Category: Environmental sustainability

Visions and case studies about environmental sustainability issues

Environmental sustainabilityStrategySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Typical challenges in mature destinations (I)

Conviviality between locals and tourists. The most tourist crowded areas are sometimes also residential, and so there are usually many issues related to difficult conviviality between the local residents and the visitors, such as nightlife noise, tourists’ inappropriate behavior, or just a certain invasion of the public spaces and facilities, which are designed for the residents’ use only.

This may be solved with the development of other clusters to spread the tourism flows, and more specifically by regulating nightlife schedules in a way that from a certain time on nightlife entertainment is only allowed in specific areas with no residents, fully dedicated to leisure and entertainment. Further these and other rules concerning the tourists’ behavior should be well communicated through the tourist establishments and agents, and also enforced by local policemen controlling the problematic areas.

Finally, it is essential to control the concentration of accommodation facilities in the most demanded areas, not only by limiting the licenses for hotels and hostels, but also by limiting the allowance of Airbnb offers to a minimum, like 1 room per apartment and 1 apartment by owner, avoiding the proliferation of tourist apartments in the residential buildings. In accordance with the new clusters’ development, the demand for accommodation should be directed to the new clusters, also to help them grow and create demand for their businesses.

Congestion issues in popular areas. Closely related to the previous point, congestion issues are not only affecting the resident’s life, but also the tourists’ experience. Solving the issue for the tourist entails spreading the tourist interest hot spots and constraining visitors’ flows according to carrying capacity and bottle necks’ capacity.

First, the cluster development strategy should create new attractions in clusters other than the most crowded, even changing the location of some attractions from the crowded areas to the new cluster, as long as it is possible. This may be the case of museums or other cultural entertainment facilities. This may be done either through new cluster development or through reconverting existing clusters. Also the new accommodation facilities should be concentrated in the new tourism clusters, both to give them life and discharge the most popular areas from some of the tourism flows.

This new cluster development or reconversion should be complemented with the creation of tourism itineraries encouraging visitors to discover the destination off the beaten track, and the creation of charming transportation systems to move visitors from one place to another, encouraging them somehow to visit the new tourism clusters.

Excessive dominance of tourism businesses in the residential areas. Some residential areas popular among tourists have seen an increase in the percentage of tourism related businesses over the commercial mix, up to an extent that they lack some of the services they used to have close to their homes and many traditional businesses have had to close.

Being more profitable, some tourism businesses take the premises traditionally dedicated to services or products for the residents, up to the point where they barely exist or are too scarce according to the residents demand. The tourism business profitability allows them to pay higher rents than many residents’ oriented businesses and therefore it’s hard for these ones to keep their location. Such kind of business cannibalism obviously goes against the residents’ interest and so it is likely to put those residents against the tourism development.

Many solutions may be implemented to tackle this issue. A special tax for the tourism businesses could be fixed, so as to diminish their profitability after taxes and eventually lower the premises rental prices. The revenues from these taxes should be invested in helping the affected businesses to reconvert or start-up in another location. Another solution, combined with this one, could be the creation of micro-clusters for tourism businesses, allowing them to settle down in certain areas, but preventing them to settle in other areas reserved for the residents’ oriented businesses.

What other challenges are usual in mature destinations?

Environmental sustainabilitySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Monitoring sustainability issues

Beyond the indicators related to the Competitiveness programs and mission related goals –poverty alleviation & environment protection-, it is also recommendable to carry out a comprehensive assessment of sustainability issues through the elaboration of a set of Sustainable Tourism Indicators (STI).

First of all, tourism sustainable development has to be based upon three main principles:

  • Equitability: the generation of wealth out of the tourism activity should be fairly distributed among all the destination stakeholders.
  • Livability: the tourism activity should allow the destination’s inhabitants to cover their present and future needs, ensuring a long-lasting quality of life.
  • Viability: development has to respect the carrying capacities of the destination ecosystems without using non-renewable resources

The indicators have to play the role of analyzing all types of factors affecting the structure of the tourism industry, assessing the benefits and impacts of the tourism activity, identifying critical issues that need to be addressed, measuring the achievement of the Plan’s objectives and orientating in the need for strategy shift in line with the objectives achievement.

