The operating model that has created a global tourism industry is dying and a new model is emerging. The rules of the game are being re-invented, right now.
Tourism is system of three elements: Places, Guests and Hosts. As such, it’s all about PEOPLE. If people change their values and their perception of how the world works, then everything else changes.
There are multiple forces shaking up the tourism system:
- The key human actors in the system are shifting not only their values but their core understanding of how the world works
- The industrial model on which tourism is based is collapsing. As it matures, it produces diminishing net returns to all participants, and relies on volume growth to compensate for yield declines. As visitor volume increases, so do the costs associated with resource depletion, pollution and wealth concentration.
- External pressures will require the tourism economy to pay significantly more for services that hitherto have been free or relatively cheap. These cost increases will occur when reduced incomes and higher demand volatility are already compromising the resilience and profitability of existing businesses.
Survival and prosperity depend not just on becoming green but waking up to a whole new way of doing business that can, in part, be summarized as follows:
Practitioners of the new, ecological model start with a higher sense of Purpose. They know that profit follows purpose – a commitment to use the business to make the world a better place. Instead of discounting their primary asset – the Place – they focus on protecting, expressing and celebrating its unique Personality to sustain and increase its value to guests. The passion of all hosts (employees, suppliers, residents), combines with a clear sense of Purpose to PULL in (attract) the kind of guest who will most value what the provider has to offer.
Unless tourism enterprises embrace the new model they will continue to see their profit margins shrink; their resilience to external shocks weaken; and their viability diminish. Tourism entrepreneurs and their communities need to assume responsibility for changing and cannot assume that traditional institutions or agencies can supply fixes.
Conscious Travel is building an e-learning platform and on and offline communities designed to stimulate and nourish the capacity of tourism entrepreneurs – the 99% – to flourish in new market circumstances.
The goal is to build an environmentally sustainable, socially just and spiritually fulfilling form of tourism that generates real net benefits to all stakeholders in the tourism system: guests, employees, investors, suppliers and the host community.