Policy Recommendations for Tourism of the Future: Regenerative Tourism
11th APEC Tourism Ministerial Meeting (TMM 11)
1. The future of tourism is one that ensures tourism contributes to all elements of wellbeing locally. It is regenerative in nature, and this means that it does not do harm, but instead gives back, responds to change and continue to thrive. Economies are encouraged to consider the following to support their travel and tourism sectors.
2. Tourism is comprised of components that cut across other policy sectors. Therefore, tourism policy needs to be considered within its broader policy context, with leadership from policymakers at the highest level, whose support can help ensure that the impacts on tourism of related policy initiatives (for example cultural policy, workers’ rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, and agricultural policy) are also considered. As such, policies need to be actionable, fully consider expected trade-offs and complementarities with related policy areas, and whether they are likely to enhance or detract from the four (4) pillars of well-being (economic, social, cultural, and environmental). Adopting a more holistic approach to policy making will also help identify policy solutions that promote economic growth and economic inclusion. A well-mixed approach between bottom-up and top-down approaches will strengthen place-based economic development; this is where impacts must be measured, and people partnerships can mutually exchange the values of local wisdoms. Action may include:
- Advance policy formulation from design to implementation; creating an inclusive institutional framework to simulate an actionable policy lab which facilitates inclusiveness of people involved at local level to offer solutions and be accountable for the outcome.
- Improve cooperation with local communities, support them and enable them to connect rural to urban livelihoods.
- Commit to long-term implementation and continue to materialise an established roadmap. Transfer work-in-progress and provoke changes for continuous improvement.
Measure to manage
3. A key aspect of the transition rests on managing increasingly complex and interconnected dynamics of growth, environmental wellbeing, and social outcomes. Unless more holistic policy action on environmental challenges is taken now, continued environmental degradation will pose risks to the economy and human well-being. A good understanding of the connection between environmental policies and economic growth must be well informed by meaningful scientific data and insights, as well as traditional knowledge.
4. Managing the next phase of tourism should ensure that tourism contributes to all types of wellbeing locally. On top of the agenda is to share information on the all-encompassing dimensions of tourism, fast-tracking digitalisation to new travel facilitation protocols, and capitalise on opportunities to not only attract conscious travellers but also to monitor progress based on a new set of achievements.
The followings are recommended as policy priorities:
- Establish a strategic tourism team (i.e., APEC member economies taskforce) to re-align data-driven process from shaping integrated information sharing platform, employing available data as meaningful inputs into the policy-making choices, without duplication with projects in other international organisations. Meaningful interpretation of data that influences strategy formulation requires intelligent and thoughtful understanding and communication.
- Accelerate the adoption of technology to help manage all aspects of tourism including streamlining visa mechanisms with digital applications to facilitate tourists, depending on each economy’s policy and frameworks for cross-border management.
- Coordinate marketing policies with economic development policies by using pricing mechanisms, tax mechanisms, finance, funding, and green loans to facilitate the desired changes.
Remoted Traveller/Bleisure Traveller/Conscious Traveller
5. The pandemic has prompted many travellers to seek travel experiences that positively benefits local communities and become more sustainable travellers in the future. This also suggests that efforts to regenerate better tourism should capitalise on the movement toward increasingly sustainable options. Greater flexibility with regard to when travel happens, longer stays that blend travel and living, and the rise of the conscious traveller are critical factors to be incorporated into the next phase of tourism. Increasingly, travellers’ desire to immerse themselves in the communities or places they visit, which allows the sector to pivot even more definitively toward environmentally and socially sustainable tourism offerings.
6. The revolution of tourists’ behaviours can bring new opportunities for off-the-beaten-path destinations and reposition host and guest engagement more meaningfully and mutually beneficial. Managing this transition will present opportunities and challenges, as tourists will begin exploring less crowded places, thereby exposing additional vulnerable locales. As travellers remain wary of crowds, they will look to new areas for vacations, with secondary, tertiary, and even rural and smaller destinations growing in popularity. Creating such an ecosystem to support the future of travel will require swift action for destination readiness—both to protect local communities and to ensure the safety of travellers.
