On turismo and Starbucks

I don’t mean to beat the issue to death, but after reading more gushing editorials and comments about the new tourism money from the government of New Brunswick, I just have one question.

For all of the pundits, journalists and newspaper editors that think tourism is the panacea for economic development in northern New Brunswick, just a simple question. Would you work for $8.50/hour 11 weeks a year? How about your kids – after university?

I realize just about everyone seems to love tourism. Heck, even I like it for selfish reasons (I like using the infrastructure myself every year). But when you have scarce dollars to invest what industries make for the best back for the buck? Particularly when we are desperately need high wage, year round jobs in value added industries?

All I can say is I hope there is another $100 million for the digital media sector. And another $100 million for the data centre sector. And another $100 million (heck, make it two) for the alternative energy industry.

On a completely different theme, I see that Starbucks is now taking on Brazil. The single most coffee obsessed market in the world – without any doubt.

There is a Moncton lesson for Starbucks, here. When Starbucks first came to Moncton, there were plans for multiple Starbucks. There was even a “coming soon” Starbucks sign up at Trinity next to the movie theatre. But Starbucks completely underestimated the power of Tim Horton’s and its embeddedness in the Moncton culture (not to mention Moncton’s socio-demographic situation – few students, limited artsy fartsies and lower average incomes than Saint John, Fredericton and Halifax).

As a result, no expansion of Starbucks in Moncton. Just the lonely one in Chapters catering to some UdeM students (and ABU) and a few folks that need a real latte once in a while (hand raised here).

The lesson in Brazil is similar and should be similarly obvious. Brasileiros love their cafezinho. Not lattes, not mochas, not tea. Not even cappuccino. And more importantly, they will bristle at the thought of paying $4 for a coffee, too. Now, there will be a limited market here for the American style Starbucks. Like most places in the world, there is a need to emulate America among a certain segment of the population. But by in large, Starbucks, in my opinion, will need to start serving up $1 cafezinho to make it work here.

However, for me, I’ll just have my grande latte with skim milk.

Maybe I’ll go get one now.

Tchau.

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