Tourism Planning Discussion Paper Tourism Essay


The tourism industry is highly known as the worlds fastest growing industries and the economic importance has captured most of developing countries in the world. Due the globalization, rapid development of advance technology, and the eased of affordability to travel today, make more people possible to travel outside their countries. The World Tourism Organization (1999) reports that international tourism receipts grew by an average annual rate of 9% between the years of 1988-1997. Even the number for international tourist arrivals has reached more than 664 million in 1999. Tourism has become very significant to countries all over the world as for decades the industry has been a major contributor to a country’s economic growth and development, it generates significant revenues, creates millions of job opportunities in small or large communities, support communities and helps maintain and improve important national assets that assist the country to develop.

However, in order for tourism to have sustainable growth and development and generate substantial economic and social benefits to an area, tourism planning approaches are required by the host government that begin to realized tourism is the most important main key driver to economics’ growth which not only bring profits to the industry itself but to other business sectors that serve the tourism industry such as transportation industry (airlines), hospitality, and the services industry. Therefore tourism must be developed and managed in an integrated, controlled and sustainable manner. Tourism which is being planned and managed well will help the countries to continually increase their economic benefits without damaging the environment or create serious social problems, tourism resources also will be conserved for continuous use in the future. While on the other hand, in some countries where tourism has not been well planned and managed, it could bring about short term economic benefits and in the long term perhaps it could have caused some environmental and socio-cultural issues and results in the poor quality of tourist destinations. So it is important to consider tourism as part of economic, physical, environmental, and social planning and ensuring that the tourism industry can thrive and develop by trying to maximize all these valuable aspects and to develop comprehensive and better tourism plan for development at a community or region.

Therefore, this paper will be mainly discussing about the five different approaches to tourism planning in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. This paper will also discuss about the main issues and challenges that tourism planners may face in the planning process, and the main steps to be taken to help the local government and communities in the tourism planning in the destination region of the Central Highlands of the Island.

2.0 Critical review of approaches to tourism planning

As we know that tourism allows the creation of huge economic benefits to the country, yet it hasn’t take into account all the broader perspective, that tourism needs to be sustainable and provide various environmental benefits and impacts in the development. This means that tourism must aim to encourage both economic and environmentally sustainable development in such a way that developments are able to meet the present and long term needs of the people, tourists, and locals at the same time, also ensuring the physical and cultural environment is highly capable of sustaining this use. Thus, governments must provide directions and initiatives to develop specific and appropriate tourism planning which would involve various different tourism planning approaches that will help better the development of tourism in a destination and to benefit all people that are involved in the industry.

There are four different approaches of tourism planning at the destination level can be recognized according to the values that support the planning or policy activity include boosterism, economic, physical/spatial, and community-oriented that emphasizes the role the destination community plays in the tourism development and experience (Getz, 1986). Then to these four approaches, there is an additional approach of sustainable planning (Hall, 1998). Each of this tourism planning plays a different role in the tourism planning and has its own strengths and weaknesses. The following describes the strengths and weaknesses for each approach.

2.1 Boosterism

Boosterism is one of the tourism planning approaches that has views on tourism development which is believed to be inherently ‘good’ and will provide benefit to the host destination. This approach also characterized as being part of an attitude to the development of ‘growth’ is good and thus any negative impact of tourism development will be dominated by positive benefits. From this approach perspective the primary planning problem is one of how to attract as many people as possible to a given location or destination. Boosterism approach however, doesn’t take into account or involves their host community in the decision making process, planning and policy process surrounding the tourism developments (Hall and Cooper, 2008). Yet it is still being adopted by governments and politicians to promote tourism growth, regional economic diversification and employment creation.

According to Hall and Page (1999) states that boosterism attitude approach towards tourism development is seen as to give benefits to the host destination and community which can bring higher living standards to a destination and improves quality of life of the people especially in the developing countries. Tourism development could improve the quality of life, as it supports the creation of community facilities and services, through the provision of better or upgraded infrastructure, facilities, services, transport, health, better quality of commodities and food. The indirect benefit of tourism development will also increase job opportunities towards the whole community and at the same time boost up the country’s economy.

