Green shoots.

These two little words have become a wordwide symbol of hopeful recovery of the global economic crisis which has held markets and minds in a tight grip since the end of 2008. The expression, the image, the sentiment, now appears in news reports and business bulletins across our e-connected world.

The words first entered our vocabulary at the end of Q1/2009 when the Chairman of the US Federal Reserve made reference to the term last heard during Great Britain during the 1991 recession. This time the economic landscape was looking very bleak indeed – the term were a statement of hope, faith, albeit desperate quest. In Q2/2009 it became a question of ‘are we seeing green shoots, yet?’. Now, as Q3 soon comes to a close, the question is: ‘how many are there…and how high will they grow?’

(For a lovely explanation of the term, technically speaking, it is worth investing a moment in watching )

Amongst the general public what green shoots represent as economic indicators has become almost secondary to what they represent as emotional checkpoints. The words ‘green shoots’ have taken on a life of their own. Their presence and rate of growth have become psychological indicators of how quickly and how deeply we can exhale. With the rise in height of green shoots comes the rise in consumer confidence, the rise in spending and, importantly, the rise in the feeling of ‘I made it!‘ And with that, a feeling of deserved reward.

And what better way to celebrate having endured a year of immense pressure that taking a holiday to decompress? Time to dust off the passport!

As Q4 of 2009 unfolds there is strong reason to believe that an end will come to the holding off. Holidays will be rebooked, escapes will be replanned, pampering will be rescheduled. Why? Because the very real feelings of fear and fatigue around job security, investment stability and long-term security which millions of people around the world have experienced, month after month, have taken their toll. People are tired. And now that there is shared, statistical reason to believe a corner being turned, a years+ worth of quietly stored-up fatigue and fear is being released. The tonic of travel is needed.

For this, and many other reasons (including significant funding having been put into Tourism sector stimulus programmes by governments), it is strongly believed that the Travel & Tourism industry will play an important role in driving recovery of nations. As people turn to travel for a much needed rebuilding of strength of body and spirit, the sector will experience some of the first sparks of economic activity and recovery. Sparks which have the power to ignite a powerful flame.

Because the impact of the traveller on a destination is exponential – the sector enjoys the benefits of the multiplier effect. As travellers start dreaming and planning their holidays travel agents will start booking again, airline crews will start flying again, taxi engines will start up revving, restaurants will start cooking again, theater performers will start singing and dancing again, artists will start painting portraits of tourists passing by again, postcards will be popped into mail boxes again, hotel beds will be turned down again, shop doorbells will start ringing again, spa candles will start burning again, tour guides will start sharing stories again, fruit, flower and fresh veggie growers will start growing again, vineyards will start bottling & labelling again, developers will start building again, banks will start loaning again, investors will start believing again… and tired tourists will start smiling again.

As will the people of the destination. Economic, and emotional recovery, is underway.

At a time when the world needs inspiration and participation it is the Travel & Tourism sector which has come to represent a powerful force of change – positive change – which encourages and invites participation of all people of the destination as hosts and as travellers themselves.

September marks WORLD TOURISM MONTH. With the spotlight on the Travel & Tourism sector there could be no better time to use the spotlight to create a hothouse for green shoots!

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2009