California rises like a phoenix
THE state of California was awarded the New Frontiers Award 2008 for its remarkable recovery and positive contribution to tourism development in the face of adversity.
The award was presented during ATM. Tom Nutley, president, Reed Travel Exhibitions said, “With considerable support from local state and federal government, the local residents of California made an indelible impact on tourism development.
“Fuelled by the Santa Ana winds, the bush fires that swept through the hot, dry state of California destroyed more than 1,600 homes with an estimated material damage of more than $1billion. Among the worst affected areas was around San Diego, where evacuation centres struggled to provide shelter for more than 300,000 people.
“Despite the disaster, the city continued to accommodate visitors, with many of its main attractions and business centres remaining in operation. Tourism is the third largest industry in San Diego, with an annual spend of around $8.2 billion.”
Besides a commemorative crystal trophy, California also received $10,000 worth of complimentary exhibition space at Arabian Travel Market 2009.
Accepting the award on behalf of California was Patrick Wall, principal commercial attaché, US Commercial Service, US Consulate General in Dubai, who said, “It is an honour for the state of California to receive this award for the way in which they bounced back. Participation in the Arabian Travel Market next year will help to educate the Middle East traveller to the vast diversity of tourism options California offers.”
Originally 10 destinations that had all made tremendous strides after suffering from either man-made or natural disasters were selected, out of which three finalists were chosen - Vietnam, Mozambique and California.
The latter was selected after taking into consideration factors such as utilisation of aid packages, support from local and national government, tangible efforts of recovery and the sheer determination of the human spirit.
Shortlisted Vietnam had continued attracting tourists despite the ravages and threats of bird flu. This is due to action taken by the government, tourist bodies and donors. In 2007 tourists arrivals in the country topped four million – up 25 per cent in just two years. It is expected that the country will welcome eight million people by 2010.
As one of the poorest countries in the world but with some of the most spectacular beaches, Mozambique sees tourism as a potential lifesaver and is making all efforts to bolster its popularity. With considerable grant support from both The World Bank and USAID, the government has said that revenue from international tourists rose to over $144 million last year, a 50 per cent increase in just two years.