1) The need for more education and professionalism in tourism and hospitality is undisputed and has been stated by many Thought Leaders before and during the pandemic, including the S.G: of WTFI, Dr. Taleb Rifai.
2) International tourism growth and increasing percentage of non-Western travellers, especially from Asia, the Middle East and South America, as well as increased opportunities arising from digitalisation make “golden rules” (do what you would like to be done to yourself to your guests) obsolete as they do not work across cultures. Experience and rule of thumb cannot compete with Big Data and AI as paper and pencil cannot compete with mobile online communication. Experience and rule of thumb cannot compete with cross-cultural competence through analysis and training.
3) Travel is done for increasingly diverse and often mixed reasons, including for example digital nomads, VFR, business and MICE, religion, culture, education, special interests etc. The need for bodily relaxation is not the key motivation for tourism anymore, as the majority of people who can afford tourism, especially international tourism, spend their working time sitting in front of a computer or in meetings rather than in a coal mine or on a field. “Holidays” in the form of 3S Sun, Sea, Sex or 3B Beach, Beer, Boredom are no longer the prevalent motivation. New experiences, self-actualisation and meeting new people gains in importance as does travel for prestige. A growing percentage of travellers is 50+ years of age, further increasing the demand for Meaningful Tourism.
4) The traditional tourism came to its limits of development already before the pandemic, with climate change, overtourism and the destructive social and environmental forces of tourism starting to give it a bad name, changing an image from provider of joy, jobs and peace to one of a juggernaut of destruction. Non-western tourists felt treated as second-class customers, with compliance to notions of respect of hierarchy, religious nutrition and other rules to comply with, travelling in bigger family groups etc. all seen – and taught in many textbooks – as a deviation of the “normal” behaviour of modern travellers or as signs of an immature market.
5) Despite these challenges and despite the increase in non-Western and non-holiday travel, tourism education is often still dominated by idyllic ideas of undisputed relaxation done by persons from individualistic societies, in the form of families travelling which comprise Mama, Papa and two biologically shared children, not taking into account patchwork families, 3 generation groups, 2 couples with one child each together, 2 generation group with “kids” of 50+ years and “parents” of 75+ years, greater groups of families including uncles and aunties, LGBTQ families etc. Students and professionals basically still learn how to satisfy 20th century needs of North Americans and Europeans, maybe with a bit of greenwashing, tolerance and charity added for good measure.
6) The basic aim of creating a global framework to shift learning content and mechanisms to more closely reflect the needs of the future and of the developing world is translated in the work of HATT BSI into concentrating on the dissemination of the concept of Meaningful tourism as a new paradigm especially for South-South tourism, with a focus on teaching how to run tourism successfully by concentrating on the diversity of customers and the different ways of how to serve and satisfy each of them.
7) By offering courses for educating and empowering students, entrepreneurs, investors and administrators competencies on how to successfully develop tourism and hospitality in their home countries, HATT BSI enables all stakeholders to provide services connected to the specific needs of domestic and international visitors based on the cultural, social and economic resources available in each destination, thereby empowering local communities and increasing their influence in and benefits from tourism development.
8) Faced with the continuous challenges of climate change, growing income disparities and diminishing cultural and bio-diversity, the work of HATT BSI is organised in adherence to the support of the 17 SDGs as proclaimed by the United Nations.
9) HATT BSI is an integral part of the WTFI activities and projects for the development of Meaningful Tourism especially in non-OECD countries.