Are the people that run South Dakota's Governor's Office Of Economic Development somewhat uninformed--if not clueless--about developing export markets? I see yesterday through an announcement from GOED that Governor Daugaard
selected representatives from eleven South Dakota firms to join him on a
trade mission to China, pitching any number of products made in our
state for possible direct sales to the People's Republic. All in all, I
can support junkets like this, being a biz type myself who understands
the value of promotion and face-to-face encounters with potential
customers. Fact is, you gotta spend money to make money, and if any of
these enterprises score some business in China, it'll only add good
things to the state's economy. Scanning the list of attendees on this
junket, I think they make a fair representation of South Dakota's ag and
manufacturing sectors and I wish all of them well.
But . . . Nowhere on the list do I see one single representative of South Dakota's second largest industry, tourism, which has the potential of being one of our state's top export markets.. Tourism, by definition, is an export, as it bring foreign currency into our country. This is what makes me wonder if officials at GOED are clueless. The Chinese tourist market is immense. A 2012 piece in China Business Review gives a hint of its growing size, noting that by 2020, in North America, travelers from China will rank third in number, after travelers from the United Kingdom and Japan. The piece also notes that by the 2020s, China's outbound travel market will likely expand to triple the size of Japan’s.
is an appalling oversight, and I think Governor Daugaard owes those of
us in the tourism sector of South Dakota's economy an explanation as to
why our crucially important component of the state's business community
was overlooked when putting this junket together. Pitching our
state to foreign visitors isn't that tough, considering the proven
collection of assets that we have here--history, natural beauty,
world-class monuments. Heck, from what I understand, Chinese folks tend
to be aggressive gamblers, which would make them a natural target for
marketers pushing Deadwood and the state's reservation casinos. I have
no doubt that there are numerous tour operators throughout China who
have plenty of experience booking tours to the United States. A
face-to-face visit with them by a knowledgeable promoter of South Dakota
tourist destinations would be invaluable.
occasional traveler to Europe I've often encountered sizable groups of
Chinese tourists at virtually all the famous destinations. A few
years back while on the Parthenon in Athens, Dawna and I even noted that
the Chinese visitors outnumbered Caucasions by a wide margin. As to
the Louvre? Last time we went, in '05, Chinese tourists were all over that place. For a state
that seems willing to court Chinese investors into enterprises of
dubious value via the EB-5 investment program, I'm quite surprised that
the Daugaard administration hasn't figured out that mass marketing in
China might produce results that spread money throughout the state, not
just in concentrations limited to a relative handful of participants.
This is a bad call by Governor Daugaard, one that I believe he'll
come to see as a missed opportunity.