According to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2020 Economic Impact Report, the travel and tourism industry generated 319 million jobs worldwide in 2019, making it one of the largest employers globally. In terms of economic contribution, the industry generated $8.9 trillion in GDP, accounting for 10.3% of the world’s total economic activity.
However, it also has a significant impact on the environment and local communities, which must be considered to achieve sustainable development.
The future of tourism will depend on the ability of destinations to balance the needs of the industry with the need to protect the environment and the local communities. Destination stewardship is crucial in this regard, as it helps to ensure that the tourism industry is sustainable and that the environment and local communities are not harmed.
Both sustainable development and destination stewardship share a common goal of balancing economic growth with environmental and social responsibility. For example, sustainable development would encourage the use of renewable energy sources and energy-efficient buildings in a destination, while destination stewardship would encourage the protection of natural and cultural resources through conservation efforts and responsible tourism management.
We already see tourists increasingly demand sustainable and responsible travel options, and places that prioritize destination stewardship. This leads to increased demand for sustainable tourism products and services, which in turn drive innovation and growth in the tourism industry.
Let’s consider the ways in which technology runs through solutions side of things.
Utilizing smart devices and sensors in place, crucial data can be monitored at resources level which can support in decision making and awareness. The presence of IT can ramp up the pace of community awareness and educate the visitors at the same time for taking conscious steps that support the ecosystem. The presence of technology enables the key stakeholders namely – public sector, private sector and communities to interact freely and create a digital trail of a recovery of a destination.
In the concept of Destination Stewardship, it becomes extremely important to develop a mechanism that enables the major stakeholders of the initiative to hold a collective vision. Each stakeholder must be able to prioritize, monitor, implement and support the measures for their goals. There is a clear ownership of departments, individuals and community that enable them to define their activities and link them with appropriate systems to derive insights.
Data is the king
The concept of gathering data for resources and the journey of goals can help industries plan better and define benchmarks. The employment of IoT devices and smart metering concepts will help monitor the usage of shared resources with enhanced transparency. These insights will result in resilient supply chains, better consumer awareness, innovation and improved balance.
Efficient Resources Utilization
Imagine a self-registration platform hosted by the local public authority of a seasonal visited destination which allows all the local businesses to register themselves everywhere and take permits for the quarterly operation of their businesses. Post operation in first year, the business can simply re-activate their old account ID and perform basic verification steps to get the permits issued for the upcoming season. A tedious paper driven process can be easily reduced to paperless digital trail with an integration of few national identification services.
Similarly, imagine a unified public transport registration that authorizes a traveller’s card to be used in all public transport amenities (Metro, tubes, public buses and bicycles) for a period of 24hrs. Not only does this reduce the digital fatigue of registering for these services on different platforms, it offers great convenience and much less wastage of resources that would be required to have independent digital systems to run these systems.
Ubiquitous Value Chain
When we talk about bringing the ecosystem to speed with a communication to travelers, businesses and local communities, a concept of education and awareness on multiple platforms often comes to mind. With a smart omnichannel messaging system, the tips for supporting environment, do’s & don’ts, community sensitive behavioral inputs can easily be passed on to travelers as and when they enter a particular destination. The placement of informational systems in form of LEDs can also be utilized to inform communities at a large scale for regions which have turbulent climate changes in a short span of time. These content broadcasting IT systems are as effective in communication as they are in promoting safety of individuals in eco-sensitive destinations.
Earlier, we discussed about the huge variance of demand and supply that have been observed in destinations over the years. With the increase of expendable income in the middle-class segment and availability of flexible financing options, travel has become affordable over the years. In addition to leisure travel, the hybrid working model has enabled people to go on staycations, relocating to different places and making new destinations their home. A connected ecosystem to monitor incoming visitors from different sources not only supplies a cushion to the delicate supply chains but also allows the communities, public sector and private sector to take a pre-emptive approach on the management of destination activities.
While we see the massive IT systems above that impact a destination management on a large scale, several Govt. authorities have identified breakthrough utilization of IT systems in management of destinations.
- The Wyoming Office of Tourism in the US recommends local communities to host an interactive business website that is connected to Social media channels to allow dissemination of information to the citizens. It has also enlisted several agencies that support local businesses in marketing.
- Kypseli Neighbourhood in Athens adopted a collaborative method to engage with the aging residents of the region and inviting businesses, communities, and youth to reinstate the demand for the place.
- Hawai Tourism took a new step toward regenerative tourism by shifting from “me-tourism” to “we-tourism” that considers a holistic approach of involving communities in shaping the experiences of visitors with sensitivity towards local culture.
- LA city Master Plan for tourism pushes the businesses, communities and local authorities to work with standards and regulation bodies to move towards Low-Carbon, green-energy future.
The crucial part
With the world moving towards a responsible approach of tourism, the business have redirected their views toward establishing a feedback system that involves all stakeholders and generates activities for businesses, visitors, communities and authorities to adhere to. It becomes utmost important to go through several stages of this exercise.
There are various facets of involvement to be kept in mind while approaching the plan of destination stewardship. With the redefined focus for environment and efforts like United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Convention, COP 26 and other climate action efforts, authorities, businesses and individuals need to come together in creating an ecology that leads to a benefit of all participants.
Technology will have a major role in taking all the stakeholders from all the stages of achieving the goals. Smart systems to monitor supply chain, stakeholder interaction, enhance customer convenience, community engagement, carbon tracking and decision influence will further add spontaneity and transparency to the vision of “Destination Stewardship”.
Technology will have a lasting impact on destination management in the future with utilization like managing visitor flows in destinations leading to controlled effect on environment. It will also be used in implementing new age informational systems that educate communities in handling the disruptions with incoming traffic.
Overall, the role of destination stewardship and technology in redefining tourism is essential to ensuring that tourism is sustainable, responsible, and benefits all stakeholders. By embracing these principles, the tourism industry can continue to grow and thrive while also preserving the unique character and beauty of destinations around the world.