Tourism is truly a booming industry and affects many people around the world. Some destinations have flourished, but many have had to endure the negative aspects of tourism. Taking into account all of the global issues we face nowadays, such as climate change and pandemics, it is now more crucial than ever to assure a destination is thoroughly planned and effectively managed. In this blog we cover the question of what a destination development plan is, what process it undergoes and why every destination needs one.
What is Destination Development?
The development of a destination is the process of evolving the location’s supply side of tourism in order to meet the area’s tourism demands. This can be achieved by adding supporting infrastructure, including accommodations, transport, technological advancements, but also intangible aspects like workforce development. Destination development will automatically occur when the demand for a destination increases; so it is vital to ensure it is a strategically executed process.
Why is it important to plan a destination’s development?
Planning a destination’s development is a crucial process, which provides tourism organizations with the needed tools to achieve a common goal. In any destination the necessary steps must be taken early on in the process to prevent unhealthy growth.
How do destinations change over time?
Destinations can evolve quite drastically over time, especially emerging destinations. Emerging destinations typically have more local participation. As they become more developed, they get an influx of foreign investors and business owners who can change the feel of a destination.
What are the social impacts of tourism?
It is more or less inevitable for a destination with an attractive tourist offer to become popular. Take for example an emerging destination. With an increase in visitors, more and more outside business interests will see it as an opportunity. Once international interest for the area starts to increase, new challenges and barriers emerge for service providers as they don’t have the training and knowledge to capture markets coming from outside the country.
Without a destination development plan that considers growth, as well as the needs of tourists and service providers, destinations are going to miss that market entirely. This can lead to another investor from the outside with the necessary expertise taking advantage of the growing market.
This in return will entirely change the visitor experience. The destination will lose its authenticity: its uniqueness and with that its ability to compete and differentiate itself from other destinations.
How can tourism planning help the environment and its protection?
Generally global tourism isn’t known for being environmentally friendly. Increased demand leads to an increase in travel, as well as the destruction of nature to acquire greater space and resources. Even further, this is all done for the few “good” months of the year, in which tourism is optimal.
However, by introducing a tourism strategy, it is then possible to minimize these effects and maximize the environment’s protection.
By including a careful assessment of the region’s environmental problems as well as possible threats it could face with an increase in tourism into the destination analysis, one can set a clear goal. One can include these critical environmental aspects into the objectives and incentivize the creation of policies that can protect the destination’s environment.
In addition, tourism generates two key resources that can be harnessed to protect the environment.
- Increased financial income: Earmark a portion of the profits and direct them towards local environmental conservation activities.
- People’s engagement: Reach agreements with local beneficiaries to make an individual commitment to support the project outcome.
What is a Destination Development Plan?
Destination Development Plans (DDPs), also known as Destination Development Strategies or Destination Management Plans, are all closely related tourism plans.
Tourism plans are holistic strategies, dedicated to a defined tourist area, which based upon intricate destination research and a market analysis, form destination specific objectives and correlating approaches. The strategy is designed to create a guiding plan to develop and manage a destination to its specific needs and reach a common goal.
The strategy should always have an outcome in mind to maximize local economic profit and set the groundwork for sustainable and maintainable growth.
Solimar International refers to the term Destination Development Plan, as for most of their sites, development is a major part of the objective.
What does a Destination Development Plan generally include?
Destination Development Plans can generally be split into two halves.
- Situation Analysis: A detailed evaluation of the destination’s current state. This would include information on existing tourism assets, available tourism services, the industry’s performance and its competitors, as well as involved parties for tourism policy, management, marketing and investment.
- Future Goal: Concluded from the analysis, the future goal is both the desired outcome for the development of the destination as well as the means to get there. It is vital to agree upon a shared vision and form several strategic objectives to focus on.
How do you make a plan for a Tourism Destination?
The process of making a plan for a tourism destination can differ. This is greatly affected by the type of stakeholders that are involved and especially whether the destination already has a Destination Management Organisation. However they usually all follow similar steps of action.
In the Visit Tunisia Project, where Solimar was contracted to develop a National Tourism Strategy and six regional destination development plans aligning with the national strategy, the process underwent the following steps.
Understand the place and all of its attractions.
This is especially important for consulting companies like Solimar. Foreign entities cannot just come in and create a plan for a destination; in order to gather on-site knowledge and incorporate different local perspectives in the plan, it is imperative to involve local stakeholders in the process.
Understand the visitor.
