My Perspective: Our World and the Importance of Accessible Travel
Brett Heising, Founder and CEO of brettapproved, Inc.
(31 January 2019)
Life is a forward-moving endeavor. One day folds into the next, months roll by and years equate to moments, instead of the 365-day journeys they are. While unavoidable, the passage of time yields one amazing benefit: wisdom gained through experience.
Nothing illustrates this concept more vividly than traveling. Because, while time is constant, the rate at which we acquire wisdom increases when we journey outside of the familiar and dive head first into the unknown.
The volatile cocktail of isolationism and nationalism sweeping throughout Europe and the Americas however, reminds us that the passage of time alone is not guaranteed to leave wisdom in its wake.
The unsettling trend of nation-sates refusing to acknowledge the global consequences of unilateral actions, must be counteracted through respectful, open, honest dialogue amongst good actors who desire to buck the current trend of self-interest above all.
Indeed, current circumstances make the work being done by the United Nations with respect to its 17 Sustainable Development Goals absolutely crucial. As an entrepreneur with a physical disability, I am particularly passionate about goal number 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries.
I am no stranger to inequality. Neither, I suspect, are the nearly one billion people across the globe who live with a physical disability as I do. Time and again, I have been overlooked or gazed through simply because I roll through our vertically-biased world.
I graduated from a top-20 public university in the United States. I have enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, public relations and public affairs professional. Now, as the founder and CEO of ®brettapproved, Inc. — home to brettapproved.com — a travel and lifestyle website for anyone with a physical disability, I am a successful entrepreneur.
Still, I wonder, why is society content to let me exist within its margins? Why does society not expect of me what I demand of myself — excellence? How is it that people with physical disabilities are not valued within the travel industry in a way befitting our annual $160 billion global contribution to it?
These are just some of the questions I will pose when I am speaking at the World Tourism Forum Lucerne 2019 in Switzerland this May. Participating in the forum is an honor.
It is also a privilege to be associated with, if only by extension, the United Nations World Tourism Organization. Because, like me, leadership within both of these entities understands that traveling is not a frivolous endeavor.
Far from it, in fact.
I believe that traveling where you wish, when you wish, and with whom you wish is a fundamental human right; for everyone.
I believe traveling reminds us that the desire for a better tomorrow is a universal pursuit regardless of our physical prowess or socioeconomic status.
Finally, I believe that traveling reminds us that life is defined by experiences. And, with each experience, we gain wisdom. Wisdom we can harness to reverse the tidal wave of nationalism and solve global challenges like eliminating —inequality within and among countries — together.