top of page
Post: Blog2_Post

‘We are at the start of something big’

Reflections from the first Regenerative Tourism by Design cohort

Reposted with permission from One Planet Blog - 7 June 2021

Last week the first cohort of Regenerative Tourism by Design course met online to reflect on the 10-week-long journey and say goodbye. A simple question ‘how has everyone been?’ asked by the course creator Prof Dianne Dredge has turned into a very natural flow of incredible testimonials for the course. I hope they encourage anyone interested in being challenged to enrol for the next round, as most of us found it illuminating, rich, inspiring and motivating.

The experience of learning together

I have praised the Regenerative Tourism by Design course, run by the Tourism CoLab, in various social media posts as well as in my latest blog as an incredible journey of personal and professional development thanks to co-learning with the tutors and the cohort. Here I am sharing the reflections from other course participants.

Prof Dianne Dredge says that the experience of learning together as a community of co-learners is a central feature of this course. This is achieved by structuring the course around a gentle rhythm of learning and thinking, reflecting and activating, all within an environment of open dialogue and collegiality.

NO goodbye

So we got together last week, having spent the last three months learning how to use design thinking to facilitate regenerative, inclusive and transformational change in tourism. Despite the challenge of multiple time zones, everyone turned up (online), including our facilitator Dr Jenny Cave logging in from a hospital bed in New Zealand. One key message here is that we decided NOT to close the course and continue meeting up online regularly, but I will come back to that later.

The cohort: ‘Like-minded in differences’

The background and experience (ethnic, geographical, demographic and professional) of the 15 of us could not have been more diverse, and that diversity has been an invaluable asset from the very beginning of the course that has also brough the feeling of equality and fairness. Destination managers, sustainability policy directors, events managers, tourism strategists, professors and students, researchers, government and NGOs workers, and travel business owners, all connected by the passion for restoring and regenerating our planet through tourism. ‘We are like-minded in our differences’, said Nico Peeters, Regional Manager Asia at VisitFlanders (Belgium). ‘I loved how we all came together from different parts of the world, from different venture points, and could share in such an non-judgemental way, eager to build on the positive intentions that all of us brought to the (virtual) table’.

So what did we have to say?

‘I was fascinated by the process we have gone through during the last 10 weeks, and have found it illuminating’, said Sarah Lebski, Award-winning Tourism Strategist from Tasmania (Australia). ‘With Dianne’s mentorship, the journey has helped me work out my own understanding of sustainable and regenerative tourism. The big pressure now is ‘how’ – everyone wants to know how to implement regenerative tourism, what does this look like and how do we make it happen ‘on the ground’ as it were’.

‘The course has left me feeling positive about the future, driven and inspired – but there is so much to do!’ – said Anna Koens, Sustainability/SDGs Policy Officer at Breda University of Applied Sciences (the Netherlands). ‘I have been reading a lot about regeneration more widely, inspired by our discussions – I am reading ‘Designing Regenerative Cultures’ by Daniel Wahl at the moment. We need to raise the bar and push the boundaries – I am now hungry to explore more. As Dianne commented to me recently, “Once you see the path, it is impossible to ‘unsee’ it!” I couldn’t agree more!’

‘The course has allowed me to throw ideas out for a challenging discussion without any judgment’ said Nico Peeters from VisitFlanders. ‘I felt I was dipping my toes into so many different things – there is so much interesting material to read, digest, discuss. I now feel we are at the start of something big, and I have got an enormous drive to do more!’

‘Long live The Tourism CoLab!’ ‘The Tourism CoLab’s course on regenerative tourism offers an interesting opportunity to get out of the box and interact with many issues. The theoretical content delivered by Dianne Dredge is rich. Combined with the exchanges between participants, this course is not for professionals who are looking for ready-made answers’ said Oliver Mathieu, the Events and Sustainability Manager at Lausanne Tourism Board (Switzerland). ‘One of the major challenges for all tourism enthusiasts is to participate in its evolution in a virtuous way, because nothing is better than a passion / a shared happiness!’

The journey has only just began

As I mentioned above, we have found it difficult to part and decided to keep meeting regularly online to catch up, share ideas and keep the journey going. ‘Let’s hope that this movement for a regenerative tourism continues to grow and for that it must also enter the consciousness of the indifferent and/or the sceptic! Long live The Tourism CoLab , said Oliver Mathieu.

‘We had another session last Tuesday in our group, and again next week! It’s quite an extra-ordinary sensation really, that a training programme extends beyond its own conclusion and is carried on by the participants’ concluded Nico Peeters. The journey has only just began…

To sign up for the next round that starts on 22 June click here.


About the Author: Marta Mills is a sustainable tourism specialist with communications, marketing and stakeholder engagement background, specialising in sustainable destination management and Protected Areas (PA) tourism. Advised and provided training on responsible tourism development for several international organizations in the Caucasus, the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe. Speaker and trainer. Mentor and an Associate Staff member at Leeds Beckett University for the MSc in Responsible Tourism Management course, focussing all academic research on mountain and PA tourism in the Caucasus

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page