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Global tourism survey wants Bermuda to weigh in

Dianne Dredge has launched a tourism survey that she says can help change the way we understand travel

If you are at all interested in where Bermuda’s tourism is headed, there’s a survey waiting for you to fill it out.

It’s part of a global effort to get a clearer understanding of the education, training and policy support the industry needs after the double hit of climate change and Covid-19.

With people around the world weighing in, Dianne Dredge hopes Bermuda will add its voice to her survey, which closes on January 31.

Ali Hochberg is championing the cause here. She discovered the Australian economist on LinkedIn and was drawn in by her own interest in sustainable tourism.

“My husband and I have lived in Bermuda for almost 12 years now and it's always hit me how we just don't have a lot of eco-tourism opportunities here so it's just something I keep my eye on; it's something that I'm kind of passionate about,” she said.

Dr Dredge is the director of The Tourism CoLab, a “tourism education agency and change-making consultancy” aimed at shaping the future of the industry.

The survey is a collaboration with Charles Darwin University and the University of Queensland.

“Tourism has been subject to unprecedented disruption over the last two years and experts are predicting further change ahead,” she wrote as part of an appeal to have people take the 20-minute survey.

“This research explores how businesses, tourism organisations, employees and travel consumers are shifting their thinking about travel and tourism, particularly in terms of its impact on people, places, businesses and nature.

“Your participation will help understand the tourism sector's readiness for change and what kind of support is needed for the transition ahead.”

She believes that “regenerative tourism” is the answer.

Explained Ms Hochberg: “It’s a step beyond sustainable tourism. Sustainable tourism is where you leave no impact – don't pick flowers, pick up your garbage kind of stuff. Regenerative tourism is when you actually make a positive impact in the community that you're in.”

Positive impacts can be achieved through simple choices such as booking a hotel with solar panels or a farm-to-table restaurant. Another option would be to get involved in “some kind of community stewardship project” such as tree planting.

Although her full-time job as a science writer, webmaster and communications manager at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences isn’t directly linked to tourism, Ms Hochberg’s work with the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme frequently partners her with people in the industry.

She also sits on the executive committee of the Bermuda Triangle Challenge and “works closely” with the Bermuda Tourism Authority promoting the event throughout the year.

She reached out to Dr Dredge, eager to give Bermuda a boost. On a Zoom call the Tourism CoLab founder promised that if more than 100 people here took the survey, she would forward any Bermuda-specific information gleaned from it.

“And she promised to donate her time and have a Zoom session with whoever is keen to listen to the results and let them know what the results mean and how they can be used to move forward,” Ms Hochberg said.

The questions are designed for “anybody involved in tourism”, not only people who work in tourism but consumers as well.

“Some of the questions you might wonder why they’re relevant but it's basically asking how ready you feel your country is to move to the next step in tourism,” Ms Hochberg said.

“People might be put off thinking, ‘Well, I don't work in a hotel so I can't take it.’ But if you travel anywhere, if you eat in a restaurant, you can take it.”

She continued: “It'll ask questions such as when you travel, do you consider whether the hotel hires locals? Do you consider if it is an impoverished country? But then, the next question will ask if you have heard of mindfulness. It's all related to this concept of regenerative tourism.”

Dr Dredge launched the survey after the consultancy work she did with Flinders Island, a tiny population off Australia.

“They were super heavily tourism-based and then the pandemic happened and there were no tourists,” Ms Hochberg said. “They realised that something needed to change; they wanted to be more than just ‘sustainable’.

“Her company has developed this new style of tourism. So it’s working with people to decide what do you want the tourism in your place to look like instead of just somebody coming in saying ‘OK, we're going to do what we've always been doing.’

“It’s actually listening to the people: what works with your economy? What works with your environment? What do you want to see happen and how can we make it work with your culture so that it's sustainable in terms of your society and your environment?”

Bermuda is not on the “fairly comprehensive” list of countries. Residents who complete the survey should click on ‘other’.

“The chances of someone in another country choosing other is very small,” Ms Hochberg said. "I'm confident that most of the people choosing other are going to be from Bermuda.

“If you look at the list of countries, it’s huge. And, if you are at all concerned, there's metadata associated with when you fill out a survey, so they are also able to track where someone lives that way.“

The hope is that the results will be available in the spring.

For more information on The Tourism CoLab visit: www.thetourismcolab.com.au/. Take the survey here: https://bit.ly/3HypfFv.

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Published January 27, 2023 at 8:08 am (Updated January 28, 2023 at 8:18 am)

Global tourism survey wants Bermuda to weigh in

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