Transform … Travel, Enjoy & Respect

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It is transforming to be inspired to drive positive change and to have a voice. I was invited to speak at the United Nations in New York last week during the celebration of the Year of Sustainable Tourism at the Travel, Tourism and Transformation Conference. It was an honour for the NOW Team who attended and we will return to support its continuation later this year.

We had the privilege to meet Mr. Carlos Vogeler, the Executive Director of the UN World Tourism Organisation who spoke about the upcoming mid-September discussions with members to make sustainability ‘mandatory’ and the necessity for participating countries to sign a treaty. This action is vital to ensure the future of sustainable tourism and I could only respond, ‘It must be NOW!’.

The travel industry started to discuss the ‘green issue’ in the late 80’s after the UN published ‘Our Common Future’ (Bruntland Report), which explained the concept of sustainability as an attempt to create awareness of the disturbing relations between human society and the natural environment. Here we are after thirty years of ‘voluntary’ sustainability … many are doing excellent work but most still hesitate to be visibly transparent for a host of reasons, and many are still greenwashing or ‘sitting on the fence’. The industry is booming and so are the things we don’t want to see.

NOW supports the goal of the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and it is one of our inspirations when we launched NOW on Earth Day four months ago. It is inspiring with its message of TRAVEL, ENJOY AND RESPECT.

NOW believes that for Travel & Tourism to be sustainable for us and for future generations, it needs to thrive, … and for it to thrive, it needs responsible practices, people to travel with a conscience and successful businesses that are Forces for Good. To help the industry thrive, NOW aims to inspire transformative change in two interconnected and interdependent forces in the travel industry – the TRAVELLERS and the hospitality sector.

Everyone in the travel industry today know that we have to be responsible and sustainable, but are we doing enough? Are we really nailing it?

Companies need to embrace the need for transformation in this age of corporate responsibility, sustainability and digital innovations. Transformation should by definition be about the travel industry delivering leadership for how positive change can be achieved. We need an open and honest conversation on sustainable business practices. We need to voice that greenwash and poor environmental and social performance is no longer acceptable.

To be truly sustainable is hard work and it requires bandwidth to be rigorous and people with heart. There are no short-cuts and to be part of the solution will require a long-term commitment. Sustainability is not about perfect service or luxury or being the ‘Best in the World’. Consumers do not expect perfection in sustainability … we expect progress in performance, using transparency right and being the ‘Best for our World’.

We are all adventurers … we are all dreamers … we are all travellers. There are over a billion travellers today … which means there are a billion opportunities to make a difference … a billion inspired and empowered people with a voice, a wallet and a smart phone who can act NOW and demand sustainable actions. We need to learn about the issues and have an internal dialogue about who we are as people, and make choices in favour of companies that use the power of business to help solve social and environmental problems. We need to support and celebrate companies that are Forces for Good.

This month’s issue of itmustbeNOW Magazine is about the THINGS WE DON’T WANT TO SEE. There are many things we often see on our travels that we really would rather not see. We all have a choice to make – and when we make the right choices, it gives others hope.

At this most urgent and complex of times, everyone must do more. So … let’s TRAVEL with a conscience, ENJOY and have a wonderful time, RESPECT and give hope. Positive change starts with us.

IT MUST BE NOW!

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Alexa Poortier

Founder – itmustbeNOW.com

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