by Ron Mader
This week I received via the dreaded email attachment the poster (seen below) about an upcoming tourism conference in Oaxaca. The idea behind the poster is great and asks academics and academic wannabees to think about tourism that goes beyond the books (más alla de los libros). But walk the talk! In terms of conversing about tourism using the Web (más alla de los libros), this conference and many like it fall short. Woefully short.
Personally, I find this event and many of its kin, truly wonderful hip and up-to-date venues … provided you’re living in 1977. If you’re not living in the Lost Universe that asks where where you when Star Wars debuted, then you might ask, what would it be like to promote tourism in 2010? Here is where Mexico falls short. Tianguis Turistico? Great idea a few decades ago. Not so much in the 2010s.
Don’t get me wrong. Mexico has wonderful options for visitors and locals, but conversing about the long tail of options is where officials fail and where TripAdvisor, Flickr and YouTube succeed in the current info climate. What worked in the 1970s simply will not thrive in the 2010s. We’re beyond Peak Oil and we’re beyond Peak Tourism. What can work is slow travel and the burgeoning local travel movement.
Foodies love Mexico and it makes sense to have events that showcase local cuisine. I invite anyone visiting Oaxaca to try out the chocolate and mezcal treasure hunts.
Looking beyond this particular event, what should event organizers change? Almost everything and we have a few ideas on making conferences more engaging for locals and visitors. Highly recommended listening is the ABC program The Future of Conferences.
On the bright side, most countries are adapting to the new digital divide measured no longer but whether or not do you or do you not use the Web but how well you use it as a tool for conversation instead of as a megaphone.