Category: Sustainability

Issues related to social, economic and environmental sustainability, including the third sector

Environmental sustainabilityIntelligenceIntelligence methodsMarketing 3.0Sustainability

The Importance of Measuring Tourism Impacts

Measuring tourism impacts is often perceived as a tedious and complicated task by some tourism professionals. Since tourism is integrated across numerous sectors, there are many aspects to consider when analyzing the results of tourism development. At the broadest level, tourism affects the economy through employment and investment. It also impacts the environment as many tourism destinations are in conservation areas, traveling requires creating carbon dioxide, and too many visitors can degrade natural wonders.

For these and many other reasons, measuring tourism impacts is actually one of most important practices in achieving successful sustainable tourism development. Here are some of the reasons behind its significance:

1. Helps in Conservation

Determining the economic, socio-cultural, and environmental impacts of tourism development will help in conservation because it can show the positive and negative effects. Is tourism development helping in the protection and growth of wildlife? Is tourism development promoting the culture of indigenous peoples? Or is tourism development negatively exploiting the natural resources and cultures of the local population?

Measuring tourism impacts on our environment will help decision-makers in creating strategies that will support rather than harm conservation. Decision-makers can use the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) to evaluate the impact of tourism on the local community, cultural heritage, and the environment. From this evaluation, they can then establish if they should implement stronger controls, support other initiatives, or correct harmful practices.

The GSTC Partnership was initiated by the Rainforest Alliance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Foundation, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to promote and implement universal sustainable tourism principles around the world.

2. Spurs Investment

Sustainable tourism development often begins with investment from the government and private sector. To rationalize these investments, the government and the private sector need numbers from the tourism sector.

How many jobs is tourism creating, both directly and indirectly? How much of the gross domestic product (GDP) is from tourism? What is the potential of tourism in creating more jobs and in increasing the country’s GDP?

By measuring these important tourism metrics, investors will get the information and encouragement that they need to continue supporting sustainable tourism development.

The UNWTO, in partnership with the International Labor Organization (ILO) recently released a report on the best practices of measuring the impact of tourism on employment. This could be a helpful resource for those who want to increase employment on their communities.

3. Educates Tourists

Last year, at least one billion tourists traveled across the globe. That means one billion opportunities to teach about how tourism affects the world and how people can have more positive impacts on communities and the environment. How much of a tourist’s expenditure go to the local economy? How can tourists reduce negative economic impacts, especially on protected areas and heritage sites? How are tourists getting involved with preservation after visiting a destination?

By measuring tourism impacts and sharing results with tourists, we can help them support sustainable tourism development. Measuring tourism impacts is therefore crucial for sustainable tourism development. Having the numbers and the research results with us is a powerful tool for our industry.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Measuring%20Tourism%20Impacts

Business trendsIntelligenceMarketing 3.0SustainabilityTourism trends

The Economic Impact of Tourism Development

What’s the world’s number one export? No, it’s not oil, food, or electronics.

It’s tourism

Tourism is of tremendous economic importance worldwide. As mentioned above, tourism is a huge sector of both goods and service exports- 6% of goods ($1.4 trillion USD) and 29% of services. Tourism jobs also represent one in eleven jobs globally, and the industry comprises 9% of global GDP, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) finds that tourism generates 4.4% of total investment globally.

why tourism matters

In numerous economic sectors; including accommodations, food and beverage, retail, recreation, entertainment, and transportation; tourism has both direct and indirect effects on production, jobs, wages, and taxes (according to Tourism Economics). By increasing the tourism in a region, economic development and growth can be spurred. More tourists mean more demand, more jobs, and more revenue, including tax revenue for local and national governments.

According to the U.S. Travel Association, tourism in the U.S. alone generated $2.1 trillion USD in economic impact with $887.9 billion in direct spending and an additional $1.2 in industries indirectly affected. This accounts to $28,154 spent per second in the U.S. by domestic and international travelers. The tourism industry is one of the top employers in the U.S. supporting 14.9 million jobs and generating $209.5 billion in wages for employees directly in the travel industry.

