SIA - Danube Competence Center

Potential contribution of
social impact assessment (SIA) to
responsible tourism management:
Findings from Bulgaria
Lucy McCombes (Leeds Metropolitan University &
International Centre for Responsible Tourism) &
Yvette Evers (University of Geneva)
Sofia, Bulgaria
4 December, 2012
“Importance of a
responsible tourism
approach for
developing and
positioning the
Danube brand”
• What is
What Responsible Tourism
is NOT!
•RT is NOT a brand of
tourism/type of tourism
•RT is NOT just
ecotourism, communitybased tourism etc
•RT is NOT poor quality
What is Responsible
• SUSTAINABLE APPROACH to managing all types of
• “Making better places for people to live in and better
places for people to visit” (in this order!)
• Based on objectives of Cape Town Declaration on
Responsible Tourism (2002)
Objectives of Responsible Tourism:
Cape Town Declaration (2002)
minimises negative economic, environmental, and social impacts;
generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the
well-being of host communities, improves working conditions and access to
the industry;
involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances;
makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural
heritage, to the maintenance of the world’s diversity;
provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful
connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural,
social and environmental issues;
provides access for physically challenged people; and
is culturally sensitive, engenders respect between tourists and hosts, and
builds local pride and confidence
RT =
• RT = identifying & taking responsibility for achieving
sustainable development through tourism
• RT = identifying social, economic & environmental
priorities at a local level and taking action
• RT = market led & involves industry doing business
differently (& profitably) for benefit of host communities
• RT = setting targets & measuring impacts
• RT= accepts growth of tourism is inevitable...better
learn to manage it & maximise the positive impacts esp.
for host communities….
Social impacts of tourism
• Damage & commodification of
host’s culture
• Invasion private/sacred space
• Can contribute to increased
crime, begging, gambling etc
• Result in displacement
• Unequal relationships between
hosts & guests
• Inequitable distribution of
• Increase in cross-cultural
• Counters poverty
• Maintenance/celebration of
local host culture
• Vehicle for empowerment of
women, minority groups &
economically poor
Tourism is like fire...!!!
Social impacts: Umbrella for different types
of impacts on societies (Vanclay, 2002)
Social impacts result from
changes to people’s:
Way of life
Political systems
Health & well-being
Personal & property rights
Fears & aspirations
• What social change (positive & negative)
do you think increased tourism
development will bring to the Danube?
• In practice, how does DCC plan to identify
and manage the potential social impacts
on host communities?
o Difficulties in understanding, measuring &
monitoring qualitative & complex socio-cultural
o Confusing amount of different methods out there
o Managing social impacts a key part of RT that is
weak in practice......
o Typically stakeholders in tourism development rarely
take the time & effort to find out ahead what the
social impact of their resort, technology & culture etc
will be on the host societies
What is needed: our view
o Pragmatism since many social impacts cannot be
o Embed methods for greater:
• stakeholder participation
• social analysis/impact assessment
• identification of mitigating/maximisation measures
....into existing ways of doing things in tourism
Our Question
Can Social Impact Assessment
(SIA) approach/ methods help us
manage the social impacts of tourism
in a destination responsibly?
Social Impact Assessment revised definition:
The process of analysing, monitoring & managing
the intended & unintended social consequences, both
positive and negative, of planned interventions
(policies, programs, plans & projects) and any social
change processes invoked by those interventions so
as to bring about a more sustainable & equitable
biophysical & human environment
Frank Vanclay (IAIA), 2002
About SIA
• Role for SIA in all stages in project cycle
• Methodology informed by anthropology, participatory approaches,
sustainable livelihoods analysis, social development approach
• Philosophy about development & democracy
• SIA Principles include:
Addressing poverty
Community participation & empowerment
Maximise positive impacts of development & minimise costs
Understands impact pathways
• ....overlap with Responsible Tourism
Participatory SIA Process
the issues
• Step 1
Predicting the
likely impacts
• Step 2
• Step 3
• Step 4
Case Study: Pilot SIA Bulgaria
• Story of pilot project we did with
Odysseia-In to illustrate what
SIA looks like…
• Process of analysing &
managing social impacts of
tourism valuable elsewhere
e.g. DCC….
