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Peter De Wilde on ‘travel to tomorrow …’

“It’s the economy, stupid!”. This campaign one-liner from 1992, from the former American president Clinton, has dominated the past few decades. In times of economic turbulence, when there is pressure on labour markets and everyone’s household budgets, the importance of the economy and ‘growth, growth, growth’ as an abiding...

Alt tekst
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Peter De Wilde on ‘travel to tomorrow …’

“It’s the economy, stupid!”. This campaign one-liner from 1992, from the former American president Clinton, has dominated the past few decades. In times of economic turbulence, when there is pressure on labour markets and everyone’s household budgets, the importance of the economy and ‘growth, growth, growth’ as an abiding...

The world and also 'tourism' is changing at lightning speed. And we also have to: adapt and reinvent ourselves. Looking for the right ingredients for a new / better future for tourism.

The world and also 'tourism' is changing at lightning speed. And we also have to: adapt and reinvent ourselves. Looking for the right ingredients for a new / better future for tourism.


Relive the Travel to Tomorrow summit

Pictures, videos and presentations.

The Travel to Tomorrow summit 2019 is over. With 250 participants, at least as many meaningful encounters, lots of inspiration and plans for the future, it was a great success!

Travel to Tomorrow – Growing Forward Together

On 12 and 13 September 2019 Travel to Tomorrow - Growing Forward Together will take place in Bruges. This summit brings together entrepreneurs, opinion and policy makers and policy supporters around pressing, contemporary questions and challenges in the tourism sector.
A varied mix of keynotes, workshops, experience sessions and (digital) interviews provides each participant with interactive opportunities to be inspired by the transforming power of tourism and grow professionally. Flemish and international top speakers link the theoretical framework to practical examples and issues of great touristic, but also broad social relevance.
A must-visit event for everyone who wants to contribute in an innovative, sustainable way to a future proof tourism!

Co-authoring the future of travel and hospitality

Welcome to the story of a future in travel and hospitality that is being re-authored as we speak. This story is currently unfolding in the governmental office of Visit Flanders and its Holiday Participation Centre.

Kickoff Travel to Tomorrow

Do you also feel the desire to travel to tomorrow and to take action? Do you want to take the first step? We continue our journey to tomorrow. Watch the video of the kick-off session.

VISITFLANDERS working on a vision for tomorrow: 'Travel to tomorrow: Recommendations for tourism policy 2019-2024'

We want to continue to strengthen our appeal to tourists. Yet, if we are to remain successful in the future, we need to take into account many changes and uncertainties.
Our starting point for formulating our vision for the future is our belief in the positive power of tourism. We need to strengthen this power to bring balance so destinations in Flanders can flourish.

Tourism transforms

Tourism can change the world for the better, according to Peter De Wilde. If we complete our story, and focus more on the context and social setting in which tourism takes place and look more closely at the interactions between travellers, place and...

Facts and figures

In 2017, 1.3 billion international arrivals were counted worldwide. By 2030, the UNWTO forecasts that this volume will grow to 1.8 billion international arrivals. Add domestic tourism and daily excursions to that figure, and the overall total is far higher than that.

Order a printed copy or download the magazine

For a year we, together with various partners, have thought about the transformative power of tourism for the visitor, occupant and destination. We have bundled the result of this co-creative thinking process into the magazine 'Journey to tomorrow'.

Explore and understand

From change to transformation. The end of an era?

Uncovering the transformational power of Tourism

The future of tourism is less but better

The future of tourism is customisation

Towards a flourishing destination

What if … we would no longer fly under 750 km?

What if … the summer holiday lasted 7 weeks instead of 9?

Image of the future

The Invisible Burden: Integrating Tourism Impacts into Civic Planning & Management

The Travel Foundation has recently published a report “The Invisible Burden: Integrating Tourism Impacts into Civic Planning & Management”. In a workshop at the GSTC 2019 Global Conference speakers Griet Geudens (Quality & Sustainability Consultant at Visit Flanders) and Dr. Mihee Kang (GSTC Director - Asia Pacific) presented the report, together with a number of destinations.

Measuring What Counts: The Global Movement for Well-Being

American public policy analyst and university professor Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, has been challenging gross domestic product (GDP) as a measure of progress and well-being.

