By: Heng Sopheap (National Institute of Management)..Picture by: Bobby Viceral. ( November, 2002 Volume 2 No.11 )

With the advent of mass tourism, the need to engage in formal destination planning and to establish sound policies with respect to development has become more evident. Not only for the sake of residents who are captive hosts in the visitor destination or just for the preservation or conservation of natural resources, but proper planning also helps to ensure the sustainability of a destination.

Closely tied to the success of any destination are the specific markets served by the community and the various types of traveler personalities that must be accommodated in developing supporting attractions. Destinations that have failed to plan for the orderly growth of tourism with special attention to community and visitor needs have frequently paid the price when problems of a social and environmental nature became overwhelming and once booming tourism traffic began to disappear.

Destination planning entails numerous processes and activities in the conscious planning, financing, developing, and marking of a destination to attract visitors. It requires the cooperation and commitment of many parties, including government officials, community leaders, architects, engineers, investors, environmentalists, sociologists, economists, and other experts. It requires also an understanding of the concepts of environmental and social carrying capacities of tourist communities on the part of the decision-makers. The key to orderly development seems to lie in proper planning for controlled development, awareness and vigilance on the part of host communities and governments, and careful monitoring of actions. Above all, destination development requires education and the understanding of the rights and responsibilities of both hosts and visitors.