The Future of Tourism
Last night the Future of Tourism talk played out to a packed audience (700+?) at the Royal Geographical Society in London.
Judging by the continuous and rapid stream of gushingly enthusiastic tweets being projected onto the screen throughout the evening, it was a huge success, but I'm going to play the role of the little boy looking at the emperor in his new clothes and ask: "were you not seeing what I was seeing?"
TBH I was disappointed, and judging by the steady trickle of people leaving from about halfway through - they can't all
have had buses to catch - I suspect I was not alone.
I'm not saying I wasn't pleased I went, and I was certainly chuffed to be invited as a VIP (that exalted position may now be in danger!), but I didn't come away feeling I'd learned anything much about the Future of Tourism.
I think Bruce Poon Tip (founder G Adventures) is a charismatic speaker and, like everyone in the audience, I'm a huge fan of G Adventures and its philosophy, but I didn't need an extended history of G Adventures. Bruce spoke for an hour and ten minutes (Don't challenge me on this. I recorded it). The opening ten minutes was really promising, filled with stats and interesting propositions. He made points like:
+ Travel marketing is now a two way conversation and the big travel brands are being forced to engage.
+ Travel has the potential to be one of the biggest wealth distribution schemes in a world where the huge majority of people earn under $2 a day and yet of $100 spent on vacation in developing countries only $5 stays in the local community. Since the travel industry is already the second largest source of global GDP after oil and set to double in size over the next ten years, and since travel is an emotional purchase... we should treat travel as an expression of ourselves & our values and think of it as a way of giving back
+ It's not innovators/leaders who start movements (in this case in tourism). It's the first followers. A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous, but it's the first follower that turns a lone nut into a leader.
But then it became an hour long advert for G Adventures. Too much! Inspiring, and a great example for the travel & tourist industry, but it stopped being about the Future of Tourism and became the History of G Adventures.
Then came the stellar panel - Bruce Poon Tip, Tony Wheeler (Co-Founder Lonely Planet), Julia Bradbury (TV presenter/traveller) and Pippa Jacks (Editor TTG. Not enough of her! Pity!) moderated by Lyn Hughes (Editor in Chief, Wanderlust mag) who squandered a great opportunity. 80% of her questions were simply repeating variations on which destinations did each panelist think are being/have been the best/worst examples of tourism? And she even wasted our time by regurgitating that tired old debate from 5-10 years ago - are we "travellers" or "tourists". Purleeze.
Like I say. There were a few nuggets in there, and yes, G Adventures is a truly inspiring company whose praises should be sung from the rooftops.... but not when it dominates the topic, which was supposed to be 'The Future of Tourism'.
Can we have a little more of what it says on the flyer next time, please?#FUtourism