Florence view

Managing cultural tourism impacts in Europe – Learning from Florence

Contributed by Fergus T. Maclaren: Canadian National Expert Representative, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) International Cultural Tourism Committee / Principal, MAC-DUFF Tourism ● Heritage ● Planning

Increased visitation to Europe's cultural capitals, such as Florence, hasn't come without challenges. Here's how you can help.

Every year, the allure of incredible art, centuries-old architecture, and other historic wonders draws more and more tourists to Europe’s cultural capitals. But with this increase have also come harmful side effects and challenges for these destinations and people who live there.

Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas

In the Caribbean, where tourism drives the economy and the tension between the desire for development and the need to protect resources is ongoing, we led a consortium of businesses, destinations, donors, regional organizations and nonprofits — all with a vested interested in maintaining and restoring the region’s natural, cultural and economic integrity.

The destinations that belonged to the Sustainable Destinations Alliance of the Americas (SDAA) included:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Dominica
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Riviera Maya
  • St. Kitts & Nevis

Our Role

In each of these destinations, we provided a host of regionalized approaches to their unique set of challenges and opportunities, ultimately allowing them to determine their own paths toward ongoing sustainable development.

As a result of the SDAA’s efforts, each destination was equipped with a list of action projects as a way to develop best practices and work towards becoming a sustainable destination. The projects address top priority environmental, socio-cultural, and economic issues to help preserve the destination, improve the visitor experience, and increase benefits for local residents.


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Destination: Multiple

Regions: Caribbean Islands, Central America



“Environmental protection and development can go hand-in-hand. But it takes communication to create sustainability solutions.” – Ruleta Camacho, Senior Environment Officer, Antigua

Our Partners

  • Organization of American States
  • United States Department of State
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Caribbean Tourism Organization
  • Caribbean Tourism
  • Tourism Promotion Agency of Central America
  • Sistema de la Integracion Centroamericana

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Captain Makosi

Captain Makosi

Since 2013, Sustainable Travel International has been working closely with the Arawak and Carib indigenous communities in the Para district of Suriname to identify tourism products that highlight their unique culture. These included a small visitor center highlighting traditional music, a guided tour of a medicinal garden, a tour of a local pineapple farm, and a visitor center where international and domestic visitors can learn more about the Arawak language. The products were pooled together to create a tourism circuit in the region which will provide much needed jobs for young people and will help to stimulate the growth of small and medium enterprises. Connecting this tourism circuit with local and international tour operators from the onset was important to establish a demand channel. In July, 2014, Seleni Matus, Sustainable Travel International’s Vice President of Latin America and the Caribbean, met with the community leaders of the Para district to find out how the tourism circuit was faring. The good news was shared by Captain Makosi from Powakka that the first tour group had come through their community and had the opportunity to make traditional cassava bread and tour the village guided by a community leader. The tour was so successful that it has now been included in one of the Netherland’s main tour operators itineraries. “Captain Makosi of the Powakka community, and the other communities in the Para district, are very excited for what sustainably managed tourism can accomplish to support their livelihoods and contribute to the conservation of their cultural heritage,” shared Seleni.