February 20, 2007
Tuesday Newsletter February 20, 2007
Volume 27: Issue 8
|The Berkely Group provides a competitive Travel Protection Plan to NTA members. The plan includes an administration-free product that operators can sell to their clients and a group product that offers flexibility in pricing and compensation. To learn more click here or contact Geni Priolo at email@example.com.|
|Interested in becoming a sponsor for Tuesday? Contact Karla DiNardo at karla.dinardo@NTA.travel.|
NTA backs proposed legislation that will repair travel restrictions included in the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. NTA sent a letter of support for H.R. 1061 to Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, along with representatives John M. McHugh, R-N.Y., Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Donald Manzullo, R-Ill., citing the potential harm to businesses and communities along the Canadian border if something isn’t done.
The legislation, known as the Protecting American Commerce and Travel Act, or the PACT Act, recognizes that approximately 23 million U.S. citizens annually cross the northern or southern border. Canada is the United States’ largest trading partner, with an average of $1.1 billion in goods crossing the U.S.-Canada border daily.
The letter, signed by NTA Chairman and CEO Randy Julian, states, "We wholeheartedly support the PACT Act legislation introduced to fix the most onerous WHTI-related restrictions. We agree with you that our northern border is headed for a crisis if some common sense doesn’t prevail in our cross-border debate."
The PACT Act calls for the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a test case to determine if driver’s licenses can meet the provisions of WHTI. It also exempts U.S. and Canadian citizens 16 years old and younger from the WHTI requirements. Additionally, Slaughter’s legislation sets the cost of the PASS card at $20 for the first year to encourage participation.
Other provisions include the expansion of the NEXUS and Free and Secure Trade program cards, which allow for faster border crossing for frequent visitors, and a requirement that the federal government launch a promotional campaign to build public awareness.
NTA’s Person-to-Person Tracking Project is underway. The goal of the program, which is being led by RoseMarie Sutton-Holt, is to gather relevant data from tour operators that can aid DMOs in their ongoing struggle to prove the vitality of what they do. All NTA operators are encouraged to participate in this project.
To date, 74 tour operators have volunteered, representing 31 states and British Columbia. The operators who volunteered had an option of when they would like to be contacted. For the months of February and March, Sutton has sent out 52 tracking forms – already receiving 12 forms back – and has scheduled 10 personal interviews.
If you are a tour operator and have not volunteered to be part of this program, it isn’t too late. Sutton can send forms and do interviews as late as August of this year. To participate in the Person-to-Person Tracking Project and provide information critical to the survival of your supplier and DMO partners, contact Lisa Thompson, NTA’s VP of Marketing, at lisa.thompson@NTA.travel, or complete the Person-to-Person Tracking form.
Additionally, tour operators should keep in mind that Sutton-Holt is not seeking financial data and that all of the information she’s gathering is confidential and will not be used for purposes beyond the scope of this study.
Businesses are always looking for ways to increase their bottom line – from improving sales to cutting expenses. NTA’s Corporate Partner program was designed with these factors in mind, as it seeks to help members lower business-related costs.
U.S.-based members and Canadian-based members are able to order office supplies through Staples convenient Business Advantage Web site and qualify for discounts on more than 30,000 products that most businesses already use.
Members who have taken advantage of the Staples partnership have seen considerable savings. Paul Nakamoto of Roaring Camp Railroad shares his experience, "In the calendar year of 2006, we estimate we saved $5,600 using the Staples program, because of the discount (on products) and the fact we don’t get charged for shipping."
Here are some of the benefits Staples offers:
- Discounted products available online
- Ability to order supplies online, by fax or via phone
- Expedited shipping
- Free shipping on all orders of $30 or more
Canadian members can start saving by contacting Olga Lefas at 905.737.1147, ext. 2456, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. NTA members in the United States should contact Keith Nolfi at 800.617.1712, ext. 245, or via e-mail at email@example.com. Make sure to mention you’re an NTA member interested in joining the NTA/Staples program.
While the NTA Tour Operator Spring Meet schedule includes seminars and social outings for networking, don’t overlook the Tour Operator Speed Dating session, sponsored by Alaska Travel Industry Association, on Friday, April 27.
Speed dating allows tour operators and receptive tour operators to buy and sell product during a single networking session. The event, which consists of more than 20 three-minute mini-appointments, is intended to help tour operators quickly identify potential business partners.
Here is what Justin Osbon of Image Tours Inc., who participated in the session at the 2006 Spring Meet had to say: "I think (speed dating) is one feather in the hat that NTA has that no other organization offers to the operators. Sure there might be ‘networking’ sessions, but they don’t even compare to what NTA’s speed dating offers."
Register today to attend the 2007 NTA Tour Operator Spring Meet in Kelowna, British Columbia, April 26-28. If you sign up before the March 9 early-bird deadline, you can save US$50 on your registration. Contact your Member Services team at 800.682.8886 (U.S. and Canada) or 859.226.4444 for more information.
