The intensity of Brand USA’s Beyond the Gateways campaign—trying to get overseas travelers to visit non-gateway, second-and-third tier U.S. destinations—is more apparent than ever in the number one overseas source market for inbound tourism: the United Kingdom. As long as Inbound has been following the travel trade news outlets in the UK, it has never seen anything like the level of boosterism that has been urging travel agents to register for next month’s second annual USA mega FAM, which will break down a total of 100 agents into seven groups and take them on itineraries that will cover destinations in 22 states—about half of which have never been included on a Brand USA-sponsored fam before. The entry period for registering for the mega FAM ended April 3, following a two-week flurry of notices from trade journals urging agents to make sure that they have entered the pool of registrants. The mega FAM takes place May 14-21.
But the mega FAM is just one of the channels promoting the Beyond the Gateways campaign. The Visit USA Association UK, in its Travel News USA e-newsletter, devoted the landing page of its current issue to current products that, with the exception of some generic Visit USA pitches, plugged destinations such as Oklahoma City, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, and Dutchess County, New York. (Hyde Park, in Dutchess County, is both the birth place and resting place of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd U.S. President.) Featured product that highlighted non-gateway itineraries included the following:
- “The REAL Deal! Or Cowboys & Indians—Kansas and Oklahoma,” from Complete North America, USA & Canada Travel Specialists, is a 14-day itinerary that takes travelers to and through Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Lawton, Fort Sill and Sulphur, Oklahoma; and Wichita, Cottonwood Falls, Manhattan and Lawrence, Kansas. (www.completenorthamerica.com/cowboys-and-indians-kansas-oklahoma-tulsa-wichita-lawrence-fort-sill/)
- Bourbon Country, which moves visitors along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail through the heart of bourbon country and stop in on eight of the state’s distilleries such as Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam and Woodford Reserve. Guests are able to experience the bourbon making process, view the facilities set in beautiful surrounding landscapes, and stick around for after-tour tastings of the best Kentucky bourbon. (http://www.kentuckytourism.com/dining/bourbon.aspx)
- A Self-Drive 17-Day Route 66 Tour— from £1,729 ($2,580) per person—from American Sky USA Holidays & Tour Specialist (www.americansky.co.uk). The self-drive itinerary takes travelers on a journey that includes through the classic Route 66 destinations that include: Chicago; Springfield (IL); St Louis; Springfield (MO); Oklahoma City; Amarillo; Santa Fe; Albuquerque; Holbrook (AZ); Williams (AZ) ; Las Vegas; and other stops before ending the trip with two nights in Santa Monica—the official end to U.S. Route 66.