Published 07 April 2015

Evaluation of sustainable tourist destinations

Interim report 3 – Lessons learned

In the third interim report of the mission to evaluate Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth projects for sustainable tourist destinations, the focus is on the government's role in destination development. How can the Swedish government promote increased tourism exports and destination development after project completion?

In this, the third interim report for the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth’s Sustainable Tourist Destinations project, Growth Analysis has focused – in consultation with the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation – on the role of the public sector in destination development work. How can the public sector promote increased tourism exports and destination development after the project ends in 2015? Here, the five destinations included in the project constitute examples of different organisational forms and share the experiences they have gained during the project period.

One clear, overall experience is that destination development is part of social planning, which brings its own specific conditions. The destination organisations must work on a number of different levels, both vertically and horizontally. They often do not own the product (land, natural experience, etc.) that they market, and they frequently work across administrative borders. Collaboration and cross-border cooperation are therefore particu­lar­ly important when it comes to developing destinations. There is also a demand for destination developer training that includes both knowledge of tourism development and expertise in terms of social development, since collaboration between primarily the municipality and the tourism industry is essential in order to succeed with destination development. Here, training linked to tourism and destination development needs to be mapped, both at upper secondary and university level and in connection with vocational training.

The national authority group for the tourism industry can also play a clearer role when it comes to tourism, since many issues are of a cross-border nature. It can identify any over­laps, slack and conflicts of goals, and can provide the Government with suggestions for solutions as well as identifying opportunities for collaboration. A clearer directive from the Government Offices of Sweden would also legitimate tourism work within the various authorities. The Government should therefore give the national authority group for the tourism industry clearer directives and mandates.

The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth should be commissioned to develop the structures for the tourism industry, primarily by conveying knowledge and experience and by identifying routes for collaboration and consensus between – in the first instance – the intermediaries of municipalities and regions. When it comes to tourism and destination development, it is primarily the municipalities that are important, although the regions also have a key role to play.

There is currently no national overview of destination organisations with some form of public ownership, and mapping this would therefore be desirable.

Statistics also need to be improved. Proposals are needed for how these – and access to the necessary data – can be developed in order to meet the needs that exist.