“We’re in a golden age of travel where ordinary folk are having adventures older generations couldn’t even imagine,” he said.
“The travel industry has successfully sold dreams for some time, but now it’s time for a travel business to sell experiences more than dreams,” he suggested.
Tourists must be nudged out of their comfort zones and encouraged to eat in local restaurants and drink in local bars, he insisted.
“It’s all very well getting middle-class about it, [criticising] concrete blocks on the Costa del Sol.”
“Wanting a cheapo trip is a fair thing for people to want. But let’s move those holidaymakers towards a richer experience than just sitting by the pool. Memories last longer than a suntan.”
However, he told professionals at the Travel Foundation AGM that travel companies should not “beat themselves up” about the potential negative effects of tourism on a destination, and reminded them that, in terms of wildlife conservation at least, tourism can actually be very positive.
“Most of you love the places you send people to. I used to think tourism just had negative effects, but now I’ve realised tourists paying entrance fees at national parks is what helps protect them.”
He also urged travel companies to train and employ local people wherever possible, claiming “they are desperate to prove themselves and will benefit you in the long run”.