Event recordings: Crisis Response and Recovery: Nature-Based Tourism, Biodiversity, and Livelihoods

Event Presentation Slide

This symposium, co-sponsored by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS Group), Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and the Arizona State University (ASU) School of Community Resources and Development, located in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, brought together global experts to address some of these challenges and provide examples of solution-oriented outcomes, in the wake of IUCN’s World Conservation Congress 2021. Recordings from the two events in the ‘Crisis Response and Recovery: Nature-Based Tourism, Biodiversity, and Livelihoods’ virtual event are now freely available online here.

Event 1, Day 1

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  • Session 1: Biodiversity Conservation Financing through Sustainable Nature-Based Tourism – watch here
  • Session 2: Visitors Count: Establishing the Economic Impacts of Tourism in Protected Areas – watch here
  • Session 3: Sustainable Livelihoods and Human Health through Tourism – watch here

Entire recording of Event 1: click here

Event 2, Day 2

Event Graphic #2

  • Session 4: Visitation and Biodiversity Conservation in Protected Areas in Light of COVID-19 – watch here
  • Session 5: The Resurgence of Overtourism in Protected Areas in Crisis Recovery – watch here
  • Session 6: Sustainable Tourism Blueprints and Solutions – watch here

Recording of Event 2: click here

Special event book offer!

50% discount on the hardback of the ‘Handbook for Sustainable Tourism Practitioners‘ until the end of November 2021: click hereCover Handbook EE


Spenceley Tourism And Development (STAND Ltd) signs the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism

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STAND Ltd is proud to have become a signatory to the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism.

The Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism unites travel and tourism behind a common set of pathways for climate action, aligning the sector with global commitments and catalysing collaborative solutions to the many challenges facing businesses and destinations globally. The Glasgow Declaration encourages the acceleration of climate action in tourism by securing commitments to reduce emissions in tourism by at least 50% over the next decade and achieve Net Zero as soon as possible before 2050.

The Declaration will be officially launched at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021. The information about the launch event is available here.

To ensure climate action is aligned across all of tourism, STAND Ltd commits to:

  • Support the global commitment to halve emissions by 2030 and reach Net Zero as soon as possible before 2050
  • Update its existing Climate Action Plan prepared under Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency, within 12 months from becoming a signatory
  • Align plans with the five pathways of the Declaration (Measure, Decarbonise, Regenerate, Collaborate, Finance) to accelerate and co-ordinate climate action in tourism
  • Report publicly on an annual basis on progress against interim and long-term targets, as well as on actions being taken (see the 2020 report here)
  • Work in a collaborative spirit, sharing good practices and solutions, and
    disseminating information to encourage additional organizations to become signatories and supporting one another to reach targets as quickly as possible – including through members of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, as a member of the Independent Advisory Panel of Travalyst, and through presentations, publications and technical assignments.

How the Glasgow Declaration was prepared

The drafting committee for the Glasgow Declaration formed in March 2021 and consisted of:

  • UNEP
  • VisitScotland
  • Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency
  • The Travel Foundation

The objective was to unite the travel and tourism sector behind a shared vision and commitment to align efforts for a decade of concerted climate action, using the momentum provided by the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow in November 2021.

The drafting committee’s principles were: to be open and collaborative, grounded in science, and committed to supporting communities and vulnerable destinations. The committee initially took inspiration from Tourism Declares’ existing declaration, which set out a commitment in simple yet urgent terms.

Over the course of several months, the committee received feedback from an extensive and global selection of more than 30 experts and organisations. Diverse representation was sought across regions, academia, NGOs, destinations, membership bodies and associations, and various private sector verticals including transportation, accommodation and tour operations. The committee undertook wider consultation with partners of the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme, NGOs and advisors from the Future of Tourism Coalition and signatories of Tourism Declares.

