TRAVEL: WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN TO YOU?
It’s been a year! A whole long, messy year since international borders closed and travelers dashed back home – fearful of the COVID19 storm in the midst of which we’ve found ourselves. On March 11th the WHO reminded us that it was one year ago that a global pandemic was declared. Since then we have scurried to the relative safety and shelter of our homes. We settled in to ride it out, and awaited news of what exactly we were dealing with, and how long it would take to ‘blow over.’ We were grounded – literally locked in.
So often we want what we can’t have – but this time was different. At first many of us didn’t have any desire to travel. Whether it was fear, or a sense of responsibility to adhere to safety protocols, to protect others, and our medical infrastructures – most of us were willing to give up travel for the greater good. When we felt a little more confident, we travelled locally, more often than not only to see loved ones. We travelled with a strong sense of purpose – to connect with those sorely missed rather than for fun. Our motivations changed – the meaning of our travel changed – which begs the question: has this past year cost us the freedom to think of travel as just being fun?
THE VALUE AND VALUES OF TRAVEL
A year in, we can look at where we are now, in relation to where we were then, and assess the value that travel holds for us – and also how the values of travel have changed!
Travel has always been about adventure, about exploration, and personal growth. From the earliest explorers who discovered continents, to family holidays booked in far-flung destinations where we discover new sights, flavours, people, cultures and ways of life; Travel has always had at its heart an innate spirit of adventure, awareness of other ways of being, and of the importance of understanding more than just our own perspectives!
“Getting away from it all.” It’s more than an expression. When we travel, even slightly outside our usual environment, it brings a sense of liberation. A change of scene creates a sense of escape from our everyday reality. The change in perspective frees us from feeling trapped in the sameness of our everyday lives. Dr Andrea Robinson PHD says, in her APA article 4 Reasons To Take a Vacation that “Vacations can also improve our mental health by reducing depression and anxiety.” At RISE, we’d go so far as to call it a form of therapy!
RITES OF PASSAGE
Students take grad trips and gap years to celebrate the end of education and the beginning of adulthood, as well as to make a difference and discover themselves whilst doing some good and adding value to others. Newly-weds honeymoon, expectant parents go on babymoons, and empty nesters and retirees go on extended holidays and cruises to celebrate their re-discovered freedom from responsibility. All these holidays have traditionally been ways to mark and celebrate happy transitions and periods of personal growth and development. Has this changed? We hope not!
We gave this an exclamation point because it’s such an important and all-encompassing reason! It probably shouldn’t be in a category of it’s own because it’s a thread that runs through all the reasons for traveling. We travel to connect with people and places for reasons of business and for leisure. What has changed in the past year – and this has been mentioned repeatedly through the 3 seasons of RISE – is the shift in the purpose of travel. People have cited, and it seems in the short term at least, will continue to cite connecting with loved ones as their primary motivation to travel. This doesn’t mean that people will only travel to see loved ones. But current and short-term future holiday plans are focused more on family and friendship bubbles traveling together for the purpose of meaningful reconnection as well as all the reasons we’ve already discussed.
This is where discussing the value and values of travel becomes real! For individuals and organisations, for many of you, our RISE viewers included, for business sectors, local communities and entire destinations across the globe, travel determines our very livelihood. Having the world ‘grounded” and unable to travel has threatened the very survival of many.
In last Monday’s episode of RISE, our brilliant guests Kelly Craighead of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and Bernhard Stacher – VP Global Hotel Operations MSC Cruises discussed the interdependence between tourism and destinations. With reference to the cruise industry, our RISE panelists highlighted the importance of a balanced relationship between tourism partners. Demian Hodari referenced the dependence of many tropical island destinations on tourism in his Headlines, sharing that the majority of tropical island countries depend on tourism for more than 50% of their GDP. Whilst prior to the pandemic, many destination islands expressed concern over tourist overcrowding related to cruises, Bernhard feels that post pandemic, there is now an elevated appreciation from destinations for the tourist revenue brought by cruises.
Anita feels “one of the blessings of this time is that it’s changed the value and values of tourism.” This perspective is clearly shared by many. It came up in SEASON 3 EPISODE 1 when both Robin Tauck and Adrian Gardiner spoke of the importance of focusing on the impact of tourism on destinations, as well as the rising importance of and desire for an emphasis on conscious and sustainable tourism among travelers. People want to do better and be better! Organisations such as Tourism Cares have been harnessing the “transformative power of travel” for 20 years. Their belief is that “while each of us alone can make a small difference, businesses bound together in purpose and action can literally change the world.”
This pandemic has been a blight on the world and on our Travel, Tourism and Hospitality (TT&H) industry in particular – but what a gift it has given us in creating a renewed appreciation for what we’re missing, and propelling the growing momentum of desire for change, for positive impact and a greater personal and social accountability to others.
As we cruise into the next normal, with restrictions easing, and borders re-opening, most of us will be mindful of our safety bubbles and the safety of those around us. We have it on reliable authority from our guests this week that “cruise bubbles” are a great way to go! Kelly says cruising is “a terrific experience which has been enhanced in terms of safety and service because of the increased staff to customer ratio.” Also, safely planning your vacation, whether it’s a cruise, hotel or holiday is helping others by stimulating our industry, and the economy of the surrounding community! What a great way to feel you’re making a difference – we know – it’s not exactly altruistic, but you are helping, it’s true!
Today we have a very special additional RISE episode which will be part of the Young Hoteliers Summit! TOMORROWS’ TRAVEL: TAKE IT FROM THE TOP! features Hon. Minister Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife for Kenya and Dr Hannah Messerli, Senior Private Sector Specialist, Markets and Technology from The World Bank. They’ll be talking more about the impact of travel on destinations. This is an especially important topic for our young TT&H professionals of the future!
If you’re in the 18 – 30 age bracket, you’ll enjoy further discussion around planning your holiday escape in our next, usual RISE slot the following Monday – 29th March in our GEN-Z: BREAKING FREE! episode. No prize for guessing what that one’s about!
In the meantime, go and plan your next holiday! Go on… you know you want to!
Register here to catch us live, or to watch previous episodes. Thank you for being an invaluable part of RISE.