Orlando is rolling out the red carpet this week as international travel buyers start arriving for one of the tourism industry’s most celebrated trade shows, the U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow.
Tourism businesses and agencies use Pow Wow to promote themselves and their destinations to foreign travel companies and tour operators, but historically the trade show is especially lucrative for the host city, which can showcase its tourist industry first-hand. For Orlando, whose home to the most popular theme parks in the world, this opportunity couldn’t be any more perfect.
While the show, based in the Orange County Convention Center, is relatively small in terms of attendance, it’s the quality, not the quantity, of the crowd that puts Pow Wow high on the priority list. Travel buyers from 90 countries are expected to attend. The event begins on Sunday but some of the 5,000 guests were expected to arrive on Friday night.
This year’s preparations in Orlando focused on giving delegates the royal treatment. About 250 volunteers are being enticed by free tickets to SeaWorld’s Aquatica water park as they help handle everything from customs at Orlando International Airport to directing visitors up and down International Drive. Local tourism officials planned to meet with Orlando taxi drivers to remind t hem of the long-term importance of these particular guests, and are encouraging other businesses to keep hospitality top of mind.
Orlando, which hosted Pow Wow in 2006, has a lot of new things to highlight this year, including Universal Orlando’s soon-to-open Wizarding World of Harry Potter, SeaWorld Orlando’s Aquatica, and Walt Disney World’s Toy Story Mania ride and American Idol Experience Show. New luxury hotels such as the 1,400 room Hilton Orlando next to the convention center and the Waldorf Astoria Orlando near Disney are likely to house many Pow Wow guests.
Disney, in fact, is the host of the kickoff event, an after-hours party Sunday in the Magic Kingdom theme park. Guests will get an overview from Disney’s “Imagineers” of the company’s planed makeover of Fantasyland.
“It’s an opportunity for them to experience our attraction and our food-and-beverage offerings,” said Bryan Malenius, a Disney spokesman.
Universal and SeaWorld are also hosting Pow Wow events.
With the world’s major theme parks, tons of shows and attractions and now the Pow Wow event, Orlando is sure to be jam-packed this coming weekend and next week. If you’ll be in town for this major tourism show, make sure you take advantage of the deals the theme parks are sure to be offering. And if you can, sign up to be a Pow Wow volunteer and enjoy free tickets to SeaWorld’s Aquatica. Now that’s a good deal!