While tourism and travel are clearly important globally, they are critical industries for much of the developing world. Tourism is the leading export in over half of least developed countries (LDCs). Some of the most unique tourist attractions, such as indigenous culture and nature reserves, are located in rural areas- where poverty is often greatest. In this, tourism offers the potential to create jobs where they are most needed and to reduce migration to urban areas.

In 1950, there were 25 million international tourists. This number has skyrocketed since, climbing to 1087 million last year. The UNWTO predicts that this number will only continue to climb with an anticipated 3.3% annual increase from 2010 to 2030, to reach 1.8 billion in 2030. Of these, the UNWTO expects that tourist arrivals in emerging destinations will increase at twice the rate of destinations in advanced countries, 4.4% growth per year as compared to 2.2% per year. The greatest demand comes from China with 2013 travel spending equaling USD $129 billion- and this market is expected to continue growing.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Measuring%20Tourism%20Impacts

SustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Tourism Services Training for Sustainable Tourism Development

In sustainable tourism development, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council maintains that an enterprise is considered sustainable if it impacts the local economy by employing capable local people. Sustainable enterprise development requires tourism services training in order to equip staff with the capacity to manage and operate the enterprises and organizations.

The challenge in developing countries, however, is finding local people with all the skills needed to run a successful tourism enterprise. As such, high quality tourism services trainings are key in developing local employees to be more qualified.

The first step in tourism services training is to assess the needs of your workforce. Creating an education module to address the identified. There are several types of training modules that you can provide your staff depending on the skills they need.

The following is a selection of the possible tourism services training modules you can offer for workforce development in sustainable tourism development.

Tourism Assessment

If you are a new tourism organization or business seeking to develop a destination, then you might need to conduct a tourism assessment to determine what products or services you offer about your destination.

You can train your local staff on how to conduct a tourism assessment and teach them why it’s important. This will encourage them to be creative in developing other products that could be linked to your core business. For example, if you are a tour operator, locals who know about tourism assessment can recommend new possible tourist routes you can offer.

Business Planning

Sustainable tourism development requires sound business planning skills including being able to find a strategy that balances economic, environmental, and sociocultural development. Local managers need to know how to protect their natural resources while at the same time gain a profit.

Training your local management staff on sustainable business planning will help them develop these strategies rooted in their own knowledge of the destination and their local culture.

Customer Service & Guide Training

The heart of the tourism industry is good customer service at all levels. Whether you are a business in the food, accommodation, tours, or airline industry, training your staff on how to offer good customer service is essential to success.

Look at your competitors and read about the best customer services practices in your field to have a sense of what you want your staff to achieve.

For businesses that offer tours, training locals how to be good tour guides will be vital. This not only ensures proper and meaningful interpretation of the sights that will be visited but also improves customer service to match the needs and expectations of the visitors.

Tourism Marketing

One of the challenges facing sustainable tourism development and local social enterprises is being able to effectively market a product or destination to the right market segments. Most of the time, they have the product, but are not aware of strategies to connect and reach out to potential customers. You may have a very sustainable tourism product, but if the market does not know about it or cannot access it, then your efforts will go to waste.

Providing your staff with marketing training helps them understand the importance of looking at what the market needs, what the consumer behavior patterns are, where the potential customers are, how to reach these potential customers, and how to convince the target market to visit a destination, join a tour, purchase a product, or stay in your lodge.

This blogpost is from  www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Measuring%20Tourism%20Impacts

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0StrategySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

How Tourism, Conservation, and Local Economies Can Work Together

I’m not a biologist, but my basic understanding of an ecosystem is an interconnected system of organisms that rely on one another to maintain their existence as they continuously transfer energy from one organism to another. It’s nature’s way of sustaining life.

