A Taiwanese Island Boosts Tourist Capacity – Sustainably

[Above, Turtle Island in profile. Photo: Roi Ariel]

For 20 years, ecotourists have been eager to tour a biodiverse volcanic island off the coast of Taiwan. But what happens when both locals and tourists complain about the stringent conservation limits on visitation set by government and academics? Monique Chen explains how stakeholders have harmonized ecological carrying capacity and local economics.

Taiwan’s Turtle Island, an active volcano known for its turtle-like shape, claims a rare lily, an endangered flying fox, a dazzling coral reef, a thriving ecosystem, and a “Milk Sea.” Its proximity to Taipei makes it a tourism magnet – and a management challenge.

The island lies 10 km east off of Taiwan’s Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area (NEYC), named as one of the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations from 2016 to 2020. Known as Guishan Island in Mandarin, it has a surface of area of 2.85 km2 and a high point of 398 meters above sea level with an unused military outpost on top of the hill. The island’s location off the northeast coast puts its ferries within an hour’s drive of Taipei, and then a mere 20-minute boat ride to the island.

Dated back to the Qing Dynasty (around the 18th century), Turtle Island had a population of 700 villagers at its peak. The whole village was relocated to the main island in 1977 because of the limited health, educational, and transportation resources. After the relocation, the island became a military base from 1977 to 2000. All the land was expropriated by the military.

The accessibility restrictions and the influence of the warm, plankton-bearing Kuroshio Current (pdf) has resulted in a surprisingly well-conserved area of rich natural and geological resources, home to many fish and coral reef species and a critical area for Taiwan’s offshore fishery. Over 50 hot spring vents lie in the sea floor near the “turtle head,” where a unique species of crab lives. There are around 16 species of cetaceans in the area according to studies. A diversity of more than 400 species of plants and 120 species of butterflies, snakes, birds are found in the island, as are two native Taiwan species, the endangered Formosan flying fox and the Formosan lily, as well as a native Chinese fan palm habitat.

Volcanic Turtle ( Guishan) Island – 17 minute video.

Limiting Carrying Capacity

Because of its amazing natural and marine resources, the government reopened Turtle Island for ecotourism in 2000 in response to demand from the tourism industry. To protect island ecology, capacity control was set at 250 persons per day, almost all brought in by ferry. Also, to ensure low impact on the environment, the supporting policy Regulations for Guishan (Turtle) Island Ecological Tours (Chinese only) was put into effect. The regulations prohibit fishing, hunting, feeding wild animals, taking any natural resources from the island, and importing animals and plants to the island.

In the first two years, the capacity limit caused some management problems. NEYC, a part of Tourism Bureau Taiwan, was struggling with pressures from local stakeholders, especially private accommodation businesses and ferry companies. Over 10,000 tourists applied to visit Turtle Island every day, but the low draw rate raised issues and complaints from both tourists and local businessmen on the main island.

Increasing Carrying Capacity

NEYC adopted a strategy of slowly increasing tourist capacity while keeping the ecosystem intact. The daily visitor capacity limit was gradually raised from 250 to 350 (2002), then 400 (2005), 500 (2007), 700 (2010), 1000 (2014), and 1800 (2015 to the present).

An endangered Formosa flying fox. Of the bat’s three Taiwanese habitats, Forest Bureau research shows that only the group in Turtle Island has grown steadily since 2010, suggesting that NEYC’s tourist carrying capacity plan has not harmed the ecosystem. Photo: Yang Yueh-Tzu

How did they do it?

It is easy for a DMO to declare it would like to set eco-social carrying capacity according to academic research, but when the DMO actually begins to implement it, stakeholder voices and facility capacity must be taken into account. There are always academic professors who strongly embrace ecological conservation without tourist access and who may not agree with rising visitation. Other professors will take stakeholder opinions and the environmental situation into account. The NEYC staff told me that there was no conflict in their discussion with professors.

In order to help the local economy by replacing the declining fishing industry with a growing tourism industry while still protecting marine resources, NEYC went on to hold meetings with local stakeholders at intervals on how to increase carrying capacity and improve the facilities so as to achieve a sustainable “ecological economy.” Following these discussions, including professors from marine, biological, and recreational departments, NYEC arrived at a plan that balanced the environmental research baseline with local economics. Considering that only a part of island (the tail part, around a tenth of its surface) was open to the public, the dock, hiking trails, and service facilities (toilets) could be improved and maintained.

