TIA, Business Roundtable Merge

In a move to increase the clout of the travel industry in Washington, D.C., the Board of Directors of the Travel Industry Association (TIA) approved a merger with the Travel Business Roundtable (TBR).  The newly formed U.S. Travel Association (USTA), effective January 1, 2009, will further intensify the voice of America's $740 billion travel industry.

"Travel supports nearly 18 million U.S. jobs that cannot be outsourced and contributes more than $100 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue," said Roger Dow, TIA's President and CEO, who will serve in the same capacity for the U.S. Travel Association.  "America's travel community has created an organization that matches the power and scope of America's travel economy."

The U.S. Travel Association will represent leaders from nearly all major travel-related companies, state travel and tourism offices, dozens of the top U.S. convention and visitors bureaus and nearly all of the major travel associations. The new organization will serve as the leading advocate for increasing travel to and within the U.S. and provide its members with valuable research, events and marketing.

"America needs travel now more than ever— to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and further the vital public diplomacy interests of the United States," said Caroline Beteta, CEO of the California Travel and Tourism Commission, who will serve as national chair of the U.S. Travel Association for 2009.   "We look forward to working with leaders in Washington and our entire membership to maximize travel's unique ability to address America's most pressing problems."

"We are proud to combine the forces of TIA and TBR to build one of Washington's most effective advocacy organizations," said Jonathan M. Tisch, chairman of the Travel Business Roundtable and chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels.  "At this time of economic downturn, it is more important than ever for our industry to speak with one voice about how travel is a critical tool for creating jobs and stimulating economic activity in all 50 states and 435 congressional districts."  Tisch has served as TBR's chairman since 1996.

In addition to being the leading advocate for travel, the U.S. Travel Association will continue to provide its more than 1,800 members with a variety of other services, the associations said. This includes:

*    Original research and forums to highlight the power of travel for local economies, businesses and individuals.
*    DiscoverAmerica.com, the first-ever official travel and tourism website of the U.S., which was successfully launched as a one-stop shop for international travelers promoting travel to America.  It currently targets the five leading inbound markets which account for 75 percent of international inbound travel (37 million arrivals).
*    Events including International Pow Wow, a three-day annual event that attracts more than 5,000 U.S. travel suppliers and international tour operators who hold more than 50,000 business meetings to bring international travel to the U.S.
*    International travel development programs focusing on emerging markets, such as China. The U.S. Department of Commerce earlier signed a memorandum of understanding with Chinese officials to bring more tourism to the U.S. Spurred by TIA, China hosted a delegation of U.S. state tourism directors in November after the U.S. hosted a delegation of Chinese tourism officials last year.

The TIA is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the $740 billion travel industry. TIA's mission is to promote and facilitate increased travel to and within the U.S. For more information, visit www.tia.org.

The TBR is a CEO-based organization whose mission is to educate public officials and policymakers about the important economic, social and diplomatic contributions of the travel and tourism industry. For more information, vist www.tbr.org.


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