Category: Intelligence

Tourism trends and other business’ trends influencing or applicable to the tourism industry

Co-creationCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureMarketing 3.0Tourism marketing

How to Involve Locals in Destination Management & Marketing

In today’s tourism marketing world, all buzz is around discovering a destination like a local. If you search for “travel like a local,” you will find countless articles and websites trying to help travelers discover destinations through a different perspective. As an avid traveler that loves to escape tourist traps, I appreciate destination marketing organizations trying to help me connect with recommendations from people who live in the destinations I want to visit.

I think this is why Airbnb.com and the sharing economy are taking off, not just because it provides a different type of accommodation, but because it connects visitors with locals. One of the benefits of staying at an Airbnb.com property is the ability to meet a local to give you recommendations for what to do, where to eat, and how to experience the destination away from the hop-on, hop-off tour buses. Who doesn’t want this type of local knowledge when planning a trip to an unknown destination?

The challenge for destination marketing organizations is how do you get locals involved and willing to share their recommendations with visitors? Destinations like Philadelphia, are launching programs called “Philly like a local” – Experience Philadelphia as its residents know and love it,” which recruits locals to take over the DMO’s social media accounts. But taking that approach to scale and getting hundreds or thousands of locals involved in a program to answer the question “What is so special about my place?” is not an easy task……unless you have the National Geographic Society on your side.

We have been very fortunate to work alongside National Geographic for the last 7 years helping destinations apply an approach to sustainable tourism development called Geotourism. A concept created by Jonathan Tourtellot, geotourism encourages destinations to develop and market tourism products that sustain and enhance the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, geology, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.

The Geotourism approach is unique among tourism development solutions due to its focus on the establishment and empowerment of a private-public partnership that serves as a forum for dialogue, collaboration, and planning among local businesses, non-profit organizations, residents and tourism authorities. The goal is to better manage challenges through cooperation while also identifying, sustaining, enhancing, and promoting the destination’s unique assets.

As a tourism development and marketing professional working in the field for more than a decade, I can tell you that bringing stakeholders together to participate in a tourism development and marketing program is hard work. Every one of our projects involves some type of stakeholder engagement process to plan and implement destination and marketing programs, but getting government, businesses, and residents to come together for a meeting or complete a task is extremely difficult.

This all changes when National Geographic is part of the program. The power of that yellow logo is incredible. People all over the world admire the brand immensely and jump at the opportunity to collaborate with such an respected organization. With the mission of inspiring people to care about the planet, they are extremely effective at getting locals engaged in caring for their destinations.

James Dion leader of the Geotourism program, kicks off every project with a public launch announcing the program. This brings together businesses, politicians, residents, and media to learn about the program and how they can be involved. After the public launch event, local residents are encouraged to visit a National Geographic co-branded website to nominate a business, place, attraction, or event that is an authentically local experience. This event and program generates incredible media attention at a local level, helping further distribute the call for participation from locals.

We are currently in production of a U.S. Gulf States Geotourism program supported by national, state, and local partners to raise awareness of the unique cultural and environmental experiences in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the panhandle of Florida. We are working to rebuild the area’s allure following the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill that caused a devastating economic impact on the region.

Through local events and media outreach led by our local consultants, the program is generating incredible media coverage, which in turn has inspired over 1,000 nominations (and counting!) from locals for the Geotourism MapGuide. Once the nomination period closes, National Geographic’s team of cartographers, editors, fact checkers, and designers will work with the local public-private partnerships created at the beginning of the program to finalize the MapGuide and prepare for a public roll-out.

In summary, getting locals involved in destination marketing and management is not only a wise approach to ensuring a destination maintains it’s sense of place, but it also is a great way to help visitors discover the hidden gems of your destination. Here is some of the most recent media attention generated from the U.S. Gulf States Geotourism program. It’s just one great example of how the program effectively brings people together and generates immediate excitement.

