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TIA national chairman Jay Rasulo calls for new industry strategy to compete in world tourism market

Jay Rasulo, National Chair for the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), warned a…

Jay Rasulo, National Chair for the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), warned a gathering of more than 500 travel and tourism industry executives that the U.S. risks missing out on enormous growth opportunities if it doesn’t adopt a new strategy to compete in the growing global tourism market.

Rasulo, who serves as Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, formally assumed the role of TIA National Chair during the annual State of the Travel Industry Luncheon in Washington, D.C.

In his remarks, Rasulo noted that 2006 will be a pivotal year for the industry. “We must understand and acknowledge that there’s a revolution going on in the global tourism market: the way people travel, where they travel, how they travel, and their expectations, are all changing,” said Rasulo. “And in terms of attracting international visitors, the U.S. is in danger of falling behind other countries in this new marketplace.”

According to industry research, the United States’ share of international travel has dropped double digits since 2000 – and 35% since 1992, reducing the U.S. market share to an all-time low. The cumulative cost to the economy over this nearly 15-year period is $286 billion in lost revenue, or $20 billion a year.

In order to compete in this new world, Rasulo identified three actions that must occur for the U.S. to regain its competitive edge:

  • Make the U.S. top-of-mind for travelers by developing a well-funded, nationally coordinated destination marketing campaign

  • Give travelers the path of least resistance

  • Get a better seat at the table in government, equal to that accorded other industries such as manufacturing and technology

Rasulo declared that the travel and tourism industry needs “the equivalent of an Apollo project for destination marketing.”

In calling for a “success blueprint” that would include elements such as budget numbers, funding sources, marketing targets and implementation schedules, Rasulo challenged the industry to make the blueprint a reality in one year’s time. He pointed to successful campaigns that have been created by many states as proof that marketing campaigns deliver results.

“There are 50 state laboratories out there, many of which have figured out how to market themselves, and how to pay for it, through budget appropriations, dedicated revenue sources, or even – dare I say it — industry assessments,” Rasulo said.

“We must also ensure that our secure borders don’t overshadow our open door,” he added. “Many other countries have a strong voice for hospitality at the highest level of their governments. With millions of jobs, billions in revenue and America’s image at stake, we must have a voice that’s equal to the voices for other vital industries.”

“Given today’s world,” Rasulo concluded, “I firmly believe that our industry’s ability to win hearts and minds across the planet is essential to our long-term well-being and safety.”

Rasulo has emerged as a recognized industry leader through other roles as well, including chairman of the United States Travel and Tourism Promotion Board, where he leads a group of 15 senior U.S. travel and tourism industry executives in developing a national tourism strategy.

Rasulo is a 19-year Disney veteran. First hired as a director, Rasulo rose to one of the company’s highest executive positions. He was named chairman of the company’s Parks and Resorts segment in 2005 after being appointed president in 2002. He oversees a broad range of businesses that make Disney the leader in the vacation destination segment of the industry. Previously he served as chairman and CEO of EuroDisney, S.C.A. in France, where he turned Disneyland Resort Paris into Europe’s top tourist destination.