If you watch news on two different networks you might conclude that they are living in completely different worlds. Sometimes I like the idea of residing in a place where I make the decisions. In the ideal world that exists only in my imagination, here is how things would be for tourism marketers.

• Employers would encourage their workers to take time off. In America alone, 662 million earned vacation days off were left on the table last year. I don't know if employees choose to give up those days in order to ingratiate themselves to the boss to get ahead. I wonder if bosses subtly encourage such behavior. Ideally, bosses would understand that time off results in rejuvenated, hard-working, productive employees.

• By the time someone has earned enough time off from work to go on a vacation, his or her bank account will have accrued precisely the amount needed for a getaway. As long as this whole discussion is based on being in the perfect world let’s take this point a step further. If people can put pre-tax money into a healthcare or retirement account, why not allow tax-advantaged accounts for travel? The benefits for individuals and the economy are well-known.

• Elected officials would have a sophisticated enough understanding of economics to know that tourism marketing is more than just an expense item in the city/county/state budget. It's an investment that when done properly generates way more in economic impact and local tax receipts than the initial outlay. The same cannot be said of all government spending.

• Tourism offices would be adequately funded to effectively market their destination. This should especially apply to the smaller communities that often have rich histories and ultra-cool little-known stories but rarely have the resources to get the word out. These destinations need a fair chance not only to buy ad media but to develop high quality content and advertising materials.

• Businesses that traditionally rely on tourism — such as museums, resorts, hotels, restaurants, outfitters and guides — would realize that they are not in this alone. Local tourism offices are working on their behalf. Marketing a community is a team sport. They should support the official tourism office by staying in touch and helping out when possible.

• Consumers would be savvy enough to be able to see right through bland, misleading and uncreative marketing messages like "You'll find something for everyone."

* Note: That last one was a trick. Consumers are way too smart to fall for lame advertising. Most consumers are open-minded. They want to be inspired to visit unique, off-the-beaten-path places. But they're definitely not gullible.


6 Walnut Avenue • Vinton, Virginia 24179

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