Case Study

Sustainable Tourism Destination Management Online Course

Our 2019 report Destinations at Risk: The Invisible Burden of Tourism highlighted the problem of tourism’s hidden costs, resulting in many of the world’s most treasured destinations becoming increasingly at risk of becoming degraded. As well as identifying the issues that need to be addressed, the report also highlighted a skills gap in developing the talent, capacity and leadership needed to manage greener and more efficient and equitable destinations of the future: showing that new competencies are needed in areas such as data monitoring and impact management, climate action planning and financing, risk profiling and scenario planning, governance and community engagement.

We helped to fill this gap by collaborating with Cornell University’s Sustainable Tourism Asset Management Program (STAMP) to launch an online course for tourism professionals through eCornell called the Sustainable Tourism Destination Management program. The course is a comprehensive 8 week, 8 module (40-hour) fully-online course that aims to provide destination professionals with the new knowledge and skills needed to manage the complex challenges of tourism today. Students taking the course learn how to assess the status of destinations and make informed recommendations for future sustainable management. The course was developed with financial support from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, a service provider in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education work.

The course is designed for business leaders, urban planners, sustainable development professionals and municipal government employees. It is particularly suited to destination management organisation (DMO) professionals and others working in hospitality, tourism or related fields at national, regional or local levels.

The program contains eight modules:

  • An overview of the global tourism economy and the value it brings.
  • Measuring the “Invisible Burden of Tourism” – the unaccounted-for impacts of tourism.
  • Managing the Invisible Burden.
  • Managing climate impacts.
  • Defining and achieving key economic development goals.
  • Equitable and inclusive management of tourism’s shared assets.
  • Developing dedicated destination management capacity.
  • Applying sustainable destination management tools and concepts to critical real-life case studies from the tourism sector.

It features award-winning faculty and practitioners who share destination management expertise from across the globe on urgent themes including climate change and overtourism plus downloadable tools that can be applied directly in professional settings as well as research from top experts on cutting-edge destination management issues.

The program provides essential skills and tools that can be applied with immediacy in the workplace, covering areas such as governance, community engagement, impact management, data monitoring, and climate action planning. Graduates who fulfil all course requirements receive a Recognition of Achievement from Cornell’s SC Johnson College of Business. With support from the Travel Foundation and UNWTO, 1000 scholarship places, from target countries where affordability might otherwise be a barrier to enrolment, were made available. To date, over 500 have been allocated.

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