Episode guest: Greg Takehara, CEO of Tourism Cares

Taleb Rifai, then secretary-general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), wrote this in the introduction to the 2016 United Nations Global Report on the Transformative Power of Tourism:

“Tourism is much more than a leisure activity; tourism holds an immense potential to set new paradigms of thinking, to encourage social and cultural changes, and to inspire a more sustainable behavior. With over one billion international tourists crossing borders every year, there are one billion opportunities for accelerating the shift towards a more sustainable future.”

The forces that were shaping the future of destination organizations — the thinking that was already at work and moving us from a marketing to a more integrated destination stewardship role — were all in play for the past two decades either here, in Europe, or in some pocket of innovation like the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

That journey was progressing at a steady pace globally, but COVID-19 forced not just the industry but also citizens, cities, and places to take a long hard look at two questions in particular :

  • What is it that tourism does that's making this a better world? 
  • Why should we have tourism here? 

Twenty-four years ago, the United States Tour Operators Association founded the Travelers Conservation Foundation to identify and provide funding to cultural, historical, and environmental sites in need of conservation and restoration.

Two decades and a half later, that prescient moment in the positive power of tourism has evolved into the innovative, humanistic, global tourism development and enabling organization that you and I know as Tourism Cares.

Tourism Cares has a strong history of bringing players from across industries together to collaborate and drive development and innovation. They have a hyper-focused local model coupled with a high-level industry overview and network. 

Its mission is to unite the travel industry and be a global catalyst of positive social, environmental, and economic impact for the people and places of travel.

Greg Takehara is CEO of Tourism Cares and a founding member of the Future of Tourism Coalition. He’s someone you want to have a long conversation with about the future of this industry that we all care so much about if you ever get the chance.