Higher Education Leaders and Indigenous Tourism Seek Changes

24 June 2014

WINTA participated with higher education leaders at the Tourism Education Futures Initiative 8th Conference earlier this month at the University of Guelph, Toronto Canada.

From an Indigenous tourism viewpoint the conference theme Transformational Learning: Activism, Empowerment and Political Agency in Tourism Education was especially relevant.

WINTA Network participant and founder of Conscious Travel, Anna Pollock presented on the enormous and complex challenges threatening the stability of human society across the planet and that tourism itself must either transform itself or collapse.

Anna Pollock said “most programs offered by the hospitality and tourism management programs continue to focus on transfer of knowledge and skills development in speciality fields such as accounting, marketing, planning with virtually no time allocated to a critical examination of the assumptions and beliefs of the programs. Whereas in fact the world needed transformational learning approaches to help students to develop the capacity to wake up, grow up and step up to be proactive agents of change”.

This call resonates with the earlier observations of the United Nations that both traditional wisdom and modern scientific knowledge confirm the unsustainability of contemporary economic relations. The challenges are so big that the United Nations has said that the utmost contribution is needed from the entire world’s peoples and members of society through open and democratic governance structures at all levels.

WINTA Secretariat Coordinator, Johnny Edmonds argued that tourism education needed to be a catalyst for Indigenous human rights in order to address the dichotomy that both tourism and education present to Indigenous peoples throughout the world.

Johnny Edmonds said “there is already an extensive framework of international conventions, declarations and guidelines in place which reinforce the call from Indigenous peoples for tourism and education developments to support self-determination by Indigenous peoples but delivery by the tourism and education sectors is still well short of the mark needed”.

Earlier this year, the United Nations Global Compact sent an open letter to academic institutions with a recommendation to educate future managers and leaders on business and human rights. This follows earlier work by the UN Global Compact in the production of the Business Reference Guide: UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Chairperson for TEFI, Dianne Dredge said “the shared passion and enthusiasm at the conference for transformational learning provides an important platform for collaborative follow up action by TEFI and other institutions seeking change”. WINTA and TEFI intend to examine their potential for collaborative action.