Sustainable tourism charity The Travel Foundation has developed a risk-assessment tool to ‘flag’ potential environmental and socio-economic concerns in destinations.

The Travel Foundation tool should enable destination authorities and travel businesses identify long-term sustainability risks to tourism operations and help identify ways to mitigate these.

The industry-backed charity, which is based in the UK, points out tour operators, resort developers and investors routinely consider geopolitical, security, health and safety and other factors in making long-term decisions about destinations.

But it notes that “little or no weight” is given to whether local water supplies can meet the needs of tourists and residents or how increased waste or energy demands will be managed.

The TUI Group joined the Travel Foundation in running trials of the tool in Sardinia and Saint Lucia with assistance from both governments.

An identical risk-assessment framework was applied in each case, but using indicators to reflect the local circumstances.

Travel Foundation chief executive Salli Felton, said: “More often than not, tourist destinations are fragile ecosystems with limited natural resources and inadequate infrastructure.

“It’s essential that stakeholders involved in developing a destination have a shared understanding of the sustainability risks and opportunities.”

She said: “No one would seek a competitive advantage by building a water park in a desert. If we can agree what is required to make tourism in a destination sustainable, it becomes a ‘pre-competitive’ issue.”

TUI business improvement general manager Tom Johnston said: “Tour operators have an opportunity to look at key sustainability risks for new and existing destinations with the Travel Foundation’s sustainability risk-assessment framework.

“It’s a smart and effective way to identify unique risks for each region and destination, allowing travel businesses to work with local authorities to mitigate these risks and increase the positive impacts of tourism earlier in the process.

He said: “We’re glad to have supported the Travel Foundation in developing the framework. TUI is looking to build lessons learnt into our existing destination selection and management processes.”

The Travel Foundation is now using an adapted version of the methodology to measure the impacts of different types of tourism in Tenerife in a collaboration with the Tenerife Tourism Council.

Destinations or businesses wanting more information should contact:

graeme.jackson@thetravelfoundation.org.uk