In the first of a series of guest columns for Travel Daily, Simon Nowroz, former managing director of Travelport Asia Pacific and founder of London-based innovation studio, The Amazing Mr Anderson, discusses his vision for the future of tourism development in Asia…
I arrived in Asia in late 2003 for what was meant to be a two-year assignment. I left in 2013 having witnessed 10 years of incredible growth and development.
I saw new airports and highways built where empty fields once stood, shopping malls and retail outlets blanketed Asia’s cities and apartment blocks were built, renovated, knocked down and rebuilt with incredible regularity. Whole districts morphed into parts of a global village where any sense of place or identity simply melted into an undistinguished sprawl of neon lit infrastructure.
This was the decade of doing and everybody was busy. These were the go-go years. No one slept; everyone was on 24-7 and proud of it. There were no limits to what could be achieved. We were in the midst of an economical miracle.
Two years on I would suggest it wasn’t so much an economical miracle as an economic experiment, and the results of the experiment are mixed. Specifically in the travel and tourism sector we did get some things right. Beacon Asian brands emerged in the hospitality and LCC space, inter regional travel prospered and supported local regional trade and new infrastructure promoted the possibility of more effective ecological processes.
Where the sector might want to re-examine its approach is around proper and effective city and rural planning, community and social inclusion, creation of non monetary value or wealth, a move from a linear production model to a circular one and less of a reliance on technology solutions alone to solve social, civic and ecological problems.
I am also fascinated by what role Asia’s strong community orientated culture will play in the next phase of this experiment. If Asia simply continues pursuing a global one size fits all model it will be a great shame and a lost opportunity. There is room for regional imagination and local identity in this experiment, and Asia’s travel leaders should be active and vocal in ensuring the very things that make Asia continue to be part of Asian economic experiment.
My organisation has helped firms across a range of industries explore alternative strategies and business models. In doing so they have invented some truly ingenious ways of evolving into what I would describe as socio-ecologically interesting businesses. They have found ways to be inclusive of their communities, have harnessed renewable energy and have re-ordered their value chain so it is principled on the notion of sustainable cradle-to-cradle products and services.
CLICK HERE to read more about The Amazing Mr Anderson.