Guiding Principle #4:
Quality over quantity
Manage tourism development based on quality of visitation, not quantity of visitors, so as to enhance the travel experience while sustaining the character of the destination and benefiting local communities.
Prior to the pandemic, we saw the burden that an influx of tourists can put on any particular destination. These implications include, but are not limited to, degraded environments and cultural sites, usurped resources, overloaded infrastructure and heightened tensions with locals. In tourism, more is not necessarily better. Counting sheer numbers of tourist arrivals can be the crudest, least meaningful, and most dangerous metric—but also the easiest to obtain. Promoting lesser known places and non-peak travel, respecting carrying capacity (including infrastructure, social and environmental limits), and developing tourism in line with community needs, will serve destinations and the businesses that rely on them better.
A real-life example: Vanuatu has drafted its Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Policy (VSTP) (2018-2030) which includes objectives based on the GSTC Criteria for sustainable destinations and seeks to attract visitors who are quality visitors – higher yield, longer stay, culturally aware and environmentally responsible.
The questions we should ask to further achieve this principle:
How many visitors can the destination handle? (Are waste management systems and energy infrastructure sufficient?
How are residents and ecosystems impacted by the amount of visitors?)
What are we doing to manage congestion?
How are we positioning the destination?
How is tourism success defined?
Further resources: The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2018