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From revenge tourism to repairability, the tourism industry is grappling with a host of challenges as well as possible solutions. | Photo by picjumbo.com from Pexels

December 28, 2021

With a brilliant display of fireworks, the year begins.

And in the blink of an eye, it comes to an end.

This year — like every year — has been infused with tragedy and trauma as well as celebration and success. 

As each day passes, it becomes increasingly clear that we live in a world woven with challenges much bigger than any single one of us. And yet, we each remain intimately connected within this larger global ecosystem. It is, indeed, a complicated world we live in.

I love the start of a new year. For me, it’s a chance to reflect on the past, brush off the dust that’s collected throughout the past year, and step fully into a new moment. I am not blissfully ignorant; I know that turning the page on the rhetorical calendar does not mean we get to hit the “reset” button on reality. But I do think it’s an opportunity to rekindle those deep-seated feelings of hope and optimism that can serve as catalysts for creating a better future for everyone.

If you find yourself with some spare time this holiday season, I invite you to catch up on some reading while considering our challenges, contemplating our present moment, and stepping boldly toward solutions. These hand-picked favorites were shared over the course of 2021 in the biweekly Rooted newsletter

Facing the Challenges

Tourism’s Pain Points Can Be (Partially) Resolved with Better Storytelling (Rooted) - “The value you offer is related to the positive impact you have on people and the planet. It is related to the businesses and social impact initiatives you support through your work, the citizen science projects travelers participate in, the conversations they have along the way, and the story your travelers walk away with as a result of shaping their travel experience with you.”

Fruits of the Desert (Earth Island Journal) - “The arrival of tourism brought the town a new lifestyle with some benefits: easy money, a growing economy, and a variety of products not easily available here before. But this shift in the base of the economy consequently distanced the inhabitants of the town from their ancestral and agricultural knowledge.”

Don’t Tell Me to Despair About the Climate: Hope Is a Right We Must Protect (Yes! Magazine) - “The suggestion that a person must either be miserable or ignorant, that we must either accept the weight of the world or turn our backs to it, not only lacks nuance but actively contributes to the suffering its proponents claim to want to address.”

Revenge Tourism is Coming. Is the Tourism Industry Ready? (Rooted) - “This magical moment we’re holding in our hands? It is the catastrophic combination of anger, frustration, misinformation, accumulated vacation time, expendable income, and a sense of entitlement and privilege.”

Shipping and Aviation Plan to Go Net Zero. How? (Green Biz) - “We don’t yet have all the details of the technologies that will be used — but neither do these industries.”

The Lost History of Yellowstone (Smithsonian Magazine) - “In the last three decades, the National Park Service has made substantial efforts to research and explain the Native American history and prehistory of Yellowstone, but the virgin-wilderness myth is still promoted in the brochure that every visitor receives at the park entrance: ‘When you watch animals in Yellowstone, you glimpse the world as it was before humans.’”

What We Risk When We Rush Back To Travel (Rooted) - “The idea that tourism ‘need(s) us’ is the epitome of privilege, and it’s a story the tourism industry is perpetuating. The WTTC seems to indicate that putting a few international safety protocols in place can save the tourism industry, but what it’s really saying is that travelers are the saviors.”

Tourism Fiji’s Shameless New Campaign Is a Reminder for Marketers Everywhere (Skift) - “Granted, two years of no tourism is a harsh economic blow for tourism-dependent Fiji, and travelers — particularly Aussies, Kiwis, Americans and the British — are desperate for tropical scenery and pampering after suffering some of the world’s longest lockdowns. But must tourism leap centuries backwards to its colonial roots to lure the high spending visitor back?”

Keep Out...Come Again (Earth Island Journal) - “In the two decades since it was formed, the park has displaced over 300 people from their land, disrupted the traditional livelihoods of several thousand more, and forced yet more into dependence on a risky (eco)tourism industry run in large part by outside ‘experts.’”

Making Sense of the Present

The Most Important Thing About Regenerative Tourism is That It’s Not About Tourism (Rooted) - “Yet, what we continue to emphasize in our conversation about regenerative tourism is how tourism can be developed in destinations to create experiences and conditions that are regenerative rather than seeking out and supporting those aspects of regeneration that already exist.”

