Becoming aware that things can be different and the willingness to change are key to the change process. How do we find confidence in the uncertain steps that we will take? What do we want to keep unchanged; what can change completely? What is going well already and what shall we retain for the future?
More aware travellers and tourism businesses
Tourism and other businesses are increasingly encountering consumers who are aware. More people are seeking a life that is meaningful for them and that also sustains a flourishing biosphere. The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) speaks of a growing group of cultural ‘creatives’ who have made a significant shift over the past few years in terms of world-view, values and culture. They attach greater value to the environment, human relationships, collaboration, peace, social justice, spirituality, personal growth and authenticity. These travellers demand more sustainable and ethical offers, making responsible choices whereby diversifying the supply. On the other hand, we also see socially and environmentally aware hosts.
Koen van den Bosch from the Association of Flemish Travel Agencies (VVR) admits that tour operators are becoming more aware of the need for sustainable holidays and that the offers are evolving. “Here, it is important to develop an affordable, sustainable offer. Research shows that the customer wants to travel more sustainably but on the condition that it doesn't cost more.”
The fact that the tourist is seeking holidays that are more meaningful for him and the world, is crystal clear from trend reports too. Travelling is increasingly regarded as a method for personal growth and self-realisation. In one study, conducted by SKIFT among 1,350 travellers, 54% gave a value of 7 to 10 in relation to the importance of transformational travelling, while 52% indicated that this was becoming increasingly important to them. Transformation, expanding their world-view and learning are the top 3 motivations for the adventurous traveller, according to research from 2017.
What if we could use that power to change, that transformational power of travel, to make the world a better place and to create more sustainable tourism?
The 1,600 travel stories from our listening exercise made it clear that travelling can have a very positive impact on travellers and their environment. Yvette Reisinger from Temple University Philadelphia sees many opportunities. Travelling is a perfect activity for challenging us. Events, experiences and encounters on holiday require the traveller to take a different approach, think in a different way. Traveller and host/place have an impact on one another. The traveller takes his experiences home as memories. The host sees through the eyes of the guests and sees his destination from another perspective. They infect one another with new ideas.
“There is no greater force for change than a community that has discovered what it wants to care for”
— Margaret Wheatley, author of ‘Walk out Walk on’
Travel encompasses promising potential for bringing about positive change, according to tourism experts. More people are aware that change is required. The tourist's travel motivation is shifting towards greater depth and significance. The world is ready for this change.
Everything is connected to everything
“If you ask me about the opportunities with regard to the tourism of the future, I think that tourism is part of a larger transformation across the world. It is coming back to the connections with one another, coming back to the connection with the earth. Then tourism will become participative citizenship.”
— Chené Swart, author of ‘Re-authoring the world’