NEW YORK -- Travel agents will loom large in a new "Visit Europe"
promotion the 31-nation European Travel Commission here launched in
March with a print campaign in top U.S. markets.
With about 85% of European stays booked through professionals,
"travel agents remain extremely important to our recovery," said
ETC chairman Einar Gustavsson. "Their welfare is of crucial
interest to our members."
To wit, the advertisements suggest consumers book through travel
agents, who also will be informed when the campaign begins
appearing in their immediate areas.
In addition, specialists accredited by ETC member tourist boards
will be highlighted on the www.visiteurope.com Web site.
Television spots are set to begin airing in New York, Los
Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Washington and
Philadelphia early in April.
The timing is crucial; visits to Europe normally jump 50% to 60%
in March and April, said Gustavsson.
In a strategy shift, the television and print ads primarily will
target repeat visitors.
"We've shifted the focus away from newcomers," Gustavsson added.
"We feel people who have already been to Europe are more easily
convinced to return."
In another development, Gustavsson said that by year-end the
Baltic nation of Latvia would become the second former Soviet
republic to join the ETC. Estonia joined in 1998.