Supported by record growth in international visitors to the U.S. -and with the nation's attention expected to focus on next week's Republican National Convention in Tampa- the $1.9 trillion U.S. travel industry will advance its priorities as it plays host to the 50,000 travelers expected to visit Tampa, the U.S.Travel Association reports. U.S. Travel estimates the economic impact of the convention to be $150 million.
"Whether it is hotels, rental cars or convention halls, no other industry will have an impact on convention attendees like the travel industry," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the association. "Meetings like political conventions mean business, and Tampa will see a significant economic benefit as a result."
"This is an unprecedented opportunity for our destination, and we've left no stone unturned to ensure we maximize the return on investment provided by the most significant convention we've ever hosted," said president and CEO of Tampa Bay & Company, Kelly Miller. "With more than 15,000 media on the ground the week of Aug. 27, this is our chance to showcase Tampa Bay and why we are a worldwide, premier meetings, conventions and events destination."
While many industries use the conventions to advance their messaging, the travel industry is using new and unconventional methods as a part of its 2012 Vote Travel Campaign, U.S Travel notes. Marriott hotels will feature special Vote Travel key cards. Additionally, taxi cab drivers will be given Vote Travel air fresheners, bus drivers for convention travel will wear Vote Travel buttons and car rental companies will hand out Vote Travel postcards with screen cleaners for mobile phones. Also, a "Vote Travel Convention Challenge" giveaway featuring a free trip to Las Vegas will take place via Twitter (follow @USTravel).
The entire effort will culminate with a "Toast to Tampa," which will be co-sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association and National Restaurant Association. The U.S. Travel estimates 16,000 rooms in 105 hotels throughout the Tampa Bay area will house delegates, members of the media and convention guests.
"The Republican National Convention is an excellent opportunity for the travel industry to get its message out to a number of influencers," said Dow. "The travel industry employs 14.4 million Americans, and we generate $124 billion in tax revenues. Tampa is the perfect location for us to advocate for initiatives with economic benefits, such as expanding the Visa Waiver Program to countries like Brazil whose citizens frequently travel to Florida and spend here."
A similar effort is expected for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.