War, Torture and Tourism
Washington, DC. Nov 25th, 2005 ---- The global tourism industry is wakening up to the realization that political image of their country and it's leaders is just as important to them as is the number of beach umbrellas for guests. Political Intelligence in Leisure and Tourism was once regarded as far fetched, but now it is big business.
Which brings me to the current antics of the Bush Administration and their handling of prisoners around the world. The flag flying above Guantanamo Bay is the same as the one Disney World, and the accent of the guards torturing prisoners is the same as the salesman pitching investment in US resorts or timeshares.
The Rednecks who don't have two dimes to their names don't care about image. They blast every criticism of right wing policies and send us those illuminating emails full of crude profanities. But they don't create jobs, or have to arrange investment in US companies, resorts or destinations. Neither has George Bush before his Daddy pushed him into politics. He never pitched anything to international clients, and was even a lousy "pitcher" at home.
The world is shrinking when it comes to trade, commerce and tourism. The knock-on effect of European visitors going home from a great time in Orlando has had a significant effect on the whole leisure and hospitality industry in Europe. Many food establishments, drink suppliers and entertainment promoters have benefited by the millions of satisfied customers seeking their establishments and products when they return home. Take Budweiser Beers as a good example.
American standards of service have revolutionized what is required from restaurants and shops across Europe. The old lack of customer service is not tolerated any more, especially by tourists who have visited America.
For generations the United States was the place to look up to for everything from human rights to fizzy drinks. One could now ask "What Went Wrong!"
One businessman admitted recently that he avoided Hiltons, Hyatts, Radisson's and Holiday Inns on his travels and never traveled on US Carriers. Here is a man who used to love America, and lived in New York. He firmly believed the hatred for the US would mean that these Icons of America would be targets of the growing numbers of militant bombers.
Another is off to Cuba for three weeks, instead of the same annual pilgrimage to Orlando. He believes Cuba is safer for him and his family than Florida. When asked about Castro and his political repression he points to Guantanamo Bay and the newspaper reports of secret US Gulags around the world. In reality you can't compare the numbers, but no one knows the truth, so perception rules the day.
The elasticity of the US Legacy Image is an unknown quantity. So far it is holding as scandal after scandal from the Bush Administration are unveiled. Britain has always been a staunch supporter of all things American, even during the Cruise Missile Crisis during the Cold War. But the tide is turning and if Tony Blair gets the boot for a Bush related political disaster then Europe and global investment may start turning away from America.
China owns most of the US Debt and if they can buy a big chunk of the European investment in the USA we have a real problem many times bigger than the threat of Al Qaeda.
Same if people stop traveling to the USA, because they "Feel Bad" about coming here. Too many million people depend on this goodwill to risk it on a stupid macho plan to glean unreliable information from low level, unproven suspects, who may or may not be terrorists.
Every whacko from the right wing mercenary community is dressed in pseudo-uniforms letting out their sick perversions on "suspects" in Iraq, being paid more than most earn in a lifetime. Their excesses are putting at risk the jobs of tens of millions of Americans, and investment into their future.
It's time to see the dirty writing on the walls and clean it up, before it's too late.