19 MARCH 2003

Search all issues

powered by FreeFind

Send Your Feedback!

Tourism’s destination management

Tourism Minister Michael Refalo addresses the WTO Destination Management Task Force Meeting earlier this month. During his address Refalo update the task force on the sustainable development initiative, the creation of a destination network and the challenges that lie ahead

Report on London meeting
Our main decision was to accept the working definition of "a destination" as identified during the Think Tank on Destination Management (Madrid 2nd to 4th December). This, as you will recall states that, "A local tourism, destination is a physical space in which a tourist spends at least one overnight. It includes tourism products such as support services and attractions, and tourist resources within one day’s return travel time. It has physical and administrative boundaries defining its management, and images and perceptions defining its market competitiveness. Local destinations incorporate various stakeholders often including a host community and can nest and network to form larger destinations."
Secondly, we decided to propose to you the creation of one or more Destination Networks to support destinations in their efforts to develop effective and successful management tools.
Thirdly, that I should explain to you the relationships between the different WTO initiatives, and finally, that a small survey, focusing on priorities for the Task Force’s work programme, should be undertaken and the result submitted to this meeting.
Moreover, we decided that the Task Force should support WTO’s Sustainable Development initiative on a network of coastal destinations, propose to Statistics that their Madiera meeting should be open to non-European participants, encourage WTO participation in UNEP’s Tour Operator Initiative and ensure communication between these programmes and initiatives to create a synergy of results and, if possible, avoid overlaps.
The objective of the task force
As WTO must respond positively and support the industry, and in particular, destinations to meet the challenges emerging from the decentralisation of tourism administration, not least the growing need for systematic, multidisciplinary, inter-sectoral strategies and approaches for localised tourism management, it is of the essence that WTO helps the members in their efforts to create and develop effective and successful management tools.
I therefore believe that it is in order that we should register a vote of thanks to WTO primarily for establishing this Task Force as an advisory, informal and operational body of WTO, and also for giving it the mission to identify needs and address the challenges of individual destinations and at the same time contribute towards the Organisation’s global strategy on destination management.
This Task Force draws from all areas of expertise and interest and as you see, its composition reflects WTO’s intergovernmental character. It also takes into consideration the fast growing trends towards further decentralisation and for the establishment of private-public partnerships.
I believe that we are unanimous when I say that successful destination management calls for unity of purpose, less duplication of effort and waste of human and other resources, an integrated approach, as well as a process of shared information between partners and stakeholders through regular interface and knowledge transfer.
When a destination is fortunate enough to possess a variety of natural and man-made attributes and attractions, well supported by related structures, its first quest, a sine qua non, must be to achieve proper integrated management.
Our industry, tourism, calls for a holistic approach. The state plays a pivotal role in the way of funding, the provision of infrastructural services and monitoring, but so also does the private sector that contributes flair, initiative, expertise, and investment. This synergy between stake holders be they state enterprises or private sector operations is the watchword. It is also the key issue for successful destination management.
Although destinations differ in size, geography, demographics and stages of development and there is no one size fits all solution to problems, there are moreover common principles that apply to all situations. It is therefore the mission for this Task Force to assess and weigh up these challenges and furthermore communicate and disseminate such principles of good practice that are applicable across the board of common circumstances.
Programme of work
This time last year, during our meeting, a special programme of work for destinations was presented to us. This focused on the concerns and needs of local tourism destinations.
Firstly, the Think Tank on Destination Management that met in Madrid to establish direct contact with WTO’s Education Council. The meeting served to clarify some relevant concepts and definitions for destination management and also provided us with a working definition of a "local destination".
Secondly, an international network for the "Sustainable Development of Coastal Tourism Destinations" has been launched.
Thirdly, case studies realised by some destinations to measure the economic impact of tourism at local level will soon be presented at a workshop to be organised by WTO.
Moreover, your Business Council has prepared a WEB based survey on user needs for marketing destinations online which will be presented today. The results will be ready for the next WTM in London next November. The survey is a first step towards the development of a benchmarking scheme for destination websites.
Our initial mission today is to decide whether you accept the Steering Committee’s recommendation to endorse the working umbrella definition of a local destination as identified at the Madrid meeting.
We will then proceed with the rest of the business as proposed at the Steering Committee’s meeting in London, and finally discuss the setting up of a Destination Network
Destination network
All the countries and interests represented at this meeting, some more than others, look towards tourism as an economic tool. We do not only compete among ourselves for a larger slice of the cake and for increased custom, but more importantly against all other interests that target consumer spending. The Tourism industry, as a whole competes for customers’ disposable incomes with such varied interests as the automobile industry, the clothing trade, electronics and the entertainment industry. Our product, leisure, must stand comparison, compete and win.
We will therefore discuss the industry’s competitiveness vis-à-vis other industries and not competition among destinations. I am certain that the Network will be a very helpful instrument for Destination Management Organisations.
Destinations attract the traveller by emphasising the experience which they offer. The tourism product incorporates the entire destination experience, an amalgam of many individual services.
We must therefore need to establish and understand the distinction between the comparative and competitive advantages or weaknesses of destinations. The comparative advantage consists of and involves all natural and man made, including human, resources of a destination, while competitiveness relates to the destination’s ability to apply and use these resources to their best effect.
Finally, I would like to suggest for your consideration that this network should focus on management based issues as well as the concerns of all destinations that seek to improve performance and a greater degree of success.
As I have said before, the Secretariat has conducted a simple survey to identify priorities established by destinations in this respect. It is therefore my hope that by the end of this meeting, with your active collaboration, we will be able to formulate and draw up a scheme for the first Destination Network.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, 2 Cali House, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta
Tel: (356) 21382741-3, 21382745-6 | Fax: (356) 21385075 | E-mail