Tag: Nation Branding

Can Greece Count on Tourism to Rescue it From its Economic Hole?

It’s sure trying. World Hum contributor Joanna Kakissis reports for NPR on Greece’s efforts to lure visitors and fight the perception that rioters plague the country. One key target market: Germans.

German politicians are not popular in Greece. Greeks see them as the instigators of austerity measures that will mean years of recession ahead. The German media has also played up the rift between the two countries.

And that seems to be reflected in the number of Germans avoiding holidays here.

Germans usually make up about 15 percent of visitors to Greece. But the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises estimates that 300,000 of them—or about 12 percent of the Germans who come to Greece annually—will stay away this year. About 16 million travelers visit Greece each year.

So Greece’s tourism ministry is trying to restore the country’s image in Germany and beyond.

Greece’s government has also “offered to compensate tourists stranded by labour unrest ahead of a new travel strike,” according to AFP

The Evocative Game

The Evocative Game Adnan Abidi/Reuters

On a traveler's divided loyalties during the World Cup

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London Mayor: ‘Harry Potter is Not American’

Universal Orlando’s latest theme park creation, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, opens next week—and London Mayor Boris Johnson will definitely not be attending any ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Strong words from the Mayor:

I deeply and bitterly resent that Orlando is about to become the official place of pilgrimage for every Harry Potter fan on earth… Because the fact is that Harry Potter is not American. He is British. Where is Diagon Alley, where they buy wands and stuff? It is in London, and if you want to get into the Ministry of Magic you disappear down a London telephone box. The train for Hogwarts goes from King’s Cross, not Grand Central Station.

Don’t worry, London. I’m sure there are still plenty of Potter fans that will want to visit the, er, not-quite-real thing. (Via The Book Bench)

Bill Bryson: Britain has Become ‘Self-Absorbed’

The travel writer was commenting at a recent literary festival on the changes he’s seen in his adopted country. The BBC quotes Bryson: “When I first came to Britain it really was all about fair play and queuing… Everybody is in a hurry now and there is a ‘the rules don’t apply to me’ sort of thing.” (Via The Book Bench)

‘Kyoto Should Not be Building Concrete Boxes’

The New York Times takes a look at an ongoing debate in Japan over the future of the country’s tourism industry. At the heart of the issue: Should efforts to boost tourism emphasize modern initiatives, like the monster aquarium in the works in Kyoto, or focus on the country’s heritage buildings and traditional culture?

It’s an important question for a national tourism industry that has lagged behind its competitors. Reporter Hiroko Tabuchi notes that “the country generated just $10.8 billion from foreign tourism in 2008, a tenth of the $110 billion the United States earned from overseas tourists that year. Ukraine and Macao each attract more foreign tourists a year than Japan.”

An American Traveler Remembers the ‘Ugly’ Years

Perceptive Travel has a thoughtful essay from Theresa Dowell Blackinton, looking back at her overseas reception across several years of travel—from the ’90s to 9/11, the Bush Years and the election of President Obama. Here’s a sample from her 2004 stint as an expat in Greece:

As a teacher, I found that America worked itself into every lesson plan, whether I wanted it to or not. “What do you think the main themes of To Kill a Mockingbird are?” I asked.

“That Americans are racist,” a student replied.

“Do you think that’s true?” I asked. “Are all Americans racist?” I wanted to dig deeper, to explore an issue that affects their culture as much as it does mine.

“Well they hate Muslims,” another student responded. The others nodded their heads in agreement.

The Titanic Awards: 10 Worst National Cuisines

The Titanic Awards: 10 Worst National Cuisines Photo by onlinehero via Flickr (Creative Commons)

More than 2,000 travelers from 80 countries voted in the Titanic Awards survey. Here are the unlucky winners.

See the full photo slideshow »

Time Traveling Through Travel Ads

Over at the Big Money, Martha C. White is the latest to dig up some old travel ads to smile and gawk at. Sophia showcased a good batch of old-timey travel ads from magazines last year at Flyover America.

From Beijing to Vancouver: A Very Different Olympics

From Beijing to Vancouver: A Very Different Olympics REUTERS/Shaun Best
Fans cheer on the Canadian hockey team at the Vancouver Olympics. (REUTERS/Shaun Best)

It’s been nearly two years since I blogged from the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, and—as I thought I might—I now find myself on the Olympic travel trail again, in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games. I’ll be honest: The two host cities couldn’t feel more different.

I stepped off the train from the airport and surfaced in downtown Vancouver this weekend, expecting, perhaps, to feel some uniquely Olympic vibe in the air, familiar to me from my brief time in Beijing. But the scene on Vancouver’s streets has almost nothing in common with the one I encountered two years ago. My memories of Beijing are all broad boulevards, empty except for uniformed Chinese volunteers offering directions to clusters of wandering foreigners, and subdued subway cars full of commuters. Vancouver, in contrast, is a non-stop maple-leaf-painted street party—flag-draped young people careen through the streets, impromptu break dancing circles pop up on corners, and buskers work the crowds. The brightly-dressed foreigners that I remember from Beijing are here, too, but they’re wildly outnumbered by the revelers in red and white.

