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Greetings and salutations my fellow travel professionals. This first newsletter of 2009 comes with rejoices as well as worries. We can rejoice as we are now an official region. North America is the fastest growing region of IATM and will play a tremendous role in shaping the future of our association. But these good news falls against a backdrop of the obvious economic situation.

“It’s the economy, stupid” a phrase used widely during former President Bill Clinton’s first election, has become a beacon that illuminates the simplistic certainty that the economy affects all of us. The world is now in a declining economic spiral which precludes any vision of the bottom. We can all guess as to future levels of decline but all we can say with certainty is that things are going to get worse before they get better.

Before becoming a full time Tour Manager, I was trained as an economist as well as stock broker. For the duration of this economic malaise, I will be sharing my insight as to what we can do to prepare ourselves for the future.

We are all in different stages of our career life cycle. Some of us may be looking to retire soon while some of us may have had that choice taken away from us by the decline in our retirement account. Some of us are still finding our niche in this beautiful industry, while some of us may lose our favorite company because they go out of business. What we all share is that our lives are directly impacted by the decisions made by others on wither or not to travel. For many clients, they may be locked into their 2009 tour or teetering on cancellation. But what is of greater concern for me is the health of the 2010 seasons.

Travel budgets are being slashed all around the world. Conversely, there are amazing travel deals as suppliers lower prices in an attempt to retain cash flow. I have already saw the effects of the “screw it factor” Some people are so disheartened at loosing $50,000 or $500,000 in their retirement account, that they lay reason aside and decide to spend the $5000 for a tour before that money vanishes as well. We of course, can not rely on this caviler attitude to continue as the realities of this historic economic time settles into acceptance by the populous. We must take care of ourselves and start to save until better days are here again.

We here in North America can rejoice in our own thoughts that better days for our region are here again. I now have a seat on the Board of Directors. Better yet, it has been decided by the Board of Directors that I am to be the next Chairman of IATM. I believe that we are all in this multifaceted industry together. We compete only with our abilities to satisfy our clients’ demands. Together, we can raise the status of the Tour Guiding and Tour Management industry. We are the face of the package travel industry. We have always had a voice, now it is time that we have a say. I look forward to representing you to further the status of our kindred industry.

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