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]

 

“Future of Tourism Coalition” Launches Today

Nonprofits join in a call for the world to rethink tourism.

As destinations look forward to recovering from COVID-19, six nongovernmental organizations, advised by a seventh, today are uniting for the first time in a call for the world to reconsider how tourism works.

The Destination Stewardship Center is proud to be one of them.

Our new Future of Tourism Coalition calls for all who care about tourism, places, and the people live in them to endorse a set of 13 Guiding Principles that will sidestep the excesses of the past and put tourism on a renewal course for a more rewarding, more sustainable future.

Six organizations have come together with the global mission to place destinations at the center of recovery strategies: the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), Destination Stewardship Center, Green Destinations, Sustainable Travel International, Tourism Cares, and the Travel Foundation, with the guidance of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). 

Decades of unfettered growth in travel have put the world’s treasured places at risk – environmentally, culturally, socially, and financially.  The travel and tourism industries face a precarious and uncertain future due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, with international tourist numbers projected to fall 60-80% in 2020. As tourism moves forward and recovers, re-centering around a strong set of principles is vital for long term sustainable and equitable growth.

To rally global change, the Coalition has put forth Guiding Principles that outline a bold vision for tourism’s path forward. We are calling on tourism agencies, travel companies, governments, investors, nongovernmental organizations, and destination communities to commit to them.

The Guiding Principles provide a clear moral and business imperative for building a healthier tourism industry while protecting the places and people on which it depends. The Principles call for signatories to:

  1. See the whole picture
  2. Use sustainability standards
  3. Collaborate in destination management
  4. Choose quality over quantity
  5. Demand fair income distribution
  6. Reduce tourism’s burden
  7. Redefine economic success
  8. Mitigate climate impacts
  9. Close the loop on resources
  10. Contain tourism’s land use
  11. Diversify source markets
  12. Protect sense of place
  13. Operate business responsibly

The foundation of these principles was built on a firm belief that taking a holistic approach to responsible and sustainable tourism is the only way to secure the future the Coalition stands for.

Join the Movement

Twenty-two founding signatories who represent a diverse cross-section of key industry stakeholders have committed thus far. They are influencers in the movement, demonstrating leadership and adherence to the Guiding Principles in their product and business practices. They will provide guidance to the Coalition as plans are put in place to support travel and tourism entities long-term in their strategy to place destinations and communities at the core of their work.

Those signatories include Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), Ecotourism Australia, G Adventures, Global Ecotourism Network, Government of the Azores, Government of Colombia, Hilton, Innovation Norway, Intrepid Travel, Jordan Tourism Board, Lindblad Expeditions, MT Sobek, Palau Bureau of Tourism, Riverwind Foundation (Jackson Hole, WY), Seychelles Ministry of Tourism, Slovenian Tourist Board, Swisscontact, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, The Travel Corporation, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, Tourism Council Bhutan and the World Wildlife Fund.

Interested travel and tourism stakeholders are invited to show their support and become part of the movement by joining as signatories to the Principles. Join us by visiting www.futureoftourism.org

“The recent crisis in tourism has shown us just how much tourism relies and depends on local and global communities,” said Maja Pak, Director at the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB). “We have already strengthened ties with local communities and tourism authorities from across the country. We now find that sharing our experiences and gaining best practice examples from other countries will be the key to successfully navigate the post-corona tourism universe. This is where the role of the Future of Tourism Coalition will be vital. The STB is looking forward to cooperating with the Coalition and to progress further with the reset of tourism, especially in this new reality, where sustainability and destination needs, as well as trust, will have to be placed at the center of tourism’s future.”

Destination Communities First

The Coalition recognizes that a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is fundamental to achieving its Guiding Principles. The travel and tourism industry has much work to do, and the Coalition will act proactively in addressing the role that racial and environmental justice play in creating a more equitable tourism economy. The Coalition members have made a commitment to listen, learn, and seek change by engaging with signatories and other entities as a part of that journey. This work will be guided by GSTC indicators and criteria related to equity, inclusion, and non-discrimination.

