It has been written many times that more and more people are seeking something which is genuine and authentic, so they are turning to their heritage and roots. Culture sits right at the centre of this search and is something that everyone does relate to in one form or another. In recent years, there are many communities who have been seeking to renew their links to the past and many who want to find their own roots, their own heritage which too is represented by culture.
One of the arguments is that hotels, resorts, restaurants and bars can play a far more proactive role in telling the story of their communities history and cultural legacy. As guests seek ever greater experiences, it is a natural link for hospitality to be a representative of the culture of their region. It is already fulfilling the role through food, wine, beer and spirits. It is simply taking this to another level and telling the cultural story through art, music and dance. In so many ways, it could be an exciting opportunity for those who grasp the opportunity.
Of course, the word culture means different things to different people. For some, it is represented by art and museums, historical landscapes. For others is deeper: a set of beliefs, morals, methods, and knowledge passed down from one generation to another. The most obvious examples are food recipes, techniques in making crafts and the growing of crops and wines. It is the knowledge that lies within a region which in previous generations many felt was being eroded by the constant drive towards globalisation.
The more global each country became, so local knowledge would be lost. As the early 2000’s have been dominated by such a move towards globalisation, it is fascinating to see a move back towards respect and care for the knowledge which exists within families and communities.
Often when one thinks about cultural sustainability, one will think of museums, art galleries, libraries, opera houses, heritage sites and theatres. All these are important but these are just one part of the equation; it is also the very day to day things that live within a community. There is a reason why so many today argue that food is the one true universal language and can break down barriers. Many others celebrate great regional wines; find great joy in local music and dance traditions. Culture speaks to the soul and to our desire for finding experiences that are deeper.
What does this mean in practice?:
· Resorts will become ever more advanced and often secluded. As the world becomes increasingly vulnerable so many visitors will simply not wish to stray away from secure locations. Resorts, therefore, become the central focus for the guest experience which will need to include the most advanced skills in comfort and luxury plus with access to the cultural heritage of the past.
· In cities, all across the world, hotels should become the voice of the community so that again guests can learn and experience the traditions of the local history whilst in a secure and comfortable setting.
· Food, of course, is one of the most proven methods for breaking down barriers, bringing people together and informing. The concept of breaking bread has become of universal appeal. How can hospitality build on this? What can be done to reinforce the story of a community?
· Tourism, of course, is one of the fastest-growing industries and also plays an increasingly important role in that it can educate and inform; break down poor perceptions and create greater understanding. The overall experience which is generated and created will, therefore, be even more impactful in how this impacts in the larger objective of creating greater understanding.
· Those that work in tourism have a responsibility in both protecting the local culture and traditions whilst at the same time maximising revenue flows. It is a naturally fine line to walk. Protection of the environment and culture is going to need new strategies.
· Will new service lines evolve through the development of the above? The underlying theme is all about creating greater connections between peoples drawn from different societies. Service is the key to personal care. How will service change and evolve alongside developments in cultural sustainability?
It is a change of mind-set. Every country has a great story to tell and it needs to be told through guest experiences. Hotels and restaurants can be the voice for a community.