This Just In
  • Messe Frankfurt acquired the Thailand Lighting Fair and Thailand Building Fair. Messe has been with the shows since they launched in 2015.
  • JW Marriott will open the 4,000-room Drew Las Vegas in 2020 at the site of the stalled Fontainebleau hotel project on Las Vegas Blvd.
  • Denver OK’d contracts for a $233-million expansion featuring an 80,000-sf rooftop ballroom and terrace at the Colorado Convention Center.
  • The latest numbers rank NAMM’s 2018 show the largest in its 117-year history with more than 115,000 attendees and nearly 2,000 exhibitors.
  • The deadline for nominations for Trade Show Executive’s Trailblazers Awards has been extended to March 16. Got to TSE Events for info.
  • International Assoc. of Amusement Parks and Attractions President and CEO Paul Noland has resigned. CFO Hal McEvoy steps in temporarily.
  • The Aria Resort & Casino $170-million expansion in Las Vegas adds 200,000 sf of flex meeting space, raising total space to 500,000 sf.
  • Gary Musich announced his retirement as Vice President of Sales for Meet AC effective March 2 after 25 years representing Atlantic City.
  • The San Diego Convention Center named ON Site, a GES company, its exclusive sound and rigging vendor and preferred audio visual provider.
  • Board members of UK-based UBM have accepted an offer from Informa for a reported 3.8 billion pounds ($5.3 billion).

Group Launched to Combat Declines in International Travel, Spending

Sandi Cain
, News Editor
January 16, 2018
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Washington, D.C. — In response to reports of declining international travel to the U.S., a new group called the Visit U.S. Coalition was launched on Jan. 16 through the U.S. Travel Association (USTA). 

The number of international travelers to the U.S. has declined 6% over the past two years, and those who are still arriving have been holding their wallets more tightly over the past three years. Inbound travelers posted a 3.3% drop in visitor spending for 2017 (through November), according to data from USTA and the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

The U.S. was one of only two destinations in the top dozen global markets to see a decline in long-haul inbound travel since 2015, according to the USTA, a nonprofit that represents the travel industry and tracks travel and spending trends in order to determine any changes that need to be made. The only other country to see a decline in international travel in the same time frame was Turkey. 

The Visit U.S. Coalition includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ASAE, SISO, IAEE and several national associations. It aims to bring together travel industry leaders seeking ways to partner with the Trump administration in an effort to reverse an overall 4% decline in international visitors in 2017. Overall international travel to other destinations is up 8%. 

The USTA said this is the first drop in more than a decade despite growth throughout the rest of the world. “This is troubling,” said USTA President and CEO Roger Dow in a conference call announcing the new coalition. “We haven’t emphasized a welcoming message of late, and that needs to be turned around,” he said. 

The spending drop translates to losses of about $4.6 billion within the U.S. and affects roughly 40,000 jobs, according to the BEA report. That’s a reversal from the previous five years, when travel was one of the bright spots for the U.S. economy, generating a $7 billion trade surplus in 2016. The industry also supports 1.3 million jobs — jobs that cannot be exported overseas.

While some of the inbound travel decline can be attributed to a strong dollar, an extended and severe hurricane season and the ‘travel ban’ implemented last spring that affected selected countries, it is alarming to industry officials who have joined the new coalition in the hopes of reversing the trend. The primary message will be “Closed to terrorism but open for business.”

A few participants in the conference call likened today’s circumstances to the drop in the number of international visitors after the terrorist attacks of September 2001. Geoff Freeman, President and CEO of the American Gaming Association, said, “We recovered [then] but trends are reversing again [and] the U.S. needs to avoid a repeat of this devastating past.” Twenty percent of the visitors to Las Vegas are international, he added. 

Reach Roger Dow at (202) 408-8422 or; Geoff Freeman at (202) 552-2675 or

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