Building responsible destinations is choosing for complexity

There are strong shifts in thinking and acting when it comes to destination development. With important topics such as "overtourism" it becomes clear that tourism is not only good for a destination and that it is more than just an economic matter. With its huge growth, the downsides of tourism are also becoming

When tourism reaches intolerable levels

Consider, for example, crowds, congestion, changing and one-sided retail offerings, the withdrawal of housing on the market for rental, increasing house prices, high costs for enforcement and management and so on. In some tourism destinations in Europe, local people are annoyed and openly irritated by tourists, which shows that tolerance limits have been exceeded. By means of activism (of individuals) and protests locals are voicing their anger and respond to overtourism.

What is the purpose of tourism?

The growth of tourism raises discussions about very fundamental questions such as 'What is the purpose of tourism?' and 'To whom does the city / island / nature reserve belong?'. It is not surprising that these important questions are raised, because often stimulation of tourism is an aim in itself and many places have been transformed to meet the needs of tourists. As a result, public opinion has come out of balance.

Responsible travel destinations

We notice that all destinations, whether or not forced by this public opinion, are slowly but surely moving in the direction of responsible destinations. A responsible destination is thought through. There is story, vision, strategy, data and knowledge. A responsible destination is proactive. There is leadership, initiative, innovation and organisational abilities. A responsible destination is in balance. A responsible destination is adaptive.

Moving towards responsible destinations

People know that it is important to move along with society and that the right conditions are needed for that. This means that a responsible destination is able to cope with pressures (robust) and at the same time able to adapt to the demands, desires and dynamics of society (flexible). Providing a responsible destination is difficult but not impossible. It requires a conscious choice for complexity and then learning to act accordingly.

CELTH will soon launch a position paper, for which ETFI developed a larger part of the content. If you would like to know more about it, keep an eye out for my next blog.