Alabama to be part of National Geographic geotourism project – Your Town Alabama

Residents encouraged to nominate areas for geotourism – The Selma Times-Journal

What’s special about Columbus? Nominate your pick for National Geographic map – The Dispatch

National Geographic launching locally built travel guides in BP oil spill states – The Time Picayune

Louisiana selected as part of National Geographic’s Geotourism interactive map – WAFB News

Let National Geographic help you – Natchez Democrat

Your authentic Florida location belongs in Nat Geo’s geotourism guide – Visit Florida

Alabama Gulf Coast site nominations sought for Geotourism MapGuide – AL.com

Massive geotourism project underway in U.S. Gulf Coast States – Destination Stewardship Center

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Destination%20Management?start=10

Marketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionSustainabilityTourism trends

The Evolution of Destination Management

In the 1950s, before affordable jetliners helped to launch the modern-day tourism explosion, the world experienced 25 million international tourism arrivals a year. Today, as the world population has grown significantly and people, on the whole, have more disposable income, that number has jumped over 1 billion. Before the advent of the Internet, destinations tended to focus mainly on promotion to maximize visitation. In an era when trip choices were more limited, promotion was often all that was needed to capture the visitor dollar. Now, however, travel options have increased exponentially, and the impact of technology has dramatically altered the provision of visitor information, both prior to and after arriving at a destination.

Tourism destinations have begun to appreciate the need to better manage the whole visitor experience as they realize that success can translate into repeat visits, longer stays, increased spending and positive word of mouth. The Internet has brought much more information to the traveler’s fingertips, making destination management even more important. Destinations must be better organized and promote themselves more effectively and more often to stay ahead of the curve.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the role of governance in tourism is undergoing a shift from a traditional public sector model that promotes government policy to a more corporate model that emphasizes efficiency, return on investments, the role of the market, and partnership between public and private sectors. Regarding the last of these, there has been a greater emphasis on public/private partnerships in recent years as destinations learn that both parties must be equally involved.

In response, destination management organizations (DMOs) have begun to form comprised of both public and private sector stakeholders. DMOs are often the only true advocates for a holistic tourism industry in a place, and in this role, they ensure the mitigation of tourism’s negative impacts to the environment and local communities as well as the sharing of opportunities for a vibrant exchange of people. In fact, a DMO may best serve to facilitate dialogue among the private sector, public sector, and other stakeholders that may otherwise never collaborate or understand how their decisions reverberate down a destination’s long tourism value chain.

So what have we as tourism development professionals learned in the past 50 years? How have we evolved into better destination managers? Better organization, equal inclusion of the private and public sectors, and building local capacity all contribute to making tourism more sustainable. Here are some basic lessons we’ve learned:

Communication counts. Residents need to understand why the historic site or natural landscape they see every day represents a potentially important economic benefit for them. Managers need to understand locals’ needs and concerns. Tourists need to learn the significance of what they see, why and how they can help preserve it. It is best when locals help with this interpretation, as the process increases their ownership of the story. And finally, the rest of the world needs to understand the value of the place. No better messengers exist than those enthusiastic home comers with travel stories to tell.

Planning counts. Without planning and public education, the incentive to protect can easily degenerate into mere exploitation. There is a need to see the whole picture from the beginning and focus on long-term goals throughout the process.

Management counts. Just letting tourism happen likely leads to trouble, especially when visitation soars. Dispersing tourists and timing their access can mitigate crowding. Encouraging tourists to stay overnight instead of making quick day trips can increase local economic benefits. High-quality tourism rather than high-volume tourism conserves rather than exploits.

Individuals count. Behind institutional reports and government memos hides a key reality: individuals make huge differences. Success or failure easily depends on a dedicated local person working tirelessly to inspire others, organize them, and keep the process moving.

Communities count. People who live in gateways hold the key to create a “virtuous circle,” whereby tourism’s contribution to the economy generates incentives to conserve the resources that keep tourists coming. It may be necessary to have some kind of forum, such as a sustainable tourism stewardship council. Top-down schemes imposed from the outside don’t work well, if at all. Locals must own part of the process.

