Tag: tourism development

tourism planning trends

What is Tourism Planning? 

Tourism planning consists of creating strategies to develop tourism in a specific destination. Knowing and understanding current trends allows those in the industry to tailor their operations to meet demand. It is crucial for DMOs and tourism businesses to stay up-to-date.  

Origin and development of tourism planning

Tourism planning was born from the necessity of simultaneously balancing the economic goals of tourism and preserving the destination’s environment and local welfare. It arose in the second half of the 1990s, when mass tourism brought an unparalleled change in the travel environment. Consequently, the industry had to develop new standards to adapt to this change. 

The aim of tourism planning

The current objective of tourism planning is to control tourism’s unprecedented expansion to limit its negative social and environmental effects, while maximizing its benefits to locals. 

These goals can be reached by:   

  1. Analyzing the development of tourism in the destination
  2. Examining the state of affairs in a specific area and executing a competitive analysis
  3. Drafting tourism policies
  4. Defining a development strategy and actionable steps

Businesses looking for support through this process can reach out to Solimar International or check out this free toolkit. Solimar has a dedicated team of staff who employ a wide range of skills to promote economic growth, environmental preservation, and cultural heritage conservation. 

developing strategies and planning are key to improving destination tourism
Planning development strategies are necessary to improve tourism.

Why is Tourism Planning Important? 

Tourism planning should be part of destination development plans because it supports a destination’s long term success and incentivizes the collaboration of key stakeholders.

Tourism planning maximizes tourism benefits like: 

  • Promotion of local heritage and cross-cultural empathy
  • Optimization of tourism revenue
  • Natural environment and resource protection

Tourism planning also minimizes tourism drawbacks such as: 

  • Overtourism, and consequently anti-tourism feelings
  • Economic leakage
  • Disrespect for the local culture
  • Damage to the local environment

Tourism planning is also important because, by creating plans and strategies, destinations provide an example that other destinations can follow to improve tourism in their area. It ensures that the destination is consistent with changing market trends, constantly addressing tourist and resident needs as they arise. 

This was made clear in the Cayman Islands. The surge of cruise tourism caused a massive influx of tourists, which brought new challenges to the small islands. Consequently, the destination’s goal shifted from attracting tourists to sustainably managing them. The development of a National Tourism Management Plan was key to provide stakeholders with the tools they needed for sustainable tourism management. 

What are the Newest Tourism Trends?

In the planning process, it is fundamental to consider how new tourism trends influence the future of tourism planning and allow destination strategies to stay innovative.

1. Safety and Cleanness

The Covid-19 pandemic brought about significant change to tourism and tourists’ perception of travel. Tourists are now more concerned about safety and cleanliness. They have a preference for private home rental, contactless payments, and booking flexibility due to the constantly-evolving global health situation. They are also more willing to visit natural environments and less crowded destinations where they feel safer.

Tips for DMOs: Have safety and cleanliness standards, allow flexible bookings and contactless payments, and focus on open-air experiences. 

An excellent example of these practices is Thailand, which decided to boost tourism after Covid-19 by rebranding itself as a safe tourist destination, issuing safety certificates to infrastructures to build public trust. 

2. Social Media

Social media is the preferred channel for travel inspiration, influencing travelers’ decision-making because videos and pictures create an emotional bond between people and places. 

The preferred platform depends on the traveler’s generation:

  • Gen X uses Pinterest and aesthetically pleasing blogs
  • Millennials use Instagram
  • Gen Z uses TikTok

Generation Z is also more willing to travel after Covid, and they will have  high spending power in the next few years

Video content is favorable because of the high engagement and interaction it creates compared to pictures. In this context, TikTok is the future of travel marketing. On this fast-growing platform, videos are likely to become viral because of the app’s algorithm. For example, the travel campaign #TikTokTravel, where people were invited to share videos of their past trips, was viewed by 1.7 billion people

tourists use social media like Instagram to plan travel
A tourist searches for Instagrammable locations

Tips for DMOs: DMOs can use TikTok to promote attractions, restaurants, and tours partnering with influencers. Social media can attract new customers, monitor Instagrammable locations, and manage overcrowding by promoting lesser-known areas. This all helps shift tourists away from hot spots. 

