A member of the U.S. Commerce Department’s private-sector advisory board on tourism had some sobering words for Georgia travel promoters when he spoke at the World Trade Center Atlanta Feb. 1.
Speaking at an event on Brazilian tourism, Jonathan Zuk, president and CEO of West Orange, N.J.-based Amadeo Travel Solutions, told an audience of travel industry professionals the state cannot compete with the country’s major tourist draws.
The majority of international visitors want to see just a few well-known locations in the U.S., primarily several cities in California, Florida’s theme parks and beaches, as well as Las Vegas and New York.
“Those are the draws, there’s nothing we can do to change that, that’s the way it is,” Mr. Zuk said. “Only second- and third-time visitors want to go to alternative destinations, what we call secondary markets, and the competition for these travelers is fierce.”
Amadeo Travel sells tour packages to foreign travel agents. It focuses on major U.S. attractions, offering tours of New York comprising the city and Niagara Falls, as well as western packages that can include California, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.
Instead of trying to divert travelers from the primary attractions, states on the periphery should find ways to capitalize on foreign visitors eager to see more of the country.
These comments followed a presentation by Joseph Walker, former director of business development for tourism at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, who discussed how the state is attracting Brazilian tourists by marketing itself as a secondary destination to Florida.
“We tell Brazilians, ‘We love Mickey Mouse, we’re all for that, we encourage that you do that. But don’t you want to see America?,’” Mr. Walker said. “We just offer a slice of America and apple pie to your visit to Florida.”
He is so impressed by tourism promotion opportunities in the South American country he left his state job to focus solely on Brazil as a consultant with International Travel Marketing Solutions Feb. 15.
Mr. Zuk, whose success in the private sector led to his appointment to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at the beginning of this year, was in Orlando Jan. 19 with President Obama as he announced an executive order to provide 40 percent more visas to Brazilian and Chinese travelers this year.
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