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Branson News ...page two

Branson NewsPrevious Page Press Room

SURVEY SHOWS AMERICANS WILLING TO PAY HIGHER COSTS FOR TRAVEL SERVICES THAT PROTECT AND PRESERVE THE ENVIRONMENT

WASHINGTON, DC -- In a landmark study, the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) has documented the strong feelings U.S. travelers have about preserving the natural environment as well as history and culture. The report called, Geotourism: The New Trend in Travel, showed that more than three-quarters of American travelers feel it is important that their visits not damage the environment. And 62 percent say it's important to learn about other cultures when they travel. Furthermore, 38 percent of travelers say they would pay more to use a travel company that strives to protect and preserve the environment. The two-part study was sponsored by National Geographic Traveler and is the first to define geotourists as specific psychographic groups and also begin to track their preferences.

“This type of examination of U.S. travelers’ awareness, habits and attitudes has never been done before. In so many aspects the U.S. traveler impacts the tourism industry worldwide—but especially financially,” noted Dawn Drew, vice president and publisher of National Geographic Traveler. “It is important that the industry begin to understand what interests and motivates these individuals to spend more and to select destinations and businesses in the travel industry.”

There are more than 55 million Americans that can be classified as Geotourists. Geotourism encompasses all aspects of travel – not just the environment. Its definition—tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of the place being visited, including its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents—describes completely all aspects of sustainability in travel, and hits all of the definable touch points associated with providing the authentic travel experiences that travelers demand today.

“We found that millions of travelers, or geotourists, are aware of travel companies that practice sustainable tourism and they’re poised to support the travel industry’s geotourism efforts with their travel dollars,” remarked Dr. Suzanne Cook, senior vice president of research for the Travel Industry Association of America. “In fact, many of them would be willing to pay a premium for travel services from companies that engage in geotourism practices.”

MAJOR TRAVEL INDUSTRY VICTORY IN WASHINGTON; TIA PRAISES ADMINISTRATION FOR PASSPORT EXTENSION

WASHINGTON, DC -- The travel industry praised the Administration’s move to postpone for one year a new rule requiring international travelers from Visa Waiver countries to have high-tech machine-readable passports to enter the U.S. The announcement Wednesday evening from the State Department follows a major industry-wide lobbying campaign by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) and several other industry organizations and companies. Visitors from 21 of the 27 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program now have until October 26, 2004 to obtain a new, machine-readable passport.

Although all Visa Waiver countries have begun issuing these new passports, most would not have been able to achieve 100 percent coverage by the October 1, 2003 deadline that had been moved up from the original 2007 date. Five of the eligible Visa Waiver countries did not need the extension because their citizens all have machine-readable passports. The travel industry argued that the new deadline could have cost hundreds of thousands of visitors and millions of dollars in revenue, at a time when inbound international travel to the U.S. is already down significantly. TIA and others in the industry have been working closely with the Departments of State and Homeland Security to make sure that new security measures such as this one achieve the proper balance between homeland and economic security.

“Extending the MRP deadline for these twenty-one countries is one of the most significant actions by the Bush Administration to bolster the U.S. travel industry as we seek to recover from a series of tragedies and challenges,” said William S. Norman, president and ceo of the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA). “TIA and its members are grateful to Secretaries Powell and Ridge for their decisive leadership in extending this deadline and removing a barrier that would have significantly deterred international travel to the U.S.”

All 21 Visa Waiver Program countries granted the postponement were moving toward broader distribution of the machine-readable passport requirement but it had become obvious that the task would take far longer than the October 1, 2003 deadline. TIA and several other industry organizations had been very concerned that travelers from a number of these countries would have experienced difficulty in traveling to the U.S. because of this deadline. TIA appreciates not only the Administration's action on this matter, but the efforts by so many travel industry organizations and individual companies that lobbied the Administration and Congress on this important matter.

“Once again, the U.S. travel industry has demonstrated that it can achieve significant victories in Washington when we are unified and resolute,” said TIA's Norman.

The following twenty-one countries now have an October 26, 2004 deadline at which time they will need to present a machine-readable passport for admission to the U.S., or have an older style passport along with a U.S. visa: Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The following five countries did not apply for an extension since virtually all their citizens currently have MRP's: Andorra, Brunei, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Slovenia. Belgian travelers entering the U.S. have had to present an MRP beginning May 15, 2003 as part of an earlier review of that country's procedures with regard to passports and document security.

