Assuming we were doing something our readers would like to do, we asked Mariana Calaça Batista, chairwoman of the seminar that Moondo organized to discuss future strategies in the tourism sector, to highlight the conclusions and share the vision of a key sector for the European economy. The whole seminar is visible at this link: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=314616449708053&ref=watch_permalink
By Mariana Calaça Batista
In the society of spectacle and great staging in which we lived before this pandemic and on which great tourism was based in the past decades, we came to a time when staging no longer makes any sense.
Cases like the big circus shops that performs to sell cans of sardines are now beginning to be the target of criticism that explores tourism as the great staging for consumption. The search for some reality and dignity in the consumption of tourist destinations, in their sustainability, in the way tourism interacts with the community of the destination, in the contribution to the local economy, in fact the purposes of the tourist experience, shows us that the crudeness of this pandemic has revealed the real importance of the fundamental elements of an interaction between a tourist and a place in a healthy exchange of rights and duties included in the tourist experience.
The exploratory nature of the consumer society, led us to a reflection that was placed on the panel of last June 25th and that took place on Moondo.Info Facebook with the presence of Prof. Dr. Nancy Duxbury, the promoter and director of QO Amsterdam Hotel, Xander Bueno de Mesquita, Aldo di Russo from Artifactory and Prof. Dr. Francisco Dias.
The question that arose was:
What changes would be important to bring to the planet to ensure the sustainability of the tourism industry and the planet at economic and environmental levels? Will these changes be introduced in the future by the industry or will they be introduced as a necessary reaction? And what are the consequences?
To this question each of the panel speakers responded according to their specific experience according to disciplines such as creativity, sustainability, culture and research. The chaos we live in today reveals that the world as we lived it is collapsing, and that a new world is being demanded, requiring a new world order, following the troubled social situations we have all experienced and observed lately. Cases such as the murder of George Floyd and the overthrow of the statues of the colonizers impose a reflection that will obligatorily force a new reflection on humanity, its rights and duties.
Holistic reflection on economic and social sustainability and its interconnected cultural dimension among citizens arises as a need to think of resources and the return for humanity of the exploitation of the planet as a form of enrichment that does not take into account its sustainability. This paradigm is reaching its limit and we are very concretely observing the limits of the resources that end at a very fast pace. The new social and ecological order in which justice and equality reign is the same that demands the preservation and ecological and sustainable regeneration of the planet. We feel that society wants this answer, although the pace of change is very slow.
How can we place tourism at this juncture and how can tourism benefit from it?
This question is indeed what we all want to understand with the rapid arrival of a new environmental condition, we also want to know whether this pandemic crisis allows us to reflect and act quickly or whether there is no capacity of institutions and politicians to decide accordingly. There seems to be an urgent need to rethink how tourism benefits this global world and an economy that exploits local resources to the detriment of sustainability and global balances.
Thus the tourism sector is in the Diaspora of this change, making the balance between public health or the survival of mankind and the global economy in this unstable dynamic the barometer of an industry that moves the world in all economic sectors. Thus Francisco Dias’ new 3 S’s, Small, Slow and Smart, force us to reflect at this juncture on a new scale of action, a new speed and a more intelligent management of experience. The proposal for reflection for all sectors of the tourism industry is to know how tourism can lead a behavioral revolution, especially in the way the service industry prepares to respond to the new and rapid needs of a global environmental and health crisis that may or may not be more recurrent in coming decades.
We can say that tourism is the orchestra of the world in this new challenge, a rapidly changing paradigm that has precipitated drastic behavioural changes, the emergence of new business models, the determination of the obsolete character of many companies and the search for different sensory experiences as a solution to a new reality, a new world. This world that is precipitating is a world without race, gender, creed, social stratum, and the tourism industry is the test sample of this laboratory that is the world. Basically, we are talking about a new model of citizen and, consequently, a new type of tourist who also travels among other motivations for personal enrichment, inspiration and transformation. In this new reality, the need to perceive new stimuli, the appreciation of new concepts such as environmental, economic and financial sustainability, culture, social empowerment and inclusion, favor certain experiences and business models that will quickly emerge in this new social paradigm, namely the creative, as advocated by Nancy Duxbury. However, while the paradigm does not change, we must manage the spoils of the days and make this surreal transition a transition with the least negative impact possible by managing learning opportunities, fostering community integration of new concepts, enhancing creativity and supporting the emergence of new social and professional activities. This transition will certainly be used by all sectors and industries, towards a regenerative economy, and a new global reality will emerge as a consequence of this abrupt world crisis. Meanwhile on the ground, leading opinion and thought entrepreneurs are introducing new concepts, such as Xander Bueno, and his project “Treating life well”, which will allow a new approach to the introduction of a holistic way of thinking about tourism, integrating millenary concepts of environmental and social sustainability in contemporary architectural environments, in an approach that aims to regenerate the way we deal with the world as a whole and with the other in particular. In this framework, the community should be central in engaging and restructuring a new way of managing the tourist in a particular urban, rural, mainly local environment. Regenerative tourism will provide additional value to communities in this relationship of cultural and social management of diaspora with the introduction and sharing of interpersonal experiences. Thus we can speak of a transition to a responsive and sustainable and at the same time regenerative tourism, which will allow conscious options with explicit benefits for each of the communities, with special attention to local social impacts. Thus regeneration will take place through a regenerative culture, empowering its actors to deal with environmental, economic, social and cultural impacts. This allows me to think that this change can be introduced through a new consumer, with corporate and responsive actions that allow for a government leadership through operational models, countering the normal resistance to change in an opportunity led by culture to build a better world, as the example of Aldo di Russo.