Many tourism stakeholders,
are aware that improving communication is a worthy objective,
yet they are stymied by how to put practice into action. Our
challenge is to integrate feedback loops to provide valuable
input and engage local hosts, visitors, media, policy-makers
and everyone else.
The value of communication is based on relevant
and timely information. Without such information, there can
be no effective communication.
Most of us are content to socialize with people who think like
ourselves. When we wish to communicate with others, there are
opportunities for conflict. That's ok! Think outside the bubble!
Where there is conflict, there are also opportunities for change.
If we accept the idea that we need better communication, let's
keep things as friendly as possible. Find ways to create incentives
Dialogues needs lively public forums -- online and in the natural
In 1996 I was invited to speak at the Coloquio
Internacional sobre Ecoturismo. My presentation: The
value of information AND communication. Basic lesson - The
Web allows everyone to be connected in ways that were unimaginable
ten years ago. The value
of communication is based on good information. Without relevant
information, there is no effective communication. Garbage in,
WHY COMMUNICATION IS ELUSIVE
A colleague says the problem with communication is the illusion
that it has occurred. My response is the fact that communication
is not necessarily desired. How else to explain the lack of
adequate documentation and signage?
Many tourism stakeholders are aware that improving
communication is a worthy objective, yet they feel stymied by
how to put the practice into action. Communication is not as
easy as it appears. Jargon is used, particularly by 'experts,'
to make topics less accessible.
Sustainable tourism requires mindful communication. This means
incorporating feedback loops that provide critical input to
service providers, travelers, media, policy-makers and other
Sharing information needs to be structured into our interaction.
We need to be demanding of green
events. And we need to learn the skills the Web provides
for those interested to become volunteer
Dialogues need lively public forums -- online and in the natural
In July 2002 I participated in a review of a study commissioned
by the World Bank about ecotourism in Oaxaca,
Mexico. The report -- Oaxaca Ecotourism Study (Reference
Contract #7118160) -- supported financing forestry
projects that include an ecotourism component. All well
That said, the document was prepared without public consultation,
the study is not available online, nor has there been a single
reference to the work on the World Bank website.
This is not a critique of the loan nor the report -- just the
lack of communication, which creates unnecessary risks in project
If the information were public from contract bidding through
field research and interviews and leading to the publication,
this and similar bank-funded initiatives would stand a greater
chance of success. But how do you create synergies when the
(aka 'stakeholders') are not informed?
In the 2003 panel, it was difficult to critique the bank's
lack of transparency during the meeting. "We know about stakeholders,"
said one official. My response: "But what do stakeholders know
WHAT DOES NOT WORK
During the 2002 Financing
Sustainable Tourism Conference, one of the proposals was
to create an independent directory of failed sustainable tourism
projects. Knowing what hasn't worked would be good to know,
but so far no such directory has been created.
Supposedly, of 100 internationally funded projects in Ecuador
in the 1990s, 95 failed. It would be good to know why. I'm not
interested in casting blame, but if we don't admit errors, we've
learned nothing from our mistakes and the vicious cycle of project
funding and project failure begins anew. The country has received
more funding, but it's unclear how the projects are faring.