The nature and scope of tourism planning continues to be primary and in its infancy, because most government officials and tourism industry practitioners harbour their own definitions and parameters of the task.
Tourism planning is multi-dimensional and is purposely integrative.The narrow definitions and perspectives of special interest groups, particular disciplines and professions, and each of the various contributory industries and activities are likely to miss the opportunities which are inherent in planning.
Business leaders interpret tourism within the scope of their industry, as government officials interpret tourism according to their departmental responsibilities, and as various interest groups pursue an interpretation which serves their particular purposes. Seldom are the interests of tourism per se revealed, that is tourism in its most expansive form incorporating social, cultural, environmental, economic, technological, trade, psychological, political and many other dimensions. Clearly, it is extremely difficult for any consideration of tourism to be encyclopaedic; however, that is not really the challenge – the challenge is for the relevant dimensions in any case or circumstance to be considered in an integrated fashion.
There is general concurrence that the pursuit of planning is seldom as successful as its most ardent advocates would like. Perhaps this is not surprising given the complexity of the many decisions of individuals, corporations, businesses and governments. As skills in planning have increased, it has become commonplace that planning should be continuous, flexible, reflective of changing socio-cultural aspirations, and responsive to new opportunities.
Thus, planning has become increasingly strategic. In addition, it has become increasingly integrated. The reasons for this second emphasis have included recognition of the need to:
- combine different sets of values
- respond to different sets of objectives
- be responsive to demands of interconnectedness and pluralism
- incorporate tactics to deal with ambiguity, uncertainty, and complexity.
Even in the less complex circumstances of island countries at the early phase of tourism development, it will be necessary for those charged with the responsibility to oversee or administer tourism planning in the public interest to be cognisant of the two special dimensions — strategic planning and integrated planning.
The approach to tourism planning should recognise that:
- tourism is of world-wide significance,
- planning can be used to avert the negative consequences of tourism
- tourism can be symbiotic with biodiversity conservation
- planning is multi-dimensional
- planning is pluralist, serving many constituencies and stakeholders
- planning is political.
In addition, the three crucial underpinnings of contemporary tourism planning should be that tourism must be strategic, integrative, and have a regional perspective.
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