The travel industry is making progress.

As many as 5,000 people from 60 countries gathered for the IPW in Florida. It was the first time back in the U.S. for many of the people who attended. Over the three day event, there were 77,000 appointments.

The U.S. Travel Association said that IPW brings $5 billion in future travel to the US.

The event where we bring the largest buyers of travel from all over the world to meet with the American sellers of travel was canceled in 2020. It's the eighth time it's been here, but the enthusiasm is amazing. We're close to where we were in the beginning of the year. For a year and a half and two years from now, these people will put together a brochure for people to read and then sell them to America.

After 17 years at the U.S. Travel Association, he will be stepping down this summer. His peers in the industry praised him for his hard work and said that U.S. travel and tourism wouldn't be where it is today if not for him.

While thousands of travel industry professionals gathered to network with fellow peers, attended learning sessions and make new connections, the Pandemic kept them from setting a record. Over 6000 people have attended this event. This year, key markets from Asia are not present.

The U.S travel and tourism industry is still hampered by the pre-departure testing rule. Many more industry buyers and sellers from around the world would have been here if not for that.

The U.S. Travel Association wants the inbound testing rule removed. Many in the travel industry would like to see it lifted, and that's why the team has stayed on top of it.

In the travel business, we're nice, but on this, we're turning up the heat. It's causing so many people not to have jobs, so many to not come to America, and there's no logic here. We're going to get more aggressive. We've been nice, but now is the time to turn it.

New National Tourism Strategy and Forecast

The new National Travel and Tourism Strategy for the United States was unveiled by Grant Harris, the assistant secretary of commerce for industry and analysis.

There are four pillars to the travel tourism strategy. Promoting the United States as a travel destination, facilitating travel to and within the United States, ensuring diverse, inclusive and accessible travel experiences, and fostering resilient and sustainable tourism are all part of the plan.

The Department of Commerce is working with Brand USA to increase inbound visitors to the US.

An updated international travel forecast was released by the U.S. Travel Association, which predicts 65 million international arrivals in the next five years. The U.S. Travel Association predicts that international arrivals and spending will recover to their previous levels by the year 2025.

The projections from economists are not accurate.

Travel and tourism won't be back until at least 2025. For a number of reasons, I'm not buying that. The demand for leisure is high. There has been an increase in leisure travel in the US. Business travel is returning. More than half of the people that were meeting before are showing up. There is a big opportunity outside. Once we get rid of the day before requirement to be tested for COVID before you get on a flight to the U.S., other countries aren't doing it, the UK isn't, the EU isn't, and Canada isn't. If you don't change that, we're going to stay home.

If the pre-departure testing requirement were removed, the United States could gain an additional 5.4 million visitors and $9 billion in spending.

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Travel professionals network on the trade show floor at IPW 2022 (photo by Eric Bowman)

Florida in the Spotlight and Thriving

The most popular state for travel and tourism is Florida. Dana Young, Visit Florida President & CEO noted how important it was to be hosting IPW in her state and said that the state has the highest domestic visitors it has ever seen.

Young told TravelPulse that Florida views international tourism in a positive way. Tourism is our number one industry and we are thrilled to have the world back. We feel like Florida is a great place to hold IPW because we have never closed during the Pandemic.

Florida is ahead of every other state in terms of inbound market share, according to Young. Our market share for inbound international travel is up to 44.6%, which is massive, as the highest ever was 34% held by New York.

The theme park capital of the world is often referred to as the host city's chance to highlight the variety of experiences available in the area.

"IPW is an opportunity to bring the world to our own backyard and really showcase all the things there are to do and see in Orlando," said Casandra Matej, VisitOrlando President and CEO. The energy level, the interest in learning about the destination as well as all the new things that are happening here feel like pre-pandemic times.

Making International Connections

United States tourism desperately needs international travelers to keep making trips to the country in order to recover from the Pandemic.

Adam Burke, the President and CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, told TravelPulse that international travelers are crucial to his destination and that making the connections here this week will go a long way.

Burke said it was good to be back and to see the amount of participation.

After the past few years being back in person, there's nothing to replace this face to face, and for Los Angeles it's one of the most critical factors to our recovery. One in four of the 31 million overnight visitors were from the international market. Even though they represent 25% of the visitor volume, they represent over 70% of all overnight visitor spending. We won't see full economic recovery in LA without the full recovery of international visitor arrivals. It shows that we're starting our comeback story in a big way when we're in person with so many people.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority's Vice President of Marketing and Sales echoed those thoughts.

According to Brunelle, pre-pandemic we had 5.7 million international visitors to Las Vegas, accounting for 13% of all visitors. It is a crucial component to have that return to the destination.

Spending on international travel is important to her.

The international market is important to Central Florida. It's one of our top markets and as we know the international traveler, they stay longer they spend more money, and they enjoy an entire region when they're in the US, so it's absolutely important that we get that full recovery from the international market.

The Importance of Travel Advisors

The importance of travel advisers to the industry is one of the important messages being shared here.

Chris Thompson, Brand USA President & CEO, said that the show is all about the travel trade. I have a warm spot in my heart for the travel trade because they are always very critical to the process even for experienced travelers. The role that the travel trade can play in helping people get back to travel is as important as it has ever been.

Young said that people are relying on travel advisors more than before because of the swine flu.

Since I've been in this career, I've never heard of the demise of the travel agent. The travel professional is going to be in more demand than ever because of the complexity of protocols of airfares and so the travel agents that differentiate themselves on being experts and not just booking a single flight are going to flourish

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Marc Anderson, President & CEO of Visit San Antonio, talks to the media at IPW 2022 (photo by Eric Bowman)

Looking Ahead to IPW 2023

San Antonio, Texas will host IPW for the first time in its history.

The U.S. Travel Association books IPW several years in advance because cities need to plan in advance. How they would host is one of the things that cities bid on.

San Antonio made a bid to get it in the future. It's going to be a big deal because it's never been there. San Antonio has a lot to offer and it's going to be a big opportunity. There will be a lot of pre and post trips to San Antonio, so you can bet Travel Texas and Dallas, Fort Worth and all those people are going to be showing people what they have to offer.

During an "unprecedented time of change and growth for our city", the president and CEO of Visit San Antonio stated. We are a historic American destination with deep Texas roots but exciting things are happening as we look into the future. San Antonio is full of people.

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