Create or retrieve your password by clicking here

Tour Operators: Here’s How to Get Your Next Big Idea | A Government Relations Update and a Call for

February 21, 2012

Volume 32, Issue 8


Interested in advertising in Tuesday? E-mail Karla DiNardo.

Tour Operators: Here’s How to Get Your Next Big Idea
A Government Relations Update and a Call for Action
PDT Showcases the Best of Mexican Culture
Spirit(s) of Tourism Featured in March Courier
Travel Trade Barometers Forecast U.S. Inbound
Quality of Life Conference Focuses on Tourism Industry
March Seminar Spotlights Africa Tourism
Are You in the Adventure Tourism Business?
50 Students to Join Volunteers in Pensacola
Industry News and Updates
NTA Job Center

Tour Operators: Here’s How to Get Your Next Big Idea  

If you’re looking for new places to take your business, fresh perspective on where you are now, or just a sounding board for the ideas that are bouncing around in yourContact 2012 See You There head, register for Contact. Contact, Aug. 16–18 in San Diego, California, is designed to foster operator-to-operator conversations and networking, whether in a seminar, at a reception or on one of the sightseeing and Fam tours. For three days, you’ll be sitting next to and among people who know what it’s like to walk in your shoes. This is your time to connect with them and take advantage of this exclusive knowledge bank.

Register for Contact today, then:

Click here to register for a sightseeing tour.

Click here to register for a pre- and/or post-Contact Fam tour.

You may find the spark for your next big idea. See you there!

[Tour suppliers and DMOs: Click here to see how to attend Contact.] 

top of page

A Government Relations Update and a Call for Action 

The past week was a busy one for NTA members and staff focused on government relations. Three topics in particular warrant your attention:

Needed: Your Ideas on a National Tourism Strategy

The Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness needs your input. Established by executive order last month, the task force will develop a national travel and tourism strategy for the United States by April. To do that, the task force is seeking2.21.12Magnet comments on two topics:

  • 1. What can the Federal Government do on its own to improve the competitive position of the United States, including growing domestic travel and tourism?
  • 2. What can the Federal Government do with partners to improve the competitive position of the United States, including growing domestic travel and tourism? Please name potential partners or types of partners.

For both questions, the group wants suggestions for a one-year and five-year outlook, plus methods for measuring progress. You’ll find background information and the process for making your comments here. The deadline is Feb. 28.

NTA will work with other travel organizations and submit comments as an organization on several priorities: surface transportation improvement, destination marketing federal grants, visa process enhancements, adding visa-waiver countries, promoting national parks and public lands, and marketing the United States internationally.

NTA Hails FAA Legislation

NTA praised Congress for reauthorizing long-term funding for the Federal Aviation Administration last week—and President Barack Obama for signing the $63 billion bill into law.

"This legislation will create a safer air transportation system with greater capacity," said Lisa Simon, NTA president. "It funds much-needed airport improvements and expansions across the country, plus our air traffic control system can now be modernized with NextGen technology."

NTA has placed a high priority on passage of this legislation since 2008, following the expiration of the last long-term bill funding FAA. 

"Passage of a four-year bill provides stability," said Simon. "This is a great start toward increasing the United States’ global competitiveness, and we look forward to the next step: improving intermodal access to the nation’s airports."

Association Supports Amendment to MAP 21

NTA joined with at least 40 travel organizations and signed a letter to U.S. Senator Mark Begich in support of his amendment to Senate bill 1813, the "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act" (MAP 21).  The amendment will help ensure that state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations will work with local travel leaders on long-term transportation plans that support economic growth by enabling travel and tourism. The amendment will also allow STOs and DMOs to better advocate for important travel-related transportation projects, including intermodal connections, safety improvements, congestion relief, capacity enhancements and the maintenance of scenic byways.

