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Destination Planning

Tourism can and will evolve with or without planning, however the sustainability of a destination depends on whether the type and scale of tourism is best suited to the destination. Effective destination management relies on an iterative and continual planning process that integrates tourism into a community’s social, economic and environmental aspirations. Tourism destination planning is an area which has attracted significant research and analysis, summarised in the following sub-sections of Destination Planning:

Effective destination management looks at the strategic direction for future development, marketing and management of tourism where decision making is based on an assessment of the best available knowledge. In short, effective destination planning should:

  • Be collaborative process that ensures the engagement, participation and commitment of all relevant stakeholders;
  • Be a coordinated approach that is managed based on clearly defined processes and frameworks;
  • Be based on an understanding of existing internal and external operating environments of the destination;
  • Be based on a sound understanding of tourism supply and demand forecasts for the destination;
  • Consider all relevant information including market research, stakeholder values, the planning environment and available resources and assets;
  • Develop a clear and agreed strategic direction for the destination including a tourism vision, goals, strategies and actions, brand and positioning, roles and responsibilities, ongoing management processes and performance measures;
  • Result in the development of key planning and strategic documents including plans for destination management, ongoing research, strategic marketing, risk identification and management;
  • Be used to inform all phases of destination management including ‘Implementation’ and ‘Destination Performance’;
  • Be an ongoing or cyclical process, where plans and strategies are regularly reviewed to ensure relevance within the changing environment.

Elements of effective destination planning can be achieved through three steps – the situation analysis phase, the planning process and ongoing engagement. Further information on these steps is provided in the links below along with specific information, tools and resources to assist destination managers.


Browse featured case studies: 

Public/Private Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism

The objective of this report is to provide a framework for the sustainable development of the travel and tourism industry in the APEC region, through public/private partnerships, and to deliver a sustainability strategy for tourism destinations.

by Terry De Lacy, Marion Battig, Stewart Moore, and Steve Noakes

Strategic Issues for Australian Tourism 2008

This study aims to assist the development of a future national tourism strategy and research agenda and represents a typical but vital stage of a tourism visioning process. It provides an overview of four industry workshops hosted in late 2008 by STCRC in partnership with Tourism Australia. The workshops brought together 82 key tourism representatives from a broad cross-section of the industry. The goal was to develop a vision and identify key strategic issues, pressing policy objectives and research and development requirements for the Australian tourism industry. In particular, the workshops aimed to ascertain the industry’s opinion on core research priorities and to support the development of a national tourism research agenda, including the medium to long term research priorities that might be relevant to the role of a CRC or similar agency, in the future. It builds on a previous STCRC report Aanalysis of National, State, Regional and Local Tourism Strategies and Plans: Identification of Strategic Issues .

by Char-lee McLennan

Tourism Destination Modelling: Building a Sustainable Planning Tool for Australia Tourism Destination

The Ningaloo Destination Model is a tourism planning tool for the Ningaloo Coast region of Western Australia that assesses the economic, social and environmental impacts of different planning decisions and events. This report describes the features of the tourism destination model, and analyses its application in the region and to other parts of Australia.

by Tod Jones, David Wood, Michael Hughes, Tien Pham, Daniel Pambudi, Ray Spurr, Larry Dwyer, Margaret Deery and Liz Fredline


Browse Destination Planning Case Studies:

Situation Analysis

Planning Process

Ongoing Engagement