26 07, 2021

Community benefits from !Xaus Lodge in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

2021-07-26T14:58:36+01:00

Community benefits from !Xaus Lodge in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

!Xaus Lodge

!Xaus Lodge, a 24-bed community owned lodge in the remote Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, provides employment and other economic opportunities to ‡Khomani San and Mier communities in South Africa. By partnering with the private operator Transfrontier Parks Destinations, the lodge has been able to access markets and generate positive returns for the state and rural community members.

The case demonstrates how partnerships between committed private sector companies and host communities can work for mutual benefit. For details, see Tourism Cases.

In May 2002, a historic land settlement agreement with the government of South Africa and South African National Parks (SANParks) restored land totalling 50,000 hectares in the KTP back to communities that had been displaced. The two communities then leased the land back to SANParks under a 99-year lease agreement.  As of 2016, 28 people have been permanently employed at !Xaus Lodge, of whom 26 are from the local community.

AUTHOR

Written by David Ward-Perkins.

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Community benefits from !Xaus Lodge in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa2021-07-26T14:58:36+01:00
26 06, 2020

A sea-borne pilgrimage route that has been winning strong community support

2020-06-26T15:36:01+01:00

A sea-borne pilgrimage route that has been winning strong community support

St Olav Waterway Map

The Saint Olav Waterway is an unusual pilgrimage: largely taken by sea, across the mouth of the Gulf of Bothnia which id scattered with hundreds of islands, large and small. The Waterway links up small communities on islands and remote headlands that are dependent on a special kind of tourist: one that is keen to get away from the crowds and looking for a spectacular natural environment.

Pilgrims can follow the route in many different ways. Those on foot or by bicycle follow the marked trails wherever there is dry land; otherwise hopping from island to island by boat or ferry. The more nautical can sail the whole way. For much of the trail, a kayak is an excellent means of transport, including through the Archipelago National Park.

The initial goal has been to mark and map the 625 km route from Turku in Finland to Söderhamn in Sweden – which represents the first half of the 1200 km pilgrimage route from the Cathedral of Turku to that of Trondheim in Norway, the burial site of the Viking king Saint Olav. Blazing of the trail has been completed on the Finnish side, but was temporarily slowed by Covid-19 on the Swedish shore.

For more information: https://stolavwaterway.com/en/

AUTHOR

Written by David Ward-Perkins.

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A sea-borne pilgrimage route that has been winning strong community support2020-06-26T15:36:01+01:00
18 06, 2020

Ladakh women’s trekking company

2020-06-18T14:57:15+01:00

Ladakh women’s trekking company

Ladakh women’s trekking company

This small local enterprise challenges gender stereotypes, demonstrating how women can successfully be entrepreneurs in a tourism field traditionally dominated by men.   

The Ladakhi Women Travel Company LWTC is a travel agency based in the Himalayan town of Leh, in northern India, owned and operated by Ladakhi women. Local guide Thinlas Chorol founded the LWTC in 2009 to give women in Ladakh the opportunity to participate in the traditionally male-dominated areas of trekking and mountain climbing.  

By working as trekking guides, these women are challenging gender stereotypes in Ladakh, where a woman is expected to conform to traditional Ladakhi notions of obedience and discipline. Early days were difficult, but the LWTC has become a confident and well-trained group of female professionals. 

The treks are entirely organized by the women of LWTC, acting as guides, porters and cooks as well as providing end-to-end customer service and advice. The company has established a reputation for quality and is building a loyal clientele, in particular among women hikers, for whom the LWTC represents security and the assurance their needs and priorities will be taken into account.

AUTHOR

Written by David Ward-Perkins.

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Ladakh women’s trekking company2020-06-18T14:57:15+01:00
12 06, 2020

Innovation in Tourism: a relaunch

2020-06-12T12:42:49+01:00

Innovation in Tourism: a relaunch

Orseg National Park, Hungary

For some weeks or months, tourism professionals have been confined to their homes. Many have been rethinking how their destinations or businesses might operate differently in the coming months and years.

From this forced introspection, we are seeing an outpouring of innovative ideas. We are also seeing a return to powerful and creative ideas from the past, that were once considered marginal but may now be influential in reshaping tourism.

Over the coming months, Innovation in Tourism will be selecting examples that can be an inspiration for the new world of tourism, whether they come from the present or the past.

The members of the Innovation in Tourism LinkedIn group are all senior professionals of tourism with many years’ experience (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12073329/). We invite them to contribute their own examples of how the world of tourism might evolve.

AUTHOR

Written by David Ward-Perkins.