During the drafting process, the following people invested in discussions, joint reflection, and provided feedback: Julie Allison and Delphine Stroh (Accor Group), Clare Jenkinson (ABTA – Association of British Travel Agents), Jono Vernon-Powell (AITO – Association of Independent Tour Operators), Masaru Takayama (Asian Ecotourism Network), Edward Hall (Bureau of Indian Affairs), Stephanie Jones (Blacks in Travel), Davide Strangis (Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions), Amanda Charles (Caribbean Tourism Organization), Samantha Bray (CREST – Center for Responsible Travel), Marco Lucero (Cuidadores de Destinos), Jane Ashton and Steven Cairns (Easyjet), Eduardo Santander (European Travel Commission), Tim Fairhust (ETOA – European Tourism Association), Flavie Baudot (European Cities Marketing), Seleni Matus (George Washington University), Andreas Hofmann (GIZ – Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), Federico Vignati (Green Initiative), Randy Durband (GSTC– Global Sustainable Tourism Council), Hazel Quek (Hilton), Teresa Parejo (Iberia), Megan Morikawa (Iberostar Group), Kelley Louise (Impact Travel Alliance), Ingunn Sornes (Innovation Norway), Susanne Etti and Darrell Wade (Intrepid Travel), Carla Danelutti and Arnau Teixidor (IUCN – International Union for the Conservation of Nature), Cristina Nuñez and Sandra de Puig (NECSTouR – Network of European Regions for Competitive and Sustainable Tourism), Peter Haxton and Jane Stacey (OECD – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), Graham Harper (PATA – Pacific Asia Travel Association), Jamie Sweeting (Planeterra), Jonathon Day (Purdue University, START (Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Travel) Lab), Inge Huijbrechts and Sven Wiltink (Radisson Hotel Group), Claire Whitely (Sustainable Hospitality Alliance), Christopher Cocker and Christina Gale (SPTO – South Pacific Tourism Organization), Anna Spenceley (STAND – Spenceley Tourism And Development), Paloma Zapata (Sustainable Travel International), Judy Kepher-Gona (Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda Kenya), Vicente Ferreyra (Sustentur), Delphine Malleret-King and Anne-Katrin Zschiegner (The Long Run/ Preferred by Nature), Greg Takehara (Tourism Cares), Melissa Lopez (TourRadar), Sally Davey (Travalyst), Shannon Guihan (Travel Corporation), Todd Davidson (Travel Oregon), Roni Weiss (Travel Unity), Alicia Fajardo (Turismo RESET), Miguel Naranjo and Niclas Svenningsen (UNFCCC – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), Susanne Becken (University of Griffith), Daniel Scott (University of Waterloo), Caroline Campbell (USTA), Dan Smith (Visit California), Ben Sherman (WINTA – World Indigenous Tourism Alliance), Alessandra Alonso (Women in Travel), Chris Flynn (WTACH – World Tourism Association for Culture and Heritage), Christopher Imbsen (WTTC – World Travel and Tourism Council) and James Sano (WWF – World Wildlife Fund) 

The final draft text was first introduced publicly in September 2021 with a further opportunity for feedback, prior to inviting organisations to sign the Declaration in readiness for COP26.

New publication ‘Visitors Count!’ launched to measure the value of tourism in protected areas

New guidelines published by UNESCO and the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) put forward a standard methodology for evaluating the impact of protected areas on the local economy.Cover VC 2021-08-23 at 10.01.42 am

The guidelines aim to help national stakeholders, protected area managers and researchers count visitation and measure economic impacts consistently through a standardised approach. Developed by a team of international experts from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS Group), the guidelines aim to help management authorities fulfil international reporting requirements to global conventions.

The guidelines outline how demonstrating the positive impact of protected areas can lead to greater buy-in and ownership of conservation practices, less poaching and land encroachment, and help offset human-wildlife conflict where it occurs. Once managers understand the number and behaviour of visitors they host, and the revenues and costs they generate, informed decisions on management plans and tourism strategies can be made.

The publication provides information on the evaluation of economic effects of tourism in protected areas including visitor counting and economic evaluation of tourism. Guidance is outlined on how to do visitor counting and surveys effectively and consistently, and how to best report and communicate findings. The publication also shares how to use findings to adapt protected area tourism management strategies sustainably.

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The publication’s methodological approaches were developed and tested in different protected areas around the world, including within protected areas including national parks, UNESCO World Heritage properties and UNESCO Biosphere reserves.

Visitors Count! was developed thanks to support from the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, and by authors and editors from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS Group).

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Tourism and visitation to protected areas amid COVID-19: Guidance for protected area authorities and managers

Cover open parksTourism is an essential contributor to protected area revenues, conservation finances, and to local livelihoods.

As people emerge from the psychological and physical effects of lockdowns, market intelligence indicates that they are likely to seek out recreation and relaxation in outdoor spaces – particularly in their home countries. The distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and emergence of Travel Passports provide hope that protected area visits and travel will resume. Managers of protected areas that usually have visitors are under pressure to provide facilities safely, but there are challenges to doing so given rapidly changing conditions and new health and safety requirements.

The purpose of this document is to provide pragmatic guidance to protected area managers and authorities on operating tourism safely amid the COVID-19 crisis. Suggestions are provided, accompanied by supplementary links to sources and further information.

What is in the “Handbook for Sustainable Tourism Practitioners: The Essential Toolbox”?

