As I end the second year of my 3-year term as PATA CEO, I just wanted to take a few moments to reflect on the past year and what a crazy year it has been! I could summarise the past 12 months in just a few words: migrant crisis, terrorism, changes in political landscape, natural disasters, the passing of a great King, Brexit, talks of walls and the shocking results of an election. Despite of it all and the uncertain future the world will be facing, the travel industry remains resilient as we are still seeing steady growth in our sector.
However when I hear talk of building walls rather than bridges, the closing of borders or that borders are now managed by generals, the return of more stringent visa policies and that climate change is hoax, I worry! I worry for my children, I worry that our world has forgotten about the past, I worry that it isn’t focused on building a better future for itself!
But I have hope, when I see a country measuring its success based on the happiness of its people, another building a future to be totally reliant on sustainable energy, heads of large corporations focusing on long term sustainable growth and not on quarterly profit or our youth building businesses that are inclusive and involving local communities. I have hope when I read about a King who has inspired a nation and taught its people about the need for a sufficient economy. I have hope when an industry unites to make our world a better place to live.
I have travelled to 83 countries and made it a point to engage with local communities in every country I have visited and for that I am thankful, as it has made me a better person. I believe that if every traveller makes an effort to engage with locals, embed themselves within the culture of the country they are visiting, then the 1.2 billion tourists roaming the world could all become ambassadors for peace.
As we enter 2017, I invite you all to join me in creating a better world together and build a sustainable future for our youth and future generations.
I wish you all a Happy Holiday season.