In a joint statement, the CEOs of the organizations represented in the Coalition said, “It is imperative that every organization evaluates how they will actively place the needs of destinations and equity within their communities at the center of tourism development, management, and promotion decisions. There is no stable future for tourism if this is not done now – together, responsibly, and vigorously. This is not a short-term effort, this is the future. Long-term resilient social, economic, and environmental recovery and regeneration will require all sectors of industry to rethink how tourism works, who it works for, and how success is defined.”

The path to change is a journey and lasting solutions take time. The Coalition will support the industry by providing the tools, guidance and collaboration to ensure a stronger path forward and encourage a diverse and inclusive set of signatories to sign on and share their perspectives and experiences to collectively work toward a more just, equitable, and sustainable future for all.

Learn more at https://www.futureoftourism.org/

Best Wishes for 2018

…from the Destination Stewardship Center.

Keep an eye out for news on the January release of our first “World’s Inspiring Places” video, on further developments in the battle to control “overtourism, on exemplary stewardship councils, and on a new initiative to measure destination stewardship, as well as our continuing news aggregation on stewardship successes and failures worldwide. Join us and post your own blog about stewardship techniques!

Video Your Success Story

[Above: Shooting the concept video in Wisconsin. Photo: Erika Gilsdorf]

ANNOUNCEMENT:
The nonprofit Destination Stewardship Center is launching a new video tool for helping you show and distribute your stewardship success stories across multimedia platforms for travelers, practitioners, and the general public.

We Can Help Fund and Shoot Your Stewardship Successes

The DSC’s new pilot program is intended to help destinations tell their stories by means of the most rapidly growing and influential medium of all: video. Proposed series title:

“The World’s Inspiring Places”

Short-form videos now power social media. They help tourists make travel decisions. They help practitioners learn from each other. They help governments learn how and where to find needed methods and expertise.

“Video is a mega trend, in a decade, video will look like as big a shift in the way we share and communicate as mobile has been.” —Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

According to Insivia, using video in various forms has almost become a staple in digital marketing tactics:

  • By 2017, online video will account for 74% of all online traffic.
  • 55% of people watch videos online every day.
  • Including video in a landing page can increase conversion by 80%.
  • 82% of Twitter users watch video content on Twitter.
  • 51% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.

Our goal is not standard promotional videos, but rather a video series that showcases stewardship success stories—ways in which people have helped protect and enhance a distinctive natural and cultural assets of a place, and thus enrich both the travel experience and local quality of life. Any kind of destination may have a qualifying story, whether urban, wild, or rural, as recently described by DSC Director Jonathan Tourtellot on National Geographic Voices.

To see how this will work, take a look at our brief Video Pilot Invitation deck (pdf).

Our concept video illustrates the basic idea by using the case of a rescued trout stream, Wisconsin’s Kinnickinnic River, known among locals and anglers as “the Kinni.” You can watch it as a short clip, 15 seconds to a minute, suitable for social media . . .

. . . or longer, up to 4 minutes, suitable for Youtube and for websites:

Under the leadership of DSC video producer Erika Gilsdorf,

➤ WE NOW INVITE APPLICATIONS

. . . for your stewardship success story to be featured this summer in the pilots for the online series. We will assist with arranging the necessary tax-deductible funding and distribution options. There are lots of ways to do this. For a conversation and more details, contact us: info@destinationcenter.org.

This information also appears on our dedicated page, Tell Your Video Story.

News from the Alaska Geotourism Initiative

[Above: Lake Naknek, gateway to Katmai National Park. Photo courtesy Bristol Bay Borough]

Fall 2014 Update

The Alaska Geotourism initiative is a collaboration convened by University of Alaska faculty and program specialists and now includes rural tourism business and community leaders focused on identifying viable rural economic development management strategies that maximize beneficial tourism for their communities and seek to further good destination stewardship. Another outcome is to provide a source of information to re-introduce Alaska gateway communities to the US and international geotourism communities.

The following is a brief overview of Alaska geotourism projects currently underway.