However under this approach little consideration is given to the potential negative economic, social, and environmental impacts of tourism. The cultural and natural resources are regarded as objects to be exploited for the purpose of tourism development. Thus, in many ways boosterism could be described as a form of non-planning and has had a marked impression on the economic and physical landscape. Due to this approach does not involved residents of the tourist destinations in the decision making and planning processes surrounding tourism development could be regarded as unpatriotic and excessively negative in which it result in the lacking of public or community participation in the local tourism development (Hall, 2008). The tourism development will also tends to benefit more on the government instead of the local community because the community has no power to make their own decisions in the tourism planning and therefore it will not encourage them to participate and does not allow them to share tourism benefits with the wider community.

2.2 Economic

The second approach of tourism planning is the economic (industry-oriented) approach. It is an approach that aims to promote economic growth and development in a destination, and take into account all the use of marketing and promotion efforts to attract as many visitors to visit the destination. This economic approach focuses more on the economic impacts of tourism and the most efficient and effective use of tourism to create income and employment benefits for the regions, communities, and country as a whole (Hall, 2008). The main strengths of this planning approach are as it is mainly focuses on the economic impacts of tourism, it believes that tourism development is becomes a key driver of economic growth or will boost the country’s economy through the creation of employment, generation of foreign exchange earnings, contribution of government revenues, stimulation or improvement of infrastructure investment, and then create contribution to the local economy. Yet there are some weaknesses to this approach as it doesn’t take into account environmental concerns and social issues which means there is limited attention given towards the environmental and social impacts brought about by tourism. These various environmental and socio-cultural impacts of tourism could negatively affect the local community and threatened them to move away from the destination due to the result of large amount of tourists’ arrivals, and they will likely to feel irritate and uncomfortable towards the tourists because they are entering the private spaces of local people (Hall and Cooper, 2008).

2.3 Physical/Spatial

Based on Hall and Cooper (2008), the physical/ spatial approach to tourism planning considers tourism as a form of land use to be managed using spatial or ecological base components that are required for tourism development and to be based upon certain spatial patterns, capacities or thresholds that would minimize the negative impacts of tourism on the physical environment. While the main point of this approach is to control and maintain the capacities, land use and the number of physical infrastructure being built for tourism, so it won’t exceeds the environmental and social carrying capacities of the destination. As a result, it will help to minimize the negative environmental impacts resulting from tourism development.

A well planned physical destination with well structured design and layout would also attract visitors to visit a destination as it can provide a good and open space for tourists. There are will also be an increase in the protection towards the environment due to the less land being use and it will keep the sustainability of tourism as well as result of higher satisfaction from both tourists and communities. The weakness of this approach is that if the number of infrastructure, buildings, and capacities are being controlled, economically the destination unable to maximize their profit and perhaps also unable to fulfill the high demand of tourism to build more attractions. Lastly, limited attention is also given to social and cultural attributes of the destination (Hall, 2008).

2.4 Community

Community tourism planning approach has an emphasis on the social and political context within which tourism occurs and it supports greater local community control over the development process. Under this approach, community is considered as the focal point or actor that encourages the development process of the tourism and seeks for public participation in a destination in order to enhance their economic livelihoods while protecting their cultural values, and preserving the natural environment (Hall and Page, 1999).

Based on Tosun (1999), Community planning approach which implies a high degree of public participation in tourism planning process, highly involved the community in the decision making and planning process, as well as in the sharing of tourism benefits and in the sharing of tourism profits with the wider community. Therefore, the main strengths of this community based approach in terms of its benefits, will likely to create and increased employment opportunities available to the locals as more community being involved in the process while it also contributes positively in the improvement on household income and general quality of life through the extent of contribution vary from one aspect to another. Moreover, public participation is also to design tourism development in such a way that it is intended to benefit the local community and to encourage them to participate in their own development through mobilizing their own resources, defining their needs and making own decisions about how to achieve them. Then if the government is being supportive and let the community to take a large part of the decision making for tourism, there will less conflict arises between the government and community, and if problem arises the community would be able to make decisions and solve it on their own. Bringing educational elements towards the whole community is also one of the strength of this approach. The locals likely to be educated and trained in order to improve their knowledge about tourism and as a results it will help them to recognize and conserve their local culture, natural resource values, and creating a good image about the destination. Tourists who come from different parts of the world will also encourage the locals to interact and provide cultural exchange between hosts and tourists, at the same time it also gives the opportunities for the locals to learn foreign language and lead to a better understanding of cultural differences and build tolerant attitude towards foreigners.

