The US Travel Association, the newly minted trade group which represents travel companies and organizations, travel and tourism offices, and convention and visitors bureaus, hired APCO Worldwide in January for its public affairs effort.

?Other industries have done a far better job defining their relevance,? said Geoff Freeman, SVP for the association. ?This is an ongoing effort to share the story of why meetings, events, and business travel are central to American business and central to the economy.?

Some companies, especially those that have received Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds, have canceled meetings and events, while even companies that have not received bailout funds have reportedly canceled trips to avoid bad publicity.

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