Commentary

printed 02/12/2021

An idea whose time came some years ago is getting serious attention now, with the development of the tourism toolkit by local governments and their agencies, along with business organizations tied to the visitor economy.

As simple as it might sound to some, getting a single, cohesive and clear message out in extreme circumstances is a difficult task, considering that the responding agency can answer only so many inquiries at a time.

Add to that the flood of information that pours into these message centers during challenging times and it can be overwhelming for those who have to answer the questions, while they also have to sort through the influx of reports to determine which are factual and which are not.

As we’re in the information-gathering business, we know how tough it can be. But the difference is news organizations like ours have numerous people who can be assigned to handle different aspects of a critical situation.

Ocean City government, for instance, does not have that luxury. It’s a smaller division that nevertheless has a huge audience that it must satisfy.

That’s why the tourism toolkit, which aims to coordinate the flow of vital information between the authorities and the public when the times demand it, is so important. Major storms, flooding, outbreaks of criminal behavior, along with more mundane events like broken water mains, road blockages, and issues involving health and safety are just some of the things that can lead to public confusion.

As we all know, the worst thing that can happen is to have the public depend on speculation and information of questionable veracity.

The city’s current staff, as small as it is, does an excellent job. But it needs help and there’s no better way to do that than to create an organization that’s built like a wheel, with a hub supported by spokes that both feed information into the center and disseminate it to the public when the facts are available.

As frequent clients of these informational services ourselves, we’ll do whatever we can to help make the toolkit work.

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