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Types of travel and tourism organisations

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(Last updated on: 25/08/2020)

There are many different types of travel and tourism organisations. From tour operators to airlines, to tourist boards and conservation activists, each organisation is different. However, most travel and tourism organisations can be grouped into one of three categories: private, public or voluntary. In this article I will explain what’s meant by each type of travel and tourism organisation.

Types of travel and tourism organisations

Types of travel and tourism organisations

Travel and tourism is big business. Many argue that the tourism industry is the biggest industry in the world, employing more people than any other industry! There are many different components of tourism, meaning that there are a wide range of organisations that are involved in the operational logistics of tourism management.

The types of travel and tourism organisations can be broadly separated into one of three categories: private, public and voluntary. Below, I will explain what is meant by each type of organisation.

Private travel and tourism organisations

The majority of the travel and tourism industry is made up of private travel and tourism organisations. This includes many of the well-known companies that most of us are familiar with.

What is a private travel and tourism organisation?

A private organisation is one that is owned by an individual person, a group of people or company.

Sometimes private organisations are public limited companies (PLCs). This means that the company is owned by many people who buy shares in the organisation. These shares are sold on the stock market. The price of shares goes up and down depending on the market value of the company.

Not sure what the stock market is? This video explains all!

Private travel and tourism organisations come in all shapes and sizes. Some are small companies, often known as small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Others are large companies, multinational companies and conglomerates.

Staff who work for a private travel and tourism organisation are generally paid a salary. Although travel and tourism salaries are often quite low, especially in developing countries!

Aims of private travel and tourism organisations

Private travel and tourism organisations has several aims. First and foremost, most private organisations aim to make a profit. Their most dominant motive is making money.

Many private travel and tourism organisations will also aim to increase their market share. This means that the company wants more customers than its competitors.

Private companies will often aim to grow their business and increase their turnover each year. In other words, they want to make more and more money every year.

Increasing revenue can be difficult and complicated. The infographic below gives you some idea of the aspects that need to be considered by a travel and tourism organisation when planning for growth and development.

The Path to Growth Through Revenue Lifecycle Maturity

From Visually.

Image is an important part of being a successful travel and tourism business. Private organisations will often try to portray a good image and/or improve their image. They can do this through taking on social projects, demonstrating a commitment to environmental conservation or through charitable acts.

This is often referred to as corporate social responsibility.

Types of travel and tourism organisations

Another way that private travel and tourism organisations can make more money and increase their profit is to diversify the range of products and services that they offer. In other words, the more different products/services that they sell, the more customers that they can potentially attract.

Examples of private travel and tourism organisations

There are many different private travel and tourism organisations. In fact, most organisations in the travel and tourism industry are privately owned! Below are some examples:

Tour operators

A tour operator is an organisations who puts together, or builds, a holiday.

There are many tour operators all over the world in all shapes and sizes. You may be familiar with some of the larger brands, such as TUI and Hays Travel.

Travel agents

A travel agent is the person who sells you a holiday. They can also sell individual travel products, such as flights or ancillaries (e.g. insurance, car hire, attraction tickets). There are several different types of travel agents.

Examples of travel agents that you may be familiar with include Cooperative Travel, Crystal Corporate and Virgin Holidays.

Transport organisations and hubs

Transport is a key component of tourism and there are different methods of transport depending on the holiday.

A hub is a connecting point, where passengers may change transport options. For examples major airports bus station or a railway station.

Examples of major transport operators that you may be familiar with includes British Airways, Virgin Trains and Mega Bus.

Examples of major hubs include London Heathrow Airport, London Waterloo train station and London Victoria bus station.

Do you enjoy learning about travel and tourism? Follow my stories on Instagram for more on tourism theory and everyday travelling fun!

Visitor attractions

Many, but not all, visitor attractions are private travel and tourism organisations.

The types of visitor attractions vary widely, from theme parks to botanic gardens to historical buildings.

Examples of private visitor attractions that you may have heard of includes Disney Land, Paris, the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt and the Brighton Sea Life Centre.

Accommodation providers

Most accommodation providers are privately owned.

There are many different types of accommodations ranging from bed and breakfast to caravans to hotels.

