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.

Long before the pandemic, innovative and brave leaders from around the world were pushing the envelope of what we do as destination organizations. 

Being ahead of the curve is hard work, and it often only gets recognized after the success has been mainstreamed and the awards are handed out.

The global pandemic changed that in some sense, changed it in a positive way. 

In an existential crisis, things become clearer, necessities more obvious, and frivolities less tolerable. We are forced to measure not only what is working but how it’s working and whether or not the outcomes of success are even ones that ultimately matter.

Five leaders, five innovators, five messages — trust me, you won’t eschew or impeach even one of them; their importance is so obvious at this moment in time, Sept. 25, 2021.

Michael Nagy, director of marketing and sales for the magnificent Fairmont Rio de Janeiro Copacabana in Brazil, has this to share: “Stop owning your own content. Stop making it difficult for people to get access to your information.” 

Petra Stušek, managing director at Visit Ljubljana, Slovenia, and president of the European Cities Marketing, notes that it is not just time to change how we do things, but it was a wave that was building even before the crisis: “Many DMO’s had already moved on to a new model.”

Castro Ambiyo, CEO of Place Brand Africa in Nairobi, Kenya, cautions us that tourism that leaves little or no money on the table for locals is not sustainable and that the human costs are unacceptable. He sees the pandemic as an opportunity for thoughtful change.

Greg DeShields, executive director of PHL Diversity with the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and executive director of Tourism Diversity Matters, reminds us that LGBTQ is not about a marketing segment. Rather, it's about people just like you and me, people with families, people with friends, people with interests and ideas. Anything less is inauthentic.

And on that very important topic, Elke Dens, trustee of The Travel Foundation, board member of The Impact Travel Alliance, and marketing advisor for Visit Flanders (currently on sabbatical), demands of us all that It is the responsibility of tourism to tell the authentic stories of the culture and history of a destination.

Five leaders, five innovators, five messages — five opportunities not to be squandered. 

What is your five year vision? What will your organization look like on Sept. 25, 2026?