The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) reports that its recent International Destination Expo (IDE) in Istanbul, Turkey (April 19-22) attracted 120 supplier companies (141 booths) who were on hand to meet one-on-one with more than 1,200 travel professionals from 18 countries. The focus of the IDE was the culture, attractions and travel business of Turkey and its neighboring countries.
“The International Destination Expo offers attendees a rare chance to learn about a country or region at a personal level, allowing them to come home with great insider tips to share with their clients,” said Chris Russo, ASTA president and chair. “This year’s event was no different. The more than 1,200 people who came to Istanbul to attend the IDE were able to make life-long business connections that will benefit their companies and their clients for years to come.”
“It was a great pleasure to host the esteemed delegates from the International Destination Expo. Thanks to the enthusiasm, dedication and hard work of the ASTA team, we had a successful show,” said Levent Demirel, deputy general manager of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Travel agent delegates came from as far away as Vietnam and Thailand, but more than half of those in attendance hailed from the United States. Overall, 33 percent of delegates were first-time attendees, 78 percent were making their first trip to Turkey and 23 percent reported they had booked Turkey before, ASTA says.
Exhibiting companies, more than 90 percent of which were new to the event, included international tourist offices, hotel properties, travel and tour companies and travel technology firms. The trade show hosted suppliers representing the various regions of Turkey and unique areas such as Palestine, Romania and Kenya. In total, 17 countries were represented among the exhibitors.
Certifications were awarded during the event in such destination education courses as the Treasures of Southern Europe (Andorra, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Malta, Monaco and San Marino) and Turkey, the Cradle of Civilization, as well as niche programs on faith-based travel in and around the Middle East and Holy Land, Mediterranean cruising and culinary travel to Turkey.
Product seminars, which examined such topics as creating customized groups and FITs to Turkey, developing the perfect custom Turkey itinerary, and understanding and selling Turkey, were attended by more than 450 travel agents. Supplier seminars, which touched upon the subjects of growing a business with ASTA, working with US travel agents, and finding and working with home-based and independent travel agents, were attended by 300 exhibitors, while 75 people attended the International Travel Agents Summit.