Rebuilt stairways can handle increased foot traffic to the peak. Photo: Roi Ariel

The tourist-accessible area is around 19,835 square meters and the capacity baseline was originally set at 132 square meters per person in 2000. Visitation sessions were set at 150 people a session before 2010, then 250 people a session in 2010, under the operating procedure controlled by an NEYC guard team. Now tourists are usually split into four 90 to 120 minute sessions per day, with a limit of 450 visitors at the same time during March to November. (The island is closed during monsoon season from December to February.) Wednesdays are reserved for academic organizations only, up to 500 visitors, split into different sessions.

From the sign atop Turtle Island. Photo: Roi Ariel

Coastal guards monitor when tourists get on board and leave the island. Now, there are 13 recreational ferries with a capacity of 85-94 visitors, among which four ferries are owned by the former Turtle Island residents and the rest run by other locals in NEYC area. Most of the tour packages combine dolphin watching and hiking on the island, so some ferries can go dolphin watching first and take turns to get on the island.

The Formosa Lily restoration project allows tourists to see a beautiful springtime white landscape near the tourism center. Photo: Yang Yueh-Tzu

Each group of visitors landed on the island has 90 to 100 minutes to tour along the trail system, guided by licensed guides. After a stop at the tourism center, tourists visit the temple and old primary school buildings, walk around the lake to explore biodiversity, and visit the military tunnel and abandoned fort where they can watch the sea.

According to the report, there are always requests for more facilities and carrying capacity. For example, overnight stay service and submarine tours were suggested. Because NEYC’s main target is to conserve the natural landscape and environment, development with big construction didn’t fit in their plan.

Control of Dolphin Watching

The dolphin/whale watching activity around Turtle Island began even before Turtle Island opened for tourists in 1997. As one observer has noted, “in 20 years, Taiwanese people changed to conserve the cetaceans instead of eating them.”

However, there were no regulations and no consideration of carrying capacity for tourists participating in a dolphin and whale watching package. Given that all ferries have must acquire a license from Yilan county to run a recreational business, the stakeholders decided to limit the number of licenses in the area to 13, tied to a code of conduct. That put an automatic limit on cetacean watching around the island.

Sightseeing ferry at the edge of the Milk Sea. Photo: Monique Chen

The negative impact from dolphin watching activities brought together academics aligned with NGOs, the Fishery Agency, Council of Agriculture from the Taiwan central government to set up a voluntary certification system, “Whale Watching Mark,” in 2003. Among the 13 ferries, only 5 were certified. Due to the complicated documentation process required for certification, and given that green tourism was not mainstream enough in Taiwan, the Whale Watching Mark hasn’t received good responses from ferry companies until now. NEYC has also started to cooperate with Taiwan’s national Ocean Affairs Council in monitoring dolphin research in the area. Since 2017, researchers have used GPS to track the sight-seeing ferries as an indicator of dolphin movements.

As a DMO, the NEYC has tried to find friendly strategies to get more ferry owners to understand that chasing dolphins may harm the environment. By regulation, tour guides working for ferries and on Turtle Island must be licensed by NEYC twice a year. Through annual tour guide training, the ferry owners have gained more knowledge about protecting the marine dolphins. According to one captain, one protocol among ferries now is to take turns for 10 minutes for tourists to observe nearby dolphin families when more than one ferry approaches them.

COVID-19 and Beyond

During the Covid-19 pandemic, domestic tourism in Taiwan has soared as Taiwanese were not able to travel overseas. Some popular Taiwanese destinations encountered unprecedented negative impacts of overtourism for the first time. Even though tourist arrivals reached full capacity during weekdays, Turtle Island remained under control because of its carrying capacity system.

One challenge NEYC faces now is the “Milk Sea” close to the island, where “God has spilt the milk” as described by promotional agents. The Milk Sea refers to seawater with milky cream color caused by undersea hot springs. The tourism industry has touted this new sightseeing spot as a novelty, and tourists are flooding in. More and more yachts, stand-up paddleboards, and kayaks have come to this area, causing safety problems and conflicts with the ferry boats.

The Milk Sea from atop Turtle Island. Photo: Yang Yueh-Tzu

Fortunately, from 2016, NEYC has been implementing the GSTC Destination Criteria and participating in the Green Destinations Program has helped NEYC gain confidence and not only assess what they have done so far but also act on guidelines for achieving a more “sustainable-ecological economy” tourism pattern. Now some voices among original residents express hope that Turtle Island can be designated a cultural landscape heritage site and the history of their traditions and culture preserved.

