by Meredith Hauser
When the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, we’ll all breathe a sigh of relief. We’ll begin to crawl out of our social-isolation bubbles and back into the world. Our grocery stores will no longer have lines out the door, and there will be toilet paper and hand sanitizer on the shelves once again. Many of us will be ready to start planning our next international excursion, starved for cultural immersion, and transformative travel experiences. For those of us in the travel industry, the tendency will be to try to return to business as usual. We’ll turn on our computers and once again become reactive to travel inquiries for like-minded friends and colleagues who are eager to explore the world.
But we should not return to business as usual.
As many of us in the travel industry know, tourism is a double-edged sword. It has an incredibly vast and wide-reaching power that can be wielded negatively or positively. The value chain in which we work is a complex one. On the one hand, it is an incredible vehicle for development, as foreign dollars can uplift communities and protect wildlife and the environment. On the other, trending destinations are becoming “over-touristed,” certain industries profit off of exploiting animals and people, and of course, we can’t ignore the carbon footprint of travel.
(If there is one benefit from this pandemic, it’s that we are currently giving Mother Earth space to breathe. Carbon emissions around the world have been significantly reduced, and historical sites that are usually overrun by travelers are getting a much-needed reprieve. )
While we wait for the COVID-19 crisis to wind down, we should use this as an opportunity to take a collective breath and reconsider our values and responsibilities. How can we all do this better? Through the events of the past couple of weeks, we have seen in one crystallized moment how fragile our industry is, but at the same time, how powerful and far-reaching it can be and is. Now is the time to learn and learn to do it better.
At Elevate Destinations, we’re re-examining our values and asking ourselves the tough questions. Are we doing all that we can? When the crisis has passed, what should we be doing differently? Each and every one of our team members has been personally affected by travel – we firmly believe there is a tremendous need for tourism and the deep interconnectedness it creates – something that is especially needed right now. We are continually striving to negate the adverse effects of travel through our sustainable practices. In essence, the purchase of carbon offsets and our Buy One Give One program, training vendors on the CODE, reducing waste, and finding operations that are locally and ethically operated, all aimed at making travel more equitable and less destructive. However, there is always more to be done.
During times such as this, we derive inspiration from our incredible colleagues and partners. With this blog post, we hope to hear from people what change they would like to see in the industry, and what they hope for the future, post-pandemic. Do you envision a new future for travel? As we recover, how can we be more thoughtful and responsible as an industry and of those that host us? What can we do during this rare moment of pause to help us rebuild, refuel, and re-energize the ethos of responsible travel?
We hope to hear from you, and we hope this post has inspired you to re-evaluate how you plan to move forward post-pandemic. Feel free to reach out to us with any thoughts or questions: firstname.lastname@example.org