But what does this have to do with tourism? Aside from our focus on developing tourism in a way that protects and promotes the delicate ecosystems within a destination, there is also an interesting comparison between an ecosystem and all the moving parts of a destination. We believe that tourism, conservation and local economies can be and should be approached in a similar holistic, ecosystem way. Rather than focus on only one aspect of a destination, we need to look at the entire ecosystem – how tourism, conservation and local economies interact, what needs they have, and how they can support one another to benefit the entire destination.

Just as energy and nutrients drive the biological ecosystem, money and experiences drive the destination ecosystem. Money helps fund peoples desire to travel and money is transferred from a visitor to a tourism business in exchange for a unique travel experience. Conservation areas and local economies receive money from travelers and travel businesses (gate fees, hotel stays, guided tours, etc.) and use it to sustain their conservation activities and livelihood. This, in turn, helps protect and enhance the destination so that travelers continue to be inspired to travel to it, maintaining the flow of money to support the destination.

Just like the biological ecosystem after which it is modeled, the destination ecosystem is a delicately balanced system relying on each component to work together to sustain the destination. If done well, tourism, conservation and local economies can sustain themselves; but when done poorly, the system collapses. Biologists realized this long ago and take an ecosystem approach to the areas they study and manage. However, for a destination, such an approach is often lacking, which results in damage to the destination as well as the organizations and people within them.

For example, if park managers decided that they wanted more antelope in their park and supported the growth of the population without looking at the entire ecosystem, they would soon find that their large antelope population had eaten all the grass and the ecosystem would deteriorate. The same is true for a destination, if the focus is purely on one aspect of a destination like growing the local economy, attracting as many visitors as possible, or conserving the destination, without consideration for anything else, the system will crash and the destination will suffer. Rather than looking at a tourism business or a park or the communities around it in isolation, an integrated approach to destinations and the tourism, conservation and local economic activities within them is vital for long-term sustainability.

Integrated planning, implementation, and monitoring of activities within a destination helps to ensure that the balance between all the key players is maintained and that each one can leverage the other for its own benefit and the benefit of the destination. It is only when this integrated ecosystem works together in balance that a destination truly thrives.

For examples of how this kind of approach was used in our work in Uganda, download our case studies on destination development and community tourism enterprise development.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Integrated%20Marketing%20Program

 

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0SustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Sustainable Tourism Development: Helping Revive Post-Conflict Destinations

One of the greatest and perhaps least recognized aspects of the sustainable tourism industry is the potential for economic growth and peace building in post conflict areas of the world. Working in these areas proves that not only does sustainable tourism have the incredible ability to preserve natural and cultural resources, but it can play a key role in the revival of economies and communities shattered by conflict.

The State of Tourism in post conflict areas

Some of the major problems faced by post conflict destinations are security based. The first hurdle in the revival of the tourism industry is making sure the destination is absolutely safe for visitors and pushing that message consistently across all channels of communication.

Another issue that arises in regard to security is rebuilding the destination’s image, as these locations are often perceived as degraded during times of conflict and violence.  It’s important to highlight that a destination’s cultural and natural heritage is alive and well by sharing high quality content about the destination, such as images, videos and copy.

The second set of issues facing post conflict destinations relates to infrastructure and human capital. Many times, after a long-lasting conflict like the civil war in Sri Lanka, many forms of infrastructure and many of the industries that service tourists are in poor condition, making it difficult for them to visit in a number of ways. For example, in some areas, roads may have become impassable; buildings may be dilapidated and need to be rebuilt. In order to sustain a tourism industry, these areas need rebuilding and basic resources restructured in order to revive their destination’s appeal and functionality.

How to restart the tourism activity

When setting goals for these destinations it is convenient to mirror that of a brand new, undiscovered destination, even if they had a tourism industry before the conflict. Through clear and coordinated communication between all stakeholders, the first phase of these strategies focuses on building the structures necessary to sustain the tourism industry.

