We see it all around us, and more importantly, we can feel it.
The runways are lighting up. The world is opening up. Things are looking up. Finally!
Travel itineraries are reaching out to Africa. And Asia. And the Americas. And all places in between. It is a worldwide scramble for travel, and it’s exciting. Wish lists are turning into bookings. Virtual hugs are being turned into tight, real squeezes. Missed milestones are being turned into shared memory-making in one place, not on one screen.
Travel anywhere, whenever one wants, has, for a world of grounded travellers, long been a dream, even if long lines at many airports are a nightmare. Not to mention the enduring risks of cancelled flights, lost baggage, long waits, and sky-high airfares.
The travel turbulence can, and is, being pushed through. There is no stopping travel’s return. Millions upon millions are going, now. They are getting on with their planning, their boarding, their living again. Don’t even think of getting in their way!
The labels for this global travel scramble are growing: ‘pent up demand’, ‘revenge travel’, ‘bounce back’, ‘back to normal’, ‘resilience in action’.
However diverse the terms, whatever we call it, the message is clear: travel is back. That word – ‘back’ – is one which can easily be understood as a very good thing, a sign of welcome recovery. Recovery is indeed underway, green shoots are dotting the landscape. But seeing the increasingly impatient, irritated, ‘I’-centric crowds, clearly all is not good.
Why? Because those little green shoots, at first a welcome sign, are now a warning sign.
The warning? We, the world’s travellers, are at risk of going back to our old ways in this new world of travel.
As a world of travellers exhausted from 2+ years of waiting, missing, and dreaming are scrambling to book holidays, board flights, and be with loved ones once more, they are trampling over the green shoots popping up on the road to recovery. We see it all around us, and importantly, we feel it, a growing sense of ‘Oh dear, here we go again’.
As the world is reopening, the world is forgetting. We are forgetting what was once our shared focus, our shared agenda, our shared hope, for over two years. We are forgetting what Mother Nature gave us all, everywhere, all at the same time: over two years to rethink how we view travel and tourism – the privilege of it, the opportunity of it, the blessing of it. As a global community of sector leaders, we rethought our championing of it, duty to it, responsibility for it. We talked about the risks of returning to old ways: over tourism, overcrowding, overuse of resources, overextending the networks that allow us to connect, overstaying our welcome in communities. Importantly, we reflected on our undervaluing of frontline experience delivery workers in travel who are the future of travel, and our underserving sustainability’s call to action.
We committed to not repeating our old ways.
Sadly, however, it appears we are losing our way. Again.
We see that the desire to recover travel momentum is turning into the desire to recover lost earnings, to make up for lost time, to leave behind the pains of the recent past.
We see wide open natural environments becoming congested, photo-ready sunset spots, again.
We see houses of faith turning into tourist attractions, again.
We see places that should be respectfully quiet ringing with the noise of conversation, again.
We see sacred spaces being coming spots for the perfect selfie, again.
We see members of local communities starting to get that look in their eye as their streets buzz with strangers stopping to take photos of them without stopping to think to ask permission.
One can argue it is human nature – after years of being deprived of the world, travellers are yearning to venture out once more. They want it. They need it. They deserve it.
And oh, how dearly, deeply they have missed it.
The missing, however, does not make the madness acceptable. The missing does not make the invasion acceptable. The missing does not make bad manners spending money a good thing. The missing does not make the stomping on green shoots acceptable.
We as a global travel industry, and as a global community of travellers, need to be careful. We need to be very careful that in our quest to make up for all that was lost in the recent pandemic past – time, touch, dreams, desires, discoveries, meetings, memories, and of course money – we re-embed bad behaviours that will cost us the blessing of the chance to co-create a stronger, smarter, more sustainable, more grateful future.
The battle is on: human nature vs. Mother Nature.
In our minds we may wish to boldly think that we will prevail. In our hearts, however, we know that in this battle, in the future as in the past, Mother Nature will always win. x
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2022
For 10 days it was as if she and Mother Nature were in concert…
When the skies needed to shine, they did,
When the raindrops, the tears, needed to fall, they did.
When the rainbows needed to be seen, felt, they were.
When warmth needed to be felt, it was.
When nights needed to be forgiving, they were.
When her presence needed to linger just that much longer…it did.
Over 10 days of national mourning,
those who loved her,
directly or indirectly,
knowing her or simply knowing of her,
focused on her in union
10 days that were not about pageantry,
not about celebrity,
not even about royalty.
They were about dignity,
They were about farewell to Her Majesty,
and, it felt, to all those that were lost over the past 2+ years,
all that which was lost over the past 2+ years,
all that was,
For millions, billions, lining the streets, watching the screens,
across the world.
And now, in the days that follow,
the clouds are gathering,
the flowers are withering,
the horses are resting,
the streets are buzzing,
the news stories are shifting.
