Looking back over 2017 the issue of governance has come to the fore. The challenge of overtourism has emerged as a cause of significant concern in part because it boiled over into street protests, some of them aggressive, in southern Europe. Overtourism is the antithesis of Responsible Tourism. It is what occurs when, in Ken Robinson’s words, tourism is “inadequately managed”, and the destination managers fail to cope with the challenge of managing success. Overtourism was the topic of the Ministers’ Summit at WTM London in November, and it will be the focus of the Responsible Tourism programme next year.
As Tourism Concern pointed out years ago, “we take our holidays in their homes.” Most holiday destinations have residents, local people and local government. Destinations are managed by land use planners, public works, departments of environment, economic regeneration, building control, transport, roads, cultural and leisure services and of course many more agencies of government. In recent years DMOs have sought to extend their role from marketing to Destination Management but they have often not worked closely with the government agencies – local authorities and national parks – which do manage destinations. When I talk with planners in many countries around the world they tell me that no one from tourism ever comes to talk with them.
This year we have seen more places dividing the roles of destination management and destination marketing, most notably in Barcelona where resources are being diverted from marketing to tourism management in city government
Yashin Dujon, Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Belize
I have spent the last week in Belize working with the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation to assist them in developing a destination management plan which will engage with all the agencies of government to develop tourism as a major provider of employment, local economic development and foreign exchange earnings. The talk of a whole of government or one government approach, in Britain the Labour Government recognised that some problems of government do not fall within the departmental boundaries of national or local government, and Blair coined the phrase “joined-up government” in 1997 when Labour took office.
Tourism is effectively managed, or not managed, by the government and as we bump up against the limits to growth governments around the world at the local level are going to have to more actively manage tourism and they are going to have to do this in a coherent and integrated way. It is in the management of places that the critical question will be answered destination by destination: Will the place be used by tourism or will it use tourism for its sustainable development?