The new normal- what’s next for the future of sustainable tourism?

What happened in March 2020 to the tourism industry reminds me of someone shaking a snow globe. There was an idyllic scene of a booming industry, growing demand, and an ability to reach far corners of the world at lightning speed. Then… BOOM! COVID grasped our quaint snow globe and shook it ferociously not leaving even the slightest thing undisrupted. As the flakes finally settle we are left with a changed landscape. Where do we go from here? 

It’s tough times for business owners in the travel industry these days and I, like many, am finding it hard to find my footing on this very unstable ground. It has been hard to pick up the pieces and move forward because what’s ahead of me is completely unknown and different. What I do know is that whether we like it or not, we have been given an extraordinary and momentous opportunity to be able to take a step back and reassess all corners of the tourism machine. We can’t and shouldn’t put the pieces back together to make the same model- we should make something better. 

When I speak of tourism here I am referring to sustainable tourism which simply put is tourism that benefits the local community, economy, and environment. (aka- people, planet, profit)

Within my own business, I see immense opportunity for change and improvement. Because of the pause in travel that the pandemic has caused, I have had more time to really dive deep into the ethos of Purposeful Nomad. Before Purposeful Nomad reboots and starts going full force again I have been answering these questions about my business- Am I as transparent as I can be with my customers? Is Purposeful Nomad doing everything it says it’s doing? Are my supply chains honest, fair, and ethical? What are the areas of greatest success and improvement? What are my biggest challenges moving forward? Since the launch of the business 5 years ago it has really been full steam ahead without stopping. Building, expanding, developing, promoting- barely coming up for air. This constant movement can make it difficult to see the big picture or easy for things to get lost in the shuffle. Making sure a business is run sustainability- no matter what facet of it- takes time and effort and constant tending. 

I believe the future of sustainable tourism is strong and promising. This has been the most intense global crisis many of us have ever lived through and people will be changed. The clarity of how fortunate we are to buzz about the planet will hopefully lead to us caring for it and its people in a more thoughtful and attentive way. The innate desire to explore and connect will be greater than ever and I believe people will be more prudent to where their tourism dollars are going.  Until that happens I am more grateful than ever that at least our beautiful planet has been able to have a great big sigh of relief.

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Caitlin Murray

Caitlin Murray

Caitlin Murray, is the owner of Purposeful Nomad, a tour company that pushes beyond the tourist facade to provide authentic experiences that not only gives travelers an adventure of a lifetime, but also provides an opportunity to explore in a way that empowers local communities. The vision for Purposeful Nomad was born from the many personal journeys of Caitlin Murray, and the friends she made along the way. From her experience running a eco-hotel in Portland, Oregon to teaching English in Chile, to becoming a tour guide in the Dominican Republic and living abroad, her passion for integrating community connections has taught her more about the world than anything else. When not being nomadic, she happily resides in Portland, OR enjoying the abundance of family, food and nature!

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