Need for an early warning system for travel associations

Successful tourism development is related to the reduction of risks associated with a destination and an event in addition to infrastructural improvements and heightened awareness on the world stage. The threat of terrorism has often been identified as a major risk associated with mega events (Toohey et al., 2003; Kim & Chalip, 2004; Taylor & Toohey, 2006), and the Olympic Games in particular are regarded as an attractive target (Cashman & Hughes, 1999; Neirotti & Hilliard, 2006). Over the last few years, risk has become an important factor when considering international travel (So¨nmez, 1998; So¨nmez & Graefe, 1998a, b; Lepp & Gibson, 2003, 2008; Reisinger & Mavondo, 2005, 2006; Kozak et al., 2007), especially for Americans who perceive themselves as particularly vulnerable. Tourists tend to avoid destinations they perceive as risky and choose ones they consider safe (So¨nmez & Graefe, 1998a). So¨nmez & Graefe (1998b) indicated that despite the tourism industries worldwide economic strength, terrorism and political turmoil present major challenges to the industry. Potential tourists may change their travel plans because of terrorism, which in turn may lead to significant losses for a destination (Coshall, 2003). For example, because of the US–Libya military confrontation in 1985, nearly two million Americans changed their foreign travel plans in 1986, which resulted in a 30% decrease in visitation compared with the previous year (Richter & Waugh, 1986; So¨nmez & Graefe, 1998b; Edgell, 1990). The most significant disruption to tourist flows to date were the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 in the United States which resulted in 6.8% fewer international tourists visiting North America in 2001, compared with 2000 (Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, 2000, 2001, 2002)[1].

Tourism is a dynamic and ever changing industry heavily dependent on a number of factors outside the control of those involved. It is inevitable therefore, that tourism will evolve over time. A typical tourist destination life cycle normally runs through six stages. To be able to respond to these changes and avoid the ultimate stagnation and decline scenario, it is vital that the tourism strategy has a dedicated monitoring programme in place. Only by having a ‘finger on the pulse’, through regular monitoring and feedback, will it be possible to react to issues early enough before they become problems, and so create a dynamic destination that is capable of adapting to market opportunities and changing preferences. This is especially true for the relatively smaller more specialised markets. Unfortunately this element is all too often forgotten or given insufficient resources [2].

Tourism has to face a challenging change in its framework conditions: The geopolitical as well as the economic situation require new strategies. Technological innovations, demographic change and a powerful costumer have to be met in politics, marketing and planning. New destinations, new products with prices on a level, which would have been incredible some years ago, compete with the established tourism offer. Focusing on the consumer the paper does not ignore the importance of the tourism offer, the industry, the destinations etc. They constitute some of the factors leading to a change in consumer behaviour, and they are together with others the field where the behaviour of the consumers shows up and where the knowledge of the consumer can be applied [[3]][[4]].

As we can’t limit our attention to a single external factor and its impacts, we look at several of the emerging factors, new trends in tourism emerging from the whole set of influences and the endogenous dynamics of tourism. These emerging trends will not change tourism overnight. Trend research has shown that the future developments will most probably come as a step-by-step development, not as a revolution.

 

References

[1] Perceptions of Risk and Travel Intentions: The Case of China and the Beijing Olympic Games Christine Xueqing ia; Heather J. Gibsonb; James J. Zhangb (a) School of Professional and Continuing Education, University of Hong Kong, (b) Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sport Management, University of Florida, USA
[2] European Commission. Tourism Unit; Directorate-General for Enterprise, Tourism Unit, 2002 – 122 pages
[3] Martin Lohmann; The author is managing director of N.I.T., Institute of Tourism Research in Northern Europe in Kiel, Germany (www.nit-kiel.de).
[4] The author, Martin Lohmann, is as a professor for Consumer Behaviour with the University of Applied Science in Lüneburg Germany (www.fhnon.de/fbwp/lohmann). 
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