#1 Largest Resource on the Internet for Specialty Markets in the Travel & Meetings/Events Industry

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Visa Policy a ‘Turbo Boost’ for China Visits

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 20, 2014) — The recent agreement between the United States and China to extend the validity period for visas will elevate U.S. tourism—and the revenue and jobs the tourism industry generates—say leaders of the National Tour Association. The agreement, announced Nov. 10, lengthens the validity of tourist and business visas from one year to 10.

NTA, which pioneered group leisure travel from China into the United States, had advocated for the extension, the longest possible under U.S. law.

“With this change, Chinese travelers can now make repeat visits to the U.S. without going through the visa process again,” said Pam Inman, NTA president. “For many Chinese citizens, the United States is their dream destination, and any move to make travel here easier will lead to more visits.”

The visa extension is the latest in a series of steps the U.S. Department of Commerce has taken in the last few years to facilitate travel from China into the United States, including shortening the period of time it takes for Chinese citizens to obtain a visa. The visa extension is another giant step forward, according to Harry Chen, a tour operator in Millbrae, Calif., and a member of the NTA Board of Directors.

“This adds a turbo boost to the already growing demand of inbound groups from China,” Chen said. “Many of our tour group members from China had talked about how they love the experience of visiting the U.S. but weren't sure if they would go through the process of applying for the visa again. Now they can more easily come here to explore the vast amounts of beauty America has to offer.”

For years, gateway cities such as New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco have served as primary destinations that Chinese visitors focused on when the possibility of a return trip seemed remote. Now, with second and third visits more likely, tourists can expand their U.S. horizons, Inman said.

“We’ve heard from tour companies that Chinese travelers want to experience more of the United States,” Inman said. “The longer visa validity allows them to look beyond the gateways. It’s sure to benefit smaller cities and the nation’s heartland.”

China now ranks seventh in the number of annual visitors to the United States, having set records in 2013 for both arrivals (1.8 million) and spending ($21 billion). The China market alone supports more than 100,000 U.S. jobs. China is the fastest-growing source of travel into the United States, increasing from 320,000 visitors in 2006 to a projected 4.3 million in 2018.

According to Chen, who participates in NTA’s China Inbound Program, efforts to attract Chinese travelers to the United States have been hampered in the past by the visa application process in China, which can involve traveling to a city with a U.S. consulate and enduring an anxious waiting period, all for a one-year visa.

“A U.S.A. vacation might have been on their bucket list, but it was easier to obtain a visa for destinations in Europe, Asia or Africa,” he said. “The 10-year visa will give them a greater incentive for traveling to the United States.”

NTA’s work with the Chinese market through its China Inbound Program began in 2008, when the governments of both countries signed a memorandum of understanding opening group leisure travel from China to the United States. NTA was designated to maintain a list of U.S. tour operators registered to handle those groups.

About the National Tour Association: Founded in 1951, NTA is the leading business-building association for travel professionals interested in the North American market—inbound, outbound and within the continent. Its annual convention, Travel Exchange, will take place at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Jan. 18–22. For more information, visit NTAonline.com.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

McIlhenny Company President & CEO to spice up Travel Exchange '15 Opening Ceremony

McIlhenny Company President & CEO to spice up Travel Exchange '15 Opening Ceremony

Anthony "Tony" Simmons, President and CEO of McIlhenny Company, will be the keynote speaker for Monday's Opening Ceremony & Breakfast. The Avery Island, Louisiana-based company is best known for its popular Tabasco Original Red Pepper Sauce. Simmons is the great-great-grandson of Edmund McIlhenny, who created the iconic condiment, and he is the seventh member of the family o lead the company since its founding in the 1860s.

In his presentation, you will see how Simmons' passion for the family-owned business brings special meaning to his work. He will share stories from five generations of making Tabasco and discuss the company's and family's Avery Island home, located a few hours west of New Orleans. He will discuss his thoughts on laying the foundations of success for future generations and adaptation for the global marketplace. You will learn how the company has grown to international prominence-capable of producing more than 700,000 bottles of its famous sauce each day-and has expanded into more than 180 countries and territories.

Simmons joined McIlhenny Company as Executive Vice President in 2000. He was promoted to President in 2012 and has served as CEO since 2013. He is also the President and Director of Avery Island Inc. and serves on the board of the America's Wetlands Foundation. Prior to joining McIlhenny Company, Simmons spent 25 years with Manitowoc Cranes. He holds a degree in speech from Loyola University.

