Visa Waiver Program is Good for Security and the Economy

In our society public figures make statements that on the surface may make sense to some people but when you dig in are really just wrong (I know, huge understatement right now). Regarding the Visa Waiver program I’m hearing a lot misinformation and I would like to share a bit to reduce the threat of it being scaled back or cut.
 
This is a program that is a win win for our country’s economy AND for our security. This is not a short cut for travelers at the expense of oversight of who is getting in to the U.S. On the contrary because of this program we have increased security standards for both the United States and the partner nations. “The program provides information sharing, allowing us to know far more about citizens visiting from participating countries.” This is a good thing when it comes to security.
 
It is also a good thing when it comes to our economy. Because of our reaction to 9/11 the first decade of the millennium left the U.S. dramatically trailing most other countries when it comes to receiving foreign travelers (officially an export because the money originates from outside the U.S.) In the travel industry we call it the “Forgotten Decade”. For one of the largest industries in the country, this is a big deal. The Visa Waiver Program, and the recent enhancements made to it, are a common sense approach to keeping us safe and improving our economy. It should be celebrated right now, not threatened.
 
For more information, visit this link: https://vwp.ustravel.org

Quinquén – the Mapuche community that saved the Araucaria tree

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Community based tourism (where local communities deliver and benefit from tourism) to indigenous communities is not only a way to increase economic development, it is a way for indigenous communities to finally tell their history themselves. In the case of Quinquén, a Mapuche community in the mountains 8 hours South East from Santiago Chile, their history spans thousands of years and centers around the Araucaria (or Monkey Puzzle) tree.

I had the opportunity to visit this community after attending the Adventure Travel World Summit in Chile, thanks to Juan Ignacio Marambio of Travolution – a Chilean company that connects international travelers to indigenous community based tourism. Juan has been working with the Quinquén community for several years and assisted them in developing a program that shares their story and specificaly their work to save the Araucaria tree from being wiped out.

The Araucaria produces a piñon, or seed, that people in this region have depended on forever as part of their diet. That is why this groups name for themselves is Pehuenche. Pehuén is the Mapudungun (the Mapuche language) word for Araucaria, so they are people of the Araucaria. The Araucaria is sacred and viewed as brothers and sisters.

In the late 70’s and into the 80’s Chile was in the midst of its neo-liberal experiment, where corporations were given lots of power to reap profit from Chile’s vast natural resources. The timber industry expanded rapidly during this time and the ancient Araucaria forests were a prime target. Without any recognition that the land they were clearing was home to communities that have cared for and depended on these trees for millenia, the loggers moved in and spared no tree. After the pain of seeing their sacred tree nearly eliminated from the landscape, the community of Quinquén had enough. In the mid 80’s, with the support and advice of some international conservation organizations, they placed their own bodies on the line. Litterally forcing the logging companies to kill them if they wanted the trees. The military dictatorship sent the army in to do just that, but the Pehuenche people asked the powerful Araucaria trees to bring a snowstorm to stop the military. That night clear skies turned dark and it snowed more than anyone had ever witnessed in one night, and the army was prevented from committing their atrocities. This gave the community and their NGO allies more time to save their remaining forests.

The Araucaria is now a protected species in Chile, but the powers that be have a way to turn this against those that fought to save the tree. First, the loggers, upon leaving the territory committed numerous acts of deliberate sabbotage – felling trees that they had no intention of using, setting forest fires, etc. Additionally, the law says that no part of the Araucaria can be used. So it is officially illegal for Pehuenche people to harvest the Piñon or the downed trees and branches, as they have done for milenia. The final dagger in the gut is that their is no mention of this struggle in the conservation of the Araucaria. The official story is that the governement realized the importance of the tree and decided they should be saved.

Responsible and sustainable tourism is more than just creating economic benefits to communities. It is about giving voices to people whose history has been excluded from history books and whose contributions have the power to inspire future generations to conserve and respect the balance of nature.

