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What is the relationship between transport and tourism?

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One thing that many people in the travel industry may not realise is the important and vital relationship between transport and tourism. This is something that I teach to my tourism students each year as part of their tourism management degree and it is the relationship between transport and tourism which forms the basis of the tourism industry. 

Without transport, the tourism sector would not be able to exist. Therefore, transport is a fundamental part of the tourism industry.

The relationship between transport and tourism

relationship between transport and tourism

Image source: Unsplash

As seen in the dictionary, the definition of transport is to “take or carry (people or goods) from one place to another by means of a vehicle, aircraft, or ship.” Also found in the dictionary is the definition of tourism which is “the commercial organisation and operation of vacations and visits to places of interest.

Transport is a hugely complex activity, impacting on every one of us in our daily lives. In a sense, we are all transport stakeholders-we all have an involvement with the transport industry in some way or another. Whether it means travelling to your job every day or flying to your holiday spot, transportation is essential to each of us in many different ways.

To help understand this relationship further there are a couple of core texts that I would recommend for any student studying travel and tourism or person who is interested in learning more about the relationship between transport and tourism. Transport and Tourism: Global Perspectives by Steven Page is my favourite book in this area as it is the leading, authoritative text providing a much-needed synthesis of the key, contemporary issues occurring at the intersection of transport and tourism. I also recommend Tourism, Transport and Travel Management by M.R Dileep, which analyses the structure, functions, activities, strategies and practices of each of the sectors in the travel industry, such as airlines, airports, tour operators, travel agencies and cruises. 

Transport within the tourism industry

The key task for the tourism sector is to comprehend and present the vital importance of adequate transport links to destinations – recognising the appropriate modes of travel for the different types of journeys – and to advocate a proper understanding of those links and the value that they have to local economies among the transport policy and planning community.

A better understanding of the tourism sector must be built with those public bodies (government, local authorities and relevant agencies) responsible for transport policy and planning, and for maintaining and developing transport infrastructure. This is imperative to ensure sustainable tourism management. 

Likewise, the tourism sector must understand how the transport sector operates and to what extent it is able to influence decisions and planning. This can become rather complex when you take into consideration different transport infrastructures , rules and regulations across different geographical contexts. Some countries, for example, will rely heavily on train infrastructure, others may be reachable only by boat and some may require private charter transport for tourists to get around. 

The impacts of transport on tourism

Compared to some of our European competitors such as Switzerland, England has a lack of transport integration and this is compounded by deregulated service provision in areas outside London. This can cause problems for local attractions, accommodations and such like… because if a tourist cannot reach a destination then it I likely to thrive from tourism! 

This is an issue that has been demonstrated time and time again with regards to air transport. Many budget airlines have started up new routes where they fly into destinations that had previously had little business from tourism. This encourages the growth of tourism in the area and it is common for new businesses to open up and to be successful. Should the airline feel that said route, however, is no longer profitable, they will simply remove the route from their operations. This has been known to decimate the tourism industry of an area, which can have devastating impacts on the local economy and livelihoods of local people. 

This is an area where destination organisations can take a lead by ensuring transport is integrated into destination management planning. More can also be done to ensure that individual attractions and organisations that operate a number of sites develop travel plans and provide options to reach them by public transport.

Tourism helps support transport services and infrastructure across the country. Without tourism many areas of England would be likely to lose many of the public transport services that are currently provided and benefit residents as well as visitors.

Benefits particularly apply to remote communities with low population thresholds and in rural areas throughout the country. However, even in popular destinations such as seaside resorts or in the densely populated South East, the transport infrastructure that serves visitors provides benefits to local residents as well.

All in all, it is important to understand the relationship between transport and tourism and the benefits that tourism brings to the economy. One cannot be successful without the other!

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