HOUSTON (August 25, 2016) – U.S. Travel Association President Roger Dow will be the keynote speaker at the second annual Houston Tourism Summit set for September 7.

Houston First Corporation and the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau host the day-long summit, which brings together hospitality industry professionals to network and learn from national and regional presenters. Last year’s inaugural summit drew more than 500 attendees to the George R. Brown Convention Center, where it will be held once again this year.

Seventeen tourism thought leaders from around the U.S. will present at the summit, including: Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer for New York City; Tom Kiely, executive vice president of Tourism Development for San Francisco Travel; and Marco del Rosario, global account manager at Google, among others.

“We began this summit last year with the intention of growing it slowly over the years, but what we found was there was a tremendous appetite among our members and constituents to learn more about how they can sell their product to leisure travelers" says Jorge Franz, senior vice president of Tourism for the GHCVB.  "Houston is at the perfect place and time to attract visitors looking for unique experiences that can only be found here.”

Those whose businesses are touched by leisure travel—from restauranteurs to hotel executives and transportation operators to bar owners—can learn how to maximize their reach with tourists and get a chance to hear about new resources being made available to reach their goals.

The summit is part of multiyear initiative unveiled in April 2015 to grow the volume of Houston’s visitors by 30% by 2018. In 2015, the city welcomed more than 17.5 million visitors, a 17% increase over 2014. The region is already one of the fastest growing destinations for leisure travelers, with 135,000 jobs tied to the hospitality industry, which contributes $17.2 billion to the local economy.

As head of the U.S. Travel Association Roger Dow represents an industry responsible for generating $2.1 trillion in annual economic output. Dow’s efforts working with the Obama Administration and Congress have resulted in major legislative victories for travelers. In particular, he was instrumental in establishing Brand USA, the highly effective national promotion program, which was reauthorized through 2020 by Congress. Additionally, Dow and U.S. Travel are both leaders of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition, which provides resources to promote and defend the value of face-to-face business meetings and travel on our economy.

“There’s no better person than Roger to give our local hospitality community a state-of-affairs status on national tourism,” says Mike Waterman, president of the GHCVB. “Roger has been instrumental in highlighting the value of leisure travel to the United States to key constituents and elected officials including President Barack Obama.”

The summit will take place September 7 from 8 am to 4:30 pm in the Grand Ballroom on the third floor of the George R. Brown Convention Center. The event is free to attend but registration is required. Click here for agenda and to register or contact Leah Shah or A.J. Mistretta (info below) if you wish to obtain media credentials.

About Houston First Corporation and Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau 
Houston First Corporation operates the city's finest convention and arts facilities to position Houston as a world-class destination. In 2014, Houston First and the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau aligned their operations to create a single clear voice representing the city under the brand Visit Houston. Houston First owns the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel and manages more than 11 city-owned buildings, plazas and parking facilities. For more information, visit HoustonFirst.com and VisitHouston.com.


Leah Shah