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The Role of Indigenous Tourism in Developing Conscious Hosts


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Developing an alternative model to mass, industrialised tourism will require hosts to adopt a different mindset. In this paper the relevance of indigenous values is explored and their impact on the role of hosts in the future is explored.

Published in: Business, Travel
  • Certainly an ambitious document! I am sharing this with indigenous friends who happen to be tourism professionals in Oaxaca. We'll also embed this and bring it up for discussion during Indigenous Peoples Week (August 6-12).
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  • Hi Anna - great work! I'd love to be a part of the conversation - however you should know that I like to play the role of 'Devil's Advocate' ...

    I think your thesis may be too ideological to be practical/applied. I'm also unclear as to how the 'conscious travel' movement differs from the industry trend towards more sustainable travel. In either case, I feel there needs to be a market component to your thesis - how is this going to improve sales for a business in a small, remote indigenous community? The market you are targeting (i.e. the immersive cultural traveller) seems to me to be an extremely small niche - most market research would argue that it's too small to make economic sense. Tourism (conscious or otherwise) is a business first and foremost, and to remain viable profits must exceed expenses. In the words of Peter Drucker, 'The purpose of business is to create a customer.' Your 'transformational' experience may be makeable, but is it marketable?

    I would also submit that in the 'age of the consumer' where social media and m-commerce are drastically changing the tourism landscape, it is not the host (tour operators) that will drive change one at a time, but rather the demands of the guest. We are seeing that in other industries already. Competitive edge will come down to the best customer service - how well can you customize your product/service to meet the needs of a growing desire for a 'unique', personal experience. Mass customization.

    I also think that for a majority of indigenous tourism providers, the business management and marketing aspects are the achilles tendon. Your assumption that these business skills have been 'mastered' does not hold true for most of the tourism industry - which is dominated by 'lifestyle', family-run businesses - and in my experience is one of the greatest challenge in small, indigenous communities that further struggle with numerous social issues that result from being disenfranchized.

    Anyways - I have lots more thoughts. I think this is a valuable conversation to have and again - I'd love to be a part of it. You have a lot of good information and ideas in your paper - it could be fun to break them out and cover them one at a time, in a series of shorter posts that would attract a wider readership.

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  • Very interesting document...
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The Role of Indigenous Tourism in Developing Conscious Hosts

  1. 1. The Role of Indigenous Tourism in Developing ConsciousHosts and Accelerating the Tourism ShiftBackgroundIn  a  previous  paper,  Can  Tourism  Change  its  Operating  Model,  I  presented  some  preliminary  thoughts  regarding  the  need  for  a  new  model  to  emerge  that  offsets  the  harm  caused  by  an  industrial  model  that  has  dominated  tourism’s  growth  over  the  past  60  years.  Here  I  share  my  current  thinking  about  the  role  that    tourism  providers  (hosts)  can  play  in  bringing  about  the  shift  and  their  need  to  adopt  a  very  different  mindset  to  that  which  has  underpinned  the  old  model.  While  the  way  leading  thinkers  and  practitioners  of  responsible,  eco,  sustainable,  geo  and  fair  trade  tourism  see  the  world  (their  worldview  or  mindset)  may  have  some  similarities  to  the  worldview  held  by  indigenous  peoples,  the  role  that  indigenous  tourism  can  play  in  helping  the  shift  has  not  been  fully  recognized  or  acknowledged.  This  paper  constitutes  a  Dirst  attempt  on  my  part  to  address  that  imbalance  and  stimulate  a  rich  exchange  of  ideas  and  concepts  between  all  parties  in  order  to  accelerate  the  emergence  of  a  new  model:    Conscious  Travel    The Power of Place and The Role of Indigenous HostsThe  shift  from  a  mass,  industrialised  form  of    tourism  will  require  a  shift  in  focus  from  "products"  to  "places."  Products  are  artiDicial  creations  that  can  be  reproduced  and  undersold  and,  as  a  result,  become  commodities  that  only  generate  diminishing  returns  to  their  owner/sellers.Places,  on  the  other  hand,  cannot  be  reproduced  -­‐  unless  you  have  13.5  billion  years  to  wait  –  as  each  place  is  both  geographically  and  historically  unique.  The  visitors  experience  is  subjective  (personal  and  emotional)  and  speciDic  to  the  time  when  they  experience  the  place.    Thus,  in  a  sense,  “places”    have  uniqueness  to  the  power  of  four  (value  of  a  place  =  geography  *  history  *  visitor  *  the  timing  of  their  experience).  Uniqueness  and  scarcity  will  recoup  higher  yields  than  bland  sameness  and  homogeneity.Furthermore,  the  focus  on  products  accentuates  the  sense  of  fragmentation  that  dominates  travel  Anna Pollock • email: • Founder, Conscious Travel 1
