Seville readies for ASTA 2001

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NEW YORK -- Considering whether to attend ASTA's 2001 World Travel Congress in Seville, Spain, next Nov. 6 to 11?

Seville is part of the allure that made Spain one of Europe's premier tourist destinations and, now, the second-most-visited country in the world after France. In addition to the traditional cuisine, music and ancient historical sites, here are a few things to consider:

  • No two-star hotels will be included in ASTA's room allocation, and there will be many more four-star properties than had been available in Strasbourg, France, the site of ASTA's most recent international congress in 1999, said Liz Culkin, ASTA's vice president of meetings and trade shows.
  • Additionally, all hotels will be no more than 20 minutes by car or bus from the convention center.

  • Culkin and others have extolled Seville's tourist-friendly transportation system.
  • Alvaro Renedo, director of the Tourist Office of Spain in New York, pointed out that Spain's taxis have some of the lowest fares in western Europe.

    "We will have more than the necessary taxis needed in Seville because the city's main source of revenue is from tourists; it's not as if we have to add taxis for ASTA," Renedo said.

  • Improved air fare discounts also might boost Seville's attendance figures, which should range from 5,000 to 6,000 delegates, Culkin predicted.
  • Iberia, the official carrier for the congress, is offering a 75% discount on business class and coach, plus a 50% discount for partners and spouses.

    Iberia operates daily service from Chicago to Madrid and twice-daily service from Miami and New York (Kennedy). Several daily Iberia flights are offered between Madrid and Seville.

    Air Europa and Spanair are also offering discounts. Air Europa flies from New York (Kennedy) to Madrid six times a week; Spanair operates daily service to Madrid from Washington. Air Europa is offering a 75% discount in economy class for agent attendees and a 50% discount for their spouses or partners.

    Spainair's discount amounts to 75% for agents and their spouses/partners for economy class; a more moderate discount is given to suppliers.

  • Renfe, the Spanish Railways, recently announced a 50% train fare discount for delegates. The high-speed AVE train from Madrid runs hourly and makes the journey to Seville in two hours and 10 minutes as compared with the 55-minute flight.
  • Meanwhile, ASTA still is waiting to hear about air discounts offered to West Coast delegates, since Iberia does not fly from there.

    Renedo said the program for Seville was still in the making, but suggested that delegates would be able to take advantage of the fall opera season at the theater that was built especially for World Expo, which Seville hosted in 1992.

    Most of Seville's hotels and conference facilities date from that time, he said, so delegates will experience a thoroughly modern city.

    But Seville's top attractions, such as the largest gothic cathedral in the world, flamenco music and Spain's most prestigious bull ring, date back centuries.

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