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RESOURCES: CASE STUDIES
|Jack Carlson & Deborah Edwards
|Industry Forum Case
|Think Tank Topic :
|Innovation for Sustainable Tourism
Introduction to the Case Studies
BEST EN TTVII hosted an industry forum facilitated by BEST EN Committee Member, Dr. Deborah Edwards in which three local practitioners from Arizona described their sustainable tourism products, how they deal with the barriers to innovation and how they have succeeded in being innovative.
The industry speakers came from three very diverse fields of operation. They were:
- Patty West, Freerange Botanical Consulting and Design Flagstaff, Arizona, USA who presented innovations in using local food to provide a "Taste of Arizona".
- Gina MacIlwraith, Environmental Health and Safety Director of Xanterra, USA who provided insights into innovation in the environmental performance of the largest concession operator in US National Parks.
- Mandy Roberts Metzger, President of the Diablo Trust, Flagstaff, Arizona & Bill Towler, Community Development Director for Coconino County, Arizona, USA who described their innovative approach to land protection in the Diablo Canyon Rural Planning Area.
The outcome of the forum is three case studies. In order to case study the innovation process, the industry speakers were asked to focus their presentations on four key questions:
- What are the key drivers of innovation in your organisation? i.e. Why Innovate?
- What is the decision process for implementing innovation? i.e. When and How to innovate?
- What are/were the barriers to innovation for your organisation and sustainable tourism generally? i.e. What are the barriers to innovation?
- How important are networks fro innovation? i.e. Who to innovate with?
Their responses to these questions are documented below so that others can learn from their experience. This structured approach to understanding the `who, what, when, where and how` of innovation provides the genesis of descriptive and comparative case studies in other tourism destinations.
In order to describe and compare the issues, drivers and outcomes associated with innovation in these three cases, a brief description of each operation is provided, followed by responses to the key questions listed above. The industry speakers were recorded during their presentation and each presenter provided a set of notes for use in the documentation of the case studies.
We at BEST EN hope you are able to take advantage of these case studies by using them for education and knowledge creation purposes within teaching programs and as exemplars for other industry firms.
|Case 1: Tasting Arizona
|Case 2: Diablo Canyon Rural Planning Area
|Case 3: Xanterra LLC: You Can't Save What You Can't Measure...Corporate Environmental Sustainability
These three case studies serve to demonstrate that innovation for sustainable tourism can take many forms, can occur at different operational and sectoral levels and can apply in a range of geographic locations. From the agricultural and ranch operations, to natural and tribal lands, to national parks and protected areas that are used for tourism, there is room for innovation.
The reasons and motivation for innovation can also be diverse, from necessity and survival to gaining competitive advantage. In all cases there is an underlying ideal that supports innovation and that is the concept of sustainability of ecological, economic and social systems. In many ways innovation can provide the link between natural and cultural heritage and the future of local communities and national parks. Innovation is the key to locking in natural and cultural diversity as well as opening up new possibilities for showcasing this diversity in the form of sustainable tourism.
Each of the case studies demonstrates that the process of innovation begins with engagement of the many stakeholders – local communities, land-holders, indigenous groups, businesses, government agencies, corporations and even competitors and critics. Ideally, a shared vision would be developed that would guide the implementation of new ideas, operations, collaborations and communication. Timing of innovation can be opportunistic or systematic, but it is evident that once the process of innovation has commenced it is ongoing and continuous, requiring all of the effort and resources that can be allocated.
A common thread that runs through all three case studies is the need for networks that support, communicate and disseminate the benefits of innovation. Indeed, just as innovation supports sustainability, networking supports innovation and this is particularly true for innovation in sustainable tourism. It is evident that innovation would rarely occur in isolation, and that all people in the innovative organisation need to be involved in the process.
The barriers to innovation for sustainable tourism are many and varied, and can come from external pressures as well as internal limitations. Food producers in particular face external pressure from market forces that favor intensive farming and mass production and consumption, whilst landholders confront competing land-use groups such as property developers. At the end of the day, cost, revenue and return on investment may override any move to innovate, so these short-term imperatives subsume any longer term sustainable innovations. Again, it is only with the commitment of all parties to the longer term ideals of sustainability that innovations such as those described in the three case studies can truly be realized.
These case studies also demonstrate the benefits that can be gained from using a structured approach to researching and demonstrating innovation for sustainable tourism. In addressing the key questions on the “who, what, when, where and how” of innovation in an organisation, the industry presenters have not only provided the participants of BEST EN Think Tank VII with some unique insights into their organisations, but also a basis for generalization of some of the key elements of innovation. Of these, the need for networking for innovation appears to be a common denominator across all three cases. It would be appropriate for BEST EN members and others with an interest in innovation to explore the importance of networks, along with other issues relating to the motivations, processes and barriers associated with innovation for sustainable tourism.
Later versions of the case studies have been published in book form.