June 12, 2007
Tuesday Newsletter June 12, 2007
Volume 27: Issue 24
|Join NTA in Kansas City for the 2007 NTA Annual Convention to explore innovative ways to develop tour product. Our host city has invested $4.5 billion in ongoing downtown revitalization and will welcome the NTA family Nov. 2-6. Click here to learn more and experience NTA!|
|Interested in becoming a Tuesday sponsor? E-mail Karla DiNardo at karla.dinardo@NTA.travel.|
U.S. Citizens Granted Temporary Passport Flexibility
Benefit Basics – Tour20 Group Provides Benchmarking Data for Operators
Tourism Cares Hall of Fame Dinner Invitations Heading Your Way
NTA is a Strategic Partner in THETRADESHOW
September Courier: South Pacific, Southwest, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina
The Bush administration announced last week it will put a temporary moratorium on the air requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Currently the law requires citizens of the United States to have a passport when entering the United States via air from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.
The temporary flexibility in the WHTI provision allows U.S. citizens to re-enter the United States from anywhere in the Western Hemisphere through Sept. 30, 2007, provided the traveler has a government issued photo identification and that they can prove they have applied for a passport (proof of application available here). Children under the age of 16 traveling with their parents or legal guardian will need proof of application as well.
"Since the announcement of WHTI in 2005, the National Tour Association has been concerned about the significant impediment to cross-border travel for negligible security gain," said NTA Chairman and CEO Randy Julian. "We applaud the departments of State and Homeland Security for recognizing the magnitude of the problems in implementing WHTI. Despite this most recent delay, NTA still believes that more must be done to maintain border integrity and facilitate cross-border tourism as we look to the implementation of the land and sea requirements."
The change was brought about by the ongoing delays in processing the glut of new passport applications, which have resulted in longer wait times for applicants.
The regulations for Canadian travelers remain the same: they still need a valid passport to enter the United States if traveling by plane.
The deadline for tour suppliers and DMOs to register to have a chance at full participation in the Tour & Travel Exchange at the 2007 NTA Annual Convention is June 15. The benefit of being a full participant is that you get to request prescheduled Exchange appointments.
Click here to visit the Convention Web site for registration details. If you need more information before you sign up to join us Nov. 2-6 in Kansas City, Missouri, contact your Member Services team at 800.682.8886 (U.S. and Canada) or 859.226.4444.
A waitlist is expected to form prior to June 15, so be sure to register early.
NTA has received some questions about the Buyer-to-Buyer Exchange at the 2007 Annual Convention, regarding who will be participating. The session is open to NTA tour operators and professional travel buyers, including travel agents and bank and educational travel planners.
During the Buyer-to-Buyer Exchange, which replaces the Tour Operator Speed Dating session on Friday morning at Convention, tour operators will have the opportunity to both buy and sell during the seven-minute pre-scheduled appointments with other NTA operators and the professional travel buyers. Beginning in July and ending in October, tour operators who sign up to participate in the session can log in to NTA’s appointment scheduling Web site, see who’s participating and submit a list of companies with which they wish to schedule meetings.
NTA has been working with the National Park Service and the American Recreation Coalition to create a guide for travelers on scenic byways in the Washington, D.C., area. Originally, the project was geared at providing only audio interpretation via MP3 files, but the updated plan includes full video interpretive messages. Once completed, the files will be available for download from Apple’s iTunes Web site.
"The program will establish a creative electronic educational tool for the packaged travel industry," said NTA Legislative Counsel Jim Santini. "I believe these video and audio guides will explode just like our nation’s scenic byways program has, thanks to tour operators who continually include the scenic routes as a component of their tour packages."
The subjects of the 12-15 segments will be two Washington, D.C., area byways – the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the C & O Canal. Many of the segments will be two to four minutes long, while a couple of the pieces will be more extensive (10-15 minutes). They will be produced in both English and Spanish and are expected to be available by early fall.
The current project is another in a long line of collaborations between NTA, the National Park Service and the American Recreation Coalition. The groups pioneered the American Scenic Byways concept and since their first meeting in 1986, 126 roads have received the scenic byway designation.
The YPB&R/Yankelovich Inc. 2007 National Leisure Travel MONITOR, released last week, offers marketing research on leisure travel. Among the findings, the annual survey found that 95 percent of American adults took an overnight trip more than 75 miles from home during the past 12 months. This is up from 92 percent last year. Additionally, one-third of those surveyed expect to take more trips this year.
The study also found that word of mouth referrals continue to be the most trusted source of information about travel. Online reviews and blogs are becoming increasingly popular among consumers with four out of 10 leisure travelers saying they read online reviews of both tour suppliers and destinations.
NTA would like to know how you are using social networking, such as blogs, to communicate. E-mail NTA Public Relations Manager Sara Morton regarding how you are taking advantage of the Internet community to reach customers making travel decisions.
