I recently watched a webinar where Anna Pollock, the founder of travel firm, Conscious Travel, outlined her thoughts on how tourism can be regenerative. I was so taken by what she had to say, as it resonated strongly with my thoughts, that I searched for and found a copy of her PowerPoint slides.
While her presentation did have a few facts and figures, she raised many questions that made me think. For instance:
“What if we in tourism saw ourselves as a healing profession? What if our core intention were to enable healing for people, communities and landscapes?”
“How do we enrich the encounter between ourselves as hosts and our guests?
“How does this encounter deliver joy, delight, empathy, warmth, belonging, welcome, aliveness?”
“How does this encounter bring calm, peace, excitement, challenge, exhilaration, all senses alive & functioning?”
“How does this encounter inspire wonder, awe, meaning, purpose, fulfilment, and connection?”
“How do we recreate our business that the resident individuals, (that is us), the business and our local community can thrive, flourish and be healthy in every way?”
A great deal to think about! I wish I knew all the answers, but I do not.
Considering these questions (and there were many more), and bringing them into our story, what does a future River Valley look like?
I think we already provide much of what is listed above – joy, welcome, peace, excitement, challenge, exhilaration, awe, and wonder, but some of the others, maybe not so much, at least consistently.
I have very quickly understood that the answers to these questions do not change what we provide physically. This is not to say that we will not change a few material things, but the answers certainly do not lie in vast amounts of new capital expenditure – at least in our case.
Instead, the answers lie in our attitudes and the systems we put in place to cement that way of thinking into what we do every day.
This forced pandemic inspired rethink we are presently going through, is the perfect time to be asking ourselves these questions. And let’s say we find answers to them all, can the implementation of those answers be consistent with having as many visitors come through the door as in pre-Covid-19 times?
I do not think so.
No doubt some in the tourism industry will see all this as being more than a little airy-fairy. However, just for a minute, imagine if our industry, tourism, was this incredible force for good.
For River Valley, this would mean:
Our would guests fall in love with life and nature
Where we help create the conditions for all life to flourish
Where a stay at River Valley was part of a learning journey
Regenerate is to make whole, to heal—what a marvellous purpose for our industry.