GR note: The Grassroots Congressional Travel Summit now has an official hotel: Courtyard Washington, D.C./U.S. Capitol is offering a rate of $229 for the May 8-10 event. When making online reservations, use the code NTANTAA. With a phone reservation (888.236.2427), ask for the 2012 NTA/STS Congressional Summit Room Block at the Courtyard US Capitol New York Avenue. The rate is available through April 20.

top of page

PDT Showcases the Best of Mexican Culture 

The Mexico Tourism Board, the Ministry of Tourism of the State of Jalisco and the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board invite NTA tour operators on a product development Tianguis2012trip through Jalisco March 20–24, prior to Mexico’s Tianguis Turistico, which starts on the 25th in Puerto Vallarta.

Tianguis, Mexico’s largest travel industry event, is waiving registration fees for NTA tour operators. The travel fair will host more than 500 tour companies and travel specialists in 7,000-plus square meters of exhibition space, covering culture, adventure, meeting and incentives, sun, beach and luxury travel. Last year was a record-breaking year for Mexico, which welcomed more than 22 million international visitors.

Tianguis Turistico 2012 will be held in a new region for the first time in 37 years, at the International Convention Center of Puerto Vallarta.

The pre-Tianguis PDT begins in Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco and the cradle of many Mexican traditions, including mariachi music, charrería (Mexican rodeo) and tequila. It offers a memorable experience of Mexican culture in a comfortable and contemporary environment. The PDT includes visits to the specialty shops of Tlaquepaque, the Mundo Cuervo experience in the town of Tequila and an exhilarating cruise along the sunny shores of Puerto Vallarta.

The hosts are covering all expenses during the March 20–24 trip—lodging, land transportation and meals. Participants need to pay a $100 registration fee and air fare into Guadalajara on March 20 and out of Puerto Vallarta. Several airlines are offering discounts; view the list here. And Aeromexico is offering a special price (US$499, taxes included) for NTA members attending the PDT, Tianguis or both (limited to specific flights). To make a reservation on Aeromexico, call 1.800.237.6639 and use this code: ITUSA12A07N1.

Use the days leading up to Tianguis Turistico to learn about a region specializing in authentic Mexican culture. The PDT registration form is here. For more information about the PDT or accommodations for Tianguis, contact Lee Carter, NTA senior vice president, no later than March 7.

top of page

Spirit(s) of Tourism Featured in March Courier  

A special section featuring wine and spirits highlights the March issue of Courier. The coverage includes a list of 10 top wine destinations for 2012 as well as wine-based tour product in Washington, Mexico and Switzerland. Rounding out the specialMarch12 Courier section is information on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and perspectives on Scotland’s whisky heritage and Tennessee’s whiskey-making tradition.

Destinations stories provide details on your NTA partners in Africa; the Holy Land; the Toronto & Niagara region; Arizona; Colorado; New Mexico; Utah and Branson, Missouri. The business section of the March issue includes updates on how NTA and its industry partners are responding to President Obama’s executive order that focuses on tourism as a driver of job creation; data on French and German travelers visiting the United States; and a Q&A on faith-based tourism.

Repeat advertisers in this issue are Amish Acres, Aon Affinity Berkely Travel, Branson/Lakes Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Capital One Merchant Services, Empire State Building, Maid of the Mist Corporation, Norwegian Cruise Line and Phillips Cruises & Tours LLC. We’re grateful to our repeat advertisers (those who book in three or more issues of Courier per year). Click here for more information.

Upcoming content and deadlines: 

June Issue: Gulf Coast (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas); Latin America; Delaware; Maryland; Pennsylvania; Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Special Section: Native American & First Nations; Guide: Sightseeing Receptive.
Ad Space: April 4
Editorial: March 5

July Issue: Austria, Germany & Switzerland, Southern California, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan.
Ad Space: May 2
Editorial: April 2

August Issue: Greece & Turkey, Pacific Northwest (British Columbia, Oregon, Washington), Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Special Section: Theaters & Broadway Shows.
Ad Space: June 6
Editorial: April 30

Click here to view the entire 2012 editorial calendar.

top of page

Travel Trade Barometers Forecast U.S. Inbound 

Working with NTA and the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, Travel Market Insights conducts the Travel Trade Barometer programs. Through surveys with outbound tour operators in selected countries, TMI forecasts travel into the United States.

