2003, but it all depends on the airline seats," Gustavsson said,
adding that a predicted rise in charter flights may help speed a
recovery in U.S. visitor numbers.