Industry News 3-30-2007

*A380 Touches Down at LAX
*Overseas Travel to U.S. Declining

A380 Touches Down at LAX

The world’s largest commercial airliner, the 555-seat Airbus A380, landed in Los Angeles on March 19. Dignitaries on hand for the historic arrival included Los Angeles mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Airbus North America chairman Allan McArtor and Wally R. Mariani, senior executive vice president, Qantas Airways, The Americas and Pacific. Qantas is the first airline scheduled to bring the aircraft to LAX.

“Los Angeles has always played a leading role in the advancement of aviation, so it is fitting that Los Angeles International Airport hosts the first U.S. visit of the next generation of aircraft,” said Villaraigosa. McArtor added, “LAX is a preferred international gateway to the U.S. West Coast for the world’s airlines. We are extremely impressed by the mayor’s determination to ensure that his great city and this great airport is ready for the A380.”

Seven Airbus customers plan to operate the A380 at LAX, and the airport has been working to prepare the airport for its arrival.

“Qantas is pleased to continue its long tradition of industry leadership and aviation innovation by being the first airline to bring the A380 aircraft to LAX, an important gateway for our operations in North America,” said Mariani. New-generation engines, combined with an advanced wing and landing gear design, make the A380 much quieter than today’s largest airliner. The Airbus A380 will have better fuel efficiency and emit less air pollutants than the current large aircraft.

Overseas Travel to U.S. Declining

Figures just released from the U.S. Department of Commerce show that America’s travel economy continues to lose millions of overseas visitors, costing America billions in revenue.

“We have lost nearly 60 million international travelers since 9/11 and the problem is only getting worse,” said Geoff Freeman, executive director of the Discover America Partnership, a coalition of American business leaders working to strengthen America through the power of travel. “As travel around the world skyrockets, the U.S. is mired in a slump. It is time for Congress to address this growing problem in a way that both strengthens our security and improves the efficiency of the travel process.”

The Department of Commerce figures reveal that overseas travel to the U.S. remains below pre-9/11 levels in six of the top eight overseas markets. Travel to the U.S. in 2006 fell further in five out of the top eight overseas markets. A 2006 survey of overseas travelers conducted by the Discover America Partnership found negative perceptions of the U.S. entry process to be the greatest deterrent to visiting the country.

While the overall number of international visitors to the U.S. finally returned to pre-9/11 levels in 2006, travelers from Canada and Mexico account for the increase. Overseas travel has declined by 17 percent since 2001. The Discover America Partnership launched in September 2006 by a group of business leaders and travel industry leaders, is a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy campaign designed to educate policymakers on the power of travel; highlight the unnecessary obstacles to welcoming more visitors; and determine how the U.S. can better compete for international visitors.

Tourism Cares Announces Winter Grants

Tourism Cares has awarded $70,000 in grants to seven nonprofit organizations across the globe for Winter 2007. Because most of the recipients have matching funds, the total economic impact of the grants will be $120,000, said executive director Bruce Beckham. As part of its mission, Tourism Cares distributes grants three times a year to worthy nonprofits worldwide. The organization extended its scope for the first round of 2007 with four of the seven grants going to overseas sites.

The Winter 2007 grant recipients include:

Heritage Watch, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; $10,000:Program at Angkor World Heritage Park educating visitors on how to save Cambodia’s archaeological heritage. The Jerusalem Foundation, New York City, N.Y.; $10,000: Project to conserve rare mosaics and frescoes in a second-century Roman villa near the Ein Yael Living Museum in Jerusalem, Israel

The Mountain Institute, Inc., Kathmandu, Nepal; $10,000: Sacred Sites Trail Project to promote sustainable, community-based cultural preservation initiatives in the Khumbu Region near Mt. Everest in the Himalayas. Tourism Cares is a nonprofit organization with the mission to protect and enhance travel and cultural experiences through grants for historic sites, student scholarships for tourism’s future workforce and volunteers for the preservation and restoration of tourism-related sites.