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Charting the Course for Destinations to Become Stewards of History, Nature & Culture

In December 2023 I was brought together with around 25 of my peers in the industry to be a part of the Destination Stewardship Innovation Lab in Los Angeles, CA. The challenge was to begin establishing a shared definition, global framework, and standards for destination stewardship

Why is there a need for destination stewardship?

Amidst climate change disasters, pandemics, and other social, environmental and economic crises, the tourism industry is seeking long-term solutions when it comes to destination management. Destination stewardship takes a holistic, community-centered approach, considering the needs of both destination communities and tourism visitors to build a resilient, responsible and sustainable ecosystem for all stakeholders.

A great place to live is a great place to visit, and with the right framework and collective understanding, destination stewardship can enable destinations to create lasting, positive impacts on their destinations and communities for generations to come.

Why was the Wayfinder developed?

We’ve identified four sector-wide challenges that the Wayfinder seeks to address.

  1. Productivity and Strategic Leakage: The sector suffers from productivity and strategic leakage, with each destination individually trying to solve the same problems in different ways.
  2. Collective Direction & Coordination: There is a lack of direction and coordination to move the whole travel and tourism sector forward at scale.
  3. Developing a New Business Model: The scale of the problem and the potential addressable market cannot be met by traditional consultancy or advisory business models.
  4. Consistent Framework: There is no consistent framework to drive sector level awareness and action and set priorities for what needs to be measured, monitored or improved.

What are the key features of the Wayfinder?

The Wayfinder is being developed by the industry, for the industry—harnessing the collective expertise of thought leaders, destinations and subject matter experts from across the globe. Our partners, including members of the Global Stewardship Innovation Lab, have begun the process of standardizing a destination stewardship framework and streamlining a pathway to measure, monitor and improve destination stewardship. The Wayfinder’s key features include:

  • Continuous Improvement Pathway: The Wayfinder framework comprises nine core modules to provide a structured pathway for continuous enhancement of a destination’s stewardship capability and capacity. The Wayfinder’s content management system provides key suggested actions and houses external tools and resources for destination organizations to increase their capability and capacity in destination stewardship.
  • Global Benchmarking & Dynamic Reporting: The Wayfinder generates diagnostic insights and dynamic reporting to inform strategic direction based on valuable insights, data and global best practices. With increased adoption of the tool, destination organizations will eventually be able to rapidly assess and compare their progress against community benchmark data.
  • Dedicated Ongoing Support: Embracing a partnership-driven and consultative approach to success, the Wayfinder goes beyond technology, providing destination organizations with ongoing support from dedicated facilitation and consulting teams.

What is the role of the Global Stewardship Innovation Lab?

The Global Stewardship Innovation Lab seeks to recognize and build upon the work already being done by individual thought leaders, groups and organizations by providing a platform for collaboration, knowledge-sharing and the development of a universally agreed-upon framework.

During the inaugural in-person meeting in December 2023, Innovation Lab members gathered to begin the process of:

  1. Creating a shared definition of destination stewardship;
  2. Developing a global destination stewardship framework;
  3. Streamlining a pathway to measure, monitor and improve destination stewardship.

If you have an organization that would be interested in learning more about the Destination Wayfinder, please reach out to learn more or schedule a demo.