Last week the incredible, and hopefully first of many, Power of Partnership Stewardship Summit, jointly organised by the Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance, Inc., Tourism Cares, the Travel Foundation, and the U.S. Cultural & Heritage Marketing Council, took place in Richmond, Virginia. This three-day event explored the intersections of culture, climate, and community in travel and tourism and brought a refreshingly diverse group of global industry professionals together to connect and engage in critical discussions to envision a collaborative and inclusive future for travel and tourism. With that came a diversity of expertise, insights and experience, crisscrossing the themes of social & racial justice, impacts of climate change, and the power of community tourism to educate, heal, and reconcile, and build resilience. Many attendees also got out of the conference hall and into the community to hear stories and learn about the real history and current cultures of Virginia from local Richmond changemakers and leaders.
A wide range of topics and issues were discussed including why climate, culture and community are inextricably linked, equitable community engagement, placemaking, inclusive development within tourism, and the predictions for the future of DEI and ESG to achieve long-term systems-change and genuine impact. Some of the words people shared included: optimism, awareness, clarity, opportunity, and partnership.
Destinations need to adapt to thrive
Jeremy Sampson, our CEO, moderated a panel which took a deep dive into how and why tourism needs to adapt and introduced key tenets of climate justice. Inequity is one of the biggest challenges facing our world and the future of the global tourism industry. Tourism can be part of the solution, but the sector must evolve and business as usual is no longer a viable paradigm.
A hopeful mindset can be a great ally when working in climate action
Additionally, our climate specialist Patty Martin, PhD and Climate and Sustainability Lead at Expedia Group, Tessa Margaret Lee, inspired a group to discuss their fears and recognise that climate action planning requires emotional maintenance. That it was time to move out of the ‘climate change equals catastrophe’ mindset to one of hope and action.
Collaboration is essential for success
The power of collaboration was also a strong theme, with everyone repeating that we can’t do this alone, solve any of our greatest challenges whether improving equity or adapting to climate change impacts, making systemic changes needs us all to work together.
At the Travel Foundation, we’ve issued a clarion call for our 20th anniversary: increased resources towards urgent actions that result in meaningful outcomes across the inextricably linked topics of climate, culture, and community. We can no longer accept business as usual, obvious greenwashing or performative DEI as the status quo. The Power of Partnership Stewardship Summit set the stage for leading minds and diverse perspectives to tackle tourism’s challenges through collective action. Thank you again to our partners and sponsors for making it happen.