As the tourism industry is doing well throughout the world, there are a lot of tourism sites which has gained benefits from it and one of it is the Singapore Zoo. However, many of the tourism sites do not aware of the visitor-related management issues that are happening under their area of control. For the Singapore Zoo, there is currently an overcrowding issue which has brought detriments for them. In order to deal with the overcrowding issue, the manager of the Singapore Zoo can implement one of the management planning tools such as Visitor Management Impact which will be discussed in this report and also strategies which can help in reducing the impacts from the overcrowding issue.
Tourism industry has gained large popularity and brought a lot of benefit for tourism destinations since the last decades. However, most tourism sites only concern about how to obtain maximum profit from the visitors and neglected the issues which might caused negative impacts and led to failure in achieving the management objectives. The main purpose of this report is to identify the visitor-related management issue of Singapore Zoo and discuss the possible causes and impacts which arise due to the issue identified. Moreover, some management actions in term of approaches and strategies will be recommended in order to deal with the management issue encountered by Singapore Zoo.
2. Background of Singapore Zoo
The Singapore Zoo, also referred to as Mandai Zoo and formerly known as Singapore Zoological Gardens is opened on the 27th of June in 1973. Furthermore, the Singapore Zoo is built on a 28 hectares piece of land with a grant from the Singapore government. The zoo applies a modern method of displaying animals in almost natural habitats providing the visitors a chance to view a large number of animals which is around 316 species contains of 36% threatened species (Singapore Zoo, 2011). The Singapore Zoo is visited by a large number of people of both local and international origins daily and often it is beyond the carrying capacity of the zoo especially on the public holiday. In addition, the popularity of the zoo and the large number of visitors creates a problem that hampers an adequate service delivery (Barr, 2005). This problem is the problem of overcrowding and consequential problems resulting from it (Appendix 2).
3. Overcrowding issue in the Singapore Zoo
Due to the popularity of the Singapore Zoo, the zoo has been experiencing large visitor numbers, thus, resulting to inefficient service delivery. Overcrowding in the Singapore Zoo has resulted to various problems which causes the Singapore Zoo to become a risk zone.
4.1. Causes of overcrowding
In the Singapore Zoo, the problem of overcrowding can be attributed to various factors. These factors include lack of adequate guides in the zoo, lack of an adequate viewing space for various species of interest to the visitors, small size of the zoo premises, purchase of entry tickets at the zoo, and lack of special tracks for the disabled who use wheel-chairs. 4.2.1. Lack of adequate guides in the zoo
The lack of enough support staff in the Singapore Zoo also contributes to overcrowding. This happens as a result of haphazard movements in the zoo by various visitors. Moreover, most of the visitors utilizing more time per individual and the continuous time wastage cause the visitors in the zoo at any time of the day to face congestion (Milner, 1981).
4.2.2. Lack of an adequate viewing space for various species of interest to the visitors
The zoo’s setup has also contributed to overcrowding by not matching demand and supply. This is so, because the viewing space for various unique and interesting species is the same as for the animals with fewer viewers. For example, most of the Singapore Zoo’s visitors are more interested with the White Bengal Tiger but the viewing space for observing the species is inadequate and lead to crowding (Milner, 1981).
4.2.3. Small size of the zoo premises
Since 1973, the size of the Singapore Zoo has remained constant, despite the growing local and international popularity. This has resulted in the unavoidable overcrowding, since the same location is visited by more visitors at any given time. Lack of an adequate space has also caused overcrowding due to the lack of adequate parking spaces in the zoo. The congestion is also worsened by poor parking in the available parking slots (Milner, 1981).
4.2.4. Purchase of entry tickets at the zoo
The purchase of entry tickets at the zoo by incoming guests has resulted to overcrowding at the entry points for the incoming visitors. This paints a negative image of the zoo with the new visitors who at times have short schedules ending up in having little time to view the diverse species in the zoological garden. The act of purchasing entry tickets in the zoo also causes fatigue to the visitors, especially during the very hot days as they await either to be served or to have their tickets processed (Milner, 1981).
