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Queensland tourism body asks pesky meteorologists to stop scaring people

Weathermen have a worrisome amount of power. No, seriously. Have you ever thought about how much the morning weather forecast influences your plans for the day?

If I saw the forecast say there is a chance of rain, I’m thinking twice about going on that run. So what if I’ve been putting it off for the past 72 hours, it was going to happen today. And if I’m not running, I’m definitely not going on any day trips.

But if the forecast said “likely sunshine”? Well now, that changes everything. Leaving the house becomes a real possibility (bear in mind that “possibility” is the key word here).

It seems the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) would agree after they let the Bureau of Meteorology know that their choice of language is too negative when it comes to forecasts, the Courier Mail reported.

According to the QTIC chief executive Daniel Gschwind, “Weather messaging has a significant impact on weekend, spontaneous and day trip travel plans.”

“We prefer the ‘glass half full’ option when it comes to weather reporting — for example, ‘mainly sunny’ is more encouraging to domestic travel­lers than ‘chance of rain’,” he said.

The QTIC offered some other cases of alternative, more positive wording with phrases such as “cooling down rain” or “cool day” taking the place of “showers” and “overcast”, respectively.

That does sound pretty nice. Maybe people would actually want to seek out this refreshing rain after a hot day (until they remember that driving in rainy conditions is a nightmare and no one actually likes being wet while in their day clothes).

There really is merit in their argument according to University of Queensland tourism expert Dr Pierre Benckendorff. 

“We certainly see a downturn in occupancy at hotels and visitation at attrac­tions when the weather forecast is less favourable. ‘Partly cloudy’ or ‘overcast’ does not tell tourists a lot,” he said.

I understand where the QTIC is coming from. It can’t be fun to lose business on days where there’s an off chance of rain that never actually comes.

But in my opinion, I’d rather get the glass-half-empty forecast so that I can prepare for the worst. If it discourages me from visiting a place I really wanted to see, odds are I’ll make it back later on.

It does get me thinking though. What if meteorologists eventually develop more sinister motives? With the power to influence the activities of people across the world, how long before they start using false weather threats to keep people indoors? How long before they bankrupt cities and states by killing their tourism industries?

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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