One of the most pivotal moments in my career occurred at an Orient-Express Hotels event in 2011.
The Hotel Ritz Madrid
I was still working full-time for Forbes Media and one of the lifestyle journalists sent me an invitation to an NYC luncheon for the Hotel Ritz Madrid, a very famous hotel in Spain. Of course, I decided to attend; I wanted to become a travel writer and I knew nothing about travel writing or the tourism industry.
At the luncheon, the GM presented a Powerpoint that showcased the exquisite Hotel Ritz in all of its splendor. As he talked about Spain’s tourism, I was floored by the following statement:
“Tourism is the second largest industry in Spain, after gasoline.”
“Whaaaat??” I thought to myself at the time. Ah. Tourism is political because it has significant economic power. Finally, I found my niche in the tourism industry. I suddenly realized its importance: tourism builds economies, and countries all over the world depend on the industry for survival. Now I’m excited.
Before that moment, travel was simply a luxury and lifestyle topic in my mind. Upon realizing that travel had a legislative side, I began to figure out my passions and my destiny.
Tunisia is a perfect example of a country that needs tourism to sustain its economy. The passages below are from a recent article titled “Tunisia to tourists: Never mind the Salafis, feel the warmth”, by A. Craig Copetas, via Quartz, qz.com:
Tunisia’s turquoise waters
“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it,” was Rudyard Kipling’s foremost recommendation to adventurous 19th century tourists intent on visiting troublesome locations like the ruins of Carthage in the French Protectorate of Tunisia. Some 150 years later, Tunisia’s prime minister, Hamadi Jebali, recently told holidaymakers that the new prime directive for enjoying a vacation in his roiling Islamic North African nation is ”not being afraid of the beards.”
Calling all travel agents: Tunisia needs tourists, and Jebali’s proclamation is the latest salvo in a global marketing campaign launched last summer called Tunisia, Where Dreams Come True:
“The jihadist nightmare engulfs the entire region,” says the Maghreb nation’s ambassador to France, Adel Fekih. “We must fight this internationally. This is not a local brawl. Our development as a nation is linked to tourism.”
Read the rest of the Quartz article here, at qz.com.