Accommodation providers that you may be familiar with include Hilton Hotel, Travel Lodge and Airbnb. Airbnb is a major player in the tourism industry in recent years- you can learn all about this business (and get a discount off of your first booking!) in this article- what is Airbnb?

Public travel and tourism organisations

Public travel and tourism organisations make up an important part of the travel and tourism industry. Public organisations provide many of the essentials fundamentals that enable the tourism industry to function.

What is a public travel and tourism organisation?

A public travel and tourism organisation is an organisation that is owned or funded by the government.

Public organisations can be local organisations, i.e. smaller companies theatre based in specific local areas. Public organisations can also be national organisations, i.e. they operate on a country-wide level.

Public travel and tourism organisations will likely have paid staff as well as volunteers, who are unpaid.

Aims of public travel and tourism organisations

The main aim of a public travel and tourism organisation is to provide services to the public.

Public organisations are allocated funding by the government. The amount of funding that is allocated to a particular area depends on a number of factors, including a needs assessment and the government budget.

Each year the government will decide where and how to allocate money that is raised largely through taxes. You can learn more about how this is done in the short video clip below.

Learn how government budgets work in this informative video clip.

Public organisations should ensure that the best level of service is maintained. However, public organisations often have limited funds compared to private organisations. Therefore service levels are often lower in public organisations theatre directly comparable with private organisations (i.e. they are the same type of business operating in a similar way).

Unlike private organisations, public travel and tourism organisations are not profit-driven. Whilst many organisations do need to make money to survive, their main focus is not profit, but instead is the level of service. This means that prices can be kept lower for consumers.

Privatisation in travel and tourism

Privatisation is a controversial topic within the tourism industry and beyond. Privatisation is the process of selling public organisations to private companies.

By selling public organisations, the government can raise money and focus their efforts in alternate areas. However, this means that the government no longer have control over aspects such as pricing and service quality.

There are many examples of privatisation in the travel and tourism industry. In the UK, British Airways was improved considerably when privatised- under government control the airline was about to fold. On the other hand, since much of British Rail has been sold to private companies prices have risen significantly and there is a lot of dissatisfaction amongst consumers with regards to service levels.
Types of travel and tourism organisations
Privatisation is happening all over Europe and the rest of the world…

When public organisations make profit, the intention is that this money is reinvested. The money may be reinvested directly into the same business. Alternatively, the money may be allocated elsewhere within the annual government budget.

Examples of public travel and tourism organisations

Public organisations are some of the most important types of travel and tourism organisations. They are often the backbone of the rest of the industry, without which it could not operate. Below are some examples of public travel and tourism organisations.

Tourist information centres

A tourist information centre (TCI) is an organisation that provides information to tourists.

Tourist information centres will often be located in tourist areas such as towns and cities and coastal destinations. They are also typically found at airports or major transport hubs.

Tourist information centres often provide free information such as maps, apps, brochures and leaflets about tourism in the area.

Tourist boards

A tourist board is an organisation whose responsibility is to provide information about and promote a particular tourist area.

Tourist boards can be regional or national. Their job is to encourage tourism in the are within which they are based.

Tourist boards that you may have heard of in the UK include Visit Britain (the national tourist board), Visit Cornwall and Visit Oxford (regional tourist boards).

Visitor attractions

There are some visitor attractions theatre publicly owned.

In the UK, we have many museums and exhibitions theatre public organisations. The government subsidises entrance costs at some of the public tourist attractions.

By keeping a tourist attractions as a public organisation it enables protection and preservation of the area and of the attraction itself.It also enables sustainable tourism management by assessing capacity levels and visitor numbers.

Public tourist attractions that you may have heard of include the Natural History Museum in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Great Wall of China.

Local transport organisations

Many transport providers are publicly owned.

Buses, trains and airports are often public organisations. Although, as I previously stated, sometimes these are privatised.

By keeping public transport publicly owned it generally enables prices to stay lower, although the service may be inferior to private transport companies, who may choose to investor money into their products and services in anticipation of greater financial outcomes.