Based on the 20 main sustainability issues identified in the WTO’s “Indicators of sustainable development for tourism destinations: a Guidebook”, Tangenay, Rajaonson and Therrien developed a list of 20 STI as the main indicators to monitor the key sustainability issues within a destination. These are exposed in the following table.

Sustainability issue Indicator
Ecosystem Area of natural protected space
Water Water consumption (tourism sector)
Atmosphere Air pollution (tourism sector)
Energy Energy consumption (tourism sector)
Waste Volume of waste recycled or treated/total volume generated
Well-being Level of satisfaction of the local population
Resilience and risk Environmental vulnerability
Security and safety Ratio of tourists to local population at cultural events
Health Quality of bodies of water (lakes, rivers and sea)
Satisfaction Level of tourist satisfaction
Public participation Level of public participation in election
Culture Level of maintenance of heritage sites
Accessibility Frequency, capacity of services, or level of use by existing transport modes to the destination
Investments Percentage of new real estate developments intended for tourism
Ecotourism promotion Number and % of businesses that acquired an eco-responsible label
Economic vitality Percentage of income generated by tourism in the community
Employment % of new jobs in the tourism sector occupied by local residents
Marketing Percentage of return visits
Distinction Number of visits to heritage sites
Traffic Volume of tourists

Whenever data is not available, other indicators for the same issue should be found according to the available data related to this issue in the destination. Further, in relation to the previous section about monitoring the implementation of the Plan, the STI scorecard has to include indicators directly related to the destinations policy on sustainability.

In this regard, the KPIs related to environmental impacts should be designed by specialized consultants specifically for every destination –depending on the type of environment and issues to tackle-, whereas some of the KPIs to track the evolution of poverty alleviation could be:

  • Newly created tourism businesses in the poorer layers of the community
  • Increased disposable income in the poorer layers of the community
  • Newly created “non-tourism” businesses serving the poorer layers of the community
  • Increased turnover of old businesses serving the poorer layers of the community
  • Increased number of households with access to Internet and computer literacy
  • Increased access to primary & secondary education in the poorer layers of the community

Concerning the value for money, service quality could be measured in two ways other than the tourists’ satisfaction:

  • Mystery tourist system, consisting of periodical service evaluation by outsourced professionals pretending to be casual tourists.
  • Tracking of congestion and “early sold out” services through systematic observation, to identify bottlenecks and unsatisfied demand for critical services.

Would you consider other indicators?

Environmental sustainabilityStrategyStrategy planning & executionSustainability

Cross-destination competitiveness programs: strategy enforcement & sustainability

Regulation and bureaucracy system audit. As mentioned in the cross-destination competitiveness diagnosis, the adequacy of the regulation is essential to foster sustainable development. Regulations are to enforce the policies determined in the strategic development plan, and so whenever there is any strategic shift or new practices are to be implemented, the regulation has to adapt to these changes.

Carrying out a regulation audit is to detect gaps in the present regulations with regards to the intended policies. This may mean some needed changes in the regulations, adding new articles within the existing regulations, or in some cases elaborating new regulations. The audit should state what kinds of behaviors, undesired actions or practices are being permitted by the current regulation to justify a change, and what risks are assumed by the current gaps.

Furthermore, there should be auditing of the bureaucracy system concerning the starting up procedures for new businesses to detect inefficiencies and bottlenecks that cause unnecessary delays. An agile bureaucracy system is an important factor that enhances chances of entrepreneurs and investors choosing the destination to set up a new business.

Eco-label system. To help some operators set themselves apart in terms of sustainability management, the implementation of an eco-label system may also help to foster an eco-friendly culture among the destination operators. There should be different eco-labels depending on the environmental impact degree of the operator, describing precisely the obligations, practices and constraints to comply with for every label category. These would be different depending also on the type of operator.

To extend the implementation of this eco-label system, it would be convenient to design an incentive system consisting of both fiscal and marketing incentives. These last ones may consist of privileged position in both marketing materials and activities.

