The success of tourist destinations is the result of a careful management of the resources they offer. A natural paradise, a protected area or a poorly managed metropolitan city involves not only the loss of value of a specific area, but also the loss of the common welfare. So how can negative impacts – related tourism destinations – be managed? Monitoring, actions with a view on continuous improvement, periodic assessment and professional support in the sector are the essential steps to be sure to achieve a high-quality standard. It is unthinkable to manage what you do not know, and it is essential to know and monitor.
The economic power covered all over the world by tourism and the hospitality industry is now unquestioned, and the economic, environmental and social impacts – positive and negative – that derive from it are equally unquestioned too.
We know that the ultimate goal of sustainable tourism is to minimize negative impacts and maximize positive ones, but how does a destination manage its actions and strategies in this direction? Over the years many companies have emerged that support tourist destinations in their sustainable management path, one of them is Green Destinations: a non-profit foundation from the Netherlands that has developed an Evaluation and Certification Programme recognized internationally by Global Sustainable Tourism Council and which today is present internationally.
The Programme guarantees the continuous improvement of performances, thanks to periodic assessments and feedback that concretely help destinations in identifying the correct direction to take: the programme makes the concept of sustainability – often not clear – easy to implement. Thanks to Green Destinations it is possible to identify those critical aspects of a destination where it is necessary to make improvements and keep track of progress over time, thus allowing progress between the various levels of the Program until obtaining the Certification. The destinations consider it useful to have an independent external evaluation carried out on a biennial basis in order to maintain the focus on sustainability vision, objectives and intentions over time, obtaining guidelines on the aspects to focus on.
A not less important aspect is the international visibility offered by the participation at the Global Green Destinations Day Conference as well as the ITB in Berlin; on such occasions, destinations usually exchange examples of good practices and receive Certificates of awards and certification. Virtuous destinations are then recognized within the “Green Destinations Collection” network, on Social Media and on online booking platforms. Local visibility is not lacking: award-winning and certified destinations can display and wave the Green Destinations flag throughout the destination, synonymous with successful management of the entire territory.
We interviewed Albert Salman, Founder and President of Green Destinations, to find out his opinion on the time we are living with Covid-19 and to tell us how destinations are responding to the emergency thanks to the professional support of its operators.
- What do you think of the situation generated by COVID-19: what impact does it have / will have on destinations. How will tourism management change?
COVID-19 does not only have devastating impacts on tourism businesses but also on destination management organisations (DMOs). These are often funded through tourist tax and licences to tourism businesses’ operations or even beach exploitation. Tourism managers will have to become more rigorous in coping with groups of drunken and noisy tourists in the public domain, accommodation sharing, cruise tourist invasions and overtourism. The resistance of local communities against these excesses will enormously increase. These trends are already visible in many places.
- What actions should destinations take to react appropriately?
Health and safety should remain number 1. Destination managers should continue to provide more space for their own residents and for a limited number of visitors, at the expense of cars and motorbikes. Only electric vehicles should be allowed in city and town centres to improve air quality. Groups of drunken and noisy tourists should no longer be tolerated in the public domain. Mass tourism should be more localized in resorts, separated from city centres and residents.
- How is GD dealing with the topic?
Green Destinations is currently adapting and improving its recommendations to destination managers. We are specifically looking how to take “virus awareness” into account. We think this new approach should not be temporary. It should extend beyond the COVID-19 situation because “virus awareness” is leading to real solutions for real problems in tourism as it developed during the last 5-10 years.
The implementation of a successful strategy and the sustainable management of tourism cannot be improvised: it is necessary to adopt a systemic and rigorous approach that allows a long-term improvement capable of affecting the competitiveness of the destination.
Further information on the Green Destinations Programmes can be found in Italian and English versions For any inquiries please write to firstname.lastname@example.org or to the Representative for Italy Martina Catte at email@example.com.