A new year always brings with it the feeling of a fresh new chapter. It is an opportunity to think bigger, more courageously, more creatively, and think about what we must do to really make a positive, meaningful and sustainable impact. The time is now.
It is February – traditionally the month of celebrating love, as millions upon millions worldwide show sincerity to those around them – Taking action by doing something to show their love.
At Tourism Cares this has been at the heart of our Mission and Purpose for over 18 years.
Is this year different? Absolutely. 2021 amplifies this call to action. Travel and tourism has always been a force for good; and showing love, care respect for our precious resources with “meaningful action” can collectively imbed and stamp Sustainability into all that we do. And now, it is absolutely imperative.
As Chair, I am conscious of this elevated leadership challenge. In the past, over 50 unique leaders of travel have served on our board, to steward and grow rapidly, the opportunity and the outcomes. Taking on this responsibility is something that I take very seriously. I have spent a great deal of time looking very closely at how, in especially these challenging times, Tourism Cares can really work to bring together our industry in re-evaluating our huge collective power as a force for good.
Leadership during crisis is uniquely different to leadership in a phase of momentum of management. Our industry had been enjoying a decade of steady, excited growth: between 3% and 5% per annum. COVID19 changed all that, taking us back 30 years according to the UNWTO which has just released statistics confirming 2020 losses in international travel exceeded 1 billion international arrivals, a drop of 75% compared to 2019. Frighteningly this translates to over 130 million jobs, and US$ 1.1 Trillion in receipts. When is recovery of momentum at 2019 levels anticipated? Only 2024!
Closer to home, my family has been around in this business for 95 years. We’re on the eve of celebrating our Centenary, honoring the love my family business has for the 1000 suppliers we interact with worldwide, across 90 countries, and supporting countless world citizens. And yet for the first time since WW2, we have had to temporarily shut down most all operations. We’ve had to work anew with people within our industry and within our business, keeping a very close eye on the crisis that is unfolding, new challenges emerging, how to “protect livelihoods” in tandem to the healthcare community “protecting lives”. And I’ve seen three generations of family work together in a long history and spirit of love for other people and places — as never, ever before.
Can love last forever? Yes! It can, and it does, evolve and grow. I recently went and had a visit with Mary and John Stachnik, former owner of Chicago-based Mayflower Tours for over 40 years, former President of NTA, former Chairman of Tourism Cares and a Tourism Cares Hall of Fame inductee in 2005. I sat with them to gain their wisdom and insight for others who have been through decades of experience including devastating industry and personal challenges. They have a deep love of Tourism Cares. They showed this love with a large gift to us early last year – gently and quietly provided. I was excited to have the good fortune of time with such a pillar of our global travel and tourism community, and elder of Tourism Cares. And I do the same with my Dad, Arthur Tauck, another former Chairman, to speak to my father on inter-generational change and what he and they could still teach me.
Little did I know how much light and energy this time would bring.
John reinforced to me that, it is so important that we remember the challenges we face now are challenges we have faced and overcome before. The details are so different, but without question — the drama, the confusion, the fear and the hope are the same. Mary expounded, with broad smiles and sincere passion, how we brought the industry together to innovate and transform so many of the hard-hit, often peripheral tourism communities right here in America. And how the citizens embraced us.
As the new Chair of Tourism Cares, I’m excited about the future. I am also feeling the Love. The Care. The Stewardship. Thank you to John, Mary and so many others for the leadership chapters they had; their brilliant wisdom and true compassionate support and embrace of our positive future tomorrow.
All of us at Tourism Cares, and across the industry, will get through this time to build forward better and come together stronger, with health for our Companies, our guests – and the People and Planet that we all love and depend upon for our wellness as a global community. At the heart of my confidence is the fact that, as we have all heard over and over this past year, we all love our industry. We love what we do…and why we do it.
Now is the time to make an impact through our collective caring – past present, and especially future. Now is the time to show the love.