Categories Opinion Column

The Immense Responsibility of Developing a New Tourism Destination

Written By: Jesús Parrilla, Principal, Luxury Frontiers

In my last column, I explored the intricacies of crafting outdoor experiences, while touching on various key components mostly unknown to this discipline. Crafting outdoor experiences is a subset of the larger and more complex concept of tourism destination development.

As we have paid witness to over the past decade, when it comes to creating authentic, alluring, dynamic, and successful tourism destinations, the traveler’s journey goes far beyond the experience of a stand-alone, asset-centric hotel, lodge, camp, or interpretation center. Therefore, a sound and clearly defined holistic vision for the destination must be devised in which social, environmental, and economic impacts are factored in at the front end of development.

In addition to designing and executing award-winning luxury tented camps, hotels, and lodges, Luxury Frontiers provides strategic guidance and recommendations to destination management agencies, tourism authorities, landowners, hotel brands, and investors to achieve sustainable business plans and execute successful travel concepts in new destinations.

When we get involved in a new project, we understand the immense responsibility that comes with setting the course of a new travel destination, and the incalculable, long-lasting impact an unsuitable or erroneous vision can cause in the process. This understanding comes from our teams’ many years of first-hand experience in Africa and South America, operating and developing travel experiences and hospitality concepts in remote, ecologically, and culturally sensitive destinations, including UNESCO Heritage sites, national parks, nature, and private reserves.

To this end, our approach is to create a holistic development framework or methodology that centers around effectively and positively aligning the apprehensions, desires, and aspirations of all stakeholders and shareholders.

We strive to ensure that all of our tourism development projects help sustain these destinations and communities for future generations—with a sense of place while protecting the environment, integrating projects into their natural surroundings, implementing sustainable business practices, and supporting local communities and businesses to stand the test of time and generate prosperity at all levels of the destination.

Environmentally responsible initiatives and measures are injected into the design and soft programming of our projects, ranging from ensuring local stakeholders actively participate in using local and sustainable building materials, low-energy systems, and renewable energy sources wherever possible to designing onsite water treatment and outlining “Leave No Trace” principles for both development and ongoing operations.

Our process is cemented in a comprehensive “5 Ps” model, an offshoot of John Elkington´s “Triple Bottom Line” accounting framework: People, Planet, Place, Prosperity, and Perpetuity. We analyze each of those pillars on a situational and adaptive basis that looks at some of the following concepts:

People – respect, dignity, parity, fair remuneration and trade, local entrepreneurship, preservation of culture, traditions, and identity of local communities.

Planet – land stewardship, rewilding, care for natural resources, regeneration of vital resources, and low-impact operations.

Place – upmost respect for the locale, sense of place, contextually relevant, identity, and belonging.

Prosperity – economic and social advancement that occurs in harmony with nature. No stakeholders are left behind.

Perpetuity – strong fundamentals that withstand the test of time and do not fall prey to fads or trends.

Despite the many complexities and challenges that exist in developing well-rounded and successful strategies for destination development, we firmly believe that any new tourism project, whether public or private, can reconcile the greater good and financial achievements if the vision embraces the social, environmental, and economic impact.