One of the main assets of any tourist destination is its residents and community. It is very important to take care of their well-being. It greatly impacts the tourism experience and contributes to the integrity of the destination. Prioritising community engagement will lay a foundation to establish a sense of purpose, shared values, resilience and legitimacy. Tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors that positively impacted communities, such as increased employment opportunities, income, promotion of regional culture etc. Moreover, prioritising communities also benefits the economy and promotes the destination’s resilience. On the contrary, tourism growth has put enormous stress on local land use and can lead to soil erosion and increased pollution.
While planning tourism zones, the main concentration remains economic development and revenue generation. However, a step toward a more community-inclusive approach will empower local communities and development of local attractions. Moreover, it will support small and medium enterprises while enabling sustainable tourism. Without considering the community, society will face economic inequality, financial leakage, housing unaffordability, resident and employee dissatisfaction, and a negative impact on residents and local communities.
Many strategies emphasise the social and cultural well-being of the communities while providing benefits to the tourism industry and economy. It is the government’s job to support destination management and include the well-being of communities in the framework. It is also important to protect its natural and cultural resources.
It is also in the community’s best interest to participate in planning destination management. The constructive feedback from locals to the authorities will guide them better. While planning tourism zones, the government should establish and plan investment laws and regulations to give incentives to stakeholders to prioritise and foster communities and their well-being. The community and tourism industry leaders must also build a network to engage stakeholders to implement the visions and goals of the destination. The Authorities should align communities and allocate resources accordingly.
Moreover, there should be a platform to receive consultation and feedback from the community. It will help mitigate risks and improve outcomes. To prioritise the community while planning, vulnerable groups must be supported and involved while focusing on the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises. When they are lifted, the economic growth of the community and the country will be seen. Lastly, all authorities must re-purpose tourism as a community supporter to spread a positive message to other areas and reach the full potential of tourism.