Category: Environmental sustainability

Visions and case studies about environmental sustainability issues

Business trendsCo-creationCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovation

Envisioning Alternate Reality Games for marketing destinations

Unlike Augmented Reality Games, Alternate Reality Games (ARG) are not mobile based but transmedia based and much cheaper to create. ARG cannot be explicitly a marketing product, but rather a marketing strategy, which turns into an experience itself and could be indirectly considered as a marketing product, so long as they are usually free although sometimes they end up involving some business too. They stand out by offering best practices in collaborative learning and problem solving, having been object of attention by scholars, private and public organizations for that reason. ARG design requires many different skills, and there are actually several profiles matching that role, such as storytellers, web designers, and puzzle creators, to shortlist the main ones.

ARG deny the difference between the real and the game world. Actually, the game takes place for those who discover that something is going on in the real world beyond the obvious, by identifying some codified information and decodifying it to figure the clues to start playing. Another unique feature of ARG is that there is no other marketing than word of mouth from players, who look for other players to help them in tackling the game’s challenges. These games rely on knowledge sharing among players to solve the challenges and use the internet as a platform for sharing knowledge, although the game uses all types of media to provide the information to the players. The game works like an interactive networked narrative using the real world as the game board and many different media channels to deliver clues and the story that is eventually co-created by the organizers and the players.

The games are driven by a story that takes place in real time and is developed through the contribution and reaction of the players. The story characters are controlled by the game designers –unlike computer games, where characters are controlled by artificial intelligence- and interact with players, solving plot-based challenges and puzzles through collaboration by analyzing the story and coordinating real-life and online activities. Players discover the story researching just as archeologists would, as the story is split into pieces throughout the media channels to challenge players in connecting those story pieces to make a coherent narrative. The game uses players’ real live as the platform, players not being required to build a character other than themselves. The game designers control most of the story but leave some room for contribution to the players, who end up being co-creators of the story to some extent. Furthermore, so long as the game evolves demanding more complex challenges, players need to recruit new co-players with specific skills or expertise. ARG have become a genre of gaming themselves, not just a one-time occurrence, as it appeared to be at first.

ARG are usually free to play, using various kinds of revenue sources such as supporting products or marketing deals with existing products. In the case of tourism, the price to pay would be that associated to visiting the destination, without discarding other sources such as marketing deals with brands that want to be associated with the destination brand to target players as potential customers. Actually, after the first successful ARG had appeared, many corporations started regarding such games as a potential marketing strategy to promote their business as an innovative and fan-friendly strategy. So far, the major trends regarding the funding strategy for large-scale ARGs are the development of game-branded products and also fees for participation in the game.

Curiously, beyond the games created for fun only purposes, the so called “Serious ARG” have also emerged, consisting of the same structure and functioning way but with a real-world problem as a driving challenge instead of a fictional one. The first one –World Without Oil– was centered about the vision of a world with shortage of oil, and others such as Tomorrow Calling tackle many environmental issues. This type of ARG approaches the idea –ingrained in the Vision of Tourism 3.0- of open innovation for tackling the social and environmental challenges, so long as ARGs are focused on collaborative problem solving, leveraging the collective intelligence, knowledge and imagination to design innovative solutions. The “Serious ARG” approach works as a marketing strategy to attract and engage contributors through the shape of a game.

So far, the ARG phenomenon has already reached millions of players in more than 177 countries, who participate both online and in live events in the streets. There is even an award at IndieCade for games that have a social message, shift the social perception of games as a medium, represent a new play paradigm, expand the audience or influence culture.

Moreover, there have been organized some ARG directly related to the tourism industry. In 2008, the American Art Museum organised an ARG called Ghosts of a Chance encouraging players to find new ways to engage with their art collection, attracting more than 6000 participants over six weeks. At the same year, McDonald’s and the International Olympic Committee launched an ARG to promote the Summer Olympics of Beijing, facilitating the participation of players from different countries running the game in 6 languages, and encouraging players to share information and interact with fellow co-players overseas. They used a sport celebrity as Game Master to promote the game and promised to donate US$ 100,000 to charity at the end of the game on behalf of players.

Prototypes such as those presented for Augmented Reality Games could be useful for Alternate Reality Games, namely the “Worldwide ARG tournament calendar”, the “Film story or local legend based game”, and mostly the “Collaborative challenge based game”, without discarding other options. Rather, inspiration should come from the “Serious ARGs” focused on tackling real-world challenges.

The ARG can therefore become a good strategy to find and engage new targets, neutralize tourism demand seasonality and also create long lasting positive impacts both for the visitors –through the life-changing experience provided by the game itself- and for the destination, so long as the game challenge is related to some of the social or environmental concerns of the destination stakeholders.

Business trendsCo-creationEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0storytelling

Envisioning Augmented Reality Games in destinations

Following up with the previous article on Augmented reality (AR), where many key ideas were introduced, this one is to envision further storyliving and gaming experiences based on Augmented Reality.

Creating an Augmented Reality gaming experience is quite a daunting task, so long as the digital content overlays the real world, a suitable scenario is needed to match with the game and its digital content. So, ideally, the game has to be based to some extent on the tangible or intangible (stories, traditions, etc.) heritage of the destination to make it meaningful and effective as a marketing strategy. The game can work as a tool to educate players in the destination history as well as to move them to take action in contributing to some of the local challenges.

For tourism destinations 3.0, the challenge of destination based Augmented Reality games is not only to draw the attention of many visitors, but also to offer them a life-changing edutainment experience that allows them to develop new skills on collaborative problem-solving, conflict resolution, critical thinking, negotiation, mindfulness, etc. Ideally, the game should be designed for many participants to play at the same time in order to make them interact and develop some of these skills.

