Jul 8, 2021
The horizon for destination strategy is expanding and we need to acknowledge that and recognize how valuable this phenomena is for our industry. The further we look into the future, the more opportunities and possibilities to effect change for the better present themselves.
Gone are the days when strategic planning was as simple as next year's sales projection and plans to achieve it. And the concept of sustainable tourism* is flawed in isolation. Sustainable tourism by definition fundamentally accepts and maintains the status quo of the current operating environment. The goals of sustainable tourism are admirable, even essential, but sustainable tourism alone falls short of optimal destination strategy.
Sustainable tourism conceptually fails to advocate for visionary leadership that can change a destination or an organization for the better. This is what I call transformational tourism strategy. Comparing sustainable tourism to transformational tourism is similar to the understanding the difference between the concept of good management vs good leadership. A good manager will manage the day-to-day operations of an organization, while over time a good leader will take that organization from 'Point A" (where it is today) to a more desirable 'Point B' in the future. Both good management and good leadership are essential, but good leadership will shape your future for the better. In fact, organizational theorists recognize that good management without good leadership leads to decline.
Transformational tourism strategy is an exercise in the best kind of destination stewardship. The goal is much more ambitious than 'do no harm.' It calls upon us to do no harm while leading change for the better in our organizations, our communities, our destinations. The outcome of responsible stewardship is the appreciation of assets, not the status quo or no change.
Transformational tourism strategy may be new to our nomenclature, but it is not a new practice. Whether they use the phrase 'transformational tourism strategy' or not, many of NYSTIA's members are embracing it in practice. In fact, you don't need to look any further than some of our Tourism Excellence Award recipients to see some great examples of transformational tourism in practice. Stay tuned as we profile best practice in transformational strategy in future articles and programs.