The project ’Sustainable destinations and regional development’ started in the fall of 2020 and will be finished before the end of 2021. It builds among other things on knowledge from a previous Nordregio project, Planning for sustainable tourism in the Nordic region. This new project will look into the possibilities of developing national indicators that measure sustainability in tourism development, looking closer at the social and environmental aspects of tourism in addition to the more conventional economic indicators.
The project is led by CRT – Centre For Regional and Tourism Research in Bornholm Denmark – while other partners are Nordregio, Visit Denmark, selected Danish Destinations as well as SDU, the University of Southern Denmark.
One of the main benefits of tourism in rural areas is the diversification of jobs as well as the fact that growth in tourism can have positive effects on other sectors. Therefore, many rural regions have welcomed tourism and put emphasis on increasing their visitor numbers to counterbalance the shrinking and more traditional prime industries as well as declining demographic development. Increased tourism can however also negatively affect the environment as well as social tolerance of the local population. Traditionally, the economic and social aspects are not included when measuring the impacts of tourism on regions.
Annual tourism reports are delivered by Visit Denmark in collaboration with the Center for Regional and Tourism Research each year, which contain figures for turnover, jobs, overnight stays and other mainly economic indicators of tourism development. The partner group behind the project now wants to investigate the possibility of how this tool can be utilized on the all three dimensions of sustainability; economic-, social- and environmental sustainability.
This will be done with desktop research on existing sustainable tourism measurement tools and building upon the analyses of Nordregio that performed Pan-Nordic analyses of rural tourism development plans. This information will then be discussed and developed further along with key actors from selected Danish destinations in a series of workshops. The goal is to identify key indicators that can be included when assessing the environmental and social impacts of tourism. The final outcome will be a report on good practices in sustainable tourism development as well as a prototype for a framework for destinations to use to develop their tourism in a more sustainable way.