In recent times, when the pandemic has severely affected the tourism industry, the issue of destination stewardship has received more and more attention, partly thanks to the increasing awareness of sustainable development, smart tourism development, aiming to benefit both visitors and the local community.
Destination stewardship” is an approach that balances and meets the needs of a destination and its communities (World Travel and Tourism Council – WTTC).
According to WTTC, a successful Destination stewardship implementation requires close collaboration from the public, private sectors and communities. To support and promote effective destination stewardship collaboration, WTTC has listed the barriers to destination stewardship and launched the Destination Stewardship Governance Diagnostic Framework for tourism departments and DMOs.
Four main barriers include:
- The tourism sector is closely related to many industries and agencies in many different departments. The core roles of tourism product development and promotion, visitor management are often played by different parties. This diverse relationship creates many obstacles because of the independent decisions of each party, lack of collaboration, and consistent coordination between them.
- There are few specific requirements for considering the negative externalities of tourism, as well as a clear mechanism for shared responsibility. DMOs are often focused on increasing visitor numbers and their spending and do not have a clear responsibility to consider the impacts of tourism on local communities at the destination and the environment.
- Lack of communication and understanding between the community, the private sector and the public sector makes the cooperation between the parties weak and difficult to reach consensus.
- Visitor impact is often not accurately measured, resulting in missing and unreliable data. This affects the identification of causes, the success ability and the effectiveness evaluation of solutions.
The WTTC has proposed a Destination Stewardship Governance Diagnostic Framework that helps stakeholders identify aspects of destination governance to understand the current state of destination management, identify priorities and improvement points.
Define a clear scope of the destination’s issues and needs. These issues can be related to economic aspects (employment, investment, supply chain,…), culture (heritage,…), environment (resource use, infrastructure,…), society. The WTTC recommends that issues should be identified based on socio-economic, environmental and socio-cultural dimensions if possible. Then, stakeholders need to define the scope of governance areas, such as vision/plan or a program/project, and identify the parties to be involved.
WTTC proposes a framework of aspects of governance, including Strategic Vision, Implementation, Form of collaboration, Resource Mobilization, Influence, Legitimacy, Data & Knowledge. Stakeholders from the public, private sectors and community & third sector need to complete these aspects of the framework. The WTTC also provides suggestions and questions for the stakeholders to determine what needs to be clarified, in order to provide a comprehensive view of the current destination management situation, such as the vision of the parties, institutional frameworks/models/structures being adopted by each party, etc. Based on that, identify the differences in views and approaches to destination management of each party and identify issues that need to be prioritized to be resolved.
Once identified priorities, stakeholders need to discuss and come up with options for improvement, and governance models to facilitate destination stewardship. In this section, the WTTC suggests a variety of approaches and actions to support destination governance, based on the Framework created in Phase 2, for example, developing a resident-centric shared vision, defining short-term goals and long-term priorities in collaboration, clearly defining roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder, sharing data, investing in smart data and digital platforms, etc.
The current time when the tourism sector paused is an opportunity for destination management stakeholders to consider old business and management models – which do not ensure sustainability for the destination and community. From there, find ways to improve and apply management approaches that can balance benefits for visitors and local communities, in order to protect the future of the destination and towards sustainable development for the tourism sector.