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 Date
42 OPA award Envisioning Sustainable Tourism Futures: An Evaluation... file 8385 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 

41 Think Tank VII The Practical Application of Sustainable Tourism Devel... file 5713 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 

40 Think Tank VII Destination and Enterprise Management for a Tourism Fu... file 6568 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 

39 Think Tank VII Rural Adventure Tourism and Social Entrepreneurship file 4136 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 

38 Think Tank VII Thematic Analysis of Sustainable Tourism and the Tripl... file 2871 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 

37 Think Tank VII Learning as Prerequisite for Innovations in Tourism - ... file 9398 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 

36 Think Tank VII Innovations in Volunteer Tourism: A Case Study of Fund... file 4576 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 

35 Think Tank VII Volunteer Tourism: Sustainable Innovation in Tourism, ... file 5682 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 

» Think Tank VII Tourism Resource Teams: Innovation with and for touris... file 11771 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 

33 Think Tank VII Getting Fit to Innovate: TUI's InnOlympics file 3896 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 

32 Think Tank VII There's No Such Thing as Sustainable Tourism: Innovati... file 11033 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 

31 Think Tank VII Innovation in Tourism Education: Building the Capacity... file 1904 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 

30 Think Tank VII Social Responsibility and Innovation on Trafficking an... file 2157 Oct 13, 2013

Ethical questions related to globalization, human rights, unfair labor practices and trans-boundary exchanges of capital and work force create ever more complex challenges for the tourism sustainability agenda. In recent years, the tourism i...

Author: Camelia Tepelus 

Year: 2007 

29 Think Tank VII Practical Interpretations of a Dynamic Model of Sustai... file 4945 Oct 13, 2013

"Operational definitions of tourism sustainability require details regarding what is to be sustained, for whom it is to be sustained, and the level at which it is to be sustained." This is the introductory sentence to "A Dynamic Model of Sus...

Author: Timothy Tyrrell & Robert Johnston 

Year: 2007 

28 Think Tank VI The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: CSR, Film and Tourism.... file 7270 Oct 13, 2013

This paper reports on an element of an ongoing research project undertaken since 1999 in relation to the effects of film-induced tourism on a small community based in North Yorkshire, England, namely Goathland.  Goathland is better known to ...

Author: Sue Beeton 

Year: 2006 

OPA: 2006 Runner Up 

27 OPA award Stakeholder involvement, culture and accountability in... file 6958 Oct 13, 2013

Following its historical rise and fall, America’s first industrialized polluted landscape garnered federal and local support to remedy its near destruction. Today, the Blackstone Valley is a pragmatic example of translating theory into pract...

Author: Robert Billington, Veronica Cadoppi & Natalie Carter 

Year: 2006 

OPA: 2006 Outstanding Paper Award Winner 

26 Think Tank VI Service Learning in Tourism Educational Programs – A S... file 3703 Oct 13, 2013

A problem in developing new tourism markets remains how to resource them from an existing employment base. Key questions arising are: Do current tourism enterprises have the existing skills to move into these new markets for sustainable tour...

Author: Susan Anita Briggs 

Year: 2006 

25 Think Tank VI Sustainable tourist accommodation management: The role... file 5625 Oct 13, 2013

The integration of sustainability within the domain of tourism has recently made considerable progress. For instance, in the UK and the Netherlands, the most important federations of tour operators, the FTO and the ANVR, have introduced obli...

Author: Menno Houtstra 

Year: 2006 

24 Think Tank VI Corporate Social Responsibility and Marine Tourism Org... file 5127 Oct 13, 2013

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an important issue for some governments but the tourism industry appears to be slow in adopting CSR strategies. By focusing on CSR, we argue that the implementation of CSR audits could help t...

Author: Ya-Ting Huang, David Botterill & Eleri Jones 

Year: 2006 

23 Think Tank VI How Sophisticated is the level of E-Commerce Adoption ... file 2241 Oct 13, 2013

The research aims to develop a conceptual model of e-commerce adoption in tourism enterprises. The paper begins with a literature review identifying the opportunities and competitive advantage for tourism enterprises associated with E-commer...

Author: Nina Mistilis & John D’Ambra 

Year: 2006