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Travel exec sees reasons for optimism for agents -- and tourists

L.A. Times Travel Show

February 22, 2013|By Catharine Hamm
  • John Severini, the president and chief executive of the California Travel Assn., speaks at the L.A. Times Travel Show at the L.A. Convention Center.
John Severini, the president and chief executive of the California Travel… (Jason La / Los Angeles Times )

“We are in a fantastic place.”

John Severini, the president and chief executive of the California Travel Assn., might have been talking about the state (and he did) but he was also talking about the outlook for travel agents and other travel providers. They were his audience Friday for his keynote  address at the Trade Day part of the Los Angeles Times Travel Show. The show continues for the public on Saturday and Sunday.

Severini was optimistic about the state of the  industry, saying he expected a “pretty good year” for travel agents and travel providers. And he was enthusiastic about an influx of $150 million that will be used to promote the United States as a destination among citizens in foreign countries.

But that’s inbound travel. How does that help those concerned with outbound travel?

“You are going to see a landslide of international tourists visiting Southern California,” he said. The dollars they spend, Severini noted, help people who live in those communities -- and bolstered by those dollars, residents in those communities may, in turn, spend their dollars on travel.

Besides tips that will help build business, he also suggested that agents might be able to help consumers zig while others zag.

His fall trip to the Middle East, where headlines included a rocket attack in Israel and continued problems in Egypt and Jordan, suggests that destinations that get bad press can be vacation havens, a notion with which budget travel experts agree. Eager for those tourist dollars, travel providers can provide a more personalized travel experience (fewer people means more attention in, say, a group tour). And sometimes discounts and incentives will be available.

“Be aware of the emerging markets, the destinations that come back,” Severini  told the group, a bit of advice that also applies to travelers. “You want to be on the cusp.”

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