ASUTIL heads “back to the future”

José Luis Donagaray, ASUTIL Secretary-General

ASUTIL plans to head back to where it all began for its annual conference this year. The June meeting will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the site of its very first event 21 years ago, and the first time the group will meet in the country since the terror attacks in the U.S. on September 11, 2001.

In a press conference yesterday at the Duty Free show, ASUTIL Secretary-General José Luis Donagaray discussed the program for this year’s meeting, including a more condensed structure during the week. The final program agenda is expected to be finalized in April.

The 2017 conference theme, “Back to the Future,” will focus on the history of and changes to the industry in Latin America. Speakers will discuss what’s happening now, and the effects of reinvestment in key travel areas such as Brazil after hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics.

This will be ASUTIL’s final solo annual conference, as the group has officially partnered with IAADFS to combine events for 2018. The organization and advocacy efforts of the individual groups will remain the same, but combining their annual meetings offers greater overall opportunities, while also reducing costs for exhibiting companies and attendees. And it’s in everyone’s best interests to do what’s best to bring buyers and suppliers together. “This will mean buyers will have to travel less, companies are spending less, and there are more synergies from merging (the two events),” Donagaray said.

Plans for the future include a location change after IAADFS wraps up its contract in Orlando in 2018. ASUTIL and IAADFS are surveying members to make the best changes possible to benefit all members of each organization at the new, combined event.