(Blackstone Consultants)

Tourism Planning

Information about our experience in tourism planning.

Our Clients:

  • World Bank (IBRD);
  • Inter-American Development Bank (IADB);
  • National, regional & municipal government;
  • Businesses;
  • First Nations;
  • Non-governmental and community-based organizations.

Our Services:


Blackstone has extensive global experience in responsible tourism planning spanning over twenty-five countries on five continents around the world.   Our services cover the following areas:

  • National , regional and municipal market-driven  strategies;
  • Destination management plans;
  • Due diligence and corporate responsibility analyses;;
  • Primary market research & surveys;
  • Demand forecasting;
  • Market & financial feasibility analyses;
  • Value chain and economic impact analyses;
  • Product planning & development;;
  • Legislation and policy development;
  • Specialized areas of focus for:
  • Community-based tourism;
  • Cultural and heritage-based tourism.

Our Tourism Services

Strategic and Master Planning:  Successful tourism industries grow from well thought out and responsive strategies and plans.  We work closely with our clients to determine what their needs are, what decisions they need to make to ensure success, what information they need, and how they can achieve their goals.

Market Demand AnalysisTourism is fundamentally market driven. “If we build it, they will come” – once the status quo approach to tourism development – no longer applies. In today’s highly competitive world, primary market research is essential.   To protect our public and private sector clients’ investments, over the past 20 years Blackstone has developed sophisticated yet cost-effective market research tools:
·     Blackstone’s Tour Operators Perceptions Surveys (TOPS©) include detailed personal interviews with tour operators who are specifically selected for each project, to determine up-to-date market preferences and attitudes towards a particular destination.  As a result, we are able to offer leading-edge analysis of global tourism market trends of direct relevance to our clients;
·    Blackstone’s Tourism Statistical Analysis (TSA) goes beyond government-cited statistics that are often misleading.  Typically, visits by business travelers, people visiting friends and relatives (VFRs), and actual bonafide tourists are aggregated into national visitation statistics. Use of these figures as “tourism statistics” from which to calculate future demand can lead to highly inaccurate projections .  At Blackstone, we undertake detailed research to determine how many actual tourists are selecting destinations or attractions, to provide a sound basis for highly informed decision-making.
Tourism Product Development: Development of tourism products – that combination of elements which define the whole travel experience, including access, services, attractions, programs, etc. – needs to be carried out with an understanding of a complex array of key considerations. These considerations include, for example, differentiation, providing value for the dollar, theming/packaging, and ensuring excellent service.  Lack of attention to any one of these key elements risks failure or realization of sub-optimal results.  We offer a creative, original approach to TPD;
Matching Grants and Revolving Funds: We have prepared detailed operational designs for both matching grants and revolving funds to support community members to obtain the benefits of tourism while offering marketable tourism products and services.
Linkages Studies and Strategies:  Tourism is an industry that is inextricably linked with other sectors, including transportation, other economic sectors, water and sanitation, energy, waste management and others.  We conduct detailed analyses of these linkages and how to strengthen them.
Marketing Strategies:  Tourism marketing today must be multi-dimensional – web-based, involving a strong network of contacts/partners/operators etc., and based on sound market research. Our team includes a highly experienced tourism planner who is also a tour operator and hotel owner, with first-hand experience about what works and what doesn’t “on the ground”;
Economic Impact and Financial Feasibility Analyses: Economic assessments are often a key part of a client’s evaluation related to investments in tourism.  Our economists and hospitality experts have developed economic impact models that have been applied to project income, expenses, return on investment, payback periods, etc..   We have carried out many financial feasibility analyses for the hospitality industry, employing, for example, the detailed Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI), which is widely considered to be the standard for financial reporting for lodging-industry operators.
Due Diligence: Earning a social license to operate and demonstrating a high level of corporate social responsibility are important to our clients. We are GRI (Global Reporting Initiative)-certified and support ISO 26000 Social Responsibility. We can help our private sector clients, in particular, to fulfill their due diligence and report on achievement of sustainability benchmarks, cost-effectively.

Tourism Project Examples:

Bolivia:  Preparation of $20 Million Loan for National Community-Based Tourism  Programme

Blackstone was retained by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Government of Bolivia to prepare a tourism plan and all loan documents for this major project.   We built the five components of the loan, including: “puesta en valor” (conversion of tourism resources into products through investment in infrastructure); capacity building, including detailed development of a matching grant facility; institutional strengthening; marketing and promotion; and environmental management.   The project, prepared under a very tight time frame and difficult circumstances, was delivered on time and on budget and was very well received by the clients in Bolivia and Washington.  It resulted in the successful negotiation of a major loan from the IADB to the Government of Bolivia;

Aruba: Due Diligence Assessment of Impacts Associated with Major Tourism and Mixed Use Development Project Assessment of lessons learned throughout the Caribbean, and similar destinations, and assessment of socio-economic impacts associated with a major mixed use development adjacent to a poor population centre in Aruba;

Belize:  A Strategy for Tourism Sector Involvement in Addressing HIV/AIDS Epidemic  A project designed to assess the situation regarding HIV/AIDS in Belize, which has the third highest infection rate in the Caribbean; objective was to determine how the tourism industry, as the country’s largest employer, can work effectively with other parties to address the myriad of complex issues that are contributing to the situation, with regard to, for example, educating their employees, educating visitors, providing assistance to school programming for sex education, etc.;

