Building long term futures for quality destinations
A quick overview at the recent European Union of Tourism Officers (EUTO) conference and study visit in Catalonia. Julian Zarb is also Vice President of EUTO.
Take about thirty or forty European tourism officers, gently fold in the local issues and characteristics of this socio-economic activity, mix in a few interesting discussions and blend them with some interesting plenaries and you should get some excellent ingredients that create the ideal platform for a good recipe to understand the needs and policies intended to overcome this present economic crisis around Europe and the world. The long term futures need to consider two important issues: Market Trends and Sustainability factors.
The theme for this year’s EUTO Study Visit in Catalonia looked at:
Challenges and Opportunities This was the introductory session for the week long event and included interesting case studies from Catalonia, particularly from the area around Girona – an area that has had a recent boost in tourism through the introduction of low cost carriers. Two important academic presentations focused on the importance of understanding identities and responsible tourism as well as the presentation of history and heritage in mature destinations.
Managing Quality Destinations Any successful destination has to be managed if the principles of sustainability and seasonality are to be implemented successfully and effectively. A primary zone that needs special attention within coastal areas are the beaches and the coastal littoral. These are areas that constitute the main attraction for these zones, they are also areas that have to cope with excessive use and they are zones that also suffer from natural changes. Over the past 100 years, the Costa Brava has built up its reputation as the ideal summer destination for a broad sector of society; but the area has its natural beauty as well and is the ideal location for eco tourism where one can also find history and culture. The well laid out Gardens of Santa Clotilde that were planned ninety years ago are an example of how the natural beauty blends in with the wild beauty of the coastal zone.
Innovation Every tourism product strategy needs a strong injection of innovation and creativity. The importance of using science and research as the basis for studying new products and services for tourism can be seen in a number of projects and case studies around Europe involving nature parks and wine producing industries. The importance here is for uniqueness and attractiveness.
Tourism Information Offices
Tourism information today is based on the ability of using Information Technology and the social network to its maximum capability. It is also important that these centres are a reference point for learning about the character, culture and history of the destination. The TIOs should not be seen as simply an extension of tourist guides or to obtain directions but they need to be seen as centres where any interaction will provide information that adds value to the visitor’s experience as well as to the intercultural dialogue.
Heritage The heritage for any destination can include both the built as well as the rural or natural heritage. The case study experience of Tarragona, where the regeneration project is focussed on highlighting the Roman period is an example of creating an attraction through existing history, can be adapted throughout the Mediterranean and should provide a diverse product based on a common history and culture. Nature parks provide the ideal destination for visitors who wish to unwind and relax.
Film Making Film making has a direct and indirect impact on a destination’s tourism industry. The direct impact from tourism is, obviously, the result of any income generated by film crews, actors and actresses as well as the services required by these organizations. On the other hand, there are a number of indirect results and benefits including promotion of the destination, interest in certain locations used by the film makers and festivals or events that may be organized at the destination.
Building long term futures means we need to consider new and exciting attractions that will be unique and perennial – ensuring employment and growth as well as a sustainable future.