America welcomes the world

MORE than 6,000 international buyers, media and suppliers descended on Denver, Colorado last month for the 50th annual IPW trade show, hosted by the US Travel Association. The event first started in a small hotel in New York in 1969 under its former name of Discover America International Pow Wow, and has grown 40-fold from about 150 delegates to its current enormous scale. Australia’s Visit USA committee had a significant presence, with a 50-strong delegation which hosted one of the “must attend” events to kick off the show — attended by several hundred US suppliers keen to leverage the strong Australian market.

Denver also pulled out all stops to welcome visitors, with a succession of parties, receptions and other functions which truly wowed the crowd. Even the lunchtime entertainment in the massive ballroom at the Denver Convention Centre was outstanding, with the first day featuring iconic 80s party band the B52s, followed the next day by performers from no less than five Broadway musicals who flew to Denver to present highlights of their shows. Denver’s Mile High Stadium was the venue for one of the lavish evening events providing guests with a true taste of Colorado including line dancing, native American performances and the enigmatic “DJ Yeti” (that’s right — a performer who stands at the mixing deck dressed like the Abominable Snowman), and to top it all off the closing function took place at the city’s famous Red Rocks Arena, an incredible outdoor concert venue where attendees were treated to a performance by Denver-based music superstars One Republic.

A huge variety of new product was unveiled, with tourism infrastructure development clearly on the agenda for many cities, states and regions across the USA. New York’s burgeoning Hudson Yards precinct was unveiled ahead of its formal opening in March 2019, and is set to become a new tourist drawcard with a host of galleries, restaurants and public spaces located at the end of the already hugely popular High Line. There’s a huge amount of development and investment going on in New Orleans, while other cities and regions highlighted during IPW press conferences included California, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Anaheim, which will host IPW next year.