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Economics & Tourism


Lecturer Dr. Laura Cismaru1
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Gheorghita Dinca2
Prof. Dr. Gabriel Bratucu3

Transilvania University from Brasov, Romania

After several years of considerable research efforts, in 2013, the European Commission
launched the first version of a European Tourism Indicator System Toolkit for
Sustainable Destinations. It was created by European experts as a simple and easy to
apply tool, composed of 67 indicators, specially conceived to offer support for European
tourist destinations which are interested in developing in a sustainable way. It can be
used both as an evaluation tool and as a benchmarking tool. In this context, this paper
introduces the Research Project called Destination Intelligent Management for
Sustainable Tourism (DIMAST) which was launched in Romania in 2014, aiming to
implement the European Tourism Indicator System through a Business Intelligence
application. Two qualitative research methods were used within the present paper: the
case study and innovation. The first part of the article shortly introduces the information
on the European Tourism Indicator System TOOLKIT for Sustainable Destinations. The
paper than focuses on the above mentioned Pilot project which has as its main objective
to support the local Destination Management Organization from Brasov County, one of
the most famous tourist destinations in Romania, to develop in a sustainable way using
an innovative Business Intelligence software based on the 67 indicators developed by
the European Commission in 2013. The project groups seven partners from tourism
research institutions, tourism industry, as well as an ICT software developer and it is
actually in progress, a genuine set of indicators being already conceived based on
Brasovs profile. Due to the fact that there was not available data for many European
Indicators, the article presents how the European system has been genuinely adapted in
the case of Brasov County. The main findings of this project can be used as best practice
by other European destinations willing to develop in a sustainable way.
Keywords: sustainable






In February 2013, the European Commission launched the European Tourist Indicators
System for Sustainable Destinations [1], referred to as the ETIS system, in order to
support the sustainable development approach of tourist destinations in Europe. ETIS
was conceived as a dynamic and adaptable system of indicators, allowing destinations
to use it according to their specific needs and profile. Therefore, ETIS includes 67

3rd International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences & Arts SGEM 2016

indicators, but destinations are encouraged to conceive and use additional indicators
which are useful in the evaluation process of the sustainable development.
Two testing sessions took place before the official ETIS Toolkit has been released,
involving several important tourist destinations in European countries in order to
identify some core indicators which can be used by all destination interested to develop
in a sustainable way. Due to the fact that Brasov county is a leading tourist destination
in Romania, it was chosen by the European Commission to participate at workshops on
the topic of conceiving the most appropriate indicators for evaluating the sustainability
of European tourist destinations. In October the 23rd, the workshop called Study of
European Tourist Indicators System for Destinations Sustainable Management took
place in Brasov city, organized by Surrey University Great Britain, INTASSAVE
Partnership and Sustainable Tourism International Board, which have been empowered
by the European Commission to put into effect a feasibility study of ETIS 2013 for the
European tourism. Several specialists from Transilvania University as well as from the
local Destination Management Organisation (DMO) the Association for Promotion
and Development of Tourism in Brasov (APDT) were actively involved in this
workshop. Furthermore, Brasov is home for valuable Information Technology and
Communication (ICT) enterprises, among which SC BIT Software SRL one of the
few developers of authentic Business Intelligence (BI) software solutions in Romania.
It is on these premises that the concept of the DIMAST Project (Destination Intelligent
Management for Sustainable Tourism) was formulated in 2013. The main aim of the
project was to offer real support to the local DMO in Brasov in the process of
sustainable development through a Business Intelligence application which is based on
the ETIS system of indicators. One of the major challenges for the research team within
the DIMAST Project proved to be the setting-up of the appropriate set of indicators to
be used in the evaluation process for Brasov County. The lack of available data for most
part of the ETIS indicators was a provocation which determined a major reconfiguration
of the system of indicators, based on the available data in Brasov County. The project is
in progress, the database being now created.
In 2016, an improved version of the ETIS Toolkit has been released by the European
Commission [2]. It is restructured on 43 core indicators and several potential
supplementary indicators. This new version of the ETIS Toolkit is based on practise
regarding the implementation attempts during the last three years and it actually brings
supplementary flexibility to the ETIS system of indicators, therefore increasing the
potential of its implementation.
As most of the recent tourism policies and initiatives of the European Commission
show, a key belief of EU experts is that sustainable development is an important
generator for competitive advantage of European tourism businesses and destinations. A
short chronological review of the sustainability issues included in the European tourism
policies has recently been presented in the tourism literature [3]. One of the main targets
within the most recent Tourism Policy adopted by the EU Commission in 2010 is
related to transforming Europe into a collection of sustainable and high-quality
destinations [4]. Being a key concern at EU level, the sustainable development of
tourism has been supported by concrete actions and initiatives. Several projects received

