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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Travel South USA Launches International Showcase

New Boutique Marketplace Showcases the South to International Travel Buyers in 2012, 2013, and 2014

Atlanta – March 6, 2012 – International travel buyers and southern‐based travel suppliers will come together in Atlanta for the launch of a world‐class annual marketplace, Travel South’s International Showcase & Super FAM. The first showcase will take place Nov. 26‐29, 2012 at the Marriott Marquis Atlanta and is part of Travel South USA’s three‐year international marketing plan to grow the region’s share of international visitors.

Travel South’s International Showcase, sponsored in part by the Rhythms of the South Alliance, comes on the heels of the launch of Brand USA, a $200 million marketing campaign designed to position the United States as a top travel destination. The campaign has the potential to bring an additional $859 billion in economic output to the U.S by 2020.

“We support the ‘we can’t wait philosophy’ and believe hosting international buyers on our soil, to experience the authentic south is a crucial tactic in capturing more of the growing global marketplace,” said Deputy Commissioner, Kevin Langston, Georgia Department of Economic Development, Tourism Division and current Travel South USA International Marketing Committee Chair . “It is important that we coordinate the southern travel industry and present a united front in the international marketplace. The powerhouse marketing resources of other destinations must not overshadow our region’s ability to capture more international visitors. We are anxious to partner with Brand USA, where it strategically makes sense and leverage the interest in the USA to bring buyers to the South.”

Over the next three years, Travel South’s International Showcase is projected to help grow international visitation to at least 10 percent market share by 2015, representing more than 4.5 million visitors and billions in tourism export. According to the Economic Importance of Overseas International Travelers to the Travel South USA Region, a report presented by Tourism Institute at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, the southern region currently has about 8‐9 percent of the market.

For every $1 million in additional spending by international visitors, the southern region benefits with 11 new jobs providing $241,000 in worker paychecks, $88,000 in state taxes and $55,000 in local taxes. According to the current forecast from the US Department of Commerce, Office of Tourism and Travel Industries, the U.S. should see a three to five percent annual growth rates in visitor volume over the 2012‐2016 time frame. By 2016, this growth would produce 81 million visitors, a 36 percent increase and an additional 22 million visitors compared to 2010.

“With the opening of our new international terminal and the launch of Brand USA, Atlanta is well positioned to capture our fair share of this incremental visitation,” said William Pate, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We look forward to hosting Travel South’s International Showcase and the opportunity to highlight all that Atlanta offers to international travel buyers.”

The first International Showcase & Super FAM program will showcase the new International terminal at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport, scheduled for opening in spring 2012, to attendees. Super FAM offers include visits to Atlanta, Savannah, Charleston, Hilton Head Island, Myrtle Beach, the Antebellum Trail, Charlotte, Asheville, Nashville, Pigeon Forge/Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Chattanooga, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Mobile, Montgomery, and Birmingham. Future years will include programs in Nashville and New Orleans and will feature other destinations throughout the south by utilizing major gateway airports in Atlanta, Charlotte, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Memphis and Washington Dulles.

Registration will open in May 2012 and will be open to properly licensed international travel buyers and tourism suppliers in the Travel South USA member states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Visit www.TravelSouthUSA.org for more information.

Travel South USA is America’s oldest and largest regional travel promotion organization, formed in 1965 by resolution presented at the Southern Governor’s Conference. The long‐standing regional collaboration of the state tourism offices of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia provides a foundation which positions tourism as a vital and dynamic element in the region’s economic development. Tourism ranks throughout the region as one of the top three industries, behind manufacturing and agriculture, and is responsible for $122.6 billion in spending by visitors generating 1.37 million direct jobs, $29.7 billion in worker paychecks, and almost $16 billion in state and local taxes. For more information, visit www.TravelSouthUSA.com for consumer information and for travel industry information, www.TravelSouthUSA.org.

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