Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Seeing Into the Future Is Frustrating

Applying historical trends to the future works for me. It's always been so easy. The frustrating part is that the world appears much more interested in the anecdotal crisis of the day.

So we slip quietly toward a tipping point for global warming. We slip into another Vietnam, not more than 30 years from when we said never again.

In my world, when I’m not trying to explain that visitors are an important source of economic development, I’m trying to warn people not to take it for granted.

Take tax revenue. We can’t take visitors for granted. Oh we learned that in the aftermath of 9/11. It provided a tragic example of what happens to tax revenue and small businesses when the plug is suddenly pulled on travel.

There is a long-term issue that worries me. It isn’t enough that the competition for visitors is more and more fierce. We could be extremely successful as a destination and still be dead even in the near future, when business travel continues its long, slow decline and we just barely replace those travelers with new leisure travelers.

To me it means we need to be deploying significant increases in promotion and marketing just to ensure that the current base of visitors keeps growing. More is needed because transitioning to new markets is always more expensive than growing existing ones.

But people glaze over when you talk about more than 5 years from now, just as many complain if they have to read 10 to 20 pages to apply findings from a report. We’re becoming more and more anecdotal, more and more spoon-fed by the crisis or topic du jour, and in the meantime, we’re ignoring some very real threats in the future.

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