Sustainability challenges in tourism: lack of leadership

Lack of leadership and stakeholder coordination is the focus of this ninth post of our special series on the key challenges preventing tourism businesses and destinations from becoming more sustainable.

In our interviews with tourism 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. Lack of leadership and stakeholder coordination 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 leadership and stakeholder coordination

Paul Rogers, Australia:

“Stakeholder coordination is generally among the greatest challenges.”

Salli Felton, United Kingdom:

“Tourism is a global yet fragmented industry with numerous stakeholders across all sectors. With no accepted international framework or formal model of operation, and no one stakeholder ‘owning’ tourism, it becomes difficult to attribute responsibility to stakeholders. If, however, the means to bring these stakeholders together exists, the challenge can be shared and mutually beneficial solutions can be created.”

Brian Mullis, USA:

“Based on my experience, destinations struggle most with involving governmental departments (outside of the Ministry of Tourism), communities, and the private sector in tourism planning.”

Harold Goodwin, United Kingdom:

“The big challenge at the destination level it to create and maintain the partnership among and between businesses, communities and the different spheres and agencies of government – good  political skills are required to identify and agree the issues, agree a solution and then to engage all the partners in making the changes.”

Florie Thielin, France:

“There are many small and private initiatives, but it would help a lot if the Tourism Board of each country supported the hotels with tools and training. This would incentivize the private sector to adapt its offer to satisfy the new demand. Costa Rica is a good example.”

Peter Richards, Myanmar:

“As a facilitator, I often find myself helping to negotiate a workable compromise between the demands of tour operators and communities. I try to help stakeholders to empathise with each other’s roles and limitations. Communities need to understand: Who are tourists? Where are they from? Why do they travel? Why are they interested to visit a village? What are the positive and negative impacts of tourism? What kind of commitment is CBT?”

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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: #9 Lack of Leadership and Stakeholder Coordination