Sustainability challenge tourism skills shortage

Lack of skills and knowledge is the focus of this eighth post of our special series on the key challenges preventing tourism businesses and destinations from becoming more sustainable.

In our interviews with tourism and sustainability professionals we often include a question about which they consider the main challenges regarding tourism sustainability. Among the many (and very diverse) answers so far, we’ve identified 10 themes and areas of concern. Skills shortage and knowledge gaps is one of them.

Below a few extracts and answers from our interviews, intended to offer you a snapshot of expert views on the topic. We strongly recommend you to read the full versions of the interviews. Sustainability challenges in tourism are very location-specific, and as such best understood in context.

Lack of tourism skills and sustainability knowledge

Amine Ahlafi, Morocco:

“I do believe the major challenge Morocco faces [in terms of tourism sustainability] is environmental education and education towards sustainable development.”

Nada Roudies, Morocco:

When advising your government colleagues and the private sector on implementing sustainable tourism strategies, what main challenges have you encountered?

“Many challenges of course among which the need of technical assistance and building capacity.”

Masaru Takayama, Japan:

As President of Spirit of Japan Travel in Kyoto, which aspect of running a responsible tour operator do you find most challenging?

“First, it takes time to find and educate the right tour guides who understand our mission and philosophy.”

Florie Thielin, France:

“There are many hotels that implement sustainable practices but don’t know how to communicate this to their clients. It was fairly difficult for me to find sustainable hotels on the internet, because, in general, they don’t have good visibility.”

Mihee Kang, South Korea:

“There is low understanding of ecotourism and ST [sustainable tourism] criteria. The stakeholders have tried hard to conserve nature and benefit local communities but need to understand the requirements or detailed strategies to achieve sustainability of their activities.”

Peter Richards, Myanmar:

In your experience, what is the biggest challenge faced when developing community-based cultural tourism (CBT) products?

“A big, overall challenge is that successful CBT development requires a balance of community development and tourism skills. Because community development and tourism are such different education and career paths, teams developing CBT often lack one or the other. As a result, there can be big ‘blind spots,’ which cause projects to fail or underperform.”

Soulinnara Ratanavong, Laos:

As a Teacher and Trainer at the Lao National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality (Lanith), which aspects of teaching sustainability to your students do you find the most challenging?

“The most challenging aspect  is how to change the students’ perspective about this career: for example, the importance of cultural and human developments, the opening of mind, etc. And that includes the perspective of their parents too.”

Carlos Sandoval, Argentina:

“Sustainable tourism in our region is still a new concept and not well understood. Not by those that offer the services or the official agencies, and not by the visitors either, some of whom don’t realize that sustainable tourism requires a different perspective on vacationing.”

Most recent articles on sustainable tourism challenges:

Please note that the information and views set out in this article are those of the authors (interviewees) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the organizations they work for.

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Sustainability Challenges in Tourism Explained: #8 Skills Shortage and Insufficient Knowledge