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UNIT 9: THE FUTURE OF DESTINATIONS Chapter objectives • Discuss the future of destination in the form of ecotourism and sustainable tourism • Identify and explain teh different types of carrying capacity • Understand the general concept of distribution channel in a destination analysis • Explore the relationship between information technology and a destination including the concept of virtual reality and travelEcotourism and sustainable tourismEcotourismEcotourism is a form of tourism involving visiting fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas,intended as a low impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial tourism. Itspurpose may be to educate the traveler, to provide funds for ecological conservation, to directlybenefit the economic development and political empowerment of local communities, or to fosterrespect for different cultures and for human rights.Generally, ecotourism focuses on volunteering, or "voluntourism", personal growth andenvironmental sustainability. Ecotourism typically involves travel to destinations where flora,fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. One of the goals of ecotourism is to offertourists insight into the impact of human beings on the environment, and to foster a greaterappreciation of our natural habitats.Responsible ecotourism includes programs that minimize the negative aspects of conventionaltourism on the environment and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in additionto evaluating environmental and cultural factors, an integral part of ecotourism is the promotion ofrecycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, and creation of economic opportunities for localcommunities. For these reasons, ecotourism often appeals to environmental and social responsibilityadvocates.According to the definition and principles of ecotourism established by The InternationalEcotourism Society (TIES) in 1990, ecotourism is "Responsible travel to natural areas thatconserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." (TIES, 1990).Martha Honey, expands on the TIES definition by describing the seven characteristics ofecotourism, which are: 1. Involves travel to natural destinations 2. Minimizes impact 3. Builds environmental awareness 4. Provides direct financial benefits for conservation 5. Provides financial benefits and empowerment for local people 6. Respects local culture 7. Supports human rights and democratic movements such as: • conservation of biological diversity and cultural diversity through ecosystem protection • promotion of sustainable use of biodiversity, by providing jobs to local populations
• sharing of socio-economic benefits with local communities and indigenous peoples by having their informed consent and participation in the management of ecotourism enterprises • tourism to unspoiled natural resources, with minimal impact on the environment being a primary concern. • minimization of tourisms own environmental impactBenefits of EcotourismThere are plenty of valid ecotourism businesses, but to qualify, they have to provide long-termbenefits to a community and fulfil the following conditions, at the very least.The benefits of ecotourism activities can: • be educational by teaching about local plants and animals • give you a deeper understanding of a local culture • be spiritually uplifting and bring you closer to nature • open you up to new ideas • take you off the beaten path • help you lose weight! (by getting you on your feet and on your bicycle!)If your dollars are spent wisely, here are some of the benefits of ecotourism they will reap: • money will go back into the community • endangered habitats and biodiversity will be conserved • people, both local and visitors, will become more aware of the surrounding environmental wealth • providing employment will ensure fewer people leave for the cities • poor countries often sell their primary resources to survive - water, trees, minerals, wildlife... so ecotourism provides them with a decent alternative source of income • provide financial incentives that encourage local people to protect their environmentBeware, though, the benefits of ecotourism are touted by plenty of commercial firms that have nobusiness using the word. These less honest businesses, by claiming to be involved in ecotourism,would be guilty of greenwashing, pretending to practice ecotourism but focused only on profits.When the benefits of ecotourism become liabilities, heres what can happen: • people may be displaced to build resorts, like the Masai in Kenya • population increases may put too much pressure on land, reducing opportunities for local people to make a living off the land • the same can happen if water is diverted from rivers to service tourist resorts • overcrowding in tourist venues may actually endanger protected areas, as in the Galapagos Islands, where too many tourists are visiting; in Tibet, the number of tourists visiting Tibet is higher than the number of Tibetans who actually live in their country • rare species can be endangered - unusual plants can be picked or trampled, vehicles and planes can and do pollute • energy sources can be depleted to accommodate tourist hordes, etcSustainable tourism
