Category Archives: Latest News

More Tips from our Executive Director

TravTrade Update

Important Update: TravTrade Appointment Scheduling System

We are in the final stages of planning for the 2017 inaugural IITA Summit, and as we get closer to February 5th we will have many important announcements and updates for you all.  This message is to update everyone on the launch of our new appointment system powered by TravTrade.

As many of you are aware, we had originally planned on launching the system on December 19th.  However, we realized that many of our members are either travelling or facing their busiest time of year, so we elected to delay appointment scheduling until the holidays have passed and we have all settled back into our routines.

The appointment software is now scheduled to go live on January 11th, 2017.

It is very important that you are registered to attend before the system goes live to ensure you the best opportunity in scheduling your highest priority meetings.  Over the next few weeks we will be updating everyone regularly with tips and details to help you take advantage of this great new tool so please be on the lookout for updates via email as well as on our website (inboundtravel.org) and Facebook page (@IITATravel).

Please get in touch any time with questions or concerns and we wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.

With Unanimous Support, Senate Passes the National Park Service Centennial Act

With Unanimous Support, Senate Passes the National Park Service Centennial Act

Centennial Bill Will Help Address National Park Needs and Engage Youth

WASHINGTON – Below is a statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association, following the U.S. Senate’s passage of the National Park Service Centennial Act that also passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week.

Championed by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) the bill will expand the Centennial Challenge, a public-private funding partnership, establish and fund a national parks endowment, and provide additional opportunities for young people and volunteers to serve in and learn from our parks.

This bill includes provisions proposed to Congress by the Obama Administration and passed with broad bipartisan support by the U.S. House of Representatives and by unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate.

“Today’s passage of the National Park Service Centennial Act, with broad support by Congress, clearly illustrates that national parks can be a place where Americans can unite. This year marks the centennial of the National Park Service and what better way to commemorate this momentous year than by sending this bill to President Obama’s desk in his remaining days in office.”

“Our national parks safeguard our most significant places but face funding levels that are not adequate. Our park superintendents face tough decisions for distributing resources to maintain trails or repair historic buildings and are forced to cut youth education programs. Passage of this bill will help by advancing smart, effective initiatives that fund maintenance needs in our parks and enrich visitors’ experiences.”

“One initiative is the Centennial Challenge Fund, a proven public-private partnership that uses federal funding to leverage private dollars for our national parks. Also, the bill establishes an endowment to build long-term funding support for our parks as they start their next 100 years.”

“As the Park Service concludes its centennial year, there has never been a better time for Congress to help restore America’s national treasures. We hope the new administration and the next Congress continue this progress of better funding our national parks and directly addressing its $12 billion infrastructure repair backlog.”

Background: The National Park Service Centennial Act (H.R. 4680) will help address some of the $12 billion in needed repairs to park infrastructure, such as unmaintained trails and deteriorating buildings and structures that help tell America’s story but are in danger of falling apart. These delayed repairs hamper visitor access and enjoyment just when parks are experiencing record-breaking attendance as they celebrate their centennial year. The legislation would also help fund educational programs to better connect younger Americans to parks.

Funding for these national park needs would come in part from formally establishing and providing dedicated funding for the Centennial Challenge, a proven and successful public-private partnership that leverages federal funds with private dollars for visitor-oriented projects in our national parks. Another important funding component is the establishment of an endowment to provide a path toward the long-term fiscal health of our national parks.

There is a successful track record for leveraging private dollars when Congress commits to a federal match. Over the last two years, a federal investment of $25 million from appropriated dollars cultivated twice that amount in private donations. This money was used for such projects as improving visitor walkways in Yellowstone and making critical repairs to the Old State House in Boston.

Other policy provisions provide clear authority to the National Park Service for better interpretation and education programs, offer additional opportunities for young people and veterans by expanding the Public Land Corps, and allow for extra funding support for volunteer programs.

Examples of past projects Centennial Challenge funding:

Yosemite National Park (California): Improved hydrology related to roads and trails to benefit the giant sequoias; reconfigured the Mariposa Grove Road near the south entrance to enhance safety and traffic flow; added over 20 new accessible parking spaces; provided two miles of new pedestrian trails; and restored nearly four acres of giant sequoias and wetland habitat. Total cost: $5.1 million; partner (The Yosemite Conservancy) match: 80 percent.

Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho): Helped restore and enhance the original and only year-round entrance to the world’s first national park by improving walkways, reducing traffic congestion and updating signage. Total cost: $2 million; partner (Yellowstone Park Foundation) match: 75 percent.

