Campus: CSU Hayward -- January 7, 2004

State in Southern Brazil Wants US Tourists, And Turns to Cal State Hayward for Help

Beyond the Amazon and Rio de Janiero, south of the Tropic of Capricorn, is a part of Brazil few Americans know about or visit, and a group of transnational executive MBA students from California is out to change that.

“Three hundred thousand Americans a year come to Brazil, but few come this far,” the group was told by Gilmar Gnazeu, secretary of tourism for the state of Santa Catarina. “With cultural diversity, hotels, and adventure tourism that can use 550 kilometers of coastline, waterfalls and the only snow-peaked mountains in Brazil, more Americans should know about us.

“It will be up to you to show us the way.”

Gnazeu heads Santa Catarina Turismo, which has asked the Transnational Executive MBA program, known as TEMBA, at California State University, Hayward to develop a strategy that will bring more Americans to one of the most fascinating regions of Brazil.

The 13-month TEMBA program is designed for mid-career and senior executives and is focused on developing global business and leadership skills. In addition to attending 10 courses held once a month in the San Francisco Bay Area, participants go on three overseas trips for classes and company visits and participate in an international consulting project.

Client companies pay a fee for the consulting project, conducted by teams of TEMBA participants under the supervision of Cal State Hayward’s international business professors. Clients receive a comprehensive report and recommendations on their business strategy.

The five-member TEMBA consulting group working with Gnazeu calls itself Team Turismo, and it met in December 2003 with a dozen members of the Santa Catarina Turismo management group, known as SANTUR, in Florianópolis, the capital of Santa Catarina.

“Santa Catarina is an undiscovered gem,” Team Turismo’s James Grunke told the SANTUR members. Grunke is director of studio markets at InterActual Technologies, Inc. in San Jose, Calif. “Once Americans find out about it, there’s no reason tourism couldn’t have a $100 million a year impact here. A competitive analysis will give us a lot of information about how to get Americans to visit this beautiful part of the world.”

Santa Catarina is a state of more than five million people, with its five principal airports all about an hour’s flight from São Paulo. The capital city of Florianópolis is a popular vacation destination for Brazilians and Argentines for its shopping, luxury hotels, beaches, surfing, and opportunities for whale and dolphin watching. Its trademark suspension bridge is a smaller, more silver-colored version of San Francisco’s Golden Gate.

The state remains a center of German culture in Brazil, reflecting immigration that began in the early 19th century. The annual Octoberfest in Blumenau is well-known in South America. There also are families whose ancestors immigrated from Italy, Poland, Russia and other parts of Europe and their cultures are celebrated.

Santa Catarina boasts numerous waterfalls, national and state parks, a marine reserve, rivers for whitewater rafting, and one of the largest theme parks in South America, complete with roller coasters.
“We think these are the kind of experiences and activities that create a market in Santa Catarina for both short and long-term visits by Americans,” the SANTUR group was told by Team Turismo member Iris Ferreira, who runs his own company as a contractor for Federal Express in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a native of the Brazilian state of Goias. “A lot of work will have to go into developing relationships with U.S. tour operators and private organizations.”

“Our initial research has told us a lot,” added Team Turismo member Richard Rudometkin, director of business development at Quality Resource Associates in San Jose, Calif. “For example, we’re learning to understand the forces that drive Americans to make the Caribbean the most popular choice, even though there are other competitive regions.”

Between 1999 and 2003, up to 400,000 Americans a year went to the Caribbean and up to 450,000 went to Mexico, SANTUR was told by Team Turismo member Anthony Leal. Leal is president of the North America division of L&L International Inc., based in Green Valley, Calif., and has extensive experience in the airline industry.

“Tourists going to the Caribbean are among those who could be attracted to vacation in southern Brazil,” Leal said. “Part of the problem is getting the word out. I lived and worked in São Paulo for seven months but didn’t even know Santa Catarina existed. I am one of those Americans who would have visited if I had known what you had to offer.”

“We are aware of these issues,” Gnazeu told Team Turismo. “I used to live in Miami and found that U.S. citizens there often confused Brazil with Argentina. They seemed to think of it more as a region that had Carnaval, samba and soccer all together.”

“That’s why we need to give you a strategy for a marketing mix that educates people about what makes Santa Catarina not only different from the Caribbean, but a different Brazilian experience in itself,” the SANTUR managers were told by Team Turismo’s Arjan Dhillon, director of internet sales and marketing at Memory Tech International in Richmond, Calif.

Team Turismo is expected to give its final report to SANTUR in October 2004.

Media Contact: Kim Huggett, Director of Public Affairs, (510) 885-3884

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