Israel's ITA opens U.S. headquarters here

Entertainment complex to make its debut June 4

April 01, 2003|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

International Tourist Attractions, a themed entertainment company with sites in Jerusalem, Rome and Cyprus, has opened its U.S. headquarters in Baltimore, where its first American-based venture is to make its debut in June.

ITA will launch here with a 10,000-square-foot, $8.5 million entertainment complex to celebrate American history and the Chesapeake Bay at Pier 4 in mid-June, spokeswoman Melanie Sole said yesterday. The complex is to be the anchor tenant of the Cordish Co.'s office and retail complex adjacent to the Power Plant.

Called PassPort: Voyages of Discovery, the Baltimore attraction will be the nation's first from Tel Aviv, Israel-based ITA, a subsidiary of ICTS NV, a private company with interests in hotels and other tourism-related businesses. A second U.S. venture is planned for the first quarter of 2004 in another Cordish project, an upscale retail, entertainment and dining complex in Atlantic City, N.J., called The Walk.

FOR THE RECORD - A headline in Tuesday's Business section contained an incorrect opening date for the Inner Harbor attraction called PassPort: Voyages of Discovery. The entertainment complex is scheduled to open in mid-June. The Sun regrets the error.

Peter Comiskey, managing director of Passport Voyages USA, is one of two veteran marketing executives who have been hired to run the Baltimore operation.

"I'm very interested in opening as soon as we can," Comiskey said. "We think it's a wonderful attraction for the area. We don't want to delay it one more day than we have to."

Comiskey, a native of Australia, has extensive experience in the management and marketing of science centers. He has served as vice president of operations and exhibits at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, Calif. Before that, he launched Australia's first regional science center, the Bendigo Science & Technology Centre.

Kathleen Boozer, who has worked for Baltimore tourism groups and attractions for more than a decade, has been named as director of sales and marketing. Previously, Boozer worked at the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association and at Port Discovery, and she was responsible for the roll-out of the Discovery Channel Ducks, the city's amphibious boat tour attraction.

ITA's Baltimore office has a staff of four, and is expected to grow to more than 10, Comiskey said yesterday. An additional 10 to 15 employees will work at the venue once it opens, he said.

The Baltimore venture will offer two 40-minute experiences. The first will offer guests the chance to travel through three centuries of U.S. history in Time Elevator America, a journey that will begin in Baltimore and go back in time, tracing American history from its roots to the present day. Audiences will witness the revolution, meet Abraham Lincoln and experience other key moments in history.

The second program, called Oceanarium, will have the audience members feeling as if they were diving into the Chesapeake Bay and swimming through the oceans of the world while encountering sea creatures.

ITA's first tourist attraction opened in Jerusalem in 1998. Soon afterward, it created an 18-month exhibit for Walt Disney World's Millennium celebration at Epcot Center in Orlando, Fla. In 2001, it opened its second permanent attraction in Rome, followed by one in Cyprus.

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