06 NOV 2017: Almost sixty people died. More than 400 families’ lives were irrevocably changed. “Why?” is irrelevant. “Why?” doesn’t matter. Knowing the reason won’t change anything. Let’s be honest. “Killed” doesn’t begin to suffice. “Shot” certainly doesn’t.  

So, say the “M” word – those sixty people were murdered. Intentionally, calculatedly, deliberately murdered. There is no other way to describe what happened in Las Vegas last month.

(As to the morality of gun control – my personal opinion is of no import, though, having participated in two wars, it boggles my mind that military-grade assault weapons should be available to the general public)

Within a few hours of the shooting I had a phone call from a client who goes – or at least used to go – to Las Vegas at least twice a year. Not to gamble, but to take in a show or two, to dine at the great restaurants, to take a drive through the Canyon of Fire or out to the Hoover Dam. (Ironically, she typically stays at the Four Seasons, which is part of the Mandalay Bay complex)

“You know we love Las Vegas” she said “But after this it’s just too dangerous. We’re cancelling”

And she is just one of many cancellations across North America, people who fell into the mentality of mass hysteria.

You want hysteria? In 2011 I was working for an incoming tour operator here in Toronto. The biggest file (it had become a minor encyclopaedia, in fact) on my desk was a family tour of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland by a group of wealthy Texans. Then the Bruins beat Vancouver in the final of the Stanley Cup and Vancouver’s fans rioted.

The Texans cancelled.

“But it’s four thousand miles away!” I pointed out. They were having none of it. They even wanted their deposits back. Eventually we settled on donating the deposit to charity, but it was a lesson to me in mass hysteria.

It’s easy to sit here and talk of “mass hysteria”. But if you think about it, lighting doesn’t strike in the same place twice. The chances of a mass murder happening in Las Vegas again in the immediate future are as likely as they are likely to happen in Charlottesville, Chicago, Chattanooga or anywhere else. Crazy can happen anywhere.

Sane people don’t kill other people without cause.

So, how do we in the travel trade support the victims of the Las Vegas murders? How do we honour those who were murdered?

Go to Las Vegas. Encourage your clients to go to Las Vegas.

During the second Gulf War and the invasion of Afghanistan you could take a 16 lb bowling ball and sling it (is “sling” the correct term?) down any airport concourse in the world without the slightest risk of it hitting anyone. Kim, my wife and business partner, and I got onto a plane and flew to Europe for the first, to Turkey for the second. We felt we had to make a statement against fear. And we told all our clients.

Someone recently made the point that the tourist industry is really made up of workers who rely on their salary cheques to get through to the end of each month. It’s the hotel receptionist and the cleaner who vacuums the carpets in the hotel corridors. It’s the server in the high end restaurants and the lady who pours your coffee at Denny’s. It’s the guy who valet-parks your car and the minimum-wage lady who sweeps up the cigarette butts in the parking lot of the helicopter tour operators who fly tourists to see the Grand Canyon. It goes way beyond the doors of the hotels.

If the punters don’t go to Las Vegas then it’s those little guys who lose their jobs. And if we don’t support Las Vegas (or any of the other places affected by this mass hysteria) then the murderers are not just damaging the lives of their direct victims. They are also damaging the lives of thousands of other people who rely on us for their livelihoods.

I’m not suggesting that we should be stupid or foolhardy. I’m not saying we should be vacationing in Aleppo or Helmand Province. What I am saying (and it’s been said before) is that we cannot allow the crazies to inflict fear upon our lives. It doesn’t matter if it’s religious-crazy or gun-crazy or race-crazy or “Everybody-hates-me”-crazy.

Because, if we second-guess everything, we may as well crawl under our beds for the rest of our lives, and pray that the roof doesn’t fall in on us.

And the crazies will have won.

 

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Derrick Bloch

A regular contributer to Travel Industry Today, Derrick has been recognized by National Geographic Traveler as one of the top 80 travel agents in North America. 

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