IITS Research & Consulting Services

The George Washington University’s International Institute of Tourism Studies helps to solve critical industry challenges by providing guidance and support to community development and governance projects. In recognition of our outstanding research, we have been formally recognized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization for our achievements in this area.The George Washington University’s International Institute of Tourism Studies helps to solve critical industry challenges by providing guidance and support to community development and governance projects. In recognition of our outstanding research, we have been formally recognized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization for our achievements in this area.

For tourism professionals, the International Institute of Tourism Studies offers more than 40 development courses that are flexible enough to be adapted by local institutions and meet regional and local conditions. Government agencies, associations, not-for-profit organizations and corporations have tailored our courses to meet the needs of their constituents. Programs can be delivered through in-person workshops or online. All courses are taught by leading professionals and translated into local languages.

Over the course of 25 years, we have conducted research and produced customized training programs in countries throughout the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean for organizations including the World Bank, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Green Globe Alliance, Pan American Federation of Hotels and Tourism Schools, U.S. Agency for International Development, Inter-American Development Bank, National Park Service, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, and Destination Marketing Association International.

Flagship Initiatives

Indigenous Tourism

From their rugged natural beauty to their rich history and culture, North America’s indigenous communities offer tourists the potential for rewarding and authentic visitor experiences. For tribes eager to find a viable means of maintaining their traditions and resources, tourism can provide a lucrative and sustainable source of income. The International Institute of Tourism Studies works with tribal communities to develop their tourism potential, helping them to take stock of and develop their potential assets, plan and build their capacity and promote their offerings to tour operators and other audiences. Areas of focus include tribal tourism governance, capacity building and product development. Select past projects have included:

  • Indigenous People and The Travel Industry, comprehensive guidelines for travel companies intended to promote responsible indigenous tourism.
  • Economic plan for tourism development for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians; 
  • Strategic plan for job creation and tourism investment and development for the Choctaw Nation; 
  • Establishment of a tourism office for the Crow Tribe; 
  • Partnership-building for communities in the North Coast and Bay Islands of Honduras.  
  • Regional assessment of tourism potential for five tribal communities in North Dakota and helping them to set up a regional tourism alliance.

In collaboration with the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, we offer the only online professional certificate program in cultural heritage tourism for Indian Country.

Destination Management

We provide guidance and support to destinations around the world eager to sustainably develop their tourism sectors. For example, we’ve been working with Cuba, the Cayman Islands and Mexico—helping them to figure out the best ways of hosting travelers in order to support local economies without compromising cultural and natural resources. We’re also working with the Destination Marketing Association International on an individually tailored certificate program designed to equip destination marketing organization staff throughout the US with the information they need to be more effective around their management efforts. For more information on our professional certificate program in destination management, click here.

Thought Leadership

We’re partnering with academic and nongovernmental organizations to convene and lead conferences and other key events that elevate the conversation around tourism and engage the development community, governments, donors and local communities around efforts to help solve critical challenges.

We’re also engaging universities around the world in our T-Lab challenge, designed to support community-based tourism enterprises. And we’re compiling research from various studies and initiatives that reflect the health of destinations based on internationally recognized indicators.

Adventure Travel

In collaboration with the Adventure Travel and Trade Association, the International Institute of Tourism Studies produces The Adventure Tourism Development Index (ATDI), an annual report that ranks the readiness of tourism destinations to host adventure travelers. The ATDI is intended to help destinations, tourism ministries, and entrepreneurs evaluate their assets within a larger geographic context. The 2016 report reviewed country-level and regional trends over a six-year period, focusing on ten categories including government policy, safety & security, health, natural resources, adventure activities, entrepreneurship, tourism infrastructure and brand. Click here to download the report.

Urban Walkability & Tourism

Cities around the world are witnessing a shift from low-density, segregated planning patterns to higher-density, integrated walkable areas that provide new opportunities for tourism development and management. The George Washington University Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis in partnership with the International Institute of Tourism Studies have been conducting research on urban walkability and tourism, developing research methodologies along with practical strategies and tools designed to enhance a city’s appeal and quality of life. This work is particularly geared for real estate developers, government officials, nonprofits and place-based institutions, such as business improvement districts, neighborhood associations, historic preservation districts and cultural heritage routes. Among the destinations that the team has analyzed is Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit our blog.