Boston National Historical Park (Massachusetts): Completed critically-needed restoration of wooden cupola section of the Old State House, replaced outdated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, and provided handicap accessibility to the building. Total cost: $1.4 million; partner (Bostonian Society) match: 50 percent.

About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information,www.npca.org.

SMOKY MOUNTAINS COMMUNITIES UNITE TO SUPPORT AREA TOURISM

Smoky Mountains Communities Unite to Support Area Tourism

 Dec. 5, 2016 Sevier County, Tennessee

As the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee begin the recovery process following the Nov. 28 wildfires, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevier County (Tennessee) tourism officials have united to reinforce a strong message delivered by Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner.

“If you really want to do something for Gatlinburg, come back and visit us,” Werner said in a Nov. 30 press conference, encouraging visitation as a show of support to the popular vacation destination located next door to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the nation’s most visited. Werner lost his home and business in the fire.

The area has received an overwhelming outpouring of donations, phone calls and support from community members. First responders from across the country helped battle the blaze.

“The generosity and concern shown to our community is a blessing beyond words,” said Mark Adams, Chief Executive Officer of the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. “But it has also reinforced to us that our community is not just here at home. Our community is all the folks who have visited with us through the years, who feel a very special connection to our cities and these mountains. They continue to ask us how they can best help us because they, too, want to see this area rebuild.”

According to Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Council Director Mary Hope Maples, tourism is the county’s largest industry. “Tourism is the lifeblood of Sevier County and its three gateway cities—Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Our tourism officials have an obligation to our residents to sustain our tourism industry to ensure that employees have jobs to support themselves and their families.”

A Community Resource Center opened on Dec. 1 to assist residents with insurance claims, unemployment filings, building permits for both residential and commercial structures, driver’s license replacement and other processes necessary during the rebuilding process. In addition, several employment agencies are on site to help displaced workers find jobs.

Sevier County tourism officials are reinforcing the message that the vacation destination’s many attractions, theatres, restaurants and lodging properties are operating as usual after recent wildfires in the area. In Gatlinburg, the area surrounding downtown Gatlinburg experienced significant losses this week; however, the heart of the city’s town is intact. The structures along Gatlinburg’s main strip still stand, including Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Ole Smoky Distillery, the Gatlinburg Space Needle, and the Convention Center.

Businesses in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville suffered no damages, and are operating as usual. Dollywood, the state’s most-visited ticketed attraction is open. Also, Smoky Mountain Winterfest festival, which spans all three cities, continues through Feb. 28. Restaurants and lodging properties in Pigeon Forge are operating on normal schedules.

“Many people have asked us how to help. One of the best ways to help the Smoky Mountains recover from the wildfire’s impact is to come visit us and help keep our community strong and working,” said Brenda McCroskey, Chief Executive Officer of the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce.

“We are happy to report that businesses along the Parkway in Sevierville, including Tanger Outlets and Apple Barn and Cider Mill, are open as usual and ready to help you enjoy your Smoky Mountain vacation,” McCroskey added.

“As we strive to keep our folks working so that they can support themselves and their families, our greater community can help us in several ways,” said Leon Downey, Executive Director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. “If you have reservations, don’t cancel; come and see us during Winterfest. Consider us as you make your plans for spring break and next summer’s vacation. This will help us sustain our businesses and jobs.”

For more information about Smoky Mountain Winterfest as well as other information about visiting Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevier County, please visit www.SmokiesFun.com.

 

Busch Gardens Award

Congratulations to Sustaining Member
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions honors Busch Gardens Tampa Bay with the Liseberg “Applause Award” 

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CEO Joel Manby & Park President Jim Dean accept the award

Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay has been awarded the prestigious Liseberg Applause Award from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) at the opening ceremony of the 2016 IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, Florida.

Since 1980, the Applause Award has been presented by an international committee of theme park and amusement industry professionals to honor an amusement park “whose management, operations and creative accomplishments have inspired the industry with their foresight, originality and sound business development.”

“We are honored to be recognized by the Liseberg Board of Governors and by the members of IAAPA for the prestigious Applause Award. The unique and unparalleled combination of world-class thrill rides and impressive animal collection continues to position Busch Gardens Tampa Bay as a leading family destination,” said Jim Dean, president and general manager of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. “We share this award with all of our hardworking park ambassadors.”

Expert Tips with Group Tour Media

Expert Tips with Group Tour Media

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New Appointment Scheduling System

Appointment Scheduling Opens Dec.19th! Register Now for Summit!

