Black Meetings and Tourism

Nov/Dec 2010

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IN THE NEWS ROBERT L. JOHNSON TAKES PART IN DELTA AIR LINES INAUGURAL FLIGHT TO MONROVIA, LIBERIA Successful Collaboration Between Liberian Government, U.S. Government and Private Sector Robert L. Johnson, founder and chairman of The RLJ Companies (RLJ), embarked on the highly anticipated Delta Air Lines new flight service from the United States to Monrovia, Liberia, making the airline the leading U.S. carrier operating flights to Africa. The inaugural flight commenced on September 4th and is the only direct flight service that will be offered from the U.S. to the African country. Johnson has significant business and development projects in Liberia including the nation’s first four-star oceanfront hotel. In 2009, Johnson opened the RLJ Kendeja Resort and Villas which he constructed, owns, and operates. In an initiative with the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Johnson and OPIC created the Liberia Enterprise Development Finance Company (LEDFC), a $30 million initiative which makes loans between $25,000 and $1 million to small and medium sized businesses. “A few years ago while attending the Clinton Global Initiative and after hearing President Sirleaf appeal to the American private sector for support, I made a commitment to make a difference for the people of Liberia,” said Johnson. “Over the last year, we have been working collaboratively with Delta Air Lines, the Liberian Government, Congressman Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and the TSA in an effort to attain the approvals needed to offer direct flight service. The inaugural flight is an example of a successful public private partnership,” he concluded. In a previous release citing the announcement of Delta Air Lines new route service, Perry Cantarutti, Delta’s sen- ior vice president of Europe, Middle East, and Africa stated, “As the No. 1 U.S. carrier serving Africa, Delta remains committed to expanding our presence into fast-growing African markets. Our new service between our Atlanta hub and Monrovia will provide convenient connections between Liberia and cities across the United States.” Added Congressman Thompson (D-MS): “I have been pleased to work with Delta and the Office of Global Strategies at the TSA to ensure security continues to be a priority. Offering direct service flights from the United States to Liberia strengthens our partnership with Africa.” “The government is enthusiastic about the prospect of Delta providing a direct flight between Monrovia and the United States, which would be the first such service in many years,” said Liberia President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. AUSTIN CVB JOINS INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS AND CONVENTION ASSOCIATION ICCA AFFILIATION CERTIFIES AUSTIN AS LEADING INTERNATIONAL MEETING DESTINATION The Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau (Austin CVB) has attained membership with the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), a global community for the meetings industry. Austin’s participa- tion in ICCA signals to international association and corporate groups that the city is positioned to accommodate their top-level needs.As one of the few destination marketing organization members based in the U.S., it also cer- tifies Austin’s commitment to growth and expansion in the global meetings market. With a network of 7,600 meeting professionals in 85 countries, ICCA provides an effective global networking platform that connects association and corporate executives with destination management professionals, from venue operators to hotels to transportation companies, and all other segments of the meetings industry. In addition, ICCA’s Association Database is an invaluable sales and marketing resource that allows members to search for potential business among 4,500 association meeting profiles. “TheAustin CVB is leveraging our ICCA membership to gain a better understanding of and grow our presence in the international meetings market,” says Roy Benear, senior vice president of the Austin CVB. “ICCA’s reputa- tion and strong connections with planners across the globe will be key assets to us as we work to secure interna- tional meetings. In today’s competitive marketplace, we are also utilizing ICCA to keep on top of industry trends, follow best practices for the global meetings market and, ultimately, better serve our customers.” From 2012 to 2021,Austin will host the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix™.Not only will this global phenome- non bring some 140,000 people from across the world to the Austin track each day; it will also raise awareness of Austin as an international convention destination. Coupled with the ICCA partnership, it signals to the international meetings and events community that Texas’ capital city is positioned to accommodate events of this magnitude. 10 Black Meetings & Tourism November/December 2010:

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