PATA | Contact

All posts in Tourism Resilience

Credit: Shutterstock

By Dr. Peter Tarlow from Tourism & More

TOURISM & MORE’S  “TOURISM TIDBITS”

March 2018

With the Northern Hemisphere’s winter soon to become spring, on some level tourism officials can take a sigh of relief that there were no major pandemics. This season was however in many parts of the world an extremely difficult flu season that resulted in a great deal of discomfort, days missed at work, and even in some extreme cases deaths.

Tourism is especially vulnerable to contagious illnesses. People are in close contact, often both tourism employees and travelers are subjected to filtered, rather than fresh air. Additionally we are all subject to issues of jet lag, disrupted sleep patters and irregular eating. In some of the less well paid tourism jobs employees fear losing a day’s pay if they stay home when ill, come to work sick, and then infect others.

If travel were not hard enough on a person’s body, there are still other problems that must be taken into consideration. For example, hygiene standards are not the same around the world. The traveler often has no way of knowing the level of cleanliness in a restaurant, if waiters and waitresses wash their hands enough and with soap and hot water. People staying at hotels have no way of knowing the quality of the mattress upon which they are sleeping or the condition of the air ducts that bring air conditioning into their room.

Additionally a sick chambermaid may infect a visitor’s room while cleaning it or become ill from a person who is staying in the room and has infected that room by sneezing or coughing. Examples of some of these health and wellness challenges can be seen in problems experienced within the cruise industry due to the Nordau virus, or in tourism buildings due to legionary’s disease,

Tourism promotes travel and schedules are built around the assumption of wellness. A traveler cannot change an airline reservation due to a cold or feeling sick, a person’s hotel reservation may force that person to check out rather than rest, and often it is not easy to find a place to eat at odd hours of the day. Finally, in many parts of the world, it may not easy to find an international doctor, the local health agency may not accept foreign health insurance, and language problems may make it difficult for the ill person to describe his or her problem to the local health professional. These same problems do not only apply to leisure and business travelers, but also to first responders, international aid workers, and government agents. Often these people are so involved in their labors of love that they forget that they too are fragile human beings who are also subject to illnesses. In order to help you think about caring for your visitors and at the same time caring for yourself, Tourism Tidbits presents to you the following ideas.

  • Develop a tourism health task force. Keeping visitors and tourism employees healthy is different from keeping local populations healthy. Visitors have less information and often more stress than the local population. The task force should consider everything from medical availability to problems of foreign health insurance. It should also look at local sanitation and hygiene issues, and how visitors can access pharmacies without having a local physician.
  • Work with the local media. The can be great allies or become a major problem. There is always a need to have the media aid in spreading information, but this must be done in a way that neither panics the public nor become a problem in and of itself. The example of the SARS reporting a few years ago is a perfect example of what not to do. In that case, misreporting about an illness caused a great deal of economic damage and made the problem worse rather than better.
  • Involve government agencies in your overall health plan. Many tourism related illnesses are interrelated to issues of clean air and water. Be mindful of where garbage is stored and even first world tourism locations often suffer from rodent infestations. These of course are also essential issues for the local population but the visitor is more prone to local diseases due to water and air pollution. Visitors often do not know if they can drink local water, how long water has been boiled before being served or if ice cubes have been made from purified water. It is the responsibility of the tourist industry to inform visitors of these precautions rather than assuming that a tired traveler will know to ask.
  • Have a plan in place regarding the way that you will deal with travel related mental heath problems. Travel produces stress and stress may result in additional mental illnesses that may range from personal behavior issues to psychotic behavior. Often people believe that being in a new location will solve an anxiety or stress problem. The results are usually to the contrary. This means that tourism professionals need to know whom to call when faced with a person suffering from some form of mental health challenge. Often these problems are made worse by the fact that the person has no support system in place and that the visitor may not be able to communicate in the local language.
  • Take care of yourself. The airline industry reminds us to put on our oxygen mask before helping others. Their advice is both sound and sage. The tourist professional cannot take care of others if s/he is sick. This means that tourism professionals need to take flue shots, eat correctly, assure that they have enough rest, and see a medical expert for regular check-ups. The better the tourism professional feels the better that person can handle the stress that comes with caring for others.
Share

Credit: GLP Films

We’ve all seen it, a destination experiences a tragedy – natural disasters, war, economic problems… Then, global media outlets start to spread the word, bookings decrease and tourism drops dramatically. Negative and/or inaccurate press about the state of tourism economy in a destination can be a challenging uphill battle. However, marketing can very quickly provide solutions to change global traveler perceptions and help market that a destination is “open for business”.