Follow Solimar International’s success with social media promotion through their World Heritage Journeys of the European Union project. By providing research, media-rich itineraries, website promotion, and mobile maps, Solimar International can help your organization reach its target audience.

3. BLeisure Travel

Due to technology, the separation between work and life is blurred. This premise gives birth to the BLeisure travel, a genre of travel that combines business and leisure. Aside from those who travel for work, combining some leisure during their stay, there is an increasing number of digital nomads. These people are freelancers or smart workers who decide to adopt a traveling lifestyle. They will look for business hotels where they can easily obtain a fast Internet connection and a good working environment.

Some destinations are rebranding themselves, targeting those who work remotely. A good example is Aruba, which promotes itself as a paradise for workation.  

BLeisure tourists could work from their favorite destinations
How working as a BLeisure tourist could look

4. Destination Uniqueness

The tourism market is becoming increasingly competitive, especially for destinations with similar climates or natural features. To stand out, destinations need to focus on their distinctive assets. Places should identify a destination brand, which highlights their culture and the unique experiences they offer to tourists, instead of branding common and widely-available tourism practices.

An example of destination uniquness as a trend of tourism planning is Uganda, which is widely known as a safari destination. The country rebranded itself by focusing on its one-of-a-kind cultures, landscapes, food, and traditions, labeling itself “The Pearl of Africa.” This is one aspect of Uganda’s tourism planning process. By identifying and promoting a destination brand, Uganda aims to develop an immersive tourism for meaningful and transformative experiences abroad. 

5. Transformative Travel 

Transformative travel is an expression of the experience economy combined with experiential travel. The latter is about living once-in-a-lifetime, off-the-beaten-track experiences rather than conventional ones, connecting visitors with local cultures. 

Transformative travel is defined by the Transformational Travel Council as:

 “intentionally traveling to stretch, learn and grow into new ways of being and engaging with the world.”

Therefore, transformative travel is an immersive experience that aims to inspire personal transformation, growth, and self-fulfillment. People travel to transform their own lives and the lives of those who live in the destination. 

Tips for DMOs: Destinations should focus on providing unique and authentic experiences that connect travelers with locals. This enables tourists to experience local culture, food, and lifestyles, lending way to authentic experiences that they are sure to remember.

6. Sustainability and Community Engagement

Travelers are becoming more conscious of their environmental impact, and they are more willing to adopt a sustainable travel style. This means not only doing less harm to the environment, but also making a positive impact on cultures and economies, generating mutually beneficial relationships between tourists and locals.

An excellent example of a country that stays ahead of trends in tourism planning is Jamaica. Instead of boosting sun and beach tourism development, Jamaica has recently focused on community-based tourism, providing several experiences that empower locals. 

By focusing on poverty reduction, gender empowerment, equality and employment, Jamaica utilizes tourism to achieve social justice goals. 

Similarly, Solimar contributed to an Artisan Development project in Morocco. By strengthening the connection between local artisans and tourists, Marrakech and Fez saw a significant increase in direct selling to consumers, which contributed to increased local welfare.

developing sustainable framework is ket to the tourism planning process
Giving tourism a sustainable framework is a necessity for tourism planning

7. Technology to Manage Overtourism

The rise of charter flights boosted mass tourism. This has pressurized cities, raising the debate on the limits of acceptable change and generating anti-tourism sentiments among residents. One example of this is in Sedona, Arizona, where we helped manage visitor flow by marketing and promoting the nearby towns and attractions in Arizona’s Verde Valley

→ Tips for DMOs: Destinations should exploit technological advances to develop crowd management techniques. Some DMOs used gamification to manage tourism flow, spreading visitors in less known or less crowded areas. This is popular in London, for example, with the Play London with Mr. Bean app, a program that allows tourists navigate to different parts of the city and find points of interest quickly. This gives the city the opportunity to redirect tourist flows to spread-out spots in London.