As more regions and countries develop their tourism industry, it produces significant impacts onnatural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems. The need forsustainable/responsible planning and management is imperative for the industry to survive as awhole.Sustainable tourism is tourism attempting to make a low impact on the environment and localculture, while helping to generate future employment for local people. The aim of sustainabletourism is to ensure that development brings a positive experience for local people, tourismcompanies and the tourists themselves. Sustainable tourism is not the same as ecotourism -Sustainable tourism is about re-focusing and adapting. A balance must be found between limits andusage so that continuous changing, monitoring and planning ensure that tourism can be managed -This requires thinking long-term (10, 20+ years) and realising that change is often cumulative,gradual and irreversible. Economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable developmentmust include the interests of all stakeholders including indigenous people, local communities,visitors, industry and government.Tourists who promote sustainable tourism are sensitive to these dangers and seek to protect touristdestinations, and to protect tourism as an industry. Sustainable tourists can reduce the impact oftourism in many ways, including: • informing themselves of the culture, politics, and economy of the communities visited • anticipating and respecting local cultures, expectations and assumptions • contributing to intercultural understanding and tolerance • supporting the integrity of local cultures by favoring businesses which conserve cultural heritage and traditional values • supporting local economies by purchasing local goods and participating with small, local businesses • conserving resources by seeking out businesses that are environmentally conscious, and by using the least possible amount of non-renewable resourcesFour Clusters Of Criteria For Sustainable Tourism 1. Community well-being Sustainable tourism development supports and ensures the economic, social and cultural well being of the communities in which tourism takes place. The criteria belonging to this cluster are ranging from the generation of income over the enhancement of local traditions up to the strengthening of participatory processes. 2. Protection of the natural and cultural environment Sustainable tourism allows the use of natural and cultural resources for gaining economic profit while at the same time guaranteeing that these resources are not deteriorated or destroyed. Additionally, tourism is expected to be a driving force with regard to the establishment or the enhancement of nature protection and the maintenance of cultural values. 3. Product quality and tourist satisfaction The quality of tourism products offered by a region is a key factor for the economic success of tourism. It is not only characterised by material criteria like the quality of transport, accommodation and food, but also by non-material criteria like hospitality or the quality of experiences. 4. Management and monitoring
To ensure that tourism is developed in a way which is feasible and fulfils the criteria of the first three clusters, adequate management and monitoring must be established. Sustainable tourism development theoretically could be implemented without management and supervision, but in reality is not likely to be ensured without.Benefits of Sustainable Tourism Development • Helping expand marketing reach by tapping into additional travel motivators, i.e. the desire for more authentic experiences • Enhancing customer loyalty by demonstrating best tourism practices • Increasing the appeal of travel itineraries through “special experiences” such as access to researchers, behind-the-scene tours, or enhanced interactions with local people • Improving impact management, helping to ensure the preservation of destinations and cultures for future generations, which equates to more attractive environments and better products • Providing access to standards recognized as best innovative practices within the travel industry, helping businesses to meet higher standards through continuous improvement • Adding value to local communities’ economies, helping them to safeguards the livelihood of local and indigenous peopleCarrying capacity"Tourism Carrying Capacity" is defined by the World Tourism Organisation as “The maximumnumber of people that may visit a tourist destination at the same time, without causing destructionof the physical, economic, socio-cultural environment and an unacceptable decrease in the qualityof visitors satisfaction”.Where as Middleton and Hawkins Chamberlain (1997) define it as “the level of human activity anarea can accommodate without the area deteriorating, the resident community being adverselyaffected or the quality of visitors experience declining” what both these definitions pick up on iscarrying capacity is the point at which a destination or attraction starts experiencing adverse as aresult of the number of visitors.There are number of different forms of carrying capacity referred to in tourism, however this articlewill focus on the four most commonly used. 1. Physical carrying capacity This is the max number that area is actually able to support. In the case of an individual tourist attraction it is the maximum number that can fit on the site at any given time and still allow people to be able to move. This is normally assumed to be around 1m per person. 