Through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world demands innovative solutions to tourism’s legacy problems such as overtourism and its inherent negative environmental impacts. Destinations must adapt to a changing world. In response, the Transformational Travel Council (TTC) has created the Transformative Destinations Program, launched today. The program helps forward-looking destinations co-create a roadmap using a regenerative tourism process and principles designed to improve the well-being of their communities and environment and help them flourish.
The primary components of the Transformative Destinations Program include piloting universal Regenerative Tourism Principles for Destinations within participating destinations and the development of a strategic action plan to guide the implementation of a regenerative-based recovery from COVID-19. The facilitated program offers asynchronous online courses, a 5-day on-site study and capstone workshop, and a practical implementation of a transformational travel educational curriculum. An enduring benefit to the destination’s product development practitioners and tourism suppliers includes a unique train-the-trainer approach.
“The world is in flux. Destinations worldwide are adapting to new norms and needs, and many are trying to determine how to build back better,” says Jake Haupert, TTC’s CEO and co-founder “Some are entirely reimagining their approach to tourism and how they measure success. Transformational travel and regenerative tourism are catalysts for this evolution.”
The regenerative tourism evolution is about inclusion and balance
Travel experiences, too often commoditized, can result in a diminished potential for real connection, mutual benefit, and genuine cross-cultural exchange between hosts and visitors. By contrast, when tourism is well-managed, it can be regenerative and transformative by applying an inclusive approach. Balancing the needs of nature, communities, the economy and using tourism to encourage ecosystems’ healthy functioning and people’s roles is vital.
“This is an invitation to destinations worldwide that are embracing sustainable tourism best practices and want to take things to the next level through the adoption of Regenerative Tourism Principles for Destinations,” said Brian T. Mullis, TTC’s lead for the Transformative Destination Program. “The early adopters of the program will help shape the global framework for implementing regenerative tourism and transformative travel at a destination level and will be recognized for their leadership in this space.”
The Willamette Valley Visitor Association becomes first early adopter destination
In Oregon, USA, the Willamette Valley Visitor Association (WVVA) is the first destination to sign up for the Transformative Destinations Program. Early adopter Dawnielle Tehama, Executive Director, says, “I am delighted with the program’s holistic nature. WVVA is already taking meaningful steps to create regenerative travel opportunities. The Transformative Destinations Program is moving the needle even more. Shifting from destination marketing to destination management means that we are more effective as a cohesive team in the public and private sectors. Fully equipped through the outcomes of the Transformative Destinations Program, we can navigate the shifting sands of the tourism business landscape.”
Travel Oregon is supporting WVVA’s involvement in the Transformative Destinations Program through its Regional Cooperative Tourism Program. “I’m excited for WVVA’s involvement in the Transformative Destinations Program. The innovative work we’re doing together with our regional partners to inspire travel that drives community enhancement and economic development has never been more important,” explains Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon. “One result of this past year is the opportunity to build tourism back better to aid our state’s economic recovery and increase the resiliency of our lands and people. It’s our opportunity to seize or to squander and WVVA’s embrace of the TTC’s Transformative Destinations Program serves to highlight Oregon’s leadership in defining the future of tourism.”
Building back better and improving the outcomes from tourism
Participating destinations can expect to benefit from active involvement in defining Regenerative Tourism Principles for Destinations, developing an action plan through an inclusive, stakeholder-driven process, and securing a license to use the TTC’s transformational travel curriculum to scale up transformational travel offerings among suppliers and host communities.
Additional enduring benefits for early adopter destinations include:
- Year-long Allyship support, including monthly check-ins with core team members. After the first year, participating destinations will be encouraged to remain active within the TTC and make demonstrable progress in implementing sustainable and regenerative tourism practices and transformational travel learnings.
- Recognition through the TTC website, social media, and media partners as one of the world’s first destinations to initiate a regenerative recovery.
- Improved competitive advantage in a sector where private sector companies are seeking to invest in destinations demonstrating leadership in sustainable destination management and regenerative tourism.
- An opportunity to use the Transformative Destinations Program to develop a marketing narrative for branding the destination as a thought leader in regenerative tourism and transformational travel.
- Speaking opportunity at the annual TTC forum to present the outcomes related to implementing the Regenerative Tourism Principles for Destinations.
- Improved preparedness for destination-level recognition through certification and award programs (e.g., Green Destinations Certification, Sustainable Destinations Top 100, etc.).
Destinations of all types may apply to participate in the Transformative Destinations Program. For more information or to apply, please visit the TTC website or contact Jake Haupert or Brian T. Mullis.