Eco-labels are especially convenient for destinations marketing ecotourism related products, and also when targeting geographical markets that are especially sensitive to environmental issues such as the Nordic Countries, Germany, Australia, Canada, etc. This is a must have program for destinations intending to approach the vision of Tourism 3.0, as it is an effective and visible way to reduce negative impacts in the environment, enhancing sustainability.

Which other programs would you consider to enforce sustainability policies and others?

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0Strategy planning & executionSustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

The principles and goals of a destination model: sustainability

Sustainability means qualitative and balanced growth preserving both socio cultural and environmental value. Sustainable development is defined as “the satisfaction of the present moment without compromising the capacity of the future generations to satisfy their needs”. In the tourism industry there are several forces favoring a tourism sustainable development:

  • The consumer pressure: greater consciousness about environmental issues, increase of alternative tourism concepts such as ecotourism, agrotourism, etc. and better preservation of the destination’s environmental and cultural resources.
  • The public authorities: through new regulations incentivizing conservation and recuperation of the environment.
  • The civil society: increasingly concerned about the environment, demanding measures for the conservation of the cultural, social and natural heritage.

There are however some forces against the sustainable development, namely the economic growth, which has to be countered with development planning measures and policies. Businesses want to increase revenue and financial value, the society is demanding employment, and the public administration needs their taxes to provide public services.

According to Professor Muller from the University of Bern, there are five conditions that a destination should comply with to be sustainable, all ingrained in the public policies:

  • Economic development, intending to develop tourism as an alternative economic sector.
  • Environmental conditions, intending to develop environmental consciousness and preserving the natural heritage.
  • Cultural identity, fostering traditions and local cultural heritage.
  • Social base, improving the life quality of the destination inhabitants.
  • Tourism attractiveness, improving the visitor satisfaction by leveraging the local heritage.

The public administration has to consider the needs of this development in the regulations, and ensure the participation of the local stakeholders through a campaign to arouse consciousness and concern about these issues.

Do you think of other conditions to make a destination sustainable?

Business model innovationCo-creationCollaborative business modelsEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovation

Story innovation concepts: added value & crowd game driven experiences

Beyond the explained details of the four prototypes, there may be many other added value experiences to support the main one in fostering its popularity and conveying new contributions both in virtual and real world platforms. Some of these story related experiences could be video games (in the case of the prototypes 3 and 4 the video game is an essential component), comic based stories, theater plays, board games, movies, spin-off stories, merchandise products, etc. This is actually what film series such as Harry Potter, Star Wars or Lord of the rings have done to some extent, trying to satisfy the desires of their followers for more story related experiences.

With regards to the crowd game driven experiences, the environmental challenges would be driven by volunteers, usually entailing some kind of field work to achieve a certain goal in relation with the environment protection in the form of a game driven experience to make it more fun and stimulating. In the case of the creativity & cooperation challenge, it would be driven by contributors willing to prove their creative skills, in the form of a game driven experience where participants also have to prove teamwork capacity by solving one or more innovation challenges related with the mission purpose, which also serves as an educational experience in collaborative innovation. Finally, the educational fun experience is for tourists willing to entertain while taking away some significant learning outcomes related to skill development or social consciousness, for instance.

In the case of contributors in creativity & cooperation challenges and also in the case of story making contributors, there should be a system that not only facilitates but also rewards contributors based on a reputation and incentive system, in order to stimulate talented followers to bring in their passion and imagination to build the story world. This is not only crowd sourcing but also providing the audience members an opportunity to live a life-changing experience by exploiting their skills. The Whitepaper “Envisioning Open innovation in destinations” is to further develop the idea of the incentive and reputation system for contributors.

Do you envision other story innovation concepts to enhance the aforementioned ideas or to inspire new story based experiences?

