New Sustainable Tourism program charts course for travel’s future
By Torie Anderson
At the intersection of travel and sustainability is sustainable tourism, a response to the growing need for the travel industry to ensure host communities receive socioeconomic benefits and are protected from adverse environmental effects. As business rebounds in the pandemic’s fourth year, tourism professionals are strategizing to reduce the “invisible burden” of tourism and address unprecedented challenges.
The Sustainable Tourism Asset Management Program (STAMP) – part of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business – recently launched Sustainable Tourism Destination Management, a self-paced online course designed to train hospitality and tourism leaders in managing destination assets.
Delivered by eCornell, the course equips professionals working in a wide array of destinations with data-driven methods for measuring the impacts of tourism, managing natural resources, creating climate action plans and tracking economic development goals.
"Sustainability is essential to the future of tourism,” said Mark Milstein, clinical professor of management and faculty director of the Cornell Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise, where STAMP is located. “This program gives industry professionals the tools to ensure the competitiveness of tourist destinations in a manner that is strategic, holistic, and mindful of the relationship between visitors and residents.”
The course provides students with the tools and guidance to manage unaddressed costs of tourism operations at the local level and seeks to ensure that well-trained local teams can apply equitable and inclusive approaches to destination management. Students can use the program’s case studies, resources, and exercises immediately in their professional settings.
"Sustainable tourism is dependent on preserving our natural and cultural capital to ensure the economic viability of travel destinations. It is essential that hospitality and tourism leaders balance the promotion of tourism with the protection of destinations,” said Megan Epler Wood, STAMP managing director and the course’s lead instructor. “This new destination management course empowers professionals to build cooperation at the regional level to protect vital environmental, social and cultural heritage while facilitating inclusive community processes.”
Participants worldwide can enroll and gain access to training from more than two dozen renowned experts in the field, including Milstein and Epler Wood. The instructors partnered to develop the program and provide detailed, practical guidance on managing the invisible burden of tourism, a concept introduced in the Cornell Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise report “Destinations at Risk: The Invisible Burden of Tourism.”
The course was created with financial support from the German Agency for International Cooperation and the Travel Foundation. At least 1,000 students who live in developing countries and have financial barriers to enrollment will receive no-cost access to the program through the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations and the Travel Foundation.
“There are elements of the program that are important for those who want to understand what sustainability looks like at the cutting edge and not simply talk about green operations,” said Milstein. “The program is thoughtful, and it prepares students not just for the most basic conversations in this space but for much more significant ones that can put them in leadership positions on the subject matter.”