Lonely Planet Polls Self, Disappoints Readers

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Window with Arabic calligraphy (Medersa el Attarine, Fes).
The travel guide publisher Lonely Planet is forever on the fence. It wavers somewhere between being the budget travel sector's equivalent of a benevolent, can-do-no-wrong Google, or its incompetent, ultra-corporate opposite, Microsoft.

This week, LP took a step toward the incompetent side—and managed to disappoint some of its followers—by publishing a "Top 10 Countries for 2010" list without first polling its readers. Judging from their comments, those readers care less that LP clearly missed out on a chance to create a fun, interactive exchange with its fans, and more that the publisher just seemed to choose lame countries.

While the choices of El Salvador, Malaysia, and Suriname seemed to earn LP some kudos, Germany, Greece, New Zealand, and the USA certainly didn't seem like adventurous picks. Morocco, Nepal,
and Portugal earned mixed reactions.

(Personally, I took particular delight in some of the comments by travelers who had come to Morocco unprepared, especially this gem: "I completely DISAGREE with Morocco. My passport was stolen TWICE before I even left the airport. ... After leaving the airport and by the time two hours had passed, I was chased by a man with a monkey, chased by a man with snakes, hit by a donkey cart, and hit by a motorcyle.")

Since Jacqueline and I are currently making post-Morocco travel plans for next year, I'm always looking for new ideas. So, I ran a word count on the 48 comments currently posted to LP's list, to see what alternative countries readers had proposed. Here's what's popular with the commenters (all countries mentioned more than once):

8 India

5 Italy

4 Canada
4 Colombia
4 Jordan
4 South Africa
4 Spain

3 Brazil
3 China
3 Cuba
3 Korea
3 Kyrgyzstan
3 Philippines
3 Turkey
3 Uzbekistan

2 Argentina
2 Bhutan
2 Costa Rica
2 Ethiopia
2 Iran
2 Madagascar
2 Mozambique
2 Panama
2 Peru
2 Russia
2 Sri Lanka
2 Thailand
2 Uruguay
2 Vietnam
2 Zambia

Maybe we'll have to consider a few of these. Other suggestions? (We're thinking East Africa—recommendations there are particularly welcome!)


Jim March said...

My uncle would tell you Texas is a country all to itself... I've been there and it's very interesting. I especially like the greasy Jack-in-the-Box (fast food). Also, what about Baltimore City (but stay away from the Inner Harbor, it's a tourist trap)? Murder capital of the world - maybe that's not exciting enough... There's a beach town in NJ... if you want to catch a few waves and relax, I'll be glad to tell you about it later.

Andrew G. Farrand said...

Don't worry, Jim, I'll be back to Baltimore soon ... at least for a visit, long enough to see everyone.
But for those who haven't heard, Charm City really is a destination. The New York Times just listed alongside Tobago, Cambodia, Norway, Buenos Aires and other global destinations in its Winter 2009 Travel Magazine: http://www.nytimes.com/indexes/2009/11/22/style/t/index.html?hp#pageName=22baltimorew
Go Bmore!

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