So, how can you quickly and effectively get the message out to the global travel community that a destination is still “open for business” even if it is still a state of recovery? The key to changing perceptions is a strategic distribution plan driven by story-driven content marketing.

Read the full article on marketing resiliency here.

By Laura Knudson & Hilary Lewkowitz for GLP Films.

Share

By Dr. Peter Tarlow from Tourism & More

 

Credit: Tourism & More Inc.

 

TOURISM & MORE’S

 

“TOURISM TIDBITS”

June 2017

Some of the Best Practices in Tourism Security, Risk Management and Crisis Recovery, Part 1

 

This June we shall be holding the 23rd Annual Las Vegas International Tourism Safety and Security conference and in honor of our conference, this month’s Tourism Tidbits focuses on issuesT of security and safety. 

Although the public, media, and politicians expect continuous 100% safety and security, reality is that total security does not exist.  What is true of the non-tourism and travel world is even more so in the world of travel and tourism. Not only are tourism and traveling security problems often more challenging, but the traveling public can also easily be frightened, and in the case of leisure travel decide simply not to visit a specific locale.  Furthermore, many tourism professionals are frighten by the topic and provide more lip service to the subject than real substance.

To help you think through some of the issues and finds methods to confront these ever changing challenges, Tourism Tidbits presents you with the following ideas for your consideration: 

-Never forget that all travel security and safety begins with a sense of hospitality and caring.  Customer service is the foundation of any security program. Employees need to remember that they should not treat others in a way that they would not want others to treat them.  Customers are not the enemy; they are the industry’s raison d’être.  From the moment a traveler leaves his/her home until the moment that s/he returns the industry needs to project an image of we care, of creating an environment in which customers know that they are not prisoners or cattle but respected guests.

-Understand that in most cases (drugs being a major exception) acts of crime and acts of terrorism are different.  It is rare that poverty is a root cause of either crime or terrorism, and the two social illnesses have a very different interaction with tourism.  Crime has a parasitic relationship with tourism that is to say if there is no tourism then there is no tourism crime.  Although, terrorists may use crime as a means to fund their projects, their ultimate goal is the destruction of tourism and the economic prosperity that it produces around the world.

 
-The most effective security is proactive rather than reactive. This means find ways to layer your security and be aware of where the security weaknesses may be.  Know your property layout and remember that there are no 100% safe places in any building Use combinations of a physical security presence plus technology, such as surveillance, makes sure all your bases are covered. 


-Know local laws!  Hoteliers must know their responsibilities for security within local laws and regulations. Knowing whether issues would result in criminal or civil liabilities can influence security protocols.  Be aware of terror trends: Not every attack is the same.  Over the past several years, many terror events have “evolved to be locally inspired or involve locally trained citizens”.  The newest “trends” in attacks against hotels are small-scale, high-body-count attacks that draw global media attention. Nevertheless, do not forget that terrorism is ever changing and what is true this year may be different next year.

-Partner Simple partnerships with local law enforcement are an easy, low-cost way to keep security top of mind. Invite your local police to spend a night in the hotel or have dinner there.  The better the police understand the property’s security and emergency protocols and see the capabilities, the faster they can react in case of an emergency or advise you on simple solutions as to ways to stop and attack before it occurs. Ask your police department to educate hotel staff on what their own capabilities are and what emergencies they can and cannot handle.  Then develop a formal plan with the local police department and be sure that they have a copy of the plan

-Tourism security does not exist in a vacuum.  That means that tourism security is part of the overall local environment.  If a particular city is not safe, then eventually that insecurity will impact the local hotels, attractions and transportation systems.  What that means is that the tourism industry needs not only to ask for protection but also that it needs to work with local community leaders to bring down the overall crime rates.  For example, communicate with local organizations that seek to lower crime rates.  The bottom line is that what takes place outside of the hotel impacts what occurs inside of the hotel. Regular meetings between government officials, tourism officials, and local managers can save time and lives, and it can reduce from what might have been a major incident into a minor one.   In today’s world security not only adds to the bottom line, it can be a major marketing tool.


