Why tourism planning is important

Apr 25, 2019 | Learn about tourism, Tourism management

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(Last updated on: 03/04/2020)

Tourism planning should be an integral part of any destination’s tourism development plan in order to achieve the best results and satisfy all stakeholders. Tourism planning is key to maintaining sustainable tourism and whilst some destinations do this very well, others (often developing countries), fail the recognise the importance of effective tourism development planning.

In this post I will explain why tourism planning is so important and recommend some literature for further reading on this topic. This information on tourism planning should be helpful to a number of tourism stakeholders, including business entrepreneurs, Government bodies and tourism workers. It is also useful for those studying travel and tourism as well as those who have a general interest in the subject. For an introduction to the concept of tourism policy and planning visit this post- ‘The different levels of tourism policy and planning‘. 

What is tourism planning?

Tourism development refers to the growth and maintenance of the tourism industry in a given locality. And, of course, tourism planning is a very important part of this.

On a basic level, tourism development can be defined as creating strategies and plans to increase/develop/encourage tourism for a destination. The fundamental reason behind planning and implementing strategies for developing the tourism sector is primarily to make money and to subsequently increase the GDP of a country/area.

You might also be interested in my post- ‘What is tourism? A definition of tourism‘ 

Tourism development consists of many elements including, but not limited to: developing and managing private-public partnerships, assessing the competitors to gain competitive advantage, ensuring responsible and sustainable development, viewing tourism as an interconnected system and a demand-driven sector, assessing private sector investment and international cooperation, tourism clustering and involvement by the Government.

Why tourism development planning is important

According to Williams cited in Mason (2003);  

‘The aim of modern planning is to seek optimal solutions to perceived problems and that it is designed to increase and, hopefully maximise development benefits, which will produce predictable outcomes’.

And Getz (1987) cited in Pearce (1989) defines tourism planning as;

“A process, based on research and evaluation, which seeks to optimise the potential contribution of tourism to human welfare and environmental quality”

For more on what constitutes tourism planning I recommend that you refer to the texts Tourism Policy and Planning: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow by Edgell and Swanson and Tourism Planning and Destination Marketing by Camilleri.

Basic stages in tourism development planning

Tourism development planning is no simple task and there are many variables to consider. There are also different levels of tourism planning and policy. Fortunately, destinations can learn lessons from other areas which have been successful or otherwise. Take for example, over dependence on tourism in Egypt as I explain in this post- Why Unpaid Business is Better than No Business: The Case of the Egyptian Boatman. It is also worthwhile to look at the tourism policies of similar destinations. Some strong examples include Jamaica and Cape Town.

On a basic level, the main stages in tourism development planning include: the analysis of previous tourist development; evaluation of the position of tourism in the area including competition; formulation of relevant tourism policy by Government; the defining of a development strategy and the formation of a programme of action.

Why tourism development planning is important

The benefits of tourism development

Tourism development planning enables a range of benefits to all stakeholders involved, for example:

  • It increases income and jobs from tourist spending
  • It helps preserve cultural and natural heritage for tourists
  • It increases understanding of other cultures
  • It builds new facilities such as sewage for whole communities or new roads

You might also be interested in my post- ‘Best Universities In The UK To Study Travel and Tourism

The costs of tourism development

There are also some costs which must be considered and planned for, which include:

  • Costs of implementing tourist facilities can be costly
  • The environment can be destructed to make room for hotels etc. to be built
  • Social standards may be undermined e.g. topless women in Dubai
  • The natural environment may be polluted

Formulating an approach to tourism policy and planning

There are six ‘golden rules’ that should be applied when formulating an approach to tourism planning and policy, as outlined by Inskeep (1991).

Why tourism development planning is important
  1. Goal oriented

Clear recognition of tourism’s role in achieving broad national and community goals

  1. Integrative

Incorporating tourism policy and planning into the mainstream of planning for the economy, land use and infrastructure, conservation and environment

  1. Market driven

Planning for tourism development that trades successfully in a competitive global marketplace

  1. Resource driven

Developing tourism which build on the destination’s inherent strengths whilst protecting and enhancing the attributes and experiences of current tourism assets

  1. Consultative

Incorporating the wider community attitudes, needs and wants to determine what is acceptable to the population

  1. Systematic

Drawing on primary or secondary research to provide conceptual or predictive support for planners including the experiences of other tourism destinations

You might also be interested in my post- ‘What is ‘begpacking’ and why is it so bad?’

Why tourism planning is important

Tourism planning really can make or break a destination. If done well, it can ensure the longevity of the tourism industry in the area, take good care of the environment, have positive economic outcomes and a positive benefit to the community.

If done badly, tourism development can destroy the very environment or culture that it relies on. It can disrupt local economies, cause inflation and negative effects to local people and businesses. Unfortunately, developing countries tend to suffer the most from negative impacts such as these, largely as a result of limited education and experience in contrast with Western nations.

For more on this topic, I recommend the following texts:

Tourism Policy and Planning: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Tourism Planning and Destination Marketing

Leisure, Sport and Tourism, Politics, Policy and Planning

Tourism Planning: Policies, Processes and Relationships

If you wish to cite any of the content in the post please use reference ‘Stainton, Hayley. (2018) Lifeasabutterfly.’

4 Comments
  1. brenda m. lubon

    Hi sir/maam,

    Good day!!!
    Just want to ask if I can download this?

    Thank you!!!

    Reply
    • Hayley

      Sure, I’m not sure how but feel free to distribute to your students or whatever!

      Reply
  2. Garry O'Dell

    My research is looking at the land use planning process for the planning for and regulation of events, essentially town planning principles applied to temporary uses. The suggestions you make are already well covered in the land use and spatial planning literature. Perhaps it is time to consider tourist planning in concert with land use planning for permanent and temporary uses not in isolation to it.

    Reply
    • Hayley

      That sounds like an interesting research project, good luck with it!

      Reply

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  3. Why Unpaid Business is Better than No Business: The Case of the Egyptian Boatman | Lifeasabutterfly - […] All of this has made for grave consequences for the Egyptian economy, who placed a heavy reliance on income…
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Hi, am Dr Hayley Stainton

I’ve been travelling, studying and teaching travel and tourism since I was 16. Through Tourism Teacher I share my knowledge on the principles and practice of travel and tourism management from both an academic and practical perspective.

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