  2. 2. and  tourism  and  does  not  recognize  that  our  guests  have  complete  experiences  made  of  several  elements.  Focusing  on  a  guest’s    “place  experience”  necessitates  collaboration  and  working  together  as  a  community.  So  the  big  questions  of  the  day  are  –  how  do  we  make  that  shift  from  product  to  place?    And  what  would  that  shift  look  like?  Given  the  fact  that  tourism  is  a  network,  change  will  have  to  come  from  within  the  system,  and  from  the  bottom  up.  That’s  why  I  place  so  much  focus  on  the  role  of  the  host  in  initiating  change  in  order  to  attract  a  customer  who  will  value  their  experience  more  highly.    We  know  that    "conscious  travelers"  want  to  experience  a  place  different  in  character  from  their  origin;  seek  what  they  deem  to  be  "real",  authentic,  local  and  exotic;  wish  to  slow  down  and  savour  their  experience;  want  to  learn  and  are  keen  to  ensure  their  visit  beneDits  the  local  community.  Who  else  but  the  hosts  within  a  community  will  bear  the  brunt  of  responsibility  for  meeting  these  desires?So  leaving  it  to  the  DMO  to  commission  yet  another  branding  strategy  or  to  the  local  Council  to  undertake  another  beautiDication  project  and  grant  a  licence  to  a  farmer’s  market,  won’t  work.  After  a  while  every  rejuvenated  community  starts  to  look  the  same  too  and  every  brand  merges  into  another!  Hosts    (i.e.,  tourism  communities)  need  to  adopt  a  new  set  of  lenses  for  perceiving  their  world  and  shaping  their  values.  For  as  long  as  hosts  approach  the  problem  of  yield  with  the  same  mindset  that  created  the  lack  of  it,  they  are  doomed  to  experience  the  same  results.  But  there  is    no  need  to  start  with  a  blank  sheet.  Huge  lessons  are  to  be  learned  from  indigenous  people  throughout  the  globe  4irstly  because  they  have  the  most  vital  sense  of  place,  and  secondly.  because  they  express  the  cultural  diversity  so  vital  to  our  health  as  humanity.  Indigenous  peoples  were  able  to  live  sustainably  and  in  relative  harmony  with  nature  for  thousands  of  years  largely  because  they  had  a  different  mindset  to  the  one  that  has  dominated  perception  in  the  so-­‐called  industrialised  world  for  the  past  300  years  or  so.  Instead  of  trying  to  absorb  indigenous  cultures  into  the  tourism  mainstream,  conscious  hosts  will  commit  to  listening  and  learning  from  some  of  the  oldest,  most  sustainable  cultures  on  the  planet.  More  importantly,  tourism  can,  IF  consciously  and  sensitively  undertaken,    potentially  assist  in  the  preservation  of  what  Wade  Davis  calls  the  “ethnosphere”  -­‐  a  term  describing  “the  sum  total  of  all  thoughts  and  intuitions,  myths  and  beliefs,  ideas  and  inspirations  brought  into  being  by  human  being  since  the  dawn  of  consciousness.” 1  While  much  attention  is  now  being  paid  to  the  loss  of  biodiversity  on  the  planet,  the  destruction  of  our  cultural  diversity  is  generally  ignored.  Anthropologists  predict  that  fully  50%  of  the  7000  languages  spoken  around  the  world  today  will  disappear  in  our  lifetime.  As  Wade  Davis  so  eloquently  describes  the  loss:  “Every  language  is  an  old-­growth  forest  of  the  mind,  a  watershed  of  thought,  an  ecosystem  of  spiritual  possibilities.I  do  not  believe,  nor  am  I  suggesting,  that  we  try  to  turn  the  clock  back  -­‐  simply  that  we  honour  the  wisdom  and  knowledge  our  indigenous  kin  have  safeguarded;  revisit  the  values  we  have  lost  in  our  rush  towards  “progress;”  and  apply  them  in  fresh  ways  appropriate  to  our  time.  As  a  person  of  British  origin  (mostly  Celt),    infused  with  a  lifetime  of  western  education  and  experience  in  a  consumer  society,  I  can  only  present  my  perceptions  –  based  on  limited  observation  and  experience  –  of  the  indigenous  worldview.    I  appeal  therefore  to  my  indigenous  friends  and  colleagues  to  add  to  this  discussion.    Features of an Indigenous World ViewI  believe  the  indigenous  "worldview"  has  six  core  features  that,  if  adopted  and  applied  by  hosts  in  a  tourism  community  would  deliver  more  sustainable  incomes  to  hosts,  more  beneDits  to  host  communities  and  more  delight  to  guests.Anna Pollock • email: • Founder, Conscious Travel 2