Whatever changes to the Island may be, they will be based on official adherence to sustainability criteria. “‘Ecological Island’ is the main management strategy of Turtle Island, and the priority is to keep the eco-landscape and lower the construction impact in Turtle Island,” says Chia Feng Lin, Coordinator of NEYC.

Following the criteria, NEYC keeps on communicating sustainability principles and marine conservation to business owners, tour guides, and ferry owners, along with continued academic monitoring of Turtle Island’s ecological indicators .

To summarize, from the view point of sustainability, stakeholders’ voices and social conditions should be taken into consideration as well as academic research. Although the carrying capacity program may not be 100% perfect from scientists and researchers’ environmental protection perspective, NEYC has found a transforming strategy to meet the needs of the tourists, local ferry owners, and environmental conservation needs.

Hopefully, this example can inspire other destinations to find their own balance strategies.


Monique Chen has supplied these additional links (some in Chinese only):

  1. Study on recreational carrying capacity in turtle island (2004; Chinese) –
  2. Tour information for Turtle Island (English) – https://www.necoast-nsa.gov.tw/FileAtt.ashx?lang=1&id=1181
  3. Wild Animal Conservation Act in Taiwan from 2000 – https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=M0120001
  4. Visiting application web page of Turtle Island (Chinese only) – https://events.necoast-nsa.gov.tw/coast/
  5. Whale Watching Mark Taiwan – https://www.eastcoast-nsa.gov.tw/en/travel/whale-watching
  6. Blue Whale Ferry with Whale Watching Mark on website – https://www.h558882.tw/

How Data Science Can Help Destinations

Destination Stewardship Report – Autumn 2020 

Sustainable destination planning is frequently hobbled by conventional measures of return on investment. But if ROI is expanded by using data science to include tangible but often omitted factors at both company and destination levels, says Irene Lane, then the picture is more accurate – and brighter.

Lucerne, Switzerland supports sustainable development by optimizing operations and promoting nature-based and cultural opportunities for tourists. © Greenloons

It’s Time To Merge Sustainable Destination Planning with Data Science

By Irene Lane

Before COVID hit, destination stakeholders were concerned about the social, economic, and environmental impact of overtourism at their locales. On the one hand, tourists eagerly flocked to fragile, biodiverse hotspots thereby assuring plentiful (albeit low-paying) service jobs, corporate hospitality investments, and tax revenues. On the other, local residents were facing the costs of an overloaded public infrastructure, a decaying social fabric holding their communities together, and increased residential resistance to fickle travelers looking for their next viral Instagram post.

Throughout, many destination stakeholders had called for both transparent, pragmatic sustainability standards and efficient data collection. An easy way to combine the two would help strategic investment and decision-making. Data modeling and statistical analysis, known as data science, is the key for doing that.

Now comes the age of Covid-19, with its declining tourism arrivals and tax revenues, along with the advent of policy changes (or at least discussions) that promote racial and social justice. That makes strategic decision-making buttressed by data science more important than ever.

Development of ROI Financial Model for Sustainable Destinations

For those who have been studying and advocating for destination sustainability, none of the social, economic, or environmental impacts of myopic destination planning were surprising. But a few of us with backgrounds in data analytics informally endeavored to go one step further. My contribution was to develop a return on investment (ROI) financial model that accounted for GSTC sustainable destination criteria along with other pertinent data including local tax incentives, productivity rates, and consumption benchmarks.

Calculation of the ROI of sustainability was not an entirely new concept. Previously, tourism companies had determined ROI based solely on operational investments and cost savings, such as those found with renewable energy, water conservation, waste management, and food and beverage sourcing projects, among others.

The consistent issue was that ROI, calculated under those parameters, was typically negative for the first two years. So, it came as no surprise that destination managers would choose to make other investments with quicker and higher rates of return.

The flaw in such ROI calculations was that they were not holistic in their approach.

By using an environmental scorecard approach for measuring ROI, I built on the traditional operational and environmental elements and expanded it to include the costs for and benefits to employees, communities, and customers.

For example, a company’s investment in environmental and wildlife educational materials could be balanced against the savings brought about by free media mentions sparked by its sustainability status and incremental revenue from customers seeking sustainable choices.

By investing in ecosystem preservation, destinations can attach a financial value to wildlife conservation, including this caiman in the Tambopata region of Peru. © Greenloons

Another example is a destination’s investment in sustainable tourism apprenticeship and small business loan programs balanced against the savings of shared agriculture, transportation, activity, and renewable energy resources as well as the incremental revenue from customers extending their stay at a destination due to the increased variety of options.

