The World Travel and Tourism
Council (WTTC) describes “destination resilience” as the ability to adapt to
“external shocks and crises, in a way that results in a better prepared and
more robust ecosystem in the future.”
COVID-19, of course, was a devasting shock to destinations
around the globe, but there are other challenges facing destinations today –
ranging from extreme weather events to shortages of resources such as water and
electricity – and unforeseen challenges that may develop in the future.
The experience of the pandemic has raised awareness of
the need to be better prepared for any sort of challenge.
In a report intended to help destinations with
Resilience to Create Sustainability in Destinations,” the WTTC provides guidelines
and case studies about how to handle future crises and notes that while
resilience is a “shorter-term concept than sustainability... the two are
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The report, created in partnership with advisory firm ICF,
identifies five categories where destinations should focus their efforts to
build both resilience and long-term sustainability: environment, infrastructure,
energy, economy and society.
The report finds four common characteristics shared
by destinations that have been able to develop resilience: they have successful
governance models; they prioritize ownership, legitimacy and transparency; they
create public-private collaboration for “shared value projects”; and they have
a culture of continuous improvement to prepare for the next shock.
One case study in the report focuses on Puerto Rico,
which has dealt with a series of environmental crises and economic challenges. Tuesday
Puerto Rico hosted WTTC’s Sustainability and Investment Forum, where the report
was first shared.
“The pandemic has taught us you can never be prepared
enough. Destinations have learned not only from their own experiences [but also
from] those of other countries as they recover and build back,” says Julia
Simpson, WTTC president and CEO.
“Puerto Rico is an example of a destination that
learned through COVID and natural disasters to become more inherently
See WTTC's Julia Simpson at Phocuswright Europe
She will participate in Executive Interview: Travel's Second Chance.