Learning from history: Tourism edition
Some people have the view that there is nothing to be learned from the past. They see history is a process of evolution - the cars are better now - the hockey players would whip the players in the past (Guy Lafleur used to smoke in the dressing room for crying out loud!) - music is better now - movies are better now - food is waaay better now. We are smarter and richer than ever before and the only benefit from history is making sure we don’t repeat the big mistakes.
I have a different view. While I agree in the idea of progress, I also think that things get lost along the way.
I was thinking about this as I read the very entertaining Backyard History column in the TJ this morning (you need a subscription but he posts these later I believe on his Facebook page).
It was about the father of tourism in New Brunswick back in the 1920s. I’ll let you read it but there are a half dozen things in there that could be used today - or at least a modernized version - such as bringing big name American celebrities, stars and politicians here deliberately as a way to promote the province for tourism. When was the last time we paid a big celebrity to visit New Brunswick? This guy in the 1920s had an “unusual capacity to make the acquaintance of men occupying prominent places in the world". When was the last time we had someone working in tourism with this profile? Ian Fowler in Moncton seemed to be able to attract big name music acts at one point.
The Father of NB Tourism brought live moose, deer and bears to big American cities as a promotional tool for potential hunters. Not sure that one would work today but I would be interested in the modern equivalent.
In 1931, President Herbert Hoover attended one of these New Brunswick tourism events in Philadelphia and ‘dined on New Brunswick delicacies’. When was the last time we saw this?
I think about the original Pugwash Conference which was held in - you guessed it - Pugwash and brought the world’s top scientists together to discuss the dangers of weapons of mass destruction. That one event put Pugwash and Nova Scotia on the map.
I’m not an expert on tourism marketing. Maybe the experts today would say we should focus on Instagram influencers but I’m just thinking we should troll through the past for lost but potentially good ideas not only for tourism but for economic development more generally.
Some of those ideas might warrant a dust off for today.