Navigating the Future of Global Tourism: Insights from the International Symposium on Destination Stewardship

International Symposium on Destination Stewardship Inspires the Future of Global Tourism

Explore the transformative ideas from Canada’s International Symposium on Destination Stewardship, focusing on sustainable, inclusive, and prosperous global tourism.


In the picturesque setting of Gatineau, Quebec, the International Symposium on Destination Stewardship convened, marking a significant moment in the evolution of global tourism. Spearheaded by Destination Canada, this event brought together thought leaders, policymakers, and industry experts to forge a new path for a sector at a crossroads. The focus? To reimagine tourism in a way that’s not only economically prosperous but also inclusive, resilient, and sustainable. This article delves into the key insights and transformative ideas that emerged from this groundbreaking symposium.

The Seed of Change in Global Tourism

The International Symposium on Destination Stewardship represents a critical juncture in the global tourism narrative. For too long, the industry has been measured by numbers – the volume of tourists and revenue generated. However, this symposium challenged participants to think beyond these traditional metrics. It asked a pivotal question: How can tourism evolve to benefit not just economies but also communities and the environment?

The Vision of Destination Canada

Destination Canada, a Crown corporation dedicated to promoting tourism, has been at the forefront of this paradigm shift. Their vision is clear – to position Canada not just as a destination of choice but as a leader in sustainable and responsible tourism. This vision is about balancing economic growth with the wellbeing of local communities and the preservation of natural and cultural heritage.

Soraya Martinez Ferrada’s Opening Address

The Honourable Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Canada’s Minister of Tourism, set the tone for the Symposium with an inspiring opening address. She emphasized the need for a sustainable approach to tourism, one that aligns with the evolving expectations of travelers and the imperatives of climate change. Her message was clear: the future of tourism lies in its ability to be a force for good.

A New Path for Tourism: Inclusivity, Resilience, Prosperity

The Symposium’s agenda was built around the idea of creating a more inclusive, resilient, and prosperous tourism sector. This means looking at how tourism can better support local economies, protect and celebrate cultural and natural assets, and build resilience against global challenges like climate change.

Learning from the Past: Leveraging Existing Initiatives

A key theme of the Symposium was learning from existing initiatives. By examining past successes and failures, the event sought to build a more informed and effective approach to tourism development. This retrospective view is crucial in avoiding past mistakes and replicating success stories.

The Regenerative Approach to Tourism

One of the Symposium’s most compelling discussions centered around regenerative tourism. This approach goes beyond sustainability – it’s about leaving places better than we found them. It’s a holistic view that considers the long-term health of ecosystems, communities, and cultures.

Tourism’s Impact on Communities and Environment

The Symposium brought to light the profound impact tourism has on communities and the environment. It’s a double-edged sword – while it can bring economic benefits, it can also lead to over-tourism, cultural erosion, and environmental degradation. Balancing these impacts is key to the future of tourism.

Canadian Residents’ Perspective on Tourism

Recent research involving over 15,000 Canadians revealed that 82% view tourism positively. This statistic underscores the potential of tourism as a unifying force. However, it also highlights the need for a model of tourism that Canadians can be proud of – one that respects their communities and natural landscapes.

Redefining Success in the Tourism Industry

The Symposium urged a redefinition of success in tourism. Moving away from volume and revenue as sole indicators, it advocated for metrics that also consider social, cultural, and environmental impacts. This shift is crucial for the long-term sustainability of the industry.

Global Demand for Community-Centric Tourism

Globally, there’s an increasing demand for tourism that places communities at its heart. This shift is driven by travelers seeking more authentic and meaningful experiences, as well as by the growing recognition of the rights and roles of local communities in tourism.

The Symposium as a Global Touchpoint

The Symposium served as a global touchpoint, a place where diverse voices from across the world converged to shape the future of tourism. It was a platform for sharing ideas, learning from other industries, and forging new paths for industry growth and resilience.

Marsha Walden’s Insights on Global Tourism

Marsha Walden, President and CEO of Destination Canada, shared her insights on global tourism. She emphasized the need for a regenerative approach that supports people, place, and prosperity. Her vision for Canada as a global leader in destination development was both ambitious and inspiring.

