Applicants must apply by 31 July 2023
A new generation of destination managers is required to manage booming travel demand, reduce tourism’s carbon footprint and adapt destinations to the growing impacts of climate warming.
That is according to Megan Epler Wood, an expert in sustainable tourism at Cornell University in the US, which has joined the Travel Foundation to offer more than 800 free scholarships in sustainable destination management.
The online courses are funded by the German international development agency GIZ and would otherwise cost US$699. Applications must be submitted by 31 July 2023.
Epler Wood hailed the scholarships as groundbreaking, saying: “Our goal is to transform destination management and help change the way we monitor and measure tourism. There needs to be a new way of looking at destination management and how travel can become sustainable. Destination management organisations [DMOs] need new skills. The scholarships are for professionals and students who will have a new type of education in managing destinations.”
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Epler Wood noted tourism numbers are “getting very close to where they were in 2019” when “there was more and more stress on major destinations like Venice [pictured] and Amsterdam”.
She said: “There was progress putting together demand management systems in from 2017 to 2019. Spain was looking at managing tourism demand. Florence was close to demand management to limit crowds at its major museums and manage over-tourism at major attractions.
“There are a lot of pressures to regenerate demand now, and we have to be generous about that so employers can run businesses again. We need to create a nucleus of people who can see the [tourism] model has to be adapted. This has to be just the beginning.”
The 40-hour, eight-week course is aimed at students and those working at DMOs, ministries of tourism, municipal governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and in protected areas.
It’s broken into eight modules, including on measuring and managing “the invisible burden” of tourism which was the subject of a joint Travel Foundation-Cornell report in 2019, managing climate impacts, defining and achieving economic development goals, developing destination management capacity, and equitable and inclusive management.
The course forms part of Cornell’s Sustainable Tourism Asset Management Programme (STAMP), at which Epler Wood is managing director, and was established by her and Mark Milstein, director of the Centre for Sustainable Global Enterprise at the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell.
Milstein described the course as “designed to deliver vital tools to address a global skills gap in destination management”.
Travel Foundation chief executive Jeremy Sampson said: “The scholarship places are a fantastic opportunity to ensure cost is no barrier to accessing this learning.”
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