Wednesday 14 February 2007

The big hello and its effect on tourist numbers

Visitors to the United States of America have declined quite dramatically.

Even people in countries which ally themselves to the USA are finding other destinations more attractive. British visitors were 10% fewer compared to 2005,a surprising fact when one takes into account the value generated by an attractive rate of exchange.

One explanation is the problems of the new entry conditions and many of these could have been handled better. Another may be the real and growing unpopularity of the President.

Perhaps the overwhelming concern is the perceived unfriendliness of the American people.

On Sunday February 11th, a primetime BBC show “Top Gear” featured a journey by the show’s three idiosyncratic presenters, by road, from Miami to New Orleans. They behaved in the provocative way they always do, and were met by a great deal of aggression. Jeremy Clarkson ended the show by pointing out that the richest nation in the world had done very little to repair the damage done to New Orleans one year after Hurricane Katrina. To the Americans he said, " Shame on you", and advised British viewers not to go to the USA.

Over 4 million visits were made to the States in 2006 by the British and. this kind of publicity will make the task of the people responsible for tourism much harder.

Is it possible to brand a country?

Some countries have attempted to, and it is a very complex task. A country’s image is composed of its geography, history, economy, culture and position. Its brand identity involves foreign and domestic policy, business, trading patterns, religion, heritage as well as tourism.

It may not be possible to brand the USA in all its complexity, but it needs to address the problem posed by falling tourist numbers. My own experience in Boston suggests that most Americans are courteous and friendly. The perception of a lot of British people is, however, very different.

This perception needs to be addressed urgently.


Anonymous said...

I think America has a mountain to climb but I agree, most Americans are courteous and polite. Their perceived ignorance or indifference to other countries and cultures must also factor. Dear Mr.Bush has done little to assuage such opinions. My favourite quote about Bush is from Alexai Sayle who said, "Americans have different ways of saying things. They say "elevator" we say "lift"...they say "President" we say "stupid psychopathic git""

But there's a glimmer of hope on the horizon!

He's saved the planet before, used to be a barbarian but not anymore, an environmentalist, a great nanny and the last time I saw him he was Commando...

Yes, it's Arnold "The Governator" Schwarzenegger! - surely the world will be hopping over to the newly branded "Arnieland"? - with the catch phrase "You'll Be Back!"

Anonymous said...

You write very well.