ALBUQUERQUE, PITTSBURGH AND HAWAII WIN 2003 NATIONAL TOURISM AWARDS FROM TIA

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Greater Pittsburgh Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau were recognized with 2003 Destiny Awards for Marketing Programs, Special Projects and a Judges’ Special Recognition, respectively. The Destiny Awards are awarded by the National Council of Destination Organizations (NCDO), an industry council of the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA). All three destination marketing organizations received their awards during the closing ceremony concluding TIA’s annual Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO) in Asheville, NC.

The Albuquerque CVB received the Destiny Award in the Marketing Programs category for its “Albuquerque…It’s A Trip” campaign. The campaign was designed to position Albuquerque as a great tourism destination by refreshing its image and conveying the true essence of the city. The campaign was so successful it substantially exceeded the goals outlined in the four stated objectives. The judges were impressed with the use of solid research from the beginning planning stages to measuring the final results. An additional strong factor was the use of the clever creative in all advertising mediums for a completely integrated campaign. It is “a successful model of complete branding,” said one judge.

The Greater Pittsburgh CVB won the Special Projects category of the Destiny Awards for its “Pro Cabbies” training program. While hospitality-training programs are not new, Pittsburgh put a different spin on the concept that has instilled a sense of pride and professionalism in the area’s cabbies turning them into frontline ambassadors for the destination. The program included classroom sessions with a “Faces Not Fares” training module, a host of collateral material and resource information, incentives for participating, and a reward component based on customer comments. Over seven months, 288 drivers completed the program. The fact that the program was funded entirely through sponsor participation was an impressive feature.

The Hawaii VCB’s program, “Sharing Aloha” could not be defined appropriately by a marketing or special projects category, but was deserving of recognition. Therefore, it was awarded a Judges’ Special Award in honor of its altruistic, public-spirited goals. The program offered free vacations in the Islands of Hawaii to the September 11th rescue workers and their families as a way to demonstrate the gratitude of the people of Hawaii for their bravery and sacrifice during a difficult time. From December 2001 through the following December, Hawaii hosted 1200 families and the program, which featured no marketing or advertising campaigns, was developed solely for humanitarian purposes, not for publicity or personal recognition.

TRAVELERS WHO VISIT THEME AND AMUSEMENT PARKS PROVE TO BE A LUCRATIVE MARKET
TRAVELERS' DESIRE TO EXPERIENCE HISTORY AND CULTURE STRONGER THAN EVER

WASHINGTON, DC -- A new study from the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) and Smithsonian Magazine shows continued and growing interest in travelers' desire to experience cultural, arts, historic and heritage activities. Study results, as reported in The Historic/Cultural Traveler, 2003 Edition, show that a remarkable 81 percent of U.S. adults who traveled in the past year, or 118 million, are considered historic/cultural travelers. These travelers included historical or cultural activities on almost 217 million person-trips last year, up 13 percent from 192 million in 1996. (A person-trip is one person on one trip traveling 50 miles or more from home, one way.)
"The sheer volume of travelers interested in arts and history, as well as their spending habits, their travel patterns and demographics, leaves no doubt that history and culture continue to be a significant and growing part of the U.S. travel experience. This is a market to which the travel industry needs to pay close attention in the future," said William S. Norman, president & CEO of the Travel Industry Association of America.
These travelers also spend more money on historic/cultural trips compared to the average U.S. trip (average $623 vs. $457, excluding cost of transportation), making historic/cultural travelers a lucrative market for destinations and attractions. In fact,
for 30 percent of historic/cultural travelers, their destination choice was influenced by a specific historic or cultural event or activity.
"This survey confirms that travel is one of the most satisfying ways to fulfill cultural yearnings," said Amy Wilkins, Publisher, Smithsonian Magazine. "We know that our readers are hungry for new experiences and rely on our magazine to be inspired."
Compared to the average trip in the U.S., historic/cultural trips are more likely to be seven nights or longer and include air travel, a rental car, and a hotel stay. Historic/cultural travelers are also more likely to extend their stay to experience history and culture at their destination. In fact, four in ten added extra time to their trip specifically because of a historic/cultural activity.
Travelers within the U.S. are able to choose from a tremendously diverse number of historic and cultural activities, an important note as historic/cultural travelers want to enrich their lives with new travel experiences. Most agree that trips where they can learn something new are more memorable to them. Over half say that they have hobbies and interests that have an influence on where they choose to travel.
Many historic/cultural travelers agree that trips that include cultural, arts, historic, or heritage activities or events are more enjoyable to them (39%) and that they prefer to visit destinations that have some historical significance (38%). Three in ten (29%) agree that it is important that the trips they take for vacation or leisure provide cultural experiences. A select group feels that a leisure or vacation trip away from home is not complete without visiting a museum, historic site or landmark (26%) or attending a cultural event or arts performance (17%).