New Appointment Scheduling System

IITA Board Chairman, Gary Schluter, Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours, announced yesterday the exciting news that IITA will be launching a brand new appointment scheduling system for the 2017 Summit. Earlier this year, IITA engaged TravTrade to build a customized appointment scheduling system. TravTrade’s platform is one that many of you will be familiar with as they run the IPW Online Marketplace and IPW Online Press Room as well as some Brand USA systems.

Our platform will be the first of its kind for TravTrade, offering prescheduled appointments and individual request options. In addition to being the go to platform for appointment scheduling, the new system will hold all of the information you will need to have a successful Summit. Event schedules, marketplace appointments and attendee profiles will all be housed in the system making it easy to find anything you need. The platform is also mobile friendly!

Help us make the launch of our new system a success by registering now for Summit. Appointment scheduling will open December 19th! Information will be sent out over the coming weeks on how to access the platform, build your profile and request appointments. We will also have a webinar on December 15th to answer any outstanding questions that you may have. Stay tuned for more news from IITA and remember: Appointment Scheduling Opens December 19th!

IITA NPS Survey

Analyzing the Influence of International Visitors

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IITA is proud to support the National Parks Conservation Association with our questionnaire on the impact and influence of international visitors.  Please take a moment to complete our brief survey and assist this great organization with their conservation efforts.

China Market Update Webinar

China Market Update Webinar

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016 at 2pm EST

If you missed this great event, you can check out the webinar here!

David Huang of Chinese Host Inc.

David Huang of Chinese Host Inc.

2016 marked the U.S. China Tourism Year. Throughout the year, the Department of Commerce has been working with the China National Tourism Administration, Brand USA, the U.S. Travel Association and other partners to promote travel and tourism between the United States and China. As the second largest source of spending on U.S. travel and tourism, China is essential to the industry. There are tremendous benefits to having specialized training to understand the complexity of the China market. This webinar will examine how the U.S. China Tourism Year has been received and educate participants on how to best service and do business with the Chinese traveler. David Huang, President of Chinese Host, will provide real world, practical application strategies for working with Chinese visitors and the cultural nuances to help you best understand their needs and expectations.

David Huang is the owner and president of Chinese Host Inc. (CHD) founded in 2000. Initially, CHD started as a tour company for Chinese travelers to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. He soon added meeting and incentive services. Today, Chinese Host has grown dramatically. They operate more than 40 buses, create FIT and Group itineraries, employ a Go123 shuttle bus system, provide bespoke customized travel arrangements. They also run a  proprietary reservation and information platform for Chinese travel producers along with full service representation services in China. CHD has hosted more than one million Chinese travelers since 2011 and features key destinations and attractions in California, Arizona, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Utah and the National Parks.

Mr. Huang volunteered to assist NCOT (Nevada Commission on Tourism) in becoming the first state to be granted an official state tourism office in China. He helped build the strategy for NTA’s China initiative, serves on MGM’s Diversity Action Council in Las Vegas which he also initiated and serves on the Visit China board for Las Vegas.

CHD has its corporate headquarters in Las Vegas with branch offices in Los Angeles and China.

Click Here to Register

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Hurricane Matthew Update from Visit Florida

Hurricane Matthew Update from Sustaining Member Visit Florida

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We continue to closely monitor Hurricane Matthew as it approaches Florida. As local and state authorities prepare for the storm, so too is the tourism industry. The health and safety of our visitors is our highest priority and it is vital for us to provide them with up-to-date information so they can make the most informed travel planning decisions.

VISIT FLORIDA continues to update the Travel Advisory ribbon and the Florida Now page on VISITFLORIDA.com in concert with National Hurricane Center updates. Florida Now is a dedicated landing page that serves as the communication portal to assist people currently visiting, or planning to visit, with messages and real-time information provided by destination marketing organizations and local sources. The content on Florida Now is pulled from social media posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and aggregated using the hashtag #FloridaNow.

I encourage you to share local updates via social media using #FloridaNow to help visitors get accurate and current information. Sharing real-time conditions, images and videos throughout this weather event will help communicate what is happening in your area.

Given the magnitude of this storm, which could impact much of the state’s east coast and result in evacuations, we have activated our Emergency Accommodations Module. Lodging businesses just received the request to begin populating their data. This information is accessible on the Florida Now page and will assist travelers and Floridians seeking alternative accommodations when evacuating from the storm.

In addition, we continue to have ongoing communications with destination marketing organizations across the state, VISIT FLORIDA’s Board of Directors, the Governor’s Office and the State Emergency Operations Center.

Thank you for your ongoing support and for your efforts throughout this weather event. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions.

