Thinking about the World Tourism Day

Today is the World Tourism Day. The theme this year is “Tourism and Rural Development”, and according to the UWTO1, for the first time in the 40-year history of World Tourism Day, will be hosted by the joint nations from the MERCOSUR Member States: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Chile joining as Member Associate status, exemplifying the spirit of international solidarity that is needed today, more than ever, for the recovery of tourism.

As members of the tourism sector, we know how difficult this year has been, and how slow the road to recovery feels. The Nature and Adventure Travel Industry, in México and other destinations, is struggling. This is mostly because our industry is not sustained by all the economic machinery that sustains massive tourism.

We are sustained by something else, that I actually believe is even more powerful and timeless: a vision of a world that can be explored by our young ones, and by the young ones after them. For this to be a possibility, we know that tourism has to be sustainable, regenerative and respectful. We also know that we are still far away from that goal, however, the beauty of our industry is that we are aware of it, and we are still working tirelessly towards it.

There are two words that I have heard a lot in the past few months: resilience and reimagining. About 90% of the stream of zoom conferences I have heard these past months have mentioned at least one of these words. Our very own ATMEX Loreto 2020 theme is “Plan B: Reimagining Tourism”. At the beginning of the pandemic, when we were thinking about what the central theme for the event would be, I was thinking a lot about the word reimagine. It’s a beautiful word, full of possibilities. Having the time to reimagine anything at all  seemed like a gift to me at the time. I was thinking then, that the positive outcome of the COVID-19 crisis had to be change.

As these months have passed, I’ve seen something that I consider extremely dangerous for the reimagination process: need. The economic fibers of our society have been affected deeply by lockdowns, travel restrictions, misinformation, fear, and the inability of our governments to provide aid to all the industries that are suffering, and leadership, to make us believe that things will get better soon, or at least to make us feel safe. Need comes with a price tag that is, to my opinion, the worst outcome the entire COVID-19 crisis could have: going back to the status quo. 

Luckily, the Nature and Adventure Travel Industry is full of relentless believers. If there ever was a time to capitalize on this particular trait, it is today. As an industry, we are in a really advantageous position. What we sell is the antithesis of massive tourism, and the consumer is looking for exactly that: nature, personalization, and off the beaten path destinations. 

However having the perfect product for the current times doesn’t mean instant success. We still have a major challenge to overcome: build the economic machinery that will sustain the nature and adventure travel industry, so that the preservation of our most valued assets, nature and culture, are worth more preserved than destroyed. The steps we take on the following months will set the pillars of the tourism we are reimagining. 

1Learn more about the World Tourism Day here.

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