Looking to reverse a post-9/11 decline in
visitors from overseas, the U.S. Travel & Tourism Promotion
Advisory Board, newly formed by Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans,
held its first meeting in September on Ellis Island in New York
City. In attendance were executives from U.S.-based hotel firms and
convention and visitor bureaus.
Manuel J. Cortez, advisory board member and president and CEO of
the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, suggested the
board should try to bolster its $50 million budget by establishing
public-private partnerships. Ideally, he said, the board might be
able to match funds to be used for local and regional tourism
boards’ marketing efforts.
Richard Champley, a senior market research analyst at the
Washington, D.C.-based Office of Travel and Tourism Industries,
agreed. “Strong relationships between private investors and public
bodies” will lay the groundwork for the board’s public relations
campaigns, he said.
Just a 1 percent increase in tourism to the United States could
generate $11.9 billion dollars in revenue, $1.2 billion in federal
taxes and the creation of 154,000 jobs, said Betsy O’Rourke, senior
vice president of marketing for the Washington, D.C.-based Travel
Industry Association and general manager of the incentive trade
show International Powwow.
The temporary suspension of complicated new federal visa rules
for inbound visitors was crucial to the board’s cause, said Rick
Webster, the TIA’s director of government affairs. “Foreigners
thought the welcome mat had been pulled,” he said. “Now we can set
the proper tone.”
The board plans to convene once a month, targeting travelers
from Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom in its