In this time of global crisis and uncertainty, we put the call out to leaders, CEOs, strategists and consultants to sit down and tell us, in their own words, what is going on and what is going to happen next in this vital global industry.

Is a new era beginning for the world of travel?

This was the question posed in a Vanity Fair Spain article in April 2021. From the article: “In the face of the pandemic and digitization, we have started to travel differently. Many have gravitated to local and rural tourism, while others have decided to wait patiently and save money for a five-star trip to a transoceanic destination. Some lucky ones have also been able to choose their place of work on the map; there are those who have stayed at home, but also those who have moved through our country teleworking every day from a different location. This has changed the tourism sector, and many travel lovers and professionals in the sector have drawn a big question mark on their heads: what will travel be like in the near future?”

In Spain, tourism is an undisputed economic engine. In Madrid — twice awarded the World Travel Awards’ coveted title of World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Destination — the need to reassess, redefine, and reinvent is front and center.

David Noack Pérez, director of the Madrid Convention Bureau (MCB), is tackling that challenge head-on with his team.

Without question, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised the global cry for more thoughtful, intentional and sustainable travel. That requires destinations to be more creative than ever in redefining their role and creating a map for the coming years.

In the context of sustainable tourism, Noack Pérez and the team at the MCB have done some groundbreaking work with the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) for its 2021 Congress. ESTRO and the MCB began planning in 2018 a pioneering event that would intentionally create and nurture a legacy value opportunity for Madrid and the people of Spain.

As Noack Pérez puts it, the partnership with the leading medical oncology society in Europe has been transformative. 

“This experience has been a gift, a great opportunity,” he said. “It is an important change… it’s not about tourism but about medicine. It has been a learning journey that has laid the foundations for us to start talking more about legacy events and assets.”

The project’s objective was ongoing greater visibility for a treatment regimen that can effectively treat 40% of cancers but gets only 5% of funding.

Asked if other CVBs are following this path, Noack Pérez said, “Not so much so. The ESTRO case is exceptional, not all candidates are like that. I see a future where the MCB collaborates with the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) players to define legacy projects and leave more value on the ground in the destination to meet and serve the local citizens.”

In my humble opinion, a huge step in the right direction for sure.