Economics & Tourism

European financial support in this direction and also special proposals have been
included within the most recent EU Tourism Policy. Within this document, one of the
four main directions for action expressly addresses European tourist destinations,
emphasizing the importance of consolidating European Unions image and profile as a
sustainable macro-tourist destination. Sustainability is a key advantage of European
tourism; most of the best practice cases can be found in Europe. And still, there is much
more to do in a new context created by the launch of the European circular economy
strategy or the European collaborative strategy. The most recent policy adopted at EU
level is a very practical one, proposing concrete actions to be taken by different
stakeholders. Developing an authentic system of indicators for the sustainable
management of tourist destinations is a successful example in this direction [3]. Starting
2011, the European Commission began to focus on this action too and, at the beginning
of 2013, the European Tourism System of Indicators (ETIS) for sustainable destinations
was launched. The ETIS system of indicators has recently been categorized as a useful
European tool to support the efficient management of tourist destinations [5]. According
to another theory, ETIS is an evaluation tool which can be developed into a profiling
and benchmarking tool for European destinations [6, 7].
Conceiving a set of sustainable development indicators numerically measurable,
useful, easy to interpret, easy to compare between heterogeneous European destinations,
objective, directed at improvement and reliable [8] was a big challenge for European
experts involved into the ETIS Project. Finally, the 2013 ETIS tool consists of 67
sustainability related indicators defined as a useful tool to track destination
performance and make better management decisions, as well as influence adequate
policies [1]. ETIS is both a monitoring system and a benchmarking tool for tourist
destinations willing to evaluate and understand their profile from the sustainability
perspective. Just like other EU projects or initiatives in this field, ETIS can be used
voluntarily by European destinations and it has the great advantage of being flexible,
according to the specific needs and traits of each destination. Two testing phases took
place in order to improve the initial indicators.
The 67 indicators, which are either core indicators or optional indicators, were grouped
into four sections:
1. Destination Management Indicators (9) grouped into four categories:
1.1. Sustainable Tourism Public Policy (1 core and 2 optional)
1.2. Sustainable Tourism Management in Tourism Enterprises (1 core and 1
1.3. Customer Satisfaction (1 core and 1 optional)
1.4. Information and Communication (1 core and 1 optional)
2. Economic Value Indicators (18) grouped into five categories:
2.1. Tourism Flow (volume & value) at Destination (2 core and 3 optional)
2.2. Tourism Enterprise(s) Performance (2 core and 3 optional)
2.3. Quantity and Quality of Employment (1 core and 2 optional)
2.4. Safety and Health (1 core and 1 optional)
2.5. Tourism Supply Chain (1 core and 2 optional)
3. Social and Cultural Impact Indicators (14) grouped into four categories:
3.1. Community/Social Impact (1 core and 3 optional)
3.2. Gender Equality (1 core and 2 optional)
3.3. Equality/Accessibility (2 core and 2 optional)

3rd International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences & Arts SGEM 2016