The Handbook for Sustainable Tourism Practitioners is divided into four main parts that address different elements of sustainable tourism planning, operation and evaluation.  It contains 27 chapters providing insightful detail into key sustainable tourism issues.  The authors share step-by-step approaches to practical problems – such as how to write bankable financial proposals – how to consult with stakeholders – and how to manage visitors.  The book transfers knowledge from the academic realm, and from extensive practitioner experience, into one essential 550 page volume. 

Want to know how to develop a Theory of Change?  Louise Twining-Ward, Hannah R. Messerli, Jose Miguel Villascusa and Amit Sharma explain the principles of Theory of Change and then describe a simple five-step process to prepare one. Examples from World Bank projects are used to illustrate how to establish a clear connection between development challenges and desired impacts.

Need to know how to develop a sustainable tourism policy?  Mike Fabricius sets out guidelines for tourism policy formulation in developing countries. He addresses the importance of sound governmental tourism policies and strategies as foundations of sustainable tourism development. It explains differences in objectives, formats, ownership and timeframes of tourism policy, strategy, operational planning, master planning and other tourism planning instruments that are used in sustainable tourism management. A framework for tourism policy and strategy development and typical policy topics are provided and contentious issues in policy development are highlighted. Consultative processes for policy and strategy development are also briefly described in the Handbook chapter. In addition, techniques employed in destination competitive strategy development are explained addressing aspects such as competitive positioning.

Want to know how to develop a sustainable tourism masterplan?  Roger Goodacre describes the process of tourism master planning, including drafting the plan, starting with desk and field research, interviewing stakeholders, organising consultation workshops, and ending with the drafting and revision of the final report, and presentation of the final draft to government officials and stakeholder committees. Roger’s Handbook chapter identifies the keys to ensuring adoption of the master plan in a destination, and notably the crucial importance of consultation and achieving consensus among a wide range of stakeholders. Finally, Roger lists some of the principal sources of funding and expertise for tourism master plans, including international organisations, banks, development agencies and professional associations.

Want to understand outsourcing & commercialisation strategies for tourism in parks and protected areas?  Paul Eagles explains what is required for protected area authorities to establish commercialization strategies, and to help decide whether to insource or outsource tourism services. With a series of real-world illustrations, Paul describes how outsourcing can take place with for-profit companies, non-profit and community organizations, government departments and joint ventures. This chapter on commercialisation strategies outlines elements that should be included in procurement prospectuses used in competitive bidding processes, and characteristics of success and guidance to help managers make decisions on the range of partnership types. Given Paul’s extensive practical experience on concessions systems in Canada and else- where in the world, this is a chapter based in the practical realities encountered by protected area managers. 

The complexity of tourism services in Algonquin Provincial Park, explained in the chapter by Paul Eagles

Need to work out the feasibility of new tourism lodgings? PJ Massyn unpacks how to test proposed new lodging facilities for feasibility across various technical, legal, environmental, social and economic dimensions. PJ’s chapter on feasibility studies, business plans and predicting returns provides clear guidelines for practitioners to assess and answer each of these questions in turn and to evaluate project risks using a standardized risk assessment tool. This chapter provides instructions on the preparation of models that cover income statements, cash flows and balance sheets as well as key indicators of project bankability, together with examples and case studies. 

Financial modelling for new tourism lodgings, from the chapter by PJ Massyn

Need to know how to write a funding proposal for a tourism venture?  Michael Wright describes how to compile a funding proposal for a tourism venture. He explains that the nature of proposals differ depending on whether they are for new facilities, or existing businesses seeking support for expansion or refurbishment. Michael describes types of finance, sources, along with the advantages and disadvantages of different types of funder. Michael explains how to craft an enticing funding proposal and also how a funder will evaluate it. He also explains why sustainable tourism ventures are of particular interest to funders, particularly in relation to concerns about the sector and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

Want to involve communities in tourism, and not sure how to do it?  Amran Hamzah explains how to plan for optimal local involvement in tourism and partnerships.  His Handbook chapter provides guidance on conceptualising, planning and delivering optional local involvement in tourism and partnership development. The chapter leads readers from the initial step of assessing whether a community is ready for tourism, through raising awareness, identifying champions, developing community organizations and partnerships, using integrated approaches, planning and design, marketing and promotion, through to monitoring its performance. He explains integrating participatory processes, consensus building, and conflict resolution with people both within and outside the communities. Amran highlights the challenges to local involvement and provides links to more detailed resources.

