1. Abstract This report focuses on the importance of adopting and managing collaboration and partnership in the tourism industry in the Black Country region. The purpose of this report is to identify problems that the region is facing and find means and ways of achieving sustainable tourism that meets the needs of present tourists and the needs of the region while protecting and enhancing opportunities for the future.
Also in this report, conditions in the visitor attractions sector in this region are discussed including the advantages and disadvantages of collaborative and partnership approach. It can be said collaboration and partnership seeks to achieve sustainable tourism by means of conservation and development. Research findings are presented to the Board of Directors, in order to show the importance of adopting and managing collaboration and partnership in the region.
The outcome of the research showed that most stakeholders were in favour of collaboration and partnership as it offers solutions to problems and challenges experienced by tourist attractions and which they cannot deal with in isolation. Collaboration has many different forms, it can be by means of tourism planning and policy making participation processes; informal meetings between politicians and the industry; through debates and round table discussions; by spreading information in the media; by advisory committees and coordination bodies; and/or, via what are called public-private partnerships (PPP) (Ansell& Gash, 2008; Rhodes, 1997).
2. Introduction Black Country is a tourist destination based on quality and sustainable experiences. In this current economic climate there is need to adopt collaboration and partnership to increase and maintain its sustainability. Collaboration is defined as what occurs when a group of autonomous stakeholders of a problem domain engage in an interactive process, using shared rules, norms and structures to act or decide on issues related to the domain” (Jamal & Getz, 1998: 188)
The role of the Partnership is to enhance the quality of the visitor experience, to improve the viability, sustainability and performance of tourism enterprises and to develop, promote and champion tourist attractions in appropriate markets. http://www.exmoortourismpartnership.org.uk/ To help us identify suitable stakeholders who have like interests, we carried out a survey that outlined some of the issues and impacts affecting our destinations and the solutions available, the research findings are, climate change, loss of habitat areas because of development and pollution, degeneration in biodiversity of species and ecosystems, increased dependency of a host community’s economy on tourism, increased gas prices, abandoned heritage sites, transportation are the main problems that the region is facing and these problems were a pointer to stakeholders who have like interests with the Black Country Tourist Authority.
These stakeholders include guests and corporate clients, hotel owners, local communities, employees, suppliers, academic institutions, local authorities, the historical society, scientific agencies and institutions, the local bus/coach companies, this is consistent with WTO 2004 which states that Alongside a strong leadership, the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders from the local to the central levels are components of the social dimension of sustainable tourism. Mutual participation can provide cost effective solutions by pooling resources (Bramwell and Lane 1999; Bramwell and Sharman 1999; Healey 1997.
The process has the potential to allow organizations to pool their knowledge, share expertise, capital and other resources (Bramwell and Lane 2000). This increases the tourism sustainability in turn; sustainability will assist tourism in contributing to economic development as well as improve employees and their families, the local community and society at large. Communication between us is always through national surveys, informative programs and educational resources. These stakeholders would assist our tourist attractions in the following ways,
3. Issues affecting tourist attractions
3.1. Biodiversity Conservation Biodiversity is the variability of all species on earth ranging from plants, land and sea organisms and micro-organisms. National parks and other protected areas are seen as important areas for the conservation of biological diversity however the region is faced with biodiversity threats which are explained below:
Land, air and sea pollution caused by human events brings about quite a number of environmental hazards and is a threat to biodiversity and the ecosystem. A major concern has been of the Black Country canals, people enjoy using canals for recreation. There is a danger of contamination of canal water by agricultural runoff, waste treatment plants and improper disposal of industrial waste. This type of pollution can cause long-term health problems for people as well as killing wildlife from exposure. Also of concern is litter, it has been noted that people throw materials that do not break down easily in the environment, as a result, destroys the beauty of parks ,making tourists avoid these areas.
Street litter may wash into drains and end up in the ocean; this can kill wildlife by entanglement or ingestion. Soil contamination is another form of pollution in the Black country which may destroy our tourist attractions, this type of contamination can be caused by spillages of hazardous substance or when as chemicals or waste from an industrial smokestack. This can kill animals if they ingest plants which grow in such soil or if they inhale particles from contaminated soil. To solve this we need to collaborate with environment protection agencies such that they provide presentations of visual material, with the aim of communicating the importance of conserving tourist attractions.
3.3. Climate change
The rise or decrease in temperature could be a threat to wildlife and the environment and the wildlife are likely to experience changes in the location and extend of areas across the region where the climate will meet their requirements and wild life will suffer due to altered vegetation patterns, and reduced water availability in the region. Therefore the available solutions showed that there is need for us to collaborate with scientific organizations and institutions to meet the specific needs of management as it meets the challenges of climate change and in turn we are able to provide the best suitable conditions for wildlife. The solutions available include presentation of climate friendly parks workshops.
