Travel Store Maker ( started 2011 with the 2 in 1 event for the Future of Tourism

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For the second time in Bulgaria an international event like this one has been organized to give detailed information on the technological development in the tourism industry. The conference ‘Trends & Innovation Travel Distribution & Investment Summit’ organized by  Travel Store Maker was held March 15th – 17th in Sofia, Bulgaria. The previous conference in November 2011 and the summit last week, brought together travel professionals from over 20 countries, such as Armenia, Spain and the U.S. The participants learned about the newest trends and innovations, online technologies and the travel distribution.

Do the traditional travel agencies disappear from the map and is the Internet the future of tourism? What investments should be made in the field and how can Bulgaria attract more financial resources in this sector? The conference last week answered these and many other interesting questions. For the first time in the travel business environment in Bulgaria organized the ‘Innovation Travel Awards’ contest. 15 innovators presented their creative ideas to a jury and and the first place winner was Jason Houle from Lixto Software.

One of the key figures of the conference and also part of the jury was Kathy Misunas – a 30-year veteran in the travel technology industry. Misunas is the founder and former CEO of Sabre Group, former CEO of Reed Travel Group and former CIO of American Airlines. Kathy Misunas shared her professional opinion on the future of travel technology, she emphasized that Bulgaria had also started the digitalization of the tourism industry and added that this should be a clear sign for all players in the business. Also among the speakers at the event were travel professionals, including Koos Schouten – President of Webfactory, Kostas Trivizas – Managing Director Aeolus Hospitality and many others.

The conference was opened by His Excellency James Warlick, U.S. Ambassador in Bulgaria, the deputy Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Ivo Marinov, the President of the Atlantic club and former Foreign Minister of Bulgaria Solomon Passy and John Hazlewood – CEO of and Founder and Chairman of the Board of

Undoubtedly, the peak of the conference was the ‘Space Travel Summit’ which was led by the top NASA astronaut Dr. Story Musgrave. During the event the guests learned about the upcoming space travel solutions, the companies that are developing them (Virgin Galactic, InBloon, Blue Origin, Bigelow and others), and the various tourism products on the market that will allow us to book a ticket to space in the very near future. Since his arrival in Bulgaria on March 16th, Dr. Story Musgrave started a series of interviews and presentations, including one to over 400 students at the University of Sofia ‘St. Kliment Ohridski’.

During the ‘Space Travel Summit’, Dr. Story Musgrave spoke about his experience and showed his stunning images of our planet Earth, which he took himself during his 6 space missions. The presentation of Dr. Musgrave was extremely inspiring and touching. He spoke about the trillions of planets in the Universe, he said he was sure that extraterrestrials exist and that there probably are other civilizations that are much more advanced than ours. In his media appearances, Dr. Musgrave also expressed his views on other issues, such as the tragedy in Japan and the tendency of mankind to wage wars and he stated that if we can’t get along with our selves, why we would expect to get along with other civilizations.

Raycho Raychev, founder of the Bulgarian ‘Space challenges’ program, also attended the event and gave a very interesting presentation about the new space era and the related business opportunities that are emerging.

Major media partners of the ‘Space Travel Summit’ and also of the international ‘Trends & Innovation Travel Distribution & Investment Summit’ are, Nova television, BusinessWeek magazine and the Information agency CROSS.

A short video about the international ‘Trends & Innovation Travel Distribution & Investment Summit’ and ‘Space Travel Summit’ can be seen on

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