Authentic Tourism: How Detroit Gets it Right

Each city has its icon that distinguishes it from all other cities; these representations and their related experiences create a fabricated reproduction of an experience for visitors and participants.

The icon may be unique to the city –the experience is exactly the same as everyone else’s.

The power that Detroit has is that tourism in this city has not been crafted. There is no routine established for tourism, which leaves the journey open to interpretation and flexibility. This allows for unanticipated events to take visitors by surprise and for the city to be seen through ones’ own eyes rather than through the lens of a tour guide, photographer or journalist.

Guerilla Marketing for Detroit initiatives

What started with a sticker and a suggestion led one explorer of Detroit on a documented journey of happenstance. Intrigued by perpetual links among happenings in the city, the escapade unfolded to include seeing underground Detroit initiatives and entertainment, getting involved with locals, and seeing the city in a new light.

This authentic experience in Detroit that lacked curation allowed for an unbiased perspective of the city: an adventure in ordinary discovery. There was the good, the bad, and the everyday that culminated in a balanced understanding of the complexity of Detroit as a whole.

Offline file share in Sit On It Detroit library bench.

Pisa has the Leaning Tower, Rome has the Colosseum, Bejing has the Great Wall –Detroit has blight and abandonment. Doesn’t seem fair, right? Lets be real: Detroit gets slammed by the media. Although there is a lot of truth to the crime, blight and corruption, it is important to understand that there is more to a city than one representation. Major cities face the same issues as Detroit even if it is a smaller scale, but because other cities are not defined by issues there is no increased negative affect on the area. Just as other cities have problems that aren’t highlighted, Detroit has assets that are working to its advantage without any media coverage. There is more to the picture than what is contained within the frame.

Frame Series depicting the frame within a frame

New York City can keep the Empire State Building and San Francisco its iconic Golden Gate Bridge –Detroit has its authentic experience to be known for –and there is no ticket price on that.

When looking to find an experience different from the touristy expectation, Detroit provides the platform to create an individualized journey and refuses to ask you to buy a souvenir to prove it.

For questions, comments, or more information about this project and its accompanying images email