Tourism Excellence: Balance


By Nancy J. Reid and Lisa D. Smith

Build a sustainable and responsible community. Consider everything that is meaningful and important to your community, and steadily grow with that vision. A community is a personification of the people who live within it.

“Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.” – Jana Kingsford

Responsible and balanced tourism can become the major economic base of a town or region, but it doesn’t just happen. The public sector, private sector, and non-profit organizations need to work together with residents to design a sustainable tourism strategy. No one likes living in, or visiting, over-crowded, unkempt or neglected places – thus every improvement made for better tourism should also benefit the community. Once established, a good tourism strategy can last far longer than large industries that can come and go.

Planning and setting realistic goals, can help ensure your community meets both the visitors’ and residents’ needs. A list of suggested improvements, based on input from residents, local business owners, educational facilities and visitors can lead to a solid plan of action. Everything from widening streets, adding more community parks and attractions, to having ample parking spaces, clean-up crews, and emergency facilities may be needed.

Being flexible and willing to make needed changes according to an agreed plan can improve tourism-based revenue, as well as reduce any possible negative effects of unbalanced and unmanaged tourism. The plan must include room for growth, with an outlook to the longevity of both tourism based-businesses and local attractions.

Once an agreed plan is in place, dividing large projects into smaller tasks and adding deadlines, can help a community steadily move forward with a goal of addressing the most important needs of the community first. The makeup of the government agencies, private businesses, and non-profit organizations working together, will have much to do with the success of the tourism strategies and products offered. As visitors use a destination, the nature of the destination will change according to how the areas of natural beauty, museums, historical treasures, and shopping areas are managed.

A balanced strategy needs to look at more than dollars and cents. It needs to look at the social net benefit. This means deriving the most benefit from the products offered while causing the least amount of environmental and social damage. This is always a delicate balancing act and all those that are part of the planning process will need to recognize that individual business success will rely heavily on the protection of the resources. Careful coordination and cooperation of those making decisions will need to look at long-term needs while taking care of short-term needs and be dedicated to preserving and improving resources for the future.

Balancing occurs in the tourism business in several ways:

  1. There must be a balance between the business owners and the guests. If the products are too expensive, few visitors will return or recommend the destination. If the products and activities are too inexpensive, there is no profit to be made.


  1. Many governments tax those in the tourism industry, like room or bed tax. The cost of the taxes is passed down to the visitor which, if too high, can result in diminishing visitors and loss of businesses. The business owner needs to make a profit and the visitor needs to feel the product is a good value.


  1. The tourism business is about creating memories and building relationships. While efficiency is necessary, there needs to be a balance between efficiency and being hospitable and welcoming. Uniqueness is important, too. The more everything looks alike, the less memorable it becomes.


  1. Crime can destroy a successful tourism industry and visitors must perceive the destination as safe or customers will be lost, as well as possible investors into the region.

A regional approach to tourism allows several communities to work together so that between them all there is enough for at least a 3-day stay for the visitors. However, it is important that each attraction and commodity maintains its identity.

After years of working in the tourism and travel industry in five countries (USA, England, Kenya, South Africa and Mexico), Nancy & Lisa have seen that the benefits of this industry far outweigh any of the negative aspects, and that the negative aspects can be fixed or even avoided all together, if a smart strategy or plan is formulated, put in place, and then attended to with care. The plan should be Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Together, Nancy & Lisa have over 50 combined years of experience in travel, tourism and hospitality, sales and marketing, publishing and media.


This is the ninth and final article in the “Putting the “I” Back in Community” tourism excellence article series. For the first eight articles see:

Article 1: Building Excellence in Tourism  
Article 2: Building a Destination with a Sense of Place 
Article 3: Failure Leads to Success in Tourism: It’s a Detour 
Article 4: Speak With Good Purpose: Be Positive
Article 5: Tourism Excellence: This Is It– Stay Focused  
Article 6: Commitment: Make Your Vision Happen 

Article 7: Take Ownership of Your Community
Article 8: Flexibility: Be Willing to Do Things Differently    

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