last week your humble editor finally managed to leave Germany for the first time in more than a year to attend the WTFI BODRUM Conference. I am vividly remembering the last weeks of 2019, when I travelled to Vientiane/Laos to work on the localization of our CTT China Tourism Training with colleagues from the Laotian tourism ministry, returned to my university for two days of teaching and then went back to Laos for another three days of presenting the first localised training myself as a model for the group of lecturers who were going to bring this empowerment for the Chinese outbound market to the different parts of the country. Coming home on December 29th, 2019, I thought that I travelled too much in the year with 70+ flights on record, hoping that 2020 would be a bit slower. As they say: Be careful what you wish for! It was only on June 9th, 2021, that I returned to Hamburg airport, this time to fly to Bodrum via Istanbul, with a fresh negative test result, mask on, and all the other necessary precautions are taken. Oh what a joy to squeeze into the seat of the Pegasus Airbus A320neo, the only once-a-day direct connection currently available between Hamburg and Istanbul. It had been only a few days before that the German government decided that one did not have to go into quarantine after returning from Turkey and accordingly that it became possible for me to attend the conference in the flesh.
The World Tourism Forum Institute has been since 2015 organising several big Global Tourism Forums, with major politicians and other VIPs attending each time. For Bodrum Mr. Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the UK, gave words of greeting via Internet, but Dr. Taleb Rifai, former Secretary General of UNWTO and now Secretary General of WTFI attended in person and started the conference with an aspiring keynote, which was quoted by many other speakers during the day. The conference was dubbed the “Blue Davos”, reflecting on the blue water and the blue sky of the “Ibiza of Turkey”. Most speakers, from several African ministers of tourism to Members of the European parliament and the Mayor of Bodrum, agreed that the time has come for a return to more quality in tourism instead of a simple concentration on quantitative growth.
However, besides the many interesting presentations and panels and besides the opportunity for your humble editor to give a presentation about Chinese outbound tourism in post-pandemic times, the best experience surely were the many face-to-face meetings, discussions and casual talks. After such a long time one has almost forgotten how much better and fruitful communication can be if not restricted to Zoom and WhatsApp.
Let us all hope that this now becomes “normal” again and that we all can catch up in our direct social contacts. This, needless to say, includes not the least meeting many of you, dear readers, again at a fair or conference or in a project COTRI is doing for you to restart China’s outbound tourism.
As always, best wishes from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the whole COTRI WEEKLY team.