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsEnvironmental sustainability

Destination Models 3.0: Environmental benefits

When focusing on environmental protection and sustainability, in the case of nature-based tourism destinations, there are many roles that the destination model may take:

  • Collaboration with research programs (either by universities, corporations, government, etc.) or environmental protection programs (private foundations, NGOs, government, etc.) by lending some of the facilities, programming volunteering activities related with the field work, etc. In some cases, the open innovation system could serve also as crowdsourcing resource for innovative ideas. Alternatively, the destination could also serve as a pre-testing field for new eco-friendly products.
  • Creating awareness among stakeholders about the environmental issues and challenges of the destination, by educating them on the threats and the good practices that should guarantee the protection of the destination’s environment, in order to create a network of environmental ambassadors that spread these concerns and good practices.
  • Integrating environmental friendly facilities and practices within the main business activity, thus minimizing the impact on the environment. These facilities and practices could also be leveraged for educating and creating awareness about the environmental challenges, thus accomplishing the aforementioned role at the same time.

The indicators to track the environment related mission should be designed by environmental experts according to the established goals aligned with the mission.

Beyond the aforementioned main benefits, there may be other positive impacts such as those related to cultural protection and promotion, socio-cultural change and human development on both the local communities’ side and the visitors’ side. These benefits may be difficult to measure and are most likely to be assessed through the kinds of stories that are created and their popularity.

A series of Whitepapers are to be released featuring case studies to illustrate how the destination model 3.0 approach may be applied in various tourism destinations.

Would you consider other roles to be played by the destination board?

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsEnvironmental sustainabilitySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Destination Models 3.0: Social & environmental costs

Even if destination models 3.0 intend to address social and environmental concerns by reducing the negative impacts that the tourism activity usually creates, it may not be possible to eliminate them completely, for it is necessary to foresee and monitor these impacts to obtain a holistic assessment on the mission accomplishment.

Furthermore, this section should also explain to what extent the destination model manages to reduce these kinds of costs in comparison to most conventional models. So long as the mission is not only to create positive impacts, but also to reduce negative impacts, it is necessary to gauge the negative impacts that the model manages to save in the social and environmental spheres.

There should be established a set of goals in relation to this intended impact reduction. For this purpose, a series of performance metrics are to be designed, along with those for measuring the positive social and environmental impacts. Once a year, a social and environmental audit should be carried out to assess the impact reduction in relation to previous years.

Some indicators on environmental negative impacts could be:

  • Air pollution
  • Acoustic pollution
  • Forest land reduction
  • River or sea water cleanliness
  • Survival status of endangered species

Some indicators on economic, social or cultural negative impacts could be:

  • Employment seasonality
  • Employment insecurity
  • Satisfaction of residents in tourist areas on the cohabitation with tourists
  • Rise of the real estate prices due to the tourism activity
  • Termination or offshoring of non-tourism local businesses replaced by tourism businesses

Would you consider other relevant indicators in either category?

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureCulture changeEnvironmental sustainability

Destination Marketing 3.0: Internal marketing strategy

It is necessary to market the vision, mission and values to employees and partners, as they have to become engaged to act as brand ambassadors in the social networks. This starts by executives performing an adequate leadership style according to the stated values. Only by delivering a value-driven leadership experience through everyday behavior will the executives manage to engage employees and partners in the mission and values they preach. The leader’s role here is rather to inspire and empower employees to develop their ideas towards the mission accomplishment.

Furthermore, so long as these values are successfully embedded in the corporate culture, these employees and partners in turn will be brand ambassadors inspiring and engaging other people in a life-changing experience. Such values ultimately deliver several pay-offs, like an increased capacity to attract talented employees, boosting productivity, and eventually improving customer satisfaction and recommendation.

Talented professionals look for employers empowering them to be creative, enabling them to develop their human potential. Furthermore, they are to be far more productive if they sympathize and believe in the mission that the organization is striving for. Outside stakeholders assess the organization’s authenticity according to the experience they have with their employees and closest partners.

Such cultural change may require important sacrifice, as it is necessary to stand by these values even if it hurts the business. Only then, when witnessing the employer’s integrity, will the employees engage in full commitment. Furthermore, such cultural issues are to be regarded when recruiting new employees and selecting partners, to make sure that they are likely to integrate within such culture.

Among the values to be promoted internally, it is important to regard the importance of innovation and collaboration beyond the organization’s boundaries as the main values that make a difference in sustaining the competitiveness and marketing the destination to outperform competitors.

