The International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP) headed by Geoffrey Lipman and Juergen T. Steinmetz, has announced a new travel and tourism award, the likes of which the industry has never been seen before.
A number of equally irreverent friends have joined this initiative, including Ghassan Aidi, President of the IH&RA; Peter de Jong of TTSI; and Valere Tjolle at TravelMole’s Vision on Sustainable Tourism to help spread the fun. Steinmetz and Lipman extend an invitation to other travel and tourism members to join this low-level group, based on the simple criteria of non-democratic appointment and no salaries, but a capacity to add to the game.
“It occurred to me that there is something sadly amusing in the way our industry gets conned,” Steinmetz said. And that is how he and Lipman came up with the idea to give out “The Bernies” awards.
With no authority to do so, other than being in a sector both of these men have loved for a long time and without any formal institutional link, they are pleased to announce the creation of “The Bernies,” a new set of anti-humbug, pro-ridicule awards to be given for the most cynical and disingenuous travelism (travel and tourism) policies and initiatives.
This award is named, of course, after one of the most cynical con men of all time – Bernie Madoff. Successful winners will get a blow-up likeness of the great Bernie himself to display on their trophy shelf (or not, as the case may be).
Steinmetz said: “No doubt there will be a collective industry sigh of relief at the announcement about the UK budget of the postponement of the increase in the UK’s rip-off Airport Passenger Duty and a fix for its stupid Caribbean overcharging anomaly.”
Yet the discriminatory, market-leading anti-travel poll tax still remains in place, with increases of 2600%, yes 2600%, that have been made in the past 15 years since its introduction as a green tax, and not one penny has gone to environment or industry causes.
And then there is the industry’s somewhat predictable and rather mild-mannered responses, which only add to the farce. We are falling over ourselves when a new leader mentions the importance of travel and tourism, producing serious but so often ignored reports, and holding endless high-level meetings and summits to unsuccessfully oppose policies, which are frankly cynical and short term (but which, in this case, will continue to add billions of pounds to an austerity-driven national balance sheet).
Lipman stated, “For years I have been saying that we will never get any real reaction from policymakers until, like the farmers, we put cows on the steps of the Berlymont in Brussels – sheep might actually be more appropriate given the lines at security around the world that could be so easily fixed with more staff (its jobs, people), more technology (its e-visas and more search machines, guys) and a little less shareholder profit and red tape bureaucracy.
“Billions of travelers are transported, employing hundreds of millions of people, and we never work to get them on our side on these issues partly because we are too nice and partly because we are too serious (or take ourselves too seriously – yes I know, me too, but I can say when I was President of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) 15 years ago, we did produce a still highly-relevant tax policy paper in the form of a comic book drafted, coincidentally, by a young Lord Stern.”
Periodically, a low-level group will meet to finalize the winners of “The Bernies” based, of course, on social media engagement and hopefully industry support. Results will be correlated with major industry events.
Suggestions for awards in 2011 are most welcome. Write to either Professor Geoffrey Lipman at email@example.com or call +32491566897,
or get in touch with Juergen T. Steinmetz at firstname.lastname@example.org , phone: +1 808 536 1100.
The International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP) is a force for socially responsible and sustainable travel.
Tourism Partners supports the UN Millennium Development Goals, the UN World Tourism Organization’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, and a range of programs that underpin them.
Tourism Partners provides a web-based platform for the industry to showcase socially-responsible tourism strategies and a constant connection to decision-makers at the highest level.
For more information on ICTP: www.tourismpartners.org .