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
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
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
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
"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