The American Bus Association (ABA) — an industry leader advancing North American motorcoach travel and tourism — wrapped up a successful Marketplace in Omaha, Nebraska from January 10 to January 14.
Being the first time in bringing its Marketplace to Omaha, ABA welcomed 3200 participants.
“This Marketplace was the best yet,” said ABA President & CEO Peter Pantuso. “Omaha, the states of Nebraska and Iowa really put out the red carpet for attendees and I know a number of people left wondering why they have never been there before. We also offered a number of new initiatives this year that were well received.”
One of the new programs at ABA’s Marketplace was the debut of the Busworld Academy North America. Busworld Academy is a renowned international bus and motorcoach industry summit that brings together industry leaders, national and international government officials, academics and decision makers to discuss the future of the transit, charter and school bus industries. Attendees received welcomes from U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, who is the Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, European Union Deputy Director-General for Mobility and Transport Matthew Baldwin and other high-ranking officials from the Department of Transportation.
Another new initiative this year was a green one. ABA partnered with Omaha non-profit Saving Grace Perishable Food Rescue to donate all unused, unopened food from the show that will go to local shelters. The total of food donated from the show was 85 pounds.
As is tradition when ABA comes to a city for its annual convention, the ABA Gives Back program adopted a local Omaha charity to raise funds for to give back to the city for its generosity in hosting us. This year’s ABA Gives Back Charity was Scatter Joy Acres, which is an animal rescue farm that also helps children and adults in need of peace and tranquility.
“The farm’s program of providing therapeutic interaction for developmentally disabled and autistic children, seniors, veterans and at-risk children with animals embodies the spirit of why we started this program back in 2007,” Pantuso said. “Scatter Joy Acres is helping an underserved community in Omaha in an innovative way.”
Attendees were thrilled to meet some of the farms residents throughout the week, including a camel, goat, porcupine, alpaca, pig, as well as pygmy cows and dogs. At the end of the convention, attendees had raised more than $14,000 for the farm to help build a new barn.
Attendees also had shared their generosity with the ABA Foundation’s Fund a Future Scholarship Program. During the convention, the ABA Foundation held two auctions; a purse raffle and a party to help raise funds for the 20 scholarships that Foundation gives annually to ABA members, their dependents and future leaders in the industry. Since its inception, the Foundation has donated more than $1 million to more than 300 scholars. This year the Foundation raised more than $110,000 in Omaha.
To stay as one of the top events in the motorcoach and group travel industry, ABA made an announcement during the closing session of the Busworld Academy North America; it will be bringing — for the first time ever — the largest bus and motorcoach industry exhibition and convention, Busworld, to North America next year in conjunction with its Marketplace in Baltimore. Busworld North America will make its debut on January 28, 2021 to kick off ABA’s convention, which will run until February 2.