|Sustainable Tourism and Poverty Elimination (UNED-UK, 1999)|
|2. How to develop partnerships|
It was agreed at the previous workshop that the discussion should be destination-focussed, thereby recognising that up to 60% of tourism is domestic tourism within a country (except Africa).
If the expectation is for partnerships to be developed between the host communities in the destinations and the tourist industry, then we need to recognise the imbalance of power that exists between the local community and a tourism developer. This needs to be addressed if there is to be effective partnership. Furthermore the diverse mix of groups and individuals that make up a community should also be recognised in regards to their differing needs and expectations.
The workshop clearly identified that there is a the lack of a development policy framework in many countries. Hence at the international level there needs to be the development of a clear policy framework on tourism issues, to allow the multitude of issues to be addressed more systematically. At the national level, governments need to develop and implement sustainable tourism strategies, which will be reported for review at Earth Summit III in 2002. Finally, at the local level, authorities need to support the local agenda 21 process and make tourism development an integral part of it, as well as develop and maintain links with the appropriate stakeholder groups. All parties should support the continuation of this implementation for the proceeding 3-5 year process.
The critical role of research in informing the policy dialogue on sustainable tourism was also considered a very important part of this process. Research would assist and inform au patties through: collection of data to monitor existing activities; gathering case studies of good practice; and activities to help develop new approaches for assessment and good practice in the future. Participatory research can also act as a starting point for empowerment and participation of stakeholders.
Tourism can bring income and jobs to a destination but may have both negative and positive impacts. The empowerment of local stakeholders, through activities such as education, training and capacity building, will help to enable them to take a stronger role in the planning, development, management, monitoring and evaluation of tourism development. This is crucial to the creation of a more sustainable approach to tourism. Accepting that tourism operations need to be profitable if they are going to be sustainable, there is a strong case for intervention at local levels in tourism destination areas to:
· enable local communities to have access to the tourism markets when they arrive;
· develop local industries to support tourism development;
· retain more revenue locally - therefore minimising leakage and maximising linkages;
· control the negative social and cultural impacts of the tourist whilst strengthen positive effects;
· ensure the maintenance of natural and cultural assets;
· control the rate of growth of a tourism development.
Local government will play a significant role in developing tourism policy frameworks. They should incorporate the views of the local community and provide a mechanism for capturing development gains through infra-structural improvement and economic linkages. In particular, local governments should be enabled to deal with land use planning and development issues, as well as with the provision of infrastructure. Also a planning process that addresses natural physical and Other carrying capacities is likely to be more sustainable. An appropriate model for this might well be the Local Agenda 21 process.
TNCs or multinationals have a key leadership role to play in the industry. They have a particular responsibility because of the scale of their developments and potentially considerable impacts such developments can bring. They need to encourage the establishment of partnerships between sending and hosting groups.
SMEs make up around 90% of all tourism industries globally. Local communities need greater provision to be allowed to foster the growth of SMEs and tourism offers one approach for such development. To develop further SMEs will require greater inputs in terms of capital and skills e.g. marketing and technical expertise. National Tourism Boards need to engage with promoting SMEs using mechanisms such as micro-credit schemes to promote them further. The promotion of more market-mixed tourism developments, which target the smaller scale hotels would encourage the growth of a more indigenous ownership. This, in turn, would provide greater support for the local economy.
It appears to be easier to hold SMEs more locally accountable than larger enterprises. More transparency with regard to the actions of larger multinational businesses is needed. Maintaining a long term commitment by travel companies to a tourism destinations in necessary.
It is widely recognised that there is a need to engage stakeholders in a dialogue with the tourism industry about the impacts that they are having on the destination areas in which they are operating.
There is a lack of appreciation by many of the tourists regarding their impact on the environment, social and cultural heritage of their holiday destination. This can be reduced by the travel industry ensuring that more information is available for the consumers so that they might make informed choices and act more sustainably when they are on holiday.
The development of appropriate educational material within the travel industry should be done in close co-operation with the respective communities. This is in order to distribute information such as brochures, in-flight videos, to raise cultural awareness and understanding. Information can provide guidance on acceptable behaviour, such as the support of local produce. Without the provision of such information tourists have less opportunity to make informed decisions about their personal behaviour. Many tour operators already provide information about issues of health and safety so this could be easily incorporated into standard procedures. Also other groups, such as the media, NGOs and other groups have a role to play m raising the awareness of tourists, as well as host communities.
One of the key routes to progress is the collection and dissemination of examples of "good practice". At the seminar some very good examples of different approaches that are being taken around the world were put forward. The collection of these, and others, in a rigorous way would be beneficial to everyone (see e.g. project being completed by Tourism Concern, VSO and University of North London). What is required is practice that demonstrates under particular economic, ecological and social situations, tourism can contribute positively to sustainable development. Also example of "bad" practice can provide important lessons and raise new issues for consideration.
The development of agreed criteria for such "good practice" would be an important advancement, as would the agreement of a clearing house to house these examples.
There are some examples of good practice that the tourism industry has initiated dealing with the use of natural resources. Though important as a first step this needs to be built on to take into consideration the impacts on the local economy, cultural and social norms of the destination. Long term monitoring and evaluation of examples of good practice is needed