Since finishing my doctoral work in the mid-1990s I have been working for and in emerging or re-emerging tourism destinations. I do not have time to comment on this now, but quick appreciation out to Tariro Mzezewa for this story, How to Rebrand a Country.
Having worked in two of the three countries she features, and having proposed work in the third (learning quite a bit about Rwanda for that proposal, nearly a decade prior to Seth’s work there this year) I will have more to say on this when time permits:
Colombia, Rwanda and Croatia were seen as dangerous and conflict-ridden. Now they top travel bucket lists. How other countries can follow their lead, in seven steps.
Twenty years ago, an opinion writer for The New York Times described Colombia as a country dominated by “drug killings, paramilitary massacres, guerrilla kidnappings, death squad murders and street crime.”
Five years before that, a 1994 Washington Post article grappled with the question of whether people would want to visit war-torn Croatia. “Only the more intrepid will consider a trip,” the article stated.
And a New Yorker article the same year described the genocide in Rwanda as being so dangerous that foreigners providing aid never went beyond the airport perimeter. One street was described as a place “where everything is shot up and every building is riddled.”
In the years since, conflict and strife have receded, with infrastructure rebuilt and economies recovering. And through a combination of marketing, social media and development — and with the fading associations of discord that come with the passage of time — these three countries are now booming tourist destinations, topping travel rankings, bucket lists and flooding Instagram feeds…
Read the whole story here.