(This editorial appeared in the Vallarta Tribune, edition # 1165.)
Is it fair to expect that the local anglophone population will want to do the “touristy stuff” all the time simply because they speak English?
What is happening in Banderas Bay? What is happening throughout Mexico? Every time I bump into local anglophones I know (and by local I mean full-time or seasonal) and ask them about content they’d like to see in the pages and website of Vallarta Tribune, these two questions keep coming back to me more than any others. So, every day, I start my morning perusing headlines from important regional and national news publications such as Excelsior, Heraldo de Mexico, Informador, Mural de Guadalajara, Proceso and several others in search of relevant news items you might find interesting. This is possible through RSS, or Rich Site Summary, a type of web feed that allows anyone to track many different websites’ regularly changing content—you should try it sometime!
One headline caught my attention: according to Inegi, Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography, only 57.8 percent of adult (18 or older) Mexican nationals living in urban areas attended a cultural event in the last 12 months despite the fact that many are offered for free, and this number has been on a slow, steady decline (64 percent in 2016, for example). The very detailed report breaks down attendance into categories such as movies, exhibitions, dance, theater or live music events.
I’m not one to argue with Inegi. But to me, this begs the questions: are cultural event producers creating events based on what they know and love, or are they actually reaching out to their potential audiences to learn more about their likes, dislikes and expectations? Are these producers creating truly compelling descriptions of their events (using text, photography, promotional materials, video, etc.) to entice audiences to attend or have they become complacent? What about the important exercise of cultivating new audiences?
Food for thought…
Here’s another headline, one closer to home: Kelly Trainor, US Consular Agent in Puerto Vallarta since 1998, stated in a recent interview that there are approximately 35,000 US residents living in Puerto Vallarta and that local US population is on the rise—see pg. 6. (We don’t have specific numbers for the Canadian population at hand, but one can easily assume an equally considerable number.) Meanwhile here we are in the middle of the Summer—the so-called low season—and many businesses, activity providers and cultural event producers frequently remark about the lack of anglophones in town and the ensuing decrease in attendance.
This begs even more questions: isn’t it possible that we’ve spent too much time, historically, catering to the wants and needs of anglophone tourists and not enough learning about the wants and needs of our increasing population of anglophone locals? Why should we expect anglophone locals to have the same wants and needs as those of our tourists? Think about it. Whatever city we live in, us locals, regardless of our nationality, usually don’t do the “touristy stuff” until/unless we have visitors in town. So, is it fair to expect that the local anglophone population will want to do the “touristy stuff” all the time simply because they speak English? Shouldn’t we be reaching out to them more mindfully to better understand their wants, needs and expectations? If we did, maybe the so-called low season wouldn’t be as low for some.
More food for thought…
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