Terry Dale Promotes Partnership to the Tanzanian Travel Industry
Photo by David Cogswell
Terry Dale, president and CEO of the U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA), addressed the Swahili International Tourism Expo (S!TE) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with what he called a “fireside chat, an intimate conversation with our partners,” in which he explained to travel professionals selling the destination of Tanzania that partnership was an essential tool in building their destination.
Now in its second year, S!TE is a travel trade show showcasing the Swahili Coast produced by the Tanzania Tourist Board.
The tourist board invited Dale to be a keynote speaker in recognition of the belief that targeting the elite tour operator association is the most effective way to reach the broad base of consumers in the U.S.
Dale began his talk with a brief introduction of the USTOA, explaining that it is not an organization that derives its value from its large number of members, but by their quality. The association has 54 corporate members representing 160 brands and also has 690 associate members, of which the Tanzania Tourist Board is one.
“It’s not about quantity,” Dale said. “You’re not going to see that number grow next year by a great deal. We are more like a family. We’re not driven by growth, but by quality.”
Thirty-eight of the association’s brands already have programs to Tanzania, Dale noted.
“We need to see that number grow to 50, to 75, to 100,” he said. “Part of my responsibility in being here today is to go back to our members and tell them, ‘I have seen firsthand how amazing Tanzania is and (recommend) that they include more of Tanzania, more of Eastern Africa into the products that we have to sell to the U.S. consumer.'”
Dale cited a Price Waterhouse Cooper economic impact study showing that tour operator members of the USTOA account for $13.5 billion in business annually. They moved 8 million travelers last year, a five percent increase over the previous year, and sold $9.8 billion in goods and services.
The way for Tanzania to build itself as a tourism destination, said Dale, is by constructing a partnership.
“That’s why I’m here today,” he said, “to try to forge that partnership and make that business grow on behalf of Tanzania.”
Dale explained to the audience the reasons why he is “bullish about the U.S. travel industry.
“It has tremendous potential,” he declared. “There is an educational hurdle” to surmount in getting into the American market, he conceded, but “it is feasible and possible” and something that needs to be addressed immediately.
Dale cited a number of reasons why the American market is an excellent target market for Tanzania, including the following facts and statistics:
Fifty-six percent of Americans are in the world’s high income group, and 46 percent have passports, a total of 110 million people, a number that has doubled since 2000.
“They have financial wherewithal to travel,” asserted Dale. “They have passports, but we have the educational challenge of helping them understand why Tanzania needs to be one of the places they visit."
In 2013, 30 million Americans traveled internationally, Dale pointed out. “But you have to educate them."
In referring to the global economy, Dale cited a list of trends that may have an impact on getting people to travel to Tanzania, including the softening of the Chinese economy; Greece trying to figure out how to handle its responsibilities to the International Monetary Fund as well as the European Union; the Fed’s upcoming raising of interest rates and the presidential political circus.
All of these have a potential impact on global economy, Dale stated, but he is still bullish about the U.S. economy.
Dale cited the Packaged Travel Index, produced by Cornell University, which studies U.S. consumers. The survey, conducted twice a year, showed that 84 percent of U.S. consumers said they want to travel internationally. In households with income of $150,000 or more, people want to travel three times a year.
“Those factors combined bode well for Tanzania,” said Dale, showing a strong potential U.S. market for Tanzania.
Dale then explained what USTOA members need from Tanzania tourism services providers, including “professional quality partners who can deliver the kind of experience that make our members proud. Professionalism is really key. Our members are all about building a personal relationship. They want to be able to look at you across the table and have the confidence that together you can create the kind of experience that we can all be proud of.”
That kind of experience, Dale said, is “all about authenticity.”
The U.S. consumer wants to rub shoulders with locals, he said. “And they can only do that if you have the interaction, the engagement between the traveler and the citizens of this country.”
Dale cited Tanzania’s "Soul of Africa" campaign as a step in the right direction, but said, “We still have a huge job ahead of us in getting that brand in front of the U.S. traveler.”
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