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Innovation in Tourism: a relaunch2020-06-12T12:42:49+01:00
10 06, 2020

Őrség National Park (Hungary)

2020-06-10T16:33:53+01:00

Őrség National Park, Hungary

Orseg National Park, Hungary

Around the world, National Parks that enclose inhabited areas are seeking the best balance between environmental protection and the interests of local communities. The Őrség National Park in Hungary is an example. The Park covers a landscape of hills, forests and lakes, including 44 settlements, mostly villages or hamlets whose inhabitants have a strong interest in attracting forms of tourism that can support traditional farming practices.

The Park has adopted a Cultural Ecosystem Services (CES) framework that provides guidelines that can be applied by the Park’s managers as well as by private operators. The overall aim is to decrease tensions between those in charge of ecological conservation and those promoting socio-economic development.

A lot of importance is given to education and to local cultural values. The National Park Authority (NPA) focuses on community development; work with schools and associations; on cultural heritage protection and place identity/place attachment. This extends naturally into the promotion of local produce and of activities of interest to visitors. Sustainable tourism activities and initiatives can be led either by local tourism entrepreneurs or by local cultural groups and associations. They include the running of events; the provision of tourism services; the tracing of tourist routes to give value to the natural and cultural heritage of the region; study programmes and educational activities; and the promotion of local products and produce.

The (CES) framework provides a set of rules and guidelines that all parties can adhere to, and a reference in case of conflict.

Visit the Őrség National Park’s website.

AUTHOR

Written by David Ward-Perkins.

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Őrség National Park (Hungary)2020-06-10T16:33:53+01:00
19 02, 2020

Tourism Routes and Trails: Theory and Practice

2020-06-07T16:16:34+01:00

Tourism Routes and Trails: Theory and Practice

Lake Ohrid

This new book from CABI plunges into the world of ‘extended’ tourism, offering an exploration of the ‘routes’ phenomenon whereby tourism is no longer for a given destination, but extends over multiple sites, a territory or landscape.  Covering how routes and trails are created, often as ways of clustering experiences, it also reviews their effects on tourism businesses, local populations and other stakeholders. Emphasising the critical role of local communities, volunteers and small businesses, as well as those who provide strategic direction and funding, the book: 

  • Is based in tourism theory, but focuses on practical issues in the development of routes and trails;
  • Includes a rich selection of contemporary examples and cases, showing the reader best practice as well as illustrating challenges and risks;
  • Covers both strategic issues of concern to nations, regions and local authorities, and the complex dynamics occurring on the ground, such as the role of grass-roots organisations and local communities.

Routes and trails allow destinations to diversify their offer and spread the economic and social benefits of tourism. With tourist behaviour increasingly shifting to thematic experiences, this book shows how to create these in a way that is both meaningful for visitors and beneficial for the destination. Suitable for tourism policy makers, economic development agencies and local stakeholders, it is also a vital resource for the next generation; students of tourism, sociology, local politics and economic development.

AUTHOR

David Ward-Perkins, Christina Beckmann and Jackie Ellis.

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Tourism Routes and Trails: Theory and Practice2020-06-07T16:16:34+01:00
23 08, 2019

Cruising in the Arctic

2020-06-07T16:15:23+01:00

Cruising in the Arctic

Lake Ohrid

For cruise operators and yacht owners, the progressive retreat of polar ice due to global warming is an invitation to venture ever further north, including to once-remote locations such as the island of Svalbard, northern Greenland or the Baffin sea. These destinations are extremely sensitive, both in terms of potential ecological damage and impact on local communities. The environmental damage is compounded by the poor practices of many cruise operators in terms CO2 emissions and waste management.

As always, tourism in the Arctic acts as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it has the potential to cause irreparable damage to the environment and to the social fabric of local communities. On the other hand, sustainable forms of tourism can serve to protect these territories from unbridled industrial development, in the form of unsupervised mining practices. Properly managed, it can raise awareness of environmental issues among stakeholders and serve as a catalyst for protective measure, such as the creation of national or regional parks.

These issues were recently raised at a meeting organized in Helsinki as part of the joint programme of the Belmont Forum and BiodivERsA, to develop scenarios of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Discussions around tourism and biodiversity were largely led by David Ward-Perkins of TEAM and Ilja Leo Lang of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), an international association whose members operate in marine areas and territories beyond 60 degrees north latitude including Svalbard, Jan Mayen, Greenland, Arctic Canada, the Russian Arctic National Park and Iceland.

Meanwhile, legislation to restrict and monitor cruising and yachting practices at an international level is critical, but is slow in coming. The vacuum is being partly filled by AECO, whose members follow an extensive set of guidelines and set standards for the industry.

