Thank you Dimitrios Buhalis for posting this video on Facebook. It's an 8 minute overview of the growth, evolution and potential future of what has to be the world's most global and pervasive economic and social phenomenon.Designed to inspire the 5000 exhibitors at the World Travel Market and the hundreds of thousands of visitors, who walk the trade hall floors, to think reflectively about the future, it provides plenty of food for thought! It will be discussed at the Tourism 2030 event at WTM on 12th Nov - see here
Will Whitehorn, whose company Virgin Galactic aspires to move people carbon free, outside the earth's atmosphere, urged hotels to "become much more efficient through the use of solar, wind, waste and water power in order to live with the risk of expensive oil while dealing with a public that demands better, cheaper ecotourism".
While there were several heartening references to the need for responsibility, there appeared to be an implicit assumption that "industry" must also cater to what the public wants i.e. more, better, cheaper ecotourism...The Secretary General of the UNWTO, Taleb Rifai confirmed this by saying that "travel has become a human right, like the right to breath, the right to speak and the right to think" almost implying that any attempt to curb this appetite would be an infringement of those rights.
Mr Rifai concludes with a bold and "optimistic" vision - "very soon, there will not be a single human being on ths universe who will not cross an international border as a tourist or as a businessman. This tremendous power of people moving all over the world is what is going to shape our industry and impact the world".
You betcha... 9 billion people crossing an international border at least once a year equals a 10-fold increase in tourist arrivals...just as well they'll be flying in space. Now what kind of fuel will be used to defy the gravity sufficiently to lift off 9 billion souls eager to keep exploring?
I'd like to think travel was a right but I think its secondary to and dependent on the right to clean water, sufficient food to grow healthy bones, and a roof over one's head. So if Mr. Rifai's vision were to be realised, we've got much responsible work to do.Having spent my entire life serving this phenomenon we call tourism, I happen to really care about the future of the many dedicated and bright people engaged in it. But there won't be a future unless much higher standards of self-honesty and realism are applied. It's time to focus energy on creating a vision of a better , less harmful tourism and jettison ideas that we can continue with "business as usual." International tourism is a privilege NOT a right. It can bring benefits but incurs huge environmental and social cost - just ask the Venetians. Responsible tourism or Sustainable tourism will never fly unless both sides of the equation are recognized from the outset and we stop applying a woolly-headed, polyannnish, false optimism and got deadly serious about transformation.