Smart (and not) Tourism Planning

After you’ve got a few travel miles under your belt, it becomes obvious that some governments are filled with gifted planners, while others are full of people who belong on the short bus to elementary school.

Today, let’s contrast the local government that dreamed up Cancun with the people currently making a big splash in British Columbia. The former not only turned a mostly deserted stretch of sand into one of the world’s most successful beach resort destinations, they rebuilt in less than a year after a devastating hurricane. (Yo, New Orleans, anybody paying attention to this?)

Then there’s B.C. where blogger Erin Julian reports that two massively expensive tourism projects are going bankrupt. We can just imagine the planning conversations where people passionately believed tourists would be willing to shell out $20 or more to see what is essentially a fancy map. How about I just pull up Google Earth for free? (2012 update: the website I was linking to in this post is kaput.)

The other was an interactive history museum that came with a $22 million price tag. As Erin says, “So here we have two multi-million dollar tourist attractions, both very unique but what went wrong? Simple…the locals weren’t interested and they were solely relying on tourists who weren’t willing to pay the approx. entry $20-$30 per adult especially seeing as though Western Canada tourism is mostly outdoors experiencing what the land has to offer and not seeing it portrayed indoors.”

You shouldn’t have to conduct a lot of market research to figure that one out. But you might want to try some next time guys. Or just take a Spanish phrase book and set up some meetings in the Yucatan.

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