Skål International Thailand President talks on the future of tourism
KRABI, THAILAND: Wolfgang Grimm President of Skål International Thailand and owner of the Anana Ecological Resort in Krabi is passionate about the environment and how we as humans interact with mother nature.
He shares his thoughts below as he contemplates the future in a post Covid-19 world and invites dialogue to consider ways achieving a more sustainable future of tourism.
Tourism has come to a global stand still for the first time since WW2 presenting an opportunity to evaluate the resulting lessons and consequences. It’s important to take time to consider a reset to our industry, instead of returning to the old ways, Wolfgang believes.
He also encourages all of us to be more community minded. “We need to convert the environmental outcry of our children and the present crisis to engage in mobilising the local community with small, easily achievable sustainable activities to common benefit,” he said.
Tourism is both a blessing and potentially a curse at the same time. Overtourism has to be seriously curtailed,” he added. He also feels that the majority of marketing and selling of tourism products are monopolised by mega companies who are guiding, and in some way dictating, how tourism products are distributed. He believes that the present algorithms potentially undermine individual distribution, stating that many are driven on discounts. This practice of non-strategic discounting is damaging to all businesses, he said, “Consumers are being corrupted through constant discount marketing and sales strategies, endangering present and future quality and sustainable tourism initiatives.” He is grateful to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to encourage and promote Thailand’s desire to contribute to effective sustainable tourism projects and actions.
Wolfgang feels we are blessed with eco-advice and certification agencies who are making a welcome contribution to sustainable tourism operators. We read daily about great eco-initiatives by small and large hospitality market leaders, however he feels that the majority of operators are left wondering how they can engage locally with a small budget and an unskilled eco-workforce. They feel sustainability efforts are a cost with only long term benefits and international eco-certification as being too scientific and laborious to implement, he explained. He proposes to motivate them to become part of shaping our tourism future. Understandably many investors are afraid of change but might feel encouraged by examples of success. For instance how Scandinavia reduced their carbon impact considerably by granting electric mobility incentives.
Wolfgang Grimm believes education is key to a more equitable future. “Trade education with its present curriculum is not keeping pace with the extraordinary growth and changed requirements of our industry,” he said. He is supportive of jointly funded public/private education initiatives which concentrate on motivation and craft and language skills to ease the prevailing lack of a global talent pipeline. He believes the world is full of young talent without financial resources to gain higher quality leadership education. Many of the present graduates from affluent family backgrounds might not choose to work in our industry in the long term.
Effective communication is key as we move forward. Making new post Covid-19 objectives focussed, easy to understand and easy to follow.
He supports the idea of urban community farming that provides an environmental solution to converting unproductive land and roof space into edible landscapes. The property owners provide space; the government provides soil and seeds, and local tourism owners and tourism associations provide and manage the workforce.
He concludes: “We are the world and its future is in our hands.“
Wolfgang Grimm is a 3rd generation son of a German hoteliers family with 50 years experience in hospitality and a distinguished 25 year career with InterContinental Hotels in Europe, Asia and Australia. A former chairman of the Australian Hotels Association and Tourism NSW and a member of the successful 2000 Sydney Olympic Bid committee. He is a fellow of Southern Cross University, Lismore. Wolfgang is a proud citizen of Australia and recipient of the AM Order of Australia. In 1989 he opened his own Green Globe certified ANANA Ecological Resort with integrated organic farm in Ao Nang Krabi, passionately contributing to Sustainable Tourism in Thailand. Wolfgang is President of Skål International Thailand and SI Krabi.