Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Travel agents to get free
1-day neighbor island tours

Those who attend a November
convention get the gratis trips

Star-Bulletin Staff

To shore up its annual convention later this year in Hawaii, the American Society of Travel Agents is offering a free one-day tour of the neighbor islands to 1,500 visiting travel agents.

The tour will take place Nov. 7, toward the end of ASTA's 2002 World Travel Congress, which runs Nov. 3-8 at the Hawaii Convention Center.

Travel agents who opt for the tour can choose from a range of activities, such as a mule ride on Molokai, a snorkel cruise of Kauai's Na Pali coast or a round of golf on Lanai.

The point is to get the agents outside Waikiki.

"It's really to help the agents learn how to sell better," said Tony Vericella, president and chief executive of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.

ASTA has said its host cities typically receive a 15 percent to 20 percent bump in travel following the annual convention.

ASTA officials are hoping to get 3,000 to 4,000 of their 24,000 member agents to come to Hawaii for the convention.

So far, 1,500 members are booked to arrive, and officials are expecting many agents to sign up toward the end of summer.

"Everyone is waiting. Money is an issue to a lot of people," said Susan Tanzman, chairwoman of the 2002 Congress.

Registration is $379 for ASTA member agents and $465 for non-members.

Hawaii tourism companies are offering discounted room rates and amenities to agents, and the total cost for each agents' trip should come to about $100 per day, seminars included, said Tanzman.

ASTA has not held its major annual convention in Hawaii since 1981. Last year, ASTA's World Travel Congress was quickly moved to New York City from Seville, Spain, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

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