Establishing the main reason why individuals travel is one of the primary factors to understanding travel patterns set by travelers via motivation and the capability to travel (Eadington & Redman, 1991). The main concern of the tourism and hospitality industry is why individuals travel to a specific destination.
There is a broad range of influencing factors that should be examined to establish the actual, deferred, and potential demand. It is therefore important, for hospitality and tourism industry players to understand the classes by which tourists can be designated via their characteristics and managed through social features and interactions.
Supply and Demand Characteristics
Tourism typologies and patterns of demand are significant for planning, developing, and promotional purposes. The motivation of demand can be explored through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that can be used in both the working and non-working environment (Round, 1983). Further, examining the factors impacting travel propensity at both personal and global levels can good insights into the tourism issues.
By identifying these features and groupings, tourist behavior can said be to display tourism flow patterns of which in return will indicate the main tourism generating and receiving areas. There is an imbalance of these flow patterns between the developed and developing regions of the world (Zhou et al, 1997). To meet the tourism demand, destinations have to provide a product that will induce and travel. This can be done through attractions, whether natural, cultural, or artificial, accessibility of transport including both international gateways as well as local transport.
Moreover, this can as well be done via accommodations which can be categorized through several classes and subdivided into commercial accommodation such as hotels, guesthouses, and holidays. Parks and the private sectors such as private residences and second homes, camping as well as self-catering determine the characteristics of the location and the kind of tourists (Zhou et al, 1997). Another factor that determines attributes of the location and the type of tourists is social amenities including food and beverage facilities, entertainment, retailing and other services, and a range of ancillary services.
Hospitality and tourism industry players should be aware that it is the attraction that acts as the initial appeal on tourism. They should also acknowledge that it is the demand and its development and improvement of these attractions which will sustain tourism. Accommodation and other services are the results of this demand (McMenamin & Haring, 1974).
Attractions at destinations are the driving force of the international tourism industry. Tourists normally do not see any reason to visit these destinations that have nothing to offer. Recent research efforts in tourism demonstrate that attraction studies are essential elements in understanding what encourages individuals to travel.
Attaining the objective of measuring destination attractiveness requires the understanding of its key elements and their relationship. This can be achieved by studying the attractions or by examining the attractiveness perceptions of individuals who are attracted by them in the current world (McMenamin & Haring, 1974).
Competition among international tourism destinations is rapidly increasing whereas tourist funding is decreasing hence it’s of remarkable importance to understand how the inventory of the existing attractions at the destination is related to the perceptions that tourists have of those attractions (English et al, 1994). International tourism is a system that can be said to be a function of supply and demand interactions.
There are various attraction dimensions in the international hospitality and tourism industry including tourism services and facilities, cultural and historical attractions, rural lodging, and outdoor recreations which constitute the attractiveness profile of a particular destination. Research indicates that there is no correlation between the supply and demand significance of the four dimensions (Round, 1983).
Among demand representatives in international tourism, market segments perceive and value attractions in various ways. Recent research and other studies in major tourist destinations have revealed that there is a correlation between supply and demand pointers (Zhou et al, 1997). Further, the findings have established that the overall measures of demand and supply attractiveness explain the economic advantages of tourism in any destination. A clear understanding of the characteristics of supply and demand of the international hospitality and tourism industry can provide important insights for the development of robust tourism plans, promotional strategies, and resource allocation policies.
Transformations in supply and demand patterns are significant parameters that cause shifts in the international tourism and hospitality cycles (Round, 1983). The sector of the tourism industry is particularly volatile. This is because both supply and demand parameters are directly and severely affected by changes that impose tourism operations, services, and destinations to a significant risk. There are various causes of such transformations including economical and political, social and cultural as well as technological and environmental.
Economic and political changes including economic globalization, the polarization of wealth, and fluctuation of the global economy such as changes in the currency rates influence demand and supply patterns in the hospitality and tourism industry (English et al, 1994). For instance, the use of euro in the western countries has facilitated the smooth flow of business activities in countries that have adopted it.
