Tourism lays the foundations for ‘meaningful travel’ that addresses global issues with a local focus

Tourism has to grapple with its prestige alongside growing and egregious social and environmental concerns. The Travel Morale Summit used Lake Tahoe as a case study of challenges and solutions for a particular destination; But everyone should think of these “global issues that need to be addressed, no matter where you work, or what sector.”

Historically, tourism events have focused on the operational aspects of the industry — such as crafting destination management plans, establishing relationships to build supply chains, or creating new itineraries — as if these actions existed in a sterile bubble. between luxury branded bags and sponsored sale watches; Conversations on the Climate Crisis, Equity and Inclusion; The unseen burdens of tourism are often easily overlooked, exacerbating the negative environment and socio-cultural impacts of travel on the environment, local people, their communities and cultural heritage.

Just as society in general faces a host of global challenges, so too does tourism; And they (slowly) develop in response. These previously marginalized issues in industrial clusters are increasingly being prioritized – sometimes taking center stage in a pragmatic and inspiring way.

past weeks Tourism sponsorship Purposeful Travel Summit Provide a blueprint for how this would work: Rather than just rooting in a destination for three days before relocating (as many travelers do), the organizers ingeniously used the event landscape. North Lake Tahoe, California A website to illustrate the negative effects of tourism while highlighting solutions to local challenges and travel opportunities to have a positive impact.

“We will think about how our industry can do better: How can we take local considerations into account in our decision-making, and form strong partnerships with local organizations and indigenous peoples that benefit their communities and environment?” CEO of Tourism Cares Greg Takehara In his opening speech to the event. “How can we build inclusivity and belonging to our products? How can we begin to address climate issues? How can we think about intergenerational responsibility and apply it to our work?”

Takehara’s comments were more than just hypothetical questions. It was a call for attendees to bow rather than shy away—to dominate conversations between sessions and encourage attendees to commit to the ongoing work.

Lake Tahoe has found itself in the crosshairs of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis. Although many destinations have lacked tourists over the past couple of years, Tahoe has faltered under the weight of overtourism as people have moved into or visited the area during lockdowns or while commuting to remote work — affecting traffic patterns and creating excessive waste. The climate crisis has altered the region’s snow patterns and lake temperature, and “wild fire season” is now a legitimate environmental and public safety concern. The effect that colonialism, gentrification and tourism have had on Wa ∙ šiw (and wash) people, who are indigenous land agents in and around Lake Tahoe Basin.

“The removal of the Wá ∙ šiw people from the land and increased tourism to the Lake Tahoe Basin has negatively affected an area not only famous for its natural beauty and pure water, but now in dire need of rehabilitation and protection,” he said. Herman FillmoreDirector of Culture and Language Resources at The Washoe Tribe in Nevada and Californiareading from the Land Approval that opened sessions each day and was clearly commented on the speaker’s podium for the duration of the conference.

In a destination like Lake Tahoe, travelers are drawn to beaches and coves. However, the places are highly interconnected and complex; And it is necessary to consider the ecosystem holistically, which is why it is equally important – if not more so – to take care of the meadows and tributaries of the area, and to focus Wá ∙ šiw in their constant care and revitalization.

He said, “The people of Wá ∙ šiw lived a simple lifestyle that allowed them to maintain their connection to the land, a lifestyle that kept the people of Wá ∙ šiw in tune with the changing environment” Rihanna JonesEnvironmental Manager at
Washoe Tribe Environmental Protection Department.

It’s not that Lake Tahoe tourism shouldn’t exist – but that it should be approached differently, more respectfully and responsibly. On this front, Jones has highlighted three areas that require careful consideration when developing travel products and promoting tourism in the Lake Tahoe region (but also relevant beyond), so that this overarching perspective is kept in mind:

  • Justice and Sustainability: Are all humans involved in this situation recognized and cared for? Which humans and creatures have been directly affected by the challenge and/or will be challenged in the future?

  • Compassion and Compassion: Do all humans and creatures have access to the resources needed to live and thrive? Who determines sufficiency, especially for endangered plants and animals?

  • Solidarity and sharing: Who are all stakeholders in the situation? Who is particularly at risk?

“The Wá ∙ šiw tribe is very concerned about the environmental impact of tourism on the Lake Tahoe Basin and what we can do to protect the natural resources, archaeological and cultural sites,” Jones said. “Instead of discouraging tour groups from coming to Tahoe, we want to educate and inform tour groups about what sustainable tourism should look like, ask visitors to respect our homelands, comply with the applicable rules and regulations that protect the lake, and please consider what everyone can do.” To protect this area so that visitors and tourists can continue to visit the lake.”

“In the Tahoe Basin today, there are plans and discussions around the idea of ​​destination stewardship,” Fillmore added, acknowledging the many environment and tourism agencies that collectively prioritize sustainable tourism in the area. “They are working in the interest of the Tahoe Basin, even if it means that it is not in the interest of tourism in general.”

Current projects undertaken by the Wá ∙ šiw tribe include the removal of invasive conifers and the restoration of the natural environment in Mix Meadowand restore fires in
Carson Valley Both emphasize the need to take care of the local community and the environment so that travelers in turn can enjoy the Tahoe Valley safely and sustainably.

This reality brings difficult and often marginalized travel-related conversations full circle: Lake Tahoe, specifically, is grappling with wildfires, increasing costs of living, and waste management problems. Its resilience and adaptation in these turbulent times requires comprehensive thinking, a wide variety of voices at the table (most importantly, the people of Wá ∙ šiw), and an awareness that tourism is in fact not In the middle of the conversation.

Extrapolating further, the entire tourism industry must struggle for its place alongside the many faces of climate crisis, gentrification, environmental degradation, and racial injustice. Its resilience and adaptability requires focusing Indigenous stewardship practices, inviting diverse perspectives during strategic planning, conducting challenging conversations, and fostering an industrial society unafraid of fundamentally changing the way it operates – and how stakeholders work together to chart a path forward.

At Summit Meaningful Travel from Tourism Cares, Lake Tahoe was used as a case study of challenges and solutions from a given destination; But, as Takehara notes, great change occurs when everyone thinks of these “global issues that need to be addressed, no matter where you work, or what sector.”

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