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The Data Appeal Company’s commitment to destination sustainability is continual and ever-evolving. Our data scientists and destination analysts are continuously working to develop a scientific methodology to measure the impact of tourism on a territory.

A business’, brand’s or destination’s commitment to make the world more sustainable, peaceful and prosperous has a strong impact on their reputation, their community and the environment. With this in mind, we developed the Destination Sustainability Index. Our methodology was recently published in MDPI’s academic journal, Sustainability.

Measuring the Impact of Tourism Sustainability on a Destination

Data Appeal is committed to evaluating the impact of tourism on destinations in relation to sustainability. Our team has recently published the academic article Tourism Sustainability Index: Measuring Tourism Sustainability Based on the ETIS Toolkit, by Exploring Tourist Satisfaction via Sentiment Analysis in the academic journal Sustainability. The article deep dives into our methodology to measure destination sustainability based on the satisfaction of tourists, derived from our semantic analysis algorithms.

The importance of measuring sustainability in tourism has been significantly advancing in recent years, following the need to manage the impact of tourism on territories and hosting communities. It was further boosted by the pandemic, where sustainability has been defined as one of the central elements to restart global tourism.

For this reason, we have developed the Destination Sustainability Index, a proprietary indicator that will immediately allow cities, regions and countries around the world to increase awareness, measure and benchmark the state of health, sustainability and quality of life across their destination.

“When we started our research on measuring sustainability with a tourism lense, there was very little information available. We were familiar with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), but we lacked a way to relate them to the tourism sector.”

Damiano De Marchi – Data Appeal’s Senior Analyst and Tourism Expert


Leveraging the ETIS to Empower the Destination Sustainability Index

We utilized the European Tourism Indicator System (ETIS), developed by the European Commission, as a reference point. However, because it’s based on self-assessment, data collection, and the analysis of tourist destinations by their managers, global and up-to-date data was not available.

Despite these challenges, during two pilot phases in 2013 and 2015, the ETIS was voluntarily implemented by more than 100 destinations; it remains the best-known and most-cited methodology for measuring tourism sustainability at a destination level.

Throughout the article, we explore how we developed the Destination Sustainability Index by integrating a sentiment analysis technique to analyze a destination’s reputation and the satisfaction of tourists, combined with a variety of open data sources.

The Destination Sustainability Index provides a scalable and georeferenced evaluation of tourism sustainability, measured according to the ETIS criteria and complimenting them. The TSI, its pillars and sub-components are all applicable to any tourism destination. The results show that the TSI can be a consistent and valid tool for tourist destinations to use in analyzing sustainability, monitoring the evolution of sustainability through time periods and subareas, and comparing the findings with those of other benchmarks and/or other competitive areas.

Our idea is to create a synthetic indicator, not an aggregation, that is georeferenced and related to scalable sources to be applicable to any territory in the world. The TIS has granularity from a spatial point of view, but also from the perspective of the four pillars of sustainability”, highlights DeMarchi.


Analyzing the Four Pillars of Destination Sustainability

The Destination Sustainability Index has been tailor-made to measure and benchmark the environment, economy, society, and governance across any destination around the globe.

Because sustainability means so many things to so many different people, we’re focusing on four verticals of sustainability: environment, society, economy and governance.

This encompasses factors relating to the reduction of the human impact on the environment and conservation of biodiversity. We also analyze the extent to which tourism organizations embrace policies aimed to save energy, use non-polluting products and recycle.

This assesses the tourism impact on local inhabitants, both relating to local culture and communities, such as crafts and cuisine, and as support for locally-run businesses managed by local labor.

This considers to what extent tourism can promote the economy, the growth of a destination’s well-being and the degree that local businesses contribute to the growth of the local economic ecosystem and locally-run and managed businesses. This aspect also evaluates the degree to which companies’ offer fair wages and roles without gender, age and cultural or religious discrimination.

This evaluates the management of policies aimed at promoting the environmental and cultural sustainability of businesses, premises and properties as well as the coordination and promotion of initiatives to sustain and preserve tourism.

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