In December, Margaret Keenan become the first person in the world to be given the Pfizer Covid-19 jab as part of a mass vaccination programme.
This historic development was a huge boost to those of us working in travel and tourism, with tour operators seeing lifts in holiday searches and travel agents seeing a welcome rise in bookings.
But, as we look to January and share hopes for a more promising future, we need to consider how travel post-vaccine can be a greener, smarter and less crowded affair.
For me, in a post-vaccine world, the new frontier is “regenerative travel”.
As we start moving again in 2021, regenerative travel is something we should all be thinking about. I urge everybody reading this to leverage this unique moment in time, together pressing the reset button and changing travel for the better – for good.
Ultimately, we all need to become more mindful of the fact that our holidays have a set of costs associated with them, which need to be paid by somebody. Moving forward, let us make our future travel choices more conscientious than before.
For so long, tourism success has been defined by growing the numbers – number of visitors, number of pounds spent, number of overnight stays booked...
Even before this pandemic, there was a need for rebalancing.
In my mind, we should not be measuring success in solely economic terms, but against the wellbeing of the world, considering nature, happiness and community.
Having a truly regenerative travel experience may be something for us to aspire towards, but some destinations have been on this path for a long time.
African countries, particularly those that depend on wildlife-based tourism, have long practised the principles of regenerative travel, advocating for a conscious, connected humanity.
On one of my many trips to the continent, I learnt about Gamewatchers Safaris – an exceptional example of how a travel company can strive to ensure that the principles of regenerative travel are built in to maximise the benefits of tourism.
They are committed to helping preserve Africa’s cherished wildlife and landscapes through ventures that also benefit the surrounding communities.
And it’s not just Africa that exemplifies the thinking behind regenerative travel.
In Puerto Rico, regenerative travel is in the island’s DNA. Puerto Rico has long recognised the importance of working hand in hand with locals to grow tourism in a meaningful manner, ensuring that communities flourish as a result.
One of my favourite examples is Local Guest, a truly amazing, women-powered social enterprise and tour company, which offers a variety of adventure-focused travel experiences - from caving to kayaking.
We need to reflect on 2020 and rethink our mission, repositioning from growing travel for the sake of the economy to creating an economy of meaning.
During this pandemic, many of us have discovered the joys of supporting local businesses — perhaps, we need to take this thinking with us on holiday.
Amanda Hills is president of MMGY Hills Balfour