Thoughts and reflections by prof. Besim Agušaj, HTM program
We are witnessing a serious social and economic situation. Health of our loved ones, family and friends is the most important priority at this point. Yet, too often the whole crisis is presented as if this is the end of the world, that we are reaching a point of breaking etc.
However, we forget, that as a society we poses huge agility, flexibility and resilience. We showed this throughout history. In that light, I asked students from my International Destination Management class to reflect on what can we learn from this crisis (business-wise and in the context of managing a destination).
We wanted to explore whether there can be something positive coming out of this situation. Our key question was: how should Dubrovnik (as a destination) improve its competitiveness/attractiveness as a global tourist destination; during and after the ongoing crisis? I introduced this topic simply because we as a school firmly believe that all businesses, hotels, restaurants, DMCs, DMOs (at every level) must start thinking beyond the crisis – specifically - how to bring our destination back to normalcy, and improve.
There were some interesting thoughts that students shared, and the message is: we know that people will always travel, this will never stop! Just look at historic data and we will see that we are capable of bouncing back from major setbacks. Some destinations went through havoc – and survived much, much worse crisis than what we currently experience. Students were asked to watch a short documentary on the 2004 tsunami disaster (Banda Aceh, Indonesia) where 120.000 people died and all infrastructure, homes, businesses were destroyed – physically gone. Banda Aceh managed to come back, and not only come back, but they learned their lesson and improved their destination with new urban planning and new service standards.
Students expressed their ideas how this crisis may, in fact, be an opportunity to rethink all our current tourism strategies (from national to city level), improve products, develop/build more robust businesses that may withstand future setbacks (economic crisis are, after all, cyclical in nature).
This too shall pass; it will undoubtedly change our reality (it already has!), but we need to lead this change, not (only ) manage it! Our homes, businesses and infrastructure are solid and ready to restart.
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