The convergence of sustainability and tourism has emerged as an impactful area of research in the 21st century, presenting a myriad of opportunities and challenges. In an era where the effects of overtourism and environmental degradation have become starkly apparent, sustainable destination management is pivotal in ensuring the longevity of tourist locations (Koens, Postma, & Papp, 2018).
Sustainable destination management encapsulates a holistic approach. This approach navigates the intricate balance between stimulating economic growth, advocating for environmental conservation, and endorsing active community involvement – the three pillars of sustainability (Bramwell & Lane, 2013).
The recent management strategies adopted by the Azores, a group of Portuguese islands, provide an inspiring example of this balance. To manage growing tourism numbers and prevent environmental degradation, the Azores implemented the “Azores for All” initiative in 2019, fostering sustainable and accessible tourism. This included developing sustainable accommodation options, ensuring accessibility for all tourists, and prioritizing local involvement in tourism planning and operations (Azores for All, 2019).
On the economic front, the success of the “Azores for All” initiative stimulated local economic growth by fostering an inclusive tourism economy and creating job opportunities for the local community (Azores for All, 2019).
The environmental conservation efforts have also been commendable. To minimize the carbon footprint, the Azores have encouraged the use of renewable energy in the tourism sector and focused on waste management, water conservation, and sustainable transport (Azores Government, 2020).
Moreover, the initiative has ensured that the local community remains at the heart of these development plans. It encourages local businesses and stakeholders to partake in decision-making processes related to tourism, promoting a sense of ownership and aligning development with community needs (Azores Government, 2020).
Therefore, the Azores exemplifies how strategic destination management can contribute to creating sustainable and thriving tourist locations, demonstrating the vitality of the sustainable destination management model for modern tourism.
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