Tourism as a Community-Shared Value, with Don Welsh

Episode 231

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A seasoned tourism executive with over 35 years of experience in the industry, Don Welsh serves as the President and CEO of Destinations International. Since joining the association in March 2016, Welsh has implemented a strategic realignment for the association through a renewed commitment to focus on member needs to deliver the resources members have determined to be essential to the success of their organizations.

Prior to joining Destinations International, Welsh served as the President and CEO of Choose Chicago. Welsh also held the CEO position at the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association and the Seattle Convention & Visitors Bureau. Prior to joining the destination marketing industry, Welsh served as senior vice president for Westin Hotels at its corporate headquarters and has also held senior leadership positions in sales and marketing for Westin Hotels and Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, and the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I welcome President and CEO of Destinations International, Don Welsh back and we dive into what the travel industry has learned from the COVID-19 pandemic over the last 12 months. We discuss the various opportunities for the industry to drive home the importance of adopting tourism as a community shared value and how we can promote this mindset. Don also gives us his insights into sustainable tourism, the changing meetings industry and the adoption of equity, diversity and inclusion principles.

What You Will Learn:

  • The silver linings hidden in the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The importance of our networks and why we need to work together to move forward
  • How the links between Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) and local communities have been cemented during the last 12 months
  • What Destinations International has planned for their next program and how they are developing for the future
  • What the travel industry should do to position themselves for successfully moving forward over the next five to 10 years

Collaboration in Recovery

The travel industry has been in crisis mode but now we are moving slowly towards recovery. There are certain destinations that are almost in full recovery mode, such as beach, mountains, or lake resorts and there are also many areas that are still at the beginning of their recovery process, such as urban destinations. The key factor for successfully returning to normality is that we maintain this hyper communication that has taken place this past year, so more people are aware of what destination organizations do and the contributions they make.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Besides the increase in community shared-value work we need to change our vocabulary around how the travel industry can benefit communities, through the recovery and into the good times ahead. There have also been silver linings to the pandemic, and one such positive change was the increased adoption of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) principles and their heightened visibility during challenging times.

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