Chris is an Associate Consultant with TRC. In a career spanning 3 decades he has gained extensive experience in tourism in the national, state and regional contexts. He was previously a senior manager in Parks Victoria and spent time as Chief Executive of the agency. He helped deliver the tourism response and recovery following some of Australia’s worst natural disasters, including the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.
As a consultant, Chris has worked on developing numerous tourism plans for clients throughout Australia and New Zealand. These have included a Destination Management Plan for Taranaki in New Zealand, and 3 Destination Actions Plans for Baw Baw Shire Council in Eastern Victoria. Chris has also led projects to facilitate investment in ecotourism in Tasmania and developed governance models to grow partnerships aimed at improving the visitor experience in National Parks.
Chris is adept at risk management and risk control development and has prepared risk frameworks for clients, as well as sitting on several Boards as a Company Director.
Crisis Management Planning - Why?
As Winston Churchill once said – ‘Let our advance worrying become thinking and planning’. Crisis management planning is simply preparing your organisation and your markets for some eventual circumstance – some of which will be seen, some of which will most likely not be. However, a focussed crisis plan deals with your ability to protect value – human, financial, and social when the crisis hits. Information is critical, as is early communication to your guests, your stakeholders and more broadly industry.
The recent bushfires and the COVID 19 pandemic have sharpened people’s minds into the larger black swan and international and national type disasters that can occur. They typically have larger consequences for businesses and destinations. The smaller and mis sized events are also forecast to grow in number and severity, particularly with climate induced risks. Being prepared for these events, we argue is now more important than ever.
In this paper we will draw on recent planning undertaken in the Cook Islands, where tourism (direct and indirect) represents 80% of the nation’s GDP. The development of a tourism crisis management plan will not stop disasters occurring, but it will help industry, guests and markets know what to do, have the right information at hand and build resilience into the sector through a better understanding of risk management.
History also shows that the exercise of preparing the plan is just as important as the plan itself. Assuming the plan is prepared in a way that engages stakeholders, consults broadly with operators and is done at a scale that brings the right people together, it helps build relationships, helps people understand the risks (likelihood and consequence) of certain hazards and their impacts, and provides opportunities for destinations to conduct exercises annually.
Crisis management planning is not the only answer, but as part of a suite of well thought through controls, may help.