The latest barometers, based on operator feedback during December, project trends—along with motivators and deterrents—for travel to the Unites States.


  • 2012 bookings were projected to remain strong by nearly all of the Canadian trade respondents.
  • Top motivators: accommodation rates and promotion by U.S. businesses and destinations.
  • Entry and exit concerns were rated as not having an impact.
  • Top deterrents: the global economy, the Canadian economy, and the price of airfare.


  • Bookings in the first quarter 2012 were up four to nine percent over first quarter 2011 bookings.
  • Top motivators: Accommodation rates, the economy in Mexico, promotion by U.S. destinations and businesses, travel safety and the global economy.
  • Top deterrents: Airfare, the exchange rate and air capacity.

United Kingdom

  • First quarter 2012 bookings were down four to nine percent compared to first quarter 2011.
  • Top deterrents: global economy, along with higher airfare, reduced air capacity and the exchange rate-plus the perceived lack of a U.S. "welcome mat."
  • The strongest recommendation for the U.S. to regain its competitive edge was "value:" competitive pricing, especially for the family market.


  • First quarter 2012 bookings were up four to nine percent compared to first quarter 2011.
  • Top motivators: promotion by U.S. destinations and businesses and the exchange rate (despite the U.S. dollar getting stronger).
  • Top deterrents: promotion by other long-haul destinations, the global economy, airfare and a host of entry policy issues.


  • Most of the Chinese travel trade projected first and second quarter 2012 bookings to increase. None reported declining bookings.
  • They projected fully organized tours with an escort to register the strongest growth in the first half of 2012.
  • Top motivator: direct air service to desired destinations.
  • Top deterrent: natural disasters in the United States.


  • Only 22 percent of the trade projected an increase in bookings.
  • Top motivators: the exchange rate, promotion by U.S. destinations and businesses, and deregulation of charter flights.
  • Top deterrents: airfare/fuel surcharges; the economy in Japan; and the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima disaster.

The Office of Travel & Tourism Industries has more information. And even more detailed results of the Travel Trade Barometer surveys are available through subscription. For more information, e-mail Scott Johnson at Travel Market Insights or call +1.518-668-2559.

top of page

Quality of Life Conference Focuses on Tourism Industry 

NTA has partnered with GRL Development for a Tourism and Hospitality conference on Quality of Life and Regional Development, to be held in Annapolis, Maryland, on April 19.

The conference will explore issues concerned with quality of life and work as well as with the direct impact of these issues on regional growth through the development of travel and tourism industries. The main focus will be on quality of life of tourist-host communities; the effect of well-being on the tourism industry; and quality of service and work conditions in tourism businesses. A separate session will be devoted to new touristic services and new trends in tourism, travel and hospitality industries.

The conference targets business people and service providers in the tourism and hospitality sector and professionals working in fields concerned with quality of life and socio-economic development. The meeting is organized by: GRL (Global, Regional, Local) Development, Management Institute of Quality-of-Life Studies (Virginia Tech), Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management (Virginia Tech) and Social Integration and Community Development Association.

NTA and the organizers invite NTA members and affiliates to attend this interesting conference; sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information, visit the conference Web site.

top of page

March Seminar Spotlights Africa Tourism 

The fifth annual ATA U.S.-Africa Tourism Seminar, set for March 15–16 in Washington, D.C., will explore trends in African tourism. The event is organized by 2.21.12ATAthe Africa Travel Association (a strategic partner of NTA), co-sponsored by the Travel & Adventure Show and organized in cooperation with the African Union Mission to the USA. Attendees to the 2012 event include tourism experts and industry professionals from the U.S. and Africa, particularly tour operators and travel agents, who market, sell and specialize in Africa; more than 100 African government representatives dealing with tourism and economic development; African Diaspora community leaders and travel trade media. Faculty and students are also invited.