3.4. Protecting and Enhancing Cultural Heritage, Local Identity and Assets (1
core and 1 optional)
4. Environmental Impact Indicators (26) grouped into nine categories:
4.1. Reducing Transport Impact (2 core and 2 optional)
4.2. Climate Change (1 core and 2 optional)
4.3. Solid Waste Management (2 core and 1 optional)
4.4. Sewage Treatment (1 core and 1 optional)
4.5. Water Management (1 core and 3 optional)
4.6. Energy Usage (1 core and 2 optional)
4.7. Landscape and Biodiversity Protection (1 core and 2 optional)
4.8. Light and Noise Management (1 core and 1 optional)
4.9. Bathing Water Quality (1 core and 1 optional).
After completion, the system of 67 indicators was tested in more than 200 European
destinations, during two pilot testing phases. In 2016, a second version of ETIS has
been released based on the experience gained during testing the 2013 version of ETIS.
The system was changed and it comprises now 43 core indicators and several
supplementary indicators, provided only as a possibility. In this context, the ETIS
system is much more flexible. It also puts an accent on accessibility.
Planning and managing tourist destinations should always start with a comprehensive
evaluation, based on appropriate sets of indicators. After the first ETIS toolkit was
launched, the possibility to use it in an innovative way within destination management
started to preoccupy a team of researchers from Transilvania University in Brasov,
Romania. Brasov is a one of the leading tourist destinations in Romania and it also has
one of the top Destination Management Organizations in Romania [9]. The local DMO
has been very active during the last ten years and one of its major advantages relies on a
great cooperation with all local stakeholders. However, it is facing a major difficulty
related to the fact that it only has two employees, who are overwhelmed by an enormous
quantity of responsibilities. Some major initiatives and successful projects related to
Brasov refer to the sustainable development, such as transforming Brasov into a smart
city etc. [9]. In this context, the DIMAST Research Project (Destination Intelligent
Management for Sustainable Tourism) has been formulated with the main aim of
creating an innovative Business Intelligence tool, DSS type (Decision Support System),
in order to help the local DMO make more thorough and informed decisions related to
the sustainable development of the entire county, based on the ETIS system of
indicators [10]. In 2001, European experts from the Working Group on Improving the
Quality of Tourist Products formulated a pioneering and revolutionary proposal which
was truly inspirational for the DIMAST Project: EU Member States should develop a
standardized system for the measure of the most important indicators. Moreover,
software tools could also be developed and distributed that are useful for the measure,
record and publication of the indicators. These procedures would be of great utility for
the development of benchmarking techniques [8].
The DIMAST Project is a collaborative research initiative which groups seven partners:
the coordinator is Transilvania University from Brasov, the DSS developer is a local

Economics & Tourism

software enterprise, SC BitSoftware SRL, and the other partners are the local DMO, the
Association for Development and Promotion of Tourism in Brasov, the Association for
Sustainable Development form Brasov County, the National Institute for Research in
Tourism, and two local tourism enterprises Ambient Hotel and Callia Cruise travel
agency [11].
Figure 1: The three main phases of the DIMAST Project

At present, the DIMAST Project is in its second Phase, as depicted in the Figure 1
above [12], data being collected for the indicators which have been included in the
project. Conceiving the system of indicators for the DIMAST Project, based on the
ETIS system, was a much more challenging task than the research team imagined due to
the fact that data was not available for the most part of the ETIS Indicators. Therefore,
the major milestone within the DIMAST Project was to conceive the system of
indicators suitable for Brasov tourist destination for which there is available data. The
availability of data for the ETIS indicators proved to be also a major problem for most
of the destinations involved in the two testing phases.
The first step in the process of deciding which ETIS indicators are suitable for Brasov
tourist destination was to organize two qualitative research phases with specialists in the
field of tourism [13, 9, 11]. Following the research phases, a set of indicators specific
for Brasov tourist destination has been conceived. The next step was to find data for the
selected indicators. At this precise moment, important barriers showed up related to the
impossibility to find available data for most of the selected ETIS indicators. A
comprehensive research phase was organized in order to identify the exact ETIS