  3. 3. 1.  A  Sense  of  Kinship Indigenous  people  enjoy  a  very  different   relationship  with  the  natural  environment  than   those  of  us  brought  up  in  European  and  North   American  cultures.      Earth  is  not  seen  as  a  separate   lumberyard  of  resources  to  be  exploited  –  taken,   hoarded  and  used  for  the  purpose  of  individual   wealth  creation  -­‐  but  as  part  of  an  organic  living   system  that  connects  all  life  in  a  cycle  of  give  and   take,  death  and  re-­‐birth.  A  person  with  an   indigenous  perspective  wouldnt  talk  about  walking   in  Nature  as  if  Nature  were  a  separate  place.     Instead,  they  would  see  themselves  as  an  integral,  inseparable  aspect  of  a  Nature  whose  whole  could  not  be  reduced  to  individual  components.  In  an  indigenous  community,  other  life  forms  are  viewed  as  kin  -­‐  the  Lakota  have  a  prayer  Mitakuye  Oyasin  which  means  All  My  Relations  honouring  the  sacredness  of  each  persons  individual  spiritual  path,  and  acknowledging  the  sacredness  of  all  life  (human,  animal,  plant,  etc.).  Luther   Standing  Bear,  a  great  leader  of  the  Lakota  expressed  this   integral  sense  of  kinship  this  way  in  19332:  "From   Wakan   Tanka,   the   Great   Spirit,   there   came   a   great   unifying   life   force   that   Flowed   in   and  through  all  things  -­-­  the  Flowers  of   the  plains,  blowing   winds,  rocks,  trees,   birds,  animals  -­-­  and  was  the  same  force  that  had  been   breathed  into   the  First  man.  Thus  all  things  were  kindred,  and   were   brought  together  by  the  same  Great  Mystery.”  Life  on  this  earth  and  all  the  aspects  that  sustain  life  and  happiness  (earth,  air,  Dire,  and  water  that,  together,  provide  sustenance  plus  the  materials  to  create  shelter  and  tools)  are  experienced  as  precious  gifts  that  must  be  acknowledged  appreciated  and  reciprocated.    A  concept  core  to  Polynesian  culture  is  “UTU”  -­‐  the  notion  of  reciprocity  and  balance.  Andean  peoples  refer  to  “sacred  reciprocity”  as  ayni,    One  of  the  most  enduring  ceremonies  expressing  ayni  in  indigenous  Andean  life  is  the  practice  of  making  offerings,  or  despachos,  to  the  Pachamama,  Mother  Earth.  3Indigenous  peoples  have  been  extending  hospitality  to  invaders  for  most  of  their  recent  history    and,  given  their  sense  of  kinship  and  given  their  sense  of  UTU  (as  deDined  in  Polynesia),  they  are  as  practiced  as  they  are  generous.  2.  A  Sense  of  PlaceI  believe  it  is  this  Sense  of  Kinship  that  fuels  and  enables  the  deep  sense  of  place  held  by  indigenous  people.  Every  day  when  they  step  out  of  their  dwelling,  they  experience  being  surrounded  by  the  spirits  of  their  ancestors,  an  extended  family  of  brothers,  sisters,  aunts,  uncles,  cousins,  and  grandparents,  mingling  with  the  spirits  of  all  beings  (plants,  animals,  minerals)  located  in  their  immediate  vicinity.  This  immersion  in  a  real  but  invisible  web  of  connection  strengthens  that  sense  of  identity  with  and  belonging  to  a  speciDic  place  and  engenders  an  acute  awareness  of  the  natural  world.  Deeper  than  that  sense  of  connection  lies  an  innate  recognition  and  inner  knowing  that  form  is  not  the  only  reality.  All  form  is,  in  fact,  a  manifestation  of  spirit  and  energy.  Invisible  forces  shape  and  mould  the  external  forms  that  our  physical  senses  perceive.  Anna Pollock • email: • Founder, Conscious Travel 3
  4. 4. The  Kogi,  a  tribe  in  the  Andean  mountains  of  Columbia  argue  that  there  is  no  life  without  thought.  Their  enlightened  ones  –  the  Mamas  –  dedicate  their  lives  to  holding  all  planetary  life  in  balance.  4Every  place  accumulates  in  its  “place  memory”  the  patterns  of  interaction  between  life  forms  that  shape  its  essence  or  spirit.  This  invisible  force,  that  resides  in  people,  animals,  places  and  inanimate  objects,  is  referred  to  as  MANA  in  Polynesian  cultures  and  its  presence  makes  all  places  sacred  to  indigenous  people.  It  is  this  Sense  of  Place  that  enables  indigenous  people  to  effortlessly  offer  the  “authentic”  experience  conscious  travelers  seek.  But  authenticity  can  never  be  manufactured.  It’s  the  natural  state  of  things  that  emerges  from  connection  to  a  place  and  is  expressed  in  the  language,  art,  food,  ritual,  dance,  daily  routine,  and  prayers  associated  with  each  place  and  community.    Connectedness  leads  to  authenticity  that  expresses  the  integrity,  the  essence,  or  the  spirit  of  a  community.  3.  A  Sense  of  RespectWhen  you  see  all  life  forms  as  connected,  as  your  relations,  as  your  family;  when  you  sense  or  see  no  separation  and  know  in  the  depth  of  your  being  that  what  you  do  to  others  (either  in  this  generation  or  in  generations  to  follow)  is  being  done  to  you;  you  develop  a  healthy  respect  for  all  life  forms.  The  master  carver  will  thank  a  tree  prior  to  its  felling  for  giving  its  life,  its  strength  and  suppleness  to  become  a  safe  canoe  capable  of  traversing  vast  distances  of  the  PaciDic  Ocean.  In  addition  to  these  rituals  that  arise  from  a  sense  of  UTU,  reciprocity,  and  give  and  take,  indigenous  cultures  also  develop  a  complex  set  of  rules  to  ensure  that  its  people  understand  and  obey  nature’s  laws.  Known  as  TAPU,  these  rules  set  boundaries  on  human  behaviour.  