These can be delivered in partnership with the environmental protection agency. Also people should reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses by using alternative energy sources such as solar, wind energy, fuel cells, electric and hybrid forms transportation. Educating rangers such that they will pass on current information to visitors. http://www.nature.nps.gov/climatechange/ However, the United Nations Convention Framework for Climate Change encourages stakeholders to adapt to the climate change. This means that stakeholders need to implement changes in processes, practices, and structures to moderate potential damages or to benefit from opportunities associated with climate change. http://unfccc.int/focus/adaptation/items/6999.php
The findings of the research has shown that tourists struggle with accommodation due to the high fares, therefore large numbers of visitors chose not to stay for more than a day’s visit or some would choose not to visit the tourist attractions. However to make it easier for tourists and to make sure the attractions realise maximum profits, an agreement has been reached with the local accommodation providers and tourist attractions to offer joint-ticketing for tourists, where visitors can purchase an all-inclusive holiday and accommodation is offered at a discount. However accommodation providers may offer a limited number of rooms or allocate limited days per ticket as a way of gaining quick turnover and this could be a disadvantage as tourists might end up reducing their time spent at attractions and in turn affects visitor satisfaction and reduce the potential for attractions to earn much needed secondary spend.
3.5. Education and Training
The authority will take part in hospitality industry sustainability round-table events hosted by Wolverhampton University School of Hotel Administration, which focused on The Role of the Sustainability Department in Hotel Companies, The Impact of Emerging Codes, Laws and Regulations, Guest Engagement and CSR (corporate social responsibility) and Carbon.
As staff are the main factor in the success of the visitor experience, the Black country tourist authority aims to maintain control over recruitment and training the skills base of the people who work within the tourism industry as they play a crucial part in the customer perception of the region, therefore partnership with appropriate training and skills organisations and education establishments will enable the customer service skills to be heightened. Examples of these institutions that we are in partnership with include Universities and Colleges. The aim is to increase visitor satisfaction whilst providing employment opportunities and a career path for the region’s workforce and encourage investment into the Tourism Industry.
Local communities Policies, implementation and enforcement of plans and regulations resulting from collaboration may be more accepted by individuals and organizations who were involved in creating them (Medeiros de Araujo & Bramwell 2002). Including local communities in the survey will enable communities throughout the region to recognise the value that tourism plays, financially into the region’s economy and in the support of the infrastructure within communities, an example can be where shops stay open throughout the year due to the tourism spend or the employment opportunities for the local workforce.
It is therefore important for communities to understand the benefits achieved by a community through tourism activities. Furthermore, it makes use of local knowledge to make sure that decisions are well-informed and appropriate. This adds value by building on the store of knowledge, insights, and capabilities of stakeholders (Bramwell and Lane 2011; Gray 1989) and gives a voice to those who are most affected by tourism. Local knowledge helps in scenario analysis, data collection, management planning, designing of the adaptive strategies to learn and get feedback, and institutional support to put policies in to practice (Getz et al., 1999). This increases the business sustainability in turn, sustainability will assists the business in contributing to economic development as well as improve employees and their families, the local community and society at large.
3.6. Abandoned heritage sites
There are quite a number of abandoned heritage sites in the Black Country. Therefore the Black Country Tourism Authority aims to get into Partnership with local authorities can help to assist in identifying tourist attractions such as heritage sites at risk and then sign post them to the appropriate grants and trusts for repairs and maintenance. The aim is to help improve the protection, conservation and management of heritage assets. Another example of heritage at risk includes Victorian buildings such as The Grand Hotel (Birmingham); it is one of the city’s largest Victorian buildings and a local landmark. www.english-heritage.org.uk 03/04/13
4. Conclusion In conclusion it can be said, adoption and managing of collaboration and partnership is the key success of English tourism in this region, its success lies in the hard work of all stakeholders, availability of funds to ensure high standards, security and marketing, most importantly, the good management from managers of individual tourist attractions which is revealed by professional conduct of workers at an attraction.
The process of achieving successful collaboration and partnership involves generating income for tourist attractions and management as well as involving stakeholders in decision making concerning tourism development and heritage conservation, therefore, revenue capture scheme should be set up and the revenue generated would go towards biodiversity conservation and management. The government should offer investment incentive for entrepreneurs or financial support such that businesses with like interests can be set up and essential services such as water suppliers can continue to supply clean water. Attractions should have a strategy for recruiting, educating, or training people for the tourism industry.
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