Is tourism the new giving back?
Not another “How to” blog.
There are already a few (very good) posts on preparing for your first World Travel Market (WTM), so there doesn’t seem a reason to add yet another one to the list. In that respect all I can say is:
Prepare! Prepare! Prepare! Whether it’s who you plan to speak to, your 60-second pitch or your lunch. Everything the blogs say about preparing your lunch/wearing decent footwear/sorting your business cards well in advance/giving yourself plenty of time to prepare: it’s all relevant and shouldn’t be overlooked!
Working in PR, I had a natural advantage in certain respects, however if I for example hadn’t read ‘to prepare lunch’: I would have starved or been waiting for a very long time and thus missed a lot!
What else is there to look out for?
The World Travel Market is certainly an experience. Whether you are a blogger/press, buyer or exhibitor and I recommend taking advantage of as much of it as possible. Have an idea of who you want to speak to, organise meetings, plan the events and talks you go to, but leave yourself some free time to see where you end up.
South America was first on my list, however wandering through Europe I then got chatting to other boards that I had never even considered or knew were interested in collaborating.
Watching the Vaga Brothers and the CEO of GA Adventures was an insightful and nostalgic experience, yet stumbling on talks of eco tourism and sustainability in the industry, provided some food for thought that I would now like to include in my plan moving forward.
Rethinking tourism and travel, how to offset our carbon footprint and also reshape our travelling experiences to be more conscious.
Through staying curious and being open to a little spontaneity, we open ourselves up to new ideas and perspectives. Plan, but leave a window open.
What has Han Meets World taken away from this?
Offsetting my carbon footprint: at times it feels a little like a trend, but I’m actually really enjoying thinking consciously. Eating veggie/vegan and reading where my food products have flown from; buying books digitally and clothes from charity shops; the Chilly’s bottle is on the way and the Keep Cup has pride of place in my cupboard.
Rethinking travel and the HMW conversation: where before I would happily travel any where and any which way, moving forward the HMW strategy will definitely be looking more at how we can actively contribute to ecotourism and sustainable causes. There are so many groups out there contributing so much, it seems silly to overlook them.
Giving back: one talk brought up the idea that tourism might begin to be seen as a way to ‘give back’ to a community, as it is typically the biggest economy in a lot of countries and thus provides more jobs.
Personally I am still not sure I am on board with this thought. While, yes, it does provide jobs, I think for it to be seen as giving back, there is going to need to be a very big change in attitude on the tourists behalf. There is a reason the Brits have a terrible reputation abroad - everyone in the world has a stereotype. Which affects how we are provided a service abroad. Too many times have I been stood in a line where the cashier has been making comments about the customer in front of them in Spanish/French/Portuguese. Normally around ignorance. Those comments stem from somewhere….
As mentioned above, I will certainly be incorporating more giving back into HMW moving forward, however the sentiment that tourism could be an answer to this has (in my mind) a little way to go yet.
What are your thoughts on giving back while travelling? Is ‘tourism’ the way to do it?