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When Tourism and Residents Collide

Image-1328063-galleryV9-fqte-1328063It's like that Def Leppard song.

Both sides in their respective corners...one side acting like they want to work it out, the other saying there cannot be a solution as long as the other takes breath. So, maybe it's more like the theme song of Rocky IV.

My friend, brand-meister Duane Knapp, and I have been bouncing this conversation around for a few months: the term "Over-Tourism" needs to be stricken from our shared lexicon. It does nothing but inflame...and isn't even accurate. Communities do not suffer from too many tourists. If they suffer, it is from poor management of the visitors that, at one time, sounded like a pretty good idea.

After all, let's not forget, the residents causing the most ruckus surely benefit from non-resident taxes, lower unemployment and more cool stuff to do in their towns than if visitors didn't drop off boatloads of cash each year. And, yes...their counter-arguments are just as valid. Tourists can be self-absorbed pigs.

But, a recent story from Juneau AK exemplifies why we need to stop the name calling. Some local activists, calling themselves "Juneau Neighborhoods Affected by Tourism," called a meeting to discuss their grievances about the travel industry...without the travel industry in the room.

Organizers were beyond miffed when some industry representatives showed up to the meeting, one even asking them to vacate seats up front so that those that wanted to bitch could be seated. Astonished, representatives from cruise-lines and other hospitality businesses replied that they were only there to hear the concerns so they could attempt some form of mitigation.

But, no. Let's not enter into meaningful conversation to find a mutually beneficial solution. Let's just keep pointing fingers.

Destination Marketing Organizations have a role here...and we need to engage, pronto.

Image Credit: Der Spiegel

Bill Geist

Bill GeistBill Geist

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