Tourism is one of the sectors most affected by COVID-19. The fear of travelling to faraway destinations, the closing of borders between countries, safety regulations, have put the economic model of this sector to the test, which therefore requires a profound re-invention of itself to adapt to the current context.
For this reason, at Peoplerise we asked ourselves how this moment of breaking of an automatic paradigm could represent an opportunity to create new models of sustainable tourism.
Over tourism VS sustainable tourism
Excessive tourism (over-tourism) has long been a well-known phenomenon, so much so that it has become a mainstream theme for insiders.
The expression over-tourism is commonly used to describe the negative impacts attributed to excess and congestion of tourists, resulting in conflicts with local residents. This phenomenon has created resentment among locals and depletion of environmental resources, which in turn has impacted on tourist satisfaction and return to the tourist destination in many places.
In the light of these critical issues, we have therefore asked ourselves:
How can we offer hospitality on a large scale so that the net benefit to stakeholders, commercial and otherwise, is positive?
When this does not happen, in fact, the tourist destination is inexorably destined to lose appeal due to over-exploitation, i.e. when the stocks of capital used to create the demand of tourists and to offer them hospitality are greater than those regenerated through the same activities. In these cases tourism is not able to regenerate the territory that hosts it.
We believe that regenerative tourism can really become a positive agent of transformation that contributes to improving the quality of our lives.
Artem-kniaz by Unsplash
A model for sustainable development
Human beings do not grow linearly: fortunately, when they stop growing tall, they begin to develop emotionally, socially and spiritually.
This also happens in different industries: at a certain point when you have grown up, you can also try to become an adult. Within the mature industries, are the companies who know how to seize the “spirit of times” that gain ground, proposing offers connected with the needs of the eco-system they belong to.
In this perspective, tourism can play an important role in making us develop healthier relationships with our Planet Earth that take into account the whole eco-system in an integrated way.
Such an approach to tourism requires recognition of systemic interdependence and the different dimensions that make it up. The vision that sees Nature as a set of resources to be exploited individually through competition, must therefore be replaced by a vision that recognizes the interdependence and abundance that flows from the flourishing collaboration and self-organization of different resources: environmental, social and technological.
We have called this approach Wise tourism, i.e. conscious tourism, in contrast to the already established concept of Smart tourism, which is focused on the development of tourism through the integration of smart technologies in the tourism experience.
On this issue the UNWTO, the World Toursim Organization, has indicated some objectives for tourism operators in relation to SDGs
Wise tourism VS smart tourism
For this “post-smart” generation of tourist destinations, one of the key challenges to be faced is a fundamental change in mentality. The focus on technology or environmental sustainability alone will not be enough; instead, it will be necessary to integrate these dimensions with other lenses of financial, social, intellectual and physical value generation.
The new generation of “wise tourist destinations” should adopt a people-centred network approach and collaborate in a wider regional ecosystem of tourist destinations, in a way not unlike existing urban innovation initiatives. One of the defining characteristics of wise cities, for example, will be their ability to build on a broader regional concept, going beyond the urban sphere and creating symbiotic relationships with neighboring “villages”, connecting urban and rural areas through a more integrated regional approach.
Wise destinations could be those places where long-term visions that go beyond the lifespan of the residents or the mere satisfaction of the residents can be realized. Such an approach, however, requires new, interdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder development frameworks.
Integrated Reporting Framework
Deep data VS big data
A second challenge for these wise destinations will be the technological and social integration, for example allowing people to live fulfilling lives.
Such integration is possible by activating social processes that allow people to broaden their awareness of the systemic interdependencies present in the tourism sector, including those within us, such as our forma mentis, mind-set, worldview.
The uniqueness of wisdom
Wise tourist destinations can increase their resilience through:
– Increasing the well-being of their residents and visitors;
– A broader regional eco-system approach to tourism innovation.
It will be the attributes resulting from these initiatives that will make tourist destinations not only more attractive to visitors as short-term destinations, but also intrinsically more livable and, therefore, more attractive to potential new residents.
These attributes will be closely linked to the “unique personality” that these city-regions will be able to give to their destinations, making them much more attractive.
More on the topic on the web-ate where Flavio Fabiani, Peoplerise partner, discuss the topic with our friends from BYE for Making Future!