They  form  the  cultural  glue  that  bind  a  people  together  and  enable  them  to  sustain  a  livelihood  on  the  land.  In  Australian  aboriginal  cultures,  for  example,  it  is  TAPU  for  humans  to  walk  on  Uluru,  yet  every  year  ignorant  and  indifferent  tourists  disregard  the  polite  requests  made  by  local  residents  to  obey  this  injunction.  In  this  video  link,  you’‘ll  meet  an  indigenous  but  thoroughly  modern  Samoan  high  chief,  Vaimasenu’u  Zita  Sefo  Martel,  operator  of  an  inbound  tour  company,  talk  about  the  power  of  TAPU  in  her  country  where  there  is  concern  that  rising  incomes  and  western  developments  are  slowly  undermining  the  cultural  tapestry  that  sustained  Samoan  culture  for  centuries.  54.  A  Sense  of  CustodianshipThe  word  most  frequently  associated  with  indigenous  cultures  all  over  the  world  is  “custodianship”.  Not  only  does  the  tribe  enjoy  the  gift  of  life  and  the  place  it  occupies,  but  lives  the  responsibility  for  taking  care  of  it.  The  word  CARE  seems  more  appropriate  than  the  word  responsibility  which  seems  to  suggest  an  act  of  duty  rather  than  an  act  of  joy.  The  reason  the  Golden  Rule  of  “do  unto  others  as  you  would  do  unto  yourself”  applies  in  indigenous  culture  is  perhaps  because  there  is  little  sense  of  separation  and  estrangement  -­‐  we  all  breathe  the  same  air;  we  all  are  made  of  the  same  star  dust;  we  all  are  one.  The  following  description  from  the  Te  Papa  Museum  in  Wellington  sums  up  what  a  sense  of  care  means  to  the  Maori: “Each  iwi  (tribe)  has  its  own  mana  (authority  and  power)  handed  down  from  ancient  times. With  this  comes  the  responsibility  of  kaitiakitanga  (guardianship).  Iwi  are  charged  with   protecting  and  looking  after  their  ancestral  lands  and  waters,  their  resources,  and  their  Anna Pollock • email: • Founder, Conscious Travel 4
  5. 5. values  and  customs,  as  well  as  with  deciding  how  they  will  be  used.   In  Maori  custom,  iwi  are  the  guardians  of  their  rohe  (tribal  areas)  for  generations  to  come.  So   we  don’t  think  only  about  the  present,  but  also  work  to  preserve  the  life-­sustaining  properties   of  our  forests,  lands,  and  waters  for  the  future.  5.  A  Sense  of  Time  and  PaceIndigenous  people  do  not  perceive  time  in  fragments  along  a  linear  “arrow  like”  chain  from  past  through  present  and  future  but  as  a  circular  movement  associated  with  cyclical,  seasonal  changes  (movement  of  the  moon,  sun  and  stars)  and  the  natural  ebb  and  Dlow  of  life  (birth,  growth,  maturation,  reDlection,  death).  As  a  result,  their  perspective  is  multi  generational  and  their  present  always  encompasses  the  wisdom  of  their  ancestors  accrued  over  time  through  past  experiences.  They  are  able  to  consider  a  topic  from  many  perspectives  and  don’t  get  stuck  believing  that  a  contemporary  perspective  is  the  only  one  worth  using.  Events  occur  “when  the  time  is  right  and  the  circumstances  propitious  or  favourable”    and  not  according  to  some  speciDic  point  in  a  calendar.  Indigenous  people  live  the  “slow  life”  because  such  a  way  of  living  is  vital  to  sustain  the  connection  with  all  the  life  that  teams  around  them.  They  are  unhurried  in  order  to  be  able  to  observe,  to  listen,  to  hear  and  pay  attention  to  the  guidance  that  is  being  offered  by  life  at  every  moment.  They  know  how  to  savour  experience.  They  live  what  the  conscious  traveller  seeks.     6.  A  Sense  of    Aliveness   Indigenous  people  don’t  live  in  a  dead  world  of  things,  of   efDicient  but  soulless  processes,  and  planned  but  sterile   spaces  Dilled  with  objects  engineered  not  grown,   manufactured  not  crafted.  They  experience  the  world  as  it  is   –  alive  –  messy,  organic,  sometimes  dirty,  other  times   exquisitely  beautiful,  sometimes  profoundly  painful  and   other  times  inspirational  and  ever  changing.   Indigenous  people  know  how  to  celebrate  life  –  the  good,   the  bad  and  the  ugly  –  in  all  kinds  of  creative  ways  –  through   painting,  architecture,  drumming,  song,  dance,  storytelling   and  poetry.  In  their  societies  they  have  shamans,  magicians,   jesters,  clowns,  entertainers,  dancers,  singers  just  like  many  other  cultures.  Anyone  and  everyone  is  considered  capable  of  contributing  to  the  celebration.  Each  form  of  celebration  reDlects  the  unique  place  in  which  it  takes  place.  And  it’s  a  celebration  of  the  sheer  miracle  of  being  alive  and  the  ineffable  joy  and  mystery  of  creation  itself.    Celebration  isn’t  an  event  that  someone  organizes  so  specialists  can  perform  and  others  pay  to  watch.  Celebration  is  never  a  transaction  but  a  communal  dance  or  conversation  –  sometimes  a  ritualistic  one  -­‐  among  people  with  each  other  and  with  life  itself.  