Community tourism model, from the chapter by Amran Hamzah

Want to develop sustainable tourism indicators for a destination? Ted Manning explains that destination management is a complex challenge involving knowledge of social economic and environmental attributes and changes which can affect the sustainability of an entire destination and its components. This Handbook chapter outlines the approaches and activities to establish a system of indicators for general use by tourism managers and some of the results of this initiative worldwide. Ted reviews the UNWTO approaches, the development of observatories of sustainable tourism and the relationship between analysis, standards and certification at the destination level. Best procedures to develop indicators and some success stories in application are also reviewed.

Explaining different approaches, from the chapter by Ted Manning

Want to develop sustainable supply chains in travel and tourism?  Jos van der Sterren looks at tourism supply chain management through the lens of sustainable development. His Handbook chapter proposes a method that allows researchers to understand inefficiencies and spillovers in tourism supply chains and propose solutions through a circular economy approach. His approach helps to establish supply chains incorporating options to reduce waste, re-use resources and recycle valuable materials. Notably, Jos stresses, that the success of a circular approach requires effective collaboration between organisations across the supply chain.

Supply chain modelling, from the chapter by Jos van Sterren

Want to understand how to do a value chain analysis for sustainable tourism?  Pro-poor value chain analysis can be used as an approach to measure, and improve, the economic impact of tourism on local communities in developing countries.  Jonathan Mitchell examines how value chain analysis (VCA) can be used to map and quantify the benefits that accrue to local communities from tourism in destinations. Jon’s Handbook chapter demystifies the process of undertaking a VCA, and shares a practical process that can be undertaken within 10–20 days of fieldwork. Drawing on his extensive global experience, Jon shares examples, practical hints and guidance, and explains the implications of VCA results for economic development and tourism practitioners.

Need to understand tourism sustainability standards and certification processes?  In his chapter on establishing sustainability standards in tourism, Randy Durband explains the importance of sustain- ability standards, their role, and how they are established and applied. Using two Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) standards to illustrate, namely the GSTC Industry and Destination criteria, Randy explains how they are used and by whom, and how they are developed and maintained over time.   Then Monica Mic provides an evaluation of some of the most popular tourism certification audits and investigates successful cases and best practice but also identifies failures. Her chapter on tourism certification audits looks at the specific steps in the audit process, the different tools and approaches available to auditors, and compliance challenges among auditing participants in ensuring a good level of effectiveness and efficiency from audit activities. 

Levels of assurance explained, in Randy Durband’s chapter

Need to develop sustainable wildlife viewing practices?  Wildlife viewing tourism has grown substantially over the past few decades but some wildlife viewing practices threaten the sustainability of both business and conservation initiatives. Jeff Muntifering and Wayne Linklater demonstrate how a statistical modelling approach can help: 1) identify the characteristics of human-wildlife encounters that cause disturbance and displacement; and 2) design encounter guidelines that improve sustainability. Drawing from a real-world case in north-west Namibia, where paying tourists have an opportunity to encounter the critically-endangered black rhinoceros on foot, Jeff and Wayne illustrate how this integrated approach helped to reduce encounter displacements by 80% while maintaining a 95% positive feedback rating from guests. They also suggest some key issues to consider when applying to other species and contexts.

Want to understand how to do consultation for sustainable tourism? Carolin Lusby describes consultation approaches for sustainable tourism. She summarizes the main approaches that practitioners can use, giving special attention to the applicability of each approach to specific projects and circumstances. Providing guidance on the steps that each technique requires, Carolin also introduces a number of examples and case studies to illustrate. 

Consultation variations, explained in Carolin Lusby’s chapter

Need to develop a sustainable tourism research strategy or program? In his research strategy chapter, Steve McCool outlines a research strategy of acceptable biophysical and social conditions for sustainable tourism. He highlights challenges that protected area and destination managers have, and proposes a holistic research strategy to develop the knowledge and understanding at the foundation of more effective and equitable destination management. This is a thought-provoking chapter is underpinned by many years of experience on these complex ‘wicked problems’, using a systems approach. Then Liandi Slabbert describes how to establish and manage research programs in tourism destinations. Liandi provides an overview of the practices and protocols put in place by South African National Parks in designing and implementing its tourism research program, and how its research agenda was formulated in alignment with management priorities and kept relevant over time. She outlines the channels through which research is produced, discusses some of the challenges experienced and how these were overcome, with practical examples of research that have informed management decision making. 

