Submitted by Malcolm Noden
March 25, 2015 1:00 p.m.
Much has been said and written about tourism and its wide ranging effects upon local communities. One important issue concerns the question of how we feel about, and behave towards tourists, and research shows that when it is our home community to which lots of tourists come to visit we display several specific responses towards them. This is important since our individual and collective attitudes and behaviors towards inbound visitors has a profound immediate and delayed impact upon their stay with us. When they feel welcomed, and see and feel the spirit of hospitality at work, they enjoy their stay and, as a result, when they go back to their home towns they speak warmly about their experiences with us to their friends and neighbors.
What then is this thing we know as the spirit of hospitality, and how can we be a part of it? It may be as simple as that moment when we spot tourists downtown waiting to cross Centre Street and we stop our car, and with a gentle wave to them we let them cross in front of us. It may be when we are standing in line at a local store, we see the tourist glancing around looking puzzled and we step up and ask if we may help them. It may be that we meet them at the beach, and they ask for our recommendation for a local lunch spot. In fact, most of our interaction with visitors comes out of a spontaneous willingness on our part to show a friendly face and attitude while seeking to help another human being. In short, as your Grandma used to put it, “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met”.
Of course, the other side of this coin is that how visitors speak and behave towards us has a long term effect upon us, and how we react to having many visitors in our midst. If they are friendly and are interested in us and our community it is easy to act accordingly. But, if they are rude and impatient it is hard for us not to respond in kind. If they talk down to us as mere “locals”, it is hard not to get our collective back up, and think, if not say aloud, if they believe that they are better than us, they should go back where they came from.
In short, the wider reputation of our community as a desirable destination may rest upon what we say and do today, and even if we sometimes find it difficult to be pleasant to some visitors, we perhaps should give some thought to moderating our negative attitudes and behaviors, in recognition of what is known as an intelligent self-interest. Translation, we all reap what some of us sow!
Editor’s Note: Malcolm A. Noden, who is the (Retired) Senior Lecturer in Management, Economics, Marketing and Tourism at the School of Hotel Administration, at Cornell University, is a well known expert in the applied economics of hospitality and tourism policy, promotion and development.
During his thirty-two year tenure at the Hotel School at Cornell, Mr. Noden was the Chair of the Academic Integrity Hearing Board, and served as an advisor to several successive Deans on various international education outreach programs. He taught several courses including, Resort & Condominium Management, Airline Management, Franchising, and two Tourism policy and development seminars. Noden’s publications include a series of articles detailing the Federal tax and partnership consequences of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, in the Cornell Hotel & Restaurant Quarterly, in which new forms of ownership and asset based management, were explored.
Previous to his Cornell experience he served for many years in the operational aspects of the travel industry having been both an owner, and a manager of wholesale and retail travel agencies in the United States. He has had managerial experience in large international agencies as Thomas Cook & Sons, Ltd. and American Express Company, Inc.
Noden is also a consultant to several major companies in the private sector
Including, Banco Nacional de Mexico, and several resort hotels, both in the Caribbean and the United States.