On the other hand Tosun also emphasizes on the weaknesses of this approach in terms of the barriers or the difficulties in implementing a community approach to tourism planning in tourist destination. The major difficulties or barriers to incorporating public participation in tourism planning can include the lack of financial and human resources in the tourism sector especially in the developing country. Resources at the local level may not enough to finance the present scale of tourism development and therefore it will lead to discourage community participation in the tourism planning. The public could also have the difficulty in understanding complex and technical planning issues, not always aware the decision making process, and the difficulty in maintaining representativeness in the decision making process due to the lack of knowledge, experiences and possible conflicts that may arise between cultures. In addition, there is also need for the government to be able to manage the involvement of the community that aims to achieve the desired result however it does not give the impression to the community of being control by the government. Power should also be distributed evenly within a community so that some groups or individuals will not have the ability exert greater influence over the planning process than others.

2.5 Sustainable

The sustainable approach towards tourism is an integrative form of tourism planning which brings together economic, environmental (physical/spatial), and socio-cultural (community) planning methods. This approach seeks to provide lasting and secure livelihoods which minimize depletion of resources, environmental degradation, cultural disturbance and social instability (Hall and Page, 1999).

According to Hall (2008), sustainable approach are include long term protection of environment resources since it focuses on tourism development which try to avoids damage on the environment, economy, and cultures of a tourist destination as well as provides positive experience for host communities, tourism industries and the tourists themselves. As a result of these, it will also lead to the preservation of essential ecological processes, give beneficial and opportunities for future generation ability to meet the present and long term use of resources, protection of human heritage and biodiversity, improve economic benefits to support sustainable tourism, and it also benefit the communities by providing more employment and the improvement their standards of living. However, overprotecting the resources will result that the tourists unable to enjoy or being satisfied with the overall tourism experiences, for instance tourists might have high expectation when they travel to the tourism site, yet they are not allowed to connect to the environment thus their perception will be lower because it doesn’t meet their high expectation, and become very unsatisfied. Besides, by adopting sustainable tourism approach could also create conflict between public and private sectors in terms of having different views and perspective on sustainable planning. Public sector might want to save and maintain the environment while private sector wants to gain more economic benefit in having less concern on sustainable tourism benefits. Sustainable tourism approach could also be difficult to achieve and has been often criticized for its contradictory goals that never achieved, as it requires cooperation and coordination between industry and the manager of destinations, and the needs to build consumer and producer awareness.

3.0 A review of the main issues or challenges that tourism planners face

As millions more people travel and to seek for personal rewards from their experiences, the massive development of tourism resources is the consequences (Gunn, 2002). The various activities that tourists engage in a tourism destination are important in the development aspect of the tourist industry in which it creates huge growth for tourism in a destination and provides tourism benefits in many ways. Thus, development of tourism is necessary to be plan by the government and the tourism industry which it is involve in order being able to achieve the desired goals of development, bring positive return and benefits to the region and community as a whole. However, there are several main issues or challenges in the tourism industry that planners might need to face. Tourism is such a very broad industry and complex which it is difficult to be directed towards on specific desirable goals and objectives. In addition, the rapid growth of tourism and its complexity even makes it even more difficult for planners or destination management to apply the most basic research findings and build recommendation to improve tourism planning. Hence, the main challenge today for both researchers and practitioners is that they should be able to concentrate on the key issues and predict new prospects and opportunities in the tourism, as well as to look for new research on critical issues and time reduction for research and tourism application.

Based on Claire A. Gunn in the article, Prospects for Tourism Planning: Issues and Concerns (2004), it is being discussed some of the main today’s key issues in the field of tourism planning, which regardless of the significant grows over many decades, the issues of tourism planning should be addressed by practitioners and researchers if tourism aim to directed toward desirable modern goals. Even if there are different goals and objectives being achieved by large and diverse number of individuals, several goals are being emerged under the umbrella concept of tourism. Besides, the more traditional goal of increased economy are being added goals to improved visitor satisfactions, better community life integration, and leads to even better and greater environmental protection. The following issues are stemmed from insufficient education and understanding of tourism’s great complexity and can be resolved by new search and planning.