To learn more about the tourism planning process and future trends in the tourism industry, visit our Institute for Sustainable Destinations website today. 

By Greta Dallan & Hannah Lambert

trophy given to a successful destination

Destination Success – the Factors and Actors

Destination success is often synonymized with its popularity and high visitor numbers. Places like Paris, New York, Rome, and Bangkok are destinations that rush to mind… but are they convincing examples of destination success? What really defines a destination’s success, and who is responsible for it? 

Tourism is a dynamic and highly complex sector that manifests itself differently in every global destination. While there is no set formula for destination success, successful long-term tourism development must begin with sustainability concepts. Well-established tourism organizations, supportive local governments, engaged local leaders, and a shared vision of sustainability and innovation are what most effectively foster destination success.

Tourism offers tremendous opportunities for destination development, though it is important to remember that every development avenues incur a cost, and negative impacts may never be entirely avoided. For tourism to be considered a successful development tool, enough value must be generated and distributed. Additionally, all associated costs must not exceed the long-term stakeholder benefits.


mass tourism is human pollution grafitti
Image courtesy of CNN travel


What is the Role of Tourism Management and Governance?

Tourism success largely depends on strategic management by governments and destination management organizations (DMOs). In order to build a strong sector foundation, reap its economic benefits and mitigate the negative impacts, these entities must establish frameworks for public and private sector cooperation. Moreover, they should enact regulations for environmental and cultural heritage protection, develop infrastructure, and formulate clear plans and policies for sustainable tourism development. Most importantly, destinations must learn from their own and other industry mistakes by monitoring, reflecting, and improving current strategies. 

It is fundamentally important not only to engage all destination stakeholders in the planning, development, and destination management process, but also to distribute the benefits. With adequate education, training, guidance and financial support, locals can find their way into the sector and improve their quality of life while fostering continuous sector growth. As destinations often have external investors, their interests must be carefully balanced with the expectations of local stakeholders to ensure further financial support for the sector and overall economic development. 


beautiful blue island in palau sustainable tourism
Image courtesy of Lonely Planet


Small vs. Big tourism: How do you Define Destination Success?

In 2019, 2.28 billion international tourists visited destinations around the world. Do higher volumes of tourism mean greater benefits for the destination, or is it exactly the opposite? For a lack of better and more reflective metrics, tourism success is often measured in tourist arrivals, without providing many indications about the negative impacts. A common belief is smaller-scale alternative tourism (community-based tourism, backpacking, or eco-friendly tourism) is the only way to sector sustainability. Smaller-scale tourism, however, doesn’t necessarily mean the impacts are smaller or less negative. It may actually result in a reduced developmental contribution to the destination. 

Mass tourism, on the other hand, is broadly considered the opposite of good tourism. The truth however is it is not going anywhere, and solutions to make this area of tourism more sustainable are what shift the whole sector towards sustainability. Experts seem to agree – package-holidays and all-inclusive resorts may offer the answers the industry has been looking for. Designed responsibly and innovatively, all-inclusive resorts have the potential to erase some of the social and environmental strain caused by mass tourism by taking the pressure off crowded destinations. 

The true threat to destinations everywhere remains exceeding their individual physical, social and environmental carrying capacities. Rather than considering small vs. big tourism, studies say the necessary response to possibly apocalyptic impacts of uncontrolled tourism development is slow and steady tourism. It is not about maximum demand and rapid increase in visitors. It’s about fostering growth at a pace that destinations can afford, and choosing quality over quantity. 


Namibia - Africa’s tourism success story built on nature conservation (National Geographic)
Namibia – Africa’s tourism success story built on nature conservation (National Geographic) Image courtesy of The Guardian

Tourism Development and Commitment to Sustainability

Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword, an abstract concept, and a way to greenwash the tourism product. With increased accountability, societal pressures, and shifting consumer behaviors and expectations, destinations must think not only about how to attract tourists, but also how to do it right. Considering destination success strives from visitor numbers and expenditure, long-term successful tourism growth must focus on boosting the positive and minimizing the negative impacts. 

