14 key takeaways from Hybrid ATCM 2021

OPINION
By JEROME DE LA FUENTE
June 2, 2021

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Hybrid ATCM 2021 took place online and in-person at Clark, Pampanga from May 26-27, 2021. Over the course of two days, we learnt about some of the most pressing topics and trends in adventure travel and responsible tourism. 
    
Here are 14 key takeaways from Hybrid ATCM 2021:
    
1. Adventure tourism is being increasingly recognised as a global tourism trend and tourists will be shifting their attention to new destinations and experiences. 
    
2. The Philippines learnt a lot from its 6-month closure of Boracay in 2018. One lesson is that the tourism industry should pay more attention to destination management than destination promotion. For example, certain destinations should set carrying capacities. 
    
3. The Philippines has started to create circuits in different provinces, which will connect attractions that are based on local cuisines and culinary heritages. 
    
4. Younger generations will be the ones to lead the recovery of adventure travel because despite not having priority to vaccines, this roll-out is still gradually taking place and the demand for global exploration has been so pent up.  
    
5. The trend of growing disposable income and younger generations in China will devote into adventure tourism because it is a new way to show off their wealth and status. Since the pandemic, the destination has been seeing growth in adventurous products that were not domestically in demand, which implies that there will be a significant desire for these experiences internationally. 
    
6. Particularly in Malaysia, the general segment of adventure travellers will be looking for soft adventures, such as camping and hiking. However, travel brands must keep in mind that price will be a significant barrier because of global exchange rates.
    
7. Indian travellers may be more hesitant to participate in adventure travel because of concerns from family members, but factors like higher incomes and the Bollywood effect, wherein young Indian travellers become inspired by Bollywood, have helped to relax this barrier.
    
8. Instead of creating food guides and directories to help attract culinary travellers, it would be more effective to focus on your unique selling propositions, such as the faces behind the places, as well as seeking sustainable partners, selling the memories and stories of local foods, and keeping in touch with your past customers. 
    
9. 65% of travellers want to see physical changes that make them feel safer before they start travelling again; therefore, destinations and travel brands should transparently share these efforts with customers.
    
10. In order to ensure a more equal recovery for all, we must keep women at the top of mind. This means engaging women in tourism, such as through retraining, upskilling, improving digital engagement, and providing leadership opportunities. 
    
11. The segment deemed to be quality tourists come with the highest costs to local communities because of economic leakage. As a result, destinations and local communities will see more benefits through providing quality tourism instead of solely targeting that market. 
    
12. Through an economic standpoint, small island destinations have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Many have done well from a health perspective because of border closures, but this came at the cost of entirely shutting down tourism, as most of them have small domestic tourism markets. 
    
13. One of the most difficult things to trying to achieve sustainability and resiliency is the change of attitude. For example, we must shift from thinking in the short-term, such as from season to season, to planning for the long-term. 
    
14. We must keep conservation as the compass of the destination, as this will influence the kind of plans, decisions, and developments that we make. If we can adopt this view alongside creativity, we can see some great outcomes.

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