ORLANDO — U.S. Travel Association’s IPW 2022, taking place this week in Orlando, will go down in history in more ways than one.
It’s not the first IPW since the pandemic started. That honour goes to the 2021 event, in Las Vegas, with 2,600 attendees from 52 countries.
But this is the first IPW since travel restrictions were lifted almost completely worldwide.
This also happens to be the last IPW with Roger Dow as President and CEO U.S. Travel Association.
Dow, a familiar face at IPWs through the years, says this will be his last IPW heading up U.S. Travel.
Dow’s long career has included leading U.S. Travel through the two-year pandemic, and just last week, reiterating the industry’s urgent call to the White House to end pre-departure testing requirements for inbound vaccinated international travellers.
Dow was in a reflective mood this week, addressing IPW 2022 delegates at the Orange County Convention Center.
“IPW has been held in Orlando many times, but it’s the first time since 2015 and you’re going to find out that this is a totally different location, with all the exciting growth and development in this area of Florida. This is my last IPW as leader of US Travel Association, but it’s so great to see you here back in Orlando, and have all my friends from around the world gather again.”
“A LOT OF SMILING FACES”
IPW showcases U.S. suppliers of USA travel products and destinations, and attracts international and domestic travel buyers and journalists representing more than 70 countries.
For decades IPW has been a can’t-miss gathering for so many in the travel industry worldwide, defying the odds even amid predictions that in-person conferences would soon be a thing of the past. IPW’s high energy and strong attendance keeps thousands of delegates coming back year after year.
According to organizers, as the leading inbound travel trade show, past IPWs have generated more than US$5.5 billion in future travel.
While the networking is a big draw, there’s something else about IPW that makes it a fixture on the industry calendar.
Chris Thompson, President and CEO, Brand USA, summed it up this way: “I’ve been here since Thursday night and seen it all come to life, I’ve seen the energy on the conference floor, and seen a lot of smiling faces. It should be a fun and productive few days.”
Thompson noted that this year’s IPW is in his own home state. “Last time IPW was here in Orlando, I’ve been told that was record attendance. Orlando certainly knows how to do it right. We were in Vegas last year which was a bit different because of the pandemic. I think this one in 2022 has got the best chance to have a bit of a look and feel of what we were looking at pre-pandemic.”
ORLANDO’S HIDDEN GEMS
IPW brings billions of dollars of travel-related revenue to the U.S., plus it’s a big boost for the host city too.
With its popular theme parks Orlando needs no introduction, but there’s so much more here than roller coasters and thrill rides.
Visit Orlando’s just-released new brand platform, ‘Unbelievably Real’, highlights not just the theme parks but also Orlando’s outdoor adventure, high-end dining and more.
Anyone who thinks they know Orlando should check out the tourism board’s list of hidden gems and other highlights beloved by locals. They include downtown Orlando’s Church Street District with its great restaurants, live entertainment, theatre and more. The Hourglass District is known for its craft beer scene, while The Milk District (near the T.G. Lee Dairy factory), sports high-impact colourful murals and unique shopping and dining.
And just minutes outside the city, there’s Lake Nona, College Park, Eatonville, Winter Park and more.
More travel ideas for Orlando can be found at visitorlando.com.
The opening event for IPW 2022 took place yesterday at EPCOT’s World Showcase in Walt Disney World. On June 7, there’s a Destination Downtown Orlando event. And to close out the show, on June 8 Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure will give IPW delegates a night to remember. More information is at IPWOrlando2022.com.