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October 12, 2007



I beg to differ with the esteemed Secretary General on this issue. His statement as reported displays a misunderstanding on his part of the positive effect tourism, cheap or otherwise, can have on lowering exactly those barriers of misunderstanding and misconception about different cultural, religious and ethnic groups.

Of course there are recognized negative aspects of travel, including environmental pollution and overbuilding by mass-tourism, sex tourism, possible exploitation of indigenous people, etc. What cannot be said about tourism - as he does - is that it "has fed rising intercultural and interreligious tensions, as well as growing alienation among vast segments of the world's population."

On the contrary, I would claim it has done the opposite. The better our understanding of other peoples and their culture the less prejudiced we are against them.

Bill Geist

Couldn't agree with you more. Which is why, if you read between the lines, I think he's really telling Ugly American's to stay home until we grow some cultural sensitivity.

vicki johnson

Bill -- Given your perspective in this post on the importance of sharing our people and our culture with our neighbors around the world, I thought you'd be interested in a film we (Disney) will premiere tonight in DC. There's a story in the money section of today's edition of USA Today, but essentially we are donating a seven-minute film and hundreds of still images to the U.S. Government to help welcome visitors to the U.S. Disney commissioned this project as part of the Secure Borders Open Doors Initiative. The “Welcome: Portraits of America” video and still portraits feature Americans from all regions and walks of life pictured against iconic backdrops.

The video and photos (incorporated in posters, banners and other imagery) will be featured in U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world, on
travel.state.gov (State Dept's website), in Airport Federal Inspection Areas, and in Airport Arrival Concourses in international airports.

A short "making of" clip is currently running on the state dept's website, as well as discoveramerica.com. The full length version will be available around 6 p.m. tonight. Would love to hear your thoughts about it.

Bill Geist

Wow, Vicki...

I'm simply blown away! Stunningly beautiful...it makes even a jaded destination marketer like me get goosebumps.

Congratulations to Disney...and everyone else involved. We'll be posting tomorrow!

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