Tourism planning should be an integral part of any tourist place development plan in order to achieve the best results . Tourism planning is key to maintaining sustainable tourism.
What is tourism planning?
Tourism development refers to the growth and maintenance of the tourism industry in a given locality. Tourism planning is a very important part of this.
On a basic level, tourism development can be defined as creating strategies and plans to increase/develop/encourage tourism for a destination. The fundamental reason behind planning and implementing strategies for developing the tourism sector is primarily to make money and to subsequently increase the GDP of a country/area.
Tourism development consists of many elements including, but not limited to: developing and managing private-public partnerships, assessing the competitors to gain competitive advantage, ensuring responsible and sustainable development, viewing tourism as an interconnected system and a demand-drivensector, assessing private sector investment and international cooperation, tourism clustering and involvement by the Government.
According to Williams cited in Mason (2003);
‘The aim of modern planning is to seek optimal solutions to perceived problems and that it is designed to increase and, hopefully maximise development benefits, which will produce predictable outcomes’.
And Getz (1987) cited in Pearce (1989) defines tourism planning as;
“A process, based on research and evaluation, which seeks to optimise the potential contribution of tourism to human welfare and environmental quality”
Basic Stages in Tourism Development Planning
Tourism development planning is no simple task and there are many variables to consider. There are also different levels of tourism planning and policy. Fortunately, destinations can learn lessons from other areas which have been successful or otherwise. Take for example, over dependence on tourism in Egypt as I explain in this post- Why Unpaid Business is Better than No Business: The Case of the Egyptian Boatman. It is also worthwhile to look at the tourism policies of similar destinations. Some strong examples include Jamaica and Cape Town.
On a basic level, the main stages in tourism development planning include: the analysis of previous tourist development; evaluation of the position of tourism in the area including competition; formulation of relevant tourism policy by Government; the defining of a development strategy and the formation of a programme of action.
The benefits of tourism development
Tourism development planning enables a range of benefits to all stakeholders involved, for example:
- It increases income and jobs from tourist spending
- It helps preserve cultural and natural heritage for tourists
- It increases understanding of other cultures
- It builds new facilities such as sewage for whole communities or new road
Read here on Impacts of Tourism.
The costs of Tourism Development
There are also some costs which must be considered and planned for, which include:
- Costs of implementing tourist facilities can be costly
- The environment can be destructed to make room for hotels etc. to be built
- Social standards may be undermined e.g. topless women in Dubai
- The natural environment may be polluted
Formulating an approach to tourism policy and planning
There are six ‘golden rules’ that should be applied when formulating an approach to tourism planning and policy, as outlined by Inskeep (1991).
Clear recognition of tourism’s role in achieving broad national and community goals
Incorporating tourism policy and planning into the mainstream of planning for the economy, land use and infrastructure, conservation and environment
Planning for tourism development that trades successfully in a competitive global marketplace
Developing tourism which builds on the destination’s inherent strengths whilst protecting and enhancing the attributes and experiences of current tourism assets.
Incorporating the wider community attitudes, needs and wants to determine what is acceptable to the population
Drawing on primary or secondary research to provide conceptual or predictive support for planners including the experiences of other tourism destinations
Why Tourism Planning is Important
Tourism planning really can make or break a destination. If done well, it can ensure the longevity of the tourism industry in the area, take good care of the environment, have positive economic outcomes, and a positive benefit to the community.
If done badly, tourism development can destroy the very environment or culture that it relies on. It can disrupt local economies, cause inflation and negative effects to local people and businesses. Unfortunately, developing countries tend to suffer the most from negative impacts such as these, largely as a result of limited education and experience in contrast with Western nations.