The Vision for a Responsible Recovery of Tourism in Mexico and Latin America
Transforming Vision Into Action - On the Ground
16 February 2022
Has the pandemic changed the paradigms in the tourism sector in Mexico and Latin America? This question has arisen in forums, meetings, analyses and the day-to-day operations of the sector since the COVID-19 pandemic began. This article aims to share a collective response based on the experiences of tourism leaders from the public, private and social sectors in Mexico and Latin America.
The first question on the subject was: how can we know if something has changed? The authors of this article found the ideal framework to investigate this in the document: One Planet Vision for the Responsible Recovery of the Tourism Sector, published by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on 5 June 2020, precisely in the context of the celebration of World Environment Day.
The next step was how to show that there really have been paradigm shifts. Seizing the opportunity represented by the fourth edition of the Sustainable & Social Tourism Summit in September 2020 (hereinafter, "the Summit"), the most important sustainable and social tourism event in Ibero-America, which is held yearly in Mexico, the organizations La Mano del Mono and Sustentur co-facilitated a virtual meeting in which local and national tourism leaders from Mexico and Latin America participated.
Taking as a reference the framework of responsible recovery for the planet, people and prosperity, the main challenges, achievements and concrete experiences worth making visible were shared through interviews, surveys and case studies.
In this process, it became evident that there had been a profound change in the paradigm of the sector: “In 2019 it was thought that we needed prosperous tourism to encourage healthy people to take care of the planet; however, the pandemic has taught us that what we really need is a healthy planet for healthy people to build prosperous tourism.”
This paradigm shift, which is becoming increasingly consolidated globally and also in Mexico and Latin America, inspired us to move from vision to action and ask the global leaders who attended the Summit basic questions to understand where they were focusing efforts for the responsible recovery of tourism, or where the main challenges to achieve such recovery were perceived.
Clearly at that time, biosafety concerns were on the sector's agenda as a priority (and continue to be so today), and many efforts were focused on it. The main gaps were also evident, such as climate action, the integration of biodiversity and creating circular economies in the sector; however, actions tending to generate a change in the models and in the way of doing tourism were already noticeable: an intention on the part of public, private and social actors in Mexico and Latin America to collaborate together; a sense of responsibility to recover from the crisis but with a new perspective, and concern regarding the steps to achieve it.
Analysing this reality, and with a view to generating a useful document out of the Summit with clear steps, both organizations, together with nearly 80 institutions and specialists, co-created the Vision for a responsible recovery of tourism in Mexico and Latin America, a reference framework collectively adapted to the reality of the region that invites us to create possibilities for tourism to contribute to improving the conditions for the life of people and the planet
The summary, with the Decalogue for the Responsible Recovery of Sustainable Tourism in Mexico and Latin America, provides decision makers in the tourism sector with ten lines of action, but also some references on how to make building back better in the tourism sector a reality.
It invites the entire value chain of the sector including governments, companies, civil society, communities, universities and international cooperation to re-think, re-signify and re-design the paradigms of tourism activity in Mexico and Latin America.
Reimagining tourism, measuring differently, having a long-term vision, solving challenges collectively, diversifying, and regenerating are some of these ideas that leaders are invited to explore and apply.
During the recently completed fifth edition of the Sustainable & Social Tourism Summit in 2021, and a year after having generated this process of reflection, it is clear that this Decalogue is more present than ever in the face of the reality of 2022.
We believe (and we are committed to doing so) that in the near future, we will be able to document these recommendations as success stories, and demonstrate that we can achieve tourism and a region that are resilient, sustainable, equitable, fair and, above all, very healthy for the recovery of planet, people and prosperity.
This article was written and shared by Sustentur and La Mano del Mono. Sustentur, is a leading consulting firm that seeks to transform the way in which companies, destinations, communities and governments develop and manage tourism in Mexico and Latin America, always based on sustainability and is a co-founder of the Sustainable and Social Tourism Summit. www.sustentur.com.mx
La Mano del Mono facilitates alliances so that tourism can contribute to the conservation of natural areas and the well-being of communities in Latin America and facilitates the collective construction of tools for the sector during the Social and Sustainable Tourism Summit. Its website is www.lamanodelmono.org