A Higher Purpose
For a business to embed sustainability as flourishing in its strategy and operations requires a transformation of its workforce and of the many stakeholders outside the organisation. Everyone from top to bottom will need to develop the capacity to feel, see and act differently. This shift calls for the development of a broader perception, a greater sense of connectedness to the community and the rest of the world. It requires us to draw on wisdom that will lead to natural and automatic caring for others and for all life. Chris Laszlo
The great challenge of our time is to build and nurture sustainable communities – communities that are designed in such a way that their ways of life, business, economics, physical structures and technologies do not interfere with nature’s inherent ability to sustain life. The first step in this endeavour is to understand the principles of organisation that ecosystems have developed to sustain the web of life. This understanding is what we call ecological literacy. Fritjof Capra
Tourism needs an upgrade. An upgrade of purpose – from simply growing in size to becoming so much better in outcome.
The dominant model is now over sixty years old, and with continued expansion, is at risk of doing more harm than good.
While this model has been hugely successful in the past, there are now many signs that mass tourism is:
- producing diminishing returns for many hosts and communities;
- placing excessive pressure on scarce resources of land, water and energy;
- rarely taking full responsibility for managing, internalising or minimising waste, or preserving the environmental and cultural resources on which it depends.
- commoditising unique places into similar products; and
- viewing employees as resources or guests as targets to be exploited.
You could say that’s the “bad” news but it isn’t really. Tourism has delivered enormous benefits, has bought millions out of poverty and increased our understanding of each other. It just needs to adjust to existing on a very different planet – one that’s full and whose support systems are under stress.
The really “good” news is that we’re all capable of creating something better! A new version that goes way beyond simply “doing less harm” to one in which all life (human and otherwise) simply flourishes.
A tourism that, community by community, demonstrably:
- delivers better value for more people – especially for communities that hosts guests;
- supports all life and operates in harmony with nature;
- actively celebrates and nurtures the uniqueness of places and people
- enables all stakeholders to experience positive net benefit and develop their full potential as human beings; and
- creates meaningful and sustainable livelihoods for those people and enterprises on which it depends.
We’re living at one of the most exciting and scary times in human history. Our past activities have created conditions that necessitate a re-think as a human species. Our present crises are naturally forcing us to evolve either into a better version of ourselves or become extinct.
Tourism has an amazing opportunity to be a proactive part of that evolutionary leap – to help re-define what it means to be a flourishing human; to re-shape how we live, work and play on a planet in harmony with nature.
BUT – and yes, there is a big but, with three elements:
- First, we have to recognise the need to change.
- Second, we have to have courage to face a very different future and find the will to co-create it.
- Third, we have to let go of outdated thought patterns, assumptions and beliefs that are simply obsolete and very unhelpful.
No one is saying dealing with those “buts” is easy but the outcome could delight us all.
The world in which tourism operates today is infinitely more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous than it was when many of its current institutions, management structures, principles and practices were originally developed and tinkered with.
We’re going to need a very different set of leaders at every level and throughout every sub sector. Leaders who are able to make sense of their constantly changing world, to think systemically, lead transformational change, resolve conflicts, enable innovation and develop resilience – all qualities and characteristics associated with vertical learning and mindset transformation.
So that’s where Conscious Travel fits in. We take hosts on a metaphorical Learning Journey involving four stages (meet up, wake up, grow up and step up), and show them a variety of pathways and practices – modern and traditional – they can use to help them on their way. As each community is unique in terms of its geography, community composition, and aspirations, their learning journey will be unique and their destination will be different.
So come with us as we explain the various stages, pathways and practices..