The tourism industry is dependent on natural beauty to remain intact in order to attract tourists. The conventional narrative about tourism itself is the idea of a land with pristine beauty, very few people and a relaxed atmosphere. Unfortunately, climate change is altering the reality with numerous tourism hotspots under environmental threat. One key example is that of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef which support nearly seventy thousand tourism jobsannually in the country. Yet climate change has reduced the reef cover thus reducing the marine life. This impacts tourists’ expectations versus the reality. Of course, tour operators can adapt accordingly, but that may only be a temporary solution as climate change seems a more permanent source of damage.


Tourism consulting carried out by McKinsey highlights the fact that the travel industry is going to be impacted seriously by geostrategic risks that are on the rise. As per the study, majority of travel companies are aware of this threat, yet have not included tactics to counter this as part of their corporate strategy. Threats have risen in just a three year period from 2013. The tourism industry is living in denial and not acknowledging some of the inherent challenges coming up such as technology, climate change and economic conditions. A more holistic and comprehensive outlook is required to study tourism and ensure that ripple effects spilling over from geo-political tensions are minimized.


An organization called Postconsumers seeks to address the issue of the tourism industry as a crucial peg in our planet’s fight against rampant consumerism. Travel has moved beyond the scope of being an experience but is simply a commodity that consumers are paying for. This consumerism is at the heart of growing environmental problems for the planet and the tourism industry has to gradually shift towards greater ecologically neutral activities. This includes concepts such as eco-tourism or eco-travel. Travel companies and internet sites have created a plethora of tourism jobs, yet created major ecological challenges.


Myanmar sits on vast troves of treasure in terms of natural beauty and culture. Leveraging such resources the country is planning to establish community based tourism projects at seven different locations across the country. This will also boost tourism jobs and alleviate poverty levels. The cooperation of the 3 Ps- public sector, private sector and people- is necessary to succeed in the efforts. The initiative is being led by the NGO Action Aid Myanmar and the private firm Journey Adventure Travel Co. Traditional meals, souvenir shops, tree planting programmes and biking trails will all be part of the possibilities. Germany corporate giant GIZ is also be among the implementation agencies.


Continuing on from the trend in recent years, 2015 too saw an increase in international tourist footfalls across the globe. The year saw a growth in absolute numbers by over fifty million international travelers. By the year 2030, nearly two billion people are expected to make such trips. The Americas, Asia and the Pacific recorded highest absolute increase in inbound figures. Even Europe saw a modest increase. Africa though was badly hit and recorded a decline. Presently tourism jobs comprise 9% of all employment opportunities globally. Tourism as an industry also contributes to a tenth of all GDP and 6% of global export of goods.

Traditional travel agents are getting pushed out of the market due to the surge of digitization in the tourism sector. The agent has been bypassed, instead tour plans are being booked through online platforms. In order to stay relevant, tourism players must reposition themselves by offering only such services that clients want. Each player must try to specialize in something that they feel they can excel at. Adequate research must be carried out before going ahead with ideas. Clients must feel valued and their constantly changing preferences must be catered at by providing personalized services. Social media is a must to get best results out of digital marketing efforts. However, traditional models must not be abandoned altogether. Global agencies’ reach must be leveraged for certain projects.

Thailand is in the midst of converting its tourism operations towards a more sustainable and community based model. This was discussed and plans finalized at a recent forum held in the capital involving the ministry as well as major tourism players. The community based model has seen some success stories already such as the Bang Phlup community which has combined agriculture and tourism thus generating tourism jobs at grassroots level. Some other successful ventures in this regard include the Ban Ko Klang resort in Mueang district and Mae TEETA organic fabrics.

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