“Invisible Burden of Tourism” partnership to address skill gaps in destination management

The Travel Foundation, EplerWood International, and Cornell University’s Centre for Sustainable Global Enterprise are joining forces again, a year after the publication of our landmark report Destinations at Risk: The Invisible Burden of Tourism. In the age of climate change and overtourism, we are coming together to equip the sector with the critical skills needed to manage tourism.

We’re also pleased to welcome a new addition, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), representing the region with the greatest projected tourism growth over the coming decade. Through this collaboration, we aim to develop new tools and educational content for PATA’s destination members which can then be applied globally.

Amongst its findings, the Invisible Burden report illustrated that destinations urgently require increased capacity and skills to manage the costs associated with tourism growth, to protect the world’s most treasured natural and cultural assets.

The partnership will build on this ground-breaking work with new research to better understand the skill gaps destinations face as they tackle critical management challenges. Practical training tools and resources will be developed, including:

  • holistic accounting methods that measure the invisible burden of tourism;
  • data management skills to manage tourism growth in destinations;
  • better reporting systems and collaboration between local authorities and the private sector;
  • innovative financing mechanisms that enable tourism destinations to cover the costs of new solutions.

Megan Epler Wood, Principal of EplerWood International and Managing Director, Sustainable Tourism Asset Management Program at Cornell University, said:

“In researching the Invisible Burden report, our most striking finding was the lack of expertise and resources in most destinations to manage escalating demand. Destinations need new skills to properly evaluate tourism’s impacts on local infrastructure and assets. We will tackle that issue head on.”

Professor Mark Milstein, Director of the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at Cornell University, said:

“This partnership represents a further investment by our Sustainable Tourism Asset Management Program (STAMP) to ensure one of the world’s most important economic sectors operates in a way that does not undermine its own commercial success in the future.”

Dr. Mario Hardy, CEO of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), said:

“It is imperative that our travel and tourism industry forges new methods to account for the full costs of our activities, to ensure the sustainable and responsible development of destinations for the future. The partnership is a welcome step forward for the Association and aligns with our 2020 theme, Partnerships for Tomorrow.”

The Invisible Burden report is available at invisibleburden.org

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