South African National Park’s research approach, from Liandi Slabbert’s chapter

Want to understand how to improve the quality of visitor experiences while protecting resources they’re based on? The Visitor Use Management Framework is a tool used by US national parks and other protected areas to do just this.  Bill Borrie and Elena Bigard explain how this tool is used to identify the social, biophysical, and managerial conditions desired, in addition to meaningful and measurable indicators related to management actions. Step by step, their chapter takes readers through four stages of (1) building foundations, (2) defining the framework’s direction, (3) identifying management strategies, and (4) implementing, monitoring, evaluating and adjustment.   

Need to set sustainable visitor targets in a tourism destination? Paul F. J. Eagles, Andjelko Novosel, Ognjen Škunca and Vesna Vukadin deal with the challenging issue of establishing reasonable visitor targets that support sustainability in their Handbook chapter. With practical case study illustrations, they unpick the challenges of the ‘carrying capacity’ concept, such as the difficulties for public institutions in establishing minimum and maximum use levels. 

Need to avoid overtourism in your destination?  Ante Mandic explains how to optimise tourism development in destinations and alleviate overtourism. His approach adapts a Driver–Pressure–State–Impact–Response (DPSIR) framework to analyse potential and currently applied responses aiming to optimize tourism development. The step-by-step approach is described based on its application within the Mediterranean region, and specifically describes DPSIR elements in Split, Croatia. 

Want to learn how to do visitor counting and surveys?  Joel Erkkonen and Liisa Kajala draw on their extensive work across Finland’s protected areas to provide guidance on visitor counting and surveys.  They explain the entire visitor monitoring process, including data collection and using the data in reporting. Joel and Liisa highlight how the combination of systematic visitor counts and surveys can be used to establish a diverse picture of protected area visitation, and explain the application of findings to decision-making and policy. 

Visitor monitoring explained, by Joel Erkkonen and Liisa Kajala

Need to know how to work out the economic effect of tourism in a destination?  In their Handbook chapter on economic effects assessment approaches, Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Lynne Koontz describe the data and methods used by the US National Park Service to estimate the economic impacts and contributions of park visitor spending to local and regional economies. They provide an overview of required data (visitor count data, spending profiles, and economic multipliers), a description of how these data are combined to estimate visitor spending and economic effects, a discussion of how results can be used, and an applied example from Yosemite National Park.  Then Thiago do Val Simardi Beraldo Souza, Alex Chidakel, Brian Child, Wen-Huei Chang, and Virginia Gorsevski explain how the Tourism Economic Model for Protected Areas (TEMPA) is used by managers of protected areas in developing countries. They share examples of economic assessment – using the TEMPA and other approaches – in Brazil’s protected areas, the Kruger National Park in South Africa, and the Luangwa National Park in Zambia. 

Economic effects of tourism in the US National Park system, from the chapter by Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Lynne Koontz

Want to understand and manage the effects of biodiversity on tourism?  Whether developed in an urban, suburban, or rural area, human-dominated or wild, tourism can have substantial benefits and drawbacks on habitats, wildlife, and natural systems.  Shane Feyers, Gretchen Stokes and Vanessa Hull describe Rapid Biological Assessments as standardized procedures that tourism operators can use to assess the baseline biological conditions of sites. They share cost efficient, easy to use, and replicable tools that tourism stakeholders can assess the baseline biological conditions of a site, establish objectives and priorities for the use of biodiversity, and monitor the resulting impacts. Their Handbook chapter also presents information that managers can reference to inform guidelines for operators and visitors that can minimize negative externalities and maximize benefits.

Steps of Rapid Biological Assessments explained, in the chapter led by Shane Feyers

Want to measure social and cultural impacts of tourism? Social and cultural impacts of tourism are distinct and measurable, but their identification and standardisation of tools for cultural and social impact assessment remains elusive if not highly technical. Jackie Karathi presents phases and steps used in the application of social and cultural impact assessment tools, and describes the complexities of cultural and social dimensions. 

Want to learn how to do sustainable tourism case studies? Regis Musavengane and Darlington Muzeza explain the steps that researchers can apply to develop case studies. Using the example of case study research in Somkhanda Game Reserve in South Africa, Regis and Darlington explain how to plan, design, prepare, collect data, analyse findings, and share the results. 

The Handbook for Sustainable Tourism Practitioners is currently available in Hardback, and e-book versions, via the Edward Elgar website.

35% hardback discounts are available for:


New Tourism Action Coalition for a Sustainable Ocean (TACSO)

The new Tourism Action Coalition for a Sustainable Ocean Incites Action to protect our Oceans and support coastal and island communities

Tourism industry leaders, financial sector, NGOs, IGOs and Associations join by taking collective action to achieve a sustainable ocean economy.

