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Exploring the tourism Sphere of Influence

Do you consider the impact on local communities tourism has on the destinations you operate? Tourism can create actual positive impacts for host communities when done well, and supply chains must support communities to balance the burden of tourism with the positive impacts tourism has on both the hosts and the visitors.

When we look at a traditional supply chain, the community does not tend to appear; when we look at a supply chain as a sphere of influence, they are arguably the most critical stakeholder there. This is a busy sphere with so many stakeholders in the tourism supply chain, with communities quite far removed from tour operators product teams.

Local communities can seem far removed from the tour operators designing itineraries. Yet, they are the most important stakeholders in ensuring the stewardship of the destination and preserving cultural and built heritage.

The tourism supply chain is complex; tour operators may work directly with destination management companies or individual suppliers. Either way, within your spheres of influence, there are opportunities to build relationships that can further the move towards a sustainable tourism industry. Get to know your suppliers and how they go beyond the traditional tourism jobs to support their community further.

When I visited The Azores with Futurismo, I discovered that a traditional form of employment is still being used. The Azores were once a whaling community, and they are now committed to protecting the whales through tourism and education. Futurismo now employs the ‘spotters’ - around the island are lookout points that were traditionally used to send out the whaling boats but are now used to send out the whale-watching boats. Not only does this keep a traditional skill thriving, but it also means boats can go more directly to where the whales are, thus saving fuel.

As local communities become increasingly connected with global markets due to DMCs and DMOs understanding the social value in engaging communities across the destination, new tourism products are created as communities see tourism's economic and social benefits. By creating opportunities within the local community for young people who may have migrated to cities for work, cultural heritage and traditions are preserved, and tourism can fund services such as schools, protection of crops and clean water.

Do you know how social value is being created in your supply chain? This is hard to measure, and numerical metrics may not be appropriate. You could work with your DMC partners to ask the communities about the benefits they gain; a success story often has more meaning than a metric.

The global value chain is being transformed as tourism shifts towards a more sustainable future and more collaboration takes place between stakeholders. When all stakeholders work together to promote sustainability, we can positively impact the environment and society while driving economic growth in a destination.

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