Moreover, some changes are being experienced in the international hospitality and tourism industry as a result of e-commerce which influences the market expansion and competition. The use of the internet has allowed firms to reach international consumers and hence increasing their customer base.
Further, domestic government policy such as tourism white paper like regional coordination including major world events(commonwealth games), restructuring of the aviation sector, and Investments in transport infrastructure has greatly contributed to changes in demand and supply in this industry.
Regulations and compliance requirements enforcing service quality within increasingly diverse sectors across international hospitality and tourism industry such as international tourism and public liability insurance crisis are major concerns about international tourism and hospitality activity (Soberon-Ferrere, 1994).
Implications of Government Policies
The propensity to international travels is primarily controlled by a complex framework of international agreements, codes and policies, law, and legislation of counties that are governed by various political regimes (English et al, 1994). The level of intervention and support for the hospitality and tourism industry differ from country to country. In regions of political unrest and designated war zones, however, non-essential travels may be restricted and inbound tourism will be barred.
The government, and thus the public sector, get concerned with the hospitality and tourism industry since this industry has remarkable importance to a country’s economical, social and environmental issues (English et al, 1994). This is because the hospitality and tourism industry impacts the country’s balance of payments. Moreover, this industry has import and export components and therefore subject to duty taxes. It is a usually agreed rule that the degree of importance of hospitality and tourism industries is reflected by the prominence ranked within a government’s organizational structure.
The government plays an important role in influencing the tourism sector which in return serves as a key industry in generating foreign income. The hospitality and tourism industry usually improves a country’s gross domestic income and promotes the international relationship between various nations.
As responsibility for the government, security is basic both for the local and international visitors. Security is one of the several factors which influence the hospitality and tourism industry. For instance, recent events concerning terrorism caused concerns in international travels which impacted the hospitality and tourism industry negatively. This was as a result of travel advisories, especially by the United States. Usually, tourists and other visitors avoid visiting war-torn regions regardless of the attractions present in those regions.
In many countries, the hospitality and tourism industry is under boards that regulate the operations of organizations involved in the hospitality and tourism industry. These boards are appointed by governments to monitor whether such organizations are complying with governments’ policies and procedures. Moreover, such boards are the licensing entities and therefore, they oversee governments’ interests in this industry. Substandard organizations are derived from their trading licensee if they flout the rules of such boards. Further, there are Acts of parliament such as the tourist’s Acts.
Preservation of attractions is one of the key responsibilities of governments. The government takes care of and develops national parks and wildlife reserves and other significant attraction sites which key components in hospitality and tourism.
Implications of External Environmental Factors
In many societies, the relationships between time, leisure as well as work are increasingly becoming key factors whereby the demarcation between paid works, voluntary work. Retirement, domestic lifestyles, and leisure is becoming less clear but increasingly important. Economical, political, environmental, social, cultural, and technical all impact the degree of disposable time and resources which various sections of society can spend on leisure activities. The distribution between work, leisure time, and resources should be evaluated across the developed as well as developing countries incorporating the external parameters that dictate the distribution.
Hospitality and tourism providers have placed considerable emphasis on providing quality services to their consumers to maintain a competitive advantage. Usually, the work attitudes and behaviors of employees who deliver these services affect the experiences of the consumers of the hospitality and tourism industry. Working in hospitality and tourism industries can very demanding for employees because, in this industry, employees work near travelers among other individuals.
Various external environmental factors impact the hospitality and tourism industry including political, financial, non-financial, and social-economic environments. This calls for applied management skills due to several attributes that are currently inherent in the hospitality and tourism industry. These attributes have forced and continue to drive the need for hospitality and tourism managers to be equipped with skills that allow them to be effective and efficient in the running of their services.
The hospitality and tourism industry has become increasingly competitive, both in terms of the number of firms within the industry as well as opportunities offered by those firms. To this date, the historical demarcation between the products and services offered by the public, private and other sectors is no longer obvious.