The Jan. 19 event is sponsored by Canada Partners, and breakfast will include pancakes with maple syrup, scrambled eggs, Canadian bacon and more.

Update on the Greater China Travel Markets to the United States

The U.S. Department of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO), the U.S. Commercial Service Travel & Tourism Team, and Brand USA are pleased to present a webinar on the fastest-growing top-ten tourism market to America: China. The program will include an overview of Hong Kong and a special insight into Taiwan, one of only four visa-waiver countries in Asia and a market with both high income and high growth rates. The webinar will take place on Thursday, December 4, 2014 beginning at 7:00 p.m. EST (4:00p.m. PST).
China generated 1.8 million arrivals in 2013, setting a new record for arrivals to the United States for the seventh consecutive year. China now ranks 7th in visitors to the United States. Spending by Chinese visitors to and within the United States was a record $21 billion in 2013. The webinar is extremely timely on the heels of the recent White House Announcement to extend visa validity for Chinese business and tourism visas to 10 years and for students to 5 years. To see the White House announcement go to: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/10/fact-sheet-supporting-american-job-growth-and-strengthening-ties-extendi

With the increasing number of visitors from this market, it is changing rapidly. In 2013, 45% of Chinese visitors were here for the first time. Another change is even though they stay more than 30 nights in the country, gone are the days of visiting two or more states or cities. In 2013, 61% of the Chinese visited only one state. That is the highest share ever of travelers staying put. A similar increase was tracked for cities. How are these and other shifts by Chinese visitors to the country changing their visitation patterns and what do these changes mean for you?

For the first time since 2007, Taiwan moved back into the top 20 arrival markets for the United States. After two years of no growth, Taiwan posted a 33% increase in arrivals to the country propelled by its entry into the Visa Waiver Program in November of 2011. Learn more about travelers from this country and when they will set a new record for arrivals to the United States, last set in 2000 when over 457,000 Taiwanese visited America.
Hong Kong has been a market that has seen its share of ups and downs since 2003, posting increases in arrivals in 6 of the last 10 years, it currently generates over 122,000 visitors to the country.
Please join the Commerce team on the upcoming webinar to learn more about these three important markets.
Here are the details for the China/Taiwan/Hong Kong Webinar:

December 4, 2014
7:00pm - 8:30pm EST (4:00pm - 5:30pm PST)
Event Cost: $75

Webinar call-in & log-in information will be sent after registration is received.

For questions, please contact Anastasia Xenias, PhD, at anastasia.xenias@trade.gov, Ron Erdmann at ron.erdmann@trade.gov or Robert Stackpole at robert.stackpole@trade.gov in the United States or Stellar Chu at stellar.chu@trade.gov in Shanghai, Mei Mei Wang at MeiMei.Wang@trade.govin Taipei, and Kimmy Lee at Kimmy.Lee@trade.gov in Hong Kong.

NTTO Background
The International Trade Administration's National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) collects, analyzes and disseminates international travel and tourism statistics for the U.S. Travel and Tourism Statistical System. To view the NTTO’s latest non-resident arrivals & spending data, market profiles, forecast and more, please visit: http://travel.trade.gov/outreachpages/inbound.general_information.inbound_overview.html
For more detail information on inbound international travel to the United States, please visit: http://travel.trade.gov/outreachpages/inbound.general_information.inbound_overview.html

U.S. Commercial Service Background
The U.S. Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration. The Commercial Service trade professionals in nearly 100 U.S. cities and in nearly 80 countries help U.S. companies get started in exporting or increase sales to new global markets. Learn more about the Commercial Service, go to: http://www.trade.gov/cs/
For more information on the Commercial Service Global Travel and Tourism Team, including links to market research, trade events and webinar recordings see: http://www.export.gov/industry/travel

NTA Renews Travel Agent Program

NTA Renews Travel Agent Program

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 19, 2014) — Travel agents will be back in the mix at Travel Exchange ’15. Following a successful debut in Los Angeles in February, NTA’s Travel Agent Program will bring agents to the Jan. 18–22 convention in New Orleans that unites the National Tour Association, the United Motorcoach Association and the Faith Travel Association.

Travel agents can attend the two-day program, Jan. 19–20, that includes a networking session with tour operators, tour suppliers and destination offices; access to the show’s Destination Pavilion; a seat at their choice of professional development seminars; and a ticket to the Best of Broadway Luncheon, which is sponsored by Group Sales Box Office/Broadway.com, with musical acts from a dozen current Broadway shows.

