City Seeks Tourist Dollars, Provides Museum with New Audience
Recently the Press & Sun Bulletin of Binghamton, NY reported that the Roberson Museum and Science Center is partnering with the city to attract Chinese tourism. Binghamton’s location on the highway between Niagara Falls and the New York City makes it an ideal way-point. The Roberson contains a museum, planetarium, and historic mansion. With translation assistance from volunteers and interns from Binghamton University (BU), tours of the mansion will be available in Mandarin, as will a section of the museum’s website. 1 The program is still in its infancy, and its success is still uncertain. Through its connection with BU’s international students, the Roberson has the opportunity to further its mission of engaging “people of all ages and backgrounds” in its present community while it works with the city to welcome international visitors into that community.2
Though I believe this example is an opportunity for growth, it raises some broader questions:
Do programs that target tourist groups risk viewing people as numbers rather than visitors?
What can a museum do to avoid this and make travelers truly welcome?
Is it appropriate for a city to ask a museum for help attracting money like this?
1 Steven Howe. “Binghamton Eyes Boost for Chinese Tourism” Press & Sun-Bulletin. September 15, 2014. http://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/local/2014/09/12/binghamton-seeks-chinese-tourism/15516377/.
2 “Home” Roberson.org. Accessed September 19, 2014. http://www.roberson.org/.