Need to know where tourism is heading?


BANGKOK, 3 August 2015: Travel Impact Newswire, a leading alternative-perspective online publication covering travel and tourism, has launched what is claimed to be the first Early Warning Report designed to alert the tourism and hospitality industry, worldwide, to looming risks and threats in a rapidly changing world.

Focussing on subjects ranging from the impact of geopolitical conflict to the expanding rich-poor income gap and the “trust deficit” in global leadership structures, the publication is entitled “Prepare, Prevent, Pre-empt.”

It strives to broaden the depth, breadth and scope of industry discourse to cover real issues that affect the entire operating environment in which travel & tourism does business.

T.I.N. executive editor, Imtiaz Muqbil,says that recognising and dealing with these “early warning signs” is just as important as dealing with early warning danger signs that may be detected in a routine health or wellness check-up.

IMG_4634Writing in the introduction to the report, Muqbil says, “If the global travel and tourism industry were to undergo a routine check-up, the first step in any health & wellness regimen, it may get a rude shock. All that “size” and “growth” may be just fat and flab. As well as being overweight, travel and tourism is a middle-age industry, looking for ways to extend its longevity.

“As it enters old age, all the early warning alarm bells are going off. Travel and tourism has arrived at its health and wellness moment of truth. To prevent and pre-empt future problems, it will need to heed the early warning signs and start a health and wellness regime.”

Muqbil cites the example of Thailand, where he is based.

A top-draw travel and tourism destination, Thailand has been impacted by just about every “ailment” known to travel and tourism. The most important lesson Thailand learned from these crises is that prevention is paramount – and early warning systems are a crucial part of that preventive process.

“For example, the AIDS pandemic of the 1980s had to be curbed via vigorous early warning campaigns to force behavioural change, especially with regard to unprotected sex. After the 1997 economic crises, Thailand and other ASEAN and Asia-Pacific countries jointly set up a financial early warning system to pre-empt speculative currency attacks.

After the 2004 tsunami, early warning systems were set up both via satellites as well as on the ground so that inhabitants along potentially threatened coastlines could have enough preparatory time to be evacuated.”

All these moves were designed to prepare, prevent and pre-empt the next “ailment” which, in an increasingly unstable and insecure world, can strike any time.

Muqbil says that generating numerical “growth” in travel is a non-issue today. Better transportation systems, improved facilitation and accessibility, extensive marketing expertise, easier booking and payments systems, plus the emergence of products and services catering to every kind of budget and age group are all aiding and abetting the lust to travel.

IMG_4635“This has put the industry at serious risk of becoming a victim of its own success because every traveller is also a consumer, an exploiter, a waster.
One does not hear much about how much water tourists consume, nor how much food they waste. Travel and tourism can conjure up eye-popping statistics on shopping expenditure, right down to the last handbag and duty-free chocolate, but it cannot tell you the volume of all that wasted packaging.”

He says, “The coterie of visionaries, thought-leaders, strategists and futurists only serenade the industry with sunny-side up scenarios. They do not help the industry prevent and pre-empt risks and threats. That is just as foolish and irresponsible as ignoring the early warning signs of a health & wellness check-up. It will cost the industry dearly in the years ahead.”

Muqbil adds: “More than a quarter of a century ago, in 1989, just two years after the epic 1987 Visit Thailand Year, I wrote a book called “The Thai Tourism Industry – Coping with the Challenge of Growth.” Even way back then, I could clearly see the writing on the wall for Thailand, which had the perfect combination of natural and cultural resources to generate tourism growth, but lacked the sociocultural, legal, regulatory and managerial discipline needed to manage that growth.

Having paid the price of that imbalance the question is has Thailand and its ASEAN neighbours learned its lessons? And other destinations worldwide learn important lessons from this region?
Mugbil says his reports have the clues and some of the answers to the challenges that await the travel industry.

“I hope this report, and future editions, will play a role in ushering in a safer, more secure new world order for the sake of our children and grand-children,” he told TTR Weekly.

To be issued every quarter, the publication is only available upon request.

TTR Weekly endorses this initiative to deliver timely in-depth insights that tourism leaders to need to take on board to create a balance in tourism strategies.
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