ALEXANDRIA, VA – “The International Destination Expo offers attendees a rare chance to learn about a country or region at a personal level, allowing them to come home with great insider tips to share with their clients,” said Chris Russo, American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) president and chair. “This year’s event was no different. The more than 1,200 people who came to Istanbul to attend the IDE were able to make life-long business connections that will benefit their companies and their clients for years to come.”
All told, 120 supplier companies (141 booths), were on hand to meet one-on-one with more than 1,200 travel professionals from 18 countries, as they gathered at ASTA’s recent International Destination Expo (IDE) in Istanbul, Turkey (April 19-22) to learn about the culture, attractions, and travel business of Turkey and its neighboring countries.
“It was a great pleasure to host the esteemed delegates from the International Destination Expo. Thanks to the enthusiasm, dedication, and hard work of the ASTA team, we had a successful show,” said Levent Demirel, deputy general manager of the Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism. “Thank you ASTA for all of your support and help. We are glad that our relations with the USA, our friend and strategic ally, are ever increasing in every field, including tourism.”
While travel agent delegates came from as far away as Vietnam and Thailand, more than half of those in attendance hailed from the United States. Overall, 33 percent of delegates were first-time attendees, 78 percent were making their first trip to Turkey, and 23 percent reported they had booked Turkey before.
Exhibiting companies, more than 90 percent of which were new to the event, included international tourist offices, hotel properties, travel and tour companies, and travel technology firms. The trade show hosted suppliers representing the various regions of Turkey and unique areas such as Palestine, Romania, and Kenya. In total, 17 countries were represented among the exhibitors.
This year’s International Destination Expo offered the delegates a chance to explore the wonders of Istanbul and Turkish culture. Tour participants saw, among other sites, the world famous Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, and the Topkapi Palace, while others learned about Turkish cuisine, Turkey’s myriad religious faiths, and the art of belly dancing.
ASTA’s IDE is an annual gathering of travel industry professionals, seeking to immerse themselves in the culture, food, and sightseeing of a unique destination, with the purpose of educating their clients about the region. To that end, 550 certifications were awarded during the event in such destination education courses as the Treasures of Southern Europe (Andorra, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Malta, Monaco, and San Marino) and Turkey, the Cradle of Civilization, as well as niche programs on faith-based travel in and around the Middle East and Holy Land, Mediterranean cruising, and culinary travel to Turkey.
Product seminars, which examined such topics as creating customized groups and FITs to Turkey, developing the perfect custom Turkey itinerary, and understanding and selling Turkey, were attended by more than 450 travel agents. Supplier seminars, which touched upon the subjects of growing a business with ASTA, working with US travel agents, and finding and working with home-based and independent travel agents, were attended by 300 exhibitors, while 75 people attended the International Travel Agents Summit.
Prior to the event, ASTA’s board of directors, which held its meeting April 18-19 in conjunction with IDE, was hosted at a lunch by the Foreign Economic Relations Board’s (DEIK) Turkish American Business Council (TAIK). The event, which was attended by numerous Turkish tourism interests, provided the chance for attendees to meet and discuss ways in which US and Turkish travel entities might better work together for mutual benefit. Haluk Dincer, chairman of the DEIK’s Turkish American Business Council, welcomed the group, which included Sharon Weiner, consul-general of the United States in Istanbul, as an honored guest.
For more information about ASTA’s International Destination Expo, please go to www.ASTA.org .