Collaborative Efforts for Progressive Tourism

The Symposium highlighted the importance of collaboration in achieving sustainable tourism goals. It brought together stakeholders from various sectors, demonstrating that the future of tourism is not just the concern of the industry but of society at large.

Tourism as a Sustainable Force: Minister Ferrada’s Vision

Minister Ferrada’s vision for sustainable tourism development was a key takeaway from the Symposium. She stressed the importance of ensuring that tourism remains a sustainable force, one that aligns with global sustainability goals and the expectations of modern travelers.

The Role of Thought Leaders and Global Partners

The Symposium featured a diverse array of thought leaders and global partners, each bringing unique perspectives on how to make tourism a force for good. Their discussions ranged from climate change and community engagement to the preservation of cultural and natural heritage.

Tourism and Climate Change: A Crucial Dialogue

A crucial part of the Symposium’s agenda was the dialogue on tourism and climate change. Speakers addressed how the industry can adapt to and mitigate its impact on the climate crisis, underscoring the urgent need for action in this area.

Innovative Community Engagement in Tourism

Innovative community engagement strategies were a focal point of the Symposium. Speakers shared insights on how to involve communities in tourism planning and development, ensuring that tourism benefits are widely and fairly distributed.

Preserving Cultural and Natural Heritage

The preservation of cultural and natural heritage was a recurring theme. The Symposium explored how tourism can contribute to the protection and celebration of these assets, rather than their exploitation.

Destination Development: Canada’s Strategic Approach

Destination Canada’s strategic approach to destination development was showcased at the Symposium. This approach is about more than marketing; it’s about thoughtful, sustainable development that benefits both visitors and locals.

A Regenerative Approach to Tourism in Canada

Destination Canada’s latest document, “A Regenerative Approach to Tourism in Canada,” was a highlight of the Symposium. This comprehensive guide offers principles and case studies on how tourism can support people, place, and prosperity.

Destination Canada: A Profile

Destination Canada’s role as a leader in global tourism was evident throughout the Symposium. As a Crown corporation, its mission is to enhance the wealth and wellbeing of Canadians through tourism, while also enriching the lives of visitors.

The Future of Business Events in Canada

The Symposium also touched on the future of business events in Canada. Destination Canada’s Business Events team is leveraging global market analysis to align international events with Canada’s economic priorities, showcasing the country’s innovation and expertise.


The International Symposium on Destination Stewardship marked a significant step forward in the journey towards a more responsible and sustainable future for global tourism. It highlighted the need for a paradigm shift – from viewing tourism merely as an economic activity to recognizing it as a catalyst for positive change, benefiting communities, environments, and economies alike. The discussions and insights from this event underscore the potential of tourism to be a force for good, fostering inclusivity, resilience, and prosperity.


What is the International Symposium on Destination Stewardship?

The International Symposium on Destination Stewardship is a gathering organized by Destination Canada, focusing on the future of global tourism. It aims to redefine tourism with a focus on sustainability, community engagement, and economic prosperity.

How is Destination Canada influencing global tourism?

Destination Canada is influencing global tourism by advocating for a regenerative approach to tourism. This involves promoting sustainable practices, encouraging community involvement, and focusing on the long-term wellbeing of destinations.

What are the key goals of the Symposium?

The key goals of the Symposium are to challenge the traditional metrics of tourism success, promote sustainable and community-centric tourism practices, and encourage collaboration across various sectors for the betterment of the industry.

How does regenerative tourism differ from traditional tourism?

Regenerative tourism goes beyond sustainability. While sustainable tourism aims to minimize negative impacts, regenerative tourism seeks to leave destinations better than they were found. It focuses on restoring and enhancing local communities, environments, and cultures.

What role do communities play in the new tourism model?

Communities play a central role in the new tourism model. The focus is on ensuring that tourism development benefits local communities, respects their cultures and traditions, and involves them in decision-making processes.

How is Destination Canada promoting sustainable business events?

Destination Canada is promoting sustainable business events by aligning international events with Canada’s economic priorities and focusing on sectors that showcase the country’s innovation and expertise. This approach aims to create events that are not only economically beneficial but also sustainable and aligned with global best practices.

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