It’s interesting to hear the kind of language that we use to describe leaders. Today, we talk about visionaries. We talk about people who are inspiring, unlocking possibility.

And then we talk about “changemakers”.

The term ‘changemakers’ is something that’s come up in the past 10 years. It refers to people who are ultimately forces of change. They don’t just vision; they implement.  They shift the way we view the world and respond with urgency, careful planning and purpose. They focus on critical issues and/or ideas that ultimately are going to change the way in which our world functions, the way in which it connects, the way in which it grows. And ultimately the way in which it sustains itself.

Changemakers are leaders. Changemakers are disruptors. Changemakers are advocates. Changemakers are people that are all around us. This is what makes changemakers so unique. They can be anyone. They can be 18 years old and they can be 80 years old. Changemakers need no qualifications aside from courage, clear visibility,  bravery and ultimately humility.

The concept of changemakers has always been very interesting to me.. It’s not about them – it’s about the “can do spirit” and the impact they make. And we need them now more than ever.

In 2019, I saw that a new “Changemaker Award” replaced the “Tourism for Tomorrow” concept. So, my private foundation sponsored the WTTC Changemakers Award, in Seville Spain which was given in a ceremony after a keynote from Barack Obama, a visionary of change; who lauded what this travel industry has accomplished and will accomplish for people and planet.  Very inspirational.

The Changemakers Award was for activism in Illegal Wildlife Trade and 110 signatories of travel leaders signed on to that initiative for our industry.  Over 20 companies applied and we were to decide the One Winner among three finalists.   The qualifications were high:  the 17 UN Sustainability Goals had to measure effectiveness, in particular Goals #8, 12, 14 and 15; and vetted by third party auditors.  

A United States company, See Turtles, was the winner: the brainchild of Brad Nahill, who saw that 6 species of seaturtles were endangered, and could be saved by Sustainable Tourism.   As a young man from the West Coast, he began a non profit that now educates turtle communities from Central America, Mexico, Cuba, Galapagos and the Pacific Islands —  how  coastal communities can “sustain” their livlihoods by conserving these beautiful creatures rather than selling them.   He is banning souvenirs made from real tortoise shells and he is educating children everywhere. Through advocacy, outreach and “travels”  with volunteer tours – he has brought about change on a global scale. Way to go Brad …he never expected to be a Changemaker on the global stage, with President Obama and tourism leaders of airlines, cruiselines, hotel companies and destination management companies.  Every applicant was an inspiration; it was a special moment in my life – and with my daughter; to sponsor this recognition and help save over 1,100 endangered species, one story at a time.

How are you bringing about change – in your values and beliefs?  We can make the world a better place at home and through travel.  Unity everywhere is a force for good with the power to shift prejudice and preconceptions to unlock unity and compassion. To “care” together with local communities in so many places and do things differently, from the past.

I’ve been blessed to know changemakers in my family.  My grandfather, Arthur Tauck Sr., was a young immigrant in New York City who had a spark of an idea, and created the first road trip “tour” of New England and Canada on dirt roads in 1925.   He started the tourism industry in America; and he was just 23 years old.   He led that fun touring company, through the Great Depression and a grounding during World War II.   He never truly saw what he changed – and what this industry would be today. He was a young changemaker.

Three Generations of Taucks recognsied early on that it wasn’t just about inspiring business growth and going global in a changing world. It is about inspiring people to innovate and change, and to do that by connecting to other people in new ways; and to always respect and connect with local communities.  We are guests when we travel.

Now, a fourth generation of youth start to see that  along with our company leaders, our employees, our global partners and our multi-generational guests; together, we can be  changemakers – people who are wanting to go out and make a difference in the world by inspiring change by being better citizens, better travelers, better conservationists. Ultimately, by being better people.  “Global Citizenry” and all that entails in good governance as critical as any other measure of long-term business success.  

And now in 2020, as we look at a world beyond COVID-19, we recognise changemakers as people who recognize that this year has been one that has forced us all to change, not just how we live, but how we look at our lives. And within that, how we look at future travel.  I see Innovation and Changemakers everywhere.   I see our biggest Associations using “Sustainability” as core strategies, united together in assuring travel Builds Forward Better.  

I’m excited about the future. I’m excited about what our post COVID-19 world will inspire in terms of change in how we live as individuals, and together. How we will share with people from other countries, all suffering  from a pandemic today, but uniting in global vaccines and hoping for a better tomorrow.  I’m inspired by what this means for travel.

And most importantly, I’m inspired by what this means for travellers who seek to go out and discover the world in a way, in smaller groups, with more care for health and wellness of everyone.  With a spirit and style that positively changes the world. Sincere thanks and admiration for all the Changemakers among us.