We’ve grown accustomed to putting up with all kinds of discomfort to visit top tourist sites. We get the obligatory photos, but then talk about the pickpockets and rip-off taxis, the dog turds and litter, the arrogant waiters.
So how do some places get it so right?
Gyeongju is a South Korean city that attracts loads of tourists to its picturesque tombs and temples. But it takes a while to drive between the attractions, so some bright spark dreamt up the idea of lining all their streets, mile upon mile of them, with cherry trees. So right now, thousands of traffic-jammed tourists sit grinning from ear to ear inbetween rows of trees exploding with cherry blossom, tedium turned into magic.
And for the people who live there, it’s a source of both pleasure and pride.
Sidi Bou Said, a little seaside village in Tunisia, achieved something similar by simply painting its front doors a lovely shade of blue. It doesn’t just make it a nicer place to live, tourists come by the coachload to take photographs and buy souvenirs. The village isn’t just a viewpoint, it’s the view.
Then there’s the village of Palmitas in Mexico, where joined-up murals turn the whole village into one beautiful rainbow of colour. It’s not just a source of pride, it’s reduced violence and crime and changed the quality of life.
Customer experience: you don’t need to do it, but it sure makes all the difference.