April 23, 2024
English TKP News

Top Tips for Travel Businesses at WTM London

Keynote speaker and television documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux reflected on the value of cultural interactions at the final event of World Travel Market 2023

In a packed question-and-answer session, he told the audience that there was a mentally liberating aspect to immersion in a different environment or way of life.

Born in Singapore, the son of a British BBC World Service producer and the American travel writer Paul Theroux, he grew up in the United Kingdom.

Within his liberal home, he said his mother encouraged him to “question aspects of our culturalization,” while his father mocked British accents and norms. He then attended a private school that he described as “nostalgic for the Empire,” where he was both a conscientious student and eager to fit in with evildoers.

“The Ying and Yang of being mischievous but also hard-working…disruptive but also diligent and focused,” he said, had since influenced his career. He added that the ideal was to find something that made you feel creative but that you could do with care and moderation. “Be respectful but also cheeky,” he advised.

He was expected to pursue a career as a writer, but said he was instead drawn to broadcasting because he feared being compared to his father.

Since then, his work has often landed him in difficult situations, such as interacting with cult leaders and neo-Nazis. But he said he sticks to what’s curious about a person, acknowledging that “even if he has hateful views, [they’re often] confused people trying to get close.”

He gave the example of neo-Nazis filmed enthusing about their favorite British comedies. “Sometimes I say the strangest thing about weird people is how normal they are,” she added.

Of interactions with different cultures, he warned. “Be prepared, be respectful and listen. Watch for red flags in terms of what is going to cause offense.”

Acknowledging trends for both experiential and sustainable travel, he noted that excitement often comes from “meeting extraordinary people, rather than traveling extraordinary distances.”

He recommended, “Having experiences that let you dig in quickly, rather than places that give you a buffet and an Elvis show…not that I’m not a fan of an Elvis show.”

He said North Korea would be on his wish list for future trips because it is the country he considers closest to a cult.

Although his favorite American city is New York, he also admitted a fondness for San Jose, a place often lampooned as bland. He said he felt liberated by the stark contrast to the “almost Dickensian” atmosphere of the historic London streets surrounding his home.

He explained: “When you are decontextualized, your head can clear in some ways. You are so out of context that anything is possible. Like an existential reboot.”

Source: WTM London.

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