I know I am, and I’m guessing you are, too.
But let’s suppose for a minute that we’re a hotel or restaurant that is filled to capacity. Then the term ‘overbooked’ is a good thing, right?
Well, maybe not always. At least that’s one chain of thought as presented in a book I’ve just finished reading titled, appropriately, “Overbooked – the Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism.” Written by Elizabeth Becker, a former NY Times correspondent as well as a Senior Foreign Editor at NPR, the book puts forth a different vision of the industry that many – approximately one of every ten people around the world, myself included – call home in terms of the job market.
And since here in Orlando we live in the epicenter of mammoth queue lines for everything and therefore are pretty familiar with the look of overcrowded tourism, some of the stats from this book didn’t surprise me. But this one did:
The lone state of Hawaii generates around $1 billion a month in tourism dollars. And that’s without any traditional theme parks!
So, what type of monthly tourism revenue does Florida realize? Currently just north of $6 billion a month, give or take a few bucks depending on the stats you’re reading. Think that’s a lot of moolah? I do, which is why I found the premise of this book so fascinating. Ms. Becker is actually pointing in the direction of too much of a good thing – tourism – is, well, too much. She provides plenty of examples from the decline of Venice, Italy from both the rising waters of too many mega cruise ships and the increasing investment of foreign money (many of the traditional Carnivale souvenir masks are now mass produced in China instead of the once-sacred Italian glass factories) to the shock and awe of a new tourist industry devoted to, well, shock and awe such as the commercializing of the Killing Fields in Cambodia.
But wait. I’m not proposing we throw away the pixie dust and turn this into yet another negative read. It is, after all, an election year so you’ve already got plenty of that sort of gloom and doom to read about elsewhere.
My point with this post has to do with a different observation made in this book. When comparing the numbers of people that visit national parks and nature reserves to the much larger visitor numbers posted by theme parks, the author made this point: “Theme parks are an extension of everyday life requiring no more than standing in line, going on rides, eating and repeating the process. At [nature/wilderness] parks, visitors are removed from their comfort zones.”
Huh. Food for thought, especially while waiting in line for your next, um, mocha latte. . .grocery check out. . .gas tank fill up. . .school pick up, etc.
Are we all overbooked, or just comfortable and accepting of our long queue lines as they are?