Rooster Insight: What Travel & Tourism Means to Us
In a recent National Geographic Traveller article titled ‘why travel should be considered an essential human activity’, Eric Weiner wrote “I’d argue travel is an essential industry, an essential activity. It’s not essential the way hospitals and grocery stores are essential. Travel is essential the way books and hugs are essential. Food for the soul.”
Sometimes you read something that makes you stop, and for us, the quote from Eric Weiner did just that.
As a PR agency with its roots in travel, we’ve been fortunate enough to visit many of the most beautiful places in the world. As part of our working week we would be hosting journalists in these destinations – showcasing to top British writers what all these magical places have to offer. From swimming with mantarays in the glorious waters of the Maldives, to traditional home stays in the Cypriot mountains and catching the slow train through the rolling green hills of St Kitts; the trips we organised would regularly result in our destinations making ‘must visit for future travel’ lists.
But ‘future travel’ plans were put on hold this year when the coronavirus pandemic took its first humongous bite out of ‘life as we knew it’. Countries closed their borders worldwide, entire aircraft fleets were grounded, and cruise ships crammed into once picturesque ports – travel screeched to a halt in the space of a few weeks.
To mark World Tourism Day, 27 September 2020, Rooster took time to reflect on what tourism means to us as individuals. We all care deeply about the effect this pandemic is having on destinations and rural communities around the world, especially those that are heavily reliant on tourism for jobs and economic growth.
This year’s international day of observation comes at a significant time for tourism, a time for hope and optimism. That is why we felt it was important to remind ourselves of what travel means to us:
Jo Kendall, Account Director
“Travel for me means freedom. It’s the chance to explore a new place and have new experiences. Some of my favourite memories are travelling across South America, but also closer to home exploring north Wales – which was unexpectedly beautiful! Travel gives you a chance to grow and learn from other cultures and meet like-minded people. Without sounding too gushy(!) for me personally it’s a chance to find out more about yourself and test your limits. I can’t wait to travel again.”
Zac van Manen, Senior Media Manager
“Travel’s the opportunity to disconnect from the familiar and discover new perspectives. Getting away from the bitumen and the railways and into the forests, the beaches, the seas. It’s like lifting a great shroud and finding what else there is so that when we get back we can appreciate the everyday some more.”
Julie Aguilera, Associate Director
“The two most important values of travel for me are: (1) the opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones to strengthen connections, enjoy new experiences and create memories, free of the distractions or stresses of the day to day; and (2) the privilege of learning about different cultures, lifestyles, practices, beliefs, principles… and celebrating those differences to open the mind and heart, build awareness, compassion, tolerance.”
Arabella Halfhide, Senior Account Manager
“Travel to me means the chance to embrace the world, to discover all that it has to offer. To meet the people of the world, learn of their cultures and traditions, sample all the foods imaginable, walk the world’s terrain and swim in its oceans. What’s more beautiful than seeing a sunset in a new country?”
Yasmine Triana, Head of PR
“It’s a sad truth that if it wasn’t for tourism most of the world’s cherished heritage sites and natural wonders would be lost and forgotten. David Attenborough’s recent programme ‘Extinction: The Facts’ highlighted how tourism literally saved Mountain Gorillas from extinction; demonstrating how conservation is made possible when tourism contributes to the local communities. The best way to open your mind is to travel. Learning about cultures, people, nature, history, religions, music, laws, architecture, fashion… the list goes on. This pandemic has only reminded me of how much I’ve yet to see and experience and the considered decisions I’d like to make in the future.”
Gowri Biswanath, Finance Director
“Most of my international travel is usually based around seeing family, mostly USA and Canada. However, this year this has not been possible and it’s been difficult for all of us. However, my siblings and I have now started video calling each other more so than previously. That’s made the distance factor less unpalatable.”
Charlotte Wright, Account Manager
“I’ve been blessed to have travel as part of my life since I was a child. Being from New Zealand (with the closest country being over three hours away), my travel experiences were mostly domestic, and we were lucky enough to have a family bach where we would spend our summer holidays. As I got older, I was able to explore Australia and the US, and now living in London, Europe is on my doorstep. I truly believe that learning about and understanding different cultures broadens the mind and changes people for the better – I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am today without the travel experiences that I have had.
To watch the travel industry struggle so much during this pandemic has been absolutely gutting, and I really hope that it’s not too long before they can attempt to recover. I will certainly be doing my part in helping get the industry get back to what it was, through both my work and personal travel choices. Kia Kaha!”
As our resident Kiwi tell us, Kia Kaha means ‘Stay Strong’ in Maori and this International Tourism Day we want to spread this message of strength and hope to all our Rooster clients, team members and the wider travel industry. Better days are coming.