-Have multiple plans in place prior to an event and not after the event.  In cases of crises, crisis management is essential, but tourism and travel officials need to ask themselves if the crisis might have been lessened in its severity or even avoided if they had had good proactive risk management plans.  Crises come in all sorts of sizes.  A terrorism attack is a crisis on a large scale, but there are a million small inconveniences that government regulators have imposed on tourism that have created a sense of continual mini-crises.  When tourists need to factor terrorism hassles into their travel plans, many people may choose other methods of communication, leaving the industry in a business crisis. The bottom line is that many small personal crises may produce large industry crises.

-In an age of insecurity tourism officials must make sure that their security agents are not only well trained in every aspect of security including the customs and cultural habits of their customers, but also well paid.  For example, some cultures tend to be more trusting than others and different cultures may have distinct patterns for what is acceptable or not for female guests. It is essential that tourism management develop security patterns that meet not only the local environment but also meet the cultural needs of their guests. In a business climate as unstable as the current one, it is essential that security personnel be the best, that they receive regular news updates, and be able to act not only quickly, but in a caring and professional manner with travelers.  It does no good to have people well trained and then leave the field because of low pay.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A special reminder: The XXIV International Las Vegas Tourism Security and Safety Conference is June 12-14.  To register please visit: www.touristsafety.org

Share

Logo from Tourism & More, Inc.

From Tourism & More, Inc.

May 2017

We only have to see photos of people praying in Mecca, visiting the Vatican, washing in the Ganges, or attending a religious festival at the Western Wall in Jerusalem to know that both religion and religious pilgrimages play a major role in tourism.  Religious tourism even bleeds into the world of “secular faith” as proven by the millions of people each year who make a “pilgrimage” to places such as Washington, DC or treat their favorite football team almost as if it were a religious icon

People in the world of tourism should not be surprised by this phenomenon.  Faith based visitations speak directly to the emotions and tourism is all about the “experience” of being there. Although we do not like to think of religion as being connected to business, the reality is that religion is a major business and with a great deal impact for on the tourism industry.  In fact, there is much that tourism professionals can learn from the world of religion and how religion speaks to the very soul of its adherents.

One of the oldest forms of tourism is religious or faith based tourism.  The Bible speaks of ascending to Jerusalem at least three times a years for each of the Biblical harvest festivals.  Likewise the Islamic world is famous for the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca. Other cities around the world have developed religious tourism.  People from around the world visit locations such as:  Fatima in Portugal, and Lourdes in France.

Although there are many differences between travel by the faithful to a religious site and a theme park, interestingly enough there are also many parallels between what would appear to be two very different venues.  For example, in modern (and from what we can learn from ancient texts, also in the ancient world) both religious sites and theme parks produce secondary industries.  We only have to visit Rome or Jerusalem to see hundreds of people selling religious souvenirs.  Just as in the days of the Bible, the lodging industry is impacted by religious tourism and in many places lodging grows around a particular pilgrimage site.  Just as in the world of tourism, religious tourism is aimed at a particular audience, in this case, the believer, whose faith turns what might be for a non-believer the secular into the sacred.

Visiting a religious site is an exercise in emotion rather than cognition.  The site may not be beautiful or grandiose but in the eye of the believer such a site is both spiritual and memorable. Religious or faith-based tourism, however, is not only about pilgrimages. Faith based travel may take place for life cycle events, for missionary work, for reasons of humanitarian interest and/or as part of religious conventions and conclaves.

Religious tourism is big business.  It is estimated that in the US alone some 25% of the traveling public is interested in faith-based tourism. When one adds to this the number of people who travel for faith-based conventions, and faith based activities such as weddings, bar mitzvahs or funerals, the number become extraordinarily large. World Religious Travel is one of the fastest growing segments in travel today. Religious travel is estimated at a value of US$18 billion and 300 million travelers strong.  Religious tourism sites bring in considerable revenue.

To help you deal with this growing travel trend.  Here are some essentials to help the busy travel and tourism professional.

