United States Travel and Tourism Promotion
Minutes of Meeting
Monday, September 8, 2003
Ellis Island, New York
Board Members Present:
James A. Rasulo, Chair, and President, Walt Disney Parks &
Noel Irwin Hentschel, Vice Chair and Chairman & CEO, AmericanTours
Manuel Cortez, President & CEO, Las Vegas Convention &
Charles A. Gargano, Chairman & CEO, Empire State Development
William Hyde, Jr., President & CEO, Ruth's Chris Steak House
Jeremy Jacobs, Chairman & CEO, Delaware North Company
Jonathan Linen, Vice Chairman, American Express
J.W. Marriott, Jr., Chairman & CEO, Marriott International,
Henry Silverman, President, Chairman & CEO, Cendant Corporation
Manny Stamatakis, Board Member, Philadelphia Convention &
Barry Sternlicht, Chairman & CEO, Starwood Hotels &
Robert Taubman, Chairman & CEO, The Taubman Company
Scott Parven for Glenn Tilton, United Airlines
Jonathan Tisch, Chairman & CEO, Loews Hotels
Chris von Imhof, Board of Directors, Alaska International Airport
Donald E. Evans, Secretary of Commerce
Linda M. Conlin, Assistant Secretary for Trade Development
Doug B. Baker, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Development
Helen N. Marano, Director, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries
julie p. heizer, Deputy Director, Industry Relations, Ofc. of
Travel & Tourism Industries
Cary Justice, Special Assistant
Ginny Ward, Communications Specialist
- Welcome and Introduction of Secretary Evans
The Honorable Linda M. Conlin
Assistant Secretary for Trade Development
- Opened the meeting by thanking all assembled for their
efforts in making the meeting and other activities possible.
- Thanked the Advisory Board for having agreed to serve.
- Introduced Secretary of Commerce, Donald L. Evans,
saying that he oversees a diverse Cabinet responsible for promoting
and advocating for American business, both at home and abroad.
He is a key member of President Bush's economic team, advising
the President on many issues, including trade, business concerns,
energy policy and overall U.S. economic policy. His primary
mission in government is to create a climate in which the U.S.
and global economies can grow.
- Overview of Travel and Tourism
The Honorable Donald L. Evans
Secretary of Commerce
- Acknowledged the setting, thanking all appropriate
attendees for their hard work, efforts, and willingness to serve.
- The travel and tourism industry will face several challenges
in reviving tourism.
- One of the hardest hit sectors of the economy post 9/11.
- In 2001, international arrivals were down 16%. Down 12% in
2002, and down again in the first six months of 2003 by 8%.
- Since 1989, travel and tourism has produced the fourth largest
trade surplus of the nation's economy.
- In 2002, 42 million international visitors spent $84 billion
- The travel and tourism industry employs 17 million people
who rely on a strong, vibrant, stable and growing industry.
- President Bush signed the Omnibus bill into law to
show his support of the travel and tourism industry.
- Acknowledged and thanked Senator Stevens and his team
for the work they did in getting the $50 million appropriated.
- This campaign will provide an opportunity for Americans
to showcase the strength of the nation - the spectacular things
to see and do only being surpassed by her people. International
visitors should come to the United States to meet and interact
with its wonderful citizens.
- The campaign will initially target five countries:
Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom.
- These five countries have historically provided the
largest numbers of visitors to the United States.
- New security requirements should not be a challenge
for them as three of those countries participate in the Visa
Waiver Program (Germany, Japan, United Kingdom), and the entry
procedures for visitors from Canada and Mexico will not change
- The message is clear: The United States is alive and
well and open for business. This message is meant for friends
anywhere in the world - not just for those from the five key
- Commerce Department staff will be soliciting proposals
from and contracting with companies specializing in public relations,
advertising and media. Those organizations will work closely
with the Department and the Advisory Board to develop themes
and strategies for each of the key markets.
- 80% of the funds will be used for the national campaign,
and 20% will be used for local grants. The Department will solicit
applications for these grants this fall.
- Commerce will be working to partner with destinations
and private sector organizations to leverage additional dollars
for this program.
- Brief Statements from Chair and Vice Chair of the Advisory
James A. Rasulo, Chair
President, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
- Thanked President Bush, Secretary Evans, and the Members
of Congress for their vision in making the $50 million available
for this first-ever campaign.