Key points:

  • Coastal and marine tourism contributed US$ 1.5 trillion to the Blue Economy in 2016.
  • The ocean is critical to tourism, 80% of all tourism takes place in coastal areas. 
  • Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic requires a different tourism model for coastal and marine destinations.
  • The Tourism Action Coalition for a Sustainable Ocean will serve as a knowledge hub and an action platform to build resilient destinations and strengthen socio-economic benefits of host destinations and communities. 

Washington, DC (May 26, 2021) – As a side Event of the Friend of Ocean Action/ the World Economic Forum Virtual Ocean Dialogue, a coalition of tourism leaders launched the Tourism Action Coalition for a Sustainable Ocean (TACSO).  The event featured Secretary of State for Tourism of Portugal, Rita Marques and Director General for Sustainable Tourism of SECTUR, César González Madruga, members of TACSO Gloria Fluxà Thienemann – Vice-Chairman and Chief Sustainability Officer of Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, Daniel Skjeldam Chief Executive Officer, Hurtigruten, Louise Twining-Ward, Senior Private Sector Development Specialist – The World Bank,  and Jamie Sweeting, President, Planeterra. 

Co-Chaired by The Ocean Foundation and Iberostar, TACSO aims leading the way towards a sustainable tourism ocean economy through collective action and knowledge sharing that will build climate and environmental coastal and marine resiliency, while improving socio-economic conditions at coastal and island destinations.

With an estimated value in 2016 of US$1.5 trillion, tourism was projected to become the single-largest sector of the ocean economy by 2030.  It was projected that by 2030 there will be 1.8 billion tourist arrivals and that marine and coastal tourism will employ more than 8.5 million people. Tourism is crucial for low-income economies with two thirds of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) relying on tourism for 20% or more of their GDP (OECD). Tourism a critical financial contributor to marine protected areas and coastal parks.

The tourism economy – specifically, marine and coastal tourism – is highly dependent on a healthy ocean. It derives important economic benefits from the ocean with generated by sun and beach, cruise, and nature-based tourism. In the US alone beach tourism supports 2.5 million jobs and generates US$ 45 billion annually in taxes (Houston,2018),  Reef-based tourism accounts for more than 15% of GDP in at least 23 countries and territories,  with around 70 million trips supported by the world’s coral reefs each year, generating US$ 35.8 billion (Gaines, et al, 2019). 

Ocean management, as it currently stands, is unsustainable and posing a threat to coastal and island economies in many locations, with sea-level rise impacting coastal development and inclement weather and pollution negatively impacting the tourism experience. Tourism is a contributor to climate change, marine and coastal pollution, and ecosystem degradation, and needs to take action to build resilient destinations that can withstand future health, climate, and other crises.  

A recent survey showed 77% consumers willing to pay more for cleaner products. COVID-19 is expected to further increase interest in sustainability and nature-based tourism.  Destinations have realized the importance of balance between visitor experience and resident well-being and the value of nature and nature-based solutions to not only preserve valuable resources but benefit communities. 

The Tourism Action Coalition for a Sustainable Ocean emerges in response to the Call to Action of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy ( Ocean Panel) made in 2020 through the launch of the Transformations for a Sustainable Ocean Economy: A vision for Protection, Production and Prosperity. The Coalition aims to support achieving the 2030 goal of the Ocean Panel  “Coastal and ocean-based tourism is sustainable, resilient, addresses climate change, reduces pollution, supports ecosystem regeneration and biodiversity conservation and invests in local jobs and communities”.

The Coalition includes major tourism companies, financial institutions, non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations, and associations.  They have committed to collaborate on actions towards establishing a regenerative marine and coastal tourism that enables environmental and climate resilience, fosters local economies, empowers local stakeholders, and generates social inclusion of communities and Indigenous Peoples, all while enhancing the traveler experience and residents’ well-being. 

The objectives of the Coalition are to:

1. Drive collective action to build resilience through nature-based solutions by measurably increasing coastal and marine protection and ecosystem restoration.

2. Enhance stakeholder engagement to increase socio-economic benefits at host destinations and across the value-chain. 

3. Enable peer action, government engagement, and  traveler behavior change. 

4. Increase and share knowledge: through the dissemination or development of tools, resources, guidelines, and other knowledge products. 

5. Drive policy change: in collaboration with the Ocean Panel countries and wider country outreach and engagement.


The Tourism Action Coalition for a Sustainable Ocean is an emerging group of over 20 tourism industry leaders, financial sector, NGOs, IGOs leading the way towards a sustainable tourism ocean economy through collective action and knowledge sharing.

The Coalition will be a loose coalition, and acts as a platform to exchange and strengthen knowledge, advocate for sustainable tourism and take collective action, with nature-based solutions at its core. 