 

  • While a recent study tourism does not have to be built around a pilgrimage site. There is no doubt that it helps to have a major religious center, such as Jerusalem, Mecca, or Rome most locales will never have such holy sites.  Lack of a religious center does not mean however that a location cannot develop faith-based tourism.  Florida has created its own Bible land, and multiple cities around the world have found ways to incorporate religious holidays into their tourism product.

 

  • A locale does not need to have a major religious site to be part of religious tourism. Religious tourism is anything that touches the visitor’s soul.  Take an inventory of your local houses of worship and you may discover that they contain not only great items of beauty but are the holders of personal histories and culture.  In a world where people seek both personal genealogies and an understanding of who they are, both local houses of worship and cemeteries may provide a whole new travel experience, that adds not only to your community’s bottom line but provides in-depth experiences.

 

  • Take care of the physical appearance and condition of your religious sites. Emphasis on maintaining sustained tourism with minimal corrosive impact on old and sacred structures and places of worship is imperative. Religion has an enormous sentimental value. The devotees and tourist having a thirst for holy voyages would certainly love to see their religious destination and places of worship well preserved touching the acceptable standards of cleanliness and existence of infrastructural support.

 

  • Religious travel is often less prone to economic ups and downs in the market place. Religious travelers also tend to panic less during periods of political turbulence.  Because faith-based travelers are committed travelers they tend to save for these religious experiences and travel despite the state of the economy or political challenges.

 

  • Faith travelers tend to have different motives for travel then do travelers for other reasons and tend to fear less. For example, faith-based travelers often travel as part of a religious obligation or to fulfill a spiritual mission.  Because faith base travelers tend to be more steadfast in their desire to fulfill what they see as a commitment they can provide a steady flow of income to a local tourism economy.

 

  • The religious and faith-based market have the advantage of appealing to people from around the world, of all ages and of all nationalities. Tourism and travel professionals should be aware that this market might well double by the year 2020.  To add to this number many faith-based travelers prefer to travel in groups rather than as individuals.

 

  • Be Religiously aware!  This means that tourism professionals should consider everything from the types of food served, types of music played to when local activities take place.  As in other forms of tourism it is essential to know the market. For example, airlines that do not offer vegetarian meals may lose a portion of the faith-based market whose religion has specific food restrictions.

 

  • Connect your local secondary industries with your faith-based tourism.  All too often the spirituality that visitors seek is lost at the level of supporting industries.  During faith based tourism periods it is essential that hotels and restaurants connect with the arts and cultural communities to develop an overall faith based product rather than a mishmash of unrelated offerings.
Share

Logo from Tourism & More, Inc.

 

 

 

As of the writing of this article, Europe continues to have multiple terrorism attacks.  Tourism & More sends its prayers to all those who are victims of terrorism

No matter in what area of tourism you may be, the simple fact is that tourism is a customer-oriented business.  Without customer service, not only your marketing will eventually fail, but also the business’ viability will be in question. Good service is to tourism what oxygen is to the body. It is the lifeblood of how the industry works.Providing good customer service is often a challenge. Tourism, Many of the frontline positions tend to receive only entry-level pay. The hours are long and neither the financial nor social-psychological awards are great.   Often customers take out their frustration on these very people, even when the frontline person can do nothing or has no decision-making authority.  Thus, the people who often have the least amount of authority are often the most abused and at times most frustrated.

One of the results of these problems is that often frontline positions have a high rate of tur  The lack of training then results in poorer customer service that produces a downward spiral.

Often employers present customer service skills as a necessary part of the job or something that employees simply have to do.  Additionally, and all too often, frontline personnel in tourism are not treated as professionals and this lack of professionalism is then reflected in their attitude toward our customers.

The French have a saying: “Tout c’est dans la presentation/everything depends on how you market it”.  That statement also holds true for customer service. If we present the training as merely customer service, that often produces a “so what” attitude.  If, on the other hand, we present the same training as “life skill enhancement” then the value of what we teach goes far beyond that of a frontline tourism professional.

