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The Role of the Private Sector in Tourism Planning and Development

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The role of the private sector in tourism planning and development is very important. Private organisations can bring a lot of money into a destination and can contribute significantly to the development of the tourism industry and of the country overall. This does,however, need to be overseen and managed appropriately be the relevant stakeholders. As I discuss in this post- ‘Different levels of tourism policy and planning’, tourism planning and development takes place at different levels ranging from local, or grass roots, through the international. Within this structure there will inevitably be a number of private sector business who play a key role in tourism development.

What is the role of the private sector in tourism planning and development?

Private sector organisations are organisations which ultimately seek to make a profit. They are not owned by the Government, but instead owned and managed by private entrepreneurs or shareholders.  

There are a number of private sector organisations involved in tourism planning. Some will play a more pivotal role than others. I have narrowed the benefits of the private sector in tourism planning and development down to six major points, which are as follows:  

Private tourism businesses can provide a forum for discussing and resolving common problems associated with tourism enterprises

Private organisations tend to have more money and time to invest in tourism development planning. Because they are typically money-oriented, they will spend time thinking analytically about the best approaches to take to tourism development and which routes will likely yield the best economic outcomes. They may, however, fail to adequately consider the economic and social benefits.

Private tourism businesses make coordinated recommendations to the government office for improvements in the tourism sector

Whilst the public sector do have their own staff and their own procedures, input from the private sector can be invaluable. Private sector organisations, either individually or collectively, will often guide Government towards making certain decisions.

This can be both positive and negative for tourism development planning in the area. An example, as outlined in the post on tourism development in The Gambia, is when tour operators threatened to remove their business from the country due to the recent banning of all-inclusive resorts. Whilst the Government had implemented this new policy with intentions of improving tourism development in the Gambia, they were forced to withdraw the policy based on a lack of private sector support.

Private tourism businesses can provide representation on tourism boards and committees

Members of private sector tourism businesses will typically be asked to provide representation on various boards and committees. Again,this adds insight into issues that may not always be considered in the same light by the public sector.

One of the notable roles of the private sector in tourism planning and development is its ability to invest time and money into aspects such as marketing and training. This can help to promote the destination overall and can also help to up-skill staff in the local area. On the downside, many private sector tourism businesses will import staff from other countries which can cause economic leakage.

Private tourism businesses can sponsor special events

Many private sector tourism organisations will sponsor events. This can help to enhance publicity and to bring in additional revenue to the tourism industry. Some big examples include British Airways who sponsored the Olympics when they were held in Britain and Emirates who sponsor Arsenal Football Club.

Private tourism businesses can work with local government

Private tourism businesses can act as local spokesman to the local community, giving the local people a voice that might be heard more than it otherwise would. This can also help to provide links between business and society.

Do you have any examples of the role of the private sector in tourism planning and development? Good or bad? I’d love to hear them! Drop your comments below!  

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