These  kinds  of  celebrations  have  healing  qualities  as  you  will  see  from  this  description  out  of  a  desperately  poor  village  in  Zimbabwe. In  Africa  –  besieged  by  grief  and  loss,  endlessly  suffering  from  abuse,  hunger,  disease  –  it  is   still  possible  to  experience  what  it  means  to  be  fully  human,  fully  alive.  In  moments  of  grief,   people  stand  up  and  dance,  not  to  deny  the  pain,  but  to  use  that  searing  energy  and   metabolize  it  into  movement,  even  into  joy.  In  moments  of  frustration,  people  convert  the  red   energy  of  anger  into  intense  physical  rhythms  –  singing,  clapping,  drumming.…..    In  this  we   are  witnessing  alchemical  transformation,  working  with  the  darkest  human  emotions  and   turning  them  into  brief  moments  of  gold.  6To  be  alive  is  to  be  whole  –  all  aspects  of  your  being  (physical,  mental,  emotion  and  spiritual)  spinning  on  all  four  cylinders.  Now  here’s  where  the  connection  with  travel  gets  really  interesting.  The  word  “holiday”  actually  means  “  a  day  to  be  holy”  or  made  whole.  So-­‐called  primitive  people  recognized  that  a  life  of  all  work  and  no  play  would  dessicate  the  spirit  and  deprive  it  of  its  vitality.  Thus  tourism  had  its  earliest  foundations  in  the  need  to  be  whole  or  to  be  healed.  People  took  time  Anna Pollock • email: • Founder, Conscious Travel 5
  6. 6. off  to  celebrate  life  in  the  form  of  festivals  and  days  of  spiritual  worship  and  celebration.  A  critical  part  of  those  events  was  recognition  of  the  spiritual  sources  (the  Gods  and  spirits)  that  made  the  time  and  event  sacred  or  holy  and  gave  it  meaning.  Note:    this  is  a  very  cursory  summary  of  a  way  of  seeing  that  is  incredibly  profound  and  rich.  It  may  not  be  100%  accurate  and  certainly  only  scratches  the  surface.  But  is  hopefully  sufDicient  at  this  moment  to  stimulate  curiosity  and  open  up  a  dialogue.    The Role of Hosts in Shifting Tourism from One Model to AnotherThe  shift  in  operating  model  cannot  be  envisioned  or  lead  from  the  “top  down”  through  amendments  to  tourism  policies;  the  introduction  of  rewards  (incentives)  or  punishments  (taxes,  levies,  surcharges  etc);  imposition  of  checklists,  criteria  and  certiDication  even  though  each  of  these  instruments  may  help  in  some  cases  accelerate  or  guide  the  shift.The  shift  will  occur  one  host  at  a  time  -­‐  when  individual  providers  decide  that  there  has  to  be  a  better  way  to  provide  a  living  for  themselves  and  their  families,  to  Dind  meaning  and  purpose  in  doing  so,  to  generate  net  beneDit  to  the  broader  community  and  to  ensure  long  term  vitality,  resilience  and  adaptability.  Hosts  will  discover  that  the  shift  is  easier,  less  risky  and  more  fun  when  it  is  attempted  in  good  company  by  collaborating  with  peers,  including  some  competitors,    in  their  community.  In  any  given  destination,  if  just  5%  of  providers  commit  to  becoming  Conscious  Hosts  and  helping  each  other  make  the  shift  then  change  is  assured.The  movement  from  an  industrial  to  an  ecological  model  requires  a  shift  in  the  role  and  activities  of  hosts.  In  the  industrial  model  the  hosts  is  a  cog  in  a  machine  -­‐  a  specialist  who  depends  on  a  speciDic  set  of  knowledge  and  skills  to  undertake  particular  functions:  hotel  manager,  activity  operator,   inbound  tour  operator,  event  manager,  etc.  In  the  emerging  new   model  -­‐  where  the  focus  is  on  supporting  a  customer’s   experience  of  a  place  -­‐  the  host  must  assume  a  broader  spectrum   of  roles.    He  or  she  doesn’t  need  to  do  all  well  but:   a)    be  aware  that  they  must  play  many  of  the  roles  some  of  the   time;  and   b)    chose  those  roles  which  their  personality,  personal  passions   and  talents  are  most  suited  and  excel  at  those. Note:  I  am  assuming  that  the  host  will  have  mastered   conventional  business  /  management  skills.  What’s  presented   here  are  the  functions  that  must  be  undertaken  and  the  roles  that   must  be  fulDilled  in  a  destination  community  if  the  hosts  and  residents  are  to  attract,  engage  and  support  conscious  travellers  most  effectively.    Please  note  also  that  I  am  not  being  prescriptive  about  HOW  these  roles  are  fulFilled  as  I  am  convinced  that  each  individual  host  and  the  community  of  hosts  they  form  will  express  these  roles  in  unique  ways  to  reFlect  their  uniqueness  as  people  and  the  uniqueness  of  the  place  in  which  they  operate.  1. Be  Connectors The  intelligence  of  any  system  depends  not  on  the  number  of  elements  (neurons,  hubs,  self   organising  agents)  but  on  the  quantity  and  quality  of  connections  between  them.  Contrary  to   popular  perception,  the  intelligence  of  any  organism  (cell,  human  body,  human  organisation)  lies   in  its  membrane  (how  and  where  it  interfaces  with  the  environment)  as  opposed  to  its  nucleus.   Thus  a  vitally  important  role  of  a  host  in  any  community  is  to  connect  people  (guest  to  guest;   guest  to  other  hosts;  hosts  to  hosts;  and  hosts  to  the  rest  of  community)and  to  provide  settings   that  enable  those  encounters  to  be  fruitful  in  terms  of  the  production  of  new  ideas  (innovation)   and  their  diffusion.  Hosts  need  to  master  this  task  both  online  and  ofDline.   Sadly,  conventional  approaches  to  economic  development  under  appreciate  and  undervalue  this  Anna Pollock • email: • Founder, Conscious Travel 6
