Nicola de Palma

The paradox of international governmental tourism institutions: disconnected from the industry's major players

Nicola de Palma

The paradox of international governmental tourism institutions: disconnected from the industry's major players

International governmental tourism institutions (let the reader do the exercise of thinking of 1 or 2 of these), have been established with the objective of promoting sustainable tourism, fostering international cooperation, and supporting economic development in various regions of the world. However, a fundamental criticism of these institutions is their apparent disconnect with major players in the tourism industry, including large hotel corporations, airlines, and online booking platforms, who often do not actively participate in these organizations. This situation raises questions about the effectiveness and relevance of these institutions in an industry dominated by large private players.

International governmental tourism institutions have several key roles, including:

While these objectives are laudable, the execution of these objectives is often limited by the lack of participation and collaboration of the major players in the tourism industry.

Global tourism is dominated by corporate giants that control a significant portion of the market. These include hotel chains such as Marriott, Hilton and Accor; international airlines such as American Airlines, Emirates and Lufthansa; and digital platforms such as, Expedia and Airbnb. These private players have a considerable impact on the direction and evolution of global tourism, often surpassing the influence of government institutions, where they stand out:

Limitations of international governmental institutions

International governmental tourism institutions face several limitations that compromise their effectiveness in the tourism industry:

Case studies: disconnection and consequences

To improve the usefulness and relevance of international governmental tourism institutions, I believe that the following strategies should be considered:

In this context, it is crucial to recognize and congratulate the work developed by the Tourism and Society Think Tank (TSTT). Since its inception in 2020, the TSTT has proven to be an influential and committed voice for sustainable and responsible tourism development. Despite having limited resources compared to large government institutions and industry corporations, TSTT has managed to position itself as a benchmark in research and analysis of the interactions between tourism and society. Its dedication and innovative approach have allowed significant advances in the understanding of the social, economic and environmental impacts of tourism, showing that it is possible to generate positive change from an independent and academic perspective.

TSTT has faced the challenge of being a "David" in an industry full of "Goliaths". The organization has demonstrated that, through rigorous research, strategic collaboration and effective communication, it is possible to influence the global tourism agenda. Its reports and studies have provided a solid foundation for the development of more equitable and sustainable policies and practices, earning the respect and attention of key players in the sector. This constant struggle for fairer and more sustainable tourism, even in the face of the giant corporations that dominate the market, is a testament to the power of passion and professionalism.

In the future, it is essential that the Tourism and Society Think Tank continues to work with the same freedom and professionalism that has characterized its work so far. The independence of its research and the quality of its work are critical to maintaining its credibility and its ability to positively influence the tourism industry. By continuing to promote a vision of tourism that prioritizes the well-being of local communities and environmental conservation, TSTT can continue to be a beacon of hope and an engine of change in an ever-evolving industry. Congratulations on your achievements to date, and may you continue to move forward with the same dedication and innovative spirit.

Author: Nicola de Palma

Italian tourism and society journalist

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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