The seminar includes a reception on Thursday, March 15, and an all-day program on Friday. The program’s keynote speaker is Ambassador Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary of the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Click here for the event program.

To get more information or register for the event, visit the ATA Web site.

top of page

Are You in the Adventure Tourism Business? 

If yes, it’s your time to shine in NTA’s Courier magazine! Adventure tourism is the featured industry topic of the May issue of Courier, NTA’s monthly magazine.2.21.12Adventure Whether you’re a tour operator, destination or tour supplier specializing in adventure tourism, this is an ideal opportunity to promote your product to NTA’s tour operators through advertising! Contact or call 859.264.6559 today to reserve your space.

The May issue will also include Italy, the Smoky Mountains (Asheville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge), Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Chicago, Montréal and National Parks.

Interested in learning more about all of NTA Services’ publications? Click here or check out the 2012 Media Kit to learn more.

top of page

50 Students to Join Volunteers in Pensacola 

Thanks to a grant from Starwood, Tourism Cares is launching a student-engagement initiative during the Tourism Cares volunteer project in Pensacola, Florida. Fifty local 10.11.11Pensecola TC logostudents will learn how sustainable tourism, conservation and preservation can affect the local economy and the tourism industry in general. The students, all in undergraduate programs in travel, tourism, and hospitality, will attend workshops led by representatives from Starwood, the Pensacola CVB and the two work sites: the Pensacola Lighthouse and Project Greenshores.

After attending the workshops, students will be invited to participate in the volunteer projects, putting their lessons about conservation and preservation into practice. In addition, the students will be provided with a valuable networking opportunity, working side by side with industry professionals in careers that they hope to one day attain themselves.

Interested in getting involved? If you would like to participate as a workshop panelist, please e-mail Danielle Belanger, student programs coordinator at Tourism Cares, to find out more.

Want to be a part of the Pensacola volunteer project? Click here to find out more and to register.

top of page

Industry News and Updates 

  • TripAdvisor’s 2012 Industry Index shows what 9,441 hotel owners and managers predict for their hotel’s profits, job creation, property investments and marketing strategies. The takeaway: They expect a slightly better economy and more free Wi-Fi.
  • While two-thirds of surveyed travel brands report using social media initiatives, more than half struggle to measure its effectiveness. Click here for ways to track ROI, and here and here for additional tips on marketing through Facebook and Twitter.
  • Forty-one percent of U.S. adults who travel spend the majority of their vacation budget on "obligation trips:" reunions, weddings, etc., according to Most (89 percent) would add a leisure trip if they had the time and money.

top of page

NTA Job Center

Academic Travel Abroad has an opening for the Director of Client Services, responsible for the day-to-day operations of the ATA Client Services Department (CSD). This department has a dual function of sales and customer service, booking callers onto programs for National Geographic Expeditions, AMNH Expeditions, Professionals Abroad and other ATA client organizations, as well as preparing and serving guests already booked on ATA programs. CSD currently has a nine-person staff and handles sales, pre-departure preparation and operations for hundreds of groups each year. The director facilitates communications between ATA’s clients and CSD staff on a daily basis, ensuring that all client needs and concerns are met in a timely manner while making sure that delivery of a high level of customer service and quality of work are the core of all that CSD does.

Skills and experience in the areas of sales and account management, customer service and team management are required.  A facility with technology is important to success in this job. Excellent benefits are provided, starting with five weeks of paid time off.

Please send your resume and cover letter, as well as salary history, to Kate Simpson at by February 22, 2012.  Beyond that date, please e-mail Kate to make sure applications are still being accepted before submitting your resume. See the full job description here.

top of page

Share on Facebook

Click here for the Tuesday archive. MomentumBannerBigger

« »