Tourism won’t be one of the industries hardest hit by Covid-19 – it will be the industry hardest hit. And we’re not all in it together.
Look at the headlines; commentary from environmentalists, analysts and company owners like me is important.
But what has been overwhelmingly absent is insight from local residents and small business staff.
I read articles delighting in the reduction of CO2 from flying, something we’ve campaigned on for more than a decade.
Yet I think of my friends in Kenya; the Maasai community is dependent on tourism and cattle. There’s no tourism, and the markets are closed. While we share philosophies, they’re wondering how to feed their families.
The most important views are the most overlooked. If we’re committed to building a more responsible future industry together, my first wish is that these views are given equal billing.
The recovery won’t be equal. Tourism in the developed north of the world is far better equipped to weather this storm than many of the poorer nations most dependent on it.
Predictably, some industry giants have thrust themselves to the front of the bailout queue. But the vast majority of tourism workers – reputedly one in 12 globally – work in small or micro businesses.
My second wish is that those most needing support get it from governments and industry.
The developed north relies on many less developed countries to deliver travel "product". Recovery here requires it there – we need to rebuild together.
In the desperate push to recover, the temptation will be to sideline climate action. But there’s reason to hope.
Recent decades have seen a hands-off approach to industry regulation – just look at aviation. But this crisis has precipitated, with public support, a firmer hand.
Should the same support exist on climate change, we may hope for more regulation and taxation of aviation, such as our proposed Green Flying Duty.
My third wish is that governments more firmly regulate tourism for the benefit of all: people, the planet and culture.
As recession, unemployment and poverty inevitably hit, the democratisation of travel will take an uncomfortable backward step.
My fourth wish is that we remember the immense value of the democratisation of travel – and redress imbalance where we can.
Where assets are underused during recovery, let’s use them for those most in need.
Many of us have experienced a renewed sense of community in the crisis.
It’s a connection people increasingly seek from their holiday experiences – in small groups, with local guides, and breaks designed in consultation with residents.
My fifth wish is that, as tourists, we retain this mindset by rewarding companies demonstrating care for local people, culture and environment throughout their operations, not just through token donations.
My final wish is that we treasure what tourism offers, and what it can be.
Done right, ours is a joyful and important industry – it deserves rebuilding with care.
A more responsible future tourism will be kinder to planet and people, more democratic and accessible.
To achieve that, we need everyone on board.