Guiding Principle #12:
Protect sense of place
Encourage tourism policies and business practices that protect and benefit natural, scenic, and cultural assets. Retain and enhance destination identity and distinctiveness. Diversity of place is the reason for travel.
This is an overriding guiding principle, one by which all activities can be measured. Sense of place manifests itself in numerous ways and places, destinations, are not just businesses. They are total experiences that can inspire deep attachment. In this sense, protecting the various aspects and assets of a place are akin to protecting home and family, or for visitors, ensuring the safety of cherished memories. Either way, the locale should inspire that greatest of compliments, “I love this place!”
Supporting local businesses who are preserving a sense of place is key to this - artists, guides, farmers, fishermen, chefs, and activists. Work with the grassroots organizations who know their community best and keep more money in the community to preserve local traditions and businesses and the local way of life.
A real-life example: IMPULSE Travel, a tour operator and social enterprise operating in Colombia, brings tourists directly into the local communities - eating in their homes, visiting locally owned businesses, and sleeping in locally-owned accommodations. Through their Sounds of Colombia tour, they preserve a unique sense of place - through the music that defines the Afrolatinidad roots of their country.
The questions we should ask to further achieve this principle:
As an organization/company, are we sustaining or enhancing the character of the place?
When you enter a town or walk down a street, does the architecture suggest what region you are in? Does the landscape? If you enter a hotel lobby or disembark at an airport terminal, can you tell where you are? Does your restaurant menu have regional dishes and/or drinks? What music is playing in public spaces?
Turismo de Pequena Escala: Una mirada desde Cuba y Costa Rica. Center for Responsible Travel (2020).
SECTION C: Cultural sustainability
C(a) Protecting cultural heritage
C1 Protection of cultural assets
C3 Intangible heritage
C4 Traditional access