Design thinking for tourism


How to use design thinking to facilitate regenerative, inclusive and transformational change in tourism.

You've heard about regenerative tourism and want to know more?

You are keen to learn practical new ways of working in tourism?


You want to build better conversations about how to build resilient, sustainable, inclusive and collaborative tourism and visitor economies?


One-size-fits-all template solutions and destination management plans just don't fit your needs?

In this course, two skills for the future meet - regenerative tourism and design thinking!

Join us in exploring regenerative tourism and what it means for you, your organisation, your destination and your work.

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Approach to this course

Course delivery

  • Starts 23 February.

  • Live sessions recorded, practice sessions organised to suit your timezone.

  • Course duration - 10 weeks.

  • 5 modules each comprising a Learning Circles (course content) and a CoLab Circle (practice and share skill development).

  • Based on learning rhythm - learn, reflect, activate, share and repeat.

Benefits and outcomes

  • Familiarity with the characteristics of regenerative tourism.

  • Working knowledge of design thinking, tools and practices.

  • A community of practice around a shared vision for regenerative tourism.

  • Access to a tool kit of design thinking templates to help you on the journey.


Course Delivery

The course is delivered via Zoom and The Tourism CoLab's Teaching online platform. The interactive virtual whiteboard Mural (Modules 4 and 5) will be used for design thinking components.

The course runs over 10 weeks and includes 5 modules made up of:

  • 5 x Learning Circles (zoom webinars 5 x 1.5 hr every second week, reading materials, videos, course notes and resources).

  • 5 x CoLab Circles for reflection and activating learning (5 x 1.5 hr every other week).

  • Access to The Tourism CoLab’s membership community (6 months).

Allow 2-3 hours per week and a total investment of 20-30 hours depending on what you would like to achieve from the course. Webinars will be available to view, and materials will be available for download for 6 months.

Course Cost

Individual -  $550 AUD

We're educators, so we know the importance of small classes and deep learning. We're capping places to ensure the best learning environment for you, so be early.

Group discount available, just email us and ask!


The thing I liked the most was connecting with people around the world and the realisation that there are plenty of people elsewhere questioning the status quo in tourism and the structure of the sector.


- Participant, Introduction to Design Thinking, Aug 2020

My goal was to understand how the method worked in order to use it for a specific project. This was totally new to me as a method, while I saw that others were familiar with it. I am satisfied about the amount of info that I had access to!"

- Participant, Introduction to Design Thinking, Aug 2020.

Course Curriculum

1. Regenerative tourism meets design thinking

Regenerative tourism x design, the skills and the toolkit is the focus of this module. We apply design thinking to regenerative tourism principles and values to unleash a new way of working. Topics include:

  • Regenerative tourism - what is it?

  • Design thinking - what is it?

  • Why are we here?

  • Framing the challenge

  • Values in tourism

  • Silences and empty seats around the table

2. Blind spots, blinkers and breaking free

We take a step back to explore the big picture. We investigate the blind spots, blinkers and assumptions that shape our thinking and how we can break free. Adopting an intentional design mindset requires understanding how we got here. Otherwise, it's like organising our office in the dark! Topics include:

  • Our human condition and the power of travel

  • The tourism system and its underpinning ideology

  • It's our worldview makes the world

  • Towards intentional design of tourism


3. Tools of the trade

Taking intentional design further, it's now time to explore the toolkit and that helps us explore what regenerative tourism might mean in your organisation, community or destination. Topics include:

  • Discovery through an evidence safari

  • Analysis by sitting in the mess

  • Designing actions using creative thinking

  • Prototyping and experimenting

  • Evaluating change

  • Authentic storytelling for impact

4. Getting started and sitting in the mess

We take a deep dive into virtual design thinking collaboration. Here, you'll get to see how the journey unfolds and how it all fits together and unfolds using Mural. Topics include:

  • Creating the space

  • Designing the journey

  • Facilitating and holding space

  • Leveraging creative tension

  • Deep listening, empathy and communities of practice

  • The evidence safari

5. The emerging future and the journey ahead

Following on from the previous module, learn to make sense of our evidence safari, the basics of agile work using prototyping, and appreciating the journey that lies ahead. Topics include:

  • Making sense (abductive reasoning)

  • Prototyping and experimenting

  • Implementation

  • Your authentic story of impact

  • Leadership for the future

Your instructors

We are experienced researcher-practitioners and we have been working with the principles of regenerative, purpose-led, sustainable and responsible tourism for our entire careers. From the UK to New Zealand, Mexico to Australia, Samoa to Iceland, from the public sector to business, from NGOs to DMOs, we're sharing a wealth of experience to unpack what regenerative tourism means, and how you can identify and work with it in your community and place.


Dianne is an experienced educator, tourism, urban and environmental planner, tourism strategist, and Director of The Tourism CoLab. With over 25 years experience in tourism policy, research and analysis, regional development, organisational design, community engagement and design thinking, she's got what it takes to make sense of complexity. Dianne holds guest professorships at Lund University, Sweden and Federation University, Australia and is an elected member of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism.


Jenny Cave is an experienced cultural heritage manager, evaluator and tourism catalyst. As a craftsperson (weaver), she has pragmatic insights into alternative solutions in stakeholder ecosystems. With over 25 years in experience design, cultural heritage management and operations, program evaluation, market research and governance she can envisage nimble but strategic shifts within external trends. Jenny holds adjunct positions at Swansea University, Wales and Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


Q. When does the course start and finish?


The course website will open two weeks prior to the start date. The content for the Introduction and Module 1 will be available at this time. On the start date for the course, all remaining materials will be introduced and become available.


Q. How is the course run?


The course will be run using Zoom, Teachable (resources and worksheets) and Mural (Modules 4 and 5).


On the Learning weeks, webinars will be recorded and made available for viewing. On the CoLab weeks, group work and coaching and will not be recorded.


Q. What happens if I can't attend the live webinars?


The course may be completed asynchronously. That is, you can view the learning materials and the webinar recording in your own time, and go through the CoLab worksheets and exercises on your own. Talk to us if you would like to do the course asynchronously and how we might accommodate your needs.


It may be possible to arrange an alternative meeting time for your CoLab Circle should your group agree.


Q. How long do I have access to the course?


After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for six (6) months, across any and all devices or until further notice.


Q. What if I am unhappy with the course?


We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.


Q. Will the course be offered at a later date?


Yes. The course will be offered again (dates to be confirmed) but we can't guarantee the same pricing. If you would like to take the course now, all the materials including the webinars will be available for download to view at a later date, and you can email the instructor anytime.


Want to keep in touch?


Sign up to The Tourism CoLab's mailing list to receive information about future course offerings.

©2021 The Tourism CoLab.

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