Friday, October 06, 2006


Sometimes people in my profession embarrass me. It seems many aren’t pushing to continually improve. For some, it’s all about who’s asking and you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

Sometimes we sound like a selfish clique, looking out only for our own interests. We don’t listen to the needs of other sectors; we just want them to support tourism, well, just because.

Take the school calendar discussion. It’s clearly important to some destinations but not nearly the majority. Other school issues are equally or more important to many of our stakeholders, and they won’t be served by one-size-fits-all or if we “circle the wagons” around some issues, just because they were raised by other tourism officials.

What would others say if we as tourism officials stuck our nose into the way they conduct their business? I think tourism is far more deeply and broadly embraced in destinations where tourism officials are as concerned about other stakeholder needs as they are about those of special interests.

What if the liquor stores/ABC boards all got together and tried to make all of the churches in North Carolina stop holding services on Sunday mornings? Their argument might be along the lines of, “It’s hurting our business, because people don’t want to stay out late on Saturday nights.” And of course, “If we free up people to stay out late drinking, think of the economic benefit that would result…all of those tax dollars for government (not to mention a tidy profit for the distributors).”

Never mind that some communities and some churches would likely say, “It’s fine if you want to change, but leave us alone…we’re quite happy with our service hours on Sunday morning.” Can you imagine how it would feel to have your church hours legislated by a small group having no idea of the consequences of that to each faith community, on the basis of how important the economic benefit would be?

Part of maturing as a profession is being able to ask very difficult questions of one another and treat issues that impact others in a way that we would like tourism treated.

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