2. Economic carrying capacity This relates to a level of unacceptable change within the local economy of a tourist destination, it is the extent to which a tourist destination is able to accommodate tourist functions without the loss of local activates, take for example a souvenir store taking the place of a shop selling essential items to the local community. Economic carrying capacity can also be used to describe the point at which the increased revenue brought by tourism development is overtaken by the inflation caused by tourism. 3. Social carrying capacity
This relates to the negative socio-cultural related to tourism development. The indicators of when the social carrying capacity has been exceeded are a reduced local tolerance for tourism as described by Doxey’s Index of irritation.Reduced visitor enjoyment and increased crime are also indicators of when the social carrying capacity has been exceeded. 4. Biophysical carrying capacity This deals with the extent to which the natural environment is able to tolerate interference from tourists. This is made more complicated by the fact that because it deals with ecology which is able to regenerate to some extent so in this case the carrying capacity is when the damage exceeds the habitats ability to regenerate. Environmental carrying capacity is also used with reference to ecological and physical parameters, capacity of resources, ecosystems and infrastructure.Weaknesses Of Carrying CapacityThe main criticism of carrying capacity is that is fundamentally flawed conceptually and practically.Conceptually, the notion of an inherent carrying capacity assumes a stable and predictable world, a"J-shaped" curve in the relationship between use level and impact, and techno-scientific view ofwhat are essential value judgments.On the practical level, it is difficult to calculate a maximum number of visitors because this is alsodependent on other factors like the way in which the tourists behave ‘a large group of bird Watchersmoving through a landscape will have a different impact compared to a similar sized group ofschool children.’In the case of natural heritage like national parks, visitor impacts change with seasons. What isimportant is the acceptability or appropriateness of these impacts, an issue that is largely dependenton social and cultural value systems with science having an input.Tourism distribution channelThe concept of distribution channels is not limited to the distribution of physical goods - Althoughthe principles are the same, the channel distribution for tourism differs significantly from those usedfor manufactured goods. This difference stems from the nature of tourism services and theirproduction system and consumption patterns.Tourism services require simultaneous production and consumption, meaning the product is notnormally moved to the consumer. Further, the product is often sold in conjunction with anotherone, such as airline tickets - Because of the perishability of most of the tourism products, manytraditional channels may not work.While eliminating some of the functions and problems of transportation and warehousing, adistribution channel in tourism should consider such reasons in reaching and catering to the market.A tourism distribution channel may be defined as a total system of linkages between actual andpotential tourists and the suppliers.The structure of the distribution system may be either direct (from the producer to the seller) orindirect (the sale to the consumer through an intermediary).As the definition implies, the challenge is how to get the customer to the consumption site (theretailer), that is, to make it convenient and accessible - This unique feature raises the need for adifferent kind of distribution system in tourism. Suppliers of tourism services and destinations may
use several different methods to distribute their goods and services. These include their ownchannels (partially or wholly owned), selling through management and marketing contracts,franchising, hiring sales representatives and using various intermediaries.The intermediaries in a tourism channel of distribution consist of three main categories: tourpackagers, retail travel agents and speciality channels. Included in the latter are incentive travelfirms, meeting planners and convention planners, hotel representatives, association executivemarketing organisations, corporate travel offices and others.New developments in direct access to global distribution systems make tourism arrangementsinstant and more accessible. For example, agents can make the flight arrangements, get a rental car,book a hotel room and buy a ticket to a show without ever using the telephone. In addition, there isenough evidence to suggest that direct selling, away from the location of production andconsumption, is on the increase since consumers have more access to the world information systemof the Internet and other available information databases.There are three main channel strategies used