The work of the land continues.
But for those 10 days, those 10 special days,
her family, her people, and the world, paused,
as if somehow she knew.
Rest very peacefully now, Ma’am.
And thank you. x
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2022
Sometimes we only realise someone has left the room when the strength of their presence is revealed by the enormity of their absence.
Now is one of those times.
30 08 2022 – in one shared moment global newswires worldwide conveyed one shared message as breaking news: Mikhail Gorbachev has died.
A mighty pillar holding up the ideals of the free world has fallen.
He leaves behind an array of titles. Mixed, yes, especially at home. From a global standpoint, however, his titles reflect tireless commitment to life’s work, and life’s example:
former President of the Soviet Union,
celebrated Nobel Peace Prize winner (1990),
architect of the end of the Cold War,
warmly welcomed ally of leaders of the new world,
child of Communism,
champion of change,
advocate of global community,
political and economic reformist,
ever-accompanied by the love of his life,
ever-committed to the future safety, stability and possibility of his beloved Russia.
In the opening words of salute to the late leader, Foreign Affairs magazine said it perfectly:
“Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, who Russian media reports say died today at age 91 after a long illness, was a rare bright spot in the tragic, grim, blood-splattered history of Russia. Even at his worst moments, he exuded warmth and sparkled with optimism and humor. A passionate political animal, he refused to cling to power for power’s sake.”
Comrade, Confidante, Companion.
And yet sadly, so sadly, today we see – and feel – such loss when we look to the current state of President Gorbachev’s vision:
Global contrast, where once there was connection,
Conflict, where once there was collaboration,
Corruption of power, where once there was courage,
Cries for pain, where once there was compassion.
Collapse of legacy where once there were cheers of hope.
Back then, when first President Gorbachev sought to create a new world for the people of the former Soviet Union, the difference from that of the old was black & white.
Today, as President Putin seeks to create a new world for the people of Russia, the difference is just as stark, though the colours have changed – today they are yellow & blue.
Whatever the future may hold, today as the world whispers ‘goodbye’, we thank you for all you gave us in the past.
Rest well, dear Sir. x
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2022
We all have our limits. We all have a line where our body and/or our mind, and/or our hearts just have to say ‘Stop, just stop – I’m done!’
Over the past two+ years, those limits have been stretched further and further and further.
And now, as the world opens, people are realising how hard it is to continue to put on a brave face despite all the promise ahead.
Our shared world has indeed changed. The landscape is wider and brighter. The outlook is better.
Ambitions are bolder,
Forecasts are stronger,
Travels are wider.
Family and friends are nearer.
Handshakes are firmer,
Hugs are closer.
And yet somehow it seems harder than thought.
Something unexpected has happened – is happening.
Just when we thought the reopening of the world would make things easier, providing a rush of energy and excitement, a release from pressures of recent past, a pause to the fears and concerns, a chance to breathe deeply and freely again,
somehow it feels as though now, in these midyear months of 2022 as planning medium- to long-term resumes with schedules buzzing with busyness,
milestone reunions, remembrances and celebrations being confirmed regardless of time that has passed,
‘live’ business being booked beyond screens on our devices,
travel and social muscles being restrengthened,
professional wardrobes being removed from storage,
border, budget and before-travel testing constraints being removed,
all reflections of confidence around all that is to be gained once more,
somehow short-term the focus is shifting,
to what has been lost.
Time to think, time to reflect.
And importantly, time to rest, time to restore, time to care, for those loved and oneself.
Everyone has faced loss to varying degrees. Lives, livelihoods, loved ones, loved ways of life. There is no need to compare. COVID-19 excluded no-one from loss of time and loss of touch, not to mention loss of temper and loss of tolerance.
Which is why it makes complete sense that as much has been re-set in our COVID-reshaped world, lingering subconscious markers incl.,
- mid-year meaning mid-term/mid-summer holidays,
- September meaning ‘back to school’
- return thereafter marking the countdown to end of another 12 months,
are embedding the needs of now, vividly revealing how desperately we need a change of place,
finding a new space,
re-finding a feeling of grace,
It’s all about finding that place that allows us to just stop, a place to quietly reflect, renew, re-energise, and hopefully rejoice, ready for all that is ahead.
Which is why ultimately we all realise, deep in our hearts, whether we are practitioners in the industry or not, that it is travel that is vital, and invaluable, to our wellbeing.
Global grounding has shown that travel, around the corner or around the world, is a necessity. For wellbeing. Of ourselves, of others.
Our ability to get away, to find that new space not just in the world, but in our minds and hearts, to face our respective worlds once more, is why travel firmly remains not just a force for good, but a force for our own good. Demands on our time, energy, focus, funding, faith, are only growing. To fail to pause, if able, would be a fundamental risk to longterm personal recovery, Now, in what feels a brief, very brief, calm before the intense, year-end global travel recovery storm (heartbreaking, current midyear travel mobility and service challenges aside across airlines, airports and other T&T links in the chain), is the moment.
