Each year, Destinations International identifies a set of significant issues and resulting strategic opportunities affecting destination organizations. These themes weave a consistent thread throughout the content we craft and curate throughout the year ahead. These issues draw from findings shared in the DestinationNEXT Futures Study, Becoming a Community Shared Value Workbook, and the EDI Strategy Roadmap.
These strategic opportunities guide our programming for industry events, inform our research initiatives, and frame our industry partnerships and product development. They apply to destination organizations of all sizes and locations worldwide and aim to lead strategically, while leaving room to adapt to current events and crises as they arise.
We invite readers to review this list and consider how they may share their insights with their peers—whether presenting at an industry event, publishing on our blog and digital channels, or working with us on a special project. All guest submissions to the Destinations International blog, for example, must provide thought leadership centered around at least one of the significant issues and strategic opportunities affecting destination organizations in 2023.
What’s New for 2023?
Some of these remain core focuses, such as Value Based Action and Community Alignment & Engagement, while others are new areas of attention for the months that follow. Two new themes are Crisis Response and the Evolution of Digital Platforms, detailed further below. This year, we’ll expand on how destinations can empower themselves to respond to health, safety, and even brand-related crises, to tap into available resources and to embrace their role in uncertain times. We will help organizations understand what technological evolutions are on the horizon and how to harness them to improve their communities.
Organizational Strength and Resilience
Content in this theme will help build your organization’s resilience so it can withstand global disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic and emerge stronger with an engaged workforce, increased community presence and a larger visitor market share. Examples: funding, staffing, tourism representation in state and provincial regional development plans.
Value Based Action
To improve your destination’s overall visitor experience, you must familiarize yourself with what your local communities value and how your residents are striving to achieve their collective goals. How can your destination go beyond just being known to being known for something? Here, we’ll prioritize aligning the values of our industry with the values of your constituents so you can most effectively promote the creative, cultural, and community energy unique to your destination. Examples: resources to prove value & accountability for destinations organizations.
Community Alignment & Engagement
Content and education in this area will center around the myriad ways destinations can increase their competitiveness by aligning government, community, and industry priorities. We will cover the importance of destination organizations acting as the community brand manager to promote the community as a destination to live, work and visit. Examples: 2023 Canadian and USA Resident Sentiment Study updates, methods, and case studies for Becoming a Community Shared Value.
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
To reach their full potential, organizations must develop their brand in a way that represents every aspect of their destination. This involves cultivating a unified community where everyone feels like they belong and are welcomed. We highlight ways to transform destinations with thought leadership through a welcoming, belonging, equity, diversity, and inclusion lens to empower destination organizations to be a true reflection of their communities. Examples: welcoming, belonging, accessibility, empathy, diverse community representation.
Destination Stewardship & Sustainability
This theme centers around three buckets: Economic, Environmental and Societal Sustainability. Content in this area offers organizations opportunities to curate more immersive destination experiences, manage sustainable visitor growth, promote equitable economic development, preserve, and improve the environment and elevate quality of life, leading to quality of place. Examples: regeneration, DI Sustainability Strategy.
If destinations are to succeed in creating, sustaining, and retaining a viable workforce that can support the current and future needs of the travel industry and their local community, they will need to approach workforce development holistically. We will offer stories that inspire creativity, innovation, and collaboration to serve as the hallmarks of successful activities, policies, and programs in your destination. Examples: affordable housing & transportation.
Destination organizations are tasked with bringing economic prosperity and improved quality of life for residents through destination management and promotion. How can they succeed when residents or visitors feel the destination is unsafe? How does a destination organization operate through an unexpected crisis? We will provide case studies and best practices destinations can use to empower themselves to respond to health, safety, and brand-related crises, to tap into available resources and to embrace their role in uncertain times. Examples: crime and safety, Travel Boycotts & Bans policy paper and toolbox, climate change and environmental and health emergencies.
Evolution of Digital Platforms
Destinations must understand the next generation of technological advancements that aim to disrupt the travel and tourism industry – and will most certainly affect how destination organizations interact with residents and potential visitors. We will help destination organizations wade through the confusing clutter of new concepts and terms to understand what technological evolutions are on the horizon and how to harness them to improve their communities. Examples: Metaverse and artificial intelligence (AI).
View our Destinations International Town Hall: What to Expect in 2023 webinar for a preview of the resources our team will develop for destinations in the months to come.