A great way to kick start the tourism presence in these areas is to focus on regions that have not been affected by the conflict. A good approach is to promote off the beaten path, adventurous destinations and target tourists who are interested in those types of places. In each destination this might look different, but strategic marketing and promotion allows for such burgeoning markets to flourish.

Benefits & Outcomes

First and foremost, tourism in these countries means an influential source of capital. It provides economic opportunity through employment, ownership of businesses, and an increased market size. It also perpetuates personal and community empowerment by offering renewed opportunities for self-sustaining businesses and economies.

Tourism can also play a key role in reconciliation. It often unites communities that may have been broken or displaced during conflict around common interests and goals, fostering a sense of peace and cooperation that may not otherwise occur. In some cases, tourism can contribute to preventing the revival of a conflict in destinations with increasingly well-established tourism industries, as it contributes to a virtuous cycle of development and economic growth that would be threatened by the renewal of violence.

By rebuilding and strengthening culture, economy, and infrastructure, the tourism industry provides post conflict regions a chance to make a statement about their future to the world. These communities are able to showcase their homes as more than just what people see on TV news.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Geotourism%20Program%20with%20National%20Geographic

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0SustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Searching for a Sustainable Destination Management Model in Jordan

One of the greatest challenges facing destinations around the world is finding a way to bring together tourism stakeholders to work collaboratively to develop, manage, and market their tourism destination.

It’s widely understood by tourism professionals that Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) play a key and important role in connecting the tourism industry and serving as an advocate for tourism that grows local economies while mitigating tourism’s negative impacts to the environment, cultural heritage, and local residents.  In most destinations the role of the DMO is focused on destination marketing since most tourism businesses recognize the advantages of working together to create demand for a destination.  But anyone who has been to an overcrowded, too touristy, trash-ridden destination should understand why focusing on destination management is just as important as destination marketing.

As important as Destination Management Organizations may be, unfortunately most governments fail to provide financial support to help them.   In most developed destinations a combination of a bed tax, industry membership fees, and/or government funding provides modest marketing budgets that in turn convenes and unites the tourism industry around a common vision for tourism development.  But this is not always the case in developing destinations.  It’s these types of undiscovered destinations that need DMOs more than anywhere since we all know that it’s unplanned, unregulated tourism development that destroys the places we love to visit.

But how do you finance such an organization when there are only a few small tourism businesses in a destination and reluctance from national tourism authorities to decentralize tourism development and marketing?

Ajloun is one of Jordan’s undiscovered gems that offer visitors wonderful experiences ranging from 12thcentury castles to hiking trails through green forests. But the best is that the majority of these services are provided by local communities that are welcoming visitors into their homes and at their dinner tables to experience the incredible Jordanian culture and hospitality.  Ajloun was not realizing its tourism potential and a main reason for this was because no one was working together to promote and develop the tourism destination.  A DMO was needed, but how to make this work and what is required to make this successful?

Below are my reflections based on experience in Jordan and countless other developing destinations on what is needed to establish and sustain a destination management organization.

While every destination is unique and different I have come to learn that the following three key ingredients are required to establish and sustain a destination management organization in the developing world.

  1.  Willingness to work together –as easy as it sounds the first and probably the most important ingredient to creating a successful destination management organization is making sure the tourism stakeholders are willing and able to work together.  Small tourism destinations are made up of people and people are complicated.  Especially in small towns where religious or political beliefs can be as divisive as loyalty to your favorite English Premiere soccer club or who someone is currently dating.

In essence you are asking people who consider themselves competitors to agree to meet, work together, and invest time and resources for a shared good.  The first thing I did when visiting Ajloun is interview as many people as I could to try and determine if there was a willingness to work together and understand the personal dynamics in the destination that I need to be aware of.  Luckily in Ajloun there was an overwhelming desire to work together.  Everyone I met with expressed an overwhelming desire to be part of something that could help elevate Ajloun’s tourism offer.