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J. William Seccombe
President & CEO
VISIT FLORIDA

IITA Requests Centennial Challenge Funding for National Parks

IITA Requests Centennial Challenge Funding for National Parks

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Members urge more support to fix our parks
Lexington, KY – The International Inbound Travel Association (IITA) is urging Congress to pass the National Park Service Centennial Act, H. R. 4680, which identifies new revenue for national park infrastructure repairs, programs, and Centennial Challenge Grants, which match private donations to park facilities.

IITA members include inbound tour operators and suppliers such as lodging companies, transportation operators, destinations, attractions, and restaurants, and annually bring in thousands of international visitors to the national parks.

The National Park Service (NPS) estimates it has almost $12 billion in deferred maintenance at its more than 400 sites which includes inaccessible trails and roads, historic buildings in need of restoration, and sewage and electrical systems long past their lifecycle. The repair needs linger, as the celebration of the NPS centennial and the IMAX film ‘National Parks Adventure,’ produced in conjunction with Brand USA, spark more global interest in national parks and translate into rising demand from international tourists.

“Our members are seeing a dramatic increase in international visitors who want to visit America’s national parks,” said Lisa Simon, IITA Executive Director. “It is imperative that the parks be in good shape, particularly the roads and other infrastructure, to accommodate this demand.”

“If you take inflation into account, since 2010, national park operations funding has dropped nearly 4%, construction funding is down 26%, and over 2000 full time equivalent positions have been eliminated,” Simon noted. “This legislation is a good first step to address some of these issues and make it easier to meet the demands of even more visitors at our national parks.”

The National Parks are a pivotal part of the international traveler experience, according to Sean Bayliss, VP and General Manager of Mark International. “The majority of travelers cite the parks as their main reason for visiting the United States, and the majority will visit four, five or even more parks during their trip.”

And it’s not just visitors who are impacted. Some IITA members are also facing difficulty dealing with needed repairs at the NPS sites.

“We have product in or near all of the parks in the American West, and experience a number of infrastructure problems including needed road and bridge repair,” said Gary Schluter, Chairman of IITA and general manager of Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours. “And although a few parks have newer visitor centers, many were built in the 1950s or 60s and need updating to meet the needs of a new generation of international travelers.”

“In the eastern USA, we see increased demand for national parks to balance out the city-oriented focus of the past,” said Peter van Berkel, president of Travalco. “Unfortunately, visitors sometimes find basic visitor services unavailable or inaccessible due to needed repairs and lack of funding.”

With national park repair needs in the billions, IITA would like to see Congress not only pass the Centennial Bill, but seek additional ways, in the future, to address the maintenance backlog.

The International Inbound Travel Association is the only trade association solely representing the United States’ international inbound travel industry and U.S.-based inbound tour operators. IITA members include inbound tour operators and suppliers (lodging companies, transportation, destinations, attractions, restaurants, etc.) from across the country.

Open Skies Decision Will Accelerate Goal of 100 Million Visitors to the U.S.

1280px-oc-135_xxlOpen Skies Decision Will Accelerate Goal of 100 Million Visitors to the U.S.

Lexington, Ky.  The International Inbound Travel Association applauds the Obama Administration for preserving existing Open Skies agreements and refusing to freeze service from Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways. In recent reports, the State Department confirmed that the Administration would not initiate formal consultations between the U.S. and the UAE and Qatar nor freeze new routes from the Middle Eastern airlines despite demands from the Big 3 legacy airlines.

“We applaud the State Department for supporting Open Skies as it will help visitors from the Middle East and connecting passengers from Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa to make the US their destination of choice,” said Chairman Gary Schluter, General Manager of Rocky Mountain Holidays Tours. “Open Skies agreements have vastly expanded international flights and visitation to the United States particularly from underserved markets, which is critical in reaching the goal set in the National Travel and Tourism Strategy of welcoming 100 million international visitors by 2020.”

IITA has advocated for this outcome since Open Skies came under attack last year, issuing statements to Secretaries Kerry, Fox and Pritzker that such a misguided change in policy would create sever economic instability in the U.S. travel and tourism industry, specifically inbound travel – the nation’s number one services export. “We’re thrilled with the outcome,” added Schluter. “And urge the Administration to consider expanding Open Skies to more foreign carriers.”

The International Inbound Travel Association is the only trade association solely representing the United States’ international inbound travel industry and U.S.-based inbound tour operators. IITA members include inbound tour operators and suppliers (lodging companies, transportation, destinations, attractions, restaurants, etc.) from across the country.