Another issues being emphasized by Gunn regarding to tourism planning is the poor organizational integration among the public and private sectors being involved in serving the tourism industry. In the business private sectors there are hotel, restaurant, travel agency, attraction, and airline associations who need to cooperate together in order to make the tourism industry work. Then in the public sectors agencies members may include of water supply, departments of commerce, transportation land management, park and recreation associations. Gun (1977) described the fragmentation in the tourism industry which leads to the difficulties in coordinating public and private sector interests as well as commercial and conservation oriented involvement in tourism development. Besides, they also seldom communicate with one another though their policies and actions impose on tourism. Lacking is can be any organizational mechanism that is concerned over tourism in it’s entirely. Despite their titled as tourism organizations, convention, visitors’ bureaus, and state agencies, their primarily focused is on promotion and often exclude any influence on research or planning. Negative impacts of tourism growth including economic, social, and environmental are usually outside their agendas. Thus, there is a need for better and improvement in communication among existing tourist organizations to gain mutual benefit and understanding related to tourism development. For instance; due to parks are such visitor magnet, the organizations need to expand their agendas to communicate with other several tourist organizations such as for advertising, public relations, and the tourist business sector.

Furthermore, other potential problem that likely being faced by planners, decision makers, and investor in tourism destination areas is the lack of theories and models about the ways in which such areas are develop and change. Tourism is considered as very dynamic and destination areas will always constantly changing in order to meet the demand for new market needs. Thus, in the development process of trying to meet these demands, it is often takes place which is not compatible with the long term goals of residents or visitors. While there is also lack of approaches and frameworks for destination planners and decision makers to refer to and so it will be extremely difficult role for them to understand each of the specific development in the overall system and it is likely effects on their area and its appeal (Butler and Waldbrook, 2003). Thereby, these issues must be taken seriously which are needed to develop continuous theories and models which help planners and decision makers to create better improvement of tourism marketing for the destination.

4.0 Overall Framework

4.1 The Central Highlands of the Island

The Central Highlands of the Island is the chosen destination region to develop tourism planning to encourage and build tourism development in the destination. It is an Island which is located in the Eastern Mediterranean Ocean with total area of 4,400 sq km, consisting of 3 islands but only the main Island is inhabited. As a developing country, it is quite well known for its tourist destination. Despite the area still have very little development on tourism and faced a number of challenges including limited infrastructure, a depressed economy, and some environmental problems, yet there is still an established tourism sector on the coast and a number of potential tourist attractions in the area.

With estimate population of 401,880 and having the majority of ‘Islandese’ and two unique ethnic groups as the main population, the island is highly depend on tourism as their key economic driver and to generate revenue for the country. The services sector also has the largest percentage of 64% compared to the agriculture and industry sector. However, the destination currently still experiencing quite a lot of problems and limitations to be able to managed and deal with tourism. Based on the whole country details, there is a limited of natural resources (fresh water and electricity), supply of accommodation, infrastructure which only main roads are paved and some area is still not well built, and there are some environmental problems as well include water pollution. The limited resources and accommodation in the destination will tend hold back the development of tourism in the area which means the area is lack of opportunities to grow. In addition, most of the local people in the Island also have low levels of literacy rate, languages and the limited education which can discourage their participation in the tourism development as it will be really difficult for the community to interact with the tourists and since they don’t have any basic knowledge about tourism either.

Therefore, there is a need for tourism planning in the Central Highlands of the Island by developing a comprehensive and appropriate regional based planning process. And it is required for the Island to use the different approaches of tourism planning to design of all tourism development as to generate economic, social, and environmental benefits to the community. Importantly, the government should also need to encourage public participation in the tourism planning process to help support and build knowledge within the community in the Island at the same giving the opportunities to participate in their own development.

4.2 Steps to be taken in the Planning Process

Tourism planning is a process of identifying goals and objectives that want to be achieved by matching available resources and programs with the needs and wants of people, and then defining the methods of how to achieve them. It also takes a proactive role in assisting and promoting the implementation of a good quality development of tourism in the destination. Comprehensive and appropriate tourism planning requires systematic approach which usually involves a series of steps (Stynes and O’Halloran, 1987). The following section will discuss and identify the main actions to be taken in each steps of the planning process (Figure 1.0) that required for developing effective tourism plan and strategies in the Central Highlands of the Island and to help the Island to build and develop strong tourism destination.

Step 1: Identifying goals for The Central Highlands of the Island (Recommendations)

To manage tourism in the Central Highlands of the Island on the principles of sustainable development.

As the island experienced a depressed economy, it is aim to improve and boost their economy through the creation of jobs.

To improve the number of infrastructures and accommodations in a way to attract more tourists coming to the destination and ability to serve the needs of tourists.

To maintain and conserve environmental and socio-cultural resources of the Island.

