Definition of indicators
Indicators are sets of information selected in a formal manner so as to measure the issues that are vital in the sustainability and development of tourism (UNWTO, 2012). An indicator can, therefore, be noted to be a means of measurement of potential need for action or risk at a tourist destination (Manning 1999). Indicators can be early warning indicators, indicators of stress such as crime rates and indicators of impacts of tourism in a tourist destination society (Yunis 2006).
In 1993, the WTO commissioned a task force to develop indicators that the tourism industry could use to identify lurking dangers in the future of tourism (Manning, 1999). Since then, the WTO has pioneered the use of indicators as a vital tool in destination planning and management (Schianetz & Kavanagh 2008). With this in mind, WTO indicators are, therefore, tools used by the WTO tools that the organization uses to ensure sustainability in the tourism sector (Schianetz and Kavanagh).
Importance of indicators
With so much to manage, the stake holders to the various tourist destinations may not have enough information regarding how much effect tourism may have on their area (Manning 1999). Indicators are important in the identification of major emerging issues at a tourist destination which enables the authority in charge to act in such a way as to prevent the issues (Mearns 2012). They also reduce planning mistakes since they offer the managers with the knowledge of the limits and opportunities in the tourist destinations they are managing (Mearns 2012).
Indicators, therefore, are important in that they help the authorities identify the conditions, make strategies and in the long run evaluate how well the destination is performing, which all adds up to sustainable tourism (Mearns 2012). The constant monitoring due to the summarized information from indicators, which makes it easy to constantly monitor the destinations’ environment, makes it possible for improvement of environmental conditions (Mearns 2012)
Problems of indicators
Use of indicators involves the collection of data based in the various types of indicators (Yunis 2006). Consequently, the collected data could be inadequate, inaccurate and sometimes not reliable hence making it difficult to make conclusions about a set destination (Torres-Delgado & Saarinen 2013). The supervisors have to choose appropriate indicators, which is a challenge in itself, for use in the study (Maerns 2012) failure to which, the administrator may end up with too many indicators or a difficulty in interpreting the results obtained.
Effectiveness of indicators
According to Blackstock (2009), effective indicators are easy to use, relevant and reliable since they give the much needed information about the tourist destination. For this reason, they make planning and management of the tourist destination easy for the leaders at the sites (Schianetz & Kavanagh 2008). As manning (2009) states that indicators are means of measurement, effective indicators have accessible data since the managers can refer to the data for clarification where necessary.
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Kavanagh L., Schianetz K. (2008). Sustainability indicators for tourism destinations: A complex adaptive systems approach using systemic indicator systems. Journal of sustainable tourism 16(6), 601-628.
Manning T. (1999). Indicators of Tourism Sustainability. Tourism Management, 20, 179-181.
Mearns F. K. (2012). Lessons from the application of sustainability indicators to community-based ecotourism ventures in South Africa. African Journal of Business Management, 6(26), 7852-7860.
Torres-Delgado A., Saarinen J. (2013). Using indicators to assess sustainable tourism development. International Journal of Tourism space, Place and Environment,
UNWTO (2012). Indicators of Sustainability for Tourist Destinations. Sustainable Development of Tourism.
Yunis E., (2006) Indicators of sustainable development for tourist destinations and operations. International workshop on tourism statistics. WTO.