Elephant riding? No longer.
Tiger selfies? Not a chance.
Climbing ruins? Completely unacceptable.
Plastic straws in hotel drinks? Not needed, now disappearing.
Pre-reading local customs and codes? A growing practice.
Times are changing, travelers are changing, and together our sector is changing. For the better.
It is quite amazing to think how the lines are blurring between the Ps. Not long ago it was about 3Ps – Public / Private Partnerships. Combined for many years, written in many Travel & Tourism strategies, and central to many policies, these Ps represented an essential joining of forces to ensure that development was undertaken holistically, effectively, efficiently and sustainably. PPPs were embedded in T&T DNA.
Over the past decade, however, the evolving world of T&T, both from an internal sector and external traveler perspective, has seen the emergence of a 4th P – People. Products, projects, policies and projections are being directly influenced by People – both travelers and the local people of destination to which they travel.
Why this evolution? Why now?
The growth of global Travel & Tourism (T&T) converging with the growth of technology has grown the volume of the voice of the traveler. Experiences shared, good and bad, are not able to reach the world with the touch of a mobile phone key. Individuals, regardless of their nationalities, professional responsibilities and personal identities, are able to make their voices heard, loud and clear and now. The personal behind the personality is now able to step forward. As is their point of view.
In all ways, everywhere, we live in an interconnected world.
For this reason, the once one-way push/pull of industry and traveler has become two directional. As much as the T&T industry is evolving and innovating in ways that are more sensitive and sensible regarding the sustainability of our shared world, travelers are also shifting their wishes and wants, wanting nothing to do with doing harm.
LEADING THROUGH UNITING LEADERS
The global T&T industry, recognizing this important, invaluable interconnectivity of our shared travelling world, is taking firm action to ensure that industry evolution is truly meaningful, sustainable, and equitable for places, people and planet. In so doing, protection of profit will follow.
The 2018 WTTC Global Summit, an essential event on any T&T leaders’ schedule this year, was recently held in Buenos Aires. An important echo of the G20 Meetings also being held in Argentina’s capital city the summit brought together over 800 global leaders across the public and private sectors, including several Heads of State, Ministers of Tourism, Presidents and CEOs of leading global and regional travel businesses, NGOs and the Media to, as the WTTC stated in its summit overview, ‘ask the tough questions facing Travel & Tourism partnerships today, explore what this means for the future, and demonstrate the sector’s role in our fast evolving and ever more unpredictable world.’
Under the theme of ‘Our People, Our World, Our Future’, the summit opened up rich, rigorous dialogue around what the global industry can and must do to protect and direct the power of the sector as a force for good, for all, for the long term. In addition, the summit put forward a call to action to all leaders present to step forward and pledge participation in critical initiatives that will ensure key issues are addressed at all levels – globally and locally, from governments through businesses to travelers.
Why? Because There are no dividing lines when it comes to taking action to protect our people, our world, our future.
One of the initiatives at the forefront of this effort: the illegal wildlife trade – a growing source of criminality that is costing our world environmentally, socially, culturally and ethically. The signing of Buenos Aires Declaration on Travel & Tourism and Illegal Wildlife Trade by WTTC members was a powerful sign of the industry’s commitment, worldwide and across the travel experience chain.
THE POWER OF PEOPLE IN TOURISM’S SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
One of the four pillars of the declaration, that which emphasizes the need for ‘Awareness raising among customers, staff and trade networks’, resonated deeply with one of the WTTC’s longstanding and long-inspiring members: Brett Tollman, Chief Executive of The Travel Corporation (TTC).
Taking the power of people to heart and to the front line of his global travel business representing over 40 businesses to over 70 countries through 29 award winning brands, Tollman knows the power of one voice championing one clear message across millions of people. His portfolio of companies brings over 2 million travelers per annum through its over 10,000 employees.
The ‘people’ aspect of TTC has always been deemed the organization’s greatest asset, TTC’s travelers and employees the most powerful magnifiers and mobilisers of positive change, one by one by one by millions. To ensure that the ability to create this positive change is channeled in a way that maximizes the push/pull between industry and individuals, TTC created The TreadRight Foundation. Spearheaded by Tollman the foundation, a ‘not-for-profit working to ensure the environment and communities we visit remain vibrant for generations to come’ today is proud to have over 50 sustainable tourism partnerships projects active worldwide in which staff and travelers alike are able to directly play their part. This is how, in Tollman’s opinion, positive change is sustainable through changing behaviors.
As stated by Shannon Guihan, Program Director for the TreadRight Foundation:
“At TreadRight, we understand the impact a travel experience can hold. When we incorporate a strong community development or wildlife conservation message into that experience, that learning will not quickly be forgotten. We’ve effectively shaped their future, and the chance to create local ambassadors out of every guest is precisely why we do what we do.”
What responsibility do travel companies have in changing traveler habits and attitudes. Guihan echoes Tollman’s point of view, she making clear the belief that the industry has:
“A lot of responsibility. Travel is an escape. It’s an opportunity to leave the day to day behind and immerse yourself in new, different, and extraordinary. Also left behind are our responsibilities. What this means for many is that while we may be conscious of our resource use at home, when we travel many of us forget these sensibilities. It’s an unfortunate reality, and this is where the role of the travel provider cannot be overstated. We must provide the traveler with the knowledge and opportunity to make the right choice, to be as responsible in our temporary home as we are in our permanent home.”
Guihan makes the link between TreadRight, TTC and the WTTC perfectly, finding the golden thread that runs through our people, our world, our future:
“At the end of the day, wherever travelers find themselves, that place is home to someone.”