The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicts international tourism arrivals will surge to 1.8billion by the end of 2030.
Luxperience speaks with WTACH founder Chris Flynn and advisory board member Carolyn Childs about the new venture and why its work is so important.
Why is an association like WTACH necessary now?
Chris Flynn: With the continues explosion in global tourism arrivals, for that’s what it is, we see disturbing trends that need to be recognised, understood and acted upon. WTACH has been established to work with public and private sector organisations to develop clear Cultural Heritage Tourism (CHT) goals and principals that will serve to protect the unique cultures of the world by means of fostering and promoting practical guidelines that serve to guard against exploitation and unethical practices.
Carolyn Childs: We are seeing many destinations ‘loved to death’. At the same time, we are seeing that a narrow focus on visitor number growth and on solely economic outcomes is creating massive environmental and social impacts. Ultimately these threaten why tourists want to visit and undermine our social licence to operate in communities around the world.
How have changing travel trends had an impact?
CF: We can expect to see a massive spike in millennial and mature travellers, each of which has an increasing desire to experience authentic or real tourism experiences. Reports consistently state that more than 80% of millennial travellers seek to have a true authentic cultural experience. With literally hundreds of millions of millennials travelling over the next 10 years, just imagine the downward pressure that’s going to be felt by some of the world’s more fragile regions as they seek to find ever more remote places to visit. And the impact this will have – both positive and negative – on the local inhabitants. This fact seems to have slipped under the radar for most organisations and is the key reason why I felt compelled to establish WTACH.
How will Australia be impacted by rising levels of tourists?
CF: Over tourism and the impact is having the global CHT sector means Australia is not immune from feeling the stresses and strains of this growing problem. Already we are seeing issues at some of Australia’s most iconic tourist regions. But I firmly believe Australia is better placed than most destinations to combat this issue. To do this successfully, however, you need to have key stakeholder, government and local authority buy in. This approach allows you to determine issues before they arise and develop plans accordingly to ensure you manage growth accordingly.
CC: I think we are overall managing this quite well in Australia so far – we’ve focused on yield rather than numbers. But we can’t be complacent. We are going to have to ensure that we maintain that licence by investing in infrastructure, by intelligent place management and by policy initiatives. So the potential is just as good or bad as anywhere else, but I think so far we have time to learn those lessons.
We continue our discussion with Chris and Carolyn in next month’s issue.
PC: Tourism Australia