U.S. government officials held a series of economic development meetings with Chinese leaders in late May and one of the topics of discussion was expanding travel between the countries. The number of visitors from China to America increased by 19 percent from 2005 to 2006 and receipts rose 30 percent in that period, and the talks focused on ways to continue that upswing.
Following the meetings, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced the following three deliverables which would have a major impact on the American travel industry:
- Air Services Liberalization – The countries are committed to expanding air services to reach the goal of doubling the number of daily passenger flights from the United States to China by 2012
- Promoting Growth in the Tourism Industry – The countries signed a declaration of intent to launch negotiations to facilitate Chinese group leisure travel to America in response to the United Nations World Travel Organization’s projection that the Chinese inbound market is expected to grow to 100 million travelers within the next 15 years
- Expanding U.S. Exports – The Export-Import Banks of the United States and China signed a memorandum of understanding that will provide loan guarantees for the export of large-scale capital goods from the United States to China, supporting U.S. export jobs and promoting China’s sustainable development
Additional information is available on the following topics related to travel between America and China:
The Washington State Department of Transportation will be working on a major stretch of the Interstate 5 bridge between Spokane Street and the Interstate 90 interchange in downtown Seattle. Construction is expected to require around-the-clock lane closures between Aug. 10 and Aug. 29 and will have significant effects on traffic in the Seattle area.
Crews will close several lanes of northbound I-5 at all times during those days, leaving only two or three lanes open to traffic. The northbound I-5 lane closures will push traffic onto other routes, including city streets in the Georgetown, SODO, Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill areas. Motorcoaches and trucks are advised to use I-405, East Marginal Way South and Airport Way South. Lengthy backups and significant delays are expected.
Additionally, there will be nightly lane closures in both directions starting in July.
To see a map of the affected area or learn more about the project and what drivers can do to prepare, visit WSDOT’s project Web site.
The Ford’s Theatre National Historical Site in Washington, D.C., is undergoing an $8.5 million renovation project through November 2008 and will be closed during the construction. The improvements to the 144-year-old landmark include its first elevator, new restrooms and renovations to the heating, air conditioning, lighting and sound systems.
Except for the annual production of Charles Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas" from mid-November until the end of December 2007, the theater will remain dark, as will the Lincoln Museum, located on the lower level of Ford’s Theatre. During the closure, the general public is still invited to visit the Petersen House where President Abraham Lincoln died the day after being shot at the theater. Petersen House, a free attraction located across the street from Ford’s Theatre in downtown Washington, D.C., is open year-round except Christmas Day.
Tour operators that are part of NTA Tour20 Groups learn from each other as they compare financial benchmarks and explore ways to run a more efficient and successful company. Each Tour20 Group meets three times a year and works with a professional facilitator and financial analyst. All information shared in the groups is kept confidential.
The Tour20 Groups are still welcoming new tour operators. Any tour operator wishing to join should complete the Tour20 Group Sign-up Form and return it as indicated. For more information, click here or contact NTA Vice President of Marketing Lisa Thompson.
Watch your e-mail for your invitation to the 2007 Tourism Cares Hall of Fame Awards Dinner to be held Wednesday, Aug. 8, at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. The 2007 inductees are Dan Sullivan Jr. and the late Daniel Sullivan Sr. of Collette Vacations.
Individual tickets are $200 and a limited number of sponsorships are still available. Please contact Caitlin at Tourism Cares with any questions by calling 781.821.5990 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
NTA is entering its second year as a strategic partner in THETRADESHOW. As such, your association is looking forward to promoting its tour operators and their diverse product options to both home-based and brick-and-mortar travel agents from America and Canada. In addition to having a booth at ASTA’s event, NTA and USTOA will present an educational session to spread the word about how the combination of travel agents and tour operators spells profitability for everyone.
NTA tour operators who are interested in reaching this market can register for THETRADESHOW and be eligible for a rebate on booth costs. Use the special NTA registration form and if at least six NTA tour operators attend, each will receive a 10 percent rebate. Based on total attendance, the rebate could go as high as 20 percent.
THETRADESHOW will be held in Las Vegas Sept. 9-11. If you’re interested in the 2007 event or have questions about registration, you can visit www.THETRADESHOW.org or e-mail Lisa Thompson, NTA vice president of marketing.
If museums and rail travel are a part of your destination or product mix, you will want to showcase what you have to offer in the September Courier. In addition to feature stories that cover those topics, the month’s Trip Planners focus on the South Pacific and Southwest (Arizona, Mexico, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas) and the Travel Guides highlight Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
The space deadline for September Courier is June 22 so you haven’t missed out on marketing your destination and/or company in the magazine ranked No. 1 in the industry by tour operators. Check out the full 2007 Editorial Calendar or to reach your account executive call 800.682.8886, ext. 4232 or 859.226.4232 or e-mail advertising@NTA.travel for more information.