3rd International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences & Arts SGEM 2016

indicators for which there is continuously available data and to add supplementary
indicators which respect the ETIS principles.
The following system of indicators resulted which includes 12 ETIS indicators and 18
supplementary indicators. Accordingly, the DIMAST set of indicators which will be
used to monitor the sustainable development of Brasov County is composed of 30
indicators. These are the following:
1. Destination Management Indicators:
1.1. Sustainable Tourism Public Policy
- Percentage of the destination represented by a destination management organization
(ETIS - A.1.1.2)
1.3. Customer Satisfaction
- Percentage of visitors that are satisfied with their overall experience in the destination
(ETIS - A.3.1)
1.4. Information and Communication
- Percentage of destinations within Brasov County with own webpage
2. Economic Value Indicators:
2.1. Tourism Flow (volume & value) at Destination
- Number of tourist nights per month (ETIS - B.1.1)
- Tourist arrivals by country
- Number of spectators - artistic performances
- Number of visitors in museums
- Socio-cultural expenditures
2.2. Tourism Enterprise(s) Performance
- Average length of stay of tourists (nights) (ETIS - B.2.1)
- Occupancy rate in commercial accommodation per month and average for the year
(ETIS - B.2.2)
- Weight of hotels and restaurants sales within local industry
- Weight of gross investments in hotels and restaurants within local industry
- Weight of net investments in hotels and restaurants within local industry
2.3. Quantity and Quality of Employment
- Direct tourism employment as percentage of total employment (ETIS - B.3.1)
- Number of active hotels and restaurants by number of employees
- Average gross salary income in hotels and restaurants
2.4. Safety and Health
- Crime rate
- Number of persons injured in car accidents
3. Social and Cultural Impact Indicators:
3.1. Community/Social Impact (1 core and 3 optional)
- Number of tourists/visitors per 100 residents (ETIS - C.1.1)
- Number of beds available in commercial visitor accommodation per 100 residents
(ETIS - C.1.1.2)
- Number of nights per 100 residents
3.3. Equality/Accessibility
- Percentage of commercial accommodation with rooms accessible to people with
disabilities and/or participating in recognized accessibility schemes (ETIS - C.3.1)
3.4. Protecting and Enhancing Cultural Heritage, Local Identity and Assets
- Percentage of the destinations biggest events that are focused on traditional/local
culture and assets (ETIS - C.4.1.2)

Economics & Tourism

4. Environmental Impact Indicators:

4.2. Climate Change
- Air emissions accounts
- Surface area covered with forests
- Green surface area in urban environment
- Built surface area
4.3. Solid Waste Management
- Waste volume produced by destination (tones per resident per year or per month)
ETIS - D.3.1)
4.5. Water Management
- Average drinking water use/ inhabitant
4.7. Landscape and Biodiversity Protection
- Percentage of destination (area in km2) that is designated for protection (ETIS D.7.1)
At present, the DIMAST Database is being created on the frame presented above. The
DIMAST DSS will further use the MicroStrategy Business Intelligence Software for
data analytics.
At EU level, tourism sustainability is considered a major trigger for obtaining
competitive advantage. In this context, the European Commission focused on creating
useful tools to support the sustainable development of both tourism enterprises and
tourist destinations in Europe. The ETIS system of indicators is a successful example in
this direction, as an important tool for monitoring the sustainability related
performances of tourist destinations. The first version of the ETIS toolkit was released
in 2013 and two testing phases followed. Based on the information obtained during the
testing of the 67 indicators, a new version of the ETIS toolkit has been released in 2016.
Based on the fact that since 2001 the EU Commission has continuously encouraged the
innovative use of information & communication technology within tourism, combined
with the launching of the ETIS toolkit in 2013, the DIMAST Project developed. Its
main aim is to create an innovative Business Intelligence tool for supporting tourist
destinations willing to develop in a sustainable way, based on ETIS Indicators. The
most important challenge within DIMAST Project was to identify indicators for which
there is available data in Brasov. Only 12 of the initial 67 ETIS Indicators can therefore
be used within the DIMAST Project, due to the lack of available data. Additional
indicators were identified and included within the DIMAST indicators framework. New
ETIS toolkit released in 2016 opens new directions for future research, in order to
accordingly tailor the DIMAST system of indicators.
The research presented in this paper is supported by the Romanian Executive Unit for
Financing Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation, the Joint Applied
Research Projects PN-II-PT-PCCA-2013-4, under the contract no. 324/2014.

3rd International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences & Arts SGEM 2016

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