Andermatt, Switzerland, November 17, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / While the travel and tourism sector is gradually picking up speed again, the stakeholders in this business are keen to use its current momentum to examine the sector critically; they want to think afresh about tourism and thus make it fit for the future. At the international World Tourism Forum Lucerne conference, top-level guests investigated the challenges currently facing the tourism industry and shone a light on new perspectives for the future. If this business sector is to stay successful, it must integrate its operations across a broad front and address the five key themes actively.
PAST AND FUTURE
The travel industry came to a halt very abruptly, but it is now slowly recovering, presenting us with a chance to ask ourselves some long-overdue questions: do destinations really want to go back to overtourism? To overcrowded beaches and long queues waiting for popular attractions? To “insider tip-offs” that soon become Instagram hotspots and then lose their magic? Wouldn’t it be better to replace the “back to normal” slogan with the aim of “moving forward” – to take this opportunity by the scruff of its neck so that we can make up for lost time and correct the mistakes of the past?
- Martin Barth, President & CEO of World Tourism Forum Lucerne: “We must look forward and find our opportunities in the crisis. How we deal with the challenges we face today will determine how successful we are in the future.”
- Niall Ferguson, historian & bestseller author: “Compared to past pandemics, the current one is not quite as dramatic if we are looking at the number of deaths. However, the economic costs of the ongoing pandemic are significantly higher because working from home is a new phenomenon that led to a substantial economic crisis.”
- Peter Fankhauser, Director PETRAF & Ex-CEO Thomas Cook: “You need the best people who are fitting perfectly to your culture, your value system, your team and to yourself. Do not underestimate the emotional factor and take care of those connections because that is what you are holding on to when you’re falling.”
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
Progress depends on a transfer of knowledge plus new and creative ideas; this will allow everyone to contribute their own specific talents and create networks for themselves – regardless of mental or physical impairments, gender, ethnicity or level of education. We must get rid of the prevailing stereotypes and embrace a more progressive understanding of organisational culture. All this calls for new, smart partnerships, joint initiatives and plans of action.
- Aradhana Kowhala, CEO & Founder Aptamind Partners: “Despite increased awareness of gender imbalance, the number of women in the C-Suite and on boards hasn’t moved. We keep inching our way expecting breakthroughs but now it is time pair bold thinking with big commitments – show visible commitment and seek solutions that deliver exponential gains.”
- Ulrich Bensel, Chief Human Resources Officer Deutsche Hospitality: “In the hospitality industry, we have left the composition of our workforce to chance until now. The goal must be for us to take a more structured approach to diversity within the company and consciously shape it with new tools. This will have a positive impact on performance.”
SUSTAINABILITY AND BIODIVERSITY
If we want to treat the natural wonders and mountain idylls advertised in our catalogues properly in future, we will have to put a higher priority once again on protecting the landscape than on maximising profit. We need clear sustainability strategies so that we can restore a healthy balance between People, Planet and Profit. As well as the financial and social aspect, we also need to think about “natural capital”. For example, our world is now more in need of new sustainability projects than hotel complexes.
- Shannon Ghuian, Chief TreadRight & Sustainability Officer at TTC: “The very reason why we travel is at risk because we have taken it for granted. But the indication of behavioural change is twofold: We want to motivate people to come along with us on our biodiversity journey, yet we sell them holidays. We need to encourage them to take sustainability issues into consideration.”
- Reto Ringger, Founder & CEO Globalance Bank: “Most people are confused and ask themselves whether their money and investments are part of the problem or part of the solution. What makes me optimistic is the next generation. With their small businesses and their willingness to use new technologies they are part of the solution.”
THE GENERATION GAP AND BRIDGING THE SILOS
If the next generation gets a place at the table, we can complement our existing knowledge with new ways of thinking. Talented newcomers, young professionals and start-ups are increasingly laying claim to such places. They all think quickly and like to try out new ideas, and they can keep pace with the digitalised world. They are agile and they adapt to changing circumstances in the modern world – and they are the leading figures of the future. By promoting these people, we can join forces to prepare the tourism industry to face the future – and that will benefit us all. The WTFL has integrated three new universities into its partnership network in order to develop its talent promotion activities still further; it has also entered into a strategic cooperation project with GTTP (Global Travel & Tourism Partnership), which works vigorously to support new entrants into the tourism industry workforce in more than 16 countries. It also ensures that the sector becomes more attractive for the next generation.
- Anne Lotter, Executive Director GTTP: “The collaboration with WTFL is warmly welcomed by the Global Travel & Tourism Partnership (GTTP). We will benefit at an organizational level from WTFL’s stakeholders, including contact with industry, education, and governments. For our younger generation of travel and tourism students the Innovation Festival is hugely inspiring. They get the opportunity to witness the next steps to take in their career and hear from top professionals as well.”
INNOVATION AND LEARNING FROM OTHER INDUSTRIES
The tourism sector is often examined in isolation, but it is actually part of an economic, social and political system. Therefore, the tourism sector must integrate itself broadly into networks, look beyond its own boundaries and take advantage of digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, which could create personalised travel experiences in real time, for example. These creative, innovative and disruptive business models are already available, as the World Tourism Forum Lucerne’s continuous Start-Up Screening has shown us. In order to promote this trend even more, the Forum brings highly successful sector experts, investors and young talents together at its Start-Up Innovation Camps around the world. The only way we can correct our course, set up the sector so that it can meet the needs of the future and play a leading role on innovation is if we work together.
- Koen Deryckere, Lead Industry Networks and Programs at Accenture: “More and more companies are moving into other industries to provide end-to-end propositions. As a result, industry lines are blurring, and today’s technologies are the main driver and enabler for that.”
- Stephanie Nägeli, Executive Board SV Group: “Revenues are sinking, but you have to continue to innovate. We need to ask ourselves: What are the opportunities in the crisis and how can we take these to accelerate disruption and to become more innovative.”
WORLD TOURISM FORUM LUCERNE THINK TANK
Like others, the international participants in the Think Tank also grappled with the major problems and current challenges facing the industry. They see the greatest potential for optimisation in three key areas for success in the tourism industry of the future: Health & Wellbeing, Climate & Sustainability and Social Equality & Diversity.
- Adeeb Ahamed, Managing Director Twenty14Holdings: “The WTFL is a much-needed event in these challenging times to bring together the entire travel and tourism fraternity to deliberate on the sector’s quick recovery, and shape constructive dialogue around the evolving face of tourism through sustainable, inclusive and connected experiences. The ongoing pandemic has caused several shocks to the travel supply chain, and it is important for new ideas to emerge and take concrete shape through adequate industry support, for the sector to contribute to livelihood creation and socio-economic development worldwide.”