Regulatory bodies

A regulatory body is an organisation with the purpose of regulating. These organisations will monitor and assess, imposing requirements and rules as needed. Regulatory bodies set standards and enforce compliance.

Regulatory bodies in the UK include the Bank of England and the Financial Policy Committee.

Government bodies

A government body is a group of people who are given the responsibility of exercising governance. These people are responsible for making decisions and agreeing law.

Government bodies are typically separated into sectors of the economy. Examples include the Department of Agriculture and the Department for Education.

Voluntary travel and tourism organisations

The voluntary sector plays an important role in our society. There are many different types of voluntary organisations, some of which can be defined as tourism-based organisations.

What is a voluntary travel and tourism organisation?

A voluntary travel and tourism organisation is a company that is not profit making. Any profit that is received is directed back into the business, not into the hands of CEOs or shareholders, as would be the case with a private travel and tourism organisation.

Voluntary travel and tourism organisations are often funded through charitable donations or government grants. Sometimes they operate aspart of a legacy.

Here is an example of the scale of the voluntary sector in UK country, Buckinghamshire.

Some voluntary organisations charge entrance fees to help with maintenance and running costs of the business.

Voluntary travel and tourism organisations will often rely on unpaid volunteers to operate. There will also usually be some paid staff, although salaries in the charitable sector are typically quite low.

Aims of voluntary travelled tourism organisations

The aim of a voluntary travel and tourism organisation is to preserve or protect particular areas of society or natural environments.

This can include environmental protection and conservation, such as a turtle breeding programme in Costa Rica or a volunteer tourism project operating in the Amazon rainforest.

Dr Eddy Hogggives a brilliant explanation of the importance of the voluntary sector in his short talk.

Voluntary travel and tourism organisations may focus on the conservation of buildings, particularly if they are of historical or cultural value. They may also work with tourism stakeholders on landscape designs and features, often to ensure that any new development is in keeping with or does not negatively inflict on the current landscape.

Many voluntary travel and tourism organisations will work to lobby or campaign on particular issues. This will likely include cultural preservation, environmental protection and economic distribution. If there is a proposed development thatchy do not approve of, the voluntary organisation will often campaign against it.

Many voluntary travel and tourism organisations will centre around the concepts of conservation and sustainability.

Examples of voluntary travel and tourism organisations

There are many voluntary travel and tourism organisations around the world. Some examples include:

Visitor attractions

Some visitor attractions are non-profit, voluntary travel and tourism organisations. Sometimes these are natural attractions and sometimes these are man-made attractions.

Examples include many National Trust organisations and conservation-based projects, such as elephant rescue programmes in Thailand or maorinebiology research programmes in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

Transport

Some transport is operated on a voluntary basis. This will often be associated with other charitable projects or as an incentive to encourage visitors to visit particular area.

Charities

There are a number of charities that are associated with the travel and tourism industry.

Organisations such as World Wildlife Fund and the International Animal Welfare Charity are directly linked with a number of tourism-based projects and initiatives.

Pressure groups

A pressure group is an organisation which campaigns for change.

There are a number of pressure groups that are not tourism-based, but that are related to tourism management, such as Animal Aid and Friends of the Earth.

There are also pressure groups that are solely tourism focussed, such as the Aviation Environment Federation or Tourism Concern (note- Tourism Concern has recently ceased operations).

Types of travel and tourism organisations: To conclude

As you can see, there are many different types of travel and tourism organisations. These range from large to small and from profit-making to non-for-profit. There are three main types of travelled tourism organisations, which are private, public and voluntary. If you are studying this topic or want to learn more, I recommend that you consulate following texts further your understanding.

Further reading

If you’re studying travel and tourism then I highly recommend the following texts to support your learning:

  • An Introduction to Tourism: a comprehensive and authoritative introduction to all facets of tourism including: the history of tourism; factors influencing the tourism industry; tourism in developing countries; sustainable tourism; forecasting future trends.
  • The Business of Tourism Management: an introduction to key aspects of tourism, and to the practice of managing a tourism business.
  • Tourism Management: An Introduction: gives its reader a strong understanding of the dimensions of tourism, the industries of which it is comprised, the issues that affect its success, and the management of its impact on destination economies, environments and communities.
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