By Lexi Connors – 2023 YTN Committee member
In March this year, Regeneration Projects and the Young Tourism Network (YTN) united again to host Anna Pollock, an international pioneer of regenerative tourism. With over forty years experience, Pollock is a researcher, strategist and consultant who calls for a transformation of the tourism and hospitality industries. During her visit down under, Pollock presented at two events, one focusing on hospitality (hosted by William Angliss Institute) and the other on regenerative tourism practices. I was fortunate to attend the latter, which consisted of an interactive workshop between students and professionals who currently study or work in the tourism industry.
Matt Sykes from Regeneration Projects craftily emceed the event, bringing a sense
of calm with breathwork and meditation to begin the session. This allowed us to get
in touch with our surroundings (we were based in bustling Bourke Street Mall), just a
few short blocks from the Yarra – our place of focus for the afternoon.
Throughout the event, perfectly aligned speakers signpost the guests for what was
to come. YTN’s chair, Maureen Pillon first spoke about the recently published
2022 Workplaces Report (which focuses primarily on intergenerational workplaces
and the values of both young and mature professionals in the tourism industry).
Charity Mosienyane next spoke about the work that Regeneration Melbourne are
focussed on, a swimmable Yarra by 2025 and Troy Crellin spoke about why culturally
safe spaces are an integral ingredient in the roots of hospitality. Pollock’s
presentation focused on the foundations of regenerative tourism, highlighting the
importance of distancing ourselves from viewing tourism as an inanimate machine
but rather into a living system.
In small groups, attendees were asked how tourism can help to rediscover the
essence of a destination, in this case Melbourne/Naarm. How Birrarung principles
could be applied to achieve a swimmable Birrarung/Yarra River by 2030 and lastly,
how different generations in the tourism industry could better work together in the
future. Pretty powerful stuff. Pollock’s participation and commentary throughout
helped attendees to see the ‘big picture’ despite the disruption of threats to
regeneration such as overtourism, climate change and a rapidly changing
Overall the event was both inspiring and thought provoking, and getting to know the collective of attendees, hearing their passionate cries for a more regenerative Melbourne/Naarm was overwhelming. It forced us to reflect on the future of tourism and hospitality and what the next generation will experience tomorrow through our groundwork today. Embedding regenerative tourism principles into a destination isn’t easy, but it is possible, all we have to do is come together and see the big picture.
If you are interested in attending professional development events like this, keep an eye on the YTN’s event page.