by marketing professionals and destination promotersto stimulate demand: • the pull strategy - the goal is to entice the consumer to buy the product. Certain inducements are offered to make the potential tourist more interested or seek the appropriate distribution channel for the product in question. For example, this includes frequent flyer programmes or incentives for repeat visitors to a given resort • the push strategy - The goal is to get the intermediary to sell the product to the consumer. For example, tour operators and travel agencies that work with resorts and hotels, or convention and meeting planners may be offered commission to increase bookings for a given time period. Certain incentives, such as complimentary rooms or free tickets to destinations, are among commonly used strategies. • joint promotional efforts or cross marketing - useful and commonly employed strategies in expanding the market base through intermediaries. For instance, hotels, restaurants and attractions can utilise coupons in order to bundle products and bridge the gap among offerings, or hotels working with airlines can arrange specific marketing packages to mutual destinations.Large tourism companies can become their own suppliers of products (vertical integration) - Thistype of distribution needs a large amount of capital to be successful. Vertical integration allowsbusinesses to have and exert control over the entire channel of distribution through retail outletownership and organisation of the distribution channel.Functions of Tourism Distribution Channels • Identify consumer’s needs, requests and expected experiences • Assemble tourism products from different providers according to customer expectations • Provision of coordinated and seamless tourism products • Facilitate the selling process by reserving and issuing travel documents • Reduction of prices by negotiating and pre-purchasing tourism products in bulk • Improve inventory management by managing demand and supply • Issue and deliver travel documentation, i.e. ticketing, vouchers, etc • Assessments of quality of facilities and products • Assistance in legal requirement for consumers (i.e. visa) and suppliers • Facilitate communications between consumers and suppliers especially in multilingual and multicultural environment
• Etc.Information technology and tourismThe tourism industry can be seen as one of the first business sectors where business functions arealmost exclusively using information and communications technologies (ICT). InformationTechnology (IT) and ICT has played an important role in the development of tourism.Computerised reservations Systems (CRS) were among the first applications of IT worldwide. • Computer Reservation System (CRS) The technology works by using computers of special kind and leased telephone lines. The travel agent is connected on-line to the central host computer system or CRS. This system contributes to a great extent in increasing sales volume and giving precise information on the availability and selling the products efficiently ensuring substantial profit gain. • Global Distribution System (GDS) GDSs are systems which distribute reservation and information services to sales outlets around the world. Unlike the CRS that used solely by an airline or hotel chain, GDS distribute more than one CRS to users who are usually travel agents. GDSs were formed from several CRSs. Example; Amadeus, Galileo, Abacus, Worldspan and SabreInitially, CRS and GDS emerged from the hotel and the airline reservation systems respectively, butmeanwhile they also include other tourism relevant products such as holiday packages and othermeans of transport. They provide the main links to systems of tour operators and travel agents.Given that the internet has become already a primary source of information for planning travel andholidays in the major tourism markets, it is critical for DMOs to achieve a broad distribution of theironline product, i.e. their internet portal. The first and most obvious task is to maximise the numberof visitors to the destination’s website.The industry is one of the more successful areas of e-commerce because it is largely consumeroriented and since services and the provision of information is at its centre. Werthner & Klein(1999) suggest tourism is a hybrid industry since even though it is dominated by the provision ofinformation, essentially it is about a physical product. This requires the ‘seamless integration ofinformation and physical service, with flexible configurations of the physical and the informationalparts”.ICT facilitates this integration and enables customisation of tourism products to suit the needs ofindividuals. Due to changes in consumer behaviour of the tourist the market is becoming moresegmented with each potential consumer belonging to a number of market segmentssimultaneously. Tourist operators need to be aware of these changes and be equipped to respond, orbetter still, take a proactive approach. The challenge for the tourism operator is the provision ofaccurate, localised data, increasingly via IT, whilst maintaining a relationship with the tourist.Rather than being just transaction based longer term relationships need to be fostered and IT canplay a role in this relationship building.