His new book, Measuring What Counts: The Global Movement for Well-Being, cowritten with French economists Jean-Paul Fitoussi and Martine Durand, proposes a new “dashboard” of metrics to assess a society’s health, including measures of inequality and economic vulnerability, whether growth is environmentally sustainable, and how people feel about their lives.

Source: Fast Company

“We must get rid of our addiction to growth”

Freelance business journalist Wouter Temmerman explains in Brussels Airlines b.inspired inflight magazine October 2019 why, in a changing economic society where the size of a company isn’t necessarily representative of success, bigger doesn’t always mean better.

You can read the column on page 94 (114) of the magazine.

Source: b.inspired by Brussels Airlines Magazine October 2019

Barcelona Declaration of Tourism and Cultural Heritage: "Better Places to Live, Better Places to Visit"

The Barcelona Declaration "Better Places to Live, Better Places to Visit" seeks to demonstrate what tourism and cultural heritage sectors can achieve by working more closely together, for the benefit of European citizens and cultural heritage as well as businesses, visitors and destinations. Moreover, it assumes the collective commitment of both sectors towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Declaration has been developed by NECSTouR members in cooperation with Europa Nostra, the European Travel Commission and the European Cultural Tourism Network, with the support of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3.

Source: NECSTouR

Rethinking tourism so the locals actually benefit from hosting visitors

The Conversation published an article on the future for tourism by Freya Higgins-Desbiolles, lecturer in Tourism Management at the University of South Australia.

Tourism today has a problem and needs an entire rethink. Pundits are debating overtourism, peak tourism and tourismphobia. Cities such as Barcelona, Venice and Dubrovnik are witnessing a backlash against imposed forms of tourism.

In response, new tactics have been tried, ranging from tourist “police” and tourist taxes to entry fees and crowd control. Cities are having to rethink their engagement with tourism if they want to keep the locals from rioting.

Fundamental concerns are being raised. If tourism is to have a sustainable future, we need to reorient our focus and put the well-being and interests of local residents at the forefront.

Source: The Conversation (text) and Jeff Ackley on Unsplash (photo)

New ECM strategy 2019-2022, released June 7, 2019

Tomorrow Today is the business strategy of European Cities Marketing (ECM) in an era when complex and long termed strategies are almost becoming obsolete as the future can no longer be determined by linear thinking or prudent planning.

Still, ECM presents their strategy as their sense of purpose and direction in a fast-changing visitor economy – and as a manifesto of their beliefs and values as a community of passionate professionals.

With Tomorrow Today, ECM tackles a radical new paradigm in destination management and city marketing where global connectivity, rapid leaps in technologies, powerful global transaction platforms and political disruption have become permanent driving forces in urban travel, experiencing, conferences and events.

Source: European Cities Marketing

The Lime, heart of a flourishing place

The tourism of tomorrow will be rooted in local communities. In neighbourhoods, villages and cities that thrive and, as a result, enjoy welcoming enthusiastic visitors. A flourishing community is very much connected to its specific place; where people work together, where visitors can feel at home and residents can nurture and share their love for the place.

Four transformational steps and a bundle of inspirational practices

Our voyage of discovery in a world full of change is a quest to find the ingredients for a flourishing destination. Fifty people gathered for a two-day writing adventure. They reflected on the discoveries from studies, workshops, conversations and think-tanks. They identified four key elements for transformational tourism.

To work

American university students on Travel to Tomorrow

"Lemons and Oranges"

An intensive one month visit to the Low Countries: two weeks in the Netherlands, two weeks in Belgium, Flanders and Brussels. That’s what 26 American students from Berkeley University in San Francisco and their Flemish professor Jeroen Dewulf have just completed. They concluded their trip at VISITFLANDERS where they exchanged ideas on Travel to Tomorrow.

Villers Abbey invests in sustainable development

The Villers Abbey is in full swing. Their goal is to make the location more attractive by focusing on sustainable development and at the same time by responding to the needs of the visitors. The initiatives can be clustered in four areas: social, environment, economic and policy related.

Meetjesland as a 'Flourishing Destination'

Newsletter Flourishing Meetjesland

Flourishing places are created together

Tourism is more than just the economy.
As a visitor, you will bristle with creativity in some places and find profound inspiration in others. The passion that residents show, ensure that some places are full of...

