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Tourism must stop promoting growth without understanding costs

Tourism must stop promoting growth without understanding costs
Jeremy Sampson, CEO Travel Foundation

The Travel Foundation is calling on investors, businesses, governments and their destination marketing organizations (DMOs) to better understand the costs, not just the economic benefits, of tourism within destinations. This will allow promotional budgets to be deployed more strategically, and potentially diverted toward addressing sustainability risks that could render destinations unprofitable in the long-term.

Speaking today (Monday 4 November) at World Travel Market in London, Jeremy Sampson, the charity’s CEO, described an “Invisible Burden” of tourism: the costs of serving tourism’s increasing demand, which are either picked up by a destination and its residents, or left unpaid, resulting in social conflict and environmental decline. The Invisible Burden was outlined in a report published earlier this year by the Travel Foundation, with Cornell University and EplerWood International.

Sampson made his comments during a panel discussion on Sustainable Tourism Development in Albania:

“Albania is at a crucial period in its development as a visitor economy, and we are pleased that it has taken note of the lessons learned by others. No destination should seek growth for growth’s sake. Tourism should add value to a destination, which may seem obvious, but currently destinations do not understand the full range of costs associated with tourism – only the benefits. Unless these costs are managed, tourism does not pay its own way”.

Sampson called on those investing in growth strategies to understand these costs and invest in managing the Invisible Burden.

During the unveiling of Albania’s new Sustainable Tourism Strategy 2019-2023, Mr. Blendi Klosi, Minister of Tourism and Environment, said:

“Our vision is to take a smarter approach that focuses on quality over quantity, value over volume, while ensuring Albania’s many treasures, natural resources and public assets are maintained for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.”