It is uplifting to watch destinations and industry practitioners begin to understand how best to harness the power of tourism and use it for better, not worse.

This blog post is from  www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Destination%20Management?start=10

IntelligenceTourism marketingTourism trends

Cultural Tourism: Four Examples of How It Works for Destinations

According to the World Tourism Organization cultural tourism accounts for 37% of global tourism, and furthermore affirms that it will continue to grow 15% each year. With all of this market interest, destinations should leverage what makes their societies unique and invest in developing cultural tourism programs.

What is Cultural Tourism?

Cultural tourism allows travelers to be immersed in local rituals and routines, taking away not only pretty photos but also shared memories of unique experiences. For destinations, it encourages local communities to embrace their culture and boosts economic growth. Developing culturally geared tourism programs encourages destinations to celebrate and promote what distinguishes their communities, and in doing so, provides the opportunity for authentic cultural exchange between locals and visitors. The following four case studies illustrate how cultural tourism can be developed.

Morocco: Down the Road of Traditional Crafts

Before 2010, Morocco has a vibrant craft industry, yet artisans had insufficient opportunity for direct sales. Aid to Artisans and the Moroccan Ministry of Crafts cooperated to facilitate direct linkages between artisans and tourists in Marrakech and Fez. This was achieved through establishing new or updating existing artisan and cultural heritage routes, and furnishing them with engaging creating marketing collateral. The team involved as many as 6,603 sale points and was successful in increasing artisan revenue. As a result of this project, crafts and tourism in the area are now more linked than ever before.

Ethiopia: Empowering Community Enterprises for Long-term Success

Ethiopia’s Bale Mountain area is lush and beautiful, and is the home of successful community-led tourism initiatives. The conservation and regulation problems in Ethiopia were addressed by affecting a sustainable tourism development project in partnership with the Frankfurt Zoological Society. The team created 7 community tourism enterprises as well as branding and marketing tools aimed at awareness-building among foreigners and locals alike. The local communities now leverage their cultural heritage, which includes expressive dances and crafts, in its tourism development. This offers them alternative livelihoods that in turn benefit environmental conservation.

Namibia: From North America to Local Villages

 Namibia is a country of rich tourism potential that prior to 2010 had not been successful in fully captivating the North American travel market. A comprehensive trade-focused marketing campaign was launched with the goal of increasing North American arrivals in Namibia over the course of 4 years. By fostering partnerships between Namibian and North American trade, and leading destinations awareness campaigns, this mission was successful.

 Community-based tourism was a large component in promoting the country to the North American market. The campaign succeeded in increasing the number of tourists and routes visiting Namibia by 75% by 2013, exceeding expectations. This helped improve local employment opportunities and enhance cultural awareness among international visitors.

Colombia: More than Whales at Nuquí/Utría National Park

Nuquí/Utría National Park is famous for its prolific whale watching opportunities. However, it suffers from a lack of organizational and business capacity, as well as weak marketing outreach. In 2012, the challenge was tackled by creating a destination marketing alliance with four local community tourism enterprises, providing them capacity building trainings. The team developed and promoted new tour packages that incorporated cultural elements, such as visits to a typical Pacific Chocó village. The team liaised with the Colombian Ministries of Tourism and the Environment to feature the park as a model for sustainable tourism development in a protected area. Through this work, the team was successful in increasing the gross sales of each of these community tourism enterprises and the number of tourism products in this remote area.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Destination%20Management

Environmental sustainabilitySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainabilityTourism trends

Best Practices in Integrating Sustainability in Tourism Management and Operations

The importance of sustainable tourism development is increasingly recognized throughout the sector. However, it has been a challenge for many organizations to integrate sustainability into tourism management and operations. Here are a few tips and examples on how to incorporate sustainability in your destination’s tourism management and operations.

Involve Local Residents and Communities in Tourism Planning

Sustainable tourism development requires the participation of local residents and businesses at the planning stage. By consulting with local stakeholders, you gain their support and reduce conflict as the plan progresses.

