School Name: Ryerson University – Canada
Category: Future Brand
Concept Name: SLO – Immersive Sustainability Education
As the global population continues to increase at an exponential rate, with expected numbers to reach 9.8 billion by 2050 (United Nations, 2017), the tourism industry is faced with the growing threat of overtourism (Dodds & Butler, 2019). Overtourism refers to the “excessive numbers of tourists at a specific destination that can result in negative impacts of all types on the community involved” (Dodds & Butler, 2019, p. 1). Overtourism has been seen to cause environmental degradation often through excessive and condensed pollution, the exploitation of and increased strain on local culture and heritage, as well as the commodification and gentrification of towns and cities that prices residents out of their homes (Milano et al., 2018). Currently, both public and private efforts have, by and large, encouraged the growth of overtourism. Namely, declining costs of tourism, increased flexibility and freedom offered by technological advancements, and the emergence and expansion of new markets have increased the accessibility of tourism to the masses (Dodds & Butler, 2019). Overtourism behaviours do not stand alone, but are rather an extension of the overarching societal trend of overconsumption and resource exploitation (United Nations, 2019). Amongst the growth of overtourism, the true meaning of hospitality, “a contemporaneous human exchange, which is voluntarily entered into, and designed to enhance the mutual wellbeing of the parties concerned through the provision of accommodation and food or drink” (Brotherton, 1999, p. 168), has been lost. The continued existence of the tourism industry relies, by nature, on the presence of thriving ecosystems, communities, and economies. Thus, the question is raised, how will the hospitality industry meet this challenge?
In recent decades, there has been a growing consensus in the industry towards the need for sustainable tourism development (Dodds & Butler, 2019; Hall, 2019). Sustainable tourism development “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” through balancing the needs of people, planet, and profit (Brundtland, 1987, p. 16). Yet, despite the growing support for sustainable tourism development, and the establishment of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, there has been a lack of consensus surrounding its application and thus limited adoption in practice (Dodds & Butler, 2019; Hall, 2019). However, an emerging movement in the tourism industry, known as the Slow Movement, promises practical and functional implementation of sustainable principles through its holistic and direct approach (Heitmann et al., 2011).
This report proposes a new brand: SLO. A multi-disciplinary institute of higher education applying principles of the Slow Movement to academics and student life. As a hospitality brand, SLO offers a residential community for globally minded travelers to come and learn how they can contribute to a sustainable future while immersing in and interacting with the local culture. SLO is a reimagined hospitality concept that seeks to balance environmental, social, and economic sustainability through its programs and advocacy. SLO’s vision is to become a hub of innovation within future cities and offer an experiential model for learning. Its mission is to instill values of the Slow Movement within students through academics, work, and lifestyle. Guided by values such as resiliency, diversity, and quality, SLO will inspire its customers to carry these values forward throughout their lives and careers. A fundamental shift in society can occur as people around the world engage with SLO and its learning opportunities resulting in environmental protection, mental wellbeing, cultural authenticity, among many more benefits. As SLO will offer the facilities, resources, and programs to facilitate transformative experiences for its students, it is a feasible solution to the dire issues facing society and the planet with the power to influence entire cities, leading them into the future.