Travel experts convene in Colorado Springs, discuss tourism

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More than 100 leading travel experts will be in Colorado Springs this week to discuss the biggest trends in the U.S. travel and tourism industry.

The U.S. Travel Association will hold its summer board of directors meeting at The Broadmoor  starting July 27.

“We are focused on two things: one is getting folks up to speed on the latest outlook in what is happening in the travel industry,” said Geoff Freeman, U.S. Travel Association executive vice president. “And, we will talk about what can be done to improve travel process, including efforts by TSA and reform to visas — that is a big focus for us in this industry.”

Expanding tourism is a top priority for El Paso County, as outlined in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Colorado Blueprint, a statewide economic development plan released this month. Freeman said there has been no greater champion of the tourism industry than Steve Bartolin, president of The Broadmoor. Bartolin’s efforts to encourage business travel during this economic downturn were one reason the U.S. Travel Association chose to meet in Colorado Springs, Freeman said.

U.S. Travel Association board members, who include representatives from companies such as Enterprise and Disney and representatives from destination cities, such as Las Vegas and Orlando, are expected to discuss new approaches that various sectors are taking to improve travel.

“They are all coming into Colorado Springs to discuss what is affecting the industry,” Freeman said.

Two big issues on the agenda are reform efforts by the Transportation Security Administration and reform in the current visa system to allow for more travelers to visit from China, Brazil and India — the world’s three biggest emerging travel markets.

TSA announced a pilot “trusted traveler” program, where certain frequent travelers of American and Delta Air Lines who travel through Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit and Miami will be eligible to participate in the pilot.

U.S. Travel has been actively lobbying for reform on both the TSA and visa issues and has made tremendous progress, Freeman said.