The Travel Foundation has developed a risk-assessment tool to flag potential environmental or socio-economic concerns in a destination. It should allow destination authorities or travel businesses to identify long-term sustainability risks to tourism operations and help find ways to mitigate these.
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The Travel Foundation points out that tour operators, resort developers and investors routinely take geopolitical, security, health and safety and other factors into account when making long-term decisions about destinations. But often “little or no weight” is given to whether the local water supply will meet the future needs of tourists and residents or how increased waste or energy demands will be managed.
Who will drive sustainable tourism?
Tui Group joined the Travel Foundation in running trials of the process in Sardinia and Saint Lucia, with assistance from the respective governments. An identical risk-assessment framework was applied in each case, but with a set of indicators to reflect the local circumstances.
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Travel Foundation chief executive Salli Felton said: “More often than not, tourist destinations have fragile ecosystems with limited natural resources and inadequate infrastructure”. It’s essential that stakeholders involved in developing a destination have a shared understanding of the sustainability risks and opportunities.
Tui business improvement general manager Tom Johnston said: “It’s a smart and effective way to identify unique risks for each region and destination, allowing travel businesses to work with local authorities to mitigate these risks and increase the positive impacts of tourism earlier in the process.
“Tui is looking to build lessons learnt into our existing destination selection and management processes.” The Travel Foundation is now using an adapted version of the methodology to measure the impacts of different types of tourism in Tenerife, in a collaboration with the Tenerife Tourism Council.
Will tour operators, hotel groups and public companies lead progress towards sustainable tourism? Will destination authorities do more with the income from tourism taxes? Or will pressure for change come primarily from consumers, assisted by certification and the labelling of sustainable products?
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