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Industry experts address challenges facing travel in first Retravel Live event

Looking at the media’s role in driving change, the panel unanimously agreed that more thoughtful and meaningful storytelling was essential.

Overtourism versus undertourism, the rise of the new buzzword ‘regenerative travel’, the changing role of travel media, and practical advice for travellers looking to make a difference. These are all topics addressed during Retravel Live, the first in a new virtual thought leadership series hosted by adventure operator G Adventures last week.

Travel experts Elizabeth Becker, author of Overbooked, Juliet Kinsman, sustainability editor at Conde Nast Traveller U.K. and George Stone, editor in chief of National Geographic Traveler came together to be hosted by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip at this first event which was attended by hundreds of travellers and agents eager learn how they can play their part in reshaping the travel industry.

When it comes to driving change in travel, Elizabeth Becker says the industry needs to take itself more seriously and push for a seat at the table with governments and to join national and international debates.

“Travel is a major industry and should be sitting at the table with governments… When the climate emergency comes up, who is representing travel? Travel is a serious industry and it should be talking about energy and transportation and, when climate emergency conversations come up, travel should be at the table”.

Acknowledging that travellers are now looking at how they can travel with the ongoing challenge of the current pandemic , the experts discussed the ethics of travelling now and how travel can bring benefit.

It’s time to start thinking as a citizen. If you’re visiting somewhere, you need to think of yourself as a citizen of that place and follow their rules,” said Becker.

Bruce Poon Tip added that now more than ever, people need to understand that travel is a privilege, not a right.

“I hope people will be more mindful with their decisions. If we get anything out of this pandemic, I hope it is that a small group of people understand the power and privilege they have when they decide to travel,” he said.

Juliet Kinsman highlighted the importance of travel to support local communities and leave money locally. “I feel a huge responsibility, always, towards wealth distribution… As someone who lives in a country which does have money, I am very sad not to be able to get to destinations that don’t so I can help to share that wealth,” Kinsman commented.

Asked about the future of travel, Becker predicted an increase in fewer but longer trips, where travellers will ‘go deeper’, spending more time researching and taking their time when in a destination. George Stone agreed, predicting the rise in a better quality of traveller.

“We will see someone who is more engaged in the conversations that are relevant to places, someone who has a more nuanced sense of the layers that go into a destination or travel economy. In this time of racial reckoning, someone is thinking more critically about communities and where they go. I don’t see how we can go through this and not come out touched, moved and changed. I really want to see travellers at their best in five years, asking the right questions which will lead to the change that we are all talking about,” Stone added.

Looking at the media’s role in driving change, the panel unanimously agreed that more thoughtful and meaningful storytelling was essential.

“It’s all about storytelling and sharing important stories through tourism. We need to share our ideas more, have more conversations and educate each other about what is having a good or bad impact. The travel industry is an incredible vehicle to be able to do this,” said Kinsman. “It is a strangely opportune time for travel media to lean in and surface important conversations,” said George Stone, who said he saw a new power lying with travel media to elevate change. “We can pivot in our storytelling to surface more of these unique stories that focus on community and report on the impact (travel has) so we can push this important dialogue along”.

“Travel readers are getting more sophisticated – they know where to go for their top ten cafe recommendations – but what they want now is more context about their role as a traveller, and the role of the community in this economy, and this will affect their journeys and decisions in the future. Right now, it’s about storytelling,” Stone continued.

Top tips from the panel on how travellers can be better and make a greater difference:

  • “If you do one thing, avoid chain hotels and go local when you travel” – Elizabeth Becker
  • “Ask yourself why you want to travel. As human beings, we are the only animals that explore for the sake of exploring – all other animals do it for a reason. Put the elitism aside and ask why you want to travel and what you’ve been missing. Is it a beautiful and new landscape? Or is it to experience the new tastes, smells and sounds that can transport you and remind you of what a rich world this is?” – Juliet Kinsman
  • “Remember that travel is a practice, and like many other things, we often aren’t very good at it the first time we do it. The goal is to get better as you move along… Be more conscientious on your journeys and focus more on your impact and look at reciprocity and how you relate to the communities and the environment,” – George Stone
Tatiana Rokou

Tatiana is the news coordinator for TravelDailyNews Media Network (traveldailynews.gr, traveldailynews.com and traveldailynews.asia). Her role includes monitoring the hundreds of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skimming the most important according to our strategy.

She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.

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