I suppose there are plenty of economic reasons for the contrast. The 2008 Games probably weren’t as accessible to the average Chinese citizen as these Games are to most Vancouverites, while the expense and difficulty of visiting China could explain why the many young Olympics visitors here were absent in Beijing. (The local high school students I rode the bus home with last night, for instance, weren’t likely to make a transcontinental Olympic trek.) But economics aside, I still feel like there’s a fundamental difference at work: Beijing’s Games, to me, were clearly aimed outward, at the world, while Vancouver’s, so far, feel more like an essentially Canadian party to which everyone else has also been invited.

11 Things You Must Know About Canada

canada maple leaf Photo by Яick Harris, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Frank Bures offers a primer for anyone headed to Vancouver for the Olympics. It's mordant!

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Facebook and America’s Social Geography

Here’s a fascinating map put together by PeteSearch, showing the regional connections between America’s Facebook users. The data creates some unexpected clusters and movement patterns: For instance, users in the northeastern states—dubbed “Stayathomia”—tend to have more local and fewer long-range connections, while users in the “Nomadic West” generally have more far-flung friendship networks. (Via Kottke)

76-Second Travel Show: Is Italy the ‘Citizen Kane’ of Travel?

Robert Reid goes on a quest to find out -- and David Farley ponders the importance of quests while traveling

Watch the Video »

Geoff Dyer on the Charm of American Travelers

The British travel writer tackles that persistent traveling stereotype, the Ugly American, in a funny and insightful New York Times story. Here’s a sample:

The archetypal American abroad is perceived as loud and crass even though actually existing American tourists are distinguished by the way they address bus drivers and bartenders as “sir” and are effusive in their thanks when any small service is rendered. We look on with some confusion at these encounters because, on the one hand, the Americans seem a bit country-bumpkinish, and, on the other, good manners are a form of sophistication.

(Via @douglasmack)

NPR Delves Into the World of Marmite

And uses the word “sludge” twice in the first two minutes. I may be a defender of British food, but I have to confess I could never get into the dark yeasty stuff. (Via The Book Bench)

In Defense of British Food, Redux

I went there a few months back. Now, Matador Nights has joined the cause, with an excellent starter guide for anyone we’ve convinced to give British food a fair shot.

Does Chicago Lack a ‘Recognizable Narrative’?

Over at The Smart Set, Jessa Crispin speculates about what her one-time hometown means to the outside world. She writes:

Because Chicago has no new compelling storyline, the old ones will have to do for the rest of the world. Even the renowned literary magazine Granta—after spending who knows how long creating its recent issue devoted entirely to Chicago—used Al Capone as its first example of what defines Chicago in the issue’s introduction.

Forbes Ranks World’s Billionaires Against National GDPs

And, for many nations, it’s not a flattering comparison. Bill Gates’ net worth, for instance, is higher than the gross domestic product of more than 140 different countries. Warren Buffett’s wealth ranks up there with North Korea’s, while George Lucas and Guyana are neck-and-neck further down the list. Hmm. I smell gimmicky rebranding potential—tropical vacation in Lucasland, anyone? (Via Kottke)

The ‘Entity Formerly Known as the British Empire’ Has Some Advice for an America in Decline

More McSweeney’s hilarity from World Hum contributor Kate Hahn. Here’s one bit of advice for the U.S. from the former British Empire, delivered from a bar on the Costa del Sol:

Look, I’ve been there. Coffers empty. Troops everywhere. Economy sour. Your empire’s finished. But just because I’m retired doesn’t mean I can’t be useful. Here’s how you get through it.

First off: lean on your family. And by that I don’t mean the hearth-and-home sort, I mean royals. Make the office of the president of the United States more regal. Pomp and circumstance distracts you from the fact that you don’t matter anymore. Have guards stand outside the White House gates in some kind of regalia. Celebrate the president’s birthday—not just the dead ones, the one you have now. What’s his ... Bomama ... Obama, yes, yes, the Kenyan.

Ah, Kenya. Mine once. Moment for Kenya.


Nigeria’s Rebranding Campaign Hits a Hollywood Road Block

Poor Nigeria. The government there launched a major rebranding campaign back in March, attempting to improve its reputation for corruption and annoying email scams, but so far cooperation from outside the country has been hard to come by. Two of the latest obstacles? A Sony PlayStation commercial that made a crack about those aforementioned email scams, and the sci-fi movie “District 9,” which apparently portrays its Nigerian characters as “gangsters, cannibals, pimps and prostitutes.” Ouch.

‘Why Do Russians Drink Vodka?’ and Other Google Queries

The Telegraph has a funny slideshow of screenshots from Google searches in progress, showing the drop-down menus of suggestions generated by popular searches. So a search for “why do british” pulls up “why do british have bad teeth,” “why do british drink so much” and other national stereotypes. My favorites? “Why do Japanese people do the peace sign” and “why do germans love david hasselhoff.” Why, indeed?