Tourism leaves undeniable socio-economic footprints in destinations all over the world. In essence, it is a benevolence bestowed upon human beings from human beings, which has at times been seen to rejuvenate economies (Dowling, Singh and Timothy 2003, p. 99). Be that as it may, tourism has been an agent of destruction to economies, environments, cultures, traditions and social relations. Economic opportunists after the World War II took it upon them to explore the economic benefits brought about by tourism (Butler and Suntikul 2013, p. 21). Though a lucrative business, it did not take long for host economies to realize the negative impacts of tourism. Unfortunately, most economies are still dealing with the consequences of poor strategic planning and development Hall (2009) states that for tourism to be progressive, there should be a guiding framework of predetermined strategies that are directed towards development.
It is true that several approaches to offset the negative implications of tourism have been advocated for over the years. However, the most effective strategies of tourism planning are those pegged in a sustainability model. Therefore, this paper will analyze the benefits of strategic planning to a destination giving examples of tourism destinations that benefited from the pre-set strategies. The essay will further evaluate planning approaches for developments that are sustainable such as the community-based approach citing examples in the United Kingdom of the implementation of this approach. The pros and cons of the various approaches will, later on, be discussed in the essay.
Benefits of producing tourism strategic plans
Planning has a role in alleviating the obstructive repercussions of tourism to the destination’s local community, environment, and assets. Traditional tourism models would look after short-term rewards by measuring success in nothing more than the number of tourist visitors (Yang and Wall 2016 pg 60). Without careful planning, the results would be disastrous and not just in overcrowding. Precipitous planning could cost a destination’s its delicate historical sceneries, harm the environment, disrupt local culture or divert revenue from the local community (Franzoni 2015). Overcrowding in caves, for instance, could alter the formation of rocks and ancient paintings due to excessive emission of carbon dioxide by the visitors. With better information visitor management it easier anticipate and develop early reactive options. Reckless divers in the sea could damage precious coral reefs. There have been cases of cases of locals been forced out of their homes by developers in order to accommodate tourist. In East Africa, for example, Pastoralist communities such as the Maasai and the Samburu have been displaced from their native residence in favor of police that support Safaris (Wadhawan 2008, p. 8). Proper, well structure destination strategies will certainly mitigate such outcomes.
As Specified by Gunn (2010), planning is motivated by the need to construct a plane surface that fortifies continuum. The tourism industry can better achieve its goals and objectives coherently and successfully if strategies are cautiously made and integrated into a nation’s comprehensive development plans. If anything, strategic planning helps in clearing a way for dialogue to take place between governments, the private sectors and other stakeholders who would otherwise have not considered the implications of their decision to the long-term sustainability of a vibrant tourism industry (Ruhanen 2008). Stakeholders in this sense include the government, non-governmental organization, and community. The government sets policies and provides funding in coordination with agencies such as the tourism industry that protect destinations across a country. NGO’s, as well as other special interest groups, contribute to planning by providing useful information. The community tables concerns on issues that would affect them directly or indirectly. All these players provide a unique perspective that is essential in planning. A strategy enables plans to be set to identify the appropriate cause of action by developing alternatives and selecting the most suitable option. On that account, planning is a tool for collaboration, consensus and a sense of purpose among the numerous emotive parts of the destination.
Planning has a distinctive and invaluable capability to support and develop tourism, consequently driving economic growth for the destination. In addition, proficiency in management and planning are demanded in order to maximize the economic returns in an area (Hall 2009). More importantly, it depicts orderliness of a destination thus creates a good reputation for it. Over a great expanse of time, it facilitates a better understanding of the uniqueness of an area’s attributes, develops appreciativeness and drives careful utilization of resources by the stakeholders.
The UK government recognizes the importance of planning hence incorporates this in its industrial strategy (legCo. gov 2016). They hold the view that a good strategy will make the tourism industry standout and are more resilient in the highly competitive international market. As stated earlier, planning has the ability to bring together people to work on a common goal of promoting tourism in a sustainable manner. A fact, which the UK government is convinced, will motivate business and local communities to develop their own strategies for investment and growth of tourism.
Simmons (2010) says that techniques used in planning such as public participation to collect input for design are useful identifying the underlying issues, roll out surveys to test issues and review development options. His research shows that not everyone gets to benefit from tourism. It is therefore important for planners to encourage participation of locals because though at time communities would want to benefit from tourism, they lack understanding of the impacts of tourism. Benveniste (2011) claims that proper strategies could help legitimize a political party in the eyes of community if it meant that the plans laid out were to benefit the community as well. Community participation in the planning process according to Roberts and Bradley (2008) could spur innovative policies since the stakeholder gets to acquire insights on issues.
