The thousands of tour operators, journalists and travel suppliers attending the U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow in San Francisco on May 21-25, 2011, will discover a very different city from the one they experienced when International Pow Wow was last held here in 1992.

Known worldwide in the travel industry as the major marketplace for transacting inbound U.S. travel business, International Pow Wow is expected to generate more than $350 million in tourism business for San Francisco in the short term alone. 

More than 1,100 international and domestic tour operators from 70 countries will “shop” the largest travel industry trade show in North America inside Moscone Center, meeting in 70,000 pre-set appointments with some 3,500 exhibitors from every corner of the U.S.  More than 400 international and domestic travel journalists will also attend to report on the event and the destination.  There will be three evenings of exclusive events for the attendees at some of San Francisco’s premiere attractions and unique locations, plus one night open for private parties. 

While the major elements for which San Francisco is famous are still in place, all of the venues where International Pow Wow events will be held in May did not exist 19 years ago as we know them today.  Many changes were set in motion by damage from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.  Other developments resulted from San Francisco’s natural evolution and development as a major metropolis.

One of the first official events will be a brunch for more than 400 journalists, to be held on May 22 at the Ferry Building Marketplace.  In 1992, the historic Beaux Arts landmark cowered behind the massive Embarcadero Freeway which was seriously damaged by the earthquake. The freeway had been removed by 1992 but the Ferry Building Marketplace didn’t open to the public until the Spring of 2003 after an extensive renovation. It has since then become the acclaimed gourmet galleria of regional cuisine and culinary arts.  The Ferry Building has earned a spot on the National Register’s list of Historic Places distinction as the City of San Francisco’s Registered Landmark No. 90.

The opening night event on Sunday, May 22, 2011, will be a quintessential San Francisco experience called “Rock the Night.”  International Pow Wow attendees will cruise to Alcatraz, then return to a private party at PIER 39.

 Although Alcatraz was unscathed by the 1989 earthquake, it has undergone many improvements – the new Cellhouse Audio Tour is an expanded version of the original award-winning tour and includes new stories, new narrators, and explores new areas of the Cellhouse.

In 2003, the Garden Conservancy and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy formed a partnership with the National Park Service to restore and maintain key gardens on Alcatraz. Through the Alcatraz Historic Gardens Project, the partner organizations preserve, rebuild, and maintain the gardens created by those who lived on the island during its military and prison eras, and interpret their history, horticulture, and cultural significance for visitors.

“Over the last 20 years San Francisco has experienced an amazing renaissance.   The transformation of Crissy Field with its spectacular bay front promenade in view of the Golden Gate Bridge has become one of everybody’s favorite places in the Golden Gate National Parks, to name just a few of the dramatic changes,” says David Shaw, director of communications and marketing with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, who helped organize the 1992 Pow Wow and is active in the 2011 Pow Wow as well. 

PIER 39 has closed to the public only twice in its 33-year history.  The first time was for International Pow Wow in 1992.

“PIER 39 is delighted to welcome back Pow Wow delegates to San Francisco’s number one attraction. We look forward to showcasing the new mix of PIER 39’s restaurants, attractions and shops at the opening night event on May 22,” says Anthea McGoldrick, vice president of travel sales at PIER 39.

On Tuesday, May 24, the California Academy of Sciences, de Young Fine Arts Museum and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) will treat International Pow Wow attendees to an evening in Golden Gate Park, titled “Culture Club.” Each of these sponsors’ venues have transformed themselves into iconic architectural attractions.

The century-old de Young Museum building was damaged beyond repair by the earthquake. When it reopened in October 2005 Golden Gate Park had an iconic new structure constructed of natural materials including copper, stone, wood and glass. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog and de Meuron, its dramatic copper facade is perforated and textured to replicate the impression made by light filtering through a tree canopy and through oxidation, will assume a rich patina over time that will blend gracefully with the surrounding natural environment. The northeast corner of the building features a 144-foot tower that gently spirals from the ground floor and aligns at the top with the grid formed by the streets of the Richmond and Sunset neighborhoods surrounding the park. A public observation floor offers panoramic views of the entire Bay Area.

Although its building remained operational, the California Academy of Sciences’ previous home in Golden Gate Park was also damaged by the 1989 earthquake.  In 2003 the museum moved to a temporary location South of Market while its new home was constructed on the original site. In 2008, the California Academy of Sciences debuted its new home, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano:  a 400,000 square foot structure that houses an aquarium, a planetarium a natural history museum and a four-story rainforest all under one roof.

Nearly 10 years and $500 million dollars in the making, the building is a masterpiece in sustainable architecture, blends seamlessly into the park’s natural setting, and is filled with hundreds of innovative exhibits and thousands of extraordinary plants and animals

The Academy is now the largest public Platinum-rated building in the world, and also the world’s greenest museum. The Academy earned the platinum rating (highest rating possible) for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

The San Francisco International Airport’s new Terminal 2 (SFO T2) – home to Virgin America and American Airlines – will welcome Pow Wow guests. The Gensler-designed renovation of the Airport’s Terminal 2 is the first LEED® Gold-registered airport terminal in the United States.  The 640,000 square-foot terminal will feature progressive sustainability measures that aim to inspire people to live more sustainably.  By emphasizing sustainability, hospitality, and Bay Area culture, the terminal will elevate the traveler experience and make it actually enjoyable to spend time at the airport.