Commercial providers are investing and managing public sectors facilities in the tourism and hospitality industry, the public sector is offering high-quality hospitality and tourism products and services that have traditionally been providing by the commercial sector investors while commercial and voluntary are collaborating primarily for the benefit of consumers of commercial hospitality and tourism products and services. For instance, David Lloyd Leisure and the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) have an agreement that allows David Lloyd members to participate in ASA events.
Pulls of demand and supply have led the competition in hospitality and tourism to be a global concern. As the ease of travel is rapidly increasing, competition for hospitality and tourism consumers is not only local but also increasingly regional, as well as international. Even though recent world events such as terrorist attacks have resulted in a temporary decline in international travel, the competitive environment for hospitality and tourism organizations has increased rapidly. This is further facilitated by improvements in technology, specifical improvements in the area of communication. For example, it is now possible to support a sports team that is not only outside of the local zone but may be outside of the country.
Perhaps, the success of various football clubs in generating a worldwide fan base has only been made possible because of the technology that allows worldwide broadcasting. In particular, the internet has become a significant tool in global marketing. This tool has allowed organizations involved in hospitality and tourism to market their products and services to global consumers.
The expansion of the competitive market has resulted in many changes in the hospitality and tourism industry. Particularly, it has led to innovation in this industry and such hospitality and tourism managers keep on shaping their products and services to meet their customer’s ever-changing needs. This in essence as resulted in high-quality products and services.
Failure to catch up with this steep competition an organization may lose its customers to its competitors and some extend collapse (Soberon-Ferrere, 1994 pp 309-321). This requires the industry players to be alert on the trends of technology to remain competitive in the international hospitality and tourism area.
Similarly, managers of hospitality and tourism organizations are faced with rising consumer expectations of their products and services. Due to the effects of the increasing competition, greater awareness of customer rights and improvements in products and service quality, customer expectations of the international hospitality and tourism industry are in danger of spiraling out of control. How to manage consumer expectations to ensure that they remain appropriate and realistic, is a skill that has gained remarkable significance for individuals who manage the hospitality and tourism industry.
Moreover, the funding arrangements for most hospitality and tourism services have become increasingly complicated (Fujii, et al, 1985). For instance, as well as getting funds from government funding, public sector bodies in the hospitality and tourism industry can get attracted to commercial sector investment, sponsorships, and charge fees.
This and much other funding as a result of external environmental factors make accounting in these sectors a bit complicated. Therefore, the financial skills needed for contemporary hospitality and tourism managers go beyond simply budgeting or financial reporting.
Managers are therefore required to have killed for identifying appropriate sources of funding as well as accessing funds from those sources. Further, managers are required to manage these funds in an appropriate and accountable manner.
Changing social and cultural trends are increasingly becoming more significant in the hospitality and tourism industry thereby requiring more effective and efficient management (Fujii, et al, 1985). Due to significant improvement in health care delivery and provision among other factors all over the world, the population is getting progressively older whereby the couples are having children later.
Moreover, society is becoming more litigious, there is a trend toward sports viewing, residential-based leisure is becoming increasingly significant and society is becoming more global (Fujii, et al, 1985). This has a wide range of implications in the hospitality and tourism industry. This is especially more profound in scheduling, marketing, image, and competitive advantage. These changes require better management to allow for the smooth running of the industry.
Strategies for competitive advantage in Hospitality and Tourism Industry
By its nature hospitality and tourism industry is unique. This is because it can effectively develop its demand via the creation of attractions and provision of reinforcing infrastructure by the utilization of build and they will come approach. This the reason which makes the industry a major source of income for remote as well as less developed countries and destinations (Bergstrom et al, 1990). This particularly for those areas with rich natural features. Moreover, the industry is often seen as the source of income for struggling economies at both macro and microeconomic levels.
Although the hospitality and tourism industry has been recognized as a potential economic growth stimulant many countries have not fully exhausted it. Successful development of a tourism destination is not a simple task and that sustainable development of hospitality and tourism infrastructure directly depends on a complex array of criteria which are usually the case and destination-specific (Bergstrom et al, 1990).
