Forgive me for sounding increasingly grumpy. I know one is supposed to be positive and always look on the bright side of life but the evidence to support my worst fears keeps coming in. Just 14 days ago the citizens of Venice held a mock funeral to lament the disappearance of its true citizens (see previous post) and today I discovered this earlier article (written over a year ago) in a very reputable travel ezine moaning about another Italian destination icon - the golden city of Firenze.
There's one line on this page that tells the real tale - "How to do Firenze for free". While I am pleased to think that there are museums and galleries that don't charge the equivalent of a second mortgage to be enjoyed, can travel ever be undertaken for free? Even the language "doing Firenze" implies doing it over and not treating it with respect.
Surely it's this failure to understand that there are costs associated with tourism as well as benefits that is the source of the problem. I love travel; I've devoted my life to supporting a community that welcomes strangers, offers hospitality and encourages cultures to mix and appreciate one another. But I am, as any reader of the blog will affirm, increasingly intolerant of the woolly headed thinking that talks about tourism as a right; that suggests there aren't limits to its growth; and believes that branding is a substitute for management and conservation.
If I sound like a broken record, so be it. Tourism will suffer if it doesn't join and contribute to the debate on growth and management. The M in DMO will in future stand for Management. Problem is - we simply don't yet know how to manage demand equitably and efficiently at the destination level unless, of course, it has become a crisis. Any thoughts anyone? Anyone out there? Who is looking seriously at the NET benefit of tourism and engaging residents in determining how much and what type of tourism they feel comfortable accommodating?
Come to think about it - I withdraw my apology about being grumpy on this one. Where's the chianti?