So what do the destinations of the future look like ?
It’s a great question. Too often it seems that as destinations become more popular – they become less appealing. We love our destinations to death.
That is why it is great that DMO managers are stepping up and engaging in the planning, developing and management of their destinations. No-longer are DMOs just promoting their destinations – they are actively involved in “product development” and “destination experience”. DestinationNext, DMAI’s strategic planning initiative, highlights DMOs important role in creating the destination communities of the future.
So what does the destination of the future look like ? There are encouraging clues in some of the recent work by McKinsey and Company – Building the Future of Cities with Green Districts. If the trends identified by the folks at McKinsey are correct – we’ll see a greater emphasis on design in our cities, our destinations will be greener, more aesthetically pleasing and more cost efficient.
That’s good news for residents – and visitors !
So often, tourism is a “bit player” in the health of a community. In the traditional models of tourism, tour operators come and – at best – the visitors they bring spend money that contributes to the local economy. While the tourism income helps, there is a lot of what economists call “leakage”.
Imagine a new type of tourism company – a company founded for the purpose of enhancing the cultural and economic benefit of the host community. Imagine a social enterprise – like Tom’s Shoes or Ethos Water – that plows back profits from tourism operations into the community itself . This is the model that responsible tour operator Adventure Alternative and its sister charity, Moving Mountains have brought to the villages of Bumburi and Bupsa, high in the Himalaya. Congratulations to Gavin Bate, Ang Chhongba Sherpa and Pasange Tendi Sherpa and their team, for finding a new path for tourism in this special part of the world.
While I am committed to promoting sustainability in tourism, I am sure that we can do better.
Sure – I know many destinations are struggling just to ensure that tourism is not a destructive force in their communities.But just not being bad isn’t good enough… I believe we should set the bar higher.
I am happy to say that some thought leaders in other fields are showing the way. I recently attended a presentation that highlighted the work of Bill Reed. Bill is one of the drivers behind the hugely influential LEED program. He has taken the next step – beyond sustainability- and committed himself to work that not only doesn’t harm the environment – but contributes to environmental regeneration. As it says on his website “Ultimately, his objective is to improve the overall quality of the physical, social and spiritual life of our living places”.
Tourism can be part of that future – a future that is not only sustainable – but restorative and regenerative.