In Geotourism projects, which seek to highlight the unique culture and heritage of a region through the voices and stories of the people that live there, local residents are invited to nominate places of interest. This provides more economic benefits to local businesses especially those that are less known. The nominations are reviewed by a Stewardship Council, composed of representatives from the region, before being used to create an interactive website, a MapGuide, and a Smartphone app.

Establish Partnerships with Different Stakeholders

Effective collaboration among different stakeholders from the government, tourism boards, businesses, and local communities is crucial to successful sustainable tourism management and operations. This facilitates a more balanced system of decision making as the priorities of various sectors are considered.

For the assistance of Uganda in tourism development, stakeholders from each part of the tourism and conservation sectors were actively involved. The cooperation among the stakeholders was important to enhance tourism products, build strong community enterprises, strengthen linkages among different attractions, and bolster the success of the program.

Develop Products Based on the Destination’s Strengths

What are the local assets that your destination can highlight? Destination assessment should be conducted to identify the strengths of a destination and determine the best tourism products based on the findings.

In the destination assessment for the Sierra de la Gigante region, potential conservation models leveraging the region’s strengths in order to address conservation goals and provide economic opportunities for the local population were identified.

Strengthen Local Capacity to Manage Tourism

Sustainable tourism management and operations need to equip local businesses with skills to succeed. Workforce development and training is therefore integral to a successful strategy.

To strengthen the capacity of the Ethiopia Sustainable Tourism Alliance (ESTA), many workshops were conducted and materials were created to train personnel in using the necessary tools and activities to implement community tourism in Ethiopia.

Target High-Yield Market Segments

High visitor numbers aren’t inherently valuable for your destination. In sustainable tourism management and operations, it is important to serve the proper target markets. Fortunately, there has been a growth in the number of travelers who demand more responsible travel and have higher visitor expenditure.

The Namibia North American Destination Marketing Campaign targeted travelers who would most appreciate the country’s strong conservation and special interest selling points. These include curious conservationists and experience seekers. This is why a destination assessment of strengths is so important—you must know what you are marketing and to whom.

Use Guidelines to Limit Impact

Creating guidelines is important in sustainable tourism management and operations. It not only helps the destination preserve its ecological value, but also helps businesses limit their negative environmental and sociocultural impacts. Educating visitors and locals on best-practices matters.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) Initiative fosters increased understanding of sustainable tourism practices and promotes the adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Destination%20Management

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketingTourism trends

How Has Digital Changed Destination Touchpoints?

The rules of marketing have definitely changed. In this new digital environment, a weak and inadequate brand will quickly be exposed. The potency and breadth of new digital platforms are compelling DMOs to engage in activities that have greater relevance, integration, targeting accuracy, speed, and responsiveness. It’s now a two-way encounter, no longer totally controlled by the destination and its partners.

More Accessible Touchpoints

Touchpoints are the most critical moments where the customer comes in contact with the place and where its brand reputation can be enhanced or devalued. The Digital Age is opening an even greater range of opportunities to connect with customers before, during and after their visit.

Mobile devices have provided consumers with the 24/7 ability to source information (web), navigate (GPS), be entertained and learn (video), communicate (text), compare (Yelp), meet (Foursquare), brag (Facebook and Instagram) and review (TripAdvisor) while wandering through a museum, walking a forest trail or driving an historic route. Not to mention the power to enhance the interpretation, storytelling and ability to bring a place to life through place-based solutions. They are dramatically changing the way that visitors interact with places.

There are extensive opportunities for destinations to bring their brand to life and deliver value and amazing visitor experiences. For DMOs the challenge is to orchestrate and influence encounters to be as close as possible to the brand vision at every critical touchpoint. This coverage can now be integrated through traditional and digital platforms. While touchpoints may vary for each customer, they may be in the form of a magazine ad, tradeshow, booking, website, tweet, kiosk, smartphone apps, map, street sign, tour guide or myriad other encounters.

A location that doesn’t optimize the use of these assets and fails to present itself as interactive, engaging and experiential won’t develop a meaningful brand or sustainable destination. Those destinations that will excel are clearly differentiated, innovative, and connect and inspire customers across its most critical touchpoints.