Essentially, rethinking the triple bottom-line financial value of each employee, community (including destination partnerships), and customer interaction that stemmed from sustainable investments greatly expanded the view of ROI at the company level.

Failte Ireland promotes agritourism along the Wild Atlantic Way cycling routes, thereby enabling small-scale and profitable agricultural and fishing production. © Greenloons

The result of our informal collaboration was an ROI model that allowed individual tourism businesses – and, in aggregate, destinations – to determine which sustainable criteria investments would yield the greatest returns based on the destination business climate.

At the destination level, for example, policy makers could see the economic impact gained by rebate programs or tax incentives for promoting renewable energy investments, supply chain partnerships, apprenticeship programs, or marketing campaigns.

The model further addressed how a sustainable tourism company, and thus a destination, can plan, budget, and market the social, economic, and environmental changes and improvements sustainability will bring to their businesses.

ROI Model starts with the operational, community, employee, and customer investments (along with savings and incremental revenue opportunities) needed to adhere to the GSTC Industry Certification Criteria. The ROI Model then incorporates specific GSTC Destination Criteria to allow and incentivize businesses to create their own 5 Year ROI Dashboards, thereby creating a continuous improvement loop.

ROI Modeling in Action

One of the frequently overlooked drivers of ROI is the calculation of strategic and supply chain partnerships. When partnerships are encouraged or incentivized, and other aforementioned data is included and weighted appropriately, the ROI calculation generally goes from negative to positive during the first year.

If destinations can factor in visitor interactions, employee training and productivity, community partnerships, and culture and heritage preservation behaviors and investments, then sustainability ROI increases dramatically. In fact, statistics reveal for the UK, New Zealand, Australia, and India, that travelers interested in destinations with authentic culture and heritage sites spend as much as 38% higher per day and stayed 22% longer overall compared to other kinds of travelers.

Importance of ROI Data Analysis Post COVID

Now that there is the potential for the reset button to be pushed for the tourism industry, the focus might well be on communities that are working together to increase living standards, biodiversity conservation, and food ecosystem resilience.

In other words, perhaps we can now start adopting a more sustainable or regenerative set of travel infrastructure practices backed up by – data collection, data modeling, and data analysis practices – rigorous data science.

Pandemic Tourism Brings Surprises to Serbia

? Destination Stewardship Report – Autumn 2020 ?

With borders closed by Covid this past summer, Serbians accustomed to coastal-resort holidays instead toured inside their own country. Ivana Damnjanović reports on the mixed impact on rural destinations when tourists accustomed to one style of travel must adapt to another. Some lessons for the future.

Domestic Destinations Cope With Profitable, Unpracticed Tourists

By Ivana Damnjanović

“Welcome out here to our contamination zone,” my hosts say, jokingly alluding to the name I attributed to Serbian destinations swarming with tourists in the midst of the new peak of coronavirus. It is almost unimaginable that Divčibare mountain, located just over a 100km southwest of Belgrade, had resembled a ghost place in March and April 2020. The pandemic then brought destinations to the verge of despair all over the world, and Serbia was no exception. Now, with summer almost ending, I watch people queuing for a table in this traditional local restaurant. For the first time ever it occurs to me: What a thin line there is between undertourism and overtourism.

Serbian tourists dine pandemic-style. Photo: Ivana Damnjanović

This unprecedented burst of post-lockdown pent-up need to travel, to move, to change surroundings, to experience, to unwind and forget reassures me once again that this urge is inherent in our species. International visitors have had to stay away, but for Serbia, booming domestic tourism is saving the day, the season, the entire year – in natural and rural regions at least. And I cannot help but wonder: How prepared are we?

Although economically favorable, the situation developing in some rural destinations has been overwhelming – environmentally and socially. New tourism trends have evolved on both the demand and the supply side. Instead of foreign coastal resorts, Serbian beach-lovers are enjoying their own country’s beauty, filling domestic beds and cash registers, but without stopping to adapt their behavior to the domestic context. That’s causing environmental problems, occasional disruption in service provision, and discontent of loyal domestic tourists.

Divčibare Mountain, Western Serbia. Photo: Ivana Damnjanović

The Shiny Side of the Coin

Supply chains have certainly been ready: Accommodation and gastronomy providers, local farmers, grocery and souvenir shops, entertainment and adventure organizers and many more in this intricate network have been eager to jump on the wagon once the domestic restrictions eased. Throughout Serbia, bookings are already made until mid-November, and business owners are happy beyond expectations.

