SEVILLE, Spain -- As the travel industry prepares for a
world facing overtourism and concerns about environmental sustainability, the
goals of tourism ministers and marketers are changing.
For example, Fred Dixon, CEO of New York's official
marketing arm, NYC & Company, said at the World Travel & Tourism
Council (WTTC) Global Summit here earlier this month that his organization has
shifted the way it measures success.
"We got caught up in the race for bigger numbers,"
Dixon said. "We realized over time that the true metric for tourism is the
economic and social impact on the community: job development, economic impact,
neighborhood impact. If you don't bring locals with you when you're
invigorating or building a destination, you're missing an important part of the
Marketing success, Dixon added, is not "just about
visitor volume. We as an industry should grapple with that more."
Steffan Panoho, head of Auckland Tourism, echoed that
sentiment. He said that over the past two years, New Zealand's largest city
realized it needed to revise its tourism strategy to incorporate "destination
management versus just pure destination marketing."
"Traditionally, we've talked about visitor numbers and
arrivals and hotel nights," he said. "Now, we have a whole new set of
imperatives: sustainability and looking after our communities. There's a whole
new set of metrics we have to look at and quantify before we can make a call on
whether we've been successful."
Suppliers are also making strategic shifts in their approach
to success, recognizing the shifting demands of both their customers and the
localities they operate in.
"Happy locals, happy guests," Carnival Corp. CEO
Arnold Donald said in his talk at the Global Summit. "We need to listen,
listen, listen to all the various stakeholders and support each community's
unique vision of their healthy future."
And in order to have a successful, long-term community
partnership, Donald said, "destination managers, local government,
vendors, taxi drivers must be part of the conversation. They must have a clear
understanding of the impact but also the benefit of tourism in the local
Destinations' future preparedness is a key theme for WTTC,
which last week released research examining 50 cities around the globe and
their ability to drive sustainable tourism growth into 2030.
The cities were grouped into five categories based on their
readiness score. Those in the "balanced dynamic" group are considered
the most balanced in terms of having high urban readiness but not experiencing
the tourism strains of cities like Amsterdam and Barcelona, which are in the "mounting
Cities in the "dawning developer" group, such as
Bogota, Colombia, and Manila, Philippines, are emerging tourism hubs with lower
urban readiness than is needed for their growing tourism industry.
Called "Destination 2030," the report makes
suggestions for cities in each category.
Dan Fenton, executive vice president of the JLL Hotels &
Hospitality consultancy, which prepared the report for the WTTC, said the
research "suggests an imbalance."
"The global travel and tourism industry has to increase
its focus on developing sensible and effective policies," he said.
Even cities in the balanced category, which include
Washington, Hong Kong and Tokyo, should take advantage of that balance to
develop policies that promote sustainable growth and to invest in more leisure
attractions so as not to end up with overtourism problems, the report suggests.
Cities facing "mounting pressure" are advised to
manage tourism flows, create homesharing policies and increase citizen
engagement. "Dawning developers" should promote tourism policies that
enable tourism growth at a pace the city can support.
The report used 75 data points to benchmark the "readiness"
of the cities, including the size and density of their travel and tourism
markets, and "urban readiness" characteristics, such as labor
availability and infrastructure. Safety and city-level tourism policies were
also factored into the analysis.
Fenton asserted that the study is "not a beauty
contest." Some of the world's most iconic and visited cities, like Paris
and San Francisco, are in the "mounting pressure" category because
their high visitor numbers create a strain despite having high levels of
"They are seeing that crunch," Fenton said. "There
is not as much runway for growth."
Policy engagement, Fenton said, focuses in part on whether
the city has a homesharing policy, something that, when lacking, created major
issues in top tourist draws like New York and Barcelona.
Fenton hopes other cities will use the index to gain insight
about how to avoid pitfalls and make smart tourism-growth decisions.
"If Charlotte [N.C.] looked at this index and how they
thought they ranked, it would give them a lot of insight on where to go and how
to create potential strategies," Fenton said.
As might be expected, many of the "dawning" and "emerging
performers" are in less developed economies, while the list of cities
facing "mounting pressure" are all in North America and Europe.