In September 2019, a workshop is being held in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, organized by AECO, the Norwegian Institute of Nature Research (NINA) and Visit Svalbard. It will assemble organisations keen to shape research questions that can contribute to knowledge-based management of tourism in Svalbard and similarly sensitive areas. The workshop is aimed at researchers from a broad range of fields, including the social sciences, economics, natural sciences, business and tourism. The purpose is to identify projects, priorities and strategies that can serve to find the optimal balance for sustainable tourism development in fragile areas..

AUTHOR

Written by David Ward-Perkins, with contribution from Ilja Leo Lang, Assistant Director of AECO, Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators.

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Cruising in the Arctic2020-06-07T16:15:23+01:00
12 03, 2018

Key challenges for UNESCO sites

2020-06-07T16:13:24+01:00

Key challenges for UNESCO sites

Lake Ohrid

There is a growing interest and urgency to address the centuries old separation between culture and nature – a split that proves problematic when attempting to provide holistic responses to the management of sites, landscapes or destinations. The reality of this rupture is demonstrated by the fact that, as of 2017, there are 1,073 UNESCO World heritage properties, but just 35 that are described as ‘mixed’ sites.

How many of those remaining 1,038 sites are really effectively understood or managed by making the black and white selection that chooses between an Either and an Or, but not BOTH facets? The reasons behind this reluctance to cross the nature-culture bridge are many and complex. From the ease of working with familiarity, to the challenges of business interests clashing with conservation issues, to the difficulties in finding a working relationship between numerous ministries or jurisdictions with little or no history of collaboration. The long negotiations encountered in locations such as the Australian WHS at Kakadu or Uluru-Kata Tjuta have certainly influenced governmental decisions elsewhere to avoid the hard path of synthesising factors such as the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities with business or development priorities, and attempting to find a middle ground.

Nonetheless, a belated realisation that far greater collaboration and interdisciplinary exchange eventually reaps broader benefits is now being acknowledged directly by the UNESCO advisory bodies, ICOMOS and IUCN. Across a number of events and platforms, the nature-culture journey or culture-nature journey (depending on which discipline or agency you approach from!) has launched declarations (PDF), training courses and extensive workshops (PDF).

To break this cycle I believe the route forwards is through persistence, practice and exchanges out in the ‘field’, and to bring together specialists from the disciplines concerned, to walk, talk and seek a closer understanding of each other’s perspectives and methods.

One pertinent case study is the UNESCO coordinated project that is seeking to expand across the FYROM-Albania border, the designation and management of the spectacular Lake Ohrid mixed natural-cultural World Heritage Site. Out in the ancient tectonic landscape of Europe’s oldest lake, Ohrid colleagues from across border and across disciplines, worked around tables, but equally walked up hills to seek views, panoramas and perspectives in all senses of the word.

In the case of Lake Ohrid, easy solutions were not arrived at. Comfort zones and ways of thinking and working still have to break through difficult barriers. But we did take, and encourage others to also take, those steps on a profitable and stimulating culture-nature journey.

AUTHOR

For the past 20 years, Jonathan Karkut has worked on developing, managing and delivering research, training and capacity building for projects and consultancy in the areas of tourism, cultural heritage and development. His specialisms include intangible cultural heritage, geopark development and development in conflict and post-conflict regions. Read Jonathan’s bio.

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Key challenges for UNESCO sites2020-06-07T16:13:24+01:00
12 02, 2018

Unlikely tourism in unstable regions

2018-02-12T09:05:19+00:00

Unlikely tourism in unstable regions

Camels in Djibouti

Recent development in the Republic of Djibouti highlight surprising tourism trends, in a region that many would classify as the most dangerous in the world. The north of the country faces Yemen, a bare 150km across the Red Sea at the Bab al-Mandab straight. As recently as 2008, there was active fighting between Djibouti and its northern neighbour, Eritrea where, in 2012, a group of tourists was kidnapped. And to the south lies Somalia.

In these unlikely circumstances, the tourism authorities and tourism professionals remain upbeat. Djibouti’s largest inbound tour operator – a small operation, with a dozen vehicles – operates to capacity during the winter months, sometimes unable to meet the demand. The desert and coastal ‘campements’ – rough huts without electricity or running water – report an increasing flow of foreign tourists, of European, Asian and other origins. They can be seen at the major tourist sites, in small groups with their local guides, getting out of 4x4s and dressed for the desert. Others are on trekking expeditions, across the salt flats of Lake Assal or over the rugged landscapes of the Great Rift Valley, which starts its land journey west from Djbouti.

