Our sustainability attitudes today will determine SA’s travellers tomorrow

There is no doubt that as a result of recent events in our world, not only in travel but in many other sectors, a great number of the things that we’ve done in the past will have been changed forever. I think we’re going to see it in the way people do business, where they travel to and I believe, in the way that they view their priorities and their attitudes towards sustainability and the creation of a better, healthier planet.

Presuming that I’m right about these suppositions, it stands to reason that the way we communicate with each other will change too. By this, I don’t just mean personal or business communications, whether virtual or in person but also mass marketing messages. Travel is one example of an industry that will undergo such massive change in the future and it stands to reason, that what we communicate will have to strike exactly the right chords if it is to encourage the revival of travel as we used to known it.

It was with great interest that I read a fascinating article on “Skift” (a popular travel industry virtual publication). It spoke exactly to this issue of how the travel industry will communicate its marketing messages going forward. It showed a few advertisements that have recently been devised for various international destinations and at least two of them (the best 2, I felt), those of Scotland and Portugal, conveyed excellent messaging that I could really relate to.

What struck me was that the ads weren’t all about the health of individuals when travelling in the future – as one might expect them to be. Rather they had a definite emphasis on sustainability and our obligation to look after our planet in order to have a better future. Although both advertisements showed spectacular images of each country’s specific attributes, the messages were almost exactly the same.

It’s all about the future resting on the now

In the Scottish advert the message is, “Let’s keep Scotland special now and for generations to come”. It urges travellers to respect Scottish communities and wildlife when they visit. In the Portuguese ad, the theme is, “Let’s change today and we will keep visiting tomorrow” – emphasising the importance of doing better for the planet, to which we humans are all inherently connected.

What is common to both these communications is, as the Skift article says, “the message to slow down and immerse, echoes the ‘build back better’ sentiment that the industry has been pushing since the pandemic forced a rethink on over-tourism and climate change impacts. As it so astutely points out, “the rise of this responsible advertising for the travel industry will definitely resonate with the greater population which now believe sustainability and travel need to go hand in hand”.

The SA message of the future should have the same ring to it

What could be a better example of this than our game reserves and the fabulous safari destinations in our own country? Wildlife preservation and vacations to these destinations are inextricably linked and it would certainly be encouraging to see our own tourism proponents adopt this line of messaging when advertising South Africa. Thankfully, despite the pandemic, our bush-breaks have remained incredibly popular and this is an area of potential growth both from a local and international standpoint that we simply cannot ignore.

South Africans, and in particular our younger generation, need to remember and say loudly to all who wish to come and enjoy the majesty of our country, “Today’s sustainability attitudes will determine SA travel tomorrow!”

LIDIA FOLLI

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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