Five transformations for entrepreneurs

1. The experience is essence.
2. Changing the use of language, back to the essence.
3. Out-of-the-box thinking, connecting interests.
4. Experiment with new business models.
5. Knowledge is expanded through sharing.

The transition: which role suits you?

Being aware, taking responsibility, connecting and collaborating: the four ingredients for making the transition from a tourist destination to a flourishing place...

The word is yours!

What is your hope or dream? Tell about it! Are there concrete ideas? Choose one! Who would you like to work with to explore this idea? Dare to speak at least one of them!


Botel Ophoven

Interview with Katy Stroobants, hostess.

As its name indicates, Botel Ophoven is a hotel on a boat. Its unique location on Maasplas De Spaanjerd gives guests the opportunity to fully enjoy the landscape, the tranquillity and the legendary Limburg hospitality. What’s more, it’s also sustainable.

YUST Housing

Interview with Louis Claes, General Manager Yust Antwerp.

YUST, an acronym of ‘Young Urban Style’, opened in March 2019 and is based in Antwerp’s Harmonie neighbourhood. The innovate project, which combines co-housing with a ho(s)tel, co-working spaces, an events venue and a restaurant, is situated in a former telephone factory.

Stayer cycles

Meet Judith Rooze, a passionate Belgian wheel builder for sports bikes, located in East London. If you want to know what a passionate community with strong ties to Flanders' assets looks like, check out this interview in GRAN FONDO, 'The most exciting cycling magazine'.

Source: GRAN FONDO Cycling Magazine (text) and Stayer cycles (photo)

Sustainable transport in Bulgaria

In Bulgaria good practices from partners in other countries helped inspire policy leaders to identify sustainable solutions for transport between urban centres and tourist attractions.

Source: Greener trips for tourists

The shift: when tourism becomes hosting

A conversation with Michelle Holliday, author of the book The Age of Thrivability.

In her keynote talk at the Travel to Tommorow summit Michelle Holliday invited the tourism sector to become aware of its influence to help create a world where all life can thrive.

Storyweaver Griet Bouwen had the opportunity to chat with Michelle the next day.

This is the time to celebrate the gift of human imagination

A conversation with Rob Hopkins, one of the founders of the Transition Network.

Rob was a speaker at the Travel to Tommorow summit: Imagination: The Community-based Power that drives Transformation.

Storyweaver Griet Bouwen wrote a story about the meeting she had with him.

Backstreet Academy

Tourist meets local entrepreneur.

A long line at the entrance of the Vatican Museum, tourists pushing for the most beautiful view from the Eiffel Tower and tourist hordes at the Taj Mahal in India. In our rush to see every attraction, the human connection has been lost and so has our curiosity in the traditions, skills and culture that are typical for a particular country or people. The cultural heritage could be in danger because of our current form of travelling. Backstreet Academy wants to show that you can travel in a different and more intimate way, by creating a unique travel experience.

Bay of Plenty | New Zealand

“Sharing our love for the Bay of Plenty with the world.“

“Tourism helps our region flourish. It regenerates (not extracts) helping make our region a better place over time. Visitors are welcomed, on our terms, and the experience transforms them as they respectfully share our place as we know it to authentically be. That unique visitor experience transforms their souls and they take a piece of Te Moana Nui a Toi’s history, culture and an indelible impression of our people and place with them.”

You can read the 2019-2022 Statement of Intent (SOI) of the Western Bay of Plenty Tourism and Visitors Trust (TBOP) here.

Source: Bay of Plenty (photo)

Fogo Island Inn

Fogo Island Inn sits on an island, off an island, at one of the four corners of the Earth. A stimulating relief from the numbing uniformity of modern times, the award-winning Inn is built on the principles of sustainability and respect for nature and culture. The inn is a community asset, and 100% of operating surpluses are reinvested into the community to help secure a sustainable and resilient future for Fogo Island, Newfoundland. If you’re interested to learn more about the key ideas and projects on Fogo Islands, check out their website.

More information about Zita Cobb, founder of Fogo Island Inn can be found here.

The story of Fogo Island Inn has been an inspiration to many people in the tourist industry and has been covered extensively in renowned newspapers and magazines like The Globe and Mail, Forbes, Travelzoo, National Geographic and S Magazine.

Source: Fogo Island Inn (photo)

Destination trouble: Can overtourism be stopped in its tracks?

