Major Industry Groups Meet to Confront Economy

While the 39 travel industry associations who participated in the Economic Summit on December 16 will not release the full details of their recommendations and priorities until early January, Lisa Simon, the president of the National Tour Association (NTA) expressed great  satisfaction with the Washington, D.C. summit meeting.

In an interview with Travel Agent, Simon said the powerhouse Summit was probably the largest gathering of industry groups since the 1995 White House Conference on Travel and Tourism. Focused on short term (six to 12 months) actions on the current economic crisis, Simon expects recommendations to be released after the participating groups gain approval from their respective e governing bodies.

“It's fair to say that the recommendations will include both recommendations for the federal government and the incoming Obama administration as well as private sector initiatives," Simon said. "We are building a strong consensus for unified action and with the support of the associations grassroots membership the travel industry will be able to have a meaningful impact.”

Simon said that the NTA would continue to work with other industry groups and noted the NTA’s new alliances with the World Religious Travel Association and the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association. “Its clear from our recent Pittsburgh Conference that our members— tour operators, agents, destination marketing organizations and suppliers— are concerned with the effects of the economic downturn," she said. "Many are diversifying their business models including adding new programs and destinations.”

The NTA has also enjoyed a year of strong growth, Simon said. NTA membership is now at 710 tour operator members— the first time in years that the total has exceeded 600. One reason is the growth of inbound and outbound travel and the central role tour operators play in both markets. The opening of the inbound China market has also helped.

Simon said that among the goals of the NTA’s 2009 program would be to educate travel agents on the importance of NTA membership and the advantages of working with NTA members and destinations. She also sees a need to educate tour operators on the value of agents. The NTA expects to work with ASTA and NACTA.

Participants included observers from the United States Department of Commerce and the United States House of Representatives Tourism Caucus, as well as AAA, Air Transport Association of America, Alliance of National Heritage Areas, American Bus Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association, American Recreation Coalition, ASTA, American Tourism Society, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, Association of Travel Marketing Executives, BM&T Multicultural Forum, Cruise Line International Association, Cultural and Heritage Tourism Alliance, Destination Marketing Association International, Educational Travel Community, and GLAMER/Bank Travel.

Also represented were the Interactive Travel Services Association, International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, International Air Transport Association, International SPA Association, National Business Travel Association, National Tour Association, Pacific Asia Travel Association, Passenger Vessel Association, Sister Cities International, Southeast Tourism Society, Student Youth Travel Association, Sustainable Travel International, Tourism Cares, Travel Industry Association, Travel Professionals of Color, Travel South, United States Tour Operator Association, U.S. Conference of Mayors, United Motorcoach Association, Voluntourism.Org, Western States Tourism Policy Council and the World Religious Travel Association.


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