The Global Sustainable Tourism Council is currently seeking public input on a set of criteria for destinations aiming for sustainability. The criteria – designed to be the “minimum” set of activities – will challenge many destinations and hopefully spur them on to greater efforts.
The criteria presented by GSTC create a great – and comprehensive – list of things every destination should be thinking about to ensure that the long-term benefits of tourism are realised. With so many of us so busy on the challenges of the “small stuff” in the inbox this list is an excellent “reality check” that reminds of us of the “big stuff” that is truly important.
To many, tourism is an economic savior that can bring jobs and opportunity. Indeed there are tourism opportunities everywhere and markets for most any type of experience. But not all markets are the same and not all destinations have the ability to service the markets they want to attract.
I have been thinking a lot about the “human traffic jam” on Everest this week and the tourists who undertake this type of travel. The market for this type of experience is somewhat limited by all sorts of factors – money, health, access, time involved etc to name a few. This type of tourism is also limited by facilities – and it seems that we are fast approaching capacity on the world’s largest mountain.
Visitors need services and, although the opportunity to see the unique and special trumps many hardships, there is definitely a minimum threshold of services for most people. Tourism is built on a foundation of basic infrastructure . In general, as the infrastructure and services increase, the potential market increases.
Which brings me to a great article in USA Today about Afghanistan Tourism. I am sure that there is a market for Afghanistan tourism today. But it is surely limited to a brave few. So Afghan tourism has two tasks:
1. They need to identify the tourists who are prepared to visit the country today and build from this (small) foundation.
2. They need to build the infrastructure for their own communities. As that infrastructure increases so too will opportunities for tourism offers to larger markets.
It is a balancing act with great “upside” and I wish them every success !
Deadwood, South Dakota is dealing with many of the challenges inherent in tourism today. A recent USA Today article – Ghost Town or Gambling Haven outlines the issues of balancing growth, fuelled by gaming, while maintaining the character of the destination.
Heritage Tourism “lives” on a continuum from Disney’s Main Street to the most faithful recreations of historical locations and events. As each destination struggles to balance the “here and now” with “what we were” and “what we want to be”, they need to find their place on that continuum. And the work is never finished: it is a complex, dynamic, ongoing process.
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is currently developing criteria for destinations. These criteria are important because they represent a baseline for destinations to undertake to ensure destination sustainability – the very minimum that place managers should consider when developing tourism for the long term…
GSTC is calling seeking input as they develop the criteria. To add your thoughts connect here – GSTC