A look into where the tourism industry is headed took centre stage Monday night at the University of Toronto’s Koerner Hall as a packed house was treated to a panel discussion at a “Future of Travel” event hosted by G Adventures.
The discussion was led by Daniel Houghton, CEO, Lonely Planet, Kris Reyes, Global TV reporter and anchor, Jamie Sweeting, president, Planeterra Foundation, and Audrey Scott of Uncornered Market. A presentation by G Adventures’ president Bruce Poon Tip (pictured) followed the panel discussion, which was themed around 2014 World Tourism Day’s “Tourism and Community Development.”
If the future of travel is to be sustainable, it seems education and respect – for people, places and things – must remain a top priority, at least according to the panel, which was also in agreement that today’s travellers must leave something behind, and not just take.
“You should know the product you’re buying – one that employs locals, for example,” said Reyes. “Travel consciously, be educated before you go.”
Scott agreed, noting that’s it’s a win-win situation. “Travellers come out changed, communities come out changed. It’s an authentic exchange.”
The group also indicated that success in tourism needs to go beyond dollars and cents and include such things as how many lives can be improved.
Scott summed her philosophy up succinctly, “My focus is on respect. Respect for people, respect for the economy, respect for the local community.”
Poon Tip said tourism can be a force for good and noted that people must get a better picture of the challenges and issues that the planet faces. He said tourism can create employment opportunities, lift people out of poverty and strengthen economies.
The key, noted Poon Tip, is to ensure tourism dollars stay in local communities, which can be done by supporting local businesses, using local guides and visiting family owned restaurants.