In these challenging times we must all play our part – stay at home! The new England wide lockdown begins on Thursday 5 November. If you live in England, like me, you cannot travel overseas or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons, and we should look to reduce the number of journeys we make. Overnight stays and holidays away from our primary residences will not be allowed – including holidays in the UK and abroad. We will comply as individuals who care about our community in combating Covid-19. We can dream about travelling another day!
Let’s face it, we all have desires to travel again when it is safe and possible. We all know too well there is pent up demand – a holiday is a well earned break, a change from the norm and what else can we spend our hard earned cash on right now?! However, travelling as it was before the pandemic was seeing far too many places being over crowded, fuelled by digital influencers teasing us from our armchairs to tick off must see places of interest and destinations. Some communities lived in frustration at their homes being overrun with visitors, the resources and infrastructure could not sustain so many visitor numbers. The quality of life or experiences in those particular areas was noticeably and significantly deteriorated. Unhappy hosts as well as unhappy visitors. Not the best recipe. The term overtourism had been used to refer to the negative impacts attributed to the tourism activities that were too massive and intensive in those certain areas.
When country borders open up to allow us to visit the places we want to visit again and fulfil the travel desires of our hearts, be mindful that you are a guest in the destination you travel to, these places are people’s homes, so travel respectfully, intentionally and sensitively – the reason you travel must be more than a box ticking exercise from a bucket list. Travel responsibly and seek to bring holistic transformation for yourself and the ones you visit.
I’m encouraged to learn of more community based tourism (CBT) models being integrated, providing opportunities for local people to bring in income as well as introduce their culture to us visitors.
Community based tourism is when local residents (often in rural, poor and economically marginalised areas) invite us travellers to visit their communities. Some offer homestays, meals in their houses or farms. Those residents earn an income, have autonomy as well as make decisions that are right by their community. Local stakeholders having a voice!
I like the Future for Tourism Coalition principles one and three which are as follows: recognising that most tourism by its nature involves the destination as a whole, not only industry businesses, but also its ecosystems, natural resources, cultural assets and traditions, communities, aesthetics and built infrastructure. As a coalition it seeks to develop all tourism through a collaborative management structure with equal participation by government, the private sector and civil society organizations that represent diversity in communities.
Most tourism is about the place and its people. To varying extents, tourism businesses rely on the character, appeal and resources of the destination as a whole. Sometimes it may be one particular attractor – wildlife, a beach, a historic district. But more often, it’s the interwoven combination of all of these elements that together constitutes a sense of place. That is why we travel.
We have to remember that the travel & tourism industry is a sector that keeps the world connected – it’s the only industry I have really ever known. Travel & tourism supply chains are crucial in building back global economic recovery and unity. We must ensure we help to build back better with the right intention, inclusively, with local stakeholders benefitting more from the travellers visit. When we travel, we should behave like a good neighbour, travel with kindness & generosity, as well as being mindful of our environmental impact – we should make our travel matter. We can all benefit from a more conscious, purposeful travel industry to positively transform how we live our lives, how we live with others, and how we live on our planet.