  7. 7. connecting  function.  As  all  economic  sectors  are  valued  and  rated  according  to  their   “productivity”  (GDP  per  unit  or  per  capita)  tourism  scores  poorly  and  is  often  disdained  as  a   result.  What  is  not  appreciated  is  the  fact  that  the  travel  sector  -­‐  through  its  daily  contact  with   visitors  to  a  community  -­‐  is,  in  fact  acting  as  the  “membrane”  that  enables  the  community  to  Dirst   learn  of  changes  in  the  surrounding  environment  that  could  affect  its  future.    Similarly,  within   conventional  tourism  organisations,  the  frontline  (the  membrane  or  skin  of  an  organisation)  is   considered  of  peripheral  importance  (pun  intended!);  paid  least  and  rarely  included  in  strategic   decision  making  even  though  it  is  probably  most  in  tune  with  the  changing  needs  and  opinions  of   guests.   2. Be  Attractors Along  with  many  others  I  have  described  the  shift  of  marketing  from  “Push  to  Pull”  -­‐  see  here.  The   role  of    hosts  will    shift  from  promoting  or  pushing  a  message  somewhat  intrusively  on  a  target  to   one  of  listening  to  an  ideal  customer  in  order  to  learn  how  best  to  serve  and  support  them Marketing  is  now  about  identifying  who  would  make  the  ideal  customers  based  on  the  host’s   values,  ideals  and  sense  of  purpose  that  have  informed  “We cannot win this battle to save species and  shaped  the  experience  on  offer;  then  attracting  that   guest  by  creating  an  emotional  connection.  The  best  way   and environment without forging an to  do  the  latter  is  through  creative  story  telling  about  the   place  and  the  personalities  who  have  shaped  it.   emotional bond between ourselves and Conscious  hosts  will  therefore  apply  themselves  to  really  nature as well - for we will not fight to save understand  what  makes  their  place  special  and  different  what we do not love.” Stephen J. Gould by  acquiring  an  in-­‐depth  knowledge  of  its  history,   geography    and  cultural  anthropology.    Hosts  will  be  the   ardent  champions  and  interpreters  for  their  place  NOT  by   simply  claiming  it  is  the  best  place  on  earth  but  by  communicating  its  unique  qualities  and   particular  ways  of  providing  delight  and  satisfaction.  Their  stories  shouldn’t  be  limited  to  topics   that  are  entertaining  or  quaint  but  should  really  help  the  guest  feel  that  they  have  got  under  the   skin  of  community  by  understanding  not  just  its  past  but  its  aspirations  for  the  future.   Hosts,  therefore,  are  the  attractors,  the  magnets  that  pull  guests  towards  a  place  because  they  are   able  to  tell  its  stories  and  communicate  its  essence,    its  spirit.    Their  passion  and  enthusiasm  will   ideally  “infect”  their  guests  such  that  they  too  become  ardent  champions  and  “infect”  their  peers   when  they  return  home.   Anna Pollock • email: • Founder, Conscious Travel 7
  8. 8. In  New  Zealand,  in  a  ground  breaking  study  called  “Standing  in  My  Shoes”:  they  have  called  this   process  of  creating  infection  “creating  wow  or  ihi”  deDined  “as  aspects  of  an  overall  visitor   experience  or  components  of  the  experience  that  engage  and  connect  with  visitors  to  stimulate   them  emotionally,  physically  or  spiritually  and  create  a  powerful  memory”. Ihi  is  the  Māori  term  for  a  mental  wowing,  a  spine  tingling,  shudder-­inducing,  forceful   experience  that  stimulates  the  senses  and  leaves  a  powerful  impression  in  the  mind  of  the   recipient.  It  sits  alongside  two  complementary  concepts.    Other  aspects  of  ihi  can   include;Wana:  amazing,  glorious,  energetic,  uplifting  and  Wehi:  awe-­inspiring,  fearsome.7  So  given  what  ihi  means,  It  is  not  too  far  fetched  to  suggest  -­‐  as  we  did  in  this  post  a  while  ago,  when  musing  about  the  deep  purpose  of  travel,  that  the  real  goal  here  is  to  help  guests  “fall  in  love”  with  a  place  by  experiencing  a  sense  of  wonder  and  awe.    Stephen  Gould  has  suggested  that  we  will  not  Dight  to  save  what  we  do  not  love  and  David  Orr,  another  ecologist,  has  commented:  “I  do  not  know  whether  it  is  possible  to  love  the  planet  or  not,  but  I  do  know  it  is  possible  to  love  the  places  we  can  see,  touch,  smell  and  experience.”Psychologist  Eric  Fromm  was  the  Dirst  to  describe  the  concept  of  biophilia  -­‐  a  psychological  orientation  of  being  attracted  to  all  that  is  alive  and  vital  and  the  term  literally  means  “love  of  life  or  love  of  living  systems”.  More  recently  the  word  became  the  title  of  a  book  on  the  subject  by    Edward  O.  