 

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Tour Operators, Guides and Outfitters Training in Central and Southern Oregon

Travel Oregon has invited Pandion back to Oregon!

Last February, Pandion designed and delivered a two day workshop in Portland for Oregon guides, outfitters, operators, packers, entrepreneurs and tourism businesses looking to develop or expand upon their outdoor recreation tour product. The workshops attracted 50 participants ranging in experience from about-to-launch to 30 year veterans.

This Fall we will bring the workshop to the adventure hotbeds of Central Oregon (Bend) and Southern Oregon (Ashland). Central Oregon, in the high desert, is well known for world class rock climbing at Smith Rock, Skiing at Mount Batchelor, and rafting the Deschutes River. Southern Oregon’s treasures include the mighty Rogue River, Crater Lake National Park, and the Oregon Redwoods. Existing businesses as well as those still in idea phase will benefit from the scope and breadth of the two day workshop.

These workshops spend time on the unique marketing needs of adventure travel and outdoor recreation businesses, and connect participants to the numerous resources from Travel Oregon. Land managers from BLM, US Forest Service, and National Parks will be on hand to give detailed descriptions of how to obtain commercial use permits and discuss best practices. And just as important is the opportunity to learn from, and network with, diverse businesses from throughout the region.

To learn more and to register click on this LINK. To bring Pandion to your community to conduct similar workshops email info [at] pandion.biz

October 28-29, 2015 in Bend, Oregon

November 18-19, 2015 in Ashland, Oregon

 

Is Consolidation Good or Bad for the Travel Industry?

We are often told by merging businesses and corporations that consolidation will bring better services to more customers and will lower prices. Even regulators, whose job it is to protect the consumer, will often say this. This goes against both the capitalist theory of competition and my personal instinct. Why would a more powerful company with less competition want to lower its price if it doesn’t have to? Consolidation of essential positions (HR, finance, etc) might lead to increased profit for the fewer people that own the now larger company. And the now larger company might have more power in the marketplace to insist on lower prices from suppliers. But one should not assume that this cost savings will be passed on to consumers. In the travel industry, both mainstream and niches like Adventure Travel, the trend has been moving towards consolidation. I have personally seen very good ground operators lose significant amounts of business due to a tour operator upstream being bought and the now larger business unifying the entire business around a different supplier. This might seem good for the other ground operator, but this means greater homogenization of the products offered, and a company that might not have been ready for such an increase of growth now responsible for a much larger share of the market.

I haven’t seen a ton of attention given to the potential pitfalls for businesses and consumers with consolidation in the travel industry. There are two recently published articles, that, especially seen side by side, outlines some of the negative sides of consolidation. The first is in Adventure Travel News and outlines the separation of a young mega company: Peak Adventure Travel Group, a strategic venture between TUI Group and Intrepid Travel. This is the merger that saw ripples in the supply chain internationally. In addition to the possible impacts on businesses and consumers, it appears that mega mergers can sometimes be hard on the two merging businesses themselves. TUI and Intrepid are still huge, but I think this separation is ultimately good for the industry.

TUI-group and Intrepid Travel to Part Ways – Adventure Travel News

The second article was in the New York Times on July 1st. It initially caught my attention because the lead is about price collusion between the four major airlines. As a frequent flyer I get concerned with lack of competition amongst airlines, leading to poorer service and higher prices. The article digs into the fact that consolidation in the airline industry has made it easier for collusion to occur even though “[executives] actually hate each other, truth be told. But with so few of them left, there’s almost a natural oligopoly.” Airlines have gone from near bankruptcy to record profits. One reason is the extremely low fuel prices. Yet, ticket prices have not dropped as you would expect with lower costs. Says Senator Chuck Schumer: “It’s hard to understand, with jet fuel prices dropping by 40 percent since last year, why ticket prices haven’t followed. We know that when airlines merge, there’s less price competition.” Senator Schumer has called for a Justice Department investigation.

