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Background of the project and definition of terms

On this page you can learn more about the project background and related activities. Moreover, you can gain a better understanding of terms surrounding the concept of destination resilience such as hazard, risk, shock, stressor etc.

Tourism is a major source of income for numerous communities worldwide, particularly in regions with difficult accessibility, remoteness from economic markets and limited industry. However, many tourism destinations face complex and interconnected risks such as climate change, pandemics, ecosystem degradation, loss of nature and biodiversity (UNDRR, 2022). These issues are particularly demanding in a cross-cutting industry such as tourism which is highly dependent on intact ecosystems, global business activity and socio-cultural experiences. In the face of growing uncertainty and occurrence of disasters in tourism destinations, resilience has evolved as a key concept for dealing with these challenges. This rise in popularity, however, has led to the use of resilience as a buzzword in a variety of contexts, often lacking adequate concepts and methods.


This is why the project ‘Destination Resilience’ was initiated by Futouris and the German Committee for Disaster Reduction with support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The project forms part of the COVID-19 Response Measures for Tourism – For Crisis Response, Recovery and Resilience, a comprehensive programme funded by the German Federal Government. It aims to retain the structures of the tourism sector and to empower local actors to offer products and services in tourism. The programme reacts to challenges for the tourism sector caused by the pandemic in more than 20 partner countries that were most affected. Besides enabling local actors to reopen their tourism markets, it also aims to improve the social and ecological aspects of tourism in emerging economies as well as making the sector more resilient to crises. Futouris and DKKV have been working with partner destinations in the Dominican Republic, Namibia and Sri Lanka. Here, aspects of sustainable tourism development as well as topics such as risk reduction and disaster preparedness play a central role at the various levels of these destinations.


To get started, we will now take a closer look at the concepts that are central to understanding destination resilience.

What is a tourism destination?

A tourism destination is a system comprised of interrelated and interdependent organizational elements and social bonds that are subject to constant change imposed by internal and external driving forces. Actors are organised across a micro, meso and macro level and collaborate to supply the tourism product.

The Tourism Destination System
(Source: DKKV & Futouris 2022 from the Destination Resilience Analysis Guideline)

How can we define ‘risk’?

Risks have the potential to harm something of value in the tourism system. Sources of risks can be natural, human-made or socio-natural and include hazards of (UNISDR, 2009 / 2017):

  • geophysical origin (e. g. earthquakes, mass movements),
  • meterological or climatological origin (e. g. intense rainfall, storms, cyclones, droughts, wildfire),
  • hydrological origin (e. g. floods, landslides),
  • chemical / biological origin (e. g. diseases, insect infestations, chemical accidents),
  • environmental origin (e. g. environmental degradation, pollution),
  • societal origin (e. g. terrorist acts),
  • economic origin (e. g. financial crisis),
  • political origin (e. g. political unrest, riots),
  • infrastructural / technical origin (e. g. transportation accidents).

The potential adverse impacts threaten something of value in the tourism system. We distinguish between different dimensions of impacts for a tourism destination that include but are not restricted to impacts on:

  • built environment and infrastructure (i.e. damage or destruction of hotels),
  • human lives (i.e. safety, loss of lives, health),
  • economy (i.e. loss of income, loss of employment opportunities, worker migration to other sectors),
  • environment (i.e. loss of natural attractions, environmental degradation, loss of resources),
  • destination image (i.e. reputation, competitiveness),
  • community wellbeing.

Analysing Risk and Resilience in a Tourism Destination
(Source: DKKV & Futouris 2022 from the Destination Resilience Analysis Guideline)

What is a ‘hazard’?

It is important to distinguish hazards from risks (Renn, 20101). Hazards, however, encompass more than natural extreme events. Different types of hazards exist, including sudden shock events (e. g. landslides, earthquakes or terrorist attacks) as well as slow-onset stressors (e. g. environmental degradation, droughts, loss of biodiversity or economic decline) (IPCC, 2014; UNDRR & United Nations General Assembly, 2016).

The Tourism Destination with Shocks and Stressors
(Source: DKKV & Futouris 2022 from Brochure (English))

What is a ‘risk driver’?

Some trends, socio-economic conditions and global processes are significant drivers of risk. Risk drivers are particularly related to vulnerability but also influence hazards and the degree of exposure (UNDRR & United Nations General Assembly, 2016). They cover

  • physical aspects (e. g. poor design and construction of buildings or unregulated land use planning),
  • social aspects (e. g. poverty, inequality, urbanisation, migration, social unrest),
  • economic aspects (e. g. income structure, dependence on a single livelihood),
  • environmental aspects (e. g. poor environmental management, overconsumption of natural resources, environmental degradation, climate change).

How can ‘destination resilience’ be defined?

Destination resilience is the overall ability of people in a tourism destination (e. g. service providers, institutions, organisations) to deal with different risks while maintaining an acceptable level of functioning of the tourism system without compromising long-term prospects for sustainable development. Dealing with existing and emerging risks involves the ability to assess, plan and act in order to prepare for, prevent, adapt and respond to different sources of risks (based on UN, 2020; UN-Habitat, 2018).

For a more detailed description of the difference between sustainability and resilience and our understanding of how risk management principles and sustainability dimensions are interlinked please consult the detailed conceptual background on general and specified resilience in our Destination Resilience Analysis Guideline.

Linking Sustainability, Resilience Principles and Risk Management
(Source: DKKV and Futouris 2022 from the Destination Resilience Analysis Guideline)

1 Renn, O. (2010). Risk Governance: Coping with Uncertainty in a Complex World (Repr., digital print). Earthscan risk in society series. London: Earthscan

Photo credits

Title picture: DKKV (2021)