The Destinations International Advocacy Summit was very different this year, but more important than ever.
While we were sad to miss the in-person connections and community this event offers, our team was grateful for the opportunity to sponsor and present at the Destinations International 2020 Advocacy Summit. Hats off to the Destinations International team on an engaging virtual format and facilitating valuable discussions and insights as our industry forges a new path forward.
I would especially like to thank Melvin Tennant with Meet Minneapolis, and Wes Rhea with Visit Stockton, for joining me for an Advocacy Solutions Case Study session. It was so inspiring to hear about your organizations' work to support your communities through difficult challenges.
I would also like to thank Kavin Schieferdecker, Senior Vice President, Convention Division for PHLCVB, for talking with me in a session about how Philadelphia is partnering with local healthcare workers and scientists to prepare for the new demands of the modern event industry. If you missed that conversation, you can read more about it here.
To wrap-up Advocacy Summit 2020, here are the top 12 quotes and takeaways from our team:
Maura Allen Gast
Allen Gast showed how vital a role destination organizations play in building community and quality of life. She referenced the destination management lifecycle, which illustrates how interconnected tourism and visitation are with happy residents and a flourishing local economy.
In conversation during our Advocacy Solutions Case Study session, Tennant shared the philosophy behind Meet Minneapolis' Legacy Project. This new volunteer initiative was born in the wake of George Floyd's murder in an effort to help the community reckon with inequities and find a way to come together and heal. About the project Tennant says, "It was an organic initiative that has been active in giving back and raising awareness of inequality and social justice."
Chief Advocacy Officer
Johnson emphasized that the travel and tourism industry will not be returning to normal; that there will be an entirely new environment and landscape moving forward. Johnson also shared two more choice quotes, that our industry is experiencing a "rendezvous with destiny," and that "the time to move gradually and deliberately is gone."
In our Advocacy Solutions Case Study session, Rhea shared his perspective on Visit Stockton expanding its mission throughout the pandemic to help manage CARES grant dispersions for the city. Rhea also shared, "What's great about all the grants we are signing for the city is that it has elevated our presence to a lot of businesses that we never would have touched before, but it elevates our community shared value."
President & CEO
Discover Long Island
In a session on destination safety as a new priority, Kristen Jarnagin shared her experiences in hiring an official health and wellness ambassador and taking the lead on safety protocols in her community. Jarnagin emphasizes the importance of empathy and connection with your residents when tackling these critical and sensitive issues.
In his session, Sacks shared Tourism Economics' latest expectations for how and when travel will recover and the role of advocacy in a sustainable recovery. He highlighted that hotel demand will likely approach normalcy in the second half of 2021 and that we will probably reach a full recovery by the fall of 2023.
Senior Advocacy & Industry Relations Manager
As funding models and budgets are threatened, Richards emphasizes the critical importance of advocacy and earning the right to be at the table when decisions are made.
Mayor of the City of Sacramento
In this inspiring panel discussion, Steinberg emphasized that he believes in travel as an important part of the economy and community and that the work of organizations like Visit Sacramento is critical to the health of both.
Elliott L. Ferguson
President & CEO
In the wake of America's racial reckoning, as we head toward the "next normal" i travel, Ferguson thinks we should be asking difficult questions like, 'What should I be doing differently?' and 'What should I be sharing and how can I make sure there are equal opportunities focused on Black Lives Matter, and make sure it's top of mind?'
President & CEO
Banff & Lake Louise Tourism
Bruce stresses that after a divisive election cycle, we need more collaboration and togetherness to keep moving forward in our communities.
Waterloo Regional Tourism Marketing Corporation
Schneider focused on the possibilities and rewards of advocacy efforts to help competing stakeholders align for the greater good.
President & CEO
Mason was looking to the future when she said, "We know this next generation is going to hold us accountable and ask us what side of history we want to be on at this moment in time." She called on destination organizations to think big and amplify diverse voices.