  1. Leadership and Passion – while a willingness to work together is critical, to establishing a Destination Management Organization, equally important is finding someone with the leadership skills and passion for making it happen.  This is where most DMOs that are established with the support of international development organizations fail.  It’s much easier for the external consultant to step in and be the leader and initiate the work of the organization.  But who becomes the glue that keeps everyone together after the donor support ends and the tourism consultant leaves?  Who calls the meetings and sets the agenda? Who sees the status quo and is passionate about making change?  Without a clear leader or group of leaders that are willing to invest substantial amounts of time and headaches to make this happen, it will not work.

This was one of the challenges I recognized last week in Ajloun.  While many people I met are willing to come to a meeting and benefit from a destination marketing initiative, it was not clear to me who would be willing to take the lead and sustain this DMO over time.  But this is also why setting up a DMO takes time.  Several more conversations and meetings need to take place before I can say one way or another if there exist a leader in Ajloun that will ensure the long term success of this initiative.

  1. A Sustainable Business Model – To be honest I have seen destinations that lack one or two of the above mentioned ingredients that are still able to sustain a Destination Management Organization simply because it had a business model that provided sustained sources of income or funding to operate. However even those destinations with the best leaders and a willingness to work together have not been able to sustain a DMO without a sustainable business model.

But how do you create a sustainable business model for a DMO?  This is a question that tourism professionals around the globe are trying to solve.  In the US we have the membership model and the bed tax that funds most DMOs or new Tourism Improvement Districts (TIDs).  In Europe, funding from local governments that recognize tourism’s return on investment supports the operating budgets of most DMOs.  But in the developing world or in the case of Ajloun where there is less then 10 tourism enterprises that collectively sell less then $20,000 in services a year, how do we establish a sustainable business model for the DMO?  There is no way the businesses in Ajloun will pay a membership fee and even if they would the amount would not go far.  Government support is out of the question and the lack of large companies outside the tourism sector means that finding a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) sponsor will be a challenge.

As I interviewed more and more people I realized that the lack of tour operators in the region combined with the inability of many of the community tourism enterprises to take Internet reservations or create packages meant that there was a business opportunity.  This business opportunity is around the creation of what I like to call a Destination Management and Marketing Company (DMMC).  A DMMC takes the same mission as a DMO and has a governance structure similar to a board of directors of a DMO but it uses a business model that provides services in exchange for compensation to sustain the organization’s operating costs.  By no means is creating a DMMC an easy task but I believe that Ajloun is a perfect destination for this social enterprise approach.  The next step, like any new business is developing a business plan to define the company’s products, services, target markets, operating plan, and financial models.  It is only after this business plan is developed and local stakeholders agree to the concept can the business be established.  I look forward to the opportunity to work with the wonderful people I met In Ajloun to see if the social enterprise business model can sustain and support the needs of the tourism industry.

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

Business trendsCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0

Why Do We Need Public–Private Partnerships in Sustainable Tourism?

What is a Public Private Partnership and Why Is It Important?

In sustainable tourism development projects, there are inherently multiple goals in which an array of parties maintains interest. From tour operators to local governments and communities, these stakeholders all have expected outcomes for tourism development. In order to properly represent these interests and create mutually beneficial outcomes, public–private partnerships are essential to a great tourism strategy. The most important piece of this puzzle is maintaining strong relationships and a clear understanding of divergent yet symbiotic objectives.

It is convenient to maintain strong relationships with a wide range of actors in the tourism sector, which is vital to the negotiation of these partnerships. These partnerships leverage financial and technical expertise and promotional benefits from private and government partners in exchange for improvement in stakeholder relations, marketing, and improved product and service delivery. Increased sales revenue and jobs, improved visitor experiences, alternative incomes for local communities, decreased levels of conservation threats in areas of high biodiversity, diversified production and increased production for small farms, and overall improvement of sustainability of destinations have all been marked results of these arrangements.