The Internet and tourismThe Internet is especially relevant to tourism since it enables knowledge about the consumer ortourist to be gathered, as well as vice versa. This gives ‘rise both to global visibility of destinationsand a global merging of market segments’. The use of web-based tourist information systems hasgrown significantly.Travel revenues on the Internet have consistently ranked highly in comparison with other goods andservices (Kadison, et al., 1998). The reasons cited for this prominence relate to the richness andcurrency of information provided online and the breadth of the audience as well as the intensity ofcompetition and the emergence of new players with countless web sites supported by efficienttransaction support. Online technologies within the tourism industry have significantly impacted oncommunications, transactions and relationships between the various industry operators and with thecustomer, as well as between regulators and operators.Clayton and Criscuolo (2002) argue that technology behind the modern information society,particularly by way of the Internet, has bought about four key changes for the way in whichbusiness is conducted. These changes, which apply equally to the tourism sector, are: 1. the ability to turn ideas into marketable innovation for a wide range of customers, with reduced buyer search costs and costs of access to markets; 2. increased speed to market and access to new product offerings via the Internet; 3. changed processes and the sharing of information within and between organisations; and 4. a shift in the balance of power between suppliers and customers due to the increased availability of information.Benefits of the InternetBenefits from IT, particularly the Internet for tourism, are substantial. These benefits are no longerdependent on proprietary information systems as has been the past experience, since the Internet is acommonly available technology. Dogac, et al, (2004) considers the Internet provides manyadvantages to players in the tourism industry. Some of these benefits are: 1. enhanced level of collaboration between tourism operators, for example, between travel agencies and service providers; 2. pre-arrangements with respective suppliers no longer necessary; 3. web service discovery will identify alternatives, enabling holiday packages to be constructed; 4. greater negotiation of service to be purchased and customization of services/activities; and 5. generally greater levels of interoperability with internal and external applications.Virtual realityVirtual reality (VR) allows the user to interact in realistic three-dimensional full immersivesituations and environments generated by a computer that responds to human movements. The usercan navigate, and interact with the virtual environment and directly manipulate objects within theenvironments. A virtual environment is a virtual reality application – the cosmos, a landscape, animaginary space, the inner side of a painting, a city – that allow users to navigate and interact with athree-dimensional, computer-generated environment in real time. It is the user to believe he is inreality, fully immersed in this unique world.
Virtual Reality: Field of Application 1. Arts Virtual reality and emerging technology has revolutionized the traditional concept of perspective visualization of viewpoints, the composition and perception of time and space. Moreover, it has generated a rupture with the precedent art forms, allowing the emergence of a new way of making art, a diverse style of creativity and above all, the crystallization of a revolutionary artistic language 2. Cultural heritage Virtual reality is useful for reconstructuring cultural, historical and archaeological sites to stimulate environments and cities which no longer exist. What at the beginning appears as ruins or simple historical structures and barren landscaping can be transformed into animated places – bustling with life and personal experiences 3. Architecture/design Virtual reality presents many interesting features for disciplines such as: architecture and design. It is a valuable visualization tool for: structures, buildings, interior design, habitats, ambiences and environments. It is also a beneficial tool for both planning and design and evaluating the planning and design process with customers. Virtual reality can demonstrate how a planned construction fits into an environment and how it is intended to be built.Virtual TravelVirtual tourism, the activity of "visiting" sites of interest over the Internet without having tophysically travel to them, can take on many forms. An early form of virtual tourism presents theuser with a slideshow or video which explores a limited area, for example, a museum. Somemuseums offer a 3D graphical interface that allows one to explore the attraction site using simpledirectional camera controls.Most of these early efforts met with limited success and didnt really take off for various reasons,among them the limited ability to immerse the user in a believable environment. Tourist can chooseto sit at their home office and use various tools and internet and do a virtual travel. Virtual travelagencies on the net which offers a tour through its gallery and offers a great deal of information. Forexample; free package for a week which can be download. After going through this demo, the usercan see the real stuff, if he registers online and pays for it.Expanding on the concept, some sites now offer free video tours of a city; the user is invited to toura city on Street View, and at specific points, watch a short user-created video of the place. WithGoogle taking over YouTube, users can easily embed videos hosted on YouTube on the GoogleMaps service, offering an engrossing interactive environment for the new breed of virtual tourists.