Both the natural and artificial environment should be favorable to the development of supporting infrastructure which can accommodate travelers demand. This allows for the creation of a hospitality and tourism industry, on a regional and or local level. Also, the legislative environment, as well as financial commitments, has significance in developing a sustainable tourism destination. This calls for the creation of a strategic plan for guiding the management and marketing, supporting research and product development, as well as giving attention to risk management. The strategy should as well protect the environment that offers the opportunity, deal with issues concerning environmental protection, heritage issues, and limitations of the carrying capacity. In short, the strategic plan s objective should be to place the hospitality and tourism industry in a strengthened position for further holistic development in the long run.
For a sustainable competitive advantage, the initial logical requirement is the attraction itself. This may take the form of a natural phenomenon such as a mountain or beach, a cultural attraction, or based on other destination features (Szyrmer, J 1992). Moreover, it may also be a man-made attraction such as a park.
Hospitality and tourism development needs to be examined about facilities and infrastructure currently existing in the destination under consideration. It is worth noting that new ventures in this industry should complimentary to existing products and services and augment an existing destination feel. This is because as tourists and other visitors demand more experimental tourism, the importance of the whole destination and its ambiance will become increasingly significant.
Normally in the tourism and hospitality industry the greater the attraction base, the wider the appeal to a more diverse cross-section of persons, more interest from transport carriers in servicing the destination. This is the critical mass and it drives the marketability as well as connectivity of a tourism destination.
Another important factor in this industry is the ease of access. Cost-efficient access from large towns and cities and other medium-sized population centers is a basic consideration (Lieber, 1989). For regional and rural attractions it is important to ensure that a range of viable transport options to reach the target market affordability thresholds is crucial to driving the success of any regional venture.
Even in the global arena hospitality and tourism industry is a very competitive industry. Typically, if access to the attraction is intricate, time-consuming; even the most spectacular attraction will remain a secret to many visitors, as they will competitive options. For instance, Australia is considered by many individuals as the most desirable destination, but, the relative distance and the cost involved in getting there are offering a remarkable barrier to many would-be visitors.
Hospitality and tourism attractions and facilities are not developed for tourists alone, but also to appeal to wider business and leisure markets existing within or close to them. Demand emanating from a captive community assists in moderating seasonality and offers the opportunity to utilize promotion to stimulate consumption with a short period especially in the case of accommodation establishments.
Managing the expectations of the local society, attaining their support, and keeping all players informed on the progress of any move from the very outset help reduce conflicts. However, some societies can be very parochial and more sensitive issue requires to be managed with great tact.
Knowledge of the demand fundamentals existing in any particular tourism destination helps to shape realistic demand revenue projections (Round, J. I. 1983 pp189-212). The availability, timely provision, and reliability of tourists’ data will aid financiers, developers, players among others in more accurately predicting performance.
In the hospitality and tourism industry marketing can be depicted as both science and art. Formulating the right marketing channels, proper contacts, and understanding how the hospitality and tourism distribution networks operate in the regional and national context can certainly drive performance (Duffy-Deno, 1997). Moreover, a unique approach and persistence can also stimulate growth. Achieving the mix properly in the context of a regional destination and maintaining flexibility in the approach will most definitely drive performance.
In service-based industry labor and payroll expenses are the highest in the tourism and hospitality industry businesses. Access to a pool of skilled employees is an important consideration, specifically in regional areas. Regional ventures are required to address the cost of training, attracting skilled workers from other areas, and managing the possible transient flow of casual workers.
After a tourist destination has been initiated and is maturing, it reaches the market evolution cycle (Duffy-Deno, 1997). Regardless, of whether the destination development is carefully planned or just happened over time, the optimum carrying capacity of the natural or social environment or infrastructure may be reached. At this point, saturation occurs and the quality of the hospitality and tourism industry product or service will decline with subsequent negative effects on the environment and the local community. As the quality of a destination drops the same will apply to the number of the visitor visiting it. Visitor’s satisfaction level will also decrease and hence a less desirable kind of tourism will develop.
