Sustainable Destination Development
Left unchecked, tourism growth and development can harm the destinations that we love.
When destinations solely focus on attracting more visitors and neglect long-term sustainability, it can lead to their ultimate deterioration and decline. Skyrocketing visitor numbers overwhelm local infrastructure and environments, while haphazard tourism development allows harmful practices to go largely unseen.
As a result, short-term “success” often comes at the expense of local communities, ecosystems, wildlife, and cultural resources. This in turn can cause a destination to lose its appeal. After all, dirty beaches, unwelcoming communities, extinct species, and packed trails aren’t what people typically travel to see.
A victim of its own success, Thailand’s Maya Bay has been closed since 2018 to allow the ecosystem to recover from damages caused by soaring visitation and unsustainable tourism. © Lawrence Goh
Protecting Destinations Requires Strategic & Conscious Planning
Rather than prioritizing exponential visitor growth, destinations must consider the bigger picture if they want to thrive. This means thinking about tourism’s long-term environmental and human impacts. Put simply, how will tourism development today affect the health of the destination tomorrow?
When done right, tourism can create local jobs, protect sensitive ecosystems, revitalize cultural traditions, and boost resident satisfaction. But for this to happen, destination leaders must have plans in place to guide development and balance tourism growth with local needs.
What We're Doing
We partner with governments and other local leaders to provide them with the guidance they need to implement policies and solutions that lead to healthier destinations.
Conducting research to inform our solutions
We immerse ourselves in the destinations where we work to understand local tourism issues and identify key sustainability needs. We use this in-depth knowledge to devise solutions that are grounded in reality and address the most pressing threats to local environments, people, and wildlife.
Building the capacity of destination leaders
We empower local leaders with the knowledge they need to drive change and transform their destination’s future. We train destination managers and policy-makers on best practices for sustainable tourism development, such as engaging communities and conserving their natural resources.
Advising policy-makers on responsible tourism strategies
We serve as a trusted advisor to local, regional, and national governments, as well as other destination management bodies. By offering strategic guidance and recommendations, we help destination leaders plan for sustainable tourism growth and implement policies that advance environmental and human well-being.
Fostering local collaboration
Achieving sustainable tourism development requires stakeholders to join forces and work towards a common goal. We bring together local governments, community leaders, businesses, and NGOs to collaboratively tackle major challenges such as climate change, habitat destruction, pollution, and economic leakage.
Strengthening community resilience
We help destination leaders prepare for the “what-ifs” and reduce underlying risks. This strategic planning mitigates adverse impacts and strengthens the ability of local communities to respond to natural disasters, economic downturns, and other unforeseen events.
Developing local standards and certification programs
We create sustainability standards and guidelines which outline environmentally and socially sound practices for tourism businesses in a particular destination. To promote widespread adoption of these practices, we design voluntary certification programs and encourage governments to integrate the standards into local regulations.
Designing tools to monitor tourism impacts
We create monitoring programs and data collection tools that assess the environmental and social impacts of tourism in a destination. This information helps destination leaders continually track the most crucial needs so they can introduce pertinent policies and adjust their tourism strategies accordingly.
Explore By Project
Select a project to learn more about our sustainability work to protect and conserve destinations around the world.
Explore By Place
From Fiji to Chile, we’re protecting our planet’s most vulnerable destinations. Click to learn more about some of the places where we’ve worked.
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