Tourism “imagines” responsibility at WTM


LONDON (eTN) – Messages and pleas for providing clean water and spearheading peace through tourism in the next 20 years have been conveyed in the past four days at London’s largest travel exhibition. The word responsible has taken over this year’s World Travel Market. Wherever you turn, “responsible” seems to be the buzzword. If it were a destination, there would be an exodus moving towards that direction.

Tuesday proved to be a remarkable day in this regard, as the International Peace through Tourism brought together leaders from key tourism organizations including SKAL International, America Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Pacific Travel Association, United Nations World Tourism Organization, Travel Industry Association of America, Canada Tourism Commission, World Youth Student & Educational Travel Confederation, and Reed Travel Exhibitions who each shared their vision for peace in the next 20 years of travel and tourism.

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Fiona Jeffery, chair of World Travel Market, said: “IIPT has ambitious aims, which given the many conflicts raging throughout the world, some might say are without hope. But are they hopeless or can the international travel and tourism industry say something that offers a lesson to the world? Of course, it can!”

She added: “No other industry has the fundamental power or the network of contacts to be able to chip away at ignorance and misunderstanding in the name of peace. Travel and tourism is an integral and diverse part of the economy of almost every state and every nation and can help provide much needed jobs, which in turn gives people back their dignity, respect, and passion for further education.”

ASTA president Chris Russo said: “Interestingly enough, my vision for ASTA is for the next 20 years. The younger members of the industry see the importance of peace through tourism. We have an opportunity for our children to be able to travel to places that we have not been able to travel to. It is great to have the opportunity to experience the experience that we have over the next 20 years. We have to make sure that our leaders understand that we all have the opportunity to travel freely, to be able to go to other countries safely.”

Meanwhile, in another forum, a bold statement was made: that water will be in the future what oil is today, according to a panelist at WTM’s discussion on climate change. Obviously trying to make a point on what he perceives to where water is heading towards — scarcity. This was among the many arguments that were made at the event, which was organized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization last Wednesday.

To cap the discussion on climate change, a slideshow showing pictures depicting both the beauty and gruesome truths about the current world we live in was played with Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” playing in the background. It was a moment that commanded the attention of even those who were in a most hurry to get back to their hotels or to their dinner appointments after a long day of roaming the halls of the ExCel Exhibition Center. For whatever reason, perhaps they, too, were “imagining” the responsibility of tourism.