Protesting tourism

Call it the politics of protest.

“It” is the Internet site Boycott City, A boycott is any group’s refusal to have commercial dealings with an entity in protest of its policies. The site has taken, to some small extent, the placard signs and polemic chants of public revolt to the Internet.

By Web standards, Boycott City’s community is small. Site statistics show that there are 949 users supporting or opposing some 293 boycotts. The boycotts, which are posted anonymously, can be against anything: Gateway computers, non-metric units of measure, Russell Crowe. (There’s even the joker who is boycotting boycotts.)

Despite the relative size of the site, Reno and some special events in the Truckee Meadows have earned “boycott” designations. Maybe earned isn’t the right word—how about “developed"?

With 20 user names either supporting or opposing the boycott, the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority is the biggest Northern Nevada presence on the site.

“Wildly inefficient and poorly led,” read the initial posting against the RSCVA on Feb. 10. “Quite possibly the most sloppily managed convention and visitors authority in the entire nation. Huge (largely unneeded) staff that spends the vast majority of its time in meetings—talking about other meetings. Main accomplishments stem largely from tooting their own horns about how they waste $ in their never-ending search of how to waste advertising budgets. Phone calls routinely ignored and not returned. Written correspondences ignored entirely. … Am sick and tired of having to BEG them to take our money—and then giving us little more than ‘attitude’ in return. We exhibit at 22 major events yearly and host 4 ourselves (over 10,000 attendees/trade show)—I’ll take my convention business elsewhere.”

But not all the postings are negative. Two wrote that the RSCVA is OK with them, with one writing on Sept. 20: “It seems the person who began the boycott on the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority doesn’t know what they are talking about. As a Reno resident I am very happy to have the RSCVA as a positive influence in our community. … Please, next time you read about one person’s bad experience, look for the other side of the story. In my opinion, the Reno Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority is a great organization. I can’t comment on the people who run it, but I can see the results and I very much like the positive role they play in our community.”

And while there is no method for establishing the real identity of who supports or opposes which boycotts, it’s possible to find other boycotts the individual is associated with. In the case of those who post on the RSCVA boycott, some of the links go to other Truckee Meadows events: Street Vibrations Motorcycle Rally in Reno and Thunder in Sparks.