A good illustration of how planning for tourism would benefit an economy would be the that of the United Kingdom. The performance of the tourism industry in the UK since 2010 has been the fastest growing sector with an estimated worth of over £257 billion by 2025 (VisitBritain 2018). This can be attributed to continuous investment in strategies that promote tourism and the heritage of the UK economy.
Community based Planning Approach
This section of the essay concerns itself with the operational challenges and benefits associated with execution of a community-based approach. A community-based approach is a term used when an outside change agent facilitates improvement or changes to the tourism section that is of concern to the community. The broad focus on in a community-based approach is on improving all aspects of the community and its quality of life (capital). All levels of community planning are vital to the realization of tourism management and development (Roussos & Fawcett 2010, p. 65). There are four main approaches to the community development planning process.
One is the technical assistance. The idea here is the use of an expert that comes and diagnoses the problems, devises a solution, implement solutions and then monitor progress going forward (Gillies 2008, p. 8). Usually, this applied when a new technology, finance or knowledge transfer that has taken place and the specialist is there to install, finance and use the new transferred knowledge. Therefore, in technical assistance, the process involves identifying community problems and needs, analysis of the causes, finding solutions, implementation of solutions, and evaluation in terms of cost benefits. In this method, the focus is on the task at hand. In this instance, development of tourism. Nevertheless, since this approach uses outside expertise, it limits the community input. An expert may have a different set of priorities and views. A government may also want to set an agenda to suppress rivals.
The conflict approach uses a trained expert to mobilized historically marginalized communities to confront ‘powers’ on their discontent (Selsky 2007; Hawe 2009). Basically, this approach helps the community finds it’s voice. The process involves the assessment of the existing powers structure, building coalitions, engaging in direct action and formalization of the organization. The conflict approach involves more of self-interest groups. Its ultimate focus is to empower groups. For instance, if a conflict approach is used in to empower the pastoralist communities in East Africa who have been displaced from their land for tourism benefits, this could help them speak up against such injustice. The major advantage of this approach is that it is more democratic and engaging of the local community. Unfortunately, due to the method’s confrontational nature, it is at times met with backlash from the political powers as they try to reassert their control leading to violence.
In the self-help approach, the facilitator of the community plans stays in the background but helps the community work on building their own community (McLaughlin et al 2011). The idea in his method is to build consensus. The process involves bringing together member of a community to establish goals and a vision they intend to achieve from the tourism. It calls for the assessment of assets available in the community. The third process requires choosing projects that the community thinks are beneficial to them. The fourth step is implantation and evaluation of the project (Yang and Wall 2016, p. 34). An outright similarity between the self- help group community approach and the conflict approach is the focus on process. Even so, this method is no exception to disadvantages. Case in point is that it is hard to reach consensus with diverse communities. A democratic process will not work if people are not interested or motivated to participate. To exemplify, teaching people sustainable tourism methods will not work if the community does not want to participate in it.
The final approach is called the appreciative inquiry. This model focuses on the strengths of the community rather than the weaknesses in the community. The process in this model involves defining the focus, assets presents, what to build on, what to focus on to get a desired condition, delivery, and evaluation.
The advantages of Community Based Tourism Approach
The community gains better understanding and appreciation for their culture and heritage. Employment is created and there is development of infrastructure that is: water, electricity, roads, telecommunication, construction, and the likes (Hall 2008). Thus, leading to an improvement in the quality of living standards through the local economic. The community is provided with an opportunity to demonstrate and express their knowledge of culture and ethnic values. Community- based planning provides a guideline to native authorities, public and private sectors on suitable methodologies for development of tourism Murphy (2008).
Strategic planning merged with community development issues out a means to rank priorities in pursuit of long-range objectives. The strategies are usually structured around achieving the dominant objectives in communities that are struggling economically (Bendavid-Val 2011, p. 67). Essentially, a community-based approach identifies the areas in the community that are not doing well and the extent of damage of resources. Sequentially, the community- based approach comes out as a sequence of steps requiring profound collaboration between stakeholders to work in synch to positively impact economic and social conditions on a progressive basis (Eadie 2010). Combined together, collaborative efforts of a community deliver a process for the community and accommodate changing circumstances. A case example in a community- based approach is the partnerships between the public and private sectors as part of the United Kingdom’s planning processes in tourism. The partnerships are symbolic in raising issues of accountability and community democracy.
Disadvantages of Community Based Tourism Approach
Community development cannot be equated to economic development. This because it is a narrow aspect, which when too much emphasis and priority is given could possibly harm other strands of the community. In as much as a community- based approach is beneficial to a community Craik (2007 cited in Hall 2008) advanced that improper planning could have social impacts. He therefore, suggested that the moral perspective requirements of a community should be absorbed into the decision- making process to avoid disaster. For instance, a tourism casino product could affect the destination community due to the high levels of crime and prostitution associated with it. To avoid such a situation, it is of paramount importance to indulge the local public in the decision- making process (Timothy & Tosun 2007 cited in Hall 2008).