Change for-the-job training to life skills and we may succeed in changing the attitude of some of our more problematic employees.   When we present this training as a professionalization process used to empower our frontline personnel to make decisions that impacts the way a guest is treated, we are on the road not only to better customer service but also to happier employees.  To help you implement these attitudinal changes Tourism Tidbits suggests considering some of the following principles:

 

– Remind our frontline personnel that in life just as in tourism the key to winning over difficult people is to exhibit: Empathy, coupled with patience. Most people in life can accept that things do go wrong, but what they cannot accept is an attitude that states: “I could care less.” Hospitality is based on caring.  Work with your personnel to exhibit a healthy questioning attitude.  When we involve ourselves in the other person’s problems, we turn anger into an experience and we become our customer’s host rather than a mere employee.  Be careful not to confuse empathy with sympathy. Good customer service is always empathetic but never sympathetic.  In a like manner remember that visitors are in a new environment and often feel lost. Patience and the ability to state the same fact two or three times is a life skill that goes a long way toward personal success.

– Teach Crises come about when we have a tourism breakdown and we refuse to adapt to a new situation. Things do happen, planes arrive late, hotel rooms may not be ready, food may be served too cold or too hot.  Learning how to adapt to new situations is essential not only in tourism but also in life.  This need for adaptability means that have to allow our frontline people to make rapid decisions.  Chains of command rarely work in life and almost never in tourism.

– Just as in life remind your front line personnel that every customer is different and almost every situation is unique.  Often in life we become jaded and take the position that we have heard it all before.  In tourism, as is the case in most things in life, people want to be taken seriously, want to be heard and want to believe that their case is being handled in a unique and special format.   That means that we must learn to listen attentively and be sure that the other person understands that we are hearing their issue.  Remember that hearing an issue does not mean agreeing with it, but it does mean that we recognize the emotions of the other person.

– Communicate in a clear and calm manner.  Often problems arise when we do not say what we mean.  Avoid pronouns.  Make sure that you use clear and precise language.  Try to stay on topic and do not allow telephone calls to interfere with your problem solving.  It is essential to remind frontline people that most customers want a problem solved quickly and efficiently. They are not seeking friendships but rather solutions. In today’s world of hypersensitivity use words carefully and a joke can easily be perceived as an insult.

– Be Knowledge. One of the worst things that a frontline employee can do is provide false information.  A good rule of life is if you do not have an answer, do not create an answer just so that you can look smart of efficient.  On the other side of the equation, it is essential for management to provide frontline personnel with as much up-to-date and accurate information as possible.

All of us need to have a thicker skin and remember that a job is only a job.  In tourism as in life all of us will need to confront situations outside of our control (remember with the exception of natural complainers, that our guests are speaking to us because they have had a terrible day). This is where empathy comes into play and we remember that we have the power to turn someone’s awful day into a wonderful day.

 

 

Share

Photograph by Josh Haner

In the Pearl River Delta, breakneck development is colliding with the effects of climate change.

GUANGZHOU, China — The rains brought torrents, pouring into basements and malls, the water swiftly rising a foot and a half.

The city of Dongguan, a manufacturing center here in the world’s most dynamic industrial region, was hit especially hard by the downpour in May 2014. More than 100 factories and shops were inundated. Water climbed knee-high in 20 minutes, wiping out inventory for dozens of businesses.

Next door in Guangzhou, an ancient, mammoth port city of 13 million, helicopters and a fleet of 80 boats had to be sent to rescue trapped residents. Tens of thousands lost their homes, and 53 square miles of nearby farmland were ruined. The cost of repairs topped $100 million.

Chen Rongbo, who lived in the city, saw the flood coming. He tried to scramble to safety on the second floor of his house, carrying his 6-year-old granddaughter. He slipped. The flood swept both of them away.

Flooding has been a plague for centuries in southern China’s Pearl River Delta. So even the rains that May, the worst in the area in years, soon drifted from the headlines. People complained and made jokes on social media about wading through streets that had become canals and riding on half-submerged buses through lakes that used to be streets. But there was no official hand-wringing about what caused the floods or how climate change might bring more extreme storms and make the problems worse.

Read the full article about the threat of rising waters for Chinese cities here.

By  from The New York Times

Share

White rhinos graze on a ranch belonging to John Hume, one of the rhino farmers who sued to overturn South Africa’s ban on the domestic sales of rhino horn. PHOTOGRAPH BY WALDO SWIEGERS, BLOOMBERG/GETTY

 

It will soon be legal to buy and sell rhino horn within South Africa. The country’s constitutional court dismissed an application to appeal from the government to keep a ban on the trade in place, the South African government confirms.

