September Update, 2023

From the DSC Director: The latest Destination Stewardship Report, Future of Tourism Coalition activities, field report, “destination stewardship” on the rise, and a new DSC website pending.

The northern hemisphere summer is winding down, and there’s a lot to report. During 2023 overtourism has returned with a vengeance, inundating popular destinations from Yosemite to the Acropolis. “Revenge travel” indeed. Our Destination Monitor lists news stories on how places are responding, if at all. I myself was interviewed recently about overtourism by The Economist for its Ocean Initiative.

Many destinations have also suffered weather-related disasters, often exacerbated by climate change. We will shortly be adding a page in our “Stewardship Resources” directories to help with climate-change mitigation and adaptation. Watch this space.

As you may gather from the intermittency of posts on this page, our emphasis has changed from building blog content to building content via the Destination Stewardship Report, helped along by our DSR partners at CREST (Center for Responsible Travel) and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council – special thanks to Alix Collins and Tiffany Chan respectively.

The Summer issue includes Mike Robbins’s uplifting story about the Indigenous Guardians of the B.C. coast, a GSTC conversation on the Bahamas’ move toward destination stewardship, and Cheryl Hargrove’s observations on the need for preserving living culture in a UNESCO World Heritage city. And more.

Be sure to check out our archive of more than 60 DSR articles, all dedicated to improving the interaction between tourism and care for places. The next DSR issue is in preparation now, and as always we welcome article proposals and volunteer help with research, editing, and proofreading. Thanks to the many of you who have contributed so far! Keep an eye on the Destination Stewardship Report for upcoming events pertaining to our topic, and be sure to send in notice of your own.

The Future of Tourism Coalition  – the Destination Stewardship Center is of its six founding members – has also been a center of activity with an assortment of meetings and webinars and a series of useful stories linked to the Coalition’s 13 Guiding Principles. The Coalition’s Community of some 750 globe-girdling signatories to those principles has proved to be a bountiful source of instructional success stories. Members can sign in to explore a new toolkit of resources for helping destinations.  Your organization can join the Community by endorsing the Principles.

Encouragingly, we are seeing increased use of the “destination stewardship” term in North America – and of course occasional misuse. See our Mission page for a definition. Regardless, its good to know we are all making a difference!

As for work in the field, I myself have been helping Beaver Valley, Ontario, Canada with their initial steps in starting a destination stewardship council, as well as similar work in my divided home county of Loudoun, Virginia. Divided because the county’s suburban east holds political power over the horse-and-wine country of the west, so the government’s will to protect that cultural landscape depends on the perceived value of rural tourism. Both destinations are fighting invasive residential subdivisions. We need more techniques for responding to this ubiquitous problem.

Last, we are in the process of a massive website redesign under the guidance of webmaster Tim Greenleaf. Our growing knowledge center holds more than 200 pages of content and hundreds of images, so he has a big job. You may see some missing photos, or bad links, etc. from time to time as this work proceeds. Feel free to call them to our attention. We hope to complete the transition before the next issue of the Destination Stewardship Report emails by early November.

Meanwhile, consider volunteering with us. Change is beginning to happen as more people around the world become more aware of the dangers to the places they love. And when those people speak, governments listen. Our mission is to help with useful information, whether online or in person. Distinctive places are humanity’s library of all that has been and can be. They are worth protecting – and worth a mindful, constructive visit.—JBT

[This post updated 19 Sept 2023]

 

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