Because most visitors to a place come from another and because most other places are far away, suppliers of tourism services have inevitably had to adopt a global perspective. Considerable attention is given to understanding cultural and linguistic differences of various source markets and to researching and deploying the different channels of distribution at work in each source country.
In other words, tourism suppliers, tend to orient their thinking and focus outside their own community. This is a shame because the people who could most help the tourism supplier fill their beds and seats live just next store or even work in their business, I speak of their employees, their emplotees’ families and all the residents of the destination community.
Ironically, having arrived at their chosen destination, virtually all consumption is now local.
As described eloquently by the author of The Mindful Tourist, it is the conscious travellers’ quest for a meaningful, authentic experience that has created the Local Travel Movement designed to help visitors see their destination through the eyes of a local resident and, wherever possible, encourage meetings with locals not necessarily employed by the travel and tourism industry.
Acting locally, as far as suppliers of tourism services are concerned, means taking the time to find, meet and engage residents who have stories to tell and experiences to share with visitors. It’s all about developing rich, time, place and people-specific content and storytelling in order to engage a guest and enrich their experience. It means recognizing that residents have as much at stake in welcoming guests as do persons employed in the commercial activity called tourism.
It is interesting to note that new entrants to the sector have developed most of the interesting innovations in the space called local tourism. Services such as Tripbod and Localyte, developed to enable encounters between visitors and hosts; new producers of the software that enables individuals to create unique and content rich guidebooks, such as Stay.com and Nile Guides; and innovative, web-based story tellers like Storytravellers.com could be used by tourism suppliers to better support their guests experience.
To be a conscious traveler is also to be a mindful tourist and, according to the founders of the Local Travel Movement, this is how they are expected to behave.
- If you are mindful of the local people, you put yourself in the locals’ shoes and discover what they really think.
- If you are mindful of the local environment, you put yourself in the heart of it, feel its beauty and power, and do what you can to preserve it for the future.
- If you are mindful of the local culture, you put yourself in the local mindset and share in activities and experiences as locals do.
- If you are mindful of the local economy, you put your money into local business and ensure that your tourism benefits the right people.
Attract these kinds of visitors and you’ll be able to generate a sustainable, stable return for your labours and one that enables you to welcome guests and leave your patch of this planet in a better state than before you arrived.
What else could you ask for?