The contemporary destination manager: balancing tourism and sustainability.
The role of the destination manager has significantly evolved over time. In the past, it was merely a position that involved promoting tourism in a specific area. Nowadays, the destination manager’s job is to foster sustainable tourism development while balancing the interests of tourists and the local community.
The traditional role of the destination manager was to market the destination, attract visitors, and make sure they had a pleasant experience. However, this approach often overlooked the impact of tourism on the local community and environment.
The role of a contemporary destination manager
Contemporary destination managers must consider the long-term effects of tourism, including environmental, economic, and socio-cultural impacts.
One of the main challenges today is fostering sustainability while keeping the balance between tourists and the local community.
Ensuring that tourism development benefits the local community rather than providing short-term economic profits is absolutely essential. This means creating sustainable tourism practices sensitive to the needs of the local community and environment.
A thriving destination manager must also engage stakeholders in the tourism industry, including the public and private sectors, to develop effective solutions. He/she must work closely with these stakeholders to create a shared vision for sustainable tourism development.
This means developing a solid partnership program that encourages all parties to work together towards a common goal.
However, while the destination manager strategically promotes sustainable tourism development, he/she cannot implement solutions independently. A successful management requires the cooperation of all stakeholders and a more persuasive approach focused on promoting sustainable practices and promoting tourism in a responsible way.
To be an outstanding and innovative destination manager, several best practices need to be taken into account:
- The destination manager must deeply understand the local community, culture, and environment;
- He/she must have strong leadership skills, including the ability to inspire and motivate stakeholders towards the common goal of sustainable tourism development;
- The manager must be a great communicator, able to share ideas and create a compelling narrative around the destination;
- He/she must think and act data-driven, using data and metrics to make informed decisions and track progress;
- The manager must be committed to lifelong learning, constantly adapting to changes in the industry and innovating new solutions;
- Engaging, educating, and consulting with stakeholders to help inform and guide future plans and actions, as well as to foster trust, commitment, and cooperation among different actors in the destination;
- Ensuring that visitors’ expectations are met at the destination, such as by providing accurate and timely information, offering personalised and memorable experiences, and soliciting feedback and evaluation.
Most importantly, a destination manager should capitalise on the local identity, culture, food, and wine to establish a “value proposition” that is exceptional and unforgettable. Working with private operators, empowering them to leverage local identity, culture, food, wine, and traditions to define the core value proposition as unique and top of mind.
Travel today it’s not just about visiting a place but about connecting with the locals and their traditions.
The destination manager’s responsibility is to the conditions along the entire tourism value chain to create and promote unique experiences that allow visitors to immerse themselves in the local culture.
Supporting the operators to design and provide meaningful and authentic experiences, such as local food tours, wine tasting, and other activities, is more critical than simply highlighting the places to see.
A data-driven approach to destination management
A data-driven approach it’s nowadays mandatory to develop and promote relevant and attractive tourism products and experiences, which can drive demand and increase visitor satisfaction.
Of course, a data-driven strategy can significantly benefit destination managers in several ways.
By leveraging data analytics and insights, destination managers can better understand their target audience and their needs, preferences, and behaviours.
Additionally, data can provide valuable insights into key performance metrics (also as forecasts) such as occupancy rates, revenue per available room, and visitor spending.
Armed with data, the destination manager can make informed decisions and adjust strategies in real-time to maximise the destination’s performance and competitiveness and help achieve sustainable tourism development.
The role of the contemporary destination manager is more challenging and strategic than in the past. It requires a focus on sustainable tourism development, maintaining the balance between tourists and the local community, and fostering strong partnerships with stakeholders in the industry.
By adopting best practices, including deep community understanding, strong leadership, communication, data-driven decision-making, and lifelong learning, destination managers can be successful and innovative in promoting sustainable tourism development.