Additionally, tour operators and receptive tour operators can fly free to Spring Meet through NTA’s agreement with its transportation provider United Airlines. To learn more, click here.
Mississippi Gulf Coast CVB Executive Director Steve Richer, CTP, and Tourism Cares Executive Director Bruce Beckham, CTP, were quoted in the Feb. 19 issue of USA Today as part of a front-page lead article on the importance of volunteers to the recovery process along the Gulf Coast.
The story, "Katrina ‘Voluntourists’ Make Labor a Vacation," talks about the many ways in which people coming to help rebuild have left their mark on Mississippi’s coastal communities, both in terms of the work they’ve done and in terms of the hope they’ve brought to residents. Richer, who estimates that half a million people have come to help in the past 18 months, said, "[The volunteers] have had a tremendous impact. When I look at the people all of us have been dealing with on a day-to-day basis, they are the one group that has brought nothing but hope."
It also talks about Tourism Cares, NTA’s official philanthropy, which was one of the early corporate organizations to send volunteers to Mississippi when it brought travel industry professionals into the area May 17-18, 2006. The 330 volunteers that helped with the Tourism Cares for America project, many of which were NTA members, worked on cleaning up and repairing seven tourism-related sites in the Biloxi and Gulfport area. The effort garnered national media attention for voluntourism and pointed out the need for more assistance in the areas destroyed by Katrina.
These types of volunteer vacations are nothing new to many NTA members, as they are a regular topic of discussion for the association’s Board of Directors and Leadership Team. Additionally, many member companies have continued to explore more of these types of offerings, as the demand has grown in recent years.
Now that the U.S. legislative season is in full gear on both a national and state level, there are three bills in the works that are of note for NTA’s U.S. members.
- NTA has joined ASTA in opposing New York Senate Bill 2110, which would subject travel intermediary service fees to a new hotel occupancy tax. NTA is urging its New York members to contact their state senators and tell them to oppose the bill because service fees are not part of the hotel price and should not be subject to this new tax. Tentative hearings on the legislation will be held in Albany Feb. 28.
- For at least the 10th straight year, a seller of travel law has been introduced in Pennsylvania. NTA has been active in opposing this legislation since its initial introduction and is currently working with ASTA to oppose any further regulation of sellers of travel. The 2007 version is House Bill 388.
- Ohio Senator George Voinovich, R-Ohio, has introduced legislation to expand the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. The program currently comprises 27 countries whose citizens do not have to apply for a visa to visit the United States. Countries wishing to join the VWP must certify that they have strict passport controls and have only a small percentage of entrance visas rejected by the United States. In January, NTA urged Congress to expand the program to those countries that are eligible for such treatment in order to lower the barriers to international visitation.
NTA members, the Courier editorial staff needs your help. Whether you are a DMO or tour supplier, please send us the latest version of your photo CD. Also, tour operators, if you have print-quality photos of your clients on tour, we’d like to get those, too. (NOTE – Many DMOs and tour suppliers responded last summer, and if you did, there is no need to resend one unless it has been updated).
Even though many destinations and suppliers have a photo gallery on their Web sites, it is possible that those images are not high resolution/print quality. Whether you have an existing updated CD or have recently uploaded new photos to your Web site and want to burn those to a CD, it is important for Courier to have CDs with the higher-quality photos.
Photo CDs should be mailed to:
Doug Rentz, Managing Editor
National Tour Association
546 East Main Street
Lexington, KY 40508
If you have any questions, please call Courier Managing Editor Doug Rentz at 800.682.8886, ext. 4235 (U.S. and Canada) or 859.226.4235 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can help advance your association’s advocacy efforts by donating an item or travel package for the Government Relations Silent Auction, to be held during Spring Meet in Kelowna, British Columbia. Proceeds benefit NTA’s Government Issues Fund.
The Government Issues Fund helps make your voice heard to national governments. It supports NTA’s advocacy efforts, the annual Grassroots Symposium (to be held Sept. 24-25), the legislative tracking service and the Travel Council for Fair Competition, as well as funding NTA’s work on the tour director issue.
To donate a tour package or item, please contact Matt Grayson, NTA’s director of government and industry relations, via e-mail at matt.grayson@NTA.travel, or by calling 800.682.8886, ext. 4250 (U.S. and Canada) or 859.226.4250.
The May 2007 issue of Courier offers plenty of opportunity to get your company in front of tour operators.
Features this month are the Preview to Convention in Kansas City as well as Beaches. The trip planners showcase Canyonlands (Colorado, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Sedona & Utah) and Asia. May travel guides highlight Iowa; Kansas; Missouri; Nebraska; and Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon.
The space deadline for May Courier is Feb. 23, so only three days remain to get in the magazine that is ranked No. 1 in the industry by tour operators!
Click here to view the full 2007 Editorial Calendar. To reach your account executive, call 800.682.8886, ext. 4232 (U.S. and Canada) or 859.226.4232 or send an e-mail to advertising@NTA.travel for more information.