Wherever one chooses to go, just go.
And for the moment, as much as your heart and mind need to move forward beyond these times of intense pressure, despite their hope-filled pleasure, let go.
The gap between then and now is widening. The ability to have faith again in the world that awaits is growing.
You are safe. x
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2022
‘For what purpose?’
Three little words that have the power to ignite a flame in an individual and an organisation.
Three words that can become an unshakable compass.
An invaluable filter.
A powerful fuel.
A basis of faith.
The past two+ years the global pandemic forced us to think quietly, very carefully, about what matters, about who matters, about where matters. By stopping the world, COVID-19 offered us the opportunity to start the process of carefully articulating what we hold dear in our hearts. What is our inner voice whispering to us? What is it telling us about where we choose to give our time, our energy, our love…and our money? What has changed? And if there has been changes, what now?
Once that inner voice is heard, even if simply as a hush deep within our heart, it is incredibly difficult to mute. Rightly. As it grows louder, we find ourselves in the rare position of being able to not only elevate what we have learned about ourselves, but to translate this into our action. By choice, and purposefully, in a way that ensures that we do not allow our (newly discovered) sense of purpose to be silenced.
The concept of ‘purpose’ has become the focal point of conversations, articles and debates as the world recalibrates around both professional and personal decision making. Purpose-driven leadership, purpose-based business, purposeful community, travel with purpose.
Purpose has become a primary criterion for so many when they are considering career progression, job selection, investment determination, holiday location, even product selection. The push of BECAUSE I CAN of the past has become a pull – BECAUSE I MUST, revealing a shared DNA, a sense of clarity, and call to action around what really matters, and why.
Critical, is ensuring that our inner voice of purpose is protected from being extinguished.
The willingness to step up, and forward, with an inextinguishable sense of purpose immediately takes one to the words of the late President Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, when he stood before the jury at the Rivonia trials in April 1964. It was to be a testimony. Instead, it became a four-hour long statement with remarkable sense of focus, faith, and purpose, concluding with the words now etched into history:
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
President Mandela’s closing lines, his searing words stating that this was an ideal for which he was prepared to die, is one that often can be seen as a dividing cline between the principle of purpose and the action of purpose.
As made vividly clear by President Mandela, having a sense of purpose is not enough. It must be directed to create a greater, more meaningful, more helpful, impact.
And it must be deeply personal.
Which is why I share, here, now, that just a matter of days ago, my business – ANITA MENDIRATTA & Associates (AM&A) WWW.ANITAMENDIRATTA.COM – marked the immense blessing and honour of two decades of operations. Truth be told, as a business with foundations in the travel, tourism and aviation industries, the past two years of COVID-19 could very easily have seen the close of the business. Were it not for our core objectives – our reason for being – and its direct connection to what was so dearly needed across our client portfolio and the wider global tourism leadership industry, sadly, our doors would have been forced to shut. Our firmly focused, fiery sense of purpose, however, carried us through. Thankfully and importantly, it also helped carry our clients, partners and industry through.
For this reason, reaching two decades and being able to celebrate the milestone with clients and partners who have made it happen, was a moment not taken for granted. It ignited the need to never, never, ever lose sight of what has held firm for twenty years: our sense of “for what purpose?”
Whatever one is doing, whatever one is engaged in, whatever one sees as their profession, deep within our minds, hearts and actions there needs to be a sense of purpose – the ability to stand for something, to feel the flame of purposeful determination burning so strongly that it allows one to endure the times of challenge. And yet, at the same time, it allows us to put moments of joy into perspective, leaving us whispering a humble a prayer of thanks.
Such was the case when the day arrived to honour the 20th anniversary of AM&A. It was a moment of not just deep celebration, but deeply felt tears – tears of gratitude, tears of privilege, and tears of purpose.
AM&A’s purpose, my tears, have become the water that will be channeled towards feeding parched soils of places around the world that are trying to recover from crisis. The vehicle through which that is being done: https://anitamendirattafoundation.org/
Now registered as an official Charity with the UK Charity Commission, this Foundation enables the business to direct its impact – its earnings, network, reputation, relationships and deep sense of purpose – towards helping people in places around the world become stronger, become safer, and become more hopeful. AMF is a reinforcement of not only the power of purpose, but the ability to turn purpose into action, not losing one moment of time, one ounce of energy, one partner, one penny of investment. Everything has context. Everything is driven by compassion. Everything is fuelled by purpose.
To reach 20 years with such clarity of purpose is a gift beyond measure.
As we re-enter the world, getting busy making up for lost time / access / insight / opportunity…may we never lose connection with the time / access / insight / opportunity found.
And may the inner voice of our hearts only grow louder, and louder, and louder….x
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2022