Tourisms 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 days
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 Forces work programme, should be undertaken
and the result submitted to this meeting.
Moreover, we decided that the Task Force should support WTOs 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 UNEPs 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
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 Organisations global
strategy on destination management.
This Task Force draws from all areas of expertise and interest and as
you see, its composition reflects WTOs 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
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 WTOs 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
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
Committees 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 Committees meeting in London, and finally discuss the
setting up of a 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 industrys 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
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 destinations 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
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.