Could Glocal Tourism be the key to a tourism industry that benefits small communities over big business?
Mark Bibby Jackson thinks so...

The fast track vaccination programmes rolling out across many countries indicate that the tail-end of 2021 will see a resurgence of international travel, albeit one that may require some form of vaccine passport.

The question is what course that recovery of international travel will take. While there is a clear suggestion that many travellers are just waiting for the green  light so they can recommence budget holidays on the continent, via Ryanair, EasyJet and the like, many are choosing a different route to the norm.

A new report by Euromonitor International, ‘Top Countries for Sustainable Tourism’ revealed that just over two thirds of consumers globally “want to have a positive impact on the environment through their daily actions in 2021”

The report takes into account a number of factors, including environmental, social and economic sustainability, in addition to the demand for sustainable tourism. 

However, “only 55% of travel businesses implemented some form of sustainability strategy,”

continued the report. This compares with 70% of companies within the consumer packaged goods (CPG) sector, for example. 

There appears to be a clear dichotomy between the types of responsible travel experiences that many tourists want and those actually being offered by many travel providers. 

“Businesses need to resist chasing short-term volumes and focus on the long-term and value driven strategies for a sustainable recovery,” states the report. 

There appears to be a clear dichotomy between the types of responsible travel experiences that many tourists want and those actually being offered by many travel providers. 

“Businesses need to resist chasing short-term volumes and focus on the long-term and value driven strategies for a sustainable recovery,” states the report. 

Lagging behind Europe

Unfortunately, at least according to the data from Euromonitor, the UK is lagging behind many of its European neighbours in terms of sustainable tourism. 

Swedentops the Euromonitor list followed by Finland, Austria, Estonia and NorwayThe rest of the top 20 is dominated by European nations, until Bolivia which takes the 22nd spotThe UK is way behind in 40th place out of the 99 countries in the list. 

Glocal Tourism

At the moment staycations appear to remain very much in vogue, but once restrictions on international travel are relaxed, we can expect more and more people travelling again and many projections expect 2019 figures to be reached by 2022 or 2023. 

Data provided by the UNWTO has revealed that 58% of travellers are placing more importance on sustainable tourism that creates a positive impact on the travel destination, so wrote Ciaran Wark in an article for Travel Begins at 40 on sustainable local tourism initiatives. This, he explained, is what we call Glocal Tourism. 

Typically, such initiatives involve travellers booking tours run by local people that benefit local communities, helping tourist  money stay within the country and fostering a more sustainable tourism sector. 

It also enriches the customer experience. “You are much more likely to get something different and interesting through a local company than you are through a western brand,” Huw Owen, the co-founder of TravelLocal told Wark. 

Local Voices on a Glocal Scale

In the spirit of Glocal tourism, Travel Begins at 40 has started working with Atlantic Canada, the tourism authority that  promotes the provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, to bring our readers Atlantic Canada Voices.  

This is a series of articles showcasing local people working in these beautiful Canadian provinces, highlighting how they promote sustainable tourism and work with local communities, and how the tourist can participate.

It might still seem a little way ahead, but international travel will recommence and hopefully it will be in a much more locally-driven rather than profit-orientated direction than previously. Perhaps you’re thinking about your first trip now? This sparsely populated, naturally beautiful region of Canada can be reached in around five hours and has plenty of sustainable experiences, so if you’re looking for a destination to ease you into international travel, it could be just the ticket. 

Who knows, by 2022 tourism sector works to the benefit of the many rather than to the profits of the few on its way to becoming a mainstream concept. Now isn’t that something to really look forward to after this longest of all winters?  

About the Author

Mark Bibby Jackson is the founder of Travel Begins at 40, a website for people over 40 who want to travel responsibly and imaginatively.