Governments are slowing sustainable development in destinations by continually swapping tourism ministers and changing personnel in tourism departments.
Global Sustainable Tourism Council chief executive Randy Durband said: “We see ministers of tourism come and go all over the world. We see too much rotation.
“The destinations doing sustainability well are maintaining continuity. They see the wisdom of keeping people in place. All the success stories [in sustainable tourism] are where destinations have the same management in place [over a period].
“Most people in tourism departments have been there an average two years. All sustainability projects that are successful take many years.”
Durband insisted: “Tourism is more complex than people are aware. Governments don’t know what they don’t know.
“We talk now about over-tourism all over the world. The main cause is not managing tourism well.”
Dan Jonasson, consultant to Region Vasterbotten – a co-operative tourism development body in northern Sweden – told the conference: “The government does not understand tourism, so it is very difficult for them to understand sustainable tourism.”
He added: “Sustainability has become a commodity, and everyone wants to be on the market. It is becoming difficult to know what to believe in.”