IPW 2024 kicks off at the Getty in L.A.

Brand USA President Chris Thompson says US tourism industry "has recovered"

The US Travel Association’s annual mega tourism summit, IPW – held in partnership with Premier Sponsor Brand USA – kicked off in grand style this morning in Los Angeles with a takeover event held at the Getty Center in the foothills of the Brentwood area of LA.

IPW 2024 will this week welcome 5,700 delegates — including 2,000 buyers and media from nearly 70 countries. LATTE is among the media attending from Australia.

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Speaking at the Getty Center this morning, Adam Burke, President and CEO of Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board said it was not accidental that this year’s IPW was launched at a museum of such significance, noting that “LA has emerged as one of the world’s leading arts and cultural capitals.”

Los Angeles now has more museums and performing arts venues per capita than any destination in the United States.

Born in Chicago and an adopted Angeleno of 30 years, Burke said one of the traits he loves most about Los Angeles is the “spirit of personal freedom and endless possibility that LA represents”.

“The best way I can put it is: If you can dream it, you can do it here.”

Speaking exclusively with LATTE this morning, Burke said Los Angeles Tourism is placing a massive emphasis on the Australian market this year, and believes Australia can cement itself as the number one overseas market for the the Californian gateway city.

Storytelling will form a major part of that focus, with around 20 media outlets from Australia and New Zealand also participating at this year’s show to amplify that message. Stay tuned for more details on this.

Burke extended thanks to his Los Angeles Tourism team and to Los Angeles’ broader tourism family that includes the tourist bureaus in Santa Monica, Marina del Ray, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Pasadena, noting “Collectively, we are all LA, we are all the LA experience.”

Caroline Beteta, President and CEO of Visit California (and the original interim President of Brand USA at its inception) confirmed her organisation would unveil its new brand campaign ‘ The Ultimate Playground’ at IPW in the next few days.

Caroline Beteta, President and CEO, Visit USA and Adam Burke, President and CEO, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board

Beteta said the Getty Center “personifies the ultimate playground.

“LA and the whole state is here to embrace our form of play and we want to share it with all of you and your clients globally.”

“Get ready to play,” Beteta teased. “It’s scientifically proven that the opposite of play is not work, it’s depression,” she quipped, “so we embrace play.”

Beteta added that California has 70 new hotels coming online in the near future that will add 81,000 rooms to the existing inventory. “We’re completely transforming California and it couldn’t come at a better time,” she added.

Also speaking at this morning’s launch was Geoff Freeman, President and CEO of US Travel Association who said IPW 2024 was one of the largest ever held and had one of the largest media contingents.

Freeman lauded US Travel Association’s partnership with Brand USA to elevate the showcase of America to another level. He applauded Chris Thompson, the departing President and CEO of 12 years, for his achievements and dedication to the position. Thompson will retire in mid-July.

Geoff Freeman, President and CEO, US Travel Association | Credit: LATTE

“Chris had done remarkable things over more than a decade at Brand USA, helping to build that organisation being in so many markets.”

Thompson admitted that his attendance this year, for the final time as President & CEO of Brand USA, was bittersweet.

He was confident to say he believes that the US travel industry is now in “the post-pandemic world.”

“I would say, full recovery.”

“We have more resources in the market this year than we’ve had in our history”.

Chris Thompson, outgoing President and CEO, Brand USA | Credit: LATTE

He continued: “Though we still have headwinds and we still have challenges, the state of the travel and tourism industry is really in a strong spot.

The demand around the world to make us one of the most, if not the most, aspirational in the world, is as strong as it’s ever been. When we were all penned up in our homes and otherwise dealing with a global pandemic we realised how important travel is to us.”

Thompson added that the recovery is not even around the world, but is “certainly strong.” He will dive deeper on those talking points and more later in the week.

Concluding, he said that Brand USA is in the best position “it’s ever been”, adding that he couldn’t be happier to pass the leadership baton of the organisation on to Fred Dixon, President and CEO of New York City Tourism in the coming months, and taking the brand to “greater heights.”

Stay tuned to LATTE for more news from IPW 2024.

Lead image: Captured by LATTE at this morning’s launch of IPW 2024 are Adam Burke, President and CEO, Los Angeles Tourism and Caroline Beteta, President and CEO of Visit California.

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