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NTA rolls out Route 66 centennial celebration

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A program by NTA is launching now to celebrate the 100-year anniversary (2026) of Route 66, the cool and iconic highway that runs from Chicago to the California coast.

The National Tour Association is getting an early start on the Route 66 centennial celebration. Route 66, the famous highway known as The Mother Road, turns 100 years old in 2026, and starting this year, NTA is helping tour operators create itineraries for multiday tours along the eight-state thoroughfare that celebrate the heritage and highlights of the iconic roadway.

NTA R66 logoAt Travel Exchange 2024, NTA’s annual convention and appointment show in November, travel planners can gather information and meet with representatives of destinations, attractions, restaurants, and experience providers located along Route 66, which runs from Chicago to the California coast. Tour operators can request business appointments and visit representatives stationed in booths on a special Route 66 corridor on the convention floor. At the four-day conference, set for Nov. 17–20 in Huntsville, Alabama, NTA members can also attend a Route 66 reception and a Route 66 seminar, among many other educational and networking offerings.

“We first told members about our Route 66 celebration in early March, and the response has been wonderful,” said NTA President Catherine Prather, CTP. “Our tour operators tell us that late 2024 is exactly when they want to collect information for Route 66 tours they’ll conduct in 2026, and members located along the highway – destinations and tour suppliers – are eager for tour groups to join the celebration.”

In the months preceding Travel Exchange, destinations and tour suppliers can share with NTA tour operators their Route 66 stories, events, and activities through sponsored content: articles collected and published by NTA. The association will post the articles on its magazine website, NTAcourier.com, at the start of September and then distribute them in print to tour operators at Travel Exchange ’24.

NTA surveyed its tour operator members at the beginning of March to determine their interest in developing a tour surrounding the Route 66 centennial. “We found that fewer than 20 percent of responding operators currently offer a tour dedicated to Route 66, but we learned there’s tremendous opportunity for growth,” Prather said. “About 40 percent currently package places on the highway and are interested in developing a new tour to commemorate the 100-year anniversary, and another 28 percent don’t know much about Route 66 or aren’t currently packaging its states, but they think it’s a good hook for their clients and want more information.”

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Prather said NTA is gathering resources and experts on Route 66 to ensure that all interested operators can learn about the highway’s rich history and iconic quirkiness, although the best sources of information are the members located on or near the route.

“Tour operators are asking for ideas and suggested itineraries, and nobody has more knowledge of an area than a DMO – what’s there and what’s on the way,” she said. “We’ll do everything we can to help our members work together and create fabulous adventures for all travelers – Americans, Canadians, and overseas visitors – who want to explore Route 66.”

Vicky Karantzavelou
Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | Website

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.

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