Top Ten Cities Visited ByHistoric/Cultural Travelers
Washington, DC
New York, NY
Chicago, IL
Boston, MA
Las Vegas, NV
Norfolk, VA
Atlanta, GA
Orlando, FL
San Francisco, CA
Los Angeles, CA

Source: Travel Industry Association of America/ SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE

TIA is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the $552 billion travel industry. TIA's mission is to represent the whole of the U.S. travel industry to promote and facilitate increased travel to and within the United States.

TRAVEL INDUSTRY APPLAUDS STEVENS' AMENDMENT

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) praised the U.S. Congress for including $50 million in the FY ’03 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which will provide initial support for an international marketing campaign to promote travel to the U.S. As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska led the effort to include this vitally important provision in the bill. The House and Senate passed the bill on February 13 and the President has already pledged to sign it.

The Stevens provision calls for the creation of the United States Travel and Tourism Promotion Advisory Board, to be appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. TIA has long argued for the need to create a sustained, unified campaign to effectively promote the U.S. in key inbound markets around the world. A unified campaign would enable the 95 percent of U.S. travel and tourism organizations that officially qualify as small businesses to leverage their limited resources to accomplish collectively what no single organization can do on its own.

“TIA is delighted that Congress recognizes the value of investing in inbound tourism and we feel that this amendment is an important first step in creating a multi-year sustained coordinated national campaign to promote the U.S. internationally,” said William S. Norman, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association of America.

For a number of years following the 1995 White House Conference on Travel and Tourism TIA has laid the groundwork for the introduction of legislation to establish a long-term privately managed, public-private partnership to promote the United States as the world’s leading travel destination. A program to brand, position and promote the USA was launched that has blossomed today into a national brand, SeeAmerica, and a national consumer web site, SeeAmerica.org. An infrastructure of staff in Washington DC, London, Tokyo and Sao Paulo was established and a wide range of research, communications and cooperative marketing, advertising and promotional initiatives were created that have engaged hundreds of industry partners. These private sector efforts are designed to counter stiff government-funded competition from abroad and prove what the industry can accomplish with limited resources. A partnership with the federal government will be necessary to be fully competitive.

“Without a national promotion campaign, we cannot reasonably expect to reverse the 30 percent decline in market share that the U.S. has suffered since 1992 and the $154 Billion in revenues and 230,000 American jobs that have been lost,” said current TIA National Chair John Marks, President and CEO of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Travel and tourism is 6.0 percent of U.S. non-farm employment, yet it has suffered a staggering 29.7 percent of total job losses since 9/11. It will take a sustained, coordinated effort to climb out of this hole,” Marks continued.

The concept of investing in a public-private partnership to create jobs and grow tax receipts by increasing international travel to America has been endorsed by the Southern Governors’ Association, Western Governors’ Association, National Council of State Tourism Directors and the National Council of Destination Organizations, as well as countless other industry organizations.

TIA and its members look forward to working with the Secretary of Commerce to launch the effort to encourage more international visitors to See America and with Congress to put a multi-year program in place to carry on this important work.

SINGLES TAKE 27 PERCENT OF ALL U.S. TRIPS

WASHINGTON, DC -- Single households generated 152 million trips in the U.S. in 2001, according to a new study by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) entitled Travel Through the Life Stages. By definition, Single households are comprised of persons who are single that may live alone or with a roommate. They do not necessarily take trips alone. Single traveling households account for 32 percent of all U.S. households and they generate 27 percent of all domestic trips. TIA’s study also compares the travel characteristics of Singles to two other life stage groups: Couples and Parents.

TIA’s study further segments the Singles category as follows: Young Singles (ages 18-34), Middle Singles (ages 35-54), Older Working Singles (age 55+ and employed) and Older Retired Singles (age 55+ and retired).