This step will directly influence the path a destination will take. It is important to figure out what kinds of people visit the destination, for how long and when. Once this is understood, it will provide vital information on visitors’ behavior and how to better attract your target audience. This will shape the future of a destination.
Inventory what services are available.
It is crucial to understand the destination’s existing human capital, as well as infrastructure (including accommodations, tourist facilities, transportation, signage, retail, hospital facilities, payment options etc.)
Bring it all together with the SWOT Analysis.
The SWOT Analysis is a final conclusion, drawn from the situation analysis, which displays all of the internal, as well as external positives and negatives to a destination: the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Develop the future vision and its major objectives.
With the accumulated in-depth knowledge from the situation analysis, you have the groundwork for what the obtainable future vision will be. The main goal will then be divided into several clear objectives and the needed approaches. Here the destination asks itself, in what direction should this development go?
Set the plan up for success by ending with an Action Matrix.
The process of making a DDP already brings its own benefits, however it can easily be abandoned once development begins. Therefore it is indispensable to create a plan of action to accomplish the objectives aimed for. Each strategic initiative should have several actions dedicated to it. For each action it is important to identify the partners responsible for its implementation and create a timeline (near-, mid-, and long-term).
What entities are involved in the process of making a Destination Development Plan?
The question of who is in charge of making a destination development plan, as well as what kinds of entities get involved, mainly comes down to whether the destination already has a DMO which in addition needs sufficient resources and knowledge to complete such a process. In the case where there is not a DMO or they don’t have enough of an experienced workforce, they hire a consultant such as Solimar.
Apart from the DMO or consulting company, there are three separate levels of partners involved in the process of making a destination’s strategy.
- Donor: With emerging destinations especially, donors make up the first layer. For example, in the case of the “Visit Tunisia Project,” the donor is USAID.
- National level partners: Government institutions or independent organizations given the power by the government to manage the tourism sector or other intersecting sectors. Examples of these include the Ministry of Tourism in Namibia, the Forest Department of Liberia or the Ministry of Environment in Uganda.
- Local industry associations, such as tour guide associations, hotel owner associations or artisanal associations. This third level, especially for emerging destinations without an established tourism organization, creates a deep connection with local stakeholders and lets the local community be represented.
What is the purpose of a Destination Development Plan?
The general purpose of a destination development plan is to guarantee a long-term positive outcome for a destination. It takes into account a destination’s assets as well as opportunities that it’s missing out on. Among the goals of the destination development plan, one is to ensure the destination is competitive and delivers a strong product to satisfy visitors. However more importantly, it creates the framework and guidelines for sustainable development of the destination.
What are the main objectives of tourism planning in a Destination?
The main objectives for any tourism plan are to:
- Increase visitor satisfaction
- Assure a destination’s competitiveness (and foster its uniqueness)
- Maintain participation and integration of local communities
- Use of resources and the environment in a sustainable manner
- Protect cultural heritage
- Stimulate Economic growth
In order to achieve these goals, destinations will set up several objectives tailored to its specific needs.
What are the benefits of destination planning?
In addition to making a destination competitive, proper tourism planning will provide perspectives for local communities, ensure the protection of environmental and cultural resources and protect the destination from being overwhelmed by the industry.
So by taking a destination’s assets into account these strategies serve as a guidance tool to tourism organizations. If executed correctly, this creates benefits for more than just economic growth. Planned destinations can:
- Involve the local community and provide income
- Minimize environmental impact and drive some of the profits towards its protection
- Support a destination to stay true to its traditions and uphold its culture
- Improve understanding of different cultures and relations between guests and hosts
- Prevent over-tourism
- Make it more than just another “beach experience”
What makes Solimar International’s help effective?
Although each destination is different, the process of making a destination development plan doesn’t change significantly. Not only is the knowledge needed regarding how such plans are structured, but experience and knowledge of the tourism industry is also necessary.
Through Solimar’s vast experience, gained from 200 projects and over 500 destinations, the organization boasts the complete suite of tools needed to help destination’s reach a sustainable goal. This knowledge includes:
- Developing a well-defined and well-successful formula for such plans
- Incentivizing the participation of various stakeholders and create a space for collaboration
- Having the understanding of the most effective marketing tools that exist
- Being well-networked within the private sector of the tourism industry and being well versed in investment promotion
- Having repeated experience with the later implementation of such plans
If you want to learn more about how tourism can help destination’s develop in the right way, and how our work makes a difference, check out our Virtual Internship Program!
Tags: destination development plan, destination protection, development planning, planned destination, solimar international, sustainable tourism, tourism planning components, Tourism Strategy, tourism strategy process, travel