How important is the Web to
The Web has its role, but in the sum of communication strategies,
it's not that important. For many cultures the internet is too synthetic.
Nevertheless, I am convinced there will be increasing acceptance
of the Internet around the world in the next generation.
People prioritize physical interaction. They shake hands, they engage
in small talk and keep an eye on each other's gestures. In some
cultures, for example Arab and Latin America, when asked how important
various communication tools are, the mobile phone ranks number one,
fax number two, phone number three, letter number four and email
How did you develop the website?
This past year we launched WorldTourismDirectory.com
as a major source of tourism data -- covering about 110,000 entries
from more than 300 countries.
Is all the information up-to-date?
I can not guarantee for 100% accuracy. Most is correct, but this
field is In constant flux. I need to hear that company XYZ in Congo
or Mongolia has moved, association A and B in Papua New Guinea have
merged together or There is a new national park in Tajikistan. You
might as well ask how important are business cards.
Ok. How reliable are business cards?
I visit the International Tourism Exchange or World Travel Market
each year. From the past four events alone, I have more than 200
cards with non-working emails. Some representatives don't know the
difference between their email and the website and they can't catch
a mistake if there is one.
Is that the only problem with email?
Last week I spoke with a secretary of a permanent mission of an
African country to the United Nations. I was told they had not opened
their mail box for a few weeks and realized they had received 3000+
messages. Because they could not identify what was important, they
deleted them all!
Can tourism officials or operators submit their media releases?
Can they request that specific news items be featured on your home
By August our news section will be fully developed. We ask all national
tourist boards to include our email address on their PR mailing
How well do Latin America countries fare in promoting their
There's a mixed record. Most leaders administrate and regulate,
but they don't promote. When I try to meet with them at international
fares in Europe, it seems that most of the time they are out shopping
and entertaining themselves.
A head of a national tourism ministry in Central
America told me some years ago that he wanted to fire 85% of
the people in his office, but because of bureaucracy, could not
make any staff changes.
According to my source the former minister liked nice girls around
him. The result ... Plenty of pretty girls, but they just talk about
parties. Do you think that office will provide any serious replies
to an email? The staff only uses the Web for private chats ... To
plan the next party!
What's your impression of tourism board websites?
Again, it's a mixed impression. Some do a quite a good job. Other's
don't. When calling a national tourist board, frequently I am told
'Do not use the email address you see on the website, use this.'
My response is always to ask them why they don't correct the basic
information on their own site.
Why does this happen?
Many tourism portals are managed by an external agency that has
funding for six months. The site may be paid up for three years,
but after the initial launch, there are no updates.
What else are you working on in 2005?
The big news is that WorldTourismDirectory.com will be partnering
with the World Tourism Foundation to promote mutual understanding
among various cultures around the world. I am also updating the
German-International Relations and working with the U.K.-based
World of Information.