Photo by Emanuele Dal Carlo

Is perfectly ok in these difficult moments to cave into the temptation of losing hope; trade wars, real wars, Brexit, uncertain future and now pandemic COVID-19 aka Coronavirus are serious blows to anyone’s confidence but at Fairbnb.coop we are optimists. After all only an optimist could dream to take on the tourism industry and try to transform it from an almost entirely extractive sector to a real opportunity for all those involved, willingly or not, by it.

The world that will emerge from this crisis will be different from the world we have known up to now, is up to all of us to decide if it’s going to be a better one or not.
Will we emerge and behave exactly in the same way as before or we will learn, adapt and overcome the next crisis with a new improved model of society?

The recent economic, climatic and pandemic crisis we are facing have highlighted all the limits and frailty of a profit-driven society that have forgotten that after all the paraphernalia of consumerism have been taken off, society is ultimately made of people and that the world is a beautiful and complex living organism where we humans, living creatures and plants are all co-dependent.

Milano – Empty cause CoronaVirus – Photo by Mick De Paola on Unsplash

The collapse of the tourism industry in these troubled times is a clear example of how these global challenges can teach us something valuable.

At fairbnb.coop we are in contact with dozens of local communities and thousands of Hosts and tourism operators that are rightfully scared for their future.
The flight bans and quarantines have put pressure on an already competitive market that is normally the stage of a dog eat dog mentality, with small operators fighting the competition of larger exploitative speculators able to dump and dope prices or middlemen who forced themselves in the position to impose unreasonable fees to guarantee access to a wider market.

In these communities that have forcibly or willingly accepted tourism as the main and often only source of income for the community, the shock and fear have rapidly turned into panic when people have realized the scale of the error that has been made. 

 

There are families that have rashly invested all their resources in loans with the purpose to acquire few or several flats to dedicate to short term rentals, families where all members have given up their careers in other sectors to follow the dream of living from their estates. These people are obviously scared, they put all their eggs in one basket and now the basket is on fire.
They have been sold a dream that was not realistic and sustainable in bad times.

The same for traditional hospitality entrepreneurs that instead of diversifying their investments and using their profits to create a more diverse economic environment in the communities where they operate have chosen to maximize their profits and turn the surrounding environment in a specialized touristic destination.

Tourism has often become a one way trip for investors, they invest in it in hope of easy profits but seldom reinvest in other industries, diversifying and therefore helping the economy to become more resilient and flexible. Many times we have heard of capitals gained otherwise to be pumped in tourism but is quite rare that from tourism other sectors have been sustained and supported.

Planning a system that can only work in good times is intuitively a bad choice yet it seems to be the only choice under the current market-driven society.

Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

On the contrary, in communities where tourism is only one of the active industries and where there are healthy examples of circular economy, diversification and a tight knitted social participation, there is a common sense that the resilient nature of their social construct will help to protect them from the damaging effects of these momentous storms. Families that have only used short term rentals as a way to increase their budget and have not converted completely their activities to hosting will be more resilient and after all more “sustainable”. The same for entrepreneurs that instead of betting only on tourism have also used their profits from it to broaden the chances of investing in alternative sectors.

At Fairbnb.coop we always believed that a more moderate, reasonable and therefore sustainable approach to tourism is the way. The revenues from it should be pumped in a circular economy framework that helps to create a more diversely structured environment ready to brave the storms and to help the community in times of need yet at the same time capable to maximize the positive output during good times.

We need to think at the world as a network of networks where we are all connected but where we are able to minimize the effects of a global crisis by building more resilient local communities. A net where the nodes are stronger and that will not collapse under pressure, where if a node fails other will sustain it instead of being dragged down.

Photo by Andrés Canchón on Unsplash

Cooperatives offer a perfect tool to implement these models by providing more democratic, participated governance systems and ultimately solid nodes of cooperation that could beneficially affect all the society around them.
Rethinking the tourism industry using cooperative models could be the answer we need when searching for tools to build a better version of our society.
Imagine Hosts’, Citizens’ and Workers’ cooperatives in every community that accept only lawful hosts, employ and guarantee a decent and lawful living wage to cleaners, maintenance specialists, personnel that manages customer care and check-ins and check-outs; being tight knitted in the society they thrive in and democratically participated by citizens as well, these cooperatives would have the wisdom, the strength and the responsibility to deal with local governments and global platforms in order to promote sustainable regulations for their market that ultimately could benefit all the community.
These kinds of structures are what could eventually emerge from Fairbnb.coop’s concept of local nodes.

So, at the end of the tunnel, there is definitely a light, the good news is that it might not be a train after all and we believe that with the right approach we can make it shine on a better world.

Photo by Mohit Tomar on Unsplash
Photo by Mohit Tomar on Unsplash

Here is our recipe for the world to come in a nutshell:

– An open, more resilient world,

stronger and more diverse local communities,

people first VS profit first

and a more sustainable, responsible approach to all our behaviours.


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In the meanwhile stay at home, stay safe, stay human.

See you on the other side!
Love to all.

Emanuele Dal Carlo

President and CMO at Fair Bnb Network