Raúl Jiménez,

Each destination is the face of the soul of its citizens and travellers

Small gestures make big things happen. As if demonstrating the butterfly effect, when millions of travellers roam the globe searching for their next destination, their next accommodation, a new menu, an original activity or simply a place to watch the sunset, each decision they make has an effect on the entire ecosystem. On the “other side”, thousands of people, managing and working at destinations, hotels, restaurants, agencies, online platforms or the media, showcase their products to try to convince these travellers that choosing them will be one of the best decisions of their lives. But what is it that links them?

Going beyond the rules of the market economy, where price determines the purchase decision, 21st century travellers have taken a leading role in a new demand trend brought about by a change in mentality: they want businesses and destinations that are responsible, sustainable and coherent with a broader—not necessarily new-way of thinking. They want destinations and businesses that are more transparent, that contribute to create a better world. Perhaps for many customers the word “sustainable” is vague, but they implicitly expect it from the tourism industry. The responsibility to achieve this falls on us all. Eight years ago, when our group of entrepreneurs decided to launch minube, we took on a commitment: we wanted to create a travellers’ platform for travellers, where each one could share what had really moved them during their trip, so as to inspire others to live a similar experience. We also wanted it to bring together, suggestions from the destinations, companies and agencies that could dovetail with this “new demand”.

Far from wanting to grab the spotlight, the most important lesson learnt is that, thanks to the collaboration of thousands of professionals, institutions, small businesses and public administrations, as well as a very active community of holidaymakers, great progress has been made. And we wanted to be part of this process.

One small example: at the forthcoming Social Destination Awards, our platform will include the category of Most Responsible Destination.

However, moving beyond this symbolic gesture, we have launched the online and offline c­learning movement minube School: an umbrella initiative which combines all the lessons learnt, to join the global current led by the United Nations and the UNWTO, which is establishing the basis of what our world will be like in the next few years, through the “tool of tourism”. The year 2017 will be the International Year of Responsible Tourism and our task must be to work towards achieving each of the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) set as part of the Global Goals of the UNWTO, among them Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities.

The tourism industry will play a key role in this process as it cannot ignore the social travel revolution which is already happening and has grown thanks to the effect of the Internet, social platforms and social networks. However, we must not forget offline movements and initiatives in this area by individuals, institutions, NGOs and other groupings.

Awareness-raising among communities; integration of the most underprivileged, disadvantaged and neglected; coherent  business development initiatives that take into account local needs; protecting children’s rights; empowering professionals; cultural exchanges and so on: these are all aspects that are linked to responsible and sustainable destinations. The mission of technological companies such as ours is to contribute the necessary tools so that dialogue between travellers and destinations or businesses can occur through the Internet and serve as a forum for mutual enrichment.

According to the conclusions reached by some of the professionals participating in our White Paper on Responsible and Sustainable Tourism, which we recommend reading, one key aspect to consider is actively listening on the Internet and social platforms and/or networks to understand what is being asked of us.  We must also foster the communication and dissemination of the measures taken by companies and destinations to involve travellers in meeting the goals being pursued.

However, make no mistake, it is not only about measures in destinations far from our homes. Rather, the movement begins just around the corner of each of our towns and villages. Part of the movement to raise awareness and adapt to the social travel revolution must take place in our business ecosystem and in our culture. In this way we will be better prepared to take on the task, with better prospects for success, of creating this better world in the broadest sense.

The challenge is considerable but attainable. At the end of the day, we are working to leave our children a legacy that one day they will be able to enjoy, just as we did watching the sunset in that lost corner of the world, which we would like to preserve for them.

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