7. The lines between travel, work and living have blurred, therefore businesses must build strong foundations to attract long-term travellers seeking to live and work in desirable locations. As travel and tourism businesses redefine new norms, the entire travel supply chain will continue to engage in strategic partnerships that will enhance inclusiveness. Priorities include, but are not limited to:
- Invest in strategic partnerships, system-wide link management to accelerate new set of digitised travel facilitation. Upstream, businesses rely on local suppliers for newly re-designing responsible tourism experiences; and downstream, they need partners, mainly at the local level, to deliver the experiences. As such, businesses should aim to partner with organisations across their supply chains with like-minded values.
Inclusiveness and Connectivity
8. As travel and tourism businesses redefine new norms, they will continue to engage in strategic partnerships that will enhance inclusiveness. New standards, as well as the perception of their brands as clean, safe, and compliant with internationally recognised health protocols, will need to be incorporated with sustainable practices. Independent implementation of emerging health and hygiene protocols is not enough, but rather an alignment and common approach is required across the travel and tourism supply chains. In effect, the sector is responsible for ensuring safety and long-term strategic adaptation that should happen across the end-to-end journey. As such, a harmonised, coordinated, collaborative, and transparent approach should be implemented by all entities across the supply chain. Applying the concept of such holistic management needs a new agenda and likeminded connectivity and protocols.
9. Destination Management Companies (DMC) can be the hub to drive change and to operationalising sustainability. Local assets or resources can be leveraged in their re-designing travel experiences. Building on a positive impact on the locality, DMCs are positioned to be change agents, connecting local wisdom to conscious travellers. Inbound tour operators are in a unique position to be ambassadors for sustainable tourism: both by product choices they make and offer to their clients, and by motivating their suppliers to raise sustainability performance.
10. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are important to inclusiveness and connectivity, and better tourism. COVID-19 has disproportionally impacted women who are the majority of the tourism workforce worldwide (54 per cent according to the UNWTO) with a concentration in the lower paid, lower status jobs. They were most severely impacted by business closures and reduced operations within this sector. Crucial, gender-responsive regenerative policies should be put in place to ensure women’s full and equal participation with an emphasis on leadership in tourism enterprises during the pandemic recovery, and to ensure women-owned and led businesses, especially Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs), have equitable and sustained market access and linkages. Women-owned MSMEs should also have access to a range of related services including quality health, safety and social services, in accordance with the La Serena Roadmap for Women and Inclusive Growth.
11. Regenerative tourism policies will promote accessible and inclusive tourism for all, striving to ensure that destinations, facilities, communications materials, products and services increasingly implement universal design principles, so they are increasingly accessible to everyone, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities, age and so forth.
Local Wisdom and Diversities
12. Building stronger partnerships should underscore the bolstering of values of local wisdom and territorial assets. This place-based experiential design needs a new outlook on curating tourism product collections which are regenerative in nature. Tourism innovation needs to proactively respond to the need of emerging new markets. Priorities include, but are not limited to:
- Providing opportunities to exchange knowledge with a focus on enhancing each other's potentialities, together, value local knowledge and wisdom.
- Supporting creative people and local ventures to accelerate local-based design and digitalise local procurement.
- Supporting MSMEs and DMCs in driving tourism experience design that helps tourism dispersal and mobility more evenly and sustainably. In this process, provide funding to ensure DMCs are incentivised to become the hubs of operationalising sustainability. Shifting the partnership mindset from the perspective that sees the community as service providers to become a real source of knowledge as local heroes who uphold local values in all aspects.
- Respecting the local communities’ rich cultural diversity and knowledge, empowering them to determine and seise the economic and employment opportunities tourism can provide.
- Engaging with local communities to ensure community values are incorporated into destination plans.