This ends a lengthy legal battle that pitted rhino owners, who farm rhinos like livestock and want to be able to sell their reserves of rhino horn once again, against the government’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), which placed a moratorium on the trade in 2009 after a jump in poaching. Lower courts have sided with the rhino farmers, but the ban remained in place as the government’s appeal worked through the courts. Knowing that it may lose, the government began preparing for legalization earlier this year by issuing new draft regulations to govern the trade. They say that anyone with a permit will be able to buy and sell rhino horns and that foreigners will be allowed to export a maximum of two horns for “personal purposes.”

Read more on the legislation of rhino horn here.

By

 

 

Share

As predicted earlier, the buzzword “du jour” in tourism is fast becoming transformation. Its predecessor, sustainability, has through over and mis-use become meaningless and ineffective lacking the capacity to lift hearts, inspire hope and, ironically, sustain action. I am delighted but also very concerned.. Here’s why.

New buzzwords are favoured by a sector that, by its very nature, has to focus on quick fixes to short-term problems and thrives on novelty. Tourism is a phenomenon run by marketers and there is a good reason for that. Its suppliers sell dreams and fulfill fantasies. The customer cannot experience the “product” prior to its consumption. Hosts must defy gravity and inertia to lift their customers from their armchairs to a place far from home by stimulating desire and imagination. Hosts must paint pictures that trigger a desire strong enough to generate a “click,” then a booking and sustain interest and enthusiasm through the rigours and unpleasantries of passage to the source of the anticipated experience.

In my forty-four year career, I have observed first-hand how marketers have progressed from one promise to another as their customers became more sophisticated in their needs and demands. While I like to look forward, sometimes an understanding of context and history can be helpful.

Read the full article here.

 

By Anna Pollock from Conscious Travel

Share

Sustainability in tourism isn’t just about re-using that hotel towel a second day. It’s thinking deeply about how visitors get in and out of a destination while doing the least harm.

— Jason Clampet

With 2017 being the United Nations’ International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, now is as good a time as ever to take stock of the opportunities and challenges faced by tourism providers trying to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.

While tourism is important to many local and national economies, overcrowding is changing the perception of the benefits of mass tourism. Spain is a prime example of a country struggling with its popularity.

Barcelona’s relationship with tourism has been shaky for a number of years now. Already in 2014, the documentary “Bye Bye Barcelona” highlighted the negative impact of mass tourism on the city. Locals fear that they will be priced out of the housing market, eventually resulting in Barcelona losing population diversity and character. The local government has stopped issuing licences for new hotels and has banned change-of-use permits required for holiday lets.

And Barcelona is not alone. As of 2017, Santorini is limiting the number of cruise visitors to 8,000 per day. Local activists in Venice have asked government to ban cruise ships stopping in its harbour, as cruise visitors have quintupled in the past 15 years. Cinque Terre on the Italian coast is capping the number of visitors to 1.5 million per year. Popular attractions including Machu Picchu and Mount Everest are capping the number of visitors and require visitors to be accompanied by a recognised guide, and Zion National Park is looking at proposals to limit visitors through a reservation system.

Capping tourists is a drastic measure, and surely not something destinations would like to do. It is often seen as a last resort, and the fact that more and more tourist destinations see no other way to remain sustainable and competitive is telling of the apparent failure of other initiatives.

 

Read more here.

By Wouter Geerts, Euromonitor from Skift

 

Share

 

Severe bleaching last year on the northern Great Barrier Reef affected even the largest and oldest corals, like this slow-growing Porites colony.
TERRY HUGHES ET AL. / NATURE

SYDNEY, Australia — The Great Barrier Reef in Australia has long been one of the world’s most magnificent natural wonders, so enormous it can be seen from space, so beautiful it can move visitors to tears.

But the reef, and the profusion of sea creatures living near it, are in profound trouble.

Huge sections of the Great Barrier Reef, stretching across hundreds of miles of its most pristine northern sector, were recently found to be dead, killed last year by overheated seawater. More southerly sections around the middle of the reef that barely escaped then are bleaching now, a potential precursor to another die-off that could rob some of the reef’s most visited areas of color and life. Read more here.

From The New York Times. By Damien Cave and Justin Gillis.

Share