TIA's '98 Pow Wow to Showcase Chicago's Tourist Attraction

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BY JENNIFER DORSEY

CHICAGO -- The Travel Industry Association of America's International Pow Wow in Chicago in 1998 will provide the city with its third opportunity in recent years to showcase itself as a world class tourism destination, according to Jim Law, director of the Chicago Office of Tourism.

During a panel discussion here at the Illinois Governor's Conference on Tourism, Law said Pow Wow will enable the city to capitalize on the beautification and logistical improvements that were made for the World Cup soccer tournament in 1994 and the Democratic National Convention last summer.

The 1998 Pow Wow, the second to be held in Chicago since 1971, will take place next year at the newly remodeled Lakeside Center at McCormick Place from May 23 through 27.

The Chicago Office of Tourism said an estimated 5,800 travel industry professionals, tour and travel producers and journalists representing more than 70 countries are expected to attend.

The main goal of Pow Wow is to generate inbound international travel to the U.S. by bringing international tour operators and travel companies together with U.S. suppliers in a series of scheduled business appointments.

Thomas Kerns, the Travel Industry Association's senior vice president of marketing programs and Pow Wow general manager, said the rewards for Pow Wow host cities go beyond the direct economic impact of having that many people converge for a meeting.

The payoff will be increased international inbound business in future years.

A survey of tour-producing companies at last year's Pow Wow in Los Angeles, for example, indicated that 64% of them planned on bringing more tours to Los Angeles and California, Kerns said.

Richard MacNeill, director of sales for Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, urged members of the Illinois tourism and hospitality community who are attending this year's Pow Wow in Nashville, Tenn., or next year's to think beyond their interest in drawing international visitors to their particular attraction or destination.

"The international market is not just coming for you alone. You are part of a larger destination," he said.

"Sell Illinois. Sell the Great Lakes region."

Stuart Blumberg, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association, said that the entire city of Chicago will have to "buy into" the idea of Pow Wow in order to fully reap the benefits of being a host city. Miami hosted Pow Wow in 1994 and will again be host in 1999.

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