To increase tourism earnings and achieve fair distribution of income.

Step 2: Potentiality Analysis

Role of tourism in the area’s economy:

To increase the economic development in the area.

Contributes to the country’s GDP.

Major source of foreign exchange earnings and contribution to government revenues.

Creation of job opportunities and contribution to local economies which may help to improve their quality of life and standards of living.

Stimulation of infrastructure investment

Broad Market trends:

Origin of International visitors ƒ  Greece, Italy, United Kingdom, North & West Europe, and North America (the majority).

Average age of International visitors: 49

Average number of International nights : 5.6 nights

Average daily expenditures: USD$68

Visitors interest and needs:

To visit archaeological sites.

To see and enjoy the high scenery attractions.

To enjoy the authentic food, cultural heritage, and ethnic groups.

To visit and experience the natural forest and local architecture.

Tourism Assets:

Major Resources:

Productive labor force.

Climate and scenery.

Limited water resources and few domestic energy.


Agricultural products.

Produces 80% of its food needs.

Tourist Attraction:

Natural Forest.

Local architecture.

Archaeological sites.

High scenic values.

Cultural heritage and unique ethnic groups.

Ethnic restaurants

Facilities and Service:

Hotels/ Hostels/resorts/ serviced apartments/ farmstay.


Strengths & Weakness of the Central Highlands of the Island


Little development of tourism which result in minimal negative impacts and substantial remaining natural forest and local architecture.

Strong cultural heritage and unique ethnic groups.

Good ethnic restaurants.

Good supplies of locally produced food and wine.

High scenic values.

Favorable geographic location for shipping trade.

Productive labor forces or human resources.

Easy to access from the coast.


Limited supply of accommodation and infrastructure (only main roads are paved).

Limited water and electricity.

Ethnics groups are distrustful of strangers and highly competitive with each other for government support and development options.

Low levels of literacy and limited educational background.

Low levels of languages other than regional dialects.

Environmental problems of water pollution near oil refineries.

High employment rate and poverty.

Step 3: Market Analysis

Identifying market segments, characteristics and needs.

Major product gaps.

Market position: The Central Highlands of the Island is positively mythic and naturally appeal which it offers an unforgettable cultural experience for individual to discover the strong cultural heritage and unique ethnic groups of the destination.

Step 4: Scenarios

The preliminary values that community hold and wish to be conserved and enhanced ƒ  the locals’ strong cultural heritage and ethnic groups.

The alternative future tourism scenarios (scenario is examined in term of implications of growth, a preferred or desirable future for tourism, the constraints) to establish specific objectives and strategies.

Step 5: Consultations

Consultations with key organizations (tourism industry and government tourism bodies) and the local community through interviews and workshops.

Step 6: Detailed Assessment for Economic and Environmental sustainability

Economic sustainability (natural and built resources):

Climate and scenery for tourism.


Agricultural products

Environmental sustainability (landscape values)

Step 7: Infrastructure report

Attract potential foreign investors to build attractions and hotels accommodation for tourists at the same time it creates more and better jobs for community.

Encourage government investments to plan and properly manage infrastructure in the Island for better management of visitors’ impacts, as well as to improve the knowledge and skills of the locals to be able to handle tourism matters.

Apply of government policies using rules, regulations, permits, and zonings to control and maintain the number of physical infrastructure being built, and help to preserve the local resources.

Step 8: Implementation strategy

Specification of implementation mechanisms:

Programme of work:

Conduct a detailed research about the type of potential foreign investors who are willing to develop their business in the Island.

Make a draft plan on the management of infrastructure that going to be implemented by the government for the Island.

Set out regulations, laws, rules, and zoning for the areas.

Improve the quality of educational programs and industry in the Island, as well as provides tourism training for the locals to prepare and able them to serve the tourists.

Organizational responsible (Different stakeholders who partake in the process): Government tourism bodies, private sector, constituted bodies including non-governmental organizations particularly those relating to tourism, environment and culture, the residents of the Island, and foreign investors.

Organization Responsibilities:

Government tourism bodies: to improved quality of life and overall governance. It is responsible for setting the right environment for tourism, for regulating the industry, marketing the Island as a tourism destination and for ensuring an improved tourism product, especially in publicly owned spaced.

Private sectors: aim for profitability. It is responsible for delivering a value for money tourism offer to guests, ensuring that its operations are well managed through further investment in innovativ




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