Discover America Canada held its annual general meeting on Wednesday (March 31), welcoming just over 50 attendees from all walks of the travel industry into a virtual forum via Zoom.
For many in attendance, the online gathering was a full-circle moment given that last year’s AGM – held at The University Club of Toronto on March 11, 2020 – was, in many ways, the last major industry event to take place, in person, before the COVID-19 pandemic closed borders and brought travel to a halt.
“Who knew we wouldn’t see each other again for over a year?” said President of Discover America Canada Susan Webb, who, yesterday, was elected to the Discover America Committee Canada board for another two years.
Webb was quick to address the situation regarding the Canada-U.S. border, which has been closed to non-essential travel for more than a year now.
“We do all feel badly that the border is still closed, but there are very positive indications now as vaccinations are rolling out so quickly in the U.S. – which is awesome – and now so in Canada, at a quicker rate,” said Webb, who is also owner and president of VoX International.
“We’re really feeling that that will help us open up the borders and [allow Canadians to] travel into the U.S. That is what we’re all working towards.”
Discover America Canada is a “small, but mighty” organization whose mission is to provide a networking forum for the exchange and collaboration of marketing strategies in order to increase awareness of and build Canadian tourism to the United States, Webb said.
Members, who are based in Canada and the U.S., are from all sectors of travel, from DMOs and destinations to attractions and hotels to tour operators, airlines and rail companies.
Despite the many challenges in 2020, Discover America Canada was still active in various capacities throughout last year.
In May, for instance, the organization hosted a virtual event featuring Jennifer Hendry, a senior researcher for the Conference Board of Canada, who shared new and revealing statistics on Canadian outbound travel to the U.S.
That same month, Webb, on behalf of Discover America Canada, was a guest on Pax Global Media’s PAX Live talk show in an episode that looked at how travel to the United States might take shape once the Canada-U.S. border re-opens. (Watch it here).
IPW is a go
Speaking of events, IPW, a big-time annual international travel trade show hosted by the U.S. Travel Association in partnership with Brand USA, is a go, live and in person at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, this Sept. 18-22.
Buyer and press registration for IPW 2021 is open and organizers say the event has been "redesigned and reimagined with fully-integrated health and safety measures," which includes a redrawn show floor to ensure adequate spacing.
A webinar about this year’s event was held on March 31 to outline further details.
“Obviously things like the big lunches and big events will be very different,” Webb said, noting how IPW will host their opening night gala at the new Resorts World hotel in Las Vegas.
Discover America Canada typically hosts a reception for IPW’s Canadian contingent prior to opening night, but Webb said this is pending as it may depend on how many Canadian delegates decide to travel in September.
Attendees at Wednesday’s AGM were also treated to a keynote address by Drew Dudley, a dynamic speaker and best-selling author who spoke on thought-provoking ways to “unlearn dangerous lessons” about leadership.
As one who travelled extensively before the pandemic, Dudley noted how “there’s a long line-up of us out there who cannot wait to start coming across that border,” calling the United States “basically 50 countries in one.”
“If anything, perhaps, the last year has reminded us of how lucky we are to do what we do,” he said.
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