In the strange framework of 2020, tourism has once again showed its beneficial nature. Due to the increased demand, business owners tell me that the season will last longer than usual. In certain rural communities, stakeholders in accommodation and food supply will profit significantly more than previous years. International-travel budgets saved for typical seaside trips in Montenegro, Greece, or Turkey are instead being spent in country. What’s more, these tourists have been prepared to pay more than usual – sometimes double or triple.

Normally outbound Serbian tourists finally have the opportunity to visit all the locations depicted for years on social media by local travel enthusiasts: breathtaking, well-preserved nature, and diverse culture, traditions, and history – Tara National Park, Golubac Fortress on the Danube River, Sokobanja Spa, World Heritage-listed Studenica Monastery, just to name a few from an array of travel opportunities. Many Serbians now recognize that the experiences Serbia provides are comparable to destinations abroad and may even plan their next trip within the country.

Golubac fortress, on the Danube. Photo: Luka Šarac, NTO Serbia archive

The Flip Side

“What about sustainability?” The professor in me pushes the topic with managers of a local hotel and with owners of short-term rentals, some of them my former students. “Wait until we survive the season,” they readily reply, reflecting its economic aspect. I hide my next thought behind the sip of locally produced raspberry juice: Sustainability cannot wait, it either is or isn’t. However, I understand the motive behind their answer. I know they genuinely care about the environment and society of the destinations they operate in, but are still driven by the old normal. Focus on attracting and satisfying demand. Meet standards based on arrivals and revenue.

This coin has its detrimental side. With the exception of certain protected areas, most destinations have been caught off-guard regarding the negative environmental impacts such as littering or overvisitation of fragile ecosystems resulting from the sheer volume of tourists. Those places might be years and budgets away from recovery. Some local communities traded off their secluded, rural lifestyles with their specific customs and traditions for the sudden temporary opportunity to profit, their health included: Tourists brought the virus even to the most remote corners of the country.

Habitual Beachgoers Discover Authentic Countryside Is Not a Resort

My observation and conversations lead me conclude that we are witnesses of emerging tourist segmentation. The larger group is composed of tourists who would typically spend their summer holidays in regional coastal resorts. These coast-lovers are tolerant of crowds, but being compelled to travel within the country resonates with a whiff of resentment. This feeling often manifests itself through unrealistic demands for service providers – a desire for higher service quality and lower prices, even when the value for money spent is fair. Serbia’s diverse inland destinations – mountains, lakes and rivers, thermal springs, villages and towns, historical, archeological and religious sites – call for a more observant type of behavior than that expected at typical coastal resorts. Thus, they may have to withstand overly demanding, sometimes disrespectful tourists, unmindful that a real community is not like staff employed at a resort and expectant that somehow designated people will clean up after them.

The second segment is represented by tourists loyal to domestic destinations or businesses. Their resentment comes from unreciprocated loyalty. The high demand this past summer led to increased prices, all too often not waived even for loyal guests from past years.

Traditional food preparation. Photo: NIRA PRO, NTO Serbia archive.

Those traditional local enthusiasts, who normally travel to enjoy the peace and quiet of countryside locations, are intolerant of the crowds and related behavior, so they often opted to stay home. Others felt it not safe enough to travel, or found increased prices unaffordable.

Lessons Learnt

On my way home I am under the strong impression that these new faces of tourism cannot be overlooked if we are to embark on the new path of a sustainable and regenerative future of tourism. Every country’s experience might help us all understand tourism better through lessons learnt. Those currently on my mind are:

• Tourism needs to find ways to become resilient towards sudden, extreme change in tourism numbers;

• Destination and business management has to rely strongly on sustainability principles with a regenerative approach and promote them throughout the entire network of stakeholders;

• Don’t assume. Closely monitor how tourists and tourism stakeholders change their needs and behavior patterns with changing circumstances – in Serbia’s case, resort-style tourists being compelled to travel domestically and inexperienced local newcomers being brought into the tourism sector (e.g. farmers and property owners);

• While continually monitoring their normal tourism profile, destinations and businesses should keep a constant eye on all tourism segments, since in a heartbeat they can become theirs, invited or not;

• Tourism destinations and businesses should not try to be “all things to all people” but rather be explicit about communicating the specific type of behavior that the welcoming destination is ready to accept.

As an afterthought, what if this season’s unexpected boom in resort-style tourists doesn’t repeat next year? Is it a good or bad thing? The country’s entire tourism industry will need to take time to decide on the answer and then act upon it while there is still time.

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.