One highlight of the World Travel Market (WTM) held last week in London, was Fiona Jeffery’s opening speech concerning the industry’s responsibilities. Jeffery’s Director of Reed Travel Exhibitions WTM, spoke before 500 plus travel decision makers about altruism, as well as corporate strategies going forward.
Every industry on Earth is struggling at the moment to try and balance from within the worst economic climate since the Great Depression, maybe the worst ever, all things considered. the tone of Jeffery’s comments, if nothing else, have to be considered inspiring if for simply finding a positive glimmer, some good PR, in a world hog tied by debt.
While businesses and even the well-to-do in some cases suffer great loses and insecurities, it is the poor of the world who really feel the indignities of financial crisis. These opening mentions by Jeffery say a lot about WTM, but even more about travel as a dynamic for change.
Some may minimize this idea, but poor people simply cannot contribute – and their contribution is the only real hope for growth – this is a foregone conclusion. Jeffery had this to say:
“The industry (travel & tourism) is perhaps better placed than most to make a vital contribution in the fight against these complex issues.”
To accentuate the call from WTM and Jeffery, keynote speaker Leo Hickman’s book “The Final Call” (click the image right to buy at Amazon) looks into the effects of travel and tourism on those beneath the vale of prosperity, out back of the 5 star luxury hotel experience.
As for WTM, the organizers’ WTM HOTseat is designed to examine just such controversial and crucial variables. And excerpt from the WTM press release about Hickman’s call reveals the soft underbelly of where we are in travel.
“Tourism can be a force for good, but we need to realise there are many examples that in their current form do far more damage than good, certainly in terms of environmental impact.”
The video below is an interview with Fiona Jeffery after the successful conclusion of WTM 2011. If you watch, it is interesting to note her steadfastness in focusing not so much on new technologies or other emerging tourism variables, but at the end on responsible and sustainable tourism.
The body language, everything about Jeffery suggests she and WTM are committed to a long term goal. The reason I mention this is because it is easy to cling to travel technology and the bells and whistles of travel, but much harder to stay focused on a truly sustainable course.
Finally, a recap from a WTM press release after the final segment, Responsible Travel Headlines Wednesday at WTM 2011 shows not only WTM’s commitment, but many others’ at worst “understanding” of the situation, and the promise for the future, and I quote from Taleb Rifai, the United Nations World Tourism Organiation secretary general:
“The new political climate is capable of bringing tourism closer to the people. There was a distance and alienation in the past that can be adjusted in a new environment where people can be empowered.”
So, the state of the industry now is at least in full knowledge of the hurdles and potential that lies ahead. Whether or not we can overcome, take advantage of, and grow, remains to be seen.
WTM image of Fiona Jeffery via Travel Daily News on the scene coverage.