Typical evidence of this process includes deterioration of the natural ecology due to over development and intensive use, pollution of beaches, lakes, river and underground water from improper sewage and solid waste disposal, visual clutter of poorly designed, intrusive buildings and signs, pedestrian and vehicular congestion and pollution, insufficient capacity of utility services, such as water supply, electric power and telecommunications during peak use periods, changes in traditional land-use patterns, loss of open space, displacement of residents from prime land and deterioration of community character, damage to archaeological and historical sites and scenic areas due to over-use or poor management, damage to archaeological and historical sites and scenic areas due to over-use or poor management, friction and resentment between the host community and tourists because of over-crowding of the tourism area and pre-emption of amenity features by tourists so that residents cannot enjoy them and social problems including crime, drug abuse and prostitution( Hinojosa et al,1982).
When destinations reach a critical stage of capacity constraints, they may either stagnate or start to decline, however, if proper measures are taken this destination can be rejuvenated (Ralston et al, 1986). Saturation levels of attractions need to be anticipated and proper management strategies utilized. Various strategies can be considered including increasing the carrying capacity, dispensing the pressure, and limiting the access.
Research can be undertaken to establish which components of the environment are reaching saturation and how to increase these specific aspects of capacity. Some of the management techniques that can be implemented locally to increase capacity include expanding capacities of utility services such as water supply, sewage and solid waste disposal and telecommunications, expand capacities of transportation facilities and road services, or limit the use of these facilities (Ralston et al, 1986), for example by not allowing private cars use on congested access roads but providing bus service access from peripheral parking lots, relocate high-use attraction features closer to access points to reduce transportation demand, disperse tourist attractions and facilities to avoid congestion, replace multiple individual tourist facilities with larger group facilities, create one-way traffic systems to regulate and improve visitor flows, establish new trails and improve existing ones, provide visitor education to modify visitor behavior, establish strict land use, design and environmental regulations on proposed new developments and take renewal measures to improve existing development (Ralston et al, 1986).
At regional, state, or national levels improvement of major support infrastructures such as airports and highways, adopting overall land-use and environmental standards and regulations, and offering grants to undertake necessary redevelopment in local zones (Hinojosa et al, 1982).
Access limitation approaches include imposing self-limiting measures, such as higher prices on room rates and admission fees, closure of certain places, such as environmentally fragile nature areas at certain times (to allow time for rejuvenation or during critical periods such as animal breeding seasons), limiting parking, passenger seat availability or another type of transportation capacity (Goldman et al,1997).
Establishing a maximum number of accommodation units (rooms, camping sites, etc.) allowed in the areas reaching saturation levels, establishing a maximum number of persons to be allowed at certain tourist attraction features at any given time, re-routing of traffic around tourism centers, and allowing only pedestrian access to popular places and prohibiting construction of new facilities through zoning or permit procedures can also remedy declining attraction sites (Ralston et al, 1986).
Government support at the macro level, including consolidating hospitality and tourism organizations into more effective structures, enhancing the quality and quantity of data to guide infrastructure development, product augmentation, diversification and rejuvenation, and more focused promotional activity should no doubt improve opportunities for hospitality and tourism development (Duffy-Deno, 1997).
It takes more than a policy framework to maximize the rate and style of hospitality and tourism development (Goldman et al, 1997). Skilled planning and development assessments, the passion and commitment of local authorities and the community, and the commitment of players who clearly understand the basics of this unique industry are equally significant.
To capitalize on these ever-changing opportunities, which are intrinsic to the nature of the hospitality and tourism industry, appropriate planning and a thorough assessment of development opportunities and constraints is significant (Goldman et al, 1997). A moderate investment in professional support services will undoubtedly recoup itself through the long-term benefits derived from a sustainable and successful hospitality and tourism industry.
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