Screw Ups in Tourism and Leisure

Screw Ups in Tourism and Leisure

In a world where quick actions and bold visions set the tone, it is valuable to reflect on the steps we have taken during successes as well as Screw Ups. During the Screw Up Morning at the end of 2023, an initiative of Sweco, ENSUT and J2Leisure, we took the opportunity to take a different tack and analyze and discuss in detail not successful projects but projects that did not go as planned – because the best way to learn is from mistakes.

Valuable ‘Screw Ups’ from practice

Examples of Screw Ups abounded. For example, mention was made of how difficult it can be to convince a major shopping center to add leisure elements, and we discussed the paradox of the Floriade: a short-term failure that has plenty of opportunity for a future thriving climate-adaptive residential area. In addition, lack of space often creates a preference for residential development over leisure facilities, highlighting the complexity of leisure in area development and the involvement of both entrepreneurs and residents.

A sector that goes beyond economic gain and is also socially valuable

During the morning we not only reflected on the past, but also looked forward to the future. Panelists shared their insights on area development and the difficulty of financing projects when there is no political support. Others gave their perspective on tourism and leisure and the importance of developing a vision beyond just economic interests. Space to meet, exercise, sociability and meaning leads to both economic growth and social cohesion. Tourism and leisure are not only a privilege, but also a statutory right, supported by Article 22 of our Constitution, which states that the government “creates conditions for leisure activities.

Deciphering the ‘Screw Ups’

During the start-up phase, time is a very relative concept. ‘Haste’ is a common Screw Up, resulting in too many assumptions and insufficient research. At the same time, we see that many Screw Ups arise from endless co-creation sessions where action fails to materialize. To arrive at a great plan, multiple perspectives are needed and very valuable! But by inviting too many stakeholders to the table or by involving certain types of stakeholders too late, Screw Ups occur. In addition, hidden agendas and political interests are another cause of the failure of plans. It is clear: without a solid start, including the right stakeholders, support and a realistic view of the time and resources needed, every project is vulnerable.

The urge to want to get started quickly is very recognizable and certainly not something new, but it can lead to a lack of thorough knowledge and preparation. This often results in substandard decisions and overlooking crucial aspects and stakeholders. Political divisions, lack of support at the beginning of the project and the challenge of too many stakeholders are some of the recurring issues that came up during the Screw Up Morning: Tourism and Leisure.

The Value of Tourism and Leisure: essential but still undervalued key to broad prosperity

The lessons learned from the Screw Up Morning are certainly not unknown to many but it re-emphasizes the importance of not wanting to start too soon, involving the right stakeholders and cross-overs with other policy fields. After all, the value of tourism and recreation extends beyond the economy: it contributes to the quality of life and well-being of residents, and should certainly not be considered last in area development.

28 March 2024