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  • Writer's pictureDr. Keneika A. Rowe, CHE, CHIA

How Destination Stewardship Is Shaping A Better Future For Destinations And Communities

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Photo by Media From Wix

Tourism is a primary economic driver in many destinations. Not only does it provide significant economic growth in destinations such as increased job creation, development of infrastructures and superstructures, and foreign exchange. There are also many adverse impacts on destinations and communities. Over-tourism leads to congestion, pollution, and residents' displacement. There is also a negative impact on the local culture and environment. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the importance of responsible tourism and the demand for a more holistic, sustainable approach to marketing a destination. Destination management organizations are challenged not only to focus on quality marketing strategies to increase visitors to their destinations but also to incorporate strategies that can lead to quality visitation and responsible visitors who can contribute positively to the host communities, ecosystems, and preservation of culture and heritage.

There is a growing need for destinations to incorporate a destination stewardship model. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), destination stewardship is “ an approach that balances and meets the needs of a destination and its community. It requires active engagement from both public and private sectors with the local community.” A more sustainable tourism approach requires everyone in the planning process who values and shares the same vision for a better future. Responsible tourism is necessary to improve communities and the well-being of citizens.

In 2021, the WTTC, European Tourism Futures Institute (ETFI) at NHL Stenden University, and The Travel Foundation produced a new report on destination stewardship which can be achieved through Scenarios & a Governance Diagnostics Framework. This framework is a practical guide for anyone in the travel and tourism industry and for tourism ministries and destination management organizations (DMOs). The report includes triggers to destination stewardship, barriers, and benefits that public and private sectors and communities would receive from incorporating such a model. There is also guidance in the form of scenarios and inquiries that can be used when working with selected stakeholders.

Some of the triggers that destinations are faced with include but are not limited to:

  • Evolving visitor economy

  • Managing supply and demand

  • Enabling technologies

  • Becoming more resilient

  • Calling for social inclusion

If these triggers are adapted and executed correctly, destinations can remain productive while having sustainable growth and competitive advantage.

Here are some benefits mentioned by the WTTC for full public-private-community collaboration in a destination stewardship model:

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Photo by Media From Wix

Private sector benefits:

  • Receive government support

  • Positive community relations

  • Positive customer experiences

Public sector benefits:

  • Shared resources/accountability

  • Enhanced destination image

  • Improved livability

Community benefits:

  • Improved quality of life

  • Diverse amenities

  • Inclusive opportunities for employment and entrepreneurialism

A new approach and model are necessary for responsible tourism for our destinations to prosper. Our communities are the fabric of our destinations’ tourism products. They provide authentic cultural experiences that are a significant demand in any tourist experience. Let’s protect our paradise, home, and countries for future generations by adopting a destination stewardship model for a better tourism experience for communities and visitors. Our future depends on it. To learn more, please visit the WTTC website.

We encourage knowledge sharing on our platform and would love to hear from you. Is your destination adapting to a destination stewardship framework? If not, how could this framework benefit your destination? Please share your responses in the comment section below.

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