Outline of the course


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Aims and Objectives

  • Explore regenerative tourism principles and practices
  • Learn about and develop skills in design thinking.
  • Develop a plan of action to be the change you want to see.

Regenerative tourism

Regenerative tourism, at its simplest, is about ensuring the visitor economy delivers a net positive benefit for communities, the environment, and the destination. Regenerative tourism shifts away from the traditional approach where tourism is ‘done’ to communities and the environment. In a growing number of communities, this approach has resulted in a questioning of the social and environmental licence of tourism to operate. 

In regenerative tourism, the idea that communities should serve tourism is flipped. Instead, taking an entrepreneurial lens, businesses and local communities co-design tourism opportunities to address the needs of communities and nature. Deepening the connection between visitors, local communities and nature facilitates transformational visitor experiences. The net positive value generated by regenerative tourism boosts social and environmental outcomes and enhances the community’s support for tourism. 

The overall goal of regenerative tourism is to deliver transformational visitor experiences, deepen connections between people and nature, and to deliver resilient businesses, and a healthy planet.

The overall goal of regenerative tourism is to deliver transformational visitor experiences, deepen connections between people and planet, to deliver resilient business, and a healthy planet.

About this course

This introductory course aims to explore regenerative tourism. Once you see regenerative tourism, it is impossible to unsee it. It moves us beyond sustainable tourism and introduces us to a new way of thinking about the challenge of building better tourism. We also introduce participants to design thinking and the toolkit. We demonstrate how it can be used in your destination, business or organisation to intentionally design better and more responsible tourism outcomes.

We can’t promise you all the answers in this introductory course, but we will take you on a journey of discovery. We want to challenge you by introducing design thinking as a way of identifying and codesigning actions that will lead us closer to regenerative tourism.


MODULE 1 – Regenerative tourism by design

In this Module, we are going to jump straight into it and explore what is regenerative tourism. Then we build upon design thinking as a practice and a way of thinking and apply those principles to tourism and visitor economies. Our approach is drawn from 30 years’ experience pioneering a range of regenerative approaches to tourism and visitor economies, public policy and projects, and thought leadership from international to local levels. Topics include:

MODULE 2 – Blind spots, blinkers and breaking-free

We take a step back to explore the big picture. We investigate the blind spots, blinkers and assumptions that shape our thinking and how we can break free. Adopting an intentional design mindset requires understanding how we think, and how we can change our thinking.

MODULE 3 – Tools of the trade

Taking intentional design further, it's now time to explore the toolkit and that helps us explore what regenerative tourism might mean in your organisation, community or destination.

MODULE 4 – Getting started and sitting in the ‘mess’

We take a deep dive into collaborative and intentional design. Here, you'll get to see how the journey unfolds and how it all fits together.

MODULE 5 – The emerging future and the journey ahead

In this last session, we will map the change journey ahead and what it take to lead in what we call 'emergence'. It is a very different way of working compared to strategic management, and new skills will be required.

COHORT SHARE – The emerging future and the journey ahead

Skills and knowledge

In this course, we will share knowledge, reflect, and engage in a collaborative learning space that will cover the following:

  • An understanding of regenerative tourism.
  • Why regenerative tourism is more than sustainable tourism.
  • An introduction to design thinking principles, approaches and the toolkit.
  • What Is involved in applying regenerative tourism in your business, community or destination
  • What is design thinking and why it offers an alternative way of working in tourism.

The skill development you can expect from this course includes:

  • Understanding your thinking processes
  • How to critically and creatively engage in thinking about regenerative tourism
  • How to plan a creative intentional design process
  • Skills using a virtual collaborative whiteboard.

Our departure point for this course

Five fundamental observations have shaped the design of this course. These observations provide our starting point:

Sustainable tourism is good, but not enough.

The range of challenges we currently face at a global level includes the following:

  • the climate crisis
  • biodiversity loss
  • ecosystem decline/destruction
  • the restructuring of employment and impacts on meaningful work
  • the increasingly inequitable distribution of wealth
  • challenges associated with inclusion and diversity
  • access to education
  • the pandemic and its effects which are not yet known.

Q. Take a moment to consider these challenges and what they mean for you, in your context. Can you identify any additional factors or challenges that will reshape tourism in your business, destination or organisation?

These challenges are producing winners and losers and are giving rise to significant divisions, inequities, and uncertainty. It is how we understand, evolve our thinking, and lead out into this uncertainty that will determine how well we adapt and build resilience.

