While we have lived through a slew of special days, it is surprising how celebrating World Tourism Day is not even a memory all these years. This World Tourism Day 2020 for all of us will have a new meaning that will be etched deep in our hearts with a powerful connotation. This one day let us collect all hopes, aspirations, collaborations and wishful thinking even though we are a global industry in crisis – Tourism and Hospitality. For don’t they say that to accomplish great things we need to first imagine it. Let us imagine the best for this industry and our people and let it manifest as a reality.
Without taking away any of the pain and bewilderment of the last seven months and the uncertainty of the months coming up, let’s look at the silver lining, an opportunity that has come to us, not packaged in glossy hand painted paper with sparkles as one expects, but something that makes your eyes water. You have to unwrap this unusual gift and continue to do what you are doing, flow with the tide and wait the hard times out till it is sunshine and star dust again ! Meanwhile why waste a good ‘crisis’ which also comes with a bit of a downtime. And for the skeptics, my one submission is - do we even have a choice ?
Get your WHY ? Many of us especially those above 40 have literally entered the industry by default. There is a wealth of talent in the industry evident in some of the social media posts of travel professionals as singers, dancers, French language experts, cuisine experts, insurance sales agents, technology experts, life coaches, writers, authors and online moderators. Still if you are going to be in the Tourism industry, it is time to ask WHY you would choose this industry and if you had a chance, would you to do it all over again. And if you can answer that for yourself, you are in the best place that one can be, that of clarity !
Rethink your businesses : For those of you in the travel business as a stakeholder, this is the time to revisit strategies and rethink your vision to align with what the world is talking about right now. All paradigms are changing and I hope you have your ears to the ground. An almost deafening conversation for travel and hospitality business is the idea that travel and tourism has to be sustainable and regenerative. What this means is that you have to look at travel not as linear business but as a circular model which has the power to impact global issues of health and poverty, create awareness for climate issues, protect and preserve ecosystems, cultures and heritage. In short never before has travel been acknowledged as a transformative force working with the potential to address people and the planet. Travel is now being looked at by global leaders as a mindful, conscious, progressive and participative activity.
Intentionally traveling to stretch, learn and grow into new ways of being and engaging with the world. Transformation Travel Council, USA
Collaborate : The survivors that the pandemic will leave behind will be the able and creative collaborators. An industry that has largely been cut throat and thrived on exclusivity will have to relearn its business basics to be inclusive and seek collaboration within and across industries. And I see a lot of this happening within and outside the industry as well. At a meeting of the recently formed Indian Association of Hotel Representatives and Companies ( IAHRC ), the President Ms.Geeta Maheshwari very simply put out the association’s agenda - to work together and support each other. An industry which claims generous share of global GDPs and job creation can surely be a force that can move the proverbial mountains. With issues, world travel events and conversations zooming into our living rooms, each one of us is literally living through the opportunity to find our ‘mojo’ where businesses ( and personal growth ) are concerned. Stand for something, stand upto something, let your business mean something; the pandemic has just showed us the scope where we can focus our energies to make a difference.
Don’t give up : For every negative story, I read up so many many positive and happy lessons from the pandemic. Ultimately it is your perspective to view the glass as half full, or empty to pour in some sparkling wine. Do your best but keep doing. Prasoon Joshi, my idol and the multi-talented media maestro called out to brands during the lockdown – communicate! When the pandemic began one thought among many associates was to ‘shut up’ because there was no point. We went contrary as early as April. The RARE team embraced the internet and through zoom, live chats, videos and conversations kept the flag of the community and its core values flying high. It was as important for tourism as it was for ourselves. The result was the coding of responsible tourism as the RARE Touchstones. They say the universe falls in love with a stubborn heart, it is true – many of us in the industry are living it. We don’t know yet how long and how hard the future is going to be, we just know we did our best – for the industry, for ourselves and our community. My favourite quote from Assam Bengal Navigation's newsletter in the early days of the pandemic stayed with me – ‘when fishermen cannot go out to fish, they sit back and mend their nets’. This seems like an extended ‘bad weather’ just the right time for us as an industry to ‘pivot’, innovate and evolve.
Join a global movement : Tourism has to have a meaning. It’s potential to ‘Regenerate’, be ‘Responsible and ‘Respectful’ are a larger premise that can be applied to individual living as also to our attitude towards our planet – our only home. Are you listening ? Does the pandemic and resultant germophobia convince you that you have to think away from the cause for sustainability ? On the contrary this is the time to test your mettle and choose wisely putting planet and people first. Collectively on a global scale we are on the verge of creating history – across all industries and uniquely in the travel world. Join this movement being led by associations such as the Responsible Tourism Society of India, be the change. This idea of mindful travel and a planet centric economy will be bigger than the industrial revolution, only this time it augurs well for the health of the planet. None of us can afford ‘not be in’ on the this one. Join in, throw in your might, we owe it to the future generations.
Be your own hero : Lastly the pandemic has been tough on many counts and the journey continues. Some days are good, some days you are stuck with worry with no end in sight, this is when you call out to yourself. Everything you learnt along the way about survival and progress is your primary education from your parents, peers and mentors. Use your life lessons - get up, get dressed and show up ! There is only one way to create the world you wish for and deserve, by imagining it.
You are the HERO of your own story ! Joseph Campbell