Wilson  and  was  deDined  as  “the  urge  to  afDiliate  with  other  forms  of  life.”    All  of  which  stress  the  need  for  hosts  to  get  in  touch  with  and  satisfy  the  deeper  emotional,  psychological  and  often  spiritual  motivations  of  their  guests  and  not  just  focus  on  material  comforts  or  operational  efDiciencies.  A  framework  for  attracting  and  engaging  international  visitors  that  resulted  in  ihi  is  reproduced  from  the  Standing  in  My  Shoes  report  in  the  Digure  below.3.      Be  EducatorsIf  a  new  model  is  to  replace  industrial  tourism,  the  number  and  proportion  of    conscious  travellers    must  expand.  Conscious  Hosts  are  the  ones  who  have  direct  contact  with  guests  and  often  have  the  best  opportunities  through  conversations  or  by  living  their  own  values  to  guide  guest  behaviour  and  help  their  guest  make  conscious  travel  decisions.  This  involves  far  more  than  the  discrete  placement  of  laminated  signs  in  bathrooms  telling  guests  to  hang  up  their  towels.  It  means  taking  every  opportunity  to  show  guests  how  to  respect  local  traditions;  how  to  behave;  how  to  select  responsible  suppliers;  and  how  to  ensure  that  their  spending  beneDits  the  local  community.  Conscious  hosts  should  also  remember  that  customers  are  not  always  right  and  that  travel,  especially  international  travel,  isn’t  a  right  but  a  privilege.    When  visitors  cross  into  another  country,  they  carry  a  responsibility  to  respect  the  rights  and  way  of  life  of  their  hosts.    In  this  respect,  hosts  are  encouraged  to  follow  the  advice  of    Vaimasenu’u  Sefo  Martel,  the  Polynesian  leader  speaking  in  the  video  included  on  page  4  of  this  paper,      and  “own  your  own  Dierceness”  that  comes  from  a  deep  sense  of  identiDication  with  a  place  and  its  peoples  and  a  passion  to  protect  both.The  effectiveness  with  which  hosts  can  inDluence  guests’  future  travel  choices  and  behaviour  will,  however,  depend  on  the  extent  to  which  they  are  fulDilling  the  Difth  role  as  active  custodians.  Anna Pollock • email: • Founder, Conscious Travel 8
  9. 9. 4.      Be  CustodiansAs  conscious  hosts  will  love  the  place  in  which  they  work  and  be  passionate  about  helping  their  guests  fully  enjoy  its  uniqueness,  then  they  too  will  naturally  wish  to  protect  it.  Furthermore,  since  hosts  depend  on  a  healthy,  balanced  ecosystem  and  the  rich,  diverse  cultures  that  form  the  distinct,  vibrant  places  that  are  the  settings  for  their  guest’s  experiences,  they  shoulder  a  direct  responsibility  for  its  stewardship.    Thus  Conscious  Hosts  will  be  active,  effective  and  committed  ”agents  for  change”  in  their  communities  advocating  and  often  enabling  measures  to  conserve  environments,  regenerate  local  cultures  and  prevent  further  damage  and  deterioration.  At  the  very  least,  conscious  hosts  will  be  walking  their  talk  and  treading  lightly  on  the  earth,  doing  all  they  can  to  minimise  waste  and  use  of  non-­‐renewable  resources.  They  will  create  “Places  That  Care”  and  measure  and  monitor  their  progress  so  that  any  claims  regarding  responsibility  can  immediately  be  proven  true.5.    Be  AwakenersOne  of  the  tragedies  of  modern  society  is  that  its  members  are  often  so  busy  packing  so  many  things  into  a  day  that  they  forget  how  to  live!    Furthermore,  the  sheer  volume  of  abrasive  stimuli  that  assault  our  senses  cause  many  to  resort  to  what  has  been  described  as  “pyschic  numbing”  in  order  to  cope.  In  fact  it  is  this  very  assault  on  our  senses  that  causes  many  to  want  to  “escape”,  to  “get  away”  on  vacation.    The  pace  of  modern  society  further  aggravates  the  problem.  Clearly  this  is  evidence  that  more  is  not  always  better.  So  in  this  context  the  role  of  the  Conscious  Host  is  to  help  the  guest  slow  down  in  the  destination;  learn  to  fully  savour  their  experience  by  awakening  all  their  senses;  and  wake  up  to  a  genuine  sense  of  aliveness.  6.    Be  Magician  Healers    Who  TransformAs  was  described  in  the  previous  paper,  Can  Tourism  Change  its  Operating  Model,  many  guests  are  changing  their  values  -­‐  no  longer  interested  on  acquisition  of  either  things  or  experiences  but  seeking  some  form  of  personal  growth  and  transformation.  Many  are  viewing  travel  as  an  opportunity  to  see  things  differently  or  to  be  changed  in  some  way.  Pine  and  Gilmore,  authors  of  the  seminal  work,  The  Experience  Economy,    were  the  Dirst  to  identify  The  Transformation  Economy  as  the  likely  next  phase  in  the  increasingly  complex  saga  of  consumption.Experiences  are  not  the  Final  offering.  Companies  can  escape  the  commoditization  trap  by  the  same  route  as  all  other  offerings:  customisation.  When  you  customise  an  experience  to  make  it  just  right  for  the  individual  –  providing  exactly  what  he  or  she  needs  right  now  –  you  cannot  help  changing  that  individual.  