WASHINGTON: The US Travel Association engaged more than 30 tourism offices and convention and visitors bureaus across the US yesterday to organize and hold travel-focused rallies. The May 12 rallies are a new element to National Travel and Tourism Week, which the Association has held for the past 26 years.
In organizing the rallies, the association tried to provide a channel for participating organizations to display the importance of the travel and tourism industry, including the economic benefits it brings to cities, states, and the country, explained Geoff Freeman, SVP of public affairs for the US Travel Association. It is a message the industry hopes Washington hears as well.
“In these cities you have representatives of the travel industry really taking to the street to demonstrate how significant this industry is,” he says. “To demonstrate how important they are to the success and vibrancy of the communities in which they live.”
The group provided participating organizations with message points, tips, and tools to convey the idea that tourism matters, and to help guide their attempts to overcome barriers to travel, such as the opposition to business travel, and a difficult US entry process for foreign visitors.
“If we can create that level playing field, if we can remove the barriers, then the individual companies can compete, market, and promote themselves,” Freeman said.
At a rally in Washington organized by Destination DC, spokespeople from the organization talked to more than 150 people from the travel and hospitality industry, as well as the media, to promote “the importance of travel and tourism to how the district operates,” said Victoria Isley, SVP of marketing for Destination DC.
The rally featured speakers from Destination DC, the US Travel Association, and the Department of Commerce. It focused on topics like the revenue stream tourism brings to the city, the importance of social media in marketing efforts, and attracting new visitors to the city. Destination DC also discussed consumer-facing tourism campaigns that will launch this summer.
Similarly, the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau's rally focused on the message that tourism matters and is a vital industry to the region, particularly in terms of economic development.
“This day and this week really is a chance for Seattle's tourism industry to shine the spotlight on itself and the power of this industry,” says David Blandford, director of PR for the Seattle bureau.
As part of the National Travel and Tourism Week, the US Travel Association worked with the Department of Commerce to launch DiscoverAmerica.org as an official tourism site for the country aimed at Americans. In the past, the group, along with the Dept. of Commerce had created other ‘Discover America' branded Web sites, but they were aimed at international travelers.