Further, other relevant features to be considered in such games would be many constraints related to the social and environmental concerns and challenges, to raise awareness and address them to some extent, also awaking the players’ human spirit and turning it into a life-changing experience.

Let’s envision some prototypes:

  1. Worldwide AR game tournament calendar: Imagine a game that is going on globally and so takes place in several destinations sequentially, as it happens with many professional sports tournament calendar, so to attract gamers to each of the destinations participating in the game.
  2. Film story or local legend based AR game: Imagine gamers playing the characters of a film or series broadcasted in a destination, or from a local legend where they can create their own story collaboratively based on the same characters or adding some new ones, in the same scenario.
  3. Videogame based AR game: Imagine using a popular videogame to create an AR game attracting many of its fan players to the destination to play their own character or some of the existing characters in the physical scenario of the destination. This is compatible with Type 1.
  4. Collaborative challenge based AR game: Imagine an AR game to turn a collaborative challenge -such as an environmental or social challenge- into a game to further engage many players and make them become contributors. Making things fun helps both attracting and engaging unusual contributors.

Although it does not incorporate Augmented reality, Geocaching  is a good example to showcase what a multiplayer mobile phone based game can be. Foursquare is an example to showcase collaborative contribution through the mobile phone related to tourism destinations, although it is not a game nor it has AR.

At present, Augmented reality is mainly based on the mobile screen showing the view of its camera and displaying the related digital content, but in the near future it will merge with alternate reality as long as the wearable technology becomes more widespread. This will allow enhanced versions of the games, more complex and also more immersive for the player.

Collaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studiesSustainability

The ‘Trashtag Challenge’, the new viral challenge that is cleaning beaches all over the world

We have talked many times in this blog about how tourism activity can address the social and environmental challenges of the destinations leveraging the power of storytelling and social media for the greater good. Among all the “Trash contents and challenges” that can be found nowadays in the internet, it is also fair to highlight such a remarkable initiative, also to remind us of the motivational power of good doing and the spiritual fulfillment that it brings.

The hashtag #trashtag intends to shake the environmental consciousness of people all over the planet by challenging them to show a picture of a natural site full of trash followed by a picture of the same site when all the trash has been removed. The challenge has gone viral and so it is possible to see hundreds of examples where it has moved people to take action.

This is a perfect example to showcase how social media can be an excellent platform to connect with the target audiences to engage them in a social or environmental mission, and how it can encourage positive mass behavior by becoming viral in the social networks. The lessons to be learned through this case to create similar challenges are mainly the simplicity of the challenge and the power of the visual impact showing the results achieved. Simplicity helps people taking action without need to think over about the where, when and mostly how to do it. The visual impact is what creates the desire of the audience to take action and the will to see and show the final result. To learn more about mass phenomena, I suggest you to read over the previous articles on the “Tipping Point Theory”, where these are explained in detail.

You can also find further information about the Trashtag challenge in the following link

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0SustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

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.

why tourism matters

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

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0SustainabilityThird 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 article is reposted with permission from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Integrated%20Marketing%20Program

Environmental sustainabilityIntelligenceIntelligence methodsSustainabilityTourism trends

Environmental Indicators in Measuring Tourism Impacts

The task of measuring tourism impacts is often conducted by identifying certain economic indicators, such as the contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or the overall employment, and measuring their base before tourism, after a tourism project begins, and monitoring them as the project progresses. Here is an example infographic from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC):

wttc

Source: WTTC

With sustainable tourism development, we aim to manage the consequences of tourism in such a way to maintain a balance between its economic, environmental, and socio-cultural impacts. Therefore, it is important to identify environmental and socio-cultural indicators to measure as well.

Throughout the coming paragraphs there is a list of possible indicators that you can use in evaluating and measuring tourism impacts particularly environmental ones. Although this list is not comprehensive, these indicators are the most commonly used and can guide you in your initial tourism planning.

Effect on Air, Water, and Soil Quality

Tourism relies heavily on natural resources, so its impact on the environment is crucial when measuring tourism impacts. Ideally, tourism should be able to improve the quality of air, water, and soil in a destination. Some example questions to consider when measuring this indicator:

  • Has tourism been able to maintain the quality of water in the destination?
  • In places that promote pristine and endless strips of beaches, how clear is the water from coliform bacteria contamination?
  • Is there sufficient drinking water for the communities in the destination?

Sometimes, tourism businesses use up most of the water in a local area because of the needs of the tourists, such as providing showers in hotels. This transfers resources from the locals to the tourists and sustainable tourism developers should be wary of this.

Effect on Conservation Goals

When measuring tourism impacts on conservation, use these guide questions to help you:

  • Is tourism helping in protecting wildlife and other environmental resources?
  • Has the number of endangered species increased or decreased?
  • Does tourism support forest regeneration and marine conservation?

Effect on Waste

Many tourist establishments generate a relatively higher volume of waste compared to the locals’ waste. Well-implemented waste management strategies are crucial to prevent negative impacts on the environment such as high levels of dangerous bacteria. Consider:

  • How much solid waste is generated by tourism?
  • Is there a proper waste management system to prevent negative environmental impacts?
  • What is the ratio of the tourism establishments waste compared to the locals?

Measuring tourism impacts using these environmental indicators is helpful in sustainable tourism planning as a guide in designing strategies to achieve the positive side of these indicators. Of course, your indicators will need to be customized to your destination.

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

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

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.

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