Author : Cynthia Messer, Ingrid Schneider & Okechukwu Ukaga
School/Work Place : University of Minnesota, USA
Contact :
Year : 2007

Communities have a variety of interest levels in tourism overall, including sustainable tourism (WTO, 2002). While we have witnessed increased awareness and discussions about sustainability and sustainable tourism, there is often a lack of shared definitions of means and ends among stakeholders, ambiguities in what is meant by sustainable tourism, and constant debate over specific policy and practice options for achieving it (McCool et al, 2001).

Thus, to enhance understanding and application of sustainable tourism principles and practices, a program based on best practices across the U.S. was developed. The program enhances and facilitates progress in sustainable tourism by addressing environmental, economic or social issues as identified by the community. A case study of program application and evaluation is presented for discussion and replication.

The Tourism Resource Team (TRT) program provides technical assistance to community tourism organizations that have encountered an obstacle to realize their sustainable tourism goals. The University based TRT program is grounded in three principles: 1) active citizenship of local citizens in designing and implementing projects, 2) addressing issues according to sustainable development principles; and 3) a vibrant relationship between citizens and their University. The program’s process includes an invitation to communities to submit a proposal, objective evaluation of the proposal, and, if/when selected, ongoing interaction for more than one year related to the sustainable tourism obstacle.

Upon selection, the community creates a broad reaching community tourism team, provides a packet of information to the TRT and prepares for a 2-3 day visit. Based on the community’s needs, an expert TRT team participates in 2-3 days of site visits and meetings, and prepares a presentation with recommendations to discuss with the community. A final report is crafted within
one month of the visit and presented to the community. Program evaluations are conducted immediately, as well as 6 and 12 months following the visit. These immediate, short and long-term evaluations provide various feedback mechanisms and insight for the program and community.

To date, three iterations of the program have ensued leaving a list of lessons learned and successes from which to build. Issues of concern to the communities are similar to those encountered elsewhere (Nickerson and Kerr, 2000) and include: gateway community tensions with federal and state land owners, seasonality, and integrated community relations. Lessons learned and affirmed from the cases include the necessity for full community participation, need to educate about sustainable tourism, and the delicacy of community relations.

All program implementations met with success and measurable outcomes. Along with an immediate increased understanding of sustainable tourism, community leaders and citizens expressed recognition of the consequences of mass tourism development and development that occurs without public involvement. Longer-term community benefits identified include opportunities for organization, a sense of collaboration, and increased understanding of sustainable tourism. Lessons learned include insight on team formations, community culture, and resource allocation.

The TRT program has proven a valuable tool to address community-driven sustainable tourism issues. The program expands local understanding of sustainable tourism, encourages community participation in using sustainable practices to address local issues, and generates outcomes and long-term impacts for communities. The model can easily be replicated.

List of Articles
No. Subject Views Datesort
354 Think Tank VII Innovation in Tourism Education: Building the Capacity... file 2293 Oct 13, 2013

This paper will present the findings of a recent Summit on the Future of Tourism Education held in April 2007 in Austria. The summit's goal is to identify future societal, economic, environmental, political and technological trends from 201...

Author: Pauline Sheldon 

Year: 2007 

353 Think Tank VII Outfitting and Guiding as Sustainable Tourism file 2649 Oct 13, 2013

The antecedents of the modern outfitter are numerous and varied, reaching far back into mythology, allegoric literature, history, and geographic exploration. Throughout history, guides have played two distinct roles, the pathfinder and the m...

Author: Norma Nickerson 

Year: 2007 

352 Think Tank VII There's No Such Thing as Sustainable Tourism: Innovati... file 11992 Oct 13, 2013

Innovation can come in many forms but all of these share three common elements - creativity, a problem solving approach and a new way of thinking. This paper proposes that current approaches to tourism and sustainable regional development h...

Author: Gianna Moscardo 

Year: 2007 

351 Think Tank VII Getting Fit to Innovate: TUI's InnOlympics file 4809 Oct 13, 2013

Tether (2003) describes innovation within service industries as having a Cinderella status - marginal and neglected. The traditional approach to thinking about innovation has been to concentrate on manufacturing and within that, the role of...

Author: Graham Miller & Caroline Scarles 

Year: 2007 

» Think Tank VII Tourism Resource Teams: Innovation with and for touris... file 12283 Oct 13, 2013

Communities have a variety of interest levels in tourism overall, including sustainable tourism (WTO, 2002). While we have witnessed increased awareness and discussions about sustainability and sustainable tourism, there is often a lack of s...

Author: Cynthia Messer, Ingrid Schneider & Okechukwu Ukaga 

Year: 2007 

349 Think Tank VII Volunteer Tourism: Sustainable Innovation in Tourism, ... file 6337 Oct 13, 2013

This is a study of the relationships between two volunteer tourism host communities and the volunteer tourists who visit them. One is a declining rural community located in the Appalachian mountains of the United States. The other is in a ra...