4.2.5. Lack of special tracks for the disabled who use wheel-chairs Over the past, the global recognition of the rights of the disabled has led to more visits by people on wheelchairs and other disabled carriages. The influx of the disabled and their assistants on the same paths as the other individuals at times causes overcrowding, since the varying terrain causes slow movements for the disabled, hence causing congestion (Kisling, 1988).
4.2. Impacts of Overcrowding
The effects of overcrowding in the Singapore Zoo have wide reaching effects on the tourists, the wildlife, and the zoo infrastructure and image. The various impacts include pollution, conflict between visitors, insecurity, and poor satisfaction level of visitors.
The overcrowding of the Singapore Zoo results in a variety of environmental pollution. The noise from the consequent overcrowding of the zoo results in a great distress to the wild animals due to the interference to the animal space. Furthermore, high levels of stress to the wild animals can result in poor health, as well as death of some valuable animal species. Overcrowding has also contributed to the rise in the levels of litter in the Singapore Zoo and led to the loss of the internal beauty of the zoo. Litter has also been found in the enclosures of the wild animals, leading to consequential ingestion of the litter, which causes poisoning to the animals. In addition, pollution has contributed to people opting to choose other recreational sites, therefore causing a downshift move in the status of the Singapore Zoo (Kreag, 2001).
4.3.7. Conflict between visitors
According to Schneider and Hammit (1995), conflict is a continuing issue featured by minor annoyance incidents which have a cumulative effect. When there is an overcrowding, visitors may demonstrate bad attitude or behavior against each other therefore conflict occurred. Based on the observation undertaken in the Singapore Zoo, conflict between visitors arose in several situations for instance during the long queue for tram inside the zoo and from the outside when visitors are queuing at the bus stop and taxi stand (Appendix 3).
Overcrowding of the Singapore Zoo has led to the straining of the available support staff. This has caused an increase in the instances of insecurity which have manifested as frequent thefts of visitors’ items and visitors crossing over the set barriers or taunting the animals, thus attacked by the animals. These incidents happened due to the lack of adequate staff to keep track of the visitors’ behavior (Innes, 2006).
4.3.9. Poor satisfaction level of visitors
When visitors expect that Singapore Zoo is a good recreational site whereas it shown such a poor service performance, the satisfaction level of visitors eventually drop. Moreover, the consequence is loss of popularity and a decline in the number of visitors, hence loss in the income of the zoo (Kreag, 2001).
This section of the report will describe the potential management approach which can be use by Singapore Zoo and suggest some strategies to minimize the impacts of overcrowding. In order to solve the serious issue of overcrowding, the management of Singapore Zoo can choose to implement the management planning tools. These tools include the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS), Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC), Visitor Activity Management Process (VAMP), Visitor Impact Management (VIM), and Visitor Experience Resource Protection (VERP). However, this report will focus on the VIM approach as a recommendation for the management of Singapore Zoo.
5.3. Visitor Impact Management approach
VIM is a management planning tool that focuses on the visitors’ activities and their impact with a series of processes and techniques. This framework consists of eight steps processes which are created to deal with the issues to impact management (Pigram and Jenkins, 2006).
5.4.10. Step 1: Preassessment date base review
The main purpose of this step is for the management to identify and review the information related with the situation which they already had in order to fully utilize the information on hand during the visitor impact management process. In this step, the manager of Singapore Zoo can do a review on their policy documents and the information of their visitors or the survey on their visitors which they have done before (Pigram and Jenkins, 2006).
5.4.11. Step 2: Review of management objectives
The second step of the VIM process is to review the relevant management objectives to the current situation. It is important to have an unambiguous and specific management objective so that the service provider can measure their performance level to know whether they are operating according to their management objective (Hendee Stankey, and Lucas, 1990). For Singapore Zoo, they have an objective which is to bring people closer to the nature therefore they need to ensure that the services they provided for visitors do not stray from their initial management objective.