- First time in American history that such a high-level
board has been assembled to boost international travel and tourism,
the first time a comprehensive marketing and communications
plan has been proposed, and the first time Congress has backed
so much funding for such an effort. He said he could sum up
the board's response in just five words: "We will justify
- Jobs - retention and creation -- is one of the reasons
this project is so important. The industry is a major engine
of economic growth and remains the largest services export.
International visitors spend nearly $100 billion dollars in
- Travel and tourism has sustained major blows this past
two years, and, as a result, international travelers are choosing
destinations other than the United States. The future of the
industry, and of the American economy, depends on this group
developing a program that will generate more international travel
to the U.S.
- The program will be a smart, focused approach that
will leverage the $50 million for much more that will give the
industry an even greater impact. The Board will look for participation
and cooperation from companies around the world - including
tour operators, travel agencies and partners - along with the
Visit USA Committees and commercial service officers.
- The mission is clear: To go in search of ways to convince
more international visitors to come to America. The journey
begins buoyed by a vote of confidence from President Bush, Secretary
Evans and the Congress.
Noel Irwin Hentschel, Vice Chair
Chairman and CEO, AmericanTours International
- As the nation's largest Visit USA tour operator, AmericanTours
International has brought more than 20 million visitors from
over 70 countries to the United States over the past 26 years.
- Tour Operators and Visit USA Committees in the U.K.
and Germany say there is tremendous pent-up demand to come to
America, and the tour operators in these and other markets are
ready to invest substantially in promoting the United States.
- While the initial focus is the five key markets, it
is vital to expand to other markets to spread the "Welcome
to America" message.
- Must grow the $50 million in seed money to $150 million
or more in order to succeed.
- The industry needs a permanent allocation from Congress
that will ultimately encompass many more countries. A successful
public-private partnership will make this objective a reality.
- America needs Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the media
and the rest of corporate America to form major strategic alliances
with the travel and tourism industry and donate their talents
and resources to this campaign, including earned media opportunities.
- In his September 7th address, President Bush thanked
American men and women in uniform on the front lines of freedom
in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not everyone can serve in that way,
but this campaign offers Americans from all industries the opportunity
to serve the cause of freedom and to help create more jobs.
- Other countries are aggressively marketing their destinations.
They may have a head start on America, but America has the diversity
of experiences like no other and is a rich "repeat"
- AmericanTours International brought the 25 leading
tour operators from around the world to Washington, DC as "Friends
of America," and to get their advice and commitment. The
message: The campaign must begin as soon as possible and welcome
visitors with open arms to America, irrespective of political
differences. It must be an emotional message. As Secretary Evans
said, we must ask visitors to "feel America."
- Insights from a Territory's Perspective
The Honorable Felix Camacho
Governor of Guam
- Governments of Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern
Marianas Islands (CNMI) had signed a first-ever joint agreement
to market tourism cooperatively, instead of competing against
one another for visitors.
- Guam and CNMI's primary markets are Japan, South Korea,
Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as American military personnel
based throughout Asia.
- Geopolitical tension, SARS, etc. have caused sharp
declines in tourism numbers, and a series of natural disasters
has had an even further devastating effect on both territories.
- Guam and the CNMI's visitor marketing funds are dependent
on hotel occupancy rates. As a result of recent events, budgets
are down 28%.
- Japanese outbound visitor numbers are down from 5.29%
- Unemployment in Guam was down 13% in 2002. With the
decline of visitor arrivals, the number of jobs in Guam has
also declined. 5500 jobs have been lost since 2002.
- Guam and the CNMI have intensified their public relations
outreach in Asia, hosted familiarization tours for the travel
trade to help educate them about the appeals of both areas,
and solicited grants to enable them to further increase their
efforts. Their tactics have been program focused, which has
caused spikes in arrivals, but has not created sustainable results.
- Asked Board to give serious consideration to Guam and
the CNMI as it makes its program decisions. Both territories
showcase the heritage and culture of the United States, and
could serve as a bridge into Asia for this program.
- Comments/Questions from the Public
The Honorable Linda M. Conlin
- Manny Witt, Director, New England Tourism Center,
announced that he had brought copies of "A Canadian Guide
to Increasing Tourism to the U.S.A." for members of the
Advisory Board to consider. (Copies of this report are attached
to these minutes.)
