Discover Peter Semone’s compelling speech at the PATA Destination Experience Forum, urging stakeholders to rethink tourism for a sustainable future. Learn about the challenges, opportunities, and the need for responsible development in the Asia Pacific region.
TDN REPORT: Sarawak, Malaysia – Peter Semone, PATA Chair, delivered a thought-provoking speech during the PATA Destination Experience Forum and Mart 2023 held on June 22, 2023, in Sarawak, Malaysia. Semone highlighted the existential threats posed by climate change and over-tourism to the Asia Pacific tourism and hospitality industry. He emphasized the need to reconsider traditional measures of success in tourism and urged stakeholders to embrace sustainability and responsibility. The event aimed to foster insightful discussions and promote sustainable practices within the industry.
In his speech, Semone presented two options for the industry’s post-COVID recovery. The first option is to revert to business as usual, prioritizing profit and disregarding the environmental and social consequences of mass tourism. The second option, which Semone advocated for, involves seizing the opportunity presented by the pandemic to recalibrate success metrics, account for hidden costs, and engage responsibly and sustainably in tourism activities.
Semone urged the industry to move away from outdated metrics such as tourist arrivals and expenditures, which fail to provide a holistic view of sustainable growth. Instead, he called for a comprehensive reassessment of how success is measured. Factors such as the impact on the environment, local communities, and the overall well-being of destinations should be taken into account. Additionally, Semone stressed the importance of fair taxation for the use of destination commons and ensuring responsible behavior from tourists.
Sustainability and Responsibility
The PATA Chair emphasized the need to ensure that all actors across the supply and demand value chains engage responsibly and sustainably in tourism activities. While efforts are often focused on the supply side, it is equally important to consider the behavior of tourists and their impact on destinations. Semone emphasized the goal of maintaining a harmonious balance between tourism as an asset and its potential burden on local communities and their way of life.
Tourism as a Catalyst for Positive Change
Highlighting the transformative power of travel, Semone quoted Mark Twain to emphasize the industry’s role in combatting prejudice, fostering cross-cultural understanding, and promoting peace. The travel industry has the potential to drive economic growth, create jobs, and cultivate empathy and cultural exchange. Collaboration between the public and private sectors is vital to achieving these goals.
The Role of PATA
Semone expressed gratitude for the participation of delegates from various sectors and their commitment to addressing sustainability issues. He emphasized the role of PATA as a catalyst for responsible development in the Asia Pacific region. The organization remains dedicated to assisting members and industry stakeholders in promoting sustainable practices and responsible tourism.
PATA Destination Experience Forum and Mart 2023
The event brought together industry experts, including speakers from renowned organizations such as the World Tourism Organisation and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. In addition to the insightful discussions, delegates had the opportunity to explore the cultural attractions of Sarawak during a technical tour. The event aimed to provide a platform for sharing ideas and fostering collaboration between the public and private sectors in promoting sustainability within the industry.
Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.