Future of Tourism Series | Guest Blog
By Paul Nursey, President and CEO Destination Greater Victoria
As we all work through these uncertain times, doing everything we can to deliver the best leadership, value-added programs and platforms for the stakeholders and members of our destination
organizations, the lessons of the past can inform better performance in the future. We are all trained and ready for disruptions and the crisis that has impacted our industry and our own
models by 30%-40% for a number of months, to be followed by a lengthy recovery period. The visitor economy and the destination organization model can flex and scale based on the conditions of the industry.
Many of us speak about the concept of “Destination Management,” which is focusing on the public policy areas and supply side issues of the tourism system. The concept of Destination Management will move from being an emerging and largely academic trend to one that is front and centre on the agendas for all destination organization CEOs. Our ability as destination organizations to deliver greatest value will be by competing effectively through the recovery. However, as we all know, it is not simply how effectively we market and sell that will matter most. Our collective recovery will certainly be highly focused on how well our organizations work with industry, governments, citizens and civil society across three critical dimensions.
Three key dimensions:
- Free flow of people: As we recover and re-open, will this be done in a coordinated, effective and multilateral way? Currently we are seeing a disjointed patchwork of health orders from national and sub-national governments across the world, which is driving significant confusion as to what is allowed in terms of travel and meetings and what is not allowed. In North America, there are statutory bi-lateral bodies such as the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) working on this through their tourism rebound program. They deserve our support and more work like this is needed.
- Restoring trust and confidence: As brand marketers we must understand that we are not trusted by many consumers at this time. We are generally seen as self-interested and it is rightly the scientists and legislators who have more trust. We need to develop communications that convey our position genuinely and authentically along with clear and supportive messaging from health authorities as we work to re-open.
- Re-earning Social License: While there is significant empathy and sympathy for the damage done by COVID-19 to the visitor economy, small business and millions of workers, this has been overshadowed by safety concerns about a virus that in its early days was transmitted on cruise ships, at conferences, through travel and in many other ways. It will be critical to work very diligently and consistently with communities to provide reassurance and demonstrate safety adaptations. This must be a genuine, two-way and authentic process and it will need to be ongoing.
I view this as an opportunity to influence perspectives positively and I will be keenly involved in the process.
The last time our industry faced such existential challenges was in the aftermath of the tragic events of 9/11 and the massive focus on security measures. Borders hardened and the travel and tourism industry was placed squarely at the back of the policy priorities as programs such as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and similar measures put structural dents into our potential that persisted for years. Even as we struggle with a second wave this winter, we are now into a period where governments and industry are working through how societies will operate and function coming out of the pandemic, and to prepare for future health crises. Does our industry have the collective wherewithal to learn from the lessons of 9/11 and plan deliberately for inevitable programs such as health passports, biosecurity and related measures that are certainly only months away? Can we re-establish trust and confidence among our residents who we serve that travel is safe, and that visitors and meetings delegates can be welcomed and not feared? I view this as an opportunity to influence perspectives positively and I will be keenly involved in the process.
Paul Nursey, President and CEO Destination Greater Victoria