After Covid, 10 Ways for Destinations To Manage Tourism Better

🌐 Destination Stewardship Report – Autumn 2020 🌐

For destinations, a return to business as it was before Covid-19 will be difficult and often not advisable, yet most destinations seem to be trying to do just that. Florian Kaefer, editor of The Place Brand Observer, presents a new, free, multi-expert white paper offering 10 better ideas. If your community, government, association, or DMO is seeking to do a tourism reset, here’s how to get started.

A White Paper for a More Robust Recovery

At The Place Brand Observer, (in partnership with the Sustainability Leaders Project) we have published a white paper to help you future-proof your destination – city or region. We asked leading consultants, managers and researchers to share their suggestions on how to resume tourism after the pandemic, taking into consideration the challenges and pitfalls that destination managers and marketers will face. The result is our paper, ‘How Can Destinations Resume Tourism After the Pandemic, While Ensuring Sustainability?’

After several months of lockdown, uncertainties, political pressure, economic and social losses – but also inspiring stories of nature renaissance, solidarity and awareness, we have (hopefully) learnt a valuable lesson or two, as human beings.

The travel industry is among the most affected by the pandemic. At the same time, the visitor economy is an essential ingredient for the economic recovery of many destinations. That means much pressure on destination managers and marketers to resume tourist flows as soon as possible, and to get back to business just as it was before Covid-19. However, the expectations and needs of customers and communities may have changed post-pandemic, together with external market conditions and bigger picture concerns such as tourism sustainability and the climate emergency.

‘Never waste a good crisis’ – and indeed, destination managers and developers have an unprecedented opportunity right now to rethink tourism and to come up with ways to make it more sustainable and resilient in the face of future crises. Our white paper presents ten approaches for doing that.

Some of them are strategic, such as elevating sense of place and thinking of the visitor as a temporary citizen. Others are tactical acts such as linking tax incentives and public rescue funds to business sustainability. These all need evaluation by new measures of effectiveness – community ambition, investment, and student attraction among others.

There is always a lot of pressure on destination marketers. Their success and failure are nearly always determined by numbers. If that continues to be the most important aspect of the job of a destination marketer, there’s no chance for sustainability’.         —Todd Babiak, CEO, Brand Tasmania

In a nutshell, destination branding and tourism marketing must be serious about the challenges places will face in opening up again. We need to be accurate, measured, realistic and honest in our assessments of what is safe to do and to offer. And we need to communicate these requirements proactively.

This is the moment where success will depend on courage, and the power of imagination of a ‘different’ destination —one with greater local participation, and a smaller ecological footprint. Have a clear idea of the ‘why’. What do you (your community) want from the visitor economy? Answer this question as detailed as possible — looking beyond outworn (and often untested) assumptions of job creation and income for the host community.

The first step to lasting recovery is to figure out what a community really needs and wants (and what it does not want), from the visitor economy. Once the ‘why’ is clear, you’ll find the ‘how’ and ‘what’ much easier to write down and implement.

With thanks to our expert panel at The Place Brand Observer and the Sustainability Leaders Project for sharing their thoughts, we invite you to download the free white paper here. I hope you find it useful and inspiring! If you have feedback or questions, contact me by email at editor@placebrandobserver.com. For more about the panel and expert advice on other ‘hot’ topics linked to destination branding and sustainability, visit PlaceBrandObserver.com.


Florian Kaefer, PhD is the founder and editor of The Place Brand Observer and the Sustainability Leaders Project. Based in Switzerland, he has been an observer of destination branding practice and tourism sustainability for over a decade. Follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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