International tourism is forecast to grow at an annual compound rate of over 3.5% over the next 20 years (UNWTO). That means 1.8 billion international travellers crossing borders every year by 2030. Domestic tourism is growing even faster and is already 5-6 times larger than international tourism. So the demand for skilled workers; innovative and quality services and infrastructure investment is vast. But traditional forms of mass tourism, reliant on foreign sources of capital, expertise and supplies (food, furnishing and materials) often don’t generate sufficient tangible net benefits to host communities.
If local host communities are to reap real net benefits from tourism and if the visitor economy is to contribute to the solution of society’s most pressing problems, it will need more social entrepreneurs supported by and in service to local host communities
Most hospitality and tourism programs are currently designed to supply the international community of major corporations – hotel chains, airlines, tour and transport operations – with an educated workforce intent upon a career within established corporations whose primary motivation is currently the maximization of shareholder value.
While a number of social enterprises have emerged in the field of hospitality and tourism, there is huge room for growth. Despite the inspirational achievements of early pioneers, the field of SE in hospitality is still fragmented, poorly understood, and insufficiently researched. Anecdotal eveidence suggests that many existing social entrepreneurs feel isolated and are unaware of existing support networks. Students are often not aware of the possibilities and business models offered by the social dimension of entrepreneurship.
The Forum is about offering an alternative path for those students with an entrepreneurial disposition and has been developed to:
- Build active links between existing and would be social entrepreneurs and institutions of higher education and between social enterprise and tourism/hospitality networks.
- Nurture students interested in starting innovative, sustainable business that also generate systemic and specific social benefits
- Advise and support faculty in developing materials and methods that will inspire, shape and nourish budding social entrepreneurs
- Foster the development and diffusion of a form of visitor economy that does more good than harm and that, going forward, can enjoy a social licence to operate.