Grow Up

Tourism is a relatively young industry – having grown from a few hundred million international passengers a year to over 1.2 billion over a period of 60 years.  If tourism were a person and the general economy a family, then tourism could be likened to an adolescence.

As adolescents we want recognition for our emerging identity; we want freedom but we also still want to borrow the family car for a Saturday night out. Throughout its growth, tourism leaders – be they heads of multi-national private sector or government associations; Ministers or executives of trade associations – have been complaining that tourism is not recognized, taxed unfairly and embedded in too much red tape. At the same time, hundreds of millions are spent by governments from the municipal to national global levels on tourism marketing and, occasionally, on infrastructure improvements that make a tourism economy possible.

A sign of personal maturity occurs when the individual starts to recognize that he or she is part of a family and that with rights comes responsibility. There is an awareness that it’s not just about me or I but “we” and that instead of asking what the family can do for me, I should be asking what can I do for the family.  So for tourism to be considered mature, it needs to ask the same question posed by President Kennedy

In this context, the notion of  “growing up”  has three aspects:

  1. Accepting responsibility as a sector and as individual enterprises for contributing to the whole.
    In short, shifting from an obsession with “what’s in it for me?” but “how can I help us? ”  Conscious Travel is about helping the 99% of the tourism community – all the operators of the small businesses that contribute to a visitor’s experience of a place — to wake up and assume responsibility for their own destiny and for contributing to the community in which they live and work.Part of this growing up involves “owning up” to aspects of our industry that haven’t worked; have caused harm; need improvement or discarding. Denial of past mistakes can keep us locked into the same frame of mind that created the problem in the first place.
  2. Operating from a “growth” mindset not in the sense of simply getting bigger but, as is evident in the evolution of all life forms, the development of ever more unity, complexity, beauty, and freedom i.e. of becoming better.
  3. Recognizing, embracing and expressing our unique role, purpose and contribution as a “sector”  in helping humanity also evolve and develop in ways that ensure all life flourishes.

In business speak, Conscious Travel is ultimately about sustaining peak performance – becoming all we can be as individuals; being effective, efficient, inspiring and fulfilling as enterprises, and flourishing as communities. By focusing on these growth goals, tourism can deliver the net benefits it has been promising for so long.

But this is not as easy as it sounds. That’s why it forms the core of our learning journey. It requires changing the way we see the world first; then taking a long hard look at our cherished values and assumptions and determining whether they will apply in the future (re-calibrating our perspective and purpose) prior to shaping the actions that will best suit us to fit in a different environment.


The Growing Up phase of the journey, and the longest, requires examining all the potential pathways that can be used to reach your goal and experimenting with ways in which they can work together to produce even better results. These pathways form the points on the COMPASS that each traveller uses to navigate and stimulate fresh thinking. Check out the compass now or after you have considered the last stage.

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