G20: Travel & tourism advocacy lessons learned – appetite sharpened ?


The G20 “summit of all summits” closed this Sunday, November 16, in Brisbane, Australia.

I am pleased as requested by eTurboNews to provide a “visitor economy” related sketchbook account on this week of interwoven G20 related meetings. This included a PATA-supported day of presentations and panels entitled “Tourism’s New Frontiers” as part of an innovative five strand, Brisbane, Global Cafe Society event.

eTN Chatroom: Discuss with readers from around the world:

The G20 attracts the world’s most powerful and influential political and business personalities, starting with the leaders of the G20 countries, which represents 85% of the world economy plus the Secretary General of the United Nations and the heads of the World Bank and IMF to name a few.

It was a heady brew and a lot of expectation. However, some fun was linked to the “visitor economy.” President Obama told 900 noisy Queensland Uni students in a powerful pre-conference speech that he would rather be on the beach than locked up with politicians for the weekend. Angela Merkel wandered over from her downtown hotel to a beer hall, with 120 types on offer, none German!

This G20 attracted 4,000 other “delegates,” 3,000 media, and 6,000 police. Do you get the picture? There were 27 registered protest groups and a public holiday on Friday. Lesson learned from Toronto G20 where there were 1,100+ arrests. Bottom line: in Brisbane, lessons learned, no serious conflicts reported, but a lot of steam released via sledging and banter across the security lines.

There is a point to this – relevant to the business you are in. Travel and tourism needs to speak its mind, preferably at or near to the top table, I mean figuratively the top table that effects your business environment, otherwise do not expect naming, shaming, or shaping rights.

It may seem unnecessary with over 3,000 tightly-accredited media from 100+ countries covering the event to add one more perspective. However, as I have often said during 3 years as PATA CEO (a responsibility I was pleased to formally hand over on November 1 to Mario Hardy) the travel and tourism sector needs to get out more, play outside it’s comfort zone, rub shoulders with non-believers, schmooze influencers more widely, and occasionally sharp elbow/shirt front some decision-makers.

Frankly, every other major commercial sector does. The financial services sector puts huge resources into lobbying, even though or perhaps because, they do not have a good story to tell.

Thanks to Brisbane Marketing’s innovative initiative, the “Global Cafe Society,” this week we did get the message out. The rest of the “back story” I will share, once I know you are interested. Some tasters, main courses can be ordered, as well as edited video of full sessions in progress.

Do you want to know what Pansy Ho, reputedly Asia’s richest business lady had to say in her carefully-crafted and insightful keynote address? She described herself as a transformer not a quick change artist, with memorable allusion to caterpillars and butterflies.

Do you have any interest in Lend Leases prioritization process on mixed use developments? Would you like a trip to Dr. Matt McDougalls’ “Digital Jungle” in order to get big results from big data in China? Or tap into some disruptive energy from Mr. Brett Godfrey ex-Virgin Blue or perhaps the calming balm of “Cathedral Thinking” from Rick Antonson (ex-CEO of Vancouver Tourism) all skillfully built into a session moderated by the irrepressible Christopher Brown?

If this does not touch your palette, what about insights from Turkish Airlines on how they plan their route network? The world’s most connected airline, 264 destinations today, worth hearing?

Insightful and humorous updates also from TripAdvisor and Amadeus’ top management. Plus Rory Hunters deep dive into balancing PEOPLE PROFITS PLANET in his multi-award winning, fully-sustainable, US $2,000 pn private island retreat in Cambodia. Still not inspired?

Last word on tourism’s truly positive effect from David Gavaghan, CEO, Titanic Quarter, Belfast: “Tourism is a dividend of peace and an enabler of equitable economic and social progress.”

This is one extra line I would like to have seen in PM Abbot’s closing 3-page G20 communique.

If above is of interest, let me know via your comments on eTN.
Looking forward to paths crossing or even our views converging.

Martin Craigs, PATA