An Era of Opportunity

Rather than be threatened by these new rules and digital tools, DMOs should embrace them by fostering a city-wide culture of innovation, adaptation and collaboration. Despite these new assets and changes to consumer behavior and interaction, the basic principles of branding haven’t changed. To thrive and survive DMOs must learn new skills and be more adaptive in conveying their destination’s distinctiveness and benefits across myriad media, platforms and touchpoints that destination managers could not have accessed a decade ago. And to achieve this they must be guided less by politics and appeasement, and more by collaboration, product development, and true customer focus.

This post is from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0SustainabilityThird sector and social sustainabilityTourism marketing

Destination Marketing for Voluntourism

Increased awareness of world issues and global needs has led to a rise in the desire to help others abroad. Travelers want to reconnect with humanity, find a sense of meaning, and help their global neighbors in a hands-on way, rather than simply through monetary contributions. While there has been some push-back questioning the merits of voluntourism, many eager travelers are still looking for opportunities where their time and skills will be useful to others.

What is Voluntourism?

Voluntourism, the responsible travel experience which combines helping, learning, and exotic traveling, is becoming increasingly popular for people of all ages who are concerned with world issues and social responsibility. Travelers use their holidays to give back to others, rather than as pure recreation. These trips can be anywhere in length from a few days to a few months. Projects can involve teaching, building schools or other infrastructure, helping with agriculture, or assisting with disaster relief.

Participants typically pay their own expenses when volunteering abroad, but some costs can be tax-deductible. In exchange for their time, voluntourists typically receive an affordable alternative to a vacation that includes orientation, language and technical training, a safe place to live and work under conditions common to the country, and a network of logistical staff to help plan the trip.

Types of Voluntourism

1. Philanthropic or donor travel. Travel philanthropy differs from other types of voluntourism in that its purpose is to supplement a philanthropic gift. Charitable organizations sometimes plan or even sponsor trips for their donors so that they can experience first-hand the work that the organization is doing. The trip could be intended to research a cause, establish a relationship with the recipient, or as reassurance that a philanthropic gift is worthwhile.

2. Private or group travel. Individuals or groups who want a charitable experience during vacation can participate in cultural or community exchanges in which they can volunteer their time. Families, groups, or individuals can create their own voluntourism holiday with a tour operator or join an existing trip with an organization.

3. Urgent service travel and disaster relief. There is an abundance of intense volunteer opportunities in second-response disaster zones after any type of natural disaster. This type of voluntourism tends to be less expensive than other types, although some organizations require that the participants raise additional donations above the cost of the trip. Skilled professionals like doctors and construction workers are in high demand, though almost anyone can help to provide immediate relief.

Voluntourism Marketing Strategies for Destinations:

  • Review the region’s current service assets to identify unique opportunities for visitors.Creativity and uniqueness are important, because travelers have a variety of volunteer opportunities to choose from. Offering one-of-a-kind experiences to travelers with differentiate a destination from its competitors.
  • Build on exisiting organizational relationships.Choose service projects that will also support tourism-related causes, issues, and events, such as museums, zoos, historic buildings, national parks, and conservation efforts that will interest tourists as well as connect them to the region’s other offerings.
  • Add information about volunteering to destination websites. The Alabama Gulf Coast’s website promotes future travel experiences in voluntourism on its website and across its social media platforms as a fun activity to participate in that will preserve the coast for generations to come.
  • Create a catalog of volunteering options for travel planners.Providing a program of unique voluntourism activities will interest tour operators as well as individual travelers. For example, partnering with zoos and national parks can provide sustainable conservation opportunities, while arts programs and museums can provide cultural opportunities for volunteers.

