Project History



History: On June 17, 2021 the Ketchikan Gateway Borough issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) to seek consultant support for the development of a tourism strategy. The Borough received three proposals by the July 20, 2021 RFP closing date.  Confluence Sustainability was awarded the contract for $110,545 on October 20, 2021. Confluence Sustainability is working in collaboration with the George Washington University International Institute of Tourism Studies. The partners will work with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough and community stakeholders over the next year to develop a tourism Destination Management strategy. 

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough recognizes that the community is at a critical juncture as it experiences the effects of sustained growth in tourism. There is now a need to work directly with the community to define a shared vision for tourism growth and its management. The Ketchikan Borough’s future tourism Destination Management strategy aims to foster destination stewardship and improve the coordinated management of all the elements that make up the tourism economy. It will focus on balancing the expectations of visitors with the needs of local residents, businesses and the environment.

What Is Destination Management? Destination Management “consists of the coordinated management of all the elements that make up a tourism destination. Destination Management takes a strategic approach to link-up these sometimes very separate elements for the better management of the destination.”  (UNWTO, n.d.) Destination Management involves a more holistic approach to link-up the sometimes fragmented elements that make up the tourism industry for  better management of the destination. It recognizes the dependence upon natural and cultural resources as well as the host communities’ capacity to manage these underlying resources as opposed to simply meeting tourism market demands for products and services.  Destination Management uses a participatory planning process that involves residents, community leaders, government agencies, nonprofits, and the tourism industry to define a shared vision and statement of intent to manage the destination over a stated period of time.

What is Sustainable Tourism? Sustainable tourism is defined by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities.” (UNWTO, 2005: 11-12. Making Tourism More Sustainable – A Guide for Policy Makers).   Sustainable tourism “refers to the environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee its long-term sustainability.” (UNWTO, 2005: 11-12. Making Tourism More Sustainable – A Guide for Policy Makers).

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) defines sustainable tourism as sustainable practices in and by the tourism industry. “It is an aspiration to acknowledge all impacts of tourism, both positive and negative. It aims to minimize the negative impacts and maximize the positive ones.” (GSTC, n.d.)

What is a Destination Management Plan and Why are Tourism Organizations Developing Them? Often driven by the pressures from overtourism, Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO’s) in the U.S. are increasingly evolving their missions to focus on Tourism Management. This shifts a tourism organization away from a singular focus on promotion to instead build a broader plan which coordinates the management of tourism growth, visitor flows, and environment and community impacts.

Destination Management Plans (DMPs) are a relatively new tool supporting tourism organizations and are designed to take a holistic approach to overall assessment and strategic planning for developing a roadmap to support the long-term health of destinations and the well-being of host communities. The DMP involves a highly participatory development process that includes all key stakeholder groups and members of the community, public, and tourism business sectors. This strategic roadmap will identify, amplify, and align shared community values in ecosystem stewardship, economic vibrancy, growth management, and quality of life enhancement for residents.

What Is the Goal of the Borough’s Destination Management Strategy?   To provide for a long-term sustainable tourism industry that brings community and industry together and promotes an open dialogue built on the needs of community residents and of the tourism industry.

What Does the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Request of Community Residents and the Tourism Industry? The Borough requests that residents and industry representatives keep an open mind and fully engage in the participatory planning process for the development of the Tourism Destination Management Strategy.

When Will Residents Have an Opportunity to Participate in the Stakeholder Engagement Process? As the project commences in early 2022, information will be provided to keep residents and tourism stakeholders informed of ways they can participate in the planning process and contribute their perspectives and insights about tourism and its future through the planning process. A resident tourism sentiment survey will be deployed in the first quarter of 2022, followed by initial community stakeholder engagement sessions taking place in the second quarter of 2022.   In addition there will be numerous public forums available throughout the process which will be accessible online or in person.  Community members should be on the lookout for additional information in regard to the planning process for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Tourism Strategy Project.