BBC1 show ‘The Apprentice’ is taking on the re-branding of Margate in Kent as one of the tasks for it’s contestants in the latest series, which started last night. Contestants will be tasked with designing a brand for the seaside town that can capture the town’s aspirations as a 21st century seaside destination.
You can view the report on the BBC Politics Show South East about tourism and the economic crisis by clicking here. The link will open up theshow in the BBC iPlayer. The whole article starts 30 minutes in and I am interviewed along with two other contributors from 38 minutes.
I’ll be appearing on the BBC’s Politics Show, in the south-east section this Sunday. I’ll be talking about the impact of the economic crisis on tourism in the south-east region of the UK. For those of you not able to watch it between 12.30 and 12.50 on Sunday, you can view it on the BBC iPlayer by clicking here on the day or for seven days after.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has just published its annual economic analysis, looking forward to 2009. After four years or strong growth, the WTTC are predicting that the global tourism economy will contract by 3.9% in 2009 and that will only expand by 0.3% in 2010. Long term, the WTTC still forecasts strong growth, with tourism’s contribution to world GDP rising to 19% ($10.5bn) by 2019.
These are sobering figures, reflecting the macro economic crisis and a clear indicator of the global nature of this structural shift in the world economy. The last great structural recession heralded the start of this era of capitalist globalisation, as governments and corporations grappled with how to respond to a period of falling profits and industrial change. For the tourism industry this involved the decline of many of the traditional mass tourism destinations and their replacement by new ones – we can see this in the emergence of the Mediterranean resorts – but the fallout from this period also saw the emergence of new forms of tourism such as urban tourism and eco-tourism.
This recession will be truely global, with no significant economies operating outside of the prevailing neo-liberal structures, meaning that every economy will feel the effects of the restructuring process. As with previous recessions however, these effects will not be spread evenly and there will be winners and loser in the tourism industry at the global level. The emerging tourism generating countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) will become more important as the global balance of economic power shifts, prompting the world’s main tourism destinations to restructure to meet their needs. This is a process that has been going on for some time, slowly, but that will probably accelerate now. We may see currently popular destinations decline, especially those with a dependence on Western tourists. Conversely we should see new destinations emerge along with, potentially, new forms of tourist experience as the BRIC countries flex their tourist muscles in the long term.
Along with Wesley Rykalski, I have just embarked on an online project that seeks to examine the role of the seaside promenade in the imagination and practices of late modernity, through a critical encounter with Walter Benjamin‘s ‘The Arcades Project’. In his final project, Benjamin was attempting to critique the ‘bourgeois experience of nineteenth century history’, partly through exploring the covered arcades of Paris, which he saw as emblematic of the attractions and contradictions of capitalist modernity. By bringing together the arcades and the promenades we hope to enrich our understanding of both of these spatial responses to the coming together of capital, leisure and public space.
We will be collaboratively reading and responding to Benjamin’s text on the arcades / promenades blog and have posted up some reading for March to get things started. As time goes on, we will develop a strategy of interspersing reflections on these readings with reflections and documentation on the seaside promenade. More collaborators are welcome, please get in touch via the blog.
Comedian / activist Mark Steel writes in the Independent yesterday about the resurgence of interest in Karl Marx that appears to be happening as the economic crisis gathers pace….
“Even Karl Marx himself is in vogue. Most papers have had articles about him in their business sections, commending his analysis of booms and slumps, and he was on the front page of The Times. Soon a Times editorial will begin: ‘As the global downturn gathers pace, perhaps one economic remedy to be considered by our esteemed guardians is a violent workers’ revolution as envisaged by Mister Karl Marx, and championed with consummate aplomb on page 32 by William Rees-Mogg.'”
Continuing on the Marx theme, David Harvey has written on his blog about the US stimulus package and why it is “bound to fail”:
“The prevailing hostility in the United States to “spreading the wealth around” and to administering any sort of relief other than tax cuts to individuals, arises out of hard core neoliberal ideological doctrine (centered in but by no means confined to the Republican Party) that “households know best”. These doctrines have broadly been accepted as gospel by the American public at large after more than thirty years of neoliberal political indoctrination. We are, as I have argued elsewhere, “all neoliberals now” for the most part without even knowing it. There is a tacit acceptance, for example, that “wage repression” – a key component to the present problem – is a “normal” state of affairs in the United States. One of the three legs of a Keynesian solution, greater empowerment of labor, rising wages and redistribution towards the lower classes is politically impossible in the United States at this point in time. The very charge that some such program amounts to “socialism” sends shivers of terror through the political establishment. Labor is not strong enough (after thirty years of being battered by political forces) and no broad social movement is in sight that will force redistributions towards the working classes.”
An article that I have written with a colleague has just been published in the journal Cultural Trends. You can view the article’s abstract by clicking here. You will need the appropriate permissions to read the full text. The article is based on a review of more than 50 documents from the grey literature relating to the Cultural Olympiad of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games in London.