We don’t mean to toot our own horn, but day three of our first-ever virtual Travel DAZE had a pretty stellar line-up.
In between an inspiring chat with Accor’s CEO Sébastien Bazin and Tourism New Zealand’s René de Monchy and Air New Zealand’s Kathryn Robertson chatting all things trans-Tasman travel, we heard from Peru’s trade commissioner to Australia Mario Vargas and Intrepid’s managing director for APAC, Sarah Clark.
Vargas and Clark tackled how destinations can maintain a focus on sustainable tourism in the midst of a global pandemic.
As news of border closures and reopenings, case numbers and test rates dominates headlines, sustainability seems to have taken a backseat as far as travel and tourism are concerned.
However, as the marketing and promotion director for the Italian National Tourism Board, Maria Elena Rossi, said on Monday, the slow-down in tourism presents an opportunity to rebuild in a sustainable way.
“If anything, the pandemic has reinforced the need to continue to push for a sustainable future in the travel industry,” Clark said.
“It’s about rebuilding to ensure that we don’t have destinations that are overrun with overtourism and we really need to focus on that regional dispersion as well.”
Clark emphasised the importance of working alongside local operators and local tourism authorities to make sure a supplier’s practices are suitable for that specific destination. That’s why the company decided to invest in opening an office in Peru.
“By having that team on the ground, we’re in a good position to lobby and drive change as we see its needed,” she said.
“An example of that would be pioneering to reduce single-use plastics from the Inca Trail, which worked with other operators to drive that forward and it’s now a law so it’s great to see destinations like Peru taking this seriously.”
Vargas said that while sustainable tourism is still a developing concept in Peru, he believes the progress the destination has made will drive tourists to Peru.
“There is still a lot to do and improve in preserving our heritage in a sustainable way, but Machu Picchu will soon become the first tourism destination to be carbon neutral,” he said.
“Our priority is safety, but we want to start promoting Peru as an adventure destination for outdoor sports, cycling and trekking.
“We want to promote the nature, the culture and gastronomy that is important to Peru.”
Clark said Peru is a great option for travel agents to send clients to once international travel is back on the cards.
“A lot of what our customers have been saying over the last few months is that they really want to get out into nature and not necessarily be surrounded by thousands of people,” she said.
“I think that’s a perfect alignment with what Peru offers: that reconnection with local communities, trekking, rafting and so on.”
Clark is hopeful that by the time travel does go back to “normal”, the industry will have changed for the better.
“I think as an industry, what we do very well is work together and support each other,” she said.
“I imagine on the other side of this, as we start seeing customers move around the globe, we’ll see a lot of support for each other across the industry.
“Rebuilding the industry in a sustainable way is incredibly important for the future. Suppliers need to be using locally owned accommodation and local transport where possible and also marketing the whole of a country, to really spread that tourism dollar where it’s needed most.”
You can watch the Travel DAZE session featuring Vargas and Clark in full, on demand HERE.
And, there are still more speakers to come this week as part of Travel DAZE 2020. Check out when they will be featuring HERE.
Featured image: iStock/hadynyah