Travel Trends: Obaboom (Obama Inspired Travel)
As the country honors the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. today and prepares to usher in the historic inauguration of Barack Obama tomorrow, we couldn’t help but notice that Mr. Obama is already stamping his legacy on another stimulus of sorts; one that the World Travel Market (WTM) has dubbed “Obaboom” or the concept of travel to places that have been in the life of our soon to be 44th President. From places he grew up in (Kenya, Hawaii, Indonesia) to his former hometown (Chicago) and his soon to be home (Washington D.C. & Maryland) to even places that are hoping for a first family vacation (Portland), destinations of all sizes are capitalizing on Obama Tourism. Consider…
Hometown Hero: The new “Explore Chicago” recently publicly re-launched it’s new site (unveiled in the summer) that hopes to capture the excitement of both the Obama election and also the city’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics. While the site is similar to most destination sites in its offerings (audio tours, video clips, searchable activities and attractions and Orbitz powered bookings, trip planner etc.), it devotes plenty of real estate to our soon-to-be First Family including Mrs. Obama’s favorite fashion shops, their favorite restaurants and of course their favorite attractions. The site also currently includes a host of inauguration packages and special events listings. Finally…we couldn’t help but notice that the creative of the site (emotive blues and buttons etc.) seem eerily similar to Mr. Obama’s campaign site.
Our friends at Illinois Tourism are also getting into the act by offering up three-day itineraries and a brochure titled “Illinois: See Where Leaders Are Made” chronicling the journey of four of the presidents who’ve journey to Washington D.C via the state: Grant, Reagan, Lincoln, & Obama.
The Roots (Kenya, Indonesia, Hawaii): WTM also reports that both Kenya and Indonesia are seeing a “steady stream” of tourists by folks looking to follow the roots of Obama. Seven-day Obama Kenya Roots & Heritage Safaris are reportedly running around $2,500-$3000.
And while Hawaii was initially slow to react, the state’s profile was greatly enhanced over the course of the Obama family’s 12-night vacation on Oahu and the state has since created a special section—Barack Obama’s Hawaii—that features the President-Elect’s favorite island hangouts; tours of his childhood hangouts, have also sprouted up in Honolulu.
The New Neighborhood & Others: Both Baltimore and Washington D.C. have specific landing pages devoted to inauguration travel and activities; we imagine both sites will evolve with “Presidential Itineraries” as the Obama’s explore their new neighborhood in the future. Of course just because the Obama’s haven’t lived in or been to your destination does not mean you can’t get in on the act; our friends Travel Portland recently launched a Twitter campaign to ask folks in the region to suggest places the Obama’s should visit on their next Oregon vacation. You can view the conversation here.
Ultimately of course, you’re probably asking yourself why folks are drawn to the homes of transcendent figures like Mr. Obama. According to Rick Shenkman, a presidential historian at George Mason University in Virginia, we make these “pilgrimages” because “these homes are the closest thing we have to secular shrines…we go there to worship ourselves and the idea of America.”