• How met BAAT/Odysseia-In
• tours
• Idea to link these things & pilot
SIA approach in tourism context
• 12 days 2011
• Founded by Lubomir Popiordanov
• Special interest travel company “that
loves Bulgaria and knows it well”
• Pioneers of RT in Bulgaria
• Leading Bulgarian operator for
culture & adventure tours
• Authentic experiences
• Pilot 4 holidays for (ski; walking;
craft; multi-activity)
• Founded 2001 (15 holidays)
• Now UK’s largest RT tour operator (6,000 holidays)
• Enable travellers to contact pre-screened tour operators
& hotel managers directly to make a booking
• Demonstrate RT criteria & “how they make a difference”
Aims & Objectives of Pilot
1. Pilot SIA approach on 2 communities to identify
opportunities & indicators to integrate social
management systems into Odysseia-In’s existing
ways of doing things
2. Demonstrate what Odysseia-In are doing to be a
responsible travel company and manage their social
impacts (i.e. avoid Greenwashing)
STEP 1. Understanding the issues
Odysseia-In Staff Workshop:
• Introduction to SIA approach
• Map Odysseia-In product
planning processes
• Identify Odysseia-In RT policy
& practice
• Collate background
information on tours & tourism
in Bulgaria
Odysseia-In RT practice
Responsible Tourism Policy
Keep the Money Local
Create (local) jobs & training
opportunities & rewarding
work environment for staff
Give back to communities
Protect local environment
Protect local culture/heritage
How done in practice
E.g. Policy to use local
accommodation & guides
How evidence/monitor
E.g. Calculation of OdysseiaIn average local spend on
Odysseia-In New Product
Development/ Planning Process
• Staff member has initial idea and invents a “new” tour for a specific niche market
• Get advice on market demand for this idea
• Collect general background information on the region, trails, tourism assets and accommodation
• Identify partners/suppliers and initiate communication
• Carry out study tours in the destination to collect detailed information on the tours and from potential partners
• Consultation & price negotiations with partners/service providers and selection of sites, accommodation &
partners in order to draft the itinerary in line with responsible tourism policy
• Promotion and marketing of new tour directly and through partners
• Implementation of tour
• Collect feedback on tour through tourist and guide questionnaires and client feedback reports for tourists from
partner tour operators
Context: Odysseia-In’s walking tours
• Case studies: 2 communities (Kolofer & Gorno Draglishte) included
in their Pan-Parks hiking & wildlife tour
• Meet environmental, social & economic criteria of responsibletravel
Community profile in community
case studies:
Introduce SIA objectives
Host interview (timeline of tourism
development; tourist profile & numbers;
stakeholder analysis to understand who
is providing services to Odysseia-In,
relationships, interests & decisionmaking around tourism development)
Collect community baseline data
Community walk to map
existing/potential sites and services that
Odysseia-In tourists use/could
use/impact on
Gorno Draglishte Profile
Razlog Valley, southern slopes of Rila
Mountains & NP
Population: 900
Livelihoods: agriculture, livestock,
timber, tourism
Tourism assets: guesthouses,
restaurant, bar, wooden rug basin,
church, hiking, folklore
Also data on:
Tourist numbers/season:
Community groups:
Time-line for tourism:
Kalofer Profile
Rose Valley on mountain foot of Central
Balkan mountains & NP
Population: 3,083
Livelihoods: tourism, army uniforms,
light machinery, agriculture, military base
Tourism assets: museum of famous
revoluntionary hero & poet Hristo Botev,
rose festival, architecture, lace making
Visitor numbers: c.26,000 museum
visitors, 10,000 eco-trail
Also data on:
Community Groups:
Time-line for tourism:
STEP 2. Predicting the likely impacts
Stakeholder workshop &/or
informal interviews of stakeholders
on community walk to:
Identify and rank potential/ existing
impacts of Odysseia-In
Identify stakeholder interests
Identify how know/show/evidence (i.e.
