3 September 2015: CEO Blog – By the time you have read this article I will have added Slovenia to my list of countries visited. This will be my 66th country visited towards my goal of 100+.
One of my greatest pleasures when travelling is to visit heritage and cultural sites. Even when I travel for business to a new destination, I always try my best to squeeze in some time to go explore and find little treasures that will create ever-lasting memories in my mind.
I find myself very fortunate for all the wonders that I have seen and hope that my children and future generations will be as privileged as I have been. This is why every time I read about a heritage site being destroyed by radicals, a force of nature, or voluntarily by governments or the private sector to create space for modern structures, it deeply saddens me. I believe we all have a duty to protect and preserve our heritage so that our past can be remembered and shared with the world.
To the developing countries that have colonial heritage sites and to those who have ancient towns or relics, I pray that you take the necessary steps to preserve what travellers may have not yet seen or enjoyed. I pray you recognise the value of these historical assets that your ancestors have left. I pray that you have the wisdom to see that these may offer you an opportunity to build a tourism economy that would sustain communities and preserve peace.
To those who purposely destroy our heritage for financial gain, hate or any other reasons, I have pity on you for not recognising how much you are hurting your country and communities.
I have an old picture book representing English colonial “Maison Bourgeoise” from my hometown of Montreal that I cherish very much. The book features houses that were for most part destroyed to make space for shopping malls and office towers. I know that many fellow residents of Montreal now regret not having preserved them. They now realise that they could have converted them into museums, hotels, restaurants, luxury shops, etc., which would have helped increase the attractiveness of the city and increase tourism.
There are many destinations around the world that have experienced the same thing and so many that are currently facing the very same dilemma. I hope that governments and private sector organisations involved in tourism recognise the historical assets they hold and that together they are able to protect them for future generations to enjoy.
We at PATA are prepared to help in any way we can and offer the full backing of the organisation where and when necessary.
Let us preserve our past and ensure that dusty picture books do not become the only memory we leave to our future generations.
Till next time,
Chief Executive Officer
Pacific Asia Travel Association