Why Just Tourism?
This is the vision; that one day we stop adding 'sustainable', 'responsible' or 'regenerative' or any other adjective along those lines in front of tourism.
I would love to see a world where tourism is just tourism, where all the industry has a clear focus on delivering experiences that benefit the host, visitor, environment, and economy. I really believe tourism should be a force for good for the communities and environment.
In September 2021, I started my MSc in Tourism, having wanted to study further for a while. With COVID decimating the industry, I decided it was as good time as any to leave my perfectly stable job and become a full-time student! Prior to this leap, my focus was in the adventure sector, with roles covering product, sales, and Destination Management Company relationships.
I loved my first job in travel, working for one of the UK's leading adventure travel brands; responsible tourism was ingrained in the culture (sustainable tourism wasn’t even thought of then!).
Back then, responsible tourism policies mainly covered community engagement, ensuring local accommodation, restaurants and guides were used. It seems uncomplicated and obvious when you read one of these policies now! The main focus was to provide positive experiences were had by the traveller and had the host. A small amount of information was on the environment, with Carbon Offsetting new and plastic pollution starting to be recognised. We know now this is a much bigger issue, but that’s a whole other blog post. But like anything, there will be progress, better understanding, and change, making sustainable tourism the next step.
Sustainability is about making a place no worse than how it is now. Sustainable tourism policies have now replaced responsible tourism policies. A more rounded approach has been adopted that includes community, environmental and economic impacts as well. Tourism relies on the world's natural assets, so the industry must protect the very thing they are selling. Yet we know this is not the case, particularly in mass tourism - issues such as waste management, degrading of natural assets and working to benefit a community all need to be addressed.
The next step and newest idea is the concept of regenerative tourism. Regenerative practices can make a place better than it was left on a social, economic and environmental basis. Regenerative tourism is set to shift the status quo of tourism and encourage the build back better mindset. I’m excited about the future as companies and destinations progress from responsible tourism to regenerative tourism policies. It will be a journey and take buy-in across industry, tourism has never had a better opportunity to rethink the restart.
I would love to see a world where tourism is just tourism, where all the industry has a clear focus on delivering experiences that benefit the host, visitor, environment, and economy.