Visit USA meeting to be held at Pow Wow

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The global meeting of all Visit USA committees at this year's Pow Wow is expected to draw more participants and generate strategies to build on in the new millennium, the Travel Industry Association of America said.

The meeting, organized by TIA, is designed to foster better communication among the committees, which are volunteer groups promoting travel to the U.S. They typically include sales representatives for U.S. suppliers, major tour operators and retail travel agents.

Pow Wow logoThe committees sponsor trade shows for the travel industry and sponsor educational seminars on selling U.S. destinations. Some offer consumer telephone hot lines that dispense information about travel in the U.S. and distribute brochures or support Visit USA consumer trade shows.

Last year about 10 committees attended the global meeting at Pow Wow, but this year nearly 30 are expected, said Mark Hoy, director of international marketing for TIA. "It will be bigger and better," Hoy said. "That is because the network has grown, plus there is increased participation."

The newest Visit USA committees were formed in Israel and Finland in January. The Israel committee organized a Visit USA travel show in Tel Aviv earlier this spring, Hoy said.

Some of the innovative strategies employed by the committees include Mexico's TIA-sponsored, full-day educational seminar for Mexican tour operators and travel agents, Hoy said. Such seminars typically train participants about U.S. destinations and segments of the industry, such as cruise lines, Broadway theater and outdoor recreation.

"It instructs agents how to book and buy, and assists tour operators who need ideas for itineraries to develop for customers," Hoy said. "The committee in Brussels, Belgium, stands out because it is one of the few committees that operates a travel store in which consumers can look through travel literature and brochures in a retail environment rather than ordering brochures through the mail or over the phone," he said.

The committee in the U.K. organizes frequent trade events and is reviving an educational program for agents and operators, Hoy said. "At the global meeting at Pow Wow, they will all be sharing their best practices and a number will give presentations on specific activities of their committee," Hoy said.

The TIA supports the committees by awarding them transitional assistance grants. Last November, grants totalling more than $30,000 went to Austria, Australia, Norway and Sweden.

The grants are awarded to Visit USA committees that meet standards and guidelines required to be recognized as official U.S. National Tourism Organization Visit USA committees. To date, 28 of the 33 Visit USA worldwide committees have been recognized.

The funding is provided so that the committees can set up permanent administrative operations in their countries. Since the program began, TIA said it has provided grants totaling more than $160,000 to Visit USA committees.n

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