This blog post is from  www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Destination%20Management?start=10

Environmental sustainabilitySustainabilityTourism trends

Six Models that Link Tourism to Conservation, (I)

One of the ways that tourism benefits destinations is by augmenting conservation efforts. After conducting an analysis of both internal and partner projects, Solimar International has identified six principal sustainable tourism models that link tourism to conservation:

  1. Improve Tourism Operations and Guidelines:

This model emphasizes limiting or reversing the negative consequences on nature that can result from tourism. There are three principal strategies for improving tourism operations and guidelines to promote conservation efforts:

         1.1. Promote Sustainable Tourism Guidelines with Visitors

By promoting a ‘code of conduct’, destinations can ensure that visitors, for example, do not leave trash, pick endangered flora, or use flash photography where it might be harmful or startling to wildlife. It is important that these codes of conduct are communicated effectively through signage, pamphlets, interpretive guides, or even on websites and social media so visitors have an understanding of conservation before they arrive. Myanmar, new to hosting significant numbers of tourists, provides a great example of a visitor code of conduct with their ‘do’s and don’ts‘ campaign.

          1.2 Promote Sustainable Tourism Guidelines within the Travel Industry

By promoting effective guidelines within the travel industry, local businesses and organizations can work together to limit their impact on the natural environment. Agreeing upon certain standards, preferably before a destination attracts large numbers of tourists, can maintain the natural beauty of an area before it’s too late. For example, businesses and organizations can work together to establish best practices for responsible seafood harvesting, responsible souvenir gathering, and responsible boating practices.

          1.3 Promote Sustainable Tourism Guidelines within Protected Areas

Promoting conservation efforts within protected areas requires significant interaction from a wide range of stakeholders, both public and private. Example guidelines to follow may include limiting camping to select areas within a park or limiting the number of fish to be taken from rivers or lakes each day. Once a plan has been formulated, effective promotion is imperative to the success of the plan.

  1. Increase Tourism Awareness and Constituencies:

This model moves beyond simple education about tourism impacts to emphasize the active role that both visitors and residents can play in conservation efforts. This model incorporates three principal strategies to augment conservation efforts:

      2.1 Increase Awareness and Conservation Support of Local Residents

It is important that conservation efforts begin with locals, as residents are as much of a conservation threat as tourists. Lack of awareness, lack of economic alternatives, and long-standing traditions are often reasons locals engage in damaging practices such as unsustainable extraction of resources. Ways to increase awareness and reverse damaging actions include teaching environmental education classes with local groups or organizing a local festival to celebrate the very resource being damaged. In Latin America, sea turtle educational classes and festivals have been organized to raise awareness about the importance of sea turtle conservation and the damaging effects of poaching their eggs.

       2.2 Increase Awareness and Conservation Support of Visitors

Guides are vital to informing visitors about threats to conservation and explaining to the visitors how they can help whether that be through a donation or “adoption” programs. Programs such as these can help visitors develop an attachment to an area, increasing the likelihood of a donation, and also to spread the word about the importance of conservation when they go home.

       2.3 Link Benefits of Sustainable Tourism to the Community as a Whole

As local residents see benefits from sustainable tourism increase, the likelihood of long-term sustainable practices increases, too. Direct beneficiaries include tour guides, hotel managers, and chefs while indirect beneficiaries include family members of direct beneficiaries as well as operators of ancillary services such as construction companies or grocery stores. Non-employment-based ways the tourism industry can benefit communities includes the organization of local clean-up events, improving sanitary services, or hosting volunteers.

  1. Increase Income Diversification

If local residents realize sustainable tourism presents a livelihood, they are more likely to behave according to sustainable tourism principles. Two main strategies for assisting conservation evolve according to this model:

      3.1 Target Resource Extractors with Sustainable Tourism Employment

It may seem counterintuitive, but poachers can become optimal tour guides. Poachers often know a lot about a particular animal and can share stories and knowledge on a unique level. “Reformed” poachers often provide a unique human interest story as tourists are very interested in how and why their behavior changed. Resource extractors are much more likely to change if tourism provides an increased wage through tips, salary, or a year-end profit sharing program.

