Intellectual property could make destinations rich without harming their precious tourism assets.
An alternative world has appeared through the looking glass…
With any luck, an enormous battle will take place after the lockdowns - you need to take your side now.
Now we all have a little taste of things to come. Covid-19 has, quite literally, changed our entire world. Generously distributed by global airlines at no extra cost, carriers of the virus spread it to every corner of the globe.
And suddenly... The fact that people are now travelling much less has let us all have a peep into another possible world. The air we breathe is much better, there is much less noise, fewer planes in the sky, carbon emissions have dramatically decreased. We hear the birds once again and are reminded that nature can, and will, take care of itself – even if it means that the human race will be exterminated.
The fact is that in travel terms here we are again in 1992 - the clock has been put back to the year of the Earth Summit with 500 million international passengers a year. Even then we were worried that tourism was overheating.
Global mass homogeneous tourism may not be the cause but is, without doubt, a symptom of a way of living that is doing tremendous damage to environments, to human beings, to our cultures and our societies.
Shortly we will have a critical choice to make if our governments begin attempting to put an incredibly expensive sticking plaster on an unsustainable system that was never fit for purpose.
If so, they will use cynical meretricious phrases like “full employment” and “tourism for our economic development”. They will assert that “air travel builds economies and transcends borders” that “tourism brings massive opportunities for all”
And they will be right. Tourism has the opportunity to do all these things and more.
But, over the last 40 years or more, however many tourists travel, however big the tourism economy, however many hotels have been built or apartments let - the vast majority of tourism-related jobs have been rubbish, the vast majority of destination communities have had terrible deals.
Soon it will be time to build a new travel and tourism industry. An industry that may use the term ‘sustainable’ - not just as a buzz word, but one that implies responsibility in business practice, quality training and employment, sustainable tourism economies and businesses, social integrity, cultural and environmental respect, resilient sustainable destinations. Places that are good to live in first and good to visit second.
All that means destination communities that have actual ownership of their tourism assets and have the power to manage them.
Let us not forget the powerful brands that generate tourists like "Montmartre", "Paris", "da Vinci". "Times Square", "Thailand", "Venice" "stunning beaches", "wonderful climates", "New York". These and more represent the brands' massive power to attract visitors. Who owns the moral and intellectual rights to these brands and their images that serve airlines, tour operators, OTAs so well for free?
Virtual tourism could have answers, reducing actual travellers to lower numbers and higher prices and giving others the possibility of fundamentally understanding the destination they wish to visit through Virtual Reality.
Just imagine a confluence of the $ mega trillion gaming industry, the amazing Google Arts and Culture the augmented reality that TUI are now pioneering
Together they may change the world of tourism.
It's all in the 2021 Sustainable Tourism Report due to be published on 5 November. Price £200
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Valere Tjolle is the travel and tourism insider. An entrepreneur, consultant, developer and journalist, he has been in at the beginning of almost every tourism development for the last sixty years. There is no one better placed to expose the seedy side of tourism nor its enormous opportunities to unite people across the globe.