When  you  customize  an  experience,  you  automatically  turn  it  into  a  transformation….With  transformations,  the  economic  offering  of  a  company  is  the  individual  person  or  company  changed  as  the  result  of  what  the  company  does.  With  transformations,  the  customer  is  the  product!  The  individual  buyer  of  the  transformation  essentially  says,  “change  me”.If  the  Experience  Economy  is  the  commercial  expression  of  the  networked  Knowledge  /Information  Age,  then  it  is  fair  to  say  that  the  Transformation  Economy  is  the  outer,  transactional  expression  of  the  emerging  Age  of  Meaning  when  Dinally  the  needs  of  a  human’s  spirit  and  soul  are  met  in  the  marketplace  of  ideas  and  personal  services  rather  than  in  the  cloister,  temple  or  mosque.  And  here’s  the  rub.  Transformations  cannot  be  extracted,  made,  delivered  or  even  staged,  they  can  only  be  guided.  Transformations  occur  within  the  customer  and  can  only  be  made  by  them.  Transformative  transactions  are  truly  co-­‐creative.    All  of  which  points  to  the  Conscious  Host’s  Dinal,  Anna Pollock • email: • Founder, Conscious Travel 9
  10. 10. and  perhaps,  most  important  role  and  that  is  of  healer/magician.  Someone  who  creates  the  conditions  for  personal  transformation  to  occur.  ConclusionClearly,  I  am  suggesting  that  the  tourism  provider  (host)  of  tomorrow  will  be  expected  to  perform  a  very  much  more  demanding  set  of  roles  than  they  currently  assume  today.  But  unless  the  nature  of  the  guests’  experience  is  signiDicantly  enriched  through  a  more  profound,  meaningful  and  transformative  encounter  with  a  place  and  its  people,  providers  will  Dind  it  harder  to  prevent  being  dragged  down  the  steep  slope  of  commodiDication.  Thanks  to  the  rising  cost  of  all  inputs  (energy,  water,  food,  labour)  it  is  possible,  and  even  likely,  that  the  the  real  cost  of  travel  will  increase  and  consumers  will  travel  internationally  less  frequently.  All  the  more  reason  to  ensure  that  those  highly  prized  international  trips  generate  more  meaning  and  satisfaction  for  the  customer  and  more  beneDit  and  meaning  for  the  host  and  host  community.    Thus  the  task  ahead  is  integration  of  an  ancient,  indigenous  approach  to  a  very  contemporary  phenomenon.  The  following  chart  (on  Page  10)    shows  the  real  value  that  application  of  an  indigenous  perspective  could  have  to  shaping  an  energising  the  expanded  roles  of  a  conscious  host.   INTEGRATING  INDIGENOUS  PERSPECTIVES  INTO   THE  ROLE  OF  A  CONSCIOUS  HOST Indigenous Values Role of a Impact of an Indigenous Conscious Host Worldview KINSHIP CONNECTOR Host recognises that he/she are part of a community in which collaboration and mutual support are essential. Host is the social hub and acts as connector - linking guests to the host community, to other guests and the land/setting in which the experience occurs PLACE ATTRACTOR Host expresses, interprets what’s unique about the place; helps orchestrate the guests’ experience to ensure authenticity RESPECT EDUCATOR Host teaches by example what it means to be a conscious guest and respect local traditions and customs; CARE CUSTODIAN Host take responsibility for being the change agent and steward in terms of environmental regeneration and cultural preservation. TIME & PACE AWAKENER Host helps the guest slow down and empty (vacate) in order that he/she can be truly present and enjoy an experience that delights all the senses. ALIVENESS HEALER/ Host helps create the conditions whereby the guest can return home MAGICIAN changed in a way that generates deeper satisfaction and fulfillment.Anna Pollock • email: • Founder, Conscious Travel 10
  11. 11. The  new  frontier  for  tourism  will  be  found  in  every  community  where  there  is  a  group  of  curious,  determined  providers  willing  to  work  together,  to  experiment,  try,  fail  and  try  again  to  bring  about  a  new  form  of  tourism  that  is  environmentally  sustainable,  socially  just  and  spiritually  fulDilling.  Hopefully  these  ideas  might  provide  one  stepping  stone  towards  creating  that  reality.  I  appeal  to  my  readers  -­‐  especially  those  to  resonate  with  these  ideas  -­‐  to  add  their  own.  April  2012,  New  ZealandAnna  Pollocktheconscioushost@gmail.comPS.  With  nostalgia  I  noted  today  that  20  years  have  passed  since  I  made  my  Dirst  attempt  at  weaving  in  an  indigenous  perspective  to  tourism  in  Shifting  Gears  FOOTNOTES1 The Wayfinders - Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, Wade Davis,TheUniversity of Western Australia Publishing, 2009.2 Source: Ben Sherman, President, Native American Tourism Alliance in e-mailcorrespondence. I am indebted to Ben for his input to this essay/3 Pachamama Alliance Aluna - new documentary about the Kogi: Polynesian Xplorer Blog: www.polyxblog.wordpress.com6 Walk Out Walk On - A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Nowby Margaret Wheatley & Deborah Frieze, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 20117 Standing In Our Shoes: Pollock • email: • Founder, Conscious Travel 11