      3.2 Developing Tourism Products that Directly Mitigate a Conservation Threat

An optimal situation occurs when new products, jobs, and revenues develop and directly support conservation efforts. Local residents can create arts and crafts out of old newspaper, cans, bottles or other upcycling methods and sell them to visitors, eliminating solid waste and creating revenue simultaneously. Artificial coral reef creation has been effective in attracting divers and photographers away from susceptible natural coral reefs, where damage from tourists is common.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council provides a framework for destinations seeking to develop a sustainable tourism strategy. Many of their guidelines apply to the conservation-related ideas discussed in this post.

This blog post is from   www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/A%20Business%20Approach%20to%20Conservation

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0SustainabilityTourism trends

Tourism and Conservation: Connecting the Dots

It’s no secret that ecotourism, which in turn evolved into sustainable tourism, was born out of the conservation movement. From international NGOs like Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy to their local counterparts, conservation organizations poured considerable resources into the ecotourism boom of the 80s and 90s. But that interest and investment began to ebb about a decade ago – most likely due in part to the lack of success stories or replicable models illustrating how tourism could reduce biodiversity threats, not just contribute to them.

 As more than one billion travelers traverse the globe each year, efforts to reduce their impact must increase, especially in fragile ecosystems. WWF’s Global Marine Program decided to address the ongoing coastal development, so long as it is second only to unsustainable fishing as the primary threat to the world’s coastal and marine ecosystems. WWF realized the importance of developing a strategy to address the impacts of tourism in coastal areas head on, including efforts to create industry standards and to encourage alternative livelihoods for fishing communities.

Another potential reason for the renewed interest of the conservation community in tourism is because travel market trends increasingly favor destinations and businesses that embrace sustainability and offer opportunities for visitors to personally experience that wonderful space where tourism and conservation overlap.

For the past two years, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has worked in the Nicaragua Caribbean to help establish Kabu Tours, a tour company owned and operated by ex-sea turtle fishermen who are attempting to transition from resource extraction to sustainable tourism.  These ex-poachers have been trained by WCS to lead overnight trips to the Pearl Cays Wildlife Refuge where visitors learn about the organization’s sea turtle monitoring program and, if they’re lucky, watch a sea turtle lay her eggs.

Turning a sea turtle poacher into an interpretive guide and environmental ambassador has an obvious upside for conservation, but so does giving an accountant from Sacramento a chance to be a marine biologist for the day. Doing so provides not only a world-class tourism experience, but it also increases visitors’ understanding, appreciation, and support of the destination and efforts to protect it.

What is needed to preserve the heritage through tourism development?

For tourism to contribute to environmental outcomes, whether it’s through job creation for resource extractors or increased funding for conservation activities, a destination must first be successful in tourism. That requires demand-driven products, innovative marketing, and great delivery.

Second, tourism is one of the world’s most complex, dynamic, and historically fragmented industries. You need to know which partnerships are important, and how to build them.  Whether it’s connecting a community-tourism cooperative to a German outbound tour operator or convincing a global hotel chain to adopt sustainability criteria, identifying and realizing mutually beneficial interests is vital.

Finally, you need a blueprint. A comprehensive understanding of the direct and indirect threats to biodiversity at a site, as well as a clear vision of how tourism can positively affect the socio-economic conditions that result in environmental degradation such as lack of economic alternatives, awareness, and industry standards.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/A%20Business%20Approach%20to%20Conservation

Environmental sustainabilitySustainabilityTourism trends

Tourism: The Business of Protected Areas

Some might think that “business” and “protected areas” should not be used in the same sentence, but the reality is that the majority of protected areas around the world rely on tourism for a good portion, if not the majority, of their revenue, which in turn helps manage and conserve important landscapes and precious resources.

Tourism is often the financial backbone behind protected areas and we have worked around the world helping protected areas enhance the benefits they can derive from tourism. Although each destination is different and needs its own specific strategy, we tend to take four approaches that support protected areas through tourism:

  1. Creating partnership programs to support protected areas
  2. Tourism product development in protected areas
  3. Community linkages with, and benefits from, protected areas
  4. Linking markets to protected areas

Each of these approaches, whether integrated or implemented on their own, help increase revenue for protected areas and enhance protected area conservation and law enforcement activities. The following paragraphs give a brief overview of each of the four approaches and how they enhance the business of protected areas. For more detailed information, check out our Destination Development and Marketing Case Study.

