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United States Flag Meeting Notes for the September 8, 2003
United States Travel and Tourism Promotion Advisory Board

Inaugural Meeting
Minutes of Meeting
Monday, September 8, 2003
Ellis Island, New York

Board Members Present:

James A. Rasulo, Chair, and President, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
Noel Irwin Hentschel, Vice Chair and Chairman & CEO, AmericanTours International

Manuel Cortez, President & CEO, Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority
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, Inc.
Henry Silverman, President, Chairman & CEO, Cendant Corporation
Manny Stamatakis, Board Member, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau
Barry Sternlicht, Chairman & CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts
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 Tourism Marketing

Distinguished Guests:

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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 in America.
      • 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 significantly.
    • 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 markets.
    • 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.

  3. Brief Statements from Chair and Vice Chair of the Advisory Board
    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 your trust!"
    • 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 this country.
    • 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" destination.
    • 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."

  4. 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% to 4.67%.
    • 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.

  5. 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 could.
    • 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.

  6. 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 Imhof.
      • 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:

  7. 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 holiday patterns.
    • 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, etc.
    • 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 Board.

  8. Adjournment

    • 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.