Hispanic consumers represent a major growth opportunity for travel agents, panelists said Tuesday during a discussion at the American Society of Travel Agents‘ Global Convention. The conference is being held this week at the Hyatt Regency Miami.

As part of the conference, the National Tour Association-ASTA Hispanics in Travel Caucus explored trends in Hispanic travel, the projected growth of the market and ways to more effectively reach potential customers.

Olga Ramudo, co-owner of Express Travel in South Miami and chair of the two-year-old joint Hispanic task force, quoted figures from Nielsen showing that Hispanic purchasing power is expected to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2015, and she said the projected Hispanic population growth through 2050 is 167 percent.

“There’s no secret of why both parties are after the Hispanic vote,” she said. “It’s simply because the numbers are there.”

A research study of Hispanic adults conducted by ASTA and Florida International University showed some clear themes: Trips with family were popular, and safety, security and cleanliness of a destination were key. According to the survey responses, Hispanics spent more per person on average than the general population.

But a survey of travel agencies showed that only about 1 percent of all respondents focused on the Hispanic market.

Carlos Alcazar, CEO of Hispanic Communications Network, said travel agents need to understand the demographics of the Hispanic market, as well as what their preferences are so they can make a connection. It is crucial, he said, to create original content and experiences targeted to the market rather than simply translating what already exists into Spanish.

“We do not desire translations,” he said.

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