Protected areas are utilized by a broad array of people and organizations, many of which rely on the protected areas for their income. However, these stakeholders are often underutilized as a resource for the benefit of the protected area. A protected area partnership program protected area partnership program establishes a network of public and private sector stakeholders with common interests to support the protected area both financially and through in-kind contributions. The approach we take is to stimulate collaboration and communication among stakeholders through quick catalytic activities (such as cooperative destination marketing). These help build momentum behind the group and establish long-term collaborative partnerships.

Many protected areas also require improvements to their tourism infrastructure, products and services so that they can attract more visitors, attract a specific segment of visitors, keep visitors in the region longer, or drive visitation to new areas of the protected area. To improve the tourism assets of the region, we take an approach that works with protected area authorities to evaluate the conservation, management and resource needs of the destination. Based on this tourism assessment, we identify which opportunities can address the goals of the protected area. Throughout this process we also work with the tourism market to help identify, refine and validate opportunities that fit with market needs and then develop new products or enhance services through the protected area managers themselves. The goal is not tourism for tourism’s sake, but strategic tourism assets that help achieve the long-term conservation goals of the protected area.

Communities are a part of the broader ecological landscape around protected areas and are therefore an important part of the overall business approach for protected areas. If neighboring communities benefit from visitors to the protected area then their relationship with the protected area improves. We have a comprehensive tourism enterprise development program that is explained in detail on our website, but the essence of the goal is to work with communities in or around protected areas that have an interest in tourism, a willingness and capacity to host visitors, and viability in the tourism market to create a business that is owned by the people of the community. Depending on the situation, the tourism facility can be run by the community or as a concession to a private sector operator. Either way, the objective is to go beyond just employment to tangible ownership of business assets that link the community to sustainable benefits from the park.

To successfully utilize tourism as a tool for protected area management, marketing and market linkages are vital. However, this is often an activity that is marginalized within protected area management practices. To drive people to protected areas and to keep them there for longer, they need to know about the destination and what to do within it, but this is not a task that one person or organization can achieve. Cooperative marketing, leveraging partners that also have a business interest in the protected area, helps to expand the market reach of the destination and build collaboration among regional partners.

For protected areas, a mix of traditional push marketing (sales manuals, print collateral, etc.) and inbound (pull) marketing (web-campaigns, social media, news stories, etc.) helps to build awareness about the destination with travelers and the tourism trade, and then drives travelers interested in the protected area to the travel trade to make the sale. Media, past travelers, travel trade partners and others are all utilized to increase the visibility of the protected area and track that back to actual visitors to the region.

When combined, these four approaches help to improve the business of protected areas, using tourism as a tool to increase revenues that in turn help to manage and protect these valuable natural assets.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/A%20Business%20Approach%20to%20Conservation

Marketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketingTourism trends

What’s Involved in Destination Leadership Success?

I was delighted to recently receive a copy of Bill Geist’s new book, ‘Destination Leadership’. I found his last book of the same name to hold so many epiphanies in regard to understanding and responding to the challenges that face DMOs.

I’m delighted to say that this edition again hits the mark time and again. It makes sense of much of the landscape that DMOs are dealing with. It helps that Bill has several decades experience working with over 200 DMOs to provide him with real world insights.

Destination Leadershipshows how to build the most effective DMO, structure and Board for today’s destinations. He explores the nexus between economic development and tourism, and how places can orchestrate the greatest synergy from them. I found his advice on creating and managing the DMO Board to be particularly important for successful destination leadership. He also points the way for recruiting the best and brightest to the Board.

This is the ideal book for DMO staff, executives, board members and key stakeholders, as well students, academics and government officials wanting to better understand how to introduce and sustain successful tourism organizations of all sizes.

This post is from http://citybranding.typepad.com/