It must also be acknowledged that this method alone as a mitigating measure for the counter-productive impacts of tourism is not sufficient. In solely centering all the attention towards nurturing the community process, a destination may deprive itself of attracting investment from other firms in well-established economic sectors. Another difficulty arises due conflicting interests of community members. Such begs the questions as to the sustainability and maintenance of long-lasting coalition between different groups of conflicting interests in the community. The strategies put in place are effortlessly achieved if the community has shared self- interests in its growth and survival (Howland 2009, p. 124). At times, the strategic plan may start off with all community members on board but as the plan unfolds, the strategy can be seriously shaken by a shift in interests and a change in economic status (Weaver and Dennert 2010, p.92). This essay pinpointed earlier that economic benefits are not usually reaped equally. While the purpose of a community- based plan is intended to boost tourism to a locality, it may take a turn as certain people begin to reap gains (Inskeep 2013). The uneven distribution brings about a division in the community. More often than not, the wealthy will be given priority over the needy. Thus given a chance, the less advantaged may choose to go for the short-term gains even if it means if it means even the slightest change in economic status. Prosperity in tourism planning is beneficial to destinations (Yang and Wall 2016). All tourism destinations should adopt strategies beforehand in order to reap the maximum benefits that come with tourism. Just the sheer number of visitors into an area should not be the only measure of the success of the tourism industry in an area but also a qualitative analysis of the costs and welfare of the tourism in the destination should be considered.
Tourism is a worldwide activity that involves a great number of people and is arguably one of the largest trades in the world (Park 2010). As stated in the UNWTO (The World Tourism Organization) dictionary, Embaby (2014) denotes that tourism is cultural, economic and social circumstances that involve the movement of people to places off of their usual environment for individual or business purposes. These individual are referred to as tourists, who includes local or foreign, residents or non-resident visitors. Tourism is everything they do, their actions. Therefore, tourism is the temporary change of home for the purposes of rest, pleasure or any other reason. It is at the same time any and all services provided by the tourism industry to fulfill the needs of tourists.
With the eruption of the internet, tourism has developed into a booming business and will continue to grow in the future (Tovmasyan 2016, p. 23). Today the major forms of tourism are as follows; pleasure/rest, research/ study tourism, environmental tourism, religion, crusade tourism e.tc. For tourism lately, it is paramount to have a development master plans and strategic plans. The aim is to develop a long-term structure for tourism (usually 10-20 years) that stresses policy, planning, infrastructure, superstructure, investment, strategy, human resource improvement, socio-economics and environmental effects of tourism. It also comprises a short-term (3yrs) action plan to be followed to start a sustainable tourism development for priority area Remoaldo, Ribeiro, Vareiro and Santos (2014, p. 206). Master and strategic plans can be constructed either locally or nationally and can be limited in nature i.e. rural tourism, coastal tourism, mountain tourism, community-based and spa-tourism (Tourism Development Master Plans and Strategic Development Plans 2016).
The formulation of master plan centers on transport, accommodation, activity, marketing and promotion, legislation and quality standards. It priorities the action plans for the responsibilities for each of the shareholders, stakeholders, timelines, monitoring criteria and success standard. Strategic plans of tourism cover the following areas, goals & objectives, rules and guidelines for the operators, the impacts of tourism to the economy and the relationship of tourism and other sectors of the economy (Stelyn & Spencer 2013, p. 54).
London has experienced an increase in tourism activities from 2006-2016, visitors regard Windsor as a welcoming and are most likely to recommend it to others (Goodman-Shortall 2016, p. 206). The strategic plan for the city of London includes robust infrastructure, convenient and connected mobility choices, strong and healthy environment, beautiful places and spaces, responsible growth and heritage conservation policies. It also prioritizes key areas for action and intervention. Some of the keys areas were; Travel & transport, Product development, Marketing, Information and People. This strategy identifies the objectives that remain relevant and sets out clear recommendations for delivery under the quality themes. The strategic plan aims at making London the leading city in public service by offering openness and accountability, innovative and supportive organizational practices, proactive financial management and a collaborative and engaged leadership. This strategic plan refers to many other documents, for example, the transportation master plan. It sets the direction for London and guides the city's first ever multi-year budget for 2016-19. It is through this multi-year budget that the strategic plan will be put into action.
The city of London is best known for its historical buildings like the Tower of London. It is a 900-year-old castle and fortress in central London that was constructed by William the Conqueror in 1066 BC and is notable for housing the crown jewels and for holding many famous and infamous prisoners. Throughout its history, Goodman-Shortall (2016) denotes that the tower has served many purposes: it housed the royal mint (until the early 19th century), a menagerie (which left in 1835), a records office, an armory and barracks for troops. Until the 17th century, it was also used as a royal residence. In the late 18th and 19th centuries, the tower was used less commonly for prisoners with its last prisoner being Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy. Today, the crown jewels are one of the most popular attractions at the Tower of London. The jewels include the crowns worn by the monarch at the coronation and at the opening of Parliament. The tower also contains an impressive collection of armor, which is a treasure unto itself. Shown in an exhibit called the “Line of Kings,” a show at the tower that first started more than 300 years ago, it features such items as a life-size wooden horse carved about 1690 and a set of armor, gilded with gold, created for Charles I around 1612.