Author: Nancy McGehee 

Year: 2007 

348 Think Tank VII Innovations in Volunteer Tourism: A Case Study of Fund... file 5528 Oct 13, 2013

The popularity of volunteer tourism as a form of alternative tourism has grown significantly over the past decade (McGehee, and Norman, 2002). Volunteer tourists can now be found throughout the world participating in a wide array of social, ...

Author: Kevin Lyons 

Year: 2007 

347 Think Tank VII Learning as Prerequisite for Innovations in Tourism - ... file 10482 Oct 13, 2013

This article reports on an ongoing project that focuses on learning and innovation as prerequisites for sustainable tourism in a transnational environment defined by the European North Sea Region. According to Buhalis (2000: 113) providing i...

Author: Janne Liburd & Anja Hergesell 

Year: 2007 

346 Think Tank VII Barriers to Innovation in Hospitality Provision: Towar... file 9344 Oct 13, 2013

Recent challenges within the hospitality industry highlight a critical need for research and innovation to inform management practice. Surprisingly, however, a comprehensive review of literature has found that innovation research within the...

Author: Conrad Lashley & Barry O'Mahony 

Year: 2007 

345 Think Tank VII The Uptake of Innovation in Tourism Organisations: Bar... file 3006 Oct 13, 2013

Innovation is fundamental to any industry in its quest to realising its potential. The tourism industry is no different in this pursuit of excellence and innovation but, unlike many other industries, it is largely comprised of small busines...

Author: Leo Jago & Margaret Deery 

Year: 2007 

344 Think Tank VII Thematic Analysis of Sustainable Tourism and the Tripl... file 4030 Oct 13, 2013

The relationship between the themes in sustainable tourism publications and the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) was explored in this article. A categorised list of 3719 sustainable tourism articles was thematically analysed to determine the conten...

Author: Michael Hughes & Jack Carlsen 

Year: 2007 

343 Think Tank VII Rural Adventure Tourism and Social Entrepreneurship file 4993 Oct 13, 2013

The intent of this research is to provide a comparative analysis of several innovative social entrepreneurial businesses operating within the realm of rural adventure tourism. This qualitative, case-based research explores six companies, wh...

Author: Christina Heyniger & Kristin Lamoureaux 

Year: 2007 

342 Think Tank VII The Community of Communicators and the Communication o... file 10796 Oct 13, 2013

In spite of the trend towards business as a key element in society and tourism, governments still play an important role in the sustainable development debate. Like any social institution, governments and related organizations do not always ...

Author: Keith Henning 

Year: 2007 

341 Think Tank VII Branding Sustainability: Taking 'The Natural Step' in ... file 65014 Oct 13, 2013

Translation of the concept of sustainability into practice is fraught with problems. While policy advances in all sectors of the economy have made steps in the right direction the lack of clarity in defining what is meant by 'sustainability...

Author: Alison Gill & Peter Williams 

Year: 2007 

340 Think Tank VII Destination and Enterprise Management for a Tourism Fu... file 8013 Oct 13, 2013

A key element of a successful tourism industry is the ability to recognize and deal with change across a wide range of key factors and the way they interact. Key drivers of global change can be classified as Economic, Social, Political, Tec...

Author: Larry Dwyer, Deborah Edwards, Nina Mistilis, & Carolina Roman 

Year: 2007 

339 Think Tank VII A Community of Heroes file 3993 Oct 13, 2013

Sense of place is the human response to natural and built surroundings, geography, history and population. Over time, that response evolves into a shared consciousness, woven by memory, story and experience. Distinct from written history, th...

Author: Regina Binder 

Year: 2007 

338 Think Tank VII The Practical Application of Sustainable Tourism Devel... file 7016 Oct 13, 2013

The internationally acclaimed Blackstone Valley Tourism Council continues to create a sustainable visitor destination using whole place-making techniques. Under its auspices, the Sustainable Tourism Planning and Development Laboratory share...

Author: Robert Billington, Natalie Carter & Lilly Kayamba 

Year: 2007 

337 OPA award Envisioning Sustainable Tourism Futures: An Evaluation... file 41297 Oct 13, 2013

Methods for researching the future have grown both in variety and rigour, offering new opportunities for understanding sustainable tourism. This paper discusses the value of futures research as a tool for envisioning and planning sustainable...

Author: Pierre Benckendorff 

Year: 2007 

OPA: 2007 Outstanding Paper Award Winner 

336 Think Tank VII Envisioning Sustainable Tourism Futures: An Evaluation... file 4739 Oct 13, 2013

Methods for researching the future have grown both in variety and rigour, offering new opportunities for understanding sustainable tourism. This paper discusses the value of futures research as a tool for envisioning and planning sustainable...

Author: Pierre Benckendorff 

Year: 2007 

OPA: 2007 Outstanding Paper Award Winner 

335 Think Tank VII Environmentally Sustainable Practices of Victorian Tou... file 8194 Oct 13, 2013

Environmental sustainability has been a growing concern in our society for the past twenty years, and is a primary issue of many leaders of the tourism industry. In spite of the many efforts to encourage and/or enforce environmentally sound ...

Author: Sue Beeton, Sue Bergin-Seers & Christine Lee 

Year: 2007