The Coalition will be fiscally hosted by The Ocean Foundation. The Ocean Foundation, a legally incorporated and registered 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit, is a community foundation dedicated to advancing marine conservation around the world. It works to support, strengthen, and promote those organizations dedicated to reversing the trend of destruction of ocean environments around the world.

Website:  https://oceanfdn.org/projects/tourism-action-coalition-for-a-sustainable-ocean/

For more information contact Erika.Harms@wri.org 


Iberostar’s commitment to the ocean not only extends to ensuring all ecosystems are in improving ecological health in all of our own properties, but to provide a platform for action for the tourism industry. We celebrate the launch of TACSO as a space for the industry to scale its impact for the oceans and for a sustainable ocean economy.” Gloria Fluxà Thienemann – Vice-Chairman and Chief Sustainability Officer of Iberostar Hotels & Resorts

“With sustainability at the core of everything we do, we are excited to be a founding member of the Tourism Action Coalition for a Sustainable Ocean (TACSO). We see that Hurtigruten Group’s mission – to explore, inspire and empower travelers to experiences with a positive impact – resonates more than ever. This is a great opportunity for companies, destinations and other players to take an active stance, to join forces and change travel for better – together,” Daniel Skjeldam, Hurtigruten Group CEO. 

“We are happy to co-chair TASCO and share this learning, and that of others, to reduce harm to the ocean from coastal and marine tourism and contribute to regeneration of the very ecosystems upon which the tourism depends. At The Ocean Foundation we have a long track record on sustainable travel and tourism, as well as travelers’ philanthropy.  We have worked on projects in Mexico, Haiti, St. Kitts, and the Dominican Republic. We have developed comprehensive Sustainable Management Systems — guidelines for a tourism operator to evaluate, manage, and improve sustainability.”   — Mark J. Spalding, President, The Ocean Foundation

“Small islands and other tourism-dependent nations have been heavily impacted by COVID-19. PROBLUE recognizes the importance of investing in sustainable tourism, with due regard for ocean health, and we wish TASCO every success in this important work” Charlotte De Fontaubert, World Bank Global Lead for the Blue Economy and Program Manager of PROBLUE.

Helping to advance a sustainable ocean economy aligns with Hyatt’s purpose to care for people so they can be their best. Industry collaboration is critical in addressing today’s environmental challenges, and this coalition will bring together diverse stakeholders and experts focused on accelerating important solutions in this area.” Marie Fukudome, Director of Environmental Affairs, Hyatt

Seeing how travel companies, organizations and institutions have come together to form TACSO to determine what we all need to do to safeguard coastal and marine ecosystems to support community well-being despite the major challenges COVID-19 has posed for the tourism industry has been truly inspiring and uplifting. Jamie Sweeting, President, Planeterra”

“Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the vulnerabilities of tourism experienced in coastal states and ocean regions.  According to a forthcoming World Resources Institute report to the World Bank, these impacts include dramatic declines in visitation and tourism receipts; delayed payments and credit problems; company closures of hotels and airlines; job losses; and marine pollution from anti-COVID-19 protection equipment. I believe that this new coalition will be of tremendous help to stakeholders working to re-build ocean tourism sustainably.” Dr Anna Spenceley, Chair of the IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group; Director of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council

A snapshot of the “Handbook for Sustainable Tourism Practitioners: The Essential Toolbox”

By Dr Anna Spenceley (Editor)

Why was it written?

cover-handbook-eeThe Handbook for Sustainable Tourism Practitioners emerged from the sustainable tourism research and consulting work I’ve undertaken over the past 20 years, across more than 30 countries. During this time, I have had the good fortune to collaborate with many highly skilled consultants and foresighted clients.  This period has taught me a great deal about approaches that work, those that do not, and a daunting array of potential ‘landmines’ to be avoided along the way.

Work on sustainable tourism is demanding whether you’re the one doing the work, or the one asking for it to be done.There are ambitious and complex tasks, where clients and destination stakeholders have high expectations that practitioners can respond to a wide range of multifaceted challenges. However, there is often limited time which to undertake assignments and deliver meaningful answers; and also budgets that are not always expandable if the task changes during the process.  Clients and destinations expect – and should get – value for money and high-quality deliverables.

What would have been helpful for me – particularly in the early years of my work – would have been access to a suite of good practices that address different approaches and techniques in sustainable tourism.  And I realized that this type of resource was not only needed by consultants – but also needed by the governments, destinations, and tourism companies that needed information – and also by agencies commissioning sustainable tourism assignments – so as to develop a common understanding of what good work should look like during the process, and what should be delivered at the end.  To me it seemed there was a gap in the information available to everyone involved.

