He’s baa-aack. Three months after ranting at a Summerland council meeting about how the media’s coverage of wildfires and floods hurt tourism last year, David Hull was back at it this week.
The executive director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce took issue with an online news article with “Smokanagan” in the headline.
“Though there is two active, and relatively small fires, in the south Okanagan there is nothing at all, at this time, to indicate that we are returning to the smoky skies of the last two summers,” Hull wrote in an email to Castanet news director Rob Gibson that Hull copied to every news outlet in the valley, including The Daily Courier.
“The tourism industry, and the connected economy, is struggling to rebuild the reputation of a sunny bright Okanagan. Frankly, I am surprised that one of our own is publishing articles with inflammatory headlines.”
Gibson shot back with a link to Environment Canada’s special air quality statement on which the article was premised.
We take Hull’s point that we’re not actually choking on wildfire smoke right now, but surely the local businesses that pay his salary would rather he spend his time planning things to attract customers instead of embarrassing the organization by picking fights with the media.
Or, perhaps, he could work on plans to attract new businesses to liven up the local economy. You know, the sorts of things chambers of commerce are supposed to do.
Sadly, he’s not the only one who’s pointing fingers at the media in an attempt to look like he’s doing something to help boost visitor numbers.
The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) announced this week it has activated its own emergency plans in response to wildfire activity, although it’s unclear what the plans actually involve.
TOTA is taking its newfound role so seriously that it has also bestowed the title of crisis communications co-ordinator on Rob Grifone, whose day job is described on the organization’s website as a travel trade media support contractor.
Newsflash: As an Oliver business owner pointed out in our front-page story today, there are legitimate reasons people aren’t visiting the Okanagan.
Alberta’s economy is in the doldrums and there’s an ongoing feud about pipelines between our province and Wild Rose Country. Maybe some of our Albertan cousins are just too broke or angry to spend their summer vacations here.
Blaming the media is the oldest trick in the book — and the most frequently used by a certain U.S. politician — but it’s also the laziest.
Instead of blaming the media for doing its job, Hull and his ilk should focus on doing theirs.