CHIANG RAI, 18 September 2018: Are people in major tourism destinations happy, well adjusted or just plain miserable? A new global survey has been launched to find out.
Tackling the issue of so-called ‘overtourism’ a 15-minute online survey is now up and running online on the Planet Happiness website.
It intends to reach out to local residents in popular tourist destinations to assess their response to tourism expansion specifically in world heritage sites worldwide.
In its launch announcement the project claims to be measuring escalating ‘overtourism’, in the context of community wellbeing and happiness rather than Gross Domestic Product, revenue and a visitor head count.
The survey will attempt to measure key indicators, such as satisfaction with life, access to nature and arts, community engagement, standard of living, life-long learning, and health.
“The purpose of tourism in destinations such as Barcelona, Brasilia, Kakadu, Luang Prabang, Kyoto, Yosemite, Everest, Victoria Falls and other renowned places is to strengthen and support the happiness and wellbeing of local people,” says tourism consultant Dr Paul Rogers, co-founder of Planet Happiness. “If tourism fails to do this, it is neither responsible nor sustainable and local policies should change accordingly.”
Planet Happiness has been launched at a time when ‘overtourism’ is becoming a major concern in visitor hotspots around the world, especially World Heritage sites.
Rogers admits that the survey results may show that people in tourism destinations are happy and that no major changes are needed.
Either way, he believes it will be highly useful to compare reactions and responses to tourism and wellbeing in different travel hotspots around the world.
“It’s more about finding where there are deficiencies – such as having meaningful access to community fulfilment and feeling valued,” says Rogers. “The survey will show people where they are doing well compared to other tourism destinations and possibly where they should seek to improve their lives.”
He added: “It’s a new, fresh, more responsible and holistic way of looking at tourism.”
Tourism in terms of visitor count and revenue is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing industries, with over 1.33 billion visitor movements across borders in 2017. Today, more than 1 in 10 people are employed in tourism globally.
“The more people who do the survey, the better,” says US-based Laura Musikanski, a lawyer, sustainability process expert and executive director of the Happiness Alliance at happycounts.org.
Musikanski says that aggregated local and global data from the Planet Happiness Survey Index will be open source and accessible to everyone with an interest in sustainable tourism and community wellbeing. However, it will stop short of sharing information that could identity individuals.
The website will post on-going results and share them with journalists, students, businesses, government officials and interested parties worldwide. It’s first blog is scheduled for release in six months.
A check of the website shows the site’s management team is led by Paul Rogers, a global tourism consultant, Laura Musikanski executive director of the Happiness Alliance at happycounts.org, a nonprofit established in 2010 and Ken Scott a communications specialist and founder of ScottAsia Communications.
Established as a non-profit, the link to the happiness survey is in the “about” section of the website.
There are other sub sites under the tab “How” on the home page that refer to specific happiness index surveys focusing on Hoi An in Vietnam, Luang Prabang in Laos, Mt Everest region, Nepal and the Ironbridge community project in the UK.
The download of the happiness survey progresses as you complete the questions displayed. Initial questions are subjective to evaluate the level of happiness the respondent is currently experiencing, followed by questions on health, time balance in life, community and personal relations.
It will take more than the estimated 15 minutes to complete if the respondent intends to do the survey justice.