The Africa Travel Association(ATA) announced that Ambassador Bisa Williams, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of African Affairs of the US Department of State , and Mark Preston, Northeast Sales Manager of Destination Marketing at TripAdvisor, will headline the travel trade organization’s Seventh Annual U.S. – Africa Tourism Seminar. The stand – alone travel industry event will take place on Friday, February 21, 2014 at the Washington Convention Center, a day prior to the Washinton DC Travel and Adventure Show, a two day consumer expo.
Co-hosted once again by the African Union Mission to the USA and with the Travel & Adventure Show serving as Premier Sponsor, the event offers tourism industry leaders and professionals from both Africa and the USA the opportunity to network with fellow professionals interested in Africa and to meet the industry’s top decision – makers. It also offers participants the opportunity to learn about Africa’s destinations and their diverse services and products. In 2013, 150 participants attended the event, including representatives from more than twenty African countries.
The 2014 event supporters include presenting sponsor, South African Airways (SAA), and the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA), who will co – host lunch at the event. As a longtime member of ATA, SAA has participated in the U.S. – Africa Tourism Seminar since 2009.
During lunch, SAA will update attendees on its latest news, including route changes and enhanced partnerships. Expedia and APG Air Promotion Group USA Inc. are also sponsors.
During the opening plenary,Ambassador Williams, who is responsible for African economic policy issues and West Africa, will speak about US policy in Africa, focusing on the role of tourism. The plenary also includes remarks from seminar co-host, H.E. Amina S. Ali, Ambassador of the African Union Mission to the USA, ATA President, Hon. Walter Mzembi, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry of Zimbabwe ,John Golicz, CEO of UNICOMM – Travel and Adventure, and Edward Bergman, Executive Director of the Africa Travel Association.
Mark Preston of Trip Advisor,the world’s largest travel website with more than 125 million reviews and opinions by travelers, will deliver the industry keynote, speaking about best practices and product offerings for both the travel industry and consumer. Also, given that many ATA members in Africa are active smartphone users, he will speak about how Africa specialists can leverage Trip Advisor to build business and/or find services in a mobile space.
The ATA seminar, one of the largest Africa tourism – focused events in the USA, attracts a range of participants from both the USA and Africa, including travel agents and tour operators, DMO heads, government tourism leaders (ministers and tourism board heads), diplomatic community representatives (ambassadors and their staffs), Diaspora community leaders, NGO’s focusing on Africa and/or business, travel media, public relations agents, and faculty and students.
With a focus on the US market, participants will get an update on who is traveling to Africa, what they are doing, and where they are going from the Office of Travel & Tourism Industries at the US Department of Commerce. Updates will also be given on each region – North, South, East and Central/West. Speakers include representatives from airlines serving Africa, including APG Air Promotion Group USA Inc., Arik Air International USA, Delta Air Lines, Ethiopian Airlines, and South African Airways, and Africa specialists , including the Botswana Tourism Office , Egyptian Tourist Authority, Group IST, Infinite Safari Adventures, Palace Travel, Inc., Partner Concepts, LLC, Tanzania Tourist Board, The Bradford Group, and Warren Green and Associates.
Additional seminar highlights include spotlights on on-line travel with Expedia; food tourism with World Food Travel Association; poaching with Human-Wildlife Conflict Collaboration; education and training with the Africa America Institute; and storytelling through film with GLP Films. An on-site DJ from United Sounds of Africa, a music project that brings the best African music, vocalists, artists and composers together on a series of music platforms, will participate in the event.
Source: Travel and Tour World