Public–Private Partnerships in Geotourism Programs

At the onset of each program, a destination Geotourism Stewardship Council is organized, made up of a variety of stakeholders, including communities, non profits, businesses, and governments representing the interests of the natural, cultural, scenic, and historic features of the destination. This group then works with the consultants to develop the regional tourism strategy, defining the vision, goals, timeline, and objectives of the project. The Stewardship Council also plays a key role in implementing the strategy by meeting regularly to generate local nominations, review the information and materials created, and utilize the products established to sustain and promote the destination.

Public–Private Partnerships in Conservation

Another area of tourism that benefits from strategic public–private partnerships is conservation. In areas of high and rare biodiversity, there can be built partnerships between a number of public and private stakeholders, including protected area authorities, government bodies, conservation NGOs, the local tourism private sector, and communities living around the area. Generally categorized as Protected Area Alliances, these groups, similar to the Geotourism Stewardship Councils, play a key role in the development of the tourism strategy as well as its implementation. The alliances continue after the initial implementation of the program, allowing the community to continue supporting and sustaining the protected area. Through these partnerships, multiple goals and interests can be achieved, such as increased protection for the environment, increased revenue for the tourism sector, and increased economic opportunities for the local governments and communities.

Public–private partnerships are essential to sustainable tourism development, as they allow stakeholders across the globe to participate in the development of tourism strategy, communicate and achieve their goals and interests, and successfully implement tourism programs, all while collaborating to achieve a common goal.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Geotourism%20Program%20with%20National%20Geographic

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

Environmental sustainabilityStrategyStrategy planning & executionSustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Destination Management Planning Initiative for the Colonial City of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Tourism contributes significantly to the inflow of people and to the infrastructure development at cultural heritages. It is both a duty and an act of self-interest for the tourism industry to be invested in the conservation of these heritage sites. This cannot be handled by an external force; rather, the local stakeholders need to embrace the concept of sustainable tourism management using a “destination approach”.

Local destination management organizations (DMO) are usually in the best position to advocate holistic tourism development. They work to facilitate communication between different types of stakeholders, as well as to present commercial and community demands to policy-makers. For cultural heritage sites, without economic investment it can be difficult to maintain conservation of the site from internal and external pressures. For that same reason, destination management cannot effectively be carried out without the involvement of the local community. To do so, consultants are usually hired, by carrying out a Destination Management Plan. In their work, they focus their efforts on the following goals:

  1. Enhanced understanding of the operational structure and understanding of the potential of a DMO by local managers and other stakeholders.
  2. Active use by local asset managers and guides of the tools for development and implementation of a Sustainable Tourism Strategy.
  3. Increased knowledge of local managers on structuring tourism management using a “destination” approach.
  4. Integration of all the parties involved in the planning, development and management of sustainable tourism, using a destination approach for the conservation and empowerment of local communities.
  5. Implementation of the proposed governance structure for the DMO, achieving interagency agreements and work commitments.
  6. Design and implementation of mechanisms for the operation of the proposed governance structure.
  7. Development of an Action Plan as a basis for the strategic implementation of the Sustainable Tourism Strategy and Strategy for the Development of a DMO.

These goals will be achieved in part by hosting some workshops in order to:

  • Conduct a thorough analysis of the current situation based on an analytical framework for sustainable tourism;
  • Create a shared, strategic vision, mission, and priorities for a DMO for the Colonial City; and
  • Develop a comprehensive strategy for the management of sustainable tourism that unites all Colonial City stakeholders around a common vision.

To achieve the Colonial City’s conservation, economic and social objectives there first needs to be a shared vision. The Colonial City, the place where native, European and African cultures had their first encounter and left their combined marks, has suffered from natural disasters and most importantly, human impact. Land conversion, the development of underground transport, visitation facilities and tourism itself are taking a toll on the old city.

A successful strategy is one that was developed by the people who will be implementing it. Upon completion of the analysis of the current situation and after achieving consensus on the vision for the Colonial City and the DMO, the Sustainable Tourism Strategy and Strategy for the Development of a DMO will be drafted. The strategies will emphasize the promotion and protection of cultural assets in the destination management practices, as they are crucial in attracting higher-spending tourist segments and maximizing tourist contribution.

