TIA to market inbound travel via Web

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WASHINGTON -- The Travel Industry Association plans to launch a Web site in June designed to facilitate the marketing of inbound travel to the U.S. by enabling U.S. suppliers to conduct business and exchange information with foreign tour operators and other companies.

The TIA Website Marketplace "will certainly bring buyers and suppliers together in new and creative ways," said Ray Lutz, TIA senior vice president of marketing and membership services and general manager of International Pow Wow, a TIA trade show for the inbound market.

The TIA is talking with members and outside consultants to determine whether the site should allow suppliers to buy and sell products on line. "It is easier said than done," Lutz said, explaining that for competitive reasons, some suppliers might not want their pricing listed on the site. "But I think there could be ways through [electronic] commerce that it could work," he said.

The site is one element of a multifaceted inbound marketing initiative, called the Strategic International Vision, approved by the TIA's board of directors. The initiative also calls for advertising directly to inbound travel suppliers and increased research on specific international travel markets. The TIA also plans to hire three product managers for Asia, Europe and Latin America to market the U.S. at international trade shows

"We will also be running educational seminars," Lutz said. "The first one will be at Expo Vacaciones in Mexico City on Feb. 18."

Other facets will include a "one source" directory listing marketing contacts in the U.S. and overseas, and educational materials.

Lutz said the inbound initiative is designed to complement the consumer-focused efforts of the U.S. National Tourism Organization, a proposed public/private sector national marketing entity that the TIA hopes will get funding from Congress.

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