Monday, April 4, 2005

Post-Vacation Thoughts #3

When we landed in the Bahamas, we were at a very tourist-y port, Nassau; a place that derives most of its economic activity from tourism. When we left the ship we were almost immediately accosted from all sides by friendly people who simply wanted to sell us something; some service (hair braiding), some craft, some transportation, or some essential commodity (like bottled water).

We come from a tourist area. We live in the eastern part of Sussex County, which also derives much of its economic vitality from its tourist season. So why don’t we, here in coastal Sussex, take such direct entrepreneurial action? Why not wait at the end of Rehoboth Avenue for the buses from the Park-n-Ride with handicrafts, bottled water, beach chairs and Pedi cabs?

I’m tempted to say “licensing,” but many of the entrepreneurs we saw in Nassauappeared to be working within an organized, perhaps government licensed, structure. Some were outside that structure and had a more fly-by-night attitude, but most were working within either a traditional or a government-mandated structure that seemed to function fairly well.

Maybe it is the case that such direct, clear appeals to basic needs are outside of what are the accepted norms of politeness in this country. We perceive ourselves to be more restrained and so we invent more restraints on trade, on public displays of affection, and on our approach to selling stuff.

We’re no less interested in selling stuff; we just have some cultural need to always look like we’re not selling stuff.

1 comment:

The Delawarean said...

I think you're right Mike. I think there's a fine line between selling tourists something and barking at them like a carnie trying to get you to play his rigged up game. I think there's an understanding that people in Sussex know that it's more of a turn off to tourists if you get in their face as opposed to making eye contact and casting a smile. It's all about different cultures. Some methods are more successful in different areas of the world. Look at Japan. Walking down the street over there, you won't even get eye contact.

PS- some of your photos are great shots Mike. Keep up the shooting.

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