- Matt Bates, representing the Visit USA Association
of the United Kingdom and the Visit USA Europe offices (a consortium
of 10 Visit USA Committees), through which 80% of the lift into
the United States was represented, was pleased with the key
markets that had been announced, and urged the Advisory Board
to please remember the smaller markets. He said just a little
money spent in the smaller markets could go a very long way,
and pointed specifically to Belgium, one of the fastest growing
markets in the world. He announced that the Visit USA committees
throughout Europe and the U.K. were very willing to help get
this campaign spread "far and wide," and they would
look forward to working with the Advisory Board in any way they
- Kevin Scott, EDS, asked if the advertising campaign
would be limited to television. Chair Rasulo answered that it
was too early to say, but that he felt effective communication
takes all kinds of forms.
- Next Steps
- Chair Rasulo announced that he was recommending the
development of three sub-committees of the Advisory Board, and
asked the members to serve as follows:
- Program Measurement/ROI Sub-Committee. Chair: Glenn Tilton.
Members: Jeremy Jacobs, Barry Sternlicht, and Charlie Gargano
- Marketing/Communications Sub-Committee. Chair: Jay Rasulo.
Members: Bill Hyde, Bill Marriott, Bob Taubman, and Chris von
- Strategic Alliances/Partnerships Sub-Committee. Chair: Noel
Irwin Hentschel. Members: Manny Cortez, John Linen, Henry Silverman,
Manny Stamatakis and Jonathan Tisch.
- Meetings will be held on the second Monday of the month.
Next three meetings: October 13 (in Washington, DC), November
10 (in Washington, DC) and December 8 (location tbd).
- Requests for public comment at future meetings should be
provided to julie heizer at the Office of Travel and Tourism
Industries, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th & Independence
Avenue, NW, Room 7025, Washington, DC 20230. The fax number
is 202.482.2887. Requests for time to make public comment
during meetings must be made 24 hours in advance of the meeting.
Public comments must be limited to three (3) minutes in order
to allow for the maximum number of speakers. Written comments
can be sent to julie, or e-mailed to: email@example.com.
- Board Discussion
Mr. James Rasulo
- Jonathan Tisch suggested that in order to maximize
relationships wherever possible, the Advisory Board must continue
to utilize the Tourism Policy Council and its members. Further,
the Board needs to work with the State Department to keep our
borders safe and secure and to find the balance between their
mission and the Board's mission.
- Barry Sternlicht asked is there was a goal for the
start-up of the program or for spending the $50M. Chair Rasulo
responded that there is no "end" date on the monies,
so there's no challenge with making sure the $50M gets spent.
However, he acknowledged that international travelers' booking
windows were now much shorter than had previously been the case,
and booking patterns vary from market to market. As a result,
he would like for the front end of the program to be in place
by the end of the first quarter of this fiscal year (12/31/03).
In answer to a question about using original or stock video
footage in the program, he responded that there was likely sufficient
stock footage available to piece together whatever visuals would
be needed to build the appropriate message.
- Charlie Gargano asked if the Advisory Board would be
involved with the development of the RFPs. The Chair responded
that nothing was yet in place, but he thought the Marketing/Communications
sub-committee should take that on right away.
- Linda Conlin said that there would obviously be challenges
involved with the development of the program, and the Department
would be looking to the Board to come up with the appropriate
strategies needed to successfully implement the campaign.
- Mr. Sternlicht asked if there would be different campaigns
for different markets. Mr. Rasulo said he envisioned varying
campaigns, as well as varying roll-out timing based on the differences
in the travelers in each market and their travel booking and
- Manny Stamatakis asked about the length of future meetings.
Mr. Rasulo said he felt that if meetings weren't at least a
½- to a full-day in length, it would be difficult to
get productive results.
- Ms. Hentschel pointed out that timing would be critical
in the marketplaces, particularly with respect to tour operator
partners, many of whom have already committed to spending money
to partner with us in this campaign.
- Mr. Rasulo said that the $50M should be looked at as
seed money to leverage other monies from the private sector,
international tour operators, destination marketing organizations,
- On behalf of the National Restaurant Association and
its 870,000 restaurant members, Bill Hyde thanked the President
and the Board for the work it was about to do. Restaurants employ
11.7 million people, and as such, are the single biggest private
sector employer in the United States. He and his fellow NRA
members are looking forward to welcoming international visitors
to their establishments as a result of the work of this Advisory
- Mr. Rasulo asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting.
Mr. Gargano moved the meeting be adjourned. Mr. Silverman seconded
the motion. Motion to adjourn accepted unanimously.
- Meeting was adjourned at 12:10 p.m.