HomeEventsThanksgiving Networking Event with Visit USA (Part II)

Thanksgiving Networking Event with Visit USA (Part II)

The Visit USA Thanksgiving lunch was a networking session with a host of US trade partners. The evening drinks reception was held at the Bourbon Bar of the Odeon, Harcourt Street, Dublin. Visit USA’s Executive Director Tony Lane says: ‘This year’s focus is on having fun and it’s our way of saying a massive thank you for selling the USA as a holiday destination!’ Sponsors for the night include a host of suppliers.

Universal Parks & Resorts

Grant Daly updated attendees with the news that Universal Studios Florida has opened a new Minion Land with a Villain-Con Minion Blast attraction. Alongside this is Illuminations’ Minion Café. Minion Land is also in Universal Studios Hollywood where guests can go on animated adventures with the cast of Despicable Me and Secret Life of Pets. More up my street is Super Nintendo World (also Universal Studios Hollywood) where visitors can play Mario Kart in real life. There is also Bowser’s Challenge, Toadstool Café and a chance to meet Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad. For Harry Potter fans, Harry Potter World is in both Universal Orlando and Hollywood.

New on the radar is the next theme park by Universal. In 2025, the first new park since the millennium is under construction on a c. 750-acre site doubling Universal’s area in Central Florida. This will be Universal’s Epic Universe. This new theme park will also feature an entertainment centre, hotels, shops, restaurants and more.

Visit California

Grace Verdon from Visit California shared that Irish travellers can fly daily with Aer Lingus to L.A. and San Francisco. She explained, “You can have every type of holiday that you want in California, whether it’s skiing, surfing, snowboarding, going to amazing attractions like Universal – you can have absolutely everything California, and I definitely recommend it to your clients!”.

Visit California has a training platform called California Star. This is a dynamic trade-focused platform that helps drive sales and expand agent knowledge regarding the diversity of California experiences through training and interactive sales components, turning agents into expert brand ambassadors. This has the new luxury travel planner too so take a look recommended Grace.

Visit Colorado

The Dublin to Colorado route will operate four times a week from 27th May 2024 with Aer Lingus. Will Hall, who represents the Colorado Tourism Office for the UK & Ireland), shared that Colorado is an incredibly diverse state. Colorado boasts 28 ski resorts including some of the most famous in the US as it is home to Aspen. This US state has four national parks, each of which is completely different. This also includes a UNESCO World Heritage site. Experience adventures from ranch stays to kayaking and white water rafting down the rivers – this state offers the great outdoors.

Visit Seattle

First and foremost, Seattle is a year-round destination as one thing to always know, we have fantastic airlift with direct flights with our partners at Aer Lingus and so great airlift and capacity into the destination direct.

In terms of Seattle as a destination, it has an iconic science attractions plus world class sports. Seattle will also host a number of World Cup fixtures in a couple of years time. So the city is gearing up and looking forward to that event plus the city offers an incredible arts and culture scene.

There is an iconic music scene. Seattle is the home of Nirvana and Jimmy Hendricks. There are lots of opportunities to pay homemage to these music legends throughout the city. Furthermore, there is a thriving culinary scene as well.

In terms of natural beauty, Seattle is that the city is has three national parks on its doorstep. So the beauty of this destination is you can be shopping in the morning or spending time down town and in the afternoon, you can be hiking in one of the national parks.

Seattle is also a huge cruise destination with many Alaskan itineraries starting from here.

Tennessee Tourism

Jessica Jackson from Tennessee Tourism for the Irish and UK market. With a tag line of “The Soundtrack of America – Made in Tennessee, visitors can pick their favourites from Nashville, Dollywood or Elvis’ Graceland for an epic itinerary. Discover the trails and byways across the state that produced Jack Daniels and boasts a bountiful barbecue scene.


Hanna Phipps from Mississippi Tourism explains this destination offers great food, great hospitality, is the place to hear America’s music, in particular, the Blues. She claims “Mississippi is a beautiful state sandwiched perfectly between Alabama, Tennesse and Louisiana so come and visit and you’ll love it!”.

Try the Missisippi Blues Trail, Country Music Trail or Freedom Trail as an adventure on a road less travelled or plan an epic trip with https://visitmississippi.org/.

Explore Louisiana

Neil Tagliavini Jones (Louisiana Office of Tourism) shared, “Everyone knows of New Orleans. Everyone has heard of the cocktails, the music and the amazing experiences… we are so much more”. He tempted the audience with cajun grill, Caribbean cuisine, Spanish and French influences. Fresh locally produced food is really important. And despite New Orleans being only a small city (by US standards, of a million people), it has over 1400 restaurants.

He explained it is a state that is unique and diverse in terms of the influences and blends of experiences you can have. Try kayaking or a steam boat tour, enjoy the state parks or meet a voodoo queen with voodoo practiced as a religion in New Orleans.

Neil suggested it is a great twin destination, whether flying to New York for a few nights and then connecting to New Orleans (for pre-clearance in Dublin) or via London Heathrow direct to New Orleans.

Visit North Carolina

Duncan McCubbin from North Carolina detailed the state stretches 500 miles from sea level to the highest mountains on the East coast – the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains. He shared, “It is a state for great history, great barbecue, great bear and some great wines”. The state is rich with Spanish and pirate history plus is the home of Nascar racing.

Check out visitnc.com. American Airlines has a direct route from Dublin to Charlotte with a longer summer season for 2024.


Andy from Alabama shared “From the foothills of the Appalchain Mountains down to 32 miles of beauiful sugar-white, soft, sand beaches, Alabama has got a bit of everything. We have the studio where Aretha Franklin cut her first hit record. We have the only church where Dr. Martin Luther King ever pastors at.”. Whetting people’s travel appetite further, Andy added, “We have loads of really great stuff including our signature white barbecue sauce which is delicious and unique and amazing. And that is Alabama in a nutshell.”. Sold.

There is a travel training portal for New Orleans and the Deep South covering the four states of Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. This can be arranged as individual trainings on Teams, in group sessions or in person.

The Great Lakes

Lindsay, representing The Great Lakes USA. The Great Lakes encompasses Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Great Lakes have nature, adventure, sports, music, culture and history. She shared, “it has everything that your travellers will want to see and do out there and with direct links with Aer Lingus into the region, it makes it more accessible than ever.”.

New Jersey & Philly

Julie Greenhill representing Philadelphia CVB and The Countryside of Philadelphia. While Philadephia is synonymous with Rocky and the “Rocky steps”, it is worth remembering the tax-free shopping too.

For More on Visit USA Thanksgiving Events

For more on the USA travel partners, check out the Visit USA Thanksgiving Event Part I:

Shane Cullen
Shane Cullen
Shane Cullen has been managing director of a media production studio for nearly 20 years working on projects for a global clientele. He has worked in the travel industry for over a decade and as a travel journalist since 2015. He is passionate about travel, film & photography. He also has a keen interest in emerging technology.

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