Out of the Ashes: Creating a Mindful Tourist Economy

Creating a Mindful
Tourist Economy

At this point saying 2020 has been a ‘year like no other’, has become redundant. We know that the worldwide pandemic has brought economies to a grinding halt, magnified the growing gap in wealth disparity, and helped amplify the political unrest that plays out on our Reddit threads.
This year has also been a climactic moment in time for our natural environment. From forest fires causing destruction at unprecedented rates, to some of the warmest temperatures on earth being recorded this year.

Is it really all bad?

We’ve all at some point this year succumbed to the infamous doom scrolling, but we want to shift the focus to why it’s really not all bad.

There have been some positives that have come out of this tumultuous time. In terms of marketing, it’s been an opportunity to learn, listen and do better – to do the right thing. For us this started by doing great work with likeminded people closer to home.

In with the new

This brings us to the introduction of our newest client: Tourism Ucluelet. As soon as we began work with this client, we came to the pleasant realization that we share values and the desire to do something bigger.
As we began to move our contemplations into action and build a road map with Tourism Ucluelet, we identified three pillars we see as necessary to move the tourism industry forward in a positive, meaningful, and responsible fashion.

Sustainability

We look beyond just using Rev Par (Revenue per Available Room) as a measure of success. Taking it a step further, we build on how we can support and create a better quality of life for our residents. We create experiences that have a net positive effect on our community and environment.

Inclusivity

At the root of this work, the key to seeing collective progress is community buy-in, without it nothing moves forward. This means acknowledging that destinations are owned by the community’s residents. It also means working with the locals to understand the priorities that keep their community healthy and flourishing, while being aware of the impacts that tourism brings, be it positive or negative.
In summary, you can’t have a healthy tourism business if you don’t have a healthy community. It means that all people regardless of physical or intellectual abilities can come to visit, learn, and grow.

Contributivity

We only need to look at the historical mistakes of our primary resource industries in order to know what not to do. Let’s not export our “raw logs” but create a value-added chain that focuses on quality and maximizing our value-added revenues from our resources – in this case, our communities, land, oceans, skies, and wildlife. We must understand that tourism and economic development are two sides of the same coin.

It’s a matter of longevity

When we talk about in “the long-run” we mean centuries, not decades, and when we’re thinking in that vein all of these things – longer stays, fewer resources, higher margins – make a ton of sense for the long-run.

For us at H2 Accelerator, we look forward to working alongside Tourism Ucluelet to help educate and grow the conversation among curious travelers regarding what sustainable travel looks like when visiting Ucluelet. In turn, this will open the space for what Anna Pollack, a leading tourism planner, describes as regenerative tourism: “a way of thinking and acting that aims to not just do less harm, but to actively restore the harm that our system has already done to the natural world.” This is our opportunity to rethink the role and meaning of tourism and re-imagine business models, relationships, and resources.

Now is the time

The impact of COVID-19 is irrefutable. Across the globe and right here at home, lives have been changed. Now is the time to rise from our ashes and use the pain of this past year to cultivate an endurance for the future.
We need to respond to this crisis by challenging our thinking. Asking how we save the planet instead of how we can save our fortunes. Focusing on how we can serve others, versus how we can serve ourselves. This is how we emerge stronger and better – together. This how we create a world that will be an amazing place not just for ourselves, but all generations to follow – in the tourism sector, but in societal terms as well.

If you prescribe to this thinking, now is the time to advocate for our tourism industry by reminding our government about the much-needed support that is required. Now is also the time to pull together as a community and start thinking about your own pillars of success that will bring about a prosperous, and sustainable future.