Eighty tour operators from 17 counties on 6 continents participated in the first Travel South USA International Showcase. The tourism marketing show was held in Atlanta last week and included a trip for a select group to Alabama afterwards.
Holding appointments with top tour operators at the show were Grey Brennan and Della Tully of the Alabama Tourism Department, Jason Wilson of the Back Forty Beer Company in Gadsden, Wayne Coleman of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Cynthia McIntosh of the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau, Steve Cox of International Expeditions tour company, Shawna Faniel of the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce CVB, Susann Hamlin and Ninon Parker of the Colbert County Tourism Bureau, David Johnson of Johnson Productions, Paige Mewes of Northeast Alabama Adventures, Roslyn Jones of The Outlet Shops of Grand River, Kelli Roberts of the Russell County CVB, Shirely Baxter of the Tuskegee Institute National Park Service, Tom White of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and Tina Jones of Tuscaloosa Sports and Tourism Commission.
Several Alabama hotel companies were at the show; Monica Pierce of Embassy Suites Hotels in Montgomery, Julia Robertson of the Hilton Garden Inn in Huntsville and Nanda Patel of the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Fort Payne.
Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell attended the show, representing both Alabama and the Travel South Board of Directors.
The Alabama Tourism Department produced a 24-page full size brochure for the show. The brochure featured a two-page spread on Huntsville, Muscle Shoals, Northeast Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Phenix City, Birmingham, Montgomery, Tuskegee & Selma, Mobile/Fairhope/Dauphin Island and Gulf Shores/Orange Beach. In addition, the Alabama Vacation Guide and State Highway Map included all other Alabama Tourism destinations.
In all, Alabama partners had some 200 appointments with top international tour operators, media and U.S. based receptive companies.
There were a group of 35 for a special Alabama dinner event at Atlanta’s oldest restaurant based brewery, Max Lager’s. Jason Wilson, Vice President of the Alabama Brewers Guild, explained to the group of international tour operators at the event that there are over a dozen breweries in Alabama, with at least one in each of the Alabama destinations attending the Travel South showcase.
Following the show, there were two groups that toured sections of Alabama on special FAM trips. A group Chinese tour operators went on a trip to Georgia and Huntsville, Alabama. Another group of Italian, German, Austrian, and United Kingdom operators, media and receptive companies were part of the Sweet Home Alabama FAM that included stops in Tuskegee, Montgomery and Birmingham.
The Sweet Home Alabama FAM group toured in a motorcoach from Spirit Coach of Huntsville that had large decals of Huntsville attractions on the side of the coach.
The 31st Annual Travel Showcase for domestic group tour operators will be held in L