Encyclopedia Friday, October 13, 2017 18556 hits

Destination renewal

Stephan Reinhold, University of St. Gallen


Reinhold, S. (2017). Destination renewal. In AIRTH Encyclopedia of Innovation in Tourism and Hospitality. Retrieved: <insert-date>, from http://www.airth.global


Most tourist destinations serve not just one type of tourist and tourist experience. Classic destination management approaches have thus conceptualized destinations as an amalgam of all attractions, services and other tourism resources necessary to serve a variety of tourist behavior and experiences[1]: The tourist destination as the single strategic unit to manage and develop.

However, in recent years, this “one size fits all” approach that muddles all aspects of tourist experiences and tourism production together in a single strategic entity (“the destination”) has come under criticism[2]: While planning for and developing the destination as a single entity promises to make best use of available resources by increasing budgets and coordinating efforts, it complicates strategic decision, may hamper innovation efforts, and risk blinding service providers, tourist organizations, and policy actors for the versatility of travel patterns and forms of tourism occurring in a destination[3][4][5]. The struggle of DMOs is testament to those problems[6].

Relevance for tourism

To address this issue, Beritelli, Reinhold, Laesser, and Bieger[7] propose a new approach to destination development and renewal practically tested in dozens of destinations on three different continents. Those authors approach, the St. Gallen Model for Destination Management grounds in a different, more differentiated understanding of how different forms of tourism develop and evolve in destinations. Instead of using standardized destination management structures to delineate destination space, the authors let travelers define destination space. After all, tourists care little about the structures tourism industry defines to produce services and market those to them. They move about freely in and with the mass of other visitors in pursuit of memorable holiday experiences. By means of their presence, they activate specific tourism production networks or service chains that economically benefit from those visitors’ presence[8][9].

Relevance for tourism innovation

In line with those insights, the destination is not a single entity. The destination is a heterogeneous space of flows activated by visitors in a certain space for certain periods of time[10][11]. While this sounds awfully academic, it is actually very practical and opens up a new perspective on innovation, collaboration, and renewal in destinations:

[1] Tourists behavior in space can be observed and managed as visitor flows in space as recently summarized for an industry audience by Beritelli, Crescini, Reinhold, and Schanderl[12]: “In a region, city or county: flows concentrate in particular areas, while other areas are free of or count very few visitors; each flow is characterized by a specific visitor profile, activity set, and sequence; visitors of similar profiles and activities align themselves in repeated flows, constant in space and time. […] We can follow their [visitors’] spatial paths and analyze what visitors do whenwhere and with whomhow much they spend, etc. This provides a reasonable approximation of travel reality and explains how a destination is shaped from a visitor’s perspective”.

[2] In consequence, the destination is not a single strategic unit but a portfolio of different visitor flows that represent different forms of tourism, each with a unique life cycle and each of interest to different firms basing their business on the presence of specific flows. Innovation and management efforts concentrate on the activities necessary to develop specific flows and join only those actors with a genuine strategic interest in a specific flow[13].

[3] Destination renewal efforts can still draw on cooperation, bundle resources, and benefit multiple actors and forms of tourism in destinations. Beritelli and colleagues[14] suggest that a strategic analysis of problems and challenges across the portfolio of flows in a given destination area can point strategic initiatives that finds support with a broad spectrum of actors and stakeholders. They all benefit because the visitor flows they cater to all have similar issues and benefit from a concerted effort (e.g., a new infrastructure project).


In sum, the flow-based view of the destination…

…helps tourism actors to appreciate the diversity of different forms of tourism in a destination. The shift of perspective demonstrates practitioners times and again that tourism in “their destination” is much more diverse and complex than they had anticipated.

…devises projects and tasks based on tourists’ and visitors’ actual behavior in space. It is thus demand-driven and more realistic than classical models of destination management and marketing.

…manages the economic prospect of destinations as a portfolio of flows with unique lifecycles. This helps identify risks (e.g., dependence of a large number of firms on a mature visitor flow, which is likely to vanish without renewal) and opportunities (e.g., nascent tourist behavior worthwhile developing into significant flows).

…and concerts innovation efforts among actors that have a common interest in establishing new flows or renewing existing ones. Hence, not all stakeholders need to agree and collaborate at once. Those with a common agenda work on strategic projects as it is meaningful for their business and visitor flows.


[1] Buhalis, D., Marketing the competitive destination of the future. Tourism management, 2000. 21(1): p. 97-116.

[2] Beritelli, P., et al., The St. Gallen Model for Destination Management. 1 ed. 2015, St. Gallen: IMP-HSG.

[3] Beritelli, P. and S. Reinhold, Explaining decisions for change in tourist destinations: The garbage can model in action, in Managing Change in Tourism: Creating Opportunities-Overcoming Obstacles, P. Keller and T. Bieger, Editors. 2010, ESV: Berlin. p. 137-152.

[4] Beritelli, P. and S. Reinhold, Herausforderungen heutiger Destination Management Organisationen und der neue Weg mithilfe des St. Galler Modell für Destinationsmanagement, in Zukunftsgestaltung im alpinen Tourismus: Schweizer Jahrbuch für Tourismus 2013/2014, T. Bieger, P. Beritelli, and C. Laesser, Editors. 2014, ESV: Berlin. p. 115-134.

[5] Reinhold, S., C. Laesser, and P. Beritelli, 2014 St. Gallen Consensus on destination management. Journal of Destination Marketing & Management, 2015. 4(2): p. 137-142.

[6] Pike, S. Destination Marketing Organizations–Research opportunities in an era of uncertainty. in Book of Abstracts-6th International Conference on Tourism. 2016. International Association for Tourism Policy (IATOUR).

[7] Beritelli, P., et al., The St. Gallen Model for Destination Management. 1 ed. 2015, St. Gallen: IMP-HSG.

[8] Reinhold, S., C. Laesser, and P. Beritelli, 2014 St. Gallen Consensus on destination management. Journal of Destination Marketing & Management, 2015. 4(2): p. 137-142.

[9] Laesser, C. and P. Beritelli, St. Gallen Consensus on Destination Management. Journal of Destination Marketing & Management, 2013. 2(1): p. 46-49.

[10] Beritelli, P., et al., The St. Gallen Model for Destination Management. 1 ed. 2015, St. Gallen: IMP-HSG.

[11] Beritelli, P., T. Bieger, and C. Laesser, The New Frontiers of Destination Management Applying Variable Geometry as a Function-Based Approach. Journal of Travel Research, 2014. 53(4): p. 403-417.

[12] Beritelli, P., et al., The Visitor Flow Approach: How flow-based destination management blends theory and method for practical impact, M. Kozak, Editor. in press, Springer.

[13] Beritelli, P., et al., The St. Gallen Model for Destination Management. 1 ed. 2015, St. Gallen: IMP-HSG.

[14] Beritelli, P., et al., The St. Gallen Model for Destination Management. 1 ed. 2015, St. Gallen: IMP-HSG.






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