“What is the explanation?” I ask Houmed Ali, head of the Safar agency. His answer is that the small but important niche market of desert travellers, those who used to cross the Sahara in their 4x4s, are on the look-out for more secure but still adventurous destinations, now that Libya, Mali, Chad and most of the Sahara are out of bounds. At the moment, he is receiving requests for information from Italy on a weekly basis, mostly from individual travellers and independent groups.

So is Djibouti really secure? That seems to be the feeling among travellers. Max, a trekking specialist based in the GCC, has so far accompanied four groups of Dubai residents on one-week walking tours, going close to both the Eritrean and Somali borders. “Djibouti is the training ground for French and US military based in the Red Sea”, he says, “so this is one of the safest places in the world”. It highlights the sophistication of such niche travellers: well-informed and smart users of social media; more influenced by their globe-trotting friends and by specialist guides than by what they see and hear on television.

Another niche market is that of divers. A good number are abandoning the Egyptian Red Sea resorts, not so much because of security issues, but because of over-commercialisation and lack of environmental respect. Djibouti plans to fill that gap, and the number of diving facilities is growing, with an equally expanding worldwide clientele.

Another factor is the growth of transnational tourism within the region. Ethiopian tour operators are keen to open up the Djibouti market for their clients, with an eye to the launch of passenger rail services from Addis Ababa in around 2020. For both Ethiopian and foreign residents, Djibouti is their best access to the sea. They are confident and sophisticated, primarily using social media to build their clientele.

They are also dismissive of security concerns. One Ethiopian operator specialises in ‘four-country tours’ out of Addis, through Somaliland (northern Somalia), Djibouti and Eritrea. For him, the 2012 kidnapping is an anomaly. “Bad things can happen anywhere”, he says. “I am a professional and I know what I’m doing. I offer adventure, but don’t take risks. My clients understand that.”

12 February 2018

AUTHOR

David Ward-Perkins has experience both of large-scale regeneration projects and of the development of smaller destinations. He has a solid business background, in particular in marketing and management, having delivered projects throughout Europe, North America and the Middle East. Read David’s bio.

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Unlikely tourism in unstable regions2018-02-12T09:05:19+00:00
5 02, 2018

An Amadeus guide to innovation

2018-02-12T09:03:53+00:00

An Amadeus guide to innovation

Crowded train station

Katherine Grass is Head of Innovation and Ventures at Amadeus, the travel distribution giant. She has recently published a paper on innovation, identifying six key trends which Amadeus sees as having a lasting impact on the travel industry. You can access her article online.

At number one, Katherine Grass puts a technology trend, blockchain; and at number six, a number of technology innovations, including self-driving cars, space travel and virtual reality. These are not surprising to see on the list, as the DNA of Amadeus is essentially technological. Item five is operations and performance, from baggage handling to airplane maintenance, where the benefits for both airlines and consumers are evident.

Items two to four are, however, less evident – and they speak to tourism professionals that are more interested in the social changes that drive innovation. In these three cases, Amadeus is looking for solutions, to respond to consumer trends and behaviour. They are:

  • improved conversion – meaning how airlines and travel sellers can better personalise their offers, i.e. better target individual consumers
  • extended content, meaning richer offers for consumers. Anyone who has recently booked an airline can see this in action: the pages of offers of insurance, car hire and so on which, it would appear, do not put the consumer off – although we are now beginning to see ‘quick booking’ features on some airline sites, where the consumer can jump directly to payment
  • messaging platforms – where Katherine Grass cites chatbox technology

In each of these three areas, we can see that Amadeus is making a fundamental assumption, that is shared by most technology companies – that consumers want more content, in an ever-more personalised way. This may, indeed, be a safe assumption: complex tasks like travel booking are surely made much easier if all the information that matches one’s needs is made available in a way that is easy to use.

Tourism professionals, however, may have some nagging doubts when it comes to leisure travel. Our experience tells us that people do surprising things and take unexpected decisions. Opinions and fashions change quickly; the unlikely can succeed, and the new and different can charm and influence. Not everything can be tracked and pinned down. It may be that big data and artificial intelligence will get the better of all that, and become able to track down and forecast all human foibles. That day, however, may still be some way off.

6 February 2018

AUTHORS

The Innovation in Tourism articles are provided by TEAM’s associates and friends, a network of tourism consultants operating worldwide. See some of the faces on our meet the team page.

TEAM provides expert consultancy and tourism services to destinations around the world. Visit our project highlights page to see examples of our recent work.

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An Amadeus guide to innovation2018-02-12T09:03:53+00:00
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