5.4.12. Step 3: Selection of key impacts indicators In this step,
there are many measurable indicators for the associated management objective which need to be identified. The most important thing is to choose the essential variables or attributes based on the ecological and social impacts which will be used as an indicator (Appendix 4) (Pigram and Jenkins, 2006). Accordingly, Singapore Zoo needs to select the most relevant impact indicators with regard to their current situation.
5.4.13. Step 4: Selection of standards for key impact indicators After impact indicators have been chosen, the next step is to set standards for those indicators. Moreover, the standards to be set are depending on the management objectives of the service provider and these standards will be used as the basis against the evaluation of existing situation (Pigram and Jenkins, 2006). Similarly, the Singapore Zoo need to set a standard for the impact indicators selected in step 3.
5.4.14. Step 5: Comparison of standards and existing conditions Once the previous steps have been carried out, the next step is to compare the key impact indicators and the related standards. If there is no discrepancy between the key impact indicators and the standards, it indicated that there is no unacceptable impact and the only thing that needs to be performed is monitoring the situation for future changes (Pigram and Jenkins, 2006). However, from the discussion above, the Singapore Zoo in facing an overcrowding issue therefore it is necessary to move on the next step of VIM process.
5.4.15. Step 6: Identify probable causes of impacts At the first part of this report, the probable causes of impacts regarding the issue encountered by the Singapore Zoo have been identified. But, if the Singapore Zoo really wants to execute the VIM approach, they need to do research with the purpose of finding the most significant causes of the issue (Pigram and Jenkins, 2006).
5.4.16. Step 7: Identify management strategies
After the probable causes of the visitor impacts have been identified, the next step is to brainstorm and construct the suitable management strategies that can be used to reduce the visitor impacts problem. Furthermore, the visitor management strategies are classified into two different categories which are the indirect and direct strategies (Appendix 5). So, the Singapore Zoo can choose to use the indirect or direct method or both in order to fix the overcrowding issue (Pigram and Jenkins, 2006).
5.4.17. Step 8: Implementation
The last step of the VIM process is to implement the management strategies as soon as possible to minimize the unacceptable impacts. However, the program does not stop until here, instead the service provider need to continuously monitor and observe whether the strategies implemented has generated desired outcomes (Pigram and Jenkins, 2006).
The problems that Singapore Zoo faces and the effects of the existing problems can be mitigated. Indirectly, the administration of the Singapore Zoo should ease the ways of getting tickets in other places than within the zoo. Some of these methods include the use of online marketing companies and partnering with tour providers to offer tickets to their clients on behalf of the Singapore Zoo. This will help to reduce congestion by improving service delivery (Graefe, Kuss, and Vaske, 1990). Furthermore, the Singapore Zoo should provide both offsite and onsite education about the need of appreciation of the recreational environment for the visitors so they will participate in conserving the recreational values.
In addition, the Singapore Zoo should charge higher admission fees during peak season in order to decrease the number of visitors coming to the zoo. On the other hand, some of the direct visitor management strategies that could be adopted in regard to this issue include the increased surveillance to enhance proper interactions between the visitors and the animals. There should also be zoning for example by keeping the children away from the majority of the animals. Lastly, the Singapore Zoo should limit size of visitors who are coming to the zoo in group to allow decongestion in the zoo (Giongo, Bosco-Nizeye, and Wallace, 1994).
In conclusion, the Singapore Zoo, being an attractive tourism site should be made as efficient as possible and it is critical for the manager of the Singapore Zoo to be aware of the overcrowding issue happening in the zoo and the impacts arisen from it. Furthermore, the issue can be minimized by utilizing the stated recommendations in order to achieve the management objective and to preserve the recreational values of the Singapore Zoo.
There are two types of approaches which have been used to gather all the information needed for the working of this report, namely quantitative and qualitative approaches. For the qualitative approach, the research is done through direct observation on the tourism site discussed in this report which is the Singapore Zoo whereas the quantitative approach is done by getting information from secondary data such as academic journals, magazines, and related website for the discussion.
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