It is often said that we have nothing to lose and a whole world to see. Given that the deepest desire of human nature is to constantly explore and discover, travel is an innate part of our lives and culture. It is also one of the world’s largest economic sectors. Beyond numbers, travel and tourism have the innate power to bring people together, build bridges, facilitate cultural exchanges and foster global peace. said Jurgen Bailom, president and CEO of Cordelia Cruises
Travel Post Pandemic: an Opportunity
That said, the last two years have been excruciatingly difficult for the sector given the coronavirus pandemic. According to reports, the travel and tourism industry lost $4.5 trillion in GDP and 62 million jobs in 2020 alone. While post-pandemic the global travel and tourism industry is slowly picking up thanks to the reducing cases and increased vaccination coverage, the road to recovery certainly remains a long, uphill one.
With the world eager to travel and explore once again, there is no doubt that today we stand on the threshold of a new age in travel. And as we celebrate the 42nd World Tourism Day on 27-Sep, it is also a time to reflect on the future direction of travel. It is a time to rethink tourism and use it as an opportunity to make travel more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient. Tourism can be viewed as a powerful tool to protect and conserve our habitats and make a significant contribution to the 2030 UN sustainable development agenda.
There is no doubt about the immense potential tourism holds and the economic revenue it can generate. But one must be mindful of the fact that mindless and ‘ business-as-usual tourism will have a disastrous effect on our already fragile planet whose environment and ecosystems are teeming with plastic, carbon, and greenhouse gas emissions. There is an urgent need for conservation and protection of several local communities, and historic and heritage sites as we battle disasters fuelled by factors like climate change. In this light of this scenario, it is key that we adopt an approach that is more responsible and strikes a balance between the short-term needs of travellers and the long-term needs of our planet. It is important that tourism facilitates the development of poor, rural, and marginalized communities while preserving native cultures, heritage, and the overall environment.
Participation of all stakeholders
Apart from new age concepts like “travel bubbles”, “staycations” and “bleisure travel” that gained wide popularity during the last two years, we have also seen the rise of the “sustainability-conscious” traveller. Individuals today are not reluctant to make a choice and even pay a premium for adopting “greener” alternatives. Hence, there is an onus on all stakeholders to make travel sustainable from an economic, social as well as environmental point of view. Informed participation from all relevant stakeholders is the need of the hour coupled with the support of policymakers to ensure wide support.
Continuous education, as well as a holistic and integrated approach, is required for the implementation of any measures; whether it is raising the levels of green investment in tourism infrastructure, making hotels more environmentally friendly, or even developing new destinations to prevent overcrowding and congestion of existing areas. The entire exercise should be viewed as an ongoing and ever-evolving process with systems in place for monitoring, measurement, and review on a periodic basis.
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