The 10 Commandments of Destination Recovery from Crisis

Sandy Holway

Sandy Holway

The 10 Commandments of Destination Recovery from Crisis

One of the greatest challenges for tourism businesses and destinations is the recovery of the business or the destination and the restoration of its reputation after a real or perceived crisis. Over the years I have been involved in many such recovery programs in destinations as diverse as Kenya, Israel, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, Japan, Fiji, Nepal and my home country Australia.

Every year destinations and businesses have to face the challenge of recovery as a result of crime waves, terrorism, natural disasters, epidemics political and social unrest and economic downturns.

Last week I attended the farewell function of one of my UTS colleagues Dr Rob Harris who is retiring after a stellar career at the University of Technology-Sydney. Rob was well known as one of the global leaders in event management education. The regard in which Dr Harris was held was reflected by some of the attendees which include some of the long-time leaders of the Australian tourism and event industries. One of those attendees was Mr Sandy Holway. Sandy Holway was the chief organiser of the highly successful Sydney 2000 Olympics which is still regarded by many experts on the Olympic Games as the qualitative benchmark by which all subsequent olympics is measured. One of the hallmarks of the Sydney Olympics which has been emulated by subsequent Olympics in Athens, Beijing, London and Rio has been the careful attention paid to risk management and security.

Mr Holway’s expertise in risk and crisis management was so highly regarded by the Australian government that he was asked to lead the recovery programs for the national capital , Canberra after a destructive bushfire in 2003 which destroyed hundreds of homes and caused damage to the turism friendly image of Canberra. In 2006 he was asked by the Queensland government and the Australian Federal government to coordinate the recovery a large part of North Queensland which had sustained extensive damage from Cyclone Larry. In 2007 he was invited to be the keynote speaker at the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) Tourism Forum in Queensland’s Gold Coast. His address at that conference was one of the best speeches I have ever heard at the many tourism conferences I have attended.

I would like to share Mr Holway’s wisdom with ETB Travel News readers.

I have referred to his Ten Commandments of Tourism Recovery Management in some of my own presentations on this topic at conferences and to my own students. I hope it will provide guidance to tourism destinations and businesses currently on the painful road to post-crisis tourism recovery. However, any ETB reader may need to use this advice.

No business or destination is immune from crisis.

Sandy Holway’s Ten Commandments of Tourism Recovery Management.

1. Destination recovery especially requires an alliance between the public sector the private sector and media. Collaboration is vital.

2. There should be a dedicated machinery and resources devoted to recovery but it is important to set some time limits.

3. For destination recovery there should be a whole of government commitment involving all three tiers of government national, State/provincial and local. I would add that in some transnational crises such as the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Sars 2003 and Zika 2016 this could involve multiple national governments.

4. Rapid response. Timing is critical especially in today’s environment of social media and instant live news where instant response to some misinformed rumour is critical.

5. Engage and seek the support of the affected community.

6. Public communications should be centralized, honest and informative.

7. Proper process with planned outcomes.

8. People are more important than budgets.

9. Get ahead of the curve through strategic and contingency planning. Businesses and destinations should have a risk management plan which can be deployed from the onset of a crisis.


The last of these is most important.

Many destinations and businesses often base their recovery strategy on restoring things to the way they were. This is not good enough. All recovery programs should incorporate the lessons learned from the crisis and develop measures which can minimise the likelihood of a similar set of circumstances having the same negative results.

Source = Dr David Beirman Ph.D - Mr Sandy Holway

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