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International Tourism Industry

Autor:   •  January 29, 2016  •  Essay  •  1,614 Words (7 Pages)  •  657 Views

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The international tourism industry grows more powerful every year.   This year a billion tourists are set to generate over a trillion dollars - and will offer the chance to create millions of jobs amongst numerous other opportunities.   And tourism is forecast to carry on growing, and becoming more powerful, and full of ever-more potential. There could be opportunities to safeguard our environment, opportunities to steward our cultures, opportunities for social cohesion, opportunities for world peace, opportunities for poverty-eradication. These are just a few of the tantalizing benefits that tourism could offer, apart, of course from massive economic benefits...in the future.   The tourism industry is relatively young - certainly in its present form. The wealthy, mercantile and powerful have always travelled, either to do business or for education or religion or health. For them, the destination was the whole reason for their journey. Maybe they were on a Grand Tour to visit Greece or Italy for its works of art or culture, on a religious pilgrimage to a sacred site, travelling to do commercial or political business, or to visit a spa to benefit from its health-giving qualities.   In the last 60 years as international tourism has grown by some 2000%, due to mass transportation opportunities and a more prosperous marketplace, the destinations visited have become somewhat less important in themselves as the wish to take a holiday, have a break or make a visit somewhere exciting and affordable have become the primary aspirations.   This massive growth has largely been the work of a range of middlemen - tour operators, travel agents, global distribution networks amongst others - who seeing the opportunity to combine transportation with accommodation and sell at a profit, naturally, did so.   And it's a colourful, exciting, potentially profitable business too - full of glitz and glamour. Everybody makes a little, most of the time. The tour operator or travel agent who puts an offer together, sells it and banks the clients money, the transport operator who carries the client gets a bit of it, the hotel where the client stays gets a bit more. And of course there are the other suppliers who benefit; the people who supply the transport operator, the hotel and the travel agent or tour operator… plus the shops, guides and other businesses who provide the clients needs on his or her journey and at the destination. All the money revolving around in this economy is expected to total a trillion dollars or more this year.   Representing a lot of activity, a lot of money, a lot of jobs… a lot of potential.   And, since the early 1990's, recognition that commercial activity has more implications than the purely economic has spotlighted the fact that there are also social, cultural, environmental and economic implications .   It is now well-established that tourism has both the potential to do good and the potential to do harm. Many institutions have followed a well-trodden path over the past 30 years to establish and understand the problems that tourism causes and to offer solutions.   But it must be recognized that tourism has as its driving force a potent commercial imperative. At its heart, tourism is about buying and selling transport and hospitality for a profit. And it has become big and powerful today simply because there is a growing market wishing to be travelers and to take advantage of the opportunity to escape to somewhere exotic and luxurious at an unimaginably low price. The whole industry - Transport operators, Hoteliers, Tour Operators, Travel Agents, Global Distribution Systems and various other players - has become adept at fulfilling  this perceived need.   This tough, mature industry is now filled with willing and resourceful participants ready to fulfil these needs in return for livelihood, profit and dynamic growth - and ready to offer ever more tempting holidays and travel arrangements to an ever bigger market.   An added spur to market retention and growth is the tiny and challenged level of profits inherent in this highly competitive arena. Even the biggest of the big operators fight to make a profit - and even then, it's wafer-thin - possibly, on average less that 2-3%.   So, what hope for the aspirations of cultural, social, environmental and economic sustainability inherent in the Earth Summit and Agenda 21 against this burgeoning difficult, pre-occupied-with-survival background?   What hope for sustainable forms of tourism proposed by the United Nations organizations, the Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism and each and every government approached by the World Travel and Tourism Council and the UN World Tourism Organisation?   It pays to look at the value chain and ask a simple question: To the client: "Will you pay more for your travel arrangement if it embodies complete sustainability at all levels?"   And to the intermediary: "Will you accept and adhere to  a common standard of sustainable tourism that will be included on all of your offers?"   No prize for the right answer. In a rampant short-term commercial world it is hopeless to think that clients won't buy the cheapest, best value bauble on offer.   And, whilst that's what the market wants that's what will be delivered. Plus, of course, the trade in general has gotten used to working in the way they do. Price/value is an easy, justifiable , relatively honest benchmark.   Of course there is some problem with this 'business as usual' approach. Firstly, the world is running out of environmental time, secondly mass low-return tourism causes social and cultural problems in destinations, thirdly the benefits of tourism stay largely within tourism businesses and their customers and finally the financial basis of the business is definitely frail.   So, eventually something will have to be done. As far as the environment is concerned it is likely that world governments will come to some agreement which will make energy more expensive and increase the cost of airline fuel - thus making tourism more expensive.   The  global environment and climate change is clearly a governmental problem to resolve. It's simply a question of global survival, nothing less.   The social, cultural and economic issues are less easily resolved by governments, however. These issues impact directly in destinations - on the populations who largely have no stake in or benefit from the tourism industry and can be overwhelmed by insensitive tourists who don't respect their cultures and make no contribution to their communities.   As tourism increases (it is forecast to practically double again by 2030), unless something is done, this problem may well get seriously out of hand.   In this regard, the destinations are key players. There is clearly no point in trying to persuade the powerful multinational businesses in the tourism industry to give up the source of their power or profit, but there is absolutely no reason why destinations could not take back that part of the tourism product that is rightfully theirs and demand an appropriate price for it. They could then set this against their local problems.   After all - beautiful, interesting destinations are THE key part of the tourism product - often the impetus for travel.   Maybe if destinations rise to the challenge they can legitimately ensure the local stewardship of their communities and the global sustainability of the industry.   This already occurs in a few niche destinations, but when higher volume destinations have tried to tax inbound tourism in any way they have faced howls from the global outbound  tourism industry and have usually capitulated.   Nonetheless, if the client won't pay and the travel industry won't ensure sustainability, who will?   Clearly the responsibility is that of the destination, in principle and in practice. Whose job is it to manage a destination? And to whom is it responsible? It's not the tourism industry - it's the local community - all of it- that should have the reins of destination power. They, after all, live in the destination. They, after all, pay taxes for its upkeep. They, after all, have a visceral interest in its sustainability.   For those involved in the travel and tourism business, s simple healthy vision of sustainable tourism is pretty easy to define. It would go something like this:   There would be a significant marketplace for quality experiential tourism at every level.   There would be a recognition by visitors and destination communities of the massive  commercial, social and cultural value of good hospitality.   Tourists would be prepared to pay a fair price for quality travel arrangements.   Destination communities would be a significant part of the tourism value chain and benefit from each and every visitor.   Destinations would take responsibility for, and manage, their tourism offer for the benefit of their communities and their tourists.   The relationship of the visitor to the destination would be practical, thoughtful and concerned.   This report outlines the destinations and tourism operators who are travelling along the path of sustainability, it offers methods to identify and attract good quality tourists who will respect their destinations.   And it offers many dozens of sustainable opportunities for travel agents and tour operators - PLUS nearly a hundred for destinations!   Billions of tourists represent billions of challenges, but they represent billions if serious opportunities too!   Excerpted from the Innovation Norway/TotemTourism Sustainable Tourism Report 2012 special VISION 50% offer HERE 

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