Tourism destination sustainability plans


Sustainability, along with digitalisation, is one of the backbones of the so-called “European Recovery and Resilience Facility” (RRF). The RRF has four main objectives: promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU; strengthening the adjustment capacity and resilience of the Member States; mitigating the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis; and supporting the green and digital transition. All this considers sustainability in its environmental, economic and social dimensions. Moreover, the perspective of sustainability is included in almost all the other funds and programmes of the European Union, such as REACT-EU, Horizon Europe or the new FEDER and ESF programming period, among others.

As the plans have been approved with each Member State, the various individual aid instruments have been specified for both the public and private sectors. For the time being, certain calls for applications are open or planned that we feel warrant special attention. One of them, particularly relevant in Spain, where Tourism carries such a great weight and has been one of the sectors most affected by the pandemic, is the initiative of the department of the Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism aimed at local and supra-local entities in tourism areas, called Tourism Destination Sustainability Plans.

In addition, two ordinary and a further two extraordinary calls have already been published and concluded, along with other complementary actions such as the specific actions for Intelligent Tourism Destinations (Destinos Turísticos Inteligentes) (DTI) or the Camino de Santiago.

The ultimate purpose of this call is to transform our tourism destinations and focus them on greater environmental, territorial, social and economic sustainability to activate their recovery and increase their capacity to resist potential threats in the future through investment in green transition, energy efficiency, digital transformation and improved competitiveness, with particular attention being paid to actions with eco-labels 050, 035 and 073.

At Auren, we have developed our own methodology for preparing these plans, emphasising key aspects in order to be able to successfully participate in the call. The most important elements we take into account are the following:

  • Identification of the problem or specific needs of the destination
  • Lining up the diagnosis with other destination tourism planning instruments
  • Participation model developed at the destination, permanent or specific, for diagnosis
  • SWOT/CAME analysis
  • Destination Tourism Model and Positioning
  • Strategic Objectives, Actions and Measures
  • Master Plan and Scorecard

Apart from these contents, there are two key elements to be considered in the Plans:

  • Management Model, defining the technical and human resources needed for implementing the plan of the management entity itself and their possible extension or outsourcing.
  • Participatory and Communication Model, defining the system for channelling the participation of the local actors in the execution of the plan, and the communication and dissemination procedures for its visibility.

Regardless of the access to these funds, we are convinced of the opportunity and strategic value per se of carrying out this diagnosis and planning exercise if done with the methodological rigor required.

Antonio Viader, partner at Auren Consultores, Auren Spain