sttachangemakers discussing risks & uncertainties affecting our destinations.

Risks for tourism destinations and operators may arise from internal (organisational) sources or from external events(community events such as the impact or threat of a disaster).

They are not simply bigger events; they have a significant impact upon people and infrastructure and thus upon tourism facilities, operations, local communities and visitors. They also produce long-term problems of restoration and rehabilitation and so may affect the return to normal of tourism activities for a considerable period of time. 

In addition, most or all of the businesses reliant on tourism will also be impacted to a significant extent.

When disaster strikes a destination, who is at risk?

All the Tourism stakeholders from the local communities, tourism businesses the tourists and Environment are affected by disasters that strike a destination. However, some elements are more exposed and vulnerable to the risks than others

In what ways do you think local communities can help tourism in times of risk and uncertainty?

Communities can contribute to reducing harm during a crisis, but they have to feel included in the tourism cycle and not feel used for crisis management purposes. 

Inclusivity entails having a stake in destination management and development. They can be involved in decision-making processes, business ownership and job opportunities at the destinations. 

Another way for the communities to get involved in risk management is by taking ownership and valuing their natural resources. Defending and speaking out when they see their resources overexploited or endangered. 

The community can assist in risk management is by uniting and identifying themselves to a recognized union that can raise their issues and represent them in the decision-making process with other stakeholders. 

COVID 19 has shown that innovation can cushion a destination from a crisis. Local communities can devise ways of offering their products and experiences in different forms in order to withstand and survive the post-disaster season. 

On the other hand, the capacity of the local community to respond will depend on the severity as well as the frequency with which the risk occurs. 

learning, research and skills development for all stakeholders, not just for local communities, is central to managing risk, predicting risk and adapting to risk

We do have a gap in terms of the capacity building especially our local communities to respond swiftly and accurately to risks. unfortunately, we are all looking at each other to take up this task.

What are some of the biggest risks that can happen in tourism destinations?  

Risks related to tourism include Terrorism, Natural disaster, health, political instability, crime, religious dogma, (Lepp &Gibson, 2003)


One of the biggest risks to tourism is the refusal by tourism to shift towards sustainable forms of tourism – sustainable tourism. Too much greenwashing. Less action

Greenwashing should be declared a tourism disaster. It is misleading and UNETHICAL to the core. The sector should declare war on greenwashing post-COVID 19. Agreed, it is still unfathomable that people still think of it as a trend, rather than the new normal

Climate Change 

Climate change is another risk to the tourism industry.  As temperatures rise destinations are at huge risk of losing the quality of destination experience.

The Tourism sector should unite and declare a Climate Emergency. Indeed, tourism companies have already started. This is a link to all the firms that have declared a climate Emergency

The Mara is one such example of a site affected by climate change. The Kenya Wildlife Service and the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife have thought of how to mitigate the issue but the complexities of the Mara ecosystems definitely require a multidisciplinary team beyond KWS and The Ministry of Tourism. 

This goes to say there is no “one size fits all” solution.  

Another scenario is the reduced number of flamingos in Lake Nakuru. 

Communication Disaster 

Communication disaster exists. Especially during the Coronavirus pandemic. currently, the spread of false information is a big obstacle to crisis management 


Community resistance of tourism like the case of overtourism is a risk that is often underestimated. Overtourism is a risk to destinations and there are many scenarios all over the world

This is a classic example of a risk that was initially ‘insignificant’ but has quickly become ‘catastrophic’ for a destination. Come to think about overtourism, it has never been a problem. All we need to do is market all of Kenya’s tourism circuits. 

Such as; Northern Kenya, well known for having a Permanent freshwater Desert lake, Virgin beaches, three islands to visit and plenty of fishing activity.

Lake Turkana.Or the Western Kenya Tourism Circuit, rich in Biodiversity & plenty of activities. However, the Kenyan Tourism Blue Print initially anchored on Beach & Wildlife as prime (Coast & Mara)but changes are underway & can be visible. 

Many of us do and will continue to believe that our industry’s worth is determined solely by numbers. 

What opportunities do you think destinations can find in Covid_19 crisis? 

Post Covid_19 it will be clear that risk management strategies should be at the core of tourism policy-making in order to avert any unforeseen risk

Another lesson from Covid_19 is that stability of a destination is as strong as the business models of companies that drive the industry 

The COVID 19 crisis gives destinations a sole chance to be innovative and redesign their products in order to suit the consumers who will re-emerge post the crisis. Destinations can embrace the use of technology to enhance the sustainability of attractions such as museums etc through the reduction of tourist numbers/surface area

Unfortunately, currently tourism success = numbers hence there is a need for a Paradigm shift. 

Focus on domestic and Intra Africa market in Redesigning the tourism sector. Capitalising on these markets will minimize opportunity costs greatly. 

COVID -19 pandemic has enabled Tourism/Hospitality Industry to be keen and strict on matters relating to health. Hotels and tour firms will now focus on improving guests and employees hygiene standards. The setting of the restaurants will be different. Yes, hygiene standards are getting even higher, and this is for the benefit of all.

Risks always come with casualties. Some of these casualties could have been avoided if the destination had prepared for crisis adequately. However, casualties are sometimes slow variables that cannot accommodate change and therefore have to be phased out. We must accept that some will not make it post COVID19 and that’s the saddest part about what we are going through right now.

Risk management strategies include avoiding the risk, reducing harm, transferring the risk, retaining the risk.

The risk management strategies should be practical and identify the specific areas of operation. They should not just be created for formalities. 

Risk management should be able to address situations and safety of the visitors and that of the employees. Along with that, effective and secure communication systems should be determined. 


Risk management narrows down to practising sustainable tourism. The industry should rethink its practices in order to get a long-lasting solution to disasters. 

An important note to take from this discussion is to include all involved parties in setting up a risk management plan in order to cushion the industry from crisis. 

Published by The Eco-traveller

I am a champion for sustainable tourism and conservation practices.I highlight tourism operators who operate under the principles of sustainable development.Let's travel,be responsible and have fun

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