Airlines Under Justice Department Investigation – New York Times

To maintain a vibrant and sustainable travel industry it is important to be skeptical of the promises made by merging companies. We need to hold regulators accountable to do their jobs and make sure they apply scrutiny when approving such mergers.

 

U.S. Legislation Needed to Give Native American Tribes More Control of Tourism

Travelers are consistently requesting authentic cultural experiences; specifically, travelers visiting the United States from other parts of the world. This could suggest there is an opportunity for Native American Tribes to tap into this demand and increase economic benefit from tourism. As has been the practice during their couple hundred years relationship with Native America, the U.S. Government continues to disproportionally control resources on Tribal land. In this case, the decision making about where to appropriate funds for tourism development and needed infrastructure investments.

Native America should have an opportunity to thrive in a tourism economy that is seeking out authentic cultural experiences. According to a recent article in Indian Country Today, there is legislation that could change this dynamic to better benefit Native communities: “The NATIVE Act, or the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience Act, was created to “enhance and integrate Native American tourism, empower Native American communities, increase coordination and collaboration between Federal tourism assets, and expand heritage and cultural tourism opportunities in the United States.” The act would, among other things, get federal agencies like the Departments of Commerce and Interior to consult with Indian tribes and the Native American community on their inclusion in Federal tourism activities.”

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/01/23/aianta-pushing-legislation-give-tribes-more-control-native-tourism-158838?_tmc=xUIPM7R_v3ziiUv9EdOomejdDGSpKxzJ4DCqZbfa7M4

 

Pandion to Conduct Two Adventure Travel Workshops in Oregon: Feb 24-25

If you are based in Oregon, please consider attending one or both of the upcoming workshops we are conducting in Portland Oregon February 24th and 25th:

WHEN: February 24 & 25, 2015 | 9:00AM – 5:00 PM both days

WHERE: Jupiter Hotel Portland | 800 East Burnside St. Portland, Oregon 97214

RSVP: Here! Registration closes Feb. 20, 2015 and is limited to first 50 registrants

COST: $10 for 2 day registration

DAY 1:  FEBRUARY 24
Connecting your business to the world: Understanding and attracting the international and high-value traveler

Key Takeaways:

  • Strategies to connect to global supply chain
  • Attracting media and PR
  • Product development for international travelers
  • High impact marketing methods

DAY 2:  FEBRUARY 25
Navigating Permitting, and Setting up Successful Operations

Key Takeaways:

  • How to understand and obtain required permits and licenses
  • Designing and implementing an Emergency Response Plan (ERP)
  • Creating risk management protocol
  • Properly insuring your operation
  • Vehicle/equipment certification and maintenance best practices

 

Food & Drink:

  • Morning pastries and a catered lunch will be provided daily
  • Coffee, tea and water will be available throughout the workshops
  • Basecamp Brewing reception following each day

More information HERE.

Send Fewer and Shorter Emails – so says the Universe

It seems like the universe is uniting to say this message in unison: Send Fewer and Shorter Emails. I witnessed the effects of this early on from several years with a former business partner who was email prolific. I frequently had to play fixer when the fallout would hit from his many midnight manifestos, or his litany of new initiatives sent out to all staff, completely bypassing any chain of command. With recent consulting clients, I’ve found myself making the suggestion numerous times to cut out huge chunks out of an all staff email, and often recommending not to send an email at all. Now, I meet an author that has written the text: Message Not Received: Why Business Communication Is Broken and How to Fix It. Phil Simon shares examples of how wasteful scheduling through email is, or when it can make more sense to just pick up the phone. I appreciate when messages come from many places. Universe, I am listening.

http://www.philsimon.com/books/

Thank you for visiting my site!

Pandion was formed with a mission to advance the quality and integrity of adventure travel and the travel industry overall. With this as the foundation, our services work with businesses to address obstacles of running a sustainable, high quality operation. Hands on, outcomes based consulting and collaboration are at the core of our approach. Your business’s success continues to be our priority, even after your project is completed. We look forward to working with you!