FACTS ABOUT YOUNG SINGLES
FACTS ABOUT MIDDLE SINGLES
FACTS ABOUT OLDER WORKING SINGLES
FACTS ABOUT OLDER RETIRED SINGLES
TRAVELERS WITH DISABILITIES COULD SPEND $27 BILLION PER YEAR, SAYS NEW HARRIS INTERACTIVE POLL

Washington, DC -- The Open Doors Organization in cooperation with the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) and the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (SATH) released a landmark study on the spending trends and market scope of U.S. resident travelers with disabilities. The study, conducted by Harris Interactive, polled 1,037 people with disabilities. The major findings of this groundbreaking study were released on January 16, 2003 at the 7th Annual SATH World Congress in Miami.

The study suggested that people with disabilities could spend at least $27 billion per year, if certain needs were met. These include a "meet and greet" at airports and preferred seating as top issues for the airlines while lodging issues include the need for rooms close to amenities and staff members that go out of their way to accommodate guests with disabilities. People with disabilities spent $13.6 billion on 31.7 million trips in the past year. The modifications suggested by the survey could increase expenditures by people with disabilities by 100 percent per year.

In 2001, the airline industry saw $3.3 billion in spending by travelers with disabilities, resulting in 52,800 jobs created to provide services for people with disabilities. The lodging industry saw $4.2 billion in spending and 60,000 jobs. The study also suggested that people with disabilities could at least double their spending generating $6.4 billion for airlines and $8.4 billion for lodging if the needs of travelers with disabilities were addressed. Currently travelers with disabilities generate a total of 194,000 travel-related jobs, $4.22 billion in payroll and $2.52 billion in tax revenues in the U.S.

The study was conducted to measure general travel behaviors including how often people with disabilities travel, with whom they travel, how much they spend while on the road, the mode of transportation and accommodations used, and on which sources of information they rely to make decisions. The study provides information that travel industry and related businesses will find invaluable as they seek to stem large losses following the terrorist acts of 9/11/01 and a soft economy. The upside potential for both the economy and the travel industry is highly significant. TIA participated in the study in a consulting capacity, advising in the questionnaire design and validating the study and its findings against TIA's substantial market and economic research resources for the U.S. travel industry.

The Open Doors Organization is a not-for-profit corporation founded for the purpose of teaching businesses how to succeed in the disability market and to provide direct support to people with disabilities. The organization creates comprehensive programs and services that offer training and consultation and market statistics to both the public and private sectors.

VALENTINES NEWS: ROMANTIC TRAVEL POPULAR WITH AMERICANS

Washington, DC -- More than 42 million Americans say they have taken at least one trip in the past year to attend a wedding, go on a honeymoon, or celebrate an anniversary, according to research released today by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA). This equates to 20 percent of all U.S. adults traveling for romance-related purposes in the past year.

"We suspected that this market was big, but we were surprised at just how big it really is," said Andrea Stueve, TIA's Director of Marketing and International Research. "The wedding- and anniversary-related travel market offers tremendous opportunities for travel industry suppliers, especially destination marketing organizations."

In a survey of 1,300 U.S. adults conducted in January, TIA found that romance-related travel is most popular among Baby Boomers, as four in ten (41%) romance travelers are age 35-54. One third (33%) of these travelers are Generation X and Y travelers between the ages of 18 and 34. Not surprisingly, the majority of romance-related travelers are married (67%). Many of these travelers (38%) have above-average annual household incomes of $50,000 or more.

In addition, the survey showed that people living in the South (35%) are more likely than those living in the West (24%), Midwest (26%), and Northeast (15%) to have taken such romance-related trips in the past year.

TIA is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the $584 billion travel industry. TIA's mission is to represent the whole of the U.S. travel industry to promote and facilitate increased travel to and within the United States.

NEW SURVEY FINDS THAT TRAVEL MEDIA PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN VACATION PLANNING

Washington, DC -- Newspaper travel sections, travel-related web sites, consumer travel magazines and other travel media have a powerful influence over the way Americans plan and chose their vacation travel, according to a newly-released survey conducted by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA).

The survey of 1,300 U.S. adults, conducted in July, found that 61 percent of travelers (82 million U.S. adults) said they read articles about travel or destinations in the media, or watch or listen to travel shows on TV or the radio. This is up from 55 percent of travelers who said they used travel media last year. The survey only asked respondents about unpaid, editorial travel coverage in the media. They were not asked about advertising.

The survey also found that there is a correlation between people learning about a destination in the travel media and contacting that destination for more information. According to the survey, 37 percent of travelers said they have ever contacted a destination after they read or heard about it in the travel media and 34 percent said they have ever visited a destination they learned about in the travel media.

