TOURISM PLOY UNCOVERED!
Guandu, China wants to be liked so much that the rarely visited city spent $3 million to rebuild its four main 1000-year-old temples and even, gulp, tore down blocks of ancient homes to build 'antique-looking shops' catered to tourists. Catch is that no one came.
So, per a recent New York Times article, the city government struck a deal with fashionably-hip 'kung fu monks' from 1200 miles away. The monks would manage the temples for 30 years and keep all proceeds from donation boxes and gift shops (presumably in the temples), the city would benefit from increased awareness.
--> One of the monks' first acts: advertising monthly kung fu lessons for $44 (about an average salary for many residents).
The FBO neither applauds nor condemns that acts of the city or monks, but does offer suggestions for other struggling tourist destinations -- tweaks to be made to garner more interest.
BULGARIA. Institute an 'alphabet throwing contest' in Rila. Visitors can create or bring examples of their alphabet (in various forms -- recycled products, wood, tire) and see which flies the farthest -- Bulgaria invented the Cyrillic (Russian) alphabet. Also, start volunteer tourism to help excavate Roman/Thracian sites before grave-robbers get to it. Bulgarian wine is really good, but the nation doesn't promote it well -- foster programs for family-run wineries to open doors to tourism and agro-turismo stays and even work weekends cultivating grapes.
NORTH DAKOTA. Change the name to Real Dakota. Begin a catapult festival between Fargo and Moorhead, Minnesota -- large harmless things are catapulted over the north-flowing Red River. Do not warn Moorhead for the inaugural event. Host a Failed Bands of Oklahoma event in Rugby, the geographical center of North America. Russians charge foreigners inflated rates, sometimes, for hotels and always for museums. North Dakota should institute a two-price system: 'non-Russians' and 'Russians' (200% the ticket). This would generate press and attention. The art-deco Fargo Theater should host vegetable-throwing, profanity-encouraging screenings of the locally maligned film 'Fargo.'
NEW JERSEY. Have every one of the state's 3450 toll checks hand out a 'New Jersey Scenic Drive' map along with a toll receipt -- with 'ten 45 to 60-minute drives just off the interstate.' Actively pursue legislation to restore the State of Liberty and Ellis Islands in New York Harbor back to Jersey's control (both are technically in Jersey's boundaries). The press would be good even if no results. Governor should issue 'apology' for the state's lackluster image, then change the name of the state to Bruce Springsteen or York.
YAKUTSK, RUSSIA. The world's coldest city of over 200,000 -- home to the Yakut people, a city on stilts because of the brutal permafrost below the earth's surface. Make a fake beach -- with gold sand and fake neon trees -- along the not-bad Lena River in town. Ice volleyball contests in March. I got a real-reindeer Christmas ornament there -- with Blitzen fur; Yakutsk could organize a Reindeer-slaughtering Christmas events. Let a few outsiders know about the wonderful June Ysyakh event (with teepees and horse meat). Drop the foreigner pricing scheme.
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