Destinations are focal points for tourist activity and thus for the study of tourism. They are, however, notoriously difficult to manage due to their complex systems of stakeholders. Such complexity implies that destinations are driven by a wide range of forces in their internal and external environments. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the diversity and depth of the challenges at play in destination management and, in doing so, review the primary contributions in the field.
This is a "perspective" paper (i.e. critical literature review).
The study of destinations remains an area of active research interest, with the many challenges that arise from within and external to destinations offering much food for thought with respect to their longevity as viable, sustainable and competitive places for tourists to visit. For the future, the need to view destinations as part of a wider system is paramount with them being inescapable from debates on urban planning, economic inequality, transportation and housing and the omnipresence of all things “smart”. Such debates need to incorporate both tourists and resident communities, as the well-being and quality of life of both groups is under threat in many destinations, particularly heritage and culturally rich city destinations around the world, where the term “overtourism” is increasingly heard.
This study has implications for the integrated and more holistic management of tourist destinations.
This is a "perspective" paper, so it does not offer individual practical implications for destinations. Moreover, it offers a concise and precise summary of core studies in the field and provides a platform for a more future-looking critical debate on the sustainable management of tourist destinations.
Looking ahead, destinations need to be considered as part of a wider system, one that is inclusive of urban planning, economic inequality, transportation and housing, and “smart” initiatives among others. Most importantly, the views of tourist and resident communities need to be considered and incorporated into future planning at the destination level with wellbeing and quality of life indicators being used to identify the real benefits of tourism to both communities.
Integrated and holistic forms of destination management is the way forward, with the exponential growth of technology, as well as the need to manage the exchange of knowledge and data at the destination level, critical to the sustainability of the competitive destination long into the future.
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