TITLE:				VISIT USA TOURISM CENTER -
				PROMOTION & MARKETING BUREAU	

SUBJECT COUNTRY (IES):		BELGIUM & LUXEMBOURG

POST OF ORIGIN:			BRUSSELS

SERIES:				INTERNATIONAL MARKET INSIGHT 

ITA INDUSTRY CODE:		TRA

DATE OF REPORT (YYMMDD):	000420

DELETION DATE (YYMMDD):		010420

AUTHOR:				BRIGITTE DE STEXHE

APPROVING OFFICER:		GEORGE KNOWLES

OFFICER'S TITLE:		COMMERCIAL COUNSELOR

NUMBER OF PAGES:		4

			

INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT, U.S. & FOREIGN COMMERCIAL SERVICE 
AND U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 1999.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 
OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES

Summary - During the General Assembly and the yearly 
workshop on March 9, 2000, the Visit USA Tourism Center 
introduced a new face and concept.

The Visit USA Tourism Center in Brussels is unique.  For 
approximately 20 years, it was the only privately funded 
U.S. tourism information center in the world accessible to 
the general public.  It has established itself as an 
efficient and effective attribute to the U.S. tourism 
industry in Belgium.  Today, there are nearly 200 
contributing members.

Recently, however, many members complained that they were 
not receiving a measurable return on their investment in 
the Center.  The General Assembly of Visit USA convened to 
specifically address this issue.  They responded by 
bringing in a new face and creating a new concept designed 
to increase the efficiency of the Center.  

The new face is in fact an old face that returned to the 
Belgian tourist world.  Mr. Steve Hellemans worked in the 
Belgian tourist industry for 15 years before he relocated 
to the United States in 1988.  He served as President of 
Welcome USA Tours, a successful receptive wholesale 
operator based in Orlando, Florida, for over 10 years.  He 
recently returned to Belgium to be the Director of the 
rejuvenated Center.

The new concept was revealed during a presentation at the 
general assembly on March 9, 2000.  The first step will be 
to change the name of the Center.  Instead of the Visit USA 
Tourism Center, which implies a classic tourism information 
distribution center, the new name will be the "Visit USA 
Promotion & Marketing Bureau."

Second, the Bureau has closed the public office at the 
Boulevard General Jacques but the fulfillment information 
office remains open and will be improving its services.  
All information can now be requested by the public as well 
as the travel professionals and their request will be 
responded to in the shortest possible time.

According to Mr. Hellemans, the Center has many brochures 
and information packets on U.S. destinations, with new ones 
arriving every day.  Under its new format, the Bureau will 
focus its resources and organize the material to provide 
greater accessibility.  All information will be kept in a 
detailed stock list that the public and industry 
professionals can receive upon payment of a small handling 
fee and post charges.

Third, the Visit USA Promotion and Marketing Bureau will 
begin to actively direct potential U.S. travelers to 
partners of the Bureau, including travel agent members.  
This should increase the measurable return the members 
receive on their investment.

Fourth, the Bureau will promote and intensify press 
relations.  The Bureau intends to publish weekly articles 
on American tourism destinations in local newspapers, 
magazines, and travel publications.  Also, newsletters will 
be mailed with every information request by the public or 
the travel industry.  

Fifth, in order to give travel agents the opportunity to 
expand or update their knowledge, the Bureau will promote 
"Travel Universities."  These will be designed as learning 
experiences where beginning and advanced agents can gain 
valuable sales and marketing information, explore 
briefings, and get feedback about new and trendy 
destinations.  Specialized guest speakers and informative 
sponsoring will provide the basis for this project.

In the near future, the Bureau intends to update their 
website and offer links to those that subscribe to the 
service.  This will eventually develop into a bookings 
engine for direct on-line information similar to the ones 
presented on the Florida Keys and Key West webpages.  The 
possibilities for information distribution in this forum 
are endless and make a publicly accessible office 
superfluous.  Instead of a rather passive brochure 
distribution center, the Bureau will promote services 
actively and every feedback, idea, or suggestion from any 
of the members or the public will be considered.  Mr. 
Hellemans asserts that the Bureau's aggressive new concept 
will ensure greater profitability for the Bureau and its 
members.  

The active members of the Bureau consists of 
representatives from the airline industry, car rental and 
cruise companies, local specialized tour operators, 
American receptive agencies, state and regional tourism 
offices, hotel chains, and marketing companies.

The newly elected members of the Steering Committee will 
help ensure that the new initiatives will be successful.  
They represent a cross-section of the tourism industry and 
will bring valuable experience from many different sectors. 

The newly elected members are as follows:

Mr. Peter Mathieu	DKT Travel		President
Mr. Bernard Guisset	United Airlines		Vice-President
Mr. Geert Raes		Wings `n Wheels		Treasurer
Mr. Joelle Dessard	Hertz			Secretary
Ms. Olga Jacob		American Airlines	Comm. Member 
Ms. Lynn Leysen		KLM - Alitalia		Comm. Member 
Ms. Patricia Schaumans	Express Tours		Comm. Member
Ms. Barbara Jacobs	Orlando & Rocky		Comm. Member	
	 		Mountain Promotion	
Ms. Kathleen Buyle	Avis			Comm. Member
Mr. Jacques Renard	Alamo			Comm. Member
Mr. Rudi Declerc	Sabena			Comm. Member
Ms. Brigitte de Stexhe	U.S. Embassy		Delegate
Mr. Steve Hellemans	Wasteels		Director

Any or all of these members are available for information 
at 02/648.40.22 or e-mail to info@visitusa.org or by visiting 
the website at www.visitusa.org.