CNN Travel published a piece on overtourism by Joe Minihane, a freelance travel writer and editor.

Overtourism is fast becoming one of the most hotly debated issues in the modern age of travel. Thanks to cheaper air fares, rising incomes and social media's ability to laser focus attention on specific destinations, more travelers than ever before are descending on places that can no longer cope with their own popularity.

In the past few years, the number of destinations raising the alarm over this has steadily increased. In 2018, the Oxford English Dictionary made "overtourism," one of its words of the year -- it's defined as an excessive number of visitors heading to famous locations, damaging the environment and having a detrimental impact on resident's lives.

Countless headlines have followed as cities that have become reliant on tourism dollars undergo an identity crisis, wondering if they can start turning away such important sources of income.

For travelers it's also been time for some soul searching. Is it time to abandon those dreams? Is it possible to travel responsibly? Or should they simply brace themselves for the crowds and go see these places while they still can.

Source: CNN Travel

Sustainable Tourism in the Western Balkans

Not only in Flanders people are experimenting in the tourism industry trying to create a more sustainable form of travelling which contributes to flourishing destinations.
In this clip from National Geographic's Open Expeditions, by South Shore Productions, Jack Delf from Black Mountain and the Western Balkans Geotourism Network discusses the potential for sustainable tourism in the Western Balkans.

Marry an Amsterdammer for the day

The British newspaper The Telegraph published an article on a very creative initiative that has just been launched in Amsterdam in order to improve the connection between tourists and the local community. Visitors are invited to ‘Marry an Amsterdammer for the day’.
The experience starts off with a wedding ceremony in the vibrant student neighbourhood De Pijp, whereafter the newlyweds go on a honeymoon in the city of Amsterdam. It’s a unique way for visitors to discover the city in an authentic and personal way. The goal of the campaign is to encourage people to leave the classic tourist trails, connecting them with local people who want to make Amsterdam a better place by sharing their culture with their guests.

TIAKI | Care for New Zealand

The tourism industry’s challenge is to develop effective strategies to bring tourists and locals into better alignment. To deal with multiple problems associated with tourists – including bad driving, damaging camping practices and to ignorance of safety in the outdoors, New Zealand’s tourism authority and operators are promoting “The Tiaki Promise”, asking visitors “to act as a guardian, protecting and preserving our home”. In exchange it promises a warm welcome to those who care to care. #sustainabletravel

The Not So Lonely Planet

How The Travel Industry affects our lives.

Doughnut Economics applied to overtourism

Shirley Nieuwland shared an interesting piece on the application of Kate Raworth's 'Doughnut Economics' applied to Anna Pollock's ‘flourishing’ destinations.


Walk Out Walk On

Meg Wheatley & Deborah Frieze

Flourishing Enterprise

Chris Laszlo & Judy Sorum Brown

Wie (niet) reist is gek

Ap Dijksterhuis

Doughnut Economics

Kate Raworth


Chené Swart

How can stories transform tourism? Stories teach us about genuine concepts regarding what is important for visitors as well as hosts. Chené Swart talks about this in this film.

Gervase Bushe

How can a tourism leader help with the transformation? Everything starts with detecting and supporting small, local innovations (or experiments). Gervase Bushe offers his vision in this film.

Taleb Rifai

Taleb Rifai, former Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization, talks about how tourism can transform the lives of hosts at a tourist destination.

Traveling to tomorrow

The world and also 'tourism' is changing at lightning speed. And we also have to: adapt and reinvent ourselves. Looking for the right ingredients for a new / better future for tourism.

Traveling together to tomorrow ...

A year after the start of the journey, some answers are on the way. Yes, tourism can transform people and places. Yes, to enable that, the sector is heading into transformational times. And no: this transformation cannot be managed by the government, at most it can be facilitated. Just like a ranger can't make a tree grow but can create the conditions in which the biodiversity of the forest does what it needs to do. We need you. Your love for the place where you live or work. Your appetite for travelling. Your hospitality. Your expertise and engagement. And your faith in tomorrow. What is your hope or dream? Tell us! Are there any concrete ideas there? Choose one! Who would you like to work with to explore this idea? Dare to approach at least one! And voilà, you're involved. Get inspired and join the discussion via our Facebook Group ‘Travel to Tomorrow’!

So now, it’s over to you