1. Community Familiarization – Alaska Geotourism is looking at strategies to promote rural Alaska for those regions/villages that see geotourism as a viable approach to maintain community health and community viability. The communities of Naknek and King Salmon in association with the Bristol Bay Native Association will be hosting a familiarization tour for some small tour operators to visit the Bristol Bay region (Salmon Capital of the World and also gateway to Katmai National Park)

Bears feed on salmon, Katmai National Park. Photos: Adelheid Hermann

to participate in a planning session with village leaders to help plan the geotourism strategy for their communities. (See also http://www.bbna.com/NewsLetters/June2014NewsletterWEB.pdf)

BearFalls1

Local communities want to grab more bear-watching tourists flying into Katmai.

2. New Educational Curriculum – The University of Alaska Fairbanks Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development faculty member Cathy Brooks, Assistant Professor & Faculty Advisor for Festival of Native Arts Advisor (cabrooks2@alaska.edu) is currently developing a geotourism class for undergraduate students. It will be offered both campus-based and distance. Jonathan Tourtellot and Larry Dickerson of University of Missouri have been project advisors.

3. OLE in cooperation with the UAF Cooperative Extension Service is presenting a non-credit 4-part course entitled Geotourism: Preserving a Sense of Place at the Anchorage Extension Center with hopes to introduce the geotourism approach to a wider Alaskan audience.

4. Cultural Exchange – The Asian Alaskan Cultural Center representing 8 Asian communities www.aaccus.org is working with the communities of Seward, Fairbanks and Wasilla to bring the story of 1890s Japanese Alaskan pioneer, Jujiro Wada, back to Alaska in 2015 via a musical play/cultural exchange in those communities. Wada, from Japan, was an early Alaskan adventurer, early explorer, and marathon runner and much much more ( http://www.cityofseward.us )

For more information, contact: Alaska Geotourism Chair Willard Dunham via info@destinationcenter.org

News Roundup: Grenada, GSTC, and Nat Geo Initiatives

Above: View over Cariacou, Grenada. Photo: Jonathan Tourtellot

Grenada Rebrands Itself a Geotourism Destination

The PR firm Inglefield/Ogilvy & Mather Caribbean Ltd. has announced a geotourism rebranding for the Caribbean island nation of Grenada: “Pure Grenada.” Local sustainable development expert Jennifer Alexis, of Ethical Ideas, spent months working on the cllarorative public-private initiaitive. See more at Yahoo finance or the Grenada blog. It now remains to be seen whether Grenada can live up to its promise of becoming an exemplary, authentic, sustainable  Caribbean-flavored destination.

In a supportive move, the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) will host its 3rd Symposium and Sustainability Expo for Innovators in Coastal Tourism, in Grenada from July 8 to 11, 2014.

GSTC Names Randy Durband New CEO

The  Global Sustainable Tourism  Council (GSTC)  has announced the appointment of sustainable-tourism consultant Randy Durband to head the organization, replacing Mauro Marrocu, who resigned last year. Durband hopes to revitalize an organization that has been a bit wobbly ever since its U.N. Foundation grant ran out a couple of years ago, the efforts of its dedicated volunteer professionals notwithstanding. The GSTC has overseen the closest thing we’ve got to an international consensus on sustainability criteria for destinations and tourism businesses. Since these criteria need constant review and updating, a stable and vigorous GSTC is in the interest of all.

World Legacy Awards Revived

National Geographic Traveler magazine has relaunched its World Legacy Awards program for sustainable tourism in cooperation with the annual ITB travel show in Berlin. Successfully conducted for two years in partnership with Conservation International, World Legacy was suspended after organizational changes a few years ago. The renewed program will give awards in five categories:

  • Eco Innovation
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Community Engagement
  • Sustainable Destination

Applications will be accepted this summer. World Legacy now offers awards parallel to the World Responsible Tourism Awards hosted at London’s WTM annual travel show.

Gulf States Geotourism MapGuide Rolls Out

In an Alabama ceremony, the National Geographic Gulf States Geotourism MapGude project has rolled out its website, now populated with hundreds of locally submittted nominations. Accompanying the website is a National Geographic created 37 inch by 25 inch print version with 200 distinctive points of interest in the four participating states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Funding has come from the state offices of tourism, BP’s Gulf Tourism and Seafood Promotion Grant Funds, and a federal grant given via the U.S. Public Lands Highways Discretionary Program.

Look for more posts on each of these topics in the future.