The destination management planning development and implementation aims to minimize the possible negative impacts of tourism, improve economic and social development, and preserve cultural heritage sites so that they can share their tales for many more years to come.

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

Environmental sustainabilityStrategyStrategy planning & executionSustainability

Johnny Cay Regional Park: Strategies for Conservation in the Caribbean

Johnny Cay, a small Colombian island in the Caribbean, faces significant conservation challenges. Although the park is a protected area, currently no license system or code of conduct exists for the tour operators who bring tourists to Johnny Cay from nearby San Andres. This lack of a tourism management plan has led to negative environmental consequences on the island, which in turn jeopardizes the long-term sustainability of businesses operating in Johnny Cay Regional Park.

A Sustainable Tourism Strategic Plan for the park has been recently developed. The plan supports conservation and business development in Johnny Cay Regional Park by identifying conservation threats, creating a plan to mitigate those threats, and implementing sustainable tourism best practices.

Principal conservation threats include environmental degradation, mainly pollution, both on the island and within the surrounding waters. The island is also losing its cultural identity and turning into a daytime party spot, leading to an abundance of alcohol consumption and diminishing authentic cultural interaction. Operations must become more conservation-focused if tourism businesses hope to use Johnny Cay Regional Park as part of their long-term business strategy.

The Sustainable Tourism Strategic Plan addresses conservation threats by employing five specific strategies over the course of three years:

  1. Creation of a Sustainable Tourism Department within Coralina (The Organization for the Sustainable Development of the San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina Archipelago).

This department will ensure that businesses comply with specific operational standards while operating within the park. The department will also develop training programs, implement environmental education programs, and act as a link between Coralina and tourism associations on the island.

  1. Develop a Sustainable Tourism Certification Program within Johnny Cay Regional Park

This program will serve as a tool for setting operating standards and increasing sustainability awareness among local stakeholders. The program will provide best practices and codes of conduct for businesses and use the implementation of these practices as a filter to determine who can operate within the park. Businesses will be encouraged to gradually implement best practices and will receive recognition upon successful implementation. Businesses will also receive training related to different strategies for improving their product offerings. Ideally, this will serve as a pilot program for the region with possible extensions on the nearby islands of San Andres, Santa Catalina, and Providencia in the future.

  1. Provide a Business Support Program for tourism businesses operating within the park

A relatively low standard of technical business knowledge emerged through the project’s initial assessment process. This negatively impacted total revenues and product quality while poor marketing limited the ability for businesses to attract new clients. A business support program, run through Coralina, has been proposed to provide training in business planning, marketing, and monitoring and evaluation. A competition has also been proposed through which locals will develop their own business plans and compete for initial funding based on plan quality.

  1. Develop a Communication Strategy to increase cooperation between tourism businesses and Coralina

Improving communication among local residents, tourists, businesses, Coralina, travel agents, and national tourism entities will be vital to the success of the sustainable tourism strategic plan. This communication strategy hopes to strengthen conservation efforts by ensuring that residents and visitors understand that Johnny Cay is a nationally-recognized regional park. The goal is to invoke a sense of pride within locals and operators to foster a culture of conservation. Additionally, the communication strategy aims to facilitate a smoother communication process between businesses and other entities while keeping businesses up-to-date on the implementation of the overall sustainable tourism strategic plan.

  1. Develop a system for tourism businesses to pay a concession fee for operating within the park

The plan calls for this implementation to occur in year 3, after the above strategies have had time to take hold. Each business applying for a concession will have their tax calculated based on their financial projections. A maximum tariff will be established and businesses will have to comply with certain standards in order to apply. Very clear communication and successful implementation strategies 1-4 will be vital to establishing the concession system.

Johnny Cay faces serious conservation issues that threaten the long-term viability of its corresponding tourism economy. However, with the proper strategy and training, these negative consequences can be reversed.

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