50. Sustainable Development Leveraging Travel & Tourism
In 2011, the Travel and Tourism sector generated $6 trillion to the global economy. In the US, it accounts for 13% of exports, 4% of employment. This important sector also provides opportunities for sustainability innovation and environmental conservation. President Obama signed the Travel Promotion Act in 2010 and The National Travel and Tourism Strategy was released in 2012 to create jobs and promote innovative solutions to sustainable economic development. Although the environmental impacts of travel and tourism are significant, they can be mitigated and resources can be protected and sustained by comprehensive management plans and utilization of efficient technologies. While many organizations are working on destination based sustainability solutions, more investment is needed to develop a network of practitioners and tools to provide the next level of integrated planning, ecosystem management and utilization of technology solutions that will enable sustainable development.
Solutions to global challenges require “successful technology innovation networks that foster increased federal lab engagement with innovation intermediaries including universities, industry consortia, economic development and state and local governments”.* This proposal addresses developing a framework for a partnership between Sustainable Silicon Valley, NASA and sustainable tourism partners to identify technology needs, develop solutions, and showcase new products. The project team will leverage the work of Sustainable Travel International, to deploy a strategy monitoring and management tool for tourism destinations. The project team will also will also focus on linking existing efforts to develop an innovation ecosystem leveraging NASA, SSV and other public/private partnerships. Sustainable Travel International has built and is beta-testing a Strategic Monitoring & Response for Tourism (SMART) system for tourism destinations. The system is founded on baseline criteria established by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and other global organizations and addresses environmental, economic, and social practices and sets a standard for international measurement of critical indicators of sustainability. The system includes an assessment of physical infrastructure, ecological well-being, social sustainability, economic resilience, and visitor experience. It promotes an adaptive management approach to tourism planning and policymaking. Through the SMART framework, baseline data on destination infrastructure such as the energy and water nexus, waste management, food production, transportation infrastructure and related core community services and indices, can be tracked, risks can be identified and a proactive and preventative strategic planning approach is possible that drives technology integration and infrastructure development.
Modeling the Innovation Ecosystem Cycle
Collaboration and Piloting - Utilizing the SMART Framework - Identify potential technology solutions aligning with the resources established through the Sustainable Silicon Valley partnership. Following this process, the project team will pilot the SMART Framework in domestic and international destinations identified in collaboration with Sustainable Silicon Valley and other partners. Piloting will involve working with key stakeholders to gather data on impacts, highlight risks, analyze and benchmark results.
Validation Workshops and Roadmap - Engage experts to facilitate an integrated Assessment Validation and Action Planning Workshop in each destination to validate the SMART results and develop the basis for an Action Plan and identify opportunities for technology solutions to support the entire destination.
Part 1 of the workshop will focus on Assessment Validation and Action Planning, including “visioning exercises” to allow stakeholders to develop their own vision and strategy for the destination utilizing the SMART data.
Part 2 will facilitate engaging stakeholders to propose community led activity/project ideas and green technology solutions. Focal points will include: Destination capacity infrastructure needs; Energy conservation and renewables; Source water conservation; sustainable water supplies (including desalination and wastewater/greywater reuse);Protected areas management/habitat restoration; Land-use planning (including public amenity spaces, ecological protected areas, stabilization , etc.); Waste management (reduction, reuse, recycling)
Strategic Planning and Implementation - A “roadmap,” including priority issues, possible interventions, proposed activities, timeframes and budgets, and performance indicators will be circulated among the stakeholders for their feedback. Smaller group review and working sessions will identify specific projects and initiatives.
The results of this stakeholder process will be analyzed and management plans developed that will include: targets; work plan (e.g., program of activities, timeframes, indicators); tourism plan (e.g., tourism product/infrastructure development and brand strategy document); financial plan (e.g., budget, donors and financing mechanisms); and, a destination governance plan (e.g., partners, structures and arrangements). Throughout the process potential partners and donors will be identified and invited to collaborate.
Public Awareness - Sustainability awareness campaigns (i.e. social media and short video) will support effective and scalable implementation. The content and key messages of the public education/awareness program will include tangible examples including: benefits and relevance of sustainability; regional and internationally-recognized examples of best practices; energy, water and resource conservation opportunities; broad-based technology solutions; and, the importance of sustainability indicators. *President's Lab to Market initiative
Why it should be recognized:
Building from the initial pilot with the leadership from Sustainable Silicon Valley and NASA, this program provides a standard approach and methodology that can be scaled and replicated in other regions across the US and around the globe and becomes self-sustaining. The concept for SMART destinations systems has the potential to be a global game-changing initiative.
Travel and tourism are engines of future job creation. This initiative will create collaboration across industries, spurring innovation and strategic investment, creating jobs, and promoting long term sustainable development thus meeting the increasing demands of the public for integrated social economic and environmental sustainability.
Commercial space (including space tourism) is a multi-billion dollar industry and has stimulated resurgence in STEM education, advanced manufacturing and helped to spur the economy. This proposed initiative will further NASA’s role as a catalyst in promoting sustainable solutions on earth while continuing its mission of exploration and discovery.