WTM 2021 - looking at and doing travel and tourism in new ways
The World Travel Market – WTM London is taking place soon at the beginning of November.
It will once again bring together travel companies, organisations and individuals to reconnect and promote travel and tourism. No doubt the breadth of travel and tourism products and services presented will capture the attention of the visitors to the WTM. And as always, the offerings will have been designed and created to cater for a public that is hungry for all kinds of travel experiences; except now it is a public that is stepping out into a world that is opening up again under the cloud of the coronavirus pandemic.
So…will we see a ‘new way’ of doing travel and tourism, or will we witness a return to the ‘old ways’ that were at the core of tourism before this forced ‘pause’ with its time for potential reflection, learning and creativity?
Amidst the activity of re-opening, the Platform for Change driven by Responsible Tourism Advisor Harold Goodwin will once again feature presentations and discussions that focus on sustainability in the travel and tourism industry. This notion of sustainability can now be seen to embrace ideas captured under the themes of transformational travel and regenerative tourism. All of these ask for leadership that acts upon proclaimed values, none more so than those values that potentially promote peace and trust amongst and with all stakeholders (people and environment).
The term leadership might be commonly associated with professional engagements, for instance in our capacities within the travel and tourism industry. However, leadership is also something that applies to us as tourists, be that as domestic or international tourists when travelling to tourism destinations which are places others call home. Furthermore, the idea of leadership also extends to us as local communities at sought-after holiday destinations, as hosts or residents directly or indirectly involved in the visitor economy.
With this in mind it might be worthwhile to reflect on the fact that 2021 was declared the International Year of Peace and Trust (IYPT) by the United Nations.
Are peace and trust not something that all of us benefit from no matter where we might be in the world, whether we are at home or travelling?
Are peace and trust not important to all of us no matter what role we might play on the stage of travel and tourism?
It is these questions, amongst others, that motivated me some time back to write and publish my book The Way of the Peaceful Traveller – Dare to Care and Connect, available on Amazon.
We live and travel in a world where peace and trust are often talked about yet generally without acknowledgement that trust is built over time and that peace is not only an outcome but a process. Both peace and trust are part of an iterative process that takes place as part of the big picture with us in it; both peace and trust are a matter of our inner and outer worlds. In this sense, I believe that as a peaceful traveller through life it is important to
learn from the past with humility,
live in the present with honesty,
look to the future with hope.
Given my background in the travel and tourism industry and also in academia, I could see the benefit of drawing on travel as a cathartic, therapeutic and transformational vehicle for learning. Yet, I also knew that learning through travel does not take place necessarily automatically without some way of stopping and contemplating some questions that yearn for some answers; questions and answers to why, how and what related to the values of personal experiences and the transformational potential of travel and tourism for all of us as visitors to this time and place.
I believe that in the end we are all travellers through life and visitors here on Mother Earth with rights and responsibilities, accountable for our attitudes and actions, including those that foster peace-sensitive travel and peaceful co-existence – with others and our environment.
So, to elevate awareness and a more mindful way of seeing, doing and being in this world I decided to take readers on a journey of self-exploration, to travel in mind and soul. I thought to myself:
What if I offered readers some time to pause and reflect on questions and small activities so to explore and discover the meaning and relevance of travel and peace, of emotions and feelings, of needs and values - individual and societal values? What if I gave readers a chance to pause and reflect on the concepts of tourism, culture, stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination as these apply to us and others.
I believe that greater awareness and understanding of the interconnection between all these concepts and their meaning benefits all of us, not only when we travel as tourists or as someone working in the travel and tourism industry. Broadening our horizons through reflective learning enriches us in our capacity as leaders in our daily lives at home, in our personal and our professional relationships, at micro and macro levels. And what better way to do this than through travelling in our mind and soul, enjoying the embodiment of our life's travel experiences.
The forthcoming World Travel Market will in its own way indicate what the future of travel and tourism might hold, along hopefully with an appreciation that
The Joy of Travel
The Art of Travel
as much as
The Art of Living Together.