In addition, travelers who read about restaurants, hotels, museums, theme parks and other attractions that are featured in a travel article or program are more likely to take in those sites when they visit the destination. According to the survey, 51 percent of travelers said they have ever visited an attraction, theme park or museum that was featured in the travel media. Forty-eight percent have eaten in a restaurant that was profiled and 41 percent of travelers said they have attended a cultural event or festival that was mentioned in a travel article.

"The figures show beyond a doubt that newspaper travel sections, travel magazines, television travel shows and travel web sites all play an important role when Americans plan their vacations," said William S. Norman, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association of America. "Clearly it pays to have your destination featured in a travel media, but even if your attraction, restaurant, or hotel is only mentioned in a travel piece the resulting business makes it worthwhile."

When travelers were asked what media they used in the past year to plan their vacations, 40 percent said they used an Internet web site for travel planning making the Internet the most used source for travel news and information. Twenty-six percent of travelers said they used a motor club magazine and 25 percent said they read the newspaper travel section. The next most popular travel media were television travel shows (20%), travel guidebooks (17%) and general interest magazines (17%). In all, respondents were asked about 13 different types of travel media.

However not all media are equal in the minds of U.S. travelers. The survey found that of all the types of travel media available, Internet web sites were considered to be the most useful. Twenty-four percent of media-user travelers said they found the Internet most useful, while 16 percent rated motor club magazines most useful and 10 percent rated newspaper travel sections most useful.

As for credibility, 60 percent of travelers who relied on the media say that consumer travel magazines are extremely or very believable, followed by 57 percent for motor club magazines and 53 percent for travel TV shows. Other credible travel media include newspaper travel sections (47%), membership publications (46%), travel guidebooks (43%) and general interest magazines (43%).

POPULARITY OF WEEKEND TRAVEL GROWS

Washington DC -- Half of all U.S. adults take at least one weekend trip* per year, according to the latest Travel Poll by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA). That’s almost 103 million adults who find themselves on the road for at least a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night stay. Almost 30 percent of Americans have taken five or more weekend trips in the past year and 35 percent say they’ve taken their children with them during weekend travel.

“The rise in weekend travel is directly tied to our busy, fast-paced society,” remarked William S. Norman, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association of America. “Families, from the children to the parents, are juggling heavy work and social schedules which makes it difficult to carve out a full week or two for vacation. But they feel vacations are an important part of their lives, so they compromise by taking multiple, shorter trips throughout the year.”

The rising interest in weekend travel may also be due to Americans’ increasing desire to try new activities and visit new destinations on a regular basis. Shorter trips allow travelers a chance to enjoy new adventures with a minimal outlay of time, vacation days and finances.

With 52 weekends a year to choose from, travelers have the flexibility to make spur-of-the-moment decisions about going away. Four in ten (42%) weekend travelers make last-minute plans and select their destination within two weeks of their trip. Nearly 20 percent of weekend travelers selected a destination three to four weeks before traveling. Another 38 percent plan ahead—selecting a destination more than one month before the trip. A small share (4%) of weekend travelers claim they chose their destination one year or more before the weekend trip. Last-minute planners are twice as likely as those who selected a destination more than two weeks in advance to have taken five or more weekend trips per year (40% vs. 21%). Over half (53%) of weekend travelers with annual household incomes between $50,000 to $74,999 make last minute plans, a higher share than those with household incomes of $75,000 or more (32%) or under $50,000 (40%).

Thirty percent of weekend travelers say they took advantage of discounts, coupons, or special offers while planning or while on their most recent weekend trip. Friends, family, or co-workers (20%) are the most popular source for such offers, followed by web sites (17%), and travel guides, books, or magazines (16%). One in ten say they found out about special offers or discounts by reading newspaper travel sections (11%) and/or by making phone calls to or visiting an airline, hotel, car rental, or other travel company (9%).

Compared to five years ago, day trips and weekend trips appear to be more popular today than trips lasting about one week or longer. In fact, forty percent of weekend travelers report they are taking more day trips and/or weekend trips (38%) today than five years ago. Interest in longer trips lasting more than one week seems to be declining—43 percent of weekend travelers claim they are taking fewer long trips than they did five years ago.

Traveling by car (74%) is the most popular mode of transportation for weekend trips, followed by air (16%). Rental car (2%), bus (2%), train (2%), or ship/boat (1%) are other modes. Weekend travelers most often (47%) stay at a hotel or motel, while 33 percent stay with friends or relatives. Some travelers lodged in a cabin, condominium, or vacation home (7%) or a camper, trailer, recreational vehicle, or tent (5%).

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