George Smith takes a swing at a recent report that recommends investing in experiential tourism.
On a broad stroke I have to say that I agree. Invest in roads and communications so visitors have easier access to rural areas.
A new report issued by the Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) once again touts ecotourism as the road to prosperity for rural Maine. The report takes a swipe at traditional outdoor activities while suggesting that an investment of $100 million in “new destination development” will be needed to serve what it calls “experiential tourists.”
As always, the devil is in the details. And George takes issue with some details. Mainly, he objects to the assertion that hunting and fishing need to be downplayed. Apparently the future is in bird watching.
There is so much here that I need do some quick hits:
- I define ecotourism broadly. Anyone who comes to Maine because of its outdoors is an ecotourist. That puts hunters, anglers, hikers, paddlers, boaters, birders and peepers (groan) in the same category. Honestly, there’s not much difference between hunters and birders.
- I don’t hunt. I own a fishing pole and license but really can’t say that I fish. But I respect people’s desire to pursue both activities because they’re both vital parts of Maine’s history and future.
- I respect Don Kleiner greatly. You need to pay attention to what he says about the economics of guiding and tourism. I also would recommend him as a guide and teacher without hesitation.
- I have a minor issue with George Smith. He’s taking this report as an attack on hunting and fishing. Which is funny because a few years ago he took a swipe at granola-crunching backpackers because they’re the wrong kind of tourists.
- One of the trickiest decision to make in business is whether to offer a few high-priced options or many low-priced options. Too often our personal tastes influence that decision. The same dynamics are at play here.
- Maine needs to make a decision about what is “The Way Life Should Be.” It’s a branding decision. Once we figure that out, it will guide us through a lot of other decisions. Casinos come to mind.
Each one these points deserves explanation and discussion. Which I will provide later. I haven’t read the report yet but I will take a stab at it this week. Then I will write more.
This is important to everyone. The quality of place issue influences why people visit and live in Maine. It then helps or hurts us grow economically.
Where are you in this debate?