The key to a thriving destination is addressing how tourism can benefit the local community by increasing economic prospects, supporting socio-cultural systems, and maintaining a healthy environment for local communities. A well-thought-out tourism strategy is crucial. Today’s environmental, socio-cultural and financial considerations will foster successful destinations of the future.

Social Impacts

Tourism cannot exist in isolation and greatly affects the social structures of a destination. Communities must be fully engaged in the development of the destination to ensure success, and, if handled correctly, can ensure the strengthening of communities and cultural preservation. Heavy tourism presence at a destination disregarding local, social and cultural constructs may result in acculturation, loss of identity, and authenticity – arguably some of the main reasons for visiting a destination in the first place. Authentic experiences are the product of community pride that reflects the destination and people. 

Negative social impacts are impossible to avoid entirely. Visitor behaviors, conduct, and oftentimes just the sheer amount of visitors may cause social resistance and conflict. In extreme cases, it may lead to fear for visitor safety, in turn greatly damaging a destination’s reputation and popularity, jeopardizing industry success. Ultimately, the key to social sustainability in tourism is mutual respect and understanding. 


Helsinki tourism
Helsinki – sustainable travel made easy (National Geographic) Image courtesy of GQ

Destination Success for the Environment

Interacting with unique environments and natural heritage are other main reasons for visiting a destination. Tourists want to swim and snorkel in a clean ocean and amid coral reefs, hike in stunning mountain environments, or stroll through well-preserved city centers. More importantly, natural resources, national parks, and heritage sites need to be conserved not only to maintain visitor interest in a destination, but also to continue supporting local communities and their livelihood. That will often depend on their surrounding ecosystems, particularly in rural tourism destinations.  

Rapid tourism growth and associated infrastructure development may result in soil erosion and loss of habitat. Without proper nature conservation plans, pristine natural spaces and agricultural land run a high risk of being replaced by hotels, airports, and golf courses. Overwhelming visitor numbers exceeding a destination’s carrying capacity may lead to air, water, and noise pollution, overuse of a destination’s water resources, and increased waste.  

If managed consciously, tourism can be a force for good and positively contribute to conservation and environmental protection while also representing an important source of financing for this purpose. Before identifying the right tourism conservation models for the destination, it’s important to identify the main threats to the natural habitats. Finding an equilibrium between protecting natural resources, wildlife, locals and supporting business interests is where long-term destination success lies. Failure to do so may lead to irreparable environmental degradation that, in extreme cases, may lead to a temporal or permanent ban on visitors to a destination. 

Economic Benefits from Destination Success

Tourism has the potential to bring money into communities, contributing to poverty reduction and fostering economic growth, especially in developing countries that often rely heavily on tourism for economic development. However, the way tourism currently operates is often harmful. Today, from every 100 USD spent by a tourist, it is estimated that only 5 USD stays in the local economy. The rest of the profits go into the pockets of political elites, external shareholders, and tour operators. With insufficient funds, destinations often cannot offset the negative impacts associated with tourism development, leading them to question the effectiveness of tourism as an economic development tool. With exceeding tourist numbers, degrading environments, and difficulty with destination infrastructure maintenance, a destination risks losing visitor interest and valuable tourist dollars. 

Additionally, foreign employees are hired in the industry, taking away job prospects for locals that would be needed to ensure the funds circulate across the region. The industry must also refrain from importing tourism products and instead utilize what’s available in the region to allow local communities and businesses to get a bigger piece of the tourism pie. Successful destinations should therefore focus their tourism economy on local providers and workers, to prevent leakages and ensure more revenue remains actually in the country. 

Interested in how we can help you attain sustainable destination success? Contact us to learn more.

Written by Lena Eckert, Alicia Winfield, and Emilija Zagere

“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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