Community-Led Design of Public Spaces Could Have 'Ripple Effect' in COVID Recovery: Report (Smart Cities Dive) - “Lilly Weinberg, senior director of community and national initiatives at the Knight Foundation, said community-driven design can also touch long-standing urban issues like displacement and gentrification, while the best examples were able to adapt to the pandemic and the need to alter usage habits.”

Why Local Legends About Birds Matter (BBC Future) - “One effort to preserve her native tongue, and with it the Yaghan perspective on the natural world, is the curation of Calderon's traditional stories about birds, which offer a glimpse into a very different way of living.”

What Do We Mean When We Say “Local?” (Rooted) - “Just as no single person represents an entire population of people who share a particular characteristic, the temptation to label an entire host community as a single entity strips people and places of their widely diverse histories, needs, desires, and expectations.”

For Africa’s Great Apes, a Post-Pandemic Future Looks Beyond Tourism (Mongabay) - “The silver bullet of a conservation business or sustainable revenue stream that can match the revenue and land protection reach of tourism without relying on international travelers remains elusive.”

4 Things We Can Learn from Indigenous Wisdom (Green Biz) - “In order to restore balance in our environment, we must first listen to the natural world — and to those who know it best.”

The Misguided Regeneration Debate and How Travel Can Actually Support the SDGs (Rooted) - “If tourism is to be community-focused, then it needs to take a more active role in supporting what already exists at the community level to support sustainable development — adding value to these destinations.”

Why Businesses Must Mind Waste as a Measure of Sustainable Success (B The Change) - “To motivate companies to rethink their business model, they need to synthesize the three bottom lines into a single bottom line that links profits with the environment.”

How Tourism Can Better Invest in Women as it Rebuilds (Uncornered Market) - “This inclusiveness promises not only to strengthen the sector and make it more resilient, but it will also help construct deeper and more transformative travel experiences for travelers.”

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Embracing Solutions

Why France’s New ‘Repairability Index’ is a Big Deal (Grist) - “Repair advocates say that the index will serve as a litmus test for other nations weighing similar regulations, help consumers make better choices, and hopefully incentivize companies to manufacture more repairable devices.”

Collaboration Between Travel Service Providers and Content Creators is More Critical Than Ever (Rooted) - “More importantly, travel content creators — from editors at popular print publications to Instagram influencers — need to be invited into collaborations and conversations about strategically building back better.”

Researchers Devise a Scheme to Treat Carbon Debt Like Financial Debt (Anthropocene) - “This system ensures that banks and governments aren’t left holding the bag if emitting companies go belly-up or decide not to follow through on removal, and also avoids saddling future generations with the burden of our climate debt, the researchers say.”

The Internet’s Favorite Catalog of Weird Places Rewrites History (New York Times) - “Though few in the travel media have taken on re-editing of their product like Atlas Obscura, they’re also trying to adapt to a changed political situation, seeking to find nonwhite writers who live in the places they write about, or to have more diverse American writers tell the stories of destinations.”

What Would a Fly-Less Future for Tourism Look Like? (Rooted) - “So now that the industry has been stripped down to its bare vulnerabilities, it’s time to honestly ask this question: In a world where the climate emergency must be considered, what is the tourism industry going to do about flying?”

Destinations Limit Visitors, Define Ideal Travelers to Mitigate Overtourism (Sustainable Brands) - “A destination where local residents can walk through their neighborhood without being overwhelmed by visitors, priced out by inflation, or disgusted by traveler behavior is a place where locals enjoy living and are happy to welcome travelers back as a meaningful part of the community’s ecosystem.”

All Together Now: Innovative Collaboration Ideas and Examples for the Tourism Industry (Rooted) - “Tapping into others’ strengths, taking advantage of joint experience and knowledge, and working through challenges beyond an internal team can surface new ideas and position all collaborating partners in a better place than if they’d ventured out alone.”

The Cities Trailblazing Transit Service into the Wilderness (Reasons to be Cheerful) - “In whisking hikers from busy downtown streets and light rail stations out to hundreds of miles of backcountry trails, Trailhead Direct represents what outdoor recreation groups and transit planners alike believe will be increasingly necessary in years to come: an alternative to driving for people who want to spend some time in nature.”

4 Ways to Promote Domestic Tourism + Destinations Leading the Way (Rooted) - “If the domestic tourism trend is here to stay, it’s time for destinations to rethink their long-term domestic tourism marketing strategies.”


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