The purpose of tourism planning Tourism has grown through the years to become the single largest industry in the world. Tourism may not be considered as a discipline or an industry considering that it is multidimensional and leverages on several disciples in satisfying functional, aesthetic and financial needs of individuals, communities, businesses and government at different levels. In this vein, it is essential to create plans and planning tools that integrate the interest of these various stakeholders without compromising the integrity of the limited resources and ensuring they are preserved for use of future generations.
In carrying out tourism planning, it is essential to reconcile the various actors involved in creating plans for harnessing and use of environmental resources in the development process. These are the business sector which primary aim for planning is profit and returns; public sector with a joint aim of regulation, marketing and promotion towards economic improvement; the non-profit sector involved in creating plans that generate revenue not for investment returns but to be plowed-back for operational and capital costs; and last of all professional consultants a group that provides the most effective assistance in accomplishing better and unbiased tourism planning.
Four goals which should guide the tourism development planning process in order to achieve an all-encompassing success are: the user-oriented planning policy aimed at provision of user (visitor) satisfaction; an environmental sustainability approach towards ensuring increased economic and business returns on investment; sustainable use of resources; integration of tourism into the social and economic life of communities. For successful tourism planning, plans at three scales of on site, destination zone and regional scale should be synchronised without any being considered in isolation from the others.
The tourism planning process is incomplete in the absence of individual input as well as cooperation and collaboration from the affected communities. The economic benefit of tourism is very crucial especially as its development is often the bane of some destinations. However, policies on tourism development are made by a government in order to ensure a sense of control and coordination in the overall tourism development planning process as well as a sane implementation. All three players i.e. public, market and government need to cooperate, collaborate and coordinate to avoid haphazard development of the tourism planning process.
The changing dimensions of tourism planning. Tourism has continued is not static and has responded to the dynamic environment and market forces due to evolving change in values, demands and challenges of the various
stakeholders associated with the industry. These changes also have translated to problems in the planning of tourism, which has been associated with (but not limited to): Non-human factors (physical environmental responses), globalisation, political paradigm shift, social and planning changes, increase in knowledge and perceptive responses. The tourism policy agenda has also changed since the upward turn of growth post World War II, which resulted in reduced government control and deregulation of the process. This transformation can be captured through five distinct phases as follows: 1945-55 institutional dismantle and streamlining; 1
955-70 government involvement in economic tourism; 1970-85 government involvement in infrastructure and regional development; 1985-2000 continued government regional development and community/individual participation; and 2000- present cooperative and collaborative planning, environmental consciousness and resource orientation. The influence of the UNWTO cannot be overemphasised through some of these phases of change and evolution. Five broad approaches have been adopted through the evolution of tourism planning with each one having its distinct functional focus. These are: Boosterism – the seeming vastness of cultural and natural resources generated exploitation of the same for the sake of tourism development Economic/industry approach – characterised by economic growth, competition, market forces and returns in examination of social and environmental issues.
Physical/spatial approach – emphasis on minimising the negative impacts of tourism on the physical environment Community oriented approach – partnership and local community participation in planning and decision making process and the process itself; a bottom-up form of planning. This approach has been identified as a difficult one in the face of government control and decisions being made for the communities without recourse to communal opinion or say so. Sustainable tourism approach – coordinative, iterative, integrative and strategic incorporation of economic, community and spatial approaches for sustainable development of tourism, while relying on government for regulation.
Finally, to achieve sustainable tourism planning, five key mechanisms are expedient – cooperative and integrated control system; industry coordination; increased consumer awareness; increased producer awareness; and yielding of conventional planning to strategic planning. Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City Ebenezer Howard identified the need to carry out planning of cities considering the appalling state of the cities and urban areas in the late 1800s subsequent to the industrial revolution taking place across Europe. He recognised the importance of the preparing and implementing plans while giving much consideration to the influence of liberal democracy every step on the way i.e. the success of the planning process was very much dependent its reconciliation of the social and political ramifications within the target environment.
Four democratic disjoints were identified and considered and a balance created between in his attempt at creating some semblance of structure in the urban development process of his garden cities. Inclusiveness vs decisiveness Central vs local control Rights vs utility Equality vs liberty In resolving the opposing inclusiveness and decisiveness, by portending that given the right conditions, a compromise will be reached towards making appropriate and timely decisions subsequent to the adoption of community and individual participation as well as cooperation in the planning process. Local interest although very essential in planning for and with members of the community, the need for concession to interests outside the immediate community and that of a central governing body is of critical importance for success to be achieved; thus bringing a balance between central and local control.
A way towards reconciling between rights and utility, included adoption of collaboration between market utility, community utility and democratically established rights, at the local level. This involved upholding utility towards the ‘greater good’ of the community while not neglecting the importance of individual rights. Finally, Howard’s ideal required for individual interest and liberty to co-exist; such that personal freedom and collective responsibility were key factors in resolving the conflict between equality and liberty. Yet land was to be seen as a collective property demanding equality of ownership.
Conclusion All three materials agree on imminent salient points in the planning process whether this is for a community, city, region and activities there within such as tourism. Howard’s idea of urban planning integrates social, economic and political (government) factors as essential towards a successful attainment of an ideal city while placing high importance on the need to involve members of the community in making decisions that concern the land around them.
Tourism planning is not an end in itself, rather with adequate management it leads to the attainment of individual, community, corporate and governmental goals. In this vein, collective action by all stakeholders is imminent for the continued success of the process and survival of the resources on which tourism is based while yielding returns for continued growth of tourist destinations.
March A. (2004). Democratic dilemmas, planning and Ebenezer Howard’s Garden city. Planning Perspectives. 19, 409-433. Gunn C. and Var T. (2002). Tourism planning: basics, concepts and cases. 4th ed. Routledge, New York. Hall C. M. and Lew A.A. (2009). Understanding and managing tourism impacts: an integrated approach. 1st ed. Routledge, New York Mason P. (2012). Tourism Impacts, planning and management. 1st ed. Routledge, New York The changing dimentions of tourism planning. Extract lecture note Fall 2012-2013 for course delivered by Dr. Habib Alipour