Dear Colleagues and Friends – Greetings! Friday, July 3, 2020
To my Canadian friends and colleagues, I hope you enjoyed Canada Day in a safe though probably subdued manner.
Other than essential front line employees, healthcare workers and volunteers, to whom we are indeed indebted for their selfless commitments, I’m sure, like me during this endless lockdown, you’ve had many days to reflect on the future. It’s simply human nature…
I’ll admit, I’m more than a bit tired of our Covid-19 world. Yes, we all know what’s at stake, and as the days go by, we’ve adapted to new ways of living our lives. But, while I’m aware of the need to be fully in the present, if you’re like me, I’m concentrating more on how to find ways to make the future count towards the betterment of our world.
In the past 120 years the human race has witnessed amazing innovations that have changed our lives beyond all imagining. From horse-drawn carriages to steamships and coal-powered locomotives, we now circle the globe on supersonic flights, cruise on mega ships and glide at an incredible 300mph in trains using magnetic levitation technology. But, in doing so, we unthinkingly added to the depletion of the ozone layer, the meltdown of the alpine glaciers, and have created an imbalance in fragile ecosystems. Yet, it’s never too late! In the last decade, there is a growing momentum to the global movement to understand how precious and precarious the balances are in maintaining a sustainable life on our planet. This is Mother Earth we are talking about; a treasure we cannot afford to throw away.
Studies have shown that mass tourism around the world, is having adverse consequences. Whereas the focus is often centred on the battle for market-share of tourist dollars for destinations and their hospitality-related enterprises, the proof of the negative impact on land, air and sea is becoming an ever-growing and over-arching concern which begs the question: Are we being tested and told to slow down the pace and undo what we have so unthinkingly spoiled? I’m prepared to say that we certainly are. The pace hasn’t just slowed down. It’s came to a screeching halt!
Worldwide, travel and tourism generates in excess of $8,000,000,000,000 (US$ Eight Trillion), and employs over 300 million people, equalling roughly one in every eleven working adult. After a 100 days of shutdown, there now seems to be a glimmer of hope for a tourism rebound, and so, the race has begun. But this is turning out to be a tough battle as everyone, everywhere is competing to replenish their lost market-share. Already, inviting product offers are flooding the marketing channels with strategic prices, in order to somehow revive the industry.
Make no mistake. Our industry is resilient and I’m confident that collectively, we will create healthy opportunities with valuable socio-economic spin-offs for all associated with travel. However, the single most important element in all of this remains elusive. How far are we willing to sacrifice the environment and at what cost? That’s the elephant in the room!
During the pandemic we have witnessed the subsiding of pollution, a return of clear horizons and starry skies, the freedom of movement without congestion and the ability to understand the differences. My plea to the traveller as well as to the provider of travel is one of shared responsibility. The pent-up demand is looming larger by the day, so to the traveller I would request that they take a moment to consider the benefits, pitfalls and the carbon footprint that may impact our fragile ecosystems, and take more thoughtful, precautionary measures whenever and wherever they travel. And to the provider of travel, and that includes myself, I ask from all of us for our commitment to take proactive initiatives in creating a tangible balance to embed measures for sustainable tourism. Now, more than ever, we simply cannot, and must not forget that we, as stakeholders, have a bona fide responsibility of safekeeping the only environment that we will ever have. I’ll have more on these initiatives in my next month’s column.
And finally, I take this opportunity to wish my friends south of the border a very happy 4th of July! Have a wonderful time and stay safe!