WTTC Kicks Off in Vegas This Week

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) kicks off this week in Las Vegas, with 1,000 attendees expected from around the world. The WTTC, a global forum for business leaders in the travel & tourism industry, is comprised of chairmen and CEOS of 100 travel and tourism companies worldwide.

Top executives of this year’s program today gave a preview of some of the topics that would be discussed in Las Vegas on Wednesday and Thursday. The topic leading the discussion on a conference call for worldwide media was easing the visa process for allowing travelers from Brazil, India and China in to the United States. These three countries have an exploding middle class, with a pent-up demand to travel to the U.S.; however, in some cases, prospective travelers must wait months for a visa interview with the U.S. and then travel thousands of miles with their families for the process to take place.

Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, who has been fighting to improve this process, said that many of the challenges reflect steps that were taken by the U.S. right after 9/11 to secure travel. And while the current Obama administration is aware of the issues, “We still don’t have it as a Presidential priority to improve the visa process. We need more than is being done right now. We understand the problem but it needs to be made a higher priority,” he said.

Of note is the fact that the CEO of a new U.S. organization, the Corporation for Travel Promotion, will be announced tomorrow, on the eve of WTTC. The Corporation for Travel Promotion is the tourism-promotion entity created by last year’s Travel Promotion Act.

Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said that his city expects to receive a $1 million immediate impact from the 1,000 visitors expected this week from the WTTC. He expects there to be further benefit as media from domestic and international press attending the event publishes stories about the destination.

The WTTC, which works to raise awareness of travel and tourism as one of the world's largest industries, supporting more than 258 million jobs worldwide and generating some 9.1 percent of global, will be held next year in Tokyo, Japan.

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