Alistair Currie

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Alistair Currie
Posted over 1 year ago
How can a global business create a fulfilling relationship with a local community?
A very interesting question considering that this thread is being sponsored by Intercontinental Hotels Group, currently preparing to open a massive luxury hotel in occupied Tibet. This is a country where people are not free to follow their religious or cultural traditions - a photograph of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, can land them in jail, for instance - and where the local community faces jail, torture or worse for opposing the Chinese authorities. Interestingly, Intercontinental is naming their hotel the "Resort Lhasa Paradise". Anyone with any awareness of Tibet knows it is no paradise - a French TV reporter secretly filmed there earlier this month and described Lhasa as an "Orwellian" place. The chair of the US Senate's foreign relations committee recently described it as "among the most repressed and closed societies in the world". IHG's marketing, in contrast, helps promote the messaging favoured by the regime repressing freedom in TIbet. They want the world to think that Tibet is a happy place, where the local culture is preserved and respected. Intercontinental will trade on a local culture which is preserved only where it brings in tourist dollars. Right now, ancient parts of Lhasa are being bulldozed to make way for a shopping mall for tourists. In Tibet, local doesn't have much of a future. One of the many challenges Tibet faces is the vast influx of Han Chinese immigrants, who now make Tibetans a minority in their own capital. More than 90% of visitors to Tibet are Chinese - uninvited guests who will expect those who serve them in their luxury hotel to do so in Mandarin. IHG may decorate it with Tibetan crafts and employ some Tibetans to park the cars but this building entrenches Chinese occupation and Chinese culture in Tibet. Tibetans are not free to express their opinions about the building of this hotel, its employment practices, or the deceptive marketing it employs. Those who are, see www.freetibet.org/intercontinental