Interacting with NTA members yields both immediate and long-term gains for travel agents, said Sherri Guiborat, who routinely works with travel agents in her job as vice president of sales with Mayflower Tours.

“Connecting with tour operators and their buying power can give travel agents wonderful touring experiences to sell into right away,” Guiborat said. “And by meeting people from hotels, attractions, restaurants and destinations that cater to groups, agents acquire go-to contacts who can help them down the road.”

Agents will also be elbow to elbow with operators and suppliers engaged in niche travel markets: student, active/adventure, culinary, multi-generation and many others, said Pam Inman, NTA president.

“That’s the thing about Travel Exchange: It’s an enormous all-star team of travel professionals with unique specialties,” Inman said. “Our members can tell you more about their particular niche or expertise than you ever knew existed.”

Along with events designed to help agents add tour product to their portfolios and industry partners to contacts lists, there are also avenues for informal networking.

“We want our travel agent guests to join us at the Broadway Luncheon and at the wine and cheese reception later that afternoon,” Inman said. “Those agents had better bring a lot of business cards, because every time they turn around, they’ll be meeting someone they can do business with.”

Guiborat, a member of both NTA and ASTA, has led a number of seminars for travel agents in which she encouraged them to affiliate with NTA. “Nearly two-thirds of NTA tour company members offer commissionable packages, so Travel Exchange is packed with profit for agents,” she said. “These two days in New Orleans can have a tremendous ROI for them.”

The cost for travel agents to participate in one or both days of the Travel Agent Program is $49. For more information, contact Lori Rempe at NTA Headquarters at 800.682.8886 (U.S. and Canada) or +1.859.264.6544.

About the National Tour Association: Founded in 1951, NTA is the leading business-building association for travel professionals interested in the North American market—inbound, outbound and within the continent. Travel Exchange will take place at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Jan. 18–22. For more information, visit NTAonline.com.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Travel Pulse One on One: David Wong, Team Leader for AfricaExperts by Goway


Article link:

Opening excerpt:
David Wong, team leader for Toronto-based AfricaExperts by Goway, participated in the National Tour Association (NTA) Product Development Trip to Ethiopia in September. Travel Pulse spoke to him after he returned about the trip, Goway Travel's Africa division, Ebola and the career path that led from Calgary to Africa.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Destinations try to build a brand with culinary tourism

Article link:

Opening Excerpt:

In 2005, the tourism body for Providence, Rhode Island, discovered that it desperately needed a brand refresh and successfully turned itself into a New England culinary hub with chefs and new restaurants concepts attracting visitors for foodie trips. Now, a decade later, Providence is realizing that food alone isn't enough to build a long-term tourism brand.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Article link:



When Ethiopia opened its doors to the National Tour Association during a product development trip last month, it opened the eyes of NTA tour operators.

"Ethiopia is a country like no other," said Tim Ambrose, sales director for Washington, D.C.-based Academic Travel Abroad, who joined other tour operators and travel journalists on the trip. "Its many unique religious, cultural and natural assets provide a genuine, unfiltered experience. It's real."

The product development trip, conducted by NTA and the Ethiopian Tourism Organization, with assistance from the Ethiopian embassy in Washington, D.C., provided tour operators with a comprehensive overview of the east African country's tourism product and its potential for tour business. The 10-day program featured stops at national parks, ancient castles and places of worship. It also included a steady stream of interactions with villagers, shopkeepers and craftspeople.

"While I was fortunate to see some incredible sites, my most profound memory of Ethiopia is of the people," Ambrose said. "They are friendly, welcoming and gracious, and everywhere we went we were greeted with genuine warmth."

NTA President Pam Inman is pleased by the success of the PDT, both for the participants and the host country. "Our tour operators returned home inspired, and they plan to offer new Ethiopian tours to North American travelers," Inman said. "Ethiopia's security and stability are conducive for the tourism market, and the diversity of experiences makes it an incredible destination."

The tour operators and journalists visited significant religious and cultural sites, delved into Ethiopia's natural beauty and met with local experts who help them develop niche-focused tour product, including active/adventure, historical/cultural and faith-based travel.

NTA's Ethiopia PDT is the latest in a series of trips organized by the association to educate its tour operator members about options for packaging global travel. In recent years NTA has led trips to Scotland, Morocco, Germany/Czech Republic and the Holy Land (Jordan and Israel). These projects are part of NTA's mission, according to Inman.

"We always want to look ahead-and look around-to help our members create innovative, captivating itineraries for their clients," Inman said. "Given NTA's 63-year history and global membership in 44 countries, we constantly look at the big picture."