Over the past few years, the turmoil surrounding some tourism organizations such as convention & visitor bureaus, chamber of commerce and tourism offices has caused me to think of the term “shock doctrine” coined by Canadian author, Naomi Klein. Her thesis is that governments can make extremely unpopular changes during disasters, upheavals and crises that they would be unable to even consider in normal times. Hardly a week passes when we don’t see another DMO under threat of severe budget cuts, diversion of lodging tax dollars to other organizations, elimination of the DMO or an attempt to fold DMO operations into city or county governments because of an extreme financial crisis facing the place.
On many occasions it is elected officials at the center of these storms. While some of the restructuring efforts are totally valid, on too many occasions they seem to be stimulated by long-standing turf battles over roles, budgets and personalities. It amazes me that so many of these elected officials are great advocates for branding and marketing when it comes to their individual election campaigns, but soon forget to apply the same principles to their community’s economic
development once they are elected. They seem inclined to be cavalier in regard to the negative impacts that may, and do, result from their actions.
The travel and tourism industry has been a particularly bright spot in our economic growth over the past few years. It is proving to be a vital employer and generator of income. While jobs in other industries may have been shipped overseas, tourism jobs cannot be easily outsourced. This is well stated in the study by McKinsey Global Institute in which they predict as many as one in seven new jobs in the USA over the next decade will come from travel and tourism.
With another election out of the way, let’s hope that the cycle of “purges” doesn’t start again. There’s far too much at stake!