The Future of Tourism and How to Help

This story was written by Associate Professor Tiffany Rhodes, who teaches for JWU’s College of Hospitality Management.

As we all know, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the tourism industry. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), International tourism arrivals have had an estimated decline of 58-78% this year despite the 3-4% economic growth of previous years. This decline has caused an estimated $5.5 trillion loss for international tourism receipts in 2020. Much of the current data is grim, but there is hope for a new and better future for the travel economy.

As the tourism industry rethinks travel, a call to sustainable planning could never be more urgent. In recent years, travel has been increasing exponentially, with a peak of 1.4 billion international visitors in 2018, according to UNWTO. This exceptional growth outpaced carrying capacity (the maximum number of people that may visit a destination simultaneously without causing destruction of the physical, economic, socio-cultural environments) in many destinations around the world. The result has been environmental degradation, habitat loss, over-crowding and congestion in these areas. Mass tourism and overtourism have become the buzzwords of our day. This has all since come to an abrupt halt due to the Covid-19 crisis, and though the impacts have been devastating, this pause has given the industry a time to rethink and rebuild a more sustainable future — one that focuses on environmental conservation, cultural preservation, social inclusion and economic resiliency.

The call to destinations, tourism planners, travel agencies, tour operators, governments, NGOs, financial investors and local communities around the world need to join together with a common goal. Therefore, the Future of Tourism Coalition has been formed by the Center of Responsible Travel (CREST), Destination Stewardship Center, Sustainable Travel International, Green Destinations, Tourism Cares and the Travel Foundation, under the guidance of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). These 6 non-governmental organizations have collaborated together to appeal for change in the way we re-develop the future of travel.

This coalition believes that all stakeholders in the tourism industry need to commit to a strong set of principles that are “vital for long-term and equitable growth.” They stand united urging a world-wide commitment to these Future of Tourism 13 guiding principles, placing destinations at the very center of recovery strategies. By voicing your commitment, you agree to align your action plans with these transformative principles. The coalition will aide you in this journey by providing targeted, in depth and personalized resources that will help advance a long-term, sustainable strategy for you and for the future of tourism.

Are you ready to help? Join the movement by becoming a signatory for the Future of Tourism.

If you have an interest in learning more about tourism and maybe even a career in tourism, take a look at JWU's M.S. in Global Tourism and Sustainable Economoic Development.

We Support the Future of Tourism logo with photo of tropical island