Tourism is essential to the livelihood of destinations around the world. As the sector continues to recover from the pandemic, travel and tourism contributed 7.6 percent to global GDP in 2022. And industry experts expect this number will continue to rise, reestablishing the sector as a critical economic driver and vehicle for national development, particularly in developing countries.
But for all its benefits, tourism can have unintended consequences, in form of increasing pressures that fall on local communities, the natural environment, and wildlife ecosystems, if not managed responsibly.
As destinations around the globe consider how to embrace tourism’s positive benefits while minimizing the potential negative consequences, new solutions are emerging. As noted by the United Nations Environmental Programme, a key solution to reduce the negative environmental, economic, and social impacts of tourism is by thinking local. Something that that can be done by implementing sustainable sourcing and procurement procedures in the tourism supply chain — a practice increasingly called “local sourcing.”
Today, there is a growing call for destination leaders from DMOs and DMCs, tourism business owners, and governments to take action, assess their supply chains, and identify opportunities to create more locally sourced tourism strategies.
Local sourcing will play an important role in promoting sustainable tourism development and significantly contributing to the socioeconomic vitality of a destination. Tourism businesses that purchase supplies locally create income opportunities for small-scale entrepreneurs and communities, thus stimulating the local economy. In addition to reducing tourism leakage, this promotes economic diversification and helps to reduce poverty and unemployment, particularly in developing countries. Sourcing locally also fosters cultural preservation and community engagement by showcasing and incorporating local traditions, crafts, and cuisines.
Yet the path to determining a local sourcing strategy can seem daunting and complex to a destination just starting to explore a more sustainable tourism strategy. How can they develop a plan that takes the unique aspects of their geographic location, natural resources, and the needs of their local communities into account? And most importantly, how can they quantifiably measure the success of their efforts?
In this soon to be released report, Skift Advisory and the Sustainable Tourism Global Center (STGC), initiated by the Ministry of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, offer guidance on how destination leaders can create a new path to sustainably benefit from tourism, centered on sourcing locally — one that purposefully integrates the social-cultural, environmental, and economic implications of sustainable supply chains in ways that improve the health of the destinations where they occur. The report also highlights best practices from successful destinations around the world, inspiring destination leaders to reimagine what their local sourcing should look like and how they can optimize their economic return on investment while still protecting natural and cultural heritage.