National tourism association announces plans for annual meeting in Coachella Valley

National tourism association announces plans for annual meeting in Coachella Valley

The United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA) announced today that it has selected the Palm Springs Desert Resorts as the site for its November, 2008, annual meeting. The four-day event is projected to attract more than 700 domestic and international travel buyers and sellers, representing over 40 countries.

“This is a major achievement for our destination, given that the more than $1 billion of new product that is presently emerging in the desert will for the most part be complete by the end of 2008,” said CVA President/CEO Jeff Beckelman. “The potential exposure and new business contacts that will come to us through the USTOA event are literally overwhelming.”

Rob Bernheimer, Chair of the CVA’s Joint Powers Authority Board and Mayor of Indian Wells, noted, “This is an especially impressive group of decision makers who we believe will help to create future business. The CVA’s strong business relationships in the domestic and international tourism industry continue to allow us to attract the attention of organizations like USTOA, which work to benefit the entire valley.”

USTOA President Robert Whitley, who was in the desert May 15-17 to tour destination and potential site hotels for the event, said the desert was chosen because of the excellent collection of resorts and product that are ideal for the USTOA conference.

“It has been twenty years since we held the last USTOA conference in the desert, and I know our delegates will be excited to see all the changes and developments that have occurred,” Whitley said. “I am pleased to be working with the Palm Springs Desert Resort Communities CVA and the local tourism industry, as I know they will do a great job of hosting our conference. It is a tremendous opportunity to showcase the area.”

Attendees at past USTOA Conferences have included representation from Abercrombie & Kent, Collette Vacations, First Choice Holidays, GoGo Worldwide Vacations, Mark Travel, and Tauck World Discovery.

The 2006 USTOA Conference was held in Phoenix, Arizona, and was the largest conference in USTOA’s history The event consisted of 780 domestic and International travel buyers and sellers, representing over 65 countries. Approximately 150 (20%) of the total number Past site cities for the annual event have included Banff, Bermuda, Cancun, Hawaii, Kauai, Las Vegas, Maui, Miami, New Orleans, Orlando, Scottsdale, and Whistler. The 2007 conference will be held in Cancun, Mexico.

The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) is a professional association representing the tour operator.. industry. It is comprised of companies whose tours and packages encompass the entire globe and who conduct business in the USA. Per a recent survey, USTOA companies move more than 10 million passengers annually and account for an annual sales volume of more than $8 billion.

USTOA was founded in 1972 by a small group of California tour operators who were concerned about tour operator bankruptcies. These founding members recognized the need for a unified voice to protect the traveling public, as well as to represent the interests of tour operators. In 1975, USTOA became a national organization with-headquarters in New York.

USTOA members are among the top names in travel and represent the entire spectrum of vacation packages and tours available today. Member companies are responsible for the majority of tours and vacation packages sold by travel agents in the USA.

Active Members of USTOA (tour operators) must have a total of 18 references from a variety of industry sources and financial institutions and must meet specific minimums in terms of tour passengers and/or dollar volume. The company must also be in business at least three years under the same management in the USA and must carry a minimum of $1,000,000 professional liability insurance.

Due to the strict guidelines for membership, the number of travel companies comprising USTOA membership is relatively small, at 50 members, representing more than 125 brand names. They are, however, among the most influential in the travel industry.

The Palm Springs Desert Resort Communities Convention and Visitors Authority (CVA) is a Joint Powers Authority that serves as the primary coordinating agency for sales, marketing, and promotional efforts aimed at potential tourism, corporate, incentive and convention group markets. The CVA is dedicated to a program of work to benefit and promote the hospitality industry in the member cities in Riverside County, which include Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert, Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage.

Copyright Desert Publication, Inc. and Sharon Apfelbaum May 22, 2007

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