Iterative strategy development in tourism industry with a focus on sustainability


A newly established tourism destination team faces multiple challenges:

  • Dependency on public funding
  • The need to cooperate with various public institutions (universities, nature parks etc.) that have very different interests
  • A multi-faceted political landscape where several regional players want to be at the forefront of public recognition – even though the perception of the region precludes the separation into different entities
  • The recognized need to develop tourism in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner, precluding damage to nature and social infrastructure of the region‘s inhabitants
  • A young, growing team with changing composition

Our Approach

The team is very purpose-driven and sees ESG topics as crucial to their purpose without naming them such.Therefore, we started with:

  • A Purpose and Value Proposition Canvas to identify what the team finds purposeful, key customer and stakeholder groups and the value-add the team would bring to each of those groups in line with the team purpose
  • Design Thinking elements with empathy interviews, persona creation, prototypes and testing of those prototypes for different offers regarding sustainable, eco-friendly tourism that involves the social landscape of the region
  • The creation of a strategy road map and iterative implementation planning including KPIs for three years
  • Establishment of a clear team structure with team canvas to keep focus
  • Enablement and training for team leadership (digital leadership skills, project management, marketing, personal development and resilience, stakeholder management, presentation and persuasivness in writing, communication skills)
  • Leadership coaching for team development


  • Growth from a team that manages part of a region to a team that manages the entire region plus a neighbouring one in 1,5 years
  • Solid positioning of ESG tourism offer with various stakeholder groups (public and private sector)
  • Measurable increase in touristic activity of the predefined customer groups even during COVID

Lessons learned

  • Go for bold—even if it sounds idealistic. When the team started thinking about its purpose and how they wanted it to come to life, ESG and sustainability were still nice-to-have topics. Now, they have moved to the forefront of the agenda!
  • Structure helps every team. Working through the central elements of team governance and collaboration structure and making them stick, is still a good recipe for success
  • Good leadership also means to be decisive when things do not work in a team. Making tough personnel decisions ultimately aids team success
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