The final event of International Pow Wow will be “The Ultimate San Francisco Party,” set in San Francisco’s classic Civic Center and City Hall, a Beaux-Arts landmark boasting the world’s fifth largest dome. The present building is actually a replacement for an earlier City Hall that was completely destroyed during the 1906 earthquake. The Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 damaged the structure, and twisted the dome four inches (102 mm) on its base. City Hall reopened after its seismic upgrade in January 1999.

This finale event will be a tribute to both the Golden Gate and the Golden State as San Francisco prepares to pass the torch to Los Angeles for International Pow Wow 2012.

The California Travel & Tourism Commission (CTTC) – a major sponsor of International Pow Wow — is another entity that did not exist in 1992. Since its creation in 1997, CTTC has become the industry leader in marketing California’s travel product around the globe, working with in-state destination marketing organizations like the San Francisco Travel Association to promote a unified message and expand awareness of California’s diverse offerings to international visitors. Prior to CTTC’s creation, state tourism marketing was vulnerable to government budget cuts, so the private travel industry in California voted to contribute matching funds. CTTC now operates a robust $50 million global marketing program funded largely by private industry, enabling California to maintain long-term investments in international markets during the recent recession as other destinations cut back. This strategy, along with hosting Pow Wow for two consecutive years, will help keep California top of mind as the leading tourism destination in the U.S.

Even the hotel landscape in San Francisco has changed.  Of the 16 hotels that will house International Pow Wow attendees, four (the InterContinental, Omni, Palomar, W San Francisco) either did not exist or were not hotels in 1992.

“Back in 1992, we were still using the tagline ‘Everybody’s Favorite City’ and while we don’t use that anymore, it’s still what we hear all over the world when we talk about San Francisco. Bringing Pow Wow back after 19 years will give everyone a chance to remember once again why they feel that way,” said Deborah Reinow of the San Francisco Travel Association.   Reinow has been a key member of the planning teams for both the 1992 and 2011 International Pow Wows in San Francisco.

Even as International Pow Wow is held in 2011, San Francisco continues to evolve, providing new reasons to return.  Moscone Center is in the midst of $56 million in capital improvements, expansion and LEED Silver Certification. The Pier 43 promenade will link to the Embarcadero in December 2012.  The new SFJAZZ Center will open in 2012.  The Exploratorium will move to a new home on Piers 15-17 in 2012.  The Port of San Francisco’s new cruise terminal will open at Pier 27 in 2014.  And the America’s Cup sailing regatta in 2012 and 2013 will bring numerous changes to San Francisco’s waterfront.

About U. S. Travel’s International Pow Wow:

International Pow Wow has been produced by the U.S. Travel Association since 1969.  It is held in a different U.S. city each year. San Francisco last hosted the event in 1992. It is known worldwide in the travel industry as the major marketplace for transacting inbound U.S. travel business.

The U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow in San Francisco is supported by the following Platinum sponsors; San Francisco International Airport, Alcatraz Cruises, California Academy of Sciences, California Travel & Tourism Commission, CityPASS, the de Young Museum, Golden Gate Parks Conservancy,  Hornblower Cruises & Events and PIER 39.

The Gold sponsors are Hyatt Hotels San Francisco, Joie de Vivre Hotels, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Napa Valley Destination Council, North Coast Tourism Council, Port of San Francisco, Red & White Fleet, Starwood Hotels & Resorts-Western Region, Sonoma County Tourism Bureau and Super Sightseeing Tours.

The Silver sponsors are AT&T Park, Boudin San Francisco, Classic Cable Cars and Ride The Ducks, Coach America, Handlery Union Square Hotel, Hilton San Francisco Union Square, Marriott San Francisco Marquis, Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Premium Outlets, Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau, Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau, Walt Disney Family Museum, WharfPass and Yosemite/Mariposa County Tourism Bureau.

The Bronze sponsors are :  “Beach Blanket Babylon,” Biscuits & Blues, Bloomingdale’s, C-Two Hotel Group, Cova Hotel, Exploratorium, Fairmont San Francisco, GoCar Tours, Go West Tours, Gold Country Visitor’s Association,  Hilton Financial District, Holiday Inn Civic Center, Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf, Hotel Abrego, Hotel Whitcomb, Larkspur Hotels & Restaurants, Napa Valley Wine Train, Radisson Hotel Fisherman’s Wharf,  Redding & Northern California’s Shasta Cascade Region, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Symphony, San Mateo County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf and Westfield San Francisco Properties.

For general information on hotel packages and reservations; events; activities and transportation in San Francisco, visit www.sanfrancisco.travel. For lodging reservations, call 800-637-5196 within North America or 415-391-2000 or 415-392-0328 (TTY/TTD) elsewhere.

The San Francisco Visitors Planning Guide is available at the Visitor Information Center, 900 Market St., at the corner of Powell and Market streets, lower level, Hallidie Plaza.  A virtual edition of the guide is also available online: http://guides.weaver-group.com/sf/ovg2/2010/ A visitor’s kit may also be ordered online at www.sanfrancisco.travel, by phone at 415-391-2000 or 415-392-0328 (TTY/TTD), by written request to the San Francisco Visitor Information Center, 900 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94102, or via email to vic1@sanfrancisco.travel.  Domestic and international shipping charges apply.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop links with more than 30 international points on five continents with 29 international carriers. The Bay Area’s largest airport connects non-stop with more than 65 cities in the U.S. on 20 domestic airlines.  For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit www.flysfo.com.  

American Express® is the official credit card partner for the San Francisco Travel Association.

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