The massive global disruption to tourism in 2020 as a result of the pandemic has illustrated that tourism, in its current form, leads to vulnerabilities and inequality on a scale that was unimagined. Research estimates between 120 and 200 million workers worldwide have lost their jobs in the tourism sector [1]. The promise of ‘sustainable tourism’ has simply not eventuated and there are some very clear reasons why this is the case [2].

Catalyst 2030, a global collective of social entrepreneurs representing 1600 organisations, has suggested that we are already decades behind schedule in implementing the SDGs and achieving a just, inclusive and environmentally healthy world will take until 2084 [3]. It is our position that the SDGs, and the current tools and solutions have been designed to address rational technical problems. However, the challenges we face are wicked problems that require multiple, simultaneous actions at different scales by different stakeholders. They are not technical problems but deeply human problems that require us to think different, adopt new values, redesign our systems, and work differently. The extent we are able to redesign our system and implement regenerative practices will depend on the evolution of our thinking and problem-solving capabilities.

This is the key challenge that we embark on in this course. In very real and practical ways, as a cohort, we will journey together to consider how we can work differently and drive change in tourism.

Our traditional worldview about how we organise and plan for tourism is being challenged. We have a choice to ignore the call or to embrace the change ahead.

The scientific paradigm, which has dominated since Enlightenment and the industrial revolution starting in the 18th century, is being challenged from multiple points. Not only are different worldviews emerging, but interest in indigenous ways of knowing and working with Nature is also challenging traditional white western worldviews. The white western European worldview, which has dominated for so long, is being challenged.

Along with these shifts, the tourism system has traditionally been conceptualised as an industrial system made up of smaller parts and managed according to scientific management principles. The focus on mass production, efficiency, growth in numbers, competition and profitability has stopped us from questioning the values on which scientific management. Communities and nature have been silenced. Tourism is something that is done to them rather than with them. However, it is increasingly evident that we need to give equal weight to the health of our planetary ecosystems, the wellbeing of people, and a resilient non-exploitative economy [4]. The courage to think differently and work with care and in intentional ways, taking into account all stakeholders -- human and nature -- is necessary.

We need to re-assess what value means in tourism. Asking who produces value and how is it distributed leads us beyond traditional ideas about tourism being a generator of economic value.

For seven decades, the assumption underpinning tourism is that it should be industry- or investment-facing. Communities, workers, culture, the environment and other resources are deemed to be in service to the industry and benefits are assumed to trickle down. But Covid-19 has shown that trickle-down economics hasn’t created resilient sustainable destinations. Instead, enormous vulnerabilities and inequities were highlighted. Impacts included destabilised job markets, small business closures, unemployment and local economic challenges. It’s time to better understand the true value of tourism by taking a more holistic view of how value is defined and created in tourism.

The regenerative economics movement and the alternative economies community provide us with useful guidance. It all starts with a simple idea - we need to give back more than we take in order to ensure the human and natural resources on which we rely can be sustained and can regenerate [5].

Destination management plans and traditional business strategic approaches reflect old stuck thinking. Mindset and systems change are necessary.

For too long, we have placed emphasis on outside experts coming in and telling us what to do. Template plans might simplify and scale a standard approach, but they ignore the very essence, complexity and character of the local places and mobile life. Tourism spans multiple sectors, different communities, and business communities. Harnessing the knowledge, insights, creative problem-solving and ownership of local stakeholders will build local capacity, achieve stronger buy-in and ownership, and lead to more resilient communities. Evidence suggests that the most effective approaches in the future will be grounded in local knowledge and ‘know-how’; will shift from profit-focused to mission-motivated strategies; and will build local capacity and shared locally-owned solutions [6].

Intentional design can shift our thinking about how to address the problems we face.

Intentional design is a way of solving problems that involves deep understanding, listening and building empathy with others. It involves taking responsibility; doing no harm; respect for Nature and communities as stakeholders and equal partners in tourism; embracing risk, uncertainty and leaning into a future that replenishes and enhances our capacity to flourish on this planet. In this course, we will be discussing intentional design as a different way of approaching the challenges we face, and as an alternative to strategic management, competition and economic efficiency [7].

Course completion

Our courses are designed and developed by award-winning educator-practitioners with decades of experience in tourism consulting, policy advice, research, community engagement and education.

A certificate of course completion is available at the end of the course. In order to meet the requirements of completion, course participants must:

  • complete the learning modules (indicated by the progress bar on the curriculum menu)
  • attend the live sessions and participate where relevant (unless the timezone makes this impossible)
  • be an active member in the learning community by engaging in the community forum. This includes responding to provocation questions in the course materials, sharing insights and reflections on the course materials and learning activities.

If there are any questions, or you have difficulty in meeting these requirements, please email and we can discuss how to overcome your particular challenge.

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