indicators) these impacts
Identify potential actions for
Odysseia-In to maximise positive &
minimise negative impacts
Impacts identified
Income and employment
(Illegal) clear-cutting of
trees (-)
Growing popularity of
village, produce trademark
they are well-known for
(identity) (+)
Success of Kyshta Deshka
guesthouse as a model for
others (+)
Contact with tourists gives
them more knowledge
about the environment –
Inter-cultural contact with
international tourists (+)
Uneven distribution of
tourism benefits (-)
Green schools (funded by
tourism) have positive
impact -(+)
Need to change in order to
understand interests of
tourists (while not losing
their cultural heritage) (+)
A few young people
returning to the village (+)
Risk of modernization losing rurality and folklore
identity/traditions (-)
Welcome people from city
who know how to do
business (+)
Children start to value the
village as outsiders
appreciating what is
available (+)
Risk of attracting big
outside investors (-)
Income and
employment (to
restaurants, museums,
folklore groups,
shops/market) (+)
A few younger
generation setting up
new businesses (+)
Pan Parks tours financial
contribution (+) but
tourists lack
understanding of
importance (-)
Valuing local cultural
traditions (+), consider
opportunities for more
(e.g. lace maker)
Odyessia does not
utilise all of the tourism
resources available (-)
Mountain hut fees
support maintenance
hut and local association
Awareness-raising by
Odysseia-In guides (+)
Other opportunities to
support CBNP and
ecotrail not yet
considered (-)
STEP 3. Developing strategies
Analysis of findings to:
• Review Odysseia-In
responsible tourism approach
in practice
• Identify potential actions for
Odysseia-In to manage their
social impacts across the
business (action plan)
Social Impact Management Plan
Opportunities to embed actions to manage social
impacts into existing way of doing things @
o Annual report on Odysseia-In impacts
o RT policy and practical approach
o Marketing/product info
o Product development study tours
o Partner websites (e.g.
o Tourist & client feedback questionnaires
o Advocacy & project work (e.g. Green Lodge scheme)
STEP 4. Developing monitoring
• Identify indicators and data sources for Odysseia-In to monitor
and report on their social impacts
• Feedback findings to staff and community case studies
What did we learn?
Adaptations to SIA for this context
• Not feasible to carry out SIA in each community where
Odysseia-In operates so used case studies to indicate broad
“types of impact” & potential actions
• Embedding into existing planning/operational processes
• “Just enough” principle in data collection i.e. to meet
business needs versus doing an academic study
• Simple & cost-effective methods of data collection to
facilitate rapid transfer of SIA skills to Odysseia-In staff
• Need to add additional 5th stage to provide support to
implement social impact action plan…(where we are now)
• What do you think were the strengths &
weaknesses of SIA in practice?
• What is the business case for doing a
SIA/managing your social impacts?
• Do you think carrying out a SIA would be
useful in another tourism context that you
know of?
Strengths & weaknesses of SIA in this context
Capitalises on local knowledge
May raise false expectations in the community
Identification of opportunities for embedding SIA
into existing operations
Need to adopt explanation and definition of SIA
slightly in line with specific and business context
Transect walk easy to do , raised issues that may not 
have arisen in a more formal workshop & identified
potential product development opportunities
Capacity building of Odysseia-in staff
Brings key tourism stakeholders together
Enables you to take practical action & put systems in 
place to manage social impacts of your tourism
Scalability – will it work on a bigger scale?
Danger in fast-tracking the process too much
Difficulties differentiating between impacts of
tourism generally and that of Odysseia-in
Risk of bias from participants
Hard to predict potential impacts of tourism if not
yet developed
Time, financial and human resources & capacity
Business case:
Why should Odysseia-In bother with SIA?
Competitive advantage in relation to other Bulgarian travel companies &
international tour operators/partners
Avoid “green washing”
Support BAAT/Odysseia-In advocacy role nationally
Credibility in the communities where they work
Improve the experience and product for tourists by providing
opportunities to meet with local people etc
Reduce risks e.g. exposure of negative practice
Improved planning & internal management systems → cost-savings
Staff motivation
Potential to increase product sales
Identify new opportunities for product development
Initial SIA process provides valuable (external) analysis
Applying SIA in other contexts
(e.g. Danube Competence Centre)
Identify how to manage positive & negative social impacts at 3
different levels:
1. Project-specific
(ex. Danube hiking/biking itinerary)
2. Institutional
(ex. DCC M&E and reporting)
3. Product development
(ex. integrate into existing DCC operations/brand)
Objectives of SIA for
Train staff and build capacity
Identify positive & negative impacts
Identify mitigating measures
Set up indicators, action plan and
reporting mechanism
Contact details
Lucy McCombes
Research Fellow & Consultant, ICRETH, Leeds Metropolitan University,
[email protected]
Yvette Evers
Research Associate, Institute of Environmental Sciences, University of
Geneva, Switzerland
Social Impact Associates
[email protected]
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