Internal marketing should go beyond employees and service partners, also encompassing other partners such as non-profit organizations with whom the destination may cooperate for the development of mission-driven volunteering programs. These are to become key agents in both the mission accomplishment and the delivery of stories, as they hold reputation among communities of volunteers who may become mission-driven activists and brand ambassadors at the same time. Other partners in this section could be educational institutions, which may nurture the destination with storytellers and content marketing providers, as the mission driven purpose may inspire some educational activities in this direction.

Internal marketing is to be especially critical when the shift towards Marketing 3.0 is promoted by the DMO, as they need the commitment of all the destination’s operators.

In the case of the resorts, a specific internal marketing program has to be prepared for shareholders, to convince them on the new marketing strategy focused on the mission accomplishment and the long term profits rather than short-term. As the new marketing approach entails reformulating the business model to some extent, it is necessary to gain their approval to do so.

What kind of challenges do you envision when deploying Internal Marketing by a DMO in cooperation with the destination’s operators?

Business model innovationEnvironmental sustainabilityStrategyStrategy planning & executionSustainability

Destination Models 3.0: Key activities & management (IV)

Monitoring the evolution of the destination’s activities through a system of key performance metrics which are to indicate the need for reorienting efforts or strategy in case the results do not meet the strategic goals. There should be many KPI sections:

  • Indicators tracking the outcomes of the open innovation system, like mission-driven initiatives, business model innovation discussions, as well as marketing ones like written stories, shared contents and other social media metrics.
  • Indicators tracking the expansion of the business model, like number of innovation system members (considering various member categories), partners by category, overall tourism arrivals, overall revenue, revenue per geographical market, revenue per market segment, average revenue per tourist, average length of stay, merchandising sales, occupancy rates, satisfaction rates, etc.
  • Indicators to characterize the evolution of tourist demand, identifying the behavior patterns for every market segment, like average expenditure, average length of stay, type of accommodation, activities carried out, type/size of group, trip organization, marketing channels, etc. These are also to gain a better understanding of tourists’ needs, concerns, motivations and aspirations.
  • Other indicators tracking the evolution of the business model such as the kinds of integration formulas to which most partners adhere (indicating the confidence inspired by the model), profitability of the business units, number of direct and indirect employments created, training courses attended and successfully completed by employees and partners’ employees, etc.
  • Indicators tracking the accomplishment of social and environmental goals, further explained in the section 2.12.

Further, it is necessary to explain the performance standards the model should comply with, the key metrics to monitor them, and the key competences needed to comply with such standards.

This section should explain in detail the operational system of all critical activities nurturing and sustaining the competitive advantages of the destination model, as well as the platform management system, stating the performance standards and the metrics to monitor the model’s evolution.

Do you miss any key activity to ensure its proper functioning? Would you add any other type of KPI?

Business model innovationCollaborative business modelsEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovationMarketing 3.0

Destination Models 3.0: Competitive advantage & Value proposition (II)

In tourism 3.0 it is essential to understand that the new marketing focuses on weaving values and mission within the business culture, which is reflected deeply in the experiences and stories marketing the destination, and ultimately obtains profits through the appreciation of the positive impact that the business has on the society, the environment and the culture. It is through the opportunity given to have this positive impact that destination models 3.0 target the stakeholders’ human spirit. Furthermore, by empowering all stakeholders to participate, they become accountable for the accomplishment of the mission.

Beyond the mission driven value proposition that sets destination models 3.0 apart from other tourism development models, it may be necessary in many cases to target non-mission driven tourists offering non-mission driven experiences to guarantee sufficient revenue streams all year round, or to partially subsidize the mission driven activities. In such cases, the model should prioritize the development of experiences that appeal to the affluent tourists and other segments or niche markets that contribute in balancing the demand seasonality, assessing also whether these tourists generate any additional negative impact either on the natural or social sphere.

In this section, there should be explained not only the competitive advantage(s) that sets it apart from other destinations and the portfolio of experiences it intends to offer to visitors, but also the vision, mission and its related goals, so long as they are the primary reason for which mission driven stakeholders are to get engaged with the destination.

Do you think we should consider anything else when defining the value proposition and the competitive advantage?