Hence, the idea for the Handbook was born, and Edward Elgar generously agreed to publish the work.

Who’s it for?

I believe that the Handbook for Sustainable Tourism Practitioners will be valuable for all those working on sustainable tourism, whether practitioner consultant, researcher, government, tourism destination, company or financing agency.  All of these players need to know what to ask for – what is entailed in the process – and what a good output looks like.

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What’s in the Handbook?

The Handbook for Sustainable Tourism Practitioners is divided into four main parts that address different elements of sustainable tourism planning, operation and evaluation.  It combines practical advice from 50 leading international practitioners, many of whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with in the past, and all of whom I respect immensely.

The toolbox contains 27 chapters providing insightful detail into key sustainable tourism issues, and with a forward by Professor Xavier Font.  The authors share step-by-step approaches to practical problems – such as how to write bankable financial proposals – how to consult with stakeholders – and how to manage visitors.  The book transfers knowledge from the academic realm, and from extensive practitioner experience, into one essential 550 page volume.

Notably the authors have developed and finalized their papers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.   I don’t take their efforts lightly – the past year has been incredibly challenging for people across the word – so that the authors were able to complete their contributions in this unique period of our lives – is a testament to their resolve and professionalism.

Furthermore, the volume was peer reviewed by Professor Marina Novelli, Dr Susan Snyman and Dr Louise Twining-Ward, who I thank immensely.

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Can I take a closer look?


Watch the two launch events on YouTube, with presentations by lead authors and discussion of how the tools can be used to build-back-better from COVID-19 here.

Get a snapshot of each chapter, and read the first chapter and foreword free here.

How do I get the Handbook?

The Handbook for Sustainable Tourism Practitioners is currently available in Hardback, and e-book versions, via the Edward Elgar website: https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/gbp/handbook-for-sustainable-tourism-practitioners-9781839100888.html

35% hardback discounts are available for:

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Virtual book launch recordings: The Handbook for Sustainable Tourism Practitioners

cover-handbook-eeOn 21 and 22 April 2021 two virtual launches were held for The Handbook for Sustainable Tourism Practitioners:  The Essential Toolbox.  Using the links below, you can listen to lead authors provide snapshots of their chapters, and the insightful discussion with participants on using sustainable tourism practices as we build-back-better from COVID-19.

Written by world experts in their fields, it fills a gap in the market for sustainable tourism research that is helpful and practical. It is gratifying to read all these chapters from consultants and practice-oriented academics that I have admired for years, which allow us an insight into the experience they have gained over decades of working for some of the most influential international organisations, overseas development agencies, governments and protected areas.’ – From the foreword by Professor Xavier Font

Event 1: Listen to the recording here
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Event 2: Access the recording here
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Get the book here:
The Handbook for Sustainable Tourism Practitioners:  The Essential Toolbox in hardback or ebook editions.

Preview the book: Read the introduction by Dr Anna Spenceley, and foreword by Professor Xavier Font here

50% early bird discount: There is a 50% discount on the hardback until the end of April 2021: Use the discount code SPEN50 at checkout to redeem it on the Edgar Elgar website

Virtual Book Launch events: Handbook for Sustainable Tourism Practitioners: The Essential Toolbox – 21 and 22 April 2021

cover-handbook-eeThe new ‘Handbook for Sustainable Tourism Practitioners: The Essential Toolbox’ has been published by Edward Elgar in hardback and e-book versions.

We would like to invite you to a virtual launch of the book, where the editor and distinguished lead authors will share insights into tools that support sustainable tourism planning, operation, and evaluation.

Then please join us for a conversation about how these tools and sustainable tourism practices can be used to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Below are details of the 1-hour launch events and the lead authors of the chapters that will join each session.

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Find the best event for your timezone (you are warmly invited to join one or both events).Screenshot Timing links 2

Use the Zoom meeting ID and passwords above, or simply click here to Join Event 1 or Join Event 2.

Get The Handbook for Sustainable Practitioners in hardback or ebook HERE

75% LIMITED LAUNCH DISCOUNT: Edward Elgar are offering the hardback for £50 + postage in a launch special, valid until Friday 23 April 2021. Enter the discount code DISC50 at checkout to redeem the discount

Sustainable travel insights from Booking.com 2020 sustainability report

Booking.com has released its 2020 Sustainability Report, sharing market intelligence that 82% of travellers think sustainable travel is important, and 70% are more likely to choose an accommodation if it has implemented sustainable practices.

To download the full report visit https://www.bookingholdings.com/sustainability/