Tourist today enjoy features such as the white tower, which is three floors up and four down, the bloody tower ( a recreation of Sir Walter Raleigh’s room, and on the upper floor there is information about the Princes in the Tower ), the Medieval Palace, Martin Tower and the Royal Beasts exhibition. Catering services are also offered within the tower by The New Armories Café.
The society around the white tower benefits from the persons who, via their participation, play a part in the community and secular life. Volunteers gain an experience and might also get a chance at employment at the tower or the restaurant. The economic impact of the white tower: direct impact, indirect impact, induced impact and visitor expenditure can be calculated. Although, the indirect impact can be hard to calculate even when the direct impacts can be estimated. Social benefits are gauged through volunteering, well-being and education and outreach.
The benefits of reusing historic building vary from simply the storage of cultural identity to economic benefits in measurable amounts and environmental advantages. A good revitalization of the historic building is not only about the diversity of economic activities but also utilizing the cultural value and conserving social fabric. In a research conducted by Kirillova and Lehto (2017), it was argued that historic conservation is not used to support the benefits of cultural heritage preservation. The monetary value of historic conservation is almost impossible to quantify. Historic buildings add value to a place by their diversity and personality. Even in a modern setting, the existence of a historic building adds on to the personality to the street and can help create a sense of place. If executed properly, the reuse of heritage building can bring monumental economic benefits to cities that are suffering from economic setbacks, done correctly, it can be game changing with long-lived improvements on the economic and physical surrounding and considerable advantages for community and domain (Goodman 2016, p. 7).
Wall and Mathieson (2008) denotes that vacant heritage building can be revitalized in profitable ways. They can be restored for mixed-use purposes, almost always different purposes. This phenomenon is known as adaptive reuse. Adaptive reuse is widespread in historical buildings because of their character that is able to attract customers. Once a market identifies a space in the market, adaptive reuse can be used to align with other business in the area, for example, renovating an old building into a restaurant in an area with lots of hotels, (Goodman 2016). Many historical buildings have become major tourist attractions and thus, many destinations endorse their renovation and reuse. As asserted by Park (2010), heritage possesses an important psycho-social inspiration that is connected to the national identity through characteristics of heritage encounter.
Svetlana and Juline (2010) attempted to explain the idiographic view. Attraction typologies with an interest in idiographic view look at the distinctiveness of a place rather than the common average qualities (Embaby 2014, p. 339). Typology is the classification according to general type and they attempt to explain why some places appeal to tourist and justify the difference between those places and nature oriented and human-oriented attractions. They found out that human-oriented attractions outweigh nature-oriented attractions. This means that idiographic view is perceptible in tourism, (Shahrbanoo, Habib, & Martins 2018, p. 98).
Studies conducted in several countries stated that historical building, castles and museums tend to attract more tourists than all the other cultural heritage sites. A study done by Glasson on oxford tourist, he found that 80% of the tourists found the architecture and the old colleges attractive. Further, the study revealed that the tourists showed an 80% inclination to revisit and that architecture was the main reason for the revisit. According to Svetlana and Juline (2010), it is our duty to preserve the architectural heritage of our time and our obligation to preserve the heritage of the previous era. Despite the cultural heritage value and human interest, very few studies have been done on both topics, studies focus on either cultural heritage or human interest, very few is known about the architectural effect on tourism. Tourist discernment of an attraction can be affected by the architecture of the sites especially historical architecture, (Kirillova & Lehto 2010, p. 90). Remoaldo (2014) argued that historic centers, monuments and architectural heritage sites have been a motivation for the tourist to revisit an attraction.
Reuse of architectural heritages site creates authenticity, a tourist attraction represents a significant role in the assessment of that attraction and this enforces the feelings of the tourist as an important influence that has meaning. Tourists crave authenticity as these historical places offer new knowledge, a chance to learn something new. Sustainability principle should be reflected in the long-term model designed for tourism. A well-designed plan should be able to analyze the current position of tourism in the area, identify possible opportunities as well as limitations and develop mitigating alternatives. Once all this is achieved, tourism levels will increase correspondingly bringing in monetary benefits to the local communities with next to no disturbance of the environment, society, and economy. Tourism destination should not be blinded to associated issues by short-term economic benefits. Although the focus of this essay has been on the UK, Many such findings are similar in other countries, which view tourism as a source national revenue.
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