Yukon Territory, Canada:  Comprehensive Due Diligence Review of Major Tourism Project for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada:  Blackstone carried out a detailed study of a multi-million dollar tourism development in Yukon, including financial analysis, product evaluation, impact assessment, etc.;

Nunavut Territory, Canadian Arctic:  Stakeholder consultation process with indigenous Inuit populations throughout eastern Canadian Arctic related to new legislation for the tourism sector;

Ningbo and Shaoxing Cities, China: Tourism and Cultural Heritage Management Projects: Funded through CIDA INC. and supported by the World Bank and the two municipalities, this project involved the preservation of historically important areas and structures, and the development of tourism strategies that will link these two areas and strengthen their ability to attract responsible tourism development;

Parish of Portland, Jamaica – “Early Actions” for Tourism: Through support of CIDA’s Environmental Action Programme (ENACT), priorities for community-based tourism were identified with stakeholders, and funding solicited through various sources;

Alternative/Cultural Tourism Strategy for Nunavut, Canada: A project for Nunavut Tourism and the Territory’s Department of Sustainable Development to identify needs and interests, assess assets and resources, determine markets and generate consensus regarding a practical strategy to attract adventure and cultural tourism to the eastern arctic of Canada in a way that benefits the Inuit people;

Assessment of Tourism Issues and Priorities in St. Lucia: A mission with World Bank staff was undertaken to identify the key issues that need to be addressed to ensure a sustainable future for tourism;

Best Management Practices for Responsible Tourism for Trinidad and Tobago: Through Inter-American Development Bank funding, guidelines were produced following a consultation process. In addition, lessons learned from other destinations and an assessment of market potential were included;

National Development Plan for Belize: Blackstone was retained by the Inter-American Development Bank to carry out this major tourism development project for Belize over a one-year period. The highly acclaimed action plan had broad support, having been prepared through an iterative and extensive stakeholder development and consultation programme throughout the country. The “Blackstone Plan” has been formally adopted by the Government of Belize and is being implemented through a major loan through the IADB and via several other funding sources;

National Ecotourism Strategies for Brazil and Argentina: Blackstone was asked by the Inter-American Development Bank to prepare national-level strategic plans for these two large South America countries, to assist the governments in supporting and developing ecotourism development in a sustainable way;

Ecotourism and the Inter-American Development Bank: A Strategy Paper: Blackstone developed a strategy paper, or “think piece”, to assist the Bank in examining how it might develop its future programming with respect to ecotourism throughout Latin America and the Caribbean;

Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Solid Waste Management Solutions for Six Caribbean Countries – Socio-Economic, Institutional and Tourism Components World Bank (1993)  The company was responsible for undertaking socio-economic aspects of this World Bank-funded assignment, including consideration of institutional, legislative, cultural, land use planning, environmental education and awareness-building requirements related to the upgrading of solid waste management facilities on six islands, as well as opportunities for private sector involvement.  The treatment of cruise ship and tourism waste generated by hotels were major aspects of this work.

Ecotourism Strategy for the Pantanal Region of Bolivia: Funded through CIDA, this project provided detailed ecotourism planning for a tourism region of the country, including detailed market segment analyses, tour operator interviews, resource planning, community consultations, etc.;

Ecotourism Strategy for Peru, World Bank: Blackstone was engaged by the Government of Peru, through the World Bank, to develop a comprehensive strategy for the development of the ecotourism industry in the country;

Green Tourism Strategy, City of Toronto: Retained to develop a strategy to capitalize on “green tourism” opportunities throughout the urban area, with a view to encouraging sound environmental practices and strengthened community economic development;

Tourism/Economic Development Linkages Study, The Bahamas: Retained by the Inter-American Development Bank to help strengthen the linkages between the tourism sector and other productive sectors of the economy;

Evaluation of CIDA-Sponsored Ecotourism Projects in Four Caribbean Countries: An analysis was undertaken of community-based efforts to establish their own tourism attractions, in order to learn what works and doesn’t work in animating community participation and obtaining real results;

Tourism and Socio-Economic Assessments, Lake Malawi National Park, Malawi: Carried out tourism and socio-economic analyses as part of a project to evaluate development potential in and around the park, which contains 5 enclave villages and has been designated as a World Heritage Site due to the area’s aquatic biodiversity;

Tourism and Transportation Linkages Study, Ontario Ministry of Transportation: Study to examine the linkages between all transport modes and establish the role of passenger transportation in promoting and supporting Ontario’s tourism sector;

Tourism Strategy Assistance – Olsztyn, Poland: This project, through the Canadian Urban Institute, entailed assistance to the city of Olsztyn to determine its tourism potential, and institutional, infrastructural and marketing requirements;

Tourism Opportunities Study, Siberia, Russia: A mission to Gorno-Altaisk and Krasnoyarsk in central Siberia, to identify ecotourism opportunities and design a programme for action for a private sector consortium;

Winter Tourism Strategy for Republic of Turkey: S. Davidson and B. Lamb directed this project for a large engineering firm. Working with a ski resort facility planner, we developed a Master Plan for winter tourism as well as detailed financial and market feasibility analyses and physical plans for a major resort and established a plan for winter tourism throughout the country at several other ski destinations;