Of the half million Swiss expected to visit the U.S. this year, Kelly Miller, manager of international sales and marketing for the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), expects that at least 20% will be arriving via Atlanta.

      Through the code sharing agreement between Swissair and Delta Air Lines, there are now five non-stop or direct flights daily from Switzerland into Atlanta, making a large stream of visitors inevitable.

      But Mr. Miller’s optimism is also encouraged by the reception the Georgia International Marketing Alliance received at the Visit USA Switzerland seminar held in Zurich Jan. 26-28.

      This year Georgia was the designated focal point of the annual seminar, the 22nd to have been hosted by the commercial service of the U.S. Commerce Department.  The seminar drew 120 exhibitors from U.S. destinations and more than 50 of Switzerland’s largest tour and travel agencies.

      And the alliance responded by sending almost a dozen representatives including Lee Epting, the  Athens’ caterer who made certain all the attendees received his special praline dessert at two banquet dinners.

      The alliance is composed of representatives from 24 convention and visitors bureaus in the state and the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism (GDITT),  the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and Underground Atlanta.

      Otis Redding III, the son of Macon’s blues legend Otis Redding and an accomplished artist guitar player and singer in his own right, was featured along with his three-piece band at the event.

      A surprising number of the attendees didn’t know specifics about Georgia and wanted to learn more, Mr. Miller told GlobalFax during a telephone interview last week.  Our goal was to educate nearly 700 tour and travel agents about Atlanta and Georgia.  It worked.

      Before the seminar was over, tour and travel agents had been exposed to a multimedia presentation about the state and attended special sessions on how to sell Georgia.

      In coming months, the agents also will be receiving additional materials from Cincinnati and Frankfurt-based I.D. Marketing, which represents the state’s international promotions.

      For more information, Mr. Miller may be reached at the ACVB by calling (404) 521-6694; fax, (404) 521-6562.  His e-mail address is:  kmiller@acvb.com