Sustainable Tourism Asset Management Program (STAMP)

Tourism is growing at 4% annually worldwide (nearly double the global GDP) and up to 10% in emerging destinations. This growth has accelerating impacts on local destinations where there are rarely any effective processes for maintaining the social and environmental value of those destinations, even as the economic value of tourism rises. The threat of degrading or destroying vital global assets, such as beaches, coral reefs, parks and protected areas, and historic monuments is a critical issue that must be addressed because of the fact that those assets form the very foundation of the global tourism industry.

Without new business models that explicitly recognize the costs and impact of tourism on critical assets; evaluate and support investment that helps manage and mitigate conservation of destinations; nurture supply chains that reinforce socially (including historic and cultural), ecologically (including water, soil, and air) and economically robust destinations; and account for true, full cost of tourism impacts and outcomes, neither local economies nor the global economy will continue to benefit from tourism growth as destination assets are diminished in value to the point that costs to restore far exceed what might have been judicious investment in maintenance. Unless we change how we maintain tourism assets, neither local economies nor the global economy will continue to benefit from tourism growth as destination assets are increasingly damaged to the point of diminishing returns from an economic, social and environmental perspective.

STAMP is a program launched by the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business which seeks to support the development of applied research, curriculum resources, and outreach activities that will increase collective knowledge and understanding of how to more effectively manage tourism destination assets over time in the face of endemic poverty, ecosystem degradation, and climate change.

For information about STAMP, you can reach Megan Epler Wood, Managing Director of STAMP and ProfessorMark Milstein, Director of the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at


Tourism’s “Invisible Burden”: Major New Report Due March 2019

The Travel Foundation has partnered with Cornell University and EplerWood International to analyse how the more damaging impacts of tourism’s rapid growth can be better understood and managed globally.

After decades of steady growth, international tourist numbers surpassed 1 billion for the first time in 2012. The report shows that destinations across the world are not prepared for the unprecedented demands this has placed on them, leading to alarming reports of overtourism. With growth set to continue exponentially, reaching 1.8 billion tourists by 2030, a global crisis is looming.

While overtourism is an important symptom, the use of vital natural, social and public assets without recompense is highlighted as the core of the problem. The report suggests that, wherever it exists, tourism places an “invisible burden” on destinations and their residents. The invisible burden leaves inadequate revenue to provide a sustainable foundation to manage the rapid growth of tourism worldwide.

Examples of the invisible burden of tourism include the costs of:
• expanding local infrastructure to meet tourism needs;
• high demand for scarce land and valuable urban resources;
• managing increased exposure to climate change risks, especially with coastal tourism; and
• protecting historic public spaces and monuments.

It’s clear that the failure to properly account for the full cost of tourism growth is preventing action. Therefore new accounting mechanisms are necessary to protect the very assets on which national economies and businesses worldwide depend.

The report explores innovations in both policy and finance to manage the invisible burden of tourism. It makes a case for public-private cooperation in the design of data-driven mechanisms for managing, monitoring and financing destinations worldwide.

The analysis began with in-depth interviews with academic, business, and global experts and a roundtable at Cornell University. It was followed up with research into current academic and case literature and sustainability studies from relevant fields such as urban planning, protected area management, environmental economics, and the digital economy.

The report will be published in March 2019. Go to to get on the mailing list.

Report authors
Megan Epler Wood (Managing Director, Sustainable Tourism Asset Management Program at Cornell University; Owner and Principal of EplerWood International); author of Sustainable Tourism on a Finite Planet
Dr. Mark Milstein (Clinical Professor of Management at Cornell University
Kathleen Ahamed-Broadhurst (Senior Researcher, EplerWood International)
With editorial support from, and consultation with, the Travel Foundation.

Notes to editors

For additional information and clarifications about this briefing, please contact: +44 (0)117 9307176.

The Travel Foundation is a charity that works in partnership with leading tourism organizations to improve the impacts of tourism and shape a positive future for destinations. Since we were set up in 2003, we have worked in 26 popular holiday destinations around the world. Our head office is in the UK and we have a global network of project managers.

EplerWood International provides market-based approaches to sustainable tourism development in response to the rising global demand for sustainable tourism projects that meet economic development needs while respecting and preserving social and environmental capital. The firm provides innovative systems for business, NGOs, and governments to build competitive resource efficient economies that benefit all members of society.

The Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise is part of the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University. The Center's work focuses on the vital role that businesses play in solving social and environmental issues through innovation, market development, and entrepreneurship. Faculty who work with the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise are at the forefront of research, teaching, and engagement related to helping businesses address these problems. The Center provides students distinctive experiential learning opportunities and collaborate with organizations to help to tackle the grand challenges of our time, such as climate change, ecosystem degradation, and poverty.