Global Glance: Aug 3, 2015
A quick look at intriguing international stories
By John Bostwick, Managing Editor, Radius
Welcome back to Global Glance. This week we look at:
The World Economic Forum has released its 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report. The Report is over 500 pages, analyzing 141 countries on the basis of 14 areas, or “pillars,” ranging from business environment to health and safety to environmental sustainability. The list’s top ten tourist-friendly countries — all developed nations — will likely surprise no one. Six are from Western Europe (with Spain at number one), and those countries are joined by the US, Australia, Japan and Canada. That said, one of the key findings of the report is that travel and tourism provide benefits to the local populations of virtually all countries. And, the industry is more resilient to setbacks — and has shown quicker growth recently — than the global economy taken as a whole. In addition, the Report notes, “several developing and emerging economies are ranked among the 50 most [travel and tourism] competitive economies.”
One article last week — The Street’s “World's Most Dangerous Travel Destinations” — focused on the health and safety findings of the World Economic Forum’s report. (That’s “pillar two” of the report, in case you’re trying to find those rankings in the unwieldy document.) Nigeria and Colombia are at the bottom of pillar two, an unfortunate distinction. However, it should be added that Colombia is ranked a respectable 68th on the overall list. Furthermore, The Street article observes, “Colombia’s ranking ... triggered much disagreement among travel industry professionals who say the country has made great strides in recent years and disputed its dismal safety score.” Here’s more evidence that it’s best not to rely on a single source of information when researching a country, whether you’re planning a family vacation or an international business expansion.
Lollapalooza in Colombia
Leaders of Colombia’s tourism industry can turn with relief from the World Economic Forum’s health and safety rankings to an article in The Music Times about Lollapalooza’s recent announcement that the music festival giant will expand to Colombia in the fall of 2016. The brief piece in The Music Times reads like Bogota chamber of commerce copy, first indicating that the festival will take place at a huge park in the city, then easing the fears of potential foreign visitors: “After decades of deadly war between FARC rebels and the government, the country is growing at a healthy clip with tourism booming and a potential peace agreement on the horizon being worked out in Cuba.”
The Wall Street Journal also reported on the story, explaining that Lollapalooza’s expansion into Colombia is part of the festival partners’ ongoing business strategy of targeting South American countries. Those partners have, since 2011, held events in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. One partner — Charlie Walker of concert promoters C3 — says of the strategy: “Europe is obviously saturated. We look for super fast-growing, robust economies. There’s a press article every day about what’s happening in Colombia. … South America isn’t very crowded [with competition]. And now the Lollapalooza brand is big enough that people know about it before we get there.”
Another of the partners is (of course) Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell. While now at the helm of a successful multinational, I’ll always think of him as the guy who wrote and sang the killer songs “Jane Says” and “Been Caught Stealing,” about a woman’s drug addiction and shoplifting, respectively. How many captains of industry can say they’ve done something like that?
Arab TV Inside — then Outside — Israel
An NPR story last week led with a statistic that may surprise some: one out of five people in Israel is an Arab. Despite that high proportion, however, Arabs in Israel have scant access to Arabic-language television. This situation has given rise to Palestine 48, a TV station that tightly focuses on Arabs in Israel, and includes such programs as a “breezy” Today Show-like morning program that gives weather forecasts and other information for Israeli cities with large Arab populations. Another impetus for the new channel is to increase the visibility of Arabs in Israel, who are sometimes overlooked inside and outside the country. One of the co-hosts of the morning show is quoted as saying, "We are here, we want to be on the map, we are on the map.”
Unfortunately for the station’s creators and viewers, Palestine 48’s Israel-based studio was shut down last month by authorities shortly after going on air for the first time, in part because it’s funded by the Palestinian Authority. The show is now broadcasting from Ramallah, in the West Bank. The TV channel’s head, Firas Abdulrahman, laments the situation, saying: “Jews, Muslims and Christians have lived for many years inseparably in their natural environment. How can you now separate this? I think our future is to live together under whichever name you choose.” The somewhat comical English translation of Palestine 48’s morning-show title speaks to how far the region is from this vision of harmony. It’s called “Our Morning Is Different.”
For more on the story, read Aljazeera.com’s in-depth article, “Israel Closes TV Station on Palestinian Identity,” and The Times of Israel’s shorter piece, “Netanyahu Aims to Shut New ‘Palestine 48’ TV Station.”