Working together for a new 2021-2025 tourism strategy for La Garrotxa14 Oct 0 Likes
La Garrotxa has had a tourism strategy since 2001 thanks to the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism's (ECST) accreditation of the Volcanic Region of La Garrotxa Natural Park. Over the last 20 years, and with this accreditation as its working model, the community's stakeholders, both public and private, have worked tirelessly together to develop this strategy across the area.
During this extensive period of time, many of the objectives have been met, and it is important to consider the overall balance of results for improving tourism sustainability from an environmental, social and economic point of view. This type of tourism model, of public and private sectors working together in harmony, has gained recognition at both the national and European levels.
Meanwhile, we only have ten more years until the deadline for reaching the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations in the 2030 Agenda. And so begins a decade of actions to accelerate the implementation of sustainable solutions aimed at tackling the major global challenges.
Apart from the need to rethink how tourism is managed in our territory, we must also be mindful of the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 health crisis. The pandemic has had an active influence on the tourism sector and people's relationship with nature, and has made it necessary to adapt to behavioural and consumer trends among tourists, which are changing on a local and global scale.
The rapid and constant changes that characterise the times we are living in mean that we need a new, proactive way of working, based on adaptive and agile management.
All of the above led us to reflect on the following questions:
Should we continue working with the current tourism management model that we believe to be valid and which has led to such good results? Or should we stop, analyse and propose a new model or work culture for managing our tourism that responds to all the aforementioned issues?
Answering these questions has not been easy, and even less so when the answer had to be approved by 48 public and private entities that work together to manage tourism in our county, grouped and coordinated under the supervision of the Turisme Garrotxa association.
In the end, the response to these questions has been what would be expected from a mature economy with a cohesive tourism policy, not to mention great participative work dynamics and excellent coordination between the stakeholders involved in this pairing of natural values and economic development through sustainable tourism.
Therefore, it was unanimously decided that we should work on a new 2021-2025 tourism strategy for La Garrotxa, which must be based on four pillars: participation, efficiency, agility and dynamism.
But to bring about a genuine transformation as we rethink tourism management, we need a change in the way we work that enables us to evolve towards a new work culture based on achieving objectives rather than actions carried out, and which allows us to adapt to changes that take place through a flexible strategy (Objective and Key Results). This new vision has been considered throughout the process of defining the new strategy, seeking maximum participation from the territory's stakeholders.
In this scenario, the Volcanic Region of La Garrotxa Natural Park and Turisme Garrotxa have faced this new challenge head on with the help of the more than 232 members, including experts from the tourism sector, institutions, tourism companies, the primary sector and the local population. With them, we have drawn up the most disruptive tourism strategy that La Garrotxa has ever known.
Participation has been the cornerstone of our efforts. Expert discussion groups, interviews with key stakeholders, and co-creation sessions with the local population and politicians have all been used in order to include different segments of the population. This has been complemented with specific training sessions for participants.
The new tourism strategy 2021-2025 for La Garrotxa defines a new mission and vision:
The tourism strategy for La Garrotxa has as its objective sustainable development focused on conservation of the region, mobility, visitor experience and health, so as to improve people’s quality of life and the natural environment, through strategic programmes and objectives involving alliances at county, national and international levels.
Moving towards a cohesive territorial management model that is a benchmark and built around sustainable tourism and conservation, applying new forms of governance, territorial transformation and sustainability for all those who live in and visit La Garrotxa.
The mission and vision defined above are based on eight interrelated TRANSFORMATIVE OBJECTIVES that respond the needs of the territory in advancing towards sustainable tourism in order to meet the principles defined in the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism (ECST) and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals laid out by the United Nations for the year 2030.
The eight objectives are:
- Achieving an organised and integrated ECST governance model.
- Positioning the ECST as a cohesive and identifiable element of sustainable tourism.
- Making mobility a part of the visitor experience.
- Recovering and strengthening the value of connecting with the land (respect for nature).
- Directly involving the user in the conservation process.
- Getting the local population and other sectors to value the tourism sector.
- Developing the tourism sector economically.
- Recognising and valuing health and healthy habits.
The task of defining the La Garrotxa tourism strategy for 2021-2025 has been complex, but at the same time rewarding. Linking the 4 elements (participation, efficiency, agility and dynamism), defined as fundamental by the very members who have worked on this project, the 5 sustainable tourism principles defined by the Europarc Federation within the European framework for European Charter for Sustainable Tourism accreditation, and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, has required dialogue, understanding and analysis. The result is a dynamic strategy, based on collective intelligence that shows respect for the local population and for the land itself.