Resilience and Sustainability in Tourism

Resilience and Sustainability in Tourism

Key Factors for Resilience and Sustainability in Tourism Businesses

For organizations (such as tourism businesses), the concept of resilience is a key part of what makes them stronger, and better prepared to respond to and recover from shocks (including - but NOT limited to - the COVID19 pandemic). To become resilient, businesses need both good planning and operational approaches ("hard factors"), and good people and relationship management approaches ("soft factors").
Antje Martins
Associate Lecturer
University of Queensland Business School

>> Download the presentation slides

 

Resilience: What do we know?

The concept of resilience - defined as "the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens" - is often associated with mental health, physical health, healing power of nature, knowledge and wisdom. It's what enables us, as individuals, to better respond to and bounce back from external shocks.

For organizations (such as tourism businesses), the concept of resilience is a key part of what makes them stronger, and better prepared to respond to and recover from shocks (including - but NOT limited to - the COVID19 pandemic).

In short, organizational resilience refers to an organization’s ability to:

  • Persist and withstand external environmental changes (Preparation)
  • Mitigate and cope with negative effects caused by the changes (Response)
  • Bounce forward to a new state for better future performance (Recovery)

Source: Jiang, Ritchie & Vereynne, 2019

 

Key Factors for Business Resilience

To become resilient, businesses need both good planning and operational approaches ("hard factors"), and good people and relationship management approaches ("soft factors").

The hard factors are those influencing business practices in a direct and fundamental way, and can be identified, measured, and analyzed:

  • Understanding available resources
  • Planning and processes

The soft factors are those elements that may be more complicated to define, because they involve people. These are what make an organization stronger in the long term, and better prepared to react to / recover from an external shock.

  • Culture and leadership
  • Human capital
  • Partnerships
  • Consistent information and communication
  • Flexibility in processes and resource use

 

Ideas and Solutions for Tourism Businesses

Related to some of the key resilience factors, here are a few lessons for tourism businesses. For more real-life examples and related resources, see the webinar recording (from around 14 minute mark).

Culture and Leadership

The culture of your organization is built through your efforts on a daily basis. It's your leadership during the normal times that enables your team to be resilient in times of crisis.

  • Take care of your people! (Not just when there is a crisis)
  • Work with your team to find suitable solutions and empower your team members to innovate
  • Be a good leader during normal times; not just in crisis

Human Capital

Ensuring the people who work in tourism are healthy and happy is a key part of a healthy recovery of our industry, and of making tourism more resilient.

  • Acknowledge challenges, show compassion
  • Help normalize talking about mental health
  • Add to the list of “things to keep post-pandemic”; If the shared experience of COVID19 made it possible for many organizations to be more proactive in addressing mental health, let's make sure we keep this awareness post-pandemic.

Partnerships

Cultivating positive relationships with your community members and industry colleagues is a key part of working on the resilience "soft factors".

  • Be a good partner to others (during good and bad times)
  • Reimagine collaboration
  • Be creative about how partnerships can help support and enhance community values

 

Resilience and Sustainability

Resilience, in addition to immediate responses to particular crises, requires long-term commitment to a more sustainable way of doing business.

The resilience factors that are key to organizations effectively preparing for, responding to and recovering from crises are also part of good sustainability management.

Having good management practices in place is critical to tourism businesses being sustainable and competitive - and - if you're interested in implementing such management practices at your own organization - that's what we are addressing in more depth in our upcoming course "Sustainability Management for Tourism Businesses"!