Re-Thinking tourism: Thoughts shared by Jeremy Sampson after visiting ITB Berlin

I spent last week at ITB Berlin promoting MEET Network and #DestiMED Project, as well as exploring new partnerships and possibilities to support IUCN Med´s work on understanding and managing the net impact of coastal tourism in the Mediterranean. It is clearer than ever that we need a revolutionary effort to re-think tourism at all levels, where growth at all costs is no longer the common indicator and destinations no longer must make a devil´s bargain that ignores the various costs of doing the business of tourism.

How do we start working toward tourism´s own ¨New Deal¨? Here are some broad pillars through which to build the conversation around. Any big point I am missing here?

  1. We need to continue to drive product toward value over volume. Of course this won´t just happen on its own. There needs to be a serious effort toward building industry capacity to re-think product, and a serious push to help consumers have and make better choices. Here the MEET Network is a fantastic model of good practice, driving market-focused change and creating a real public-private dialogue. 
  2. We need new destination management models that aim toward understanding the tourism economy more holistically and with a clear understanding of net impact. Destinations need to have this information, then also need to be prepared to take a stand and to offer concrete solutions that push toward a net positive tourism economy. 
  3. We need to push private sector and investors to be there at the table, solving these problems jointly, not through lip service, but through co-creation of value-driven product, policies, and  promotional plans. 
  4.  We can no longer afford to have the Adventure Hall at ITB exist in a silo, with lots of amazing content and conversations while the industry ignores us to go about their lives promoting how they want.  This is not just a choice they are making. The right people do not attend these important events, and we are lacking a common language and platform from which to drive real discussion and innovation.