Think Global

Kenneth Shapiro It’s no secret to agents that the travel industry is consistently on the frontlines of international conflict. With its tendency to bring people from different cultures face to face, as well as its reliance on the cooperation of foreign governments and corporations, for better or worse, t

By: Kenneth Shapiro

It’s no secret to agents that the travel industry is consistently on the frontlines of international conflict. With its tendency to bring people from different cultures face to face, as well as its reliance on the cooperation of foreign governments and corporations, for better or worse, the travel industry experiences the ups and downs of global attitudes like no other business. It’s because of this role that the recent statements by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) are appropriate and probably long overdue.

Roger Dow, president and CEO of the TIA, citing recent Pew survey data stating that the global image of the United States continues to plummet, has called for a federally funded marketing campaign to combat the U.S. “image crisis” among international travelers.

“We need an umbrella campaign that promotes Americans [and] American values &,” Dow said. “We could divert a little money and for a paltry sum get the world to say, ‘You know what, Americans are all right.’”

Fortunately, a negative perception of the U.S. is less a factor when dealing with travel industry partners and government tourist boards, which are much more likely to distinguish the finer points between good business partners and larger global political issues. Still, it would be good to see other industry organizations, such as ASTA and the NTA, throw their weight behind the TIA position, as an improved image of Americans can only help their members as well.

It is unfortunate that our world image has fallen so far since the days after Sept. 11 that this has become an issue, but it is not a situation that we should give up on. A small bit of PR can go a long way toward helping the travel industry’s bottom line. At the very least, we have little left to lose by trying. K.S.



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